What I said back then:
Nothing. I’m not certain that I crossed them off the list – perhaps they weren’t on it in the first place. Which is daft.
What I think now:
All good things have to come to an end, pill of course, and university life is undoubtedly, in spite of the often unhygienic living conditions and the frequent inexplicable hangovers, a good thing. I drifted for a bit, listening to The Smiths, then I landed a job selling books. I never intended it to be a long-term thing, but I stuck it out for five years in the end. One momentous thing which happened early on in my bookselling career was that Zoe and I decided to get married (I asked; she accepted, it was more romantic than I’m making it out to be).
We considered our parlous financial state, and quickly came to understand that we couldn’t hope to afford to live in Aberdeen, Europe’s booming oil capital. So, less than a year after I started, I was applying for a transfer to Inverness, which – fortunately – worked out, and explains why, the first time I heard ‘Faron Young’, I was heading back to my temporary home, a B&B on the shores of the River Ness. I was immediately struck by its quirkiness, and resolved to find out more, which almost certainly involved a trip to yet another branch of ‘The Other Record Shop’.
Over the years, this oddly-named and enigmatic band take quite a hold of me – I loved the silly pop singles; I find myself eagerly anticipating new releases, and they are still with me when I’m thundering in and out the back roads of Hertfordshire ten years later, trying to get to work at something approximating a civilised hour.
I even bought two copies of Jordan: the Comeback; one for me, and one to press on an unsuspecting work colleague as a Secret Santa present; I don’t know her all that well, but I know she’ll love this. To this day, ‘Jordan’ is somewhere around the top half of any top ten album list I certainly don’t ever make, not being Nick Hornby. It’s pretty close to perfection, and is one of the vanishingly few double albums you can say that about. Tough to listen to, though, because once I start, I have to listen to it all; it’s a little like a symphony in that it loses some of its meaning broken into smaller chunks.
Except, perhaps, for ‘Scarlet Nights’, a study in perfect.
Just a brief mention for the post-Sprout career of Paddy McAloon, a man beset by obstacles and difficulties his whole life, it seems. Please take the time to check out ‘I Trawl the Megahertz’ – it’s not quite like anything you’ve heard before; strikingly odd, and to these ears, a masterpiece.