WARTS AN’ ALL contd…

MICK: That’s mighty stuff Jack, and was that play staged in London?
JACK: It was and went down very well – and had some of Behan’s relations in the audience.
Right Mick, let’s hear another song, what are you going to sing?
MICK: The one John wrote about an old fellow being a stranger in his own village.
JACK: An old fellow can be a stranger in a city as well as a village…
JOHN: Begod don’t I know it! This is called, “Drinkin’ with Ghosts”
Mick sings.
He sat at the bar, he was drinkin’ some beer / a vacant seat near him, I asked, can I sit here?
Hr turned around, and then said to me / if you sit there you’ll sit on her knee.
Chorus
I’m drinkin’ with ghosts tonight, I’m drinkin’ with ghosts, my old friends are here / some drinkin’
whiskey, some drinkin’ beer.
I’m drinkin’ with ghost, I’m waltzing with shadows / I’m lying on a beach, I’m running through
meadows.
She’s right beside me, the love of my life / I’m drinkin’ with ghosts tonight.
He said if you look around, all your friends you can see / all my friends are gone, there’s only just
me.
I’m a blast from the past, from along ago time / and the world that you live in is different to mine.
Repeat Chorus
He got of his seat, and walked to the door / I thought I saw shadows waltz ‘cross the floor,
He said, I’ll just open this door and step on to the street / it’s time now to go / I have old friends to
meet.22
Repeat chorus, and add to the end. Drinkin’ with ghosts, waltzing with shadows, I’m meting my
friends tonight.
JACK: Follow that, says the fella!
JOHN: I’ll read a piece from my book DUST COVERED MEMORIES. A piece about youth and
old age, now let’s see where to start? Ah yes here we go, this piece, Ted is reminiscing about his
youth to his young friend Jim.
Do you want tea or coffee Jim?
I’ll have coffee.
You stay here, it’s such a lovely morning I’ll make the coffee and bring it out.
I sat there waiting for Ted, hearing nothing only the sound of nature. I was reminded of a couple of
lines of a poem I read somewhere, season of colourful flowers and happy hearts, dancing singing
and seaside play / birds and bees, and other summer sounds form a choir to sing you through the
day.
Just as Ted came with the coffee, a young couple, about nineteen or twenty passed on their way to
the sea.
Ted said, how I envy them. To be that age again if only for one glorious day, to be young and free
again. To be in love, to be in Tramore on a summer’s evening having fun on the bumpers and
hurdy-gurdys, to listen to Brendan Boyer singing Kiss Me Quick. To eat chips from vinegar soaked
brown bag
To walk from the Atlantic Ballroom with the one of your dreams and admire a full moon casting a
shimmering silver streak of light on the surface of the sea. To experience once more what it’s like to
be in love, and to be loved, and then spend a restless night in anticipation of another day. No need to
die to go to heaven, what could be more heavenly than a summer’s day with the one you love.
Young girl in a summer dress / her lovely face the sun caress,
Nimble of limb she walks by / I watch her pass, I heave a sigh,
Recalling days that used to be / alas those days no more for me.
Days of youth, days of bliss / days of love and tender kiss,
Those teenage years full of joy / and first love for girl and boy,
Nights of love, dance and song / those carefree days now all gone.
Gone…gone, gone forever, memories where would we be without them.
Ted handed me the coffee.
I asked, is that poem a lament for the past Ted.
It’s for the past and the present, the first line in John Keats poem “Endymion, is a thing of beauty is
a joy forever.
And so it should be Ted.
It should be, but it’s not.
What do you mean; surely you can enjoy any form of beauty you like.23
You would think so, but I’m only allowed to enjoy some forms of beauty. Young and old can gaze
upon and admire the beauty of a sunset or sunrise, young and old can gaze upon and admire a sunlit
grove of bluebells, or the golden sheen of furze on a hillside, young and old can admire a beautiful
work of art, or an old, or new piece of architecture. But if a young lady walks by, only the young are
allowed to gaze, if an old man admires her beauty, he is deemed a pervert. The world does not seem
to understand that the ability to appreciate all forms of beauty does not deteriorate with old age.
Interval if required
Act 2
MICK: Maggie, come out from behind that counter and let John admire you.
MAGGIE: I’d love to Mick, but I can’t take a chance, someone might say we have pervert on the
premises and call the guards.
MICK: Or, he might collapse and we’d have to call an ambulance.
JOHN: As the Queen said to Prince Phillip when she saw what was on offer, “We are not amused”
JACK: I was just thinking the other day; we’ve just finished celebrating the anniversary of 1916,
and soon we’ll be preparing for the anniversary of the civil war.
MICK: I hope they don’t look at it through rose tinted glasses like they did with 1916; the civil war
anniversary will be complicated, for the truth was never told
JOHN: It’s going to be hard to placate the two civil war parties, a lot of questions to be answered,
for instance why was it started? Why we were never taught anything about it in national school in
the forties and fifties?
JACK: It will take a brave politician to answer your first question Mick; I’ll answer the second one
myself. The gombeen men ruled. Fianna Fail were in power for most of the forties and fifties, and
of course that meant a Fianna Fail Minister for education, it would take a brave teacher even to
mention the Civil War, never mind discuss it, remember this was a time in Ireland when the
Government and the Catholic Church were sacking female teachers who became pregnant out of
wedlock.
Maggie shouts at John from behind counter.
MAGGIE John I heard a lovely poem of yours last Sunday night on John O’ Shea’s programme on
WLR, It’s called “Make Love Not War” and since ye are blabbing on about war, would you read it
for us?24
JOHN: Ah, Maggie, I didn’t know you cared, I’d make love to you anytime… so just for you,
here’s “Make Love, Not War.”
Make love not war and the world will be a better place to live, maybe a sign of peace and harmony
is what we all should give.
This world is oh…so small, when compared to the universe for size, but we must learn to share it,
rich and poor, the foolish and the wise.
All Christians, Jews, and Muslims, believe their god is right, and then they try to prove it with
mayhem, death, and might.
You are right to revere your God, and to believe that he’s the best, but you have no right to force
that belief on me and all the rest.
I believe our God’s are peaceful, but we put those God’s to shame, when we cause death and
carnage, and we cause it in their name.
I’m sure you must have noticed as they gather up the dead, the victims… though of different creed
and colour, all their blood ran red.
And whatever is your colour, whether it’s yellow, white or black, your skin is just the wrapping, and
you cannot give it back.
If I could find a peace dust, I’d climb a mountain high, and there I’d cast it to the wind and stand
and watch it fly.
And as it blew around the world, it would bring wars to an end, spreading peace and harmony and
turning foe to friend.
But I cannot find a peace dust; I know that’s just a dream, so peace and understanding must come
by other means.
Are our God’s that different? Or is us the human race? Who cannot accept each other’s, politics,
creed and face?
What if I told you; our God’s are from the same large tree, and sprouting from the one root, a
branch for you and me.
So make love not war and the world will be a better place to live, maybe a sign of peace and
harmony is what we all should give.
This world is oh…so small when compared to the universe for size, but we must learn to share it,
rich and poor, the foolish and the wise.
JACK: That’s powerful, John. Are you sure you’re not related to Bob Dylan?
JOHN: No Jack, but I’ll soon be a Zimmerman, when they give me a Zimmer frame, read one of
your poems, or something from “Cricklewood Cowboys.”
JACK: Follow that, he says! This is a piece about The Royal Dukes. Who remembers them? No
one, I expect
MICK: Go way or that, Jack! Seamie Brien, P J Kirwan, yerself…the Portlaw boys. Ireland’s
answer to The Beatles!25
JACK: Ah stop it now, Mick! (he reads)
For my eighteenth birthday I got a union card, a crash helmet and the news that I was
to start shift work in the rubber department in the Tannery. The rubber department was as
different from the leather-board shop as a milking parlour from a bakery. Rows of machines
lined the floor, looking, for all the world, like something out of a Marvel comic, their short,
squat bodies festooned with pulleys and handles.
In here, shoe-soles of all shapes and sizes were turned out in their thousands. Bales of
rubber were brought in, cut into thin slabs then delivered in bins to the machine operators.
The slabs were then placed in the moulds and the machines set in motion. When the
moulding process was complete, the moulds were emptied, and the filled bins carted away for
despatch to some English shoe manufacturer.
The union card was compulsory on reaching the age of eighteen. For the payment of a
shilling a week you got the privilege of voting in the shop-steward election once a year, and
going on strike with no union pay when a dispute had to be settled.
The crash helmet wasn’t compulsory, but mother said I should wear it all the same. I
did so when I remembered.
On the music front, a new era had begun. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones had broken
new ground, were changing all the rules, and we wanted to be part of it. Gone were the staid
and strait-laced days of the foxtrot and the waltz; new dances were springing up all over the
world; fashion was becoming outlandish and outrageous; Mods and Rockers were fighting
over girls in Brighton and Clacton, Beatle-mania was sweeping the world. We wanted to be
part of the revolution.
There was no apartheid in the rubber department; girls as well as boys operated the
machines, and it was clear that they, too, wanted to break the mould. Bee-hive hair-dos’
appeared, skirts began to creep upward, and it slowly dawned on us that girls did have legs
above their knees.
It was no secret that we were trying to put a band together. And when Paul Gorman
confessed that he, too, was trying to do the same, the germ of an idea was born. Why didn’t
we join forces? Kilmac and Portlaw come together in some venture? It couldn’t work, would 26
it? The only time they came together was on the sports field – when they usually kicked the
shite out of each other.
Our first meetings were exploratory, but they turned out more productive than
we expected; We all wanted a band with a brass section, and when we found that Paul played
the saxophone and David Hallissey the trumpet…well, that was the brass section taken care
of. The next problem was the drummer; they had Brendan O’Shea and we had PJ. Then we
saw Brendan perform on the drums and that was the drummer problem solved. That meant
me becoming the bass guitarist and PJ the rhythm guitarist. Neither of us minded too much; I
had been experimenting with the bass already and PJ was already an accomplished guitar
player. That only left Tony Regan. What could he play? After some discussion we decided
we would buy a trombone and he could learn to play it.
Seamie solved the problem of where to rehearse with our now-expanded group.
Michael Baron, the owner of the Rainbow Hall, also owned a joinery firm and Seamie
worked for him. When he heard of our predicament, he offered us the use of the Rainbow on
the nights it wasn’t in use, usually Tuesday and Thursday nights.
The name was less easy. Many were thought up and discarded. The Young Ones, The
Young Devils. However, when the parish priest heard this last name being mentioned he
came to see us and told us to find something more fitting. The Young Shadows was one we
all liked but there was a group in Dublin already called that. The name ‘Royal’ was very
popular with bands, and when someone came up with the word ‘Duke’, we thought it had a
certain ring to it. We became The Royal Dukes.
Practice was hard work – especially for those not too acquainted with their
instruments. I didn’t have much of an ear for music- tone deaf would be putting it mildly – so
my bass notes depended on what chords Seamie was playing at any given time. This meant
keeping one eye on his fingers, and one on my own playing – a practice from which anybody
watching would conclude that I was cross-eyed. Then we discovered a sheet-music shop in
Dungarvan. Buying the sheets at least stopped me from developing a squint, for, although I
couldn’t read music, the guitar chords were clearly indicated.
We also needed microphones and amplifiers, and here Pat Barron, Michael’s brother,
helped out. Pat was lead guitarist with the Pat Irwin band and he passed us on some
amplification they no longer used.27
Listening to ourselves in those early days was painful. We recorded some of our
efforts and then played them back. One of the first was’ Send Me The Pillow That You
Dreamed On’, a song made popular by Johnny Tillotson. We murdered it; off note, off key,
out of tune, out of time, you name it, we did it. We played it back a second time; it sounded
even worse. Seamie was tearing his hair out; never mind the same key, boys, could we all try
and play the same tune!
Gradually we got better. Slowly, the realisation dawned that we were beginning to
sound like a coherent unit. A band that now needed an audience, for a band that merely
played behind closed doors was as useful as a car without wheels.
Michael Barron proved to be our saviour once again. He booked us as relief band at a
forthcoming dance at The Rainbow. The date was a couple of months off so we had plenty of
time for preparation. Or so we thought. We weren’t half ready. We never would be. We had
to get jackets made, learn a dance routine, get ourselves better equipment. And Tony must
learn to play his trombone. He couldn’t blow a note yet.
Slowly but surely the problems sorted themselves out. We went to a tailor in
Dungarvan and he measured us up for our new jackets. We choose a broad blue-and-grey
striped material, and picked a design similar to that worn by the Beatle. We worked on the
dance routine, and found a supplier of hired amplification equipment in Town.
That only left Tony and his trombone. By now it was abundantly clear that he would
never play the trombone. His best efforts so far had resembled a couple of jackasses bawling
in unison. In the end we decided he should mime playing his instrument. This he did, moving
with the rest of us in the dance routines, blowing silent notes on the trombone. It worked a
treat; who was going to know what a trombone sounded anyhow with a saxophone and a
trumpet blasting away?
The big night drew ever nearer. Posters had gone up all over the locality; RAINBOW
HALL, SUNDAY. Music by the DAVITT BROTHERS. Supported by new local sensations
THE ROYAL DUKES. This was heady stuff, and every time I passed a poster I stopped to
read it – just to convince myself I wasn’t dreaming.
There was still no sign of our jackets. All sort of excuses were trotted out; the material
had to come from England, the machinist had flu, the buttons hadn’t yet arrived. We
intensified our practicing. As soon as a new song appeared we rushed out to get the sheet 28
music. ‘It’s Been A Hard Day’s Night’ was rehearsed over and over, trying to capture some
of the essence of the Beatles sound. But it was’ I Can Get No Satisfaction’ that was our trump
card. Tum-tum –ta-ta –da-da-da –da –tum-tum…I practiced the bass notes incessantly. ‘I can
get no – sat-is-fac-tion,’ sang Seamie in reply.
The song was causing much rage throughout the establishment. Radio Eireann was
refusing to play it; the parish priest condemned it from the pulpit, but the youngsters were
glued to their transistors, listening to it on Radio Luxemburg. Fr. Sinnott came to our
rehearsals and heard us play it. The devil’s music, he called it, and said it was a mortal sin.
What…like adultery or murder? My soul could be forever damned for singing a song?
I doubted it, somehow. By now my relationship with the church was changing. Gone were
my altar-boy fancies for the priesthood, gone my implicit belief in the all-embracing
goodness of the Catholic Church. I had now read up on historical events like the Crusades
and the Spanish Inquisition – where people were imprisoned, tortured and burnt at the stake,
all in the name of religion. It didn’t seem like a particularly religious activity to me. Oh, I still
went to Mass on a Sunday, but that was only because it was expected and not because I
wanted to. What sort of hypocrisy was that? I had begun to question our fundamental beliefs;
The Holy Trinity, The Virgin Mary, the infallibility of the Pope, even the story of Adam and
Eve. If the latter was true then Cain must have committed incest, mustn’t he?
I felt anger about the priest’s visit to our rehearsals; what right had he to tell us what
music we could play. Later that night I wrote some verse about it.
Son, the priest said, put that guitar away
And get your hair cut, right
And don’t play I Can Get No Satisfaction
Tonight
It’s a sin to call yourselves
The Red Devils, he said
And in the distance
I could see mother nodding her head29
So we became The Royal Dukes
And played Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown instead
Saturday came and no jackets. We were resigned to appearing jacket-less. White
shirts and dark pants would have to do.
Shortly after six on Sunday we all met up in the Rainbow to set up our equipment
before the Davitt Brothers arrived. Seamie came direct from Town, having picked up the
amplifiers and other bits and pieces. He also brought seven jackets. The tailor had brought
them round to his house earlier that day.
Christ, they were beautiful, those jackets. You could die happy in them. There was an
old full-length mirror backstage and we strutted about in front of this for ages, admiring
ourselves from every angle. Eventually, we reluctantly took them off and got on with setting
up our gear.
The Rainbow was bursting at the seams that night. Curiosity, I suppose. The Davitt
Brothers seemed bemused by it all. They were a competent outfit who had been playing the
country venues for a number of years, and were used to sedate Macra Na Feirme and Muintir
Na Tire supporters; nothing like the high excitement that was in evidence here. As the dance
began and we listened to them play, we realised how much better than us they sounded.
It didn’t seem to matter. As they took their break and we replaced them. The crowd
went wild. You would think we were The Beatles; they solidified into one heaving mass,
packing the dance area. It was obvious there would be no dancing; they only wanted to listen
and watch.
Looking out into the sea of faces I could see many I recognised; Jim Kiersey, his
black hair slicked back, a crease on one side that would split timber; Vince Power, giving me
the thumbs up; Shirley Mulcahy, on shoes so high she must have used a step-ladder; Tony
Casey, Elvis quiff dripping oil. I closed my eyes briefly and said a prayer.
I needn’t have worried. We could have banged tin cans together and they would have
cheered. ‘I Can Get No Satisfaction’ was our opening number and it nearly brought the house
down. After that it was plain sailing; a few Beatles numbers, Jim Reeves, Jumbalaya, You
Ain’t Nuthin’ But A Hound-Dog. Paul did a bit of Yakety –Sax, Seamie did ‘Apache’. We
closed with Tony singing ‘Take These Chains From My Heart.’30
Or thought we did. They wouldn’t let us finish. We had to run through several of the
songs again. It was almost an hour before the Davitts came back on stage again. The Royal
Dukes were in business!

WARTS AN’ ALL contd…

JACK: Bertie Ahern? He was some tulip!
JOHN: Yeah, a tulip, but a rich tulip, digs outs, racehorses, plasters, all and sundry contributing to
the good ship Bertie, and for nothing in return…nothing in return my arse.
JACK: He set the ship of state on course for the Iceberg, and no one could deter him from that
course.
And when the Iceberg came into view, he jumped ship and handed the controls to Brian Cowen, and
the eejit that he was, he took control and the blame for the wreckage, while Bertie sailed away on a
lifeboat to count his money in a cupboard.
JOHN: Even Captain Smith, the Captain of the Titanic stayed with his ship.
JACK: Bertie was no Captain Smith, more of an Ishmail, and now leaders of other countries are
paying Bertie big money to show them the shortest course to the Iceberg. When he hid in that
cupboard, he should have stayed in it.
JOHN: It is indeed a strange world Jack.
MICK: What about his contribution to the peace process?
JOHN: I don’t want to go there.
JACK: It stopped the slaughter, but destroyed the political landscape in the North, moderates on all
sides of the political spectrum cast aside to placate and put two extremes in control, and not an inch
of progress since, no consideration for the North, only for their own existence, that’s the legacy of
Bertie and Blair.
JOHN: The big difference between the Sunningdale agreement and the Good Friday one… is the
fact that Adam’s party and Paisley’s party weren’t the head honchos back then, they said no to
everything until they became the two main parties. And then said, yes please
JACK: What were we talking about before? Oh yeah, the GAA ban on playing soccer
MICK: I don’t think the ban was taking seriously by some clubs.
JOHN: Well it was taken seriously here, even when the ban was lifted. We had a soccer team here
in the seventies, and they organised an Easter raffle for a lamb. They asked the GAA could they
make the draw in their little hall in the street, and what do you think the answer was? It was a big fat
no… And some of the GAA players playing with the soccer team.14
JACK: ‘Twas even worse down our way. We came out to find our goalposts chopped into pieces in
the centre circle one Sunday morning. The local GAA club of course.
JOHN: Local? Where was this?
JACK: Up Limerick way. Kildimo.
JOHN: So you’re from stab city eh? I often wondered.
JACK: And now you know! The city of knackers and piebald ponies. I often thought I’d see John
Wayne ridin’ down O’Connell Street of a Sunday morning there were so many fellas on horseback
out and about.
MICK: (imitating John Wayne) Get off ye’r horse and drink yer milk
Maggie goes to the table to pick up empty glasses
MAGGIE: For feck sake, cut out the politics and religion. I thought ye were here to do some
reading and sing a few songs.
MICK: We are going to do that Maggie, but you can’t have a pub without a row about religion and
politics, it’s in our DNA.
JOHN: Now, now Maggie, don’t get your know what in a twist, I’m going to read a poem now, and
then Jack here is going to read a poem or two, or maybe a piece from his book, “Cricklewood
Cowboys” or maybe a piece from one of his plays, and then Mick will sing another song.
I was thinking how the world has changed since our time Jack, in our day if a woman left a man, it
was for another man, or if a man left a woman it was for another man, but now… now a man might
run of with the husband next door, or a woman with the wife next door, so with those thoughts in
mind I wrote this poem, it’s called She Walked Away
MICK: It is a different world John, gay rights, homosexual, heterosexual, lesbians…
MAGGIE: And a good few has-beens like John there.
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, given the chance I’d still rise to the occasion, anyway listen to this, She
walked away.
She was so beautiful, but unavailable to me, she was my world, my land and the sea.
My rivers and valleys and all that is good, and the way that I loved her, no other man could.
To be with her forever was all that I wanted, by her beauty and memory I am still haunted.
When I told her I loved her, she said “that cannot be, I can’t love a man, it’s a woman for me.
We are friends, and friends we can stay, but my love’s for another, and she then walked away.
Walking away to become another woman’s wife, and walking beside her, was the rest of my life.15
Many years have gone by, and I love her still, and I know in my heart that I always will.
She loves another, and I understand, for love is spontaneous, it cannot be planned.
Love is sudden, like a bold from the blue, and when it strikes there’s not much you can do.
And a one way love is so hard to bear, and try as you might, you can’t make them care.
I’m happy for her if her love is like mine, and the woman she loves is hers for all time.
Time has moved on, I’ve loved no other, when my bones turn to dust, that dust will love her
MAGGIE: I always knew it John behind that growl there’s a soft purr.
Maggie takes out her phone
MAGGIE: Here, let me take a selfie with you, I’ll frame it and hang it behind the bar and call it,
The beauty and the beast
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, you’re not that bad looking
JACK: Two elderly ladies sitting on a park bench watching a young couple taking a selfie, one old
lady says, Bridget what’s a selfie? Bridget answers, well when I had a headache, that’s what my
Henry used to do.
JOHN: Now Jack, what are you going to read?
JACK: That’s aisy, John. This is an extract from my play… BRENDAN BEHAN STANDS UP
(sings) Oh a hungry feelin’ came oe’r me stealin’
And the mice were squealin’ in my prison cell
And the auld triangle went jingle jangle
All along the banks of the Royal Canal
That’s from The Quare Fella. Do yous know who he was- The Quare Fella? Bernard Canavan
was his name. He was in Mount joy jail waiting to be strung up by Pierrepoint for chopping
his brother up into little pieces and feeding him to the pigs. Not a very brotherly thing to do
was it. Mind you, he was a culchie. Still, I shouldn’t complain – it kept me in ‘stamps’ for a
long time.
I love New York. New York is my Lourdes, where I go for spiritual refreshment, a place
where you’re least likely to be bitten by a wild goat And New York likes Irish people. Not
like England. But to be fair to the English, they only dislike some Irish – the same Irish that
the Irish themselves dislike, Irish writers. Well, the ones like meself anyway – the ones that
think (more drink) Well, fuck the begrudgers, that’s what I say…16
Do yous know one British critic asked me? “Mr Behan, what message is in
Your writing? Message”, says I. “What the hell do you think I am? A bloody postman!”
Although saying that, Spain takes the biscuit. The only time I ever visited that kip
I was mobbed by a pack of hyenas – well, reporters.
Anyway, one of them asked me what I would most like to see on my visit. Franco’s
funeral, says I. Well, before you could say Hiel Hitler, the Fascist bastards threw me
In goal. And then threw me out’a the country
(takes a swig) I saw a sign the other day which said ‘Drink Canada Dry’. I’m off there next
week to see if I can manage it.
Ah the Irish God help the Irish, if ‘twas raining soup they’d be out there with knives and
forks.
O’Casey once said it was a great place to get a letter from – Ireland I mean. Not if it’s from
the fucken taxman!
Dublin is a jealous city. Not a bit like New York. Back there it’s hard to find a writer to
admit that a fellow writer can put two words together. Becket was right when he said he’d
rather France at war than Ireland at peace any day of the week.
(listens)
There! Can yous hear Patrick Kavanagh? The Monahan wanker himself! I was goin’ up in
the world till I met him. – After that it was downhill all the way.
I told Kavanagh he was The Last Ploughboy of The Western World. I mean…you should see
the state of him. Like a bloody orangutang. Spittin’ and gobbin’ his way through Dublin.
And whinging. Bejasus, if ever there’s a begrudgery Olympics in Dublin he’d clear the board
in every event.
Twenty years on he’s still sittin’ in the corner of McDaids, or wherever, telling people to
either buy him a pint or fuck off. You know the greatest thing he ever wrote? A bloody
cheque that didn’t bounce
. (sings) On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I would one day rue
That’s a song Kavanagh wrote about Hilda Moriarty. The ‘love’of his life. Or so he believed.
I bet he never even threaded her…But let me tell you sumthin’ for nothin’ – there’s plenty
that did17
I had the pleasure of Hilda’s company last year. Down in Limerick, the capital of
culchieland. I think it was the monsoon season down there…Anyway, there I was, drying
meself off in the bar of Dooley’s Hotel, when over she comes. The belle of every ball in
Dublin!
I heard Paddy followed you to Dingle for the Christmas last year, I said to her, and you never
even gave him a turkey sandwich.
He wasn’t invited, she said.
I thought you were his mot, says I.
I was never his…mot, as you so elegantly put it, she replied.
Well, you live and learn. Anyway, what she wanted was for me to lay off Paddy. He hasn’t
been well lately, she said
Sure, he hasn’t been well all his life! He’s a fucken head case. And besides, he can fight his
own battles. Kavanagh’s a culchie. And I hate all culchies.
Then she accused me of throwing him into the Royal canal.
Not guilty, your honor.
But someone did throw him in.
Oh, they did that. Bejasus they did! Head-first!
You want suspects? How about half of Dublin.
No, I didn’t throw him in – but I’ll tell you wha – I’d like to get hold of the bollix that pulled
him out.
(sings)Oh the wind that blows across the fields from Mucker
Brings a perfume that the city does not know
And the culchie in McDaids that’s drinking porter
Spakes a language that we townies do not know
Anyway, Kavanagh wasn’t good enough for Hilda. A doctor’s daughter, studying
Medicine at UCD, and he a small farmer studying droppings on a dunghill. How
could she take that yoke to mama and papa? He had a face like a horse. Not that she
Was short of other suiters. A little while later she married Donncha O’Malley. Thanks
be to jaysus she had some bit of sense anyway. Mind you, he was another culchie…
Oh stony grey soil of Monaghan. 18
The laugh from my loved you thieved.
You took the gay child of my passion
And gave me your clod-conceived
Clod conceived!
If he loved his stony grey soil so much why didn’t he fucken stay there. And save us all a
fortune
…………………………………..
JOHN: I think Kavanagh was a better writer than Behan, well a better poet anyway, Raglan
Road, a Christmas Carol, Oh Stony Grey Soil, The Great Hunger, all fantastic poems.
Kavanagh was a wordsmith, and Behan, a brawlin’ bowsies, was jealous of him, I know
Kavanagh was cantankerous and bummed drink off his friends, but he was a great poet.
MICK: No doubt Behan was jealous of Kavanagh; Jack just said it in his play, what was it
you said Jack?
JACK: Dublin is a jealous City; it’s hard to find a writer to admit that a fellow writer could
put two words together.
MICK: I suppose that’s true some writers would rather heap praise on a dogs shit on the road
than praise a fellow writer, so we can also say Kavanagh was jealous of Behan, but I’ll say
one thing, Jack is bringing Behan’s brawling, bruising vulgarity, and his innocence to life in
that play, continue Jack.
JACK: (sings)
On the eighteenth day of November
Outside the town of Macroom
The Tans in the big Crossley tender
Were driving along to their doom
But the boys of the brigade were waiting
With hand grenades primed on the spot
And The Irish Republican Army
Made shite of the whole fucken’ lot
Aren’t the Brits wonderful itself? First they put me in jail and then they made me a rich man
I done me porridge in England. And what for? I didn’t get very far in Liverpool, did I? All I
was going to do was stick a few Peggy’s Legs down the funnel of a battleship in the docks 19
and pretend it was Guy Fawkes Night. The peelers nabbed me before I even left me room.
Three years Borstal. I went in a boy and came out a man. And an atheist to boot.
They said that the ruination of my country has been caused by our over-fondness for drink.
As a nation, I mean. I can think of many things that caused the ruination of our country – and
they had fuck-all to do with the gargle. Cromwell, The Penal Laws, Partition, to name but a
few.
‘To Hell or to Connaught’. That was Cromwell’s advice to all Irish Catholics.
”Under penalty of death, no Irish man, woman, or child, is
to let himself, herself, itself be found east of the River Shannon after May 1
st 1654′
Ah yes, a very civilized nation the English were back then. Not that they had improved much
by 1916 – or 1946
Any country that can send a gunboat up the Liffey, to defeat six hundred men, when she
already has thirty thousand soldiers pounding the bejaysus out’a them, can’t call it cricket.
With a few more guns ourselves we’d have riveted a lot more of their brave boys to the
railings around O’Connell Street.
Did I not tell yous I was in the IRA? The Dublin Brigade. The elite of the Irish Republican
Army. We might not have fancy guns and uniforms, but Bejasus we wiped the smiles off a lot
of faces with what we did have. The ould conjurer’s trick of potash, chloride and sulphuric
acid worked wonders…
Then I had that bit of bother in Glasnevin and I lost touch for with real life for another few
years. It was my jailing for the attempted murder of a Special Branch man in Glasnevin
cemetery during the Easter Rising commemoration service.
I did fire a couple of shots at the Special Branchers, but jaysus, they were firin’ at me! I went
on the run, but me own side weren’t too happy. I’d taken the gun with me you see – IRA
property – and I heard that they sentenced me to death in me absence. I sent them a nice
letter asking them could they carry out the sentence in me absence too!
Ah, it all blew over eventually.
(sings) All round my hat I will wear a three-colour-ribbon-oh
All round my hat till death comes to me.
And if anyone asks me why I do wear it
I will say for my true love whom I ne’er more shall see.
An’ as for the oul’ religion. My ould fella wouldn’t be seen dead inside a church. But he’d
call us every Sunday morning; ‘Go out and meet your God you lazy pack of hounds’ 20
Once a priest called to get up a collection for the Fascists in Spain – and we starvin’ with the
cold and hunger ourselves. Da fucked him off and the priest told him we’d burn in hell for
eternity. ‘At least we’ll be fucking warm’, Da shouted.
All that talk about damnation. We were damned all right – like all the poor in this country.
Damned with hunger.
Prayer and masturbation. The Catholic Church’s answer to promiscuity. Well, they’re fifty
percent right. Sex and religion, that’s what has Ireland banjaxed, not enough of the first and
too much of the other or is it the other way round? Ma, now, she had no interest in sex. All
she did was lie back and count the pawn tickets.
During my Borstal Boy days the prison chaplain wouldn’t let me attend Mass if I didn’t
renounce the IRA. I told him to fuck off. Wasn’t I in good company? Weren’t the rebels in
’98 excommunicated, wasn’t De Valera and ten thousand others ex-communicated in 1922 –
me own father included?
The Bishops of Ireland would ex-communicate their own mothers, given the chance – the
poxy fucken’ druids.
(sings)Never throw stones at your mother
You’ll be sorry when she’s dead
Never throw stones at your mother
Throw bricks at your father instead…
(Takes a swig from his bottle) Up the Republic! Up…my arse. D’you know something? I
have no politics. I make them up as I go along. Communism, Socialism, and Rheumatism –
they’re all the fucking same… (Swigs again) Up Dev!
Ah yes, De Valera, the fucken Spaniard. I spent four years in the Curragh at his pleasure.
The scrawny bastard. It was because of him we were neutral in the war. Where England
is concerned, Ireland can never be neutral. You’re either for them or against them.
Dev should have contacted his friend Mr Hitler and asked to borrow a couple of his
Doodlebugs. Then a couple of us could have dropped them on the House Of Commons
under the cover of darkness and blown the shaggin lot to kingdom come.
They say De Valera fought against the English. But he fought against his own people too.
Should we praise him for that? Brother against brother, father against son. Ireland lost some
of her finest sons in that little disagreement.
(sings)‘Twas on an August morning, all in the morning hours21
I went to take the morning air all in the month of flowers
And there I saw a maiden and heard her mournful cry
‘Oh, what will mend my broken heart, I’ve lost my laughing boy’.
Now Michael Collins. He was the flower of the flock. No doubt about that. Do you know
what, instead of executing Pierce, Connolly and the rest of them they should have charged
them with disturbing the peace and given them seven days, and that would have been the end
of the republican movement…
MICK: That’s mighty stuff Jack

to be continued…

WARTS AN’ ALL by Tom Power & Tom O’Brien

WARTS AN’ ALL

An entertainment by Tom Power
and Tom O’Brien

2

(c) 2017 Tom Power & Tom O’Brien
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or
transmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the publishers,
except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed by a
newspaper, journal or magazine.
First printing
Published by tomtom-theatre3
A Bar somewhere in rural Ireland
JOHN, an aged man, with a younger friend, MICK, in the bar, waiting for friend JACK, from
England. MAGGIE is behind the bar.
All scenes take place in the bar
JOHN: Two pints please Maggie; I must say you’re looking good tonight.
MAGGIE: Plamás will get you nowhere.
JOHN: You never know your luck in a strange town, if I was a day younger I’d ask you out.
MAGGIE: Maybe if you add a few years to that day I might think about it. You’re in a good mood
tonight, and this town isn’t strange, the only thing strange ‘round here is you and your books and
poetry, I see you have a few of them with you.
JOHN: Yes Maggie, I’m in good mood, it’s been a good day and hopefully a better night. I’m
meeting a friend, Jack and his wife here tonight, well an internet friend, although we were in
England at the same time years ago, I never met him or his wife, and the good news is, he’s an
author, playwright, and a poet as well, and good at them all.
We became friends through email, and exchanging our books and poems.
And would you believe, I was in Waterford today, and as I was walking up through the apple
market, I heard someone call my name, I turned around, and there she was Tess, another friend I
knew in England, and who I haven’t seen for many years. I’m meeting her for a chat in the Tower
Hotel tomorrow night. So tonight, Mick will sing a few songs, I will read a few poems and a page or
two from my books and Jack will do the same, and a good time will be had by all, and maybe a
dance or two.
MAGGIE: Here’s your two pints, and don’t save the last dance for me.
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, it’s got to be rock ‘n roll music if you want to dance with me, you can
keep your ould line dancing, that’s only for the older generation.
MAGGIE: Older generation? And you’re not?
JOHN: Only on the outside Maggie…only on the outside. Come on Mick. Let’s take these two pints
to a quiet table, and you can tune up that guitar.4
John and Mick at the table, Mick tuning his guitar, John taking a slug from his pint
JOHN: Ah. That’s good I needed that.
MICK: How is your poetry C/D going?
JOHN: It’s doing alright, it got a great review in the Munster Express from Liam Murphy, and the
Americans love it, a shower of begrudgers around here, “I knew him when he had no arse in his
trousers, and he thinning turnips at twelve, and now he’s writing poetry, ‘tis far from poetry he was
reared.”
MICK: The girl you met in town…her and you were ye? I mean…
JOHN: Ah Mick, spit it out, yes we were an item for a while… a beautiful girl, Tess.
I met her on the Easter Monday bank holiday, at the travelling fair on the edge of Hampstead
Heath; there were always a fair there over the Easter bank holiday, merry-go -rounds, hurdy-gurdys,
coconut stalls, swings, chair-o-planes, and of course the bumpers, all the fun of the fair as they say,
you could say she bumped into me. I was showing my skills on the bumpers, when bang! From
behind and there she was smiling at me.
MICK: Hang on; wait till I get a refill.
Mick goes to the bar.
MICK: Pull another two pints Maggie.
MAGGIE: John’s in a good mood tonight, I’d never tell him, but his book is good, and I enjoy his
poetry, I suppose he and his friend will read a few poems tonight.
MICK: I’m sure they will Maggie, and I’ll sing a few songs. At his age, if you like his books and
poetry, you should tell him, you may not get the chance again.
Mick brings the two pints to the table
MICK: Now oil your vocals cords with that, and tell me more about this fair.
JOHN: Ah yes, the famous Hampstead Easter fair, well as I was saying, she hit me a right clatter,
and when I looked around there she was smiling at me, well needless to say I chased her down, and
then we gave each other a right bashing around that circuit. I bought her candy floss, and won her a
gold fish at the coco nut stall. That’s how we met; we were together for about two months, nothing
serious, just on and off, some weekends I’d see her, and other weekends she was…well, I don’t
know, somewhere else.
MICK: Or with someone else, what happened, did you break it off?5
JOHN: No…No, I don’t know what happened, we were dancing in the Galtymore on Saturday
night, I told her I had to go to Birmingham on a job for a week, we arranged to meet in The Rifle
Volunteer in Kilburn high road the following Saturday night, she never turned up. And I haven’t
seen her since. I enquired around; it was rumoured she had gone back to Ireland for a funeral, or
something, maybe she stayed there. Anyway I moved back to Birmingham with the job, and stayed
there for two years and then came back here.
MICK: Maybe she’ll explain all tomorrow night.
JOHN: Maybe, Mick, maybe, anyway some good came out of it, that poem I wrote that you put a
tune to; I wrote it a few weeks afterwards.
MICK: You mean, “Permanent Tear”.
JOHN: That’s the one.
MICK: Will I sing it now?
JOHN: Not yet Mick, wait till Jack gets here.
A man enters the pub, he looks around and John sees him
JOHN: Well, speak of the devil, I think that’s him, Jack? Over here.
Jack walks to the table reaches out to shake hands with John
JACK: John? Yes it is you, I recognise you from your face book photo, great to meet you, and I’ve
been looking forward to it.
JOHN: Me too, you’re on your own?
JACK: Yes. Theresa, my wife is meeting Mary, a friend of hers, she dropped me off, and she’ll call
in later.
JOHN: This is my friend Mick, a musician and songwriter, he put a tune to a few of my poems.
MICK: Great to meet you, John has been telling me all about you it’s not every day we have two
writers in this neck of the woods.
JACK: Just dabblers Mick, dabblers, that’s all.6
MICK: Oh ye’re more than dabblers, I’ve read your book “Cricklewood Cowboys”, and I went to
see your play “Johnjo”, and I’ve read some of your poems, I’ve read John’s two books, “The
Mysterious John Grey”, and “Dust Covered Memories” and I have his C/D “The Spoken Word”.
JOHN: Let me get you a drink, what are you having?
JACK: A pint of Guinness.
John goes to the counter.
JOHN: Three pints of Guinness please Maggie.
MAGGIE: So that’s your friend Jack, writer, playwright and poet.
JOHN: And he’s good at it too.
MAGGIE: I’ll take these to the table for you.
JOHN: Thanks Maggie.
John returns to the table.
JACK: I suppose we’ve done alright for turnip thinners John, especially outside of Ireland. How
much a drill did they pay you?
JOHN: Hah! Pay? Farmers would pay ya nothing, boy! Only barely enough for a ticket on the
cattle boat. Maybe it’s because we are turnip thinners we haven’t done well here, if we had a higher
education we might be more successful here.
JACK: Nothing new in that John, it’s in the bible, Luke…And I quote “Truly I say to you, no
prophet is accepted in his homeland.”
JOHN: I’ll have to take your word for that, Jack!
MICK: I think here we are more inclined to judge people by their background, not on their work.
Maggie, coming towards the table, overhears
MAGGIE: I’d say prophets are scarce on the ground around here.
JOHN: Ah now Maggie, I’m sure many prophets down through the years have rested their elbow
on that counter.7
MAGGIE: They have exercised their elbow no doubt, the only thing you hear them prophesying
around here is the latest price they might get from the Mart, the milk price from Glanbia, or who’s
going to win a hurling match, or what horse is going to win at Leopardstown.
JOHN: Speaking of Leopardstown… I was in a pub with a friend not far from here, we were
discussing poetry and of course Yeats was mentioned. The barman overheard us and said, he had
some win yesterday, did ye have him backed? I said, no, I didn’t think he was in a fit state to run.
He answered, oh he ran alright, and ran well, flew past the post. I got off the stool and said, “I will
arise and go now.” My friend said, to Innishfree? I answered, no, outside to bang my head of the
wall a few times.
JACK: No wonder your brain is rattled, but bar rooms such as this, has provided many writers with
inspiration down through the years. Behan, Dylan Thomas, Hemingway, Fitzgerald. Myles Na
Gopaleen, and, of course, Paddy Kavanagh…
You do not come down that road anymore
Past the ash trees where the gap in the hedge revealed
Your blue dress trimming to the bottom of Callan’s field
And the free-wheel of your bicycle likes the whirr
Of the breeze in the black sallies. If you could see
The clay of time falling away from my feet
When you appeared this side of Callan’s gate,
You’d come.
Ah yes, Paddy wrote some of his greatest poetry while under the influence of Arthur Guinness.
MICK: And songwriters as well. Many a great lyric was found at the bottom of an empty whiskey
bottle. Could a non drinker have written? “Sunday Morning Coming Down” could a snowball
survive in hell? Christopherson was reliving his experience in that song.
JACK: And speaking of that great man Mick, would you sing that song for us?
Mick picks up and tunes his guitar, then sings
On a Sunday morning sidewalks, wishin’ lord, that I was stoned,
‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday, makes a body feel alone,
And there’s nothin’ short of dyin’, half as lonesome as the sound,
On the sleepin’ city sidewalks, Sunday mornin’ comin’ down…
JACK: Great Mick, that brings me back… Kilburn High Road, Camden Town, Shepherds Bush,
and many the Irishman, smoking and coughing his way to the nearest pub for a cure, and company
on Sunday morning
JOHN: Anyone who was ever drunk on a Saturday night can relate to that song. My friends and I
used to meet in the Pembroke Arms in Chalk Farm on Sunday morning, pints of Guinness, and 8
cheddar cheese and crackers on the counter, that was our breakfast, Kenny Rodgers and Ruby on the
jukebox. You’re right about the company Jack, bedsits, or dosshouses can be lonely places, the pub
provided company. Was that what Pierce and Connelly and their comrades fought for? So that
Ireland’s sons and daughters could get pissed in some lonely city on a Saturday night, Ireland
answer to unemployment…emigration, to England, Australia, America, or any part of the world
where work was to be found. And that brings to mind a poem I wrote some years ago, it’s called
RETURNING, so here goes.
Down the road he walked, and there just ‘round the bend, stood an ivy covered ruin that was his
journey’s end.
Thousands of miles he travelled, for something seemed to call, the voices of his ancestors, born
within that old stone wall,
As he stands outside that place, now empty and decayed, he looks around at quiet fields, where his
forebears worked and played.
From dawn to fall of night, so hard they had to toil, for their food upon the table they depended on
the soil.
Then there came a year, when the potato crops all failed, from valley and from mountain the
agonised all wailed.
The spectre of starvation cast its shadow across the land, thousands died from hunger, while others
lived so grand.
Evicted and burned out, cast on to the side of the road, families torn asunder, dying in the wet and
cold.
Ragged covered walking bones, not dead…yet not alive, scavenging the countryside, desperate to
survive.
Ireland turned to America in those grief filled years; you threw her out a lifeboat when she was
swamped in tears;
Our hard working sons and daughters found refuge on your shore, you gave to them a welcome, and
you never closed you doors.
They sailed across the Atlantic, from hunger and from strife, in our darkest hour you were a guiding
light.
A real good friend and neighbour, you helped them through the pain, you gave a home and work,
restored their pride again.
And there they worked so hard, they shed sweat, tears and blood, they helped to build your railroad
across mountain, plain and flood.
They joined your armed forces, fought for the stars and stripes, and when you lost John Kennedy,
they cried with you that night.
You took in our emigrants, they proved loyal and true, you gave to them a home, and they gave
back to you.
Distinguished sons and daughters, who worked with heart and hand, descendants of those
emigrants, became presidents of your land.9
And now some are returning to their forebear’s native soil, but not in rags and poverty, they return
in style.
And lands that once were barren are now bountiful again, but the famines not forgotten here, or the
poverty and pain.
And as you walk among us and trod your forebear’s sod, we will all remember those who died in
field and bog,
America we will remember it was you who gave the call, and said come on I’ll help you there’s
plenty here for all.
JACK: True John, so true, but to paraphrase W B Yeats, all has changed, utterly changed under
Trump, a terrible narcissist blowhard has arrived.
JOHN: But how long will he stay! The world looked up to America, but now I get the feeling,
America is being laughed at; anyway Jack, as the actress said to the bishop, what’s that you have in
your hand?
Jack holding some papers in his hand says.
JACK: This is something I wrote on the way over. I’m not saying it’s true…but maybe some of it is
JOHN: Get away with ya! You never told the truth in your life! Shure what writer does?
JACK: It’s called THERE WERE NO FAST WOMEN ONLY SLOW HORSES.
I like to kid myself that my current losing streak began back in 1973, the year Crisp got
mugged in the Grand National by Red Rum. I stood to win a small fortune, having backed
him at price at up to 20/1 from Christmas onwards. Instead I lost a small fortune, which
increased somewhat when my rented telly sailed through the open window and disintegrated
in the back garden shortly after Red Rum passed Crisp yards from the winning post.
In truth, the rot had set in well before then. Probably in 1962, the year Kilmore won the
National, and I had a shilling each way at 28/1. Kilmore had been bred and trained in the
area before being sold to England, and everyone in the county seemed to know it was going
to win.
In hindsight, I should have quit then while I was ahead.
The rot had well and truly taken hold by 1968. By now I had followed Kilmore’s hooves to
England. The Land of small shovels and big money, as I was led to believe. I fetched up in
London, where a stint as a painter at Highbury Stadium convinced the foreman that a dog
wagging his tail could do a better job. Still, jobs were ten a penny in those days, and I decided
to try my luck as a barman.10
Barmen work long hours, but there was always free time in the afternoons – and where better
to while away an afternoon than my friendly local bookies? Barry Brogan, David Mould, Ron
Hutchinson, I cursed them all – and the three-legged nags they rode when my money was
down. And pretty soon not just my money but the pub’s as well. It wasn’t very difficult to
divert some of the takings from the till to my pockets.
The surprise was that they made it so easy for me. One obliging manager even gave me the
weekend’s takings to bank for him: I got on a bus and didn’t stop till I was in Soho!
That became my modus operandi; gain their trust till they let you near the money – and then
disappear.
One particular Epsom Derby meeting was very profitable for me. I managed to land a job at
the Tattenham Corner House, which overlooked the course, in the week leading up to the
Derby. The weather was warm and the punters thirsty, and by the time the meeting was over
everyone was knackered. At closing time, the manager decided to dispense with the usual
‘reckoning up’ of the tills, and to treat the staff to a party instead. And guess who was given
the job of locking the tills away in the safe?
I couldn’t believe how much money was in that safe. I stuffed bundles in every conceivable
carrying place, locked the safe, and then excused myself from the party, feigning a migraine.
I then slipped out a side door, walked to the nearest bus stop, and was in central London in
less than an hour.
I had fun while the money lasted, but this was tempered by the sense of shock I felt when I
was eventually caught and sentenced to eighteen months in goal. It was a salutary lesson, but
it didn’t stop my gambling. I found it quite easy to gamble in prison; the only difference that
the currency was tobacco not money. I soon discovered that losing ‘snout’ was just as easy as
losing money. And when I finished my sentence and was deported, I found my losing streak
just as easy to maintain back in Ireland.
John: Christ Jack, for years we have been exporting our young people to England, he must
be the first one they sent back.
JACK: Yes John…and in the police car on the way to the plane, Elvis was singing, return to
sender. Not that he hung around here too long; London was a great place for those with little
inclination to get out of bed in the morning, and as the time of the first race usually dictated
when I got up, I was soon back there. When I was really desperate, there was always a day’s
work to be had digging holes for some Irish subby, with cash in your hand at the end of the
shift and no questions asked?
Monday mornings were a sight to behold; bleary-eyed and broke we gathered, at the Crown
in Cricklewood or the Nags Head in Camden Town, our only trait in common that we were
looking for a ‘start’ – and, more importantly, a sub. In my case, enough to tide me over until
the next win came along. With others it was the drink – the ‘Diesel’.
MICK: You should have tried the dogs, Jack.11
JACK: Well now Mick I did… I did. Hendon, White City, Hackney, I tried them all, and
came out poorer but no wiser.
I occasionally bumped into Jack Doyle at the White City, usually with some old ‘duchess’ on
his arm. Jack had come a long way down in the world since his heyday at the same venue,
when 90,000 came to see him fight Eddie Philips. And another 100,000 outside, if you
believed Jack!
Asked what his downfall was it was always the same reply; ‘fast women and slow horses’
JOHN: A fellow gave me a tip onetime; he said it was a sure thing.
MICK: Did you back it?
JOHN: No I didn’t, I said thanks very much, but I don’t back women or ride horses. Sorry
Jack, carry on.
JACK: Park Royal was my favourite dog track. It was there that I almost made my fortune.
When I couldn’t afford the admission I watched the racing from the roof of a nearby disused
factory which overlooked the track, and that was how I discovered that fast starters were
seldom caught. A dog a couple of lengths clear at halfway invariably won. I also discovered
something else; the commentaries in the nearby betting shop were at least half a minute
behind the real thing. Most dog races were nearly over in 30 seconds!
The answer of course was walkie-talkies. My friend – let’s call him Larry – and I acquired a
couple of these gadgets from a store in Marble Arch and soon the money was rolling in.
Of course not all selections won; but at least half of them did – which was more than enough
for us to be rolling in it. I proceeded to give most of it back again to William Hill and Co,
until Larry suggested we go in for ‘furniture removals’.
It was a brilliant scheme; we invested in a van, Larry inspected empty properties on the
pretext of buying them, then we had keys cut. We then proceeded to order furniture and
kitchen equipment on the never-never – which we were never-never going to pay for, waited
for its delivery, and promptly removed it again. Unfortunately for us, two things happened
almost simultaneously: Larry crashed the van and broke his leg in several places, and Park
Royal dog track was sold for re-development. End of dream.
MICK: Fair play Jack, you certainly led a colourful life, if only half that is true is it?
JACK: I couldn’t possibly comment!
JOHN: I remember Jack Doyle. They say he was a better singer than boxer.
JACK: My mother was a better boxer! He had only one punch, and God help you if he hit
you with it. In one fight he threw a haymaker, deliberately missed, and went flying out of the
ring. He was counted out sitting on some poor fellas lap. A technical knock-out. The only
fighter in history to knock himself out!12
JOHN: Another one of De Valera’s finest exports who had to cross the water to make a
name for himself.
MICK: Of course a lot have emigrated, but I don’t think we can blame Pierce and Connelly –
or Dev – for that, or for when people over indulge; Pierce and Connolly eventually got what
they set out to get, Independence.
JACK: Independence! What Independence? If you think we have, or ever had independence,
you’re suffering from delusions.1916 was a disorganised skirmish that was an inconvenience to the
majority of Dublin citizens and killed many of them. If the English had not executed the leaders it
would have been quickly forgotten, that act of execution turned the people of the Country in favour
of the revolution. I agree they had a vision of Independence but how it turned out is entirely
different.
JOHN: I think you’re right Jack. Pearse might be happy enough with the outcome, he got what he
wanted, a rosary reciting right wing Catholic country, but I think Connolly is turning in his grave,
Connolly was a socialist and his vision of an independent Ireland was not an Ireland run by the
Church.
MICK: We are not run by the Church, they might have had a say in something’s, but overall we
have been run by successive Governments down through the years, since Independence we’ve had a
free and vibrant country.
JOHN: Never free, never vibrant. What the visionaries of 1916 had in mind never came to pass. De
Valera handed over the running of the Country to the Catholic church, we got rid of the Monarchy
of England and accepted the Monarchy of Rome, and when we threw the shackles of Rome away,
we were ensnared by the EU, and every Government since England left, be they Fianna Fail, Fine
Gael, or Coalition, has handed the running of the country to Rome first and then the EU, our liberty
never got off the ground
JACK: And the Troika walked down O Connell Street, but then we were always used to the Troika
here, we’ve had our own Troika for years, The Catholic church, Fianna Fail, and the GAA. Between
them back in the forties, fifties, and sixties, they turned us into a North Korea, brainwashed by afore
mentioned Troika; we were living in the teapot and looking out the spout. But then Sean Lemass
took over from De Valera and lifted the lid of the teapot and let the light in, and we were
enlightened, and it seemed at last after all the years of emigration and poverty, we had arrived.
JOHN: Jobs were created, emigration was down, and prosperity walked every street, road, and
boreen. And the GAA lifted the ban on what they referred to as foreign games, a code name for
soccer and rugby. Because foreign games weren’t banned, American football is more of a foreign
game here in Ireland that soccer and rugby ever was, and they allowed that game to be played in
Croke Park. So things were looking good, GAA people could attend a soccer or rugby match and 13
not be ostracised in their own parish. The future looked bright… and then we had Charlie, and then
Bertie arrived, and with him a return of the Troika, but not a home grown Troika, but a foreign one.
JACK: Bertie Ahern? He was some tulip

TO BE CONTINUED…

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

strangled sound, and begins to twitch. After a few moments, he subsides again.

LIZA:              Must have been something he ate.

MADDY:        Do you think…?

They both sit, watching Roger.  Eventually, Liza goes to him.  She kneels down over him, listening for a heartbeat. Roger suddenly grabs her around the neck and rises to his feet, dragging her with him.

LIZA:              You’re…you’re choking me.

ROGER:        That’s the facking idea.(he squeezes tighter)

                        No jury would convict me.  Not after what I’ve been

                        through. What do you reckon, Maddy?  Should I

                        top the facking bitch?

MADDY:        (shrugging) She’s your wife.

ROGER:        Now there’s a turn-up!  Why am I not surprised?

                        (he tugs at the chain) You goin’ to unlock this facking thing?

MADDY:        No.

ROGER:        I’ll break her neck.

MADDY:        Like I said, she’s your wife.

ROGER:        See?  That’s who I should’a married.  Miss Whiplash. 

                        She’d ‘a kept me sweet. …

MADDY:        It was Calamity Jane…

ROGER:        I loved that.  Go on, do it again (pause)

                        Well, maybe not right now, eh

                        (laughs)

                        See?  You can’t keep a good man down.

                        Go on, admit it, you both thought I had croaked…

                        (pause)

                        Take more than a few jolts from that box of tricks

                        before I kick the facking bucket…

                        (he makes a few swipes at the table but it’s out of reach)

                        Whose idea was it, eh? Who’s the clever clogs?

                        (pause)

                        Johnny.  Got to be Johnny boy, eh?  Johnny and his gadgets.

                        Why’d you do it, Johnny?  Why’d you turn me over, eh?

MADDY:        After all you did for him. Go on, say it.

ROGER:        Nah, nah…I wasn’t goin’ to say that. I always knew Johnny

                        boy had it in for me.  Felt hard done by.  But then,

                        we all have a cross to bear.  (hard laugh) 

                        Johnny had it in for me all right – in more ways than one…

                        Go on, tell her…(he squeezes some more on Liza’s neck)     

LIZA:              I…I…

ROGER:        What’s the matter?  Cat got your tongue?  (beat)

                        I was banged up and he was banging my wife (beat)

                        Go on, tell her…(

LIZA:              .Of course he was.  And I loved it.  You

                        weren’t much good to me- where you were…..aagh..

ROGER:        How’s that for looking after my interests?

MADDY:        You and John…back then?

ROGER:        But, darling, you should have told her! 

                         I mean, everybody else knew; My mother, Kenny,

                        the whole bloody nick.  (pause) You ever get a Dear John?  No?

Well, I did. Although in my case, it was a Dear Roger.  ‘Dear Roger, John and I have found…’  What was it you found?…well,

                        whatever it was you were going to take it off into the sunset

                        with you, and live happily ever after  on it.   (beat)

                        That’s what it was, my money. (beat)

                        My old mum soon put a stop to that notion.

LIZA:              Your…old mum hated you. She despised you. She told me

                        often enough. The only reason she stopped me from going was

                        because I was too valuable to her. Not because of you.  (beat)

                        You know she tried to abort him?  Oh yeah, she used knitting

                        needles.  She said her biggest regret was that it hadn’t worked.

Silence

.

ROGER:        My old man was an animal. A facking Paddy from the bogs

                        of Aherlow or somewhere. Couldn’t even read the Beano.

                        Made his name beating up navvies for McAlpine.  He

                        practiced on my mum. Every night of the week. The tea

                        was too cold. The spuds were too hard.  The bacon too

                        fatty.  Whack, whack…he laid into her. And then turned

                        on me.  (beat)  One night a new ingredient was added

                        to his dinner.  Painkillers.  He never woke up .

                        (pause)

                        It was the making of my mum.  She never looked back after that.

                        (pause)

                        I knew she tried to…get rid of me. it was because of him 

                        He… told her to – that’s all.

LIZA:              She hates you.  She’s hated you all your miserable life…

                        She hated you so much she even…she…

ROGER:        Go on.  She facking what?

Silence.

ROGER:        You can’t falking talk.

LIZA:              Meaning?

ROGER:        You know what I facking mean  I mean…what’s a kid of three doing

in this world if she can’t hang around long enough to enjoy it?  What’s the facking point, eh? You facking women make me sick. 

 I mean…there’s a kid, all alone in the world…

LIZA:              She had me…

ROGER:        And you had every Tom, Dick and Harry in England.  (beat)

                        The way she tells it she led a few punters up the garden

                        path and rolled them…(laughs)  Oh she rolled them alright…

                        but after, not before.  Always after, if you get my drift.

                        (pause)

                        Go on, tell her how Sophie fell out the window….

LIZA:              You fucking bastard…(she begins to cry)

ROGER:        It was in all the papers at the time. 

                        TRAGIC DEATH OF TOT DEVASTATES MOTHER. 

                        (he shakes Liza)  Isn’t that right…weren’t you devastated?

                        She was so devastated she didn’t even miss

                        her for nearly an hour.   She was too busy trying to roll

                        someone in the next room…

LIZA:              It’s not true…

ROGER         You left the window open.  What mother in her right mind

                        would leave a kid in a room with an open window?  Eh?

                        (pause) It was all smoothed over of course…

LIZA:              (screaming)  Your mother…

ROGER:        Yes, my mother.  Got you off the hook.  Kept you out of jail…

LIZA:              Your fucking mother should be dropped from a great

                        height.  Like the Empire State Building.

ROGER:        My-mother-was-too-facking-good-to-you.

As he speaks ,Roger jerks her neck again, and this time she crumples to the floor.  She lies there, inert.

ROGER:        I believe we were conducting negotiations regarding my diamonds.

 Maddy doesn’t reply. After a moment, she picks up Roger’s mobile phone from the table and dials a number from the menu.

MADDY:        Hello. Yes.  Roger asked me to call.  It’s about the…tom…

                        (laughs)  Yes, I understand… the policy.  He wants to cash it in.

                        (beat)  No I’m not his wife…(laughs)…yes…I suppose you

                        could call me that…(pauses as she makes a face)

                        No…a slight problem…Yes…a few weeks abroad.  He

                        mentioned the name Kenny, said you’d understand….(beat)

                        Alright, till tomorrow then… (she disconnects)

Maddy puts on a coat, then takes the diamonds and looks at them before putting them in her coat pocket.  She makes to leave.

ROGER:        ‘Ere, aren’t you forgetting something?

MADDY:        Am I?  So I am.

She turns the dial under the table to maximum, then walks to where the cable has been unplugged and plugs it back in. Roger dances and screams in unison.

                                                                                                blackout.

scene three

 several weeks later. The flat has been given a facelift, new furniture etc, although the dog-chain is still attached to the wall, albeit artistically arranged. Liza and John are present; Liza is doing the crossword, John is tinkering with his cars.  Both are drinking steadily.

LIZA:              Give a a dog a bone…seven letters…ends in a t…

                        (she throws the book down)…oh Christ, I can’t do it.

JOHN:           Maddy was good at it.

LIZA:              Only gone a week, and I’m being compared to her already!

JOHN:           Two weeks actually. Two weeks, one day…

LIZA:              Two weeks, two months, two years – what does it

                        matter? –  she’s not coming back. (pause)

                        I’ll tell you what else Maddy was good at.  Hiding her

                        true nature.  What she did to Roger…no one deserved that.

JOHN:            You went along with it willingly enough…

LIZA:              At the beginning, yes. It was only to teach him a lesson.  I

                        never meant for it to get out of hand like it did. (beat)

                        You weren’t there, you don’t know what went on.

JOHN:            I know.  I only have your word.

LIZA:              It was your choice. How was Kenny?

JOHN:           Surprisingly laid-back…considering. Behaved like

                        a tourist the whole day.  Madam Tussauds, The

                        Millennium Wheel, Canary Wharf, we saw the lot.  He

                        was gutted to miss the Dome. (beat) Didn’t seem a bit

                        put out that the job had  been knocked on the head….

                        if there ever was a job…(pause)

                        Do you know, I’d swear that he was relieved.

LIZA:              Not half as relieved as you though!  Did he mention me?

JOHN:            Only by reputation.

LIZA:              What do you mean?

JOHN:           He asked if you were still on the game. I said I

                        never knew you were.

LIZA:              I’m not…I mean, I wasn’t.

JOHN:            I said it must have been before my time.

LIZA:              I wasn’t!  Never.  It was just Kenny…being…Kenny.

JOHN:           Anyway, it’s all history now.

LIZA:              (lighting a cigarette) He’s a bastard. (smokes)

                        He’s never really liked Roger.

JOHN:           He hasn’t?

LIZA:              Even way back.  When they were inside, doing time,

                        I sometimes visited Kenny too. (beat)

                        He had no one else, did he?

                        (beat)  It was Roger’s idea. You know what’s he’s

                        like…thought it might cheer Kenny up I suppose.  But

                        Kenny put it about that I was really only coming to

                        see him.  Roger took a lot of stick from the others

                        inside…you know, the hard men, so-called…and it

                        forced him to do something about. (beat) There was

                        a fight…Roger got badly cut…that scar on his neck…

                        There was a big inquiry…

JOHN:           And Kenny lost his remission.  I know. Kenny told me.

                         Roger grassed him up. (laughs)  Bet he would have given

                        anything to have been there watching you and Maddy give

                        him the third degree. 

LIZA:              I didn’t…look, it was all her idea. (pause)

                        I  nearly died, you know.

JOHN:           Yes. Roger tried to strangle you. You told me.

LIZA:              And she looked on.  Almost daring him.  Sitting there,

                        smoking. I mean, smoking!

JOHN:           I agree.  Passive smoking can be bad for you…

                        (sees Liza’s reaction)  Look, maybe you should

                        view it another way.  She didn’t switch on the current

                        again until you were free of Roger, did she?

LIZA:              I suppose not.  I mean…I was on the floor…it was

                        Roger screaming that brought me to…

JOHN:           But you weren’t electrocuted.  Because she was waiting

                        for an opportunity; waiting for you to be free of Roger

                        before switching back on. Don’t you see?

LIZA:              I could have had a broken neck for all she cared.

                         She just left me there. Vanished.  (beat)

                        You don’t know her very well, do you? (beat)

                        You don’t know her at all.    

JOHN:           Does anybody know anybody?  Do I know you?

LIZA:              She was a stripper in her younger days.

JOHN:           So you say.

LIZA:              I don’t say. She admitted as much herself. And

                        Roger…well he almost wet himself when she did

                        her Miss Whiplash bit.  He knows the real McCoy

                        when he sees it.

JOHN:           Pity he can’t confirm it.

LIZA:              Look, whatever she was, she’s gone.  And

                        so are the diamonds.  Roger’s diamonds.  My

                        diamonds.

JOHN:           You still have the house. That should set you up nicely.

LIZA:              I can’t sell it now. Not in the…circumstances.

JOHN:           No?  I suppose not. (beat)  She was good at it then?

LIZA:              Oh yes. A real artiste 

                        Not a piss-artist, like some I could mention.

                        (pause)

LIZA:             She really never performed for you?

JOHN:           Fuck her.  Fuck everyone. Who’s a piss- artist?

LIZA:              You are, dear. I thought I made that clear.

JOHN:           It’s not true.  Not any more.

LIZA:              Once a piss-artist, always a piss-artist. It’s

                        like riding a bike…you never forget.

JOHN:            People won’t let you…forget.

LIZA:              They won’t, will they?

JOHN:           Alright, so I was drunk the day I…killed that

                        old woman. I needed…something…(waves a drink)

                        this…courage…(beat)  Everyone needs…excuses…

                        .(pause)

                        So what if Maddy is all you say she is. It was

                        good while it lasted.  And I don’t think it was all for nothing.

LIZA:              Of course not.  She’s got the diamonds.

JOHN:            So you say.  Well, good luck to her. All of which

                        leaves us stuck with each other.  Again.

LIZA:              Gee thanks!  I’m mad about you too.

JOHN:           I was going to say like old times. But it’s not quite, is it?

LIZA:              What do you mean?

JOHN:           Well, let’s face it, when Roger was inside there

                        was an incentive to getting under the covers with you…

LIZA:              You bastard! You callous fucking bastard…(beat)

                        You loved me!  You said you loved me,

JOHN:           I loved the idea of banging you, while he

                        was banged up in The Scrubbs.  That’s what I loved.

LIZA:              You weren’t much cop at it – if you want to know

                        the truth. But then, that’s par for the course with you, isn’t it?

JOHN:            Eh?

LIZA:              You’re not much good at anything, are you?

                        (she kicks one of his cars and it bounces off the wall)

                        No good for anything.  Not even a decent shag…

By this stage both of them should very much the worse for drink. They fight, spitting and punching at each other. John has her by the throat, when Mona enters. Mona dresses and speaks entirely different than previously.

MONA:           I’m not interrupting anything, am I? The door was open…

John and Liza stop fighting to stare at her.

JOHN:           You’re…you’re…

MONA:           Mona.

LIZA:              Why are you dressed like that?    Like…like…

MONA:           What you mean is, why aren’t I dressed like Mona?

                        the scrubber? Well, surely it’s obvious?  (no reply)

                        Haven’t you figured it out yet?

LIZA:              Figured what out?

JOHN:            It’s the diamonds

LIZA:              (screeching) Figured what out?

JOHN:           You were working together – you and Maddy?

                         (no reply) 

                        Look, I want to know. Please?

                         (no reply)

                        Where’s Maddy?  At least tell me that.

MONA:           I can’t say.

JOHN:           Can’t or won’t?

MONA:           She won’t be back, that I can say

LIZA:              Excuse me. HELLO!.  Am I invisible or what? 

 If you’re not that tart from the office, then who the fuck are you?  And what are you doing here?

MONA:           I just came back to pick up a few of my mother’s things.

                        Jewelry…a few bits and pieces. Sentimental things. (she exits)

Silence.

LIZA:              Her mother!…

JOHN:           Your mother!…your mother!…

Mona returns in a few moments, a jewelry box in one hand. She is pushing a wheelchair containing Roger. The electric shock treatment has paralyzed Roger from the neck down, and also caused him to lose his power of speech. He can only communicate in a sort of grunt.

MONA:           Look who I found.  Should he be left on his own?  I mean…

                        (Rogers grunts, then dribbles)

                         Must be difficult for you? Almost a full-

                        time job, I would have thought. (beat) Like having to

                         look after a baby…(beat)… all over again.

LIZA:              (taking control of the wheelchair form her)

                        Get away from him!  Get away  We can manage!

                        Get out!  Go on!

Liza becomes very attentive to Roger.  Mona shrugs and begins to leave.

MONA:           I’ll pass on your regards to uncle Kenny, shall I?

LIZA:              Kenny?  Your uncle Kenny?

JOHN:           Your mother?  Maddy’s your fucking mother? (Mona exits)

                                                                                    curtain

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

Roger more or less collapses onto his stool. Maddy walks around him, ‘inspecting’ him with the torch.

MADDY:        Not so funny now, is it?

LIZA:              You’re an obnoxious little man. I can’t stand

                        the sight of you.  I should have left you years ago.

ROGER:        Only one thing stopped you.  My mother.  Ha ha…

                        (he tries to laugh)….if she was here…

LIZA:              But she’s not. Look at you!  You’re revolting…

                        (she, too, walks round him, singing softly)

                                    If you go down to the woods today

                                    You’re in for a big surprise.

                                    ‘Cos Liza is sucking on Roger’s  wee…

ROGER:        I was only joking, for Christ’s sake. I didn’t mean nothing….

LIZA:              I’d rather suck poison ivy!  (beat)  How many times

                        in the past couple of years have we had sexual relations?

ROGER:        I don’t know.  Not many….three or four times, maybe….

LIZA:              (hitting the button)  How  many?

ROGER:        Aaah!…ooh!….none, none! We was separate.  Everything

                        was separate.  Separate beds, separate rooms… separate …

LIZA:              And why?

ROGER:        ‘Cos….Oh Christ, stop it… because you couldn’t

                        stand the sight of me.

LIZA:              (switches off)  Your witness, I think

ROGER:        Don’t, don’t!  No more.  I’ll tell you whatever you want to know .

MADDY:        Anything?

ROGER:        Yes, .Only no more facking torture. My nerves can’t take it.  

MADDY:        Where’s the diamonds?

Silence

ROGER:        What…..?  (pause)  Mona.  She took ‘em.

MADDY:        Yeah?

ROGER:        Yeah.  You’re too late. She’s taken them.  Scarpered.

Pause.

MADDY:        And the others? The ones you’ve been sitting on

                        like a hatching hen for the last few weeks?  (smiles)

                        What you might call your little nest-egg.

ROGER:        (after a pause) Oh, them diamonds.

MAD:              Yes, them diamonds.

ROGER:        I unloaded  them.  Geezer I know down the Conservative club.

                        Have the readies in a few days…

Maddy punches the button furiously, and turns the dial up. Roger jerks about like a puppet being manipulated fiendishly. She switches off after a few seconds.

MADDY:        There’s a lot more to come. Imagine how you’ll dance on full power.

ROGER:        (hoarsely)  alright. They’re in the cawsey. (beat)  Your jacks.

                        (beat)  The facking cistern.

MAD:              No wonder you wanted to cosy up here!  And there I was

                        thinking it was because of me…

She leaves  the room. There is no dialogue between Lisa and Roger, but we can see the pleading look on Roger’s face. Liza lights a cigarette and blows smoke in his face.  Maddy returns, turning up the lighting as she does so. She empties the contents of a small packet on the table.

LIZA:              Now there’s a sight to bring the smile back to a gal’s face.

MADDY:        That’s plural I hope.

Liza picks one  and up looks at it, then rests it on a  ring on her finger

LIZA               It gives me a funny feeling.  Cold.  It makes me feel cold…

                        (she hands it back)  Nah, give me a ruby any day.

MADDY:        I think I’ll have them made  into the biggest

                         pendant you ever saw and hang them right here…

                        (between her breasts)

LIZA:              Really?  You’ll need quite a long chain, won’t you?

MAD:              Now, now!  And we getting on so well and all. I’ll admit

                        my tits are nearer the ground than they used to be –

                        but then, so are your chins.

ROGER:        And your facking arse…aaww!  (Maddy has hit the button)

MAD:              Who asked you for your pennyworth?

                        (pause) How much do you think they’re worth?.

ROGER:        (hurriedly) Forty grand. You can get twenty big ones for

                        them easily.

MADDY:        Where?   Where can I get it? 

ROGER:        What I mean is…I can get it. You…I don’t know what you can get.

LIZA:              You can’t get anything – trussed up like a Christmas turkey

ROGER:        That’s the deal – see?  You let me go, I get you the money.

MADDY:        Why don’t I just turn up the juice and see how long it takes

                        for his eyeballs to pop out?

ROGER:        Alright!  The mobile.  In my jacket. You’ll find a number there.

Maddy get his jacket and locates the mobile.

MADDY:        What name?

ROGER:        Tom.  (sees he has to explain)   Jewellery…tom.

MADDY:        (shrugging)  Tom it is.  (she trawls through the list)

                        Binder….Liston…..Priestley….Robbo…(pause)

                        Priestley?  Would that be your friend Kenny?  Well,

                        why don’t we find out? 

                        (another pause as she waits for the call to go through)

                         Kenny?  I have an old friend here who wants a quick word…

                        (she holds out the phone at arms length)

                        Go on, say hello

ROGER:        Hello.  (louder) Hello.  It’s…it’s Roger.

MADDY:        (listening to the reply).  Well, that’s terrible language. Shocking.

                        No…no.  He’s…tied up at the moment. (listens)  I know.  Oh, I

                        know. I know. (to Roger)  He says you are a useless Cockney

                        bastard and should have been strangled at birth. (laughs)

                        Can he come round? he says…I don’t know, I’ll ask. (pause)

MADDY:        What was that, Roger?  (beat)  He says he’ll smash your

                        ugly Welsh puss to pulp if he ever sets eyes on it again…

                        Say again Roger?  Kenny’s mother was the biggest tramp ever

                        to come out of Merthyr Tydfyll…everybody knows she

                         opened her legs  for anything in trousers…‘cos

                        Kenny told everyone he met…And his sister was just as bad…

                        a right Welsh facking slag…

                        Hello?  Kenny, you still there?  (beat)  He hung up.

ROGER:        I’m dead, you bitch.  Dead. 

MADDY:        Can’t he can take a joke then?

ROGER:        A facking joke! His old lady has been blind for

                        more than thirty years.

MADDY:        Oh dear. And his sister…I suppose she’s a nun?

ROGER:        That’s it, have a giggle.  But don’t bank on it

                        being a  facking long one.

MADDY:        He who giggles last giggles longest.

LIZA:              Worrying about Kenny should be the least of your troubles.

MADDY:        I mean, chances are he won’t ever find you…

LIZA:              Or won’t recognize you when he does…

MADDY:        Your own mother mightn’t even recognize you…

LIZA:              How is your mother, by the way?

MADDY:        That’s the thing about mothers.  Everyone has one 

                        Good, bad or indifferent. Short ones, tall ones,

                        fat ones, small ones. Ugly, nasty, busty, trashy.

                        And short-sighted ones.  I’ve known mothers so

                        short-sighted they’ve actually mistaken their little

                        monsters for human beings. (pause)

                        My mother, now, no fear of her being short-sighted.

                         (pause)  Was your mother short-sighted? 

ROGER:        My old mum was a saint.  Is a saint.

LIZA:              So saintly that he packed her off to the wilds of Hastings

                        first chance he got.  Even he couldn’t stand her any longer.

ROGER:        She gets the best of care. I hope I’m as well looked-after in

                         my old age.

LIZA:              You loved her so much you stuck her in a

                        nursing home eighty miles away.

ROGER:        At least I have a mother who never killed her….aaagh..

Roger subsides screaming as Liza gives him the ‘treatment’, turning the power up further as she does so. She tries to prevent Maddy from switching off.

MADDY:        (struggling with her)  No…don’t!  Too much… it’s too much…

Maddy doesn’t manage to stop Liza, so she rushes to the wall and unplugs the lead.  By now Roger is slumped on the floor.

MADDY:        You’ve killed him!

LIZA:              I doubt it. Though I don’t suppose it will do his blood

                        pressure much good..

MADDY:        He’s not breathing.

LIZA:              He never was much of a heavy breather.

                        (She produces a mirror from her bag) 

                        Try this. It always works in films.

Maddy holds the mirror in front of his face, then looks at it.

MADDY:        I don’t know.  What d’you think?

LIZA:              It’s supposed to mist up.

Liza takes the mirror then rubs on it.

LIZA:              Look at that!  Sleeping like a baby.

She sits down, takes out her make-up, and begins to do her face. Maddy sits down also and lights a cigarette. She picks up the can of lager and takes a sip.

LIZA:              Have you ever done anything like this before?

MADDY:        No.

LIZA:              It’s a good feeling.

MADDY:        Is it?

LIZA:              Oh, come on! Don’t tell me it’s not fun.

                        Look at him!  Helpless.  And legless.

                        (she laughs)

                        I can’t help gloating.  The times I’ve

                        wanted to see him like that, you’ve no idea.

                        (beat)

                        His mother was the vilest woman I’ve ever come across. 

MADDY:        Like mother like son?

LIZA:              God forbid he should ever sink as low as that.

                        You should thank God you never knew her.  (pause)

                        She ran a loan business too.  Only with her it

                        was women only.  Mostly those on the breadline –

                        and on their own.  It didn’t seem much; mostly for

                        little things; new clothes for the kiddies, decorating

                        a room, new furniture, a new pram…things like

                        that. They were… you know…they couldn’t get credit,

                        so they turned to her as a last resort.  It was never

                        much; twenty, fifty, maybe a hundred pounds.  And

                        when they fell behind she was so understanding.  Next week

                        would do: she’d just add a tiny bit on for administration.

                        (pause)  Nice word ‘administration’.   It covers a

                        multitude.  Anyway, by the time they realized how

                        much the administration came to, it was too late.  Most

                        most of them couldn’t pay.  It didn’t worry  Renee though;

                        She had others strings to her bow.   Stealing to order.

                        Designer clothes, perfumes, jewelry, you ordered them

                        and Renee  got one of her girls to steal it for you.

                        She had a string of girls operating at all the big shopping

                        centres within a fifty mile radius of London.  Her hit

                        squads, she called them.  Teams of five or six would head

                        off in the morning, armed with a shopping list as long

                        as your arm. We daren’t return without at least half her order filled. 

MADDY:        We…?

LIZA:              Did I say we?  (beat)  Well, it’s no big deal anymore.

It’s all behind me now – as the cow said to the manure heap. (pause)

                         A long time ago I was…well, I had a daughter, Sophie,

                        and she was my whole world.  I wanted things for her…things

                         that I never had…but I never seemed to have the money

                         I was into all the usual petty stuff…(bitter laugh)

                        you name it, I did it. One day we rolled a guy…

                        you know, I was the bait that lured him up the alley…

                        only we picked the wrong guy.  Roger.

                        Of all the guys in London, we picked that bastard…

                        The others scarpered when he pulled a knife, but I had

                        to…well, you can imagine what he made me do. And

                        then he took me home to meet his mother. Dear, sweet

                        Renee.  The next day I was leading one of her gangs.

MADDY:        She forced you to work for her?

LIZA:              (laughs) If waving a bundle of notes under your nose

                        is forcing, yeah, she did. It was the money wasn’t it?

                        As much as I wanted – and easy payments to go with it!

                        At first it was great, and then, a few months down the line,

                        I got caught.  Well, the whole gang, really.

                        The police were waiting for us; watched us go about

                        our business, then picked us off one by one…

MADDY:        A tip off?

LIZA:              (shrugs) It was election time. Somebody always pays

                        at election time.  Anyway, I was saved from prison

                        by Renee’s promise to the judge to keep me on the

                        straight and narrow. One of  her finest  performances.

                        And the result was to leave me even deeper in her debt.

                        I suppose I must have seemed stupid, now looking

                        back on it, but at the time…

                        (pause)

                        When Roger got caught for the post office thing  I

                        became even more valuable to her.  He…she wanted

                        him to continue overseeing the gangs, but he had other

                        ideas. They argued all the time, he threatened to

                        leave, but he never did. He didn’t have the courage.

                         One person she never liked was Kenny.  She

                        tried to break up their partnership…

MAD:              What about John?

LIZA:              He never really mattered. But Kenny had plans – big plans

                         Then they got caught. Another tip-off…

MAD:              Renee?

LIZA:              Roger would never admit that it might be her.

                        But I wouldn’t put anything past the bitch.

                        Him going to goal changed everything. I was now the one

                        organizing  and coordinating. Doing his job.

                        Oh, I was doing alright, but it wasn’t right…if you know

                        what I mean. Some of the girls were…well, only girls. And

                        I was…forcing them…It was me…

MADDY:        You could have walked away.

LIZA:              Yeah.  I could have.

Silence.

MADDY:        Was it because of Sophie?

LIZA:              Sophie…

Roger emits a loud roar, a sort of strangled sound, and begins to twitch. After a few moments, he subsides again.

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

end of scene

The following day. Roger has his feet up and is enjoying a drink. One of John’s cars arrives from the kitchen, a large cigar attached.  Roger helps himself to the cigar and lights it.

ROGER:        Now, that’s what I call service. (pause as he enjoys smoke)

                        Bring on the dancing girls.

Music begins.  Something raunchy…Tina Turner etc.  Maddy appears, dressed as Miss Whiplash.  She cracks her whip several times, causing Roger to leap up.  He looks at his drink.

ROGER:        Either I’m going to wake up soon or this is bloody good gear.

MADDY:        Down boy. (she cracks the whip again)

ROGER:        I knew it.  Miss Whiplash.  I could tell as soon as I set eyes

                        on those pins of yours the other night. (he leers)  Like I said, 

                        I’m not much good at faces, but I never forget a leg.

MADDY:        Not Miss Whiplash.  Remember Calamity Jane?…(she sings)

                                    In boyhood days…coming all over the page…

                                    Whip-crackaway…whip-crackaway…

ROGER:        I remember now!  The Tossers Paradise, wasn’t it?  Just

                        off Tottenham Court Road. You were good.

MADDY:        Wouldn’t be hard, would it?  Most of them were better

                        on their backs than on their toes.

ROGER:        I mean it. You were class.  Does John know?

MADDY:        It never came up. (she cracks the whip) 

                        And I want to keep it that way.

ROGER:        Okay by me.  You should take it up again, gal.

                        (leers) Old strippers never lose their knickers, eh?

MADDY:        Down, I said.  (she prods him in the chest with the whip

                        handle, forcing him to kneel)

ROGER:        I’m beginning to like this even…

MADDY:        Silence!  From now on you will speak only when spoken

                        to.  And later, if you’re a good little doggy, you might

                        be rewarded with something to chew on…(smile)

                         maybe even something to lick…

ROGER:        Now you’re talking my…oow! 

                        (Maddy raps him on the knuckles) 

                        ‘ere that’s a bit…Oow!  Oow! 

                        (Maddy raps him again)

MADDY:        Get the idea?  (Roger nods)  Good. 

                        (she produces a dog collar and lead)

                        Now, put this on…( Roger does so)

                         … because bad dogs like you have

                        to be kept under control…isn’t that right?  (Roger nods)

The cigar has been placed in an ashtray by this time, and Roger is eyeing it.

   MADDY:     Does Roger want to smoke?  Well, Roger must beg

                        (Roger begs by flapping his hands and panting)

                        Roger must do better than that.  Roger must lick my feet…

                        (She removes her shoes and stands, waiting)

                        Come on, boy, lick!…

ROGER:        (eventually doing so) Cor!  Stone the crows!  (he spits)

                        I hope my next assignment tastes better than that.

 MAD:             There’s a good doggie.

.She pats him on the head, then sticks the cigar in his mouth. She leads him round the room by the lead: he follows her, attempting his impression of a dog bounding. She jerks the lead, causing him to leap upwards. As he does so, his trousers falls down, revealing a pair of y-fronts.

MADDY:        (laughing despite herself)

                        Oh my God!  Geoffrey Archer y-fronts!

                         (he attempts to pull his trousers up)

                        No!  Leave them….Sit, boy…sit!  No!  Not there!

                        (she places a stool close to him)

                        There.  Sit!  (he does so, his trousers round his ankles)

ROGER:        This is…oow! (he is hit)

MAD:              Ah-ah.  Now we are going to play a little game – you like games

                        don’t you? – but just in case you are a bad dog 

                        and try  to run away…I have a little surprise planned…

As she speaks, she is uncovering an eye-bolt fixed to the back wall. She fixes the lead to this, using a padlock.  She then checks the collar attached to Roger’s neck, and we can see that she is fixing a padlock to it. Roger is now tied securely to the wall, his movement restricted to a radius of about eight feet.

                        …because we don’t want you running away now, do we?

                          Not before the fun starts, do we?

While she has been doing all the above, Roger has been distracted by her sensuous movements – deliberate on her part of course – so that he isn’t

really aware that he is tethered securely.

                        …Would you like something to drink?

  She removes the cigar from his mouth, looks at it, then puts it in the ashtray

                        …You can speak.

ROGER:        I could murder a can of Stella.

She goes to the fridge (off) and returns with a can of lager, and a dog bowl.

ROGER:        You’re a diamond.  I always said to John you were a…ooow… (Maddy hits him )  You said I could talk…

MADDY:        That was then. 

                        (she places the bowl in front of him and pours some beer into it)

                        You can drink that – while I go and prepare.  (she exits)

ROGER:        Drink that, she says!

He tries to reach the drink, but it is out of reach. He tries for the cigar, but that, too, is out of reach. He reaches up to undo the collar, but finds that he can’t. Further inspection reveals that he is securely tethered. He tries pulling the lead from the wall, but fails.

ROGER:        ‘Ere, what’s the game?  I like a bit of fun, but this is

                        getting beyond a joke…

Maddy returns, having changed into more conventional clothes.

MADDY:        It’s not a game. Not any more.  It’s deadly serious.

ROGER:        Where’s Miss Whiplash? You takin’ the mick or something?

MADDY:        (as the door bell rings) I’ve seen all you have to offer,

                        and believe me, it’s not worth taking.

Maddy goes to the door, and lets Liza in. Liza marches in and ‘inspects’ Roger, making sure to stay out of reach.

LIZA:            Not interrupting anything, am I?  ‘Cos I can always

                         come back…when you’re less tied up.

ROGER:        (trying to pull his trousers up)

                        Where’s my money, you bitch?

LIZA:              Somewhere safe away from you.

ROGER:        And my house.  You can’t sell my house.

LIZA:              Our house, dear.  Remember, marriage is a partnership.

                        Everything down the middle, isn’t that right?  But don’t

                        worry, once the sale goes through, you will get your

                        share.  Eventually. I’m not greedy, I only want what’s rightfully mine.

ROGER:        You cant!  I’ll swing for you first.

He rushes at her, only to be pulled up short by the lead. He falls down – and so does his trousers

LIZA:              Oh dear.

ROGER:        Come on, what’s the effing game then.

LIZA:              Not the game you were expecting, anyway.

ROGER:        This is…inhuman. I thought…

LIZA:              We all know what you thought. You thought you were

                        in for a bit of pleasant skin-lashing…

                        (she takes the whip from Maddy and cracks it)

                        and maybe a nice blow-job at the end of it…

                        (she cracks it again, this time connecting)

Roger howls in pain and rage.  Maddy brings two chairs and a small table to the foreground, and places them out of Roger’s reach. The table has a red button attached to its surface. Underneath it can be seen a large knob and a trailing cable.

LIZA:              What more could a man ask for at the end of a hard day?

                         Nothing like a bit of bondage  and oral sex for winding down…

                        I’m not embarrassing you?  (laughs)  Oh dear!

                         Me, I’m the High Queen of going down… remember?

                        When it comes to blow jobs I can blow for England,

ROGER:        You filthy…

LIZA:              I can do you one of my specialties right now.

                         Half price…what do you say?

ROGER:        Jesus, you’re disgusting…

Maddy has now arranged the table and chairs to her satisfaction.

MADDY:        We are going to play a game – but I can’t promise you will like it.

                        It’s a sort of question time with penalties.

                        And the penalties depend on the answers you give…

ROGER:        You can’t do this to me, you bloody cows…

MADDY:        And if you don’t answer…

ROGER:        Are you fucking listening?

MADDY:        We’ll cut your balls off.

She places a pair of shears on the table. There is silence for a moment.

MADDY:        Now that we’ve got your attention…

LIZA:              We’ll start off with a simple question. What is your name?

Roger laughs, then sits on his stool and folds his arms.  He has no intention of playing the game.

LIZA:              You’re amused? Perhaps you think it’s a stupid question…?

ROGER:        A stupid game…

LIZA:              The stupidity lies in not answering.

ROGER:        You can’t make me answer.

Maddy presses the red switch and Roger immediately leaps from his stool and brings his hands to his neck.

ROGER:        Christ! Turn it off!  Turn the facking thing off!

LIZA:              I didn’t hear your answer.

ROGER:        (dancing about) Ohh!….you…you!  Alright, alright…it’s Roger.

LIZA:              Roger what?

ROGER:        Roger…fack…Roger Stackpole.

Maddy pushes the red button again.  Roger subsides.

LIZA:              See?  That wasn’t so difficult after all.

ROGER:        You..you…(he sees Maddy’s hand hover over the button)

                         What the hell is that thing?

MADDY:        (teasingly) Well now, do you know, I’m not too sure.

                        (laughs)  Tell you what though – it’s a lot better than the

                         wax treatment.  See… you press this little red button and…

                        (she does so and Roger dances again)…

                        well, you can feel what it does. And if you turn this knob….

                        ( she does so and Roger dances even more)….

                        well, you feel it even more.

Roger is left dancing for a moment, until Liza draws Maddy’s attention to the fact.  She switches the machine off, and Roger subsides, gasping.

MADDY:        Oops!  Sorry.  We don’t want to kill you off just yet.

ROGER:        A drink….I…need…something.

Liza edges the can of lager within Roger’s reach, using her foot. Roger grabs for it and drinks deeply.

LIZA:              You know, I could get to like this.  Remember  those old war films?   Someone is always being tortured?

                         (imitates an interrogator)  

                        Right, you swine,  we haf vays of making you talk…

MADDY:        And lights.  They always have bright lights shining in their faces…

LIZA:              Uniforms too….Don’t forget uniforms….

During this last exchange, they rush around, looking for props to ‘support’ their game.  Maddy finds a torch and a military-style overcoat.  Liza finds a pair of black leather gloves in her bag, and ‘darkens’ her face with make-up.  She ties her hair back in a pony-tail, then dons the overcoat.  She takes the torch and shines it in Roger’s face.

ROGER:        You’re facking crazy…

Maddy goes to the light switch and dims the lights

ROGER:        Completely doo-lally. (beat)  What do you want?

During the following exchange, Maddy speaks in what she believes is a German accent

MADDY:        How do you feel about turkeys?

ROGER:        Turkeys?

MADDY:        Yeah. Turkeys.  You know…bit like chickens, only

                        bigger.  And redder.  And they make funny noises.

                        (to Liza)  How do they go again?

LIZA:              I don’t know.  Cheep-cheep, isn’t it?

MADDY:        No,no.  Chickens go cheep.  (to Roger) How do turkeys go?

ROGER:        I don’t facking….(Maddy presses the switch)…gobble-

                        gobble, gobble-gobble…gobble-gobble…( switch off)

MADDY:        That’s more like it…( switch on)  One more time, I think….

ROGER:        gobble-gobble, gobble-gobble…

LIZA:              Chickens?

ROGER:        Cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep….

MADDY:        Turkeys?

ROGER:        Gobble-gobble, gobble-gobble…

LIZA:              Chickens?

ROGER:        Gobble-gobble, gobble-gobble.

LIZA:              No, chickens.

ROGER:        Cheep-cheep, cheep-cheep…

MADDY:        (switch off) By jove, I think  he’s got it!

Roger more or less collapses onto his stool. Maddy walks around him, ‘inspecting’ him with the torch.

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

During the time since Roger removed his shirt, Mona and Maddy have been peering through the bedroom door, making signs.  John sees them, but Roger doesn’t. At Roger’s last remark, Maddy has to drag Mona back into the bedroom. Now she is signaling to John to get rid of him, and John is trying to interpret her signals.

ROGER:        Whas’a’matter?  Something wrong with your eye?

JOHN:            (rubbing)  Bit of grit, I think.

ROGER:        There I was, thinking me luck had changed (beat)

                        You never fancied it, then?

JOHN:            Fancied what?

ROGER:        The old Romford hornpipe. (laughs)  That’s what my old man

                        called it, whenever he saw a couple of shirt-lifters heading for the

marshes down Coppermill Lane; ’there they go again, off doing the   Romford hornpipe’.

JOHN:            I was never that way inclined.

ROGER:        Ooh!  Not that way inclined!   Now there’s conviction!  ‘Course

                        you never spent no five years banged up with head-cases

                        and psychopaths for company. Or spent time in chokey – where

                        the only company you have for twenty three hours of the day

                        is a hard chair and four brick walls.   Lemme tell you…

 a few weeks of that boyo… (he drinks)…and 

tall blonde boys named Jeremy or Alan suddenly look

awfully like Jemimas and Alanas from a distance.

Know what I mean?  (pause)

                        Tell me, how long, exactly, did you spend in nick?

JOHN:            None.  I never done time.  You know that.

ROGER:        Then don’t come all this better-than-thou shit with me. Any

                        port in a storm – when you’re desperate.  (he stands up)

                        See me, I’m no facking oil painting. They weren’t exactly

                        breaking down my cell door to keep me company.  When it

                        happened it was usually a quick hows-your-father in the Jacksey.

(pause) Kenny, now he never had no trouble.

 ‘Course he’s not your usual tubby Welsh runt, is he?

 Our Kenny was a popular lad, inside.  Oh yes.

(pause) Which brings me to my reason for being here.

JOHN:            I thought you were looking for Mona?

ROGER:        Yah…(he waves a hand) To hell with her.  I gotta

cut my losses there. There’s plenty of other bints in the  ocean, eh?  (pause) No, what it is… Kenny is back in the Smoke to do a job.

 A one-off on a security van.

JOHN:            He needs the money?

ROGER:        Yeah.  Or he did. He’s got my wedge now, ain’t he?

JOHN:            Maybe he won’t go ahead then.

ROGER:        He’d better.  (pause)  I want a facking return, don’t I?

                        I’m not a philant…frophant…fucking charity.

Silence.

JOHN:            You involved?

ROGER:        Not bloody likely!  I don’t want to be within a hundred miles

                        of that facking lunatic if I can help it.  I’m thinking of

                        booking a week in Benidorm.

JOHN:            You just come back.

ROGER:        I like Benidorm.  Anywhere that hasn’t Priestley near it, I like.

                         He asked me to bankroll him for ten G’s, and I agreed.

                        That was before I found out about this London heist.  Why

                        do you think I went doollaly?   Shitting on my own doorstep?                                                  No thanks.           

JOHN:            So where do I come in?

ROGER:        He wants a driver.

JOHN:            London is full of drivers.  Most of them lunatics too – so that

should suit him.

ROGER:        He wants you. And I want my investment back.

JOHN:            I haven’t driven since…

ROGER:        I know.  He still wants you.  (pally again)  You’d be doing

                        me a big favour, John.

JOHN:            Thanks a fucking million.  What about shitting on my doorstep?

ROGER:        What doorstep? You haven’t got any form.

JOHN:            I can’t do it.  I don’t have the bottle anymore  (sees Roger’s look)

                        I can’t…I honestly can’t sit behind a wheel…

Maddy has had enough.  She shoves Mona back into the bedroom and marches into view.

MAD:              You heard what he said. He’s finished toadying to you.

ROGER:        The dead arose and appeared to many. Been dreaming

                        of something pleasant?

MAD:              I was giving you the wax treatment.  You ever had the wax

                        treatment?

ROGER:        I don’t think I’ve had that pleasure…

MAD:              The pleasure would be all mine, believe me. (beat)

                        Why don’t you drive the fucking car?  It’s your money.

ROGER:        Can’t.  Never had any need to learn, did I?

MAD:              Your type never do.

ROGER:        Besides, the man specifically asked for Johnny boy

MAD:              (walking round him, looking at his back)

I’m looking for your spine.  But snakes don’t have any, do they?  (she fingers the weals.  There is something

almost sensuous in this, as if she can’t help herself)

I would have done that.  For nothing. Gladly.

(She takes a bamboo rod from one of the pot plants)

You ready for some more?

ROGER:        (moving away hurriedly and buttoning up his shirt)

                        Here, leave it out, girl! 

(gets some bravado back) Another time, another place, maybe.  (brisk) Now, to business…

MAD:              There is no fucking business.  Not with you, anyway.

                        You can tell that to…Kenny. 

John’s driving no getaway car for anybody.

ROGER:        I don’t think you understand.  See?  It’s not a request.

                        Johnny drives the car for Kenny, or the old Bill get

                        a name and a set of dabs they been looking for for twelve years.

Maddy loses control and begins beating Roger across the back with the rod.

MAD:              You bastard.  You no-good lousy rotten blackmailing…

                                                                                    end of scene

scene three. 

A few days later.

A sort of hen party at John and Maddy’s. Others present are Mona and Liza. Mona is in the bathroom, and Liza is arriving, bringing a ‘bottle’.

LIZA:              Just you and me?  What are we celebrating?

MAD:              How about being alive?

LIZA:              Sounds okay to me.  (she looks in the wall mirror) 

                        You know, since I moved out, I feel twenty years younger…

Mona emerges from the bathroom at this point.

LIZA:              Well, I did.  What’s she doing here

MONA:           Who’s she…the cat’s mother?

MAD:              I Invited her.  I thought…girls together.

LIZA:              I refuse to stay in the same room as that…

                        that home-wrecker.

MONA:           You’ve got a bloody cheek. Roger only turned

                        to me because you…

LIZA:              You and every other whore in the English-speaking

                        world…

MONA:           Who you calling a whore?

LIZA:              Who paid for that?…that?…and that? 

(she indicates Mona’s clothes and jewelry

And the bed you sleep in?

MONA:           And who paid for that?…that?…and that?

 (indicating Liza’s clothes and jewelry)

And the bed you used to sleep in?

MAD:              Oh come on, Liza.  Get off your high horse.  We all

                        know what Roger’s like.

LIZA:              Too bloody right I do.  More years than I care to think

 of knowing what he’s like. (laughing)  Maybe you’re right…

what’s that saying of yours?

MAD:              Life’s too short to dance with ugly men…

LIZA:              That’s it. Know what his mother called me when we first met?

                        The  whore from Kensington Gore.

MAD:              Lucky you didn’t come from Cheshunt, then!

                        (she looks at Liza’s bottle)   Dom Perignon!

LIZA:              Roger keeps a fridge-full of the stuff.

                        Thinks it’s gonna impress people. Who’s it gonna impress?

                         What the hell!  He won’t miss a bottle or two. 

                         You want to open it now – while it’s still cold.

MAD:              (making a face) I think we’ll save it till later.

                        I’ll put in the…fridge. (she exits)

MONA:           You definitely leaving him then?

LIZA:              I’ve already left him.  So you’re welcome  to him… dearie. 

But don’t get any ideas about his money…

                        .

MONA:           I don’t want his money

LIZA:              (as Maddy returns)

                        What else is there to want?  His body?  His good looks?

 His personality?  Do me a favour!  At least I’m honest;

 I married him for his money, and now I’m leaving him for it!

During this discussion plenty of drinking and eating should be taking place.  As Maddy is the hostess, she should occasionally replenish drinks and place plates of cocktail sausages, peanuts etc on the table.

MONA:           What’s wrong with love?

LIZA:              Nothing wrong with it, if you can afford it.

MAD:              You’re growing cynical in your old age.

LIZA:              Less of the old – if you don’t mind.  You’re as old

                        as the man you feel.  And I haven’t felt Roger for

                        a long time.  Have you seen the state of him lately?

                        Well, of course you have. (this to Mona)

                        I would rather grope Mr Blobby.

MONA:           It didn’t stop you going on holiday with him.

 LIZA:             No, my dear.   But it put a stop to the likes of you going with him.

(sweet smile) There’s appearances to be kept

                        up whatever the sordid reality. The windows of Willows

                        Walk  do enough squinting as it is, without me adding to

                        the enjoyment.  Bloody nosey snobs, the lot of them.

Not that I have much against snobbery.  We’d all still

be living like savages if it wasn’t for a bit of snobbery

MAD:              Did you see much of him on your last trip.

LIZA:              He hardly left the poolside for most of the time.

MAD:              Not even for a swim?

LIZA:              No – now that you mention it. Wouldn’t even take his top off.

                        He must have been under the weather.

MONA:           Not under the weather – under Miss Whiplash

Both Mona and Maddy cannot stop laughing at this.

MAD:              The reason he didn’t take off his top is because he

 has, well…acquired a liking for the

 cat-o-nine-tails. Particularly when it’s wielded  by

a six-foot amazon in high heels and a basque.

LIZA:              Miss Whiplash?   The  dirty bastard.

                        I thought he was past all that..

MAD:              There’s something satisfying in

                        dressing up in leathers and six inch stilettos…

                        (she grinds her foot on the floor) and seeing a

                        man grovel under your feet. Don’t you think?

LIZA:              Yeah.  Particularly Roger.

MAD:              Not him.

LIZA:              Why not him?  He deserves getting his face ground in

                        the dirt.  He’s rubbed mine in it often enough.

MAD:              He’d enjoy it too much. Too much pleasure

                        in it that way.  Pain without pleasure, that’s the way to fix him.

LIZA:              Did you ever do it…you know, that dominatrix stuff?

MAD:              What a question!  Where did you get that notion?

LiZA:              You. Just now. The way you talk about it.  You

 sound so…comfortable with the idea.

MAD:              (laughs)  Do I look like a…Miss Whiplash?

LIZA:              You might have been…once.  You’ve still got a good figure.

MAD:              Me!  In my youth!    A stripper?

LIZA:              Why not?  We’re none of us the people we used to be.

MAD:              Alright.  What did you do when you were young?

LIZA:              I…well, I was no angel – that’s for sure.

MAD:              But you don’t want to talk about it?

LIZA:              No.

MAD:              Neither do I.  (to Mona)  How about you?

MONA:           I thought we came here to talk about Roger.

MAD:              And so we shall.  You first.

MONA:           I don’t understand  why you ever married him.

LIZA:              I told you…for the money, dear. The same

                        reason why you sleep with him.

MONA:           That’s not true. I…

LIZA:              Now, don’t disappoint me and tell me it’s love!

                        How could anyone love that miserable rat?

MONA:           He was funny at first…

LIZA:              Funny ha-ha, or funny peculiar?  Oh yeah, life’s

                        been one big barrel of laughs with Roger. (beat)

                        I had more laughs when I visited visit my uncle

                        in the cancer ward .

MONA:           He said you never appreciated him…

LIZA:              He said that?… Well, of course he’s right. Let’s

                        see now… on average, there’s a new scrubber like you

                        every six months or so – and don’t flatter yourself you’ll

                        be the last – so, no, I don’t appreciate that. Then there’s

                         his drunken rages, and the violent outbursts

                        that usually follow…and, no, I don’t appreciate those

                        either.  But I was prepared to overlook most of these…

                        shortcomings because, well, financially, I was doing okay. But

                        now I find that the only thing that tied me to him

                        isn’t as plentiful as it used to be.

                        So, I’m off –  taking what I can while it’s still there

MAD:              John reckons he’s loaded.

LIZA:              Where is it, then?  You seen the state of his bank account lately?  (pauses)  Well, I wouldn’t have either,

                        only he left the statement lying around one morning. He

                        lost it completely over some cheque that had been cashed.

MAD:              The Priestley cheque.

LIZA:              The what?  (pause)  You know Kenny?

MAD:              His name came up the other day in a…discussion

                        Roger was having with John.  I happened to be there.

LIZA:              Why would he pay Kenny all that money?  He always

                        said Kenny was a….

 MAD:             It was a loan.  To tide him over.  I think he’s

                        planning some job here.

LIZA:              He’s here?  In London?

MAD:              I wouldn’t be surprised.  You know him?

LIZA:              Used to.  Long time ago, though.

MAD:              How well did you know him?

LIZA:              Well enough.

MAD               That well?

LIZA:              Yeah, that well. (laughs)  Well, you never know what

you’re missing.  (another laugh)  Not that I was missing a lot…

MAD:              Does Roger know?

LIZA:              I never told him. Maybe Kenny did.

                        We all lost touch. Then I met up with him again, after he…

MAD:              Got out of goal.

LIZA:              You know about that?

MAD:              Not until the other night, when John confessed his sordid past.

 And the part that Roger plays in his life.

LIZA:              He told you all that? (beat)  I’m surprised.

MAD:              It…came out. (beat)  You knew John back then?

LIZA:              Oh, we bumped into each other a few times.

Roger called him his go-for. I guessed they were up to no good.  (laughs)  Well, Roger couldn’t go straight if he was strapped to

 a rocket. He was surprised John was still around when he

                        got out.   ‘If it was me’, he used to say, ‘I wouldn’t

                        be facking here’.

MAD:              John’s fingerprints were all over the….

LIZA:              Roger a grass?  Not in a million years.  He knew John would fall

 for it though.

MONA:           You let him go through all that?

LIZA:              He wouldn’t have believed me.  Would he? 

MAD:              Probably not.  Not that I have your touching faith in Roger.

He’d sell his own mother.

LIZA:              She’d sell him first!  You don’t know Renee.  Correction,

                        you don’t want to know Renee.  If I was religious,

I’d bless myself.

MONA:           His mother is an old woman – living in a home!

LIZA:              But still alive!  (beat)  I don’t want to talk about her.

                        She brings me out in a rash.

There is silence for a moment. We see some eye contact between Maddy and Mona, which goes unnoticed by Liza.

MONA:           I know what he’s been doing with his money.

Pause

LIZA:              You!  Why should he confide in you?  A tart!

MONA:           I got eyes, ain’t I – and ears?

LIZA:              You got a big mouth too.  What do you use that for?

MONA:           What you used to use yours for – before your teeth

                        fell out…

LIZA:              Why, you little bitch…

 (she makes a grab for Mona, but she evades her)

MONA:           Roger says you can’t do it anymore…your dentures

                        keep slipping.  (imitates Roger)  Like getting a facking

gobble from  Dracula’s mother…

By now Liza is raging and chases Mona round the room.  Maddy

picks up a plate of sandwiches and offers them round.

MAD:              Anyone fancy a cucumber sandwich?

Liza sits down again, exhausted.

MONA:           He’s been converting his ready cash into diamonds. 

LIZA:              Why diamonds?

MAD:              Oh come on!  You’re not that stupid. They’re not

                        traceable.  Who is going to know he’s got them?  Or

                        how many? He can take them abroad – Amsterdam –

                        and sell them without prying eyes knowing. 

                        I’d say he was planning to dump you – or suspected

                        all along that you were going to dump him.

LIZA:              And you learned all this by keeping

                        your eyes and ears open?

MONA:           Among other things

LIZA:              I’ll bet.   And was that before or after his post-shag fag?

 Shag, fag, chin-wag, that’s still his routine I take it?

 Well, I’m not taking this lying down…

(sees the humour in this last remark)

…as the actress said to the Bishop.   

By Christ, Roger Stackpole, you’ll rue the day you

 ever made game of me.

.end of scene

 A week later. John lets Roger into the flat.  Roger is carrying a suitcase.

ROGER:        (putting the suitcase down)  My facking house is up for

                        sale. Would you adam-and-eve it! I look out the

                        bedroom window this morning and this snidey little

                        fucker in a pair of red overalls – red! – is hammering

                        a FOR SALE sign o the front wall. ‘Clear off, you

                        dyslexic bastard’, I told him, ‘you got the wrong gaff’.

                        ‘Course he checked his clipboard.  ‘No mistake, guv.

                        Number 35 Willows Walk.  Mrs Liza Stackpole’. Then

                        I remembered that the house was still in the bitch’s name.

                        (beat)  Remember?  That tax thing? I signed it over to her?

JOHN:           But that was over a year ago!

ROGER:        She was always busy whenever I tried to get her

                        down to the solicitors. Now I know why.  My own

                        facking house, paid for with my hard-earned.

                        (he pounds the table with his fist)

                         I’ll break one of her legs…that’s what I’ll do

He reaches into his pocket and hands John a bank statement

                        And then I opened this…

                        (he pounds the table again)

                        I’ll break both her facking legs.

JOHN:           Looks like the account is in the red.

ROGER:        In the red!  It’s facking scarlet.

JOHN:            I thought that’s what you wanted.

ROGER:        What I didn’t want was for her to clean the

                        facking thing out.  See that…(he jabs at the paper)

JOHN:           I know. Minus five thousand.

ROGER:        Five big ones.  She’s cleaned me out, the bitch.

JOHN:           Have you tried talking to her?

ROGER:        Talking to her!  I’d swing for her – if I could find her.

                        You ain’t heard anything?  Where she might be?

JOHN:           No.

ROGER:        Maybe she talked to Maddy?

JOHN:           Maybe she did. Why don’t you ask her?

ROGER:        I’m asking you.

JOHN:           She won’t tell me.

ROGER:        What’ya mean – won’t?

JOHN:           Like I said, she won’t tell me.

ROGER:        She’s giving you the big freeze?  What you done?

JOHN:            Our rows are usually about one thing.  Money.

ROGER:        Rob a bank, Johnny boy!  That’s the answer.

JOHN:           That’s what she suggested. Then she suggested I rob you.

ROGER:        She was joking, I trust? Relax, Johnny boy,

                         in a few days you and that Welsh

                        git will be opening up that tin can of a security

                        van, and your money troubles will be over.

                        A good holiday is what your Maddy needs.

                         Then a good seeing to…take it from me, I know the signs.

JOHN:           Who are you…Tonto? (imitates Tonto)

                        Ah, Kemo Sabey, me hear many footsteps.  One of them woman,

                        she walking very funny, she need good seeing to…

                         You know the fucking signs… (he flicks the bank statement)

                        What about this sign?

ROGER:        That facking cow won’t know what hit her when I get

                        started.  I tell you, Johnny boy, they’ll have to dig me off her.

JOHN:           She’s got the house.  Legally.  How you goin’ to

                        get it back off her?

ROGER:        Alright, don’t facking rub it in. It ain’t over till it’s

                        over, as the fat lady says.  I know a couple of geezers

                         who’d snuff their own granny for a oner.  Maybe I’ll give ‘em a call.

JOHN:           Anything for a quiet life.

ROGER:        No, you’re right. There must be another way round it.

JOHN:           She’s entitled to half, whichever way you look at it.  By law.

JOHN:           Not if she’s attached to a concrete block at the bottom

                        of the Thames.  (pause) My old mum loved that house..

                         It’ll break her heart to see it go…

We hear a phone ringing.  Roger takes a mobile from his inside pocket and speaks into it.

ROGER:        Yeah….where are you….what’s this, some kind of

                        wind-up?  (pause)    where the fack are you?  (pause)

                        Like hell it is…that’s my property you’re doing a moody

                        with.  (listens)  I’ll re-arrange your boat race when I do…

                        no…wait…wait…facking bitch.

He sits down heavily and looks around him wearily.

ROGER:        You got anything strong back there?

John goes off momentarily, and returns with a bottle

ROGER:        Smelling salts!  Something to drink, you berk!

JOHN:           ‘Fraid we’re out’a  everything, ‘till Maddy gets back. 

ROGER:        A cuppa rosie then – and a sandwich. If I don’t

                        get something down me soon, I’ll start eating myself. (John exits)

JOHN:           (off)  Bad news?

ROGER:        All that time and money I lavished on her. Not to

                        mention fixing up something for her to do in the

                        office.  Something that didn’t involve lying on her back.

JOHN:           Ah…Mona.  What’s she done?

ROGER:        Taken some of my insurance policies.

JOHN:           I didn’t know you had any.

ROGER:        The diamonds, you cant!

John returns with a mug of tea and a sandwich.

JOHN:           All of them?  No wonder…

ROGER:        Leave it out!  You think I’m stupid enough to leave

                        a wad like that lying around? Nah it was just

                        that last batch.  I hadn’t got round to stashing them

                        away with the others.  She must’a found them when

                        she was clearing out her gear….

                        (he chews on the sandwich for a moment)

                        ‘Ere, wot’s this?  (looks)  Spam…I hate bloody spam.

JOHN:           It’s all there is.  There’s a caff round the corner.

ROGER:        Salmonella Lil’s?  Give over!  Besides, that facking

                        hole-in-the-wall chewed up my card earlier on, so I’m

                        strapped for readies. (beat)  It’ll take me a few days to get

                        hold of some more. (beat) All right if I doss down here

                        in the meantime ?

JOHN:           Might be a bit difficult.

ROGER:        I’m not fussy. Anywhere will do.  Three’s up in the

                        bed if you like.  (laughs) Nah…only joking.

JOHN:           What’s wrong with your own gaff?

ROGER:        Wake up every morning with that ‘For Sale’ sign

                        staring me in the mush?  Nah.  Ain’t you got a spare room?

JOHN:           No…I mean Maddy might object.   You and she…

ROGER:        You leave Maddy to me. (beat) Alright if I use

                        your cawsey?  (He exits)

John tidies up, picks up cars etc.

ROGER:        (off)  You know, as I get older, I find there’s nothing

                        as satisfying as a good crap in the morning.  I wonder

                        why that is?  Even better than sex.

                         A crap and a smoke – you can’t beat it.

He emerges, smoking a cigar.

ROGER:        Now where were we?  Oh yes, you were telling me

                        why I couldn’t  stay here.

JOHN:           It’s not me…

ROGER:        I mean. it’s not unreasonable. I’m a law-abiding

                        citizen…(laughs)…a reformed character.  I pay my taxes….

                        I’m not a pervert…I don’t do drugs…Do I do drugs?

JOHN:           No…I….

ROGER:        I’m no pusher.  You know I don’t hold with drugs.

                        Pushers, junkies, they’re the dregs.  If I had my

                        way I’d dump them all on a deserted island and

                        drop a facking bomb on the lot of them.  Along

                        with the IRA, Yardies, Fundamentalists and all

                        the other scumbags around.  Pwaaah!  End of

                        problems.  (pause)  No, I’m  clean. Whereas you John…

                         you’ve still got this big dark cloud hanging over your head. 

                        (he sits down and puts his feet up, puffing on the cigar)

                        Oh, I think Maddy will come round to my way of thinking, don’t you?

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

At this point there is a loud knocking on their door.  Maddy goes to see who it is. She returns with MONA.

MONA:           I couldn’t think where else to go.  It’s so late…

MAD:              (aside)  You could have tried a hotel.

                        What’s going on, Mona?  Roger got you burning

                        the midnight oil again?

MONA:           We had a row.  He threw me out.

MAD:              Threw you out of where.

MONA:           My gaffe.

MAD:              Your own place?  He can’t do that.

MONA:           Yeah, well.  He pays the rent, don’t he?

MONA:           Oh, I see.

MONA:           Do you?  I doubt it.  It’s alright for you, innit?

                        Miss high and mighty. A girl’s gotta look after

                        her own interests is what my mom always says.

MAD:              Oh Yeah?  (she looks searchingly at her)

                        Is that what your mum says?

You’re not doing a very good job at the moment,

are you? Why did he throw you out?

MONA:           Some stupid message I was supposed

                        to leave on your ansaphone. I got it mixed up…

John, who has been giving a good impression of a man sleeping on the settee during the exchange so far, sits up.

JOHN:            He said he phoned himself…left the message himself.

MONA:           Nah…he asked me to do it…(she rubs her legs together)

                        Look, I gotta use the whatsit….

(she exits after Maddy indicates where to go)

MAD:              The bastard knew all the time. What is he playing at?

(pause) Where did he find her? 

JOHN:            (laughs)  There’s a factory in East London

                        churning them out by the hundred.  Didn’t you see

                        the ’Made in Romford’ label on her back?

MAD:              Pretty though, isn’t she?  Wouldn’t you say she’s pretty?

JOHN:            If you strip away the paint.

MAD:              Behind every painted face beats a heart of gold

JOHN:            Some mother reared her. She wasn’t always like that.

She must have been a little girl once.

MAD:              Yes, she was.  (pause)

Mona returns at this point

.

JOHN:            This message, Mona, you said it got mixed up.

MONA:           Yeah, I sent it to someone in Spain. 

That’s why Roger is doing his nut.  I mean,

                        a girl can make a mistake…

JOHN:            Priestley, was that who you sent it to?

MONA:           I think so.

JOHN:            No wonder the fur is flying

How did you manage to get your knickers in such a twist?

MAD:              (aside)  Assuming you wear any.

MONA:           I didn’t come here to be insulted. I think I better go…

JOHN:            No…it’s alright. She didn’t mean anything,

                        did you, Mad?  It’s a mistake anyone could

                        make.  Like dialing a wrong number.  We all do that. 

(pause)

 Why don’t we all have a nice cup of tea?

(he chucks the empty champagne bottle in the bin)

…nothing else left, I’m afraid.

 (he waits for Maddy  to offer, but she doesn’t) 

I’ll do the honors, shall I? (exits)

MONA:           Your husband’s nice, ain’t he?

MAD:              we’re  not married

MONA:           Oh, well…I thought… John said. I’m sorry, I didn’t…

MAD:              It’s all right.  Did you hear that, John? She thinks you’re nice

MONA:           Oh, really…

MAD:              Credit where credit’s due.  (John returns) You forgot the biscuits.

JOHN:            We don’t seem to have any.

They sip their teas in silence for a moment

MAD:              What’s your opinion of the employer/employee

                        relationship, Mona?

MONA:           The what?

JOHN:            Don’t mind her.

MAD:              How far should the relationship go?  Should the

                        employee go down on bended knee – or even both

                        knees – and pander to the whims of his superior?

MONA:           ‘Ere…that’s what Roger expects you to do. He

                        does me, anyway.  Bloody cheek! Expects you to

tend him hand and foot.

                        (pause)  ‘Specially since she gave him the elbow.

MAD:              Who?

MONA:           Madame, who else?  Denied him his conjugal rights,

                        he said.

MAD:              He told you that?

MONA:           I felt sorry for him.  And then he showed me….

MAD:              His bank account?

JOHN:            Now, now…

MONA:           He showed me a lot of kindness…

MAD:              Kindness!  Roger!

MONA:           Yes.  And I fell for it. At first it was great…You know,

night clubs, buying me little things…

MAD:              Oh I know. John was like that at first too…weren’t you

                        dear?  I was snowed under with stuff.  You name it,

                        I was under it.  And then he had his wicked way with

                        me and it all stopped.  Just like that.  But that’s men for you.

JOHN:            Not all men.

MAD:              Yes, all men.  (sweetly)  It’s a biological thing, dear.  Remember? (beat) How long before a man loses interest in you?

MONA:           Eh?

MAD:              As a general rule, I mean. Men. How long would

                        you say before they lose interest?

MONA:           You mean totally?  The…sex bit an’ all?

MAD:              Yeah…the sex bit and all.

MONA:           Well…see, I never came up against that problem…

MAD:              It’s never happened to you?

MONA:           Not really.  Not like that. Maybe they won’t speak to

                        you, or whatever…or they tell you you’re as thick

                        as two six inch planks nailed together… but you still have to

beat    them over the head with a baseball bat to stop them

                        getting into your knickers.  (titters) Men are like that.

MAD:              You find that, do you?

MONA:           Yeah.  Sometimes I think it’s all they want you for.

                        (beat)  You’re lucky.  Being…I  mean in a settled relationship.

MAD:              Yeah.

JOHN:            Don’t mind me, ladies.  Just pretend I’m not here.

MAD:              Why bother pretending?

JOHN:            Do I detect a level of dissatisfaction at the state of play?

MAD:              What state of play?  It’s been cancelled for

lack of interest.  (to Mona)  How would you describe Roger? Lovable?  Sexy?  What?

MONA:           He’s a bastard.

MAD:              At least we have something in common.  (to John)

                        You hear that? 

JOHN:            I’ve met better, I suppose

MAD:              You hate his guts – you’re just

                        too pathetic to do anything about it. 

                        He treats him like shit

MONA:           Why don’t you leave?

JOHN:            I can’t.

MAD:              You won’t, you mean. He feels duty bound by some

stupid boy scout promise he made years back.

JOHN:            You know why I can’t!

MAD:              Call his bluff.  Tell him if you go down, he goes too.

 He’s not exactly squeaky clean himself.

                        (John doesn’t reply and Maddy makes her disgust clear)

                        Look at him! God, I sometimes wish I….

                        It takes more than balls to make a man.

JOHN:            Why are you so down on Roger? You hardly know him.

MAD:              I know his type.  He doesn’t treat women well.

 Deep down he probably hates us all. Look at how he’s

                        behaved towards Mona…

JOHN:            You hardly know her either!  A little while ago you

                        were running her down…

MAD:              We females have to stick together.

JOHN:            What does  Mona  have to say?

MONA:           It makes my blood boil, now that I think of the way

                        he treats me.

MAD:              Don’t get mad, get even. (pause)  I wonder if Liza

                        feels that way?  The spurned wife?

MONA:           Dunno.  I never thought about her feelings before.

`                       Still, it isn’t like a real marriage, is it?

 She goes her own way. And they haven’t …well

you know…not for years. (she laughs)

            He likes to talk.  Sometimes he rabbits so much I fall asleep.

JOHN:            Sleeping on the job!

MAD:              Better than going AWOL.

MONA:           Terrible, ain’t I?  Still, I don’t think he notices.  (pause)

                        I know I shouldn’t say this, but I don’t think he’s

very good at it.  I mean,if he was, I would stay awake, wouldn’t I? (another pause)  He smokes.  Those big…cigar things…

(she makes a face)    Know what?

                        Sometimes I’m lying there, watching the smoke swirling

                        above me, and I’m thinking, ‘this ain’t right, this

                        ain’t the way it’s meant to be, girl’…

Before Mona finishes, there is a loud banging on the door.

ROGER         (off)  John…Johnny, open the facking door…

There is panic in the room, then Maddy and Mona retreat to the bedroom off. John lets Roger in.  Roger is clearly the worse for drink.

ROGER:        ‘S like trying to get into facking Stringfellows.  (looks around)

                        You seen that slag Mona?  She bin here ?

JOHN:            Why?  What’s up?

Roger becomes maudlin/friendly.   He puts his arm round John’s shoulders.

ROGER:        A right cock-up, Johnny boy, that’s what.  That dippy tart

                        only went and left the message on Priestley’s effing machine.

                        Not yours.  (he looks earnestly at John)  What can I say,

old pal?…no hard feeling, eh?

JOHN:            No…no, ‘course not.

ROGER:        I knew you’d understand.  We go back a long way, eh? 

(he takes out a flask )  Got some glasses?

                        (John gets glasses)  Try some of that.  The best of gear

                        (they drink) Cheers.  Best pals, eh…you and me? 

Not like that long Welsh streak of piss.

JOHN:            I always found him okay.

ROGER:        Oh, did you? (beat)  Then you only ever saw him from behind

                        the wheel of your latest souped-up shite-bucket. (laughs)

                        And your eyesight wasn’t always the best on occasions.

JOHN:            Meaning?

ROGER:        You know what I facking mean. (beat) Anyway, you didn’t

                        know the cant.

JOHN:            (slightly peeved) We had drinks together several times…

ROGER:        You paid, I bet!  Priestley never paid nothing

JOHN:            I remember his sister came looking for him once…

ROGER:        Sister?  I remember no sister…

JOHN:            You must do.  You were there that night.  Her name was…

ROGER:        I remember her now.  Must be all of fifteen years ago. (pause)

A typical Welsh trollop – all paint and no knickers. 

She was dragging a runny-nosed,

                        scrawny kid around after her.  A mini-version of herself.

                        She was on the scrounge…not that she’d get much from

                        that tight bastard.

JOHN:            You put her up for a couple of days.

ROGER:        Nah…I don’t remember that.  (beat)

 Maybe my old mum did. 

JOHN:            I could of sworn…

ROGER:        Look! It never happened that way.  Alright?  (pause)

Never had much time for them as a race, you know.

                        Then, who has?  Apart from Harry Secombe.  He was alright.

                        He could warble a bit, and was good for a laugh. (beat)

                        Nah, only one place for the Welsh as far as I’m concerned. 

JOHN:            Where’s that?

ROGER:        That facking leek farm they call Wales. They should all be

                        sent back there – as punishment. Cheers. (they both drink)

                        London for us Cockneys, eh?   First it was the Paddies, then

                        it was the wogs and Indians.  Now it’s the bloody spics and

                        Russians!  Facking Ruskies, I ask you!  (pause)  Ever had

                        a Russian bint?  No?  Well I nearly did the other night.  Kings

                        Cross…there she was…lovely little mover. Well, I fancied

                        a hand shandy or something, and then she opened her

                        mouth.  ‘I am Natasha and I am giving you the good

 time.  You will please pay me thirty

                        pounds for the full performance, and twenty pounds for the

                        hand relief’.  I thought she was Swedish, but when she said

                        Russia, well, I lost the urge.   I mean, you don’t know where

                        they’ve been, do you?

JOHN:            (dryly) Russia, I should imagine.

ROGER:        Free enterprise is all very well, but how would they like it

                        if we sent our slags over there?  Eh?  I mean, fair is fair, but

                        since they knocked that bloody wall down in Berlin, every Tom

                        dick and Harry is over here.

JOHN:            Harriot too.

ROGER:        Harriot who? Ah, fack it, let’s have another drink. (they drink)

                        ‘Ere, did I show you this? 

                        (he removes his shirt to reveal a line of weals across his back)

JOHN:            Now that’s what I call passion marks.  Was it Mona or Liza?  (realises what he has said and begins to sing)

                                    Mona Liza, Mona Liza, you have maimed me

                                    You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile

                                    Are you warm, are you real, Mona Liza?…

ROGER:        You cant.  It was Miss Whiplash. Before we went

                        on holiday.  She got a bit carried away.

JOHN:            You got yourself whipped before going on holiday?

ROGER:        Couldn’t resist it, could I? It was a special offer.  Half price. 

One of those poncey telephone-booth cards.

Mind you, it was a bit tricky on the beach. 

Liza couldn’t understand why I kept my shirt on.

 Thirty degrees it was – in the shade.

JOHN:            How much did she charge?

ROGER:        Only forty sovs.  I got the full treatment for that.

JOHN:            You were robbed.  I know someone who would have

                        done it for nothing.

ROGER:        There’s plenty candidates.

JOHN:            I mean someone in particular. 

ROGER:        Mona?  Nah.  She’s pretty conservative, that gal. 

                        No imagination at all. (laughs) 

 One time, when we were…you know…

Well, she just lay there eating a bag of chips.

JOHN:            What did you do?

ROGER:        Asked her if she fancied some mayonnaise on them.

Well, you gott’a laugh, ain’t ya?

During the time since Roger removed his shirt, Mona and Maddy have been peering through the bedroom door, making signs.  John sees them, but Roger doesn’t. At Roger’s last remark, Maddy has to drag Mona back into the bedroom. Now she is signaling to John to get rid of him, and John is trying to interpret her signals.

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…contd

Before John can reply, the door to the hallway opens and ROGER strides in. Roger is a small cockney with a big voice.

ROGER:        You cant, John!  You facking cant!  Where’s the Priestley

                        cheque?

JOHN:            What…what’s up. Roger?

ROGER:        What’s facking up?  Your number’s up, that’s what. I’ll tell you

                        where the Priestley cheque is. In the bank, that’s where. Belly up.

                        And ten grand of my money is winging it’s way to Gran Canaria,

                         (Sees Madeleine for the first time)

                        Sexy.  You putting on or taking off?

JOHN:            Well, I guess he’ll have cashed it by now.

MAD:              How did you?….the door was…

ROGER:        (hands her a key)  Fifty percent of burglars let themselves in.

                        (looks her over)  I know those legs.

MAD:              Well…I’ve had them all my life.

ROGER:        (wagging his finger)  Nah, nah…They’re familiar.  I’m

                        not much good at faces but I never forget a leg…

                        (turns to John)  ‘Course he’s cashed it you cretin. But he

                        wasn’t supposed to, was he?  Put it on hold till I get back,

                        I said.  And what do I find?  Facking cashed…

JOHN:            I don’t recall…

ROGER:        You don’t recall. (he goes to the phone and picks up the

                        answering machine, then throws it on the settee)  Do you

                        recall what this is?  I spend good money installing it and

                        you don’t even listen to it.

JOHN:            There wasn’t any message…was there Mad?…

ROGER:        You’re havin’ a laugh.  I listened to your poxy voice myself

                        telling me you wasn’t there, before I left the message.

                        You must’a got it.

JOHN:            I didn’t.  I swear.

ROGER:        You’ve cost me ten grand. Ten facking grand. You’re

                        losing it, John. (To Maddy)  Isn’t  he losing it?

MAD:              Seems to me you’re the one whose lost it.

ROGER:        Oh, that’s sharp.  She’s sharp tonight, John.  Tell you

                        what, because she’s brought a smile  to my old boat-race,

                        I’m going to reduce your debt by half. You now only owe

                        me five grand.

MAD:              Now you’re the one having a laugh.

ROGER:        I never joke about my money.

JOHN:            I…can’t pay you five thousand.  I don’t have it.

MAD:              John!  Tell him go fuck himself!

ROGER:        Difficult thing to do – unless you got a dong

                        that goes round corners.

MAD:              Fuck you, buster! (she goes to the sideboard and pours

                        herself a drink.  The bottle is empty now, so she puts

                        it in the bin)

ROGER:        I’m not an unreasonable man. You can pay it off at…

                        say a ton a week.

MAD:              You’ll never make the Comedy Store with material

                        like that.

ROGER:        Well, John?

JOHN:            No.  Roger’s right.  I should have checked the machine

                        properly.

ROGER:        See.  I knew we could settle things amicably.

 (he rubs his hands)  This calls for a celebration. I know.

                        Bubbly. Lets have some  lovely-jubly.

MAD:              You must be joking!

ROGER:        You don’t run to a bottle of the old Dom Perignon then?

                        Pity.  I’ve got a fridge-full at home.  Still, not to

                        worry. Wasn’t that an off-license I saw at the bottom

                        of the street?

Roger takes out his wallet, removes a fifty-pound note, and holds it out.   

After a little hesitation, John takes the note and exits.

ROGER:        No point in having a dog and barking yourself.

                        What do you see in him?

MAD:              None of your effing business.

ROGER:        Must have some hidden talents, Johnny boy.  I mean,

                        he’s not exactly the life and soul, is he?  And he’s no

                        Chippendale, eh?  I mean, you wouldn’t want to rip

                        his trousers off  in a hurry, would you?  Still, he must

                        have something going for him. Maybe he’s got the right

                        knack. You know, what turns you ladies on?

                        Though  where he’s suddenly acquired it from…

                        ‘cos in all the years I’ve known him, he’s had trouble

                        getting his leg over the front doorstep, never mind

                        over…well, you get my drift.

  Maddy sits, pointedly ignoring Roger.  He studies her profile for a moment, then shakes his head.

ROGER:        What did you do before you met John?

MADDY:        Still none of your effing business.

ROGER:        Nah, listen.  For some time now I got this funny feeling about you.

                        Something tells me we’ve met in a previous life.

MAD:              What were you – a pile of manure?

ROGER:        Before you met him…what’s that, six months ago?…what

                        did you do?     Were you ever Miss Whiplash?  You got the

looks for it.  No…?   A dancer?  I bet you was a dancer. You

                        still got the pins.  Lap-dancing up West.  Is that what

                        you did?  The old nut-cracker shufti at my table?

MAD:              Life’s too short to dance with ugly men.

ROGER:        Not dancing then.  How about hooking?  Did you ever

                        do any hooking?

MAD:              I don’t believe what I’m hearing!

ROGER:        No, you’re right.  You don’t look like no hooker I ever knew.

MAD:              And you know plenty, I suppose?

ROGER:        A sex maniac, that’s me.   Can’t get enough of it.

                        You know that survey that found men think of sex

                        every six minutes?  Well, they made a mistake;

                        I reckon it’s  every  six seconds. (laughs)

                        But then, I’m sure Liza has marked your card.

MAD:              Liza  doesn’t confide in me.

ROGER:        You must be the only female in the Western world

                        deprived of that pleasure, then.  Yak, yak, that’s

                        all she does, morning till night.  Her dog-and-bone

                        bill is bigger than a tally-roll at Tesco’s on Christmas

                        eve.  (beat)  Not that she has to pay the facking thing.

                        (another beat)  Mind you, she does do a good turkey.

                        I’ll give her that.

MAD:              I can’t see you appreciating home cooking!

ROGER:        (laughs) Nah, nah.  You got your knickers in a tangle,

                        girl.  Nothing to do with nosh. Well, no…that’s wrong.

  See…it’s…(pause)… What do turkeys do?

MAD:              I don’t know.  Hate Christmas?

ROGER:        Yeah, that’s good. I like a woman with a sense of humor.

                        But it’s not the answer.

MAD:              What is it, then?

ROGER:        (after a pause)  Okay.  Chickens go cheep, cheep

                        Ducks go quack, quack.  Turkeys go…?

MAD:              Gobble, gobble.  (realizes what she has said)

                        Oh, Christ….

ROGER:        Not your cup of tea?  Some women come

                        into their own at that sort of thing. Have the mouth

                        for it.  Like Liza. (pause)  Fellatio, fellatio, where

                        art thou now?  Good fellatiatists…fellatiatists?….are

                        born not made.  Mind you, geography has a lot to do with

                        it.  Take England, for example.  Now, English birds

                        ain’t bad at it…not bad at all. Whereas the Irish, they won’t

                        touch it with a barge pole. Poles now, they’re quite

                        partial to it, but then they would be, wouldn’t they …gives

                        quite a new meaning to the expression ‘sliding down a greasy

                        pole’, don’t you think?… but best of all are American women.

                        They just love it.  ‘Giving head’, they call it. (laughs)

                        You can always tell an American woman by her mouth. Must

                        be all that exercise getting her laughing gear round…

MAD:              Do you practice at being offensive?

ROGER:        Nah.  It just comes naturally. (beat) What are your feelings

                        on going down?

MAD:              On you?  I’d rather go down on a gorilla.

ROGER:        Now, now, don’t be hasty.  It could be financially rewarding.

MAD:              You’re offering me money!  What do you take me for?

ROGER:        Five grand for a few minutes work.  Easy money, eh?

MAD:              You can’t be serious!

ROGER:        Why not? Wipe the slate clean for John.

MAD:              John doesn’t owe you any money.

ROGER:        He cost me ten grand. (pause)  Or maybe you did?

                        Maybe you erased the message?

MAD:              There was no bloody message.

ROGER:        No matter. If I can’t get it out of you, I’ll get it out of him.

 With interest.  He fucked up, he’s gotta pay.  Trouble is,

he can’t afford to pay – not even on my deferred terms.

 You’re a realist, I’d guess….so I’m offering you a way out.

 A blow-job for five grand. (laughs) A grand a minute!

 Even Naomi Campbell doesn’t earn that much!

MAD:              You’re a real bastard, aren’t you, Roger?

ROGER:        Right down to the soles of my Gucci shoes.

                        It’s a done deal, then?

MAD:              You mean now?

ROGER:        No time like the present. (he looks at his watch)

                        If we hurry, you should be able to wash it down with

                        a glass of bubbly.

                                                                                    end of scene one

scene two.

A little later.  Roger has gone; John and Maddy are finishing off the bottle of champagne. John picks up the change from the fifty pounds, which is lying on the table.

JOHN:            Not like old Roger to be so generous.  You must have rubbed

                        him up the right way. (drinks)  Cheers.

MAD:              (almost gagging)  I feel sick.

JOHN:            Might be something you ate.  What did we have for supper?

                        Oh yes, coq-a-vin. 

MAD:              Shut up, you moron! (pause) What’s Roger got on you?

JOHN:            He’s got nothing on me.

MAD:              For God’s sake!  Do I look stupid?  I always wondered

why you stayed with him. I even thought you might

be working some sort of fiddle.  Now I realize you’re

too stupid.  Even the dumbest dog

has more brains than you. Beat a dog enough and

                        it will run away.  You come back for more.

                        Why are you such a wimp, John?

John doesn’t answer, preferring instead to play with one of his cars.  Maddy kicks  it violently across the room.

MAD:              In my book, that’s the equivalent of playing with yourself.

                        Is that what you really want to do for the rest

                        of your life, play with yourself?

JOHN:            (picking up the car)  It’s just a hobby.  Everyone has

                        a hobby.

MAD:              Don’t you ever feel like…I don’t know…

I sometimes feel like Lucy Jordan?

JOHN:            Who’s Lucy Jordan?

Madeline doesn’t reply but sings some lines from ‘The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan’

MAD:                          At the age of thirty seven/

she realized she’d never ride/

through Paris in a white sports car…

JOHN:            Ah yes…Dr Hook…

MAD:              Fuck Dr Hook. I’m serious…what has Roger got on you?

JOHN:            It’s long story.

MAD:              And a sad one too, I bet.  Well, here’s one that’s

                        short and sweet.  Tell me what’s going on or I’m

                        packing my good frock and my bag of crosswords.

                        And it’s not for a quiet weekend in Clacton!

JOHN:            You wouldn’t!

MAD:             Come on.  Spit it out.  (almost gags again)

                        God, I wish I had!    

JOHN:            You sure you’re okay? Not morning sickness, is it?

MAD:              At night?  And by what means?  Immaculate conception?

JOHN:            (examining his car)  We used to rob post offices…

MAD:              Do you think that’s feasible?  To conceive immaculately? 

JOHN:           You listening? I said we used to rob post offices…

MAD               And the angel of the Lord declared unto Mary..

JOHN:            Shut up you stupid bitch and listen for once in your life….

(silence)

                        A lot of years ago, Roger, myself and another guy …

MAD:              What other guy?…

JOHN:            Kenny.  His name was Kenny.  We held up post offices for a living.  (Maddy laughs loudly at this) 

We were good at it too. Roger and Kenny, they were

                        the hard cases, done all the rough stuff, waved

                        the shotguns and all that, I just drove the

                        getaway car. And looked after the money. We

                        were rolling in it; cars suits, holidays, you name

                        it, we went and treated ourselves…

MADDY:        You were rolling in it!…

JOHN:            Yeah, rolling in it. You don’t believe me, ask Roger.  .

                        (after a moment)  Anyway, this particular job, the police were waiting. I don’t know if it was a tip-off or what, but they

                        were there. We made a run for it.  We might have

                        made it too, if I hadn’t….(pause)

There was this old woman at a zebra,

 she couldn’t make up her mind whether to cross or not.

 I went to  slow down, but…(pause)

                        Roger put his foot over mine and pushed it to the

                        floor.  We…I swerved, but I couldn’t avoid her.

                        Next thing I know we’re rolling down this embankment.

                        I jumped clear and got away, but Roger and Kenny

                        weren’t so lucky.  They got eight years apiece.

MAD:              And the old woman? 

JOHN:            She had no luck at all

MAD:              You making this up?. 

JOHN:            We all have guilty secrets in our past. I’m sure you have.

MAD:              Oh yeah?  Like we’re all bank robbers and murderers!

JOHN:            Post Offices, not banks.                 

MAD:              But you killed another human being!

JOHN:            It was an accident.

MAD:              Why didn’t you give yourself up?

JOHN:            I couldn’t.  Roger reckoned I was looking at fifteen years.

 I couldn’t do that.  Besides, the police didn’t know who

 I was. And it would stay that way as long as I looked after

 their interests.

MAD:              Meaning?

JOHN:            The money, of course!  Roger’s price for keeping quiet.

                        It was going set them up when they came out.

MAD:              Roger and Kenny?

JOHN:            Yeah.

MAD:              And…Kenny, where’s he now?

JOHN:            Spain somewhere.  A clean break, he said.  I haven’t

                        seen him since he got out.

MAD:              So you wind up working for Roger. What about your share?

JOHN:            That was the price of freedom. Cheap at twice the price,

Roger said.

MAD:              Roger is nothing but a c….a cheap blackmailer.

JOHN:            And what am I?

 (he pours the last of the champagne and drinks it)  

There’s not a day goes by I don’t think of

                        that old woman. Not a night I don’t dream about her.

                        Do you think I wouldn’t undo it all if I could?                  

Why do you think I don’t drive a car anymore?

MAD:              You said it was nerves.

JOHN:            I said a lot of things. Most of it was crap.

He searches the sideboard for some more drink. He finds a little whiskey in a bottle and pours it out.

JOHN:            You see before you a frightened rat

MAD:              You don’t have to take it lying down.

JOHN:            Don’t I?  My fingerprints were all over that car.  All

                        the police need is a word in their ear.

MAD:              He’d do that?  Turn you in?  

JOHN:            You have to understand.  He done eight years for me.

                        Well five…he got out after five

MAD:              And now you’re doing life for him. 

JOHN:            He was very bitter when he got out.  He said I owed

                        him. Owed him eight years of my life.

MAD:              No remission for you?

JOHN:            Ha, ha.

MAD:              And now you’re his dogsbody.  Running around, licking

                        his boots.  (pause) Who is Priestley?

JOHN:            Priestley?…he’s…he’s…

MAD:              Come on!  Spill.  I’m not having another cock-sucker

                        like Roger taking advantage of my generosity.

JOHN:            What do you mean?

MAD:              Never mind that.  I’m just thankful for small mercies.

Who is Priestley?

JOHN:            It’s Kenny. I think he is having a bit of a lean time

                        in Spain. The ten grand was to tide him over.  I

                        don’t know why Roger wanted it stopped.

MAD:              Maybe there wasn’t anything in it for him.

to be continued…

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS….

by

Tom O’Brien

                                                characters

                                    Maddy……… late 30’s

                                    John………….early40’s

                                    Roger…………early40’s

                                    Liza……………late 30’s

                                    Mona………….2O yrs

                                    setting……London

                                    time……….present

Eexamines a group of characters whose lives are lived in the seedier, shadier side of London.  There’s Roger and John, who, in the distant past, had robbed post offices for a living.  Roger has ‘done his bird’, and John is now doing his – as Roger’s dogsbody.  Roger can’t keep his hands off Mona, and she can’t keep her hands off his diamonds.   His long-suffering wife, Liza, decides she has had enough, and  schemes to get her  fair share, while there is still some left.

 Liza teams up with Maddy – John’s recently- acquired girlfriend – and they put the shackles on Roger – literally.  He is in a situation from which he cannot escape, and they torture him to find out the whereabouts  of his considerable stash. Who Maddy really is, and what her true agenda is, only become apparent in the final, dramatic confrontation.  

© Tom O’Brien 2012  All rights reserved.

MISS WHIPLASH REGRETS…

by

                                                                 Tom O’Brien

                                                                    act one

scene one

The sitting room of the flat of John and Madeleine.  (all scenes take place in this room) MADELEINE is seated, doing a x-word. There is a model car on the floor near her, a bright racing-type model.  JOHN is in the bathroom, shaving.

MAD:              What’s the capital of Peru?

JOHN:            (off) Bagota?

MAD:              four letters.  Ends with A.

JOHN:            Pisa…Riga…no, Lima.  Definitely Lima.

MAD:              Liza is leaving Roger.

JOHN:            How many letters?

MAD:              No.  Liza and Roger are splitting up.

JOHN:            I’m not surprised.  She’s been

                        taking him to the cleaners for years.

MAD:              Nothing to do with his laundry arrangements, dear.

                        He’s been fucking some little scrubber in the office

                        for months, apparently.  (beat) Going to seed?

JOHN:            What?

MAD:              Going to seed.  Ten letters.

JOHN:            Ooh…I don’t know.  vegetating? (beat)

                        Who’s the scrubber?

MAD:              Mona.  You know Mona.  Mona with the big…eyes.

                        (counts letters in x-word)  Ten letters… yeah. Oh no, it begins with S.

                        If you had money, would you leave me?

JOHN:            (emerges from kitchen, shaving foam on part of his chin)

                        What?

MAD:              Stagnating.  It’s stagnating

JOHN:            What’s stagnating?

MAD:              The clue, darling.  It’s stagnating.  What did you think

                        I meant…our relationship?

JOHN:            Ha ha.  What did you mean just now?…if I had money…

MAD:              Exactly what I said. If you had money, would you leave me?

JOHN:            (returning to kitchen) That’s what I thought you said.

There is a silence for a moment.

MAD:              Well, would you?

John returns clean-shaven, patting his cheeks.  He picks up a remote control off the armchair and sends the model car racing across the floor. He slows it down and maneuvers it around Madeleine’s legs.

                        Now, that’s a tricky one.

MAD:              You bastard.

JOHN:            It’s academic anyway.  I don’t have any money.

(he tries to move the car, but she prevents it with her foot)

                        Don’t do that.

MAD:              But if you had?

JOHN:            Honestly?

MAD:              Honestly.

JOHN:            I believe I would…stay put.

MAD:              Liar.

JOHN:            Why ask, then?

Pause

MAD   :           Don’t you want to ask me the same question?

JOHN:            No.

MAD   :           Aren’t you curious?

JOHN:            Maybe I don’t want to know the answer

Silence.

MAD:              Has Roger much money?

JOHN:            He has a few bob…yes.

MAD:              I mean – real money?

JOHN:            Yes, real money.

MAD:              How much real money?

JOHN:            I don’t know.

MAD:              You do his books.  If you don’t know, who does?

JOHN:            It’s privileged information.  I couldn’t possibly reveal…

He sits down, and picks up the car.

JOHN:            Look what you’ve done…

He takes a screwdriver from his kit and does some adjustments.

MAD:            Oh, you couldn’t possibly reveal…

                        Why not?  You didn’t take the Hippocratic oath, did you? 

And you’re not a priest – as far as I know.

JOHN:            It would be unethical.  There’s the employer/

                        employee relationship for a start…

MAD:              What relationship? He walks all over you.

                        And you obligingly lie down and make it easy.

JOHN:            It’s not like that.

MAD:              (putting away the x-word and watching him tinker)

                        You men are all little boys at heart, aren’t you?

 Did you have a deprived childhood or something? 

No toys to play with on your birthday…

(John doesn’t answer)

                        What is it like then?  Go on, tell me.

 Refresh my memory about what a bastard he is.

JOHN:            Roger?  He has his off days.

MAD:              So you don’t really want to nail his balls to a plank?

                        Don’t want to stick hot needles under his toenails?

                        That was just you talking in your sleep, was it?

JOHN:            I’m not saying that sometimes he isn’t a…a

MAD:              Four letters, beginning with a capital C…

                         (laughs)  You once wanted to give him

                        the wax treatment…remember?

JOHN:            The wax treatment?

MAD:              You get him to place his….dick on a table, and then

                        you pound it with a mallet until the wax comes out

                        his ears.  (John looks horrified)

                        Well, perhaps it wasn’t you

JOHN:            What sort of people were you mixing with before you met me?

MAD:              Oh, forget it!  I must have read it somewhere.

                        (pause)

Here’s another word.  Five letters, begins with M. Something we lack.

JOHN:            We’re doing okay.

MAD:              Right!  A holiday then. Three weeks in the Caribbean.

JOHN:            Not that okay.

MAD:              Roger’s just come back from two weeks in Benidorm.

Christmas, they went cruising down the Nile. Later

in the year they’re off to Mexico…

JOHN:            Not if  Liza is leaving him.

MAD:              That won’t stop him! He’ll take Mona…or some other floozy.

(beat) If I was a tramp like her…

JOHN:            You don’t know her.

MAD:              I know her type.  (beat)

I could have been like that, thrown myself at men…

it wasn’t for the lack of opportunities, you know…

JOHN:            Why didn’t you?  I find that most women have

                        a talent for that sort of thing.

MAD:              Piss off.

JOHN:            You couldn’t be like her.  Not in a million years.

MAD:              Why not?  What’s she got that I haven’t got?

JOHN:            I‘m not saying she’s got anything. 

Just…It takes a certain type of woman. A…a…

MAD:              Slag?  You don’t think I have what it takes to be a slag?

JOHN:            I was going to say look.  They  have a certain look..

MAD:              (ripping the buttons on her blouse, exposing lots

                        of cleavage, then ripping a slit in her skirt and exposing

                        her thigh)

 Like this, you mean?

JOHN:            Can you afford a gesture like that?  Silk blouses don’t

                        grow on trees.

MAD:              (ripping her blouse off completely, and throwing it at him)

                        It’s not a fucking gesture. (pause)

                      Is this the look?  Go on, tell me

JOHN:            I was under the impression you’d led a sheltered life.

Convent girl, you said  (beat)  Or was that a load of old tosh?

MAD:              Is it or isn’t it?  Is that what turns men on? Turns you on?

JOHN:            (shrugs)  Any half-naked woman is a turn-on for a man. Some more than others, I suppose. That’s a biological thing. 

But that isn’t what I meant. It’s in the eyes, it’s in the

mouth, its in the gestures. It’s an inner thing…subconscious

maybe…I don’t know…,(trails away)

MAD:              Listen to him!  The great lover speaking.

JOHN:            You did ask. I never pretended I was John Travolta or…

MAD:              Hah!  (grabs her blouse and puts it back on)

                        Does she turn you on?  Mona.

JOHN:            I suppose after about six pints I might be tempted. But

                        you know how drink affects me.  With that amount of alcohol

                        inside me a sheep would look inviting.

MAD:              Don’t be crude.

JOHN           Come on, I’m old enough to be her father!

MAD:              When did that ever stop a man?

JOHN:            She’s not my type, Maddy.  You are.

MAD:              I hate it when you call me that.

JOHN:            Sorry.  Madeleine.

Silence

MAD:              Couldn’t we rob a bank or something. 

JOHN:            We?

MAD:              You, then. What about Roger?

Could you fiddle some books?

JOHN:            Wouldn’t be a clever move.

MAD:              It would be a move, though. A…move.

JOHN:            I never heard you like this before.

 (tries the car ,but it doesn’t work)

MAD:              I was never desperate before.

JOHN:            I thought you said it didn’t matter.

MAD:              Do you have to believe everything people say?

                        (beat) I don’t want to wind up being discarded like Liza.

JOHN:            You said she was leaving him.

MAD:              She is. But she could see the writing on the wall from

                        a long way off

JOHN:            Why are you suddenly so concerned?  You hardly know her.

MAD:              Expanding my circle of friends, dear. You don’t

                        seem to have any – and mine are all…well, elsewhere. (beat)

                        We both use the same hairdresser…and…well… you know…

JOHN:            Does Roger know she plans to leave?

MAD:              I shouldn’t think he cares.

JOHN:            I can’t feel sorry for her.  She’s one of life’s takers.

MAD:              There’s plenty to go round.

JOHN:            There isn’t a well deep enough that she couldn’t drain.

                        Do you know how much she spent  last month?

                        Nearly fifteen hundred quid. Fifteen hundred

                        for a few frocks!  Roger is on the warpath.

MAD:              Good for her!  I’d spend it if I had it.

JOHN:            Not my money you wouldn’t.

MAD:             You’re so tight your arse squeaks when you walk, John.

JOHN:            Ungenerous to a fault, that’s me.  (beat)

            Must be my terrific personality that won the day then.

MAD:              No.  And in case you’re wondering, it wasn’t your

                        big cock either.

Before John can reply, the door to the hallway opens and ROGER strides in. Roger is a small cockney with a big voice.

to be continued tomorrow.

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