#167’s reputation precedes him. He was a friend of Andy’s, and I first met him at the wake. I have been in his company a scant half-dozen times, but it seems not uncommon for strangers to walk up to him and compliment him on his style and/or writing. (I also remember his band being on the cover of the NME when I was in sixth form, but that might lead you to envision scruffy guitarists with outrageous sideburns, and then you’d be totally on the wrong track.)
Later that summer, #167 was in town for a few days. Leonard and I went to meet him in Frenchie’s; as we walked in the door, we were greeted with “DON’T SIT ON THE STAGE!!”, as someone had been sick on it earlier. The place had been uncharacteristically brightened up with flowers, because someone’s ex-boyfriend had just gotten out of jail and there was celebrating. After a pleasant drink, #167 took us to a cabaret, and then to an impromptu Amanda Palmer gig in the Spiegeltent at about 2am.
This was the first time I’d really been exposed to the Dresden Dolls, although I had already been impressed by Kyle Cassidy’s photos of them. The gig cost about £3 and lasted for half an hour, and it was pretty damn special. Afterwards, Leonard and I flashed the passes #158 had given us, and the three of us got in to the VIP bar. I babbled a lot with drunken enthusiasm. #167 commented a lot on Amanda Palmer’s unshaven armpits, until other people commented on his commenting, and then he stopped. The bar closed at 5am, and he came back to my place so we could make out for a while. He was delightful company; still is, having last seen him a couple of weeks ago.
I remember the next day, striding to work hungover and hiding behind sunglasses, I ran into #81 and said a quick hello. “You look like such a rockstar,” she texted me a few minutes later, which made me glow, and came as a surprise since I figured I must look like a dishevelled heap, but I guess that’s not incompatible with rockstars. This was followed by marvellous compliments from #167, on his train back to London. After my night shift, I collected a last-minute desperate couchsurfer from California, and took him round to #168’s place and I think we had a drink there. Everything seemed to be moving quickly, and the festival only amplified it.