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In a message dated 12/09/2006 20:08:31 GMT Daylight Time, [log in to unmask]  
writes:

, too,  am a bit green that I couldn't be there with David.  Here, from  
JBetjeman's sweet autobiography in verse, is his version of David's TSE  story.  
I'm sorry in advance if there are any errors in the  transcription.  [The 
chapter's obligatory Hitchcockian bells appearance  in this passage.]

Betjeman was quite young, and though he failed the  headmaster's quiz--the 
number of half-crowns in a pound--he was admitted to  Highgate Junior School.

Marcia


See the  rich elms careering down the hill — 
Full billows rolling into Holloway;  
In the tall classroom hear again the drone 
Of multiplication tables  chanted out; 
Recall how Kelly stood us in a ring: 
“Three sevens, then  add eight, and take away 
Twelve; what’s the answer?” Hesitation then  
Meant shaking by the shoulders till we cried. 
Deal out again the  dog-eared poetry books 
Where Hemans, Campbell, Longfellow and Scott  
Mixed their dim lights with Edgar Allan Poe 
(Who ‘died of  dissipation,’ said the notes). 
“And what is dissipation, please, Miss  Long?” 
Its dreadfulness so pleased me that I learned 
‘The Bells’ by  heart, but all the time preferred 
‘Casabianca’ and ‘The Hesperus’ 
As  poetry, and Campbell’s ‘Soldier’s Dream.’ 
I couldn’t  see why Shakespeare was admired; 
I thought myself as good as Campbell now 
And  very nearly up to Longfellow; 
And so I bound my verse into a book,  
The Best of Betjeman, and handed it 
To one who, I was told,  liked poetry — 
The American master, Mr. Eliot. 
That dear good man,  with Prufrock in his head 
And Sweeny waiting to be agonized, 
I wonder  what he thought? He never says 
When now we meet, across the port and  cheese. 
He looks the same as then, long, lean and pale, 
Still with the  slow deliberating speech 
And enigmatic answers. At the time 
A boy  called Jelly said “He thinks they’re bad”— 
But he himself is still too  kind to say. 

[From John Betjeman, Summoned by  Bells, end of chapter 3—Highgate]  




Very many thanks for that extract, Marcia
 
Best wishes
 
 
David