Alex James: The Great Escape

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The Independent Online

I was driving back from Scotland on Saturday night when the headline act at Glastonbury came out shouting and swearing. I caught it on the radio. It was hard to avoid on the radio, actually. Glastonbury was everywhere. The BBC was handing it out like cake at Christmas; like you were weird if you didn't want a piece. I had been listening to the gallop from William Tell all the way from Gairloch to Inverness, trying to learn exactly how it goes, but it was making me drive too fast. It sounded like the Glastonbury audience was having a good time, but Jay-Z couldn't follow Rossini for chops, and I suddenly realised I was six shades happier heading for home on my own in the people carrier than I would have been standing on stage in Shepton Wotsit.

Blur very nearly played Glastonbury this year, and there was a pang of regret when I heard Damon's mum had nixed it at the eleventh hour. I was looking forward to showing off to Claire and the kids, but I suppose the important thing was to have been asked, and listening to all that screaming I felt pleased about how things had turned out. I'm sure it'll happen one day, but for the meantime I put Rossini back in the machine and ate the high road.

When going home is more exciting than going away, I suppose that's the end of a rock and roll gentleman's journey. If Blur had done Glastonbury, in all the media rigmarole that goes with it, everyone would just have been asking me lots of questions about cheese, anyway.

I might have been more disappointed about the collapse of my band if I hadn't found something to eclipse the thrill of sex, drugs and rock'n'roll, but it's hard to dwell on what might have been when it's the British Cheese Awards next week. Here! On the farm! There will be 1,000 different kinds of cheese here and about 60 cheese freaks trying to decide which is the best. I tried to think if there was anything that could be better than that situation. I weighed it up and ordered a string quartet and a bouncy castle to accompany the cheeses and I think it's perfect, now. Just need some crackers.

It's gone unrealistic, the cheese thing. It's been getting sillier for ages, but today it went into dream country. My accountant called. I've never heard him so happy. He said, "You can expect a call from the Duchy. I don't think he's heard of Blur, but Prince Charles is a big cheese fan." A very nice man called from Tetbury shortly afterwards. They've got half a million litres of raw, organic, royal, local milk from Ayrshire cattle that's potentially up for grabs. Ayrshire milk is one of the big three for cheesemakers, but it's really hard to get. Wow, we could certainly make a really big posh cheese out of that. This could be the biggest, poshest cheese the world has ever seen. I'm serious.

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