20 Ques­tions Ques­tions

Cel­e­brated au­thor and poet Ian McMil­lan dreamed of be­ing a pri­vate de­tec­tive...now he pens trib­utes to the world of water­ways

Canal Boat - - Directory -

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

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