Thursday, 24 December 2015

Alan Bennett: May Days

8 May. A feeling of bereavement in the streets. I shop for supper and unprompted a grey-haired woman in the fish shop bursts out: ‘It means I shall have a Tory government for the rest of my life.’

In the library they say: ‘Good morning, though we’ve just been trying to think what’s good about it.’

I wanted a Labour government so that I could stop thinking about politics, knowing that the nation’s affairs were in the hands of a party which, even if it was often foolish, was at least well-intentioned. Now we have another decade of the self-interested and the self-seeking, ready to sell off what’s left of our liberal institutions and loot the rest to their own advantage. It’s not a government of the nation but a government of half the nation, a true legacy of Mrs Thatcher. Work is the only escape, which fortunately moves along a little.

9 May. My birthday. A nice woman in a leopardskin coat who always speaks wishes me a happy birthday. I say that I wish it was. ‘Why? What’s happened?’ ‘Last Thursday. The election.’ ‘Oh, you don’t want to worry about that. They’re all the same.’ At which point (we are in Shepherd’s grocers) I hear myself as very rarely shouting at the top of my voice. ‘No, they are not all the same. This lot are self-seeking liars, the cabinet included, and we’re landed with them for another five years.’ She tries to calm me down but I tell her not to bother, with other customers peeping round the shelves to see who is making all this din.

She is waiting outside the shop with a cake she has bought me for my birthday and I kind of apologise. But as I walk back home I wonder how long it will be before this crew turn their attention to the BBC.

From Alan Bennett's diary, London Review Of Books.

The drawing is an old one he unearthed of Miss Shepherd, the lady in the van.

PS Alan writes about recording the Christmas edition of Private Passions for the BBC World Service, which you can hear here.

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