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  • Amok Mama: I’m just like William bloody Shakespeare


Amok Mama: I’m just like William bloody Shakespeare

Jacinta and Co. delve into the mechanics of language. She and her son are part-inventor, part-bard.

The nice thing about winter is – and I hate winter, I really do, I hate the way it gets all cold and wet and your sleeves, no matter what you do, always get slightly wet and then they whip at you, I hate that icy whip of a cold, slightly wet sleeve, I hate winter – but the nice thing about it is that when it gets dark outside at 4pm you don’t need to feel like such a loser/slut for just staying in.

My boyfriend and I are tapping away on our laptops on the sofa; my son is on the floor, constructing a very complicated spaceship out of Lego.

I stop tapping for a moment and look up.

“Is ‘disremember’ a word?” I ask.

My boyfriend grins.

“No,” he says, “it isn’t.” He looks at my son. “Your mother thinks she’s William Shakespeare,” he says.

“I don’t,” I say, sulkily. “I think I’m Sarah Palin. Are you sure ‘disremember’ is not a word?”

“Why does she think she’s William Shakespeare?” my son asks. “Who is William Shakespeare?”

I start typing again.

“You know,” I say. “The guy who wrote Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet and stuff.”

“No,” he says.

Macbeth,” I say. “The guy who wrote Macbeth.”

“What happens there?” asks my son.

“Erm, this guy is coming back from war, and like, he meets these witches and they say he’ll be king and so he kills the actual king and then he gets, like, haunted.”

“By who?” asks my son.

“By this other guy,” I say. “It’s not Macduff, is it? It’s the other one? And his wife thinks she has blood on her hands and then she kills herself and then he goes back to the witches and they say: ‘Chill out, you can only ever be killed by a man not born of a woman,’ so he, like, chills out, but then Macduff comes and kills him. He was born by Caesarean, you know, like you and me were.”

“A Caesarean man kills the man who killed the king?”

“Yeah, he says he was untimely ripped from his mother’s womb or something.”

“Tell him about Romeo and Juliet,” says my boyfriend.

“Oh,” I say, vaguely. “Well, they’re very rich, aren’t they? And their families hate each other? And then they fall in love. And the friar gives her some special poison… doesn’t Romeo kill her cousin?” I look at my boyfriend blankly. “I think I’ve forgotten the plot of Romeo and Juliet.”

“You can’t have,” he says. “We only watched the Baz Luhrmann version about a year ago, didn’t we?”

“They have sex about halfway through, don’t they? And she really loves her nurse… doesn’t her nurse tell her to have sex with him? Otherwise their marriage will be unconsummated. And, erm,” I look at my son. “They both die in the end and then the families feel bad for not being friends.”

“And why does Mummy think she’s like Shakespeare?” my son asks.

“He was always making up words,” says my boyfriend, “just like your mum.”

“Yeah,” I say. “He made up, like, 3000 words or something.”

“What words did he make up?” my sons asks.

“’Obscene’,” I say. “I think he made up the word ‘obscene’. I think I learnt that at school. And cold-blooded. I think. And just loads and loads of words. Come here,” I say. “I’ll show you some Shakespeare.”

I put on the BBC’s Shakespeare: The Animated Tales: “Romeo and Juliet” on YouTube. My son watches it, his mouth wide open and aghast. I go into the kitchen and start tidying up. Soon it’ll be time for tea, and then it’ll be time for his bath, and then bed. In winter, especially on the weekends, especially when we’re at home, and it’s cold and dark outside, then I always think of it as “dinner” instead of lunch and “tea” instead of dinner, especially, especially, ESPECIALLY when I’m cooking for my son. He always corrects me though.

 “Mum,” he says sternly, “don’t give me tea for dinner! I’m too young to drink tea!”

I’ll give him scrambled eggs and toast for tea, I say to myself, as I rummage around the fridge for food. He comes running into the kitchen when the cartoon’s over.

“Mum!” he shouts. “You were definitely right about the Shakespeare guy making up loads of words!”

“Yeah?” I say.

“Yes!” he exclaims. “He just made up, like, half the words in that cartoon. I’d never heard of any of them. They’re not proper words. They’re just made up. Like ‘thigh-house’,” he says. “There isn’t any such word, is there, Mama? ‘Thigh-house’.”

I laugh. “You used to sound like Shakespeare when you were little,” I say. “You used to say ‘I want that not.'”

“Yeah?” He says, grinning at me. “I guess,” he says, with that look in his eyes kids get when they know they’re being precocious, “I guess we’re both a little bit like Shakespeare.”

“Yeah,” I say, “just a little bit.”