Friday 25 April 2014

Letter from Christopher Marlowe

The man himself

Dear sweet people,

Through the old grapevine I hear that my almost-good friend Shakespeare has been making disparaging remarks about me and my contemporaries. The minx! I do believe it may be time to put the record straight on a couple of matters before things get out of hand, as it were. Or as you might say.... go from Bard to Verse! Ha! And they say I can't write comedy!

Our Will may not be what we intellectuals would call a posh boy, but by gosh he can hold his own in the best of society... and occasionally the worst of it when he needs to. He can down more flagons of ale and strong wine than other piss-artist I know,and many a sailor has been known to blush at his language. He isn't a bad old sausage though, but High Society to him is one that hasn't bathed in weeks so that even pigs walk on the opposite side of the street. On the other hand he's a reasonable wielder of the old quill and one day may even amount to something, if he keeps off the quaffable vino long enough to find his ink pot.

It would be lovely though if he came up with an original plot for a change. I mean to say.... History! That's all he seems to write about. Kings and Queens, Emperors and Empresses. All well documented by some old bloke called Holinshed who did all the damned work, so that Will could make it rhyme.... which he doesn't always manage to do. Ok, so he did the two star-crossed lovers thing called Romero and Julian, or something.... but so contrived! He thinks she's dead so he kills himself. She recovers and sees him dead so she really kills himself and they all die happily everafter. Sheesh! At least my heroes do real things that people can believe in, like make pacts with the Devil and meet interesting people like Helen of Troy!

Then there's the thing we have to call "the Scottish Play" because if we use it's real name, disaster will follow. I ask you, what a load of old brown stuff. What could be more disasterous than not being able to call a play by its real name? And why is the word Macbeth unlucky anyway? OMG, I've said it now.... Shriek!

Only joking.

I will say this for Mr S, his publicity machine is second to none. No sooner has he finished a play than the 10% boys spring into action getting endorsements from the aristocracy, dedications from and rumoured affairs with ladies in black, anonymous donors backing the stage version (I'm sure with a little bit of arm twisting) and multiple interviews with the ballardeers who sing his praises. It really isn't fair! All I get is a poster down the local tavern with second billing to a fire-eating juggler.

Of course, much that you may hear about Shakespeare is complete and utter fiction. The idea of him being a country lad making good in the Big City of London is unbelievable and contrary to the fact as we all know them. He actually came from the suburbs of North London. I also know of no man who has ever met his so-called wife Anne Hathaway, let alone his three children. They probably exist somewhere, but they're not his. I mean, hasn't anyone twigged that her name would be Anne Shakespeare, not Hathaway? His PR guys messed up big time there!

But enough of Willy, let me tell you about my London. It's the largest town in the country with a population of 200,000 living in cramped conditions with houses so close together you can shake hands with the people living across the road without leaving your house. That may sound nice and cosy, but it's amazing what nice comfy diceases you can pick up on a casual neighbourly handshake. Incidentally the little stream that runs down the middle of most streets is not ornamental and is usually a bit whiffy. Those are not carp swimming by either.... more of an anagram!

Fashion is such an important part of daily life, with vibrant colours, make-up, laces and velvet as the must-haves. Even some of the women make an effort, poor lambs, though let's face it, they start at a disadvantage and usually finish as a fluttering mess. I can't see that ever changing. Men will always be the peacocks strutting the catwalk of life, as is our right, and that's why women don't appear on stage, I'm sure. Poor dowdy things.... er, all except for our wonderful Queen Elizabeth, who'd have my head for a paperweight at the drop of a lace hanky! 

Dear, sweet Queenie! Rumour has it that she bathes three or four times a year, whether she needs to or not. She is such a fastidious royal person! She has her favourites though. Drake, Raleigh and Leicester are all a bunch of crawlers and they tell her anything to get a little favour... even that she has a lovely head of hair, when we all know it's a wig and she's as bald as one of Drake's bowling balls. That's another thing, Franny Drake is no sailor; he even gets sick in the bath. He has a body double to do all his onboard ship stunts and as to his expeditions to the New World, sure, his ship went, but he took an extended holiday down in Cornwall until it got back, then took all the glory.

As to Wally Raleigh... what can one say, except the man idolised by millions as the great discoverer only gave us all a bad cough and obesity. Not only that, but he had terrible dragon's breath, and he thought people turned their faces away from him because they were blinded by his glory. Silly, silly man!

Me, jealous? You bet! Knowing my luck I'll get to the age of 29 and get knifed if some pub brawl or other. Hey Ho!

Love and kisses to all my fans.

Chris M

Blog on, Dudes!

Friday 18 April 2014

It's Will Shakespeare's birthday interview!

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! 

Saturday 5 April 2014

World Book Night 2014

So.... what is important about 23rd April?

It's amazing how many people in England don't know that 23rd April is St George's Day and yet he's our patron saint.

Fair enough, he was probably Turkish, probably never knew where the UK was, let alone came here, and is also the patron saint of Catalonia..... but he's ours and a good excuse for drinking a pint in his honour.


23rd April is also the anniversary of Shakespeare's birth and death, as well as the day Cervantes died. Another connection with Spain.

This year, though, the day is even more important from the literary point of view. World Book Night 2014 is being celebrated and authors, booksellers and just about everyone associated with books are giving their time and fruits of their output to encourage and foster reading.

Rick Barter, owner of The Bookshop in Lee-on-the-Solent is inviting people to come to his shop between 7.00pm and 9.00pm on 23rd April and meet a number of local, published authors and talk to them about being writers and about their books. Rick has kindly asked me to be one of those authors and I'm really thrilled at the thought of meeting some great writers and people who I hope will become fans of my Temporal Detective Agency books. 

You don't have to be invited.... just turn up and
enjoy the fun!

Hope to see you on the 23rd April.

Blog on, Dudes!