EVIDENTLYâ¦JOHN COOPER CLARKE (BROADWAY CINEMA, NOTTINGHAM)
So, what exactly does âpunkâ mean?
The truth is, is goes far beyond merely playing music. At its heart, punk is about DIY, doing things from scratch. John Cooper Clarke, a man who didnât even need those âthree chordsâ personifies this.
Someone else who personifies this is producer Scotty Clarke and the rest of the team behind the documentary âEvidentlyâ¦John Cooper Clarke,â now on DVD release.
Nottinghamâs Scotty Clark describes this film to be as âa punk film about a punk icon.â Whilst Cooper Clarkeâs icon status is predetermined, where does the concept of a âpunk filmâ come from?
Well, impressively for a film that reached BBC4 earlier this year, this affectionate documentary on the man who bought poetry to a much wider world began with no funding, no cameras, nothing â¦ just a Blackberry phone and a gmail address. But through well-placed contacts â and of, course, a general deep affection felt for Cooper Clarke by most â the film got made. That really is a punk filmâ¦
The film is beautifully edited as it turns original footage (be it of Cooper Clarke live or the accompanying footage to Henry Newbolts âViva Lampadaâ, an early favourite poem of his), into carefully placed collage-montage in the postmodern tradition, and there are some great talking heads here (notably one John Robbâ¦) but it the iconic subject who of course makes it such essential viewing. A Q&A afterwards simply reinforces his charisma as he is witty and erudite on all matters including his Sugar Puffs adverts (âthey couldnât make enough sugar puffs after that, they hired me for my brainwashing skills!â) and his (im)mortality (âI couldnât imagine being dead, I couldnât be quiet for that long.â)
After the Q&A session, I had the privilege of being introduced by Scotty Clark to John Cooper Clarke in order to interview him. Extremely generous with his time, incredibly sociable and with a knack of making you feel pretty special, but I quickly learned that you donât âinterviewâ John. Heâs not an interviewee, heâs a conversationalist, which simply makes him even more pleasure to be around.
I ask him if thereâs any plans for a new book and he is able to tell me yes, there is, but this will be held back for a while as reissues of his earlier work are released to coincide with what appears to quite a revival of interest in his works. But of course, we talk fashion. His response to me asking if he likes Nottingham is to tell me that he loves it for its vintage shops and within three minutes of arriving here had bought a completely perfect new overcoat, and upon taking in my appearance says âI like to think thatâs all inspired by me!â (Scotty Clark has already told me I look like âa child of Johnny Clarkeâsââ¦)
The truth is, some fashion students once stopped to ask how I would describe my look and my instinct was to say âEr, John Cooper Clarke without the amazing legs?â Only a true icon could really reach this sort of status, and thatâs what Cooper Clarke is through and through, something captured perfectly in âEvidentlyâ¦John Cooper Clarke.â The team have done a great job of building a âpunk filmâ around this âpunk icon,â and it deserves to reach the widest audience that it possibly can.