Monday, 9 February 2015


I woke up this morning a walking zombie. The runny nose I mentioned in yesterday's blog became a running torrent of water which accompanied me through the night. Perhaps a little foolishly, I took a Berocca tablet just before bed, assuming I had a cold coming on which I needed to stave off, but it just made me feel all zippy. I watched a programme on BBC4 about Genisis which seemed to go on forever, and then there I was, at 4am, wide awake and yet so tired I'd managed to convince myself that I was Peter Gabriel! I got up to get myself a tissue and rammed my shin into a coffee table, collapsed onto the bed and lay there for some time wondering when the waves of brutal pain would subside! Subsequently, when the alarm went off this morning I was not quite ready to greet the world! My face looks pale and wrinkled....

As the day wore on it became clear that I was actually suffering from a cold. PK and I worked speedily through the morning and then a fuzzy head engulfed me. By about 4pm, I was no use to man nor beast and was panicking every time I needed to make a decision!

I did, however, have a quick listen to the songs which PK has been working on in my absence, and I'm very excited. PK's favourite song so far is the song Brass. I'm always pleased when someone's favourite song in the show is different to the obvious choices like Shone With The Sun and Billy Whistle. I think it proves I've written a high-quality show with little or no dross!

We worked on When You're a Pal today, and the aforementioned Shone with the Sun, before making a start on Letters, which is by far the busiest and most complicated song in the show, with twelve or so soloists singing with full ensemble. There's dialogue, underscoring and then the most enormous and epic end chorus. We couldn't find quite a number of the solos. They'd managed to disappear into the Protools ether and it took several hours to track them down. By this point my head felt like it had be rebuilt with Plasticine, so it was time to leg it to the train station and back to Fiona's where I watched a programme about Budapest presented by Michael Portillo. I fondly mock the man for being a right wing Tory and rather physically stiff and wearing silly jackets, but he does look very good for his age, and I'm convinced, politics aside, that he's genuinely rather a nice chap.

I remember that his middle names are Denzil and Xavier and know this because my ex-partner, Stephen,  stole his seat in the 1997 general election and everyone laughed when the names were read out. That May day seems so long ago now. I've always prided myself on having an excellent memory, but the memories of that life-changing, warm spring evening have become nothing but a series of curious vignettes. I remember wearing a sort of Edwardian suit and feeling rather silly and eccentric when people started trying to take my photograph. I remember the shock of Stephen's victory and refusing to stand on the platform with him when the result was announced. I was young, very young, but old enough to realise it wasn't my victory. My decision not to stand with Stephen meant that all wives were also banned from the stage, so when Michael very graciously acknowledged defeat, his wife Caroline wasn't allowed to stand next to him for moral support, which I thought was a bit tough. In those days, because no one wanted to offend a gay person, and there were no civil partnerships, I was instantly given the same treatment as a politician's wife. I had a special pass which gave me access to all areas of the Palace of Westminster because no one wanted to be accused of homophobia. It was utterly ludicrous. I'd been with Stephen for just three months when he was elected.

Following the official announcement, we went to a Greek restaurant, before driving down to the South Bank in Stephen's battle bus, as the sun rose over a misty River Thames. Thousands of revellers were out on the streets. It felt like a new world had begun. People would look at Stephen's van, decorated in red and yellow ribbons and read his name on the posters in the windows. You could see some of them mouthing the words "Michael Portillo" and then erupting into spontaneous applause. Portillo's had been the biggest scalp of the night by far.

We reached the Royal Festival Hall, where an official party was being held. It wasn't the greatest do; they seemed to be doing nothing but play D:Ream's Things Can Only Get better whilst lots of handsome young New Labour types danced around in their trendy suits. I remember the driver of our bus saying we were going to enter in style, and taking the van right up to the dock doors of the venue.

We looked up and the concrete walkways were filled with cheering people, who were ripping up newspapers and throwing them down on us like confetti. Seconds later, Stephen was being carried above everyone's heads into the venue like some sort of conquering hero. It was quite a remarkable occasion...

I feel rather sad that New Labour so royally missed its chance to bring real change to this country. That night we thought revolution was in the air. We thought the House of Lords was going to be crushed; that we were entering a vibrant Aquarian era of hope and equality. I don't think I can expect to live to see another election where people feel that change is so possible. It's little wonder that my generation is so politically apathetic. We had our hopes dashed against the rocks 18 years ago...

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