It [Cambridge] wasn't a holy grail in the sense that I'd never been to Cambridge. But then, when I did go, the contrast between Leeds, which was very black and sooty in those days, and Cambridge, which seemed like something out of a fairystory, in the grip of a hard frost, was just wonderful.
Deluded liberal that I am, I persist in thinking that those with a streak of sexual unorthodoxy ought to be more tolerant of their fellows than those who lead an entirely godly, righteous and sober life. Illogically, I tend to assume that if you ( Philip Larkin) dream of caning schoolgirls bottoms, it disqualifies you from dismissing half the nation as work-shy.
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My experience came before most of you were born. My school was a state school in Leeds and the headmaster usually sent students to Leeds University but he didn't normally send them to Oxford or Cambridge. But the headmaster happened to have been to Cambridge and decided to try and push some of us towards Oxford and Cambridge. So, half a dozen of us tried - not all of us in history - and we all eventually got in. So, to that extent, it [The History Boys] comes out of my own experience.
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The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours.
The appeal of reading, she thought, lay in its indifference: there was something undeferring about literature. Books did not care who was reading them or whether one read them or not. All readers were equal, herself included. Literature, she thought, is a commonwealth; letters a republic.
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Archbishop. Why do I never read the lesson?' 'I beg your pardon, ma'am?' 'In church. Everybody else gets to read and one never does. It's not laid down, is it? It's not off-limits?' 'Not that I'm aware, ma'am.' 'Good. Well in that case I'm going to start. Leviticus, here I come. Goodnight.' The archbishop shook his head and went back to Strictly Come Dancing.
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There's very little in the substance of [THE LADY IN THE VAN] which is not fact though some adjustments have had to be made. Over the years Miss Shepherd was visited by a succession of social workers so the character in the play is a composite figure. . . . A composite too are the neighbours, Pauline and Rufus, though I have made Rufus a publisher in remembrance of my neighbour, the late Colin Haycraft, the proprietor of Duckworth's.
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Why do we not care to acknowledge them? The cattle, the body count. We still don't like to admit the war was even partly our fault because so many of our people died. A photograph on every mantlepiece. And all this mourning has veiled the truth. It's not so much lest we forget, as lest we remember. Because you should realise the Cenotaph and the Last Post and all that stuff is concerned, there's no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.
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