Birthday tomorrow - 59... big one next year. So time maybe for a thoughful posting.....
This evening I got home from a school governors' meeting. heated up my chorizo soup and flicked on the TV. I've caught a few programmes in the season the BBC is running called "Shakespeare Uncovered". This evening American actor Ethan Hawke was taking us through "Macbeth", illustrated by bits of various productions. It was really good, and somehow connected me to my birthday.
Why is Shakespeare so good? I did English Lit O Level and A Level. We did "The Tempest" and then "Hamlet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream". I have to say that, like many people, I didn't really "get it" then, and I suspect that puts off many people for life. I know it's a bit of a cliche, but I realy think you don't "get" the greatness of Shakespeare until you've lived. As I watched Lady Macbeth disintegrate I recalled a prisoner doing exactly that in front of me when I was prison chaplain. As Hawke pointed out that Macbeth and his wife never meet on stage for the last part before her death, my mind went to the hundreds of family problems I've encountered, not least with my Marriage Tribunal work now. Time and again these plays poke a finger right into my life, and life in general.
And it's not just the great tragedies - although I think they are the pinnacle of Shakespeare. He puts life in all its aspects up there on the stage, in all its comedy and tragedy. It's simply all there, and as the programme said this evening, WS then turns round to us and says, "Look, that's you and me up there, too".
So, 59 tomorrow, 59 years into Shakespeare, 59 years into life.