Wednesday 25 April 2018

This Man's Life: 'Don't think you are coming under my umbrella,' said the grumpy poet

 

Philip Larkin
Philip Larkin
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

The late Philip Larkin was at a bus stop in Hull in 1955. It was pouring rain when he noticed a young student soggily moving in his direction. "Don't think you are coming under my umbrella," he sniffed.

Granted, Larkin was a notorious grump who once described Hull (where he was head librarian at the university) thus: "What a hole, what witless, crapulous people." So I imagine the soggy student wasn't overly surprised by the dour poet's lack of kindness in the rain.

That said, you do meet the most interesting people at the bus stop. It was lashing rain last Wednesday night in Dublin when a lovely member of An Garda Siochana approached, wheeling his bike: we ended up chatting about music and rock concerts for a few minutes before my bus arrived. I said to the Guard, "I better leave you to make the streets safe."

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