Read O' for the love of Shakespeare Online
Authors: Brooke St Pier
O’ for the love of
Brooke St Pier
Copyright © 2016 Brooke
All rights reserved.
To Isobel and Jessie,
my greatest achievements.
‘All the world’s a
stage, and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and
entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.’ As You Like It
“Jane get your bum out of bed we’re going to be
late.” Before I even open my eyes the bouncy voice of my best friend Victoria
hits me annoyingly, like an early morning wake up call. Why had I given Vic
the keys to my apartment; and why had I agreed to travel to work with her
today? I knew she was the Energiser Bunny on Prozac in the mornings and I,
well, I was still in my pyjamas. I pull the covers up over my head in the hope
that she will disappear.
Vic and I met in my first few days at Exeter University
where we were neighbours; she was studying Media and I, English. Without
knocking, Victoria had strutted in to my room and had gone straight to work
sorting through my clothes, exclaiming that we had to go shopping as all my
clothes were far too frumpy and dull. She forced herself in to my life and I
loved her instantly. Victoria was the most beautiful girl I had ever met. She
did not have the beauty of a model in a magazine, but she had a lithe, athletic
appearance. Vic was all legs. She was tall and willowy with a thick cascade
of hair the colour of dark chocolate. I have always been the complete polar
opposite; short with boobs and a little too much of a bum. Wherever we went,
men’s eyes followed Vic around the room, a fact that she more than loved. I
trailed behind her, every man’s second choice.
I was the geek and Vic was the beauty. I don’t
know if it was two wrongs making a right, but we instantly connected. Vic
showed me some truly disturbing sights and in turn, I helped her with her
studies. At least once a week at University, Vic would drag me to the local
campus bar where her goal would be to find us two eligible beaus who we could
spend the evening with. More often than not though, Vic would get lucky using
my back as a springboard while she and her choice would lick each other’s faces
in public as I sat awkwardly with his friend.
Not that I was completely saint-like at University,
I did have a couple of boyfriends during my three years there. One who seemed
dark and mysterious, but once I actually got to know him I realised that there
was no mystery, he was just completely and excruciatingly boring. He hardly
spoke because he had nothing interesting to say. The second was so green with
jealousy, I only had to leave my room for him to start accusing of being up to
no good. For the whole duration that we dated, I was convinced that I had a
vitamin D deficiency, as I was too scared to leave my dorm room.
All I wanted to focus on at University, in my
small slightly damp smelling dorm room, were my studies and reading the
skyscraper-high tower of books I had to get through. Not that I was
complaining. I was in pure unadulterated heaven. My dorm room held many a
crazy party with Elizabeth Bennet, Moll Flanders and
That Elizabeth Bennet was pure filth,
I tell you.
Books have always been my thing. I would much
rather have a debate with a literary character in my head, than have an actual
conversation with a real person. They are, after all, far more interesting and
exciting. I mean - who wouldn’t choose to spend the night with Christian Grey
over the guy who smells vaguely of urine - who you fear is stalking you on the
bus? Reality after all, is really rather boring in comparison to fiction.
Through University and the years that followed,
Victoria has been my only significant other. I thank the stars, the moon and
all that there is for bringing her to me. I wasn’t alone anymore. For me, University
was by far the best time of my life. If I could live any day over and over
again, I would pick any of my University days - even with the dodgy choice in boyfriends.
I could read all day and I finally had an actual friend. Life couldn’t get
any better. The fact that I was out from under my parents’ feet was just the
cherry on the top.
My parents were over the moon when I applied to
go to University. They were actually pleased about a decision that I had made.
My mum could brag about her daughter the University student. Albeit they had
both looked disappointed when I told them I had chosen to study English. “Is
that an actual course?” My mother had said looking disbelieving. “You speak
English why do you need to do a course in it? Couldn’t you do something more
useful like Maths or Baking, darling?” Notwithstanding my apparent poor choice
in course subject, I was determined to finally succeed at something in my
life. Something that would make my parents finally say they were proud of me
and - you know - maybe actually make me feel that they didn’t regret that
fateful night that I was conceived. Although the thought of my parents having
sex at all is such a horrific thought, that I prefer to think of my conception
and birth in a mythical, magical sense. Beatrice from
Much Ado About
speaks beautifully when she says ‘my mother cried, but then there
was a star danced, and under that was I born.’ I think that is a far more
Something else, both amazing and surprising,
also happened at University. Through my studies I found Shakespeare and it was
a revelation; never had I heard words that were more beautiful. I fell in love
from the moment I first read
Troilus and Cressida
. How could someone
who lived so long ago still talk to me in such a way that no one else could?
Shakespeare’s words, characters and scenes exploded around me constantly and at
last I felt at home. For my final year at University I focused completely on
Shakespeare, wanting to understand his plays inside and out.
Enter Victoria with a Flourish
“Jane come on, if I am late for this meeting I
will whoop your arse.” So here I was, thirty-four and living alone in a small
but cosy apartment in East London - not alone, but lonely. Pulling the covers
down I rub my face, removing the line of dribble from my cheek and stand
Vic is pulling outfits from my cupboard and,
after looking at a couple, she seems satisfied in her choice and throws a black
pencil skirt and cream blouse at me, for me to get dressed. I wish I had Vic’s
sense of style; she has tried to take me shopping on many, many occasions but I
always go back to my safety net of loose tops and trousers. The skirt she has
pulled out is actually the only skirt I own and was a gift from Victoria two Christmases’
ago. Vic as always, looks stunning today, wearing tapered tight cream
trousers, killer heels and a floaty silk mink coloured shirt. I pout, not
wanting to get ready. With Vic’s steady gaze and occasional tutting, I dress
quickly, brush my teeth and apply a little mascara - which is the only make up
I can be bothered to put on.
I made the mistake of going to bed last night
with my hair still damp, my blonde hair now sticks out in the most random of
directions. The quickest way to fix my scarecrow-esque hairstyle is to pull it
up into messy bun. Not sophisticated whatsoever but I will at least not scare
birds - or people - on the train.
I look at myself in the bathroom mirror, the
small cracks of crows feet starting to appear around my eyes. Vic keeps
telling me to get a couple of little shots of Botox to smooth them out. I pull
at my face, making the wrinkles disappear for a few seconds. My dark brown
eyes judge me as if to say ‘yes of course that will fix all of your problems.’
Why couldn’t I have had a different play to
live out? If only I could be Shakespeare’s Beatrice or Viola. At this point I
would even pick Desdemona or Juliet, both had very sad endings, but at least
their lives had a bit of excitement up to their sudden demise. Instead, I am
not prosperous, desirable and I would probably describe myself as verging on
dull over being quick-witted. I’m not sure I am even able to describe myself
as being all that picky when it comes to men - rather - it is a more generous
way of explaining that I have no love life at all. Not even a crush to speak
of at the moment, well not in the conventional sense anyway.
Vic grins when I emerge from the bathroom,
“have I told you lately you are a complete hotty Jane, why are you not out
shagging, you are always cooped up in this drab little flat?” Looking around,
my living room is looking a little tired, my book shelf has a few unopened cookery
books that were presents from my mum, and propped up against these is my
Works of Shakespeare
. When I am home alone I sit and immerse myself in the
words, seeing the plays coming to life in my rooms. Why do I need to decorate,
when Romeo and Juliet, Othello and Desdemona, Anthony and Cleopatra give my
rooms all the colours I could possibly need? I have every type of
relationship I could ever desire - right there on my little shelf.
I had it bad, I was in love with Shakespeare,
not the lay at night awake thinking do me now Shakespeare, but in love with the
words and worlds that he created. I carry them with me always.
“So, this weekend?” I say ignoring her dig
about my apartment as I slide on my flats. Vic lives in heels but I just look
like a toddler trying to learn how to walk when I attempt to wear them. So
rather than making a complete arse of myself, I always stick to my comfortable
“This weekend?” Vic replies blankly.
“Oh come on Vic, we’re going tomorrow morning?”
“Yes of course, sorry, I’m in the zone for this
meeting trying to remember everything I need to talk about. Yes, all set.
You’re meeting me at mine, right?” She raises one of her flawlessly, groomed
eyebrows at me.
“Perfect. I’ll be over just before seven?”
Vic pulls a face at having to set off on holiday so early. I look resolutely
at her as if to say ‘do not argue because for once we are going to do this how
I want.’ See, I can be tough. Sometimes. Alright, this is the first time I
have ever been tough in my life.
“OK, OK.” She holds her hands up making her
beige expensive-looking bag swing on her arm. “I’m off out with Oliver tonight
though so don’t be shocked if he’s still, you know, saying goodbye to me.” Urgh…I
roll my eyes.
I grab my pre prepared lunch from the fridge
and Vic and I start the trek in to the City. Every day I take the hour long
train journey in to London. An hour of my life that I spend with either my
nose shoved in to a sweaty arm pit or with my backside squashed against a perve
with a raging erection. However, today is a treat, today I have my beautiful
friend with me to keep me company. Vic has a meeting nearby my offices and we
happily share the journey together.
“Oliver is taking me up the Shard tonight.”
“Is he now?” I mutter sardonically. Vic
“Yes you haven’t been? Have you?” Have I been
to one of the glamorous, romantic restaurants in the Shard? Of course not, I
live alone, I am alone and I do not have the exciting type of job where you get
to go for lots of lovely corporate outings.
“No I don’t think so.” I smile, hiding my
“I am so excited. I know I’m not going to be
able to concentrate today. I’m going to pop out at lunch to treat myself to a
new dress. Something Oliver won’t be able to resist me in or out of. You up
to anything tonight, Janey?”
“No just packing. Remember you need to pack
too.” I say pointedly at her. “At least five days of clean underwear.” Vic
is the adventurous type that would just head to the airport with her passport
and only one pair of clean knickers. Something she absolutely did when we
decided last minute to go to Barcelona for a weekend a few years back.
“Five days of pants got it. I’ll just throw
some stuff in a bag in the morning. It will take me all of five seconds, I
promise.” I know I will spend tonight methodically taking every item of
clothing I own from my wardrobe whilst having a massive internal debate as to
whether it makes the wheelie case or not. Vic will, as she says, only spend
five seconds choosing and she will still look glamorous and gorgeous. She is a
complete bitch sometimes.
“Hey you OK?” Hopefully I didn’t just call her
a bitch out loud.
“Yes sorry just a bit low at the moment.
Probably just need a change of scenery that’s all.”
“Why don’t you let me set you up again? Oliver
has some really hot mates.” Vic has set me up before, but we have very
different tastes in men. She prefers a pretty boy but it makes me feel less of
a woman knowing the person I’m dating has more hair products than I have ever owned
in a whole lifetime. I do also know however that something needs to change. I
haven’t seen anyone in over a year now and I’m getting myself into a rut.
“Hmm yes maybe but no pretty boys. I want an
actual man. Think of the actors that have played Macbeth, you know rugged and
manly, rather than the young pretty boys that usually play Romeo.” Vic snorts
and rolls her eyes.
“Yes I’ll get right on that.” She pauses
watching me. “You know you could be anything you want to be, men that would
give their right arm to be with you, Janey. Is this really the life you want?
I don’t mean you should settle - but - wouldn’t it be nice to come home to