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3 February 2021

Bez Q&A: “I’m a bit of a wacky type“

The Happy Mondays percussionist discusses competing in Mastermind, Rembrandt and the chronic underfunding of the NHS. 

By New Statesman

Bez was born Mark Berry in Bolton in 1964 and is best known as the percussionist and dancer in the rock band Happy Mondays. In the 2015 general election he unsuccessfully stood as a parliamentary candidate for Salford and Eccles.

What’s your earliest memory?

Being on a three-wheel bike and getting my foot stuck between the pedals and the frame. I was on a hill going backwards and couldn’t get any help off anybody for ages.

Who are your heroes?

As a child, the Beatles. Today, Michael Tellinger, who founded the Ubuntu Party in South Africa. When I did the politics, he expressed what I was thinking in such an articulate way. I wish I had the intelligence to express myself like him.

What book last changed your thinking?

The works of Théun Mares. He explains what it is to be living in a state of awareness. It blew my head off.

Which political figure do you look up to?

I don’t like either the Labour Party or the Conservatives, but I did really like Tony Benn. I used to love his speeches because they were so passionate and raw.

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[See also: Rachel Clarke Q&A: “I’m afraid I specialise in death”]

What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

Believe it or not, I once did Mastermind and I’m happy to say I didn’t finish last. I proved that ex-pop stars are cleverer than ex-footballers. My subject was bee-keeping, because I keep bees.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

I would like to go right back in time to when God created man, and the Adam and Eve story, and the Anunnaki and all that, to discover the real truth about our creation.

What TV show could you not live without?

The Motorbike Show with Henry Cole. It’s about motorbikes and I love motorbikes.

Who would paint your portrait?

Rembrandt. I love his style and his colour use, and his story of the tortured artist.

What’s your theme tune?

I’d have to pinch somebody else’s. I love “Yakety Sax”, the Benny Hill Show theme – do you know that circus tune? I think that sums me up, I’m a bit of a wacky type.

[See also: Amika George Q&A: “I need to work out what job to have in this lifetime first”]

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

When I was doing the politics, I was having this thing going on between party members. I did the I Ching on it and it basically told me, instead of being a big island, become the small island. I thought, what a brilliant piece of advice, that.

What’s currently bugging you?

Years of underfunding of the NHS by consecutive governments. They opened these bloody Nightingale hospitals to cope with Covid-19, and there’s no one to staff them. Even before Covid came along, people were left in the corridors. It’s been going on for years.

What single thing would make your life better?

I couldn’t think of anything. I’m happy with my life. I can’t believe how lucky I am.

When were you happiest?

The same answer: I’m really happy now. I’ve got a great girlfriend, a great life.

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

I’d like to be a revolutionary leader, part of the team that brings freedom to the people of the Earth.

Are we all doomed?

We are, because we share the same destiny, and that destiny is to die. 

“Get Buzzin’ With Bez”, Bez’s online fitness class, is available on YouTube

[See also: Carlo Rovelli Q&A: “I am a very slow thinker with zero memory”]

This article appears in the 03 Feb 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Europe’s tragedy