The Yoof-Speak series was written with a specific purpose in mind; to make literature fun and accessible to all. Although there were some who initially took exception to the way I allegedly tinkered with some of the greatest prose ever written, what inspired me was recognising that for as many people who got and understood the classics, there were still many more that didn’t.
The Yoof-Speak genre was only ever about broadening the appeal of William Shakespeare, and then later Charles Dickens, making their work fun and accessible by removing the language barrier and making the text less intimidating, whilst still retaining the potency and beauty of the plays and stories.
Although supporters of literature initially had difficulty comprehending the concept, in truth they never really had anything to worry about as Yoof-Speak was never intended to replace the original texts, but instead encourage anyone unfamiliar with the works of the Bard and Boz to use the books as a link to the actual plays and novels.
"To be, or not to be, innit, that is da question what I is askin' bruv. Whether it is wicked and stuff with all da pointy arrows and fings coming from da hood or to take arms against da sea of agro by well mashin' dem, know what I mean? To be well dead or just chillin', man, it means nuffin' cos that just ain't cool, bitch, no matter if you is all stiff or not, you get me? And dere is da rub, innit, or is you just busting me chops or what."English is forever evolving and although I have been accused of doing damage to the beautiful language of Shakespeare, it’s interesting to note that 400 years ago, at a time when the average vocabulary in England was less than a thousand words, he created over twenty thousand.
"Yo, Mercutio, me main man, why is we hanging like this, blud, when we should leg it back to da home turf coz da Capulet scum is largin' it and is looking to well mash us big time."But if the traditionalists found Yoof-Speak such a travesty, one can only imagine what it was like being part of a 16th century Globe audience and unable to truly understand everything that was being said on stage. Words like multitudinous, bacchanal and frampold would have made as much sense as mojo, innit and minger does to anyone unfamiliar with the abbreviated text that is the vocabulary of today’s youth.
"Alas poor Yorick, he was da well top geeza."And because To Be or Not To Be, Innit keeps true to the Bard, Cleopatra doesn’t get done for cruelty to reptiles, Shylock doesn’t call for a kilo of mung beans, Richard doesn’t get an ASBO for killing his nephews and Mark Anthony doesn’t offend the hard of hearing by asking for friends, Romans and countrymen to lend him their ears.
"But soft, what light through da windows what has been bricked."However, if William Shakespeare was of this age, and if you allow yourself to stretch your mind to it, there can be little doubt that he would still be writing in the Globe turf, getting loads of respect from the Stratford upon Avon massive and producing works of pure genius like 'Romeo and His Fit Bitch Jools', 'Da Taming of da Bitch', Macbeff and 'Two Geezas of Verona'.
"Beware da minging ides of March coz they is well creepy, innit."But above all, the reason why To Be or Not To Be, Innit appealed to so many and became a best-seller isn’t just because I added a modern interpretation, but more because I stayed mindful and true to Shakespeare’s original format by retaining all the important sexist, duplicitous, cross-dressing and violent moments that made William Shakespeare well wicked.
"It was da best of times, and not being funny or nuffing, but it was da worst of times, to be honest. Da year was 1775 and fings were looking well suss in da French turf coz da peasants were minging, or rather they was revolting, and not just coz they was Frogs, innit."If ever there was another literary great to introduce to Yoof-Speak, then I felt compelled to choose Charles John Huffam Dickens. Not only was he a prolific storyteller, journalist and philanthropist, and despite being born two hundred years ago, Dickens was more a man of the twenty first century.
"I am da ghost of Christmas Present, it's what I so do, get over it."Dickens suffered from OCD, he practiced Feng Shui, was into alternative healing, the paranormal and with a street name of Boz, he was an ideal choice for the second book in the Yoof-Speak series and not just because he lived in Chatham, a Kent town which today has a thriving Chav community.
"Just you remember that no matter what, somefing will turn up coz it always does and that is what I'm saying, you get me bro?"I'm in no doubt that if Dickens' quill was still seeing action then I am certain, as a writer living in the Gads Hill front line in the Higham turf, with a keen eye for contemporary detail and a street name of Boz, he too would have no alternative but to reflect life as it is on the streets today by writing classics like 'Dombey and Sprog', 'Well Small Dorrit', 'Da Tale of Two Turfs', 'Minging Times' and 'Well Good Expectations'.
"Annual moolah twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen and six, result good karma. Annual moolah twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds naff all and six, then you is gonna have to consolidate with Ocean Finance. Simples.""Oi Mate, Gimme Some More!" brings a fresh take to all 16 of Dickens' novels but still – like To Be Or Not To Be, Innit - remains true to the original texts; Oliver still asks for more grub, Wackford Squeers is still a sadist and the ghost massive still mess with Scrooge's mojo.