By Paul M. Allen
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Extra resources for Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning at the Edge: A Biography of Alan Ayckbourn
There was someone else to offer practical aid to Alan - the sister who had been Lolly's sole comforter when she left Neville - and he duly went to live with his Aunt Peggy in a flat near Sloane Square in London. Peggy was supposed to keep him on the straight and narrow - he wasn't that adult but she mixed with a hard-drinking Australian crowd and gave him a very good time. Look Back in Anger had opened at the Royal Court Theatre in Intimate relations 35 Sloane Square, reportedly ushering in a revolution i n British drama.
He had almost completed the circuit when he ran slap into a prefect. By then of course all the other boys had disappeared, leaving a neat pile of clothes. The unfortunate Billy Bunter figure, by now suspected of seriously deviant behaviour, was given a 'prefect beating', caned not by masters but by three or four older boys. The worst beating, at least i n the attention drawn to it, was from the headmaster. In between came the housemaster beating, and Alan was on the end of a few of these, getting caned for something he hadn't quite managed to do: typically, he had overslept and missed a midnight boozing session planned for the end of term, but was the boy found belatedly out of bed when a dropped cigar box woke not only Laz Newbold but his wife and daughter too.
A fair-haired boy with a pink face and watery blue eyes was easily identified as ripe for bullying because he spent the compulsory sport sessions sitting on the touchline, making daisy chains. Other boys would punch him casually as they went past. But he turned out to be rather heroic in his way: 'He was just superb. People used to go and kick him, and he'd cry. He had this sort of permanently swollen face from crying. But he was not going to get up and play. ' Ayckbourn doesn't dissociate himself in retrospect from the bullying pack.
Alan Ayckbourn: Grinning at the Edge: A Biography of Alan Ayckbourn by Paul M. Allen