Boy's Talk: Jarvis Cocker
Words: Siān Pattenden
Taken from Just Seventeen, 23 March 1994

The lead singer from Pulp mutters on to Siān about eating worms, falling out of windows and, er, subtle hair colouring...

How did you get a name like Jarvis Cocker then?

That's down to my parents. My mother was an art student at the time. Someone has just told me that it means "spear carrier", but I don't know about that.

How would you describe your parents?

They're a little bit bohemian. Mum used to make our clothes, and she made me wear the shortest shorts imaginable and short ankle socks too, so I'd have this big expanse of leg. My jumpers would hang below the level of the shorts sometimes, so it looked like I had a mini dress on. I had long hair so I did get mistaken for a girl quite a lot.

What was it like when your dad left?

I was about seven at the time, and it affected my younger sister a lot. She stopped going to school. I feel terrible about it now 'cause I wasn't bothered. Obviously I did notice, but I can't remember getting upset about it. I don't think that I ever even asked Mum about it.

Did you eat worms when you were a child?

We used to dig 'em up in the garden, but I've never been one for killing animals. The only things we were cruel to were woodlice. I don't know if the ones round our way had arthritis - they're supposed to roll up into a ball if you surprise them - but you could touch these as much as you wanted. In the end we squashed them. It wasn't intentional violence, it was curiosity.

Who did you have your first crush on?

My mother made me a Marina doll, 'cause I was into Marina from Stingray. I used to like Annette Firman from Grange Hill. She had long dark hair, and she was quite nasty to people. I've always liked girls who are badly behaved.

When did you meet your first girlfriend?

I met my first girlfriend when I worked in a fish market - I was about 17. She wasn't working in fish herself, she was in frozen food, two aisles away. I used to catch her eye across the stalls.

What's the worst thing that you've ever done to try and impress a girl?

Falling out of a window was the most ill-advised. I'd seen someone do a similar trick the week before. When I did it it was just senseless bravado, which is quite out of character. I said something to her like: "Do you want to see something interesting?" She begged me not to do it, but I was in the mood. I'd say that was a turning point in my life. I began to get things together after that.

Did you find it difficult to talk about girls, being a bloke?

Not really. I feel OK having this conversation, 'cause these things happened in the past. If you were to ask me about what I'm doing now, I probably would get embarrassed. What am I doing now? I'm not going to tell you.

Do you find that lots of girls fancy you?

I don't know. Sometimes I can get an inkling they do, but usually I need a very strong hint, like a placard that spells out: "I like you".

Who was the last person who shouted at you?

I think it was our producer, the other day. I was going to drink some whisky while we were in the studio mixing the single. He said, "If you drink that whisky, I won't listen to a single word you say for the rest of the evening". It stopped me.

When was the last time you wore eyeliner?

When we had some photos taken for The Face. I'm not averse to a bit of make-up, especially now the years have taken their toll. I once let a girl I was going out with put it on me. I never went out in it - it doesn't go well with glasses. Eyeshadow definitely doesn't go. (Jarvis has a sturdy pair of specs he wears when no one's taking a photo of him.)

When was the last time you felt guilty?

Erm... Valentine's Day. I wasn't as nice as I should've been to the person who, I, er, hmm... care most about. No, I'm not going to say any more.

Do you have a style tip for Just Seventeen readers?

Let me have a think about this... Subtle hair colouring is good. I've got a hint of plummy red in mine at the moment, by Glints I think. It works too well, though: it was supposed to wash out in four washes, I put it in in mid-November and it's still going strong.

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