Thursday, 28 August 2014

Birthday Betjeman

Born on this day in 1906 was John Betjeman, 'poet and hack' as he described himself in Who's Who. He was, of course, much more than that, but he was a  rare example of a literary (if often low-brow) poet who was hugely popular and well-loved, a 'national treasure' and a celebrity. His penchant for jogalong metre kept him firmly in the light verse tradition, but there is often in his works an interesting counterpoint between the jaunty rhythm on the surface and a strong undertow of melancholy below. Here is a curiosity, taken from a Michael Parkinson chat show (Betjeman was a great talk-show favourite), in which the late Kenneth Williams and Maggie Smith (now enjoying a late flowering as Lady Violet, the only character in Downton with any lines) reading Betjeman's early Death in Leamington, to the apparent delight of the author.

4 comments:

  1. This 3-parter keeps reappearing every time I remove it, so I shall leave it for now. It seems only to crop up on this particular post - a rare case of Betjeman rage?

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  2. BE NICE IN SOLIDARIETY OF PEOPLE KILLED BY BASTARD MAFIOSO AND FASCIST MICHELE MILLA FROM MOMENTUM MASSAGNO, PLS. YHANK YOU.

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