They’re back in that boring house
a house that looks all garage
where she’s given him another hard on
while saying no not now not today
she’s such an untidy package
so why can’t this randy louse
pull all the strings together
and not end up in a marriage?
but when she drives away
he’ll think good riddance
and blame her untasted mousse
on his hated Hindu neighbour

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The Editor
London Review of Books,
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Vol. 15 No. 10 · 27 May 1993

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.

Ritchie Robertson
St John’s College, Oxford

Vol. 15 No. 13 · 8 July 1993

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.

Roy MacGregor-Hastie
St André de Sangones, France

send letters to

The Editor
London Review of Books
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

Please include name, address and a telephone number

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