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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Last evening, Ol’ Robbo watched an early ’80’s Beeb production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

This particular version – and I’ve never seen a good one on screen although I’ve seen several good stage productions – is pretty meh.   The Beeb’s attempts at Ye Faerie Lande sound and light effects are distracting without being effective, and there’s a wee bit too much grabby-hands going on between Oberon and Puck.  On the other hand, the Rude Mechanicals are pretty amusing, and it does feature the shmokin’ young Helen Mirren as Titania, so by law cannot be a complete loss.

Anyhoo, I found myself chuckling with delight over a passage I had not fully appreciated before.   As you recall, Helena, in the story, is besotted with Demetrius, who himself doesn’t care much for her one way or the other.  In throwing herself at him as he tries to elude her, at one point she pleads:

And even for that [Demetrius’s scorn] do I love you the more. I am your spaniel. And, Demetrius, The more you beat me, I will fawn on you. Use me but as your spaniel—spurn me, strike me, Neglect me, lose me. Only give me leave, Unworthy as I am, to follow you. What worser place can I beg in your love—

As it happened, the Port Swiller family spaniel was right beside me on the sofa when Helena spoke this line, even then eagerly seeking attention at any price her own self.

Hence my amusement.

Ours is the first spaniel I’ve ever really known.  Her passive-aggressive fawning is a standing family joke.  (As is her limited intelligence – the cats are far smarter than she is.) Evidently she’s not unique to her breed in this, or Ol’ Will never would have gone with the metaphor.  I appreciate it all the more now from my own experiences.

 

 

 

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