Described by former poet laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, as “The Patron Saint of Poetry” Hailsham is set to play host of one of Britain’s favourite wordsmiths at its annual arts festival next month.

Roger McGough at Hailsham

One of the festival highlights will include a return visit to Hailsham Pavilion by distinguished poet and “national treasure”, Roger McGough.

Safety in Numbers

Roger McGough, CBE, is the author of over a hundred books of poetry for adults and children. Safety in Numbers is his latest collection and he will be reading from this new anthology. Staycations, adultery in lockdown, and playful advice to up-and-coming poets are just some of the subjects he covers.

Safety in Numbers by Roger McGough

President of the Poetry Society, McGough has been honoured with a CBE for services to literature. His style is often described as whimsical and he focuses primarily on the ordinary and every day. But it’s that whimsy that makes his poetry both accessible and popular. McGough considers poetry a form of subversion and he often uses various forms of wordplay, to confront serious topics.

Lily The Pink

He’s also famous for being one of the founding members (along with Paul McCartney’s brother) of The Scaffold, a comedy, poetry and music trio from Liverpool. The group’s most well-known song was “Lily The Pink” which topped the charts in 1968.


“We’ll drink a drink, a drink
To Lily the Pink, the Pink, the Pink
The saviour of the human race
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case”

The self-effacing McGough, despite his insistence on personal ineptitude, has done more to popularise poetry than most in his field. Since it was published in 1967, his anthology Mersey Sound has sold more than a million copies. And if you search YouTube for interviews you’ll see he speaks as he writes, in short sentences that run together, sometimes evaporate mid-delivery, or go off on a complete tangent.

Don’t look!

But if what he told the Guardian in a recent interview is true, Hailsham Festival-goers are in for a treat – though they may have to avoid eye contact.

He said: “I like being on stage, but I don’t like people looking at me. I can’t bear the idea of celebrity, but I like to be recognised for my work. My dad always said, “Don’t make a fuss or draw attention to yourself” and my mum always said the opposite – perhaps it comes from that.”

“If I do a poetry reading I want people to walk out and say they feel better for having been there – not because you’ve done a comedy performance but because you’re talking about your father dying or having young children, things that touch your soul. I hope people will feel better for it.”

Hailsham Festival leaflets

The Hailsham Festival, one of the highlights of the town’s events calendar, attracts a cross-section of artists and performers from the Southeast and further afield, and offers a wide variety of exhibitions and performances.

It runs from Saturday 3rd September to Sunday 18th September and will be supporting Hailsham Foodbank.  Full details of the events making up this year’s event are at