John Cooper Clarke

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John Cooper Clarke (born 25 January 1949) is a British performance poet from Salford, Lancashire. He is considered a major figure in punk poetry and punk literature.


  • You can count on him. He'll always let you down.
    • 23rd - Snap, Crackle and Bop (1980)
  • Do not go mental, and with that, goodnight.

BBC Four - Evidently...John Cooper Clarke (30 May 2012)[edit]

  • Drugs eh! That's the trouble; they're indiscriminate. The good memories go with the fuckin' shit you're tryin' to block out.
  • Not only do I not have a mobile 'phone, I haven't got a computer.  I don't employ any artificial intelligence of any kind.  People say to me, "Oh, you should have a computer, they can do this...." I say "Look, I know how fuckin' great they are.  That's why, that's the very reason I can't have one."  You know I'll just watch a bit of Dion and the Belmonts, then I'll go out...oh, no, what was that Elvis film....oh that reminds me, that Grace Kelly movie...I'll just download this Marx Brothers' clip.  You know what I mean, I'd never get out of the fuckin' house. I'd fuckin' die. You'd find me dead with a pizza box with mi arse in the air and mi pants round mi ankles in front of a flickerin' fuckin' computer screen. He never went out when we bought him that computer, he never went out again, he never went through the fuckin' door.  The milk stopped being delivered and he fuckin' died.

BBC Radio 4 - Dr John Cooper Clarke at the BBC (Nov 2016)[edit]

  • Somebody once said that a wedding is a funeral where you can smell your own flowers. Well, that's a harsh judgement in my book. I prefer to see it as a sexual relationship that is recognised by the police.
    • Series 1 - Twisted Romance (2 Nov 2016)
  • As is often the case a failed marriage led to a successful divorce.  We split the house; I got the outside...... It was at that point where I made a promise to myself, I said I'm not going to get married again, I'm just gonna find a woman I don't like and give her everything.
    • Series 1 - Twisted Romance (2 Nov 2016)
  • I always judge people by appearances; don't you anyway? I think clothes are important; that's where the nudist camp falls down.
    • Series 1 - Textiles (9 Nov 2016)
  • A suit where I can fall down drunk in a ditch get up the next morning and go on to a wedding; or more likely a funeral at my time of life. I could go to six a week but no man can live on vol-au-vents alone.
    • Series 1 - Textiles (9 Nov 2016)
  • I'm a short-term nostalgic; things were great ten minutes ago. If only I could go back there. At my time of life I suffer from déjà vu and amnesia at the same time; I can't remember what happens next.
    • Series 1 - In the O-Zone Zone (16 Nov 2016)
  • ...she took us out on a motor ride to a beach, it was a nudist camp.....What those people do on their time off is their own business, the dirty bastards.
    • Series 1 - In the O-Zone Zone (16 Nov 2016)
  • I was arrested on the flimsiest of evidence.  I was occupying the driver's seat of a car that didn't belong to me.
    • Series 1 - Crime and Retribution (23 Nov 2016)
  • [Johnny Cash] was in and out with a caution; I had a residential thing going on for Her Majesty's pleasure. So I missed a golden opportunity there while the man in black was still alive, I could have gone up to him and said, 'Eh Johnny, get over it! Some of us have done some serious bird'.
    • Series 1 - Crime and Retribution (23 Nov 2016)
  • Everyone thinks they'll make a better judge than any judge don't they? You see these nonces getting off with a six quid fine and being given a house next door to a school. And you think 'I wouldn't have done that'.
    • Series 1 - Crime and Retribution (23 Nov 2016)

BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs (21 July 2019)[edit]

  • Never leave a bookies with a smile on your face.
  • It was quite a tough school. Put it this way, we had our own coroner.
  • I was met with the poet’s greatest enemy; indifference.
  • My advice to any poet; you have to be idle to write it.  A pen, a notebook and idleness, those are the three requisites for the manufacture of poetry.
  • [Luxury item] A boulder of opium twice the size of my own head.

I Wanna Be Yours (2020)[edit]

  • All my life, all I wanted to be was a professional poet. To me being a professional poet was better than notching up a hat trick at Old Trafford.....You get to wear fine clothes and perfume and nobody pulls you up on it. You get out of bed late in the day and nobody calls you a lazy bastard. A state of reverie and the virtue of idleness are paramount. Any poet will tell you this.
    • p. 1.
  • My paternal grandfather, George, had been a regular soldier in India until chucking-out time in 1948, and funnily enough bore an uncanny resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi (who apparently suffered from corns and bad breath, in other words a supercallousedfragilemysticplaguedwithhalitosis, as Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke almost sang).
    • p. 6.
  • Have I seen Schindler's List? I was on Schindler's list - Dr Schindler my dentist that is.
    • p. 11.
  • [on the fear of a nervous breakdown] I don't think I ever lost this fear. It turned me into a default existentialist by the time I was six: I quickly learned that the pursuit of happiness is largely pointless, happiness being the only target one merely has to aim at in order to miss.
    • p. 21.
  • [on his Dad] He didn't share the general public's dim view of the late Joseph Stalin.
    • p. 62.
  • This guy was going to marmalise me! I mean, where's the kudos in beating up a seven-stone fucking consumptive? I was a self-confessed coward, then as now. My coat of arms has been detailed elsewhere: four white feathers on a field of yellow. Nothing for me is more terrifying than physical pain....
    • p. 91.
  • You know, like they say: never trust a thin chef, or a doctor with leprosy.
    • p. 99.
  • At some point, the Mod look had a short-lived Country Life moment, when the gorgeous mohair sheen of the three-button suit gave way to matte autumnal earth tones. Give it a name: fucking brown.
    • p. 114.
  • I don't think people would describe me as being tall any more, but if you had to describe me back then you would have said 'tall and thin'. You don't really see as much stunted malnourishment nowadays.
    • p. 133.
  • Marcel was a modern-day Robin Hood; he would rob from the rich because the poor have no money.
    • p. 147.
  • As a card-carrying nosey-parker and professional obsessive, I read up on the subject and learned that Baudelaire was a real pernickety dresser and a bit of a dude; this was my kind of guy. I too would be an Urban Poet.
    • p. 159.
  • Having been a tubercular kid with a malformed physique, I have a dread of any situation where the shedding of garments might be required. I can't even swim.
    • p. 172.
  • I told my dad, who quizzed me about what kind of purse I might reasonably expect for this performance. I told him it was a benefit, all in a good cause, and that I wasn't the only one working for nothing. 'Nothing?' he replied. 'Anybody will employ you for nothing'.
    • p. 177.
  • I soon got a job as a fire-watcher at the Royal Naval Dockyard, the main employer in Plymouth. If anybody asked how many people worked there, the answer was always the same: about ten per cent.
    • p. 218.

Quotes about John Cooper Clarke[edit]

  • Here he is.  All the way from Salford.  He's not my cup of tea but you might like him.
    • Bernard Manning - Quoted in Evidently...John Cooper Clarke (BBC Four - 30 May 2012)
  • One of the things that is his inability to contact him. He's never had a 'phone.   And before the days when mobile 'phones were popular you had to 'phone his mam.....
    • John Thomson - Evidently...John Cooper Clarke (BBC Four - 30 May 2012)

External links[edit]

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