I am writing this the day after Shakespeare died. It’s the 24th of April. Well, when I say the day after he died, of course I mean four hundred years and a day after he died. Yesterday was also his birthday. Not necessarily the best birthday present, poor Will, to die on the day you were born.
Self-centredly, I’ve always tracked Shakespeare’s life along with my own. He was born in ’64 and I was born in ’65 – so, wherever I am my life, he’s always been about the same age – yes, yes – albeit in a different century. Shakespeare was born in April 1564 and I was born in April 1965.
I’ve always known that if I was going to die at the same age as Shakespeare – he died in ’16 – then I would die in ’17. Which means I’ve got less than a year to live, if I’m to die next year, in 2017, at the age Shakespeare was when he died. Gulp! Truth is, I’m really nowhere near ready to die, just yet. I’ve got young children and a marvellous wife who – luckily – still loves me. And I’ve got a lot more work to do.
Four hundred years ago. Sounds a flipping long time, doesn’t it? Four hundred years. But, so often, if things seem remote and concepts hard to grasp, we’re just not playing the right game, not using the best thought-experiment. Four hundred years ago is really just four people away. Imagine if you’d been held as a baby (I don’t know how old you are but in, say, 1995) by someone who was a hundred years old.