The Tenth Book I've Read in 2020.

Books   Sometimes the editors in these Arden Shakespeare either rebel against the typical format or at least offer an alternative to orthodoxy.  In the appendix bout sources, David Scott Kastan notices "many serious editions of Shakespeare, like the Arden series, have lengthy discussions devoted to the sources of the plays, and often reprint substantial sections of Plutarch or Holinshed or other texts that Shakespeare clearly read and transformed into drama" before heading off into a few pages of essentially saying there's actually little point because no one can be really sure beyond the obvious examples.

The editor could as well be commenting on this volume's narrative predecessor Richard II which does all those things.  Kastan on the other hand, assumes that we know these other books exist and will probably already have access if we're studying the play.  So rather than simply regurgitating their arguments at length instead investigates the topics he's most interested in.  That makes this one of the more readable Ardens as it keeps the purer lit-crit to a minimum and instead delves into the history of the play and how it fits within the context of theatrical and literary history.

He notes, for example, how the focus of the play has developed over time, from Henry Percy as the heroic figure, to Falstaff as the comedic headliner to the present moment when, thanks to the play usually being presented with the various other sections of this Henriad it's about the tortured relationship between father and son and the fight for legitimacy of both Henrys after the deposition of Richard.  Which is one of the things I love about Shakespeare.  Historically, for the most part, the texts haven't changed and yet they have the capacity to fuel our current interest in having drama with an emotional and intellectual depth.

The Coffee Collection:
92 Degrees, Hardman Street, Liverpool.

How I deal with anxiety.

Life It's been a while. Yes, I still have anxiety but at the moment it isn't running my life. Lord knows, I have enough things to be worried about but between the drugs and other things, I'm feeling pretty solid.  I've been added to the waiting list for a therapist so there's that to look forward to.

Earlier this evening, someone who isn't, a complete stranger who suffered an attack last night was asking mental health author Matt Haig for help and he threw the question open to his followers.  In a dash, I sent her a flurry of tweets of the things which have helped me, so I thought I'd memorialize them here for my own future memory and in case you need some help too.
  • Go see a Doctor, get drugs. I began in Sertraline about three years ago and while I do still have attacks, they're rarely with the impact or regularity.

  • When an attack is happening talk to someone you love even if just by phone. Tell them. Take the sympathy and don't be too proud about it.

  • Get a gravity/weighted blanket and sleep under it every night preferable on top of a sprung mattress. It's like sleeping in a hug. I used to have terrible anxiety dreams and wake up each morning with a pain in my chest. Not any more.

  • Drink decaf, remove caffeine from your life. It's hard at first and you will get depressed about how limited the choice is, but eventually you'll accept that your mental health is more important.

  • Exercise even if it's just walk places as much as possible.  Depending on you mood, listen to a podcast or some music, but sometimes its good to do without and just go with the sounds of the life around you and pay attention to your environment.  Try not to get inside your own head.

  • Anxiety attacks rarely have a reason and although you might think that trying to rationalise them helps, you're probably just going to end up thinking about reasons why you should be having an attack which only increases the intensity.

The Coffee Collection:
Costa Coffee, Smithdown Road, Liverpool.