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Born in Yorkshire in 1934, Alan Bennett.

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Introduction

Born in Yorkshire in 1934, Alan Bennett has been writing, performing and directing since his first theatrical encounters as a student at Oxford in the early 1960's. He first gained success at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and later, in collaboration with Dudley Moore, Peter Cooke and Jonathan Miller, enjoyed considerable acclaim with the original Beyond the Fringe. (www.museum.tv. Accessed 26/01/03) Alan Bennett is the archetypal Northerner, his bespeckled, dour appearance make him an unlikely celebrity and he would not look out of place as a slightly muddled professor or, as Bennett himself observes, a vicar. He says on the subject of appearances 'people often end up doing what the mirror tells them they are suited for, while feeling themselves quite different inside. And in the process whole lives are thrown away' (Observer.co.uk. Accessed 21/01/03) Bennett writes about ordinary people, involved in mundane activities, but with his unique style he can liven up the dullest tale and add interest to life's lonely outcasts. Although the stories in Talking Heads are fiction, it is easy to see that some are influenced from events in Bennett's early life. His mother suffered from depression and he uses his experience of mental illness as a core for some of his characters. ...read more.

Middle

They're not my leaves. They're next-doors leaves. We don't have any leaves. I know that for a fact. We've only got the one little bush and its evergreen, so I'm certain they're not my leaves. Only other folks won't know that. They see the bush and they see the path and they think, 'thems her leaves.' Well they're not". (Bennett, 2001, p110) Doris also comments on the lack of community, she also used to know her neighbours and now she wonders whom she could alert to her predicament. When she does hear someone in the garden it turns out to be just the sort that Doris and Miss Ruddock would both shun, a young lad with no sense of neighbourliness at all, who sees fit to urinate in the garden. It is only when Doris has shouted at the lad to clear off that she realises she has chased away what could be her only chance of rescue. Although Doris is lonely, it is a state she prefers to the only alternative that seems to be on offer, Stafford House. She isn't so lonely that she would enjoy the company of the type to be in an elderly person's home, as she puts it 'smelling of pee'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Geoffrey appears to have no feelings for his wife at all, indeed in the first few paragraphs the impression is one of tolerance. It is only when Geoffrey realises the importance of Susan's redemption in the eyes of the church hierarchy that he begins to see her as an advantage. He can take the praise for his wife's sobriety and attribute it to the power of prayer, as Susan observes 'the credit for the road to Damascus goes to Mr Ramesh' not to 'Geoffrey's chum, the Deity, moving in his well-known mysterious way'. (Bennett, 2001, p66) Alan Bennett claims the inspiration for Bed among the Lentils came from a rather timid inscription he read on the fly-leaf of a hymn book at Giggleswick School, it read, 'Get lost, Jesus'. The image comes to mind of Susan writing just that, perhaps as she watches her adversary Mrs Shrubsole creating another floral masterpiece. (Bennett, 2001, p33) In a slightly different way Alan Bennett demonstrates Grahams loneliness in A Chip in the Sugar. We see how Graham's loneliness is centred on his relationship with his mother; he is perhaps not so much lonely, as afraid of being alone. The suggestion of mental illness is shown throughout the piece although the impression is that it is under control until Mr Turnbull comes along to upset Grahams 'stable environment'. ...read more.

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