Shakespeare: The Upstart Magpie …

magpie-499x375

there is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers heart wrapt in a Players hide , supposes he is as well able to bumbast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes factotum , is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrie. [a]

Stop and think for a moment – the more you read, the less you find that is truly original. *

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QotW (#64): 21 January 2019

If there’s anyone more maligned than Greene who wasn’t actually a serial killer or worse, I’m struggling to come up with a name. 

jiminy cricket

Although it increasingly appears to have been abandoned in the twenty-first century, conscience is everywhere in the late sixteenth.  Hamlet, of course, blames it for his cowardice; Margaret curses Richard III with it; and it seems almost a rule that if you hire two thugs to carry out some dastardly act, one of them will prove reluctant …

It is also, it seems, only for the poor and the base – much like its cousin, Patience.  Even in moments of classic anagnorisis, I’d suggest we scarcely see it in our tragic heroes – a subject for another post, perhaps.

Anyway, to Robert Greene

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QotW (#61): 12 November 2018

BH ken dodd
Ken Dodd (and his infamous tickling stick):  ‘I haven’t spoken to my mother-in-law in eighteen months.  I don’t like to interrupt …’

You probably know my taste for puerile humour by now.

This joke (and there are many versions of it knocking around) has been a favourite since before I got married, a good twenty years ago.  You can imagine how well it went down, the first time I used it on my (rather fierce) ex-mother-in-law.  I received what we might call an ‘old-fashioned look’, with added chilli.  Nowadays, poking fun at someone’s verbosity is also self-referential, because, yes, I unashamedly like to talk!  In my defence, it’s because I ‘live’ in 1592.

Which leads me nicely to this week’s QotW

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QotW: 18 June 2018 (#46)

Marlowe was never going to fit in. In some ways I wish he hadn’t tried so hard – he would have lasted longer.

BH green_goldfish_1600x1200
What?

‘We don’t like mavericks here …’

– is what I was told some years back at my first school.  My first school, just to be clear …

It’s not a default position, I promise you – I honestly don’t aspire to be a maverick.  It’s simply about my always bearing in mind the attributed words of Einstein:  the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results.  So if it demonstrably doesn’t work or doesn’t make sense, you need to find someone else, if you want blind obedience.  How do we improve, otherwise?  Plus, my teaching mentor gave me advice I’ve never forgotten, and which has served me well (and my students, if results are anything to judge by*).  We might paraphrase it as:  ‘As long as you know where should be taking the students, don’t stress about abandoning the lesson plan and getting there via another route.

So, admittedly, I can be a:

maverick     ˈmav(ə)rɪk/  noun
  1. 1.  an unorthodox or independent-minded person.

But, surely, no SURELY, this what we aim to foster in our children (what actually we reward in the subject: critical, evaluative thinking and independence of ideas – those terms are on the markschemes, at the top end) … right? Or does education exist to train people into unthinking passivity?

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PTS 10/058: Eat up your Shakespeare

Putting Shakespeare in students’ mouths is often as much fun as feeding a baby – the faces they pull!

BH Shakespeare Food
image (C) Francine Segan

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:  Act I

Shakespeare’s language lives in the mouth, not the ears or eyes.  It needs to be tasted, and one of the advantages of living alone is that I can pace up and down my flat’s lengthy corridor reading tricky lines out loud, or just playing with the inflections of favourites:

I wasted time and now doth time waste me.

I WASTED time and NOW doth time waste me.

I wasted TIME and now doth TIME waste ME.

And so on, like the celebrity skit in the BBC’s Shakespeare400 celebration.  You get the picture.

If it needs to be tasted, it also needs, I suppose, to be CHEWED.  That’s what we often do in the classroom …

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PTS 09/051: Women Weaken Legs (and Brains, too)

Lesson 1: Books, no matter how interesting, are not a girlfriend substitute …

BH Rocky and Micky
‘You lay off that pet shop dame.  Women weaken legs!’ ~ Mickey (Burgess Meredith)

PTS read through:  Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act I

It feels appropriate to arrive at this play in the month when it seems you’re not a functioning member of society if you don’t add some kind of punishing denial to the post-Christmas blues:  Dry January, the unappetising-sounding Veganuary, or in my case, the Walk 1,000 Miles in 2018 challenge (already behind schedule).  Personally, I think we’ve enough to cope with, waiting for things to warm up and the nights to become appreciably longer.

Nevertheless, this is how the play opens – with a preposterous resolution by the foolish King of Navarre and three of his intimates to ‘abjure the rough magic’ of the fair sex. Unlike Rocky’s trainer Mickey, they’re worried about the intellectual rather than physical effects that women may have on them

I give them a maximum of ten minutes, stage time …

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Quote of the Week: 27 November 2017

Are our masters “fettered with chains of gold”? Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) thought so. Perhaps we could ask Theresa May …

BH Sanders OXford History

Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2004)

(A book I rescued – for under 50p – from a Greater Manchester library who had withdrawn it because it was not being taken out …)

I’m going to step back a little to someone who operated before Shakespeare lived, but will have influenced the development of poetry up until our boy arrived on the Shake-scene.

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