Quote of the Week: 24 July 2017

BH The-Princes-in-the-Tower-by-Alison-Weir

Alison Weir, The Princes In The Tower (London: The Folio Society, 1992)

A slight rearrangement of this section.  Instead of one huge sticky post, it’s easier to post as and when I come across something worth sharing.  You can see the previous mega-post by clicking here.

This week’s quotation is attributed to Elizabeth Wydville, widow of Edward IV.  She was, at this stage, in sanctuary with her youngest son, and determined to preserve their lives – and hers – by keeping the two boys separated.

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PTS 04/025: Who’s Your Daddy?

BH who's your daddy
Ponytail Shakespeare:  The Taming of the Shrew, Act V

When I was about 8, I vividly remember having a competition with a lad called David, who shortly afterwards moved to Australia.  The competition took place in school and could have been called:  Let’s see who can piss the highest against the wall.”  David won.  I moved on.

But many boys and men never really graduate from that game – they just play variations on it, like:

  • I’ve got further with a girl than you have;
  • the girls who like me are hotter than the ones who like you; then, once they’re older
  • remind me what you drive again; and
  • who’s your daddy?

I also get, by the way, the occasional sneering “But Shakespeare didn’t even write those plays.”  Never backed up by evidence.  Never by anyone who has actually read the plays themselves.  But they drive better cars than me (not difficult, since I don’t drive), so they must be right, surely?  You are NOT my daddy.  But you ARE a ‘three-inch fool‘, to quote this play.

Overall, The Taming of the Shrew is in many places an embarrassing reminder that ‘laddishness’ hasn’t changed in at least 400 years – that men are constantly pissing up the wall against each other.  No more obviously than in Act 5.

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PTS 04/024: How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

BH how many fingers
“‘Four!  Five!  Four!  Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!”  George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

Ponytail Shakespeare:  The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV

KATHERINA:            ‘And be it moon or sun or what you please,

    And if you please to call it a rush-candle,

    Henceforth I vow it shall be so for me.

PETRUCCIO:              I say it is the moon.

KATHERINA:             I know it is the moon.

PETRUCCIO:              Nay then, you lie; it is the blessed sun.

KATHERINA:            Then God be blest, it is the blessed sun.’

(IV.v.13-19)

I so often say to students (usually when we’re looking at poetry) that you should ‘bring your baggage’ to a work.  It’s one of the things that makes re-reading an unexpected joy, as you arrive at a familiar work with fresh eyes.  The ‘baggage’ can, of course, be life experiences, or other works that you’ve read: regular readers will already know that I have a habit of conflating Caliban, Richard III and Frankenstein’s monster, to talk through a sympathetic lens about those three characters and the nature vs. nurture argument.

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Crimes Against Shakespeare 004

BH futerfas 2Alan Futerfas: because being pictured with an enormous phallic symbol sends a powerful message to the world about you …

Please, pretty please, Mr Futerfas, leave Shakespeare out of things – it doesn’t lend you any gravitas: ‘they’ will NOT, in the words of Cole Porter, “all kow-tow” …

In fact, some might be tempted to suggest you are over-compensating, and use Curtis‘ words to Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew:

‘Away, you three-inch fool”  (IV.i.23)

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Age cannot wither him …

BH 2017:2018 timetable

… nor custom stale his infinite variety.  (Enobarbus:  ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA:  II.ii.245-246) [bastardised by me, obviously]

Our timetables for next year were finalised last Friday, and this is what mine looks like – at least in terms of Shakespeare / EMP material.  It’s more of the same, basically – although I finally lost The Tempest – which Top Set Y11 had voted to study back in the day when I had complete freedom about what to teach.  I think it could be the last year I teach this combination – I want to make at least one change …

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Can you overdose on Shakespeare?

BH will kempe
Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t how we teachers spend our time once the exams are over …

‘Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,

The appetite may sicken and so die.’

(DUKE ORSINO:  Twelfth Night, I.i.2-3)

So, as we enter the final stretch, you’d think that we teachers would be winding down, right?  Imitating Will Kemp in his warm up for his ‘Nine Days’ Wonder‘, by cavorting up and down the corridors of the English block in carefree abandon, greeting fellow English teachers with a hearty ‘hey, nonny nonny!‘ as we pass their empty classrooms?

Not a bit of it, sadly.  Whilst our exam classes have donned their gladrags and tottered off into the distance on their improbable high heels (and that’s just the boys, obviously), we’re left with end-of-year assessments for everyone else, which naturally have to be turned around pretty damn quickly.

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