A few years ago I attended a conference in London for CASE [the Campaign for State Education], and I got on the lift from ground floor to Floor 3 with politician Tony Benn. In awe, dumb-struck, goldfish mouth. We got into the conference, a man came up to Tony Benn. He said, "I've been a long-time admirer of yours. Please can I shake your hand." I emailed my friends, "I was in a lift with Tony Benn," My friends wrote back enthusiastically - You got a lift with Tony Benn, from Sheffield, with Tony Benn? What did you talk about? "
When Nelson Mandela came to Leeds in 2001, I was doing a steel pan workshop at Parklands High School. Just read Long Walk to Freedom, would have settled to see him in the flesh, but I thought that the school should have a woman workshop leader. Worse, the African dancers who had also come to International Day at Parklands upped sticks and headed for town after the first [and as it turned out only] set in order to dance in front of the great man. Leaving Parklands somewhat disappointed.
About four years after the CASE conference I attended the first big Anti-Academies Alliance conference at Congress House House, Great Russell Street, London. Tony Benn was one of the speakers. I waited till the end, then went over and asked and told him the lift story. He laughed and shook my hand. He said I should have spoken.
Tonight, Debs, this very evening, Alan Bennett did a An Evening with Alan Bennett at City of Leeds School. I took my copy of Untold Tales. Alan, as I feel I can call him now, signed it. I told him the Leeds Train Story. He said I should have spoken.