Birds, books, theater, politics, and funerals: Alan Bennett shares his diary with the LRB.
17 April. Shots of the cabinet and the ex-cabinet at Lady Thatcher’s funeral in St Paul’s just emphasise how consistently cowardly most of them were, the only time they dared to stand up to her when eventually they kicked her out. What also galls is the notion that Tory MPs throw in almost as an afterthought, namely that her lack of a sense of humour was just a minor failing, of no more significance than being colourblind, say, or mildly short-sighted. In fact to have no sense of humour is to be a seriously flawed human being. It’s not a minor shortcoming; it shuts you off from humanity. Mrs Thatcher was a mirthless bully and should have been buried, as once upon a time monarchs used to be, in the depths of the night.
3 May. I am reading Neil MacGregor’s Shakespeare's Restless World. It’s very good, even overcoming my (A.L. Rowse generated) prejudice against reading about Shakespeare. I hadn’t realised at Richard Griffiths’s funeral in Stratford that Shakespeare’s father had been buried in the churchyard, the whereabouts of the grave now unknown. So when, waiting for the service to start, I went out for a pee under one of the yews in a sheltered corner of the cemetery I may well have been pissing on Shakespeare’s dad’s grave. More decorously, Richard’s massive coffin was resting where presumably Shakespeare’s coffin rested, a notion that would have pleased him though at the service it goes unremarked.