Alan Bennett
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Being banged up at home during lockdown turns out to be a mixed bag for Bennett, as he records in this latest slim but enjoyable-as-ever volume of diaries. At eighty-six he has arthritis, is hard of hearing, walks with a stick and spends a lot of time collecting medications from his friendly local pharmacist in Camden Town. Frequent washing of his hands makes them ‘shiny, veinous and as transparent as an anatomical illustration’. On the plus side, having his partner Rupert at home means ‘regular cups of tea and a lovely hot lunch’, while occasional random meetings outdoors bring unexpected joy, such as a chat with a tall black man sweeping leaves in Chalcot Square. Inevitably there’s a pervasive spirit of melancholy and nostalgia, in the memories and sudden flashbacks: from early childhood, going fishing with his parents, his days as an Oxford undergraduate, as a working playwright, and much more. They are just slivers of a sentence sometimes, but sharp, tender and touching. 

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