This song is about British poet Basil Bunting (1900-1985), who despite building up a reputation in America during the post-war period as the best English poet of his generation, was neglected for a long time in Britain. Bunting worked for several years as a sub-editor on the Newcastle Evening Chronicle until his genius was finally recognized with the publication of "Briggflatts" in 1966. "When I was 15, I was a copy boy on the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle, it was a Saturday afternoon job that I had," Knopfler explained. "I'd go in to the newspaper office, and you'd deal with all the sports copy coming in, and you'd be putting them in tubes, down to the printer's, or going over to the sub's desk."
"There was a chap working there who was very different from the others. He was grumpy and he was older, and differently dressed, and I learned that that was Basil Bunting," he continued. "It was very clear that he'd rather be writing poetry than writing copy for the Evening Chronicle, and he didn't really fit. So in a way it was the contrast between him and me, because at that age I had the whole world in front of me. I had a different way of looking at the world entirely, you're thinking it's all rosy promise. So he fascinated me."