Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Alan Bennett: Touching Stories

Alan Bennett has told how “old gentlemen” fondled his legs when he was a child but that he was not scarred by the experience. The playwright said he knew that what was happening was wrong, but that he did not want to get the perpetrators into trouble.

Bennett, 78, has previously revealed in Cocktail Sticks, his childhood memoir, that as a boy in a Leeds cinema he was “interfered with” by an adult male, but has now told the Radio Times that it was not an isolated incident.

“When I was young, 10 or 12, one often found one’s legs were touched up by old gentlemen, in a mild sort of way,” he said. “It never got beyond that. I remember thinking, ‘Oh God, here we go again’. But it didn’t bother me.

“I knew it was wrong, but I knew I shouldn’t say anything about it because I knew they would get into trouble. But the notion that one would be scarred for life. . .”

Bennett told the magazine that he believed class was “fading away” in British society, and added: “I don’t really care now.” But he said he would never have been able to go to university with the current fees. “One of the few things I’m really passionate about is that state education and private education should be amalgamated,” he said.

“I do believe that if private education was abolished, and we only had one system of education, the whole atmosphere of this country would alter. A lot of the class divisions and silly stuff about old Etonians in the Cabinet, all that would go. I just feel that we would be much more a nation. It’s just wrong that with two children of equivalent ability, one should be better educated than the other because their parents are better off. It’s just wrong,” he said.

Bennett, who is in a civil partnership, also said that he was not at all interested in marriage. “I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about over gay marriage. I haven’t met anyone who cared one way or the other. Civil partnership mattered but I really couldn’t understand why the far right-wing Conservatives were making so much fuss. It doesn’t threaten marriage.”

He said there had been an urgency to get work done after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997. “That tends to fade. You can’t always carry on as if you’re on the edge of pegging out.”

Lovingly cut-and-pasted in full from Teh Times, as it contains all the best quotes and it's behind the Mudock paywall.
They've just lifted it all from a Radio Times interview anyway. 
The things I do for you...

PS Most of the broadsheets have run this story and foregrounded it with the stuff about Alan not being that bothered about having his leg touched - usually referencing The History Boys, natch.
I imagine a columnist on the Daily Mail is now hammering away on a piece that begins; "So Alan Bennett - "national treasure" - thinks..." and includes the words "Jimmy Savile".  

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