Letters Home 1936-1977 by Philip Larkin – digested read
Dear Mop and Pop (if he happens to be here),
The weather is quite mild for the time of year here in Oxford and I am settling in as well as can be expected. Yesterday I broke my pipe while buying a pair of crimson trousers so I have had to replace it with a new one. All very annoying. I have written a couple of poems for the Cherwell magazine which I don’t think are very good and are certain to be rejected.
A friend has just obtained an Obelisk edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and I am looking forward to reading it when he has finished it. My new shoes have given me blisters so I have been limping slightly. I also thought my exams had gone extremely badly so imagine my surprise when I got a first. It has been raining heavily so I have had to wear a raincoat. I hope I don’t get a chill. Here is a drawing of a Mop. Apparently there is a war going on at the moment.
My eyesight continues to be poor so I have been turned down by the army and have been sent to work in a library in Shropshire. I don’t like the work very much but the sun is shining and I have managed to finish writing a novel which I don’t think is very good.
Thank you for filling in an application form for the job I didn’t want at the Leicester University library. Luckily I am not that disappointed by the move as I never had any great expectations in the first place. I am sorry I have not been able to visit you but I have been too busy writing you this letter to leave the house. Also my health is not at all good as I have a cold which may well be fatal.
Much love to all, Philip
I rather gather from the fact that Pop has not written to me for some time that he must have died at some point. That must have been a terrible shock for you but you mustn’t dwell on it. Try reading some Patience Strong homilies. I always find them ver helpful. My bowel movements have become quite irregular, but the doctor assures me there is nothing seriously wrong. The weather has turned quite cold and I have written some more poems and another novel. None of them are any good and I suggest you don’t bother to read them. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to visit you last weekend but I had to clean the oven.
Monica and I went on a trip to Kettering which neither of us particularly enjoyed. I suspect in future we shall take many of our holidays in Scotland as we don’t much like it there either. I have bought an anglepoise lamp for 39/- and have just started reading Fly Fishing by JR Hartley. Betjeman has sent me a poem he has written about his childhood. It isn’t one of his best, but then I’ve never been terribly interested in my childhood. Something you and I have in common. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to visit you last Sunday but I almost spilt some ink on my bed sheets.
Our cat gone run over yesterday. I hope your cat doesn’t die too. There’s a lot of cat flu about. My ears are infected and I think I may have polio. Wish me well. Still at least the weather is not too bad. Monica and I thought about going to Bournemouth but decided against it as we found the idea too depressing. Instead we went to London where I became worried about catching Negro and Pakistani germs. Whitsun Weddings has just been published. The poems aren’t very good so I advise you not to read them.
Hull is very boring which is how I like it. I have offered a job to a Ceylonese man. I couldn’t understand a word he said so have no idea if he has accepted. I have just bought a car but don’t suppose I shall drive it as there are many dangers on the road. The X-rays on my oesophagus have come back and I don’t have cancer. One good piece of news is that Cecil Day-Lewis has had a heart attack so I don’t have to write the citation for his honorary doctorate. He’s an even worse poet than me.
You recent letter used the solecism have’nt. The correct usage is haven’t. Please don’t do it again. I’m sorry to be snappy but these things matter. Here is a drawing of a frog. I’m sorry I missed your 85th birthday but I felt that as you were in hospital with depression you probably wanted to be left alone. Please keep reading Patience Strong. I have put on weight. I am now over 15 stone and expect I shall die soon. At the very least I shall have to buy some new shirts from Marks and Spencer at 27/11d.
Good news. My weight is down to 14 and a half stone. I have been elected a member of the MCC and I am not poet laureate. I should have so hated to have to write more bad poems. I am sorry you had a bad fall. I blame it on the Wilson government. I barely recognise the country these days. Still at least we have Basil Brush on television. My neck is extremely painful from where I cricked it getting out of bed. I think it may be fatal.
I was finally going to visit you this weekend but the care home informs me you have died. How very inconvenient as I have only just filled the car with petrol.
Much love, Philip
Digested read, digested They fucked me up, my mum and dad.