Tag Archives: Shakespeare

In which there is a level-up

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Not on the quality of my writing, sorry! No, I realised the other day that I’ve reached a level of familiarity with the subject I am studying where I feel I can get away with pop culture references. Don’t get me wrong, the occasional Monty Python or Airplane (or Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or whatever) joke came up in the conversation, but I had never actually done something like that on coursework. And then I was assigned to do a presentation on Culhwch and Olwen, which, when you take out all the death, violence and magic, is the story of an overprotective father who won’t let his daughter date anyone and kills anyone brave (or stupid) enough to try. Cue a frantic search for relevant jokes and kudos to Google for providing me with this little gem:

torturing your daughter's boyfriend

So why do I consider this a level-up? Well, think about it. If you’re going to seriously study something (in my case Medieval Literature), then the least you can do is treat your subject with the respect you’d show someone much older than you (who also happens to be in possession of several embarrassing anecdotes from your parents’ youth). Eventually however, you will start gaining familiarity with them, until you are trading stories instead of just listening. I claim to be no expert in Middle Welsh poetry or Arthurian legends. I can only say that I have spent enough time reading (about) them to recognise names, themes and patterns and to see them more as a part of a long chain of literary works that -when stripped to their bare bones- all go back to the same subjects, rather than as a remote and separate entity that cannot be comprehended (I leave that sort of holy terror for the moments I have to speak on the phone. I HATE talking on the phone!)

Next level-up would be for me to be capable of stringing two sentences together in Middle English, if only to enjoy the look of shock on the faces around me if it ever happened in casual conversation. I do that sometimes with Shakespearean expressions and the result is usually hilarious.

 

 

P.S. Cookies to whoever guesses which Monty Python and Airplane references we made most often!

Automatic writing exercise (aka why I must not stay up late)

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It was cold, it was wet, and I wanted to punch someone. So….a typical Monday morning. The mist curled around my ankles as I leaned tiredly against the bus stop, like wet fingers crawling up my spine. Yawn after half-formed yawn I shook myself. Staying up late last night had not been a good idea but the alternative -an eight-hour roller coaster of nightmares- didn’t sound very inviting either. A shiver ran through my spine as it started to actually rain and the shadows of the nearby trees lengthened sinisterly. Great! Just what I needed! I’m running late for my class and now I’m to have an encounter with a semi-immortal being with a shtick for showy entrances before my first cup of coffee.

“I swear, whoever-you-are, if you so much as materialise a finger, I will bind you in a circle and hit you with my bag.”

I let said bag fall to the ground with an impressive THUD. The shadows shrink back to their proper place hastily and I smirk. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nothing like the comforting wight of Shakespeare’s Complete Works to make a girl feel safe…

London Bridge is falling down…falling down…falling….

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Well, not down. Sorry to any music lovers, but from what I saw in the gloomy twilight London Bridge was most definitely NOT falling down! Or was it Tower Bridge? I was on Southwark with my back to the St. Paul Cathedral so… But I run ahead of myself. First things first: Welcome old readers and new to my latest round of travel blogging! Sit back, kick off your shoes and immense yourself to the wanderings of a 20something student with a limited budget and no head for directions.

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Aaand we’re ready to go folks!

My trip started so well, I couldn’t help feeling suspicious. I was on the train station early enough to grab a coffee, I boarded the train as soon as it arrived and made myself comfortable. The thing is, I have a really bad history with trains. Delays, misprints, getting lost…You name it, I’ve been through it some point. So I was understandably internally freaking out when one of the train people (conductor? I’m not sure what you call them) asked me if I was certain I was on the right train. Yup, I was, thank you very much! What followed, after we rolled out of the station at the pace of a lazy dragon, was a blissful couple of hours spend in re-reading Chocolat (read it if you haven’t, it’s AWESOME!), listening to music, admiring the landscape and fighting sleep. Had a bad night yesterday, I always seem to sleep badly the night before a trip. Which, if you think about it, is really bad management on my body’s part.

Anyway, not much to say for the train ride other than to describe a gorgeous sky that greeted us just as we entered the greater London area. Imagine that: it had been raining so far for the entire trip, so the landscape was coloured dark green and grey, But here the clouds were thinner and the occasional burst of sunlight, the pretty, golden kind, burst through. It’s amazing how much of a change the difference in light makes.

So I made it well and whole to London, and even managed to decode the train map in less than ten minutes. And that’s about where my transport-related fortune bids me goodbye. You see, I knew which stop to get off to, I just didn’t know which exit.Inevitably, I ended up choosing the one furthest from my hotel. It wasn’t a long walk, but if you’ve been in London you know how well the roads are signposted in some areas. Thank goodness for mobile GPS.

As for the hotel. It’s actually much better than I expected. Sure the neighbourhood is not that good (read: took a taxi back because the streets look scary) and there is some wear-and-tear but the room is clean, the bathroom sparkling and the bed comfortable. Also, I haven’t been able to hear anything past faint footsteps through the door, and after that place I stayed last year in Bangor…. When I booked they said they were giving me the last room, which might explain why there are a single and a double bed here (three guesses on which one I’ll sleep).

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I unpacked quickly and off I was to see my cousin. Poor baby, he’s a first year. Being the jaded third year that I am, I find his fresher-itis very amusing. We went at Nandos (not my top choice when there are pubs to sample) and then for a walk in Southwark. Top moment of the evening (initiating fangirl mode in 3…2….) I FINALLY SAW THE GLOBE THEATER! OH MY SHAKESPEARE! I FINALLY SAW IT! -ahem- Yes, I know it’s not the original but until I bump into either the Doctor of Marty McFLy (at this point I’m not picky. Heck, I’d even put up with Captain Kirk!), until I manage to get my hands on a time travelling transport I will content myself with what I can get.

Not that I am complaining... It IS the freaking Globe...

Not that I am complaining… It IS the freaking Globe…

Anyway, Cousin and I walk all the way to St Paul’s cathedral (cue the Mary Poppins song)  but by then the cold was getting annoying, so we grabbed a taxi and headed home. And so here I am finishing these lines. I will attempt to upload (the WiFi keeps crashing) and I hope you enjoyed my babbling. See y’all later!

P.S: Look at the gorgeous moon I saw from Southwark bridge!

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Reconstruction of the student council faces mixed reactions (by John Gaunt, editor)

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Much debate had arisen lately from the near complete reconstruction of the school’s student council. What started as a debate between Secretary Henry Hereford and Treasurer Thomas Mowbray over fund allocation, soon escalated to a full scale investigation. Richard Plantagenet, the President resigned when suspicions of his involvement in some rather questionable expenses was implied. He was shortly followed in this decision by member of the council, Bushy, Bagot and Green. Professor York, who led the investigation on behalf of the Parent-Teacher Organisation, has not publicly announced his results, however, rumours amongst the student body point to last semester’s notoriously expensive Winter Formal Dance’s tickets as well as the non-refundable, cancelled senior trip to Ireland.

Elections for the new student council were held last Friday. Henry Hereford was voted President by a sweeping majority. Henry Northumberland was appointed Vice-President, William Willoughby Secretary, while Harry Percy, Piece Exton and William Ross replaced members Bushy, Bagot and Green. Of the old council only Edward Aumerle, former Vice-President was re-elected, this time in the function of Treasurer.

While the majority of the student body greeted the reconstruction enthusiastically, there is still a small function that feels the change was unnecessary. When asked, Stephen Scroop, a year 10 student, said “This whole re-arrangement was altogether unnecessary. Hereford brings nothing new to the council, nor do the new-arrivals that accompanied him. Richard’s council was only dissolved due to allegations and frankly, we all have more important things to worry about than whether the seniors get an extra vacation or not.”

Victory over Agincourt! (by Alexander Court, sports reporter)

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In a rather marvellous repeat of last week’s victory over Harfleur High our football team crashed Agincourt’s team during overtime. Nicknamed by the newly appointed captain, Harry Bolingbroke, as the “lucky ones” our schools team entered the court today with the odds against them.

Gower, Fluellen and Macmorris, last year’s golden boys, graduated at the end of term and their replacements, Pistol, Nym and Bardolph, left much to be desired. Thomas Erpingham, hailed as the best goalkeeper the team ever had, had to leave the team due to an injury in the middle of the season, but his substitute, Michael Williams, held the front heroically if not a little hot-headedly.

More disputed was Erpingham’s, displacement as team captain by Bolingbroke. Mainly an offensive player, Hal has been notorious for switching between being the main strength of the team and its bane at the drop of the hat. His attitude and his infallible aim when it comes to scoring penalties have gained him the nickname “the dreaded Five” amongst his peers. It seemed however that captaincy suited Hal like a glove. Despite some complaints voice by former mid-fielder Thomas Grey, the string of victories the “lucky ones” have achieved speaks for itself.

The gloss of these recent victories seemed to heighten the tension on the field today. Louis Guyenne, captain of the opposing team was characteristically heard before the match declaring that “Henry Bolingbroke would be more fit in a ball pit than a football field.” Unfortunately this comment was made within earshot of some of Harry’s teammates which might account for some of the more aggressive tackling going on during the first half of the game.

BREAKING NEWS: As Missy Quickly, our resident gossip collector, informs me Agincourt’s defeat was more personal than we poor sport reporters had suspected. In fact, I am told that the stunning presence on Harry’s side during the after-victory party was none other than Louis Guyenne’s younger sister, Kate, who appeared to prefer Stratford High’s partying sect over smoothing her brother’s ruffled feathers.

 

Stratford High

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Stratford High, run by an eccentric literature professor named William Shakespeare is an explosive cocktail of figures and characters with distinctive personality traits, a love for the dramatic and an irrepressible need to monologue.

Stratford High is also my pet project as I revise for my Shakespeare module exam. Each post is loosely based on the plot of the play I am currently revisiting and presented as an article for the school’s newspaper, The Folio. Some articles might come from the less reputable magazine, Quarto, but we respectfully ask the readers not to put much stock on these gossipmongers hijacking our page.

Without further Ado and in honour of Mister Shakespeare’s 450th birthday I give you Stratford High through the eyes of its students.

 

 

***Let it be without saying that this series is posted with all due respect an acknowledgement to William Shakespeare, who I’m sure would be laughing his wig off at my attempts to borrow his characters and/or plots if he could actually read them.

Spring Trip 2014 – Day 3 – English version

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Breakfast with the Mayans

Recently I read Chocolat by Joanne Harris and her description of a chocolaterie resembled a dream. A dream that, to my immense happiness, came true in York in the form of the York Cocoa House. Everything served there has cocoa included in some way, and their variety of hot chocolates is enough to make anyone drool –excuse me while I wipe my keyboard- I sincerely recommend their Spanish hot chocolate. It’s bitter and thick and just missing a dash of chilli to make you think you’re in Mexico and hanging out with Montezuma.

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Lists and priorities

The main reason behind this trip was to check out the universities I’m considering applying on for my Master’s degree. When one makes such a list, one ought to consider things like the quality and reputation of a university, what is offered on campus, how safe the city is, the fees and so on and so forth, Practical stuff that ought to take the lead.

These are NOT the only criteria for a successful choice. A city might be safe but five minutes breathing its air and you’re ready to go. A university could have amazing professors but horrible amenities on campus. It might sound silly, but think about it! You would spend a lot more than a couple of days at this place; you need to be certain it works.

Which is why I spent my day just walking around the city. The weather could not make up its mind, one moment it was drizzling, the next it was sunny. I really like York although it’s certainly bigger than Norwich. It has that mix of old and new, fantasy and reality, city and countryside… I can’t describe it. But I have always gone with my gut instinct, and if it’s telling me I’ve struck gold here… well I’m not about to argue the point!

King’s Manor

My stroll was not completely without purpose. I did visit the King’s Manor, where the university’s Medieval Department is housed (along with a few others). Needless to say, I believe, how incredibly awesome it would be to study medieval literature in an equally old building.

The diamond on my crown

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend about good ol’Shakespeare and how much I would like to get my hands on one of the original editions of the First Folio (or the foul papers, I’m not picky). Imagine my happiness when I came nose to glass case with one such copy at the Yorkshire museum. I couldn’t touch it of course, but even to see it… I dare say that would have made this whole trip worth it even if nothing else here had stricken my fancy.