While the nation decided, without any sense of irony (see below), which forgettable Cowell cash cow to promote over the other, I was ramping up some enthusiasm for playing a few songs myself. Not to millions of slavering, television-fixated fuckwits, but to a bar full of real people. Yes, here is the news - music is alive and well, despite the best efforts of The High-Trousered One. And let's not have any post-X Factor whines of 'I only watched ironically' - the viewers and voters are complicit in the misery now to be unleashed on our unprotected ears. Mercifully it'll all be over by Xmas + 10. Oh, and here's a prediction. X-Factor Matt's second album, around this time next year, will be a forgettable mish mash of self-penned ditties, written from the sanctuary of rehab.
No, what my little foray into open mic territory has proved is that you could throw a net over any group of 50 people and get one X Factor final-quality performer. This means that all of this bullshit is just a big musical lottery show. Imagine going through all that only to find the public like you less than a cuddly painter and decorator. The 'it could be you' strapline is more appropriate for X Factor than it is for the Lotto.
You might think that as a middle-aged man still playing at playing, this might be sour grapes, a lament for my never-started music career. I have always been around much better musicians than myself. My own brother, for one - a prodigious talent who, it would appear, can play anything with a keyboard or strings and compose orchestral works or play concert grade piano. He teaches music. He IS music. That has cast a long shadow over my own noodlings which I have never really escaped. But he's just one. I have a lot of friends who are simply excellent musos. Some play, some don't. As for myself, I have no illusions. I'm a mid-table, second division bass player and a Vauxhall Conference (or whatever the lower divisions are called now) guitarist. I know it, my friends know it. I don't let it hold me back.
Tonight, however, I finally felt validated. I got to play with 'Doc' Doherty of the mighty Xdreamysts. That's proper NI New Wave royalty right there. I have his records, and I told him so. And tonight he joined us, on a stage, to jam some songs to real people.
So Mr Cowell - while you're selling your anodyne, vanilla-flavoured pap as some kind of significant cultural moment, I have been down with the resistance. We'll be back.