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It was Betjeman's gift, Rhys Jones argues, to make the ordinary extraordinary.So once the Oxbridge luvvies have gushed their bit, it is fitting that the programme's most joyful moment occurs in the company of less stellar Suffolk folk.Betjeman once observed a solitary nun in Felixstowe and wrote a lonely portrait of an expiring order.That convent is, in fact, still thriving and packed with poetry-loving nuns.
Coincidentally, a member of the current order is named Joan Hunter, and the nuns giggle with faux-shocked delight as their bespectacled sister intones the rhymes with perfect comic timing, as a lovingly pruned and potted pink cyclamen sits in a poignantly domestic, Betjemanesque shot behind her head."And anyway, I know more about the poetry."The mission was to defend Betjeman's work from those who would file it under "twee and trivial".Rhys Jones thinks "he needs to be rescued from two images. "And second, that he's a sort of Bertie Wooster of poets, that it's all about spats and varsity and therefore it's all terribly light and associated with posh people in boaters.The whimsical anachronism of that "ev'ning" is shattered by the harsh modern fact of the plate glass window.In the programme, Joanna Lumley rather beautifully compares Betjeman to the great Dutch interior painters, calling him a tender and domestic poet.
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There's a lot more complexity to his poetry than that." These weren't images Betjeman acquired by accident, however.