Alex James’s hilarious account of life behind the scenes of Nineties’ Britpop is one of my favourite non-fiction reads of recent years.
In Bit of a Blur the irrepressible James recounts how he was catapulted to fame and fortune as bass guitarist of the rock band Blur. One moment he was a university student living in a slug-infested squat in Camberwell. The next he was living the high life – hanging out at the Groucho Club, driving around in a cab festooned with spots painted by Damien Hirst and generally being, as he describes it, “the second drunkest member of the world’s drunkest band.”
Those days are long behind him now. He’s moved to the wilds of Oxfordshire, where he lives with his wife and children, makes cheese and waxes lyrical about the delights of the countryside. But in inimitable style he admits: “We bought the farm on our honeymoon and if we hadn’t been in the throes of romance, we’d never have done anything so ridiculous. But like many people, we don’t look back.”
The good news is that James has been busy writing a book about his escape to the country. Called All Cheeses Great and Small: A Not So Everyday Story of Country Folk, it chronicles how he went from the easiest job in the world (rock star) to the hardest (farmer). It’s due out later this year and promises to be a treat.