Top positive review
16 people found this helpful
More interesting than Mrs Dale's and more entertaining than Samuel Pepys'
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.