Happy Birthday Alan Bennett


The incomparable Alan Bennett, an author I have admired for years since his unforgettable ‘Talking Heads’ series. He’s 80 today, and many congratulations. He’s interviewed by Nicholas Hytner tomorrow at 9pm on BBC4 and afterwards you can see ‘A Chip in the Sugar’ one of the Talking Heads plays in which he performs a man who finds out that his mother has taken up with an old flame. Afterwards there’s another gem, starring Maggie Smith as a vicar’s wife in ‘Bed among the Lentils.’ In my opinion there’s nothing quite like his writings, I’ll be glued to the TV! His plays are marvellous, think of ‘The History Boys’ and’People’ ¬†and the unforgettable ‘Lady in the Van’, a true story from his own experience. As is most of his work, for example he used his life with his parents, their aspirations, or lack of them, their sayings, even the fabric of their settee I remember!

This is a quote from ‘Untold Stories’ (which, if you haven’t read you are missing a treat!)….in the first chapter, which is mainly about his early life with his parents there’s this…… “Your Dad and me are going to start to mix,” Mam wrote, “We’ve got some sherry in and some peanuts too.” Never having tasted the mysterious beverage though, they lacked any notion of when it was appropriate and treated it as a round the clock facility. Thus the vicar, calling in with a Free Will offering envelope, was startled to be offered a sweet sherry at 10 o’clock in the morning.They of course, stuck to tea; or, when they were trying to fit it in, Ribena. “Well,” said Mam resignedly, “it doesn’t do for us. Our Kathleen used to put it in the trifle and it always rifted up on me.”

It’s funny yes, but it tells us so much more, it gets us right into that tight little world of his parents, frightened, it seems of venturing out.

He is, to my mind, a master. Thankyou AB.


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