What I’m reading: A Last Post from Mr. Bennett

Alan Bennett: HOUSE ARREST


After the heft of previous volumes of his Diaries, Mr. Bennett’s House Arrest, covering the Lockdown and Vaccination years, is little more than an Epilogue at a mere 49 pages – a bit longer than a Talking Heads monologue.

His observations are as crisp and sharp as ever. The Queen watches the Remembrance Day ceremony at The Cenotaph with “a beady eye on the revamped choreography.” Bennett’s eye is beadier than Her Majesty’s. Boris Johnson’s nightly addresses during the Pandemic are “pretty pointless… a poor orator and speaker generally… the plainness of Keir Starmer a relief.”

As always, Alan’s mind is half in the present, half in the past. He still cherishes memories of Mam and Dad and schooldays in Yorkshire. Now eighty-six and arthritic, he has swapped his bicycle for a wheelchair, but he gave us two new monologues for the revamp of Talking Heads in 2020 – the royalties from which he donated to NHS charities. Short as it is, House Arrest is, please God, not his Last Post. It is, like everything else he has shared with us, undiluted joy to read.

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