Work In Progress John Hegley, Performance Poet

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The Independent Culture
John Hegley makes his 15th appearance at the Edinburgh Festival this year. Here, he talks about the eight show series he is recording for Radio 4.

Unusually for Radio 4, they asked for a larger musical input into this year's series so there will be a couple more songs in each show. Some of them are me playing the guitar with Nigel, then there are some with an ensemble which includes a couple of the Popticians and the Oxymorons. There are only two members of the Oxymorons left, so I introduce one as "Oxy" and the other as "Moron".

There's a new song about Jimmy Hill. He has a beautiful name to rhyme with.It goes like this:

"It used to be his distinctive


This is what they criticised

It used to be a distinctive


Then he shaved

But he can't win

People crave a doll to pin

They have to have a

whipping boy,

A ship ahoy to rob of joy,

But Jim won't let them win, Destroy his fervour,

He will never let them in,

He can take it, Jimmy Hill,

Can take it on the chin

They send him off to Coventry,

They say he interrupts,

But sometimes you can't compromise

What otherwise corrupts..."

You could say it's tongue in cheek but it's not scathing at all, its loving. I have nothing but love for Jimmy Hill.

I'll also be talking about aeroplanes - paper aeroplanes, balsa wood aeroplanes. A load of potatoes. We'll have some potato sculptures at the live shows. It's a very underestimated plant with very beautiful flowers, purple and delicate. It goes through various stages, and there's the triffid- like state, for instance, when it's vegetating. It's quite remarkable. Mmm, I like spuds.

We'll be doing something with cabbages too. I can throw the vegetables at the audience if they're no good. Luton will definitely be there, too. Something about hats, the hats of Luton Town, where lots of hats used to be made. Luton are the "Hatters", you know.

John Hegley's show is at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh 27-29 August

Interview By

Nicholas Fearn