WT Vanderpump is an intinerant speed poet and experimental linguist.

I was born in the Netherlands. My parents and sister moved to the UK in the 1950s, fleeing the repressive hell that was the European coal and steel union. How they laughed when my dad warned what it would become!

My dad lost his accent during a rough crossing of the Harwich ferry, so my sister and I managed to get into English schools and learned how to distrust foreigners like the best.

Harold Pinter was a family friend back in the day. He incorporated our family’s way of talking past each other into his plays because he thought it symptomatic of post-war isolation, or something. Actually, we talked like that because my mother was deaf and my dad was a jerk.

Before my literary celebrity, I had an unremarkable career in civic despondency and cosmetic hygiene, but after a brief stint as a sniper in the Yugoslav civil war – which, to be honest, started out as a secondment from Hackney borough council – I launched into the literary world by gatecrashing the Cambridge Headlights festival in 1998.

I have never looked back. This makes reversing very awkward.