Those who know and love me, know my fondness for a Beautiful South song. Those who are forced to share my singing-in-the-car routines know my very particular fondness for a specific line in Song for Whoever - 'I love the PRS cheques that you bring' - I sing it loudly, with a certain 'yes I know what a PRS cheque is' conceit and a smug-and-somewhat-self-satisfied smile.
Let me take you on a journey back in time. It was 1997, and I'd had a tough year. My Dad had died, I was struggling to work out how to live post-divorce, with four kids and no job. I was part-way through a teacher-training degree which seemed more and more distant from my idea of what teaching should be, when my very best friend Francesca Ferrari (yes that is her real name and worthy of another blog post all of its own) suggested that we nick off college for a week and take a holiday to Gran Canaria.
I'm easily led. It seemed a sensible option to spend my student loan on a child-free week in the sun. So we hatched our plot, packed our bags and set off. On the very first evening, just before retiring to our hotel beds, we happened across a couple of polite young gentlemen with strangely-accented English. And there it all began.
For the next few years I conducted a long-distance liaison with an Austrian music producer. Time was spent between London and Vienna. I didn't get to see the usual tourist attractions, Schonbrunn Palace, the coffee houses, the art galleries, but I did become quite familiar with a basement studio, with its blue-plastic-lined ceiling and bewildering range of mixing desks.
Though it might be somewhat difficult to appreciate the difference, Austrian Euro-pop in those days was trying hard to maintain a distinction from German Euro-pop. To do that it really needed English lyrics - and that was where I came in. Words and music were exchanged across the miles, until eventually there was a whole album full of songs.
Of course, I'd made no efforts to protect my interests (they were largely of a personal nature) so there were no formal contracts, but my Austrian musician had suggested that I join the Performing Rights Society, just in case the album sold. And to my amazement, it did. It even found its way into the Austrian charts, and for the next few years a small sum made its way into my bank account each year in recognition of our efforts.
After a while the distance between London and Vienna proved too much and the Anglo-Austrian relationship foundered. I grew ever-so-slightly ashamed of my links to the under-valued genre of Euro-pop, and my time as a published lyricist came to an end.
It's been a long time since I had anything to do with UniqueII, they don't exist any more as a production team and my days in Austria are a fond but faded memory. Imagine then, my surprise and delight when I checked my bank statement earlier today to find the sum of £2.76 credited to my account from PRS. It's certainly not the early retirement sum I might have wished for, but I can't help but be pleased that, somewhere in the world, my words are still being listened to every now and then.
And I hope that whoever is still listening is having a lovely time, maybe even dancing.