IN THE LILAC ROOM – SEDDON HOUSE LEVEL 02
Pages, used as makeshift bookmarks, have recently been found in an obscure text in the London Library. They appear to be from a short play dating to the time when Shakespeare was a lodger at Christopher and Mary Mountjoy’s house in Mugwell (now Monkwell) Square. Christopher was a wig-maker and hatter.
New Year’s Eve at the Mountjoys
Scene I Will’s Bedroom
Mary: The sundial hast just struck noon, bestir yourself, or I will let slip the dogs of war.
Will: Good morning to you, fair and gracious Mary.
Mary: I need a good 10 minutes in this room, it’s time for its de-lousing and de-ratting.
Will: So soon? It’s just three years past since your last deep cleanse. Surely you should tarry for a full 5 circuits of our wandering planet around Fiery Helios before you put your marigolds on and set to.
Mary: Normally yes. But Christopher was thinking of letting this room to a new type of tenant – one who will pay rent for example. Anyway Master Burple, ….. Bumble… I can never remember his name,,,,he awaits you downstairs.
Will: It’s Burbage. Think of this little ditty. ‘Shine back winter vegetable without the ride.’
Mary: Well, obviously that’s extremely helpful ….. not.
Will: shine = rub = Bur (backwards) and cabbage (winter veg) without the cab (ride) = bage. Put it together – simple.
Mary: Your clues art, in truth, like a drowning man being thrown both ends of ye rope. Now away or I will pursue thee with a bear.
Scene II The Parlour
Burbage: Hail Will. Time for work.
Will: What’s the point? The Master of the Revels has closed all theatres and Christopher is chasing me for the rentage. It’s made worse as the other lodger, a paper-maker, is down on his uppers. Apparently schools art now using a re-usable invention from the distant orient, a SmartSlate. It has a wondrous feature – you can rub the writing out. He keeps bestowing Christopher with reams of paper instead of coin.
Burbage: The theatre closures art to stop the spread of plague – apparently it’s gone viral. Methinks it’s Health and Safety gone mad. No, we have other fish to fry.
Will: Fish – I think Mary has some fretful porpentine in the stew pot.
Burbage: No time for tuck. We have extended the ‘Shakespeare’ franchise to non theatrical vehicles. For example the local tent shop – they’re not doing so well as there is no war on and who would ever use a tent other than in a military campaign?
Will: They would be mad indeed.
Burbage: Well he’s hoping to change it by dropping the price and using the phrase ‘Now is the winter of our discounted tents’.
And the tag line ‘Do get in a flap’ – that’s Ben Jonson’s (lovely man). By the way ‘As you like it’ the one set in a forest, could you put them in tents. Branded ones, of course.
Will: Well, it will pay the rent, but, on the other hand, where is my artistic integrity?
Burbage: Well think of it this way, ‘All the world’s a stage – even tent shops’.
Christopher: Don’t try to hide in the closet, Will. It is jam packed with paper. I need coin, so swallow your pride or you won’t be swallowing any more comestibles here. What’s more all these 12 days of Christmas are costing me a merry ducket. First a whole month of Advent fasting and then 12 days of feasting. It can’t be healthy. Now that we hast broken with Rome, you would think we could sort our own party regulations……
Burbage: Come, Will, I think Christopher is set fair for his afternoon monologue. Let us to the Mitre, I hast much else to discuss.
Scene III Ye Olde Mitre Tavern
Ben Jonson: Mistress Quickly, an ale for my friend, Pistol. He looks verily dischuffed.
Pistol: The constables art trying to reduce Petty Crime with a new practice, – Stop and Hang. I just escaped – wherefore do they pick on me? I am sure it’s more than three times this week, but my maths stops at three.
Ben Jonson: Well the clue might be in your name – Pistol. Try something less weaponised.
[Enter Will and Burbage]
Ah Shake-Spear and Master Burbage. Another two foaming pints for my friends.
Will: Ben, you seem in good humour, and in good coin by the look of your purse.
Ben Jonson; My play the Alchemist – it’s already doing well, despite the closures. It’s sponsored you know by the potions shop in Chepeside – Al the Chemist. His business is booming, especially his plague cure – try it for the full 14 day course – cure or your money back guarantee.
Burbage: Clever – given that the plague is the 24 hour drop dead variety.
Ben Jonson: But if you art lacking ready coin, I have already got appearance money at the Mayo on Rye Literary festival. Wherefore not come to that, Will?
Will: There’s all ready three people (Bacon, de Vere and the Earl of Oxford) booked, claiming to have written all my plays. My fee would be quartered like the condemned man.
Ben: Go as John Webster, no one is claiming to be him, even John himself. Kit Marlowe will be there with his new brand of leisure ruffs, doublets and breeches for the ‘Thames Valley Man’ Kit Marlowe … get it? Very clever.
Burbage: Don’t worry Will you will soon be in coin. York want you to change the name of Yorrick to Yorvik, and McDonalds say could you change Macbeth to McDonald. Can the Thane be called Big Mac? Also the touring companies say Henry VI (Parts 1, 2 and 3) be renamed to Henry strikes back or the Return of the Lancastrians …. you get my drift.
The Doge has asked you to change the name of Merchant of Venice as it is encouraging too many tourists and the city’s plumbing system reached capacity about two hundred and thirty years ago. You have a counter offer from Eastbourne – they need the tourists. Merchant of Eastbourne how does it sound? I have already given them ‘Once more unto the beach dear friends’.
Will: (past caring) OK but I still need ready coin for Christopher.
Burbage: I have a plan. Let us return.
Scene IV The Parlour
(Burbage and Will enter)
Christopher: Just in time. Pack your bags.
Burbage: Not so fast. I have an idea that will bring money in and save you a pretty groat.
Christopher: Pray tell.
Burbage: First cancel the remaining days of feasting and instead have one almighty bash tonight – New Year’s Eve. It will appeal to the Protestants who want to break all ties with Rome. Secondly start a fashion to wear party hats – made from paper! You hast goodly supplies, judging from my last visit to your privy and other sundry closets.
Christopher: OK, Burbage, ’tis verily a plan. Will can stay.
Will: Heavens be praised. Let me reward you with a pun – a name for the hat – A Foolscap!
Omnes (groaning) Happy New Year, everyone.
Dear Ann (Ann Drewes, Barbican’s own Agony Aunt – with a little help from Professor Logic)
Dear Auntie Ann
Following on from the City of London Girls’ School’s proposal to take over large parts of the Thomas More car park, readers may not realise that it’s not just the car park the School has its sights on. My wife and I were returning from a lengthy winter break to find that one of the bedrooms in our flat had been taken over by the School as a seminar room. It’s true that it’s a largish flat and my wife and I do tend to rattle around in it, but it is nice to have a guest bedroom. Or at least it was.
The girls are mostly well behaved and one does get used to the hysterical screaming after a while. However I have just received a letter saying that my wife and I need to have a police check to prove that we don’t present a danger to young children. We shall have to vacate the flat until that check is completed. Apparently this may take some time as our application has been classified as non-urgent.
Yours, hoping for milder weather,
Well as Tony Blair said, his priorities were ‘Education, Education, Education’ it looks as if the City shares his view. Auntie Ann BUL (Bachelor of University of Life )
P.S, I should avoid the kipping in the car park. Redevelopment Work may start sooner than we think.
Dear Auntie Ann
I love living in the Barbican, but whenever I meet a rather snooty friend from Chelsea, she always smiles ruefully and shakes her head when I talk about our concrete home. She seems to feel that Chelsea is far superior. I have compared Chelsea and the Barbican and the key difference between the two, in my view, is that they have a set of uniformed pensioners and we don’t.
Therefore would it be too much to ask if perhaps the Tuesday Club could get kitted up and do a light bit of parade ground work now and again? They could wear a uniform of mottled grey to match our concrete, which would indeed be the perfect camouflage should they come under attack from North Korean troops. Any Tuesday club members on mobility scooters could form part of a motorised division.
Yours Shane E.
With proposed defence cuts our Tuesday Club Militia might be called up for Active Service! AA
Dear Auntie Ann
Am I going mad? I recently went to Westfield Airport at Stratford, but could not find the gate or indeed any flight information. It seemed to be the genuine article in other respects – large shopping centre, meagre toilet facilities and worried looking passengers, but no planes. Do people bother to fly anymore, but or just go the ‘airport’ to shop?
An understandable mistake. I suggest you don’t go to the Hotel Chocolat in Moorgate hoping for B and B. AA
Dear Auntie Ann
As the CEO for Crossrail – soon to be the ‘Elizabeth Line’ – I may not be your usual correspondent, but I am told you are a wise old bird on local matters. You may be able to help.
I have just received what looks like a genuine letter from the City of London Girls’ School. It says that as part of the City initiative ‘Let’s use all available space’ it would like to commandeer any unused service tunnels for their new venture ‘A Finishing School for young ladies’. This would be similar to the Finishing schools located in the sparkling air of the Swiss Alps – but, in this case, they would be 60 metres underground. The letter stipulates that while they think the Elizabeth Line will greatly increase the catchment area for their ambitious expansion plans, they also think we should run a reduced train service during term time to minimize ‘noise pollution’.
Are they serious?
Yours ‘A Voice from the Deep’
Sadly yes, they are serious. Yours, chaining herself to her ‘soon to be demolished baggage store’, AA
Dear Professor Logic
People talk of the Internet of Things where products have internet connectivity so that your vacuum cleaner can order more dust bags by itself. However with poor connection speeds is this wise? I was desperately trying to send an email only to find that my bandwidth was being taking up with the Fridge talking to a six pack of yoghurt.
What’s more I suspect I am being hacked by Russian pranksters who are ordering goods on my behalf, as a large consignment of lurid green Ukrainian yoghurt arrived from Kiev. The yoghurt has the dubious distinction of glowing in the dark.
Yours in the slow lane
Switch off the fridge and live on tinned food. It’s the only way. PL
Dear Professor Logic
I read with interest the article about charging points for electric cars. I was wondering whether there could also be charging points for individuals. My pacemaker could always do with a top up, but a general boost would be good particularly with these short winter days.
Yours Live Wire
It’s feasible but consider carrying batteries in the event of a power cut. PL
Dear Auntie Ann
I imagine we have all been approached on the Podium for directions from time to time. Recently though it seems to have increased, the questioner usually has a suitcase in tow and seem to be looking for a hairdresser called ‘Hair BnB’. I point them towards the newly reopened hairdressers but this does not to quite hit the spot. On one occasion, I was asked directions to Giblets House – a butcher? – I have no idea?
Yours A Tozed
Hmm a worrying trend, we need to check out those checking in. AA
Dear Auntie Ann
Given the large queues for the Basquiet exhibition in the Barbican Art Gallery, I paid my £16, hoping I was in for a treat. I could make little of it and noticed that many of the pictures had been vandalized with heavy graffiti. I pointed this out to the staff who simply rolled their eyes and asked me to move on. I understood later that Banksy (left or right bank, north or south, HSBC or TSB he gives no clue) had created an homage nearby to these graffiti artists.
Yours A Kryllic
Let’s hope there’s not a local homage to the RSC’s bloodier history plays. AA
aka Kevin Kiernan
Dear Auntie Ann
A tip for your readers still trying to shed those Xmas pounds. I have been on a diet which sheds 2lbs a week but I am forever hungry. However I now combine it with another 2lbs a week diet and not only I am not hungry but I should now be losing 4 lbs.
You may need to change your name to Whopper. AA
Dear Auntie Ann
I am the chief engineer in charge of the Garchey tanks, the underground receptacles used for those using the original Garchey system for kitchen waste disposal. I have had a letter from the City of London Girls’ school saying that, as very few residents still use this system, they wish to convert the tanks to be an underground aquatic centre ……..
WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEXT TUESDAY AFTERNOON ?
BARBICAN RESIDENTS MEET EACH WEEK AT 2:45 UNTIL 4PM IN THE LILAC ROOM
Level 02 Seddon House (turn left first door ….for the Lilac Room)
Barbican Communications Officer – Nabeela AHMAD 07850 883503