next hig psveho-killer. 'You get represented as this gloom} person who‘s ht'ooding on ps_vehopaths all the titne and onee you do those works )ott get photographed in a eertain wa}. ttsuallv in a hlaek l—shirt in a hall shadow. glowering.

SHIT' So. you heeotne nuttv old (iordon Burn who does ereepv

serial killers. And I‘m aetuall) an extremer gregarious person who likes drinking and having a laugh and going to parties.‘

Indeed. this tvpeeasting is sillier the more _vou sllltl}‘ it. While manv ol‘ his linest writings have revolved around them. he has mueh tnore to his repenoire ol' suhieets than vieious killers. Alter all. he won an award for his spotts eolumn in l-{squin' in the early ‘)()s and then penned I’ot'lu'l .llmu'v. ahout the time when snooker had suddenlv heeotne a luerative husiness.

()ne ol' his lirst johs in journalism was for the Rut/to Times. through whieh he spent tnueli titne in the eompanv of that era's ieonie British eomedians (Les Dawson. .\la.\ B_vgraves. Ken l)odd). .-\n interview with ‘lesser light‘ Dennis litlt'nlslk‘tl him with an aneedote whieh ended up in his dehut novel. Alma ('ogun. ()n the same hill as 'I'onitn} (‘ooper the night that legend died. l)ennis reealls waiting in the wings and hearing the sound made h} the heels ol' ('ooper's shoes as he was heing dragged haek hehind the eurtain.

This is an essential element ol‘ the Burn method. His writing eettainlv makes a strong whole. hut the power eomes from the little moments. the Name or striking images all ol~ whieh huild monumentth upon one another. While there is alvvavs an end to all his means. a stor_v is not neeessarilv the wa_v Burn reaehes it. He is more eoneerned with senses and l‘eelings. moods and eharaeterisation than he is in eunning. ineoneeivahle plot twists. .-\nd it is the merging ol‘ the aetual with the l'antasv. inserting real lattiotts people into the worlds ol' his lietional east. whieh has given his work sueh a strong identit}.

In his new hook. 'I'lit’ Nun/i of ling/um! Home .S‘t'rrit‘t'. he paints a pieture ol’ a tnodern Britain hesotted with a pereeived glorious past. etnhedded in eharaeters sueh as tormer stand-up hero Ra_v (‘rttddas tlietionall. his driver. the ev-pri/e lighter

14 THE LIST "T '.'.:.



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Despite the grim subject matter, Burn says he likes ‘drinking and having a laugh'

.laekie .\lahe tlietional) and hoxing impresario .laek Solomons (real i. l’eer eloser and vou ean see Margaret ’l'hateher lot just a moment. asking Rav's wile ('harmian whether she wants to wash or wipe the tea dishes. .-\gain. the small moments are inspired hv real tales: the het made involving a lighter held to someone‘s nose l'or as man_v seeonds as possihle eomes out ol' the high-interest aeeount ol' lunaev in the names ot l’aul (iaseoigne and his ex-minder. .limm_v ‘l'iv e Bellies‘ (iardner. 'l'he slol') ol‘(’rttddas (a \eweastle man who lel't the north- east to make his name in London) eould easilv he read as the stor_v ol‘ Burn. who has spent long periods ol' titne haek home only in reeent times when his mother. who died at ('hristmas. was ill. ‘What I started ottt to do was to write a reall_v l'lat prose hook. a real|_v unsliowol‘l‘v thing and hallwav through I l'orgot what I was doing and just went [does a kind ol~ motorised hee noise to indieate speed} writing|. .r\etuall_v l prel'er the horing hits to the via/Iv hits. The intention was to write linglish instead ol‘ Ameriean linglish heeause l ean‘t read stul‘l‘ like The (mm-um“. that smart-aleek prose whieh

just gt‘ates.'

'I'ltt' Nun/1 of line/(mil Home St'ri‘it‘t' is also the slot”) ol' a elose working and personal relationship hetween two men from the old seliool. ‘In those kinds ol' partnerships. like .laekie and Ra} 's. thetes alwa'vs a gu_v hanging around in the haekgrotmd. heing hored or sitting in a ear. When I lirst wrote ahottt .-\le,\ lliggins in l‘)72. I met him in a hoarding house and he had this huge hig lat guv who drove hit him that he'd known l‘or a long time. 'l‘here's ill\\;t}\ the main east and the supporting east sitting around. a whole underelass ol people who live the same We hut don't get an) M the glor} “r the mone_v or the pension l'und. The} ‘re at the haek ol~ the eireus proeession pieking up the elephant shit.‘

\Vhile (iot‘don Burn would never want to he seen as the Pl Barntnn ol‘ British literature. he won't ever have to worr_v ahout languishing in the supporting east.

The North of England Home Service is published by Faber priced £16.99. Gordon Burn will appear at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August. Thanks to GNER for travel to London. Contact 08547 225 225 or visit