Been a while, right? I noticed I’d had a surge of new subscribers to the Substack over the last few weeks, and so I felt a little bad I hadn’t put any Spoook missives out into the world for – looks at time amassed since my last post – almost three months. Yikes. I thought I should bash something out, just to let you know that I hadn’t forgotten about you all. And that I’m not dead. I am full of cold, but I am not dead. The great Pete Paphides just told me about a great singer songwriter I’d never heard of before called Keaton Henson, so that’s proving to be a balm this afternoon.
The record I’ve got a private link to makes me think of Teenage Fanclub and Big Star, but there’s shades of Smog and Elliott Smith to the tune that follows. Feel free to light a small fire if you’re outside when you listen to it. That seems the vibe. Not if you’re indoors. Impractical and unsafe.
Speaking of Pete, I interviewed his daughter Eaves Wilder for the podcast recently. That’s the last time ever I’ll refer to Eaves with that prefix because it isn’t fair at all not to recognise her for her own brilliance, but I’m just transitioning to another topic see? Because I did want to let you know what’s been going on with the podcast lately. It’s doing daft numbers right now, and there’s been a tonne of episodes I’m really proud of and thought you might like to know more about. I conducted the first interview with the great Patrick Wolf in seven years. I freaked Jason Williamson from Sleaford Mods out on Friday gone by telling him about my problems with OCD. I attempted to interview Martin Fry from ABC, but in the end just listened to him talk about the eighties for half an hour, and I am not complaining. I spoke to the man with the best voice of the 1960s (Caucasian edition), Colin Blunstone from The Zombies. I made someone cry and I feel bad about it. I had a tetchy and precedent conversation about immigration with an old punk. And then there were conversations with The Raincoats, Screaming Females, record label bigwigs, and Bucks Fizz. YAS.
The podcast is just shy of 140 episodes old. I love ratings and reviews. I’m going to make another transition now, but before I do, why not perk yourself up with this impossibly fizzy pop gem from the aforementioned Eaves Wilder.
You may remember that I put this Substack on hiatus for a bit because I was trying to finish the book I’m writing about my life as a music journalist with OCD. My deadline was December 31st. LOL. Well, that deadline came and went but I am getting very close to finishing the damn thing now. I mean, not today I’m not because I’m full of cold and it hurts even writing this short life update, but I’ve started getting emails from my publisher about sleeve designs and subheads and what’s not, and so I think it really is happening. EEEEEEEEEK. I even went for coffee at the publishers swanky Roman bathhouse-esque office in Bloomsbury (I was late, the coffee was nice). And so while I probably won’t be in touch again until I’ve actually finished the book, since today is what we in the OCD community call OCD Week of Action, I thought I’d refer you to some stuff I’ve written (and talked about) concerning OCD in recent years.
A thing I wrote for The Face about how OCD can impact my average day (reading this back - it was published in May 2021 - I think I sound like a sad sack. I’m much better at managing the condition than I was back then, but it does serve as a pretty good snapshot of how difficult OCD makes my life when it’s in rampage).
A couple of things I’ve written for The Big Issue about OCD over the years.
Somehow I managed to convince The Guardian to let me write about OCD and EastEnders. No, I don’t know how I pulled that off either.
Here’s an interview I did with Andrew Gold - his podcast is very good if you like the weird and the bizarre, which are foundational values of Spoook, as those of you who have been Spoook subscribers since the beginning will be aware.
My conscience is telling me that I should share this Change.org link. I hate Change.org. Having a Change.org account is no substitute for a personality. But since OCD Action - the UK’s major OCD charity, and very good they are too - shared it, and since my entire book is essentially about what happens when you don’t get help for OCD, even if the treatment for it is available to you (with batshit stories plucked from 20+ years of service to rock ‘n’ roll), I’m going to grit my teeth and share it.
Despite being focused on my book, I have sort of kept my oar in with writing for places other. A bit. I interviewed Mo Gilligan for The Observer and looked to the stars for The Face, but where’s the time? I got asked to edit a one-shot magazine about one of my favourite ever bands and I couldn’t make it work. Better get back to the grind then (tomorrow, I can’t stop sneezing and my eyes hurt).
Before I go, here are some things I am enjoying a lot at the moment...
Old episodes of The Joe Rogan Experience, back before COVID broke Joe’s mind - hey, there’s a lot of it about… - and he was still curious about Bigfoot and aliens and DMT (most of these episodes involve Duncan Trussell, what a sweetheart).
Unherd Live events. A tonic to these shrill, often extremely dumb times (also, the chicken schnitzel downstairs in the cafe is absolutely fucking outstanding).
The Fucking Cancelled podcast (within a media scene where I often struggle to find anything to read, watch or listen to that goes against the boring, shrill (into that word at the moment) orthodox, I think what those two kids are doing is genuinely revolutionary. And brave. Really, really brave).
This piece by Eva Wiseman about ghosts, which essentially describes my childhood (incidentally, I’m not sure I believe in ghosts anymore. My dad said when he died he’d turn up and haunt me. It’s been six months, I haven’t heard a peep from him and that guy hated being late for things).
This is the best horror movie I’ve seen this year. It is nasty.
Fern Brady’s autism memoir, Strong Female Character (in it, she accepts that she doesn’t have OCD and is autistic instead - I normally get irritated when people leave the tribe, but it’s very funny and that’s irrational even for me).
New books by Anita Bhagwandas, Michael Cragg and Lucy O’Brien.
Hannah Ewens’ Lana Del Rey profile for Rolling Stone. There isn’t a better music writer in Britain right now, for my money.
This conversation between Tim Dillon - my favourite comedian right now, I think - and Lex Fridman. Inspiring stuff.
Maria Bamford’s crowdfunded OCD film (please pledge generously).
Before I piss off and go back to bed, I should say that I was tremendously lucky to host a fan Q&A at the soundcheck for The Hold Steady at Camden’s Electric Ballroom this Saturday gone. One of the dangers of working in music, the further you get in, the more you see behind the curtain, the more darkness you realise exists (oh yeah, there’s quite a bit of that in my book too), the harder it is to connect with the music obsessed teenager in a bedroom and a fanzine who began the journey all those years ago. Being surrounded by fandom sorts me out, every time. What a lovely afternoon it was.
Until next time. Cough. Splutter.
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Signed the Change.org petition.
Good to know you are writing lots and progressing well.