aggressive sexuality mocks that ‘sex-at-a-distance’ in a
parodic gender reversal that ‘strips’ the figure of the
modern macho. It also alludes to the recent feminised versions of
that figure: the type of the cruel woman depicted in popular punk
texts or provocative feminist fiction, such as that of American
writers Kathy Acker or Lynne Tillman. However, what is more
Manchester’s mixed-genre anthologies and short-story collections
black writer at this time was to
bear witness and provide testimony.
15 See, for example, the new ‘Womanswrite’ anthology, Life, Death . . . The
Whole Damn Thing (Bolton et al., 2011).
16 In the introduction to Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories (1985), R.
K. Narayan cites a lecturer he once heard who cryptically observed that ‘A
short story must be short and have a story’ (Rau, 2005: 319).
17 New Order was the band that evolved out of iconic post-punk Manchester
band Joy Division (see Chapter 1) following the death of Ian Curtis. See the
New Order website at
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night
of All’s Well . Indeed, it may be the very background of a thoroughly and incorrigibly rotten society – the domain of the hitherto irre press ible Lucio (‘Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging’ ( MM , V.i.522–3)) – that enables comedy and tragedy to stay in balance, not to say harmony, to the end (and, in the audience’s memory, beyond). All’s Well , by contrast, evokes an irresistibly entropic play-world, in which chronically tragic substance is painted over, before our eyes, with the thinnest of comic overlays.
It is not common
-headed and drunk,
What a coil do I make for the loss of my punk?29
I storm, and I roar, and I fall in a rage,
And missing my whore, I bugger my page.
Then crop-sick, all morning, I rail at my men,30
And in bed I lie yawning, till eleven again.
clap gonorrhoea (sexually transmitted disease).
spend ejaculate; spew: common synonym for ‘ejaculate’ among libertine poets,
Rochester in particular; the older meaning of the word (‘vomit’) suggests the speaker’s
coil tumult; punk: whore.
crop-sick indigestion attendant on gluttony; men: servants.
Each item in the manuscript in turn is identified by folio number (r or v), and then either transcribed in full (English verse and private letters, including translations of the Symmachus letters) or by an incipit (all other items, including foreign-language ones). Other information about the item, including scribal hand, authorship, addressee (for letters), and date is also provided. Blank pages are so identified, and discrepancies or errors in assembly or binding noted. Conjectural transcriptions or attributions are so identified. If there is a commentary on the item, a note is given of where in chapters 9 and 10 it may be found.