Zealot through the looking glass: Gary Davidson on his Wildhearts book, writing and depression

Gary Davidson, author of Zealot In Wonderland, with some Wildhearts press cuttings“In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.”
–  Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

“I’ve been loved by the sweetest and hated by heroes.”
– Geordie In Wonderland by The Wildhearts

The first time that Gary Davidson met The Wildhearts’ frontman, Ginger, things did not go well. It was April 1998, and Gary was at a Backyard Babies gig in London, when he spied his hero in the bar area. After tapping him on the shoulder and declaring “I’ve waited ages to meet you!” he went in for a handshake, only to send Ginger’s drink flying – a cue for the off-duty musician to storm off.

“What a fucking first meeting,” says Gary, as I remind him of the incident from his book, Zealot In Wonderland.

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King of the ringers: A review of the 18-inch Kong figure from Lanard

Kong figure by LanardDespite loving the heck out of Kong: Skull Island, and hoovering up as much official merchandise as I could (the Blu-ray, the soundtrack CD, the novel, the ‘Art and Making of’ book, the comic book, the Pop Vinyl figure), I somehow managed to leave an 18-inch high and rather handsome-looking Kong toy on the shelf for the past five months.

How did this happen? Allow me to explain.

I clocked the figure – sorry, Mega-Figure – back in March, around the time of the film’s release, but it wasn’t stocked by Toys R Us, Argos, The Entertainer or any other high-street shop that I was aware of. As far as I could tell, it was only available from eBay traders and Amazon Marketplace sellers, which led me to briefly wonder whether it was an import.

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When sleep attacks! How nocturnal hallucinations helped me bust some ghosts

Darren having a snooze, Portsmouth, 1995A few nights ago, not long after going to bed, I opened my eyes to see a man in a gorilla suit standing by my wardrobe.

I’ve had a fair few strange nocturnal experiences, going right back to childhood. I remember, as a toddler, suddenly being woken up by a rooster on the inside of my windowsill. It wasn’t there, of course – I lived on a suburban street and none of the neighbours kept chickens – but I saw and heard it very clearly. Then there was the time – I guess I must have been five or six years old – that I shut my eyes in pitch darkness, only to open them a few seconds later to find my room bathed in daylight. Thoroughly confused, I got out of bed, found my mum and asked her: “Is it morning?” She laughed. Of course it was morning. “I haven’t been to sleep,” I said. “I’ve only just got into bed.”

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DVD extras: Do you want sugar with that?

Christian Bale in Terminator SalvationBack in February, when audio of Christian Bale shouting at the director of photography on the set of Terminator Salvation landed with a thwack on YouTube, I found myself sporting a new windswept hairdo, such was the force of Bale’s outburst.

Interviewed in last month’s Total Film magazine, the actor admitted that he went “overboard” that day. However, he went on to criticise the leak and make some interesting comments about “B-rolls, DVD extras and stuff like that”, bemoaning the fact that many “wonderful mysteries” are revealed far too readily. “I look at it as old-school movie magic,” he said, “and with magic you do not reveal your secrets.”

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DVD cases: Plastic not-so fantastic

Hammer and pliers lying on a DVD caseWithout wanting to come across like a rubbish ‘observational’ stand-up, can I just say: what’s up with DVD cases? They’re one of the most badly designed objects in recent history.

If the clasp holding the disc in place is the ‘press and release’ type, it’s great for storage but useless for sending DVDs through the post, as there’s a good chance the disc will come loose from the spindle and scratch in transit (ie, I’ll receive a dreaded ‘rattler’). Yet if the clasp is sturdy enough to hold on to the disc in the post, it’s not likely to want to give it up when the case is in my hand either. Whatever I do – press the clasp, pinch its sides, a combination of the two, all the while bending the disc as I attempt to prise it free – it won’t hand it over until it’s good and ready.

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Holiday road: On the musical tourist trail in Memphis, Nashville and Vegas

Darren by the Graceland gatesPhew, time travelling really takes it out of a guy. How’s that for a dramatic lead-in to a whinge about the joys of jetlag? Approximately 30 hours have passed since Tara and I arrived back in the UK after a 12-day gallivant on t’other side of t’Atlantic.

Our jaunt began with a week in Tennessee, a return trip (we first visited in 2004) that we decided to make with my parents, who wanted to visit Graceland, the home of Mr Elvis A Presley. The site hasn’t changed much in four years, despite being under new management. The mansion and its grounds, plus a handful of museums across the road, are worthy and moving tributes to the man, his music and his life; the gift shops (both official and unofficial) are, for the most part, giant mountains of tat.

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Ears: An appreciation (or ‘boo to tinnitus’)

A ringing earMy damned tinnitus is playing up at the moment. I’ve actually had an okay time of it this year. The discomfort in my ears – the blocked feeling – is always there but it’s not something I’ve thought about much; it’s settled into the background. I’ve only noticed the condition when, like now, the noises have kicked off.

When the hammering first started, a couple of years ago, I wondered whether it was ever going to stop. It sounded like someone was continually flicking my eardrum. It irritated me all day and kept me awake at night. For a few days, it felt like my life was over – that’s how distressing I found it. Thankfully, the attacks became more infrequent, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

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With these TV previews, you are really spoiling us…

Spoiler-phobic TV set saying 'please don't tell me!'I’ve often heard it said that we’re living in the future. While getting off a train on Saturday, I suddenly had the feeling that it was true. Looking around at the mass of people walking next to this streamlined metal tube that they’d just sped into town on, some of them with mobile communications devices clamped to their ears, I imagined myself living in an age of gaslight and horses, and having my mind blown with a glimpse of this amazing science-fiction world.

Of course, the trouble with living in the future is that you always know what’s going to happen…

Yep, I’m talking TV.

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Chewin’ the fat: My crisp hell

Multipacks of crispsMy name is Darren and I’m a crisp addict.

Well, I was. Back in the dark days pre-2004, I was a fried-potato junkie, a slave to supermarket six packs, which I bought on pretty much a daily basis. Two bags for breakfast – yum yum. A couple more packets for lunch. Finish off the rest in the evening, just before bed.

That’s 42 bags of crisps a week; 180 bags a month. It was no way to live.

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