We met up to talk children’s books (he’s just had one published), the life of a dandy and why he’s consented to be a guest DJ at Brighton City Reads’ Stick It On Fundraiser on June 12.
So Atters, you are Editor at Large (and the Official Resident Bounder) of The Chap Magazine, a film-maker, painter, actor, humourist, paranormal researcher and now you’ve had a children’s book published. Have you ever held down a nine-to-five?
Not sure I’ve held down a noon ‘til two job, let alone a nine-to five one. Onomatopoeically speaking, I find “work“ such a brutal word.
Why did you decide to write a children’s book? (Atters’ book for children, Bagwan and The Heap, was published recently and will be officially launched later this year. He also did the illustrations.)
When I studied illustration at St Martin’s I used to (clumsily) emulate the crosshatching techniques of Cruickshank, James Gillray, John Tenniel and of course Maurice Sendak. [Attree actually graduated in film]. Such artists had an extraordinary ability to haunt the imagination of children. Since then I have wished to also convey such an atmosphere via children’s picture books or animation (skills I’ve yet to master adequately).
Any favourite books from your childhood?
Edith Nesbit, any M.R. James (terrifying as a child), Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are, all of Dr Seuss, Alice in Wonderland and anything creepily supernatural involving time shifts and/or British stone circles.
So I’ve got to ask…when did you first grow the moustache and why?
Well quite simply, because I could. Also it was deemed a bit of a two-finger salute to the mainstream at the time. Plus a few of my childhood maverick heroes sported one.
Yes, the Seventies had its fair share of hirsute hunks. Peter Wingarde of Department S springs to mind. Any role models you remember wanting to look like from that era?
Bingo! Mr. Wingarde! (Jason King.) In 1971 I frog-marched my mother down to Butterworth’s (a gentlemen’s outfitters) to be beautified by pink bell bottoms, a psychedelic shirt and matching kipper tie. At six he was my god. In fact God (Peter) phoned me up at Christmas and left a hysterically amusing (slightly champagne fuelled) plummy message. For me Santa had arrived!
Ever feel miffed that The Chap look you’ve perfected has become more commonplace?
Not at all – I (that is my soul) evolves with life experience. I’m now experimenting with Seventies camp scarfs, Tudor ruffs and a mish-mash of early historical splendours. All is imbued from within – not spoon-fed (after “work”) via some “how to be a Chap” catalogue.
What do you feel is the true spirit of the Libertine?
To “Do what thou wilt.” I’m not even sure I am a Libertine – I’m simply void of any willpower. In fact I selflessly refuse to call myself a “gentleman” out of honesty (and to avoid the term’s restrictive and affected shackles).
Brighton’s City Reads Festival is ten this year, making it the longest running “big read” in the UK. Why do you think people in Brighton love City Reads so much?
Yes, many happy returns! Well, you do get some blinding authors involved don’t you, the events are great fun and you don’t patronise. Though Brighton’s an imaginative realm its inhabitants can be a tad louche and clearly appreciate their annual kick up the arse to explore different authors.
This year’s City Reads book is The Humans by Matt Haig. The central character in the book is an alien who takes on human form. Do you find this a fantastical premise? Or do you think there’s anything out there?
Oh my goodness! More name dropping here but I’ve asked Terence Stamp, Patrick Moore, Brian Blessed, Ken Dodd, Jilly Cooper and countless other “noted” minds that very question! Finally, I have been asked it myself! How utterly arousing! Well, the concept of “intelligent” extraterrestrial life existing is to me mind bogglingly exciting and likely. Be it in the future, present or past and within any one of the infinite universe dimensions that I believe may exist. However the physical human brain can only see and comprehend so much – I’d wager all the aforementioned has yet to make it into a Coronation Street script.
You never know Atters…you may have just given them some ideas.So lastly: as guest DJ, you will be spinning some discs at the City Reads Stick It On party on 12 June. Any clues about what you’ll be playing?
I was asked to guest DJ somewhere once before… Perhaps I should learn from that mistake and avoid Liverpool Lullaby by Cilla Black, Albinoni’s Adagio (in G minor), The Swingle Singers’ Jazz Sebastian Bach, and Chim Chim Cher-ee. But then again?
There’s something refreshingly honest about “Atters”. He genuinely loves the weird, the wonderful and the downright odd, and his witty self-deprecation cuts through any perceived artifice. His authentic fascination with society’s underworld is refreshing and he’s fun to be around. Want to hear how his DJ slot at the City Reads 10th Birthday Party goes? There’s only one way to find out…
or Department S?
Randall and Hopkirk (better scripts.)
Seventies female actors:
Jacqueline Bisset or Julie Christie?
Seventies male actors:
Terence Stamp or Michael York?
Classic Seventies films:
Performance (1970) or
The Wicker Man (1973)?
The Wicker Man (profoundly.)
Mr Benn or Basil Brush?