Instead I read it the summer after I graduated, lying on the lawn, pretty much in one go. kowarth popped round for a few hours in the afternoon and I tore myself away, then got straight back into it. Having assumed for years that it was a worthy Issues Book, I was surprised and pleased to find it was in fact sweet and funny.
Last night, I went to see the play in Bromley.
I was predisposed to enjoy myself by the Woody Guthrie CD that was playing as we took our seats.
The curtain rose on a white wooden set that would be picket fence, houses, courtroom and prison, and a grown-up Scout watching her younger self swing in a tyre (is the film like this? I haven't seen it).
I didn't warm very much to Scout or Jem, which was a shame, but everyone else more than made up for it.
Only the curtain call brought home to me how large the cast was. Several parts had few or no lines, and some existed just to fill out the courtroom in the pivotal trial scenes, but everybody absolutely acted their little socks off.
Special mention to the actress playing Mrs DeBose, who must be incredibly fit from so many nights of rolling around in an old-style wheelchair.
The contrast between poor, sulky, gawky Mayella, the victim, who fidgeted and twisted her hands, and even poorer Tom Robinson, the accused, sitting in awful dignity with his feet shackled, was nicely done.
Even filthy Bob Ewell, very much the villain, muttered "How you doin'?" to the audience on his way to the witness stand, and we giggled with delighted disgust.
The shining star, though, was Graeme Dalling as Scout's precocious and peculiar friend Dill. Despite his hairy arms, he portrayed a very natural child. Every line he spoke and every tiny gesture he made, he made killingly funny. One to watch.