20 Questions Questions
Celebrated author and poet Ian McMillan dreamed of being a private detective...now he pens tributes to the world of waterways
1 What first attracted you to the waterways? My dad was a sailor and so water ( not literally) was in his blood.
2 Which is your favourite canal? There’s a tiny bit of the Wombwell canal near Morrison’s at Cortonwood that always glows with a kind of green promise.
3 What do the waterways have to offer the country? Time to think and reflect and slow down.
4 Tell us about your boating experience… Very little, I’m afraid. In 1997 I sailed on a canal through the middle of Mexico City that was vivid and memorable.
5 Have you ever fallen in? No, thank goodness.
6 What do the waterways need most? Money, time, love, money.
7 What are you reading? Currently rereading my favourite poet Roy Fisher, who died recently; he wrote one of the poems for the lock gates.
8 Who would be your ideal cruising companion? Someone who could do the work while I composed limpid verses.
9 What did you want to be aged 12? A private detective in a trilby hat.
10 How do canals inspire you as a poet? I like the way they combine the human with the natural.
11 What are you up to? Rushing about writing poems/radio programmes/plays/ operas. Time to slow down on a canal, I reckon.
12 Did you catch any of the canal-themes TV recently? Afraid not: don’t watch a lot of telly.
13 What are your fondest memories of the waterways? I guess it goes back to that loudly colourful trip in Mexico City. There was a mariachi band somewhere on the shore.
14 What do you think of people on the canals? They seem to live life in a different dimension to the rest of us.
15 What is your proudest achievement? Three children.
16 What would you like to see happen to the waterways in your lifetime? Money showered on them to help rebuild.
17 Do you own a boat? No. I don’t even own a picture of a boat.
18 Where do you hope to be when you’re 70? Same place as now, I guess; Darfield, near Barnsley, still going for my early stroll. Only nine years to go.
19 Where in Britain would you most like to cruise? It would be nice to get a new canal built and be the first to cruise down that.
20 What would your superpower be? Extreme wit.
Mexico City, where the poet enjoyed a memorable trip