The Whitsun Weddings

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January 2011

Nomination: The Whitsun Weddings [18 October 1958. From The Whitsun Weddings]

The line ‘we ran behind the backs of houses, crossed a street of blinding windscreens’ has long fascinated me. I was born in Hull, and made the journey from Paragon Station to Kings Cross many times as a child (much later than Larkin did). When you leave Paragon, there are only two level crossings before the river’s level drifting breadth begins. One of those streets, Hawthorn Avenue (the other is St Georges Rd) was where my mother was born, my grandmother lived until her death in 1981 and my brother and I regularly played as children. On our trips to the capital, my father would always point out when we crossed ‘grandma’s street’. I know that Larkin doesn’t specify which street he crosses in the poem, but I always like to think that one of those blinding windscreens, back in the 1950s, was my fathers car, coming to visit his fiancée.

In August 2010, I took my family to visit my mum in Hull, and after finding as many of the toads that we could, we took the train to Brough (returning immediately) to show my children what Larkin meant. Alas, the sun was in!

Stanley Broadwell

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