Psycho Babble
Words: Michael Dwyer, Photographer: Tom Sheehan
Taken from Melody Maker, 25 July 1998

In our series bringing you the most intimate thoughts of the stars, we enter the mind of Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and find a man obsessed with gonks and 'The Birdie Song'.

If there was a public execution on the telly, would you watch it?

It's funny you should ask that. There's been this really interesting programme on the telly called 'The Human Body', which follows what happens to you from conception to death. The last programme actually showed someone dying. It was on while we were away touring, so I taped it, but I've not been able to bring myself to watch it, because, uh... although I have to admit to being curious about what it will be like, in a way I'd rather wait until it happens. Maybe some things you're not supposed to know about until they happen. So I would hope that I wouldn't watch [a televised execution], no.

How do you picture your funeral?

I think people in bands imagine the big state funeral. That's part of the ego thing, innit? Coffin paraded down the street, thousands and thousands of people crying their eyes out: "Oh f ***in"ell, he's gone now!" Which is really kind of pathetic, I know. (laughs sheepishly)

What songs would you like played at your funeral?

'Don't Worry Be Happy' by Bobby McFerrin. Or 'The Birdie Song'.

Have you ever hated someone?

Yeah, I have hated people. The bloke who ran the record company that we were signed to [Fire Records], I hated him for a long time. I'm still not very keen on him. But in the end he's got to live with the fact that he's a complete arsehole so that's punishment enough, I suppose.

Would you be willing to become extremely ugly physically if it meant you could live for a thousand years at any age you chose?

Some people would say I already am [extremely ugly]. Nah. I wouldn't want to live to be a thousand, I'd be bored to death. Something bad would happen wouldn't it? All your bits would wear out! Nobody likes the idea of dying, but I think it is a spur for you to do things. If it didn't matter whether or not you got out of bed, I think that would lead to problems.

What's the worst psychological torture you can imagine suffering?

Being locked in a room listening to Aaron Carter on one of them CDs that keep going back to the beginning. I think I'd last about 20 minutes.

Do you believe in ghosts?

I'd like to, but I've never seen any.

Would you be willing to spend a night alone is a remote house that is supposedly haunted?

I'm not allowed to take a friend? What would be in it for me?

Well, you said you'd like to believe in ghosts.

Yeah, I'd shit meself if I saw one, though.

Do you believe in God?

Errr. Well, I'd like to believe in something a bit more than just getting up, eating, shitting it out, having sex and that's it (laughs). I think there is such a thing as a bit of a spirit. I believe in the human spirit. Whether there is a higher force that controls it all I don't know, but I think people do have a spiritual dimension to 'em and some people develop that and some don't. I think it's a good idea to develop it, but a lot of times people tend to adopt religion out of fear, or not wanting to have too much responsibility for their lives. That's not right.

If God appeared to you in a series of vivid and moving dreams and told you to leave everything behind, travel to the Red sea and become a fisherman, what would you do?

I suppose I'd buy a ticket.

Your house is burning down. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to save one item. What is it?

(Unbelievably long pause) It's going to sound really pathetic, this, but there's this soft toy that my mother made for me when I was born which I've had since. I'd probably get that. I call it a gonk. It's kind of a blue thing with long arms and legs and multi-coloured wool hair.

Can you urinate in front of another person?

Yeah, if called to. But not on another person.

What are your most compulsive habits?

Picking me top lip. I do it a lot of the time and bite bits of skin off it. Also constantly jiggling me leg, like this (nearly kicks over a small dustbin). I can't help it. It drives other people mad.

If you were to discover that one of your closest friends was a heroin dealer, what would you do?

(Ever so softly) Buy some off him. No! (he adopts a 'But Seriously' tone). Difficult one, innit? I mean er... try and talk 'em out of it, I suppose. I wouldn't shop 'em, but I'd try to make them see it wasn't a very good career choice.

How many times during the day do you look in the mirror?

Oh, too many. Luckily I've moved. I used to live in this flat up until about four months ago which was a kind of bad bachelor pad. I hadn't decorated it, it was left over from the Seventies and it kind of appealed to me. Everywhere was chrome and glass tables and everywhere you looked you could see reflections of yourself. It's good to have one mirror in the house so that before you go out you can have a look: 'Yeah, I don't look too bad, I'm off.' That's what it's like in the new place I'm in, but I still look in the mirror too often.

Which sex do you think has it easier in our culture, and have you ever wished you were the opposite sex?

"I think women still get a hard time. When I was really young, like 12 or summat, I used to sometimes wish I was a girl just 'cause I was too shit-scared to talk to girls and get them to go out with me. I thought it'd be great to be a girl 'cause then you'd get chatted up. But I think that's a fallacy now, actually."

Do you have a maxim?

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.

When was the last time you were in a fight?

I've only ever had two fights in me whole life. I had one at school which was stupid because both of us wore glasses and we were friends really. It was the longest fight in school history, partly due to not being able to see where each other was very well, and also not really wanting to hit each other. Then I did punch a photographer once, about three years ago.

Do you suffer fools?

I'm trying not to. I probably have been guilty in the past of suffering them too much. I don't believe in being nasty for the sake of it, but then some people just take the piss, so I have started informing them now."

When was the last time you were in hospital?

1985. I fell out of a window. I was in hospital for five weeks. I was in a wheelchair for two months and it ended up being very therapeutic, being taken out of the normal flow of life. I realised there were certain things that were wrong and I kinda changed me ways after that.

Would you rather be deaf or blind?

Blind. It would really do me in not being able to hear music, and also you can still talk to other people and stuff [if you're blind]. I've lived a lot of time with eyesight, so I kinda know what things look like. And if you really want to know about the shape of something, you can always ask people to stand a little closer so you can feel it.

When did you lose your virginity?

About four months before my 20th birthday.

Would you be willing to give up sex for five years if you could have graphic erotic dreams any time you wished?

I have had long periods of not having sex.

Did you dream instead?

Are you talking about wet dreams here? I'd rather have both to be honest.

Do you enjoy sleeping in physical contact with your lover?

No, I like a bit of space. It just gets too hot.

How would you react if you found out your lover had a lover of the opposite sex before you knew each other?

I'd probably masturbate furiously over the idea of it.

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