AofA People: Richard Cabut – writer, playwright and musician

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Richard Cabut is a writer, playwright and musician. He has written for the Guardian, the Telegraph, NME and Zig Zag under the pseudonym Richard North.


I have just turned 63 – late March, Aries.

Where do you live?

Sunny southeast London, Honor Oak Park, SE23 – near Forest Hill, Lewisham, a walk away from Peckham Rye – where Blake saw the angels: ‘A tree filled with angels, bright angelic wings bespangling every bough like stars.’ Southeast London does that to you.

What do you do?

I’m a writer. My current published work is called Disorderly Magic and Other Disturbances – a pop meditation on speed, delirium, rapid transits, hauntings, and conjuring the future, etc. My forthcoming book is a new extended version of my last novel Looking for a Kiss, described by a journo, as ‘a post-punk classic’. I’ve also brought out other books, written plays, worked as a journalist for the BBC and other establishments and organisations, and as freelancer, starting with the NME in 1982, pen name Richard North.

Tell us what it’s like to be your age?

You tend to grow into yourself over the years, into what and who you’re meant to be (for better or worse) – the vaunted character arc, which is the most important part of any story by far. This takes a little, um, with luck…  self-insight, willing, wisdom – which, in the end, is, I suppose, really about trying to understand the complicated sense of arrangement between what drives a person and the depth and nature of one’s sincerity – and that comes eventually by listening to your deepest self. Right?

What do you have now that you didn’t have at 25?

Children. A Luton Town season ticket. A bicycle or two. Temperance. Property. Apprehension anxiety grasp grip mastery perception discernment appreciation interpretation cognizance ken conception assimilation absorption knowledge awareness familiarity with acquaintance with skill in expertise in compassion sympathy pity empathy. Even more wisdom.

What about sex?

I’m generally up for it. Everyone says that, right?

And relationships?

Long-term partner, if that’s what you mean?

How free do you feel?

Pretty free. Which is better than pretty vacant, right? I have responsibilities, but they’re those I’ve chosen, largely – including those to myself. I haven’t worked in an office or 9-5 ever since I wangled a redundancy pay-off from the BBC years ago – one of the best days of my life, I think. I’m artistically, philosophically etc quite loose, I suppose.

What are you proud of?

Keeping on good hugging terms with most of my ghosts and familiars.

What keeps you inspired?

The thought that a person’s orbit isn’t a straight line, and that it curves and dips sometimes and rises at others, that your arc can be some sort of amorphous, unlimited, unstructured stream with ambient undercurrents of impact – disorienting but always in motion.

When are you happiest?

I’m more of a melancholic with a bad attitude. The futility of it all tickles my fancy though.

And where does your creativity go?

Breathing. Books, plays, poems, music, journalism. Putting on my shoes in the morning or afternoon, sometimes – some days, not at all. Looking in the mirror. Talking to myself, others, too. Pretending. Sighing.

What’s your philosophy of living?

I think the blind universe, which runs on pure chance and loaded dice, doesn’t give a shit, and nothing but nothing will exist until you yourself create it.

And dying?

At arm’s length atm.

Are you still dreaming?

Well, actually, poetry is a kind of dreaming – it has similar energy, it possesses yet often confounds complete recognition or stability – it and we can drift or glide. As they say, all poetry/ dreaming is a beautiful attempt to be what could/should/would.

What was a recent outrageous action of yours?

Walking wickedly. Talking trickily. Or vice versa.

More info:

Disorderly Magic and Other Disturbances

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