I put you on a pedastel, you put me on the ‘Spill…FP’s heroic playlist

Someone mentioned Grace Darling over on the Mother Ship. She was one of the very first heroic beings I was aware of. Indeed, any kid growing up in the North East of England in the seventies was told of her exploits, taken to her museum, shown the grave and bought the compulsory mug, tea towel or t-shirt. Grace’s parents were the keepers of Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands, just off the coast of Northumberland (that’s the North East of England) and nowadays reachable by car at low tide. One stormy September morning in 1838, Grace looked out of the upper window of the lighthouse and saw a stricken ship and a group of people clinging for dear life to a nearby rock, lashed by the wind and waves. Their boat, the SS Forfashire, had hit the rocks and broken in two some hours earlier. Judging by the weather conditions, there wasn’t enough time to call the lifeboard from nearby Seahouses and so Grace and her father put out to sea in their rowing boat which was some 21 feet (6 metres) long. They reached the rock where 9 people including a woman still clutching her two dead children were holding on in desperation. In lashing wind and waves, Grace Darling, who was 22 years old at the time, held the boat steady while her father clambered onto the rocks and hauled the survivors into the boat. They managed to save 5 of them on their first trip back to the lighthouse, and then her father made a second trip to pick up those remaining. Grace Darling became a household name after this event and was feted by no less than William Wordsworth. People even wanted locks of her hair and she was made offers of London theatre appearances, all of which she declined. She died of TB at the age of 27 and is buried in St. Aiden’s churchyard in Bamburgh.

Given the rough weather and waves we experience on the Northumbrian coast, I cannot begin to imagine how hard it must have been to keep that large rowing boat steady, just near enough the rocks to be of use, but at the same time prevent it from being smashed to pieces, thus adding two more casualties to the list. It was an incredible act of bravery for any era, but bear in mind also the context and womens’ position in society. Hell, the girl put out to sea wearing a long dress and petticoats. Imagine the sheer weight once she was drenched through with salt water…A true heroine….

As for the playlist, I’ve left a symbolic space for The Waterboys and Whole of the Moon which is not on deezer. I do know that Fanfare for the Common Man was NOT written by Emmerson Lake and Palmer and am very familiar with Copland’s original. I just included the rock version as I do think it brings something, an added dimension which I like very much.

And the question to go: Who are your heroes? You’re allowed one dead and one alive. I’ll have David Bowie for all the obvious reasons – I think he’s the only person whose presence would reduce me to gibbering incoherence or tears. And Beethoven. For the simple fact that, when he went deaf, he sawed the legs off his piano and played it with his ear to the ground so he could pick up the vibrations and continue composing. Now THAT’s heroic…

63 thoughts on “I put you on a pedastel, you put me on the ‘Spill…FP’s heroic playlist

  1. fp – I haven’t read your post yet and I haven’t listened to the playlist but, on title alone, this has to be the best ‘Spill post ever – no contest!

  2. Christ, who are my hero’s? [He’s not one.] Such a long list, most not living, it breaks into so many categories: Louis, Duke, Bob and Mahler, Beethoven and Wagner in music but that leaves out so many others who are equally deserving. I must mention Sacco and Vanzetti historically as well as Woody and the Chicago 7 [10] , Malcolm. Fellini and Bunuel, not ignoring Woody and Mike Leigh and all the wonderful English, French and Italian directors of the new wave era. I love Turner and Van Gogh, but also all the rest of the impressionists. Politically I can’t think of one except perhaps FDR, God, how we could use him now. I’m blanking on dozens but I want to thank you FP for another topic that makes us think. Can’t come up with a specific ‘live’ person but it would probably be one of those un-named physicists who’re investigating ‘What’s it all about?’ Maybe somebody at the large hadron collider which begins operations this month at CERN.

  3. One dead: Bill Shankly. I appreciate that, given the whole of human history, picking a sportsman may appear inconsequential; crass even. But it IS true. I am in print as saying he was almost as big an influence in my childhood as my parents. With the most charisma of any man I've ever seen, if Bill had told me I could walk across the Mersey, I'd have done it for him. And he did that for half the population of a city that should have had much bigger things on their mind than football.To continue the theme, Shanks's Boot Room (the team providing heroics, but not heading up the show) includes people as diverse as Gaudi, Bill Hicks and Jane Tomlinson. One alive: hmmm … changes on an almost daily basis, I'm afraid. Tends to be the latest example of someone pointlessly making it their life's work to expose inhumanity & greed amongst the scum getting richer than Croesus at the expense of anyone/anything, even the rock we all live on!

  4. My number one all time hero would have to be Charles Darwin – his research into the evolution of life on earth is surely the greatest single contribution to our understanding of (to quote another great man) life, the universe and everything. And considering the attitudes prevalent at the time when he published his findings, and the ridicule, scorn and outright hostility which he knew he would face, he was also a particularly brave man.I hope that a blog like this will be entirely free from any reactionary creationist nonsense – if I’m wrong … well, I’ll get me coat.There’s a huge body of nameless heroes to consider – all those who have made a stand against tryanny and oppression and paid for it with their lives.Living heroes are much harder to come up with so I’ll pass on that one – it’s too easy to sound trite or overly sentimental.Donds to Alice Darling and, from the blue side of Merseyside, to Bill Shankly.

  5. Miles Davis, setting his personal traits aside. Culturally there’s no-one who’s enriched my life more.Aung san suu kyi, for her principles and her unwavering, unblemished and incorruptible steadfastness over several decades.

  6. Stellar post, GF. Agree with all of those – and you’ve reminded me of another one: Miles Davis. Not for the obvious musical side, but didn’t he attempt to cure his awful heroine addiction by lockling himself in a hotel room, throwing away they key and instructing his entourage not to let him out until the cold turkey was over? That’s very courageous. he must have known what he would go through. You’re talking about the particle reactor under the ground in Geneva at the CERN? Isn’t that practically the only one in the world? They really are at the cutting edge. Heroes all – as is any scientist boldy going where no man has gone before in order to make this place better for us.—Darce – you are totally allowed a footballer. I’m a Geordie, remember? There’s a large population on both sides of the Tyne which believe that Alan Shearer sits at the right hand of God on high. And HE’s a total hero because he’s given and made squillions for charity. Frankly, Mr Shankly is in!—And Toffee if you’re trying to get me to believe I’m descended from a chimp, then I’ll be MOST insulted!! But I dond your Darwin and also Gallileo who was thrown into jail for daring to say that the earth was round and that it revolved round the sun, not vice versa. Throws up another one: William Wilberforce who fought for many years to finally get slavery abolished, in spite of very ill health and tough opposition. Recently saw a very good film – Amazing Grace – which tells the story.—All your stellar posts sort of confirm my suspicion that it’s a tad easier to find heroes in the past than in the present. I wonder if the act of dying makes someone more likely to be a hero? Or are the Stranglers right?

  7. Cheers Nilpferd! You and I on the Sunday morning breakfast shift! You in Paris or zu Hause? I did wave. Did you know that Miles story?

  8. This is tough, I don’t generally have heroes, because there are too many people who have contributed to the betterment of the world we inhabit.If I may, and I am going to anyway, I will create a few categories and insert people who I admire in each category, keeping to the one dead, one alive format.I will try and keep it brief;Science; Charles Darwin and Prof Steve Jones Music; Jerry Garcia and Siouxsie SiouxCookery; Elizabeth David and Nigel SlaterUK Politics; Aneurin Bevan and Tony BennInternational Politics; Karl Marx and Aung Sun Suu KyiEven choosing the categories was tough, there is so much I have left out – books, film, art, sport etc.I was tempted to split music down into lots of categories but I resisted.

  9. Back home, just a (long) daytrip to the Versailles gardens yesterday..Miles did kick his habit alone, yes. He said his inspirations during this time were boxers Sugar Ray Robinson and Jack Johnson, the former apparently eschewing sex while training, although Ian Carr, in his excellent biography, probably correctly estimates that the biggest motivation was self-loathing. Miles was always someone who wanted to be in control of things, and the awareness that he was making himself dependent on others as a junkie was probably the kickstart for his cold-turkey cure.

  10. @ Carole – donds for the structured approach. The cookery category is very close to my own heart, so I’d have Fanny Craddock for putting cream and butter in everything, and Jamie Oliver for bringing in the social improvement aspect of food and food preparation.—@ Nilpferd – wow, some day out. But totally possible with the TGV. The Versailles gardens are magical. Did you get into the Palace as well?

  11. No, just the gardens- even that was a bit tight, time-wise. Very nice fountain/music show on in the afternoon and the “outside drawing rooms” are fantastic, but the most magical thing perhaps was the wind in the poplars- reminded me of the ocean.Paris is doable from here but quite tiring- the return ICE (thankfully the refrigeration was defect) was packed with the sort of German tourist who travel together in groups of 20+ and feel compelled to take turns telling (bad) dirty jokes at which they then all laugh uproariously. Technically speaking, the TGV wipes the floor with the ICE design-wise and goes faster. The german train has a far better selection of rubbish bins though.

  12. @fp: whether or not it was a typo, I love the idea of Miles’ heroine addiction. Just as a way of trying to narrow down the list of possibilities a bit, I’m going to define “heroes” as people whom I actually try to emulate, however inadequately, rather than just think are/were really great. Inevitably, then, there tends to be a focus on the intellectual side of things: people who managed to see the world differently and to change our view of ourselves. If I was a scientist, Darwin would certainly be on the list; as I’m not, I think it comes down to these two… (i) Fernand Braudel, French historian of the mid-twentieth century, arguably the founder of the ecological perspective on human society. Braudel was working on a straightforward dissertation on the Mediterranean policy of Philip II of Spain when WWII broke out and he ended up in a POW camp; he spent six years composing his work in his head, and by the time he came out it had been turned upside-down into a study of the influence of the Med on the reign of Philip II. His later work developed the theme of the way that the environment and other ‘long-term’ changes shape the short-term history of events. (ii) Karl Marx: for all that he was a bourgeois arriviste who married into the German nobility, got the maid pregnant and scrounged off Engels for money to pay for his daughters’ piano lessons, a towering genius who sought to grasp the nature of modern society, not just as an intellectual exercise but because he believed it was inhuman and injust and needed to be overturned for the good of humanity. And a superb writer. Bit more of a problem thinking of a living hero, but I think I’m going to go for J.G.Ballard – if only for the juxtaposition between his unbounded, frequently disturbing imaginative reworkings of the world in his books and the quiet, domestic existence he lived in the London suburbs bringing up his children after his wife died. I wrote to him once, when I was working on a piece comparing his view of time with that of Braudel, and was so overcome by getting a letter back that I really don’t think I could cope with actually meeting him…

  13. heroine addiction.. I missed that- nice one. Who can blame him, though, with women like Juliette Greco or Betty Mabry? Miles certainly had good taste.. I was referring to his drugs addiction though- think he cured his heroine addiction just by being a bastard..

  14. Wow – raising the bar nicely, Abahachi. Reassure me that you are not actually thinking of marrying into the German nobility and getting the maid pregnant… Getting a letter from ones heros is always special. I wrote on separate occasions to two of my heros – Terry Jones for his stellar book on Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale and John Cleese whilst doing a thesis on Fawlty Towers. Both sent hand written letters back. —And that was an unintended typo. Glad it made you all smile (sniff). My French spelling interferes with my English – there’s an ‘e’ on the end in French. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…—Mention for another of my heros – Stephen Fry for being such an übergeek. Read his article on the new Wii – made me want to rush out and buy one.

  15. And glad you like the TGV NPf. I’ve not taken it yet to Paree but when I lived in the Loire valley it was 50 minutes up to Paris, I used to go for a day’s shopping on a Saturday. Just because I could.

  16. I woke up this morning realising that I’d overlooked entirely an area I’ve been interested in all my life; science. So of course Darwin and Gallileo but also Newton and the dozens of English scientists who basically figured out almost everything we know about our planet and beyond. I’ve plugged it here before but I’ll give it one more go: A History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, a brilliant book that deals with all of the above. Plus of course, I totally overlooked Karl Marx and I appreciate abahachi’s inclusion and his comments.I might not include Stephen Fry but I love reading anything he’s written and listening to his podcast. One negative of being an expat is missing out on what’s taken for granted in UK, I only ‘discovered’ Stephen Fry a few years ago on a Virgin Atlantic flight, fascinating bloke.

  17. Hi Folks,Just catching back up after returning from a 5 week return to homeland.I am also a big Charles Darwin fan. (Also a huge Go-Betweens fan Toffeeboy (and Nilpferd) so we have that in common too.) Thanks for the download postings – although I am struggling to get them to work. A shame as my life will be incomplete until I get the expanded version of the wonderful ‘Bye Bye Pride’. A better song than ‘Cattle and Cane’ to my tastes.Living heroes are hard to find but surely the living saint Nelson Mandela is right up there.Gone Foreign – if you admire Newtonon you might also admire Robert Hooke – I have just read a book about him. Amazing man. A self made cross between Wren and Newton. Well worth reading about.

  18. GF: I’ve read a couple of Bill Bryson books and enjoyed them very much – I’ll look out for that one. Does that mean you sat next to Mr Fry on a transatlantic flight??—@ CB – point taken – shall definately check out the Go-Betweens. The film is one of my favourites. I take it that’s where the name comes from…?

  19. FP – the film or maybe the book I suppose. I am not sure. I always assumed it was some kind of reference to the ‘past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’ line but I don’t know. It is a rash assumption to make, or maybe just shallow, that the most famous thing is what they were referring to. Still, if I weren’t shallow, I’d have no depth at all.

  20. You ain’t shallow, CB. No one on this blog is. I spellt that ‘glog’ before I corrected it. You’re all bright, shiny and colourful. You guys rock. (lower lip trembling) is anyone liking the…music?

  21. Of course we’re loving the music, fp, at least I am. ToffeeGirl’s ears twitched when she heard the opening strains of Wild West Hero. I hadn’t heard The Passions for ages – I remember them bombing on Top Of The Pops by giving the most extraordinarily passionless (!) performance – which actually suited the song but didn’t exactly speak to the target audience.

  22. Cool. Hi to your caramelised other half who clearly has impeccable taste. I like the a capella bit on Wild West Hero and sing along with great gusto. The Passions clearly suffered death by TOTP. Great song though.

  23. FP: No such luck, Virgin Atlantic had a series of BBC TV programs in the in-flight entertainment, one was a genealogy program where Fry was the subject, fascinating background that was very closely related to where I’d lived in UK, Bury St Edmunds. I became an instant fan. cb: I’ve read a little about Robert Hooke and his cell research, give me the title and I’ll check it. Thinking in the ‘H’s’ prompted a couple more, Fred Hoyle [big bang] and Hubble [telescope].Haven’t made it to the music yet, I’m split between RR and the garden chores.

  24. Love the list FP, though I still can’t take Gary Numan seriously. Loved the Voulzy, great production.That’s a longer version of Smokey, cool. Lovely to hear The House of Love again, Shine On is still up there for me.Heroes is tricky, the more you think about and know about your heroes, the less likeable they generally are. Certainly my literary heroes, Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf were undoubtedly genuises.However, when Hardy’s first wife died, after years of antipathy towards her, he threw all his poemns into her coffin in a fit of remorse. Later, he had her exhumed to get the poems back. Charming. Woolf was a horrible snob,and quite open about her dislike of Jews, despite marrying one but, on the plus side, was at the forefront of modernism, women’s rights and her imagery to me is just astonishingly beautiful. I’m not keen on literary biogs any more, it’s too depressing to find out the truth.Real heroes though, my grandad, no question. He had such a tough start in life, in Birmingham in the Depression, lost a leg, his brother and sister in an air-raid but worked his whole life with never a word of complaint. An award-winning gardener, a calm and gentle man. We would spend hours in their warm verandah, absorbed in our books in silence, him making little ticks on the racing pages or doing crosswords. He was a wonderful, ordinary but extraordinary man, my biggest influence. When I look at my garden, I see through his eyes, as he patiently explained the names of plants and described their care to me as a child.

  25. I guess this is one that could change every hour, but the living ones I came up with are Mohammed Ali, because being so arrogant, but then matching it with being equally brilliant, if not more, is amazing, and the guy whose name escapes me, but he’s the one that got his arm caught under a rock while hiking, and chopped it off himself because that was the only way out. I saw him interviewed on some silly talk show, and beyond the story, it was his personality and approach to the event that touched me the most. The dead one, would be Miles Davis indeed, if you only focus on his approach to art. He did lock himself and went cold turkey (in a cabin on his father;s property if I recall), and I remember highlighting a line in his autobiography where he mentions Sugar Ray Robinson, and that from then on, he “would be serious about [his] shit”. Which he did, for the most part.Karl Marx is a good shout too, I like the idea of coming up with the concept of the end of history, to me that’s almost as bold as claiming the earth is round.

  26. Alive: Springsteen.Dead: Horatio Nelson. Now, I’m not very keen on wars, and as ways of settling arguments they are rubbish, but I like Nelson because he broke all the rules and annoyed the hell out of the establishment. Also because he treated the men under his command with humanity instead of flogging them all the time like the other naval commanders did. Also because immediately after his arm was amputated, he had himself rowed back to his ship, climbed a rope ladder, went into his cabin and wrote a letter to Lady Hamilton with his left hand to tell her he was OK.He even did me a favour once. I was at a conference at the Imperial War Museum when this Danish bloke attached himself to me and I couldn’t shake him. At the end of the conference I said ‘bye!’ and made for the exit, but he followed me. I said I needed to get some stamps, bye! but he followed me into the Post Office. I said ‘there’s my bus’ but he followed me on to that. We were sitting there and I couldn’t think of anything to say, but I looked out the window and saw we were in Trafalgar Square.”Oh look,” I said, “there’s Lord Nelson, he’s my hero…” and without a word the Danish bloke got up, jumped off the bus and disappeared. I had forgotten about the Battle of Copenhagen!

  27. tfd – great story.:-)gf – the Robert Hooke book is called ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’. He invented the universal joint, built the air pump that made Boyle’s work on gases possible, established the zero point on thermometers as the freezing point of water, demonstrated that breathing air was necessary for life, improved and advanced clocks, telescopes and microscopes, wrote seminal papers on planetary motion and light, acted as surveyor of London after the great fire, designed many of the rebuilt churches after the fire and oversaw their building, worked with Christopher Wren on the Monument and St Pauls and many other achievements including being a major figure in the Royal Society. Quite a geezer.

  28. @tracyk: have you read Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot? There’s a hilarious section where the narrator discusses the problem of what to do when you discover that a writer you admire had various undesirable characteristics, and concludes that if you really love a writer you’ll not only want to know every detail of how he chopped up and fed a pack of boy scouts to his carp but will develop elaborate justifications for this action.

  29. I’m sorry I just have to mention it. Shouldn’t that be PedEstAl? Is it an alternative spelling, because even Tracy hasn’t mentioned anything?

  30. tracyk, I think it was Rossetti who dug up his wife to get his poems back…Hardy’s first marriage wasn’t happy, certainly, but he did suffer remorse after his wife died and when HE died, his heart was buried in her grave. So they did have to open the grave for that. (Although there’s a story that Hardy’s housekeeper left his heart on the kitchen table and the cat ate it, so they put a pig’s heart in there instead.)

  31. Damn I have my literary hero mixed up with someone whose art I used to like when I was a callow youth! Those bloody Victorians, porbably the beards that confused me…Part of me hopes it is a pig’s heart because that’s the kind of irnoy Hardy himself really enjoyed.Must find Flaubert’s Parrot then, sounds my kind of thing!

  32. Excellent new posts – chuffed with the way this thread is going! In no particular order – TK – the thing about Voulzy is the thick and creamy production. It’s beautifully done – I agree. And your hymn to your Grandad makes me want to have met him. GF – thanks for your unstinting honesty! Ejay – I wonder if you’re referring to the Michael Parkinson interviews with Ali? They were a joy and he was one of the only interviewers to get into the inner circle and gain the trust of the man. TFD – How much do I love that story? Yesss! And if I had a nickel for everyone who had recommended Flaubert’s Parrot to me, I’d be stinking rich. I’m in love with Julian Barnes anyway for writing England england. I shall get round to it. And sory for the speling. At leest you kno it’s mi. Blame it on a misplaced Pavlovian reaction to WORD’s wiggly red line. If I don’t see it, there’s no problem.

  33. As has been said upstream , this could change frequently so I’ll go with what I’m reminded of by what I’m reading at the moment (Magnus Magnusson’s ‘History of Scotland)and nominate Robert The Bruce (yes, I am Scottish). You see, William Wallace has received all the attention over the last decade thanks to that drunken Jew hating Australian but basically Wallace had two years of glory and then had to take to the hills. Bruce had to duck and dive in a feudalistic fashion (?!), then conduct an eight year guerrilla war then win an epic battle against an English army three times as large then conduct a diplomatic offensive (in 14th Century terms) in order to have Scotland even recognised as a seperate country.Without him there would be no Great Britain, there would only be England. That’s why I thought he should have been nominated as the ‘Greatest Briton’ a few years ago…..but I’m rarely gelling with the zeitgeist.Living heroes are more difficult since you’re just waiting for their feet of clay to be exposed. The most obvious political choice is Nelson Mandela with a close second for Fidel Castro, mainly for his ability to survive despite all attempts otherwise, not necessarily for his social policies. Musically, it would have to be Ian Paice, drummer with Deep Purple, who inspired my drumming as a teenager and who is still, as far as I’m concerned and until proven otherwise, the best drumer ever!

  34. Late to the party, after BT Broadband failed to live up to the second half of its name…GoneForeign, the programme was probably Who Do You Think You Are? and Moab Is My Washpot (the first volume of Stephen Fry’s autobiography) is an amazing, moving and funny book.TracyK and TreeFrogDemon: Hardy’s The Voice, which he wrote after his second wife died – and inspired him into a burst of poetry – had one of my English Lit professors in tears when he heard it and it’s an amazingly moving (and online here).Bill Shankly would probably be my dead hero as well, DsD. He could be a real hard bastard – he refused to speak to injured players because they were no part of his team, sold them as soon as he saw they were past their best and took his wife to see a game against Rochdale reserves on their wedding anniversary. But it was his footballing ability got him out of Glenbuck – a mining town that I don’t think exists any more, in the days when that was the only job and death was a regular event in the pits – and, I like to think, that was what he meant in his famous remark about football being more important than life and death.

  35. John Peel (on final T.O.T.P appearance: "If that doesn't get to no 1, I'll come & break wind in your kitchen"). Living, I'll have to go with Abahachi's choice of Ballard, even though he hasn't written a great one since the autibiographical "Kindness of Women". But he's had much more of an interesting life than William Gibson, so will stick with him.

  36. And speaking of parents I didn’t want to overdo my father who I’ve mentioned here before, but I do have a piece about him at my blog if anyone’s curious, he fits right in here. One small detail for the Scottish contingent: at the end of WW2 there were thousands of soldiers in camps awaiting demob, there was a film in production that needed huge crowd scenes for the warring armies, it was ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’. My father was drafted as an extra to Fort William where he was issued very flimsy ‘Scottish clothing’ in freezing weather. He told me the tale of having to do the charge down the hill so many times that his mate muttered ‘If we have to do this one more fucking time I’m going down with a Woodbine on!”cb; He sounds like my kinda bloke, that’s what I was thinking about when I eulogised ‘those English scientists’

  37. I find this kind of excercise difficult in the same way, I think, that I find ‘favourite album/song/film of all time’ excercises difficult too – there’s just too much scope and too many people to miss.However, for a dead hero I’ve got to offer an obvious one that hasn’t been put up yet – Mr Shakespeare. It is inconceivable to think that we would speak the same way, think the same way or treat art in the same way today had there been no Shakespeare. Yes, there is debate about authorship. Yes much has been lost or changed that we shall never know about. Yes he maybe didn’t write them all himself. But still, as an entity, he stands head and shoulder over any other dramatist and produced a body of work that ranges from the broadest of comedy to the deepest of tragedy. There is not a single critical theory worth its salt that hasn’t been somehow tested out on Shakespeare, whether in performance or on the page, and he is still probably the greatest barometer for a culture’s capacity to examine itself through the stage. I could go on, but wont. Bill will do for me.Living hero? I’ve said this one before – Shaun Goater. A gangly, Bermudan footballer who was rejected time and again by clubs but never lost faith, always tried hard to improve and finally got a chance at Man City, when the club was very low indeed. He managed them to score goals at every level and entered club folklore by dint of being the most honest, decent, genuine footballer and person imaginable. He now runs soccer schools in Bermuda and is an ambassador for his home nation. And rightly so.

  38. Snadford: I’m not Bill Bryson’s agent or anything but there’s another of his books I’ll recommend “Shakespeare”; I just finished it and thoroughly enjoyed it and learned a great deal about WS.He deals with all the issues you mention and is a total fan.

  39. GF: thanks for the tip, but I must confess, I just finished reading it myself!! I love Bill Bryson and I think the way he deals with all the vast amount of info and data is nothing short or brilliant. Its a great read, and the whole series of those books looks worth checking out.

  40. Ah there’s a good old seventies name – Magnus Magnusson, Gordon! I went through a philology phase when I was about 13 and read Lord of the Rings. Mr Magnusson wrote a very fine book on The Vikings which I remember reading. A lot of the place names round your way and mine come from old Norse. He was a scary quizzmaster though, eh? Garethi – Moab is my washpot is sitting, well-thumbed, on my shelves. But what the hell does the title mean? Shoey – that Peelie quote brought tears to my eyes. I heard him say it. GF – fantastic story and can I have the address of your blog please? Snadfrod – I’m an utter Shakespeare junkie. The geek that bought the GU set of DVDs of the complete works? That was me. OK. Favourite play? Favourite character?

  41. Antony and Cleopatra; Cleopatra.I did it for A level and used to enjoy annoying my English teacher by saying I liked her. ALMOST got to play her once…too late now; though she’s ‘wrinkled deep in time’ I don’t think she’s as wrinkled as me.

  42. Oh FP, with these questions you are really spoiling us…Character: was, is and always will be Iago. There’s something about the ‘motive-hunting of a motiveless malignance’ that the actor in me finds irresistibly intriguing.Play: I’ll have to cheat.Comedy: Measure for Measure (well, I say comedy…)Tragedy: King learHistory: Richard IIAnd the special award for just being mentally ace: Titus Andronicus.Crikey, this is worse than picking an album for each year…

  43. [Grins] Innit? OK favourite character – cross between Macbeth for the ‘Lay on Macduff’ big boy on boy finale. He knows he can’t win, but he’s going down fighting. Phenominal. And Mercutio for being a wacked out visionary and capable of making a joke (the ‘grave man’ jibe) when he can feel his life oozing away. Majestic. Favourite play – probably King Lear but it varies so much. Favourite comedy – As You Like It (for the Toby Belch/Aguecheek duo, Malvolio’s cross garters and Viola getting her bruvver back. Aaaaaaaaah.—But donds for Cleopatra comin’ at yah and Iago who has entered into the English langauge as the epitome of dastardliness.

  44. Well this has taken another unexpectedly delightful twist – the whole thread’s become a sort of blog within a blog – wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the ‘Spill.It has to be Hamlet for me – with the man himself as my favourite character – although I think Laertes is a brilliantly observed character and I have to admit to having a bit of a ‘thing’ for Ophelia…

  45. [prostrate and blearily] Did I say ‘As You Like It?’ You KNOW I meant Twelfth Night. (spot on CB). Yikes! Am following by the hour the Kevin Keegan story over on the GU. Another hero of mine. First they say he’s fired and then he’s not (as manager of Newcastle). Looking forward to reading tomorrow that Scary and/or Tempus have been appointed manager… Very much enjoying this thread!

  46. @toffeeboy – sounds about right. You need to keep the hopes low, right? Maybe you could have a word with my living hero – Dr Sulaiman Al-Fahim?Oh and it shows what I know, when I read it, i just assumed that of#h was just some blog lingo I don’t know yet. of-hash-h? OFFASH? Offish? Official? Offhand? Oh-fack?@CB – and that’s a ZING!!!

  47. It’s funny you should make that particular mix-up, FP, because I was thinking that As You like it and 12th Night were two of my favorites. They’re very funny, but they both have many moments of serious thought, and they both have quiet, beautiful moments. And I think Celia, from As You Like It, is one of my favorite characters, she’s genuinely funny, in a way you don’t think of shakespearian romantic heroines being. She’s full of piss and vinegar.

  48. @steen – I think that they are both lovely plays because they both have moments when the peril and the danger and the stakes are very high and very real. Yet both are tempered with some of the best comic interludes and characters he wrote. Better than the bleedin’ Tempest, anyway.Also, I have to give honourable mention in the ‘piss and vineagr’ stakes to the mighty Beatrice in Much Ado and Kate in Taming of the Shrew. Now she could dish it out…@FP – crazy, innit? Obviously I love KK as much as any City fan, but I feel he has now been treated despicably by at least three separate clubs yet always acted with his honour and dignity to the fore, even though he is rarely given credit for that… Never have I known a time like it for needing to follow football websites obsessively…

  49. Ah, Twelfth Night, I know it cover to cover, as I directed it in 6th form. Fave characters from Shakey are Viola (heroine), Lady M (bad gal) and Richard III (historical fact. Ahem.) Richard has been on the SATs syllabus for the past 3 years and I have grown to love it. Shame it drops off this year, but R&J is on instead, with 2 great scenes, so should be a joy to teach.I can't believe I didn't think of Peelie for hero either, we cried when we found out in an internet cafe in Japan.

  50. @ snadfrod – perhaps we should use of#h as a ‘Spill expletive. I like the sound of Oh-fack…The mundane truth is that I tried to type ‘…oh’ but missed the ‘h’, hit ‘f’ instead and then to compound the problem, hit the ‘#’ key instead of the back space. I’ve clearly been taking typing lessons from fp…

  51. Right so that’ll teach me to blog in a semi comatose state on the sofa whilst reading about Kevin Keegan. But I love love love the way Steenbeck tried to smooth it over for me. You are a true sweetie. and I went to bed and hid my head under the pillow going “aaaaargh, aaaaragh”. On the up side I managed to get The Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino and Jezza Irons from our local supermarket for 5€ this evening. Portia is also a bit of a favourite but I dond TK’s Lady M. The ultimate bad girl…

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