October 21, 2008

Was Born in Tiger Bay #5

A baker's dozen of little-known facts about the poet Philip Larkin:

1: Larkin designed the Union Jack underpants worn by Tim Brooke-Taylor in The Goodies.

2: He was born with 6 toes on his left hand. Fortunately, he was right-handed, so this did not interfere with his poetry writing.

3: As club mascot, he ran out onto the pitch in his three-piece suit ahead of the team at every Hull Kingston Rovers home match of the 1964-5 season.

4: In an interview with the Daily Express in 1975, when asked to name his favourite celebrity, Larkin named British table-tennis champion Desmond Douglas, "as a joke." He received over 350 death threats from regular Express readers as a result.

5: He learned French by standing next to Sacha Distel for six months.

6: Every year on his birthday, he would rise at 5 a.m., go to Pearson Park, kill a cat, return to his flat and masturbate into a Coronation mug.

7: He lost his life savings in a venture to publish a version of The Highway Code in braille.

8: He won the first ever episode of Can't Cook, Won't Cook, in 1973.

9: On his death it was found that he had 2,000 stringed conkers under his bed.

10: He once made a 149 break, but there were no witnesses.

11: He was the inspiration for Bill Maynard's TV character Selwyn Froggatt

12: All visitors to his home received a plate stacked high with homemade gooseberry jam sandwiches, even though the smallest contact with gooseberries brought his hands out in weeping sores.

13: He played the bassoon on The Housemartins' "Happy Hour."

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