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The Kiss

Blake Morrison, 22 May 1986

... His Buick was too wide and didn’t slow, Our wing-mirrors kissing in a Suffolk lane, No sweat, not worth the exchange of addresses. High from the rainchecking satellites England’s like a gun set on a table, Still smoking, waiting to be loaded again ...

Pomagne

Blake Morrison, 24 January 1985

... Be careful not to spill it when it pops. He’d bloody crucify me if he caught us.’ We had taken months to get to this, our first kiss a meeting of stalagmite and stalactite. The slow drip of courtship: her friend, June, interceding with letters, the intimate struggle each Friday under the Plaza’s girder of light. But here we were at last, drinking Pomagne in her parents’ double bed, Christmas Eve and the last advent-calendar door ...

Straw-Burning

Blake Morrison, 9 October 1986

... Was it thrup or thrip, your word for the thunderflies that came off the cornfield with the paddlesteaming combine, like wafted ashes sticking to our bodies and warning us of this: the yellowing page set alight at one corner, the burning of straw. We can see the flames rushing towards us like a lynch-mob, blood in their eye, tarring and furring, until the churn and swirl of the ploughed field-edge brings them up short as a river would yards from our door ...

Muntjac

Blake Morrison, 4 June 2020

... How would you feel if a muntjac walked in? Would you greet it as an exotic Or fret about it gnawing the fruit trees? Take your time: the answer will say as much About you as the shade of your nail polish.After that we can go on a cycle ride.I suggest you play safe and wear a helmet,But we’ll forget the hi-vis lycra –Last time it caused a panic at the pig farm ...

The Renunciation

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1980

... Our lives were wasted but we never knew. There was such work to be done: the watch-chains And factories, the papers to sign In the study. Surrounded by brass How could we see what we amounted to – A glint of eyes as headlights swept away? In a cot on the lawn lies my nephew, Whose name I can’t remember – the strands Of family thinner each year, though we Are here again, politely ...

The Grange Boy

Blake Morrison, 30 December 1982

... Horse-chestnuts thudded to the lawn each autumn. Their spiked husks were like medieval clubs, Porcupines, unexploded shells. But if You waited long enough they gave themselves up – Brown pups, a cow opening its sad eye, The shine of the dining-room table. We were famous for horse-chestnuts. Boys From the milltown would ring at our door asking Could they gather conkers and I’d to tell them Only from the ground – no stick-throwing ...

Xerox

Blake Morrison, 6 December 1984

... They come each evening like virgins to a well: the girls queuing for the xerox-machine, braceleted and earmarked, shapely as pitchers in their stretch Levis or wraparound shirts, sylphs from the typing-pool bearing the forms of their masters, the chilly boardroom gods. But this one, this nervous one, is different. She doesn’t gossip with the others and pleads, when it’s her turn, no, you go first ...

A Child in Winter

Blake Morrison, 1 December 1983

... Where is the man who does not feel his heart softened ... [by] these so helpless and so perfectly innocent little creatures? Cobbett When the trees have given up snowberries come into their own, winter grapes, albino settlers of the dark. With their milky blobs they lined our doorstep that November dusk we swung your basket up the gravel-path and home ...

On Sizewell Beach

Blake Morrison, 18 December 1986

... There are four beach huts, numbered 13 to 16, Each with net curtains and a lock. Who owns them, what happened to the first twelve, Whether there are plans for further building: There’s no one here today to help with such enquiries, The café closed up for the winter, No cars or buses in the PAY AND DISPLAY. The offshore rig is like a titan’s diving-board ...

Whinny Moor

Blake Morrison, 2 April 1987

... near alf a century an sin all t’flippin lot go reet down’ill.’ Then he asked who I was. ‘Morrison, eh, a name for up ere. I knew thi father well an t’ole surgery in Water Street. E did is best by Earby, wi disease an that, aye an thi mother too, deliverin bairns. Ad thi no mind to follow in their shoes? ‘Ere, ave another swig – tha’s like a ...

Noblesse Oblige

Blake Morrison, 7 July 1983

... Quels bons bras, quelle belle heure me rendront      cette région d’où viennent mes sommeils? Rimbaud This is the excitement that ends in pain. Dark names stretch for you from their seedbed, Bronze statesmen harangue the crowded squares. All week you’ve driven round the capital In a blacked-out Volvo, testing the way. What is this new air, ideas run up flagpoles, The people pressing to some grand conclusion, Not to be restrained ...

Diary

Blake Morrison: On the Independent on Sunday , 27 May 1993

... sitting one gloomy afternoon in the makeshift office looking out at the starlings flocking over Blake’s grave in Bunhill Fields, and wondering what had possessed me to move. The last books pages I’d worked on at the Observer lay beside me (Ian Hamilton and Ted Hughes on the life of Sylvia Plath, Alison Lurie’s obituary of Mary McCarthy, Salman Rushdie ...

Fenton makes a hit

Blake Morrison, 10 January 1983

In Memory of War: Poems 1968-1982 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 96 pp., £6.95, June 1982, 0 907540 17 1
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... No one can have been more surprised than James Fenton that In Memory of War turned out to be one of the most acclaimed books of 1982. A year ago, used to being told by reviewers that he was a ‘difficult’, even ‘esoteric’ poet, it looked as if he had decided that small publishers and little magazines were the most appropriate place for his work ...

The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper

Blake Morrison, 4 July 1985

... The ‘Red Death’ had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal ... Edgar Allan Poe, ‘The Masque of the Red Death’ I were just cleaning up streets our kid. Just cleaning up streets. Peter Sutcliffe to his brother Carl: Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son by Gordon Burn Ower t’ills o Bingley Stormclouds clap an drain, Like opened blood-black blisters Leakin pus an pain ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

Acrimony 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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Idols 
by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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Opia 
by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... The acrimony in Michael Hofmann’s book is that of a son towards his father. Like a family photograph album, the sequence ‘My Father’s House’ records the son’s growth from childhood to manhood, and the father’s from early to late middle age: each poem denotes some new phase, and usually low point, in the relationship. The father’s absences and absent-mindedness, his tempers, adulteries and workaholism, his patronising of his wife and children – these sins and omissions are meticulously totted up ...

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