Campaign for the promotion of Shakespearean insults…

Good morning thou craven toad-spotted puttock.

My spirits were considerably lifted this morning, when amidst the huge pile of debris evicted from number 2 daughter’s school bag, I found a sheet of paper titled Shakespeare Insult Kit.

English: Title page of the First Folio, by Wil...

On two sides of A4 paper, three columns per page, are lists of words used in the works of Shakespeare to deliver insults. The idea is that you prefix any phrase with ‘thou’, then choose one word from column 1, plus one from column 3 and one from column 3.

The results are truly empowering.

Who wouldn’t want to shout ‘thou errent fen-sucked clotpole’ at the person who takes your car parking space, or ‘thou spleeny tardy-gaited skainsmate’ when the dog eats your breakfast.

Admittedly, these phrases don’t exactly trip of the tongue – but surely that’s just a question of practice.

So today I’m starting a campaign to improve the quality of my insults. I shall attempt to replace my usual ‘you plonker’ (actually it’s worse than that, but I’m not going to write what I mostly say), with a heart-felt selection from the list. Perhaps this week I’ll try to perfect;

  • thou dankish fly-bitten giglet,
  • thou gleeking boil-brained bum-bailey,
  • and thou churlish swag-bellied harpy.
How uplifting it is, to know that even in these difficult times, there are still young teachers out there, doing their bit to instil a love of Shakespeare into our digital age children.

When I was at school, (and no, despite what my daughters say, I can’t remember the man himself), we read and acted quite a lot of Shakespeare. No one told us when we were at middle school, that it was difficult, so instead, we just got on with enjoying it.

But – we also lived less than an hour drive away from Stratford-on-Avon, and in those days, could get on the night tickets for the RSC at reasonable prices. So until I left home, I went to most productions, acted by the best Shakespearean actors in the world. I’m sure that helped, because when Shakespeare’s plays are done well, you don’t need to have spent months studying the texts, the stories come to life before your eyes, you simply relax and let yourself become engrossed.

So, if an insult kit is what it takes to introduce a new generation to the treasure of Shakespeare, I’m all for it. I shall do my own bit to encourage a better class of insult – won’t you join me?

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