Pub ‘Get-Together’ 12 August 2021

The ESCC held a Pub Get-Together at the Flying Horse in Odengatan in Stockholm on the 12 August. This was the third of the three social events that the club has organised so far this summer, the others being an afternoon walk along Djurgårdsbrunnsviken (30 May), and a picnic at Waldemarsudde (4 July).

I think the ESCC Board should be congratulated for arranging these events and especially Valerie Olsson who did the catering for two of them.


One can truly say that we have refused to let the Corona-virus cramp our style, while at the same time being careful to remind our members about the risks and precautions involved. The Get-Together last Thursday, potentially an indoor event, only went ahead because by then the majority of Seniors in Stockholm had been vaccinated and therefore felt safe. It actually turned out to be partially outdoors due to the Flying Horse’s generous outdoor seating and the lovely sunny weather which allowed us to sit outside.


The Get-Together was a ‘drop-in’ event which allowed for maximum flexibility – ESCC members came and left the pub when it suited them – and judging by the enthusiasm they showed and the noise they made talking when they were there, everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. At least 20 people came along, ‘representing’ at least 6 different nationalities, which just goes to show how popular and useful English is as a global second language and how important the ESCC is as an international club.


While Pub Evenings have been a regular feature of the club’s social programme for as long as I can remember we now see that lunch events may well prove to be equally or more popular with our members, whether at pubs, restaurants or other places, especially as we are becoming increasingly a Seniors’ club. After all, eating and drinking always mix well with talking, and the second letter of our club’s name (ESCC) should remind us of this – S for SPEAKING! I am sure the ESCC’s Board will no doubt bear this in mind when planning future events.


Report written by Peter Dulley. 

ESCC Poetry Evening 18 May 2021

This event was arranged and hosted by Toni Olander. Six people attended this event which focused on the English poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985). Each of us chose one Larkin poem to read and present to the group and what a fascinating assortment of themes came up, ranging from the experience of going into an empty church (‘Church Going’) to being a group of pigeons huddling together for warmth on a rooftop in the rain (‘Pigeons’).

The other poems covered well- known Larkin themes including life expectancy and the inevitability of death; the risk entailed in using independence of mind; the advantages and disadvantages of human love and the sheer pleasure of sometimes being alone for days on end, thus allowing the creative impulse to produce poetry:

Long Lion Days

Long lion days

Start with a white haze.

By midday you meet

A hammer of heat –

Whatever was sown

Now fully grown,

Whatever conceived

Now fully leaved,

Abounding, ablaze –

O long lion days!

In his biography of Larkin Andrew Motion highlights in Larkin’s poetry a “very English, glum accuracy” about emotions, places and relationships, what the poet Donald Davie describes as “lowered sights and diminished expectations”. The author Eric Homberger has called him “the saddest heart in the post-war supermarket”. Larkin said that deprivation for him was “what daffodils were for Wordsworth”.

For me this strikes a too negative chord and I would like to mention another more positive quality that I would call existential honesty. Larkin has himself explained how influential Thomas Hardy was in showing him how to describe life as it truly is rather than as it ought to be. He put it like this:

Hardy is not a transcendental writer, he’s not a Yeats, he’s not an Eliot…I didn’t have to try and jack myself up to a concept of poetry that lay outside my own life….One could simply relapse back into one’s own life and write from it”.

This I feel is the essence of Philip Larkin’s poetry and the quality that has endeared him to the British public, so much so that in 2008 he was named by the Times newspaper as Britain’s greatest post -war writer.

Another important feature of Larkin’s poetry is his technical brilliance. Writing what I consider to be traditional poetry using rhythm, rhyme and common poetic devices, his poetry is never dull and the meaning is usually sufficiently clear for it to be understood after just one reading. In other words it is comprehensible and compelling.

Report written by Peter Dulley

If you want to read more of Philip Larkin’s opetry a good way to start is to go to the All Poetry website ( and search for Philip Larkin, and if you would like to come to one of our Poetry Evenings (or other events) you can find out more about them on the ESCC website at (