Why ‘One Equal Temper’ ?

A question I’m often asked – well, OK, a question that someone asked me once – is “Where did that title come from, anyway? Why One Equal Temper?

If you’re not familiar with the source, it comes from Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Note for my American friends: never ‘Lord Alfred Tennyson’). Here’s the full text, hosted by the wonderful folks at the Poetry Society: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/skyfall/

The Skyfall reference is because  Judi Dench, playing M in that movie, quotes from the poem in a very powerful scene which you can revisit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCjnCHvpLiM

Now, in my novel, you won’t find any spies sprinting down Whitehall or gunmen bursting into meeting rooms, but the same quotation did appear on a wall in the Olympic Village, which gets a brief mention in the book.

For a fuller commentary on the meaning of the poem, strive to seek on the internet and Google will yield all sorts of explanations. But, at its simplest, Ulysses is saying that he’s not ready to hang up his boots yet, and that he and his mates are going to keep going as long as they can.

I imagine that was intended to be an inspirational quote for the athletes of the Village, as they crawled between the medical centre and the gym.

In my book, there was the bonus of the connection between “temper” in its modern sense and the character of Karen. If you don’t know who Karen is, you obviously haven’t read the book yet – perhaps you should?

If you don’t, I might have to send Ulysses and the boys round to sort you out.

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