NOTE: For a short capsule summary of my A To Z, see the sidebar. If there is no sidebar displayed on your device, try under the Comments section. The summary is right underneath my 2018 A To Z badge.
Ah, the Elizabethan Era! A time of peace except when it wasn’t; a time of culture except for the majority of people, who went on farming as usual and didn’t notice; a time when Elizabeth and her ravening hordes of courtiers might descend at any moment upon your local nobleman and, like locusts, devour All, leaving only a barren wasteland behind them. The time, above all, of Shakespeare. In short, a very interesting, influential era, and thus one that ought only to be visited very, very carefully. Really, it would be better if Monitoring this beautiful, fragile era were entrusted only to myself and my colleagues, but apparently Lighthouse Admin does not agree. We sigh and move on.
We (under protest) have agreed to set before the untrained, under-qualified, probably unstable Agent a few Helpful Hints for visiting this Era of Eras. Know, Agent, that to read this page is in no way adequate preparation for your trip. Nothing save a lifetime of scholarship could be adequate.
We understand that Lists are popular with the barely literate. Therefore, we have prepared a List. It is Lowering, but we have done it. We hope never to do such a thing again. Here it is:
HELPFUL HINTS FOR THE HOPELESS HOBBLEDEHOY (i.e.: you)
DO NOT talk. Oh, very well, talk if you must. But don’t just chuck in a few random thees and an -eth and believe that you’ve done the thing correctly. Also, do not feel that you must talk in blank verse. Or, indeed, that you can.
DO NOT attempt to pose as one of the Gentry. They all sound the same, and you can’t do it. You have probably been furnished with a rural or foreign cover identity. This will help to cover any mistakes that you may make. Do not deviate from this identity in any way.
DO NOT go about quoting from Shakespeare’s plays (should you have actually read any. Which we rather doubt). If you accidentally quote from a play that hasn’t been written yet, the results could be dire. Of course, it is just possible that you ought to quote from as-yet-unwritten plays of Shakespeare, as perhaps the particular line you have selected won’t get into the play unless you do. Looping and all that.
DO NOT wave to other Agents in attendance at a play of Shakespeare’s. You will probably see several familiar faces in the crowd. Sometimes we wonder if the whole of the audience is (or will one day be) entirely composed of time travelers. You see, the performances are viewed, by the philistines in Feed Analysis, as sensitive instruments for the measuring of time-stream deviation (and not as deathless Art, which is the proper view of these masterpieces). That is, the Feed Analysis barbarians have noticed that, if some wicked person (or Outer Entity) has been tampering with the timeline, and if this tampering has occurred in approximately the 50 years before the writing of the play in question, that play is more likely than not to be slightly altered. That is… but we succumb to despair. We cannot be any clearer. Read this paragraph (or “block of text”) again and again until you grasp our point. And DO NOT wave to other Agents in the crowd. Especially not to us. We do not wish our cover to be blown.
DO NOT talk to Shakespeare. There has been sufficient damage done to his plays already by time travelers (though not enough, apparently, to rate an intervention. We do not criticize those who make these decisions; we merely mourn).
DO NOT talk to Queen Elizabeth. If she should take a liking to you, you will eventually be beheaded. Just leave the woman alone.
And that, children, is all I feel I can do for you. As a final caution, please view and shudder at the following picture, which is almost certainly the result of a careless time traveler, carelessly singing near Shakespeare.