>> 18 Apr 2004


A recent letter in the Spectator made me revisit this poem by Phillip Larkin. It is a wonderful work and presciently captures the damage that Labour has done and is doing to that which makes Britain great.

GOING, GOING by Philip Larkin.

I thought it would last my time -

The sense that, beyond the town,

There would always be fields and farms,

Where the village louts could climb

Such trees as were not cut down;

I knew there'd be false alarms

In the papers about old streets

And split level shopping, but some

Have always been left so far;

And when the old part retreats

As the bleak high-risers come

We can always escape in the car.

Things are tougher than we are, just

As earth will always respond

However we mess it about;

Chuck filth in the sea, if you must:

The tides will be clean beyond.

- But what do I feel now? Doubt?

Or age, simply? The crowd

Is young in the M1 cafe;

Their kids are screaming for more -

More houses, more parking allowed,

More caravan sites, more pay.

On the Business Page, a score

Of spectacled grins approve

Some takeover bid that entails

Five per cent profit (and ten

Per cent more in the estuaries): move

Your works to the unspoilt dales

(Grey area grants)! And when

You try to get near the sea

In summer . . .

It seems, just now,

To be happening so very fast;

Despite all the land left free

For the first time I feel somehow

That it isn't going to last,

That before I snuff it, the whole

Boiling will be bricked in

Except for the tourist parts -

First slum of Europe: a role

It won't be hard to win,

With a cast of crooks and tarts.

And that will be England gone,

The shadows, the meadows, the lanes,

The guildhalls, the carved choirs.

There'll be books; it will linger on

In galleries; but all that remains

For us will be concrete and tyres.

Most things are never meant.

This won't be, most likely; but greeds

And garbage are too thick-strewn

To be swept up now, or invent

Excuses that make them all needs.

I just think it will happen, soon.

When I see the grinning Blair and contemplate the next general election, I feel as Larkin felt and I wonder if it is already far too late. I think it has happened.


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