It's National Treasure Day here in 'The Good Listening To Show' as we welcome the incomparable, the legendary, the warm & wonderful Children's Author & Poet, Mr "Chocolate Cake" himself, Michael Rosen! Or as his globally renowned viral Meme would exclaim "Nice!" (Just Google 'Michael Rosen , Chocolate Cake & Meme' and all will become clear!)
With his Willy-Wonka-esque-ex-chocolate-factory office for his 'Clearing' (how perfect!), Michael welcomes us warmly into his world and into his glorious mindscape, as we riff together on a whole array of profound and poignant stories.
You can also Watch/Listen to Michael's episode here:
Described as “an optimistic nihilist” by his graduate daughter Elsie, Michael Rosen is a performance poet, professional broadcaster and abundant author of literally scores of different books, mostly for children but many for adult readers also, with nearly 200 books and 130 million YouTube hits to his name.
Above all, he is an extraordinary survivor. Aged 20, his latent hypothyroidism remained undetected for a potentially deadly decade. In his seventies, the treatment of his severe Covid required a medically induced coma, which in practice kept him unconscious in Intensive Care for 40 days - like a latter day Lazarus in his clinical cave. Now Michael Rosen has less than perfect hearing in one ear and less than perfect vision in one eye.
Michael Rosen’s parents were both teachers. They spoke Yiddish as well as English and lived quite happily and quite colourfully in a flat above a shop in Pinner. Michael recently collected a nodular pebble from the now largely tarmac area behind the shop to remind him of his early childhood. In those days, his very bright older brother Brian, now a distinguished palaeontologist, took it on himself to teach young ‘Mick’ the basics of calculus or whatever he, Brian, was being taught at school. Michael Rosen was ‘porous’, he says, from an early age!
In an era of dip pens, inkwells & blotting paper, a teacher called Mr Brown arrived from Manchester - in suede shoes! Thanks to this one and only Barry Brown, young Mick was soon inspired by plays and playwrights. He appeared on stage whenever he was offered a part, however minor and later the now published author Michael went on to write some plays of his own!
On a darker note, Michael’s own teenage son Eddie died one April night, suddenly and shockingly, albeit thank goodness, painlessly. Every year Michael and his now extended family commemorate Eddie’s premature death and celebrate his short life over a lunch. Death may not have worn ‘creaky boots’ but the Rosens can raise a glass and a smile regularly to remember the one they all lost so unexpectedly…
One of Michael Rosen’s earliest ever poems contained the immortal line (sic):
“And now the train is slowing down…”
Tune in next week for more stories of 'Distinction & Genius' from The Good Listening To Show 'Clearing'. If you would like to be my Guest too then you can find out HOW via the different 'series strands' at 'The Good Listening To Show' website.
Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE & REVIEW wherever you get your Podcasts :)
Thanks for listening!