Saturday, 30 April 2011

All I Ask Is A Comfort Break...

I recently undertook an eight hour coach journey. Irritatingly, it was not one of those that people on Radio 4 or The Guardian witter on about, travelling in some far flung part of the globe in order to go and patronise some poor people and make their lives in a small, and yet significant, way ever so slightly worse. No, this was a journey from Newcastle to Birmingham (insert own joke here) via Leicester and Nottingham. I was obliged to go this longer way owing to the increasingly insane cost of rail travel in this fair and royalist land. £100 Richard Branson wanted from me and for that amount I expect luxury on a scale that would Louis XIV of France, the Sun King himself, mutter ‘Steady on old boy.’.

Actually, it was a rather pleasant journey. Certainly nicer than the overcrowded hell that is Virgin cross-country these days. Not only was there room for your luggage, there was even room to stretch out your legs and even turn a page of your book without nudging your neighbour, none of which is possible on Beardie’s trains.

It’s not the longest single journey I’ve undertaken in my time. That would be the thirty-two hour ferry crossing from Ireland to France I undertook in 1985 during which I tasted frogs’ legs for the only time, found out that members of the US Marine Corps are obliged to shave their legs* and saw the first Police Academy film.

Those were the golden days of travel.

Incidentally, I will not divulge the name of the coach company with which I travelled. This blog is not for hire. Meanwhile, here’s a song for you:

*’You want waxing? You can’t handle waxing!’

Saturday, 23 April 2011

All Hail a Glover's Son

Another 23rd of April, another Shakespeare’s birth/deathday celebration. Another piece about whether Shakespeare did actually write the plays or whether someone else did and if so, does it actually matter(

It does, but only because of the argument put forward by those who cannot bear the idea that a glover’s son from Stratford could be England’s greatest writer. Once you strip away the glitter of their argument it comes down to simple snobbery and as such needs to be resisted rather than ignored. The idea that a provincial with a reasonable but not amazing education could achieve what Shakespeare achieved has to be celebrated, not furiously denied. Interestingly, so angry are the Shakespeare sceptics at the effrontery of the man’s persistent refusal to be well-born, they rarely even use his name, preferring to refer to him as ‘the glover’s son’ or ‘a Stratford actor’. They even call themselves anti-Stratfordians, which does rather reveal the wellspring of their denial. Refute and then ignore is my humble advice. You can find the facts you need in Bill Bryson’s excellent biography, Shakespeare, though doubtless the sceptics would refuse to accept his arguments because he’s American or too popular or whatever. As Macbeth says:

…it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

On a better note, once again here’s the reason why we should celebrate this day with, as it is also St George’s Day, John Gielgud as John of Gaunt in Richard II stating why he rather likes England but is a bit upset about recent events. He shouldn’t worry, it will all turn out for the best a couple of plays down the line, well, for England anyway, not so much for France:

Have fun.