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TFT Meets... Andrew Collins
23 December 2003
Andrew Collins, former editor of Q magazine, biographer of Billy Bragg, brother of Simon Collins, son of John and Christine Collins, fan of Pam Ayres and compulsive diarist, has published 'Where Did It All Go Right?' - a book about growing up normal in the 1970s.
It's based on his extensive diary collection, begun in 1972, which charts a blissfully untroubled childhood, and contains lots of stuff about comics and homework and Welsh holidays and TV and Simon being an 'idiotic poof' for wanting to play with his 'loony friend' Paul McBride and action-packed entries like:
'Wednesday, 26 March, 1975
Me and Simon stayed up to see a brill film which we didn't know the name of.'
He stopped his diary in 1992, which is a shame - because with entries like that he could have made a top-flight blogger. Andrew very kindly took time out from not writing a diary to answer us some questions...
> What is the best ever sweet?
The lime Opal Fruit. Oh, how sharp their corners were.
> Have you ever had a bad experience with shellfish?
Only if you count eating a snail on a school French trip in 1978. It was one of the most disgusting things I have ever eaten. I wasn't sick or anything but I could taste it for days afterwards.
> Say hello to someone from your dim and distant past.
Hello Catherine Howard's brother who almost cut his finger off in a toilet door at primary school.
> Tell us something about your friend Kim Gupta.
He was of Asian parentage, although born in Northampton. His Dad was a doctor, whose first name was Prem, which seemed unfathomably exotic at the time. He was probably the most well-off among our circle of friends at Abington Vale school, but that didn't make much difference to us. He had a biggish house though, with a sprawling back garden. He was very clever, academically, and I'm sure he's something pretty impressive these days like a doctor or a scientist. We took against him for a while and formed the Anti Kim Campaign, but I can honestly say I don't know why. Perhaps his cleverness finally rubbed us up the wrong way. Supremely confident.
> What's your favourite scene in 'Live and Let Die'?
The bit at the very end - sorry to spoil it - where the voodoo man Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) is sitting on the front of the train laughing madly, although it did scare me when I saw it as a kid in a tiny cinema in Nefyn, North Wales.
> What film have you been most disappointed by?
Most recently, Gangs Of New York. Critics who love Martin Scorcese, as I do, seem to be giving him the benefit of the doubt over his 'flawed masterpiece'. I hated it because he made it, not despite the fact. I expect better than a right royal, studio-bound mess from one of cinema's true artists.
> Tell us something that you keep trying to forget about but can't.
The scene at the beginning of Martin Amis's novel Dead Babies where that character dreams about smashing all his teeth out. You bastards, I've remembered it again now.
> Tell us something surprising about Billy Bragg.
He has a swimming pool in his house.
> Alison Moyet: do you find it weird that she gets better looking year by year?
You seem to be equating 'good looking' with 'thinner'. That's very shallow. I don't find it weird - she probably stopped eating so many sticky buns. She was always good looking, even when paired with the handsome Vince Clarke.
> Name three songs which would always find a way into your top ten.
Little Fluffy Clouds by The Orb
Love Train by The O'Jays
100 Years by The Cure
> What has been the proudest moment of your broadcasting career?
Possibly presenting Radio One's live coverage of the Brits with Stuart Maconie (we did it for two years running) and interviewing our old pals Blur the year they won about five awards. They'd literally just come off stage and were hot and happy and the champagne was flowing and Stuart and I had known the band since they were first on the scene and it felt like a triumph on every
level. That or co-writing (again with Stuart) Clive James' last ever ITV light-entertainment spectacular, his review of the millennium. We didn't even appear on it, but it was a thrill to see our names go up under Clive's on the end credits.
> What two questions would you ask George Bush Jnr if you could interview him?
1) Would you stand next to this dangerously high cliff?
2) Oh, look up there, isn't that a rare Texan oil bird? [PUSH]
> Sarah Jessica Parker: comic genius or clown-face?
Clown face. I hate that stupid tutu and the voiceover and her no-nudity clause (a programme about sex in which she always keeps her body covered up by the chaste draping of sheets?) and I wish the traffic had splashed up even more water.
> Have you ever been to Peru?
No. I've been to Dallas.
> Have you ever done anything rude in the snow?
No. Sorry. In the autumn once.
> What three people would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Tony Blair, Jack Straw, Geoff Hoon.
> What's the title of the masterpiece novel that lurks within you?