Today in my cocoon I'm slowly falling in love with Alan Bennett. Unexpected, to say the least. Eloquence in a person is one characteristic I am always attracted by. Especially when it's charming, funny, a bit miserable, and detailed. So really it's no surprise Mr. Bennett is taking my fancy.
I became intrigued by his ordinarily enthralling Talking Heads stories over the last few days, which, although unknown to me before Thursday, have possibly achieved mythical status here? It was a line in Bed among the Lentils which hooked me, where Susan, the vicar's alcoholic wife's is telling me about how her husband boasts about her work to the Bishop, which is terminated by her confession that "the miracle somewhat belied by the flabby lasagne we are currently embarked on."
Just before the family call this morning, I was listening to him on Private Passions and immediately but happily wept to Janet Baker's rendition of Elgar's Softly and Gently. Oh god. Even though I'm an atheist, I do also sympathise with his Alan Bennett's Diaries reflection it would be sometimes nice to have someone or something to be grateful to for things that go well, or luck you find.
He is solid nostalgia on a plate. His musical memories are thick with it, and also conjure my childhood. My parents are classical singers and my childhood houses were full of lovely music, including Janet Baker. I don't know why, but I also feel some pang for his Yorkshireness and am grateful for my introduction to Kathleen Ferrier:
Kathleen Ferrier's voice in the Alto Rhapsody, it is a voice like no other. It's so rich and yet it's austere. My parents heard her very, very early on in her career. About 1946. When she came to Leeds and did a concert at Brunswick Chapel in the slums of South Leeds and they came home full of this young woman they'd heard singing. And, Kathleen Ferrier's voice drifting out over the grimy snow is really what music means to me, in a way.
He is prolific, which is encouraging for my future sanity.