I don’t know if “livelihood” was in this student’s mind and the word just looked funny to him when he wrote it, or if “livelihood” wasn’t in the student’s lexicon at all, and when other people mentioned the word he actually did picture a lively ‘hood.
Well, it’s certainly true that London in the late 1500s was a lively ‘hood. Intercontinental trade and exploration, cosmopolitan crowds in the taverns, glorious Elizabethan music (ballads AND madrigals, jig tunes AND allemandes, tabors and lutes and celestes and hurdy gurdys), Armadas to defeat in the Thames, thieves and plotters and would-be assassins in the back streets, traitors in the Tower, priests in cupboards, iambic pentameter in the air, the theater in full vigorous flower, the English language becoming its glorious self. And there, stalking and scowling through the streets in their plain outfits and text-only religion, were the Puritans, enemies of art and artifice (and, if you can believe Ben Jonson in his slightly-later Bartholomew Fair—and I do—bilking the gullible in the name of God). Man, that can bring a lively ‘hood down.
The Puritan campaign against the theater, where some actors dressed in the garb of the other sex and all of them capered on stage and spouted LIES in the name of “art,” was implacable, waged through pamphlets and pulpits and probably boycotts (don’t know, the word didn’t exist yet to get into print on the subject). When they arrested and warred and beheaded their way to power in 1640, they did close the theaters down. (My music professor Back in The Day said that’s how opera became popular in England, because the Puritans didn’t ban musical concerts and operas were, more or less, sung plays, so theater-lovers kept their drama somehow during the ensuing 20 years, ha ha!) Shakespeare had already retired from the stage by then, and had died in 1616, so his own livelihood wasn’t destroyed by them; but surely he was spinning in his grave, bemoaning the violence done to the craft he had loved and transformed.
Well, the less said about the Puritans the better. Cling to the picture painted by my student, of Willy the Shake in his high-tops, jiving his way to the Mermaid, high-fiving all his boys, rapping with the balladeers, jamming with his crew, generally getting down in the ‘hood, the lively lively ‘hood, of Elizabethan London.