Four new episodes of Lewis began on Masterpiece Mystery last night (Thank you, television), but there was a special treat last week, a one-off mystery called Endeavor, set in 1965, in which a young Inspector Morse (a very good Shaun Evans) solves his first murder mystery. Evans didn't quite mesh with John Thaw for me, but he was an excellent character in his own right, and the writing and direction were first rate.
There was a real literary bent to the episode, especially since primary clues were buried in crossword puzzle solutions and first editions of poetry texts, including John Betjeman, but I was still surprised to spot a completely out-of-the-blue reference to Philip Larkin's poem "Mr Bleaney." Morse is being shown his digs and the landlady quotes the first two lines of the poem. I nearly leapt out of my chair.
Here it is in full:
by Philip Larkin
'This was Mr Bleaney's room. He stayed The whole time he was at the Bodies, till They moved him.' Flowered curtains, thin and frayed, Fall to within five inches of the sill, Whose window shows a strip of building land, Tussocky, littered. 'Mr Bleaney took My bit of garden properly in hand.' Bed, upright chair, sixty-watt bulb, no hook Behind the door, no room for books or bags - 'I'll take it.' So it happens that I lie Where Mr Bleaney lay, and stub my fags On the same saucer-souvenir, and try Stuffing my ears with cotton-wool, to drown The jabbering set he egged her on to buy. I know his habits - what time he came down, His preference for sauce to gravy, why He kept on plugging at the four aways - Likewise their yearly frame: the Frinton folk Who put him up for summer holidays, And Christmas at his sister's house in Stoke. But if he stood and watched the frigid wind Tousling the clouds, lay on the fusty bed Telling himself that this was home, and grinned, And shivered, without shaking off the dread That how we live measures our own nature, And at his age having no more to show Than one hired box should make him pretty sure He warranted no better, I don't know.