No Complaints #40: Sonnets, Suffragettes and a Shepherdess

Funny story: this week, my podcasting pal and I went to a screening of Suffragette and properly balled our eyes out (you know, the really snotty sort of crying, not the discreet snivelling kind), and now everything I’ve read/done on the internet this week seems sub-par by comparison.

Things to read

The Winter’s Tale was first performed in 1611. It took another three hundred years before the nascent science of psychoanalysis began to understand how the past mortgages the future, or that the past can be redeemed. How the past lies in wait as an ambush, or as a beggar in disguise. Shakespeare loved disguises; one thing or one kind masquerading as another – a girl who’s a boy who’s a girl. A princess who is a shepherdess who is a goddess. A statue that comes to life. That things are not what they seem is the terror and the glory of The Winter’s Tale.”

I would like Jeanette Winterson to do “cover versions” of more Shakespeare plays. Email to Pocket.



“After that, Ed had no problem if husbands wanted to be on hand while he slept with their wives. Not that he would limit himself to married heterosexual couples – there were hundreds of single, gay, and otherwise ambiguously attached women who required his services, too. But there was something edifying about this married couple in particular, something that made sense that hadn't before: In allowing him to have sex with their wives, the men, too, were on a journey, one as private as their wives’. And in this strange, dichotomous act of largesse and cuckolding, Ed himself might save them from self-recrimination and ego free fall. By sharing his seed with their wives just so, in the ovulation go-zone, he might provide them with the greatest gift of all – a no-strings-attached baby – and in so doing complete their family with the final puzzle piece. What he least expected in return was gratitude, but that's just what he got.”

This whole piece made me feel quite sick, but I just couldn’t look away. Email to Pocket.



“I would like to report that for a moment the previous owner of those books – or his shade – was there with me, that the contents of the box changed into something rich and strange, that I experienced the deepest mystery revealed. But that would be another fiction. If he had in fact materialised, I would have said to him: I wish we were inside a Wodehouse novel, one of those stories in which it was always a sparkling day, and all the girls were pretty. I wish I’d taken back my copy of The Metamorphoses, if only to remind myself that we are all of us in transit. I have seen just one yellow warbler since you died.”

Untidiness and owning a lot of books I haven’t read yet is my mid- to long-term life plan, so it’s good to know there’s a philosophy for it. Email to Pocket.



“The court found itself ‘abundantly satisfied’ of Spencer’s guilt and the correctness of his sentence. It ordered that Spencer should be hanged ‘but that first the forementioned sow at the said place of execution shall be slain in his sight, being run through with a sword’. The terrible sentence was carried out on April 8, 1642. In then traditional English fashion, Spencer was brought to the place of execution on a cart and allowed to deliver a gallows address to the waiting crowd. He was once again urged to acknowledge his crime, and he once again denied it. But when the halter was fitted to his neck, ‘he fully confessed the bestiality in all the circumstances’. Though ‘much pressed’, he would not speak further of his sin. With this, the sentence was carried out on Spencer and the sow, ‘leaving him a terrible example of divine justice and wrath’.”

The case of the piglet’s paternity is straight up the weirdest pig-related thing I’ve read (this week). Email to Pocket.



“The three most popular keys for a Bond theme to be recorded in are E, G and B. This is not really a surprise. The notes E, G and B – when played together – make up an E minor chord, and E minor is the key of Monty Norman’s original James Bond Theme (the classic surf rock riff from the gun barrel sequence). It is therefore relatively easy to segue from the James Bond theme into a song recorded in E, G or B – so it makes sense that these keys would appear more frequently than others.”

A very gratifyingly nerdy look at why some Bond themes are more successful than others. Email to Pocket.


Things to listen to

From Radio 4’s Midweek on Wednesday, we learned that in 1963 Brian Blessed was out for a run in Richmond Park (which for those who don’t know it, is full of deer) when he came across a woman in labour lying under a tree. He rushed over to help her, delivered the baby and the afterbirth, then tied off and bit the umbilical cord before calling for help.

Nothing else I have listened to this week has had anything like the impact on me that this has.

Things to watch

My love is strengthen'd, though more weak in seeming.

Bit busy on the roads.

I heart Stephen Hough.

Compulsory medieval thingamabob

Snakes need ladders too.

The guest gif

I, too, have been startled by fruit in my time.

THE END. See you next time*!
*Next time will probably be next Friday. If you want to suggest things I should include in the next one of these, please do reply and send me links.