The other day, we met a musical contemporary, and, it transpired, ex-squeeze of Bridport-born alt-rock high priestess and one-time Somerset-resident PJ Harvey. For some reason, we were visiting Yeovil in the company of a hard-left Labour councillor who’d also had a (less intimate) brush with Polly Jean back in the day, session musicianing on a track by her first band Automatic Dlamini in a past life as a pub rock guitarist.
His PJ Harvey anecdotes paled in comparison, though, to those the aforesaid luminary of Yeovil’s ‘80s music scene came toting when we rendezvoused with him in one of those shabby chic cafes rammed with coffee table books and noisy pushchairs. Having recently become quite taken with enigmatic Polly Jean and her music, we unsubtly grilled him for stories about the old days. He was startlingly forthcoming, claiming, among other things, that a fair wedge of Harvey’s debut album Dry was written about him and the disintegration of their relationship – including ‘Oh My Lover’, which never fails to floor us with its heaving intensity.
Truth be told, we left wondering whether there might be half a dozen middle-aged musos wandering around south Somerset telling anyone who’d listen that PJ Harvey albums were about them – but eventually decided it was very plausible. Polly herself has claimed that Dry was indeed inspired by a painful break-up, after all, and the gentleman himself certainly would’ve been in the right place at the right time.