“I’m a creep,” Thom York tells me as he sips tea fresh from the pot, staring vacantly though a misty window. “I’m a weirdo.” He confirms the statement later when he picks something from his ear and eats it, but first he shakes himself from the distraction.
“What the hell am I doing here?” Thom gets up and begins pacing. I’m not sure he’s washed since his Glastonbury weekend - his unusually long hair is greasy, and his coat smells damp. He continues: “I don’t belong here.” I explain that this interview has been arranged for weeks, and that after the twitter bashing I personally received this week for using existing quotes and working them into my interviews in a misleading manner, that I need a fresh break with a big fashionable interview to prove my prowess. Thom agrees to sit down, finishes his tea, and I continue.
I ask how has the Thom we see today improved with age. He takes a pensive glance across the ceiling and inhales deeply though the pause.
“Fitter. Happier.” He nods. “More productive…” A smile breaks through his sincere mask. Has his years in a rock band left him with a habit of excess? Perhaps his trampish styling suggest an alcohol problem? He correct me: “Not drinking too much. Regular exercise at the gym.” I consider his short, stuttering answers, but the truth is, Thom is slower and more calculated than he used to be. He tells me how he’s no longer afraid of the dark, or midday shadows, and will not cry in public. I suggest that perhaps Thom is finally a man, and he nods. “I’ve got the smell of a local man.” I mean to ask “local to where?” but his phone rings.
“Mobiles skwerking, mobiles chirping!” he cackles - I think as a joke to break the ice that will form when he evidently intends to talk in private. He stands across the room, but his festival scent remains. Either he hasn’t has the essential post-Glastonbury wash, or he can’t get the stink off. I imagine the smell will be hanging round for days. I wonder whether to be less judgemental, considering his musical experience and genius (who am I to talk about festival etiquette?), but then I hear Thom acting judgemental himself. I catch him glance across the room at me just as he tells his caller in hushed tone: “Yeah, he talks in maths” (I did no such thing). “He buzzes like a fridge. He’s like a detuned radio.”
I stand up in offence at his tactless remark. Thom stutters, and slams down the phone. For a moment we stare at each other, unsure how to manoeuvre. Who will act first? We have no weapons - well, I have a pen and dictaphone, but I never use them - and Thom moves. He reaches for the light switch, forcing us into near darkness. “It’s always best when the light is off,” he said in a dissonant whine. I’m not keen to agree. I fumble along the wall, turning as I reach the corner and sweeping my hand near the door frame to find the light switch … Phew! For a minute there, I lost myself.
Thom looks confused and tired. And considering the socks which are now on his ears, I realise he could simply be under the influence of psychoactive drugs. I feel pity, and pull them off him (this is the point he eats something from his ear canal). He puts a hand on my shoulder as if to give me advice. I am hesitant, but freeze. He says he knows what I’ve been though, with my difficulty understanding acceptable journalism, and gives me some observations and advice.
“Johann. They’re not scaremongering. This is really happening,” he said. Even in conversation, Thom Yorke speaks in lyrical magnificence fit for a masterpiece. It is at this point that I begin to weep.
It’s been hard seeing my name slandered with a globally trending twitter hashtag, and the unveiling of my misleading writing style. After all, ruining the opportunity to hear a fresh and unprocessed response from an interview subject, and using their previously crafted text, does the reader a disservice. I thought it was fine, with all my writing awards, but really I’ve built a house of cards on sand and deception. I cry.
“Forget about your house of cards,” Thom tells me. “You can scream, and you can shout, but it is too late now. Were you such a dreamer to put the world to rights?”
I appreciate his words, and stand limp in tears. He throws his musty coat arms around me, and I weep into his collar. At the least, I appreciate his sentiment, though frankly my senses are overridden by displeasure. This is made worse by the next comment which he whispers with hot breath into my ear.
“You’re so fucking special.”
This seems a good time to end the interview. I reel back, and push through the exit at a notable pace. Thom calls after me - “Either way you turn, I’ll be there!” - but I am confident he will lose himself. Now, where’d I park the car?
Note: I don’t mean to be harsh on Johann, because he presented the most affecting piece of media I heard all year on Radio 4 when he spoke about the issue in the Congo. He also impressed me when he interrogated the Big Brother contestant who caused some controversy over slimming pills. However, faith in his articles has been dented and I’m not one to pass up on lulz.