Staggering out of Camden Town’s Electric Ballroom early on Tuesday morning when the Stereophonics aftershow party kicked out, I found myself in Kentish Town Road, disoriented as a result of being pissed and because the door I had entered by was around the corner in Camden High Street.
So I went about 100 yards in the wrong direction, found the tube had long since stopped for the night, slewed around and careered back towards Kentish Town, from where I could still get an overground train home.
The streets were by then deserted apart from minicabs ferrying clubbers from the West End to North London bedsits for a few hours kip before work, so the group of 20 to 30 women in front of me was incongruous, even to an inebriate.
They weren’t behaving like a hen party. They didn’t appear to be drunk, they weren’t throwing up, flashing their thong elastic, falling over in the gutter or mauling coppers, as they would be if this were St Mary’s Street or Wind Street at that time of the morning. They all faced the same way, meek, standing stock still with rapt expressions, apparently venerating someone of relatively small stature whose face I therefore couldn’t see.
Through gaps in the crowd, I recognised a T-shirt and so I knew who it was.
“Hey, Javier!” I yelled.
“Hey, Martin!” yelled back Javier Weyler, the Stereophonics’ drummer, from the far side of the crowd.
The bodies suddenly parted so it seemed appropriate to greet each other like the dearest of long lost friends, even though we’d wished each other goodnight at the party not 5 minutes earlier.
I am 6’ 6” and Javier is, well, a lot shorter than that, so I had to stoop low to slap him on the back. The women all leaned forward, hanging on every word that passed between us. They were respectful, not in the least bit pushy or threatening, but they gave off a vibe I found unsettling.
“This is weird, Javier,” I said, loud enough for everyone to hear.
“No, no,” he replied. “It’s cool.” He didn’t seem at all perturbed.
I scanned their faces. They had the same intense look of... love; you’d have to name it that, adoration, verging on obsession maybe, not directed towards me, obviously, but to the little Argentinean man in front of me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I must have looked confused.
“We’re his stalkers,” offered a tall blond, just like that, taking her eyes off Javier for the briefest moment.
“All of you?”
“Ohhhhhh,” I said. “Hello stalkers, I’m Martin.” I gave them a fluttery little wave.
“Hello,” they chorused, most of them giving a fluttery wave back.
“This is weird, Javier,” I whispered.
“But it is cool,” he replied firmly. “Don’t worry.”
“Okay. Well... I’ll leave you to it then.”
“Okay, Martin. Thanks for coming down. Good to see you.”
"You'll be alright then."
"Yes. Don't worry."
Conscious of the maxim that to burn a thousand matches only takes one match, I removed myself from the space between Javier and his stalkers and slouched off. I felt like a man ought to feel when he’s just found a baby bear abandoned in the forest and I was a bit spooked by it to be honest with you.
So I resumed my unsteady trudge northward to the station. Looking back over my shoulder, I felt relieved to see that they showed no interest in my departure whatsoever. Rather him than me, I thought.