In my memory, which I grant can't be quite as hazy as his, John Cooper Clarke was a giant of a man - at least 7 foot tall in his full backcombed glory.
As he was shuffled past me to take the stage at The Winchester, I was surprised to find myself looking down at him. Age may have lessened his stature, but it certainly hasn't slaked his thirst or dampened his razor sharp humour. It was National Poetry Day, and who better to spend it with than the nation's favourite "punk poet", JCC. His poems played second fiddle to his rambling but great gags, as he downed industrial quantities of gin. He kicked off proceedings by a convoluted tale about how he had come to the Winchester early and spent sometime rifling around and concluded that weapons based humour had fallen out of fashion, but it was still worth a shot. Now 62 and looking like a cross between Bob Dylan and Keith Richards, his free range thoughts touched upon the Queen Mother, lo salt - "what do they cut that with?", his family, his slogan for a drinks ad - "home honey, I'm high" and how since he has given up drugs he had been piling on the pounds. Much to the delight of the packed house at the Winchester, he did his most notorious poems, including Beasley Street - and the updated version - Beasley Boulevard, and ended with Chickentown - the poem which he told us gave the bleep man at the BBC repetitive stress injury. By the time he was was escorted past me again with his entourage, Clarkey had regained his stature - a colossus of humour and word play.