On June 24th 2015 me and my fellow English combined students, along with Ms Ridings and Miss Pearson, went on a trip to Hull to take the Philip Larkin Trail. Larkin is a British poet who spent much of his adult life in Hull working as a librarian in the University library and writing his famous poetry which is based on everyday life.
The day started off with an exciting start when, after being dropped off by the mini bus outside Tesco extra, we witnessed two shop lifters trying and failing to run off with the goods from Tesco. The pair were stopped by passersby and escorted back into the store by security. I bet Larkin would have written something about that in his poetry, probably sneering at the people who had been silly enough to have been caught.
The first stop on the trail was Paragon train station where a statue of Larkin stands tall and proud, mid stride as if heading towards a train himself. To me the statue looked huge but apparently it is life size which made me feel rather sad as I felt dwarfed in comparison.
Anyway…the Tesco store was next to Paragon train station, which was the place Larkin caught a train on Whitsun Sunday where he observed the numerous wedding parties that were also making their train journeys that same day ,resulting in the poem The Whitsun Weddings. In addition, the poem Dockery and Son is also set in Paragon hence the need for Ms Ridings to bring a steak and butter pie for Ryan to pose with by the statue. The pie was rather nice so I am told but due to lactose in tolerance I could not join the Larkinest activity of consuming “an awful pie”.
And furnace-glares of Sheffield, where I changed,
And ate an awful pie, and walked along
The platform to its end to see the ranged
Joining and parting lines reflect a strong
Other places we went to were Marks and Spencer (the setting of The Large Cool Store), City Hall (setting of Broadcast about his Hull muse, Maeve) and the Royal Station Hotel where Larkin spent many happy stays during which hewrote about in his poem Friday Night in the Royal Station Hotel.
Sadly we did not go to every location due to limited time. An attempt was made of finding The Land of Green Ginger, which incidentally has nothing to do with the magical, candy lands found in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory as I thought the first time I heard this name. It is the home of Hull’s cultural streets and the place where plays based on Larkin’s poetry, such as Pretending to Be Me by Sir Tom Courtenay, have been performed.
Our trip concluded at Hull History Centre where we took the opportunity to go into the archives and look at Larkin’s original notebooks, containing random scribbles and doodles as well as the drafts and complete works of his poetry. It is interesting to see the doodles mostly comprised of square patterns and images of a man’s face with pointed, Jack Frost like features.
Overall it was a fun trip where we got to take a lot of pictures and see the sights of Hull while reading through Philip Larkin’s Whitsun Wedding poem collection.
By Emily Wong