Bit Parts

“We need a good woman to help us with all this

tat, but she’d have to be Mistress Quickly!

Eh? Get it?” But Will just goes on

struggling with the endless buckles of

Ghost’s armour, listening as his

lines drain away towards our next cue, so

I get shot of Voltemand and

shrug on Player, which frankly the

last cunt could have washed! But

never mind, a slug of good ale

takes the smell away!


I make I can read the cue-card but

Will’s ready as 1st Player and

Bolonius getting a laugh puts a

smile on his face and then

we’re off!—sorry on!—treading on

nutshells into the noise and so many

words I thank the Almighty I have none—

I let Cornelius declaim our line before

Claudius, whilst I hung back and

mouthed, thinking of

mouthing that especial ale.


We play the play within the play—he’s

clever that way, Will, though you’d never

know it from his looks—like my

mother’s grocer—though he

plays the play’s play mighty well, him all

fardelled with royalty, me (after another

quick change and just a little sup) in a

bright red tunic with too many

bothersome buttons and a

burning desire for a piss

and no privy.


Me and the boy who was Player Queen see who can

piss highest up the outside wall during

Act Four, he who a moment ago in

full fig gave me such eyes I …well,

he went and I eyed the tavern and

there was time as they wouldn’t miss a mere

Sailor and I needed something before my

big moment—English Ambassador, come with

Fortinbras to view all the deaths with

fine retinue and trumpets and me with

tippets of fur like a priest!


“Roseycrutch and Gildenstem are dead!”

Was that right? Well no one noticed as I

teetered, my feet sticking in all that

pigs’ blood, wincing at the elbow to cue

“Where should we have our thanks?” which

Horatio needed to answer, and

blessedly soon “Exeunt marching, a

peal of ordnance shot off.” I stepped on

something round that squashed and gave a

scent unknown to my nose,

alchemical, mysterious.


After, someone told me it was a

norange—if I had but known

I would have kept it as a

keepsake, never having

seen one before.

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