Sir John Betjeman said that his poems were written to be read out loud.

He could have had no one better in mind to deliver them than Edward Fox who during this one-man performance exploring the life of the Poet Laureate delivers a constant stream of his works.

Given that almost all of the recitals are delivered without reference to the printed page, the performance is quite astounding and well deserving of the prolonged rapturous applause from an appreciative first night Chichester audience.

In this new work by author High Whitemore and directed by Gareth Armstrong, Betjeman is seen as he approaches the end of his fifth decade. His wonderful ramblings take us through his sometimes-unhappy childhood, difficult college years – he was sent down from Oxford – his sorties into the working world, and of course his loves.

There was always going to be humour, which after all peppers his poetry, as sharply recognised here by Whitemore and deftly delivered by Fox as the observations of the poet himself.

A wonderful description of Betjeman’s years as an inept cricket master at a private school and his glorious insights into some of the great names of his age – Churchill, Rita Sackville-West, Edward Blunt – brought forth roars of laughter, as did the occasional blue expletive.

The piece rummages around the poet’s love life, his early flirtation with homosexuality – with hilarious response from his overbearing father - and his deep passion for women. But as always with Betjeman it is the very human aspects of his rhymes that resonate with the audience. Who hasn’t suffered sand in their sandwiches or wasps in the tea during a seaside picnic?

Not so well known would be the poet’s love of British architecture and the railways, and his passionate defence of well-known buildings including St. Pancras Station.

A great self-publicist, the British public grew to know and love him from his many television appearances which brought his words to a huge audience. His appointment as Poet Laureate, although sniffed at in some circles, won huge public acclaim.

A poet of the people, Fox’s performance here ensures that the British love affair with this very real poet remains.

Sand in the Sandwiches runs at Chichester until November 12.