What's Alan Bennett reading today?


Sitting on the Victoria Line, Alan Bennett climbs into my carriage and sits down opposite me. (For readers in the US for whom the name doesn't click check him out ... he's probably England's best-loved writer.) He's beautifully iconic with his mop of blond hair (how come he gets to have so much of it?), his tortoiseshell glasses, his bright green woollen scarf, the tan mac which he clutches with one hand, the battered and presumably ultra-comfy brown suede shoes. He opens his book and setlles down to reading. It's a new paperback, one I don't know; "Learning to Dance", by Michael Mayne. Reading a catalogue description it "creates a magical weave of poetry, science and spirituality, with reflections on suffering, forgiveness and learning to let go."

When people have asked me "Who are you writing for?" my only sensible and true answer is people on the tube(or metro or whatever). Burrowed underground in a traveling mass, a book is an escape into wonder-realms, I'd love to find myself read on the tube.

Alan Bennett gets off at Green Park. He's replaced by a young woman, slink with long black hair, reading the new Toby Litt, one of those names that's become chic while I've been away. She's deep into it within moments and makes the book look fascinating

Maybe rather than send out review copies of my next book, I'll just leave them on the seats of underground trains. Then travel the same line for a week, hoping to find people engrossed.