From Ritchie Robertson
Your issue of 13 May contains a poem by Tom Paulin called ‘Newland Park’ which is clearly about Philip Larkin in old age. In it Paulin calls the safely dead Larkin a ‘randy louse’; speculates pruriently about his sexual relations with a woman who, I believe, is still alive; alleges on grossly insufficient grounds that Larkin hated his next-door neighbour; and takes the opportunity to show off his own knowledge of French. All this is despicable. One could dismiss the poem as childish, except that it displays a calculated, concentrated malignity far nastier than anything in Larkin’s Selected Letters.
St John’s College, Oxford
From Roy MacGregor-Hastie
Nobody ever ‘displayed calculated, concentrated malignity’ to the degree Larkin did (Letters, 27 May). Amazing that his niece, a housemaid of mine in Italy for a time, was so amiable and well-mannered. The bad blood, obviously, came out on his side.
St André de Sangones, France