Bradford’s story starts in wartime Oxford, where Amis and Larkin, as students, were brought together by the many interests they had in common: beer, jazz, literature, girls, swearing, having it in for people and doing impressions of what Bradford calls Lord David Cecil’s ‘upper-middle-class drawl’. By the standards of the time their jokes had a punk rock aspect – Amis wrote fondly years later of the days when saying ‘fuck’ counted as ‘the breaking-out of a miniature Jolly Roger’ – and many of the attitudes that congealed so unpleasantly started out as a revolt against patrician cultural pretensions. Amis, whose father worked for Colman’s Mustard, didn’t like condescending public schoolboys and used music and communism to strike back at his dad’s Tory philistinism. Larkin – whose strange father had risen to be treasurer of Coventry City Corporation, going to Nuremberg rallies and reading Ulysses in his spare time – was already a more opaque figure. Amis discouraged him from dressing like an aesthete and going on about Lawrence, as he was then prone to do, but paid obeisance to what Bradford can’t have meant to call his ‘tendentious breadth of reading’.
Robson Press | Hardback
384 pp. |ISBN: