'Being unapologetic means never having to say you're sorry'
John Cooper Clarke, 64, grew up in Salford. He worked as a lab technician before becoming a performance poet and touring with the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Fall. He released six albums and in 1983 published a bestselling poetry book, Ten Years In An Open Necked Shirt, before his output waned, a consequence of heroin addiction. Since his recovery, he has played himself in Control, a film about Joy Division, and been the subject of a BBC4 documentary. This summer, he is performing at Latitude, Camp Bestival and Bestival. He is married with a daughter and lives in Colchester.
When were you happiest?
Happiness is the target one only has to aim at in order to miss.
What is your greatest fear?
Meeting my sister in a whorehouse.
What is your earliest memory?
The sight of the sea.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Peter Hitchens: he ploughs the lonely furrow.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My lackadaisical approach to time.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Lack of punctuality.
What was your most embarrassing moment?
It is physical pain to me and I avoid it, sir.
Property aside, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?
A 2,000-carat gold wristwatch from Argos.
Where would you like to live?
Miami Beach, but a man of my age needs the NHS.
What would your super power be?
What is the worst thing anyone's said to you?
What is your favourite word?
They're all pretty good.
What makes you unhappy?
The prospect of the Rolling Stones' retirement.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My uncanny resemblance to Ronnie Wood out of the Rolling Stones.
To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?
Being unapologetic means never having to say you're sorry.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My wife, obviously: there ain't a shiksa comes close.
What was the best kiss of your life?
That's always the first kiss. Madeleine Irvine, my mate's sister (problematic).
What is the worst job you've done?
A building site for two weeks. It nearly killed me.
If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I'd eliminate the 1980s.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Lansky Brothers, Beale Street, Memphis, Tennessee, 1954, to get measured for threads.
When did you last cry, and why?
Singing Abide With Me at the funeral of Bruce Reynolds [ringleader of the Great Train Robbery], March 2013.
How often do you have sex?
Once a year, whether I want it or not.
What is the closest you've come to death?
Tuberculosis in childhood.
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A mobile phone.
Where would you most like to be right now?
I'm an existentialist, I'm in a car, ergo farther up the road.
Tell us a secret.
I've got a speech impediment.
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