HOME   ARCHIVE   GALLERY   SHOP   ABOUT US      
 

 
It's Legend Time.
 

Salford's greatest ever literary export, John Cooper Clarke, comes home with a Beezley bullet… The sun's out. And John Cooper Clarke is sat on an upturned plant pot admiring the trees in his best mate/manager's garden somewhere in deepest Crumpsall.

"I used to think trees were dirty" he ponders "because when I was a kid in Salford you'd climb them and come off filthy, it was like you'd been up a chimney…And even if you got a stretch of park you just had to scrape the grass and there were, like, cinders underneath…it was horrible…"

John Cooper Clarke took that overwhelming sense of grime that skunked up the 70s city and used it to tell the world about the Salford experience. In the process he reinvented poetry. Took it out of its poncy parameters and spat it down the ears of a massive new young audience. Here was a bloke with over spiked hair, shades and leather jacket, getting up at punk gigs, machine-gunning words about stuff that everyone recognised, in an accent that couldn't be missed. It was funny. It was clever. It was hard edged. And it rhymed.

The ultimate John Cooper Clarke creation was `uneasy, cheesy, greasy, queasy, beastly Beezley Street, a place `where the perishing stink of squalor, impregnates the walls...' and where everyone's `common problem is that they're not someone else'. In line with the times, the poem has been regenerated, is now called Beezley Boulevard, and, fittingly, its first Salford performance will be at The Lowry in September.

"A poetry programme on Radio 4 asked me to do Beezley Street but no-one particularly wants to hear that again" John explains "So I thought I'd re-write it, give it a makeover – like what happens to neighbourhoods. I just tarted the place up."

The `tarted up' Beezley Boulevard becomes this sterile pretentious place; an `urban splash art ghetto', with `pubs where all the regulars are barred'. Basically, every line encapsulates everything that makes normal people puke at the thought of `loft living' and `urban bases'. Regeneration is reviled as `regime change'. And fiftysomething John Cooper Clarke proves that in the 21st Century he's still the most potent people's poet on the planet.

He's a mega poet who's now on the school curriculum, in all the Proper Poet books and hey, gets invited to do stuff on Radio 4's `Bespoken Word'. But the last thing John goes on about is poetry or the poetry circuit…"I did one or two things in libraries and stuff but it's horrible, it's not entertainment". Or what inspires his poetry – "Couldn't tell ya, if I knew I'd tap into it and do a lot more…" No. When you're talking John Cooper Clarke you're talking rock n roll. Full stop. He started off performing in the steaming pits of punk and the sentiments have never changed.

After 20 years of performing the same material – "I think I carried it to a ridiculous degree" - John hooked up again with his old mate, Blue Orchids founder and ex Fall and Nico guitarist, Ricky Goldshaw, who originally got him onto the punk circuit. He's now handling John's affairs and things have started to move forward again. It's like the fun's coming back. Just before Joe Strummer died they were touring with the Mescalaros, and John's recently supported The Fall and been a compere for Chuck Berry, of all people, in Spain.

"He was on at the Opera House with Jerry Lee Lewis, we went down and, I don't know, we sort of hit it off with Chuck somehow" says John "I'm like `Who does he think I am, Ronnie Wood ?' I'll be it. In fact we went the full Rolling Stones in Spain and I got into the Keith persona because you're entitled to wear a bandana there, it being sweaty and that, so we had the time of our lives.

"Chuck is fantastic, great to watch, even when he's just going through the motions" he adds "It's a shame that My Ding-a-ling is the high point of his act but he really is great."

In Ricky's back garden the duo come on like a quick fire double act, prompting each other with stories of strange Salford characters, mad experiences on the road and exciting plans in the pipeline. Ricky's piling demos onto the CD player featuring John's voice ranging all over the place from trance tracks to funked up sonatas and hard rock rhythms. One of them is a forthcoming single called Dead Man's Shoes, made with Sheffield rockers, Reverend and the Makers, who supported Arctic Monkeys on their last tour. Cooper Clarke can still cut it with the kids.

His work was brought to a new generation last year when someone wrote and performed a biographical play but the pair blocked it going any further than the Kings Arms in Salford. They weren't impressed.

"It was going to tour around the country but it was rubbish" says Ricky "We tried to talk to them but then we lost our rag and said `take it off, you're not having the material'..."

"My mum was called Brenda in it…her name was Hilda" John adds "And there was all this explanatory dialogue `Oh he's been smashing since he's had TB'. It was an excuse for him to put on a nylon wig and do my stuff…No, I didn't go and see it…"

Instead, with Ricky's help, John Cooper Clarke is trying to reinvent himself. There's the music tracks. And there's a stack of new poems. But it's hard.

"I asked someone after The Fall gigs how it was and they said `Just the same as ever'" Ricky recalls "`But they were all new poems' I said `What do you want, he's a f***ing poet ?'"

John looks through his rose-tinted shades, smiles with a gob full of golden teeth, and his usual self-depreciating manner changes just a notch…

"It's a poem. You speak it" he argues "What can you do – stick a brush up your arse and sweep the floor at the same time ?"

With Beezley Boulevard he's just done the literary equivalent of that…The legend lives on…

See also John Cooper Clarke Part 2: On Life in Higher Broughton - click here

A full archive of John's work is at www.johncooperclarke.com

Tony wrote
at 07:04:20 on 28 October 2017
I remember the George pub sedgley sitting there with John and a host other musicians.including me mark harris etc most nights
 
Maurice Pitts-Daly wrote
at 16:42:00 on 02 December 2016
I knew John and his mum & dad at that time. I lived in the Hotel Amanda,Bury New Rd,Salford 7 next door to the Clarke Family home. I was a (15 year old) child who from birth had been in the Care Of Salford City Council Childrens Dept I was placed in that Hotel (doss-house) because they were exercising their true Care and liberty a court had awarded them ! And I had to be GRATEFUL? In those days John his mum & dad would keep me aware I actually was still a human being, even though Salford City Child Care Dept thought I was a mixed-race meal ticket. John his mum & dad positively impacted on my self-esteem etc. I would love to think, but doubt my experiences are history??
 
Please enter your comment below:
 
 
 
Salford Star Hoodies
Salford Star contact
Deli Lama
advertisement
 
Contact us
phone: 07957 982960
Facebook       Twitter
 
 
Recent comments
article: DIRTY OLD TOWN PERFORMED NEAR SALFORD GASWORKS IN DEMOLITION PROTEST
Should save. As we grow up with them looking as us ever day passed the wall and so did are grandparents an d them before . If they... [more]
article: SALFORD COUNCIL REFUSES TO REVEAL WHO PAID FOR CITY MAYOR TRIP TO SOUTH OF FRANCE
Well done in getting someone to foot the bill. But do not be shy. Tell us who, print the letter of funding agreement, show us the ... [more]
article: SALFORD COUNCIL REFUSES TO REVEAL WHO PAID FOR CITY MAYOR TRIP TO SOUTH OF FRANCE
If it was all honest and above board, then you would think that they would be happy to tell you who paid for the trip.However, the... [more]
article: SALFORD COUNCIL REFUSES TO REVEAL WHO PAID FOR CITY MAYOR TRIP TO SOUTH OF FRANCE
Rossi whilst Dennet may be working his arse off he needs to try harder as clearly he as his predecessors continue to fail this Cit... [more]
article: SALFORD CITY COUNCIL SPENT ALMOST £10,000 ON MIPIM PROPERTY JAUNT
Looks a bit pissed to me. There again, if I'd have been there, and Salford Council were buying, I would have been well pissed, so ... [more]
 
 
 
 
 
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
 
 
 

Donate

Help the Salford Star...

all donations welcome

 
 

More articles...

SALFORD CITY COUNCIL SPENT ALMOST £10,000 ON MIPIM PROPERTY JAUNT

Star date: 21st June 2018

COUNCIL SPENT £5,750 ON MIPIM PR IN SOUTH OF FRANCE

Salford Council spent almost £10,000 on the jaunt to the MIPIM property orgy in Cannes. A newly published contract register shows that, as well as the £4,022 costs for the City Mayor and two officers to go to the South of France paid by unknown private sector companies, the Council also spent £5,750 on marketing and PR for MIPIM.

The contract register also shows the Council is spending £9,500 on a 'Salford Story' press consultant, £118,000 on its failed 'digital community hub', over £14,000 on a 'leadership programme' and, er, £25,000 on milk and bread?

Full details here...

NATIONAL GRID WILL NOT RE-THINK DEMOLITION OF SALFORD DIRTY OLD TOWN GASWORKS

Star date: 20th June 2018

'WE RECOGNISE THE HISTORIC INTEREST'...BUT THEY'RE BEING DEMOLISHED!

Despite musical protests and petitions, the National Grid is adamant that the Salford gas holders, made famous in the Dirty Old Town anthem, will be demolished.

Campaigners are asking for the Grid to re-think a new use for the structures, like in many other towns and cities, but the company states that while "We recognise the historic interest in the Salford gasholder...the structure is being dismantled..."

Full details here...

SALFORD COUNCIL REFUSES TO REVEAL WHO PAID FOR CITY MAYOR TRIP TO SOUTH OF FRANCE

Star date: 19th June 2018

COUNCIL BLOCKS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST ON £4,000 MIPIM TRIP

Salford City Council has refused to answer a Salford Star Freedom of Information request on which private company paid the £4,022 costs for City Mayor Paul Dennett and two staff to go to the South of France for the MIPIM property event.

The Council states that "the commercial interests of the Council outweigh that of the public interest in disclosure". The Salford Star is to appeal the decision.

Full details here...

DEVASTATING SURVEY OF NORTH WEST COUNCIL WORKERS SHOWS LOCAL SERVICES COLLAPSING

Star date: 18th June 2018

OVER 80% OF COUNCIL WORKERS HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN SERVICES AND ALMOST 50% THINKING OF LEAVING THEIR JOBS

A survey of almost 1,500 local council workers in the North West reveals that 81% have no confidence in the future of local services, 49% are thinking of leaving their jobs, 54% believe their council no longer delivers quality services, and 45% think that their employer doesn't make the right decisions for the public.

The other results of the survey by UNISON to coincide with its local government conference make equally depressing reading, as the union states that "Vital local services in the North West are collapsing".

Full details here...

SALFORD TIME OUT FOR CARERS

Star date: 18th June 2018

TRIPS, CAKES, MASSAGE, ADVICE AND CHAT AS CARERS TAKE TIME OUT

"I was absolutely weary...I needed to get out of the house" Ernie

Caring for a loved one is indeed a labour of love but it can also be life consuming and draining. So a group called Time Out For Carers is making a difference, running weekly sessions where escapism is the order of the day.

There's free massages, trips out, advice on allowances, tea and coffee and cakes, but, most importantly, relaxed informal chats with carers who are all in the same position.

Full details here...

 



written and produced by Salfordians for Salfordians
with attitude and love xxx