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'Will and Ted' - A "Shakespearean" Fictional Short Story
Deep down inside, I knew that I needed Will and Ted back in my life.
Let me explain.
* * * * * * * *
Many moons ago, during my Grammar School days, something really wonderful happened. A student teacher was assigned to our English group.
He was tall and slim, with a mop of auburn curls and marvellously expressive green eyes. And his enthusiasm for Shakespeare was infectious.
We girls were all quite keen on literature, but, if truth be told, we were even more keen on Mr Grant ~ or 'Ted', as he asked us to call him. (Not that we ever did, of course ~ well, not to his face, anyway.)
He suggested that we might put on 'A Midsummer Night's Dream', under his tutelage ~ and we agreed enthusiastically. The play was a great success, the rehearsals with 'Ted' were fantastic, and our love of all things Shakespeare increased exponentially.
I adored everything about it. And when I say everything, I must, of course, include the teacher!
Shakespeare and his Home
A Midsummer Nights Dream
So I was really saddened, when ‘Ted’ eventually had to go back to University ~ I felt that reading Shakespeare could never be the same again.
At the end of term, we broke up for the summer ~ armed with several books to read ~ and, in the September, we returned to our studies.
I remember it so well. We had English first lesson, and our new teacher was ~ yes, you’ve guessed it; Mr Grant! I could hardly believe my eyes. He had passed his exams and returned to us, as a fully-fledged English teacher!
I noticed some of the other girls looking at me. They were smiling, nudging each other, and giving what might be termed 'knowing looks'.
At first, I was puzzled, but it suddenly dawned on me that, while everyone liked Shakespeare and Mr Grant, probably no-one was quite so enthralled by both of them as I was.
I blushed. Unfortunately, I blushed just as he looked at me ~ and I couldn't speak. Goodness knows what he must have thought.
Perhaps he then guessed that I had a crush on him. I still don't really know. Luckily, I managed to calm down.
I continued to find both Ted Grant and Will Shakespeare amazing, I worked hard, I passed my end-of year exams and, once again, it was time for the long summer holiday.
I took my books home and I read during the long lazy days of summer.
But the long lazy days were about to come to an abrupt end. Mum discovered that she was pregnant with twins.
As the eldest, I had often helped around the house and kept an eye on my younger brother and sister, but now Mum needed a huge amount of help.
Then another bombshell was dropped. Dad became ill and couldn't work. With a family of five and two more on the way, financial concerns became a huge worry for us all.
The obvious didn't strike me at first, but the truth struck home when, one evening, my parents said that they needed to speak to me about something important.
It was obvious that this was going to be a very serious conversation.
Dad looked at Mum; she looked at him; and then they both looked straight at me. I could tell that they felt terrible about something, and were finding it difficult to speak.
I wondered what else could be wrong.
Finally it was my Dad who blurted it out.
"You do realise that you won't be able to go back to school, don't you, Kate?" He looked as if he were in physical pain, and I could see that Mum was close to tears.
"We are so sorry, darling." Her voice was strained. "We know how much you love it there. And we are so proud of you, but ...
“But needs must, Love,” added Dad. "Education is a luxury we simply cannot afford and we really need you to go to work and earn some money."
And that was how my hopes and dreams of studying Shakespeare at university came to an abrupt end.
I found myself a full-time job at Woolworths, lost touch with my friends, married early, had children early, became a grandmother early, and was widowed early.
Then, one day, not so long ago, my granddaughter asked if I could help her with her English. She was studying Shakespeare.
I was rusty, but it soon came back to me, and I was immersed, once more, in the love of my life. I knew, there and then, that I could not let this get away from me again.
With the obvious, and painful, exception of early widowhood, life had been good to me.
My husband had been a kind man and I had felt content with him, even though we had shared very few interests.
He had been happy in his work at the factory, but the academic world had held little interest for him.
However, we had shared a love of our dear children and grandchildren.
Old Royal Shakespeare Theatre Stratford - On The River Avon
Stratford Upon Avon
“Grandma, you’re still really good at this ~ why don’t you do a GCSE? You could enrol for one now.”
Really? Now? Could I?
Was my granddaughter right? Might I still study Shakespeare?
I looked into adult education courses and I signed up for English Literature GCSE. I was so excited! No-one could possibly have understood how much this meant to me.
That was when I decided to take another plunge.
I decided that it was time to see a production of one of the bard’s plays and, if I was going to see Shakespeare live on stage, for the first time ever, then I was going to do it properly ~ I was going to Stratford-Upon-Avon!
Early Editions of Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet
I went alone! I don’t know where my sudden bravery and assertiveness came from, but I felt inspired and filled with an enthusiasm that I thought had died many years before.
I travelled up to Stratford in the September, while the weather was still warm and sunny, and I had a wonderful time.
I visited Shakespeare’s birthplace and enjoyed a tour on an open-top bus, before returning to my hotel to change, ready to walk down to the theatre for the play ~ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ ~ the one that I would be studying for GSCE.
While I was waiting for the doors to open, I became aware of a familiar male voice nearby. At first I was a little bewildered. Who might be there, whom I could possibly know? The man was just in front of me. Someone had asked him a question and, as he finished answering, he turned and looked straight at me.
Recognition dawned in his eyes as it must have in mine. It was Ted Grant! His wavy hair was more grey now than auburn, but his green eyes still burned with enthusiasm, as they looked into my own.
Ted, too, was travelling alone, and he was in the seat next to mine. It was fate! It must have been!
Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shottery (Stratford)
All's Well That Ends Well
That was my first experience of a Shakespeare play, but by no means my last. It was, however, the last time I attended one alone. Thereafter, Ted and I went together. (And, of course, I could call him Ted now ~ no more ‘Mr Grant!’)
I finished my course, took my exams and waited impatiently for the results.
Ted was with me when the envelope arrived.
He knew just how much this meant to me. He held his arms out to me and he was beaming;
“I knew that you would do it!” Pride was in his voice. “I always knew. Always! Congratulations Kate.”
I hugged him happily. I was grinning with exultation.
Finally, everything had come together.
“All’s well that ends well” I whispered.
'Will and Ted' - A Foray into Fiction
A foray into fiction ~ inspired by my enjoyment of the works of Tudor / Stuart playwright, William Shakespeare, and my great liking for the beautiful historic town of Stratford Upon Avon, in Warwickshire.
Feedback welcomed : )
Copyright Tricia Mason ~ All rights reserved.