LARKIN ABOUT: MUSINGS FOR ST.VALENTINE’S DAY by Donal Kennedy


 “Sexual intercourse began in nineteen sixty three
  (Which was rather late]for me)  
  Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
  And the Beatles’ first LP”
                                           –  Philip Larkin


 “There was no sex in Ireland before RTE”

                                                         – Oliver Flanagan TD


The poet was speaking of England about the time the Cute Hoor from Laois/Offaly (or King’s and Queen’s Counties?) was speaking of Ireland.

But I reckon that Ireland, groaning under the tyranny of Sean Lemass and John Charles McQuaid, (if we are to believeTHE IRISH TIMES) was less buttoned up than Britain at the time.

I’ve been reading AN ENGLISH AFFAIR -Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo by Richard Davenport-Hines” and in an Overture to the book the author writes-

“In May of 1963, when I was nine, Miss Vera Groom, the old spinster who taught me English, asked her class to name a noun beginning with a vowel. There was a new word I was proud of knowing. I had discovered it from the cook’s DAILY EXPRESS  .

I raised my hand, and in response to a nod from her cred out ‘Orgy!’.   Miss Groom trembled;she gripped the edge of her desk; her face flushed with blood; her skin turned puce. ‘You are a  foul boy,’ she said , and sent me to be caned by the Headmaster.
 
A few days later Mr Wilcox addressed the school. It  was the year Dr.No sold 437,000 copies in paperback. Warner Wilcox was then in his early forties, but seemed old to me. Like many headmasters of his time he was both overbearing and anxious
Dark-browed, stern, conscientious, he had a jolly wife who could not soothe his pent-up tension. When he rebuked the school, he would spring up and down on his heels, as if he was going to bound forward into the boys and start cuffing them.

‘It has come to my attention,’ he said in a storm of knee-jerks, ‘that boys are bringing James Bond novels into school. I will not have them on  the premises. They are sad-is-tic novels’ – he pronounced each syllable of sadistic lingeringly before ending his speech with a savage roar -‘and I will thash any boy who is found in possession of one.’ As soon as I could, I  asked a chauffeur what ‘sadistic’ meant. If he knew, he did not say.”


That was in Hampstead, London .

At the time, my Uncle Dermot, Catholic curate in Bantry, West Cork, used read James Bond novels in the Confessional when waiting  to hear the sins of penitents. I doubt he was seeking sadistic penances to impose for he never seemed to suffer from pent up tension. He reckoned that he would be in heaven if only his house was connected to that of his parish priest. When he was on call in good weather, he would be fishing from his rowing boat a few yards from
the road that ran thirty miles down the Northside of the Bay. When not on call he could be anywhere in some of the most scenic parishes in Europe

Comments are closed.