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Enthusiams and Shakespeare


You are quoting Shakespeare

I read ‘Enthusiasms’ by Bernard Levin, a series of essays and memoirs and things he has liked and disliked, two decades ago: I thought I’d liked it. I don’t. They don’t come across as genuine passions, more like a list of whimsy on the one hand and ‘how to get on in life’ on the other – listen to classical music, read the classis, quote Shakespeare and go to the Opera. He mixes this with a good deal of grumbling, the kinda ‘Grumpy Old Men’ syndrome that recently made a successful TV series. He suggests that when on a walking trip a way to reduce the weight of your rucksack is to tear the pages from whichever paper back novel you are reading; I tried this, in my teens,

1)The book disintegrated.

2)Had I enjoyed it I would have wished to pass it onto my companions.

3)If I hadn’t got beyond the first few pages I would have binned it and told my companion(s) not to bother.

4)If I’d loved it I might have kept it, shelved it – even gone out and bought a hard back copy.

Enthusiastic it is not. I read better in Diaryland every day.

I like the concept thought and were I to edit my Diary in Diaryland, which I do from time to time, downloading the lot and purging it of twaddle, I would and could and should aim to eek out those people, events, places and times, those books, meals, music, pictures and paintings that have turned me on, that have roused my spirit, that have peeked at my curiosity and sent me off and a quest to find out more.

I have some morsels of Shakespeare to share with you, they are linked by Bernard Levin.

This is the only time I feel his enthusiasm. This one paragraph is a single sentence. It works, setting off at a fast job, settling into a steady pace then romping home in a sprint before you run out of breath. As an exercise in writing a long sentence that works it is brilliant – and I’m amazed that my Spellchecker is apparently bright enough to leave the grammar alone.

THIS above all else from ‘Enthusiasm’ is worth preservation, perhaps I should tear it from the book and bin the rest, on the other hand, I could just type it out and share it with the world.

I’d like to learn it, to be able to proclaim and then to quote Shakespeare, or access clips of great performances. If only we wrote with such originality, seeking ways to say what has not been said before so that a phrase enters the English language forever.

‘If you declare ‘It’s Greek to me’, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not a wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master) , laughed yourself into stitches, had short shift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise – why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, I you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one feel swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I was dead as a doornail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! For goodness’ sake! what the dickens! but me no buts – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare.’

From Bernard Levin, ‘Enthusiasms’ 1983

Meanwhile, I pick my way through freelance jobs, plan to train on Final Cut Pro and a Sony Z1 DV-cam – and to chase director/producer opportunities. It’s how I began, with my own kit on my shoulder, a tripod on a strap, and a couple of hand held lights, spare batteries and gels in a bag. I can frame a picture, I can balance the sound, I can pose open questions that get people going I can be empathetic. I can edit, layer sound tracks, commission music and lay it in.

But do I want to?

I have a piece of writing to attack; I was distracted yesterday, I fear today isn’t going to be much better. Last March I sent out a novel. I want another one out this March.

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