Now, I don’t expect to do daily posts very often, but since this is the first proper post, I thought I’d better get things started off. I have always been very keen on Shakespeare, starting off at a young age with being read Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (I was Home Educated and we focused on the Arts). When I started uni, I was originally not planning to have English as one of my degree subjects, because of the emphasis on modern texts in the curriculum. In the end, I DID do English, as I actually enjoyed most of the texts and they were ones that I wouldn’t otherwise have chosen to read for myself. Then, when I started Second Year, I was rewarded for my patience by classics starting to creep into the course lists. The first of these was Henry V
Despite being a Shakespeare fan, I had not as yet read any of his History Plays, sticking to mostly the Comedies, and a few essential Tragedies. This meant that I was STILL being introduced to things I wouldn’t have otherwise read. I have to admit that part of my enjoyment of the play came from the fact that, in order to read things over the holidays and so have more time during the semester, I was able to read a Shakespeare play on the beach. My first foray into being pretentious about reading Shakespeare plays! For the most part, though I enjoyed the language of the play, I felt like I’d been thrown into the middle of something, because the footnotes kept referring to events in Henry IV parts I and II. I resolved to read the preceding plays as soon as I got time off from reading from University. In the end, that meant after I’d graduated! On a trip into Edinburgh, I was looking in the Barnardo’s BookShop Charity Shop, I discovered this old edition of Henry IV Part I
I decided to get it and so carry out my plan. Now, I had since discovered that I suffer from Chronic Fatigue (It had been going on a lot longer than that, and looking back, was the reason I had to be so ahead in reading for Uni and unable to read much for pleasure in between times) and realised that the only way to keep awake in the afternoon (I’d previously had naps during the day) was to have a mug of coffee. Since I have a slight fondness for being pretentious about my geeky things, I decided that the best combination would be to drink my coffee while reading Shakespeare! I read and thoroughly enjoyed Henry IV Part I – it contains everything you expect and want from a Shakespeare play: a mixture of beautiful poetic language, inventive insults and frequently crude humour! I then proceeded to buy (from amazon this time) and read Part II
And then discovered through the footnotes (which were much more extensive than those in the older copy of Part I) that actually, there was another part to the series…. and it came BEFORE Henry IV! Obviously, I then had to track down a copy of Richard II…
I was later to discover that it isn’t as popular as the other plays, which I was surprised by because the language is BEAUTIFUL! It’s the most poetic Shakespeare play I’ve ever read! I then found that the series was called a Tetralogy (and that that was the real word for what I had previously referred to as a ‘Quadrilogy’) and became a little obsessed with this newly discovered word (I did mention my pretentious tendencies, didn’t I?) referring to every series of four I could find as a Tetrology – including Tamora Pierce books. Obviously, with the discovery of Richard II, I had to read the other three again afterwards to get them all in the right order, despite having almost read them in completely the reverse order first time round. During my travels around the internet, I discovered that an actor I like, Eddie Redmayne, was going to be in a production of Richard II! Unfortunately, it was only being performed in England, so I wasn’t able to see it. Hoping that it was going to be filmed and shown on TV I looked up Richard II on imdb.com, and saw that, although there wasn’t a filmed version of that production, there was a version of the whole tetralogy that was going to be shown at the end of the summer!
I then spent the entire spring and summer of this year impatiently awaiting their broadcast! I also watched any preview clip I could find. The main advert, featuring a voice-over version of one of the best speeches in Richard II (the ‘tell sad stories of the death of kings’ speech) left me anxious, as I felt that it was performed with absolutely no emotion. I know, you thought I was only going to post complementary posts, didn’t you? Well, don’t worry, this turns into a compliment! When I settled down to watch Richard II (the rest of the family was out so I had the Sky + box to myself!) I was relieved to discover that the poetic, though emotionless, version of the speech appeared over the opening, and the rest of the play, including the speech when it appeared in its rightful place, was done REALLY well! I went from worrying that the first part of the tetralogy wouldn’t be as good as the rest, to hoping that the rest lived up to the first part! I’m glad to say that it did! At least, Henry IV Parts I and II did, since getting the rest of the family to watch it too, I have yet to see Henry V because there was never a time we all felt up to a Shakespeare play, especially for the three who haven’t studied it, and when we were all available. I’m still looking forward to it! Now, when I first looked it up on imdb, I had no idea who this guy called Tom Hiddleston who was going to play Prince Hal/Henry V was. Knowing that the role is one of the most complexly emotional in Shakespeare, I was anxious about whether he would be any good. Fortunately, we were already planning to see all the Marvel Avengers films in preparation for Avengers Assemble coming out (post on that to come), and I knew he was in some of them…
So as well as enjoying the Thor film in itself, I also used it as a kind of unofficial screen test to see whether I thought he was up to the role. I was impressed. And it turned out he was great in the tetralogy as well as the Avengers films!
Now, since the title of this post mentions Coffee as well as the tetralogy, I thought I’d better post a bit about what coffee I have.
I have a specific mug and a specific spoon I keep for coffee (it’s because I’ve got the measurements worked out for them in particular, so I can get it right) and after trying a few different brands, I found that Clipper Organic and Fairtrade is my favourite, although the Tesco Organic and Fairtrade type is a very close second, and after various different ways of sweetening it, I decided that the best sweetener for coffee is maple syrup!
Even though I’ve long since finished the tetralogy, I still like to read Shakespeare while having my afternoon coffee….
The title is a (tenuous) reference to Coffee and TV by Blur – I would just always sing that to myself when I was preparing my coffee…. And the background for the book and DVD pictures is a throw I have on my bed that I got at the Meadows Festival (a kind of giant, hippy car boot sale held in Edinburgh every summer)