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

Maurice Pitts-Daly wrote
at 10:42:00 AM on Friday, December 2, 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: GREATER MANCHESTER PETITION TO HALT UNIVERSAL CREDIT
UC does not take into account those with complex needs. An example of this is the removal of the disability component of tax credi... [more]
article: CONTROVERSIAL SALFORD CHARITY TO BRING IN INDEPENDENT MEDIATOR
Researcher I agree with you. I must say if you are researching NDC in Charlestown I can help you. I live in Charstown and the NDC ... [more]
article: CONTROVERSIAL SALFORD CHARITY TO BRING IN INDEPENDENT MEDIATOR
Members of ICT would today have received a voting pack, said a membership resolution information and vote pack, just very confusin... [more]
article: CONTROVERSIAL SALFORD CHARITY TO BRING IN INDEPENDENT MEDIATOR
Salford Star bring us up to date on this terrible Inspiring Communities Together so called Salford Charity. Please tell us on your... [more]
article: GREATER MANCHESTER PETITION TO HALT UNIVERSAL CREDIT
This policy is a failure, particularly in terms of the 6 week wait... [more]
 
 
 
 
 
Days
Hours
Minutes
Seconds
 
 
 

Donate

Help the Salford Star...

all donations welcome

 
 

More articles...

WORSLEY WOODS CELEBRATION OF AUTUMN

Star date: 21st October 2017  

FUN RUN, FORAGE WALK, TREASURE HUNT, ART COMP...

Celebration of Autumn
Saturday 28th October 1pm-4pm
Beesley Green Community Centre free

Next Saturday, Worsley Woods Action Group, in partnership with St Mark's Primary School, is holding a Celebration of Autumn to raise funds to improve the path through Worsley Woods. There are stalls, a fun run for under 12s, an art competition, den and bird box building, a treasure hunt and loads more.

Full details here...

SPORTING MEMORIES FOR THOSE WITH DEMENTIA IN SALFORD

Star date: 21st October 2017

ECCLES TO HOST WEEKLY SPORTING MEMORIES SESSIONS

New weekly sessions for people living with dementia are to be held in Eccles. The informal group is tailored to older sports fans who are into football, rugby, cricket snooker or any other sport.

Full details here...

THE END OF THE WORLD COMES TO SALFORD KINGS ARMS

Star date: 21st October 2017

WHAT WOULD YOU DO AT THE END OF THE WORLD?

Collision Course
Wednesday 25th October - 53two Deansgate
Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd November, The Kings Arms 7:30pm £10

Front Row Theatre brings Collision Course, the story of two friends with opposing views hiding out in a garage during their last moments at the end of the world, to 53two Deansgate on 25th October, and then The Kings Arms on 1st and 2nd November, as Ian Leslie reports.

Full details here...

SALFORD PRECINCT HOSTS HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR

Star date: 21st October 2017

LANTERN MAKING, FANCY DRESS, MASKS AND DANCE

In the run-up to Halloween, Salford Precinct is hosting events culminating in Spooky Saturday (28th) and Sinister Sunday (29th) where there will be face painting, mask and lantern making, a fancy dress competition and free lucky dip.

Full details here...

GREATER MANCHESTER PETITION TO HALT UNIVERSAL CREDIT

Star date: 20th October 2017

OPEN LETTER FROM GREATER MANCHESTER TO SECRETARY OF STATE

Previous to the humiliating defeat of the Tory Government this week, Greater Manchester Housing Action launched a petition calling for a halt to the roll-out of Universal Credit.

The petition is in the form of an open letter to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions..."We believe that we should not stand for such wilful ignorance of the impacts of the new system" it states "We urge individuals, groups, organisations, MPs, councillors, landlords and housing associations to stand in solidarity against the Universal Credit roll-out."

Full details here...

 



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