Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it’s now or never.— Alan Bennett
The most fascinating Alan Bennett quotes that are easy to memorize and remember
Life is rather like a tin of sardines - we're all of us looking for the key.
The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours
Books are not about passing time. They're about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting time to pass, one just wishes one had more of it. If one wanted to pass the time one could go to New Zealand.
Sometimes there is no next time, no time-outs, no second chances. Sometimes it's now or never.
History is a commentary on the various and continuing incapabilities of men.
What is history? History is women following behind with the bucket.
A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes;
a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot.
The majority of people perform well in a crisis and when the spotlight is on them; it's on the Sunday afternoons of this life, when nobody is looking, that the spirit falters.
[B]riefing is not reading. In fact it is the antithesis of reading. Briefing is terse, factual and to the point. Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting. Briefing closes down a subject, reading opens it up.
Mark my words, when a society has to resort to the lavatory for its humour, the writing is on the wall.
The Breed never dies. Sapper, Buchan, Dornford Yates, practitioners in that school of Snobbery withViolence that runs like a thread of good-class tweed through twentieth-century literature.
A book is a device to ignite the imagination.
That's a bit like asking a man crawling across the Sahara whether he would prefer Perrier or Malvern water.
Reading is untidy, discursive and perpetually inviting.
Never read the Bible as if it means something.
Or at any rate don't try and mean it. Nor prayers. The liturgy is best treated and read as if it's someone announcing the departure of trains.
Kafka could never have written as he did had he lived in a house.
His writing is that of someone whose whole life was spent in apartments, with lifts, stairwells, muffled voices behind closed doors, and sounds through walls. Put him in a nice detached villa and he'd never have written a word.
But most men regard their life as a poem that women threaten.
They may not have two spondees to rub together but they still want to pen their saga untrammelled by life-threatening activities like trailing round Sainsbury's, emptying the dishwasher or going to the nativity play.
At eighty things do not occur; they recur.
At the drabber moments of my life (swilling some excrement from the steps, for instance, or rooting with a bent coat-hanger down a blocked sink) thoughts occur like 'I bet Tom Stoppard doesn't have to do this' or There is no doubt David Hare would have deputed this to an underling.'
Memories are not shackles, Franklin, they are garlands.
So boring you fall asleep halfway through her name.
Art comes out of art; it begins with imitation, often in the form of parody, and it's in the process of imitating the voice of others that one comes to learn the sound of one's own.
Your whole life is on the other side of the glass. And there is nobody watching.
Children always assume the sexual lives of their parents come to a grinding halt at their conception.
I'm not good at precise, coherent argument.
But plays are suited to incoherent argument, put into the mouths of fallible people.
f they'd been working with Alec Guinness, for instance, they wouldn't have known they were born if they'd not towed the line!
It seems to me the mark of a civilized society that certain privileges should be taken for granted such as education, health care and the safety to walk the streets.
Philip Larkin used to cheer himself up by looking in the mirror and saying the line from Rebecca, 'I am Mrs de Winter now!
I turned down a knighthood. It would be like having to wear a suit every day of your life.
Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will only be remembered for remembering someone else.
It [Cambridge] wasn't a holy grail in the sense that I'd never been to Cambridge. But then, when I did go, the contrast between Leeds, which was very black and sooty in those days, and Cambridge, which seemed like something out of a fairystory, in the grip of a hard frost, was just wonderful.
If I am doing nothing, I like to be doing nothing to some purpose. That is what leisure means.
No mention of God. They keep Him up their sleeves for as long as they can, vicars do. They know it puts people off.
An article on playwrights in the Daily Mail , listed according to Hard Left, Soft Left, Hard Right, Soft Right and Centre. I am not listed. I should probably come under Soft Centre.
I'm all in favour of free expression provided it's kept rigidly under control.
Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore.
Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.
My films are about embarrassment.
Nature played a cruel trick on her by giving her a waxed mustache.
If you find yourself born in Barnsley and then set your sights on being Virginia Woolf it is not going to be roses all the way.
Schweitzer in the Congo did not derive more moral credit than Larkin did for living in Hull.
The nearest my parents came to alcohol was at Holy Communion and they utterly overestimated its effects. However bad the weather, Dad never drove to church because Mam thought the sacrament might make him incapable on the return journey.
Here I sit, alone at 60, Bald and fat and full of sin Cold the seat, and loud the cistern As I read the (Harpic) (Lysol) tin
... Once I start a book I finish it. That was the way one was brought up. Books, bread and butter, mashed potato - one finishes what's on one's plate. That's always been my philosophy.
I suppose I'm the only person who remembers one of the most exciting of his ballets-it's the fruit of an unlikely collaboration between Nijinsky on the one hand and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the other.
There are more microbes per person than the entire population of the world.
Imagine that. Per person. This means that if the time scale is diminished in proportion to that of space it would be quite possible for the whole story of Greece and Rome to be played out between farts.
The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.
I had no idea of who could play it, no notion really.
Then Richard came to see us but I don't think it was decided at that meeting. The trouble is, as soon as you've chosen somebody it obscures anybody else you might have thought of. It's like going to a place that you've never been to before - you've got a picture of it and then you go there and that picture is totally wiped out by the reality.
What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren't long enough for the reading she wanted to do.
I've never forgotten that experience.
But I had nobody at school that was either like Hector or Irwin. The masters had no idea what was expected of you in the scholarship exam, so you just had to busk it really.