Fylingdales, 25 September 2004

There will be no gigs in the UK in 2004.

Things quieten down a bit. In January Thom writes an op-ed for the Guardian about the Hutton enquiry (his interest in the David Kelly case will eventually surface as the song Harrowdown Hill on The Eraser).

In May, the NME make a big fuss about the end of the tour – Radiohead play Coachella Festival California. I get sent a few photos (prints through the post, as broadband is not yet universally A THING) from various gigs taken by various friends. The messageboard has become a fixture, having a desk job means a lot of screens open, every bit of news filters through.

The board doesn’t talk about the band much, but Thom posts that he will be attending a CND demo at Fylingdales in North Yorkshire, it’s an open invitation to join him there on September 25th.

Having donated to CND for my T shirt I’ve been receiving their newsletters and learn that the Glasgow branch plans to send a minibus down to the march.

Yasuko and Yama will be in the country. They suggest that I go down to meet them at the protest. The minibus is a free a ride down. It’s on a Saturday, and I’m not doing anything else. So why not?

I’m uneasy about going but I feel like I ought to do something, meet some of the CND folks, they might be simpatico.

The Scottish CND crowd are a very small group of young people. I suddenly feel very English, very middle class and very clean. They share their over earnest war stories and heavy social inadequacies. It might be the passive smoking (they pass around joints and I don’t smoke) but I find them a little intimidating. I feel like an imposter. One of the CND dudes names drops Tommy Sheridan (local political leader and figure of some controversy). Any kind of activism on the Glasgow scene always seems to go hand in hand with “revolutionary” politics. In my meagre experience, people who claim to be anarchists in these situations don’t really understand the argument.

I’m too much my mother’s daughter for this kind of thing and much as I sympathise with elements of their naïve radicalism, I find my common sense won’t let me take them entirely seriously. I’m not political enough for them.

As soon as we get onto the motorway I feel like I shouldn’t be here, but I’m stuck on the bus now. I find the guy asking me questions a bit intimidating, even though he’s only trying to make friends. I shut down, the dope fumes and the lack of windows in the van make me feel car sick. He starts to find this behaviour tantalisingly enigmatic and gives me his number (I am so far out of my depth that I don’t realise he’s actually cracking on to the new girl).

By 2pm we’re only at Manchester, and no one seems to know where we’re going. I’ve done the journey from Scotland down South enough times to know that we’re taking the long way round. The event was meant to start at noon. It was optimistic to think we’d arrive before the demo started. But by the time we finally find the place, in the middle of the moor, it is all but over and Thom has gone. Thankfully Yasuko and Yama are still here. They have photos. He was here and he made a speech.

The whole thing is rather surreal. Yasuko has a B&B in Whitby, so I get them a lift in the minibus back to town. I turn down the return trip to Scotland. I don’t want to spend another moment in that van. We stay to explore Whitby, which is a lot more gothic than I remember. We have fish and chips on the harbour front and go for a pint in a pleasant pub.

I bunk in with them at their room for the night and decided to spend Sunday here. I remember this part of the world from childhood holidays, and it’s actually rather nice to be here again. They want to see the area while they’re here and I remember the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. We have a nice day riding on steam trains and catching up. Then I go to the real station where I say goodbye to brave the Sunday service back to Glasgow.

When I get home I email Thom and Tim.

Tim reckons we just missed them, they left to drive back to Oxford straight after the speech. He tells me the Radiohead boys are in and out of the studio in twos and threes to try out new songs and do demos “which is exciting”.

Thom replies:

“what a bummer missing the event. did you feel radioactive afterwards? i did.
they have a ‘leakage’ problem apparently. thanks for making the effort. im glad i went it made a bit of a difference.”

I transcribe Thom’s speech for Yasuko, it begins “How dare you Mr Blair…”.
There are photos doing the rounds and the demo got mentioned in the papers. Mission accomplished.