Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Saturday 23 April 2016

"How heavy do I journey..."

That was the greeting from a cycle delivery courier on London Bridge: but this wasn't an unexpected outburst of cultural zeal, it was an actor reciting Shakespeare's sonnet 50 at yet another stop on the Globe's annual "sonnet walk" to mark the great man's anniversary - in this case, the 400th of his death.

At first, somewhat disconcertingly, it appeared we were all being sent off with just a printed guide to find our own way in fairly persistent rain, starting in this case at St Leonard's Shoreditch. Near this church the first theatre in London was built, and in it some of the great actors  in Shakespeare's day chose to be buried (and, as it happens, one set of my great-grandparents were married).

But we got the point as, passing along what is now a workaday side street with nothing of great interest in it, other than that the original theatre had once stood there, what looked like a ranting street person treated us to "Th'expense of spirit in a waste of shame...", and so it went on. Just as Shakespeare brought to life no end of ordinary people in his plays alongside the kings and nobles, so apparently ten ordinary people of the present day appeared up side alleys and in hidden churchyards to deliver sonnets, some very familiar, and some not so much. We had an antic fool, a lovesick young man, a street campaigner for refugees, what seemed like a voluble tourist having a row on a mobile phone but turned to deliver "When in disgrace in fortune and mens' eyes....", and a city worker in Leadenhall Market competing with the Friday afterwork drinkers and a rock band to give us, of all things, "When to the sessions of sweet silent thought....."

And we didn't get lost: assorted stewards seemed to pop up at points of potential confusion, and since we had all been issued with red roses, it was easy to spot the group. And at the end, we were invited to use the roses to decorate the ornamental gates at the Globe:


  1. I think it is sweet to hear about so many people still interested and in love with Shakespeare. I still am.

  2. This sounds rather wonderful. I miss London.