Sunday, May 1, 2011

Oil and Water

Picking through the Andrew Motion biography of Larkin. In “Forty” he writes to Monica (one of the ton of letters not published in his Selected Letters): “It’s curious, isn’t it, the way that characters like mine and perhaps yours prove gradually to have a kind of oil and water relation to life – it isn’t apparent at first, but as time goes on we assimilate nothing and adopt nothing, remaining stuck at where we started – is it that we, or I, never threw the six to get off the base, or are ordinary lives a succession of trunks and hatboxes gaily piled in on the frantic stowaway in the unlit cabin? I mean, I often think that the conventional accoutrements of house, car and kiddies must seem less like additional limbs than dreadful mistakes there is no escaping, leaving the person feeling in Hugh Kingsmill’s words ‘my heart’s in the right place, but I am not’. But then it’s ‘a bit late to think of that’. I’m sure my father felt like that – it was a mistake, his own, but none the less irrevocable for that.” (12 August 1962)

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