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Lower level and here we're taking our usual summer break, so until we're back on air, we're showcasing a few programs from our back catalogue. As usual, the music's been shortened for right reasons. This week's guest is the poet Wendy Culp, who I cast away in February 2019. BBC sounds, music, radio, podcasts. My castaway this week is Wendy Kopp, one of Britain's most popular contemporary poets. She has a reputation for her wit. Her masterful use of poetry is many forms, everything from villanelle to haiku.


And for her subversive streak, she made her name with observations on love, such as bloody men are like bloody buses and brilliant parodies of poets, including Seamus Heaney, Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot. Her aesthetic sense of humor is matched by her ability to articulate uncomfortable truths with remarkable clarity. And her subject matter is wide ranging, covering everything from love and psychoanalysis to alcohol and radio, for it was teaching music at a primary school in London that kindled her creative flame when her first collection of poetry making Coquille for Kingsley Amis was published in 1986, it became a bestseller.


Though her reputation as an overnight success with a knack for parodying the overwhelmingly male greats of the film, didn't initially endear her to the overwhelmingly male establishment. However, since she described them as wicked as a genderless tonic and wilder pension plans, it seems the feeling was mutual, at least at first. Now, in her 70s, she's one of Britain's premier poets. She sold her entire personal archive to the British Library and recently published her fifth collection. She has no plans to retire.


The only excuse for being a poet, she says, is that you couldn't help it. Wendy Kopp, welcome to Desert Island. Thank you.


Now, any reader would be struck by the emotional range in the many tonal shifts in your work. Humor and sadness are often bound up together in poems like Loss, a very short poem that appears to be about the end of a relationship but might actually be more concerned with the loss of a corkscrew. But I know you dislike being referred to as a comic poet, so how would you characterize your work?


I don't mind being referred to as a poet who sometimes funny. I don't like the expression light verse because it seems to imply that if something is humorous and it's sort of lightweight and unimportant. So I just like to be referred to as a good poet as a child.


Growing up in the 50s, you described the poetry you encountered as like cabbage green. Good for you, but not very interesting. What do you look for in a poem today?


Gosh, I. I look for a poem that has some effect on me that moves me in some way. It might be it makes me laugh. It might be, it makes me feel cheerful. It might be that it makes me think. And ah those are the things that you look for in your own poems as well when you're working yourself.


When I'm working myself, I just preoccupied with saying what I want to say, what I think to be true as accurately as possible. And when you've got a poem on the go and you feel it's going well, it is a very good feeling.


And how do you greet the prospect of being castaway on a desert island? I think I'd be terrified, actually. I mean, I would be terrified of having no access to doctors or medicine. It's a fair fear as to being alone.


I did live alone for quite a long time before I met my partner. I didn't like it much. Being a freelance writer. Obviously, you do have to spend time alone and sort of dream time over time just for thinking when you don't appear to be doing anything. You know, I've also got a room of my own in my house where I can write. And now I'm happy to be on my own quite a lot in the daytime. But it's really nice to know there's going to be someone there.




Yes, that's the difference with the desert island. Yeah. Of course, you're going to be sharing music from your life with us. How important is music to you? It is important to me.


I play the piano and the guitar and the recorder and I was in the school choir and when I was a primary school teacher, I did lots of music with the children and that was great. So tell me about your first disc today. Why have you chosen this one? I love hymns and I think hymns have influenced me quite a lot. And this is a hymn I've known since I was a junior school, and I love the tune Tallis Canon and I like the words to by Bishop Thomas when they were written for the scholars of Winchester College.


I lived there for quite a long time because Lockland taught there. So there's all sorts of connections with this.


All Lord. Glory to thee, my God, this night, music composed by Thomas Tallis, sung by the Cambridge Singers, directed by John Rutter, Wendy Kopp, there is sometimes quite a long break between your collections. How much of what you write makes it into the books that listeners might have at home on their shelves? Quite a lot doesn't actually sometimes because it's a poem that might upset somebody sometimes because I'm not sure if it's good enough. But actually my next thing I'm hoping to do is to do a collected poems and I've actually got quite a lot of uncollected poems that I now think I wasn't sure about them, but I now think they're not too bad.


I wonder where the poems that might upset people go. I'm quite keen to know their location. Well, I don't throw anything away. I mean, out of vanity. So I have such a big archive. There's poems that I've put aside for ten years or more in a file called Failures and Unfinished. And then I've looked through them and found things that actually I thought were fine. So I say, don't throw anything away. You might change your mind about it.


And are you good at knowing when a piece of poetry is finished? Yeah, what happens is I write a poem and I think it's finished, but then I'll be going over in my head over the next day or two and I realise there's a line or a word isn't quite right. I know how I got to do some more work on this and it's when that stops happening, when I can keep going over it in my mind without saying, oh, well, I've got to do some more work on this, then it's finished when your subconscious mind becomes tranquil, because as I mentioned in my introduction, you are known for expertly parodying or the poets.


And I could never look at Baa Baa Black Sheep in quite the same way once I'd read your version in the style of Wordsworth. Why why do that? Well, this was a I don't do it much now, but it was a phase I went through really when I was learning to write. I went to some very good evening classes run by Blake Morrison, where every other week we took our own work. But on the other weeks we looked at the work of a contemporary poet.


So I looked carefully at the work of a lot of contemporary poets. And I think, well, you know, I can see this is good, but it's actually not how I want to write. So I just sort of made fun of it. And it was very good exercise because to write a good parody of somebody's work, you really have to look at it very carefully. And so you learnt a lot. I think the critical perspective on that is very interesting because it's often described by critics in gender terms.


You know that it is a woman artist reacting to the greats of this very male canon. Yes. Is that how you see it as well? Yes. I mean, I did when I started writing women poets being published at the time were very, very much in the minority. And I felt that there wasn't much encouragement for women to tell it how it is about what happens between men and women. But I started doing that anyway. And how much better are things now, do you think is completely changed?


There are far, far bigger proportion of women being published now than there were back in the 1970s, 1980s. Tell me about your second disc today. What are we going to hear next? This is from The Mikado. My father loved Gilbert Sullivan, and so I used to get taken to it rather reluctantly, actually, when I was a little girl to local amateur productions and sometimes to see the D'Oyly Carte companies, the Savoy Theatre and I grew to love it.


I'm very annoyed by people who sneer at it because I think Gilbert was undoubtedly a genius. And Sullivan wrote some really lovely tunes on a tree by a river a little. Tom did so well on tape. Well, I did well on. And I said to him, the key, but why do you sit singing Willow did Willow to Willow? Is it a weakness of intellect, buddy? I cried all the tough words in your little inside with a shake of his poor little boy, he replied.


Oh, Willow, toot willow it Willow.


He slept at his chest as he sat on that wall singing with loaded loaded willow and a cold perspiration strangled his brow Willow, Willow to Willow.


He stopped at his table from The Mikado by Gilbert and Sullivan, sung by John Reed. Wendy Kopp. Do you remember your first introduction to poetry?


My father, he belonged to that generation that had learned poems off by heart at school. So he would recite things like the charge of the Light Brigade or bits from the Rubert of Obock. I am. We didn't encourage it.


You know, you don't encourage your father to embark on the charge of the light brigade at lunchtime.


But, you know, I grew to like it and I liked that stuff better than the weedy poems about nature that we did at school in the 50s. What was considered suitable for little girls was lots of fairies and flowers and things. And I lived in a London suburb. I didn't really get that. Did you write as a child? I did when I was sort of six, seven. I used to write stories in an exercise book and used to say I wanted to be a writer and then I forgot all about it.


You know, I sort of gave up on the idea. I thought, oh, everybody wants to be a writer. I probably can't be and didn't really come back to me till I was in my late 20s, that this was what I really wanted to do. And I'm not really surprised that I've grown up to be a writer, but I am surprised that I've grown up to be a poet. I thought I would write stories for children because that was what I knew about when I was seven.


And you mentioned the influence of hymns. You had quite a religious upbringing. Yeah. You know, what were the influences there? Well, for one thing, I went to boarding school when I was seven and we were taken to an Anglican service every morning and we had to sit right through the whole thing and it was very boring. My mother was an evangelical and that caused a few difficulties because I was taken to hear Billy Graham when I was nine years old, the evangelical preacher.


And, you know, he did this thing of getting people to come forward if they accepted Jesus Christ. And because I was only nine, I thought I better do this because otherwise I'll go to hell. So I went up to the front and I was the only one because it was a relay to our local Baptist church and it wasn't a good experience. These days I'm an agnostic, but I love the liberal middle of the road, Church of England, the Book of Common Prayer and hymns.


But I don't have a lot of time for evangelicals.


What about life at home? How would you describe your family? My father was old, he was a nice man, I loved my father very much, but he was tired, you know, and we often had to be kept out of the way. He'd come home and he was managing director of a department store. My mother worked with him. She'd been his secretary before they were married. So they'd come home and talk business and we'd have to be kept out of the way quite often.


I had a difficult relationship with my mother, which was a lot to do with this. If only you had faith in Jesus business. She was quite controlling and it was quite difficult. And anyway, I was sent away when I was seven to boarding school.


Yes, you've written about that experience. Yeah, seven years old. And she didn't cry because, you know, you'd read. So, you know. You know that one. Yes.


Tell me about that. What are your memories of leaving for boarding school? Because you write that you never really came back.


Yes, exactly. Yes. They decided as best me to go on the train to make some friends. So I was taken to I think it was Charing Cross station. And I said goodbye to my parents and I got on the train. And the first thing I discovered was that I'd already broken the rules because I had to watch of what you're not allowed to watch. And then when I got there, I found out I broken the rules again because I had a torch.


They sound like extremely sensible things to do with you. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, obviously going away was difficult. But once I settled down, I did have some fun. I mean, it wasn't all terrible.


Time for some more music. Tell me about your next choice today.


Why have you chosen this one, Mozart? Well, there was an important moment when I was at secondary school. I wasn't sure if I liked classical music or not. I quite often found it boring. But one day a music teacher came to a class music lesson with an LP of Mozart's Ina Klein art music and played it to us. And I just thought, it is absolutely wonderful. I just love this. And, you know, I've loved Mozart ever since.


So the bit I've chosen is a lovely duet from The Magic Flute.


Yes. Three oh oh oh.


Fred. Part of the duet from Mozart's The Magic Flute Act, one sung by Curity Kanoa and Alafair with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Orchestra conducted by Sir Neville Mariner. Wendy Coop, while you were away at boarding school, your parents would come to visit you, but you've described feeling tense when they did. Why was that?


Well, you settle down at school and then your parents come and see you and this whole thing of partying all over again. So the whole day there's this cloud over the day that you've got to say goodbye. At the end of it, you know, three times a year for the holidays, three times a year for half terms. Was all this packing and unpacking and saying goodbye and settling down all over again.


And I sometimes used to feel it was just it'd be easier to just do one either be at home at the time all the time, or at school all the time.


So permeated by a kind of constant anxiety that, well, it was sadness. I mean, you know, I it was it was sadness about having to say goodbye to everyone at home.


Your poem, You're Not Allowed describes the powerless frustration that many children feel towards quite dominant parents. Yes. You know that that line things will get better if you're very good at how much of your own experiences in that work, how hard?


Oh, it's absolutely about my childhood. Yes. How did you have to try to please your mother? Pretty hard. I mean, I got very good at it. I got very good at knowing how not to upset her, but it wasn't very good for me having to do that all the time.


And what happened, what was the impact on you? I got depressed, I mean, I you know, I think I was depressed. Probably through most of my childhood, I was depressed, I was a bit overweight, and I think I you know, I didn't really get over that until in my late 20s when I went to psychoanalysis, and that helped a lot.


Were you able to talk about this with your mother? I mean, I know that that poem is in the collection Family Values, and that wasn't published until after her death.


No, that's that's one sort of reason I put poems aside.


I did once when I was at university and I was home for the vacation and I was very depressed. I did want to try to talk to my mother about it. And what she said was, if only you had faith in Jesus, that was all she had to say about it.


I preserved myself by becoming quite secretive. You know, I I had a performance from my mother and my real self was was hidden away. Let's go to the music.


Tell me about your fourth disc today. What have you chosen and why have you gone for this one?


Well, after I finished university, I became a primary school teacher for quite a long time. And my knowledge of music was then very useful because in primary schools, they always want someone who can play the piano and so on. And so I did a lot of music with the children, including singing with them. And that is really one of the things I miss about teaching. I loved singing with the children, so I've chosen a song that we what we used to sing.


I leave early. We said, Oh, your mom is very fond of you all. We did a song called. Very hard to say the same, no better than your mom is going to be ready for you to buy some cool Candy Crowley cruelties Candy performed by Robin Hall, Jimmy McGregor and the Goliath's Wendy Kopp.


Your choice then to take you back to your time as a music teacher.


But there were other contenders and well, they did like this one and so did I. I think there were some others. I think their favorite songs were probably football crazy. And there's a hole in my bucket. And I wasn't going to have any either of those on my desert island. Could have been a first for desert, but I understand. So you graduated from Oxford in 1966. Why did you start teaching? It was in West Ham, Lewisham, mainly off the old road that you were worth.


Yeah, well, by the time I left Oxford, I didn't have much confidence. I didn't know what to do with myself. And because I had read history at Oxford and I knew I didn't want to be a history teacher, I went into this course in primary school teaching.


So, I mean, also those I was a little bit of wanting to do something useful.


And how do you feel about the experience and about that choice, looking back?


Well, in some ways it was good for me because I really think that my work as a teacher helped bring out the creative side of me. Before that, I thought of myself as a brainy person who wasn't creative. But, you know, this was the era when there was a lot of emphasis on creative work in schools. And so I was doing a lot with poetry and music with the children. And I think that woke up something in me.


I went on these music courses where we made up our own music in groups in a sort of avant garde idiom that meant you didn't need to know about traditional harmony or notation. And it was such fun. I just absolutely loved it. And I started thinking, I'd like to be a composer. But then I thought to myself, well, actually I was only average at music school. But what I was really good at was English. So I try this creative thing with English.


And also, you know, I was encouraging the children to write poems and show me their poems and you have to be careful.


But I could see what was needed to make it better. But that made me think I'm going to have a go at this in my spare time.


So that's how it started. And what were you writing about?


My feelings because writing poetry started about six months after I was in analysis and I was getting in touch with feelings that I needed to express.


Let's go to the music. It's your fifth desk. We've chosen it.


Yeah, this is the Beatles Blackbird.


Now, it may sound a bit self dramatizing, but when I started writing, as I was emerging from quite a severe depression, I really did identify with the bird in this song. I mean, I now understand that McCartney says it's about civil rights. I didn't know that. To me, it was about singing in the dark and also realising I began to write poetry. I realized this is what I really want to do. And so you were only waiting for this moment to arrive is a line that resonated very much with me.


Blackbird singing in the dead of night, take these broken wings and learn to fly. All your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arise. Blackbird singing in the dirt on the Beatles with Blackbird. So, Wendy, you're a fan, despite satirizing Lennon and McCartney in print in the past. Yeah, it was around 1973, as you said, that you decided to enter psychoanalysis. Tell me more about that. I think you've been quoted in the past as saying, I was afraid I'd become a bag lady.


How serious are you when you said that?


Well, I think I've been depressed for a long time, but my father died in 1971 and then it got worse. And I was, you know, finding earning my living. Quite a strain. So, yes, there was a fear I become a bag lady because, you know, I was always quite anxious about earning a living. But anyway, I. I found a way to have psychoanalysis. I thought you had to be rich, but it turned out there was a clinic where I was taken on as a clinic patient and I still had to pay, but not nearly as much as the private rate.


And I was in analysis for about 10 years. And it's just it's a slow process. But gradually I became less depressed.


You're working with a therapist called Arthur Escapology. My first book is dedicated to us as such. And of course, publishers thought it was a joke, but it was in it and it would be actually was his name. So why did you dedicate the book to him?


Because he'd helped me so much. I mean, you know, I was this depressed primary school teacher not being published by Faber and Faber. That's quite a leap, obviously, the creative side.


But I mean, what did therapy give you as a as a person?


Yeah, it's a question of being in touch with one's feelings. You know, when someone asked me, how do you feel about something, I would come up with a reasonable answer, you know, and some will say, are you angry with me? And I say, no, of course not, because I have no reason to be angry with you.


But what I began to realize was that, you know, often you don't know what you're feeling. So sometimes things you do or things you say or things you dream about. Of course, that's very important. Help you to find out what you are really feeling.


What was that process like? Because there must have been a lot of stuff in there that had to come out.


Yes. And there was quite a lot of anger. I mean, analysts had quite a tough time with me because I used to shout at him and argue with him a lot and called him rude names. And but that was important because, you know, my father had been old and I was afraid, you know, if I did anything bad, it might kill my father. So being able to be rude and aggressive to the analyst and realising nothing terrible was going to happen was very useful process.


I mean, used to think I'm going to, you know, go to the clinic and say he's no good and can I have a different analyst.


And, you know, so he presumably took it all in his stride.


Yeah, well, I mean, I don't know how it felt to him, but we ended up being really quite good friends, which is not strictly orthodox.


But, you know, and we got on well, you've described therapy as learning to be yourself. Who did you discover yourself to be by the end of that process? And how different was that person from the person you expected to meet? Gosh, well, more creative and happier, I suppose. Yeah, I mean, the thing is, it doesn't do everything. I'm still quite neurotic enough to get by as a writer, even after 10 years in psychoanalysis.


And also, if you're a poet, it's about telling the truth, including the truth about your own feelings. And I just don't see how knowing yourself better could possibly make someone worse. Writer.


Let's take another check. This is your sixth today. Why have you chosen it? Well, this is Bach, my favorite composer. But this particular piece of Bach is what we had at our wedding.


I lived with Lochlan since 1994. We didn't get around to getting married until 2013. And while we weren't rushing into anything and we had a very small, quiet wedding with just relatives there. But we did have music. And during the signing of the register, we had this movement from the Bach Double Violin Concerto. Part of the second movement of Bach Double Violin Concerto in D Minor, performed by Takako Nikiski and Alexander Yablokov with the Capella is Tripolitania Orchestra conducted by Oliver Dohnanyi, Wendy Kopp.


Tell me about being published for the first time. How did it happen? Well, for years I was sending poems to little magazines and they were turning them down. So for me, I spent about six years being rejected.


Then through being a Blake Morrison's class, he became Paltridge of the tireless. And one time I took a poem along that he liked and he put it in the Times dietary supplement. And then I got some published in a magazine called Quarto, and that changed everything. Faber wrote to me and said, we'd like you to send us some poems for us to consider. And this was the most exciting moment of my whole literary career. And I got that letter from Faber Faber.


I know all the time when I began writing in the 1970s, I sort of hoped I would get something published, but I didn't dream that I would get published by Faber and Faber and then that it would actually get on the bestseller list and, you know, not the poetry best sellers actual best seller list.


So that was all very exciting and I was very lucky. But in some ways it was quite difficult because suddenly, you know, the phone rang all the time with people wanting me to do things and often asking me to do things for inadequate amounts of money. Before I realized some people from Faber took me out to lunch a few weeks after the book was published and said, don't do anything for less than £100. This was in 1986.


And I said, but I've already agreed to do loads of things for less than £100. But another thing it made me realize because I wasn't in a relationship at the time is that success is a bit empty if you haven't got any you want to share it with.


How did the people closest to you react? What about your mother? What did she make of your poetry?


I don't think she really understood and she didn't like the book because there was sex in it. I mean, a friend of mine that came with me to see my mother and stepfather because she had remarried.


So they've no idea what's happening to you.


They don't understand it at all. So I mentioned in my introduction a certain amount of antipathy between you and some of the poetry establishment in those early days. Tell me a bit more about what happened.


Well, because I seem to suddenly appear from nowhere and get all this publicity. I can understand it was very hard for other poets. And so inevitably there was a certain amount of hostility. And that has affected my relationship with the poetry world ever since. It hasn't completely died away even now.


I met a young man who was at university and wanted to write his long essay about my work, and he told his tutor and tutor hadn't read me. So the guy said, Well, I'll give you a copy of the book. You said, I wouldn't read that book even if you gave it to me. And I had it before I'd met Lockland. I had a brief relationship with somebody who knew about poetry and who'd never read me. And then, you know, when I was involved with him, he read my books and he kept saying, you're a good poet, you're good poet.


Like, it was really surprising.


So what's your take on that then? Well, I mean, I can get very upset about it sometimes. But on the other hand, I have a lot of readers and I in some ways I've been very lucky. I mean, my books so well, by poetry standards, when I do poetry readings, I get big audiences and people are very nice to me. So that's the other side of it.


Time for your next piece of music. This is your seventh disc. Why have you chosen it?


The television series Unforgotten with the wonderful Nicola Walker as one of the detectives over the opening titles, says This song and this song gradually grew on me.


And by the time we were watching the third series, every time we what should I say? I really like this song and so unknown to me. Lochlan bought the CD and then he came home. What is it? I've got something for you to listen to. Track Eleven. And it was this song that's such a nice thing to do. I was lying when. So is it's time we always fail to find. Soweto's feel the to have an upside down.


I don't want to be the right way round, I find paradise on the ground.


All we do buy or wonder, Wendy Kopp, the lyrics to that song still fascinating and beguiling you I don't really understand what it's about, but I did wonder if it might be about a sloth because because of being upside down or maybe about they're upside down and underground sometimes.




You mentioned the idea of of being one person in your relationship with your mother and then another the rest of the time and then going through therapy these days, I wonder how comfortable you are in your own skin and how comfortable you are being yourself and telling it like you said. Gosh, well, much more than I used to be, I still sometimes can only get the courage to write by saying to myself, well, they'll all hate this, but I'm going to write it anyway.


And that kind of frame of mind. And then I promised myself, I'm not going to publish it. So important to write what you want to write and not be deterred by the thought of all the poets who don't like you, all the people who might not want to publish it, all the people who might be cross with you because it's not politically correct. All those things are so important just to sort of push all that away and write what you want to write and then afterwards you can decide whether to publish it.


Having been a poet for so many years, has it changed you, do you think? Well, it's changed my life.


I mean, you know, I've earned a living without having to have a job. It changed me. Well, I suppose it's bound to have done yes, because what's interesting, you know, when that first book came out and suddenly I felt successful, you then you go back and the whole story of your life changes as your life changes because you say, oh, it was leading up to this, but I didn't know that.


So a reframing. Yeah. Time for some more music. This is your eighth disc. Tell me about this one.


This is Bach again. But it's an arrangement that I only discovered recently in the racket of Corale, which I've known for a long time.


This is played by a trio of bass, mandolin and Yo-Yo Ma on the cello playing the chorale. Parks awake, the Voice is calling us, played by Yo-Yo Ma, Chris Lilley and Edgar Meyer.


So Wendy Koepp, we're casting your away with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare. You can also take a book of your choice. What will it be?


Well, I thought about this and I decided that the Bible and Shakespeare would give me plenty of serious reading. So I'd like something that would make me laugh. So I think I'll take the complete Molesworth, which is a book that's been making me laugh since I was 11 years old, and he feels like an old friend, so it'd be nice to have him there.


It's yours. What about your luxury item? I have to have writing materials. Really. This is boring because this is what all writers say. But at least, you know, if I could write, that would help and you know, no one to talk to. But if you can communicate with a piece of paper, someone might read it sooner or later.


And what about if you had to save one track from your.


It would be about double violin concerto just because I like it a lot. Wendy Koepp, thank you very much for sharing your Desert Island Discs with us.


Thank you. I do hope you enjoyed my conversation with Wendy. I like the idea of her chortling over the antics of Molesworth while she's on her island. Over the decades, many poets have been cast away, including NMCC, Jackie, Kay, Benjamin, Zephaniah. Let's look at John Aagaard and Philip Larkin. And back in 1990, similarly interviewed Seamus Heaney.


Were you a born poet, Seamus? Is there such a thing?


Well, most children probably have the solitude and distance and fear of the world, which we associate with the truly imaginative being and the the onset of capacity and the onset of capability, in the answer said of adequacy banishes the poet. So I think that there are many born poets and that's suspicious, little fearful part of yourself. That's where the poetical being resides. Probably in that sense I was born, but I would say many people are born. But reading about your roots, your background now, it sounds very poetic.


I don't know what the reality was. Well, the reality was indeed. I mean, when I describe it in words, it immediately becomes, if you like, a mythic status. It is true that there was a house with trees around it and a thatch and there there were horses in the fields and people came to the well for water and so on. So when you're describing that you were describing a medieval community, your father was a farmer, he was a farmer, but he had a certain freedom.


I mean, he he had the farming thing, but actually he wasn't enslaved to it. That is the killing thing about small farming is to be enslaved day and night, day after day. And he had a certain panache with his steak going and he was able to have people at home working on the farm and inside the house.


There were two very important women in your life. Well, indeed, I've come to realize that I had really two mummies. I had I had my own mother, of course, who bore me. But my father's sister, Mary, was insitu in the house when my mother came to live there, which my father and I suppose it says a lot about my aunt, the father's sister, that she and my mother worked out. They lived together in in in harmony every day, for example, baked bread.


She also said that because she was there to assist and and my mother was much more involved necessarily with the whole business of youngsters. I mean, our family came very quickly, one after the other. How many? There were nine of us. And I think, you know, probably six of us born inside eight years. Or were you the eldest? I was the eldest.


Yes. And it was a very happy, obviously very secure house.


It was secure. Yeah. There was no menace other than the menaces that are in the imagination, you know, the dark and the trees and the scuttling of wild things on the ceiling at night.


Seamus Heaney talking to see. You'll find all those programs and over 2000 other editions in the Desert Island Discs back catalogue.


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