Katie and I like a good bit of quiet as much as the next people. But we struggle to compare to the couple sitting at the table next to us in the restaurant last night. Mrs sat imperiously, a look of measured disdain on her face. Mr stared into the middle distance, perhaps dreaming of happier times, National Service, death, or all three. They ate mechanically, joylessly. Then her mobile phone rang, a perfectly sampled cow's moo as the ringtone. Mrs clasped it to her ear, then barked, chirruped and hooted delightedly with the caller. Her bye-byes richly trilled, she immediately reverted back to sombre mode.
Katie and I love characters like this as we can play with them, employing our full arsenal of straight-faced mimicry. It's childish, I know. Katie still does a word-perfect impression of an embarrassing upper-class idiot-woman we encountered in a pub in Wales 12 years ago. On this occasion, however, we didn't rise to it. Just as well, as they were in the seats in front of us half-an-hour later at the theatre.
Never let it be said that a 400 hundred year old play doesn't have the capacity to entertain in the here and now. It helps, I suppose, if you've got a good cast and a director who clearly knows how to get the best out of them. If you're in the area, go and see it. Don't let the Elizabethan dialogue put you off. We found it easy to keep up, much more so than when they used to make us read the scripts at school.
What surprised me was the earthiness in places. His comedies were not considered high art when Shakespeare wrote them - it was entertainment for the masses so he went for cheap laughs when he could. For instance, Malvolio, the play’s puritan boor, is duped into spelling out a word that we don't say in polite society these days. It's an awkward moment for any teachers with GSCE pupils in the audience:
MALVOLIO (reading from a letter he believes to be from Olivia, the lady of the house): By my life, this is my lady's hand: these be her very C's, her U's and her T's and thus makes she her great P's. It is, in contempt of question, her hand.Just in case the point isn't clear, it's hammered home by the next line from Feste, the Fool, who mentions "Her C, U and T." (Say it quickly if you're still not certain). It's fully intended, proving beyond all doubt that the Elizabethans enjoyed a bit of blue as much as the rest of us. Mr and Mrs Farmyard in front us almost raised a smile.
And now for this week's ritual humiliation:
Another two pounds off, so this means I've now lost 21 pounds in total, or one-and-a-half stones if you'd prefer. This still gives me seven pounds to lose in two weeks.
Can I do it? I don't know.
Will I try nevertheless? Verily. And forsooth.