PULP has been my favourite band for 17 years, since a friend taped me a copy of their 1994 album His ‘n’ Hers.
For me, Jarvis Cocker was the trailblazer of Britpop and everyone else was following in his wake.
He was a misfit and he made it okay to wear charity shop clothes and not be in the cool gang – very handy for shy, bookish 14-year-old me.
I didn’t get to see them live until 1998 when they played in Finsbury Park in London. Since then I’ve seen them a further seven times, usually with my mum, who is great at getting us down to the front.
The closest I ever came to meeting him was in 2003 when Pulp played in Rotherham. While the support act was playing, I suddenly realised Jarvis was standing directly in front of us, trying to look inconspicuous in a huge furry coat – but others saw him too and he left before I got to say hello.
So when I saw he was to open a new library in Wakefield on Saturday I knew I had to go along.
Mum and I got to Wakefield half an hour before Jarvis was due to arrive, but he was already there having a tour, cup of tea in hand.
In the library the atmosphere was like a Pulp gig with a mix of people you would never see in the same place anywhere else.
First he was introduced by Wakefield Council leader Peter Box, who talked about Jarvis’ book, Mother, Brother, Lover, an anthology of his lyrics published last year.
Then Jarvis spoke about why books are important, why reading a book is different to reading online, and why libraries are vital.
He said: “Instead of thinking of this as a room full of books, think of it as a room full of people, and these people on the shelves are people you can make acquaintances of; people from all over the world, and from different periods of time. And in that way it’s like a really good party with lots of really interesting people there. So welcome to the party at Wakefield One!”
And then – despite the people from the council saying he wouldn’t be signing anything, Jarvis sat down for more than an hour, met fans and signed their books.
I’ve been a reporter for years and I’ve met thousands of people, from vox popping on the streets of Dewsbury to interviewing Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the Community of the Resurrection in Mirfield.
But I’ve never been so nervous as I was on Saturday afternoon, standing a foot away from my hero, someone whose words have meant so much to me since I was a kid.
Jarvis signed my copy of his book, and said it was nice to meet me. Thankfully, he’s probably used to people dithering, stammering and shaking when they meet him.
Some say you should never meet your heroes, because you’ll be disappointed.
Well, I met mine – and if Jarvis is your hero too, I can definitely recommend it.