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.

available on Amazon.co.uk

3 PUNKS (extract)

The Punk Kebab Documentary (1977)

3 PUNKS

By

Tom O’Brien

A bare stage. A bar with some stools stage left. Some drinks scattered about. A screen to back with images of Punks etc. Spotlight no 1 on JOHN LYDON. Spotlight no.2 on SHANE MACGOWAN. Spotlight no. 3 on JOE STRUMMER.  All three acknowledge the audience. Hold the spotlights for a few moments, then they all step forward and sing a verse each from 3 songs. John sings ANARCHY UK, Shane sings IF I SHOULD FALL FROM GRACE, Joe sings LONDON CALLING. All are dressed in the punk styles of their generation; Lydon wears an I HATE PINK FLOYD tee-shirt;  Joe carries a guitar.  It has a label which reads – THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS ; Shane has a pint and a fag in his hands.

JOHN:            I consider myself working class. And we, the working class, we’re lazy good-for-nothing  bastards. We never accept responsibility for our lives – that’s why we’ll always be downtrodden. We seem to enjoy it in a perverse sort of way; we like being told what to do, led like sheep to the slaughterhouse, as it were.

JOE:               I was born John Mellor in Ankara, Turkey, in 1952. My father worked for the Foreign Office, with the result I had a life moving around different places when I was young; Cairo, Mexico City, West Germany, before we finally settled in the UK. My parents were still posted abroad though so at the age of eight I was packed off to boarding school, along with my elder brother David. That was our home for the next nine years, seeing our parents just once or twice a year. I suppose that’s why I became so fucked up.  

   SHANE:      I grew up in Puckaun. Back of beyond Tipperary. On a farm. My mother’s people. My uncle Jim used to sleep in the haystacks, ya know? He’d get pissed off about how overcrowded it was because there were about fourteen people living in the house.  You’d be playing in the haystacks and you’d suddenly realise Jim was asleep in the hay, under the tarpaulins. It was either that or sleep in the same bed as uncle John – and uncle John used to fight in his sleep. ‘Fock yez, I’ll fockin kill yez, ye conts’. So uncle Jim got so sick of it he would sleep in the haystacks, and in the end he never slept in a bed again.  

JOHN:              I loathe the British Public School system with a passion. How can anybody have the right to a better educationjust because their parents have money? I find that vile. They talk with this sense of superiority , the upper classes, and they have it. They have all the right connections once they leave school, and they parasite off the population as their  friends help them along.

                        You never see that with the working classes.       

JOE:               Our school’s initiation rite involved a choice of being beaten up or lying in a bath of used toilet paper. I got beaten up! I guess it toughened me up, taught me to be independent, but there was always this sense of abandonment; having to pretend your parents didn’t exist. There was this ‘Lord Of The Flies’ feel to the all-male dorm and bullying was rife; it was a really brutal school and they filled you with crap.          

JOHN:              Because with the working classes, if you have any kind of success your friends, your neighbours, will turn round and hate you instantly.

                        “You’re not working class anymore!”

                        That used to worry me when I was younger, but I couldn’t give a toss now. I regard myself as working class and that’s all that counts. It was similar if you managed to read a book – and actually understand it! Then you were a snob, a poof, or a sissy. Labels, that’s all they were. Meaningless fucking labels.

 SHANE:        (to Lydon)I remember the first time I saw you. You had long hair and wore a bovver hat. You were quite fat.

JOHN:            Fuck off you seldom fed culchie.

JOE:               That’s a Brendan Behan line.

JOHN:            And you can fuck off too, Strummer.

SHANE:         The next time you had blue hair. I’ll say this; it took some bottle to wear blue hair in Finsbury Park in those days. Chee…chee.

JOHN:            If you don’t accept me as I am then don’t accept me at all, that’s always been my motto. I was practically unlovable most of my early life. I wouldn’t even let my parents go near me. From a very early age it was – “get off! Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!”

SHANE:         I bet you fondled yourself.

JOE:               Well, isn’t this cosy. Three old punkers livin’ it up.

SHANE:         More like the three stooges, fuckin’ it up. Chee…chee.

JOHN:            Wait a minute! What are you doing here, Strummer? What’s he doin’ here? He’s fuckin’ dead. (He looks around)         Where is this place?

SHANE:         Yeah, Joe, what are you doing here?

JOE:               I thought you believed in re-incarnation, Shane.

SHANE:         Yeah, I do. But you can’t come back as yourself, can you? A dog, maybe. Or a chicken. Chee…chee.

JOE:               Maybe it’s all a dream.

JOHN:            The question is – whose dream?

JOE sings a few lines from Bruce Springsteen’s THE RIVER  and glides away

                                    Now those memories come back to haunt me,

                                    They haunt me like a curse.

                                    Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true,

                                    Or is it something worse?

JOHN:            Yeah, I fondled myself. But I never screamed as a youngster. That shocked my mother when she first heard the Sex Pistols. I had always been so quiet. She’d never seen that side of me. She probably thought she had raised a lunatic.

SHANE:         And you proved her right. Chee…chee.

JOHN:            Yeah. Had I not had my family I would have turned into a psychopath or something. Looking at how other people behaved I was definitely weird. I always had this sense of detachment…isolation… even when I was part of the Pistols this continued. I was never part of the group in any meaningful way. I came and sang my songs and then went home alone. I was never invited to any parties or get-togethers; I never felt really belonged.

            Joe returns.

JOE:               It’s Tuesday today. Just another I-wish-I-could –get-this-monkey-off-my-back fucking day. Have you got a smoke?

JOHN:            We were the very first people – as a band I mean – to call each other cunts. We just didn’t like each other, simple as that.                                                                                                Steve Jones was probably the most important member of the group. He was our procurer. Instruments, mics, speakers, you name it he would acquire it. He was a thief – a very good one – and had been since he was six years old when he watched his parents steal from the local Tesco’s. It was all he knew to do. He managed to get us great gear. (laughs) We still couldn’t play properly  even when we had great gear. One of our best sources was the Hammersmith Odeon where rock stars would be regularly playing. Steve knew his way round the back and when all the roadies were asleep or whatever, he’d sneak in and get us what we needed. The Pistols could never have come into being without nicked gear ‘cos none of us had any money.                                           I was invited to Join the band and become the lead singer by Malcolm. Malcolm McClaren. I was down the Kings Road every week, looking absurd, and Malcolm’s shop ‘Sex’ was the place to hang out. It had a jukebox and you could play music and have a chat with Malcolm. I had green hair and one evening Malcolm just said ‘would you like to be in a band?’ I said ‘I can’t sing. Just let me sing out of tune. Would that be alright?’ I knew every Alice Cooper song upside down, backwards and inside out so I did my version of ‘EIGHTEEN’

Johnny throws him a packet of cigarettes.

JOE:               A proper fucking smoke. A spliff.

JOHN:            I don’t fucking indulge.

They all sing Lydon’s version of EIGHTEEN (c Alice Cooper)

ALL:                          Lines form on my face and my hands
Lines form on the left and right
I’m in the middle
the middle of life
I’m a boy and I’m a man
I’m eighteen and I LIKE IT
Yes I like it
Oh I like it
Love it
Like it
Love it

            SHANE:         It’s election day today. Have you even voted?

            JOE:               Have you?  Where I live it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference.

            SHANE:         Oh yeah, Somerset isn’t it? Bit middle-class for you. But I forgot,

                                    you are middle-class aren’t you Joe. Chhh…chhh…

            JOHN:            Nah. That was John Mellor. Son of a Foreign Office diplomat, private-

school boarder, art student , and all that fucking crap. Tell me Joe, has John Mellor been buried under so many years of being Joe Strummer that he no longer exists?

JOE:               You’re a two-faced cunt Lydon. You’re more establishment than any of us.

JOHN:            Nah, you got me confused with somebody else.

JOE:               What about that butter ad? You …a country gent! You sold out early.  (he points)  He used to be Johnny Rotten

                        (sings)

                                    God save the Queen. She ain’t no human being.

                                    There is no future in England’s dreaming…

Hypocrite. And you, McGowan, you went to Westminster Public School.

SHANE:         No  I fucking didn’t. I won a scholarship there, yeah, but did I attend? No fucking way. It was full of toffee nosed bastards like you. I went on a shoplifting spree my first week. I never looked back after that. Drink, drugs, you name it. I didn’t just get kicked out, I was fucking catapulted out. Chee….cheee                    (he drinks copiously from a bottle)                                                      

     JOHN:        I think the first words Steve Jones said about me were “I can’t work with that fucking cunt. All he does is take the piss and moan’.                There was rarely a time when the four of us were friends. Right from the start – at rehearsals –  I’d tell them I was going for a piss then listen at the door. And I would hear them;  “That cunt! Fucking hell!”  Then they’d go off in someone’s car, probably Malcolm’s, leave me standing behind. I’d go home by myself on the train. That would be it night after night. Me, the outsider. Malcolm said it was because he wanted me to be the ‘mystery man’. Bollocks!          

 

Image result for johnny rotten pics

     

Image result for punk pictures  joe strummer

                                                                              

WHAT’S THE STORY – a short story.

This is a short story from my book of short stories called WHAT’S THE STORY. The book is available on Amaon.co.uk

THE DISPOSSESSED
Being away for so long had made me homesick. When you’re young, four years
seems a lifetime. The notion of swapping the concrete wilderness that was
Kilburn for the more natural one of Currabaha for a few weeks seemed like a
good idea.
Oh, I was brash and I was flash; my easily-acquired ‘Big Smoke’ veneer not so
shiny anymore, but I was still lonesome. London was a great place for people like
me – fellas with little inclination of getting out of bed in the morning – yet deep
down there was always this nagging feeling that I didn’t belong. Where did I
belong? That was the burning question even then, all those years ago. I didn’t
know then, and I’m not sure I know now…
The first shock I had was seeing my father’s physical condition. He seemed to
have aged ten years. And he had developed ulcers on his legs which made
walking painful. His bicycle had been replaced by a moped – an NSU QUICKLY.
This contraption carried both him and my mother wherever they wanted to go
with the greatest of ease. It was progress of a sort I guess.
The biggest shock, though, was seeing the electricity cables connected to the
house. For years we had lived in a twilight world of paraffin lamps and candles.
Now the place was ablaze with electricity. There was even an electric cooker and
a TV. There was piped water too. No more dragging buckets up from the well a
hundred yards away. The only modern convenience missing was a bathroom –
and father was working on that. To be truthful, I had forgotten how primitive our
existence used to be. London had seen to that.
“Speak to your father”, my mother urged. “He won’t make the first move”.
As we hadn’t spoke for almost a year before I left, I wasn’t sure how he would
react. I needn’t have worried: he seemed as eager to talk as I was. The period of
silence between us wasn’t referred to at all. Both of them showed a keen interest
in my life in London so I invented a fictitious existence for myself. I don’t think
the truth would have gone down well, so I told them what they wanted to hear. I
felt a real shit telling them lie after lie, but what was the alternative? Tales of my
gambling and thieving would hardly have endeared me to them.
161
Little things that I had forgotten, like people blessing themselves as they passed a
church or drivers stopping to offer you a lift, reminded me forcefully that this
world and London hardly spoke the same language. The culture gap was so great,
the way of life so different, that my few years absence made me feel a stranger
myself.
I was forced to play out the charade of the big spender when I visited the Dirty
Bucket and other watering-holes in the neighbourhood. And suffer all the backslapping and hand-shaking as I bought drinks for half the county. A prestigious
job had to be invented too – so I told everyone I was I was working for the
William Hill organisation. Which I was in a way. Someone got the mistaken
impression that William Hill was a building contractor, and several fellows
asked if I could fix them up with a “start”. I said I’d see what I could do.
One day I borrowed my cousin’s motorbike and rode up the side of the
Comeraghs. And when I could ride no more I abandoned the bike and climbed.
Finally, I stood in the shadows of Crotty’s Eye, a needle-like projection that
eavesdropped on the valleys below. Idly, I wondered what Crotty, the
highwayman, thought when he looked down on those plains. I imagined him,
patiently sitting in the eye of the needle, watching potential victims grow large
before his eyes as they made their way slowly along the mountain trail. And I
visualised him,later, dangling from the gallows in Waterford City, where he was
hanged for his crimes.
“Hey Crotty”, I shouted in the wind, “I bet you never thought the Clancy
Brothers would make you famous” . A highwayman, now that was the life.
Being there reminded me of Deirdre. It didn’t seem that long ago since we had
swore our undying love for each other on this very same spot. Now I had learned
from my mother that she was to be married to some fella from Cork in a couple
of weeks. “Forever”, she had whispered in my ear. “I will love you forever,
Terry”. It occured to me now that “forever” isn’t such a long time after all.
Making my way back down I passed Lackendaragh’s Cave. It wasn’t really a
cave; merely a couple of stone walls bridged over with galivanised iron and bits
of timber. then covered rocks and sods of earth. The rear end was sealed with
more stones, the front partly covered with fertiliser bags. I peeped inside but he
wasn’t home. The place looked like it hadn’t been lived in for some time, so
perhaps he had moved on. That didn’t seem likely though; he had lived half way
up these mountains for as long as anyone could remember, coming down to the
162
village on the odd occasion to collect his few meagre rations. I had always
thought of him as Moses, with his long white beard and flowing hair. Perhaps he
was dead.
The days passed in a pleasant alcoholic haze and I was well into my second
week before I got as far as Tramore. Which surprised me, because I always felt
some special ‘magic’ about the place. Now as I strolled along the prom all I felt
was indifference. Oh, it was still a beautiful spot, and it was difficult not to be
moved when you saw those big Atlantic breakers rolling into the bay, but when I
looked back at the amusement arcades and fairground booths that dotted the seafront, I realised it could just as easily be Brighton or Clacton. Or any of a
hundred other seaside resorts. And I felt sad.
I hadn’t been long in the town when I noticed a girl hanging around the arcades
giving me the eye. We got chatting and I learned she was from Belfast. She told
me she was working as a maid in one of the hotels and it was her day off. Later,
we sat on the pier, our legs dangling, and ate greasy chips washed down with
warm Fanta. She told me her name was Marian, and said she had watched me
ride in on the motorbike. When she asked if I owned it I said yes.
“I love the feeling you get on a big bike”, she said. “Don’t you?”
Then she asked if I would take her for a spin. I was only too happy to oblige and
we soon left the town behind us in a ribbon of blue smoke.
The bike was a charging chariot and I was starring in Ben Hur as we negotiated
the coast road. We flew low over Annestown and Boatstrand, slowing down only
to negotiate treacherous hairpins. When the adrenalin finally gave out we found
ourselves on the cliffs overlooking Bonmahon.
The signs of decay were everywhere. If ever a town basked in the shadow of
former glory, this was it. Less than a hundred years ago, this was a thriving
mining community, vibrant and volatile. The lanky main street once boasted
rows of terraced housing – maybe not exactly luxurious living – but at least it
radiated life. All that was left now was a ghost town. The sand dunes had crept
relentlessly towards the remains of the Main Street, the only barrier to further
encroachment the facades of the houses. They has been chopped off at shoulder
height and were only recognisable because the bricked-up windows and doors
were of a different colour.
163
We had parked quite close to a railed-off section of cliff. Here, too, the signs of
decay were visible. DANGER! KEEP OUT! DISUSED COPPER MINES.
Even the warning signs were faded. The copper, the houses, most of the people,
long gone. Nothing left but some bloody great holes in the ground.
The summer day ebbed as we sat on the grass and talked. About everything – and
nothing. Marian had spent some time in London, working in hotels along the
Bayswater Road
“Most of the guests were sex-maniacs”, she said. “Everything time we went into
a bedroom to do our work we needed armour. Many of them were Middle
Eastern, Arabs I suppose, and they thought their money could buy them
anything”.
She laughed at one particular memory…”one guest was still in bed when I went
into his room. He had a book on his lap, a guide book he said, and asked me to
point out a certain landmark to him. I am short-sighted and had to bend down to
have a look. Well, he pulled away the bedclothes and you can imagine what I
was left looking at! That was enough for me…I came home to civilised people
after that”.
She would have returned to Belfast, she said, but most of her friends and relatives
were fleeing the place. “There’s more of us in Shannon now than Belfast”. Then
she asked me if I was a sympathiser.
I said I hadn’t thought about it much but I supposed I was. Well, if ever there was
a collection box to be filled I always threw a few bob in. I had seen the pictures
on the telly; hordes of them tumbling over the border, faces on them like they had
seen Old Nick himself. And sure maybe they had.
Later, as the sun sank into the sea, we rode back into Tramore and terrified
ourselves on the big dipper. Then we jousted in the bumpers; the head-to-head
collisions sending her screaming with delight. When we had our fill of drink we
went dancing in the Silver Slipper, and later still I asked her to come back to
London with me. She said she would. To celebrate we consumated our passions
on the still-warm sand with the Atlantic breakers lapping gently against our toes.
Afterwards, I fell asleep. When I woke up she was gone. And so was my wallet.
Ah well, that’s red-headed women for you.
164
The following night I went dancing in the Rainbow, with money borrowed from
my mother. What I thought of as a palace now turns out to be nothing more than
a glorified shed.
I watched from the shadows as a man scattered handfuls of crystals on the uneven
floor. Occasionally, when the ballroom doubled as the cinema, the same man
used to strike terror into us youngsters, curbing our exuberance with whacks on
the head from his torch. Now, he was just an old man.
Later, as the hall began to fill, I felt like an interloper as I watched the age-old
rituals unfold. The men lined up one side of the hall, the girls along the other.
The space between was a sort of no-mans land, across which the two sides sized
each other up. When the music commenced it was a buffalo stampede across nomans land to grab the girl of your choice. Sometimes there was a sharp change of
direction to grab a second or third choice when the initial selection was
commandeered by somebody else.
I didn’t dance all night. I merely stood there and watched, and realised that I
didn’t have the stomach for it anymore. Friends and acquaintances, I watched
them waltzing and fox-trotting by me, happy in their world, and I knew I wasn’t
part of it anymore.
Absence hadn’t made my heart grow fonder; it had only distanced me from them
and their way of life. For the first time in my life I truly understood the
expression I had often heard in London, “you can never go back”. Its true – You
can never go back.
A few days later I “acquired” some more funds and returned to London. I’ve
never been back.
end

NO BLACKS ,NO DOGS, NO POLES

This is a scene from my play NO BLACKS ,NO DOGS, NO POLES. The full script can be purchased on Amazon.

No Blacks, No Dogs, No Poles Brendan Behan's Women: Two Irish plays by [Tom O'Brien]

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO POLES was first performed at Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead, London NW3 6TE on 13th May2014. It was produced by Leonie Scott-Matthews and directed by Jesse Cooper.

NO BLACKS, NO DOGS, NO IRISH POLES

By

Tom O’Brien

Characters

JIMMY………swarthy, dark complexion, 30yrs                   

CON…………..Irish, a bull of a man, mid 50’s                       

MARION……poised, slightly matronly, mid 50’s                

JJ……………….Anglo-Irish, well groomed, late 40’s                          

MICHAEL….athletic, interesting, 30yrs                              

CATHY………aborigine, 30yrs approx.                                 

Time…………….recently

Length………..90mins approx.

Synopsis

The dysfunctional Kennedy clan are having a re-union. There’s the father, Con, a successful building contractor in London who has had to relocate back in Ireland because of tax irregularities in the UK.  Con is secretly bisexual, although not-so-secret from his wife, Marion, who has known it all along and kept quiet about it. His estranged son, Michael, turns up after five years in Australia with Cathy, his new aborigine wife.  To say his parents are surprised would be putting it mildly. His nephew, Jimmy, also turns up and it is soon apparent that his racist, bigoted views haven’t mellowed any as he has got older. We learn that he is there at Con’s invitation; his real reason being to spy on Marion, who Con suspects of having an affair. Jimmy also has his own agenda, selling crack/cocaine to the local drug users – a plan which backfires when the drugs, which he has buried in the back garden, are discovered by Michael, heightening the already tense atmosphere in the house. Add in JJ, construction manager for Con, whose attraction to Marion must be obvious to everyone except Con.

                                                            ACT ONE

scene one

A well-presented living room.  Armchairs, coffee table, lamp-stand, bookcase etc. An old mantel clock is on a shelf.  French doors leading to the garden. The garden is part-visible; grass, shrubs, a tree right at the back.  A door leads to the stairs. We hear a voice singing, loudly and badly, in the garden.

            VOICE:                      We will take him up the Arse…

                                                We will take him up the Arse…

                                                We will take him up the Arse…n…al

CON DWYER appears from within the house, shaking his head.  He is in mid/late fifties, a bull of a man.  He moves to the French doors and looks out.

            CON:              Jimmy, would you mind moderating your vocal delivery…you prat.

His reply is a ball kicked in the direction of the doors.

            CON:              Oi! It’s not Saturday down the North Bank with the rest of the morons.

JIMMY DWYER appears from the garden.  He is in around thirty, swarthy, dark complexion. His head may be shaven. He wears an Arsenal jersey, and is carrying a can of lager.

            JIMMY:         What was that, Con?

            CON:              Put a sock in it.  You’re among civilised people now.

            JIMMY:         No, before. The intellectual bit.

            CON:              I asked you to moderate your vocal delivery.

            JIMMY:         That’s good, that. (drinks) Where’d you pick that up?

            CON:              Some literary magazine

            JIMMY:         The Sun?  Hey Psycho, could you moderate your vocal delivery.

            CON:              And if he didn’t?

            JIMMY:         We’d kick his head in.

            CON:              You’d do that anyway.

            JIMMY:         Yeah. But not with such style.  (beat) Must remember that. Use it the next

                                    time.

            CON:              And when are you likely to see a game again?

JIMMY:         Yeah, well…(brightens)  I can watch the highlights tonight.

            CON:              Not on my telly, you can’t.

            JIMMY:         Aw Con.  Just because you support the Jewboys…

            CON:              It’s the reception.  We can’t get BBC here.

            JIMMY:         I forgot I’m back in the fucking bog again.

            CON:              Better than being back in the nick.

            JIMMY:         Yeah, you’re right.  Look…thanks again for putting me up. I’ll get out of

                                    your hair in a few days.

            CON:              Aren’t you forgetting something?

JIMMY:         I ain’t forgetting.  I’ll be out’a your hair soon as I finish that little job.

            CON:              Don’t take too long about it. (pause) Nothing too drastic, mind.

            JIMMY:         Gotchya. (finishes the beer) Think I’ll take a stroll. You know, stretch the

                                    legs. 

He heads back into the garden, and we hear singing.

            JIMMY:         We’ll take ‘em up the Arse…………Take ‘em up the Arse…

Con watches Jimmy depart, unaware that MARION, his wife, has been watching the last few exchanges. Marion is early fifties, good-looking in a matronly sort of way.

            MARION:      A few days! I can’t stand five minutes more of that…that sort of vulgarity.

                                    He’d better go.

            CON:              How long have you been there?

            MARION:      Long enough.  There’s no excuse for that kind of language.  It belongs in

                                    the gutter.  And so does he.  What little job?

            CON:              I don’t know.

            MARION:      Sounded to me like you did.

CON:              Someone owes him money I think. Ah… you know Jimmy.

MARION:      That’s what worries me.  Get rid of him.

            CON:              I can’t do that.

            MARION:      I’ll do it then.

          CON:              He’s my sister’s son for God sake!

            MARION:      And that gives him the right to be foul-mouthed?  Though maybe that’s

                                    where he gets it from.

            CON:              Josephine?  Bad language?

            MARION:      She could swear for Ireland, England and Europe when she had a mind to.

                                    How would you know anyway? You’ve hardly seen her in twenty years.

            CON:              Neither have you.

            MARION:      I’m not her brother. Anyway, I spent enough years sharing a room with

                                    her.  So don’t tell me what language she could or couldn’t use.

            CON:              Oh yes.  I remember now.  Harlesden Gardens.  Round the corner from St

                                    Marys Church.  Mrs McGinty was your landlady.  Ex- Gestapo, wasn’t

                                    she?

            MARION:      There was nothing wrong with Mrs McGinty.

            CON:              Nothing that a firing squad couldn’t cure.

            MARION:      You never liked her.

            CON:              She never liked me!

            MARION:      And whose fault was that? You terrified that poor woman.

            CON:              She had no sense of humour.

MARION:      Oh yes.  Let me see now…five ton of building sand dumped in her front drive…

            CON:              She needed a new patio…

            MARION:      A load of unasked-for horse manure…

            CON:              Her roses were looking a bit poorly…

MARION:      Catalogue furniture, carpet fitters, undertakers, funeral wreaths….

                        Hilarious, that. She must have been laughing her head off. 

            CON:              She was a fucking bitch.

            MARION:      Just because she found you in bed with…

            CON:              I wasn’t in bed with him. I was only in his room. (pause)  I had nowhere to

                                    sleep for Christ sake!

          MARION:      I thought it was pretty funny at the time.

            CON:              I’m glad someone did.  Did you know she told Fr. Cleary?  He was round

                                    like a shot.  You know how that lot are about…things like that.

            MARION:      The church frowns on homosexuality, Con. He was only doing his job.

CON:              Huh! Half of Willesden knew about it before the week was out.

            MARION:      Now, where’s your sense of humour?

            CON:              I can take a joke like the next man…but that wasn’t funny. Bloody narrow-

                                    minded ould biddy. Did she really think I was like that?  All I did was

                                    sleep in a friend’s bed for a few nights when he was on night shift.

MARION:      You overslept that night, Con. (laughs) I was finishing my cornflakes in the kitchen when she came in. She was in a right state – about the four legs she saw sticking out of the bottom of the bed.  And I think they’re men’s legs, she whispered, blessing herself.  ‘Course I knew two of them were yours…

CON:              I should’a stayed in your room.

MARION:      God no! That would have been worse still in her eyes. Anyway, you didn’t  really know me then. It was only after that we started going out.

            CON:              Oh yeah, that’s right.  I swept you off your feet soon afterwards.

MARION:      (a forced laugh) She was very good to me, the time I spent there. God rest

                        her soul.

            CON:              She’s dead?

            MARION:      She died last year.

            CON:              I never knew

            MARION:      Why should you?

            CON:              You could have told me.

            MARION:      What for?

            CON:              So as I could go and get drunk.

            MARION:      Since when did you need an excuse to do that?

CON                I would have raised my glass to her… (he raises an imaginary glass)

Your good health Mrs McGinty. May you continue to feed the hungry worm population….

            MARION:      See what I mean? I thought all that was forgotten.

CON:              It’s not just elephants who never forget.  She made a laughing stock of me. I didn’t dare show my face in the Galtymore for ages afterwards…

            MARION:      You made sure you got your own back, didn’t you?

            CON:              (an uncomfortable silence) Ah, it’s all history now.  (pause)

            MARION:      Is it?  (another pause)

CON:              I’ll have a word with Jimmy….get him to tone it down a bit.

            MARION:      I don’t want him here at all. There’s bound to be a room at the inn.

            CON:              And if there’s not, they might have the use of a stable, eh?

            MARION:      What?  (realising) Michael’s going to be here in…(she looks at her

                                    watch)…less than three hours.

            CON:              Better dig out the red carpet sharpish then, hadn’t I?

            MARION:      If that’s the way you’re going to…I can see now it’s going to be a fine

                                    homecoming…

            CON:              And whose fault is it if I’m not exactly over the moon?

            MARION:      He’s our son for heaven sake!

            CON:              Oh yes…our son.

            MARION:      For God sake! He’s been away five years, Con.

            CON:              I know that.

            MARION:      You could show some enthusiasm at least.  You never even…enquired

                                    about him (beat) He could have died for all you cared

CON:              No!  Don’t say that. Don’t bloody say that.  I do care.

            MARION:      Show it then.  Show him.

            CON:              I’m not like you. 

            MARION:      You don’t talk to him.  You never talked to him.

CON:              I did. I tried to. He’s the one who wouldn’t speak. After the…well…after what happened. (pause)   Besides, you do enough talking for both of us. All those phone calls…

            MARION:      Oh well, if you’re going to complain about a few little phone calls…

            CON:              I’m not complaining.  Jesus!

            MARION:      Are you going to speak to him?

            CON:              He’s the one who wouldn’t speak to me, remember?

            MARION:      I don’t want him arriving and finding you won’t speak to him.

            CON:              I said I would.

            MARION:      It’s not just him now.

            CON:              That’s another thing.  Getting married in the wilds of Woomabera –

or wherever it is. What’s wrong with here?  His home?

            MARION:      This isn’t his home. London is.

            CON:              You know what I mean.

MARION:      We got married in Willesden Junction.

            CON:              It’s not out in the bloody wilds.

            MARION:      It’s Katoomba.  And it’s not in the wilds.  It’s just outside Sydney.  I’m sure

                                    they are civilised there.

            CON:              Bloody upside-downers. I remember when I worked in Earls Court…

            MARION:      They remember you too, I bet…

            CON:              No one ever said a bad word about me. It’s in the breeding. The Kennedys

                                    can go anywhere and hold their heads high.  Civilised people every one of

                                    them.

            MARION:      Apart from your nephew Jimmy.

            CON:              Funny how he’s my relation all of a sudden.

            MARION:      He’s no relation of mine.

            CON:              Ah come on, he’s not that bad.

            MARION:      He’s a thug.  A foul-mouthed, nasty piece of work. And I don’t want him

                                    round my house.  What’s he doing here anyway?  You haven’t seen him for

                                    years.

            CON:              He just turned up.

MARION:      Just like that?

CON:              Yeah.  I couldn’t turn him away.

MARION:      On the run, then. A rat’s natural habitat is the city sewers, not the countryside.  Not enough victims  (pause) I don’t want the police coming round here.

            CON:              What police?  What are you talking about?

            MARION:      Where he’s concerned they won’t be far behind. I can see why Josephine

                                    washed her hands of him.

            CON:              She never washed her hands…

            MARION:      Abandoned then, if you want a better word.

            CON:              She did her best.

            MARION:      Josephine always did her best.  For Josephine.  Not that I blame her too

                                    much.  I might have done the same myself.  I mean, when your own son

                                    tries to burn your flat down – with you inside… (pause) He’s a psychopath;

a bigoted, racist, nasty…

            CON:              He needed a father, someone to keep him straight…

MARION:      And that would have solved all his problems, would it? God, aren’t fathers great altogether! (pause) Does he know Michael is coming home?

            CON:              I didn’t get round to telling him.

            MARION:      Oh, that’s grand.

CON:              It won’t be an issue.

            MARION:      No, it won’t.  And do you know why.  Because Jimmy won’t be here. And

                                    you had better make sure he won’t. I’m going out for an hour now…that

                                    should give you enough time to sort it out.

            CON:              Out?  Where are you going?

            MARION:      A policeman wouldn’t ask me that question.

            CON:              You’ve done the shopping.

            MARION:      Yes.  And now I’m going out again.  (she exits)

Con watches her go, a look of thunder on his face. He takes out his mobile phone and makes a call.

end of scene

CATCHER IN THE RYE – THE MAN WHO SHOT JOHN LENNON

40 YEARS ON:

CATCHER IN THE RYE – THE MAN WHO SHOT JOHN LENNON by Tom O’Brien

More popular than Jesus are you
And what if I shoot you
Will I be more popular too?
That is the question you see
Why are The Beatles more popular than me?
And so I did what others would not dare
There was no moral or religious reason
It was just John Lennon hunting season
And the bright lights of infamy and fame shone brightly right there.
Imagine there’s no John Lennon,
I had sung the night before
And now there wasn’t anymore
Because I shot him four times in the back
And watched him die
Then carried on reading a chapter
Of The Catcher in the Rye.
I had ended the life
Of a man I did not know
And as somebody told me I must leave
I just stood there thinking
‘But where would I go?’

LETTERS TO MOTHER AND OTHER DEAD RELATIVES

Buy any of my books on Amazon between now and Xmas and I will donate 50% of royalties to MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT.

                      LETTERS TO MOTHER AND OTHER DEAD RELATIVES                

Dear Mother,

We never had much to say to each other when you were alive. I suppose that had a lot to do with you being grounded in the tranquility of rural County Waterford, while I misspent my youth on the mean streets of that area often referred to as County Kilburn. Even when we did speak it was only in platitudes; nothing of importance was ever touched upon. Mainly, I assumed, because nothing of importance had ever happened in our family’s history. So the chances of you surprising me from beyond the grave were very remote indeed.

It began with enquiries about your favourite son, John. Telephone calls to friends and neighbours, even to the Parish Priest. Nosing around, you would call it. Eventually the caller phoned John himself, which is how I became involved.

Apparently we were the beneficiaries of a legacy. A substantial sum of money was laying in British Government coffers, the trail of which led back to our paternal grandfather, Tom, and we were the next in line. Nobody ever spoke about grandpa Tom; Why was that?  And now that I think of it, why is grandpa buried in one parish and grandma in another? And why did father scrupulously care for grandma’s grave, and not grandpa’s? 

But back to the legacy. There was a catch – there always is – the caller required us to sign a contract giving him 33% of the estate before revealing details to us. As I happened to consider that excessive for a ‘finders fee’ I began my own investigations on the internet.

As far as I could see, the only family member who it could possibly be was Aunt Margaret. When I had last seen her ten years ago, she was already an old woman, living in poverty in Lewisham. (I know you always said she had loads of money, but if you had seen how she lived then you would have changed your mind)

Anyway, after several hours of queries to Ask Jeeves and co, I came across a British government website called www.bonavacantia.co.uk  I typed in a name and there it was in black and white!  Margaret O’B…. Lewisham, died intestate 2005.  Estate £XX,000  How well you knew her!

But of course you didn’t really. Nobody did. Not even my father – her own brother. He never spoke about her.  Why was that? She left Waterford in 1947 and was never seen by any member of the family again, apart from myself. Oh, I know you wrote her the occasional letter and she sent parcels of used clothes to you. ‘Her cast-offs’, you called them, before burning the lot. What was it that caused her to go away and never come back?

She came to visit me in Kilburn shortly after Karen was born – was that your doing, giving her my address? – And we kept in contact until I moved away from the area. She liked the idea of having a niece, but I found her a strange, secretive woman.

When I last saw her she was housebound, living in a dingy council estate in Deptford. And given to calling me ‘Captain’ – because I don’t think she remembered who I was any more. After that I forgot about her.

To establish claim to the estate I have had to furnish various documents; birth, marriage, death etc. Which is how I learned that my father and Aunt Margaret weren’t the only children born to my paternal grandparents. There were three other children, John, James and Catherine. What happened to those uncles and aunt? Father never spoke of them. They are not still alive as far as I can establish, but neither have I yet ascertained where and how they died and where they are buried.

But you, mother dear, served up the biggest surprise of all. On your marriage certificate, it says FATHER UNKNOWN.  Why, in my childhood, did I never realize that your mother was unmarried? Or query the fact that your father had never been around. Oh, there was a man about the house – your mother’s brother Mikey – and maybe I subconsciously associated him with being your father. Mikey, with his wooden leg -he had lost the real one fighting with the British Army in Flanders – lives on in my memory, and I can still recall trying to remove my leg as he did his, and wondering why I couldn’t. I almost wish now that he had been your father.

I have since learned that you did know your father. He was a friend of Mikey’s who had also joined the British Army, but had been killed in the same battle that had seen my granduncle lose his leg. Killed before he could make an honest woman of your mother.

Killed before he could respectably be put down on your wedding certificate as your father.

You never spoke about any of this. Not to me, anyhow. Was this what made you melancholy in your later years? The thought of your mother living all her life in her little thatched cottage in Grenan, the man she loved lying in an unmarked grave, lost forever in those green fields of France?

I think it’s sad that I find you more interesting dead than I ever did when you were alive.

Your loving son,

Tom

This is the first letter in my book of the same title. It is available to purchase on Amazon

Letters To Mother And Other Dead Relatives by [Tom O'Brien]