While jetsetting around Spain with the Villains I asked JC about getting the Charged Particles series going again. I proposed to get the ball rolling with a bit about Shirley Manson, whose name I’d casually dropped in a recent TVV post. It’s not much of a story, but it fits in nicely with another Charged Particles entry about my gym buddy Chris, who turned out to be a Foo Fighter. So, here you go:


My wife, the beautiful Goldie the Friendly Therapist (GTFP), has a childhood friend named Lisa, whose boyfriend was a nice guy named Dan. “You’ll like Dan,” Goldie told me, “he’s a bassist in some band.” The band turned out to be Garbage. Dan wasn’t one of the four principal band members but he had recorded and toured with them. When Lisa and Dan got married I was hoping the band would be there because I was really interested in talking to Butch Vig. I didn’t listen to Garbage; nothing against them but just not my thing. But Butch Vig! With the possible exception of OK Computer I don’t think there was a more important rock record in the 90’s than Nevermind, and Vig was the guy that produced it for Nirvana!

The wedding took place on a classic Hollywood summer night at a 1920’s hilltop mansion. Probably because of Goldie’s long friendship with the bride, we were put at the band table. The Garbage table, as it were. Before I could position myself next to Butch Vig, Shirley Manson sat herself down at the corner on my left, gave me a big smile, reached out her hand and said, “Hi! I’m Shirley.” “I know who you are,” I smiled back. Then we chatted for the next 3 hours. I can say from personal experience that she is an absolute sweetheart. She has what can be called a charming laugh, and she laughed a lot that night. No airs or pretensions whatsoever; no need to call any attention to herself. Never having heard her interviewed, I was surprised at her thick Scottish accent. For some reason we got to talking about David Beckham, who I think had just been sold to Real Madrid. “Ach, e’s pew say wept!” said Shirley. It took me a moment to understand she was saying that Beckham was pussy-whipped by Posh. Then she did a pretty funny imitation of their appearance on Da Ali G. Show.

I don’t really remember what else we talked about. I just recall that she was super friendly, asked loads of questions, laughed quite a bit, didn’t talk about herself, and was a lot of fun. Later in the evening a few of the band left the table and went off to smoke cigars on a veranda looking down the hillside. I like a cigar and was regretting I hadn’t thought to bring one of my own. Shirley must have noticed my envious look because she turned to me and said, “Oh! Would you like a cigar?” and popped off somewhere before I could answer. She returned and presented one for me. So I nicked off to the smokers and had a cigar. With Butch Vig.

Goldie has a theory that I’m constantly running into famous folks because I am the least starstruck person there is. There are thousands of celebrities in Los Angeles, but very few are celebrated for doing something intelligent, or for being kind souls, so I’m just not interested. I used to work at a firm that did a lot of industry work which involved meeting loads of famous people, and there are very few I’d like to meet again. And I figure that people just want to be left alone anyway.

At the end of the night Shirley gave me a hug and kiss on the cheek and said, “Lovely talking with you, sweetie!” I’d love to tell you that rock stars and international sex symbols naturally gravitate to me, but it was just happenstance. She might remember the night, because it was a very beautiful wedding of one of her close friends, but I sincerely doubt that Shirley Manson would have the faintest idea of who I am or was. It was a good cigar, though.

Garbage – Medication


JC adds – in case anyone wasn’t aware, all charged particle songs must end with the letters -ion.



10 thoughts on “CHANGED PARTICLES (V3) : Issue #1

  1. Well, I once sat by my beautiful redheaded wife and talked about Shirley Manson… uh, so there! That really was a nice story, JTFL. She has always seemed lovely. Her newish podcast The Jump has been very well received, and in a bit of brilliant timing Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie’s debut album Good Deeds and Dirty Rags (that’s the one with the Rattler on it) was expanded and reissued just last week.

  2. That was awesome. She was my biggest crush for all of the 90’s. The coolest rock star going. I’m still a huge garbage fan to this day. They’ve not taken the easy path. They’ve made some interesting music quite recently too

  3. Never really heard Garbage though I am a Goodbye Mr. MacKenzie fan, of course! I’d be thrilled just to sit at a wedding with any Scot, much less a rock star.

  4. I was staying in a pal’s flat on the Meadows one summer, back in the day, and Shirl, then playing keys in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, would come round looking for another resident, who inexplicably didn’t return her affections. I was instructed to tell her that Craig wasn’t in, while he cowered in his room. He came to regret that when she became an international megastar. And he didn’t.

  5. Great one JTFL! I have always believed the best way to approach a celebrity is to let them approach you. Great example! But now about that conversation with Butch Vig…

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