What if the things we keep hidden say more about us than those we put on display?
We all have a random collection of the things that made us – photos, tickets, clothes, souvenirs, stuffed in a box, packed in a suitcase, crammed into a drawer. When Jarvis Cocker starts clearing out his loft, he finds a jumble of objects that catalogue his story and ask him some awkward questions:
Who do you think you are?
Are clothes important?
Why are there so many pairs of broken glasses up here?
From a Gold Star polycotton shirt to a pack of Wrigley’s Extra, from his teenage attempts to write songs to the Sexy Laughs Fantastic Dirty Joke Book, this is the hard evidence of Jarvis’s unique life, Pulp, 20th century pop culture, the good times and the mistakes he’d rather forget. And this accumulated debris of a lifetime reveals his creative process – writing and musicianship, performance and ambition, style and stagecraft.
This is not a life story. It’s a loft story.
I listened to Jarvis Cocker’s reading of his book Good Pop, Bad Pop. The book involves the Pulp frontman going through a loft full of objects he had stored there seemingly for a situation like this.
Good Pop, Bad Pop ambles through the 25 years before Saint Martins, tracking Cocker’s worldview as it takes shape in his home city of Sheffield. It opens in the present day, as he’s clearing out the loft of his London house. There is a lot of stuff in there, and each item has a story. His task is to decide whether to keep each thing or “cob” it (throw it out). Mulling over these ancient treasures puts him in philosophical mood, and the book soon expands into both an autobiography and a treatise on pop.
Through tales of buying second hand clothes, the embarrassment of the first gigs and the boredom associated with recovering in hospital, Cocker teases out his creative pathway. This is not to provide a model for how to be the next Pulp or the next Jarvis Cocker, but instead to help others find their own spark, maybe to just keep going.