Sunday, 1 April 2007

Lie back and think of England - part 1

In my efforts to find the origin of this phrase, which I'm fairly sure isn't Victorian, I came across this poem by Philip Larkin, a modern English poet. I love it - definitely my era.

Annus Mirabilis

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Up to then there'd only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Philip Larkin 1967

Though I hasten to add that in 1963 it wasn't too late for me!


  1. A.,
    That's brilliant! Did you ever find the origins of the phrase?

  2. A.,
    Now my hunting instincts are aroused (I love research! G-e-e-k!)! The only reference I could find that has even a ghost of a cite was at, and the author states up front that it's probably apocryphal.

  3. You beat me to it janeway! It all sounds very apocryphal indeed.

  4. I was 20 in 1963 and verse 2 of the poem sums up brilliantly how I felt at the time.

    Glad to hear that you were having a better time of it.


  5. And just think, no one under the age of forty knows what an LP is these days.

  6. Janeway, I didn't think about the LP thing at all! But of course, no, they wouldn't.

    Oh dear LR, yes, I did think of you when I read that second verse after reading some of your growing-up posts. I think it's a bit overstated though to say that "all at once" everything changed, because I do recall all the discussions in student halls of residence in the late sixties. There was still a lot of angst about. I'm sorry to say that a series of letters from my room-mate's sister about her developing relationship kept us agog for weeks. We were very judgemental I'm afraid. And then there was the girl who said she would sleep with anyone if he had a sports car ....


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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