Alan Bennett Chugs Away

alan5771I read “Keeping On Keeping On,” Alan Bennett’s latest collection of diary entries, last month while I was in the U.K. It was a delight. Robert McCrum explains: ‘The pleasure of Bennett’s journal comes from his chuntering elegy for a lost world, the land of his Leeds childhood, and the England of healthcare; Kathleen Ferrier; parish churches; his friendship with “Debo” Devonshire; Hymns Ancient and Modern (hymns make him cry); public libraries; and state education (“I owe everything to the state,” he says). Who could not warm to someone who loathes Virgin trains, Classic FM and Tony Blair? Or to a writer who has “real regrets” about

never having kept a donkey? Simultaneously, he wants to entertain: “Spend part of the afternoon in the gazebo with a water-pistol,” he writes on 16 May 2010, “hoping to surprise the squirrel rifling the bird-feeder.”

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