He admits he was unsure if anybody still cared. "I doubt that on a monthly basis and I'm always surprised when they listen. In the midst of the seven-year gap I went through great gulps of doubt wondering whether there was actually any point to it." And yet he is hardly crippled by excessive humility. Later on he says: "I think if I was shot in the middle of the street tomorrow a lot of people would be quite unhappy. I think I'd be a prime candidate for canonisation."
He misses walking in England, and the shared TV programmes. "I miss the drab everydayness and I miss the common experience that everyone has. And I quite like the absurdity and ridiculousness of British people." You have to ask yourself if he misses the real England or the long-gone, three-channel, Sunday-closing England that he sings about.
So why does he choose to be alone? "Well, you see, I consider that to be a privilege. I don't feel like I live alone because I've made a terrible mistake or I'm difficult to look at. Can you imagine being able to do what you like and never having to put up with any other person? And their relatives. You can constantly develop when you're by yourself. You don't when you're with someone else. You put your own feelings on hold and you end up doing things like driving to supermarkets and waiting outside shops - ludicrous things like that. It really doesn't do."
He took antidepressants when he was 17 in order to help him sleep, and he has had therapy intermittently since then, but he is almost proud of his black moods. "I think if you're remotely intelligent you can't help being depressed. It's a positive thing to be. It means that you're not a crashing bore. I mean, you don't get support groups for rugby players, do you?"
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