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New Eyes Each Year

14 Jul

Yet Another Larkin Event! It seems you can drive out Larkin with a pitchfork but he still comes straight back in. So this is the New Eyes Each Year thing at the Brynmor Jones library at Hull University. As Margot quipped “New Eyes Each Year” sounds like a good line for an optician and indeed there are plenty of Larkin’s spectacles on show along with his shoes, razor, trousers, crayons and so on, there’s even an x-ray of his head!. If, like me, you are a gawper at the debris of other people’s lives then you will find yourself in a rich seam. If however you need to know just what each display means then pick up the informative pamphlet that is available or ask the helpful assistants. I found it an interesting half an hour or so; my one gripe was the ambient music. I know Larkin couldn’t go a day without jazz but there can be too much of the damn stuff. But that’s a petty grumble, I wear a hearing aid; normal ears might not notice it so much. So what does the passing visitor learn from all this? That he was an obsessive, a hoarder of books and correspondence, he had big feet (I’m saying nothing but he did have three lady friends on the go at the same time) and a large collection of ties; other than that his bric-a-brac is pretty unsurprising middle class stuff. Overall it’s a satisfyingly dull exhibition, really, and somewhat depressing; a bit like his poetry.

Some of his books, all catalogued of course, he was a librarian after all.

Some Beatrix Potter potteries.

Mr Larkin’s Olivetti word processor. (Margot took this)

His hedgehog killing machine along with an early draft of Toads.

Margot took this. She claims it’s somewhat sinister but I think it’s just a depressing collection of neck wear.  

Trademark spectacles.

His middle name was Arthur

He was given this little Hitler by his father so it’s no surprise he kept it. It’s more camp than Kampf.

I thought this was a nice chilling touch. Larkin died sometime between 2nd and 3rd December 1985. He never did get his pension.

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A frozen moment of contemplation

6 May

I mentioned a little while back the collection of statues dotted around the University campus and that I would wander back and have another look. Well I wandered and looked and took a few photos which I’ll post from time to time over the next few days and weeks. The collection is called Cairns and there’s plenty of literature about it which maybe you should read because there is no way I could up with a sentence like “The figures on campus portray frozen moments of contemplation and take on the form of human trail markers referencing themes of spirituality and physicality.” My loss I guess …

Libraries: who wants ’em?

31 Aug

So another month is upon us and as ever the first day is theme day at City Daily Photo and today’s theme is “libraries“. As I’ve been quiet for a while I thought I’d give you not one but two libraries. Above is Hull Central Library on Prospect Street/Albion Street. The original bit on the right was built ~1900 and there’s been further additions along the way including the startlingly original shoebox on the side added in 1959. I used to live not too far from this place and used it quite a lot until the librarian decided it would be “helpful” to separate paperbacks from hardbacks and to develop a “classics” section (the definition of a classic was quite arbitrary and seemed to be a whim of the shelf stacker). The result was that you could end up trying to find a book in any of three places (Did Melvil Dewey die in vain?). The place seemed to encourage (or at least not stop) children running around playing; all very strange and not at all pleasant. So I’m afraid I gave up and haven’t set foot in the place for years (If my sister, a former head librarian,  reads this no doubt she’ll have a fit). But it seems I’m not alone in turning away from libraries the number of active borrowers is down by 5 million (!) from ten years ago. Now I know public spending cuts have closed branches and reduced book stocks but this decline seems to pre-date the austerity. We are told by the great and the good that libraries are essential but it seems Joe Public has better fish to fry or Pokémon to catch. If they carry on much longer not providing the sort of service people want then the future is indeed bleak for these noble institutions.
Below is the big boy in town; the Brynmor Jones at the University. I’ve shown it before but not lit up like this and also I’ve only just noticed the enormous comma thing in front. How did I miss that? Anyhow this place has coffee bars, an art gallery, WiFi up the ying yang and is open 24 hours a day. Maybe the public libraries could learn a lesson.