The First Time

Posted on 31/10/2011 by


This is an answer in two parts. Except I might not tell you the second part. Unless you want me to. Or, you know, I’m bored later.

I’ve actually studied Shakespeare a couple of times. Well, I say ‘studied’. I spent eighteen months of high school barely conscious and I only have two clear recollections of the english lit class where I studied Macbeth for the first time.

The first is that when I told my mother what we were studying she pulled a copy of the play off our shelves and gave it to me and went and bought me a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters to go with it. As a result I read the two texts concurrently (an activity I highly recommend and which may, in fact, be why it is my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays to this day and why for a remarkably long time Wyrd Sisters was my favourite Pratchett novel).

The other recollection I have is actually a number of memories that have blurred together of the time when we read the play aloud in class. I lurked in the back row of this class with my friends Kat and Duncan, providing sotto voce commentary that was perhaps not as quiet as we intended as it invariably caused our teacher to announce that the next day we weren’t allowed to sit together. Generally the following day neither Duncan nor I would turn up, and the one after everything would be back to normal.
When we were not roundly criticising our classmates’ attempts at reading aloud we mostly read or defaced our desks, or in my case, napped. Duncan also spent the semester working his way through an immensely long fantasy novel. I have no idea what it was but it reminded me forcibly of a brick in shape and heft.

I honestly should know what it was because I spent a not inconsiderable amount of time watching him read it. Waiting. Because I had, by this time, read the play myself so I knew when it was coming. And every single time whichever unfortunate it was declaimed the words ‘King Duncan’ Duncan would drop the book like he’d been scalded, jerk upright and say, “What? What?” in a way that was precisely calculated to draw our teacher’s attention and censure. And cause me to snicker, and sometimes, depending on the force with which he threw the book to the ground or over his shoulder, slide onto the floor in a helpless puddle of laughter.

The second time I studied Shakespeare I was… taller.


Posted in: Kandace