Friday, September 23, 2016

bird talk and bard talk

There were three mockingbirds in the bird bath a few days ago - that was a treat.

a bad photo

The next day we were about to sit down for dinner when a hawk landed on the shed. We just could not get a decent photo of him.

In my day, wearing white accessories before Memorial Day and after Labor Day were a no-no, and I've always stuck to that. But I'm recently feeling the impossibility of it when the weather still behaves like summer. If it's 80 and 90 and I'm still wearing summer dresses, and the only sandals that match are the white ones, I'm going to wear them. This is a big deal for me.

another bad photo

I'm finally reading something by Bill Bryson, who seems to have written a book on every subject under the sun. Shakespeare, the World as Stage.  Herewith, a long excerpt:

"[plays] were strictly regulated. The Master of the Revels licensed all dramatic works and made sure that companies performed in a manner that he considered respectful and orderly. Those who displeased him could in theory be jailed at his indefinite pleasure, and punishments were not unknown. In 1605, soon after the accession of James I, Ben Jonson and his collaborators on Eastward Ho! made some excellent but unwisely intemperate jokes about the sudden influx of rough and underwashed Scots to the royal court and were arrested and threatened with having their ears and noses lopped off. It was because of these dangers (and the Vagrancy Act of 1572, which specifically authorized the whipping of unlicensed vagabonds) that acting troupes attached themselves to aristocratic patrons. The patron afforded the actors some measure of protection, and they in turn carried his name across the land, lending him publicity and prestige. 

Plays were performed at about two o'clock in the afternoon. General admission for groundlings was a penny. Those who wished to sit paid a penny more, and those who desired a cushion paid another penny on top of that - all this at a time when a day's wage was 1 shilling (12 pence) or less a day. The money was dropped into a box, which was taken to a special room for safekeeping - the box office."

The one I really want to read is Notes from a Small Island, but this small book will do for now. Small, because he says there is really very little known for certain about William Shakespeare.

"More than two hundred years ago, in a sentiment much repeated ever since, the historian George Steevens observed that all we know of William Shakespeare is contained within a few scanty facts: that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, produced a family there, went to London, became an actor and writer, returned to Stratford, made a will, and died. That wasn't quite true then and it is even less so now, but it is not all that far from the truth either."

the Chandos portrait

Back to the subject of birds, he is blamed for the presence of starlings in this country.


  1. Lovely long post! Our weather here is unseasonably warm too - not 80 or 90 but more like 68 or 70 but still warm for late September. Your bird photos are good! It is always difficult to get good pictures of birds in the garden as they don't stop moving and there is always the danger of them flying off again any second so we are always rushed!
    I have read a few books by Bill Bryson and he always writes well and is amusing too. I have Notes From a Small Island and if you lived nearer to me I'd lend it to you! :) I also enjoyed his book on Shakespeare. I have a DVD of a TV series made here by the historian Michael Wood called 'In Search of Shakespeare' where he travels round the country visiting all the places that are and may be associated with Shakespeare and his family and friends. It is like a detective story and is great fun - I'd really recommend it.
    How/why is Shakespeare blamed for the presence of starlings?

    1. It's in the link, Clare. The fellow who wanted to introduce as many birds as he could from Shakespeare into North America - he let some loose in Central Park in NYC!

      I've seen programs by Michael Wood over the years - In Search of the Trojan War is one, and I think I also saw one on Alexander the Great. I'll have to look up the Shakespeare one - thanks for the tip!

      This morning it was in the 40s here, and I had to get my poncho and hand warmers. :( I know the warmth will return, but it's a little early for this.

  2. LOL I feel the same way about the sandals! Well, I did find a brown pair with green and light brown mixed in, so I can wear them instead of the white. ;-) We have lots of hawks of all kinds around us. ♥

  3. I borrowed that Bryson book on Shakespeare from the public library on CD's and listened to it in the car a couple of years ago - enjoyed it so much. But I'm afraid I couldn't tell you anything I learned, not being much of an auditory learner. :-( It would be a good one to buy now in paperback for a longer-lasting effect!

    1. I am the same way! I don't retain very much, which seems pitiful to me. :( Save your money and get the book from the library! :D