MY CAR NOW TALKS TO ME

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MY CAR NOW TALKS TO ME by Tom O’Brien
Hello
Goodbye
Raising the lights like a stage curtain
Playing little movies
Serenading me with melodies
The welcome – farewell experience
They call it
“An emotionally resonant experience”
And that digital note of appreciation
“Thank you for driving a hybrid”
As if it was something…well
Unconnected with this thing on four wheels.
And those door handles
Illuminating when they sense my presence
The needles on the instruments
Snapping to attention as I open the door
There’s a welcoming theme
Part Hollywood soundtrack
Part plane swoosh
And that puddle lamp!
A welcome mat of light.
My car is a robot I think
With a personality not just in its body
But also in its behaviour.
“How can I help you?”
It asks now
As I prepare for take-off.
I really feel like telling it
To shut the fuck up
But I don’t want to hurt its feelings.

OH FOR THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES

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OH, FOR THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, by Tom O’Brien

Falling in love with a poet
May be the closest you will come to living forever
Be the wild card in his pack
In a world where lonely queens never say never
Go live in the desert rather than a fancy hotel
Eat with rusty cutlery, drink cider instead of Muscatel
Visit no man’s land, but once only
Then come back and you will never feel lonely
Remember that underground city that once glowed
Red in the dark
Go limber up in hilly Montmartre
Then go barefoot in Gaudi Park
Dance with demons and devils on some remote island
Then go toss some cabers in the godless Scottish Highlands
All this you must do, while your poet’s mouth opens and closes
As you dance along some cobbled street singing
Oh, for the days of wine and roses.

DOWN BOTTLE ALLEY – a play

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DOWN BOTTLE ALLEY
By
Tom O’Brien

Character list

OLDER BRIAN
YOUNGER BRIAN

Act one

OLDER BRIAN comes on stage. He is smartly dressed, holding a book under his arm

OLDER: It’s 6.20am. In seconds I will be sick, violently and seemingly without end. Today I have a free day, no doctor. Early morning sickness is all part and parcel of being an alcoholic; we accept it. This isn’t attractive to a potential mate, and is also why most of us are alone. After all, who wants to wake up with a bloke whom you think at any minute is about to die?

Enter YOUNGER BRIAN, taking a while to become aware of his surroundings. One of his first acts is to crawl to a bucket and be violently sick for several minutes, then put an oxygen mask to his face and inhales. After a while he takes a long sip from the cider bottle, then lurches to the bathroom (off)

OLDER: Some people do press-ups in the morning, I do sick. Every morning without fail. You could set your clock by me. It’s been like that for as long
as I can remember. So long now that sometimes I think it’s the norm for
everybody. Then my brain-cells kick in – what’s left of them – and I realize it’s just me. Brian going through the routines that will – hopefully
– see him through another alcohol-fueled day.

My affair with alcohol has rendered me, for the most part, incontinent, impotent and without any real place in this society. I have no reference as to how life would be without drink. I don’t honestly remember a time when I wasn’t drunk. I am drunk now. I quite probably won’t finish this story.

BRIAN returns from the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He begins his daily ritual, checking his money, his cigarettes, decanting cider from a flagon into coke/pepsi bottles, storing them carefully in his hold-all. All the time he is doing this he is sipping from the bottle. After a while he is satisfied, looks around him, then picks up the hold-all. As he goes through his routine OLDER is watching, nodding his head in agreement. Also, throughout this BRIAN is singing a Supertramp number

OLDER: When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

BRIAN moves centre stage and sits on the bench, drinking from his ‘coke’ can.
This is Bottle Alley.

BRIAN: Good morning Hastings!

OLDER: Just look at you.

BRIAN: What’s wrong with me? Not sartorial enough for you?

OLDER: That’s a new one on me. An intellectual alcoholic. People like
you give tramps a bad name. No wonder people cross the road
when they see you.

BRIAN: People like me…?

OLDER: You and me, then. We’re the dregs of society

BRIAN: Some of the best people are alcoholics. Doctors, lawyers, politicians…

OLDER: You don’t agree they are the dregs? Give it time, they will be. When the drink becomes master they will be. Just like us. The country is full of bottle alleys. The early bird catches the alcoholic. That’s how this damn puppeteer works. Remember how you started off, Brian? You were still in short trousers.

BRIAN: (to imaginary shopkeeper) Bottle of cider please. It’s for me da.
Please mister. He’ll kill me if I don’t bring it back..
Yeah , I know what you want. What you always want.
(grabs bottle and runs)
Blood pervert!
(off) Hey Billy. See you in the big wood in five minutes.

OLDER: It was only a matter of time before the old man found out about your escapades in the woods. Out there with that band of vagabonds. Not only a drunk, but a thief too. Bringing shame on the family. Well, I have just the thing for you

BRIAN: He threw me into the bath of cold water. Then pissed on top of me.
And laughed as he did it.

OLDER: Pathetic wasn’t the word for you. You were afraid of your father. You, a big strapping lad and you were afraid of him. You were afraid of your own shadow! And what was your answer? You ran down to the woods and hid yourself away. Drank yourself stupid. And who did you have for company? Your shadow!
(OLDER croons and smooches)
OLDER: Me and my shadow… Me and my shadow…
BRIAN: You don’t know anything…He wouldn’t have me, drunk or sober. I was that ‘silly slop’, or that ‘bloke over there’. He couldn’t even look at me. You remember how I always had to sit in the chair behind the door, so that when it was open he couldn’t see me?
OLDER: I was there, wasn’t I? I remember there was that time they all went off on holiday for a week and left us behind. You and me. We couldn’t even stay at the house. We had to find somewhere else to stay.
BRIAN: The big wood. I slept in my sleeping bag. Under the stars.
OLDER: That’s right. That’s where you met what-you –ma-call her? Fay. You lost your virginity to Fay. Another alcoholic. Like yourself. Well, I suppose it takes one to know one.
BRIAN: Fay was beautiful.
OLDER: Fay was a cow. A fucking slag. Can’t you see that? She was the kind that would suck you in and blow you out in bubbles. You were sixteen. She was only using you.
BRIAN: That’s not true. (pause) Anyway, she paid for it. Her feller – Nelson – saw to that. She spent several weeks in intensive care when he found out she was with me – and he the next few years in nick.
OLDER: You were lucky he didn’t get hold of you or he’d have stuck the shiv in you as well. Tell me, was she worth it?
BRIAN: You know everything, you tell me.
OLDER: To be honest, I can’t remember. I suppose she must have been okay. Well, when it’s your first time I guess anything is okay. I mean, what’s there to compare it with? Anyway, there’s a lot of water passed under the bridge since that night, Brian, me boy. There’s been a lot more Fay’s since then.
BRIAN: Not lately there haven’t.
OLDER: And you wonder why! Have you seen the state of yourself lately? Well, I guess not – there’s no mirrors on Bottle Alley. (pause, as he stops to take a drink) You don’t mind if I fuel up, do you? (this to the audience). Eventually you went to sea. Well, you couldn’t go home any more, could you? You were about as welcome as the plague there. What is about you Brian – everywhere you go you piss people off? Even your shipmates got sick of you eventually.
BRIAN: I was getting too pissed to go back to sea, if you must know. I was a danger to myself and everyone else. I was a raging alcoholic by now, rattling for a drink every day. I couldn’t be relied on anymore; couldn’t hold down a steady job; people couldn’t trust me. Oh, I could hide it for a while, but eventually it would get the better of me. That’s why I had to keep moving; from job to job, from place to place; from halfway house to halfway house. He’s a hard taskmaster, this damn puppeteer….(To the audience) Eventually I ended up at Charing Cross Station, in good old London town. (laughs) I thought I had landed in paradise. Well, I just come from a poxy halfway house on the Isle of Sheppey. More like a lunatic asylum. Every night I had to watch this old guy in the next bed, masturbating naked, calling out Mammy, Mammy. And the staff…well, if you had a few bob coming in you didn’t have it goin’ out…
(BRIAN dons a sailor’s cap and moves towards the audience, older and shabbier)
BRIAN: Excuse me, sir, can you spare a few pence to get me to Tilbury? My ship is there, waiting for me. Only I got mugged and I can’t afford the fare. (pause, no response) Aah…wanker. (another laugh) From a halfway house to the arches round the back of the station. All mod cons. You had to rise early though. ’Cos the street cleaners hosed you down if you didn’t. Not much in the way of central heating either, apart from the body next to you.
OLDER: And after a few months of livin’ it up there you washed up in Hastings. All because some woman said it was a good place to be.
BRIAN: That was Lydia. She was on the game. Not that she needed to be. She was a looker alright…
BOTH: (singing) Oh Lydia…oh Lydia…
But that’s another story….
OLDER: And that, more or less, was how I ended up in Hastings. Of course it was very pleasant after the vagrancy of London. It had a seaside, a pier, even a castle. I knew all about 1066, how heroically Harold had fought at the battle of Hastings, all that historical stuff. Only it wasn’t at Hastings, was it? It was at Battle. Why wasn’t it called the battle of Battle? Can anyone tell me that? But I digress. Was it a good move? Well, I’m still here after what? Twenty-five years. Still standing as they say. And it was here I met Pat…my first wife. Which didn’t last long.
BRIAN: She didn’t understand. An alcoholic is for life, not just for Christmas.
OLDER: You ought to be ashamed of yourself, the way you treated her.
BRIAN: Jesus, leave me be! Don’t you think I know how bad it was? But that’s how drink makes you. You lose everything; your dignity, your self respect, your principles. When I first met Pat I suppose I didn’t look too bad. I had just moved to Hastings full of good intentions, and I was managing to hold down a job, but by the time we got married my alcoholism was getting the better of me again. We decided to sell what few things we had and move to Eastbourne. We lasted there for six months. I drank everything with alcohol in it, and we lived in abject poverty. Alcoholism and I had brought Pat down to my level.
OLDER: Why are you telling me…I know all this?
BRIAN: I just want to show…want people to understand what it’s like. How it affects others close to you. How you become abused, and how because of the way you live, you become an abuser yourself. Alcohol doesn’t take prisoners; it will kill you and inflict misery and hardship on all those around you. (pause) I remember how Pat cried as I took her last pound. She wanted it to buy her tampons. But I said, use tissue paper like all the other women on Bottle Alley.
OLDER: But she wasn’t on Bottle Alley, was she? She didn’t belong there.
BRIAN: I didn’t care. I just wanted that drink. (pause) Eventually she left me; she couldn’t stand it any more and she walked away. And the sad thing is that given the same situation today I don’t know that I wouldn’t do the same thing again.
OLDER: You drove everyone who ever loved you away.
BRIAN: That wasn’t me, that was the drink.
OLDER: You are what you drink. You are responsible for your own actions. No one forced you to drink, did they?
BRIAN: You don’t understand…
OLDER: You drove Pat away. She was a lovely girl before she had the misfortune to meet you. You abused her
BRIAN: I never hit her.
OLDER: Abuse doesn’t have to be physical. It must have been torture for her watching you carry on the way you did. You spent more time down Bottle Alley than you did with her. You didn’t love her enough. If you did you wouldn’t still be like this. Love conquers everything – so they say.
BRIAN: Shut up! Get out of my fucking head! I was okay until you started getting a conscience.
(BRIAN moves to one side and sits in the audience)
OLDER: (Addresses the audience) Which brings us to Bottle Alley. Bottle Alley, Hastings, I mean. But there’s one in every town, I guess. This one is built along the sea front – very pretty. Now I don’t suppose it was purpose built for winos and alkies, but it might as well be. Out of the way, shelter from the elements…what more could a body want? (Looks at BRIAN) Look at them. The creatures from hell. My God, if they could see themselves…If I could see myself. I haven’t been a regular in Bottle Alley for more than ten years now, but when I do pay the occasional visit it’s like I’ve never been away. The faces might be different but the people are the same. (pause) I wonder what the average lifespan is down Bottle Alley? They should do a survey on that, never mind places like Namibia or Zimbabwe.

A funeral scene. One of the Bottle Alley regulars.
BRIAN: Dazzler was one of the best.
OLDER: Always good for a laugh. (laughs) He would be laughing himself if he could see us all now. Look at us. Thirty plus alkies together. And every one of them sober. Well…nearly. That takes some doing.
BRIAN: Do you know why they call him the Dazzler?
OLDER: Because of his dazzling smile.
BRIAN: The only two teeth he had left were his eye teeth. And they were black stumps. He had this trick. You know the lights down the far end of The Alley? Well, when they were about to change to red, and cars were slowing down, he would walk in front of them. He usually managed to collapse across the bonnet. It was always late at night. He claimed their lights dazzled him. Always a good little earner, that one.
OLDER: It kept plenty of us in booze for most of his life. You know, I never remember him getting hurt. Well, if he did, he was never sober enough to feel the pain. (laughs) The first time we met he tapped me for a fiver. ‘Brian’ he said, ‘lend me a bluey till Thursday’. I told him where to go, but he wouldn’t leave off. Dazzler, I said, ‘suppose I lend you a bluey and you get pissed and disappear till Thursday, what am I supposed to do?’ He just said, ‘I don’t know, shoot me.’ Anyway, I lent him the fiver, with the proviso that if I didn’t get it back on Thursday I’d kill him. He assured me he’d do the job himself if I didn’t. How could you not love a bloke like that?
BRIAN: Where was he from?
OLDER: Dunno
BRIAN: What age was he?
OLDER: You never ask a lady or an alcoholic their age. The Dazzler was a mystery, but then lots of us are. Our pasts belong to a different world. If we have families, loved ones, we wouldn’t want them to see us like this. There was a rumour goin’ round once that he used to be a stunt man. We put it to him one night after he’s had his usual brush with an Audi, or something similar. No old bangers for Dazzler; ‘if they can’t afford a decent motor they can’t afford me’, was his philosophy.. Anyway, somebody said to him, ‘Is it true you used to do the stunts for The Professionals? I heard you were a true artist at it’. Dazzler only laughed. ‘Piss artist you mean! When did you ever see an alcoholic stuntman?’ Mind you, He never actually denied it.
BRIAN: ‘Brian’, he said to me once, ‘a man is what he is, not what he once was. I could’a been the King of Prussia once, but until I get off this fucking merry-go-round, what you see is what I am’. I don’t think he even liked the drink, but he couldn’t do without it. And it wasn’t even the drink that got him in the end, but hypothermia. He froze to death in that doss-house he kipped in. His landlord was too busy pissing it up against pub walls to bother about things like heating. (laughs) A bit like us I guess
OLDER: No, not a bit like us. People like him are vultures. They home in on the drinker. They know an alcoholic needs a drink – and he needs somewhere to drink it. . So they buy up a decrepit house, then inform the council they have rooms to let, that it’s habitable, but in need of a bit of work. A grant is issued, most of which is pocketed, but as far as the council is concerned there is property available for people like you and me. It gets us off the street, which is all the council is concerned with. And all the time the landlord is lining his pockets. I expect he thought the drinking was heating enough (pause) I’d shoot the bastard if I had a gun (he looks around) What a send off. Look at it, not a friendly face in sight. I mean, not a member of his family to be seen. How insignificant does that make his life? There’s not even a tiny ripple in the water at his passing.
BRIAN: We’ll miss him. We’re his true friends.
OLDER: We’re not his fucking friends. We’re just a bunch of alcoholics sheltering in here from the cold. It passes the time, and it’s warmer than that fuckin’ wind tunnel that’s Bottle Alley. Look around – how many did he fight with – roll around the alley over a half bottle of red biddy. We’re here because we’re still standing, and because we’re glad it’s not us. And we’re all of us looking around looking to see if we can spot the next most likely candidate. And hoping to Christ it’s not ourselves. I used to keep a diary – the diary of the dearly departed I called it. I burnt it when I got to number twenty. I wouldn’t like to say what number Dazzler is, but it’s nearer thirty than twenty. I would like to call him my friend – but we both know that the only friend an alki has is this…. (he holds up his drink) If either of us came between the other and his drink we both know who the winner would be
(They throw a bunch a plastic flowers on the grave and walk away)
(BRIAN moves forward, pissed as a fart. He sings)

BRIAN: When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,
A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.
And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily,
Joyfully, playfully watching me.
But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,
Logical, responsible, practical.
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,
Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

(OLDER moves forward as BRIAN collapses)

OLDER: Jesus Brian, look at the state of you!

BRIAN: (Crawls about, looking for something to drink) Oh God. What day is it?

OLDER: Don’t you know?

BRIAN: Is it Wednesday?

OLDER: It’s Thursday

BRIAN: Thursday. I thought yesterday was Tuesday. What happened to Wednesday? Oh God, a whole day and night and I can’t remember a thing. Maybe I mugged someone.

OLDER: Looks like the other way round to me.
.
(BRIAN struggles to his feet, and groans in agony as pain shoots through his ribs .He pulls his shirt aside to reveal a large bruise on his side. He searches his pockets but finds nothing)

BRIAN: The bastards. They didn’t even leave me the price of a can.

OLDER: You didn’t really expect them to, did you? Have you no self respect left?
Don’t you care about anything?

BRIAN: Drink. That’s all I care about. (laughs) I saw a new doctor yesterday. No,
it can’t have been yesterday, can it? Must’ve been the day before, or the
one before that. And do you know what she said? ‘Brian, if you continue
to drink, you will have no quality of life’. I told her that if I didn’t I would
have even less quality. She had no idea. Most people don’t. Right now I
would do almost anything for a drink… Jesus, I’m busting…
(he pees in a corner)

OLDER: That’s the problem with this stuff. Forever pissing.

BRIAN: And shitting. Remember that old building at the back of Marks and Sparks?. Where we used to sit…many moons ago. It was quiet. We’d sit there contemplatin…

OLDER: Contemplating what?

BRIAN: Turds. This great sea of turds. They were everywhere. It looked like an abandoned turd factory. There was big ones, flat ones, curved ones, runny ones…

OLDER: Jesus, Brian!

BRIAN: That’s what I said too… Jesus, Brian you look like Gulliver among the Lilliputians. And of course I got the urge to go then myself. Like when you hear water running and you have to go for a piss. (laughs)
And then I got to looking at what they wiped themselves with. Old socks, underpants, cigarette packs, even bits of wood and slate.

OLDER: You’re pathetic.

BRIAN: I know

OLDER: You don’t like yourself much, do you?

BRIAN: No.

OLDER: Do you hate yourself?

BRIAN: I suppose I do.

OLDER: Do you hate your father?

BRIAN: I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT MY FATHER. All I want is oblivion. To get rid of the horrors inside my head – and that fucken jockey on my back.

OLDER: You should hate him. What sort of father would piss on his own child? And then laugh. Do you remember? When he threw you into the bath of cold water – then pissed all over you?
BRIAN: Stop it!

OLDER: It wasn’t you that needed treatment, it was him. You were just an innocent child, he was a fucking head case. And even before that. When you were about five, and you went to him and tried to cuddle him for a bit of affection, and he slapped your face and pushed you away. Do you remember that?

BRIAN: LEAVE ME BE! You’re just making it up.

OLDER: You know it’s true. And the rest of your family, your mother, all of them…they all lived with him. They let him do that. Let him treat you like a leper.

BRIAN: I was a leper.

OLDER: Why do you think that?

BRIAN: I don’t know. Jesus, I don’t know. I was…always the odd one out..

OLDER: The cuckoo in the nest, that’s what you were. (pause) She never answered your question, did she?

BRIAN: Who?

OLDER: Mother. All those years ago.

BRIAN: I don’t remember the question.

OLDER: No, but you know the answer, don’t you? Maybe she just never really cared for you.

BRIAN: My mother cared.

OLDER: But not enough, Brian.

BRIAN: You can’t say that.

OLDER: Maybe you weren’t your fathers’ son at all. Maybe that’s why he treated you like shit.

BRIAN: You’re confusing me! It was a long time ago. Anyway, people change.

OLDER: Do they? You needed help, psychiatric help maybe.

BRIAN: You can’t be cured if you don’t know you’re ill. I expect they thought it was normal, that I’d grow out of it.

OLDER: Well, you didn’t, did you?

BRIAN: No…I didn’t. (He moves to one side)

OLDER: (To the audience) By now I was a total alcoholic. Drunk from morning till night. Breakfast was a cup of brandy or Southern Comfort. I only realized how bad it was when I suddenly fainted. One minute I was talking to this bird, the next I woke up in hospital. I hadn’t eaten anything for about two weeks; it was just solid drinking. I had gotten to the stage where I couldn’t eat. Your stomach shrivels up. Gastritis, I think they call it. I used to drink through boredom. Bloody boredom. Or misery. I thought I could take it or leave it. But I couldn’t. That’s when this doctor told me I was going to die. They pumped my backside full of vitamins while I was in the hospital, then packed me off to detox when I was strong enough.

BRIAN: (Staggers into the audience, singing)
I’ve been everywhere man.
Crossed the country bare man
I’ve breathed some foul air man
Of detox had my share man.
I’ve been everywhere.
I’ve been to
Rampton, Southampton, Dulwich
Norwich, Harwich, Eastbourne
Acrington…

OLDER: Acrington!

BRIAN: I’ve been everywhere. Including a detox unit.
OLDER: How many times?

BRIAN: I’ve lost count.

OLDER: Do you remember the nurses? Everywhere we went it
was the same breed. Name? (imitates nurse)

BRIAN: Harding

OLDER: Date of birth?

BRIAN: Aaah…..

OLDER: Never mind. Are you tidy at home?

BRIAN: I try to be neat

OLDER: I mean, are you meticulous?

BRIAN: What does that mean?

OLDER: It doesn’t matter. Do you wet the bed?

BRIAN: I have done occasionally. But if you drank as much as I do I expect you would too.

OLDER: Are you aware that walking around town drunk and disorderly can be offensive to others?

BRIAN: Yes, I am.

OLDER: Is there a purpose to it?

BRIAN: To what? Me walking around town drunk, or this interview?

OLDER: You realize that while you are here you won’t be allowed to drink.

BRIAN: I know it’s a dry house.

OLDER: Detoxification unit, please.

BRIAN: Dry house, detox unit, whatever you like to call it. I’ve agreed to come here, haven’t 1? I just want to get on with it.

OLDER: Do you have aggressive tendencies, Mr Harding?

BRIAN: Not normally.

OLDER: You tried to strangle the taxi driver bringing you here.

BRIAN: That was last time.

OLDER: And the time before that, you urinated on the other occupants of the ambulance bringing you here.

BRIAN: Yeah. All I wanted was a pee and they wouldn’t stop. And they threw me off bloody ambulance over it. I wound up back in hospital with torn ligaments.

OLDER: You see our problem Mr Harding? We are not really convinced you want to go through with the treatment.

BRIAN: I do, believe me I do.

OLDER: You were violently drunk on both occasions. You are drunk now.

BRIAN: I was frightened. I am frightened now. Of what I am becoming. I don’t remember any of those…episodes. And it terrifies me that I may do something really serious.

OLDER: I should think that attempted strangulation is serious enough.

BRIAN: I know. And I am truly sorry. When I was lying overnight in the police cell I knew that if I kept this up I would die. I realized then that I didn’t want to. I spoke to the custody sergeant the following morning, and he agreed to drop the charges if I promised to make my own way here. I needed the drink to get me through the front door. That’s why I am drunk.

OLDER: Thank you Mr Harding. That will be all for now. A nurse will be along to give you your medication shortly.

BRIAN: Jesus, I need a drink. (he drinks)

OLDER: (Looks around the room) Look at them. The people in these places are worse than you.

BRIAN: They’re on Largactil, or something similar. The medical cosh they call it. Well, they’re in pain, and they have no alcohol to deaden it. I’ll be like that myself tomorrow. And for the next twenty eight days, if I can last the course. (He wanders around) Mind you, it’s a palace compared to Queen Charlottes.

OLDER: That damp, dilapidated pile of shit. Where the security was so lax it was non- existent. Anybody could – and did – walk in off the streets. And bring in their drink too – if the staff didn’t actually see the bottles. Some place to detox!

BRIAN: All those visitors. What did they think it was, the bloody zoo? Well, maybe it was at that. I like a bit of privacy when I’m detoxing. All those bloody day-trippers, gawping. What we were doing, each in our own way, was trying to be like them. We wanted to be able to cope outside without drugs or alcohol. The detox unit was our learning room, our changing room. What we were doing was personal. How would they like it if we invaded their private spaces?

OLDER: You invaded some private space there yourself. What was her name, now?

BRIAN: How should I know?

OLDER: I have to hand it to you. Despite your…many afflictions you managed to pull those dozy birds by the dozen.

BRIAN: There was nothing wrong with the pump-action then. That only came later.

OLDER: It not a great chat up line though, is it? I’ll see you by the asylum gates at seven o’clock. (laughs) How many institutions have we been in?

BRIAN: We?

OLDER: Yes, you and me.

BRIAN: I think you’ve got a split personality.

OLDER: And you’re talking to yourself again. Come on, how many.

BRIAN: I don’t know.

OLDER: Twenty one at the last count. And all were detox units of one shape or form. The prisons…well you were detoxed there whether you like it or not. And the others….well I was probably dragged screaming and kicking into some of them, but I went anyway.

BRIAN: And the result?

OLDER: (he takes a drink) You see before you a man who doesn’t drink any more.

BRIAN: No…but you don’t drink any less

OLDER: What is the point of them, I ask myself. The detox units. Nearly everyone down Bottle Alley has been in one at one stage or another…

BRIAN: I just want to be normal, you know? Just fucking normal. But it’s never going to happen now, is it? I’ve made my bed and I must lie on it, as mother used to say. Love makes the world go round they tell me. Well, where is it? Love where are you? I haven’t seen much of you in my lifetime. Maybe if I’d had some when I young and innocent…Do you hear me, father? All those unspeakable things you did to me…..Father, you BASTARD………………..

(BRIAN suddenly collapses)

OLDER: (To the audience) Some people might think that was an epileptic fit, but it wasn’t. It was withdrawal symptoms, brought on by my blood alcohol level dropping below a certain point. You see I have now reached the stage where I have to keep my body topped up with alcohol, otherwise I am liable to have a fit. How do I feel now? Well, as I speak, I am safe in the knowledge that there are at least two litres of chemical cider back in my room. I am hungry, my stomach is swollen, and I have severe heartburn. But in spite of that, I will drink as much of the cider as I can until I can no longer stand the pain. Then I shall go to bed. And when I wake up I shall be in just as much pain, but the cycle will start again. And I don’t know why.

(He grabs a copy of Brian’s book)

OLDER: I have led a wretched life, neither providing, producing, creating or
contributing anything. Well, maybe not quite. (holds up his book) This is
my legacy – maybe my only legacy. As I stand before you bloodied,
shaking and almost without resources, I am still not bowed.

ALCOHOLISM, for more than forty years you’ve clawed at my very soul, but I’m still here. After all this time I’ve finally recognized you. You have been exposed; my friends and neighbours also know you. And they have seen at first hand what you have done to me. I have told everybody about you (waves book) and as I stand before them, sometimes incoherent, I am all the evidence they need. You have been outed. My hope is that nobody will ever invite you in again. That you will end up standing on the borders of society, searching for your prey.

(BRIAN stands and joins OLDER)

BOTH: That nobody will come to you. That it is you who will be alone. That you will be openly exposed for what you are. My contribution in our battle to have you destroyed is the writing of this book. I know that I am an alcoholic – and always will be with or without drink. But I also know this: that the first task in any battle is to know your enemy. And I now know my enemy.

IT’S YOU – YOU DAMN PUPPETEER.

End

CONFESSIONS….cont’d

BkuvIihIMAAhY6u

CONFESSIONS OF AN ALTAR BOY
by
Tom O’Brien
scene one
TERRY is sitting on a chair,playing a guitar, singing. He is wearing a white surplice over his clothes.

I only met you just a couple of days ago
I only met you and I want your loving so
Jeannie come lately…

He breaks off and rubs the fingers of his left hand, which are clearly paining him. He puts the guitar aside,then tugs at the surplice.

TERRY: Why the get-up?
Well,to be honest, I can’t remember which
came first, the Altar Boy or the guitar.
All I know is that learning to play that…
yoke was hard work I only learned three.
chords. The three-chord
trick we called it C, F and G7.
No, I tell a lie – there was a fourth –
for special occasions. E minor, I think.
Not that it mattered a lot – I was crap
anyway. I was always going to be crap
where the guitar was concerned.
Mind you, I wasn’t much better as an
Altar Boy…
lights dim

scene two
After school. A mock-up of the altar rails inside the church. The Master is putting Terry and LIAM through their paces as Altar Boys. Liam is kneeling, receiving the host; Terry holds the ‘silver’ salver under his chin, the Master acting as the priest.
MASTER: Under his chin, Byrne!
Not under his ear
TERRY: Yes, Master.
MASTER: We don’t want the body of Christ
trampled underfoot, do we?
TERRY: No, Master.
MASTER: (putting his ‘chalice’ aside)
Now. Let me hear you again
Kyrie elieson..
LIAM: Kyrie elieson
MASTER: Kyrie elieson
TERRY: Kyrie elieson
MASTER: No, you amadan! Christie elieson
TERRY: Christie elieson.
MASTER: (shaking his head) Now, the blessing…
(he blesses himself)
In nominie patrie..
TERRY: Et…et…
MASTER: Et what? His tongue! ET FI-LE-E…
(he signals to Liam)
LIAM: Et spiritu sanctu, amen
MASTER: Why, oh why did I ever consent to you
being an Altar Boy. You have no
interest, have you? Are you deliberately
obtuse, O’Byrne?
TERRY: No, Master
MASTER: Just naturally stupid,then. Kelly, here,
is word perfect. Why can’t you?
TERRY: I…I forgot.
MASTER: You forgot! Well, you had better unforget
by Sunday. And don’t think that just because
I won’t be there, that I won’t know. I SHALL
KNOW, O’Byrne. And God help you on
Monday, if you haven’t shaped up. Now, get
this place tidied up before you leave… (he exits)

Terry waits until he is sure the Master has gone, then takes out a cigarette butt and lights up.

TERRY: (parodying) Kelly, here, is word-perfect
‘Course he bloody-well is…
Miss goody two-shoes always is.
Why couldn’t you have said Christie Elysion?
Just for once, eh?
LIAM: Then I’d be as stupid as you, wouldn’t I?
TERRY: Obtuse, you mean.
LIAM: I thought that meant…
(he makes the shape of a large belly)
TERRY: That’s obese you…amadan

Terry hands him the butt. They both puff contentedly.

TERRY: Who’s saying Mass Sunday?
LIAM: Fr. Walsh, I think.
TERRY: Won’t be a lot left for us, then..
(he makes drinking motions)
Not after he’s finished
LIAM: Would you say he’s alcoholic?
TERRY: I’ll say!
LIAM: Not as bad as my ould fella, though.
Always singing stupid songs.
And trying to be funny.
(pause)
And hitting people when the notion takes him.
TERRY: Maybe it’s his job.
LIAM: Digging a few graves? Sometimes he doesn’t
have any for weeks.
TERRY: I wouldn’t like burying people
LIAM: He doesn’t bury them. All he does is dig
the grave, then fills it in when…you know.
And he’s drunk for a week afterwards

As they speak, they should be tidying up. Terrys takes a magazine from his school bag.

TERRY: Did I show you that one?
LIAM: She’s…she’s….
TERRY: Big, isn’t she?
LIAM: She’s no clothes on!
TERRY: I wonder if Birdie looks like that?
Do you think all girls look like that?
LIAM: My mother doesn’t.
TERRY: She’s not a girl. I’m going to show
it to her. Ask her.
LIAM: Who? Me mother?
TERRY: Birdie!
LIAM: Oh yeah! When?
TERRY: When I…I’m meeting her tomorrow night.
LIAM: Birdie and you! She wouldn’t
be seen dead with you. You haven’t got a
big enough bike. (pause) Where?
Where are you meeting her?
TERRY: In the Temperance Hall.
LIAM: (laughs) You and a dozen others.
Music practice!
TERRY: I’m meeting her afterwards.
LIAM: Does she know? Have you asked her?
TERRY: You’ll see You’ll see who’s laughing…
lights dim

Lights come up on Terry again,playing his guitar

TERRY: (sings)
You ain’t nothin,but a hound-dog
Rockin’ all the time
You ain’t nothin’ but a hound-dog
And you aint no friend of mine…
We had this idea of forming our own group.
Birdie, myself and…Liam.
Oh, we needed more, but three was a start.
I’d been going to the Hall for a few years
by then, and the fingers…(he holds them up)
…were hardened. My playing was still
crap, but I could warble a bit.
Liam was a late-comer – I think he thought
he might be missing something – so he purchased
a cheap rig-out from somewhere – one drum and a
cymbal…

Lights now reveal Liam,sitting behind his drum kit

….and started to make like he was Ringo.
Mind you, as it turned out, he wasn’t bad
Quite good, in fact.
(pause)
Birdie was the real star, though…
(he ticks off)
The fiddle, the mandolin, the keyboard…
And she could sing like…
Well, judge for yourelves…

BIRDIE is now revealed behind a keyboard. They strike up and play
ISLAND OF DREAMS (THE SPRINGIELDS), with Birdie on
vocals

BIRDIE: We need a name.
What shall we call ourselves?
TERRY: (fingering the surplices both he and Liam are wearing)
How about The Holy Joes?
LIAM: More like holy shows.

Spotlight back on Terry agin.

TERRY: ‘Course this was long after we were
altar boys. By then I’d been…inoculated – is
that the word? – into the humdrum world of
work.. The local tannery to be precise.
As had Liam. Birdie was in a different league –
acedemically at any rate – and was being groomed
for a life of imparting knowledge at the local
convent. She was going to be a teacher.
At least, that’s what her father had in mind for her.
Mine had slightly different views on education;
rather like those of the bishop who’d once announced
‘education is okay for the few, but when
you educate the masses it can be dangerous’.
Mushrooms, that’s what they wanted us to be –
Keep us in the dark and feed us full of shite
(pause)
It was our love of music that brought – and kept
us – together. Well,our kind of music. Not the
jiggin-and reelin and accordian bashing
as practised at the Temperance Hall, but something
a bit more up to date.
(pause)
The Holy Joes had a nice…ecclesiastical ring to it.
We thought.
Fr Walsh begged to differ.
LIAM: (as Fr Walsh)
Making game of the church, boys?
Or is it making game of me?
It won’t do
And both of you altar boys, to boot…
TERRY: We hadn’t been altar boys for a long time
And my tenure hadn’t exactly been…uneventful
LIAM: Am I to understand you’re planning to wear those…
abominations for the concert?
TERRY: (fingering his surplice)
They’re our uniforms
LIAM: Over my dead body!
(he turns his fury on Birdie)
And you Margaret Power,what do you
plan to wear? (silence)
Does your father know the carry-on at
these…rehearsals?
Does Sr. Assumpta?
TERRY: Of course they didn’t
We worked on the principle that
what they didn’t know wouldn’t bother them.
(pause)
We’d been given the use of a separate room
at the hall in which to knock our trio into
shape, and we’d planned to reveal ourselves
to an unsuspecting public at the upcoming
concert in the hall. Fr Walshe’s surprise
visit had probably put the kybosh on that.
(pause)
I’ve often thought that the parish priest was
my nemises; Moriarty to my Holmes; Laurel

CONFESSIONS OF AN ALTAR BOY

d9704-tales_of_halloween_2_252822529

I CONFESS

NAR: I’ve been a thief most of my life.
I can say that now with the passage of time.
And not like the ‘good thief’ either.
Oh no.
I stole with impunity.
From friends, acquaintance, from strangers.
I stole from everybody and anybody
I even stole from my own brother.
And that’s unforgivable.
(pause)
He’s dead now.
(pause)
Years later, after we had been reconciled,
he told me something I hadn’t been aware of.
Mother had paid it all back to him.
Yes.
A few pounds a week, until it was all…
I don’t recall how much it was…
About four hundred, I think.
(pause)
That’s mothers for you.
(pause)
It’s my wife too.
She has a conscience like that.
If I had stolen money from her brother or sister
she would probably pay it back too
Maybe I married my mother.
(pause)
I suppose it all started with my pilfering from
the collection boxes when I was an altar boy.
During the Mass, we serving boys were delegated
to pass the collection boxes among the congregation,
and it was my job afterwards to put the money collected
in a bag, and leave in the sacristy for the priest to pick up after Mass.
It was very easy for me to palm a few of the coins as I did so,
and slip them into my pocket under my surplice.
Funnily enough, I never confessed these sins in confession.
I would invent sins, but I never confessed the real ones.
I wonder why?
Later, I got a job as a temporary postman

I arrived in London in the swinging sixties.
I stayed in Mrs McGintys house.
Oh, a lovely doss-house just off the Kilburn High Road
The may have called it the swinging sixties,
but the only swinging I ever done was a
fourteen-pound hammer for McAlpines or Wimpeys
Wimpey, do you know what that stands for?
W.I.M.P.E.Y
We import more Paddys every year
And they did too!
(pause)
Mind you I started off higher than that.
Navvying, that’s scraping the bottom of the drum.
No, I began with painting.
Well, it’s a trade, isn’t it.
And it couldn’t be that difficult, could it?
I mean, I’d whitewashed a few henhouses and
cow-houses at home…
And reddened a few hay-barns
And did a good job too, if I may say so
(pause)
I mean, Highbury Stadium wasn’t much different, was it?
Not much more than a glorified haybarn –
with a bit of raked seating added on.- was it?
I told the guy in the Nags Head, who was hiring,
that I had toshed half of the stadiums in Munster.
Well, what’s a little white lie?
(pause)
I realized I wasn’t cut out for the more intricate brush-
work involved when the foreman said that a dog wagging
his tail would do a better job.
That was my second day there.
There wasn’t a third.
Naturally.

(to be contd)

DOWN BOTTLE ALLEY by Tom O’Brien

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

available to buy on Amazon

extract from play:

1
DOWN BOTTLE ALLEY
By
Tom O’Brien
Character list
OLDER BRIAN
YOUNGER BRIAN
TONE
SHOPKEEPER
FATHER
NELSON
DOCTOR
NURSE
FAY
LYDIA
PAT
SALLY
MOTHER
All the parts with the exception of Older Brian and Younger Brian can be played by 2 actors. Big Tone, Father, Man and Nelson can be played by one actor. Pat, Sal, Lydia, Fay and Mother can be played By one actress
There are 3 acting areas on the stage:
Stage-left. This is Brian’s space, his bed/ living space. It is bare except for a single bed, a bucket, an oxygen cylinder and mask, a bedside table and a chair. The table has some cans/bottles of cider on it.
Centre-stage. This area has a bench and a square of green/grass. This is where much of Brian’s life is lived. It represents Bottle Alley, the gathering place of the alcoholic.
There’s such a place wherever there are alcoholics.
Stage- right. This is where OLDER Brian, the narrator, holds court. This is the Brian that Brian would like to be. The only thing in this area is a card table with some of Brian’s books on it, and a card saying BOOK SIGNING TODAY. Resting against the table legs is a placard with the legend below printed on it
I know every thing about drink – except how to stop.
2
Act one
Enter the cast singing ‘The Logical Song’, by Supertramp
When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful, A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical. And all the birds in the trees, well they’d be singing so happily, Joyfully, playfully watching me. But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible, Logical, responsible, practical. And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable, Clinical, intellectual, cynical. There are times when all the worlds asleep, The questions run too deep For such a simple man. Won’t you please, please tell me what we’ve learned I know it sounds absurd But please tell me who I am.
OLDER BRIAN comes on stage. He is smartly dressed, holding a book under his arm. This is how Brian wants to be seen.
OLDER: It’s 6.20am. In seconds I will be sick, violently and seemingly without end. Today I have a free day, no doctor. Early morning sickness is all part and parcel of being an alcoholic; we accept it. This isn’t attractive to a potential mate, and is also why most of us are alone. After all, who wants to wake up with a bloke whom you think at any minute is about to die?
BRIAN, in bed, awakes slowly, taking a while to become aware of his surroundings. One of his first acts is to crawl from the bed to the bucket and be violently sick for several minutes, then put the oxygen mask to his face and inhale. After a while he staggers to his feet, takes a long sip from the cider bottle, then lurches to the bathroom (off)
OLDER: Some people do press-ups in the morning, I do sick. Every morning
without fail. You could set your clock by me. It’s been like that for as long
as I can remember. So long now that sometimes I think it’s the norm for
everybody. Then my brain-cells kick in – what’s left of them – and I
realize it’s just me. Brian going through the routines that will – hopefully
– see him through another alcohol-fueled day.
My affair with alcohol has rendered me, for the most part, incontinent, impotent and without any real place in this society. I have no reference as to how life would be without drink. I don’t honestly remember a time when I wasn’t drunk. I am drunk now. I quite probably won’t finish this story.
3
Brian returns from the bathroom, drying his hair with a towel. He begins his daily ritual, checking his money, his cigarettes, decanting cider from a flagon into coke/pepsi bottles, storing them carefully in his hold-all. All the time he is doing this he is sipping from the bottle. After a while he is satisfied, looks around him, then picks up the hold-all. As he goes through his routine OLDER is watching, nodding his head in agreement
BRIAN: Good morning Hastings!
Brian moves centre stage and sits on the bench, drinking from his ‘coke’ can. This is Bottle Alley. He lies on his bench as BIG TONE comes along, singing.
TONE: I’m a rambler, I’m a gambler, I’m a long way from home
And if you don’t like you can leave me alone
I’ll eat when I’m hungry and I’ll drink when I’m dry
And if the moonshine don’t kill me I’ll live till I die.
BRIAN: Leave it out, will ya? I’m trying to sleep
TONE: I like a good warble in the morning
BRIAN: I like a good shit in the morning. I don’t expect all the neighbours
to have to listen to the racket though!
TONE: Ah, shure I was reared to it
BRIAN: Shittin’ or singin’?
TONE: The first sound you’d hear of a morning around the Horse
and Jockey would be me ould fella’s rendition of ‘I’ll Take
You Home Again Kathleen’ as he scraped the face offa himself
in the bathroom . (sings a bar)
BRIAN: Did you say jockey? I wouldn’t like to be the saddle on any
horse you were riding!
TONE: Horse and Jockey you pratt. It’s a small town in Tipperary,
where I was reared.
(sings)
It’s a long way to Tipperary, It’s a long way to go…
He staggers and almost falls on top of Brian
TONE: I haven’t been back there for nearly thirty years.
BRIAN: Well, fuck off back there now and leave me in peace!
TONE: I couldn’t go skippering there. Jaysus, how
would I live it down. If me mother saw me she’d
die with shame.
BRIAN: Get a fucking job then.
TONE: Ha ha…
4
OLDER Brian looks over at them
OLDER: Hey, you pair of cunts. Did you ever see yourselves as others see you?
BRIAN: Take no notice of him. He’s like that every day. I only have to catch sight
of him in the mirror and he’s off on one.
TONE: What’s wrong with us? Not sartorial enough for you?
OLDER: That’s a new one on me, an intellectual alcoholic. People like you give tramps a bad name. No wonder people cross they road when they see you.
TONE: People like me…?
OLDER: I don’t mean you personally. I mean all of us. You, me, the whole alcoholic community- we’re the dregs of society
TONE: Some of the best people are alcoholics. Doctors, lawyers, politicians…
OLDER: You don’t agree they are the dregs? Give it time, they will be. When the drink becomes master they will be. Just like us. The country is full of bottle alleys.
BRIAN: Ignore him, he’ll go away after a while
OLDER: The early bird catches the alcoholic. That’s how this damn puppeteer works. Remember how you started off, Brian? You were still in short trousers.
Brian suddenly stands and becomes smarter, more respectable as a MAN enters
BRIAN: Bottle of cider please.
MAN: Bit young for scrumpy, ain’t ya? What age are ya? Eleven, twelve?
BRIAN: It’s for me da.
MAN: Is it now? And why should I believe you?
BRIAN: Please, mister. He’ll kill me if I don’t bring it back.
MAN: I could go to jail. You goin’ to make it worth my while?
BRIAN: What d’you want.
MAN: What d’you think I want? What I usually want.
(he places a bottle of cider in Brian’s arms)
Two and six to you.
(Brian’s two hand are engaged holding the cider to his chest)
I’ll help myself, shall I?
5
He puts a hand in Brian’s trouser pocket and begins playing with Brian’s genitals
MAN: That’s it. Help myself.
Brian tolerates it for a few moments, then suddenly lashes out with his feet, catching
the man in the shins.
BRIAN: Bloody pervert.
He runs out of the shop, grabbing a packet of cigarettes of the counter as he does so.
He sees his friend, Billy (off), in the distance.
BRIAN: Hey Billy! (he holds up the drink and cigs)
See you in the Big Wood in five minutes.
Later, in The Big Wood. Brian is smoking, clearly drunk. Of Billy there is no sign. His father comes upon him and grabs him by the scruff. He drags him off home, and into the bathroom.
FATHER: What have I told you…?
BRIAN: I wasn’t doin’ nothing…
FATHER: Out there with that band of…of vagabonds. If I was a religious man ‘tis down on my knees I’d be right now, beggin – no beseechin’ – the Blessed Virgin for guidance. To think that I raised a gurrier like you…(pause). You thought you’d get away with it, I suppose. Not only a drunk but a thief too. Stealing cigarettes from our neighbour. Bringing shame on the family. Well I have just the thing for boyos like you.
He indicates the bath. Brian looks at it in horror.
BRIAN: But it’s cold, dad.
FATHER: Like I said, just the job for boyos like you. GET IN.
He heaves Brian into the bath, then urinates over his back. He exits, grinning.
Lights change to signify passing of time
BRIAN: Did you hear what I said, mum?
(Enter Brian’s MOTHER)
6
MOTHER: Don’t talk about your father like that.
BRIAN: I’m not lyin’, mum, I’m not.
MOTHER: I don’t know where you get these notions from.
BRIAN: I tell you, he did. Four or five years ago. I was only a child. He beat me, then he threw me into a cold bath. I had my clothes on an all. Then he pissed all over me.
MOTHER: Well, you’re not a child now. You’re sixteen. Time you got a bit of sense. It’s your imagination, that’s what. And that awful drink you take. Cider rots your brain, I suppose you know that? Why can’t you be normal like everyone else your age. Take up sport…go and chase girls. (pause) You know you can’t stay here, Brian love. Not if you keep drinking like that. Your father won’t have it.
BRIAN: He won’t have me, drunk or sober. He won’t even speak to me. I’m ‘that silly slop’, or that ‘bloke over there’. He can’t even look at me. You know how I always have to sit in the chair behind the door, so that when it’s open he can’t see me? Why does he do that?
MOTHER: I don’t know, love?
BRIAN: How do you think that makes me feel?
MOTHER: He’s not a bad man.
BRIAN: He hates me. You all went on holiday without me earlier. Why?
MOTHER: I know we shouldn’t have left you, love.
BRIAN: And I had to get out of the house for a week. Why couldn’t you trust me? I spent most of the week in…well it doesn’t matter where. What’s wrong with me, mum?
MOTHER: Nothing, love. (pause) It’s just that…your dad, well, he had a hard upbringing.
BRIAN: And that makes it right? How he treats me? If I was a dog he would treat me better. I wanted him to be proud of me. Instead he…he… (he doesn’t finish) I sometimes think he’s not my dad at all.
MOTHER: How dare you say something like that. I won’t have you speak like that.
BRIAN: Tell me it’s not true, then.
7
MOTHER: Get out. Get out! With your filthy notions!
(OLDER BRIAN picks up the story)
OLDER: Look at you. Pathetic isn’t the word. You were afraid of him. You, a big strapping lad and you were afraid of him. You were afraid of your own shadow! And what did you do? What was your answer? You ran down to the woods and hid yourself away. Drank yourself stupid. And who did you have for company? Your shadow! (OLDER croons and smooches)
Me and my shadow… Me and my shadow…
BRIAN: You don’t know anything…
OLDER: I was there, wasn’t I? That’s where you met what-you –ma-call her. Fay. That’s it. You lost your virginity to Fay. Another alcoholic. Like yourself. Well, I suppose it takes one to know one.
BRIAN: Fay was beautiful.
OLDER: Fay was a cow. A fucking slag. Can’t you see that? She was the kind that would suck you in and blow you out in bubbles. You were fifteen. She was only using you.
BRIAN: That’s not true. (pause) Anyway, she paid for it.
OLDER: Yeah, she did pay for it.
(Enter FAY)
FAY: You’re a nice looking fella. What’s your name?
BRIAN: Brian
FAY: Big too. Are you still at school?
BRIAN: I’m working! Apprentice painter. I know your name. It’s Fay.
FAY: How do you know my name, Brian?
BRIAN: I’ve seen you around. Lot’s of times.
FAY: You been following me? (laughs) Do you fancy me or what? (pause) You must know Nelson then?
BRIAN: Yeah, I know Nelson.
8
FAY: Have you seen him around today?
BRIAN: No.
FAY: Probably in one of the boozers. Drunk as a skunk. The bloody creep.
BRIAN: He’s your boyfriend?
FAY: I wouldn’t say boyfriend. We…mess around sometimes.
BRIAN: He’s dangerous.
FAY: He’s a bit of a head case alright. Are you afraid of him?
BRIAN: I’m not afraid of anyone.
FAY: Oooh, that’s tough talk. What would you do if he came along and saw the two of us?
BRIAN: We’re not doing anything.
FAY: But if we were. Say we were…making love.
BRIAN: Wha!
FAY: I’m serious. Have you got a place? A room?
BRIAN: I live at home.
FAY: What age are you?
BRIAN: I’m…seventeen.
FAY: You sure? Where do you suggest then?
BRIAN: You serious?
FAY: Why wouldn’t I be? You got any drink?
(Brian shows her several bottles of cider he has in his bag. Fay shows him a bottle of gin she has in her shoulder bag. The both laugh like conspirators)
BRIAN: How would you fancy sleeping under the stars? It’s going to be a nice warm summer’s night.
FAY: What a romantic you are, Brian.
9
BRIAN: I have a quilted sleeping bag that I keep in the big woods.
FAY: You’re well-prepared, I must say. Why in the woods?
BRIAN: I like sleeping under the stars.
FAY: Especially if you’re too pissed to go home, eh? Is it big enough?
BRIAN: I don’t know. How big should it be?
FAY: (laughing) The sleeping bag, you berk!
BRIAN: It’s a double.
FAY: I’ve always been the outdoor type. I suppose we had better go and inspect your…lair then.
(They link arms and head off for the woods. Brian pulls his sleeping bag from the undergrowth and the both get in and snuggle up. They make love and fall asleep.
NELSON: (Off) Fay! Where’s my money, you bitch? I know you’re here somewhere
FAY: Christ! It’s Nelson. He’ll kill me if he finds me…
BRIAN: What did you do?
FAY: He’s a tea leaf. He’s at it all the time. I nicked some of the money he nicked from somebody else. He was doin’ my head in. I just had to get away…
There’s pandemonium for a few moments as they grab their belongings and make their escape. Shortly afterwards, NELSON, bursts into the clearing, brandishing a knife.
NELSON: By Christ. When I do find you… (exits again)

SHANE & VICTORIA – A LOVE STORY

BE THERE!
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FALLING FROM GRACE; Shane McGowan and the Pogues were one of the most honest and original bands ever. It all began in the streets and pubs of London’s Kings Cross, where punks, anarchists, artists – both piss and real – and musicians lived together as a community. The Pogues were a bunch of misfits that blazed a trail to huge success without seemingly yrying, and it all eventually blew up in their faces. This is the story of Shane MacGowan’s rise and fall…rise and fall…rise..

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