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Alan Sillitoe 1928-2010 -- the long distance runner has run his lonely course.

English  novelist Alan Sillitoe died yesterday.  He may  not be a writer many are familiar with.  His stories  of working class life were brutal takes on everyday  hard ship alleviated  only by hard fought for transcendence, the likes  of which -- with their rages and protests   -- became increasingly rare after the end of  the 1960s.

His two best known works, The Loneliness of  the Long Distance Runner and  Saturday Night and Sunday  Morning were turned into two superb films that set a benchmark in British  cinema  realism. In each case, due in no small measure to the  'kitchen sink ' approach of  directors  Tony Richardson and  Karel Reisz.

Tom Courteney's performance in the lead role  in Loneliness  captured, for me,  a  true grit perspective , unmodified by easy options. For Shilitoe, struggle was relentless. It wasn't just grist for drama  or excuse for a turn in the plot. Life was about surviving and fighting back, otherwise  existence  will grind you down.

His message essentially was that   the only response was an individualized one --  making do as best you could without  giving up on the core class allegiance that formatted and bore  you.

There's a lot to be reminded of in Sillitoe -- that despite the glitzy remakes over the last 50 years,and all the promises  we've been offered in way of a good life ahead, we are still Sillitoe heroes making do in a very different social reality to the one that we are told exists or supposedly beckons.

That we all forced to run  this course alone,  is our great collective tragedy.

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