Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Dinner in front of the telly with Alan Bennett ... well, actually it was spag bol that's an approximation of Anne Del Conte's (hold the tomatoes, slug in some milk, simmered for one hour not five because you're not an Italian mamma with nothing else to do, too much nutmeg, whoops, but definitely fettucine not spaghetti and watch it like a hawk because it only ever takes half the time recommended on the packet). Anyway, a bowl of that, a few glasses of wine and Alan Bennett's Diaries (there's a trailer here) were just right on a foggy-ish night.
Sometimes it's a bit too self-consciously Bennett-ish, and he's playing up as the nation's teddy bear: It's one of my life's regrets that we've never kept a donkey.
And sometimes you think his partner Rupert must be rather fun.
Rupert: You're rather like Heathcliff.
Me, gratified: Really?
Rupert: Yeah. Difficult, Northern and a **@*!
It's familiar territory, interwoven with Bennett's love of music. Still, there was something rather poignant about the wingless, 84-year old fairy, with a skirt made by his Mam from lampshade fringing (and what a terrified face) on his tiny Christmas tree. I wondered what Mam would have said had she known that Americans are willing to pay $100,000 for a table at an Alan Bennett fund-raiser. (That's a charity fund-raiser not his pension plan.)
He also spoke of not having much left of the religious belief of his youth. But where I do miss God is not having anybody to thank when I've had a deliverance or a stroke of luck. I just feel I want to be grateful to someone and there's no-one to be grateful to.
I remember once visiting the village in Yorkshire where Bennett has a cottage. I went into the church, just passing half an hour - it's very nice in Clapham, but there isn't much to do - and I flicked through the visitors' book, reading the comments. And somebody had written, 'Very clean.' Cleanliness presumably being next to godliness. And, in fairness, it was a very clean church. It tickled me so much that I've never forgotten it.