Tag Archives: Hamlet

Do troubles always come in threes?

Troubles always come in threes. Isn’t that what they say?

I’m writing this on April Fool’s Day and, boy, do I feel like an April Fool.
Let me explain my trio of troubles.

Earlier this week, I booked a holiday that included a place I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. The place—since you ask—is Sanssouci, the summer residence of Frederick the Great, at Potsdam near Berlin.

On a previous Spring holiday in Berlin, there were several inches of snow on the ground. Berlin’s transport worked a treat. People were langlauf skiing in the Tiergarten park. We visited loads of wonderful museums. And everything was open. Except Sanssouci. My fault for not checking before I booked that trip. So Sanssouci remained on my ToDo list and when the chance came up this week, I couldn’t resist.

Sanssouci Palace panorama, Potsdam

Panorama of Sanssouci Palace by Mistervlad – stock.adobe.com

So where do these troubles come from?

Trouble number 1 came via the small print in the booking confirmation, after I’d paid the substantial deposit. It was small print about passports.

UK Passport and Drivers Licence EU-style

image by Tom Davison – stock.adobe.com

Now, my current passport doesn’t expire for over a year, so I was sure I was fine.


The travel company’s small print pointed out that, for travel within the EU for third-country folk like me, the passport has to be within 10 years of its issue date. And has to have at least 3 months to run on the holiday dates.

Mine doesn’t.

I had renewed it early, so it SAYS it is valid for 10 years and 9 months.

Not in the EU it isn’t. Not since Brexit. Ten years from the date of issue. Full stop.

There’s a simple solution, isn’t there?

UK blue passport post Brexit

image by Milan Lipowski – stock.adobe.com

The obvious solution to the first of my troubles is to renew my passport, yes?

Um, no. Or not easily. And that’s where the second of my troubles arises.

First, the Passport Office advises that renewals can take up to 10 weeks. And tales abound of renewals taking weeks or even months longer than that. My booked holiday is only slightly more than 10 weeks from now. Not a hopeful route for me. Not really.

However, there is a fast-track (and expensive) renewal system. I can use that, no?

Woman's Hand With Text NoUm, doesn’t look like it. And this is the heart of trouble number 2. When I checked, there were no appointments available for the face-to-face interview required for the fast-track system. And there may not be any appointments available in the foreseeable future, at least partly because…

oops! on key on keyboard…from Monday, passport office staff are going on strike for 5 weeks. Don’t think the standard 10-week delivery time is going to be in operation, do you? Possibly not face-to-face interviews, either.  (I should say here that I have every sympathy with passport office staff. They’ve had a very raw deal in recent years. But their industrial action ain’t going to help solve my troubles, I fear.)

What to do about my troubles?

I don’t see any good options here.

many doors representing options

Image by Arek Socha from Pixabay

  1. I can cancel the holiday and lose my deposit.
  2. I can keep trying to renew my passport via the fast-track route and hope that I succeed before the holiday starts. (If I don’t succeed, I may be denied boarding at the airport. And I’d have paid the full holiday price which I would probably lose. I don’t think my insurance would pay up for my mistake.)
  3. Or I can plead ignorance to the travel company and ask them to transfer my booking to a future holiday, months and months from now. They might do that, but they wouldn’t have to. It would depend on whether they were feeling kind or not. And there are no future dates that include Sanssouci, so I’d have to pick something completely different. Sigh.

The more I think about it, the more I’m tending towards unsatisfactory option 3 as the best (least worst) way of dealing with troubles #1 and #2.

helping handWhat do you think I should do? All suggestions and advice welcome.

OK that’s two troubles. What’s trouble number three?

When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions [Hamlet, Act IV, Sc V]

That line is spoken by Claudius (about Ophelia). And Shakespeare, as usual, has it right. Hamlet himself also confronts his sea of troubles [Act III, Sc I]. Today, when I have my own mini sea of troubles, Hamlet has to be my go-to play. (You are allowed to laugh. I probably will, too, in a year or so.)

woman tearing hairLast night (pre April Fool’s Day) I was tearing my hair out, because it was my turn to blog this weekend. The third of my troubles was that I couldn’t think of a single thing to blog about. Not even something related to April Fools’ Day. I was getting increasingly desperate.

And then the light bulb came on. At about two in the morning 😉

Thank you, subconscious. You have saved me once again.light bulb idea

Of course I had a blog subject. It was obvious, wasn’t it? Troubles.

So, slightly tongue-in-cheek, dear readers, I offer you my battalion of troubles. And I do hope that you don’t have battalions of them, or even single spies.

Perhaps you are looking forward to lighter and warmer days now Spring is (allegedly) here? So, to lift all our spirits, I’ll finish with some spring blossom. It’s everywhere in my neck of the woods. And so cheering, don’t you think?

Best wishes from
JOANNA, the Troubled

amelanchier canadensis blossom in spring

amelanchier blossom © Joanna Maitland

Mousetrap, Superman and Posterity

This blog contains two main stories – what The Mousetrap did to Hamlet and how Superman distorted an Edwardian hero. For me, anyway.

For some weeks now I’ve been engaged in editing a book that I have re-visited over several years. It has made me think about references which may shift with time.

Something that seemed set in stone in 2008 may have become seriously misleading in 2021. Even downright counter-productive. As, I hope, my two stories will show.

Hamlet’s Dilemma

I love Shakespeare. I saw my first Hamlet when I was fourteen and I have seen it countless times since. There’s usually something new to discover and always special moments of power that stop me dead in my tracks. These depend on the production, of course. But generally one of them is the play within a play in Act 3 Scene 2.

Murdoch's Tower at Caerlaverock Castle ScotlandHamlet is obsessing about his mother’s remarriage. His father, the King, died only four months ago and Hamlet suspects his uncle of murdering him. Not only has the Queen married him, Uncle is now King. Hamlet started with a vague suspicion, but then he encounters his father’s ghost walking the battlements. He confirms it. Continue reading