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.
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.’
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.
… 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 …
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.
(subtitled: it’s not life and death, it’s just Wimbledon, sigh. Now can I have my radio back, please?)
It’s not that long ago that I effectively promised that the blog’s ventures into the real world would remain topical rather than political – that when major sporting events were on I would give them as much treatment as the current political situation.
I despise Wimbledon. With a passion you could only vaguely grope at, like a sixteen-year-old boy trying to cop his first feel in the back row of the cinema. Assuming that sort of thing even happens nowadays – they seem to be too busy on social media, throwing popcorn, or trying to record the film on their smartphones.