Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Larkin Around

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

April 1971 from High Windows

Larkin wrote this on the day I was born, or very near to it at least. I don't think it was meant as a Nostradamuslike prophecy or premonition of things to come. I am not so completely self-centred ( yet) to realise that it had nothing whatsoever to do with me at all but our shared age and the fact that it was one of the first poems I ever read with swear words in it at exactly the time that rows at home were reaching their climax, has granted it a soft spot in my affections.

I won't drone on about Larkin. Anyone interested will already know of him, and anyone not, well isn't. Needless to say, he never had kids. His verse might have been different if he had.

They keep you up, your teenage kids.
They may not mean to but they do.
They fill you with the fears you have
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were kept out in their turn
By Colts in new team ties and coats
Who half the time were taciturn
While pints of lager flowed down their throats.

Son hands on misery to Mum.
It deepens as she sits on the shelf.
Get home as early as you can,
And earn your beer money yourself.

There is a story behind this which isn't that remarkable or interesting but did result in Jack turning up for College on Monday with 5 stitches in his finger and a face that looked like it had been exfoliated with an electric sander ( it hadn't but he had made quite an impression on the concrete as he'd nose-dived over our 6-ft gate, having lost his keys at the end of Pub Golf).

The most worrying part of it all was that he seems to have contracted my eternally-optimistic, cup half-full ( and if it isn't then who's round is it?) attitude to adversity. Returning from college that evening, he remarked upon what a fantastic pulling opportunity this had created for him. All the girls ( even the prettiest ones that he never thought would notice him) wanted to know what had happened and he was a legend with the boys within 3 days of the start of term.

I predict my hairdresser is going to make a fortune out of my roots this year.


Blogger Stegbeetle said...

Those gates can be damned tricky things!

2:02 am  
Blogger andrea said...

Amen to that. And just so I can cry even harder about the tragedies of parenting you post that-that-that *sad* REM song. And to think I came here for stress relief! :)

4:01 am  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

Been there.

The Chronicles Of Jack is going to be a huge success and it will pay for hundreds of trips to the hairdresser.

"Cherry..I've got Mark from Random on line 2 and Fletcher from Penquin on 4..and don't forget lunch with Emily from Little and Brown"..

Atta Boy Jack..the world is your erster..however you pronounce it over there.

5:00 am  
Blogger Within Without said...

WHAT? You are ONLY 35? (No offence intended, I hope you don't think). Argh. Incredible.

You won't be turning grey yet. Your hairdresser may simply be trolling for ways to persuade you that you MIGHT turn grey.

Ignore it. Red lasts forever and ever and so does the wit and life and vivaciousness you possess.

Super funny and great for Jack, if not so much for you. Beautiful accompaniment by REM.

I saw your comment at HE's blog, completely unawares of these developments. I've gone back and found the anonymous comment and posted a retort.

Cheers. You're more than a hoot.

5:00 am  
Blogger ziggi said...

what a brilliant post - had tears in my eyes - really. As a mother of 2 teenagers I'm with you on this one xx (I wonder when it gets better??)

12:30 pm  
Anonymous Cream said...

What matters, Cherrybabe, is that you passed on your optimism to Jack!
Wounded and bleeding, he still finds something that cheers him up! Girls!

12:42 pm  
Blogger Mise said...

lol...I love it...especially the last line. :-D

4:53 pm  
Blogger gautami tripathy said...


I find your version better than Larkin's...

5:21 pm  
Blogger Joyce said...

AAhhh, the focus of youth!

5:30 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Steg - you sound like a man who knows

Andrea - I couldn't find David Essex ' Hold Me Close' or it would have been more upbeat.

HE - if only

WW - apparently red hair has no other pigmentation in it so as it starts to fade ( as mine seems to have been doing since the age of 3) it soon turns grey. I'd look like Vicus if it wasn;t for my colourist. And I stopped my biological clock ticking before it even started, something which probably accounts for a large part of still being single, no need you see.

8:43 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Ziggi - I've a feeling it only gets better when they put you in a home.

Cream - yep - he's just about as mature as he's ever gonna get on that score.

Mise - that line was definitely the most heartfelt.

Guatami - thankyou. He was a miserable old codger, wasn't he!

Joyce - you're lucky you're oldest are girls.

8:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aha! I should be a hacker or some other sneaky, technical guru, type person.

I've managed to gain access to your blog, at least to the end of the week when we finish this round of testing.

Congratulations, commiserations, that looks lovely, what a day, get him sorted with a reality check, it was huge here too, ouch!. You can apply these to your various blog entries as you see fit.

I suspect that the delayed text message was a blessing, bouncing around on that bruise would have been distracting. However, even a sniff of a chance does seem to have perked you up. Lord only knows what you'll be like when you do, finally, scratch your itch.


9:01 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Hey, Quietman. Congratulations on exploitig your projects privileges.

It's funny you should reappear on the very day that I hear that Scotland has only 1 sperm donor, and Ireland none whatsoever.

I doubt you'd have any trouble finding work when your project in Dublin comes to an end either there or back home in Edinburgh x

9:03 pm  
Blogger Eagleseagles said...

Love the way the music filters in!!

Good on Jack!!!

I drop in now and again...

faint smiles

C or Eagle!!

9:47 am  
Anonymous Sharon J said...

My parents did a shit job of raising me. Try as the did to fuck me up, it just didn't happen.

Or did it?

How does one know which level of fucked-up-ness one has reached?

9:53 am  
Blogger tom909 said...

Cherry baby, I was so sad when my parents split up when I was a kid. And then I was so sad again when it happened to my kis when I split with their mum. And every now and then I just feel it from you, and it makes me cry. And I'm a fucking grown up old man, and it still fucking hurts.
Now I'm fucking angry. We have to try and leave it behind us babe.

11:10 am  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Hi Eagles-I didn't know you soared past occasionally. I'm delighted. Hope to see you at Titchwell in Oct x

Sharon - will you let me know when you find out the answer. I bet Bloglines have got a quiz about it somewhere

Tom- Here. Have a hankie. Do you know, I didn't think my parents divorce had affected me that much but maybe it left more scars than I'd thought. I'm really sorry to harp on about it. Now if they ever got back together- that would really really fuck me up!

12:19 pm  
Blogger Carmenzta said...


Yeah, thanks to teenagers I've gone almost completely platinum at the young age of 52! I have only one left and I love him but I'm running out of energy and patience. You know what I do? I color my own hair and save some money.

I'm glad Jack is ok. And what a wonderful thing that he shares your optimism, that's the little flame that keeps us alive and kicking ass in spite of the obstacles of everyday life.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Cherrypie said...

Hi Carmentza

Thanks for your sweet words. Jack's fine but a little sleep deprived. He daren't close his eyes for a minute in case I take a photo of him and post it on here.
Goodness knows what having a mother who blogs does for one's mental health.

Hey. Only 24 hours to happy hour :)

6:26 pm  
Blogger kj said...

what a great post, cherrypie! you had me wondering, laughing, sighing, identifying, and nodding, and the last line is stellar!

at least you'll get to go to the hairdressers more often!

i am sure i would like hanging out with you. !!

2:01 am  
Blogger LuvlyLittleSister said...

Noooo. You have confirmed my worst fears that this parenting thing is not going to get easier for a long time. I hope at least Jack does his own washing?

7:20 am  
Blogger Mise said...

Maroon 5...all good ...

..and whatever do you mean 'in your time'? ...I'm still struttin'! :-D

6:55 am  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home