Tag Archives: Shakespeare

Another Relaxing Day

I’ve done very little but sit down, read and eat today.

Julia cooked an excellent roast lamb dinner with a multiplicity of vegetables (potatoes, beans, brussels, carrots and celariac) and we had chocolate cake for dessert. I’m digesting that as I write.

The young couple next door (as I persist in calling them, in an elderly sort of way) brought us simnel cake cup cakes. I like them. And I like simnel cake too, just to avoid ambiguity.

I also wrote a sonnet. It’s a proper one, fourteen lines, iambic pentameters, a rhyme scheme and a volta. It took me twenty minutes and actually makes reasonable sense. Despite this, it still isn’t particularly good, but it’s a start. It just goes to show how constant practice makes it easier to write.

Now I just need a way of improving the quality.

I may search the internet for “How to Write Like Shakespeare”. I found this article. It’s not a great help, being geared more towards plays than poetry. I then found this article when adding “sonnet” to the search.

I also found a random sonnet generator, but I won’t post a link because it isn’t very good.

Six minutes to midnight – time to press the button.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Simnel Cake and Easter Chick

 

Things Fall into Place

Sorry, in the earlier version of this post I may have been a bit sloppy and given the impression that the haiku I wrote was the one in this post. In fact I did write the haiku in the post, but merely by taking words from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19 to illustrate how he used a lot of words that he could have used for something else.

My haiku, which won’t be published until October, is not as good. Though it does have ducks in it.

I just had a poem accepted for publication, my first in fourteen years.

This isn’t as bad as it may seem at first glance, as I actually didn’t submit anything for fourteen years. After a few years of limbering up and writing limericks I decided to give it a try again.

The first two submissions came back so fast it felt like they were on elastic. In the days when we had to use post it was all much more stately. So I tried again and seem to have sneaked in under the quality bar.

It’s only a haiku as I’m famously lazy and can’t see any point in writing more than I have to. Three lines, ten words, fourteen syllables, no rhymes.

In terms of effort it beats a sonnet hands down.

This is Sonnet 18 cut down to a haiku. It’s ninety-nine words shorter and though it’s not going to achieve immortality, it’s an example of what Shakespeare could have done if he’d have set his mind to it.

(Looking at it, I wish I’d thought of doing this sooner as it’s a lot easier than writing one from scratch).

a summer’s day

rough winds shake buds of May

eternal lines

If Shakespeare had written haiku instead of messing about with sonnets he’d have had more time to write things like a spin-off from Henry V where Sir John Falstaff opens up a small hotel on the south coast, with hilarious consequences. Falstaff Towers could have been so good…

 

A Typical Day in the Shop

I thought of taking some pictures to illustrate what I did at work today. It consisted mainly of buying and sorting coins (three times), turning down two lots of cigarette cards (there’s no market for them), helping a burglary victim with an insurance claim and explaining to someone why creasing a bank note heavily makes it unsaleable. As you can probably imagine, I wasn’t able to do much in the way of interesting photography.

We also had the normal calls from people trying to sell us “rare” coins from their change. It’s nice that people are interested in coin collecting again, but it does take time and tact to deal with the enquiries, particularly when they quote ebay as if it’s  holy writ.

£2 coin commemorating the Great Fire of London

Commemorative £2 coin

Ebay, as I may have mentioned before, is a guide to what idiots do when they have ten minutes to waste.

You can currently buy a Kew Gardens commemorative 50p for £149.99 on ebay. Or you can come down to the shop and buy one off us for £80, though we’ve had it several weeks now and it hasn’t sold. Or you can get a sense of proportion and buy a nice historical coin.

For that sort of money you can buy a nice silver denarius of Emperor Commodus (177 – 192), a sixpence of Charles I or a very clean George III sixpence of 1818. So much history…

(I have no link to this shop – I don’t even know the dealer, but it’s a good site for finding examples.)

Or you can buy an eight-year-old 50p piece, which may go out of fashion next year.

After fulminating on the state of coin collecting I polished the counters and cleaned the calculator.

They are all the same size, despite the way they appear in the photographs – something I need to address.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that people are interested in coin collecting again, and that they can find collectable coins in their change once more (like I used to do in the pre-decimal days of my youth). However, I don’t like the way the Royal Mint markets coins these days and I don’t like all the hype surrounding modern coins.

 

The Titles That Never Were

I just loaded this by accident, which shows what sort of trouble you can get into when you’re blogging. It’s ironic, since the post is partly about the trouble I could get into from Julia if I posted some of these unsuitable drafts. Fortunately it was ready to go, though it was intended for Tuesday morning.

If I tell you I still have posts about Free Range Rats and Hitler and Birdwatching in the pipeline you’ll get some idea of where I draw the line.

Julia draws it in a slightly different place. Which is why you won’t be seeing the following posts.

Nursery Crime: I was saving that for a blog about horrible young visitors to the Ecocentre, but as we were ejected from the centre and no longer deal with schools I don’t think I’ll be needing it. It’s a shame, but it didn’t take much creative effort to adopt a Genesis song title.

My Life and Times in the Urology Ward: It starts when I walk into the wrong clinic – mistaking  genitourinary and urology. Easy mistake if you don’t have medical training. As a general rule, a room filled with middle-aged men looking embarrassed is urology. A room filled with youngish people of both sexes looking shifty is genitourinary. After that, the tone of the piece goes downhill.

Cheap Toilet Rolls – The Curse of Modern Society: Julia has vetoed this one. I’ve edited it several times to make it more socially acceptable but she remains intransigent. To aficionados of  toilet humour this will surely rank alongside Shakespeare’s Cardenio, Love’s Labour Won or the musical version of Macbeth as a lost gem. Oh yes, there (probably) was one. Thomas Middleton is thought to have edited it in 1615 to allow more time for musical interludes, because nothing says tragedy like a musical interlude.

 

Musings on Mortality and Muesli

There’s a sort of league table in my mind regarding death.

There are people who have always been dead while I’ve been alive, so not only am I unmoved by Shakespeare’s death, I probably contain several molecules of the man himself.

There are icons from my youth, the people who always seem to have been famous, like the recently deceased Ronnie Corbett. When one of them dies it feels a bit like someone has chipped a bit of me away.

Then there are the others, people like Victoria Wood and Prince, who are uncomfortably close to my age. In the case of Prince, exactly my age.

When my mother reached her early 70s we had to stop here reading the obituaries in the local paper  because most of the people in there were her age or younger and it was starting to worry her.

Anyway, back to Shakespeare, I suppose. I won’t add much to the pile of words, except to say that the best Shakespeare I remember reading was a comic strip of Macbeth in Look and Learn. I think many of them, at least the ones worth reading (by which I mean the ones without all that soppy romance) would benefit from the graphic novel treatment -“Dredd’s Tales from Shakespeare” anyone?

Some trivia for you – Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date (which is why it has been chosen as UNESCO World Book Day) but died 10 days apart. There is no prize for the answer, just the satisfaction of knowing.

As for Don Quixote,  voted the best book ever written by a panel of experts, I can only say  that having recently tried and failed to read it that it would be best served by severe pruning and a murder in the first chapter, preferably Sancho Panza. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before – sorry if I have (it’s my age you know) but I’m a philistine and I like crime fiction. 😉

As for the rest of the day, I’ve taken a booking for two days of visits from a school (5-7 years old – my idea of purgatory as I’m not allowed to mention mummification, the Assize of Bread and Ale or eating guinea pigs). Nor am I allowed to mention Waterloo teeth, guano or CJD/kuru ( in relation to either cannibalism or modern farming practice). How am I supposed to teach with that sort of restriction hanging over me like the sword of Damocles? Which is probably something else I’m not allowed to mention.

It’s not particularly that the subject matter is considered too gruesome (though that probably enters into it) but that I might ask the kids a question they can’t answer. This includes asking why Henry VIII didn’t eat chips of why the Romans didn’t have tomatoes on their pizza.  After all, we wouldn’t want to teach them something would we?

End of rant.

The pictures scattered through the post are taken with the new camera with new batteries. I’ve discovered that you can get 80x zoom sometimes – not sure how I did it but bird pics are bigger as a result. And shakier. If I read the manual (as many of you are probably about to suggest) it would  spoil the surprise of discovery.

The picnic area is next to a local lay-by which has a some interesting plants, interesting birds and an excellent catering van. It also, as you can see, plays hosts to some people who don’t deserve decent facilities.

The Jackdaw is at 80x zoom, and we just picked the first rhubarb of the year.

I had muesli for breakfast as I wanted something smallish in case I set my socket off. Well, actually it was fruit and fibre, but it’s similar and a title with fruit and fibre in it is a difficult beast to tame on the road to alliteration.