Tom O’Brien

Character list


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?


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?


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

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?


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.



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