False Security, John Betjemen and More...

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Percival Mandeville In this narrative poem we find a sharp contrast between P.M. the perfect boy and J. Betjeman who was anything but perfect (It is Betjeman who narrates the story). In fact apart from being a self-accused bully, at the end he (young Betjeman) also proves to be a liar and a coward. However in some ways he still emerges as a lovable rascal. Quite obviously form the way the children speak and act, the story unfolds in the same boarding school for upper-class children. For example they call their mothers ‘mater’, the Latin word for ‘mother’. Betjeman does not really remember why Percival wants to fight him but he makes it quite clear that the perfect boy is trying to defend somebody who has been treated very badly by the poet. Being a coward deep down and remembering past experiences when he had been badly beaten. J.B. finds it very hard to settle down to a good’s night sleep the night before the fight. However he would not tell anyone how frightened he was, “Thin seemed pyjamas and inadequate The regulation blankets once so warm, ‘What’s up?’ ‘Oh nothing.’ I expect they knew…” In the morning, at breakfast when the poet arrived, he had a brainwave which he thought would help to get him out of the difficult situation ha had landed himself in. He would invent a letter from home saying that his mother was very ill, “I sought out Mandeville. ‘ I say’, I said, I’m frightfully sorry I can’t fight today” Naturally Mandeville being a perfect young gentleman does not need any further explanation and straight away puts his arm round John’s shoulder to comfort him. The poem is narrated in Betjeman’s usual amusing, simple, straightforward way a style which makes it easy to follow. Hide and Seek Ion the poem Hide and Seek, Vernon Scannell makes excellent use of all the sense to bring out the great excitement children usually experience whenever they play this
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