Who was William Shakespeare?

Today is Shakespeare Day. William Shakespeare was an English playwright and poet, born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
From Wikipedia

Some say this man did not have the education and experiences to produce the writing attributed to him. Various names amongst the aristocracy of the day and other writers are suggested as the ‘real’ Shakespeare.

Others suggest that Shakespeare was really a woman.

I decided to see if I could sniff out the truth – bipeds so often miss what’s right under their noses! I pondered about where to begin and I thought that a very good place to start would be with his own writing.

First Folio, William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Every Star Trek fan knows that you can’t appreciate Shakespeare until you’ve read him in the original Klingon, but, as I don’t know much Klingon and there’s a lot to read, I decided to begin in English with the most interesting bits – the bits about dogs.

The first quotation to spring to mind was “Cry ‘havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war”, but I was more interested in finding dogs in normal situations so I left Julius Caesar for another day.

I picked up a copy of Macbeth as it’s such a famous play. There’s a lot of murder and mayhem amongst the bipeds. The witches are up to no good at all, they use “tongue of dog” in one of their spells! Lady Macbeth makes a speech which puzzled me. She’s apparently speaking to a stain, or spot, on her hand. I’ve seen bipeds do some very strange things, but that’s strange even for a biped!

I did a little digging and I found that some capitalisation has been lost. It made perfect sense when I realised that Spot is a name. “Out, damned Spot! Out, I say!” It is clear to me that Spot is the family dog and the speech is a clever way of showing that Lady Macbeth is the villain of the play because only a wicked villain could speak to a dog in such a heartless way!

Then I turned my attention to The Two Gentlemen of Verona and, more specifically, the character of the dog called Crab. There’s a lot of peripheral stuff about bipeds falling in love and the complications that ensue, but the most important scene of the play revolves around Crab.

Crab is at the Duke’s Court in Milan with his biped, Launce, when he makes a puddle under the table. The Duke gives orders for Crab to be beaten, without even enquiring when Crab had last been taken outside. Launce takes the blame for the puddle and gets a beating. Obviously, the Duke must be very wicked indeed and Launce goes up in our estimation. I was surprised that the part of Crab is usually played by a biped in a dog costume.

Since bipeds have stolen one part belonging to a dog I thought I should take a closer look at some of the other characters. I turned to The Merchant of Venice and, my hunch was right, I found Shylock saying, “But, since I am a dog, beware my fangs:” (Act III Scene iii).

I sniffed around and I also discovered that some of the plays have had their names changed. Here is a list.

 

Current name Original name
The Merchant of Venice The Mastiff of Venice
Macbeth – The Scottish Play MacBones – The Scotties’ Play
The Merry Wives of Windsor The Merry Weimeraners of Windsor
As You Like It As You Lick It
The Two Gentlemen of Verona The Two Gentle Dogs of Verona
A Comedy of Errors A Comedy of Bones
Much Ado About Nothing Much Ado About Bones
Winter’s Tale Winter’s Tail
King Lear King Leonberger
Pericles (Great) Pyrenees
Antony and Cleopatra Antony and Clowiepatra
Julius Caesar Joe Likes Cesar¹
Romeo and Juliet The Bonio² that Julie Ate



Notes:

¹ Cesar is a well-known dog food for small dogs

² Bonio is a bone-shaped dog biscuit (cookie) sold in Britain

These are the first known examples of product placement.


My conclusion

Some of you have probably guessed by now what I found out – Shakespeare was a dog! He was more accurately known as Will.i.dog Shake.a.stick, but all his friends at the park called him the Bark. He was born in Stratford-a-bone-haven. If the Internet had been invented sooner, he would have been the very first dog with a blog.

The painting, at the beginning of this post, generally thought to be Shakespeare cannot be verified – no surprise there! He is rumoured to be one of the group of friends in this picture.

Group of five dogs

By Unknown maker, British (photographer, Details of artist on Google Art Project) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Disclaimer: If you have stumbled across my detective work while doing research for an essay for school or college, I would advise you to stick with the accepted views offered in Wikipedia – the academic world isn’t ready for this truth yet!

See you next Wednesday!

A sniff too far

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon when my bipeds decided to go exploring with me. We parked the car just off the road at the beginning of a track and set off on foot. We hadn’t gone far when we noticed something large and white following us, but every time we turned round he pretended that he just happened to be going the same way and had no interest in us at all.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees

I’m not following you, I’m just sniffing

Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Clowie and Romeo

Maybe I’m following you

He gradually worked his way closer to us, but was a little nervous of the bipeds. He moved away if they went too close to him, but he followed closely behind me. My bipeds said we looked as though we were dancing the conga!

Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, Clowie and Romeo

This is how we dance the conga!

We stopped to sniff at something interesting and when I moved on with my bipeds, he stayed to sniff. My bipeds wondered whether he had lost interest in us and would go home, but a moment later we turned to see him hurrying to catch up with us. By this time my bipeds had named him Romeo, they’d obviously noticed his amorous intentions!

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees

Wait for me!

The track followed a stream, but crossed it to follow the opposite bank a few times. We had to splash through the stream!

Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, Great Pyrenees, in a stream

Splashing along

We met some other bipeds going in the opposite direction. They greeted my bipeds and my bipeds asked if the dog belonged to them – my bipeds were a bit concerned about him. The other bipeds said that he wasn’t theirs, but he spent a lot of time wandering about in the area. There was a house on a hill overlooking where we had parked and they said he lived up there.

Romeo became a little too persistent and intimate in his sniffing. I sat and gave him a look, he took the hint and backed off a little. It wasn’t long before he was getting too pushy again. I repeated the sit a few times but he became even more persistent and I had to tell him he was overstepping the mark. He flopped down on the track looking very sad.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, in the mud

I didn’t mean any harm, honest!

I went a little closer and looked down at him. He said he was very sorry that he had got too excited and impolite, but that he hadn’t seen such a gorgeous creature as me since the last time he’d caught sight of his own reflection. I said that was a nice compliment – almost!

My bipeds decided it was time for us to return to the car. Romeo was friendly but respectful to me on the way back. He decided he wasn’t nervous of my bipeds after all.

Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, being stroked

How did you know I like my ears being rubbed?

Head of Clowie, Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees

I taught my biped to do that!

As we got nearer to the car, I heard my bipeds discussing what to do about Romeo. But as soon as they unlocked the car, he moved away and crossed the road. We could see him bounding up towards the house on the hill.

See you next Wednesday!

My feline friends

Mulberry and Pippin, my cats, said that it’s too long since they’ve appeared in one of my tales. I asked them what they would like me to write about them and they asked me to come up with some ideas and then they would help me to write the post.

Mulberry, Persian cat, with towels

I’m helping the biped!

Each time I went to talk to them about my ideas, they were busy. Mulberry appeared to be resting on a pile of clean towels, but he assured me he was helping the biped sort out my towels. He also said that the biped had a bath planned for me soon – he’s probably right!

Each time I checked on them after that they said that they were doing their yoga. Then they needed to groom themselves and then they groomed each other.

Pippin, tabby cat, showing his tummy

Pippin doing yoga

Mulberry, Persian cat, showing his tummy

Mulberry doing yoga

Finally they said they were ready to help. They settled themselves comfortably and I began to read my ideas to them. They made a few comments and then they went very quiet. I looked up and they were fast asleep!

Two cats sleeping - Pippin, tabby, and Mulberry, Persian

This is their idea of helping!

I’ll tell you about some of the strange things they do. Mulberry likes to jump out from a hiding place – he’s always hoping to scare Pippin or me! Sometimes we pretend that he almost scared us because he tries so hard.

If either of them vomit, they panic and move backwards to get away from it. The bipeds ask them to keep still and be sick in one place, but they don’t listen they keep moving! Mulberry pukes a little and then jumps backwards a couple of feet and keeps repeating that until he’s finished, but Pippin can run really fast backwards and puke at the same time – it’s quite impressive!

Oh, they’ve woken up, apparently this isn’t funny and not at all the sort of thing they had in mind!

Mulberry says that his favourite stories are “Purrfect obedience cat” and “The chair scare“. Pippin says that you should all make sure to read my very first interview called “A fridge too far“.

They’ve gone back to sleep, they’ve obviously had a very tiring day. I won’t get any more sense out of them now, so I’ll tell you there’s a list of cat tales.

See you next Wednesday!

A matter of perspective

I told you a couple of weeks ago how I met up with my friend Sandy and one of his bipeds and we walked home together. Some of you laughed at the idea that the bipeds were chatting about nothing of any importance, so I’ve decided to let you make up your own minds about it. They were talking about a dishwasher!

Open dishwasher

Open dishwasher
Attribution: BrokenSphere [GFDL, CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

I’ll tell you the tale of the dishwasher from the beginning. Sandy and his bipeds had moved to our village a few months before. The kitchen in their bungalow was nicely fitted out, but there was no dishwasher. Sandy’s female biped (SFB) was very keen to get one, but Sandy’s male biped (SMB) said that it would be too much work to fit one because of the layout of the kitchen. SMB said that it wasn’t possible to get the plumbing to a dishwasher in any of the places SFB suggested because of doorways and the solid floor. SFB was very disappointed but gave up on the idea of a dishwasher.

Sandy, like any responsible dog, offered to lick all the plates clean, but his bipeds have the same strange ideas about that as mine do!

Then SFB had a problem with a toe. She had injured it some time ago and once or twice a year it troubles her and she has to keep her weight off it for a couple of weeks for it to recover. This meant that SMB was doing the cooking and the washing up. On the second day, while doing the washing up after their evening meal, he had a brainwave. He could see a way to fit a dishwasher!

Dishwasher advertisement from 1896

By McClure’s Magazine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

He told SFB the good news. She asked how that was possible and he explained his plan. They could get a dishwasher and put it in place of the washing machine. SFB said that although she was keen to get a dishwasher she couldn’t give up the washing machine. SMB said he’d anticipated that and this was the cunning part of his plan.

He would remove the fitted cupboard in the bathroom, make a few other changes and put the washing machine in there. She could have a tumble dryer on top of the washing machine if she wanted and he would build a new cupboard to contain them. SFB said it sounded great but was concerned about how much work it was for him. He said it was no trouble at all – it would only take him a few days to get everything done. I think you’ll get an idea how enthusiastic he was when I tell you that he managed to get a dishwasher delivered and fitted the very next day!

Our walk was a few weeks after this when SFB’s toe was recovering again. She was telling my biped that the work on the bathroom was almost complete and she could use the washing machine again. The bipeds laughed together and made jokes about how it only took two days of washing up to focus SMB’s mind and how rapidly “impossible” could become “no trouble at all”.

See you next Wednesday!

The dog who cried wolf

I was keeping an eye on my bipeds who were preparing food in the kitchen, when I heard them say that it was all ready to go in the oven. They decided that one of them could take me for a walk while the other one watched the food. I’m usually enthusiastic when the word “walk” is mentioned, but I didn’t get straight up to go out.

The biped got ready and called me to the door and attached my lead. She called out “goodbye” and we set off. We had only walked a few yards when I started to limp. We stopped and the biped knelt down and I gave her my paw. I had a sorrowful look on my face. She took my paw and looked at it and she felt between my toes. She felt along my leg and put it down.

She said, “I can’t see anything, Clowie. Try a step or two and see if it still hurts.”

I put my paw down and hobbled a few paces. Then I stopped and gave her a mournful look. She knelt down and checked my paw again.

She said, “I don’t know what the problem is, Clowie. We’d better go back.”

Androcles' lion with bandaged paw

My poor paw!
Androcles’ Lion, Duthie Park Winter Gardens (Aberdeen, Scotland)
Attribution: Paul Chapman [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

We returned slowly. She opened the door and we went in. She detached my lead and I dashed to the kitchen and took up position by the oven to wait until the pheasant was cooked. The biped followed me. She stood in the doorway and looked at me for a moment. I could tell she knew that I had been faking the limp – I’d done it once before, but I’ll tell you about that another time.

She said, and at this point puppies should cover their ears for a moment, “You are a bad dog.”

Yes, that’s what she said. B.A.D. Bad! You can uncover your ears now, puppies. They hardly ever say that to me and it worries me when they do. Then she told me to get out of the kitchen. I hesitated because I really wanted to keep my nose in the vicinity of the pheasant and the other delightful smells. She said, “now” in a stern voice, so I left the kitchen with head and tail held low.

She told me that I was like the boy who cried wolf and that I wouldn’t get help when I needed it. That was obviously a whopping great fib! They’re always worried and rush to help me if there’s something wrong.

They left me on my own for a few minutes. When they called me to go and join them, I leapt up and scurried into the room. They wanted me to do some of my tricks. I did them as well as I could and I pretended not to notice that they were being stingy with the treats! It was worth it because it wasn’t long before I heard the words “good girl” and I became excited and then they made a fuss of me.

I knew I had a full pardon when I was given a tiny piece of pheasant later. I’ve never pretended to be hurt since then, but I have walked as slowly as possible occasionally when they’ve chosen to go the wrong way on a walk!

See you next Wednesday!