William Stir-Arrow was, and possibly might have remained, a playwright whose abilities would remain concealed from the general public where it not for a peculiar conversation held at some publishing house.His family legend had it that they were intimately connected, in some way, with a famous Elizabethan playwright, and who are we to argue with them. It might have been a blood connection, or one of acquaintanceship, or that they both loved the same kind of jam, but that connection had inspired member after member of this family, for generation after generation, to move their quill, pen and then cursor across the page in search of that telling phrase which would finally earn them immortality, and possibly elbow that Elizabethan upstart off the pitch of life and into the obscurity some felt was merited by his language.
Thus it was that our William had penned his new play “Measure For The Tempest” with a hero by the name of Duke Smirk who struggled with the upbringing of his daughters. To date he had sent it to one hundred and fifty publishing houses and , unknown to him, been the inspiration of more comment than any other manuscript. “Is this pure gibberish or just unadulterated garbage,” asked an editor of his new assistant as he held up a sample of dialogue for his inspection.
“Forsooth Yo chum, into the very bed of rock the teapot rung”. “What does that mean?” asked the puzzled Editor, and his new assistant, eager to impress, searched for a meaning not involving a slip of the pen or simple derangement. “It has a ringing quality, don’t you think?” he ventured, and the Editor looked at the dialogue in this light. “No it doesn’t” “Perhaps we should be careful” said the eager new junior, “You know how the man ridiculed by one generation can becomes the prophet of the next,” and they both looked carefully at the phrasing once again. “Once more to the bard dear friends and swilge our grapes”.
“Puzzling” said the Editor, “The word ‘swilge’ has a certain tone to it. What do you think it means?”. “Well that is the problem with prophets” said his junior, “Their meaning often only becomes clear some time after they’ve popped their clogs” “Popped their Clogs” said the Editor and raised his eyebrows, “You seem to be infected by this man’s use of language” The junior, now certainly was infected by possibly unwarranted enthusiasm stood back and said to his boss, “Declaim the line sir. Speak it out as if you where on stage”. Swept along by the interest of his new colleague the Editor did just that, and raising his arm, said in a loud projected voice ” Forsooth Yo chum, into the very bed of rock the teapot rung” putting plenty of Rrrr’s into the last word, and sure enough there was a certain dynamism to it which took you far beyond the land of meaning.
“I think you’ve got something here” “Oft till the night wings flap oe’r surried plains” he said, booming out the next line which on reflection, seemed to have no connection to the one proceeding it. Once bitten, both men started quoting liberally from the book and laughing with gathering abandon at the very oddness of it all.
So it was that this curious item was published internationally and started the new hobby of proclaiming nonsense in public, a fashion previously enjoyed only by those of a political persuasion.