Stop Larkin about: dead poet’s society seeks proper attribution

Inside Croydon’s email inbox positively bulged this week, with this website’s first ever missive received from the much-respected and highly esteemed Philip Larkin Society.

Philip Larkin: poet with verve

Larkin was one of Britain’s most noted poets of the 20th Century, known for his “very English, glum accuracy”, and perhaps best remembered for one line  in particular: “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”

It is not often that Inside Croydon, in its near-decade of existence, has had a chance to quote one of the finest modern writers.

We had cause to do so last week in a report based on a column from Architects’ Journal which railed against “ghastly little fuck-hutches”, the under-sized flats – or “luxury apartments” according to the weasel words of estate agents – which have proliferated, especially in Croydon, thanks to a Tory government policy of Permitted Development allowing uncontrolled conversions of office blocks into residential use.

The column from which we quoted, written by the magazine’s editorial director Paul Finch, attributed the fuck-hutch expression to Larkin.

Not so, according to the Philip Larkin Society’s Graham Chesters.

In his email to iC, Chesters writes, “We can see that the phrasing has a certain Larkinesque verve.” But… you knew there would be a but…

“The ripe phrase that you attribute to Philip Larkin in your ‘Political pygmies’ article actually belongs to Alan Bennett.

“He was writing in the London Review of Books referring to houses in Banbury circa 1995:

Alan Bennett: History boy

‘Drive in grey drizzle to Banbury. Feel, even just passing through the town, the rootless anonymity that has swamped the place, the centre still intact and even handsome but ringed by superstores and huge drive-in centres that service the acres of fuck-hutch estates’.”

Does that sound like anywhere you know?

Bennett is the diarist and playwright (The History Boys, The Madness of George III, The Lady In The Van) who, too, might be said to possess a very English glum accuracy. After all, if it wasn’t for Bennett, the world might have been spared James Corden…

In any case, as this website is wedded to the principle of ensuring accuracy in everything we publish, Inside Croydon is happy to set straight the record of the fuck-hutches.

We also suggested to Mr Chesters that he might contact the originator of the misattribution, the Architects’ Journal, to see if they can put their editorial director right. And while doing so, they might ask whether the magazine might also reconsider another howling error made recently, of showering awards and accolades for architectural merit on Croydon Council’s Brick by Brick, a house-building company which has yet to complete a single house.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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