1st January 2017…..Saturday Night and Sunday Morning

Screen-shot-2010-08-18-at-21.49.57.pngTrying to remember some of the things I have read, Alan Bennett’s latest Unknown.jpeg, his ‘People’ and Alan Sillitoe’s ’Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’. The very large diary and thoughts and play excerpts, ‘Keeping On’. was rather a lot to get through but on the whole highly enjoyable. I say on the whole because Alan is getting to be even more of a Moaning Minnie as he gets older and older. To be fair he realises this himself, and very often his targets are well chosen. The title comes from one evening when he was passing through to a theatre to give a talk, and one of the attendants said “ I see you’re still here then! Keeping on?”. I forget but it sounds like a Northern comment. Alan was quite taken aback as he is feeling his age. The Introductions to the plays were particularly enjoyable, and led me to purchase ‘People’ where he takes on the sacred cow that is the National Trust. His thoughts are like those of a lot of us I suppose……the NT Guides ‘ assume that one wishes to be informed about the room or the furniture and pictures, which I don’t always’. The play has some important underlying messages about lack of funding of the Arts in general, and how should we maintain our historic buildings with families intact. Lots of pathos, nostalgia and humour especially when the Porn Film crew take over the South Yorkshire country house……Talking of nostalgia, what could have pre-possessed me to pick up ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’? Well it must have been talking to our great friends Julia and Allen about their trip to Mallorca. They stayed near Soller and I asked if they had done the walk over the mountains to the extremely beautiful Deia. We had, they hadn’t. But we did it on the recommendation of the great man himself Alan Sillitoe who did a stint for us at Warwick Words just before he died. Whilst we were escorting him to the talk, he told us how he used to live in Soller in Mallorca and often did the walk/bicycle ride himself to visit his great friend Robert Graves who lived in Deia. Much was drunk, and often he had to leave his bicycle there as unable to get on it! He mentioned a farm half way across the walk where you could get fresh orange juice (and needed it), and it still exists ….to our great relief… the juice from the farm was unsurpassed. We searched in the cemetery for Robert’s grave, but despite much effort we didn’t find it. Luckily we caught the last bus back to Soller. Now in its day of course, the early Sixties, the book ( and film with Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts) swept the boards…controversial, explosive ….a novel of today with a freshness and raw fury that ‘makes ‘Room At The Top’ look like a vicarage tea party’ as the Telegraph of the time put it. Re-reading, the grip and pleasure and feel of the times were very, very powerful, and I can honestly say I haven’t enjoyed a book as much for a long time. Set in the midst of the working classes in Nottingham with the hero or anti-hero (who knows?) working by day chained to the lathes at what was obviously Raleigh Cycles (obvious to me as I almost became Distribution Manager there), and by night taking on the world and his mates’ wives, it was/still is writing at its best. What a privilege to have met Alan Sillitoe if only briefly.

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