Philip Larkin on Some of his Readers

Of Philip Larkin’s many ostentatiously ‘less deceived’ accounts of family life, among my favourites is the soaring riff that concludes his introduction to All What Jazz (1970), a collection of mainly unimpressed reviews of John Coltrane, Miles Davis et al that initially appeared in the Telegraph. ‘Sometimes I imagine them,’ he muses of the readers of his monthly column,

sullen fleshy inarticulate men, stockbrokers, sellers of goods, living in thirty-year-old detached houses among the golf courses of Outer London, husbands of ageing and bitter wives they first seduced to Artie Shaw’s ‘Begin the Beguine’ or the Squadronaires’ ‘The Nearness of You’; fathers of cold-eyed lascivious daughters on the pill … and cannabis-smoking jeans-and-bearded Stuart-haired sons whose oriental contempt for ‘bread’ is equalled only by their insatiable demand for it… men whose first coronary is coming like Christmas; who drift, loaded helplessly with commitments and obligations and necessary observances, into the darkening avenues of age and incapacity, deserted by everything that once made life sweet. These I have tried to remind of the excitement of jazz, and tell where it may still be found.

Here you are talking about duck again, Mark Ford