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BANK HOLIDAY

The heavy shower drilled on the frosted glass.

We sheltered under one of the high street’s

open arcades with sloping glazed-roofs  –

a Victorian refinement to the resort:

shopping sheltered from seaside weathers.

We were, by chance, in front of Poundland:

one window displayed Pepsi Max, the other

Cadbury’s Highlights, both cut-price sugar.

The Bank Holiday crowd sheltering with us

seemed disproportionately stricken, impaired,

overwhelmingly loud or utterly

silent, with austerity’s complexion.

 

As the rain began to clear a man,

middle-aged, passed using a zimmer frame.

He was engaged in some angry, solitary

dumb show. A woman arrived, high on something.

She had left her whining pug dog tied

to one of the arcade’s wrought iron pillars.

I noted that ‘Punch and Judy’ was to start

on the expansive Promenade, where,

as for a hundred and fifty years and more,

there would be much business with sausages

and Toby the Dog, and Mr Punch

would throw Judy’s baby out of the window.

Only the privilege of good luck perceived

such a continuing farrago of

history and dismay.

© Copyright David Selzer
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3 Responses
  • John Huddart
    April 24, 2020

    Those final three lines are a masterpiece. And the subtle interplay of seaside theatre and human drama. Larkin lives. Proud to know this poem, and it’s writer of course.

  • Ashen Venema
    April 24, 2020

    I dislike public holidays, when exuberant masses hit the street, home is my idea of paradise.
    Splendid, the phrase you coined …
    ‘Only the privilege of good luck perceived
    such a continuing farrago of
    history and dismay.’

  • Catherine Reynolds
    April 24, 2020

    A place of faded elegance and populated by the images the photographer Martin Parr would delight in. Technicolour in terminal decline. Whether portrait or landscape the people are at once in movement and stilled.

    Thank you for a slice of life, as ever carefully observed and crafted.

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