Friday, 9 August 2019


Well, nothing much has changed in dear old Dieppe ('Nous ne changeons pas,' as the formidable patronne of our hotel declared proudly, and accurately). One or two of the more interesting little shops have gone, but there are still plenty left, and happily no sign of an English-style 'death of the high street'. The epic restoration of the church of St Jacques proceeds slowly but (these days) surely, though it's unlikely to be finished in my lifetime. At the smaller St Remy, on the other hand, recent progress has been rapid, and the building is quite transformed from the crumbling near-ruin it was a decade or two ago – though of course much remains to be done. The back streets of the old town, too, are getting smarter as more and more of the old buildings are refurbished as apartments, mostly without loss of character. On the Quai Henri IV, the old reliables among the restaurants are as good as ever, the seafood wonderfully fresh – and the old-fashioned Mini-Golf by the promenade is still in business. Needless to say, a good time was had by all in the days we were together (though I was turned out of the swimming baths for wearing unsuitable swimwear – swimming shorts, as against trunks, are banned in all public pools in France, I was bemused to learn)...

And now we're back in England, just in time for Philip Larkin's birthday – he would have been 97 today, so it's the big one in three years. 'Birthdays,' he remarked in a letter to Monica (Jones), 'are a time when one stock takes, which means, I suppose, a good spineless mope: I scan my horizon and can discern no sail of hope along my own particular ambition...' Well, cheers – happy birthday, Phil!
Here's Larkin on days in general, short and to the point –


What are days for?
Days are where we live.   
They come, they wake us   
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:   
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor   
In their long coats
Running over the fields.


  1. This shorts/trunks thing, was this Gallic perversity or was there a rationale?

  2. Gallic perversity, I'm pretty sure – they were unable to provide any explanation.

  3. And no, my shorts were not emblazoned with the union jack.

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