Thursday, 7 September 2017

A soliloquy which failed to make the final cut by Bill Kirton

Sometimes I cheat with these blogs. This month, for example, I'm quite busy so, by way of relief, rather than do any thinking, I've just had some fun turning a sketch I wrote ages ago for our Festival Fringe show into blank verse. In case it's not obvious, it's supposed to be funny. It might help if you imagine hearing it in the posh Edinburgh accent used by my wife when she performed the original.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

(Enter Lady Macbeth with dog.)
To Birnham Wood I come with my wee dog
That he may run in Nature’s bosky glades.
(To the dog)
Away now, cur. Disport thee at thy will
Whiles I reflect on what this week may bring.
(Exit dog.)
I am not sorry to quit Dunsinane,
There is such brash kerfuffle at the news
Of good King Duncan’s plans to stay a while.
I doubt it will be more than just one night
But cryptic notes from my dear Lord – he’s Thane,
You know, of Glamis – insist the king has made
Him Thane of Cawdor, too. What smashing news.
There’s nothing like an extra Thanedom when
You’re keen on keeping up with the MacDuffs.
However, all is not as it would seem.
My Lord insists he met three ancient crones
Whose mien and whose bizarre accoutrements
Suggest to me they come from Morningside.
And these three persons prophesied a bit
Then vanishèd into the darkening air.
A likely story, you may think, but then,
You do not know his Thaneship’s little ways.
He is obsessed with psychic premonitions.
At breakfast, every day, he eyes his porridge,
Then turns his gaze to me and he’s aghast
To feel once more the fear of déjà vu.
But anyway, it seems these wifies said
That my dear husband would be Scotland’s King.
And he’s asked me should he accept or not.
That’s typical! The man has no ambition,
Nor any drive. Without me, he’d be lost.
Just last week, on the day before the battle,
At dead of night came he into my room - 
I was awake, just having a wee wash.
He asked, ‘Fiona, dear, when’s Banquo due?
And how about Macduff? And when’s the battle?’
 I said ‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and
Tomorrow.’ And of course, that Banquo came
With all his silly games and jokes. He spoiled
A lovely dinner party. I suppose
He thinks it’s funny but it’s really not.
It costs a fortune to use so much ketchup.
Ah well, no matter. Time for me to go.
I must be getting back before it’s dark
Our stupid porter takes so long to ope the gate.
Now, where’s that doggie got to. Spot! Here Spot!
(Exit in search of dog.)


Anonymous said...

I should really be asleep by now but couldn't resist reading this - it's a hoot! I would LOVE to hear your wife perform it in a posh Edinburgh accent, especially the bit about the witches coming from Morningside. I bet that got a big laugh. And the dog is called Spot - ah! I just got that too. Love it. Please write more. There are not enough clever, subtle and downright funny parodies in this world.

And so, sweet ladies, good night.

Umberto Tosi said...

Would that I had been present for the reading! I am roundly amused, Bill, and I'm sure the Bard would be too!

Jan Needle said...

Same from me, with knobs on!

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks all. You're right, Griselda - the Morningside bit got one of the biggest laughs. Interestingly, when we performed it at Princeton, the laughs were (I hope) genuine but also intended to show how quickly audience members 'got' the allusions.

I do actually have a (not very good quality) recording of the sketch. It would be an excellent cop-out to post it instead of my next blog but I don't think that's allowed. I'll investigate.

Fran B said...

Out, out, damned Spot! Love it. I wrote a parody of 'Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?' It was to my dog. Maybe I'll use it for my next AE blog. You could have started something, Bill.

Fran B said...

Also meant to say: as a seasoned Edinburgh Fringe-goer, I can well imagine that the Morningside reference met with appreciation. 'Fur coat an' nae knickers'! Always good for a laugh :-)

Bill Kirton said...

Thanks, Fran. In fact, in the real script (which wasn't in Iambic pentameters), I got more out of the gag by saying the witches 'sounded suspiciously like the committee of the Morningside WRI'.

glitter noir said...

Drat the cat. I feel as if I've been invited to a fabulous, funderful party--where I can't understand a word. Morningside? What' Morningside? And why is everyone confusing clearly a detergent, Spots, with a dog? This may be too British, or Scottish, for a Yank to understand. Especially a Yank who's not on Shakespeare. Good work, Bill, I'm certain. If only I could 'get it' too.

Jan Needle said...

Out, damned Yankee!

Susan Price said...

Reb, Morningside is an area of Edinburgh. I'm not a Scot, but from the Scots of my acquaintance, I gather that Edinburgh itself is considered rather above itself and not half as grand as it thinks it is.

Morningside is thought even by other Edinburghians to be putting on airs and not as grand as it thinks it is. 'All fur coat and no knickers,' as Fran puts it. Another insult is 'verra pan-loaf.' (A pan-loaf is a loaf so grand that is is actually baked in a pan.)

I think I have this right. If not, I'm sure someone will correct me.

Bill Kirton said...

You've described it well, Susan. Like all such myths, it may have little basis in truth, but it's persisted for decades and is frequently referenced by stand-ups and/or satirists (especially if they're from Glasgow). Morningside, however, is a lovely part of Edinburgh, with some very fashionable residences.

Reb, I just took all the relatively familiar bits of Macbeth, gave them a twist and put them into the mouth of a posh-sounding Edinbburgher. Banquo's ghost comes to their feast covered in blood; one of Macbeth's many great speeches begins 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow/Creeps in this petty pace from day to day; etc., etc. I often struggle with punchlines, so I was particularly grateful to Shakespeare who, in the play, has Lady Macbeth sleepwalking, trying to scrub the blood from her hands and saying 'Out, out, damned spot'.

glitter noir said...

Thanks, Susan and Bill. I feel more included now. Good fun.

Sandra Horn said...

Oh, lovely fun! Morningside accoutrements, eh? Pan loaf, I suppose!

Susan Price said...

Verra pan-loafie, Sandra.