My Secret Life: John Cooper Clarke, 64, poet

'I am the finest swordsman in England'

My parents were… my mother was a barmaid when she met my dad.
She also worked in the Manchester munitions factories making bombs.
My dad was an electrical engineer.

The household I grew up in… looked opulent from the outside. It had flaking stucco and gargoyles. People would now say it was a slum. If you'd have said that at the time I would have hit you. It's only when I moved, I realised, really, I lived in a slum.

When I was a child I wanted to be… a private investigator.

If I could change one thing about myself… I would have immense physical strength.

You wouldn't know it but I am very good at… I am the finest swordsman in all England. Once in a pub in Mile End, a guy drew out a pair of duelling foils. I challenged him. He was 30 years younger than me. I'm not saying I drew blood, but I did wear him out.

At night I dream of… rarely anything – possibly because I'm an insomniac.

What I see when I look in the mirror … a man who's lost his looks, such as they were. My declining allure is a source of great sadness to me.

It's not fashionable but I like... patriotism, manners and self-doubt.

My favourite work of art… Christ of St John of the Cross by Salvador Dali.

A book that changed me… Against Nature, by Joris-Karl Huysmans – the decadent text book. It's a blueprint for how rock stars would act 100 years later. Now we live in a censorious age. People's idea of decadence now is kid's stuff. The level of decadence we once enjoyed will never return.

The last album I bought/downloaded... The last record I had bought for me was Tempest by Bob Dylan. Sensational.

My greatest regret… I don't know where to start. I would have done everything differently. Apart from the last 10 years.

My secret crush... I don't have secrets, my life's an open book.

The person who really makes me laugh… I crack myself up. Even I don't know what I'm going to say next.

The last time I cried… at the funeral of Mr Bruce Reynolds (mastermind of the Great Train Robbery).

My five-year plan… Christ, do you know how old I am? Any plans I've got are incremental. If I get through this year I'll be lucky.

What's the point? That's all there is. Your life doesn't belong to you, you can't end it. Doesn't matter how bad it is, it's a gift from God.

My life in six words… I have moved in many worlds.

A life in brief

John Cooper Clarke was born in Salford in 1949. Known as the "Punk Poet" he began performing poetry on the Manchester club circuit in the late 1970s and became a central figure in the punk movement. He spent much of the 1980s living in relative obscurity and developed a heroin addiction. Recovering in the the 1990s, he returned to touring. Interest in his works has since revived, with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys citing him as a hero and inspiration. He lives in Essex with his wife Evie and daughter Stella.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas