I go to more gigs in Glasgow when I get back, trying to find the elusive feeling and never quite managing it. I have fevered postal exchanges of Radiohead gossip and photos with Izzy in Japan; long sessions of tea drinking and tour stories with Maree after English Literature lectures, and becoming a bit anaemic after a half-hearted poverty-enforced attempt at vegetarianism.
I am living on the edge of my student overdraft and falling asleep listening to Pink Moon by Nick Drake. I continue to not smoke dope at parties; listen to The Bends at top volume at every opportunity and over analyse the meaning of the B-sides. I try to make the rudimentary Radiohead websites work on university computers, hungrily watching any TV clips I can lay my hands on (The Ozone, the Fake Plastic Trees supermarket promo). I watch the mail deliveries waiting for the Ansaphone “fan club pack” to arrive. When it comes the purple and silver metal “R” badge takes a permanent position on my jacket.
I sit up late and write adoring yet sarcastic letters to Thom, some of which I actually put in the post. I worry about what all that touring in America is doing to him. Meanwhile I barely notice how much I am struggling to pass my English Literature course and realise too late that just as I was starting to find some people to talk to, a lot of my friends are leaving to spend the next academic year studying abroad.
May 27th 1995. Later…With Jools Holland on the BBC. Other guests include Elvis Costello, which has me imagining Thom meeting one of his heroes. They seem nervy and intense, you don’t realise how fierce they are until you put them in a room with other bands. Thom’s weird leg shuffle causes some odd comments from my flatmates when we see it on telly.
Fake Plastic Trees makes it into the charts and Radiohead turn up on Top Of The Pops (still kind of a big deal). Their performance is beamed in from the USA. To my surprise, Thom now has orange hair.
Thom and Jonny play some songs on Radio 1’s Johnny Walker session, including the first play of Subterranean Homesick Alien, named for “Sir Bob, St Bob!” Dylan. Thom says “acoustic” like he’s from the North of England. The song is so perfect, I play my tape of it continually and it helps distract me from my exams.
More letters from Izzy: she went to the pub with the band in Tokyo when they were over doing promo. I debate going to Milton Keynes Bowl for the REM support slot (I don’t manage it because my succession of crap summer jobs don’t actually make me any money) but some of the set is played out on the radio. I don’t get good enough marks in my exams to stay on my English Lit course. I spend the rest of the summer worrying about what the hell I’m going to do next.
Izzy reports for NME on the formation of Phil Is Great – a fan club just for Phil!
Britpop peaks with article in Melody Maker. I go to the Leeds Heineken Festival, which is still free, and see Pulp.
Radiohead dates are announced for October/ November. The tour is a gift, a list of towns where I have somewhere to sleep for free.
Just is going to be the next single and it’s getting some radio play.
W.A.S.T.E. Newsletter #9 is a combination of philosophy and football.
There’s an informative Dazed And Confused piece where the band interview each other. Thom mentions Mo Wax records for the first time and Jonny’s started to get him into jazz.
The Just video is brilliant and the single gets into the top 20. Thom’s REM diary is in Q Magazine.
Just is number 10 in the charts. The Chart Show ‘pop fact’ claims Jonny has got married. There’s a photo spread in Smash Hits from the Milton Keynes gig.
The War Child album project happens. The record is recorded and released in the space of a week. The Radiohead contribution, Lucky, sounds like the best thing they’ve ever done. After listening all day, I nearly miss it when it’s on the radio. The reviewers of the Help LP, agree with me about Lucky. Radiohead are “unable to be anything but brilliant”.
I go back to Glasgow to face a year as a part time History Of Art student. I’m reading a lot of situationism and feeling a great deal of self pity, paranoia and confusion. I don’t like my new flat and sharing is doing my head in. I’m drinking too much, trying to get a job and failing. I’m buying clothes in charity shops and dressing up in a shirt and tie.
The band have their gear nicked in Denver. This upsets me at the time and feels really important. I hang out with Maree a lot and she feeds me with photocopies of Japanese magazine photos of the band. I learn how to blag myself into gigs to write reviews for a student tabloid called Chutney. I resign myself to the fact that Val is no longer answering the phone.