Vibe’s Tim MacFarlan went to see the former international drug smuggler turned writer and raconteur perform his Scholar, Smuggler, Prisoner, Scribe spoken word show ahead of the Crystal Palace Overground Festival. 

The event took place on May 29 at Kingswood House in Dulwich – once home to Bovril creator John Lawson Johnston. 

1. He likes to mix his drinks

Mr Marks is obviously a big fan of dope but he quite likes a tipple too.

Coming a bit late in life to the realisation you can get even more hammered by mixing your drinks, the boy from Bridgend recommends a glass of wine followed by some shots of rum and....repeat.

2. He once taught Biggie Smalls English

While serving seven years of a 25 year sentence on what were actually racketeering charges, Marks crossed paths with Christopher Wallace, AKA The Notoriouis B.I.G., at the notorious Terra Haute prison in Indiana.

Biggie was a pupil of his for a month when he was tasked with teaching some of his fellow inmates the finer points of English grammar – not that Marks can remember a word he said to the future rapper.

The Notorious BIG - Juicy (WARNING: Video contains explicit material)

3. He is English...

...for the purposes of teaching up to 20 hardened criminals the language of Shakespeare, yes.

Marks thought it would be better to pretend he was from the other side of the Severn to his south Wales homeland in order to convince Chicago gang members – with no idea of the difference – that he was worth listening to.

4. He’s tired of the whole legalisation thing

News Shopper: The cannabis plants

Marks confesses to being “bored s***less with legalisation politics”. His audience is instead treated to a lecture on how to grow marijuana. If you’ve never heard Howard Marks bark the word “tetrahydrocannabinol” very loudly then you’re missing out.

5. He’s happy

Ok, so not the biggest surprise in the world but you never know with these famous types. When asked “are you happy?” at the very end of the Q&A, Marks replies “Of course yes, very happy. Happier than I’ve ever been in my life”.