“He (Philip Larkin) had struck up the friendship with Conquest in 1955. The connection came about through Conquest’s editorship of the New Lines anthology; the friendship blossomed on a shared interest in what Thwaite describes as ‘illustrated magazines for men’ and Larkin more bluntly called ‘sex, in printed or photocopy form’. Chaperoned by Conquest, Larkin toured the porn shops of Soho, looking for pictures of schoolgirls being caned. ‘Bamboo and Frolic are the tops, or rather the bottoms . . .’; ‘MINUIT CINQ has some good rears in it now and again . . .’, ‘Yes, I got the pictures – whacks. I admired the painstaking realism of it – I mean, the teacher really did look like a teacher, and I greatly appreciated the school-like electric bell on the wall.’ When Thwaite says that this kind of thing is Larkin’s ‘bawdy’, the red-blooded Falstaff-&-Mistress-Quickly word does less than justice to the desolate giggliness of the letters to Conquest and the way they conjure, with horrid poignancy, the emptied bottle and the lonely room.”
JONATHAN RABAN (1992)
Source: Jonathan Raban. (18 October 1992). “Books: Mr Miseryguts: Philip Larkin’s letters show all the grim …”, The Independent.
“I agree ‘Bamboo’ & ‘Frolic’ (British porn magazines that featured ‘schoolgirls’ being whipped and sodomized) are the tops, or rather bottoms: do pass on any that have ceased to stimulate.”
PHILIP LARKIN, Letter to Robert Conquest (1958)
Source: Selected Letters of Phillip Larkin (1940 – 1985)