Something people don’t know about me? I’m The Stig!
PUBLISHED: 14:32 22 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:32 22 March 2019
Image licensed for press and publicity usage for the sitter, dependent on the accreditation to the photographer: Idil Sukan/Draw
Well, he could be! But what East Anglian poet Luke Wright is actually doing is bringing his show to Norwich Playhouse on March 30. Here, he tells Gina Long MBE the things he loves and hates about living here...
Luke Wright is a professional poet and theatre maker. The 37 year old has become one of the UK’s favourite and most accessible poets whose work ranges from riotously laugh out loud to tear-inducingly poignant. His verse play What I Learned From Johnny Bevan won multiple awards and he was invited to perform it in the Palace of Westminster by Norwich South MP Clive Lewis. This year he is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first live gig and is currently on an extensive national tour of his new show Luke Wright, Poet Laureate that stretches into the autumn. The tour includes a run at the Soho Theatre in London’s West End in April, Holt Festival in July and a very special celebratory 20th anniversary show at Norwich Playhouse on 30 March. Luke lives in Bungay, Suffolk and has two young sons.
What is your connection to East Anglia?
My dad grew up in Braintree. When I was two we moved from London to Coggeshall, which is where I grew up. I went to school in Colchester and then university at UEA. I then lived in Wivenhoe, Norwich (again) and now Bungay. I always assumed I’d move away for good, but here I am. I’m as East Anglian as they come.
What do you love most about East Anglia?
I love being so close to the east coast. In the summer I go and swim in the sea on my own, sink beneath the shallow sea and let the silence gently crush my chest.
What do you hate most about living here?
Politically I’m not really in sync with my homelands, the map is so blue! But I also have a love/hate relationship with the A12 - England’s crude appendix scar.
What’s your favourite East Anglian restaurant?
I love The Castle Inn in Bungay and The Workshop on Earlham Road, Norwich. Oh, and Namaste in Norwich is excellent too.
What’s your favourite way to spend an East Anglian evening?
I love being in my house. I’m on the road a hundred nights a year, so when I get back home I like to sink into the bath (maybe with a negroni). Sure, I know you can do that anywhere, but I know I’m home and that makes it special.
What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?
I love Jumbo, the water tower in Colchester. We used to sit and smoke and drink cheap cider in its shadow when I was a teenager. The UEA ziggurats can also stir my heart. I lived in Suffolk Terrace for a year. It was when I began to make myself.
What’s the best thing in East Anglia every year?
Aside from my annual fundraiser gig for Bungay Library? Can I say Latitude? I programmed the Poetry Arena for 11 years, we built the biggest poetry show in Europe in this sleepy corner of Suffolk. I still go each year and it’s magic.
What your specialist Mastermind subject?
The songs of Jake Thackray or TV series Lovejoy.
What is always in your fridge?
Tonic water and hot sauce.
What’s your simple philosophy of life?
You don’t always have to answer the questions that are asked of you.
What’s your favourite film?
I just saw The Favourite and I adored it. But the one I go back to time and again is Withnail and I.
What was your first job?
I sold double glazing over the phone. I was 14 and not legally allowed to work but they paid me in cash. It was above Vagabonds cafe in Colchester. I was pretty terrible at it.
Your most treasured possession?
I wear a little mustard spoon around my neck with a dog tag that says “GREEDIER” - it was a gift from my partner. It would kill me to lose it.
Who do you admire most?
Lots of people for lots of reasons, but if we’re naming names … I am consistently stunned at the passion and commitment of my friend Emma Corlett, who is a Norfolk County Councillor and committed to fighting injustice and the forces of darkness. Every. Damn. Day.
What is your biggest indulgence?
I’m an eater. I treat every meal like a treat and I eat out most days. It’s an occupational habit from being on the road, but I could definitely rein it in a bit.
What do you like about yourself most?
I am enthusiastic about people.
What’s your worst character trait?
I talk too much. I do try and shut up, but I’m just so excited to see you.
Favourite holiday destination?
I can’t afford to go on holiday very often so I don’t really have a favourite place I go back to. That said, I do get to travel a lot when I’m performing and I’ve seen some wonderful places, chief among them probably Sri Lanka.
Best day of your life?
It was very recently. I brought my two sons (nine and six) to one of my gigs with John Cooper Clarke in Birmingham. It was so cool to show them my world of work and they loved the whole experience. At the end of the gig they ran on stage and hugged me. Then we went to the German market afterwards, ate sweets and rode the carousel, laughing all the way.
What’s your favourite breakfast?
I’m one of those nauseating millennials who likes avocado on toast.
What’s your hidden talent?
If I have even the slightest aptitude for anything I never hide it.
When were you most embarrassed?
I’ve been performing political poetry on stage since I was 17. My life is tapestry of embarrassment. I try not to feel embarrassed, as long as I haven’t been unkind, I can live with the idiocy.
What’s your earliest memory?
Brent Cross shopping centre, all the lights.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Miami by Baxter Dury.
Tell us something people don’t know about you?
I’m The Stig.
What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
I wouldn’t want to shame him here.
Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?
I like the houses, I like the skies, my friends are here, my children call it home. It is just home.
What do you want to tell our readers about most?
My new show is Luke Wright, Poet Laureate. It would be great to see you at the Norwich Playhouse on Saturday 30th March. It’s an attempted portrait of England at a time of national crisis. Like our country, it is by turns funny, sad, enraging and galvanising. This particular show is also a celebration of the twentieth anniversary of my first gig. It’s gonna be great. Come!
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