I got up with the lark this morning and made astonishingly good progress to the BBC in Salford. It was quite a pleasure to be driving along the M6 so early on a Sunday with not another car in sight and the sun glinting in the wing mirror.
I arrived at Salford Quays, ludicrously early, to find Media City bathed in yellow sunlight but utterly silent and looking like something from 28 Weeks Later. I wondered across the bridge to the Lowry in the vain hope that I might find some kind of coffee shop open, but, as you might expect on a Sunday morning in the sticks, all was still but for one or two besuited security guards and a man with one of those floor polishers with the giant revolving discs of fabric. So I sat myself down on a marble bench and watched the world going by. Or would have done, if the world weren't asleep!
The interview went incredibly well. I have no idea who the two presenters were, but they were very friendly. I talked about the show's story whilst young Ben talked about playing Alf, mentioning in passing how difficult life would have been for a gay First World War soldier, which triggered a rather horrific tweet: "BBC breakfast is talking about the war! Not the D Day anniversary (yesterday) but about poofs in WW1. Utter utter c**ts as per usual."
Who said that homophobia was dead?! Mind you, you actually have to feel sorry for a bloke like that... The next tweet down the line from him went as follows:
"First halal meat now they want to put vitamin D in my bread.
How much longer are we going to bend over for #Muslim ragheads?"
And I thought I was an angry man!
Andrew Nance, the other member of the Brass cast on the sofa with us, was asked a rather tricky question about cuts in the arts which threw him temporarily, but he pulled it back like a true pro. We had some lovely messages from strangers and friends afterwards, and I'm told there was even a little spike in CD sales, so everyone's a winner... Except our homophobic friend with the chip on his shoulder. He'll never win in life...
If you still want to buy your copy of the album, go to www.nymt.org.uk
We had breakfast afterwards at a Harvester in Salford Quay, and I got to chat to Ben's adorable Mum, who very kindly paid for the food. I'm not sure I thanked her... So if you're reading this... Thank you!
I drove home, fighting the will to fall asleep at the wheel. It's a long old drive from Manchester to London. I played music as I drove, working my way through all the songs in my iPod which began with W and Y. This process provided me with a wildly eclectic selection of music including Vaughan Williams, Eurovision, Lo-Fang, Hurts, ABBA, Kelly Clarkson, Roy Harper and PJ Harvey. Imagine what it must feel like to live in my iPod!
I got back to London and immediately jumped in the car again, this time with Nathan, Abbie and Ian. Our original plan was to head off to the Dunstable Downs for an impromptu picnic, but as we hit the M1, we suddenly realised it would be nicer to go to Thaxted and picnic in my parents garden, so that we could take Abbie to the church she's always wanted to visit just outside Great Sampford where many of the windows and doors are marked with eerie 17th century carved symbols to ward off witches. It's an astonishing and unnerving sight. This area was the stomping ground of the witch finder general, so these symbols actually tell a story of mass hysteria, which makes them rather tragic in my view.
We walked around the fields behind Thaxted as the setting sun melted into the straw fields. Everyone's hay fever was triggered, Nathan's particularly, but I got incredibly sniffy as we drove home.
The highlight of the day was almost certainly leaping around underneath the windmill, taking silly photographs with lens flares, silhouettes and sunsets until it got dimpsy. A long and perfect day.