Monday, 26 April 2010

An outsider's outsider.....

When I heard of the death of the author Alan Sillitoe at the age of 82, I truly felt as if I had lost an old, unmet friend. Alan died yesterday at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

It was Alan who started my journey into my love of British cinema in the 1950s and 1960s when two of his books were turned into movies. I saw Saturday Night And Sunday Morning when I was about 14 years old and it was a history lesson as well as a life lesson.

If you want to summon the grainy, gritty images of the English working class of the1960s, simply picture Tom Courtenay as the young offender rebelling in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, or Albert Finney as the loser and boozer in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Many years ago, when I had a book list to read, on this list was Alan Sillitoe's Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and to be honest the only reason I picked it up was because it was not a thick-paged book to read! I read the first page and was hooked, and to this day, it is still one of my favourite books.

But there was another figure behind these defiant, alienated men - a thoughtful, self-educated young man named Alan Sillitoe.

"Bill Posters will be Prosecuted," old signs used to read and it took the anarchic eye of Sillitoe to compose a play called The Death of William Posters, in which the poor man is prosecuted indeed.

Alan Sillitoe will be remembered as long as there are rebels - preferably, but not necessarily, rebels with causes.

Look for his books and the movies made from them - they are a treat.


  1. I'm sad to hear this talent has left us. I'm adding The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, book and film, to my list. Thanks, Michael. x

  2. Although I have only scant knowledge of his work, I know he captured the grim reality of that period which help start the careers of Finney and Courtenay.