Saturday, December 31, 2011

Story of Alan's life

From Alan Bennett's 2011 diary in the LRB (gated, I think; comes with peculiarly robotic-sounding podcast -- or perhaps that is how all podcasts sound, I rarely listen to any):
15 April. Seeing a banana skin on the pavement reminds me how when I first read the Dandy and the Beano the presence of a banana skin meant that inevitably it was going to be slipped on. No matter that at that time, in the early 1940s, few children had seen let alone eaten a banana, the skin was still shorthand for calamity. Other comic clichés were a fish, almost certain to be stolen by a cat and always represented as a perfect skeleton devoid of flesh but still with the head on; a string of sausages, destined to be grabbed by a dog, the sausages trailing from the dog’s mouth like a scarf in the wind; a bull (beware of) in a field, a billy goat similarly, with a ladder another portent of disaster.

21 May. A plumpish young man gets off the train at Leeds just behind me.
‘Aren’t you famous?’
‘Well I can’t be, can I, if you don’t know my name.’
‘It’s Alan something.’
‘From Scarborough?’
‘So which Alan are you?’
‘I’m another Alan.’
‘Are you just a lookalike?’
‘Well, you could say so.’
He pats my arm consolingly.
‘Be happy with that.’

14 October. Were I Adam Werritty and going into lobbying and PR I would have changed my name at the outset. Verity has the literal ring of truth about it, Adam Verity a dauntless fighter for justice, whereas all Werritty suggests is some anxious yapping dog which, whatever his faults, Werritty hardly seems to have been.

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