Your whole life is on the other side of the glass. And there is nobody watching.
The bits I most remember about my school days are those that took place outside the classroom, as we were taken on countless theatre visits and trips to places of interest.
I’ve never seen the point of the sea, except where it meets the land. The shore has a point. The sea has none.
Closing a public library is child abuse, really, because it hinders child development.
I can’t complain that I’ve had a public all through my writing life, but people don’t quite know what I’ve written. People don’t read you too closely. Perhaps, after I’ve died, they’ll look at my stuff, and read it through, and find there’s more in it. That may be wrong, but that’s what I comfort myself with.
I do not long for the world as it was when I was a child. I do not long for the person I was in that world. I do not want to be the person I am now in that world then. None of the forms nostalgia can take fits. I found childhood boring. I was glad it was over.
Those who have known the famous are publicly debriefed of their memories, knowing as their own dusk falls that they will only be remembered for remembering someone else.
Teachers need to feel they are trusted. They must be allowed some leeway to use their imagination; otherwise, teaching loses all sense of wonder and excitement.
Life is like a box of sardines and we are all looking for the key.
I always like to break out and address the audience. In ‘The History Boys’, for instance, without any ado, the boys will suddenly turn and talk to the audience and then go back into the action. I find it more adventurous doing it in prose than on the stage, but I like being able to make the reader suddenly sit up.
I’m all in favour of free expression provided it’s kept rigidly under control.
Were we closer to the ground as children, or is the grass emptier now?
We were all miners in our family. My father was a miner. My mother is a miner. These are miner’s hands, but we were all artists, I suppose, really. But I was the first one who had the urge to express myself on paper rather than at the coalface.
Feeling I’d scarcely arrived at a style, I now find I’m near the end of it. I’m not quite sure what Late Style means except that it’s some sort of licence, a permit for ageing practitioners to kick their heels up.
If you think squash is a competitive activity, try flower arranging.
I write plays about things that I can’t resolve in my mind. I try to root things out.
Definition of a classic: a book everyone is assumed to have read and often thinks they have.
I don’t believe in private education.
I always feel over-appreciated but underestimated.
Children always assume the sexual lives of their parents come to a grinding halt at their conception.
We were put to Dickens as children but it never quite took. That unremitting humanity soon had me cheesed off.
I didn’t even have a clear idea of why I wanted to go to Oxford – apart from the fact I had fallen in love with the architecture. It certainly wasn’t out of some great sense of academic or intellectual achievement. In many ways, my education only began after I’d left university.
I’m less genial than people think, but I’m too timid to seem nasty.
Life is generally something that happens elsewhere.
All knowledge is precious whether or not it serves the slightest human use.
We started off trying to set up a small anarchist community, but people wouldn’t obey the rules.
Full-blooded romantic love I wouldn’t be able to write about.
I’d somehow always thought of the classics of literature as something apart from me, something to do with academic life and not something you enjoyed.
I’ve been very lucky in everything, really – in my career and in finding someone to share my life with, and in not dying.
I have no nickname, as there has never been any need for one.
Cancer, like any other illness, is a bore.
My films are about embarrassment.
I’m more socialist certainly than New Labour – I’m very old Labour, really.
I don’t want to see libraries close; I want to find local solutions that will make them sustainable.
Sometimes, particularly in summers in New York, I have tried to write in shorts or with no shirt on and found myself unable to do so, the reason being, I take it, that writing, even of the most impersonal sort, is for me a divestment, a striptease, even, so that if I start off undressed, I have nowhere to go.