So the Manics got their Number One. I should have written about this last week, but I was waiting for more news from the frontline before passing comment. And it didnt come 'til the
Thursday night after the chart was announced.
There on the line was a modest but vindicated Nicky Wire, as softly spoken on the phone as ever. I don't know whether it's to do with his height, or his penchant for hoovering, but I always think of Wire as the sensible one in the Manics, the tower of strength. But even he
sounded like he was in a state of shock after going to Number One. I suppose it's difficult from the outside, but talking to Wire, you start to realise what an absolute big deal this record was/is for them.
The "If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next" story really started on the Monday of release. Wire confesses that he wandered into record shops looking at copies in the racks. By Wednesday, the early sales reports from the shops weren't good (the industry has various means of sampling midweek sales, and the general rumour doing the rounds was that Steps were Number One, and the Manics as low as Three). On the same day, the Manics arrived at Radio 1 to work on our recent two-part documentary, "A Design For Life".
Standing outside having a cigarette, unaware of how tight the race was, we said hello and I gave them the thumbs up for Sunday (something cringeworthy and subtle like "Number One this week then, eh?"). You've never seen a more crestfallen selection of faces. Honestly it didn't sink in that something might be amiss 'til James mumbled "Steps" under his breath, like you'd mutter a bunch of failed exam results. Now I could say here that I had ultimate faith in the band, that the cursed Steps held no fear for me, that the Number One was simply meant to be,
but when I bet James £10 that they'd be top come the weekend, it was actually a knee-jerk reaction. Subconsciously you'd do anything to gee them up with a little bravado.
Anyway. the Manics went to Ireland, while the rest of the world, it seemed, went to Reading. As members of their press team filtered back from seeing them play live. the news was still mixed (though the gigs were great, a fact that Wire confirms. Then on Sunday the news broke that, against the odds, they'd done it. Journalist and Manics fan Simon Price passed me en route to seeing a band and had a wild, celebratory look in his eyes. That was it then.
"I wanted to phone everyone up and tell them we were Number One," says Wire, "but then I realised I didn't have any friends." There's a muffled laugh at the end of the line, and he admits that, out of character, he had four glasses of champagne and a minor hangover. For someone who's virtually given up on the charts, even I was getting excited.
The Manics were Number One, the excruciating wait was over - and their album should follow suit this week. I can't even start to imagine what sort of topsy-turvy stuff is going through their heads at the moment, but it does feel like the end of one chapter and the start of another. One
more ambition achieved, now everything changes.