Shropshire Star

Shane MacGowan’s widow: I spent 35 years worrying about his death

The Pogues singer died last week at the age of 65.


Shane MacGowan’s widow, Victoria Mary Clarke, has said she worried about his death for 35 years because he “pushed the boundaries of what humans can do to their bodies”.

The Pogues frontman, best known for classic Christmas hit song Fairytale Of New York, died last week at the age of 65.

The gritty song is now battling to score the coveted Christmas number one spot, a feat not achieved when it was originally released in 1987, having peaked at number two in the charts.

Clarke told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I don’t think Shane would mind too much if Fairytale goes to number one.

“I don’t think it was ever that important to him, because I think that he really appreciated the fact that so many people love it and it means so much to so many people, and being number one isn’t really all about being appreciated.”

Asked how she felt about the song when she first heard it before it was released, she said: “I think I might have thought it was a little bit cheesy at the time.

“Sometimes these songs did seem a bit cheesy, but then, when you heard them properly, you get it, you know?

“I often criticised his songwriting, which didn’t go down too well. I do love it now.”

Fairytale Of New York features a duet between English singer Kirsty MacColl – who died in December 2000 – and MacGowan.

It was originally written by MacGowan with fellow Pogues founder Jem Finer.

The song has returned to the UK Christmas top 40 every year since 2005.

Shane MacGowan death
Shane MacGowan in 2017 (Brian Lawless/PA)

Discussing their relationship, Clarke said MacGowan always supported her in all her endeavours, adding: “I loved standing on the side of the stage watching him. It wasn’t always easy, as you will know, because he pushed the boundaries and he was reckless and he was very unconventional.

“So it was like watching a racing driver and not knowing if they were going to crash, watching him going on stage.”

MacGowan had been diagnosed with encephalitis following his latest bout of ill-health and after years of alcohol and substance abuse.

Clarke continued: “I think for most of you watching, the biggest fear you probably have is that you’re going to lose a loved one.

“And it’s going to happen, you can’t really get around that, you all are going to lose a loved one.

“And I know that, for me, I spent many, many years, probably at least 35 years, worrying about losing Shane because he just pushed the boundaries so much of what humans can do to their bodies.

“So I dreaded that, and I thought that I would fall apart, I thought I would die, I thought I would not be able to speak, I thought I’d be comatose or on drugs myself or something like that.

“So I just want you all to know that it’s not as bad as you think it’s going to be. And there’s a huge amount of love that comes your way when you lose someone, that you didn’t really expect. And in my case, you know, I’ve been overwhelmed by how much love and support there is.”

Shane MacGowan death
A candle burns next to a photograph of The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan at the Mansion House in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Clarke said the outpouring of love for MacGowan after his death has been a welcome surprise and, asked how he would feel about it, she added: “Me and Shane, we spent most of our lives in recent years sitting at home watching The Crown.

“We didn’t really go out, so we didn’t know what was going on in the outside world very much.

“We had a very quiet life, very, very happy, and we didn’t want anything else. We just wanted to sit here together watching telly.

“But to know now that there’s all these people out there who feel so strongly about him, you lose with one hand, but you receive with the other, there’s an equal and opposite sort of reaction.”

Irish outlets have reported that MacGowan’s funeral will be held at St Mary’s Of The Rosary Church in Nenagh, County Tipperary, on Friday, and will be open to the public.

The undertaker is JJ Ryan’s in Nenagh and the cremation will be private.

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