[book review] Shirley McKay: Fate & Fortune

Fate and Fortune

Shirley McKay, Fate & Fortune (Edinburgh:  Birlinn Ltd, 2010)

This second Hew Cullan mystery begins two years after the events of the first.  It is 1581: Hew has returned to St Andrews on the death of his father, a man rendered a stranger to him through time and distance. 

 

 

 

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QotW (#84): 29 July 2019

armada gods breath
‘God blew and they were scattered’

You almost feel sorry for the Spanish …

Today marks the day when the undeniably mighty Armada, reeling from a night attack by fireships and blocked from retreating down the Channel, was pummelled by English ships and scattered northwards by storms.  Unable to regroup, they tried – and many failed – to get home the hard way, via Scotland and Ireland.

Continue reading “QotW (#84): 29 July 2019”

Forensic Friday (#017): 1 Henry IV, I.iii

the-red-pill-or-the-blue-pill

“You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” [a]

This one is, I think, for my friend, Joe Gifford.

Back in the heady days of the beginning of this project, I likened close reading to autopsies and archaeology.  Today, I present you with a sexy new metaphor: close reading IS the red pill in The Matrix

No, really – let me persuade you. Continue reading “Forensic Friday (#017): 1 Henry IV, I.iii”

PTS 015/092: not MY leader …

evolution of Boris Steve Bell
image:  Steve Bell / The Guardian

It’s often said, often bitterly, that we get the leaders we deserve.  After all, ’we voted for them’, right?  Or at least broadly 100,000 have: in a population of 65-million-odd, way less than 1% have made Boris ‘Bolinbroke’ Johnson our Prime Minister.  Quite clearly ‘the will of the British people’ in the twenty-first century is a highly elusive and nebulous concept.

Right here, right now, the question of the type of leader we want, need, or deserve is as urgent as it has been since the end of the Second World War.  As is the debate about whether we prefer harsh truths or comforting lies …

Welcome to our latest stop on the Pony Tail Shakespeare read-through 1 Henry IV, Act I scene iii. Continue reading “PTS 015/092: not MY leader …”

[book review] Elizabeth & Mary

dunn coverDying in 1587, just as Shakespeare probably got going, Mary Queen of Scots has been a peripheral figure in my reading, writing and teaching over the past few years.  Perhaps unjustly.  In her book, ‘Elizabeth & Mary:  Cousins, Rivals, Queens’, Jane Dunn fascinatingly posits that one queen can only be defined by contrast to her rival.

 

 

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(QotW) #83: 22 July 2019

It’s easy to forget that Shakespeare pre-dates social media …

 

pacino de niro heat
‘No matter what, you will not get in my way …’

‘We’re sitting here like a couple regular fellas.  You do what you do.  I do what I gotta do.  And now that we have been face-to-face, if I am there and I got to put you away?

(pause)

I won’t like it.  But, if it’s you, or some poor bastard whose wife you’re going to turn into a widow, brother, you are gonna go down.’ [a]

What if Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots had met … ?

Continue reading “(QotW) #83: 22 July 2019”

Forensic Friday (016): 1 Henry IV, I.ii

celebrate-thumbs-up
Never mind the students – today’s the year’s climax for the TEACHERS!

By the time you read this I will be gone.  Long gone.  And I won’t be back for, ooh, six weeks.  School’s out for summer!

Well, we got no class
And we got no principals
We ain’t got no intelligence
We can’t even think of a word that rhymes [a]

I can almost hear Falstaff singing this, not Alice Cooper

Don’t knock teacher holidays until you have tried the profession for a few years.  You’ll soon realise that half-term weeks are misnomers, and should be labelled ‘admin / sleep’ weeks, and large chunks of the longer holidays are eaten up by marking or planning.  We’re not actually that much better off than other professions when it comes to quality time pretending your job doesn’t exist.

Continue reading “Forensic Friday (016): 1 Henry IV, I.ii”