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Annus Mirabilis

On Saturday, I rang up a purchase which came to $19.63. The customer said: "Oh, that must have been a good year for somebody."

To which I invariably - could not help but ask if she'd read Larkin's poem, and when she did not reply I found that to my horror I was launching into the first verse:

"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."

And anyway, it slipped out and I mashed it up and swapped some of the lines around but the general effect was realized and instead of grinning at me (like I was hoping she would), she pursed her lips and turned all her attention to her check book.

"Well," she said after an uncomfortable pause, "it was a good year for somebody."

And then we rushed on to talk about the death of J.F.K for whom 1963 was not a good year. I've learned my lesson. I must not recite at the cashier's desk. And I will have to learn by heart some other poems without the words "sexual intercourse" in them.

Comments

Ian Woolcott said…
The missing element in you story here, Ms Edwall, is the title of the book your customer was purchasing. I mean, it could shed all kinds of light on your conversation. If it was a copy of Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, for example, that may help explain her italicized "someone." If, however, it was a copy of The Secret Life of Puppets, then... Well, then I'd rather not think about it any more.

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