Alan Bennett Reads an Extract from Keeping On Keeping On Transcript
17th October 2014
On one occasion Miss Shepherd claimed to have seen a Boa Constrictor in Parkway and it looked as if it was heading for the van. At the time I dismissed serpent sightings as just another of Miss Shepherd’s not infrequent visions. Boa Constrictors, Mr Khrushchev and putting in regular appearances, the Virgin Mary. The dramatis personae of her visions always rich and varied.
It turned out though that on this occasion Palmer’s, the old fashioned pet shop on Parkway had been broken into so a Boa Constrictor on the loose and gliding up the street wasn’t entirely out of the question. Though whether the glint in its eye meant that it was heading for the van was more debatable.
This morning we filmed the sighting of the snake in one of the Gloucester Crescent gardens and a proper snake it is too. A real Boa Constrictor all of nine foot long and answering to the name of Aiesha who has made the journey from Chipping Norton together with her slightly smaller friend and companion Clementine, both in the care of their handler.
I’ve had unfortunate experiences with animal handlers, as indeed has Maggie Smith, who once had to vault over a stampeding porker during the shooting of a private function. Today’s handler though seems sensible and unlike the pig handler, unopinionated. Since Aiesha doesn’t have anything taxing to do in the way of acting, confines herself to making her and Clementine comfortable on a bed of hot water bottles.