UK

Alan Bennett: I was Fondled By Old Men As A Child, But It Didn't Scar Me

12/03/2013 07:44 GMT

laywright 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.

Bennett, 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.

alan bennett

Author and playwright Alan Bennett, who has told how 'old gentlemen' fondled his legs when he was a child but that he was not 'scarred'

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..."

Bennett told the magazine that he believed class was "fading away" in British society, and added: "I don't really care now."

But he said that he would never have been able to go to university with the current fees and told the magazine: "One of the few things I'm really passionate about is that state education and private education should be amalgamated.

"I do believe that if private education was abolished, and we only had one system of education, the whole atmosphere of this country would alter.

"A lot of the class divisions and silly stuff about old Etonians in the cabinet, all that would go. I just feel that we would be much more a nation.

"It's just wrong that with two children of equivalent ability, one should be better educated than the other because their parents are better off. It's just wrong," he said.

Bennett, who is in a civil partnership, said that 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."

Bennett 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."