Alan Bennett Famous Quotes & Sayings

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100 Alan Bennett Famous Sayings, Quotes and Quotation.

Alan Bennett Sayings: God doesn't do notes, either. Did Jesus Christ say, "Can I be excused the Crucifixion?" God doesn't do notes, either. Did Jesus Christ say, "Can I be excused the Crucifixion?" No!
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Alan Bennett Sayings: My experience came before most of you were born. My school was a state school My experience came before most of you were born. My school was a state school in Leeds and the headmaster usually sent students to Leeds University but he didn't normally send them to Oxford or Cambridge. But the headmaster happened to have been to Cambridge and decided to try and push some of us towards Oxford and Cambridge. So, half a dozen of us tried - not all of us in history - and we all eventually got in. So, to that extent, it [The History Boys] comes out of my own experience.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Books are not about passing the time. They're about other lives. Other worlds. Books are not about passing the time. They're about other lives. Other worlds.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I'm not good at precise, coherent argument. But plays are suited to incoherent argument, put I'm not good at precise, coherent argument. But plays are suited to incoherent argument, put into the mouths of fallible people.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: 30 November. My dustbin has been on its last legs for some time, and after 30 November. My dustbin has been on its last legs for some time, and after the binmen have called this morning I find no trace of it. Never having heard of tautology, the binmen have put the dustbin in the dustbin.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot.
[Baffled at a Bookcase (London Review of Books, Vol. 33 No. 15, 28 July 2011)]
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Never at my best when at my best behaviour. Never at my best when at my best behaviour.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: An article on playwrights in the Daily Mail , listed according to Hard Left, Soft An article on playwrights in the Daily Mail , listed according to Hard Left, Soft Left, Hard Right, Soft Right and Centre. I am not listed. I should probably come under Soft Centre.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: The longer I practise medicine, the more convinced I am there are only two types The longer I practise medicine, the more convinced I am there are only two types of cases: those that involve taking the trousers off and those that don't.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it's now or Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it's now or never.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: BURGESSHow do you like Moscow?CORALLoathe it, darling. I cannot understand what those Three Sisters were BURGESS
How do you like Moscow?

CORAL
Loathe it, darling. I cannot understand what those Three Sisters were on about. It gives the play a very sinister slant.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: One reads for pleasure...it is not a public duty. One reads for pleasure...it is not a public duty.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I know what's required. It's perfectly simple: Justice. I know what's required. It's perfectly simple: Justice.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Never read the Bible as if it means something. Or at any rate don't try Never read the Bible as if it means something. Or at any rate don't try and mean it. Nor prayers. The liturgy is best treated and read as if it's someone announcing the departure of trains.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: She wasn't wholly infatuated, though she liked the way he looked; but, so too did She wasn't wholly infatuated, though she liked the way he looked; but, so too did he and that unfatuated her a bit.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Of course my standards are out of date! That's why they're called standards. Of course my standards are out of date! That's why they're called standards.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: If I am doing nothing, I like to be doing nothing to some purpose. That If I am doing nothing, I like to be doing nothing to some purpose. That is what leisure means.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: [talking about the Holocaust]'But to put something in context is a step towards saying it [talking about the Holocaust]
'But to put something in context is a step towards saying it can be understood and that it can be explained. And if it can be explained that it can be explained away.'
'But this is History. Distance yourselves. Our perspective on the past alters. Looking back, immediately in front of us is dead ground. We don't see it, and because we don't see it this means that there is no period so remote as the recent past. And one of the historian's jobs is to anticipate what our perspective of that period will be ... even on the Holocaust.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Were we closer to the ground as children, or is the grass emptier now? Were we closer to the ground as children, or is the grass emptier now?
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I am married,' she shouted, 'to the cupboard under the sink.' A remark made more I am married,' she shouted, 'to the cupboard under the sink.' A remark made more mysterious to Mrs Barnes by the sound of a passing ice-cream van playing the opening bars of the 'Blue Danube'.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Still, to be urged to write and to be urged to publish are two different Still, to be urged to write and to be urged to publish are two different things and nobody so far was urging her to do the latter.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: It was the kind of library he had only read about in books. It was the kind of library he had only read about in books.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: That's a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer That's a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Books and bookcases cropping up in stuff that I've written means that they have to Books and bookcases cropping up in stuff that I've written means that they have to be reproduced on stage or on film. This isn't as straightforward as it might seem. A designer will either present you with shelves lined with gilt-tooled library sets, the sort of clubland books one can rent by the yard as decor, or he or she will send out for some junk books from the nearest second-hand bookshop and think that those will do. Another short cut is to order in a cargo of remaindered books so that you end up with a shelf so garish and lacking of character it bears about as much of a relationship to literature as a caravan site does to architecture. A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped to the foot.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I don't talk very well. With writing, you've time to get it right. Also I've I don't talk very well. With writing, you've time to get it right. Also I've found the more I talk the less I write, and if I didn't write no one would want me to talk anyway.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: No mention of God. They keep Him up their sleeves for as long as they No mention of God. They keep Him up their sleeves for as long as they can, vicars do. They know it puts people off.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: HEADMASTER: I was a geographer. I went to Hull.IRWIN: Oh. Larkin.HEADMASTER: Everybody says that. 'Hull? HEADMASTER: I was a geographer. I went to Hull.
IRWIN: Oh. Larkin.
HEADMASTER: Everybody says that. 'Hull? Oh, Larkin.' I don't know about the poetry ... as I say, I was a geographer ... but as a librarian he was pitiless. The Himmler of the Accessions Desk. And now, we're told, women in droves.
Art. They get away with murder.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: The nearest my parents came to alcohol was at Holy Communion and they utterly overestimated The nearest my parents came to alcohol was at Holy Communion and they utterly overestimated its effects. However bad the weather, Dad never drove to church because Mam thought the sacrament might make him incapable on the return journey.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I have never understood disliking for war. It panders to instincts already catered for within I have never understood disliking for war. It panders to instincts already catered for within the scope of any respectable domestic establishment.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: The transmission of knowledge is in itself an erotic act. The transmission of knowledge is in itself an erotic act.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I've never seen the point of the sea, except where it meets the land. The I've never seen the point of the sea, except where it meets the land. The shore has a point. The sea has none.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Full-blooded romantic love I wouldn't be able to write about. Full-blooded romantic love I wouldn't be able to write about.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: I was an only child. I lost both my parents. By the time I was I was an only child. I lost both my parents. By the time I was twenty I was bald. I'm homosexual. In the way of circumstances and background to transcend I had everything an artist could possibly want. It was practically a blueprint.
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Alan Bennett Sayings: Dakin: The more you read, though, the more you'll see that literature is actually about Dakin: The more you read, though, the more you'll see that literature is actually about losers.
Scripps: No.
Dakin: It's consolation. All literature is consolation.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Had your forefathers, Wigglesworth, been as stupid as you are, the human race would never Had your forefathers, Wigglesworth, been as stupid as you are, the human race would never have succeeded in procreating itself.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Remember. You are a physician. You are not a policeman nor are you a minister Remember. You are a physician. You are not a policeman nor are you a minister of religion. You must take people as they come. Remember, too that though you will generally know more about the condition than the patient, it is the patient who has the condition and this if nothing else bestows on him or her a kind of wisdom. You have the knowledge but that does not entitle you to be superior. Knowledge makes you the servant not the master.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Why do we not care to acknowledge them? The cattle, the body count. We still Why do we not care to acknowledge them? The cattle, the body count. We still don't like to admit the war was even partly our fault because so many of our people died. A photograph on every mantlepiece. And all this mourning has veiled the truth. It's not so much lest we forget, as lest we remember. Because you should realise the Cenotaph and the Last Post and all that stuff is concerned, there's no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I saw someone peeing in Jermym Street the other day. I thought, is this the I saw someone peeing in Jermym Street the other day. I thought, is this the end of civilization as we know it? Or is it simply someone peeing in Jermyn Street?
Alan Bennett Sayings: Proust's is a long book, though, water- skiing permitting, you could get through it in Proust's is a long book, though, water- skiing permitting, you could get through it in the summer recess
Alan Bennett Sayings: Life is rather like a tin of sardines - we're all of us looking for Life is rather like a tin of sardines - we're all of us looking for the key.
Alan Bennett Sayings: We were all miners in our family. My father was a miner. My mother is We were all miners in our family. My father was a miner. My mother is a miner. These are miner's hands, but we were all artists, I suppose, really. But I was the first one who had the urge to express myself on paper rather than at the coalface.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will only be remembered for remembering someone else.
Alan Bennett Sayings: as I think Hebbel says, in a good play everyone is right. as I think Hebbel says, in a good play everyone is right.
Alan Bennett Sayings: She said, 'He knows what I mean. Where did you get those shoes?' He said, She said, 'He knows what I mean. Where did you get those shoes?' He said, 'They're training shoes.' She said, 'Training for what? Are you not fully qualified?' He said, 'If Jesus were alive today, Mrs Whittaker, I think you'd find these were the type of shoes he would be wearing.
Alan Bennett Sayings: and when Mrs Thatcher came to the college for a scientific symposium Tyson was deputed and when Mrs Thatcher came to the college for a scientific symposium Tyson was deputed to take her round the Common Room. This is hung with portraits and photographs of dead fellows, including one of the economist G. D. H. Cole. Tyson planned to take Mrs Thatcher up to it saying, 'And this, Prime Minister, is a former fellow, G. D. H. Dole.' Whereupon, with luck, Mrs Thatcher would have had to say, 'Cole not Dole.' In the event he did take her round but lost his nerve.
Alan Bennett Sayings: What people want to read often seems incongruous. A pair of biker-types taking away Thoughts What people want to read often seems incongruous. A pair of biker-types taking away Thoughts of the Dalai Lama. People without access to instruments requesting sheet music. Aspiring poets sharing their work and then borrowing horror stories.
Alan Bennett Sayings: You always know when you're going to arrive. If you go by car, you don't. You always know when you're going to arrive. If you go by car, you don't. Apart from anything else, I prefer cycling. It puts you in a good mood, I find.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Memories are not shackles, Franklin, they are garlands. Memories are not shackles, Franklin, they are garlands.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Deluded liberal that I am, I persist in thinking that those with a streak of Deluded liberal that I am, I persist in thinking that those with a streak of sexual unorthodoxy ought to be more tolerant of their fellows than those who lead an entirely godly, righteous and sober life. Illogically, I tend to assume that if you ( Philip Larkin) dream of caning schoolgirls bottoms, it disqualifies you from dismissing half the nation as work-shy.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I'm not "happy" but I'm not unhappy about it. I'm not "happy" but I'm not unhappy about it.
Alan Bennett Sayings: When they arrived at the palace she had a word with Grant, the young footman When they arrived at the palace she had a word with Grant, the young footman in charge, who said it was security and that while ma'am had been in the Lords the sniffer dogs had been round and security had confiscated the book. He though it had probably been exploded.
'Exploded?' said the Queen. 'But it was Anita Brookner.
Alan Bennett Sayings: My films are about embarrassment. My films are about embarrassment.
Alan Bennett Sayings: The prime minister did not wholly believe in the past or in any lessons that The prime minister did not wholly believe in the past or in any lessons that might be drawn from it.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Art comes out of art; it begins with imitation, often in the form of parody, Art comes out of art; it begins with imitation, often in the form of parody, and it's in the process of imitating the voice of others that one comes to learn the sound of one's own.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I always like to break out and address the audience. In 'The History Boys', for I always like to break out and address the audience. In 'The History Boys', for instance, without any ado, the boys will suddenly turn and talk to the audience and then go back into the action. I find it more adventurous doing it in prose than on the stage, but I like being able to make the reader suddenly sit up.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Philip Larkin used to cheer himself up by looking in the mirror and saying the Philip Larkin used to cheer himself up by looking in the mirror and saying the line from Rebecca, 'I am Mrs de Winter now!
Alan Bennett Sayings: They fuck you up, your mum and dad', and if you're planning on writing that's They fuck you up, your mum and dad', and if you're planning on writing that's probably a good thing. But if you are planning on writing and they haven't fucked you up, well, you've got nothing to go on, so then they've fucked you up good and proper.
Alan Bennett Sayings: You don't put your life into your books, you find it there. You don't put your life into your books, you find it there.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Above literature?' said the Queen. 'Who is above literature? You might as well say one Above literature?' said the Queen. 'Who is above literature? You might as well say one was above humanity.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I turned down a knighthood. It would be like having to wear a suit every I turned down a knighthood. It would be like having to wear a suit every day of your life.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I am the King. I tell. I am not told. I am the verb, sir. I am the King. I tell. I am not told. I am the verb, sir. I am not the object. (King George III)
Alan Bennett Sayings: How do I define history? It's just one fucking thing after another How do I define history? It's just one fucking thing after another
Alan Bennett Sayings: Kafka could never have written as he did had he lived in a house. His Kafka could never have written as he did had he lived in a house. His writing is that of someone whose whole life was spent in apartments, with lifts, stairwells, muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a nice detached villa and he'd never have written a word.
Alan Bennett Sayings: It's subjunctive history. You know, the subjunctive? The mood used when something may or may It's subjunctive history. You know, the subjunctive? The mood used when something may or may not have happened. When it is imagined.
Alan Bennett Sayings: To begin with, it's true, she read with trepidation and some unease. The sheer endlessness To begin with, it's true, she read with trepidation and some unease. The sheer endlessness of books outfaced her and she had no idea how to go on; there was no system to her reading, with one book leading to another, and often she had two or three on the go at the same time.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato - one finishes what's on one's plate. That's always been my philosophy.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I would have thought," said the prime minister, "that Your Majesty was above literature." "Above I would have thought," said the prime minister, "that Your Majesty was above literature."
"Above literature?" said the Queen. "Who is above literature? You might as well say one is above humanity.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I'd somehow always thought of the classics of literature as something apart from me, something I'd somehow always thought of the classics of literature as something apart from me, something to do with academic life and not something you enjoyed.
Alan Bennett Sayings: It seems to me the mark of a civilized society that certain privileges should be It seems to me the mark of a civilized society that certain privileges should be taken for granted such as education, health care and the safety to walk the streets.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Archbishop. Why do I never read the lesson?" "I beg your pardon, ma'am?" "In church. Archbishop. Why do I never read the lesson?"
"I beg your pardon, ma'am?"
"In church. Everybody else gets to read and one never does. It's not laid down, is it? It's not off-limits?"
"Not that I'm aware, ma'am."
"Good. Well in that case I'm going to start. Leviticus, here I come. Goodnight."
The archbishop shook his head and went back to Strictly Come Dancing.
Alan Bennett Sayings: What I'm above all primarily concerned with is the substance of life, the pith of What I'm above all primarily concerned with is the substance of life, the pith of reality. If I had to sum up my work, I suppose that's it really: I'm taking the pith out of reality.
Alan Bennett Sayings: There was little to choose between Jews and Catholics. The Jews had holidays that turned There was little to choose between Jews and Catholics. The Jews had holidays that turned up out of the blue and the Catholics had children in much the same way.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I dont know whether you've ever looked into a miner's eyes for any length of I dont know whether you've ever looked into a miner's eyes for any length of time, that is. Because it is the loveliest blue you've ever seen. I think perhaps that's why I live in Ibiza, because the blue of the Mediterranean, you see, reminds me of the blue of the eyes of those Doncaster miners.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I'm less genial than people think, but I'm too timid to seem nasty. I'm less genial than people think, but I'm too timid to seem nasty.
Alan Bennett Sayings: To read is to withdraw.To make oneself unavailable. One would feel easier about it if To read is to withdraw.To make oneself unavailable. One would feel easier about it if the pursuit inself were less ... selfish.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Still as I've said all along, you can't polish a turd. Still as I've said all along, you can't polish a turd.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Sometimes, particularly in summers in New York, I have tried to write in shorts or Sometimes, particularly in summers in New York, I have tried to write in shorts or with no shirt on and found myself unable to do so, the reason being, I take it, that writing, even of the most impersonal sort, is for me a divestment, a striptease, even, so that if I start off undressed, I have nowhere to go.
Alan Bennett Sayings: We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off.
Alan Bennett Sayings: It [Cambridge] wasn't a holy grail in the sense that I'd never been to Cambridge. It [Cambridge] wasn't a holy grail in the sense that I'd never been to Cambridge. But then, when I did go, the contrast between Leeds, which was very black and sooty in those days, and Cambridge, which seemed like something out of a fairystory, in the grip of a hard frost, was just wonderful.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Once upon a time I had my life planned out... Once upon a time I had my life planned out...
Alan Bennett Sayings: Books are wonderful, aren't they?' she said to the vice-chancellor who concurred.'At the risk of Books are wonderful, aren't they?' she said to the vice-chancellor who concurred.
'At the risk of sounding like a piece of steak,' she said, 'they tenderise one.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Teachers need to feel they are trusted. They must be allowed some leeway to use Teachers need to feel they are trusted. They must be allowed some leeway to use their imagination; otherwise, teaching loses all sense of wonder and excitement.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I have to seem like a human being all the time, but I seldom have I have to seem like a human being all the time, but I seldom have to be one. I have people to do that for me.
Alan Bennett Sayings: History nowadays is not a matter of conviction.It's a performance. It's entertainment. And if it History nowadays is not a matter of conviction.
It's a performance. It's entertainment. And if it isn't, make it so.
Alan Bennett Sayings: The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do The next library is a place, still. A place where people come together to do co-working and coordinate and invent projects worth working on together. Aided by a librarian who can bring domain knowledge and people knowledge and access to information to bear.
Alan Bennett Sayings: One has met and indeed entertained many visiting heads of state, some of them unspeakable One has met and indeed entertained many visiting heads of state, some of them unspeakable crooks and blackguards ... One has given one's white-gloved hand to hands that were steeped in blood and conversed politely with men who have personally slaughtered children. One has waded through excrement and gore ... Sometimes one has felt like a scented candle, sent in to perfume a regime, or aerate a policy, monarchy these days just a government-issue deoderant.
Alan Bennett Sayings: IRWIN: At the time of the Reformation there were fourteen foreskins of Christ preserved, but IRWIN: At the time of the Reformation there were fourteen foreskins of Christ preserved, but it was thought that the church of St John Lateran in Rome had the authentic prepuce.
DAKIN: Don't think we're shocked by your mention of the word 'foreskin', sir.
CROWTHER: No, sir. Some of us even have them.
LOCKWOOD: Not Posner, though, sir. Posner's like, you know, Jewish.
It's one of several things Posner doesn't have.
(Posner mouths 'fuck off.')
Alan Bennett Sayings: I can't complain that I've had a public all through my writing life, but people I can't complain that I've had a public all through my writing life, but people don't quite know what I've written. People don't read you too closely. Perhaps, after I've died, they'll look at my stuff, and read it through, and find there's more in it. That may be wrong, but that's what I comfort myself with.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key. Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key.
Alan Bennett Sayings: If you think squash is a competitive activity, try flower arranging. If you think squash is a competitive activity, try flower arranging.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Polly: Education with socialists, it's like sex, all right as long as you don't have Polly: Education with socialists, it's like sex, all right as long as you don't have to pay for it.
Alan Bennett Sayings: She'd never taken much interest in reading. She read, of course, as one did, but She'd never taken much interest in reading. She read, of course, as one did, but liking books was something she left to other people.
Alan Bennett Sayings: How old does one have to be still to say tits? How old does one have to be still to say tits?
Alan Bennett Sayings: Closing a public library is child abuse, really, because it hinders child development. Closing a public library is child abuse, really, because it hinders child development.
Alan Bennett Sayings: Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.
Alan Bennett Sayings: But then books, as I'm sure you know, seldom prompt a course of action. Books But then books, as I'm sure you know, seldom prompt a course of action. Books generally just confirm you in what you have, perhaps unwittingly, decided to do already. You go to a book to have your convictions corroborated. A book, as it were, closes the book.
Alan Bennett Sayings: At the drabber moments of my life (swilling some excrement from the steps, for instance, At the drabber moments of my life (swilling some excrement from the steps, for instance, or rooting with a bent coat-hanger down a blocked sink) thoughts occur like 'I bet Tom Stoppard doesn't have to do this' or There is no doubt David Hare would have deputed this to an underling'.
Alan Bennett Sayings: I suppose I'm the only person who remembers one of the most exciting of his I suppose I'm the only person who remembers one of the most exciting of his ballets-it's the fruit of an unlikely collaboration between Nijinsky on the one hand and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the other.
Alan Bennett Sayings: One recipe for happiness is to have to sense of entitlement.' To this she added One recipe for happiness is to have to sense of entitlement.' To this she added a star and noted at the bottom of the page: 'This is not a lesson I have ever been in a position to learn.