Suppose вЂ“ just suppose вЂ“ there was a telephone line between Heaven and Earth and you could make just one three-minute call to somebody up there. Who would you choose and what would you talk about? My three minutesВ might go something like this . . .
вЂњHello, Will Shakespeare here.вЂќ
вЂњAh, Mr Shakespeare, at last. YouвЂ™re a difficult man to get hold of.вЂќ
вЂњIndeed. I do apologise, but IвЂ™m still trying to get used to this new-fangled telephone instrument you know. TheyвЂ™ve only just been installed up here and nobody is quite sure how the system operates.вЂќ
вЂњI see. May I ask how you managed to communicate before the telephone?вЂќ
вЂњWhy, with quill and parchment of course вЂ“ exactly as I always did in life in Stratford.вЂќ
вЂњSo, no internet or World Wide Web up there then?вЂќ
вЂњI apologise once again, but you have the advantage of me sir. The word internet is unfamiliar to my ear.вЂќ
вЂњDamn, there goes the chance of a celebrity interview for my next blog then.вЂќ
вЂњIвЂ™m afraid you are speaking in riddles good sir. It is true that I enjoy what you might describe as celebrity status here in Heaven вЂ“ everyone does to be precise вЂ“ but the term blog is a word entirely beyond my comprehension. Pray tell, is it a couplet, a sonnet, or something resembling a soliloquy? If I may be so bold, it smacks of being a somewhat unseemly expression.вЂќ
вЂњSome of the ones IвЂ™ve read are certainly that. Please donвЂ™t worry about it Mr Shakespeare. A blog is only a medium or platform which enables a writer, or those who think they can write, to put across an opinion, or point of view on the internet В to the public at large.вЂќ
вЂњItвЂ™s by way of being a theatre then?вЂќ
вЂњI fancy thatвЂ™s about as close as weвЂ™re going to get. As the medium we use to transmit is the World Wide Web itвЂ™s theoretically possible to reach anywhere in the world.вЂќ
вЂњIncredible sir. I can scarce envisage such an occurrence. Had such a medium been available to me when I was writing my plays IвЂ™m confident I could have reached a still wider audience.вЂќ
вЂњI wouldnвЂ™t worry too much about that. You didnвЂ™t do at all badly I can assure you.вЂќ
вЂњIf I may remind you of what I wrote inВ AllвЂ™s Well That Ends WellВ in 1603 вЂModerate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy of the living.вЂќ
вЂњYouвЂ™ve nothing to beat yourself up about William. YouвЂ™re still right up there in the best seller lists. May I call you William? We donвЂ™t seem to be standing on ceremony.вЂќ
вЂњThat is my name.вЂќ
вЂњThanks. As I say, I think weвЂ™ll skip the blog interview if you donвЂ™t mind. This long distance call is costing me a packet and you canвЂ™t get much longer distance than Earth to Heaven. Before I hang up, however, I would like to ask you two or three questions if I may?вЂќ
вЂњPray do continue. I shall do my utmost to accommodate you sir.вЂќ
вЂњThatвЂ™s kind of you. We had to study a couple of your plays when I was at school.вЂќ
вЂњThat is certainly gratifying вЂ“ to know that my work lives on in that way.вЂќ
вЂњNot sure about it being gratifying William; it was darned hard work I know that. If you have any spare time up there you might consider translating your stuff into 21stВ century English. It would make life a lot easier all round. Nobody talks like that any- more. If I may remind you of another of your phrases вЂњTime and tide wait for no man.вЂќВ Anyway, I had to learn your вЂњAll the worldвЂ™s a stageвЂќВ speech off by heart.
вЂњExcellent. вЂњItвЂ™s fromВ As you Like itВ вЂ“ a particular favourite of mine you know.вЂќ
вЂњThatвЂ™s all well and good, but if all the worldвЂ™s a stage where in heck does the audience sit?вЂќ
вЂњYou are making sport of me fellow. I will not be mocked I tell you. Indeed I would bid you attend to another line from that same play. вЂњBlow, blow, thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind as manвЂ™s ingratitude.вЂќ
вЂњSteady on William, I meant no offence. WonвЂ™t you allow just a few more questions?вЂќ
вЂњI will permit you two. That is all.вЂќ
вЂњHave you met any other celebrated folk up there?вЂќ
вЂњIndeed yes, I was conversing with Mr Abraham Lincoln during my morning walk this very day. An excellent companion, full of lively jest and wise words. His passing on that fateful night in the theatre was both tragic and untimely.вЂќ
вЂњIt most certainly was. Tell me William, did he ever get to find out how the play finished?вЂќ
вЂњWilliam! Mr Shakespeare, Are you still there? Darn, I think heвЂ™s hung up on me! I wonder if I could have a word with Mr. Lincoln next week? Better not mention the play though!вЂќ
Brad Fleming has been in journalism, broadcasting and public relations all his working life. Born in the small fishing village of Kilkeel, Co Down, in the shadow of where the famous Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea, he served his time in local newspapers before moving on to a National daily paper in Belfast and later covered news and sport for the BBC.
In his late thirties he made a career switch to join the British Government Information Service in London, working principally with the Ministry of Defence, a job which took him to many corners of the world, usually to one trouble spot or another. He served throughout much of Europe, was based in the then West Germany for three years, completed two short tours to the Falkland Islands and visited the United States and West Africa.
Much of his service was in his native Northern Ireland during the recentВ вЂtroublesвЂ™,В В an experience which provided valuable background for his first novelВ Role of Dishonour.
Deadline to Danger,В his second book, draws heavily on his early days as a rookie reporter, although he admits he was never quite as daring as his young hero, Jim Baxter. Further Baxter books are in the pipeline.
Brad lives in the pleasant County Down village of Hillsborough with his American-born wife Nip and Border Collie Sparky. вЂњBoth of them conspire to get me away from the keyboard for walks in the beautiful countryside,вЂќ he says, вЂњand that is probably no bad thing!вЂќ
You can visit Brad’s website by going toВ http://bradfleming.co.uk