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Well versed

Comedian CRAIG CHARLES is getting back to his roots with his first collection of poetry. Words: Brian Donaldson

()n the front cover of his first collection of poetic musings. (‘raig (‘hzirles seems to be having a fair old chuckle to himself.

Perhaps he has just been told Kenny Dalglish is returning to his beloved Liverpool l‘(‘. Or that he has just been handed a Lacblan Young-style record deal.

Maybe he is just chuffed with his lot. his much publicised stay in Wandsworth prison before being tried and cleared of rape. now firmly in the past. And perhaps he is happy just doing what he wants to do writing. performing. acting and laughing that dirty laugh of his.

Nu ()I/It’I' Blue is a grafting together of the poetry (’liarles has submitted to the nation‘s ears over twenty years. His first love. claustrophobia. alcohol abuse. racism. death and the abuse of power are among the cheery subjects.

‘People had been asking me to publish it but ljust didn‘t feel that l’d want to look back at work that I‘d written when I was fifteen or sixteen.‘ admits (‘hai'les ‘I had to resist the urge to rewrite them all I wanted it to be a document of my. hopeful. development as a poet. It had always been a spoken tradition with me and I didn't know if it would work well on the page. which is why the poems are illustrated.’

(‘liarles is one of 'l‘V's most recognisable Scouse talents ~ via the stupendously successful Red Dwarf and the less popular Spare Cutlets. llis connection to Scotland is limited to having

Craig Charles: rediscovering his poetic side

comment on the aftermath of the (ieneral lilection and the faith which he and much of the country have invested in Tony Blair and his cohorts. The coiiiedian's tone is cautionary: ‘l‘m starting to feel that a government's a government. no matter whether they be red or blue. I think we should give the Labour Party some time. though if they‘re going to be wrapped in continuing 'l‘ory Party policies for five

years it‘s going to be a major

(‘eltic as his second team and figs-stsfitéss .~; disappointment for _ . I \t-§J\\., tk‘x‘xt :«.e~...‘~..$ .2. s s \ng s' i i.» l i an acquaintance wit 1 . .. . . . . cverviot v.

.. ‘. . .- - {its iéti‘i‘ A325 i .: .‘ . . . lnycincss. his expeiience oI "Mi ' *g‘ z" " "i lhe future oI Britain under which inspired the piece ‘itim “i i882 “ti EL: iii-Git Blair may be uncertain but iISlOIlI‘ISlIIIIgly titled ‘lnverness‘. gmfli 59: W31}, t, 2 < W52}. :6. . Quin (‘harlcs‘s continued presence

in one of about onlv 5()() .. - v W in the l'K‘s psvche seems

t ' i s Q *sé‘L-w c »..~-e.‘.-- s , . . ' people who ve seen the bottom "‘“5‘ “iii ii “i it“ 5 assured. lhis year sees the

of Loch Ness.‘ he says. ‘We went down in a submarine and we found . . .' Nessie‘.’ ‘No. We found a bag in the bottom of the Loch. and there was a (iernian passport. a robotic arm and a pen in there. This bag had been dropped there in 1972 and the Papermate pen still worked. So we phoned l’apei‘mate thinking it would be good publicin for them and they put the phone down on us. They didn‘t believe us. Probably thought “nah. our pens aren't that gootl‘.

ln Nu ()Ilier Blue. ('harles is compelled to

94 THE UST ‘) 2} Jan 1998

release of his autobiography No Iris/i. No Niggers and the eighth series of Red Dwarf/I While ('hannel 4 has seen fit to crash land Space ('m/els. it has been happy to take tip the option on .S'ereii'erl. yup you guessed it. a prison sitcom. ‘II was going to be called Muesli sort of a Porridge for the ‘)()s.‘ It would appear (‘i'aig (‘harles is revelling in the last laugh.

No Other Blue by Craig Charles is published by Penguin at £5.99.

The write stuff

Paul Magrs has been acclaimed as a gay working-class Angela Carter for his surreal storytelling. We prefer ’queer-sink prodigy’.

NAME: Paul Magrs.

AGE: 28

PREVIOUS JOBS: I wasn't going to get a proper job. The job I’m doing now Director of Creative Writing at University of East Anglia is the only one I would have gone for.

ROUTE TO BECOMING A WRITER: I grew up in Tyneside and me mam said early on: ’You can do anything you want to do.’ I did three degrees at Lancaster English, creative writing and a PhD on contemporary fiction and sold my first novel when I was finishing that. Then I moved to Edinburgh for two years, lived on Thistle Street and went freelance full-time, writing as well as teaching various courses. I wrote the next three books, mostly while sitting in cafes like the Blue Moon, Iguana and Cafe Kudos.

DAILY ROUTINE: In Edinburgh I used to write constantly - even when I was out at night. It was ideal. Here they give me Mondays and Tuesdays to write.

INFLUENCES: In terms of writers, Alan Bennet, Christopher lsherwoood and Angela Carter. In terms of things, I think coming through a comprehensive in a new town in the North East gives you a particular oblique view of the literary Iandsape. It’s about this determination to write from my side of experience and it’s quite different to what anybody else is doing. North Shields is Catherine Cookson country and I want South Shields to be my country.

AMBITIONS: I had a list I wanted to accomplish by the time I was 30: six books out with a really good publisher, a full-time teaching job, a doctorate in literature and a fantastic partner and I've got all of them now. I want to direct a film, that's the next thing.

FEARS: I've got this big network of friends and family, just losing any of them would be the the worst thing.

INCOME: The two years in Edinburgh when I was self-employed I made 11k and then 13k. Now at UEA, it's 18k with the writing on top of that. (Deirdre Molloy)

Could It Be Mag/( 9 by Paul Magrs Is published by Cbatto A} Wmdus at

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