West-End, of late years, has ceased to be an obscure nook, with a few houses almost hidden in trees. London, as on all other sites, has thrust itself in, and planted handsome houses of merchants and professional men, and opened up the secluded scene of former rude revels into a pleasant suburb of the great Babel.
William Howitt,  The Northern Heights of London (1869)

Last Monday, my day off from The Importance, I had the pleasure of opening a wonderful new exhibition at the National Library of Scotland, where my daughter Dora works as a curator in the Foreign Collections. The exhibition is called ‘Beyond Macbeth: Shakespeare in Scottish Collections’.
On the last leg of my train journey north, I composed this sonnet, which, owing to time, I omitted from my speech:

Just fourteen lines, a sonnet’s worth I need
It’s four now of the clock and growing dark
The Bard he would be petrified – the speed
This Eastern Train is going to hit its mark
An ancient church tower, past it I was hurled
And yet our modern day doth have its limits
It seemed a good deed in a naughty world
But Puck got round the earth in forty minutes
Neither a borrower nor a lender be
Tell that to Britain and the Europeans
Just four more lines I’m writing, now let’s see –
Oh God bless Scotland’s hard-pressed Librar-ians
For what this precious horde today bequeaths
Is Shakespeare: if we choose, he lives and breathes.

Photo by EP
Photo by EP


The Importance of Being Earnest had its Press Night on Thursday, 15th December. Read the splendid reviews for the show and for Edward’s performance as Dr Chasuble on the Latest News blog.
2 thoughts on “RAILWAY SONNETS”
  • jentay61

    Dear Mr P,
    Once again I have had a "catch up" session immersing myself in your wonderful words and pictures due to a hectic artistic output on my part, largely inspired by your example.
    The triptych is marvellous and I'm
    so glad to see "Bean". For the first time I'm
    living in a household with a puppy and am learning how she can quickly a)take over, and
    b)break down so many social barriers. "Bean shall be her roll model!
    A Very Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  • fiddler

    Had a wonderful afternoon on Wednesday 28 as part of the audience at The Importance of Being Earnest. The highlight for me was the duet between Miss Prism and Dr Chasuble! It was lovely to go to a performance where the music didn't overpower the singers.

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