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on 1 July 2006
There are 2 CDs in the box: 1980 - 1985 and 1986 - 1990 and the running time (1980 - 1990) is 2 hours, during which time Alan Bennett talks about more things than were dreamt of in my philosophy. Particular attention is paid to his 'mam', who he visits frequently at a home in Weston. Each visit she seems a little less with-it than she was last time. His obvious affection for the old lady makes this sad, even when the odd things she says are making you smile. He talks about his travels (New York, Paris, Russia, Egypt, Leeds, Tunbridge Wells), the people he knows and works with (Albert Finney, Tom Stoppard, Michael Gambon, Thora Hird, Harold Pinter, Coral Brown, Vincent Price, Russell Harty - the list's endless), the people he meets (old ladies scaling a gate to escape from Regent's Park, Chinese embassy officials, Russian writers, people in churches, people in markets). He records his attendance and observations at more than half a dozen funerals, talks about his illnesses, Thora Hird's hip replacements, Coral Brown's operations, the leg and head problems of one of his neighbours in New York. And he talks about his plays, acting, writing, auditioning, the critics, the audiences, the musicians, the theatres. Kafka and "The Wind in the Willows" are referred to repeatedly, each time with a fresh funny story. One tale has made a particular impression on me. It's the one about the 'Balsam Poplar' tree which, apparently, has a wonderful scent for about 2 weeks per year. I'm going to try to find one and buy it for my brother's birthday (my garden's too small). I've listened to these CDs twice now. Alan Bennett's humour isn't the hilarious sort, rather, it's the sort that makes me smile and helps me to relax. So I recommend this to anyone who needs to smile and relax.
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VINE VOICEon 24 March 2002
These diaries are packed with Bennetts day to day obersavations like a newspaper listing playwrites by right or left of the polictial arena. Bennett concludes if he was on the list he would be soft centre. It gives a very rare insight into Bennetts private life like his Mothers illness. It includes the story of Miss Shepard who lived in a van in his drive way for 15 years. Miss Shepard desert fox. It also includes tributes to his dear friend Russell Harty. And his thoughts on others like Phillip Larkin and Peter Cook. He writes beautifully about Leeds during the war and all that did not happen. He relives his memories of Walt and lil his parents and there yearning for a different life. As always these normal obersavations by Bennett are funny, true, real and very thought provking.
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on 7 September 2000
There must be little doubt that Alan Bennett must be the master of writing and presenting for the spoken word. If there is any doubt just listen to this recording or any of the others (Lady in the Van, Cloths they stood up in etc, I have collected them all) His voice is just a dream, and this keen observations are acute.
This one is a classic.
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on 6 April 2008
Pick any of his books, or plays, or the spoken word, or any of his monologues. Each one an absolute jewel. Mr Bennett, probably more than any other 20th Century writer truly encapsulates the human condition in all it's colours. From the antique dealer to the pedophile, from society's square pegs to the perfectly round ones, from the rich to the down and out. He paints them all in perfect colours. Regard his work as a peephole (one is almost tempted to say a voyeur) unto late 20th Century Britain with all it's vagaries and in all it's aspects and you're just about there. Give it a couple of hundred years and he'll be considered as one of the great writers of the English language. A 20th century Shakespeare.
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on 14 January 2016
What can one say about Alan Bennett? He is a genius, and I absolutely love all his work, whether it be his last book or his plays. I recommend his books to anybody who likes to read.
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on 28 August 2016
Alan Bennett a great favourite -bought as a gift and recipient was delighted.
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on 12 January 2016
Fantastic and so honest.
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on 21 January 2015
Not as amusing as his other monologues, but interesting.
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