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This report is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

From the Journals, July 1989
The power lifting you
R.F. Langley


On Dunwich beach, B passes me the Guardian with an obituary on Philip Brockbank. I did not know that he had died… nor that he had actually founded the York English Department… nor that he had gone on from Jesus to Reading. Nor that he played billiards. Nor, quite, that his loss would be irreparable to his family. I don’t recall what I thought had been happening to him since he was in Birmingham at the Shakespeare Institute.

I know he was one of the two best teachers I ever had – eyes bulging, cigarette chugging, intensely caring and very fiercely exciting. At once I wish I had told him so... and decide to go into the sea... thinking that, of all the people I’ve known, he knew abut Shakespeare, and that is wisdom of the best sort, which would make him thoughtful about the hot summer, the pale khaki and blue sea, the old foam sliding up the concave middle of the new wave, the oddity of looking back to the beach and seeing a wave break from behind, like a shelf you are on, foam appearing from below its edge, you are on a higher level than the bottom of the beach… then the piled flints, the people sitting, the orange cliff with a burst of sandmartin holes at the top, the blue sky with just a smear of almost-dissolved white cloud. The gleaming facets on the water. The power lifting you. The sea Prospero landed from, Caliban’s blinking eyes, a close-up, a reptile’s, as he sat ...

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