Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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.

1 comment:

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.