Michael Stipe and Me

The room that I most often write in is the spare room. It used to be the junk room but now, in addition to all the junk, it has a bed, so it is officially the ‘spare’ room. I have a small desk in there in front of the window and it has an wonderful view of a ruined 6th century church and round tower and beyond that, the hills which were said to have inspired Narnia. But the curtains have to be closed most of the time because the sun shines right in your face, so, mostly, I have the wonderful view of a pair of threadbare purple  curtains. That, and Michael Stipe.


Michael Stipe is allowed at my writing desk because we have an understanding. He will not look me in the eye and distract me from what I’m writing, when I’m not tweeting, and I will let his spirit infuse the junk/spare room with whatever it is that transforms it into the place where I am most able to write the story I’m attempting to write. Michael Stipe is my muse.

Michael Stipe has been my muse since 1992 when I first saw this:

I was 17 and I thought he was called Michael Stripe for probably about a month, providing no end of amusement for my sister who later taped over my copy of REM MTV Unplugged with an episode of Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook with Ainsley Harriott. We didn’t get along too well in those days.

I knew I wanted to be like Michael Stipe from the first time I saw that performance. He was just so weirdly brilliant and beautiful. I wondered if there’d been a time when he was just simply weird. You don’t get to be brilliant without loads of practise and being a singer requires doing the practise in front of people. So imagine if you’re *just* a weird kid, not yet brilliant, and the thing that will make you uniquely brilliant and beautiful will mean that you have to practise yourself being your(weird)self in front of other people. I didn’t/don’t need to imagine that. I am still a weird kid trying to practise the incredible stunt of not listening to the real or imagined voices that think weirdness is something to be overcome at all costs.

Michael Stipe really helps.

What helps you?


  1. i write in a corner of my bedroom between the wardtobe and the wall. Cosy and bijou but no michael Stipe!. Well done on new blog1 🙂

    1. Ha! It was just around the same time and I *still* think they were the greatest thing since sliced bread. In fact, I seem to remember them coming over to our house and my mum wondering where all the sliced bread was going! Toast parties- rawk n’roll! 😉 Thanks for the comment I will pop over and take a look at yours now. Maybe I’ll do a post about Redeemer next. Great memories.

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