My Favorite Fools

On this first day of April (and my Uncle Bob’s birthday), here’s a rerun from a few years back:

In Shakespeare the fool often plays a pivotal role, generally during or after a tragedy when they remind us of the inevitability of human folly. My favorite fool is Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet.

Mercutio

“I talk of dreams which are the children of idle minds.”

To quote Shakespearean scholar John E. Hankins: Mercutio’s “unique blend of critical acumen, delicate fancy and obscene levity nearly stole the play from Romeo and Juliet and thus he must be killed off fairly early on.” Mercutio sees the trajectory of dreams in the cold light of day and decides to make merry of the dreamer although inside he weeps. He recognizes he can do nothing and that his words will make no sense to those who do not want to hear. Not unlike political satirists like Bill Maher or Jon Stewart.

Fool means “a silly or stupid person; a person who lacks judgment or sense.”  In the late 60s those of us who believed a world without hate and war was were often called fools. Which brings me to my second favorite fool, Paul McCartney:“The fool on the hill sees the sun going down and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.” McCartneyOkay, we were all wide-eyed fools when his song hit the airways. Then we got hit with mortgages, children, child support, Republicans, Libertarians, Rush Limbaugh, the Octomom, Reality TV, IRA rollovers, etc. But you know what? Forty some odd years later and the baby boomers are increasingly returning to the hill to watch the sun going round.  Being McCartney’s sort of fool can keep you young at heart forever and if there’s anyone who’s proof of that, it’s Paul McCartney.

PeterSellers

“I like to watch.”

And then we have the modern day fool, personified by Peter Sellers in Being There.  A genuine idiot whose  regurgitation of whatever he hears on television propels him to national prominence.  Golly, sound familiar?

I have a special message for him:  UB, Brad Pitt called me this morning pleading to play the part of Oncle Boob.

Pitt

I see a certain resemblance between Uncle Bob and Brad Pitt, don’t you?

What do you say – yeah or nah?

The Birthday Boy!

Hurry up and give me your answer because Joel says George Clooney is on the other line!

 

Middle Earth

IMG_3738

Serpentine duck – quite a dapper gent who’d probably just been to Harrods

 

I must admit that after seven days London grew on me, especially the parks.  Hyde Park, for example, is so large that even on a beautiful Sunday afternoon you can enjoy a lovely walk along the Serpentine, watch the boaters, listen to the speakers at Speaker’s Corner or feed the ducks without feeling the crush of humanity.

However, it was the Cotswolds I really want to see.  They are a string of medieval villages located in an area northwest of Oxford and the southwest of Birmingham. Once upon a time I read that the Cotswolds were the inspiration for Tolkien’s Middle Earth.  Having been there, I can believe it.

Cafe

The real life home of Bilbo Baggins?

Cottswolds

View of the countryside from St. James Church, Chipping Campden.

This area flourished in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries primarily because the wool industry.  For this reason many of the churches in the villages are known as “wool” churches (though they really should be called “sheep” churches, don’t you think? Without sheep there would be no wool!)

Graves3

One of the “wool” churches – St. James in Chipping Campden.

Two things that struck me about the churches and graveyards in the UK were: 1.) Crypts of the illustrious dead (generally wealthy patrons) are located inside the church or under plaques in the floor.  Westminster Abbey must be the final resting place of thousands of illustrious dead.  2.) In the countryside, gravestones for the not so illustrious are spread all around the church – some quite close to the actual building.  This tends to make English graveyards and churches a bit more spooky. This and the fact that they are centuries old.

church1

Holy Trinity, Stratford on Avon, final resting place of William Shakespeare

At any rate, it wasn’t the ghosts who cut our trip to the Cotswolds short (we only stopped in one village) – it was the fear of driving narrow country roads in the rain! Next time I go, I’ll rent a driver to go along with the car!

Gargoyle

Ghoul outside St. James Church

 

Marketplace

Medieval marketplace

 

 

Tomorrow – my favorite haunted house.