My first morning after drinking Independent beer and I swore to myself it would be my last. My mind rang with a hollow clanging, as if the scavenging coyotes foraging through my brain were rattling empty dustbins along the abandoned streets. My mouth tasted like the dribbled dregs of garbage fermenting at the bottom of said bins.
I missed a lecture, maybe two, but I wasn’t worried. I didn’t travel all this way for an education to waste it attending lectures. But I had to get in for my interview, this was what I wanted, the chance to tell people why indie music is the best music in the world. This was part of my crusade against normality.
The radio station looked like something out of an early Dr Who episode. The room was covered in egg cartons, which I later discovered was a cheap and basic form of soundproofing. The mixing desk also looked like something from early 1960s sci-fi, all buttons and metal, no indication that anything actually worked.
The DJ held up a large piece of cardboard with the words ‘On air’ scribbled on it in red crayon. I nodded, impressed, hi-tech stuff. I looked around for the tin cans and string conveying the sound to the outside world.
Luke tiptoed up to me. “Shush,” he whispered, completely unnecessarily, “we’re on air.”
I mimed a response around the fact that I’d seen the sign, but he ignored me.
“We’re in studio 2,” he said, pointing to a carelessly constructed tin hut. We’ll call you through in a minute, we just need to run through a few things.”
While I was waiting for my interview I listened to the DJ. “This is Terrence Oblong on Independent Radio,” he said. “Coming up after the next record we’ll be playing hide and seek. One of the radio station staff will be hiding somewhere in the studio, you have to guess where. Today’s hidee is a new guy.”
He handed me a microphone. “Hi, I’m Luke Wasser, I’m a new DJ on the station and I’m going to blow your mind.”
“Thanks Luke,” Terrence said. “Before blowing your minds, Luke is going to hide somewhere in this studio and you have to guess where. Phone the usual number, I had it written down somewhere but the cat must’ve eaten it, or pop up into the studio, and tell us where you think Luke is hiding. Before that, this is Jad Fair and Half Japanese with This could be the night.
He took off his headphones as the music blasted out.
“Right,” he said to me, “you’ll have to hide.”
I looked round the tiny studio, notably lacking in hiding places. “But it’s radio,” I said, “it doesn’t matter whether I hide or not. Nobody will know.”
“I’ll know he said.”
“Okay,” I said and crawled underneath the mixing desk.
“No, no,” Terrence said angrily, “that’s the first place they’ll think of. Try somewhere else.”
I crawled out and looked around the studio. It was still hiding-place-free. However, a giant Shonen Knife poster was flapping loose from the wall and I climbed in behind it.
“That’ll have to do,” Terrence said, “I’m back on.” He held up his crayoned cardboard sign, just in case I was in any doubt.
“Now this is an exciting quiz. This is a chance for you to win,” he looked frantically around the studio for abandoned goodies he could offer up as prizes. He found an old T-shirt that someone had left on a chair. “a Frank and Walters T-shirt. Almost clean. All you have to do is guess where our exciting new DJ Luke Wasser is hiding.”
Unbelievably a call came in. This guy really did have an audience. “Hi this is Turkeen,” said a voice, “I bet that Luke is hiding under the mixing desk.”
“I’m sorry caller,” Terrence said, “you’re wrong. I’ll take one more call before the next track.” There was a pause, during which Terrence mouthed to me ‘I told you so.’
“Hi, this is Judy,” said a Judy-like voice. “I think Luke is hiding behind the Shonen Knife poster.”
“Judy, Judy, Judy,” Terrence said, as if confusing a Kaiser Chiefs lyric, “you are so absolutely right. You win this special addition T-shirt, which you can collect from the studio. For the rest of you, sorry you didn’t win, but in consolation here is a record by the band whose poster Luke chose to hide behind.”
Terrence took his headphones off with an angry snatch and clatter. “See, I told you, the first places people think of are the mixing desk and the Shonen Knife poster. You’ll have to do better.”
“Sorry, I’m new,” I said.
“You’ll get used to it, he said. “Stick around, I’ve got radio scrabble coming up after the news.”