Much-loved Sheffield singer- songwriter legend JOHN SHUTTLEWORTH is dusting off his Yamaha keyboard to make a welcome return to The Dukes in Lancaster on Sunday, November 14. HOLLY BLACKWELL caught up with him before the start of his new tour – A Man With No More Rolls – to talk about meat pies, motorway services and Mastermind.
How are you? What are you up to at the minute?
I’ve just been round to my next door neighbour and sole agent Ken Worthington’s house to inform him about a sweet wrapper that I clocked in the front passenger footwell of his Honda Civic.
You are playing at The Dukes in Lancaster. Have you ever been to Morecambe before?
Indeed I have. In 1979 me and me wife, Mary, bought a quarter of mints from a sweet shop in the immediate vicinity. Then we walked across the sands but we got a bit tired and the sand was too damp to sit on but we’d left the rug in the car. So I suggested to Mary that we squat down on our haunches and rest that way, but she wouldn’t do it – despite a demonstration from yours truly – and she got a bit angry for no reason, and then the sweet bag burst, so it was an awful day out really. I won’t be going back in a hurry, I’m sorry to say.
Tell me about the tour. Have you got new material?
Oh yes. Plenty of lovely new songs including “Mingling With Mourners all abut the joys of a nice funeral tea; and a song about unleavened Indian sweetbreads called How’s Yer Nan? It’s also about caring for the older members of the local community, which some younger people don’t do – too busy twirling the pickle tray!
You are trapped in a caravan in Heysham. What three things do you take with you?
I’m tempted to say, nothing, because it would all be there already. It’s a caravan, in’t it, so all of Man’s wants have been catered for. And because of that, I must take issue with your suggestion that I would be trapped. Why would I? Not at all – I’d remain there quite happily till help arrives.
In your song, Can’t Go Back To Savoury, you’re eating a treacle pudding. But what REALLY is your favourite sweet?
A treacle pudding or sticky toffee to be precise...Holly – you were just slightly wide of the mark there, lass...is hard to beat, but the strawberry cheesecake at the garden centre runs it a close second. My mum used to do a wonderful raspberry trifle, with just a tiny splash of sherry in the sponge. Oof, that’s too much!
Ex-Lancaster University student Rachael Neiman has just “done” you as her specialist subject on Mastermind. If you were on Mastermind what would your favourite subject be?
I’d do the TV appearances of Ken Worthingto because there was only one, so it would be quite an easy subject. That was on New Faces in 73, of course, when Ken came a disappointing ‘last’. Tony Hatch crucified him -– awful!
And if you could replace the Mastermind chair with your own, what chair would it be?
Well, it wouldn’t be Ken’s wicker chair, because it’s covered in mildew, though Ken claims it’s green crayon administered by his nephew, Nathan, in a mischievous moment. No, it would be my comfy leather chair that me wife, Mary, thinks was purchased from the World of Leather, but actually I found it on a skip round the back of the hospital. I’d appreciate it if you kept that fact to yourself.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I only did it once and swore never to do it again. Dare I tell you? Go on then.. I once bought a pint of semi-skimmed milk and a seven pack of Orange flavoured Club biscuits, and scoffed the lot, in a municipal car park. Oof, I felt so guilty afterwards, and a little bit nauseous.
Tell us a secret.
I’ve just told you one. You want another, do you? I’m afraid I’m not prepared to divulge any more personal information. I’ll give you a secret tip though – if your Polyfilla is becoming too hard, mix in a little deposit of spittle and it will remain workable for a further 10 to 15 minutes.
And finally, some quick fire questions...
Sweet or savoury? – Savoury.. no, sweet.. no savoury.. oo no, I can’t go back.
Mushy peas or curry sauce? – Definitely mushy peas
Ford Anglia or Austin Ambassador? – Oo that’s cruel. I suppose Austin Ambassador. Well, I’ve never crashed it, touch wood. I had the incident on the Snake Pass in the Ford Anglia
Snooker or darts? -– Neither. I prefer table tennis. I have the hard bat and stand well back from the table, in a defensive stance
Meat pie or sausage roll? – Oof, another tricky one. Meat pie, I suppose, as there’s more chance of a nice gravy with it
Lidl or Nettos? – Netto.
Vinyl or cassette? – Cassette – you can apply the Dolby position to eliminate tape hiss
M6 or the B3351? – Well, I don’t know the B3351 but it sounds lovely, and I’m planning my trip already. Where’s my flask, Mary?
Trains or buses? – Buses. I used to like the train but the buffet car doesn’t do a leaf tea anymore, it’s just tea, and you can’t lean out of the windows like in the good old days.
Bitter or mild? – We’re talking about the weather, I presume. Obviously I prefer it mild.
Gas or electric? – Gas, especially for a fire. Ours has the “miser rate” setting.
Camping or caravanning? – Caravanning, obviously. Though I do like to hear the zup of a zip, and the swish of a cagoule.
l John Shuttleworth will perform at The Dukes on Sunday, November 14. Ticket cost £12/ £10 concessions. The show starts at 8pm.