(Laura Barton’s article appeared in the Guardian, 9/1.)
I don't think about Billy Liar very often." Tom Courtenay's voice hovers on the line. We have been discussing his upcoming holiday to the north-east coast, splashing about in the warm shallows of the present-day; at this detour into the past, he pauses, and retreats a little. "If I read it now, it would make me laugh," he concludes lightly, distantly. "But I honestly don't know why it's lasted. Who can say why some things are successful?"
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