The sky is the grey of old skin. I walk the Regent to Camden accompanied by bootleg Black Box Recorder. London offers the usual blessing of indifference. Even with an eyepatch and a growling black coat, I am rendered anonymous, all but invisible. Only children seem to notice me, an appropriate canalside figure for those enjoying the Pirate Castle.
At Jongleurs I am interviewed as a talking head for a DVD extra on a forthcoming Bill Hicks documentary. I am not at my best. Paid in trinkets and Tiger beer, I ramble without any of the coherence and insight Bill deserves.
I want to explain how he was an inspiration, how beyond the laughter they evoked, his words did more than make me think. Explain how after listening to Bill, being a hypocrite is near impossible. Explain how he gave voice to my anger at the illusions of the Black Iron Prison. How the truths he told were so deep and universal they will keep resonating no matter how many times the heads on the statues are changed.
Of course, I fail. I do not even explain that I would probably have never written a conspiracy book without him. I do not even begin to convey how Bill Hicks still haunts me. Nudges me to scrape the black spray paint of the lens, reminds me to laugh, to be angry and yet approach the madness of the world with a loving spirit.
Drinking afterwards with fellow fans and interviewees, there is an immediate bond. If you get Bill, you tend to have something in common aside from a passion for a man who referred to himself as ‘Chomsky with dick jokes’. I hold one of the trinkets, a memorial card made up by Bill’s mother Mary Hicks. I turn its words over and over: ‘I left in love, laughter, and in truth, and wherever truth, love and laughter abide, I am there in spirit.’ Their power makes me feel even worse over the hash I have made of the interview.
The rest of the night is spent with Surreal Girl, something always guaranteed to raise my spirits. We drink champagne while eating popcorn, see an unfinished edit of an upcoming movie. It is a strange experience. Not only do I have to contend with hearing the voice of Doctor Who say ‘fuck’, I am front row with 11 lesbian vampires. This results in a lot of unavoidable actress leg and cleavage. Somehow I suspect Bill would have liked that.