Sunday 1 October 2023

The Philip Larkin

 Yesterday, on my travels, I spotted this unlikely, and frankly not very inviting, pub sign in Coventry, where Larkin 'unspent' his early years. The Philip Larkin, formerly The Tudor Rose (among other incarnations), is a fine specimen of Brewers' Tudor, recently refurbished, and on its website describes itself as 'your cheery local'. Not quite the sort of thing one associates with Larkin... I'd like to think that a true Philip Larkin pub would have more the atmosphere of his '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.

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