A Night Out with John Cooper Clarke

Hello Poetry Lovers

Yes, I thought that title would make you stop and look. It is actually true, we had a night out with Mr JCC himself, only we shared him with at least 300 others! And we were grateful for even that much intimacy.

My lovely friend Trisha Broomfield and I were lucky enough to get tickets for the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford. My first visit to this highly reputable place, and I wasn’t disappointed. Beautiful venue

I couldn’t believe we were going to finally see this legendary Punk Poet.

Introduced by another legend, Johnny Green, former roadie for the Sex Pistols and other iconic bands, now JCC’s tour manager and close personal friend, we had the delight and support of Luke Wright.

I have loved this poet since Mondeo Man and have regularly followed him. He introduced us to a poem Ron’s Knock Off Shop using only the vowel ’O’. So clever, tender and sordid – and sad. A concept that Trisha and I have treated as a challenge, but more of that later.

Luke also did a beautiful long and heartfelt piece about Chris, a chip shop owner’s brief marriage. Marvellous poet, and worth looking out for.

After a brief interval and ice cream, the man himself came on. Looking marvellous and svelte for his 73 years, he sauntered on and launched into witty repartee.

From his latest collection The Luckiest Guy Alive he took no prisoners and gave us the joys of brutally titled pieces such as Get Back on Drugs, You Fat Fuck (bless him.) The title poem itself, Home Honey, I’m High, I Married a Monster from Outer Space – a nod to that iconic science fiction film. The random energy, speed and pace was palpable. Also angry, Beazley Street – a gentrification of a childhood street and Thatcher’s Britain, was read with full force.

Apparently Pam Ayres’ favourite poem of his was the 1979 piece She’s Got A Metal Plate In Her Head. Although he told us this in an ironic tone, his pride shone through. In fact, there were genuine moments of tenderness with Mr Cooper Clarke, such as the way he spoke so fondly of his wife. And with that, he read I’ve Fallen In Love With My Wife so poignantly while still keeping his sardonic humour and Salford wit.

My own favourite from his latest work is The Hanging Gardens of Basildon, but he can’t include it all. I cheered when he read the wonderful You’ll Always Get A Guy With A Pie. That is Mr Cooper Clarke at his best. After a great encore of three more pieces, Mr Cooper Clarke left the stage, leaving us with a lot to think about!

Mr CC is on an extensive tour through to September, including Edinburgh and Milton Keynes. Catch him when you can.

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s, we have a lot of poetry things coming up, including a book review and an interview.

Stay tuned!

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