Last week we…

Is it me, or do these school holidays seem to come around faster and faster?

Last week was a bit of a whirlwind. Number Two daughter was in Paris on a school trip until Friday, so Number One daughter and I went around and about. We managed a trip to London – culture and shopping again – we’re getting good at it. Then a visit to Stowe Landscape Gardens near Buckingham (I’ll post about that on Mists of Time as soon as I have a chance), and then we decided that we should carve a pumpkin, even though Number Two wasn’t going to be back in time to enjoy the trick or treaters.


And then, on Saturday, the highlight of our week – perhaps the highlight of our year – we went to Stratford, to see David Tennant in Richard II.


We booked the tickets so long ago, we’d had a lot of time to get excited about it, but in the event, it was even better than any of us could have hoped. I have absolutely no problem in admitting that it was the attraction of our almost all-time favourite Dr Who (I’m of the Tom Baker generation), that made us go along to what you’d have to say is not perhaps the top of the Shakespeare picks, but oh my goodness, how brilliant it was.

Our party included two fifty-something ladies, a seventy-something lady, two middle-aged men and four teenage girls, and each one of us came away absolutely enthralled. In my opinion, nobody does Shakespeare like the RSC – so many people think that Shakespeare is difficult to understand, but go to the RSC productions and they make it entirely understandable – if our teenagers knew what was happening, anyone could – simply marvellous.

So if having someone like David Tennant in the cast is what it takes to bring in the next generation of Shakespeare lovers – that’s fine by me. (Oh and he was incredibly good – of course).

Back down to earth now…





Campaign for the promotion of Shakespearean insults…

Good morning thou craven toad-spotted puttock.

My spirits were considerably lifted this morning, when amidst the huge pile of debris evicted from number 2 daughter’s school bag, I found a sheet of paper titled Shakespeare Insult Kit.

English: Title page of the First Folio, by Wil...

On two sides of A4 paper, three columns per page, are lists of words used in the works of Shakespeare to deliver insults. The idea is that you prefix any phrase with ‘thou’, then choose one word from column 1, plus one from column 3 and one from column 3.

The results are truly empowering.

Who wouldn’t want to shout ‘thou errent fen-sucked clotpole’ at the person who takes your car parking space, or ‘thou spleeny tardy-gaited skainsmate’ when the dog eats your breakfast.

Admittedly, these phrases don’t exactly trip of the tongue – but surely that’s just a question of practice.

So today I’m starting a campaign to improve the quality of my insults. I shall attempt to replace my usual ‘you plonker’ (actually it’s worse than that, but I’m not going to write what I mostly say), with a heart-felt selection from the list. Perhaps this week I’ll try to perfect;

  • thou dankish fly-bitten giglet,
  • thou gleeking boil-brained bum-bailey,
  • and thou churlish swag-bellied harpy.
How uplifting it is, to know that even in these difficult times, there are still young teachers out there, doing their bit to instil a love of Shakespeare into our digital age children.

When I was at school, (and no, despite what my daughters say, I can’t remember the man himself), we read and acted quite a lot of Shakespeare. No one told us when we were at middle school, that it was difficult, so instead, we just got on with enjoying it.

But – we also lived less than an hour drive away from Stratford-on-Avon, and in those days, could get on the night tickets for the RSC at reasonable prices. So until I left home, I went to most productions, acted by the best Shakespearean actors in the world. I’m sure that helped, because when Shakespeare’s plays are done well, you don’t need to have spent months studying the texts, the stories come to life before your eyes, you simply relax and let yourself become engrossed.

So, if an insult kit is what it takes to introduce a new generation to the treasure of Shakespeare, I’m all for it. I shall do my own bit to encourage a better class of insult – won’t you join me?