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.