Yes, thank you, Marrakech was fine (and I may come back to that) but my post-holiday mail included a request from the Poetry Society, of which I am a member, to express a view about a successor to Andrew Motion as Poet Laureate, a blanket request to all members. I think I will be proposing Private Eye's E.J.Thribb whose evocative minimalism has always entertained me. But, before we forget about Andrew, I recall that in September 1999 I made the following observation in my book on Andrew Marvell: "Marvell saw the function of the artist at a time of revolutionary change as being...a witness to the true inner nature of the conflict...Two centuries later another English poet, Matthew Arnold, would argue that a society in the process of rapid change needed at least a few voices prepared to step back from the immediate call to "lend a hand at uprooting certain definite evils". Nicholas Murray: World Enough and Time: The Life of Andrew Marvell (September, 1999), p38
A few months later in The Guardian Andrew Motion made the following observation:
"Living through a time of revolutionary change, Marvell does not respond as a propagandist for one side or the other, but as someone bearing witness to interior realities...Matthew Arnold...also reminds us of Marvellian virtues when he tells us that during periods of turbulence and rapid change, artists should avoid the temptation to "lend a hand at uprooting certain definite evils". Andrew Motion, The Guardian, 11 March 2000.
Now I know there will be crude, unsophisticated minds who will call this plagiarism but I prefer to see it as a tribute and I am honoured.
And, of course, the new Laureate - seriously - should be female.