Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Old men fondled my legs - Bennett

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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Leo:

Rebelling against outmoded conventions is liberating. Usually, you're comfortable with tradition. In this situation, you realise the old ways are a liability. Stuffy rules and regulations are stopping a large amount of people from accessing resources and services. It's up to you to sound the alarm. When the powers that be realise you mean business, they'll work hard to update the regulations. You'll make several new friends after getting involved with this cause.More