Jarvis goes back to school

Pictured at City School Sheffield, is Sheffield's own Jarvis Cocker
Pictured at City School Sheffield, is Sheffield's own Jarvis Cocker
Have your say

JARVIS Cocker remembered the first time as he took a nostalgic trip back to his old Sheffield school.

The first time he formed a band, the first songs he ever wrote and his first ever appearance on stage.

An assembly of specially selected pupils heard about the Pulp front man’s days at the City School in Stradbroke more than 30 years ago, as he grew up in nearby Intake.

Jarvis was back at the secondary to help launch his new collection of song lyrics, Mother, Brother, Lover - but he had another book with him.

“I’m bringing back a book I never returned to the school library all those years ago - Nine Modern Poets. I suppose I’ll get rare done,” he said.

The youngsters were treated to an hour-long presentation capturing the excitement of the young performer’s teenage years, including home movies, photos, lyrics and some of Jarvis’s earliest songs.

Long-forgotten efforts Shakespeare Rock and Life Is A Circle were unearthed, with a full acoustic version of Pulp’s breakthrough number, Babies.

“It was this school hall that saw the first performance of Pulp in March 1980. The tickets costing 20p promised 30 minutes of live Pulp, which was pretty good value really,” he said.

“It was only when I moved away to London years later that I realised the normal things I’d experienced in Sheffield weren’t actually normal at all - they were interesting and I wanted to write about them because I was scared of forgetting where I’d come from.”

Jarvis said he had taken a slow route to success which took 15 years to bear fruit.

“I suppose you could call it the J Factor rather than the X Factor.

“The J Factor is rather slow, but it can be nice to take the scenic route then get there in the end,” he said.

Head of English Martin Greenough said the visit had been arranged with the help of Michael Jarvis, who had taught Jarvis maths and was still at the school.

“Jarvis said he wanted to come back to school to retrace his steps and see where his book had come from. Apart from the assembly he also spent an hour working with some of our music students.

“Not everyone had heard of him, though I’m sure their parents have. But his message was that you can be quirky, you can go your own way and the kids loved that,” said Martin.

Molly Keyworth, aged 14, found the talk very inspiring: “It’s great that he went to the same school as us - he seems a really nice person and he really got his message across.”

Emily Briddon, also 14, said: “Jarvis said you can write about really ordinary things and create something worthwhile. That’s really good advice.”