Magazine article The Spectator

John Betjeman: A Centenary Tribute

Magazine article The Spectator

John Betjeman: A Centenary Tribute

Article excerpt

He was the People's Laureate, of course, Observing things that others disregard:

Post-Toasties, Craven A and HP sauce -- Unworthy subjects for a royal bard?

He wrote of tea-shops and the electric train;

Of things familiar to the common man, Things which his critics sneeringly disdain, (Also maybe because he made his metres scan And took care to make his verses rhyme).

He wrote of a spinster's life in Tunbridge Wells, And inexpensive scent at Christmas time;

Of Ruislip Gardens, Pinner and the bells Of Mellstock in Dorset (that's where Hardy lies);

Of Fuller's cake and picnics by the sea, Past pleasures which eluded other eyes;

Of Mrs Fairclough as she sipped her tea, Watching Clemency, the general's daughter 'Schoolboy-sure' in slacks and lithe of limb, Pulling with even strokes on Beaulieu water.

Her figure (so appealing) haunted him:

Clemency, Joan and Pam, Myfanwy too, And Laurelie Williams on her balcony. …

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