POP / On the Road: I dreamt my record company tried to kill me

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Thursday 29 September Our first UK gig in two years - Brunel University.

Ding (partner) did the school run this morning, so I get to lie in. I spend the first half of the day scanning Teletext. Deb (manager) comes over and helps me track down a clean T-shirt. We're edgy. Radio 1 playlist day. Not optimistic. We drive to the venue, soundcheck, eat chicken nuggets from the canteen and make ourselves scarce for a few hours in the small but warm dressing-room. Bored, I amuse myself by irritating Pete (guitarist), who is remarkably tolerant today. A good show, intimate and relaxed. Positive start. Home at 2.30am.

Friday 30 September A 7.00am alarm. I had hoped Ding would do a double and tiptoe the children away but . . . I get up, dizzy, but remarkably even-tempered, and ready the kids for school.

Feel fuzzy - terrifically happy when Deb reminds me I am to do three telephone interviews at midday. Usual stuff, rounded off nicely by a notable dullard who follows the banal 'Tell me about men' with the searching 'Would you like to be a babe?'. I maintain my composure and come away muttering and grumbling.

At 2.30pm I am driven to do a quick interview and mime the single plug slot on a news programme. An hour to rouge the hair and repair my face, followed by an introduction inferring that I spend my life shelling babies like peas.

Next the song. Jammed up by the news desk, readers and all, Chris, Pete and I attempt singing along with the tiny stream of music emitting from a 3in sq monitor at my feet.

Saturday 1 October Drive to Norwich with Ding, his mate Dave from Splott, and Deb, who is bellyaching. The show is fine, the stage a little too well-lit. I

overdo the pre-match brandy (truly repulsive, but it steels the nerves delightfully) and have to concentrate carefully on the perpendicular throughout - still, it's a result, I think. We do a couple of encores and after coming off I get dry, don dark glasses in deference to the tarry rivulets of mascara and sign autographs. We divvy out the beer and watch Match of the Day in the back room before heading home. In at 3am.

Sunday 2 October A lazy fat git day. I had a big argument with Ding last night, which disrupted the evening's telly, so slept fitfully and dreamt that Columbia, my record label, was planning to kill me to avoid paying up.

Wednesday 5 October Colchester University. A strange gig observed by an audience largely unfamiliar with my last seven years' work. Many pissed off that there are no seats and misinformed as to the arranged on-stage time. I leave much in need of reassurance - and reject any offered.

Thursday 6 October An uncomfortable, friendless day.

7 October Dublin. The Olympia Theatre is lovely, bordello-ish and manned by a stout bunch of fellows. By midnight the room is heaving with

that warm enthusiasm peculiar to Irish and Glaswegian audiences. Sightless as ever (no point in wearing my glasses, the crowd always calls for you to get them off), I spend the first two songs terrified of the orchestra pit, inches from my feet, until the beer kicks in. A brilliant night, nothing like work.

Saturday 8 October I bid farewell to the rest of the tour party and catch a flight to Manchester, where Ding is waiting. We drive to Barnsley for the football (Southend playing away). Plenty of sparky footwork (sadly most of it off the ball) but a welcome point, and Paul Sansome makes a spectacular save.

(Photograph omitted)

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