AofA People: Ian Marchant – Writer, Broadcaster, Performer

Ian Marchant is a very funny man. He’s also a bit obsessed by certain aspects of Britain like the railways, pubs and darkness, hence his non-fiction books, Parallel Lines, The Longest Crawl and Something of the Night. He’s also wont to perform as part of an act called Your Dad.

What is your name?

Ian Marchant

How old are you?


Where do you live?

Presteigne, Powys

What do you do? 

I’m a writer, broadcaster and performer

Tell us what it’s like to be your age?

 I like it lots. I miss nothing about youth, not even my hair. My teeth a bit, maybe. I’m still looking forward to whatever’s next. Even if it’s horrible, I hope I’ll still be interested.

What do you have now that you didn’t have at 25?

Three pairs of specs. When I was 25, I only had one. 6 stones of hard earned fat.

What about sex?

Everything still seems to be working. Thanks for caring.

And relationships?

More complex than they were. Relationships with grown-up children, step-children, grand-children, aging parents, partner, ex-partners, friends and neighbours add to rather than subtract from complexity. But that’s as it should be. Alan Watts used to say that it is in the nature of the Universe to become more complex, and that makes sense to me. Complexity seems natural and right.

How free do you feel?

Very much so. Ludicrously so. Writers get paid in freedom as much as they do in time. On that measure, I’m very well paid.

What are you proud of?

Love and work

What keeps you inspired?

Love, work, and drugs.

When are you happiest?

It’s hard to pin down. When I’m playing with my grand-children, or my step-daughter. When I’m steering a canal boat. When I’ve pulled an all-nighter to write 2000 + words. When I’m singing for money. When I’ve just scored. When Brighton have just scored.

And where does your creativity go?

Into my work.

What’s your philosophy of living?

Oh, you know, the usual hippy stuff. We are here to learn how to be part of Creation, and to co-evolve with the Universe. Kindness, compassion and freedom are more important than money. Never whistle while you’re pissing.

And dying?

Now you’re asking. How would I like to go? Not too quickly. My first wife dropped dead of a brain haemorrage, and I saw the consequences of sudden death for those we love. One of my closest friends died last year of oesophagal cancer; that was a bit slow. So, I’d like to go over about three months, with added heroin towards the end. Where do we go? I have a sense that we go somewhere, but then I had a sense that Brighton and Hove Albion would get promoted to the Premiership this year, and I was wrong. Whatever happens, I’m sure it will be interesting.

Are you still dreaming?

Lord, yes. All writers are convinced that their next book will be a million seller. My next is a history of the British Counter Culture. It’s taken me five years so far. I couldn’t have stayed at it without dreaming. Now I’ve nearly finished, I’m dreaming about the next one.

What was a recent outrageous action of yours?

I’m not sure what outrageous means. Subjective, innit? Writing a book on the history of hippies has seen me sitting round a lot of camp fires smoking weed, which would outrage my Mum. Doing stand-up gigs, I like to outrage and alienate my audience by saying bad things that people think but never say. I outrage my children by dancing and singing to the sound of Morrison’s in-store radio when doing the shopping. I seem to have outraged my neighbours by putting ‘Remain’ posters in the window. I swear too much. Dunno. So long as I can work, I’m not outraging myself, which seems to be the most important thing.

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