The very happy winner of our competition to win the typewriter that featured in 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH, Gary Lunt, tells us about his love of all things Nick Cave and how it felt to win a piece of musical and cinematic history.
Back in 1997, aged eight, I saw the Wes Craven film SCREAM for the first time. I was probably too young to be viewing such a film, but considering I had already ploughed through the PSYCHO and HALLOWEEN franchises, I was more than ready. I remember enjoying SCREAM, but the main thing that stood out for me was what came to be the title track of the series: Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ Red Right Hand. It was a song unlike anything I had heard before. I used to rewind the film to view the scenes where the song would appear (I wasn’t bright enough to realise all song titles/artists would feature in the credits). Years later, I was visiting my musician uncle in Sheffield, who was driving me to a music store to purchase my first guitar, when he slipped a CD into the player and that song boomed out.
“It’s that song!” I exclaimed with great delight.
“He’s called Nick Cave. Quite dark, but you might like some of it,” my (wonderful) Uncle John said as he handed me the case of Nick Cave’s Greatest Hits.
I took Nick Cave’s Greatest Hits away with me, and so it began. This must have been 2003/2004. I would save up my pocket money and buy an album of his every few weeks, and my love of his work spiralled from there. As the years passed by I managed to catch him live several times, notably at Glastonbury Festival twice. However, when his album Push the Sky Away came out, word spread online of a documentary film being released about him. Of course the film would feature a live performance, in a small, intimate venue in London called Koko. There was to be a ballot for tickets, so my good friend/fellow Nick lover Leah and I entered it, never even considering that we’d manage to grab a pair of tickets. Yet the gods of music smiled upon us, and we headed to the capital to catch the gig which would feature at the climax of the film. That was November 2013. As the months passed we would read all of the wonderful reviews the film 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH was receiving, and we set our watches for the UK release date: “Only six months… only five months… four weeks… three days…”
The film was to have its premiere in the Barbican Centre, London; however, it was also to be shown in cinemas across Britain on the opening night, followed by a special Q&A along with a live performance which would be streamed to participating cinemas. We arrived at Picturehouse at FACT in Liverpool, bursting with anticipation, and then we sat back and took in the film. We were inspired, moved and simply in awe of what we saw. Moments before the Q&A was to begin, it was announced that we could tweet our questions to both Nick and the directors, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, for them to answer, and the best tweet of the evening would win a prize. Thinking nothing of it, and of course exploiting the technology I had on hand, I tweeted away.
The post-film discussion progressed, and it was punctuated with some brilliant performances of the more delicate Cave numbers such as God is in the House, Into My Arms and The Ship Song. There were some fantastic questions being asked about the construction of the film, and then the host explained that Nick would play one final song to end the event. Nick strolled over to the piano and gave a perfect rendition of Mermaids, and the night was at its end – until suddenly someone stood centre stage and said: “Before we go, the winner of the best tweet was from @GaryTheLunt, who is watching at FACT cinema in Liverpool…”
A giant cheer went up in the room and I leapt out of my seat. The announcement continued, “You have won Nick’s typewriter, which features in the film, and it’s also what he used to write the last album on.”
Apparently he then read out my question, which Nick answered, but I couldn’t tell you what his response was. I was elated, jumping up and down in the cinema, high-fiving strangers and calling out that I had won, so there was no chance of me hearing his answer. I felt as if I’d discovered the golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Once I had left the auditorium, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I rang every friend and relative possible to explain what had just happened. A few hours later, I received a tweet asking for my details to arrange the transportation of the typewriter. None of it felt real. The weekend came and went until finally on Tuesday morning it arrived, just as I was leaving for work. It was like a Christmas morning back when I was eight or nine. I even slipped on a Bad Seeds album to accompany my opening of the parcel. I tore through the paper and the bubble wrap to reveal my prize. Hands shaking, I took a few photographs to show my friends at work, and that was it. I am now the very proud owner of a piece of musical and cinematic history.
Some people have said that I should lock it away, or place it in a glass case to appreciate it from afar. Not a chance. I am definitely going to use it for all of my future scripts, comedy routines and poetry ideas. I think that’s what Nick would have wanted! I’m also hoping that I can soak up his talents through literary osmosis via the keys. Within that little blue typewriter, magic has been produced, and as it now proudly sits on my desk in my writing studio, I just hope that more quality work can come from within.