One Minute With: Poet Roger McGough

'The magic shed is what I gaze at through the window of my study at the rear of the house, procrastinating and wondering whether a windowless shed might not be the answer'

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now?

On a train from Paddington to Exeter where I will change for Torquay (white flannels and a Panama hat). This evening I will be reading at the Torbay Poetry Festival. I very much enjoy literary festivals, not only because there’s the chance to sell a few books and catch up with old friends, but for the fact that invariably they are held in beautiful places. Last month I was in Italy, followed by Segovia outside Madrid and then Birmingham. (What do you mean? I’m very fond of Birmingham.)

What are  you reading?

Nothing. I shuffle and reshuffle my poems in the vain attempt to achieve the perfect running order. The problem is that I never know where the new poems fit.

Choose a favourite author and say why you admire her/him

This week it is the troubled but brilliant surrealist, Spike Milligan, whose comedic language  fashioned by his memories as a soldier reflected and informed post-war British popular culture.

Describe the room where you usually write

A wooden shed at the bottom of the garden. Windowless to aid concentration, but reasonably comfortable. Actually, the magic shed is  what I gaze at through the window of my study at the rear  of the house, procrastinating  and wondering whether a windowless shed might not be  the answer.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I made a laudable Mr Badger in a school production of Toad of Toad Hall, but lacked the gruffness and creakiness the part demanded. Over the years the part has grown into me.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

Joan of Arc, and the person, probably a Chinese hairdresser, who invented the umbrella.

Roger McGough’s ‘It Never Rains’ is published by Penguin (£4.99)