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Shakespeare Holidays

Summer, a Twitter pal of mine who lives in Punjab here in north India tweeted this morning that she was reading 'Romeo and Juliet' with her daughter.  I tweeted in reply that I am reading "As You Like It" with my son.  She  commented on the coincidence that we were both having Shakespeare holidays.

I enjoy Shakespeare and am certainly loving this opportunity to read one of his plays with which I've been less acquainted.  A few posts back, I mentioned that I'm busy with Shakespeare on account of my son's examinations and Grannymar, a blogging friend of mine from Ireland replied that it seemed strange that I would be reading the Shakespeare if my son was doing the examination.  That got me thinking.  My mother certainly didn't read Shakespeare along with me and her input into my studies probably ended with asking me my twelve times table.  But it's a bit different here in India.  I was English speaking.  Children in India have their own languages besides English and probably need extra support, be it from educated parents or tutors, when tackling sixteenth century English.  Having me for a mother, Neil speaks English like a native, but he's a man of science like his father, Yash.  Give him chemistry equations and he'll do it all himself (and ask his father if he has a question).  But as for the Shakespeare, we're reading and discussing it together. 

A couple of years ago I visited writer Sally Quilford's blog, where she was having a blog takeover day.  She and a couple of blogging pals undertook to write their posts that day in another writing voice.  Sally wrote hers in Shakespeare's voice where she waxed lyrical about Shakespeare having married Anne Hathaway, a girl of a mere sixteen summers he was promised, whom on seeing her he realized that the only way she could have passed sixteen summers was if summer came every two years.  That humour was very appropriate, for Shakespeare's writing is full of humour.  Well, the comedies anyway. 

Here's my favourite Shakespeare story.  Once, many winters ago, I was stranded in Dublin's city centre by a freak fall of snow.  There was no public transport, and I was forced to walk to my home in the suburbs, several miles away.  As walked (waded, rather) through the snow, I met up with another girl who was going in the same direction and we started walking together and chatting.  We soon realized that we had mutual acquaintances, one of which was a young man with the unusual surname of Tackaberry.  This girl had been to college with the fellow and I was a friend of his sister. 

"Isn't Tackaberry an unusual name?"  I said.  "It's Shakespearean, almost."

"Shakespeare?  That's my surname," she replied.  I couldn't believe it.  The idea of people actually having the Bard's surname as their own came as a surprise to me.  I'd have thought that the name was extinct by now, and exclusive to him, but it isn't.  And our mutual acquaintance confirmed it with me afterwards.  The girl had a very simple first name like Ann or Mary, something like that.  But she had this illustrious surname.

The memory of that moment still brings a smile to my face.


  1. My favourite Shakespeare memory is from last summer, simply sitting and watching Hamlet with my 12 year old son, because he'd wanted to go. We left his brother and father at home and spent some real quality time together which doesn't normally happen. And I was so impressed he understood what was going on - at 12, I wouldn't have had a clue.

    PS. Thanks for following my new blog!

  2. Ah, you don't know the half of it. The Bard was a Tambram from Tanjore District in Tamil Nadu. He was very good in languages but was broke. He decided to emigrate to England where in those days, he was told that he could stop being broke and send NRI remittances. His name was Sakesappa Iyer. He went via what is now Pakistan and other Muslim countries and became Shaik Peer to avoid being slaughtered. He eventually made his way to England and the rest as they say is his story. It would take a Tambram just a few seconds to smell something out like the 16 summers. He lives in hot, hotter and hottest climes.

  3. @Rummuser! Aiyyo! I had no idea! You'll be telling me next that he is related to the great Indian rock star Michael Jaikishen!

  4. @Annalisa - that's a great story. It's great to read about a 12 year old who's into Hamlet! It gives me hope!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. You got that wrong too. It is Makkal Jaikishan. Makkal in Tamil being People's.

  7. One of my favorite things has always been to attend the Shakespeare festival plays!

    You might be interested in this modern version. ;)

  8. I really enjoyed reading this post.


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