Mr. Falstaff, like most Shakespeare scholars teaching high school, has become philosophical. He remembers his former pupil well.
“I remember Stephen in his salad days when [he] was green in judgement—better at multiple choice questions, or fill-in-the blanks. Not so good at, and troubled by, the essay questions that asked him for nuance, balance. Actually, never good at questions that asked him to put himself in the shoes of even the smallest character.”
According to Falstaff, Stephen’s favourite line from Shakespeare was “Put money in thy purse.” “He always seemed to have a good grasp of that line. It’s served him well as a motto.”
Falstaff is guarded on the recent progress of his old pupil. What does he think of Prime Minister Stephen at the end of nearly a decade in power?
“One may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”
When pushed to explain, Falstaff becomes even more cryptic, mumbling, “False face must hide what the false heart doth know.”
Fearing to lose him in his sad reflections, we bring up more present issues.
What does he think of the Duffy affair? “[His] offense smells to heaven.”
How does he think the current refugee crisis will affect his former student? Falstaff’s face again turns down. “They are not near [his] conscience.”
He adds in a near whisper, “Nor are the murdered and missing Aboriginal women.”
Truly something is rotten in the state of Denmark.