An Audience With Julian Cope: Unity Theatre, Liverpool

Julian Cope with Getintothis contributor Alistair Hoiughton

Julian Cope with Getintothis contributor Alistair Houghton

No tears were shed as Julian Cope wowed a rapturous audience in promoting his debut novel, Getintothis’ Joseph Viney hopes his world never shuts its mouth.

Even for those aware of the weirdness of the world of Julian Cope it was hard to guess what the former Teardrop Explodes founder and polymath would do and say at tonight’s Q&A.

A packed Unity Theatre warmly received the recently published novelist, who was on the road to promote his debut novel, One Three One.

The danger of such “Audience With…” events is their propensity to slide quickly into self-indulgence and/or sheer boredom. A veteran of a few such snoozefests, Getintothis entered the arena of intellectual battle in possession of more than a little trepidation.

Age is supposed to mellow us, but there was no hint of that as Cope came stomping out onto the stage, introduced by Lee Brackstone, creative director of Faber Social, who along with Waterstones had organised tonight’s fun and frolics.

Hitting the spotlight with long hair and beard, biker boots, a black leather waistcoat, sunglasses and what appear to be black studded gauntlets, Cope is to be admired for his distinct lack of compromise in whatever elements constitute his vision.

Indeed, the sense of not compromising very much became the theme of the night. From the extracts read aloud by the man himself, One Three One is a rather tumultuous tome. Seven years in the making and self-described as a “time-shifting Gnostic hooligan road novel” that takes place during Italia ’90 in Sardinia and incorporates a fascist cheese factory too, One Three One is as unconventional as can be expected. It also inhabits a world where the Morrisons were switched, and it is Van, opposed to Jim, that bought the farm all those years ago.

Also taking in poems about fizzy drinks, shitting yourself in an aeroplane toilet and a mix up between goat’s cheese and anal sex, One Three One is a book that doesn’t so much as set out its own stall as create its own system of economics which is then used to repossess your house and eat your family.

It’s even filled with whole fictional discographies, genres and anecdotes. Cope has even gone so far as to record music for bands he’s created in his own mind. It’s a devotion to the cause that would have any creative worth their salt chiding themselves for being such a half-arse about it.

Brackstone kept up his end of the bargain with a textbook straight-man performance to Cope’s clowning around. Attempts to lure Cope into a more conventional line of questioning were thwarted at every opportunity, with segues into what makes Liverpool such a great city (“the state vs the enclave”), conspiracies surrounding the Italia ’90 fixture list and making the most of the “plasticity” of life.

There was even time for some oddly-provocative sales-based dancing, Brackstone touting the book’s virtues as Cope mugged and jerked in the background. Not an eyelid was batted.

Cope’s adoring audience lapped up every second and you could tell that he was enjoying himself too. Anybody who has a weird mind would do well to pick up a copy of One Three One; it might just be the book you’ve been waiting for.