I've seen the film twice, and the stage play once. I bought the DVD in Sainsbury's about a year ago, and have never yet watched it. I rarely get complete control of the remote, but this weekend Hubby has gone North. Yesterday he watched Leeds play and today he is taking his mother out for lunch. As he has never acknowledged Mother's Day in his own mother's case in all the 33 years I have known him, I was pleased with the plan, and did not utter about being left here on my own. Actually, it has been a blessing. I am suffering from an acute eye infection, and feeling very sorry for myself. I would rather wallow in self pity alone.
So, out of the drawer came the DVD, and I fast-forwarded to the private tutorial between old fat cultured English teacher and sensitive, loner, Jewish boy.
Each time I have seen the full production, I have wanted to dwell on this section and enjoy it in more depth, but because it is just part of a fast-moving whole, have never felt that I really got it.
Really, Alan Bennett is a genius. To pack all that into a few minutes and to package the whole thing up and sell it as mass entertainment is nothing short of full-blown mind-altering brilliance.
The boy actor, stiff and mannered while reciting the poem, liquid with sentience as he absorbs the teacher's guidance, is masterfully directed.
The fat old man, who dismisses Hardy's life in two words., "saddish" but "appreciated", leads in the true sense, educating the youngster into the history of the plebs on the battlefield, (hitherto un-named, now for the first time given a memorial), the link forward to the First World War and Rupert Brooke, and finally, the magic of a communicated thought coming down the ages, like a hand reaching out of time, to touch you on the shoulder.