From the healing power of the poem to fantasies of Paris in 1929—the poet answers 11 questionsby Prospect Team / May 8, 2019 / Leave a comment
What is the first news event that you can recall?
VJ Day 1945. Bonfires on bombed-out street corners. Bunting, and “Welcome Home Lads” graffitied on the end of terrace walls.
If you could spend a day at one moment in history, what would it be?
I would love to have been in Liverpool during the 1960s and played the Cavern. Hang on, just remembered, I did play the Cavern in Liverpool during the 1960s. In which case, to have been in Paris in 1929 for the first screening of Un Chien Andalou alongside Buñuel, Dalí, Picasso, Cocteau, Breton etc.
What is your favourite quotation?
If it ain’t broke, don’t Brexit.
If you had £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
As a believer in the healing power of the poem, I would spend it on poetry books to be distributed, read and passed around those who think they don’t like poetry.
The best and worst presents you’ve ever received?
Gifted from my parents: senses of humour and rhythm, religious faith, stoicism, myopia and hair loss.
On a professional level, not being credited as a screenwriter for my contribution to the film Yellow Submarine.
Are things getting better or worse?
Things? What things? Sandwiches have improved, so has dental care (if you can afford it), but there seems to be a general universal malaise, prompted perhaps by a lack of spirituality and no sense of community, as well as the anxiety spread by a dyspeptic media. However, I remain optimistic.
What would people be surprised to find out about you?
That I reached the semi-final of a ballroom dancing competition when I was a student at Hull University. Couldn’t afford to go to London for the finals however.
What frightens you the most?
Walking to the microphone in a packed auditorium.
Are you proud of your country?
Even though the country has lost its way in recent times, and we are governed by so many vainglorious, inept politicians, I continue to have hope for its people and faith in the potential of future generations.
Which relative or ancestor are you most proud of?
My family tree boasts many athletic and sporting heroes. So many, in fact, that they feature in an earlier book, Sporting Relations:
Going into bat against the Windies in his first (and final) Test,
Uncle Pat wore vinyl undies and an armour-plated vest.
But in the panic to get dressed, wickets falling thick and fast.
Left his box off. Third ball took his rocks off.