I have a tiny internal Julie Burchill living in my head, against whom I check all my ideas. Really. She’s a tough critic too – I don’t think she’s actually liked an idea yet. She took up residence a long time ago, when I read one of the prickly and brilliant pieces she wrote for the NME about ‘rock’s rich tapestry’, an idea she despised because it summed up all the soft, wooly, wholegrain eclecticism of ‘serious rock’. In the article (I wish I could find it online, or even the date it was published) she famously said: “the only things that matter are the Sex Pistols and Motown.”
This is the kind of sulphurous pop Stalinism that she went on to apply to… well… everything in various top jobs in the grown-up press ever since, of course. We don’t get on at all, me and my tiny internal Julie Burchill. She’s a sort of malign Jiminy Cricket: I’m soft and accepting, she’s tough and intolerant. I think we should treasure variety and strangeness and she thinks that’s evidence of valueless decadence. I like complexity and openness and she likes simple, common-sense solutions. But still, she persists. Intellectually I know she’s wrong (and bitter and cruel too) but emotionally I fear she’s right and that the world really is as bleak and pointless as she says it is. So I go on consulting her and she goes on trashing my mushy relativist bullshit. When will I learn?