King Lear is the new Hamlet. Boys with floppy hair and tight black jeans aren't soliloquising about suicide; they're wondering what they'd do if they got their eyes poked out. What's hot: sibling rivalry, storm scenes, and existential angst. What's not: the Oedipus complex, Denmark, and jumping into other people's graves.
Personally, I've never liked Lear much. I'm put off right from the start by the fact that the daughters are all named after venereal diseases: Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and what's her name. And then there's all that business with the eyes. I know there's a fine literary tradition of eye-gouging out there, what with Samson and Delilah, Odysseus and the Cyclops, but I prefer not to have to think about ruptured eyeballs in anything but the most abstract sense.
The reason I mention King Lear, on this thirty-first day of March, is its Fool. He's a clever piece of work, if ever there was one. Given that His Maj is, in turn, a selfish and stupid git, ye wise Fool is begging to be embraced as the Shakespeherean mascot of all Anarchists and Anti-monarchists with Early Modern Thespian Tendencies.
Tomorrow is April Fools' Day. As it is also Palm Sunday, I will be abstaining from my hilarious repertoir of japes and criminal offences out of respect for Jesus. ('Though that means withholding rumours about the multi-species parentage of sheepdogs.) Nonetheless, I've often wondered about April Fools' Day. Who is the Fool? The fooled or the fooler? King Lear's Fool is insightful, in a sybilline kinda way. Certainly he ain't the one getting his eyes gouged. But what if he'd tried to tell Lear about sheepdogs? Indeed, did they even have sheepdogs in ye olde Albion? If not, how did they herd sheep?
More pressingly, what is the relationship between an April Fool and a Strawberry Fool? Is it legal to garnish an April Fool with almond flakes? Or should I use hazelnuts?
Which reminds me, I bought a dozen chestnuts from the Thornbury veg market yesterday. Do I roast them with their skins on?