These are the amusingly honest words of Philip Larkin, written in a letter while slacking off from his librarian job in Shropshire.
I’m tired of being here, and seeing those I do not love, and doing that I do not care about, and being paid too little money for doing it.
I should like to get back to the halcyon days of suppers in Nick’s rooms [at St. John’s College, Oxford]. Et ego in Arcadia vixi or whatever it is. And I want to see books with my name printed down the spine, and seeing people saying how clever I am to write them, and giving me money. Blawks!
It reminds me a bit of Morrissey’s lyrics in Frankly Mr. Shankly.
As it happens, I’m absorbed in Larkin’s selected letters at the moment and am amazed at how such a tediously regular life (of work, job interviews, wanking, bad beer, paying the rent, procrastination) lead to such ‘clean’ success: that is, to be universally recognised as one of the brilliant poets of the Twentieth Century through a modest body of work.
Larkin succeeded in artistic integrity (seldom would he deviate from producing anything other than his poetry); career integrity (for all his moaning about it, he was an excellent librarian); and educational integrity (he got a First-class degree in English language and literature from Oxford without pissing around with lesser qualifications).
I wish I had those three kinds of integrity, but I fear my record is already blotted through a youth of dancing, prancing indecision. Let that be a lesson to you all. Be like Larkin and have a brilliant degree, career and canon. Blawks.