Rude Boys and Rosalinds
As if there isn’t enough high drama on the annual Black Powder Shoot, Philip Howard turns to The Bard for a bit of added entertainment
We had been preparing invitations for our annual Rude Boys Black Powder Shoot, for which everyone has to shoot with hammerguns or muzzle-loaders. This year, The Media Queen thought we needed a little bit of a cultural lift – and that wasn’t just the guest list. So we have added a troop of Shakespearean players from The Oxford Shakespeare Company to produce a bespoke Saturday night performance. The director advised us that if our guests were rude and quirky enough he could incorporate them into the play, which is to be based on As You Like It.
“Rude enough!” I gasped in horror. That was never in doubt, only their capabilities. So long as they were prepared to be somewhat free with The Bard’s script, I responded, my cast list included numerous Malvolios and Malvolias, and a plethora of Shylocks and Iagos. There were a couple of Bottoms and several asses. My dissolute friends The Ditch, complete with two new knees, and The Spoon, known for his capacity to stir, could alternate between Falstaff and Sir Toby Belch. We boast an ex-general, an MI5 agent and a former Special Forces commando, whose close friends refer to him as ‘Cheesewire’, thus adding Henry V, Lady Macbeth and both Coriolanus and Titus Andronicus to the band of brothers. I had even shortlisted a Melancholy Jaques from my old school days but, sadly, he was already committed to another shoot. “I can’t let him down, he gets very upset – he’s a Buddhist, you know.”
“I didn’t realise Buddhists shot,” I replied. “Or do they just sit around meditating about what they are about to shoot?”
Short of a few glamorous young players, I conferred with my son. “I need a fair Rosalind,” I explained. “What about your friend Miranda the Model?”
Alas, that is what precipitated our most recent familial dispute. “No good, Dad, Miranda is not speaking to me at the moment. Unfortunately her ex-boyfriend is now going out with my tattooist.”
“Your what!” I exclaimed. He went pale, then red and started spluttering.
“Ah, well, yes, I confess I do have one or two tattoos but not nearly as many as your daughter. She actually inks them on all her friends. And she has a large question mark tattooed on her bottom.”
As I mentioned earlier, we are not short of Iagos.
As it happened – and please excuse the bum pun – I sat on this excellent piece of information. We were discussing the lack of Rosalinds and Violas when my daughter piped up: “Why can’t I be your Rosalind?”
My “I don’t think Rosalind had a question mark tattooed on her bottom” reply had the desired effect. “How the… bl…” she spluttered before hissing her brother’s name followed by some suitably strong invective that would have impressed the Bard of Stratford.
“You’re not cross are you? Anyhow, there is not a lot you can do. I suppose it will end up in The Field but I don’t mind.”
I confessed there was not anything I could do. Yes, my readers might appreciate something on the topic of tattoos. And no, I was not in the least bit cross. However, there was the issue of her grandparents.
“Oh, grandma won’t mind, she’ll probably get one done herself. I’ll offer to do one for her. She likes butterflies.”
“But what about your grandfather?” I grinned. “A palpable hit, methinks!” This, she admitted, was tricky. Her grandfather’s hatred of tattoos was legendary.
“If you ever ever get one of those dreadful tattoos I shall disinherit you,” he booms at his grandchildren regularly. “Well, I’ll make sure he knows all about William’s so he won’t get anything either. But, frankly, with his dementia the way it is, I think he will forget everything before he rings the solicitor. Mind you, he can’t remember the names of any of his friends but he remembered exactly what Sexy Sarah was wearing – or rather wasn’t wearing – at my 21st birthday party. Grandma wasn’t pleased.”
I confess I do have one or two tattoos but not nearly as many as your daughter. She has a large question mark tattooed on her bottom