On the 3rd June, I visited Newholme Hospital with a presentation about the life and times of Shakespeare to stimulate the patients’ memories and to hopefully get them to create some poetry.
At Stanton Day Hospital, we got into a discussion about the political intrigue of Shakespeare’s era (1564-1616), which was a turbulent time, with Queen Elizabeth I imprisoning her Catholic rival, Mary Stuart in various houses around the Peak District. In 1588, the Spanish Armada attempted to conquer England. Those times must have been dramatic and dangerous to live in, even in Derbyshire, with beacons lit on high places like Crich to warn of the invasion, and the persecution of Catholics like the Padley Martyrs.
Here’s a poem that I’ve written, using comments from patients, volunteers and staff at Stanton:
Shakespeare wore an earring
He looks well-groomed
Long hair and earrings look quite modern
How many words do people use today?
Thousands and thousands
And Shakespeare gave us three thousand
He lived in dangerous times
The Spanish Armada fleet kept coming
But England kept its shores safe
Was Shakespeare a soldier
Listening to the Queen’s speech
The heart and stomach of a King?
Did he escape to the army
Fleeing his wife’s tongue,
The dull, small-town life
Making fame and fortune
Strutting the Globe’s stage
Bringing words to life
No carefree Merrie England
There were rival queens
Beheadings, Catholic martyrs
And Will trod precariously
High drama, deadly spies
Loyalty to the aging Queen
And returned to Stratford rich
His adventures paid off
Expecting a long retirement
But he died. Too much ale,
Or was it poison?
Did Will know too much?
A life full of mystery
Adventure and impish fun
Leaving his eternal stories and words.
To be played around the world
On stage and screen
Beamed into our homes.
Later that afternoon, on the Riverside Ward, which is a residential dementia ward, we ended up talking about music hall in Chesterfield! I think you’ll enjoy this one!
Juggling with Rats
Everyone came to the Chesterfield Hippodrome
I used to take my grandma
“Twice Nightly” – always top acts
It was nowt to get Gracie Fields
And there was a man who juggled with rats.
Laurel and Hardy came there
Charlie Chaplain was a regular
Flanagan and Allen – “Underneath the arches”
It was a right place of entertainment
You were lucky to get a ticket.
They didn’t used to love me there
I’d sneak in without paying – no money.
But sometimes we carried cases at the station
And I brought my fish and chips in with me.
“If you won’t stop throwing things,” they shouted,
“We’re not going to show the cowboy picture!”
If they saw you mucking about in the stalls,
They’d use a great long stick to catch you.
The floor would be two feet deep in monkey nuts.
We used to have fun when we were kids!