Happy 80th birthday Alan Bennett: 8 quotes we love from Untold Stories

To mark the great man’s 80th today, we’ve compiled a selection of quotations from his 2005 collection of writings

Untold Stories is a treasure trove of memorable quotations, and we could repeat this list several times over. Please add your own favourite Bennettisms in the comments.

"Our Alan's like us," Mam would say. "Shy." And it is both a boast and an excuse, but with the pride uppermost, because though shyness is an elusive virtue there is no doubt in my mother's mind that it is a virtue, or at least has merit attaching to it. (Written on the Body)

11 November. Much talk of republicanism, recalling Brookly-born Joan Panzer's remark 20 years ago: "England without the Royal Family? Never. It would be like Fire Island without the gays." (Diaries: 2002)

I had always been a late starter and aged forty, in the nick of time as it seemed to me then, I had caught up with that sexual revolution which, so Philip Larkin (who was not a reliable witness) claimed, had begun a decade earlier. (Untold Stories)

At school I never had a teacher like Hector or like Irwin… Mr Hill – H. H. Hill, the alliteration also a plus – was rumoured to have had some Housman-like breakdown at university when, having been expected to get a First, he had scarcely passed at all. This was as far as the Housman comparison would stretch, though, as he was happily married and fond of golf. (Theatre and Plays – The History Boys)

In the theatre the most direct route to the honours is via Shakespeare, actors with the subsidised companies more likely to figure in the list (or to figure in it earlier) than their colleagues on Shaftesbury Avenue or on television… There is a compensatory aspect to the Honours List; repertory Shakespeare is not well paid, the CBE therefore something of a top-up. (Ups and Downs)

12 May. Watching five minutes at the conclusion of the Cup Final (to the outcome of which I am utterly indifferent), I wonder whether the girlfriend of Michael Owen, who scores the winning goal, will be thinking that any love they might make later on this evening will stand no comparison with the ecstasy induced by the goal, and what she feels about this. (Diaries: 2001)

…I suppose that is what I feel about Michelangelo's women, though I don't like to say so. Husky, I suppose the word for them – steroidal almost. I don't think any of them would be allowed in the 100-metre dash withouth giving at least one urine sample. (Art, Architecture and Authors)

I do not use, and would not know how to use, the internet… (Ups and Downs)

West Yorkshire Playhouse is staging an Alan Bennett season, featuring revivals of Enjoy, Untold Stories, Talking Heads and Betty Blue Eyes – more info here