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WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE – ONE WHO GOT AWAY

- 30 July 2012, 11:07

Suppose – just suppose – there was a telephone line between Heaven and Earth and you could make just one three-minute call to somebody up there. Who would you choose and what would you talk about? My three minutes might go something like this . . .

“Hello, Will Shakespeare here.”

“Ah, Mr Shakespeare, at last. You’re a difficult man to get hold of.”

“Indeed. I do apologise, but I’m still trying to get used to this new-fangled telephone instrument you know. They’ve only just been installed up here and nobody is quite sure how the system operates.”

“I see. May I ask how you managed to communicate before the telephone?”

“Why, with quill and parchment of course – exactly as I always did in life in Stratford.”

“So, no internet or World Wide Web up there then?”

“I apologise once again, but you have the advantage of me sir. The word internet is unfamiliar to my ear.”

“Damn, there goes the chance of a celebrity interview for my next blog then.”

“I’m afraid you are speaking in riddles good sir. It is true that I enjoy what you might describe as celebrity status here in Heaven – everyone does to be precise – but the term blog is a word entirely beyond my comprehension. Pray tell, is it a couplet, a sonnet, or something resembling a soliloquy? If I may be so bold, it smacks of being a somewhat unseemly expression.”

“Some of the ones I’ve read are certainly that. Please don’t worry about it Mr Shakespeare. A blog is only a medium or platform which enables a writer, or those who think they can write, to put across an opinion, or point of view on the internet  to the public at large.”

“It’s by way of being a theatre then?”

“I fancy that’s about as close as we’re going to get. As the medium we use to transmit is the World Wide Web it’s theoretically possible to reach anywhere in the world.”

“Incredible sir. I can scarce envisage such an occurrence. Had such a medium been available to me when I was writing my plays I’m confident I could have reached a still wider audience.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about that. You didn’t do at all badly I can assure you.”

“If I may remind you of what I wrote in All’s Well That Ends Well in 1603 ‘Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy of the living.”

“You’ve nothing to beat yourself up about William. You’re still right up there in the best seller lists. May I call you William? We don’t seem to be standing on ceremony.”

“That is my name.”

“Thanks. As I say, I think we’ll skip the blog interview if you don’t mind. This long distance call is costing me a packet and you can’t get much longer distance than Earth to Heaven. Before I hang up, however, I would like to ask you two or three questions if I may?”

“Pray do continue. I shall do my utmost to accommodate you sir.”

“That’s kind of you. We had to study a couple of your plays when I was at school.”

“That is certainly gratifying – to know that my work lives on in that way.”

“Not sure about it being gratifying William; it was darned hard work I know that. If you have any spare time up there you might consider translating your stuff into 21st century English. It would make life a lot easier all round. Nobody talks like that any- more. If I may remind you of another of your phrases “Time and tide wait for no man.” Anyway, I had to learn your “All the world’s a stage” speech off by heart.

“Excellent. “It’s from As you Like it – a particular favourite of mine you know.”

“That’s all well and good, but if all the world’s a stage where in heck does the audience sit?”

“You are making sport of me fellow. I will not be mocked I tell you. Indeed I would bid you attend to another line from that same play. “Blow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.”

“Steady on William, I meant no offence. Won’t you allow just a few more questions?”

“I will permit you two. That is all.”

“Have you met any other celebrated folk up there?”

“Indeed yes, I was conversing with Mr Abraham Lincoln during my morning walk this very day. An excellent companion, full of lively jest and wise words. His passing on that fateful night in the theatre was both tragic and untimely.”

“It most certainly was. Tell me William, did he ever get to find out how the play finished?”

CLICK.

“William! Mr Shakespeare, Are you still there? Darn, I think he’s hung up on me! I wonder if I could have a word with Mr. Lincoln next week? Better not mention the play though!”

Brad Fleming has been in journalism, broadcasting and public relations all his working life. Born in the small fishing village of Kilkeel, Co Down, in the shadow of where the famous Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea, he served his time in local newspapers before moving on to a National daily paper in Belfast and later covered news and sport for the BBC.

In his late thirties he made a career switch to join the British Government Information Service in London, working principally with the Ministry of Defence, a job which took him to many corners of the world, usually to one trouble spot or another. He served throughout much of Europe, was based in the then West Germany for three years, completed two short tours to the Falkland Islands and visited the United States and West Africa.

Much of his service was in his native Northern Ireland during the recent ‘troubles’,  an experience which provided valuable background for his first novel Role of Dishonour.

Deadline to Danger, his second book, draws heavily on his early days as a rookie reporter, although he admits he was never quite as daring as his young hero, Jim Baxter. Further Baxter books are in the pipeline.

Brad lives in the pleasant County Down village of Hillsborough with his American-born wife Nip and Border Collie Sparky. “Both of them conspire to get me away from the keyboard for walks in the beautiful countryside,” he says, “and that is probably no bad thing!”

You can visit Brad’s website by going to http://bradfleming.co.uk


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