March 13: friday the thirteenth

I remember as a thirteen year old the first time I read Macbeth. This was as a revelation to me. The language and the syntax were so thick and involved. They were like bracken soaked in tar. Trying to decode the complications was like cutting open a large insect and examining its insides, seeing how the various parts fitted together, some of them exuding black liquid matter. The rhythms were like witch chant. You could see why this was a dangerous set of words, a text that was damned.

You do not often get texts like that. Or maybe it is only at rare times that you are receptive to that kind of experience.

Then I made it into a play with little puppets and my little sisters helping me out. I think we did almost the entire play, unexpurgated, longer than most staged verions, for my mum and dad. My mum and dad had to sit through it. After a bit my mum started reading the paper and my dad fell asleep. We just kept going for a couple of hours. The three witches; Lady Macbeth; Banquo’s ghost; Birnam Wood; the lot. We read all the parts from behind the stage and moved the little puppets around.  My sisters, aged ten and eight, were exhausted  but I was a hard taskmaster. I was like the Cecil B demille of  number 1 Woodbank Ave. I suppose I was possessed. Decades later I still have Macbeth in my head more than any other block of writing. It is the backbeat to all my things.

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