During Adam Buxton’s recent, bloody brilliant podcast featuring provocative documentary filmsmith Adam Curtis, the pair spend an engaging few minutes discussing the changing nature of the Internet, agreeing that its dystopian nether regions are rapidly encroaching on the progressive, utopian ideals of its flagship Web Central area. “There’s a disenchantment growing,” says Curtis. “You can feel it.”

He’s right. In fact there’s so much disenchantment, paranoia and aggression cannoning about on the web, it’s managed to become an even more toxic place than it was a year ago, and crikey, that takes some doing. It seems to have morphed from simply poisonous to both poisonous and downright weird, and in a way that’s making me nostalgic for a time when the Internet was chiefly the domain of genealogists, hip-hop historians and people who wanted to see pictures of all the different houseboats on the River Nene. Quite what is driving this cybersickness – schadenfreude? The Daily Mail? A global dislike for Piers Morgan? It is a tricky question to tackle, but it’s reached a point where social media users are now quite ludicrously jumpy about even the prospect of something worth getting jumpy about.

Example? Andrea Leadsom accidentally describing Jane Austen as “one of Britain’s greatest living authors”. Now, I can’t quite believe I’m jumping to the defence of Leadsom, who’s never appeared on my Now That’s What I Call Nice Conservatives list, but the ferocity with which, and more alarmingly, the speed at which seemingly reasonable people leapt on what was obviously, and demonstrably, a slip of the tongue, indicates that British social media isn’t in the rudest of optimistic health right now.

Before I sound preachy, I ought to mention that I am far from perfect in this regard. Last week when the BBC published the salaries of its highest earners, I noticed that Lauren Laverne and Shaun Keaveny, both presenters on my beloved Radio 6 Music, were mentioned on the list. That day I found myself on a traffic-laden cab ride, assiduously examining Lauren and Shaun’s Twitter accounts to check they weren’t on the receiving end of any virtual muck-throwing. And what, you might ask as I now ask myself, would I have done if they had been? Would I have leapt on any would-be muck-thrower with some appropriately venomous riposte? Or was I just hoping, subconsciously or not, to witness some manner of Internet nastiness? Whatever the explanation, it was a colossal waste of time I could’ve spent doing something nice, like reading a book, and also a signal that, as Bacharach and David would have it, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love“ – or, to paraphrase, “what the world doesn’t need now is yet more spiteful tit-for-tat nonsense on the World Wide Web“, which doesn’t scan quite as well but you get the idea.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been particularly horrid on the Internet, although I’ve had my moments. I think I’ve successfully steered clear of outright abusiveness, but many’s the time I’ve looked back at a comment I’ve bashed out and wondered whether the recipient might have found me excessively sanctimonious, cutting, or just a little bit ranty. So I’ve had an idea. Each time I’m tempted to write something rude or controversial, I write it – but not on social media; on a page of notes in my phone. Thus, my thumb/brain combo has its little cathartic workout and the dodgy thought is expelled from my system – but it hasn’t been spat at anyone or anything except the palm of my hand. I believe this method is working. It’s been at least six days now, and I reckon I haven’t come close to pissing anyone off. You might like to try it too.

There is also a happy by-product. When viewed later and with the could-have-been comments comfortably out of context, the page of notes makes for bizarre and quite entertaining reading, almost like the script for some weird mid-1970s expressionistic radio play. Hardly any of the sentences look particularly offensive, but it’s an interesting conundrum of human conversation that perhaps the least offensive-looking line might have actually been the most controversial remark when emblazoned next to the original post: a fact that only I will ever know. Read on.

– No it’s not. It’s a moon.

– Yeah. He was beginning to smell.

– I think there are actually two.

– Why would playing a semi-final prove you are capable of winning a Grand-Slam final? Surely only winning a Grand-Slam final would prove you are capable of winning a Grand-Slam final.

– Use punctuation.

– But it doesn’t connect with anywhere.

– Shit teeth.

– Next thing will be the occasional word.

– The light on your profile picture makes you look like you have a receding hairline.

– It certainly will if you put your mouth like that.

Neat, huh? So I’m going to carry on. I can’t wait until I have about a thousand of them. Then I might sell the whole thing to a newly-signed indie band for them to use as lyrics: it’ll probably be better than whatever garbage they themselves… Oh, nooo! I’m being horrid again! Quick! Where’s my phone?

 

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

Matthias Hombauer, as well as being a great photographer, a jolly nice chap AND a Felix-supporter (and a very generous one at that) has also made his own excellently put-together PODCAST… and this time he’s featuring ME as the subject of the hour-long special… I discuss the new book, the old book, Fink, the music world in general, and how my musical career began with hitting cushions in a back garden in 1976.

HERE is the link to the podcast! Enjoy!

T

x

Here’s a fourth excerpt from my novel, in which stuff starts getting a little strange for Podge. Enjoy it, and please pre-order/support the book right here… we’re at 74% funded, with just over a month to go…

To cheer myself up after Felix’s rant I take the long way round, via the Main Stage. The staging and equipment are all housed in a huge plastic blob that looks like a cross between an alien mothership and a giant, elaborate balloon animal. I trot up the ramp towards where Maggie our monitor tech presides over the sound desk and glance at my watch as the deafening din increases: it’s half ten so the Small Faces will be building up to their finale. The already three-quarters full crowd are hollering out the words to ‘All Or Nothing’ while a nice gaggle of swinging-60s backstagers – Oliver Reed, Peter Cook, Cilla Black, among half a dozen others – frug about at the side, happily witnessing the thunderous spectacle of Keith Moon on drums. He effortlessly pulls off his party trick of holding aloft and then downing an entire pint of beer, all while performing, with his other hand, a hummingbird-like drum fill that would shame his earthly self. Maggie turns from the sound desk and gives me a cheerful wave: all is as it should be. I hurry back down the ramp, across the grass, around the corner and back along the main drag, noticing a bit of a kerfuffle around one of the dressing rooms – I think Lux Interior and his band are arriving, I’ll probably have to go and deal with that later – then continue straight on towards Lennon’s private region. His band are still hanging out, sunning themselves and drinking in the outdoor area, but I can see a concerned-looking George Harrison hovering by the maisonette door. I give him a friendly smile as I arrive.

‘Podge, isn’t it?’ he says.

‘That’s right. Help you with anything?’

‘You’re in charge of John for the whole day, right?’

‘In theory,’ I laugh.

Harrison doesn’t laugh back. He looks away, frowning.

‘Do me a favour, will you? If you notice anything… unusual. Let me know?’

‘Um… yeah, sure! Will do. Anything you have in mind?’

He narrows his eyes at me and flares his nostrils.

‘Just anything, man.’

‘Got it. Anyway, I’m gonna take him through security right now.’

‘I’ll come along,’ Harrison says, lighting a cigarette. ‘For the ride.’

I pop inside and find Lennon still parked in one of the armchairs, Ray Bans on, the same drink in his hand, which he doesn’t appear to have touched. I invite him to come with me, he rises without a word, and the three of us begin the walk back down the main street. Again, I keep a few paces behind the two Beatles as they amble along, mumbling quietly to each other, stopping occasionally to shake hands with someone. As we pass Robert Palmer’s dressing room, drummer Tony Thompson, in a perfectly pleated leather jacket and huge round glasses, bounds out and gives them both a hearty, backslapping hug. They chat for a couple of minutes, and then with promises to hook up later, we continue walking.

And that’s when everything goes still.

No, I mean really still. You know those nightmares when you can see and hear the world around you, but you can’t move? That.

It’s really quite weird. I can’t move any part of my body, but I’m still standing up. Every single person nearby – the Beatle pair, plus a few passers-by coming the other way – has also completely stopped, as has all the music. Even the flags on top of the marquees have paused in mid air, ditto the blades of grass on the ground, and the folds on the dress of the girl coming down the steps of one of the dressing rooms. Remarkable how they’ve achieved it. Then I suddenly hear a calm, English-accented voice coming from somewhere behind my left ear.

‘The security check will be missed.’

‘Jesus!’ I exclaim. I can still speak, then.

Two men appear, walking around the side of me and coming to a halt in my direct field of vision. Which is just as well, because I can’t move my eyeballs. They are both of medium height and wearing white lab coats. One is bald and wears glasses, the other has scruffy black hair and, if I’m not mistaken, quite a lot of dandruff. The bald guy carries a clipboard that he rarely looks up from, and seems to be the one in charge.

‘The security check,’ he repeats calmly, flicking between two pages and jotting something down in one of the margins, ‘will be missed.’

‘Who are you?’ I croak.

‘Who we are is irrelevant.’

‘How have you stopped everything?’

‘We’ve stopped nothing, buddy,’ says the other guy. American accent. ‘The only thing stopped is you.’

I think for a few seconds. I can’t really breathe, but nor am I struggling for breath. Bizarre. If this had happened back the old days I’d be screaming blue murder right about now. But at the moment, frankly, it’s just another odd suburb of the whole Weird City in which I dwell. Also, Felix has mentioned men in white lab coats to me before, so I’m not a complete rabbit in the cosmic headlights.

‘So,’ I begin slowly, ‘You want me to…’

‘Come on, Adrian,’ says the American. ‘Do we really need to say it three times?’

He called me Adrian. If this has been calculated to get my attention, it works.

‘I’m not allowed to miss the security check,’ I offer, finally.

‘Not allowed? Says who?’

‘My boss.’

Bald bloke looks up from his clipboard for the first time, his grey eyes peering at me through little gold-rimmed spectacles.

‘Er… your “boss”? Do you describe what you do as a “job”, then?’

‘Of course I do.’

‘But there is no money here, Mr Jones. How can it be a job when you receive nothing in return?’

‘I receive plenty in return.’

‘Oh?’

‘Friendship. Guidance. Fun. Music.’

‘Peace and love, man,’ comments the American.

‘That’s right. And it gives me something to do. Anyway, why do you want Lennon to skip security so badly?’

‘We have our reasons, Mr Jones. None of which I am afraid either of us has time to elaborate upon.’

Stand firm, I remember Felix saying. Don’t fall for any of their shit.

‘Well, then,’ I reply. ‘I can’t do it.’

‘Oh, but you will.’

‘No, I bloody well won’t.’

‘You will. Believe us… we know all about you.’

I say nothing to this. After a moment the bald one sighs, then consults his clipboard.

‘Adrian Jones, born 1973… Bedford, England. Local school, university in… Plymouth…’

If a shiver was capable of running down my spine, it would do.

‘… became a… disc… jockey…’

‘A DJ, for goodness’ sake.’

He looks up.

‘Very well… a DJ-for-goodness’-sake.’

He pauses, as if expecting a laugh. He doesn’t get one.

‘Worked for… a marketing company in Wandsworth… lived with a Miss… sorry, a Ms Saffron Bailey, never married…’

‘Okay, okay, you’ve made your point.’

‘Died of… ooh, renal cancer. Nasty. In 2008.’

‘All right! Enough!’

The American is leaning against one of the dressing rooms, closing his eyes, pretending to sunbathe. Baldy continues.

‘If you agree to help us, Mr Jones, we are able to offer you certain… rewards.’

‘What rewards?’

He consults another page of his clipboard.

‘Well… let’s see… we could have a look at certain problems you might be experiencing… certain deficiencies… certain, as your friend Mr Romsey would doubtless put it, death defects…’

‘Like what?’

‘Ah… feelings of anxiety… depression… loss of appetite…’

‘Loss of appetite? I don’t fucking eat.’

‘Exactly, Mr Jones, loss of appetite… overactive mind… and… ’

‘A protruding belly,’ concludes the American, fixing me with a smirk and prodding me in the stomach with his pencil.

‘Fuck off,’ I respond. ‘I don’t want any of those things fixed.’

Baldy sighs again and turns away, scribbling something on his clipboard. American takes over.

‘I’ll say it another way, Adrian. If you don’t help us, maybe we can talk to our friends from the Minus zones… see whether they can accommodate you.’

The Minus zones. Luckily, Felix has also briefed me about these. He didn’t tell me much, only to dismiss any mention of them as total bollocks.

‘Total bollocks,’ I dutifully retort.

‘Oh, yeah?’ leers American bloke. ‘We’ll see about that when you’re strapped to an electric fence for all eternity.’

‘Bullshit,’ I leer back. ‘Which fucking comic book have you been reading?’

‘Let’s calm it down a little,’ Baldy instructs. ‘It’s really very simple, Mr Jones. The gentleman you’re escorting is a Mr John… er… Lennon, who I’m given to understand is a trusted, beloved and most prestigious entertainer. No one would think it at all strange if you waived the security check on this occasion. And nothing calamitous is going to happen as a result. Why would we want to cause an outbreak of panic? So… please. If you have any value for your current existence whatsoever. The security check. It will be missed.’

I say nothing.

‘And nor will you mention this to any of your… ah…’

‘Work colleagues,’ sarcastically concludes the American.

Baldy wanders off, still studying his clipboard, as if already reading up on his next assignment. American gives me another poke in the belly.

‘So long… Podge.’

I struggle to formulate a corresponding insult as I watch them go. I’m just drawing breath to shout ‘Up yours, dandruff man’ – or something similarly sophisticated – when they disappear round the corner and everything unstills itself again. Apart from me, in fact. I’m standing there, rooted to the spot, trying to process what has just happened. Lennon and Harrison walk on for a bit, then Lennon realises he has no idea where we’re supposed to be going. He turns around.

‘You okay, man?’

I stare at him for a few seconds, then shake myself out of it.

‘Yeah, sorry. I just thought I might have forgotten something. We’ll, er… we’ll go round to security.’

Please pre-order/support the book right here…

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

So my crowdfunded novel has just hit the magic 70% mark, and then some… 72% to be precise… and more supporters are coming on board all the time. It’s so flattering, I can hardly believe it.

You can jump on board too, just follow this link.

Anyway, check out our poster, beautifully designed by Dawn Kelly.

Even festivals in the Afterlife need a bit of promotion. Below is a fabulous depiction of what a Felix Romsey’s Afterparty poster might look like… based on the line-up for the year in which my novel is set.

Amazing, right?

Here’s the profile picture version… feel free to make it youyr profile picture…

Hooray…

T

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton

Once again, a very large and Easter-chocolate-filled THANKS to everyone who has sent their hard-earned pounds/euros/dollars/etc virtually winging their way towards the Unbound bank account in support of Felix Romsey’s Afterparty. As I write we are hurtling towards a nice fat 60% funded, which – just after the end of the campaign’s first month – I’d venture is a pretty rocktastic result.

Backers are from a fascinatingly varied pool of backgrounds, age groups and professions: singers, actors, drummers, comedians, TV presenters, screenwriters, carpenters, financiers, tour managers, teachers, academics, scientists… and that’s just casting the briefest glance across the 88 fantastic names emblazoned over our supporter page.

I’ve just posted a third excerpt from the novel, this time with the wonderful added bonus of MY VOICE. Yes, you can pretend I’m an audiobook and listen to my twangy tones reading the bit about the Numbness. What does that mean? Have a listen to find out.

(By the way, if you missed the second excerpt, it appears on my website here.)

My wonderful band have Facebooked our ten gazillion followers about the campaign, check out what they said about it HERE…

Coming soon… some fantastic new visual assets, being produced as we speak, a podcast interview with my superstar Austrian photographer/podcast presenter friend Matthias Hombauer, and many more nuggets… all at the same time as recording a new Fink album… yikes… happy days…

Thanks again!

Tim xxxx

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Like the Felix Facebook page!

Here’s the second excerpt from my crowdfunding novel. Hope you enjoy it. If you like what you’re reading, now’s the time to support the book, by pre-ordering/pledging via the link underneath. Thanks!

 

The first famous person I saw here was Ian Curtis. He wasn’t just the first famous person I saw here; he was the first person I saw who I’d previously known in any capacity whatsoever. Via some curious twist of fate, nobody that I’ve ever known personally has died. My parents are both still alive, as are my aunts, uncles, brother and all my friends. I wasn’t old enough to remember any of my grandparents, so I’ve never bothered to look them up. The only funeral I ever attended was my own, and whether I even went to that is open to metaphysical debate. I spent my whole life thinking I was so lucky that no one close to me had died, and now I spend much of my time thinking the precise opposite.

So, consequently, of all people: Ian Curtis.

It was the first time Felix invited me to the Afterparty; out of pity probably, for I was still moping around like a wounded donkey although I’d been here a good eighteen months. Felix said to come and hang out backstage, but I didn’t feel like socialising so I just showed up at 4pm when I knew Curtis was scheduled to play. He’d assembled quite a good little band for himself – Hole’s Kristen Pfaff on bass and the guy from Lush on drums – and as you can imagine there was a pretty big crowd even for an afternoon slot. But fuck, it was weird. So many weird things about it, I didn’t even know where or how to begin. I had about three panic attacks just getting into the site. We’re not supposed to get panic attacks, but of course I get them anyway. I’d stopped off at a Social on the way there and downed a whole bottle of wine to calm my nerves, but I was practically sober again by the time Curtis started. I got a brief grip on myself and managed to weave my way to the front, but then he came on – and I froze. I suppose I was expecting him to look like the dude who played him in the Anton Corbijn film, but, well, he didn’t. He didn’t even look like Ian Curtis. He looked like Ian Curtis after living in Los Angeles for ten years. Tanned, vivacious, prosperous, muscular… healthy. Albeit with a cigarette in his mouth. He sported that odd pentagonal guitar from the ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ video and greeted the audience with an exuberant ‘Good afternoon, zone T109!’ All wrong. Then they started to play, and when I realised it was ‘Dead Souls’ I just couldn’t handle it. I felt like I was going to be instantly sick, although as I’ve found out many times, there’s never anything to be sick with. I had to leave. I turned and started to push my way out again before he’d even started singing. And when he did, everyone around me – smiling, pretty, perfect young faces with their unfeasibly spotless indie uniforms – shouted out the lyrics with him (‘They keep calling me!’) as if he were playing a Bon Jovi song. I had a harder time getting out than in, but people were so enthralled by what they were watching that no one noticed the desperate, heavy-breathing twat trying to make a run for it. Halfway out I started yelling at people. ‘Why’s everyone so fucking cheerful?’ ‘This is so fucked up, does no one realise?’ ‘This is not a happy song! Why is everyone roaring it out like a football chant?’ – that kind of thing. At one point I was so deranged, I thought I saw Saff standing far away in another part of the crowd. I screamed out her name and then piled over to try and talk to her. When I got there of course it wasn’t her at all, just someone who looked vaguely sort of nothing like her whatsoever. I finally broke free from the mob, ran all the way back to my house and lay on my lounge floor crying for about a week.

But I got over it.

 

Support/pre-order the novel here!

Read the first excerpt here!

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I’m crowdfunding my third novel with UNBOUND right now! Felix Romsey’s Afterparty can be pledged for in digital or paperback formats on its very own webpage here.

See a video of me yapping about it BELOW.

Felix Romsey’s Afterparty is a rock festival with a big difference. Put it this way: this year’s lineup includes Elliott Smith, Minnie Riperton, Serge Gainsbourg, Kurt Cobain, Whitney Houston, Michael Hutchence and, making only his second live appearance since his death: John Lennon. It’s the Glastonbury of the Afterlife; the place where dearly departed music fans can let off steam to the sounds that soundtracked their lives, and where late rock stars can be rock stars again. Flamboyant, acerbic promoter Felix Romsey and his amiable assistant Adrian “Podge” Jones frantically ride the anticipation among the capacity crowd and a backstage area chockful of celebs; with the stakes this high, they’d be anxious even if everything were running smoothly.

But lately, things have most definitely NOT been running smoothly. The recently-arrived David Bowie has been snagged by a rival promoter, and Felix has reason to believe that a plot to oust him as the Afterlife’s preeminent rock impresario is afoot. And when headliner John Lennon, just as he’s drawing breath to sing his first note onstage, vanishes – no, I mean really vanishes – Felix and Podge have no choice but to find out who’s behind the sabotage, and to try and rescue their star attraction – and their festival’s reputation – before it’s too late. Early in their search they run into the inscrutable Jane Brown, who at first encounter seems little more than a Lennon superfan, but proves to be invaluable, introducing Felix and Podge to the chilling possibility that their quarry mightn’t be up here, but in fact, down there…

Felix Romsey’s Afterparty is a novel for anyone who’s ever heard the cliché “the great rock festival in the sky” and spent a few fleeting moments wondering what said celestial festival – and indeed, the reality it inhabits – might really be like.

Conversations can continue on Twitter @timwthornton