Last week I spoke to a friend from where we live. 'Hurry back' he said, 'the weather's marvellous - it's like summer here.'
We hurried back as best we could, taking in a visit to my mother and enduring two nights on the infamous bedsettee, followed by a night in the van in a service area on an auto route in the middle of France where I started to feel a little strange.
In the morning we stopped off for coffee in a town called Argenton. The air was soft with spring sunshine. By the time we got home, just after midday, it was raining.
The house was cold. We turned up the thermostat and listened for the heating to kick in. Nothing happened. I went out to the barn, clambered over the devestation brought about by the explosion of last January or whenever it was, and pushed the manual start button on the boiler. It fired up and died away as I was leaving the barn. We were out of oil again. It's becoming a tradition with us - it's happened every time we've come home from a tour this winter.
I mentioned feeling a little strange. Now I felt more than a little strange, it was as though the will to live, or the ability to keep being alive was stealing away. The last useful thing I did before giving up was to order five hundred litres of heating oil at an inflated price.
At four o'clock on Tuesday morning I came to on the bathroom floor. The thought weaved across my mind, between dizziness, confusion and utter nausea, that given the choice I would have chosen a more dignified manner of clocking out.
Since then I've been feeling mildly better in that I haven't felt as though I was either about to die or that dying would be welcome relief. My friends are all telling me I need to have a rest - they're always saying that but for once I think they're right. For the past three days I've been alternating between lying on the sofa and going back to bed, unable to bring myself to do the slightest thing, but bored out of my mind.
I started planning my final tour. The diagnosis of something catastrophically fatal, me being dignified, undramatic and philosophical about it - I'd just like to do one final tour, play some good places with my good friends, say goodbye in style (though I see it not so much as goodbye, more adieu)... The triumphant tour with a highly successful new breakthrough album, the biggest of my career (though God knows how I thought I was going to record that in the state I was in). Then the inevitable announcement that I'd passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family and friends, followed by all that turgid Facebook rockin' in heaven with an all-star band tonite shit.
I had it all mapped out, but then I thought of those dreadful Youtube clips of me and Amy playing in places with bad lighting, bad sound, crappy paintings all over the wall behind us, or worse, gardening implements. Why do audiences flock to these events armed with little movie cameras - is there some other agenda that I don't know about?
We should be really flattered that people want to take our photos and make little film clips of us, but we're beyond flattery - we're getting seriously pissed-off about it. We love playing for people in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, but most often the magic of the event doesn't translate through the medium of the mobile phone camera.
We'd like to ask respectfully that in future people keep their treasured memories of us to themselves, and not plaster them all over the internet.Otherwise their crappy photos and sub-standard film clips will be what the rest of the world will judge us by for the rest of time. And we don't think that's fair.
It would be different if someone came up with decent footage of us at Southpaw in Brooklyn or playing with Yo La Tengo in Dusseldorf, but they never do, perhaps because the audiences at those concert are there for the concert, not partly just to record the event. There's an inane egocentricity about recording all this stuff and putting it where everyone can see it. I wish people would learn to live in the moment and leave their fucking gadgets at home.
There - I've gone from maudlin to ranting, I think I'm starting to feel better!