‘Ultimately,’ the reader read, ‘you see, he said, we run into a problem when we get to Z.’

Reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back can be decidedly problematic.

It’s a tale of the Hat-sporting Cat coming back, to the house of Sally and Me (unnamed in the story, we never know why, a little like Marwood in Withnail and I) as they’re clearing up snow (all that snow’s GOT to go), but Cat turns the snow pink and it causes a stink… Then the Cat needs some help – all the help he can get – so he calls on some little cat friends who get set to defeat the pink snow… wait! Did I mention yet? These tiny felines – the whole purring set – are named for each letter of the alphabet

26 little cats, underneath Big Cat’s hat, all in hats of their own, bearing letters, letters printed on the gear on their heads, and they start off with A, B, and C, D and E, all the way through to X, and then Y, and then Z.


The good Dr Seuss, when he wrote this, you see, made a lot of the rhymes depend on the Z not being said (as it is in my head) as a fine English Zed but instead – can it be? – an American Zee… Yes, zee! Really!

Well, it gets as confusing as confusing can be! You can read it both ways to a mere child of three, but the rhymes make no sense if it’s Zed and not Zee, which is tough when you’re learning to read phonically, and “zuh” is in fact what you say when you’ve read the letter that concludes the alphabet (Z)…

Shakespeare called it ‘zed’, anyway, and that’s that, for I trust him much more than that Cat, with his Hat full of minuscule moggies, with alphabet names, regardless of their pink stain removal fame, and their trick of being hidden like Babushka dollies, for the Big Cat to store and transport ’em with ease, and much more than Cats A, B, and C, through to E, F and G, M and N, and O, and P, and then – finally – that tiny beast we can’t see but imagine instead, touting the magical VOOM on his head – the invisible, infernal, most terminal ZED!

There is news that Prince died intestate, according to his sister, Tyka Nelson, who has quite reasonably filed papers stating she ‘does not know of the existence of a will’… Although even someone without special legal knowledge could note that that does not amount to the same thing as there not being a will, TMZ, etc.

Such events almost seem bound to happen in the music industry in such situations. I’d be very surprised if notorious music rights ownership maven Prince had not given his legacy some consideration, however.

While contemplating the circling of lawyers, relatives, and indeed the commentariat all looking for orts from the Paisley Park vaults, and trying hard to find a bit more W to go with the will aspect, I was tickled to discover that today’s Birthday Book quotation is from Will Shakespeare:

If money go before, all ways lie open.

Well, there we go, I thought.

Today it’s all about warbling native woodnotes wild, as we celebrate Shakespeare’s death. The notion that it’s also his birthday is absent from most posts today, as research pedantry rightly asserts itself.

There are a few Bardic tributes floating about in The Mortal Bath – such as this helpful glossary on his major works, but as a special T-lettered tribute today, it seem’d right to dig out some choice nuggets of wrongness from students what I teach English.

Marking essays on Romeo and Juliet (Year 9 – that’s 3rd year old money) and Year 10, who are studying Macbeth, some quality typos abound.

“Dear Dairy (writes Macbeth, confiding in his livestock)…my wife had a plan to kill Duncan. It sounded unbelievable at first, but after her encouragement I decided that I would do as she planed.”

(Terrific image, Lady Macbeth having earlier called on the spirits of joinery to “unsplinter me here”. “I have varnished their possets.”)

Lady Macbeth:
“I haven’t told anyone our little secret, but everyone seems to be so couscous of me.”
(Perhaps because her treasonous acts have gone so against the grain.)

(Is this a loofah I see before me?)

Macbeth’s diary, revealing the hitherto unconsidered use of construction equipment in the King’s murder:

“The deed is done. Diggers stabbed deep inside his chest, stopping the beating of his heart.”

(Presumably then we see Lady Macbeth reversing a JCB into the Royal chamber, hard hat and disgusted expression on as Macbeth examines his hands.)

Romeo and Juliet analysis:

“Shakespeare mentions how ‘From forth the fatal lions of these two foes…'”

I want to see that version.

Finally, from Juliet’s diary, on how cousin Tybalt’s demise at the hands of her man has put her right off her food:

“Romeo killed my cuisine!”

Exit, pursued by a beard.

“Beware the Ides of March…”

Although a small sachet of salt at least is useful when taking oracular counsel, Caesar paid no heed to the soothsayer (“Sooth, sooth, sooth – change the record mate”), and came a cropper on this date. Shakespeare wrote the line above, surprisingly not using the superb word haruspex instead of Soothsayer.

We’re slightly out of alignment with the full moon, and most of us are unlikely to be targeted by a conspiracy of knife-wielding senior political figures of ancient Rome, or indeed accosted by haruspices… but it’s a good point midmonth to check your progress and reconfigure where necessary. May your auguries be august.

Go-to reconfiguration music:

Iron Maiden – The Ides of March/Wrathchild