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History With Flynn


John was born in Hope Hospital and lived in Higher Broughton above Friedman's chemist shop, directly facing the Rialto cinema. 

His love of the cinema came about through visits to the cinema often accompanied by his dad, who John admits was "not a sitting still sort of guy" but more at home in the pub". 

When films started with the classic MGM lion roaring, he would walk out, saying "I've seen this one". 

School for young John was St Thomas's (later to be St Andrews) which he remembers as rather a tough school and his classmates being "teddy boys in training, awful people." 

Redemption came through a certain teacher, Mr John Malone, who is described as "a rugged outdoor type of man" who could hold the class enthralled with his reading of poetry; in particular 19th century prose but also taking time out to read "chick-friendly" Byron and Shelley for the girls in the class. 

Mr Malone had another talent, singing in a doo wop band, appearing in a tuxedo on the Carrol Levis Show performing 'At the Hop' by Danny and The Juniors - not your average teacher. 

Talk then turns to one of John's best known poems, Beasley Street, which was based on Camp Street, an area of big houses converted into flats containing, how shall we say, the lower strata of society. 

What I found really interesting is how the poem is linked to the film, 42nd Street. Also, how many people know that Beasley Street is named after the jockey Bobby Beasley who won the Cheltenham Gold Cup Cup in 1974? 



In this second video interview with John Cooper Clarke, we get to hear more stories from the great man including the acceptance of his poem, 'I Want to be Yours' onto the GCSE curriculum and much more.

In recent years has John found a new lease of life for his work with the lead singer from The Arctic Monkeys Alex Turner citing him as a major inspiration in interviews. 

More recently John appeared in the film Ill Manors - written by rapper Plan B - in which he is seen performing a poem entitled, Pity the Plight of Young Fellows. 

One our readers Meriel Malone, a poet in her own right who appeared supporting The Fall at this years Salford Music Festival asked John a question, you will have to watch the video to see what his answer is and what advice he gives to Meriel. 

I mentioned the Salford Music Festival to John who said that he had no objections to appearing at next year's show, so let's keep our fingers crossed. 

The conversation then leapt to the demolition of the flats on Littleton Road, and how John's mum who lived in Hanover Court had a grandstand view of the controlled explosions which brought the blocks of flats down, which resulted in her having a front room full of eager "thrill seekers"! 

Finally I'll bet that not many people have heard of John Kilty: Mr Kilty who in John's words was a "beatnik alcoholic, a role model" but not your common or garden drunk because he read books and his father worked at Jodrell Bank...cue a great punchline by John. 

I have to say that I found John to be a really approachable man, possibly because he remembered me from many years ago and our mutual love of Salford and its many characters, football, Tootal scarfs and obscure music. 

Whatever the reason I am pleased to call him my friend and I'm certain that if you were to spend five minutes in his company you would feel the same. 

Long live The Bard of Salford. 

This article is a combination of two which first appeared on SalfordOnline in October 2012, they are reproduced here courtesy of a local leg end himself, Mr Tony Flynn.

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