Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Old men fondled my legs - Bennett

Alan Bennett said he wasn't bothered when his legs were fondled as a child
Alan Bennett said he wasn't bothered when his legs were fondled as a child

Playwright Alan Bennett has told how "old gentlemen" fondled his legs when he was a child but that he was not "scarred".

The History Boys writer told the Radio Times that he knew that what was happening was wrong, but that he did not want to get the perpetrators into trouble.

Alan, 78, has previously revealed in childhood memoir Cocktail Sticks that, as a boy in a Leeds cinema, he was "interfered with" by an adult male customer.

Now he has told the Radio Times: "When I was young, 10 or 12, one often found one's legs were touched up by old gentlemen, in a mild sort of way. It never got beyond that. I remember thinking, 'Oh God, here we go again'.

"But it didn't bother me. I knew it was wrong, but I knew I shouldn't say anything about it because I knew they would get into trouble. But the notion that one would be scarred for life..."

Alan, who is in a civil partnership, told the magazine he was not at all interested in marriage.

"I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about over gay marriage," he said.

"I haven't met anyone who cared one way or the other. Civil partnership mattered but I really couldn't understand why the far right-wing Conservatives were making so much fuss. It doesn't threaten marriage. The whole thing seemed to me a storm in a teacup."

Alan said that there had been an urgency to get work done after he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1997.

But he admitted: "That tends to fade. You can't always carry on as if you're on the edge of pegging out."

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You're moody and sensitive, especially when it comes to family matters. Although you should make a big change, emotional ties to home are holding you back. Stop making excuses for your failure to act. Just take a leap of faith. Your nearest and dearest will learn to live without your constant presence. Becoming more independent will actually strengthen your relationships, not weaken them. Start looking for your own place to live.More