Thursday, 20 May 2010

Postcard 68: Hull, Larkin and a Plague of Toads!

This should be a Toad,
but it's actually a Frog that hopped on to our back doorstep!

Gateway to Hull, The Humber Bridge

2010 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Larkin. It was good to read in the latest edition of The Times Higher Education Supplement that back in 2001 Larkin's 'long-term partner Monica Jones' bequeathed a collection of Larkin memorabilia - including the poet's duffel coat and NHS glasses - to the University of Hull, where the poet served as librarian from 1955 until the time of his death in 1985.

Larkin wrote two poems about toads, and a 'ceramic frog-shaped money box' was included in the selection of personal items. Toads and frogs have fascinated human beings for centuries: I remember being captivated by the 'brekekekex' frog chorus (see also here) in the comedy by Aristophanes, when I was at school.

During the Larkin25 Festival, a commemorative statue will be unveiled at Paragon Station. The festival will run for 25 weeks, during which time the town will be invaded by a plague of fibreglass toads, presumably of similar construction to King Bladud's drove of psychedelic pigs in Bath (and here), which I much enjoyed seeing on my way to and from the hospital!


donnie said...

cool - i used to cycle over the Humber Bridge when I was digging in Barton on Humber :)

April Lorier said...

How cool you got to your camera when your 'visitor' hopped onto your back porch!

Q said...

This is a day of toads for us. Earlier today we went to our favorite petshop, which is full of happy animals and a few more exotic creatures (tarantula, anyone?)

Actually we held a rose tarantula there a few months ago. They have tiny, tiny pincers on their feet that you can feel as they walk across your palm.

So today we saw a cane toad. They were introduced to the United States (not sure where from) to eat the thrips that feed on the shoots of the sugar cane.

Unfortunately, no-one realized that cane-toads live on the ground and thrips live several feet up at the top of the cane plants. Result - cane toads thrived on other food but the thrips lived on.

The cane toad secretes a white milky stuff if you try to eat it (as a predator might) and the milky stuff is poisonous enough to kill a bird.

The one we saw had a pale angled surround to his eyes - looked like a first world war pilot with goggles.