Saturday, 15 July 2017

New Eyes Each Year

Yet Another Larkin Event! It seems you can drive out Larkin with a pitchfork but he still comes straight back in. So this is the New Eyes Each Year thing at the Brynmor Jones library at Hull University. As Margot quipped "New Eyes Each Year" sounds like a good line for an optician and indeed there are plenty of Larkin's spectacles on show along with his shoes, razor, trousers, crayons and so on, there's even an x-ray of his head!. If, like me, you are a gawper at the debris of other people's lives then you will find yourself in a rich seam. If however you need to know just what each display means then pick up the informative pamphlet that is available or ask the helpful assistants. I found it an interesting half an hour or so; my one gripe was the ambient music. I know Larkin couldn't go a day without jazz but there can be too much of the damn stuff. But that's a petty grumble, I wear a hearing aid; normal ears might not notice it so much. So what does the passing visitor learn from all this? That he was an obsessive, a hoarder of books and correspondence, he had big feet (I'm saying nothing but he did have three lady friends on the go at the same time) and a large collection of ties; other than that his bric-a-brac is pretty unsurprising middle class stuff. Overall it's a satisfyingly dull exhibition, really, and somewhat depressing; a bit like his poetry.

Some of his books, all catalogued of course, he was a librarian after all.

Some Beatrix Potter potteries.

Mr Larkin's Olivetti word processor. (Margot took this)

His hedgehog killing machine along with an early draft of Toads.

Margot took this. She claims it's somewhat sinister but I think it's just a depressing collection of neck wear.  

Trademark spectacles.

His middle name was Arthur

He was given this little Hitler by his father so it's no surprise he kept it. It's more camp than Kampf.

I thought this was a nice chilling touch. Larkin died sometime between 2nd and 3rd December 1985. He never did get his pension.


  1. The ties are a bit sinister, but I've always felt ties are nooses anyway.

    It depends on the jazz being played. Swing or ragtime's great. Bebop can get annoying.

  2. I was there on Saturday, to see the Larkin and the Cairns exhibitions. Had no idea that I would also be walking into an Open Day for prospective students.

    A big trip down memory lane for me - this month is the silver anniversary of my graduation. So long ago, and yet much of the campus is still so familiar.

    For a few moments, I felt like I'd been spirited back to 1990.

  3. I hope I'm never famous enough for somebody to display my undercrackers in the library...