I think Shakespeare must have been a man after my own heart. By which I don’t just mean the fart jokes and the humanity, but also that he was clearly a man who knew the splendid weirdness of dreams. Not everyone does – I have friends who swear they never dream, and those who think an unusual dream is one where they go back to school and have a history lesson – but taught by their old geography teacher (the horror!). I on the other hand belong to that group of humanity who nightly gets vivid technicolour spectacles which have all the plot of the latest Hollywood blockbuster, and almost as many dinosaurs. And I suspect Shakespeare was too.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, I feel it is very apt to share with you the single most important I have learnt from Shakespeare. Men, woo your ladies with wordplay.
A strange and funny beast is prophecy. All the greats tell us this. And Shakespeare can’t let it well enough alone, like so many.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five gold rings,
Four calling birds, three French hens
Two turtledoves and a partridge in a pear tree
Well we could go down the maids route again – and god knows that once you start getting into it feels like almost everything Shakespeare wrote was in fact a double entendre – but instead the first thing I thought of was Lady Macbeth.
Wimbledon started today. Come on Tim!*
The tennis of Shakespeare’s time was an altogether different beast to lawn tennis. Played indoors in courts where pitched roofs are an integral part of the playing field, it is an incredibly fast game with the most complicated set of rules, which is why it is rarely filmed, and probably why lawn tennis is more popular in general.
I was reading an article in the Guardian yesterday with claimed it was Kindness Day – I haven’t found anything else to verify it, but what a lovely and underrated thing to celebrate! Almost immediately my mind ran to Portia’s famous speech:
Happy possibly birthday William Shakespeare!