From the Radio Times, published 13 December 1973 (for programmes 15-21 December 1973). This was one of two brief interviews (the other was with Harlan Ellison) in connection with an SF edition of the BBC arts programme "Omnibus". JG Ballard discusses his early-1970s domesticity plus his recent car crash.

1973 Radio Times Interview

By Mike Bygrave

Shepperton, Middlesex, is forty minutes away from Waterloo, the factories and offices giving way to parks and school sports-grounds. At the end of the line there is J. G. Ballard, leaning over his garden-gate to welcome you in the hearty, nervous manner of the family doctor he almost became.

"I like it here." He says. "It's a bit like an American suburb - lots of ladies in their early 30s with two kids and a Cortina. The husbands work in the plastics factory, or London Airport or the film studios. It's fluid, classless London."

He has three children himself, Jim, Fay and Bea, all in their mid-teens, all brought up single-handed since his wife died ten years ago.

"They're adults now, but a couple of years ago frying an egg was a major hazard. I admit I used to start drinking at 9 am. If you have a Scotch every hour from nine to five, you don't get drunk but you do get, well, tight."

Nowadays he never drinks before 6 pm, and he has a girlfriend ("better call her my fiancée") with a teenage daughter of her own: she visits at weekends and they cook huge meals together.

All very suburban for a man who coined the expression "inner space"; who believes "science fiction is the contemporary fiction"; and who has written books on the psychological and erotic significance of the near-fatal car crash.

"I had a crash myself, 18 months ago, and it was a case of nature imitating art. I rolled a Zephyr across a dual carriageway and ended up on my head in the oncoming lane, tucked under the wall of Mortlake Cemetery. I spent three days with a splitting headache, then went out, hired a car, drove to where the wrecked Zephyr was stored and photographed it. I'd developed exactly the obsession I'd described in 'The Atrocity Exhibition.' "

Past-guru of the youth revolution ("The 1960s were incredible years -- who thought they'd end?"), ex-trustee of the New Arts Lab, where he once staged an exhibition of crashed cars complete with topless hostess, he looks wistful.

"I'm a creature of habit now. I watch the 5.45 pm news headlines, every night, then take the dog out and go for a drink in The Bell."