Friday 27 September 2013

A letter from W Shakespeare

Yo Fans,

Coming up to me birfday, guys, and me deafday too.... but we won't talk 'bout dat! Just givin' advance warnin' on de prezzies! An' I is also hearing dat to mark de great occasion dey got dis fing and callin' it World Book Night 2014. Great title, 'cos it says it all really! It's right round de world, it's 'bout books, it's at night and it's dis year on me birfday!

So as it's only just over a week to de big day I fought I'd write dis, 'cos this is me first open letter to all intelligent community guys what reads me poems (dey is called sonnets for some reason) and me plays. Respeck, innit!

Next week de writer guy what owns dis blog is putting out a question and answer fing 'e just done wiv me. First one I done for 450 years - give or take - and he got some shock-horror probe info 'bout yours sincerely. Wow, like der's stuff even I didn't know. Dat's 'ow good it is! Like I never been to Stratford on de Avon and Anne Hatherway was never me woman. Blimey, de Angelina Jolie is more to my cuppa Typhoo, but I gotta say she sang a treat in Les Mis.

I got to finking me fans might want to know more than the writer bloke done ask, 'cos I is an interesting guy with a past that could sell some serious Sunday rags. Honest! And I is prepared to blow de trumpet for a smallish contribution to de Save De Bard fund. So let's get on de startin' line.

I was happy  bein' Jack de Lad in Stratford, North London. I had dis little stall down de market selling bits and bobs (nothin' hookey, honest, Guv!) and W Shakespeare Enterprises was doi' nicely wiv de local ladies. Life was pretty damn good I tellin' you. Den dese guys from de Big City stopped by me stall and stared me in the eye fit to bust a gut. 'ullo, it's de special Fuzz, I fought, but dey said dey was talent scouts. At last, I fought out loud, de Arsenal footy club has recognised de talent in der midst, but dey said NO! So it must be Chelsea, I said. No not even de Tottenham place. Dey tole me dey ran a feater called de Globe where plays was done pretty well every night. To keep up wiv de demand dey'd got dis sorta factory wiv loads of guys quilling away like crazy an' dey was doin' a pretty damn good job... 'cept de men needed a name. "Written by lots of Guys wiv Quills" just wasn't goin' to crack it, so they made up de name of William Shakespeare and dat was fine wiv der punters until dey decided dey wanted to see de man himself. Problem big time for de talented scouting guys!

Solution - come and see de real W Shakespeare in Stratford and make me de offer I can't refuse..... money, wimmin and more money. Definitely no horse's head inna bed an' fings! Yeh, a bit of fame as well. I was tempted, I gotta say, and after 'bout ten seconds I signed on de dotted wossname. De men fitted me up wiv super cool freads and a two up / two down wiv a fatched roof an' all. Dey even made up dis woman, Anne Hathaway, wot I never met and told de punters I was a hick from some place up Norf on de river Avon. At least I got 'em to make it Stratford on de Avon. Probably a nice place.

Anyway, so de guys woz quilling away like crazy and de punters was callin' out "Aufer, aufer!" and I'd come out and grab de applause and any money dey slung on de stage, plus a few veggies for de stew. It was good for a time, den I started quillin' me own stuff and you know wot? I woz good at de fing! But I didn't want to do de boring bit, so I fought of all de ideas for de plays and that, and de guys quilled de words on de paper. Worked well too. But den all these people started saying dat de Shakespeare plays woz written by someone other dan de man himself, and probably lots of guys. I ask you! Dey even said dis bloke called Bacon did some. Don't know wot dey was talkin' 'bout, 'cos he invented de frozen chicken. Never 'eard of 'im as a scribbler!

So, dat's de  blast of de trumpet and I wrote it all myself. No faceless guys penning away dis time. So go and 'ave a good time and see one of de plays wot I wrote like Macbeth, one of me best comedies. Well, it makes me laugh! Den 'ave a butchers at dis guy's blog next week for me interview, an' a bit of gos 'bout de World Book Night.


W Shakespeare esq.

Blog on, Dudes, innit!

Friday 20 September 2013


Happy Birthday, Will, on 23rd April!

To honour you, Cevantes and St George, 23rd April has also been declared World Book Night 2014.

My guest tonight is one of the world’s best selling playwrights and a man whose plays are performed in most countries and poems are read in schools wherever English is spoken..... much to the regret of most school kids!

Few men have made a greater impression on English literature, or ever will again, and yet for all that he remains an enigma, dipped in a quandary and wrapped up in a sticky toffee puzzle. Tonight he has agreed to fill in some of the gaps and provide us with answers to some of questions that have puzzled scholars for many years. So without more ado please welcome my guest William Shakespeare.

Mr Shakespeare, or if I may call you Will, it’s a real honour and a pleasure talking to you tonight. I know you haven't given many interviews and you cultivate the man of mystery persona, even to the extent I notice of shaving off your moustache and wearing dark glasses. What convinced you to break your silence after all these years?

Well, man, it’s not like I need the bread, or nuffin’. But like after 450 years and that, I reckon it’s time to raise the profile of the old bard, innit! Get into the modern culture and get some street cred and much respeck! Know what I mean? Sure, I know, turn around an’ there’s another Shakespeare show goin’ on an’ I reckon I got nearly as many gigs live now as the famous sir Lord Lloyd Andrew Rice-Webber, but the punters come to see the play ‘cos of the name, as well as because it’s a Shakespeare job. But if I’m not around no more punters may not turn up. Well, I suppose technically I’m not around any more, but I’m gonna change that.

That’s interesting. So without explaining how it is you and I are talking 450 years after you supposedly died, how are you going to do that?

Well, man, firstly I is updating the names of some of the plays, innit. Like Hamlet is gonna be Danish Blue Blood and I'll bung a bit of 'ows your farver in to spice it up,  Macbeth is now Carry On Scotty wiv Barbara Windsor as the Lady M and Romeo and Juliet is Neighbours, though I fink that might already be done by someone. I also fought I’d make a surprise stage entrance, or three. Then I might even scribe a new piece of genius and get Cameron Macintosh to bung it on. Face it, man, all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. Hey,that's not bad, I’ll use it!

I'm sure you  will. Will, ou wrote 38 plays and numerous sonnets. How did you keep up that phenomenal output?

File:Midsomer murders logo.jpgMonkeys, man, monkeys. Well, that’s what we called them, innit. Bung a load of wannabes in a room with some keyboards, man, and you’re gonna get Midsomer Night Murders one day. We just got more monkeys than any other scribbler factory, man!  Chris Marlowe had over 60 guys chained to desks, but you don't see many Chris Marlowe gigs in the West End! Ha! 
Anyway, what do you mean 38 plays? I only get royalties on 12! I’m gonna kill that agent and sue ‘is bum off! 
What’s a sonnet anyway?

It's a poem of 14 lines, Will, with a very strict iambic pentameter rhyme scheme and specific structure. You're supposed to have written 154 of the things!

Not me, Man. Must 'ave been that guy Bacon. You'd 'ave fought inventin' the frozen chicken would 'ave been enough, but he keeps trying to swipe my credit sort of fing!

Ok, well you wrote a number of history plays about the Kings of England. Why no queens?

Man, you ever meet those royal wimmin? Boy, they could break a swan’s wing with a blow of the nose. Say the wrong fing and you end up losing a good few inches in height... and that’s if you is lucky! Liz One, she took the cake and a barrel load of bickies, I’m telling you. Put your cloak on the wrong puddle and people get to call you Shorty in pretty darn quick time, innit! Look at Sir Raleigh. ‘e goes and invents the potato, fags and the bike and even then ‘e gets the chop! I ask you! Anyway, man, some of those kings was definitely queens, if you get my drift! 
Look at that Spencer guy. He pens this thing called The Faerie Queen, all ‘bout Liz One and wot a grovelling piece of stuff. ‘e got nuffing. Not even a knighthood to keep his ears warm. I tell you, I’m finkin’ of doing a load more Henry IV parts and selling ‘em to TV to replace Corrie. It's gettin' a bit stale!

An interesting concept, Will. Your contemporaries were all popular playwrights. Why do you think you’ve lasted longer than any of them?

You is talking ‘bout Ben Jonson and that Philip Marlowe guy (or was that the detective?). Yeh, they was ok, but not wicked, man. I mean they could wield a quill, but could they scribe a joke? I fink not. I mean, look at dat Faustus play. All the “Doctor, doctor” jokes de man Marlowe could ‘ave put in... not one. Ok “The face that sank a Fousand Ships”, that wasn’t bad and the crowds was rollin’ in the aisles at most nights. But I got more funnies in Macbeth and King Lear than de rest of ‘em put together! Ok, so why is I still around. Easy, man, ‘cos I is the Bard, and what’s more I is a dead Bad Bard. Well, a dead Bard.

How’s your wife, Will?

The famous Annie? That was all PR! I met her in the lights and she did a bit of average actin’ at the Globe. She ‘ad to dress as a boy, ‘cos girls ain't allowed on the stage, which is a bit ironical ‘cos she ain't that bad looking. But no one took any notice until she cut her hair and sung a few weepies. Then she got that bit part in Les Mis and she ain't looked over ‘er shoulders since, or mine come to that. One smooth lady. The PR guys put the word round she lived in Stratford-on-Avon, but the fools forgot to change ‘er name to Anne Shakespeare. So they gave ‘er three kids to keep her amused. Bit of a bodge up there, Man! You hear what I’m sayin’? Yeh, she was a nice kid, good hair, but she wasn’t my old lady!

Tell me about your childhood in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Will.

Avon? Sorry, man, I never ever been there. The whole thing was a PR stunt like I said and I ain’t been North of... of the most northern place I’ve been to. I was in Stratford, near Ilford in north London and the management thought it would look better if I came from somewhere in the sticks and became a local boy made good, so they chose Stratford-on-Avon. Could have been Pinner, then they’d ‘ave been screwed!

But, you’re buried in Stratford-on-Avon, Will. How do you explain that?

Look, I’m not sayin’ there wasn’t some guy called Shakespeare that lived there, son of a corn merchant an’ all that. May ‘ave even had a old lady called Annie Hathaway for all I know, but whoever’s in that tomb, it sure ain’t me! The PR guys even put a curse on the tomb in case anyone tried to 'ave a peek inside the thing and found a donkey instead of the Bard of wherever!

Your accent, Will. How come you're speaking a sort of cross between Cockney, Estuary English and Gangsta?

Hey, Man. I ain't changed my accent. This is pure 17th century street talk and all respect to the main rapper John Donne for being true to his roots. We all speak like this, and ok we may write a bit flowery, but only 'cos the punters like that sort of thing, innit! I mean "Shall I compare thee to a Summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate". I mean, Man, who is gonna thrill a top woman with that, 'specially if it's pissing down and foggy!

Hmm.... I've heard that the purest English is now spoken by people in Boston. How do you feel about that?

I Don't, Man! Never heard of the place. Up by Romford way is it?

Well, what's your next project, Will?

Tricky one that, Man. Now that Larry Oliver is gone and kicked the bucket and Kenny Brannigan is too busy bein' a Swedish detective the historical stuff is dead, I'm turnin' to music big time and I've become a music blogger. I'm givin' prizes for the best comment and lookin' at the time now is the winner of my discotheque. Hey, that's not a bad line to start Dicky 3! Bit of work needed, but not bad!

Will, as one of the world's most successful writers what advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Keep the day job! Don't write on de Queens and get a good PR operation behind you, man!

Will, it's been a pleasure talking to you and a real eye-opener. Good luck with your next project.

Thanks, Man. My agent will send the bill.

Will Shakespeare doesn't have his own website yet, nor does he blog, but you can find out all about World Book Night on

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 13 September 2013

It struck me that I can't honestly think of any author, or writer who will be remembered and revered as a "great" in 450 years time.... not one!
And yet there's one that already has and probably will still be read and performed in ther year 2,500AD. But......


It's a fact that Shakespeare is the only writer of any kind, or nation, that virtually every school kid is forced to read at some point in their young lives. J K your heart out, though who knows what the future may hold! Though I have to say that Potter really isn't in the same game as Macbeth! The books are much longer than Shaspeare's works for one thing!

For Shakespeare to command such respect over the centuries means he must have been quite a guy with a reasonably good business head on his shoulders and probably a fairly impressive agent and business team. On the other hand he may have just been incredibly lucky. Let's face it, he wasn't the most popular playwrite in Elizabethan England. Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe drew bigger crowds and it wasn't until the 19th century that Will S was acclaimed a genius...200 years after he died, the poor man!

He wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and lots of other poems, which considering he died when he was 52 and retired 3 years earlier than that mean he must have spent most of his days writing, and probably most of his nights as well! Only Barbara Cartland and George Simenon came anywhere near to the same productivity and both lived to ripe old ages. That's not to say he didn't write all the works attributed to him, but like in American Sitcoms, there may well have been a team of Will Shakespeares penning away. Actually if you actually look through one of his plays, they're quite short in the number of words and pages. It's the interpretation on stage that takes the time, though even there Mr S helped out giving detailed instructions on entrances and exits. The most famous being "Exits, as though chased by a bear"!

One day, someone will open Shakespeare's tomb in Stratford Upon Avon. Legend has it that hidden in the tomb is the truth as to whether he really wrote all his plays and sonnets or whether they were written by either Bacon, or a team of ghost writers. Rumour also has it that he was gay, was actually a woman and didn't actually exist at all, though that would probably mean that his tomb is empty and that Anne Hathaway was a delusionist who invented him to account for the three children that appeared out of the blue!
The curse stopping anyone opening the tomb  is as follows:

Good frend for Iesvs sake forbeare,
To digg the dvst encloased heare.
Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,
And cvrst be he yt moves my bones.

It obviously worked as a deterrent, because even when the church was renovated in 2008 everyone was very careful not to disturb the tomb. Unfortunately Shakespeare doesn't say what the curse consists of, but it probably has something to do with having to sit through all 38 plays in one go and learn all the sonnets by heart. A school kid's nightmare!

When I was at school I took A level English Literature, much of which meant studying  Shakespeare and his contemporaries and I have to admit that of the lot Shakespeare came fairly well down the list. John Dryden, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson were all more saucy and in many way funnier than the Bard, with the exception of Dryden who was a romantic. Volpone and Bartholomew Fair I always reckoned to be better than Hamlet, or any of Shakespeare History plays, but the 19th century critics forced Shakespeare to the fore and he hasn't looked back.. It's just a shame his descendants don't get royalties from sales of his plays in print form and from the thousands of performances round the world.

As a quotable author he's given the English languages some of the best known quotes:
 - To be, or not to be, that is the question (often used in comedy shows!)
 - Is this a dagger I see before me? (Many comic answers have been given!)
 - Now is the winter of my discontent.
 - This too, too solid flesh (often said of aging ballet dancers)
 - Make me immortal with a kiss (WRONG! That was from Dr Faustus by Marlowe!)
 - Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. (Before iPhones and Filofaxes were invented)
 - Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? (Under the bleedin' curtain, according to Tony Hancock in The East Cheam Drama Festival)
 - Out damn Spot! (and don't come back in until you've had a pee!)
Plus so many more, and that alone makes him unique.

It looks as though he existed, was born and died in Stratford and spent some twenty plus years in London writing numerous plays and putting them on the stage at The Globe and elsewhere. He probably wrote all the plays himself because the style is very consistent as is the spelling....
....and there's the inconsistency. Shakespeare actually spelled his name in 16 different ways, which in itself is a stunning achievement, but rather unusual in a man who was credited with being the world's greatest playwrite. OR WAS HE????

Blog on, Dudes!