The Plowman’s been like a pig in shit these past few days.
I can’t run on the Radio without hearing someone singing or declaiming Shakespeare. The TV’s packed with programmes on the Bard and on Sunday I did the #completewalk including 37 films on screens between Lambeth Palace and Waterloo.
Best of all , last night I went to a mass set by William Byrd in the Church of St Andrew by the Wardrobe Brilliantly sung by the English Chamber Choir which was followed by a talk by Laura Wright on “Shakesperian Actors, their linguistic and addictive legacy”.
Dr Wright lives round the corner from me as does Professor Peter Wilson (the BBC’s fave Shakespeare nut). Both were in the Cockpit last night demonstrating the importance of the boozer to our enjoyment of Shakespeare.
The Cockpit was probably the site of the House Shakespeare bought with his mates as a Jacobean buy to let, it is connected to the Church by a tunnel which allowed free access to the boozer to shy prelates.
Inside St Anne’s gate (where the Cockpit now stands) were the Church lands of Blackfriars, the winter playhouse (where Macbeth and the Winter’s Tale would first have been performed) and even a Catholic Church. The chalice form which I drunk my communion wine could well have served Shakespeare though Luke the vicar told us that it came from the Puritn St Anne’s church – Shakespeare was more likely a left-footer.
Was Shakespeare a crack-head?
But I digress from the central question- was Shakespeare a crack-head? It would seem from the clay-pipes collected from excavations in Shakespeare’s house in Stratford that it wasn’t just tobacco that was being smoked, there is evidence that from the pipes of cannabis and – yes – of the Cocoa plant’s leaves.
Dr Wright left us in no doubt that Shakespeare would have access to the state of the art narcotics of his day due to the proximity of the Curtain Theatre in Hoxton to Pimlioc0. Those who know London will know Pimlico to adjoin Victoria, but it was not always thus. Dr Wright explained that the Pimlico pub, serving the famous Pimlico Ale was named after a certain Ben Pimlico who took his surname from his time among the Pamectico people of Virginia. Ben had gone to Virginia- probably as a Cribby ( a vagrant deported to the Caribbean (Cribby) or any point West of Lands End.
Ben brought back to England not just a goodly knowledge of beer but tobacco which he sold in the Pimlico pub.It appears that the actors at the Curtain spent some time in the Pimlico sampling the wares of the Cribby. The conclusion we came to, was that the weed and the Cocoa leaves might have been equally available to Will and his thespian colleagues.
So yes, you heard it first here! Top Cambridge academic Dr Laura Wright claims that Shakespeare might have smoked crack pipes stuffed with weed, cocaine and tobacco.
Shakespeare was a crack-head!