April 27, 2013: Guardian interview (reposting)


On Friday night I sing at my local folk club. It’s the Castle pub in Bradford, and it’s great; they have a raffle and do a collection to pay the singers. I write songs about things that happen to me – it might be going to a political demonstration or falling in love.

I’m a political animal. I was enrolled in the Independent Labour Party on the day of my birth and named after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. I went on my first demonstration at seven, and when I was eight I saw the police charge peaceful demonstrators – I never forgot.

In 1983 I became a Christian, after 49 years as an atheist. I’ve always prided myself on having a scientific frame of mind, but I realised that the idea that the universe started by accident goes against the second law of thermodynamics. It was quite scandalous – all my comrades were saying, “Are you taking the piss?”

My wife and I are supposedly separated. In fact, we are closer now than when we lived together. She has Parkinson’s and I spend a lot of time as her carer. On weekends, we go for walks in the countryside. My favourite is up to Top Withens, near Haworth – reputed to be the setting for Wuthering Heights. All you can hear is the skylarks singing, and if the weather’s fine you can see for miles. It’s very good for the spirit.

Guardian interview (April 27, 2013): Becky Barnicoat

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