We spent a couple of days in Stratford last week celebrating the husband's 50th and soaking up the atmosphere. After a relaxing boat trip up along the Avon we wandered into the R.S.C. to explore and came across a wonderful collection of costumes from past performances displayed throughout the public walkways. The attention to detail was breath-taking and couldn't fail to ignite the imagination. Around us the air was filled with the warm heady aroma of fresh coffee wafting from the nearby café. It followed us all the way to the gift/book-shop which was full of all things Shakespeare.
I was undone.
The fact that I made it out of there with only a minor purchase in nothing short of a miracle.
Ah - The Bard.
Later, as we sat in a quaint patisserie opposite his birthplace, (also with gift-shop,) I could imagine for a moment what Tudor life must have been like. How he might have stepped briskly out with the purpose of securing a patronage from all or any takers. Dodging pee-pots emptied by feisty wenches from upstairs windows without a second thought because the play simply HAD to go on regardless of the lack of money for rent or food. Wheeling and dealing, drinking, brawling in the taverns, practising his art on stage and off; fornicating, but above all, writing. Could he have known I pondered, as he scribed and scratched on parchment into the wee small hours, his fingers stained with ink, surrounded by the broken nibs of used quills and empty caskets of wine, jumping perhaps at a sudden shadow cast by the flicker of his candle; the influence his words would still have so many hundreds of years later?
Probably not and yet...
As I sat sipping my tea I watched the general hub ambling up and down the causeway, holding up maps or taking pictures of themselves on their mobile phones, standing proudly where he might once have stood, feet aching from the tourist route which no visit to England would be complete without; when I fancied I caught sight of the hem of a cloak disappear suddenly into the timbered house opposite. The small crooked windows in an upper room darkened briefly by a figure pacing up and down in an almost unconscious state of sacred communion with the muse.
I shivered and looked again but the diamond cut glass would not give up it's ghost so easily.
'There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.'
And there is magic in this place worthy of several more visits at least me thinks.