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Conversations with Phillip (standard:other, 1049 words)
Author: Andrew RAdded: Jun 10 2002Views/Reads: 1948/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
What excuses do you make for yourself and your dirty antisocial behaviour? How about blaming it on the best modern poet never to be poet lauriat? He just happens to have died 20 years ago.

Conversations with Phillip 

By Andrew Rough 

"Mr Holland, do you have anything else to say?" The woman, who looks
about forty, with faintly greying hair, gives me a weary look.  I turn 
to Phillip to get his considered opinion on the situation, "I don't see 
how it's relevant Phillip, but if you think."  I look back at the woman 
again expectantly, waiting for a response to Phillips comment.  She 
sighs and gives me an exasperated look, "Mr Holland, just for arguments 
sake pretend I can't understand what Mr Larkin is saying," "He's not 
speaking French you know," I consider my comment then carry on, "He can 
speak French though, if you would prefer." "It's not the language he's 
speaking Mr Holland, we've been through this, I can't actually hear 
him, or see him for that matter.  Would it be possible for you to tell 
me what Mr Larkin is telling you?" I give her a kindly understanding 
look to show that her shortcomings don't matter, I nod apologetically 
at Phillip who is looking at me in that irate manner he gets when he 
starts to get impatient, "Phillip says, he can see your nipples through 
your shirt." She gets up suddenly; I can see Phillip's comment has 
offended her, "I'm sorry, you asked, I told Phillip I didn't think it 
was relevant."  She gets up writing something on her note pad, which 
she hands to the burly looking piece of meat at the door, he reads it 
and walks towards me with a syringe in hand.  I don't struggle, I hope 
my amiable good humour will change his mind; I just wish Phillip would 
stop shouting profanities at him. 

I met Phillip Larkin on a train.  It was one of those old style ones
with the separate compartments, they still run on the Reading line.  We 
were just passing through Slough when he came into my carriage, short, 
balding, bespectacled man with a mild mannered expression, "Always 
hated Slough, it's a fucking shit hole." I must admit I was quite 
shocked by the vulgar comments coming out of such a refined looking 
mouth.  I realised instantly who he was, who else but the most talented 
poet of his generation could make such a foul comment about Slough.  I 
had to agree, admittedly, Slough is a shit hole. "Mr Larkin?  What a 
pleasure to meet you." "Call me Phillip, dear boy."  He sat down next 
to me with a mischievous look on his face.  He was wearing a large 
Mack, made popular by exhibitionists of parks everywhere; from 
underneath it he took out a magazine.  I looked out of the window, 
thinking he wanted to be left alone, but he nudged me on the arm and 
said "Have a look at the nipples on this one dear boy, they're enough 
to make you come on the spot."  He laughed heartily at my expression. 

In those early days of our friendship he seemed to delight in shocking
me.  The only problem was his bouts of depression, brought on mostly by 
people failing to understand what he was saying, he would take to 
standing inches away from them and with flem spitting out of his mouth 
scream, "Am I speaking fucking French?  I can speak fucking French if 
you want me to you know." Even though I'd read it about him, his 
vulgarity always embarrassed me.  I marvelled that someone who could 
produce such marvellous, beautiful poetry could be such a vulgar, 
perverted, hateful little man.  I shouldn't say that of course, he take 
comments like that as a compliment. 

My relationship with Sarah had never been particularly steady.  She
worked in the same office as me in Reading.  We had a strange 
relationship, which she liked to keep private from the rest of the 
office.  She said it made it more special, more intimate.  I didn't 
mind, as long as we still had our intimate moments together.  At least 
that's what it was like before Phillip decided to be my best friend.  
He found it even funnier to shock Sarah than he did me.  It's quite 
easy to shock a nineteen-year-old secretary when you're a dead middle 
aged famous poet, especially one with such a reputation for perversion 
and vulgarity.  I still hold to this day that things could have been 
different with Sarah if the security guard hadn't caught Phillip 
watching her from behind the Yucca plant with his zipper open and his 
hand on his anatomy.  I thought it was a bit unfair that I was asked to 
leave the building and clear my things; they should have just banned 

That should have been it, but oh no, I had to be week willed.  It's hard
to say no to a would be poet Lauriat.  In his low moments Phillip would 
go on long rambles about the injustice of dying just before he was 
named poet lauriat, "That shit Hughes didn't deserve it.  He was such a 
git his wife stuck her head in the oven to get away from him." I tried 
to suggest that Sylvia Plath suffered from clinical depression and that 
if Phillip cared to read Ted's 'Birthday Letters' he would see just how 
much he really cared for Sylvia.  I thought he was being a little too 
self-pitying and venomous to poor old Ted Hughes, admittedly an 
inferior poet, but all the same. 

Maybe it was my defence of Ted that made Phillip become so malicious
towards me.  He suggested I go to Sarah's flat in Tooting to explain 
what had happened in the office and apologise on Phillips behalf.  How 
was I to know that Phillip had snuck in with me, whilst Sarah when out 
to buy some cigarettes.  I can understand her annoyance at finding 
Phillip doing something like that, in her underwear drawer of all 
places, and calling the police, fair enough, but to blame me for the 
whole situation, that's a bit unfair isn't it?  And Phillip, the 
malicious little bastard, would do a runner before the police arrived, 
only to reappear in the Doctors office a few days later and make vulgar 
comments about the poor woman's nipples. "You're a fucker Phillip, a 
real fucker," the bastard's smirking at me.   How come they haven't 
tied him to a bed? 


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