Nowadays, poets laureate are not donnish port-drinkers, but modern, happening, right-on types. Probably drink Mexican beer with a piece of lime stuffed in the neck of the bottle. Or at least that's what I imagined Andrew Motion doing, despite being an Oxford chap. So they get bunged £5750 instead. Motion was a pretty hopeless poet laureate, though I did think his "Regime Change" read quite well, notwithstanding the lefty angle.
Now we have Carol Ann Duffy, who I fear would have added lemon to the splendid Taylor or Fonseca port that came with the job. Not the shy or retiring type, Carol Ann. She described her appointment as "a historic day for women". Charles Moore reports that "she says she wants 300 years of female poet laureates to balance the past three centuries of males".
Oh dear. I think she may be missing the point. Good poetry is what we want, not affirmative action. Moore continues:
I would have thought that our Parliament sinking to its nadir of dishonour would be a good time for the old wordsmith to rustle up a cheery sonnet. Betjeman would have known what to do.
Luckily, we have our own Betjeman of the Blog, a modern Wikipling, if you like: Nick Drew, you cheer us up! http://cityunslicker.blogspot.com/2009/05/very-very-odd.html for his latest offering. He'd get a bottle of Taylor 83 opened for him in this house were he ever to visit it. And not a sniff of lemon.