“It’s actually all because I needed a new Wii controller so that I could play Mario Kart properly. If I hadn’t set out for it, I would never have encountered, in the trudge back from Gamestation, my old friend, Steve. I hadn’t seen Steve since school, years ago and in another city: we’d never been especially close, but he was the son of an old walking teacher of mine (thereby hangs a different tale). An artist, violinist and freelance bike repair man, he has since got involved in the bakery trade and now, I understand, lives in Russia. I owe him everything.
I lived ten minutes’ walk from Catweazle for almost a year before Steve told me it was there. Two weeks before I moved out, with things around my attic apartment already stacked in boxes, I finally took his advice and went along for an evening. I remember standing on the Cowley Road during the interval breathing heavily down the phone to another associate of mine, unable to properly articulate all the different explosions that were going off in the back of my brain, the reasons he had to make a special trip from London to see this incredible thing. I may be misremembering, but I don’t think I went back in for the second half of that first show; I don’t think I could handle it. I walked for a while, processing the curious sensation – perhaps you’ve had it too? – that after tonight, and for reasons not yet quite comprehensible, nothing will ever be the same.
In the three years since, many of the blurry, incredible figures who danced across the stage that first evening have gradually sharpened into unforeseeable clarity. I’ve lived, mused, partied, written and rhymed with an incredible array of people, many of whom I now count among my closest friends. I’ve loved and been loved, in every single sense of that complicated word. I’ve even had the dubious honour of hosting the night on a number of occasions. It has been ridiculous in the best of senses; a bizarre, stupid, miraculous thing to become a part of – seeming so simple now I’m here, but without which I would lack so much of the richness which continues to inform everything I do, and so many of the people alongside whom my own unfathomably self-inflicted artistic struggles take place.”