On Monday I did something which scared me. I spoke in front of an audience of about 100 eagle-eyed people in order to interview one of my all-time heroes, Lawrence, for the Lawrence of Belgravia screening at the Hackney Picturehouse. In my decidedly non-Paxman, professionally seeking brush with the sweat-inducing spotlight of public speaking, I think I emerged (relatively) unscathed. Maybe it was the Irish coffee I surreptitiously necked before making my entrance or maybe it was my introductory chain smoke with Lawrence beforehand which helped to demystify the enigma, I can’t be sure. Nevertheless, it’s safe to say I enjoyed myself.
I would file Felt alongside TV Personalities, Yo La Tengo and Belle and Sebastian as one of those bands of which I will never tire. I can listen to them for hours on end, rediscovering and discovering new nuances at every turn. For me, ‘Forever Breathes The Lonely Word’ and ‘Let The Snakes Crinkle Their Heads To Death’ are picture-perfect moments in time. With the electronic organ at the helm, Lawrence weaves his fey, undulating voice in and out of songs which sparkle and fizz with incomparable beauty. He’s an outsider, living on the periphery of a stardom to which he will sadly never belong. And he’s an insanely articulate, gentle-natured luminary – by no means the cantankerous cynic I was expecting – who has produced some of the most beautiful music ever written.
Having spent the weekend immersed in preparation, I had typed up a list of questions to ask Lawrence and the film’s director Paul Kelly. Although as I was only really acting as the compére , the mouthpiece to get the ball rolling, I discarded my question sheet and attempted to ‘freestyle’. I forgot to introduce Lawrence and Paul to the audience and dived straight in, but actually didn’t think it was imperative to introduce them and maybe a bit superfluous as everyone knew who they were (although Lawrence had something to say about this after the Q&A!). Lawrence signed my record and postcards afterwards and it was as an absolute honour meeting him. An experience engrained in my memory forever.
Thanks to Sam for the (rather insalubrious) iPhone picture!