Thursday, September 04, 2014

will and juliet ride the rails

Julian dropped me off at the train station in Didcot this afternoon for my trip to London where I will join up with Ken and Patti tomorrow.  A cruise is in our future.

And I may even have a surprise blog guest for you tomorrow.  But we shall see.

The past four days with Julian in Abingdon have been exactly what four days with a good friend should be.  He went out of his way to show me parts of England I have not seen.  Yesterday it was the Didcot Railway Centre -- an outdoor railroad museum.  I wanted to write about it in the train this afternoon.  No writer could avoid the temptation of the parallelism.  That is, until I heard the small voice of Serin.

Some voices carry across distances.  Even it it is only three rows of train seats.  I heard Serin announce: “We saw a play about Juliet.  It was very sad.”  An adult voice responded.  I assumed it was Serin’s mother.  “Why was it sad?” 

Serin was not about to be sucked into the danger of a wrong answer.  “Have you seen it?  Didn’t you think it was sad?”

Her mother did not relent.  “I want to hear why you think it was sad.”

The timorous voice of a child summarized perhaps the greatest of William Shakespeare’s tragedies.  She spoke of families who hated.  Their children who loved -- even though she kept forgetting Romeo’s name.  Two deaths whose love could not transcend hate.  One by poison.  The other by a dagger -- or, as Serin put it, “Juliet touched Romeo’s blade.”

And all the way through the recitation, Serin’s mother prodded, re-directed, and teased out not only the text, but also the sub-text, of this tale of star-crossed lovers.  I am not certain I have heard a better conversation about the meaning of the play.

Both of them are fortunate to have one another.  A girl filled with intelligence and empathy.  And a mother who cares and nurtures her daughter’s intellectual talents.

I commended the mother when I walked by to toss some tradh.  I was shocked to see that Serin.  She was tiny.  I expected a girl of about ten.  She was five.

By the time I was back in my seat, she had moved on to the more age-appropriate Tinkerbelle and Wonder Woman.  But I suspect the tragedy of Juliet will always live with her.  Along with the lesson of what family hatred can do.

In twenty years, I expect to read an essay by world-renowned Shakespeare expert Serin Somebody.  "A Theory Born on the Didcot-London Line."

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