How the devil are you?
I'm reasonably hale and hearty. I'm not as healthy as I used to be - I don't ride my bicycle as much as I used to. John Peel used to cycle, didn't he, but I think it's a long way from where he lives now.
Do people have a preconceived idea about what you're going to be like?
Yes. And I think it's terrible to let people down.
Pulp have been going a lot longer than Q. Do you care to think back any further than 1986, professionally speaking?
I prefer not to. My life kind of sorted itself out a bit at the beginning of 1988, by which time at least we could see the end of the '80s, people were coming out of their bunkers and throwing their anoraks away and starting to be real people. I'm not saying it was unmitigated hell up until then, but in 1986, we'd have still been signed to Fire records, it would've been my 23rd birthday, we finished recording our album, Freaks, in June, and it was going to be another year before it came out - it was one of those kind of horrible limbo periods. And then Live Aid killed rock music.
Is Sheffield really as sexy as you portray it in your songs?
Well, if you'd given me a multiple choice whilst I was in the womb, I'm sure I wouldn't have ticked off Sheffield. It's in the north of England for a start, so there's none of this frolicking around on beaches, or idyllic settings for you to have trysts with your loved one in. It's more bus shelters and huddling together for warmth.
What do you think of when you think of Q?
A CD player.
How did it feel to present Top Of The Pops in October?
I'd like to state here and now that I don't harbour any pretensions to be a TV personality or presenter. I thought about it a lot before I did it, because I don't think people take Jools Holland seriously as a musical force any more, do they? But I saw a tape of East 17 presenting Top Of The Pops, and I thought they did it OK, I actually thought better of them for it, and I saw Punt & Dennis do it, and I thought, I'm going to have to go a long way to be as bad as that.
How about your earlier romping success as a contestant on BBC's Pop Quiz?
I was absolutely pissed Well, I didn't want to clam up. I remember seeing Robert Smith on Juke Box Jury and he just sat there all the time, right sulky, and it irritated me. It seems like all these cheesemasters in big bands - like Phil Collins - can come across all articulate on TV, and then you get people who you consider a bit more "from our world" and they seem incapable of forming a sentence. So I was determined to make a stand for alternative music and not be overcome by the fact that I was sitting next to Des'ree and Chesney Hawkes.
Did it feel faintly ridiculous to be nominated for the Mercury Prize?
No, we felt vindicated. It meant, This group is real. If we'd won the money, we'd have split it five ways, and it would've gone to charity eventually because I buy all my clothes from Oxfam and Barnardos. To be honest, we could've done with the money much more than M People.
What is the prince of all cheeses?
What? Cheeses that you eat? You can't beat a ripe Camembert. The only trouble is, I brought one back from France recently and the riper ones do smell. You need a special container.
Who in pop is sexier than you?
Robbie from Take That. On telly, Mark, the small one, always comes across as pretty sexy, but I met them on Top Of The Pops and Robbie was better. They had to re-take their performance because he'd painted one of his teeth black. He's got a cheeky sense of humour.
If you could "remove" one person from the world of contemporary music and make it a better place, who would it be?
That's dead easy. Mr Pilau (Marti Pellow) for crimes against music. I've always disliked Wet Wet Wet, from Sweet Little Mystery onwards. There's a lot of groups that do what they think is sophisticated music, which means really watered down, castrated soul. but Wet Wet Wet have been doing it a long time. And just when you think it's safe to go back in the water, they come back. They hadn't had a hit in ages, and then they brought out Goodnight Girl. And the same with Love Is All Around. When I was at college in London in 1988, I was walking down St Martin's Lane and Marti Pilau walked past us the opposite way, and I said to my mate afterwards, We should've hit him. But we didn't. So when we were on Top Of The Pops with them, I thought, I can't let this go without making some sort of statement. It was live, and Love Is All Around had only been at Number 1 for two weeks, so I held up a piece of paper saying, I hate Wet Wet Wet. That was it.
What are you doing for Christmas?
I always promise myself I'll go somewhere where it actually seems like Christmas, like Switzerland and stay in a chalet, but I'll probably spend it with my sister in Sheffield. It's quite good now, because she's got a baby, and Christmas is for kids, isn't it?
What do you want for Christmas?
I wish someone would invent a material that you could put on the heels of shoes so that they wouldn't wear down, because I walk really terribly on the backs of my heels, and I can only wear a pair of shoes for a week and they need taking to the cobblers. There must be some material that wouldn't wear out - they can send people to the moon - so I'd like some of that for Christmas. And world peace, of course.
Have you ever had really long hair in your life?
When I was a kid, yeah. It was quite a normal suburb of Sheffield, and my mum was into the '60s because it was the '60s. And I was the only boy on the street with long hair, and people used to think I was a girl, which caused me no end of embarrassment. I had long blond hair, in fact, and little round glasses, so I looked like the Milky Bar Kid.
Ever had a beard?
Mmmm, yeah. When I worked in a fish market about 16, 17, I grew a little one, just one stripe there, under my lip, in the middle. It was because Hugh Cornwell had one on the back of his Nosferatu album. I thought it looked good. It lasted three or four years, and then I saw a picture of my dad around the time he got my mum pregnant, and he had the same beard. It scared me because I was going out with a girl from the art college that my mum went to, and I thought, Shit, I'm going to get her pregnant and my life is going to follow the same pattern as my dad's. So the beard went.
What's on your record player at home right now?
On the turntable, a John Barry album I bought in America, Ready When You Are JB. On the player, a Brigitte Bardot record I got in France. Not exactly stuff from this decade is it?
Would you appear naked to get on the cover of Q?
I'd have to see the photographer's portfolio first.
Tell us a joke.
What do you call a raver in a filing cabinet? Sorted.
What do you call a raver having his afters? Sweet.
What do you call a raver in the fridge? Chillin'.