Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Q&A 2000ce — Cope Family

What has kept Dorian and him together for the last 20 years--what keeps their marriage strong & loving? (Michael)

Dorian is the greatest mystery of my life. I see her for anything up to 18 hours a day and she still seems like a woman I met 10 minutes before. She is all things to me and without her there would be no Julian Cope of any description. Friends say I would have been dead before the end of the Teardrop Explodes but, personally, I believe that I would have struggled on until Fried. Whatever, how she puts up with me is a matter for her to answer. But loving her is the easiest thing in the world.

I read in Merrick’s book that your children don’t do Assembly or RE. Was this a difficult decision? (Susan)

Dorian flipped out when she discovered that British kids are expected to worship at school. Being American, she thought it insane. In the US, with all the various cultures that have to be catered for, putting religion in the hands of teachers made no more sense than having your doctor guide your spiritual beliefs. So we took our kids to primary school and told the head that we didn’t want them in assembly and RE. Of course, we were initially given the bullshit about making them feel left out and different. We told them they ARE different, and we like it that way. Albany was the pioneer and handled it very well – Avalon trusted her sister and went along with it just as well. Their friend Margaret was a Jehovah’s Witness, so she was excluded as well, which made them feel a little less out on a limb.

Dorian and I bring our kids up to worship what they see. We give thanks to the Mother Earth for bringing us our food and giving us our home, and we give thanks to the Sun without which our life would be dark, unfertile and tragically short. We don’t worship the Christian God because he's invisible and because of his roots in the desert God Jehovah, but our kids know all about Allah, Jehovah and the Christian God. They also know that Hinduism is full of Gods and Goddesses and that many religions recognise rivers, seas, and weather formations as individual deities rather than aspects of one living Godhead. When the kids in Albany’s class were recently given 15 minutes to write down all they could name about churches, Albany’s list was the longest. We’ve explained to both girls that Christians’ worship of the invisible and a reliance on the promise of Eternity is a sure way to cop out of taking action in this life – and this life is our one guarantee because we are already living it.

What is the latest thing about Albany and Avalon have done that has surprised or amazed him? (Michael)

Avalon was recently awarded her Grade 2 swimming award, which impressed me greatly. But her greatest achievement is being first in the school to get a letter of commendation for good behaviour and kindness. Dorian and I always try to bring them up to be as thoughtful as possible. Albany’s latest achievement is writing songs for the Millennium Girls, which I really make an effort to help her with.

What has been the most defining moment in your life so far? (Richard P.F. Hayward)

Parenthood

After reading your autobiography, we were curious as to when you and Dorian had your children and how it affected your artistic direction? We have two children as well and are trying to balance work and play. (W and T)

We had Albany after Dorian and I had been together for 10 years. So, I came to fatherhood relatively late but when I did I was a bit like Sly Stone when he became a father – totally freaked out and determined to keep them from bullshit without closeting them away. As far as it affecting my artistic direction, I suppose that would be inevitable as my children have changed me in every possible way.

You’ve struck me as a man who is very committed to fatherhood and family. You wrote about Dorian becoming unexpectedly pregnant and the harrowing decision to opt for termination. In Repossessed, I felt that, having mentioned such an intimate event, there wasn’t a clear feel for the emotional impact it had on you then or later. Knowing that people cope with such decisions/losses in a variety of ways I wondered how much of an issue it was then, and if it’s still around today. (Alistair)

We’ve had to deal with two miscarriages since the Repossessed period, so that kind of confrontation is deep within us both. Personally, when I see pro-Lifers coming from a Christian point-of-view, the self-delusion makes me sick. Sex on a human level was never ever just for procreation. It has always had hidden agendas such as power, control and suppression of the female, and all of these within the Church itself. So for those Church-goers to use that as an argument is hypocrisy personified.

I know why Albany is called Albany, but how did you and Dorian choose the name Avalon (and why didn’t I think of it first)? (Missy from Mississippi)

Dorian’s favourite novel is The Mists of Avalon, and Avalon as a word has been so pertinent to our trip and that of the British that we dug it as universal and personal and, ultimately, a beautiful name.

You once said that you don’t know how Dorian puts up with you. Is there a lot to put up with? Do you two argue a lot? (Mary)

Surely my honesty in Head-On and Repossessed has given you enough clues to deduce this for yourself. No other woman in the world would have put up with me, and I’m forever grateful to Dorian for standing back and seeing the bigger picture whenever I’m in the heart of some new project. Even the eight years of writing The Modern Antiquarian caused us huge arguments, but isn’t this to be expected? How many regular couples expect to visit 500+ ancient sites and make a rock album every year whilst raising their family? We see normal Avebury couples breaking up with the pressures of 21st century life, so we’ve got extreme good fortune to still be together after so long, considering all the pressure we face daily.