Inspiration From A Proper Leeds Writer

Following the end of yuletide festivities with the family, things are a bit flat in chez Strachan today. I’m home alone this afternoon and, while I wait for slapdash intruders Merv and Harry to arrive, I am attempting to pen a second blog of the day.

Will I succeed in achieving this objective? Well, if I don’t you’ll be none the wiser as there will be no additional published piece on writesaidfred.org today. So in a nutshell, if you’re reading this I managed it.

I took the decision to try write another narrative for two reasons. Firstly, to fill a void made by giving myself two days sabbatical from writing earlier in the week (Christmas Day and Boxing Day).

Secondly, after viewing a documentary at lunchtime about author/playwright Alan Bennett’s diaries, originally screened on Christmas Eve.

During this broadcast, the octogenarian Leeds’ born author gave an insight into his inspirations, writing processes, editing, personal life and being consoled by a stranger at Leeds station for only being an Alan Bennett lookalike, not the real thing.

All of which he turned into a book of diary entries from 2005-2015. The book is titled Keeping On Keeping On, as Bennett advocates that no one has written the perfect book. So he’ll be keeping on keeping on, attempting to achieve what is in all intents and purposes the impossible.

I’ve not had a chance to read these diaries yet, but intend to as soon as I finish the Oor Wullie annual I got from Santa Claus.

With having an interest in writing via my blogging, not to mention being born in and spending most of my adulthood in Leeds, after a childhood in Gateshead, I found the broadcast of particular interest.

There were scenes filmed in Armley, Leeds close to where my granddad had a shop in the 1960’s/70’s. It was also partly recorded in Clapham, the Yorkshire village where Bennett has had a family home since 1966, which brought to mind memories of a rainswept walking break I took there in December 2015.

Not that I have a great deal in common with the West Yorkshire author/playwright. Apart from being born in Leeds, wearing glasses and having ancestors who owned shops in Armley, there is little common ground between Mr Bennett and myself.

I’ve certainly never been assuaged at Leeds station for only being an Alan Bennett lookalike. Or indeed aspired to owning a donkey like the Loiner wordsmith humorously revealed in the documentary.

Additionally the writer, whose work includes The History Boys and The Madness of George III, gained a degree and taught at Oxford University. Which, in a game of Education & Qualifications Top Trumps, would probably usurp my HNC in Business Studies from Northumbria University .

I’m also pretty sure, unlike me, Alan Bennett’s mum never told him “I’ll show my arse in Sainsbury’s window if your book (of selected diary blogs) goes global!”…… Although, taking that into account, I suppose its probably for the best my writing prowess remains a clandestine mistress!

On the flipside one of Leeds’ favourite sons probably can’t perform the whistling language I have mastered, which allows me to converse with chaffinches. Or has a double jointed ring finger like yours truly….. So up yours, Alan. You clever s***e!

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