Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Chintzy, chintzy cheeriness

by Lewis Morley, 1970

by Graham Wood, 1974

by Cecil Beaton, 1955

by Arnold Newman, 1978

Statue in tribute to Sir John at St Pancras station, one of the buildings he helped to save from demolition.

"How much more interesting and worth writing about his subjects are than most other modern poets. I mean, whether so-and-so achieves some metaphysical inner unity is not really so interesting to us as the overbuilding of rural Middlesex." - Philip Larkin

In celebration of the birthday today of Poet Laureate, foe of "modernism", saviour of beautiful buildings, railway fan and "national treasure" Sir John Betjeman, here is a marvellous reading - to the delight of the great man himself - by none other than Kenneth Williams and Maggie Smith (on the Parkinson show in February 1973) of his poem Death in Leamington:

Sir John Betjeman, CBE (28th August 1906 - 19th May 1984)

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