Northern Broadsides, is touring the Bards comedy ‘As You Like It’ . | Northern Broadsides via Facebook


In this week’s ‘Confidential’ I have taken a number of rather strange events and hopefully turned them into something that makes sense. William Shakespeare is without doubt our greatest ever playwright and although generations of schoolchildren still need to be convinced of that fact, we all say it, even if we have never, ever, read a single line or sonnet of his - ever. However, when theatre companies try to make Shakespeare relevant in this modern age - what happens? Well, people walk out of theatres in disgust. Let me explain.

The theatre company, Northern Broadsides, is touring the Bards comedy ‘As You Like It’ and the actors are speaking William Shakespeare’s lines in broad Yorkshire accents. However, far from pleasing audiences a minority of theatre goers are walking out in disgust, unhappy that his words are spoken in such a manner and in a local accent. Cleverly, the theatre company has used this incident to promote their production and it seems that most performances are played to packed local audiences. The company’s director made the point that Shakespeare himself would have spoken in a Midlands accent as he was born and bred in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Moreover, audiences have become so used to actors bellowing at them in so called ultra-posh RP (received pronunciation to you and me!) that it comes as quite a surprise when actors playing Shakespeare actually sound just like them and those in their communities. Mind you, you could have hours of fun imagining cockney, Danny Dyer, playing Henry V or Juliet as imagined by Katie Price (sorry about that thought). Anyway, personally I’m all for it, bringing to theatre a smidgeon of reality and relate-ability to some of the greatest works of literature. Nevertheless, your imagination can and does run wild in conjuring up certain parts played by certain people. Geoffrey Boycott as King Lear perhaps? - what about Bob Mortimer playing Malvolio, as he’s a canny lad isn’t he? Meanwhile, artistic director of the theatre company involved, Laurie Sampson, is even using the line - “If anyone wants to see and hear these repulsive northern accents on stage, bring a sick bucket.” The man’s a genius!


If you spend anytime at all in almost any geographical part of the UK you will soon come across a modern plague that eats at the very core of your soul. “Whatever can this be oh wise one?” you may ask. Well, to put a not too fine a point on it, it is called being ‘Woke’ or supporting ‘Wokeism’ in all its many manifestations. From Labour Party Leader, Sir Keir Starmer declining to say whether woman can have a penis or not, and a Liverpool hospital required to ask men if they’re pregnant before undergoing a body scan; I think you get my drift. Nevertheless, a Devon pub has been threatened with a mass boycott!! and accused of “Wokeness gone mad” for renaming a traditional doorstep sandwich and salad construction, a “Ploughperson’s Lunch.” As no one nowadays can spot a joke anymore, I felt rather sorry for the harassed landlord when he told his local newspaper “It was meant to be tongue in cheek - you know a joke.” Poor bloke, fancy assuming that people have a sense of humour about such an important thing as a pub lunch. The only thing I felt outraged about was the fact that the Ploughperson’s lunch in question costs a scandalous £12.50. While I’m on the subject of pubs, taverns, and what they are called; one of Britain’s oldest pubs is under pressure to change its name, even if it famously hosted Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. The owners of ‘Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ are resisting pressure to change the name to - ‘The Cheery Chooks’ and to replace their current menu and to adopt a fully plant-based menu. Anyway, it seems that the owners are set to ignore this kindly advice and are unlikely to ‘gender-change’ the name of their pub even if it cocks-a-snook at vegans and hens alike. Hey, I can’t believe I’m writing this stuff!


The temperature at which a heatwave is declared is being increased across the United Kingdom as the climate warms. It seems that heatwaves are called when an area has at least three days in a row with daily maximums hitting or exceeding a threshold. Anyway, it seems that England in particular, with the current climate pushing up temperatures new limits are being introduced. The Met Office say that the three-day heatwave threshold will rise from 21°C to 22°C with slight adjustments in Newcastle so that young people can continue to wear next-to-nothing on a Friday night out on the razz. Okay, that information is not completely kosher, but worth a try anyway! In truth, the Met Office is raising the heatwave bar to 28°C from 27°C for most of England as climate change interferes with our traditional temperature norms. As a person quite used to Majorcan summer temperatures, this 1°C rise hardly seems worth the effort. However, I wonder at what temperature the Balearic Islands would be seen to be suffering from a heatwave, given that a drop of 0.5°C and a spell of wind and rain apparently causes panic amongst some people. Indeed, following on from my article of last week where I accused some islanders of being rather precious when it comes to unseasonal weather, I did wonder if heatwave warnings should be introduced alongside inclement weather notifications just in case. Nevertheless, perhaps this obsession with the weather is a solely British trait? An old Mallorcan neighbour of mine living up the lane from me in the hills above Andratx, reckoned that we Brits would constantly bang-on about the weather, as if it were some sort of tiresome hobby shared by all - which apparently it isn’t.