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.

6 comments:

galant said...

So looking forward to the progs on TV over Christmas re Alan Bennett. And, of course, reading his latest published diaries.
Margaret P
www.margaretpowling.com

Mary said...

I haven't read the latest one, Margaret. Does feel rather as if I've absorbed it without needing to!

Cosy Books said...

Glad I wasn't enjoying a sip of tea when Bennett mentioned open-neck shirts and TB. Looking forward to seeing this...his voice is right up there with hot water bottles and chocolate when it comes to cosy.

Mary said...


Yes, you'll enjoy this, Darlene - I felt sorry for his secretary typing all those bits of paper. Can't be many writers left who can't type!

Veronica Cooke said...

I've got this on my Christmas list, Mary. Hopefully someone in the family will buy me a copy.

I read Lady in the Van years ago and just a couple of weeks ago watched the film which I really enjoyed. Maggie Smith was magnificent in it.

I'm just reading and enjoying Linda Grant's 'The Dark Circle'...

PS - I'm a Mary too, Mary, Veronica Mary!

Mary said...

That reminds me, I was given one of Linda Grant's books for Christmas last year and still haven't read it, so feeling a bit guilty. I can't remember the title, but I don't think it was that one.