Watching Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation last night, and Shakespeare came up. Anyone who wields words for a living can only look on in awe…
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Rehearsing for a benefit gig on Battersea Barge, Honey B Mama, who was doing the singing, told of a friend of hers, a Shakespearian actor, who has a resource permanently available in case he dries up on stage. If he ever forgets his line, rather than stand around gulping like a stunned fish, he immediately and resolutely declares: “I would fain as soon have jump a thicket as a pomegranate tree!” Utterly meaningless, but it sounds right! The stunned response of his fellow cast members helps distract attention from his plight, and once they’ve picked up again, he’s had time to rejoin the script.
Try it during your next meeting. Results guaranteed.