He was the hellraising singer of The Pogues, notorious for his drinking, drug use and outspoken Irish republican views.
But in the comfort of his home, Shane MacGowan was an avid fan of The Telegraph’s crossword, his widow has revealed.
Victoria Mary Clarke, who was with MacGowan for 16 years until his death on Thursday, has also told how he wept at the deaths of Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales.
She told Radio 4’s Today programme on Saturday, she said: “A lot of people wouldn’t expect this, but we both enjoyed watching programmes about royalty on telly, so we watched a lot of documentaries. We watched, obviously, the funerals. The big funerals. He cried when Philip died, he cried when the Queen died, cried when Diana died.
“He thought a lot about the Royal family, but he was an ardent republican. So he had this huge love of England and also of Ireland and this huge, like weird, contradiction.
“You know, sometimes we’d be there, doing The Telegraph crossword, and I would just be thinking ‘gosh, there’s people out there who would be horrified if they could see you doing The Telegraph crossword’.”
MacGowan’s death in Dublin at the age 65 prompted an outpouring of emotion from admirers of his work, with many now determined to make Fairytale of New York, one of his greatest songs, the Christmas number one.
Ms Clarke compared MacGowan’s song about two lovers arguing, which was originally released in 1987 and peaked at number two – to their own tumultuous relationship.
“It’s not [the romance that’s] gone wrong – in the song, they still love each other,” she said. “But life has gone wrong. I think that’s what’s probably a little bit similar to our story.
“We were both very much affected by his addiction, but you can still love, even when you’re in that situation. And you can be very desperately unhappy as well as in love.”
In their private life, MacGowan – who won a scholarship to Westminster School at the age of 14 but was expelled in his second year for possessing drugs – was an old romantic.
“He was the kind of husband that would tell you how beautiful you are every single day and probably tell you how much he loves you 50 times a day,” said Ms Clarke. “That’s not something that people who love his music would ever know.”