From the babblings of Lear to the jibberish of Carroll’s Jabberwocky, nonsense is a genre I can get behind.
Especially in a time when our news feeds are full of the scary reality of life – there’s something very important about stepping back and finding solace in the silly. Which was why the public’s plea to name the British Research Vessel ‘Boaty Mc Boatface’, seemed so refreshing. In search of more silliness, I joined Stranger friend Reuben from Bullshit London for a Feed on his latest foray into nonsense – The Shakespearean Bullshit Tour.
Standing proud on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, Reuben, clad in his signature red-sequined dinner jacket, drew the attention of an eager crowd, ready to be spun a tall tale or two (apart from a small group of worried-looking Chinese tourists that clearly had no idea what was happening).
Leading us through the streets of The City, like some deceptive Pied Piper, Reuben wove a tapestry of lies that put the Bayeux to shame. His torrent of factually incorrect tales about our illustrious playwright included one about a recessed lock that blended into a wooden door he claimed has “inspired Shakespeare’s character ‘Shylock'”; and how Boris Johnson keeps Shakespeare’s brain in a crypt beside St Paul’s, linked up to a computer emitting meaningless code that no one knows how to decipher – this was some no-holds-‘Bard’ nonsense at its finest.
My personal favourite moment was when he cajoled an old lady with a guide dog to stand on a plinth wielding a root vegetable. She then threw this at a man who was regaling her with a sonnet we’d penned about eyebrows.
But as always, beneath the silliness of Bullshit’s facade, Reuben always likes to leave us with something more stoic and sobering. This time, it was a trip to Postman’s Park, where plaques line the wall of the courtyard garden, telling of people who have heroically saved the lives of other people – while losing their own in the process. This reminded us all of the fragility of life, and the silly things we worry about everyday, which when you boil it down to its essence is probably just a proper lot of nonsense anyway.
In the September twilight at Bream Cove we were joined by marine biologist and filmmaker Inka Cresswell, author Wyl Menmuir, freediver Emma Harper, and writer and broadcaster Octavia Bright. Read and listen to a snapshot of the compelling coastline conversations from the evening...