By Diane Law
Alan Bennett, born in Armley on the 9 May 1934, has entertained audiences for more than 50 years with his many fantastic stage and TV plays.
As part of the #1001stories takeover at Leeds Playhouse – described on their website as “a revolutionary two-week takeover where older people perform, exhibit and express their stories of lives lived to the fullest” – Alan closed the show, and he didn’t disappoint.
What an absolute treat as he kept the audience roaring with laughter throughout with his sharp wit and humour whilst he read from his lifetime’s diaries and then took questions from the audience.
He joked about how as the son of a butcher ‘he thought his only connection to literature would be that he once delivered meat to TS Elliot’s mother-in-law’.
With his fading eyesight and hard of hearing, he recalled two amusing stories, which I’m sure we can all relate to in some way. One, he thought a shop in Ilkley was called ‘Hot Faeces’ until his partner pointed out it was called Fatface.
The other he recounted was “whilst speaking to a man who had a camera round his neck, he was surprised to learn that the main subject of his photos was ‘Ramsgate’ – it was ‘landscapes’.”
An audience member asked if he had ever been nominated for an honour, he joked that he had turned one down, not because he was modest, more so because he didn’t think they would suit him.
There were many other stories from his diaries, each with an amusing punchline which certainly lifted your spirit. It’s no wonder that Alan Bennett was described by an audience member as a ‘national treasure’.