This is the original, unedited version of the first interview that, to the best of my knowledge, has ever been conducted with Francis Cadbury. You will be able to find ‘Inland’ and other poems by Cadbury on instagram and twitter.
Paul Downton: Hi, I’d like you to meet a long-lost friend of mine, Francis Cadbury.
Francis Cadbury: Hello.
PD: Francis, it’s been a helluva long time; I was beginning to think you were just a figment of my imagination! So, what are you up to these day?
FC: I needed a platform for some of my ramblings and I discovered that you were now styling your Ecopolis site as a publisher. I didn’t know any publishers and I know you from a long time ago, so… but, now look, you said this interview would be respectful and I take umbrage about being dismissed as a figment of your imagination! We could end this now if you so desire.
PD: Sorry Francis, that was more a commentary about me rather than you. I’d like us to continue, if that’s ok? I’m…
FC: Okay. I feel a little uneasy but carry on and let’s not spin this out any longer than it needs to be.
FC: Gotcha? You’re an imitation American now are you? I swear the English language is dying the death of a thousand cuts. The best English I hear these days comes from Singapore! (sighs) To quote one of your favourite songsmiths ‘I guess I just wasn’t made for these times’.
PD: You’re notoriously camera-shy and, if I may say so, reclusive, so I’ll try and keep this brief – yes, and respectful – and look, you know you can always stop me if…
FC: I can walk out. I can magically disappear with the press of a button, or swipe or whatever it is I do. One of the very few benefits of our ‘virtual’ world.
PD: Yes. Yes, of course. Francis, let me say it really is good to be talking with you again after all this time and I feel humbled and honoured…
FC: Oh for goodness sake Paul! You know I hate that kind of phoney language! I thought you did too, that’s one of the reasons I contacted you.
PD: Sorry, yes, I do try to avoid being ‘humbled’ and ‘honoured’, it is so much bullshit nowadays.
FC: So how about asking some questions? Skip the flattery, which you’ve failed at anyway, and let’s cut to the chase, as they say. A strange expression when you think about it; came out of the US film industry early in the twentieth century…
PD: Thank you. Okay. When did you start writing poetry? I don’t remember you being much interested in poetry when we were younger.
FC: I was. Like a lot of people I liked it and wrote it but felt a bit of trepidation about sharing it.
PD: What made you decide to share it? Was there some catalysing event or trigger?
FC: I realised I was getting older. Simple as that.
PD: From what I’ve seen of your work so far I think it would be hard to pin you down to a particular genre or style, although you do seem to be fond of rhyming couplets. Would you consider yourself to be a traditionalist?
FC: I don’t consider myself to be anything. I write what feels right. With ‘traditionalism’ becoming a dirty word now I certainly wouldn’t want my work tagged with something that’s increasingly becoming what, in my view, is a pejorative, so no, I’m not a ‘traditionalist’.
PD: You seem to avoid obscuratanism – you seem to favour poems that have to the potential to be accessible to a wider public.
FC: That’s nice of you to say so. I want people to feel they can understand and relate to my poems. Usually.
PD: Well, it will be interesting to see how your work is received.
PD: And you’re about to start putting up a sort of mini-epic on Instagram and Twitter?
FC: You should know, you’ve been helping me set that up.
PD: Yes. And your little epic is called ‘Inland’. I’ve been reading it and sometimes I can’t work out how much your tongue is in your cheek and how much is wordplay and how much is deadly serious political and social commentary.
FC: Your problem. Not mine.
PD: And you’ve been working fairly closely with Trudy Hollow on ‘Inland’ haven’t you? I don’t know Trudy…
FC: And you probably never will.
PD: Is she your muse? Your editor? A co-writer?
FC: That’s for me to know. Suffice to say, without her ‘Inland’ wouldn’t have come together the way it has.
PD: She’s a vital part of that poem?
FC: She is. But I’m not sure it’s really a single poem. It has 216 verses at our last count and they don’t always scan the same way. Plus they can be read in any order the reader sees fit. It might be better to think of ‘Inland’ as a thematic compendium of work. We call ourselves ‘expedictionaries’. It’s an exploration of words and the human condition, if you want to be pointy-headed about it. With some seasoning of humour here and there.
PD: That’s a great description Francis, thank you.
FC: It is what it is.
PD: And Trudy?
FC: We are who we are.
FC: I think this interview is over now, Paul, so if you don’t mind – and even if you do – I’m finished for now. It has been interesting to catch up with you, let’s leave it at that, shall we?
PD: Are you still…?
FC: I have to think about it. You’re well aware of how much I despise social media and the whole modern paraphenalia of half-baked virtual existence, but I do need a publisher. Don’t call me, wait and see.
Francis isn’t always the easiest interviewee by all accounts, but I’ve continued to receive material from Francis Cadbury and Ecopolis will publish more in due course.