Sunday 24th April
What’s all this fuss about the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death; I can still remember the 400th Anniversary of his birth. I was at Grammar School and had only recently been exposed to Willy the Shake and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. We did a Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Tempest and Macbeth at school. What did I think of it back then? I thought Midsummer was a bit daft, fairy queens and a guy with a donkey head called bottom – not mon tas de the at all. Macbeth was better, a bit of gore and murder and I liked the three hags scenes, but I actually really liked The Tempest with mischevious Puck and Ariel, it all seemed to tie in with the burgeoning psychedelic scene unfolding in San Francisco and London; and it was London where our class went to see a production of the Tempest, with filmed sequences and modern(ish) music. But really my thoughts about Shakespeare were that it was just something we had to study, I didn’t really rate him as a great playwright or poet. I tended to avoid him whenever they showed something on the telly, far too intellectual for me.
Ah, but I was so much younger then, and now I realise what I missed. I have since seen a couple of versions of Othello which I really liked (a great story you must admit) and Hamlet, which I enjoyed too. Romeo and Juliet I wasn’t that impressed by and I have tried to watch Lear and a couple of the histories on TV but didn’t really get them. And I don’t expect to ever really get back into Shakespeare again, A bit like Classical music, I like the bits I like but didn’t have the childhood exposure to be a real enthusiast. The amazing thing about Shakespeare is that even though you might not have seen the plays there are so many phrases we all use which come straight out of those over 400 year old plays and couplets. Shakespeare is possibly the greatest playwright ever, hard to deny – but in my case quite hard to really like as well.