QotW (#82) Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them

eye of sauron

Consider Frodo Baggins

As comfortable middle age approaches, he’s broadly minding his own business, apart from the desire to perhaps go on a few more foreign holidays.  Sure, he’s a little eccentric, and keeps a more eclectic circle of friends and acquaintances than many.  But fundamentally a ‘nice, well-spoken gentle-hobbit‘, as Gaffer Gamgee might say.  Looking forward to not much more than another 50-60 years of smoking his pipe on the doorstep of Bag End; hiking through the Shire at night; writing; and keeping out of the way of those dreadful oiks, the Sackville-Bagginses.

Adventures?  No thank you.

All is well, until that meddling magician, Gandalf arrives …

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QotW (#81): 01 July 2019

legophthalmos
image: legophthalmos

Never mind having a MONTH named after you – you’re nobody, in the grand scheme of things, until you have your own Lego figure …

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QotW (#79): 17 June 2019

father and son

Like so many annual festivals, Father’s Day is, I suppose, all about perspective.  It certainly has a different resonance now I am a father myself, and with my eldest son getting married soon, there might come a time when it means something else entirely …

A little research suggests that the secular celebration is less than a century old in the US (far after Mother’s Day was established, incidentally), and only common in the UK after the Second World War!  That said, Catholics have been commemorating the Virgin Mary’s husband, St Joseph, since before Shakespeare’s day.  And of course, we shouldn’t forget the fifth of the Ten Commandments: ‘Honour thy father and mother‘.

Rather than write something mawkish about the way I am turning into my dad, or about my sons, I wanted to think about fathers in the 16th Century …

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QotW #78: 03 June 2019

shepheardes calendar JUNE
Can we send the Y11s on study leave yet, Headmaster?  They’re getting restless … [image:  June, The Shepheardes Calendar]
Today marks the beginning of one of the most eagerly anticipated parts of the school year … the final summer half-term.  The countdown’s on, for teachers at least: 7 weeks; 35 working days; a maximum of 28 lessons with each of those classes.

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[book review] Clare Asquith: Shakespeare and the Resistance

asquith resistance cover

Past a certain stage in studying literature, you begin to understand, perhaps better appreciate, the fact that texts are crafted entities.

(I choose ‘entities‘ deliberately, firmly believing texts have their own independent post-publication existences: a subject for another time, perhaps)

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QotW (#77): 20 May 2019

elizabeth essex film poster

When you teach Richard III you almost inevitably touch on the idea that ‘history is written by the winners’, as Orwell said in 1944 (and again, of course, so horrifically in Nineteen Eighty-Four). [a]

Who were victorious over Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex in the end?  Would he have recognised the history they wrote for him?

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[book review] Tracy Borman: The Private Lives of the Tudors

borman tudors cover

 

Tracy BormanThe Private Lives of the Tudors: Uncovering the Secrets of Britain’s Greatest Dynasty (Hodder & Stoughton: London, 2016)

A salutary warning for would-be 21st-century celebrities?

Francis Bacon calls it correctly, as he so often does:

Men in great place […] have no freedom; neither in their persons, nor in their actions, nor in their times. It is a strange desire, to seek power and to lose liberty: or to seek power over others, and to lose power over a man’s self. [a]

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