Friday, 18 November 2016

I Wish I Could Write Like Alan Bennett

My husband and I have been very busy doing this and that. He plays chess and volunteers with the Samaritans, and I work with two charities that do practical things for other people who need them done. We both help out, with no arm-twisted needed, with our five grandchildren. Sometimes, we remember we ought to, so we go out on a date. 

Last week, I hauled him off to the Wildlife and Wetlands Centre at Slimbridge, about 30 miles from home. This week was his choice, so he booked tickets for 'A Live Interview with Alan Bennett' at the Guldhall Arts Centre in Gloucester. We had listened to Bennett's 'Diaries' read by himself over the wireless (definitely a word he uses) watched 'The History Boys' when it came on the telly, and taken ourselves off to the pictures to see, The Lady In A Van':pretty much a true account of a vagrant that parked outside his house and stayed there for years. To say that she enlivened his existence is an understatement.

The interview was prefaced by a documentary showing this affable introvert in a raincoat, shuffle his way apologetically through his extraordinary life, after which he was probed and prodded, In a verbal sense, by a respectable Sue McGregor, then the thousands of us watching the event in cultural centres across the UK tweeted questions, which Mr Bennett answered. 

It was charming. 

Alan Bennett picks up his material by standing next to people in queues and listening to them. I think you get a lot of material that way. 

"Tomorrow's my ninetieth birthday, It's disgusting," 

You can hear her saying it, can't you? Imagine a quiet, educated Yorkshire voice repeating it, and you're there.


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