Paul Heaton: ‘If my manager says: “Don’t do something stupid!” I know it’s a thing to do’

When music magazine Q folded during the pandemic, the founder of the Housemartins and the Beautiful South stepped in with a large donation to the staff. And it’s not his only act of quiet altruism this year

When Paul Heaton’s manager texted him to say he was trending on Twitter, his initial thought was: “Have I upset someone?” But perhaps that’s just a sign of the former Beautiful South and Housemartins frontman’s modesty. In fact, it was because Ted Kessler, the editor of Q magazine, had shared how, when Heaton heard the magazine was closing, he donated a large sum of money to distribute among the staff, writers and photographers to ease the blow. As Q’s deputy editor from 2017 and on-staff since 2011, I was one of the beneficiaries, and Ted spoke for us all when he tweeted that: “It really was the most amazingly kind, selfless, generous act.”

With so many other people losing their jobs during the pandemic, it is perhaps unsurprising that when news of this incredible gesture hit social media it sparked an outpouring of affection, but also other posters to chip in with their own Paul Heaton encounters, that confirmed his all round kindness. But for the 58-year-old, who lives in a terrace house in Withington, Manchester with his family, it was a little embarrassing. “I hadn’t planned on it being so public and I didn’t realise people would latch on to it so much,” he says. Heaton assumes it caused such a stir because it provided a nice break from what he describes as the “viper’s den” of social media. “People are looking for glimmers of hope. It was probably well-timed for some people to have a lift.”

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