Tag Archives: Antony and Cleopatra

Weekly Photo Challenge: Renewal

In which a man with no camera takes on the WordPress Photo Challenge anyway….

It is a well-known fact that all believers in re-incarnation, no matter how mundane their current lives, were persons of note in previous existences. All of them seem to have been a Knight of the Round Table, or Cleopatra, or the guy who played drums for Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. None of then were ever Fred Potts, a tanner from Lancashire.
But of course if re-incarnation really does happen then somewhere out there must indeed be Cleopatra…

Her mother had been going to call her Rihanna, but on the day that the baby was born she looked deep into her eyes and something told her that she was to name her after Cleo Laine. This was odd because she hated jazz, and because until that second she had never heard of Cleo Laine.

Young Cleo grew up (in Sallynoggin, County Dublin) knowing in some way that she was special. She quickly found that people did her bidding and brought her treats, especially if she lay down screaming on the floor of the supermarket. Her mother (she could not bring herself to call her Mummy, for some reason) bathed, dressed and fed her, like a handmaiden. Her Daddy called her his Princess.

And then she reached the age of five, and went to school.

All of the girls there had daddies who called them Princess. None of the teachers would bow to her command. And then there were the boys.

They mocked her school-bag with the pictures of Tommy Cooper in a fez on it. They made fun of her rather peculiar, sideways-on walk. They looked at the style in which she wore her jet-black hair and nicknamed her Dora the Explorer.

Then they discovered that she had a morbid fear of worms.

One day one of them thought it would be terribly funny to drop a worm down the back of her dress. She freaked out, screaming and racing around the schoolyard until someone took her arm and shook her gently until the worm dropped onto the ground. The laughing boy found himself punched in the face as a voice, as deep and forceful as a five-year-old boy’s can be, said “leave her alone”.

Her rescuer, a small quiet boy, offered her some of his Toblerone. She loved Toblerone, perhaps because of its pyramid shape, or perhaps simply because she was a girl and it was chocolate. Anyway, instead of grabbing the whole bar as if it was hers by right, she took one piece and quietly, shyly, said “thanks”.

From that day on Anthony was her best friend.

Making an Entrance

While picking couples for my “Star Crossed Losers” post on Valentine’s Day,  I thought briefly about Antony and Cleopatra, but realised I didn’t know very much about them.

While ignorance like that has never held me back before, I decided I’d better make some sort of effort, so I Googled them.

In the end I reckoned they weren’t quite pathetic enough so I left them out, but I’m so glad I looked them up because I got to read the start of Shakespeare’s play, and thus found the greatest stage direction of all time.

The curtains open, two guys called Philo and Demetrius enter, Philo speakes ten lines, and then the play says:

“Flourish. Enter ANTONY, CLEOPATRA, her ladies, the Train, with Eunuchs fanning her”

I so wish I’d written that line.

I also wish now that I’d taken amateur dramatics a bit more seriously in my 20s. The group I was in tended to do comedies and pantomimes, we’d never have taken on something like Shakespeare.

My own work CV, if I ever need to use it again, would contain one or two oddities (I worked in a bingo hall for about a year), one or two lies (“I am fully computer-literate”) and an awful lot of padding (“interests include reading and walking”, most people put down. I’d do the same, because the more truthful “interests include going to the pub after work on Friday and sleeping through Premier League Football on the couch on Sunday afternoons” doesn’t generally impress HR departments).

But imagine if I could add the line “March 1986 – April 1986: was a Eunuch, fanning Cleopatra”.

It wouldn’t matter what job I’d applied for, I bet I’d get at least as far as the interview stage.