QotW (#87): 02 September 2019

… and we’re back to school today, for another year’s fun and games.

Cue all kinds of traffic on Twitter and elsewhere on-line: pre-battle speeches from the veterans; advice sought by the newbies, and given by the self-styled ‘influencers’; new teaching-year resolutions declared; virtue-signalling pictures of classroom displays, and so on …

Have I got anything to add to the Babel? Not really.  I’d rather chat about Literature …

Continue reading “QotW (#87): 02 September 2019”

[book review] Helen Castor, Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity

cover castorHelen Castor, Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity (Penguin Monarchs Series), (London:  Penguin, 2018)

Helen Castor is – perhaps despite the title – sensibly objective in this short (117 pages) but useful biography of Elizabeth. Early on, she admits that the queen was almost unknowable to her subjects and rivals, let alone to us from a distance of over 300 years.
Continue reading “[book review] Helen Castor, Elizabeth I: A Study in Insecurity”

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”

[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.

 

 

Continue reading “[book review] Elizabeth & Mary”

(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”

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 …

Continue reading “QotW (#82) Some Have Greatness Thrust Upon Them”

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 …

Continue reading “QotW (#81): 01 July 2019”

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 …

Continue reading “QotW (#79): 17 June 2019”

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.

Continue reading “QotW #78: 03 June 2019”

[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)

Continue reading “[book review] Clare Asquith: Shakespeare and the Resistance”