Day 5: Into Worcester

Worcester Sores

A miserable morning when everything seemed to go wrong: the fields were wired up, the gateways blocked with nettles, the paths in the Suckley wood eight miles from Worcester appeared to be circular and we were both convinced we were going in ever decreasing circles and would end up our backsides. Then after we had staggered out and lunched in the “Bank Hotel” we found it as boring as a dentist’s waiting room with nasty food: a hamburger with at least three inches of substitute meat packets of tomato sauce and a rather elderly pickle is not enough for a growing boy.

After lunch tore the three miles into Worcester and calmed down in the eleventh century cathedral for that, in part, is what cathedrals are for.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Jane and I recently enjoyed a dramatic production of Hamlet at Stratford played by an all-black cast. I studied the play at school and so I know it well enough, but great slabs of the prose still wafted over my head. However, I nodded wisely and pretended that I understood exactly what was going on.

I’ll bet I am not alone in this incomprehension. Years ago, a friend went to see a provincial production where the spoken words were indistinct.

“Not that it really mattered,” he later proclaimed, “because I know the play so well.”

What a pseud! He lieth.


In his biography, Lawrence Oliver said that he was once in a production of Richard III where an actor called Dan Cunningham was playing a messenger. One matinee, Cunningham was having a fag in the wings and Olivier was on stage.

Cunningham suddenly realised that things had gone very quiet. Believing he’d missed his cue, he stubbed out his fag, rushed on stage and flung himself at Larry’s feet: “My liege, the Duke of Buckingham is slain this hour.”

Now this presented problems because the Duke of Buckingham hadn’t even been on stage yet. So Larry gripped him very firmly by the arm and hissed, “Thou liest Sirrah!”

“Oh sod, Larry’s dried!” Cunningham thought to himself. He quickly came up with some Shakespearean doggerel: “Nay, my liege, I swear, by yonder thicket he lies all covered in gore!”

So Larry applied a real tourniquet to his arm and snarled, “Is’t positive Sirrah?”

Quick as a flash, back came Cunningham: “Yea my liege, I swear by all that is holy, the Duke of Buckingham is slain this hour.”

Larry gripped him by the throat, turned him upstage and cried:

“Then by my troth, thou hast fucketh the entire play!”

Suffice to say that nobody in the audience even seemed to notice…

Drem Station

Jane wasn’t always the confident Christian lady she is today. When she was a little girl she used to live in East Lothian near North Berwick, and the local train to Edinburgh started in the local “Drem” Station.

One day her parents overheard her saying her prayers as follows: “And lead me not into Drem Station…”


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