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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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The Best Remedy

7 Feb

Quite right! Nothing like putting your feet up with a large G&T (a pint might be pushing it but who’s gonna know?) and letting some cool jazz fill the room … This sign, part of the Larkin Trail, is on the White Hart one of his jaunts for listening to jazz and getting absolutely rat arsed. 

Old woss’is name lived ‘ere.

21 Dec
‘It was the top flat of a house that was reputedly the American Consulate during the war, and though it might not have suited everybody, it suited me’. 
                                                                   Philip Larkin
Pip Larkin gets a small plaque for his endurance if nothing else; eighteen years in an attic flat overlooking Pearson Park. I’d liked to have shown more of the place, a large Victorian town house, but high hedges and a high gate with a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign, along with sounds of said dog sniffling and growling around somewhat put me off. Visitors to next year’s city of culture are duly warned.

More Larkin about

11 Nov

Another sign on the via dolorosa that is the Larkin Trail, this on the doorway of the Royal Station Hotel

You are dying to read the poem he composed to the Royal Station Hotel aren’t you? Oh yes you are …

Friday Night At The Royal Station Hotel
Light spreads darkly downwards from the high
Clusters of lights over empty chairs
That face each other, coloured differently.
Through open doors, the dining-room declares
A larger loneliness of knives and glass
And silence laid like carpet. A porter reads
An unsold evening paper. Hours pass,
And all the salesmen have gone back to Leeds,
Leaving full ashtrays in the Conference Room.
In shoeless corridors, the lights burn. How
Isolated, like a fort, it is –
The headed paper, made for writing home
(If home existed) letters of exile: Now
Night comes on. Waves fold behind villages.

Dead Poets’ Corner

17 Jun

I took a few more shots of Larkin’s somewhat grotesque statue in Paragon Station the other day with a view to using them at some point in the future. He’s always good for a post on a dull day is my view. Well it seems the dull day has arrived rather quicker than I expected as it’s been announced that the man who handed on misery to man is to be honoured, if that’s the right word, in Westminster Abbey’s poets’ corner. Would it be going too far to say that the Abbey is jumping on the city of culture bandwagon? Perhaps. The ceremony, on December 2 2016, will take place only days before the start of the Culture fest in 2017. The custom used to be to bury the famous scribes in the Abbey but nowadays they just lay a named floor stone. I’m thinking a pair of entwined bicycle clips or a hedgehog would be a fitting extra decoration anything but toads ….

The trouble with kilts …

14 Jun

… is that you can’t read the little bits of Larkin poems scattered around Hull station without looking faintly funny as you lift first one foot then the other to see the literary gem beneath your pleated tartan.

Astonished brickwork

7 Jun

Ella Street (or at least its residents’ association) has a thing about birds, there are bird tables along the length and little model birds attached to street furniture, I’ve posted about this a while back (here). What I didn’t know then but have found since is that this avian fix has extended to putting up little quotes from literature with a birdy theme. Various authors from Wordsworth to Poe were chosen. Anyhow this being Hull and reason being what it is I suppose they could not escape the Larkin effect. At least this is one of his more cheery verses, yes I know it’s difficult to believe. 
And while I’m on about old baldy, some of you may recall the fibre glass toads that decorated the town a while back on the celebration (there is no better word for it) of his death some 25 years earlier, well wait five years and suddenly it’s thirty years since his death and a reunion of toads is planned this year along with a very large inflatable toad to hang over the town centre. You know a dead Larkin is the gift that keeps on giving … It’s a culcher thing, innit!
This is on the wall of the Jewish cemetery at the far end of Ella Street and close by that delight of modern architecture that I posted the other day .

You want the whole picture and the whole poem? Surely you do, it’s really not that long, honest.

Coming 

On longer evenings,
Light, chill and yellow,
Bathes the serene
Foreheads of houses.
A thrush sings,
Laurel-surrounded
In the deep bare garden,
Its fresh-peeled voice
Astonishing the brickwork.
It will be spring soon,
It will be spring soon—
And I, whose childhood
Is a forgotten boredom,
Feel like a child
Who comes on a scene
Of adult reconciling,
And can understand nothing
But the unusual laughter,
And starts to be happy.

Philip Larkin