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I decide that perhaps these first arrivals are too legendary. I must ease myself in, first engaging with rock star talent of lesser cultural suction. Go and make small talk with the drummer from the Kaiser Chiefs! Then, as you feel better, gradually work up to a cocktail with Nick Cave!
I stand in a little grouping with the Kaiser Chiefs and a fat lawyer. Music industry lawyers disgust me. They split up The Beatles. Also, they are on 20 per cent. They say hi and study my suit. At an awards, there is a steep gradient of tailoring. It descends from the rock stars down through their management, PRs and security, and eventually it reaches the hotel bar staff. At the bottom, there is Q's elder statesman Phil Sutcliffe who ignores all calls to wear a suit and always turns up in a multi-coloured poncho, and below him, me.
But this year it is different. Not only am I at the bottom in terms of couture – my suit is trying to kill me. Why did I wear this f---ing suit? I head for the lavish hotel toilets for an emergency overhaul. I charge to the urinal and gasp as I loosen the waistband. "Just calm down, you stupid cock!" I say to myself.
"Nervous, my friend?" a voice next to me says. I look sideways. It's Bee Gee Robin Gibb. I had some beers with him once after an interview. Actually, thinking about it, it was just me that had the beers.
"No, I'm not nervous. It's the suit," I say to him, "it's made my knob go a bit numb."
Robin Gibb doesn't respond. My eyes flick sideways. I see that he was addressing Nick Cave drilling the porcelain further along the stall. They zip up and leave together, throwing judgmental looks backward and muttering inaudible legend talk. I swallow hard. I stare ahead and hose down my own shoes.
For f---'s sake! The toilet doors open. Q's deputy editor Gareth Grundy peers in. Gareth exudes a square-jawed can-do pragmatism that makes him perfectly suited to handling difficult personalities. A hundred years ago he might have worked in a circus, taming lions with a whip and chair to gasps from the crowd. Today, as a key awards organiser, he fights off snarling rock star egos with a clipboard and a wraparound face-mic.
"Michael, are you ok?" he asks through the open toilet door. He looks incredibly disappointed to see me spraying my own footwear and then consults his flat-plan. "I don't want to rush you, but aren't you supposed to be out front looking after Oasis?"
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