Interview: Sunday Express (24 May 1987)

This page reproduces some of Alan Ayckbourn's significant quotes from the interview.

The Master Of Suburbia

by Lynn Barber

"It's [
A Small Family Business] the first time anyone has died in a play of mine. It's a fairly dark theme - honesty. It was sparked by the fact that everyone has their own idea of what honesty is. I mean most people seem to regard stealing drawing-pins from the office as fair game, but what happens when it comes to stealing desks ? There are very few totally honest people."

"I once stole a pen at school - and then threw it away. I wasn't very good at being dishonest."

"I'm a bit of a loner. The one thing I can't do in London is belong."

"I'm not interested in it [wealth]. I know some people get a buzz out of investing it, or watching it grow or whatever, but I don't. Can you think of anything more boring than actually owning British Telecom shares?"

"I was so pressured when I was a kid with this idea that you had to have a career, I said to my sons, 'Look, if you don't want to do anything, don't do anything. I've put lots of money in trust for you and you can have it.' So my elder son is now a smallholder in California, a sort of Wild West pioneer. I can't imagine anything worse, myself, than hacking away with a pick axe all day, but he loves it."

"I think a big piece of us dies in marriage. Men and women, exposed to each other's personalities over the years, tend to drive each other nuts."

"I can't understand any writer wanting to be psychoanalysed. I've always been terrified of being straightened out. The thing about all my phobias and angsts and things is that they fuel my plays, and I suppose if I were a healthy balanced person I wouldn't want to write. Oh no, you have to keep the dark corners."

"There could be a no more boring evening than sitting watching 10 very happy people. And, anyway, one of the things theatre does - at any rate, my theatre - is say 'You're not alone folks. Other people have the same worries and problems.' There's a feeling now that unless a play has something of great importance to say, it's not worth taking seriously. One often finds oneself justifying one's own work by saying, 'Oh yes, I think it does say something quite important.' But then you think, 'What rubbish - I only wrote it for fun!'"