Friday, 11 February 2011
Alma mater of Crashaw, Lovelace, Steele, John Wesley, Thackeray, Beerbohm, Robert Graves, Osbert Lancaster, and Ralph Vaughan Williams and, rather surprisingly, the wrestling commentator Kent Walton, not to mention the band Genesis, and more recently, of the son of the footballer Gary Lineker, Charterhouse, often favoured by the military, lost some 650 ex-pupils in The Great War, Robert Graves almost among them. Lots of Giles Gilbert Scott in the architecture, including a red telephone box.
My invitation was to talk to a small poetry group and then to give a reading in the lecture theatre to a mixture of parents, pupils and staff. I make no comment on the public school system - it is not behovely of a guest. It was all hospitality. The events went well, and were followed by dinner with shimmering glasses and courses of delicacies, preceded by a two word Benedictus benedicat and a standing toast at the end, of Church and Queen. Everyone is very well mannered, and very nice, and very intelligent, and very enthusiastic. They are a very nice bunch. The bar stays open late, and I embark on a long conversation about Bible translation and Byzantine iconography with the head of theology, that is as fuelled by a double helping of single malt on top of sherry, champagne, white wine, red wine and dessert wine. Bedroom appropriately and correctively spartan, faintly military. Bad sleep, then breakfast with lordly helpings of bacon and scrambled eggs plus muffin and marmite. Coffee. Bring me coffee!
Waiting in faint rain at Godalming station, exceedingly sleepy on train, then plugging into Talking Heads, then Brahms then Bartók.
Odd thing the life of the peripatetic poet. Last week in Leeds in a functional hall reading impassionata, for two splendid asylum seekers, this week in the lap of traditional privilege. Blimey guv, I tell you, it's an educaysshon. Church and Queen. Bubble and Squeak.
I might mention that since the purchase of the iPhone I have been reading some books as ten minute fillers, including John Buchan's bracing The Thirty-Nine Steps (minus the female interest in the film of course) and John Cleland's Fanny Hill. Many years since I first read the latter and pleased to come, if that's the right word, upon passages like:
...and pleasure milked, over-flowed me once more from the fulness of his oval reservoirs of the genial emulsion...
That, sir, is pornography with proper eighteenth-century cojones, which is to say prose with oval reservoirs.