The work of the great and celebrated poet, Tarquin Otter, has for four decades delighted and intrigued a small but enthusiastic band of followers. Otter has ridden the wave of modernism and post-modernism, always surpassing himself with each collection that's just one step ahead of the game, and hard to pigeon-hole.
As a bardic person myself, with verifiable Irish literary connections stretching back to the great Joyce, I donned my old university great coat and scarf, and put Otter's latest collection, Sash Windows and Carpets (Faver and Faver, 2007 £19.99) into my enormous pockets.
I headed off to the wild woods of Surrey to interview Otter where Otter lives in great secrecy with just a Tibetan terrier for company.
The demise of sash windows and carpets,
Has created a terrible hue
In place of the rattley noises
There's now just a silence et tu
Oh what would poor Cathy have done
When scratching the wobbly pane
And tramping around in bare feet
Hermetically sealed once again?
So I sit and I look for inspiration
Outside is all windswept and night
But all I hear is my TV
Lots on it does give me a fright.
But bravely I switch off the set
And hear it crackle inside
My love is Sara Jessica Parker
And now I have nowhere to hide
Oh Sarah Oh Sarah Oh Sarah
Please will you love me tonight
I long for your pimple beside me
And your long moose-like nose is alright
Getting back to my opening gripe
Sash windows and carpets are cool
They let in the noises for this poet
And stop me from feeling a fool.
In this work, Otter examines the deep-seated need in all of us for the woods, sanctuary, and a place of one's own.
Otter lives in the wild woods somewhere in Surrey, and finding him was going to be a struggle having nothing but a poetry collection to help me. Even so, his poetry established a clear picture of what I was looking for in my mind.
Leylandii, fish ponds and gnomes
Were all I wanted to see
The smoke from my neighbour's barbecue
Was choking my Tibetan and me
Sash windows, they let in the smoke,
Unneighbourly barbecue hell
How I hated their sizzling noises
But now I got UPVC can you tell?
My carpets were covered in grass stains
I hated to wipe my poor feet
Each time I popped to the loo
While sunning on my lawn so neat
So what can I write about now
My holidays down in Provence
I like to eat well and drink wine
I've a caravan too, it's advanced
COPYRIGHTED MOST ASSERTIVELY
As I tramped backwards and forwards along leaf-carpeted lanes avoiding the fast vehicles that swerved and honked, I at once, understood Otter's request, neigh demands, for a better world.
Polonium is making me worried
It's bad for my health, the Russian swines
My old rotten sashes let in poison
So I fitted some Thermaglaze and blinds
I threw the old carpet in a skip
And was amazed what climbed from the shag
The previous occupants I'd woken
They'd collected their stash in a bag.
What drugs, what drinks, what debauchery
I'd harboured unwittingly for years
I told my wife of the problem
She went berserk and burst into tears
That's no hippie, that's my father you moron
And left me without a goodbye
So now I dream of darling Sara
Oh Sarah Jessica Parker, I cry
Oh Sarah Jessica Parker, my darling
Oh Sarah Jessica Parker, my love
Oh Sarah Jessica Parker, my sweetheart
Oh Sarah will you warm me like a glove?
THE BIGGEST COPYRIGHT SYMBOL EVER 2007
Ah yes, but who is this gnomic nymph, Otter's muse? I settled in the snug of The Snooty Fox with a pint of Guiness, and read aloud Otter's painful verse to the annoyance of the rustics gathered within.
Sash Window Agonistes
We moved to a gorgeous thatched cottage
Even Broadband was denied by BT
We were so far away from anything
Not one nasty pylon could I see
There were roses round the door, lucky us,
But horrors, one day, yonder lea!
An SUV full of townies
Moved next door alongside little me
Outpourings of loathsome conversion,
Poor carpets, sash windows! I protest!
But hammer and tongue, they are at it
Like rabbits they're feathering their nest.
Now pylons are marching up the valley
To connect with these miserable prats
And roars of them watching the telly
While we sit in silence going bats!
TARQUIN OTTER ASSERTS HIMSELF AS THE OWNER 2007
And then, as I was manhandled out of The Snooty Fox, the essential struggle of the poet was brought home to me by this piece, nominated for The Forward Poetry Prize Award Best Poem Of All Time, this minimailist, modernist, masterpiece first published in The Ivory Tower.
Oh f**k it
Make us a cuppa
I ASSERT MYSELF AS THE WRIGHTFUL OWNER OF THESE ARTWORKS 20007
Need I say more? Tarquin Otter, despite my inability to find the secretive bard, remains undeniably one of Britain's best-loved poets confirmed by yet another beautifully bound edition that will be treasured and adored by his fans for many, many years to come.
COPYRIGHT FEAMUS TIPPLE O'FLATTERY