My Greatest Mistake: Andrew Collins, Presenter, BBC6 Music

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The Independent Online

It was 24 October 1988 and I was working as a design assistant at the NME, my first job in the media, laying out pages the old-fashioned way: cut-and-paste using scalpel, Letraset and carcinogenic spray-mount glue. Though I had trained to be a designer I harboured none-too-secret dreams of becoming a music journalist and had been bothering all the section editors ever since I got inside the building. They were beginning to crack and I had had one or two reviews printed.

Then, my big break. The features editor James Brown (yes, he who would one day launch Loaded) heard that I was a fan of the little-known West Midlands Goth rock band Balaam and the Angel.

James told me I was to go off to Leicester to write my first NME feature, as Balaam were playing at the university. A whole new world of rock'n'roll glamour had opened up for me; this was my first step to becoming the new Paul Morley.

I successfully interviewed the band in their dressing room (I did, at least, have all their records) and politely and inexpertly smoked some of their dope. But it all went to pot when they said, "Help yourself to the rider."

I drank all of their vodka while they were off having their photo taken, and then pints of beer on top. When the gig began, I wobbled up to the balcony to watch through a drunken haze. I remember the first number and then nothing until the band gave my girlfriend a leg-up over the toilet door to retrieve my inert form two hours later. They'd been looking all over the university for me, while I'd been happily sleeping, curled around the toilet bowl.

I'm sure Balaam thought it very funny. The landlady at our B&B didn't when I vomited on the landing carpet at one o'clock in the morning. The train back to London the next day was so full we had to stand all the way - my penance for making such a premature dash for rock'n'roll Valhalla. And I left my wallet at the B&B. Can it really have been like this for Paul Morley? Probably, yes.

Andrew Collins presents his Teatime show on BBC6 Music 4-7pm weekdays