A satire on a society memorial service for a rather special masseur.
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As memorial services go these days it had been billed as "a celebration", the marrying of the valedictory with the festive convenient on several grounds. For a start it made grief less obligatory, which was useful as the person to be celebrated had been dead some time and tears would have been something of an acting job. To call it a celebration also allowed the congregation to dress down up not down. Clive Dunlop was a masseur of exceptional talents. His "services" were much in demand amongst the great and the good and after his untimely death at the age of 34 they - the film stars and politicians, the writers and publishers, the TV pundits and celebrity chefs - are gathered for his memorial service. The conduct of the service is a great worry for the priest taking the service but it proves to be a test for the congregation. This is Alan Bennett at his absolute best with an exceptional satire. It is a perfect work of fiction but it will give readers the extra frisson of pleasure of identifying many of the characters, including even the masseur. A small masterpiece.
Alan Bennett is the author of The Madness of George III, Talking Heads, Telling Tales, The Clothes They Stood Up In and many plays. He is Britain's best-known playwright. His book Writing Home sold over 200,000 copies in hardback.