The Male Pill.

So we’ve got Trump, Clinton, Brexit and the failing pound but the big news is…Scientists announce they’ve finally developed the male pill. And it’s not really before time is it? I mean for women you’ve got pills, coils, implants, patches, caps, and being locked for a week in the menstruating hut. What do we have for men? Err…Rubber Johnny. 100 years of contraception and that’s it! Or get your balls cut off.

Thing is just by a show of hands…How many women here would trust a man who said he was on the pill? (TUMBLEWEED SOUND) Exactly!

I reckon before they bring the male pill out it should have something in it that helps prove a bloke is actually taking it. Perhaps it could make your willy glow in the dark, or it makes your balls make a noise like wind chimes.

I was looking at how the male pill actually works and apparently it lowers sperm count by targeting a bit of the man’s brain. REALLY? You’re telling me there’s some kind of correlation between the brain and the penis. No way! My willy can’t tell the difference between a woman and a bus.

Genuinely there’s a term for why men get unprovoked stiffies on public transport. It’s called Diesel Penis. It’s because of the vibrations from the diesel engine. I mean this could explain why bus drivers always look so unhappy. “Look son just pay the fare and get on the bus. I’ve been sitting with this thing for six hours now. I just want to get home and throttle the life out the bastard. Anyway when are you getting off?”

“When am I getting off? Well that really depends on your driving. If you just give the engine a good fierce revving when we get to the lights I’ll see what I can do.”

 

The Holy Trinity Explained.

THE HOLY TRINITY EXPLAINED.

I was raised in a church background. It’s alright I was a prod so it was mainly getting pissed at communion and sacrificing the odd goat. Saying that I am from a massive protestant family…there’s just me.

Anyhoo I remember the minister saying to us once, one of the things folk find most confusing in Christianity is the Holy Trinity. You know, the idea that the Father (God), the Son and the Holy Ghost they’re all the same thing.

Mind you that’s maybe not so confusing nowadays. Just look at Westminster. You’ve got the Tories, Lib-Dems and a sizable chunk of New Labour and they’re pretty much all the same thing.

Thing is if you look at the Trinity it’s pretty much Jesus that got the shitty end of the stick. The Holy Ghost only had to put in a two day cameo appearance then buggered off for a lifetime on Americas Most Haunted and the odd Panto doing the past, present and future in Scrooge.

And as for God…well he’s God he can do anything he wants. Although according to some he seems to spend most of his time hovering about and watching us masturbate. Or knocking out the odd natural disaster just to see how easily we go squish.

But Jesus…he got sent on a suicide mission. I would have loved to have been at the meeting where that got decided.

“OK this is the new millennium annual general meeting. Since I’m God I’ll take the minutes. First up is a proposal from myself and the Holy Ghost. Son, Jesus, me…whatever. We’ve come up with an idea that we’d like to send you on a mission.”

And if you were Jesus you might go, “Ah cool a mission. I’m well up for that. Now people can meet me face to face. I was getting tired of everybody thinking I’m a white bloke.”

And then God might go, “Ah good I’m glad you’re up for it. So as well as being the living representation of me, him and err… us on earth I’m also going to give you some super powers.”

And at that point Jesus was probably quite happy, “Wow super powers. Awesome! Can I get claws like Wolverine?”

But then God threw a damper on things. “Ah well its more “earthy” powers than that. You know you’ll heal the sick, raise the dead and turn water into wine. Mind you the last one will make you popular for a bit. You’ll be like a Harry Potter for the needy. There’s just one wee thing…You have to die at the end. When you’re quite young actually”

And Jesus might have gone, “Fuck that. What’s the point in that?”

And God might have said, “Well you know. It sets a nice example.”

To which he might reply, “A nice fucking example? How do I die like?”

And God owned up, “We’re going to have you nailed to a lump of wood. By some Romans”

To which he probably replied, “Fuck that! Send the Holy Ghost. He won’t feel a thing.”

To which God made the excuse, “He’s busy…he’s in Panto.”

At which point Jesus saw a flaw in Gods game plan. And did protest, “Hang on a minute if I’ve got superpowers how come I can’t use them to stop the Romans? I mean fuck water into wine, how about nails into water? That could be a great laugh. We could have them there all day…Yeah just hammer away…Oh look it’s turned into water again. That would be a crowd pleaser. It would probably be a bit more productive than dying.”

And then God may declare, “Look we’ve had a word with marketing and we feel this is the best way forward for everybody. Anyway you’re not going to be that popular. I’m bored of Judaism. I want you to start a new religion.”

And Jesus may question, “Worshiping who.”

And God put the final nail in with, “You.”

And Jesus did realise, “Well it’s no wonder they want to kill me. You’ve set me up to look like a total wanker.”

And ye verily the poor lads fate/faith was sealed.

 

 

 

An Imagined Syrian Refugee.

For a writing exercise we were to create a background for a central character. I imagined a Syrian refugee. All of this background is fiction but comes from research I did on the situation…

 

CHRISTIAN SHAMMAS (A Syrian refugee)

Christian Shammas is a 22 year old Syrian refugee. His mother Camila Abdel-Massih (surname means servant of Christ in the Arabic world) was a Palestinian Christian who fled to Syria as a child with her wealthy parentsduring the 1967 war. His father Tabarank Shammas is an Syrian Arab and Sunni Muslim. His father is from poorer farming heritage.
Although interdenominational marriages are not unheard of in Syria they are not common. His mixed faith upbringing led to bullying as a child.
Christians first name in the Arabic tradition means love and his surname means friendship. He likes to introduce himself by pointing this out.
Before having to flee his hometown of Damascus in 2015 he was studying dentistry.  He is fluent in English and French. (Both popular second languages in Syria although English is preferred.)
Despite being very well educated Christian is profoundly dyslexic which leads to huge problems for him when he has to flee the country.
During the Arab spring of 2013 he was arrested by Bashar al-Assad security forces with 13’000 other online activists and severely tortured leading to him walking with a severe limp.
He has a seven year old sister Mary Shammas who is entirely uneducated in any formal way.
During some carpet bombing Christian and his sister were separated from his parents. He doesn’t know if they are alive or dead. He has no idea which side was behind the bombing but is determined to find out.
As a refugee in Syria he is recognised by two of Assad’s secret police who threaten to rape his sister. He kills them both with a pistol he found in some ruins.
This forces him to flee the country with his sister with money he has stashed. He makes it to “The Jungle” refugee camp in France which is where we find him.
The only physical possessions he has apart from the clothes on his back is an I-pod and charger. The I-pod is filled with the poems of Syrian poet and Nobel Prize nominee Adunis.
He quotes this poetry often to his sister when she is distressed. The I-Pod is also filled with songs by Elvis. Listening to Elvis also helps calm his sister.
Whilst at the camp his young sister is being targeted by human traffickers.
The camp is now to be demolished and to protect his sister Christian agrees to have her moved to the UK. He has no idea how to contact her once this happens. Christian is to remain stranded in France. Whilst at the camp he befriends a Syrian man named Sayid Burhan who helps him with daily life. For the journey to the UK he entrusts his sister to Sayid.   Unbeknownst to Christian he is the leader of a child trafficking group. Christian finds out the truth a day after he last sees his sister.
Some Quotes.
 “To the country dug into our lives like a grave, to the country etherized, and killed, a sun rises from our paralyzed history into our millennial sleep” ― Ali Ahmad Said Asbar Adunis
“What did we lose, what was lost in us? To whom do these distances belong that separated us and that now bind us? Are we still one or have we both broken into pieces? How gentle this dust is- Its body now, and mine, at this very minute are one and the same” ― Adonis, If Only the Sea Could Sleep
 “If only we were not that seedling of Creation, Of Earth and its generations, If only we had remained simple Clay or Ember, Or something in between, Then we would not have to see This World, its Lord, and its Hell, twice over.” ― Adonis

The Bench. 2 page sketch.

We were asked to write a two page piece called The Bench…

THE BENCH. 2 PAGE SKETCH

The year is 2061. We are in a central London park. Bernard a representative of OneCorp is processing the final sale of a park bench to Raymond a Scot.

Bernard.   So here’s your investment Raymond and if I do say so a canny purchase.  There are seven benches up for grabs at auction this month and a snip at seventy thousand. This has one previous owner, don’t worry we’ll have the brass dedication plaque to the previous owner’s wife removed. A sorry affair, he was a suicide I believe. All quite common these    days sadly but it does slow down getting these things to sale. Obviously the park is owned  by OneCorp, well we pretty much own the city. As a customer of ours you’ll have daily   access to your property. There’s lots you can do with this my friend, enjoy the view,            treat a friend or perhaps romance a lady eh. Hell I like it so much I could happily live on it.

Raymond. Yes…Live on it. That sounds like a good idea.

Bernard.   Err… I was joking sir. I mean technically as the owner you could indeed live here…but…well I’m assuming if you can afford a bench you’re perhaps in one of the more spacious units in a OneCorp Megastruct. You’re not living in one of the camps are you? You’re a Scot aren’t you? I’m assuming you’re now down here because of the accident.

Raymond. Ah yes the accident.

Bernard.   Yes, jolly bad luck that was. Such an irony as well to think you put all that effort into trying to get rid of nukes then one of the bally things goes up in the air and straight back down on half the population. Bloody awful state of affairs. I hope you didn’t lose anyone.

Raymond. We all lost someone.

Bernard.   Indeed. I am sorry.

Raymond. So you think it was an accident?

Bernard.   I do indeed sir. You’re not one of those conspiracy nuts are you?

Raymond. A conspiracy nut? Conspiracy’s an interesting thing isn’t it? People have studied them for years. Pearl harbour, the Kennedys, Princess Di, nine eleven…a nuke lands on Scotland. Pearl harbour is one that interests me. You know some believe the American government let the Japanese bomb them so it would galvanise the country into joining the war in Europe.

Bernard. Well it’s an interesting theory but…

Raymond. Yes it is and seems entirely plausible to me. Now what if you took that theory and applied it to the “accident” as you call it.

Bernard. Well I can understand your anger old bean but I don’t think Scotland’s in any fit state to mount an invasion.

Raymond. No…not on their own. Anyway who says it would have to be an invasion.

Bernard.   I’m not sure I ascertain your meaning?

Raymond. You see the trouble with people like you and OneCorp is you see Scotland and the Scots as a geographical point on a map, as an accent, a nation, a right pain in the arse of the old empire. Sure when nationalism first arose in that part of the globe it was self-serving and inward looking. But we expected that. We planned for that. But then that        nationalism matured as we knew it would. The idea became more egalitarian, eventually it started asking not just for in independent Scotland but a better type of Scotland. A            fairer Scotland, a country that treated all as equal. Whether they won the independence      or not was a moot point. You see the thing is the idea of what it was to be Scottish would   spread. Next thing you know Iceland have sacked and imprisoned their bankers, and that   was just a start, another example that the world was watching. Freeing Palestine was the big one. That really shook up the old order…But we needed something bigger. Something  that would galvanise not just a country…but a planet.

Bernard.   I’m sorry you say “we” expected that…who the hell is we?

Raymond. Well I suppose you would call us conspirators. Trust me I don’t think that’s quite fitting enough for what’s about to happen.

Bernard.   Right I’m sorry sir but this is sedition you’re talking here and I’m well within my remit as a OneCorp representative to hold you here for questioning.  I’m just going to run a background check on my pad…what’s going on here? Bloody net won’t…

Raymond. Won’t respond. Yes we’ve just taken it. The internet invented by Tim Berners-Lee. A great and noble man, and one of us.

Bernard. Are you insane we have armies.

Raymond. Ah the armies. You know two thirds of the homeless are ex services? I’m afraid your stock isn’t too high with them. Maybe should have looked after them a bit better on your various corporate excursions.

Bernard. The capital, the resources and the banks. You don’t have banks! We have the money! That’s the way of things.

Raymond. The money isn’t real my friend. It isn’t a real resource. Here’s how we look on that. Thanks very much for lending us your invisible wheelbarrow…here you go you can have your invisible wheelbarrow back now.

Bernard.   And what will become of OneCorp? What will become of me?

Raymond. We have everything. We’re on every board of every bit of business that’s of use to us. Look on this as a not too hostile takeover.  A velvet revolution is what they used to call it. As for you…Well this bench now belongs to me, you’re than welcome to spend some time at my place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Britain celebrates Brexit with new pound coin.

meme-99

So the pound has sunk even lower this week and all UKIP can offer to fix the problem is to punch each other in the head. God help us if they are ever in charge of anything. Saying that UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe shows no signs of a blood clot on the brain. But then how do you clot something that isn’t there.

I was given the UKIP version of Cludo as a gift this year. That’s the one where it doesn’t matter who did it you just always blame the immigrant.

Theresa May has announced new trade deals with the Chinese. Yes I remember they came to visit earlier this year and David Cameron presented them with quite an unusual welcome gift. The entire British steel industry.

As those opposed to Jeremy Corbyn Tweet #GoodbyeLabour perhaps at the same time we should all be texting #GoodbyeScotland.

In other news UKIP have announced they’d like to deport anybody who refuses to speak English. That might prove tricky for the Welsh.

Metafiction, Kurt Vonnegut and The Turner Prize.

I previously posted a play here (RAW A RESPONSE PLAY) that uses Metafiction a lot in the script. This was a first stab at something like this and I’ve only just realised how much I was being influenced by Kurt Vonnegut and his book Breakfast of Champions. I genuinely thought at the time I was doing it because of my experience as a comic…

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Metafiction.

 “Breakfast of Champions makes heavy use of Metafiction, with Vonnegut appearing as the narrator/creator of the work, explaining why and how he makes this world as it is, changing things when and as he sees fit, and even being surprised by events.”

In no way am I claiming I’m in the same league as Kurt Vonnegut. I’m posting this because I’m surprised how much I’d appropriated his style unconsciously. I haven’t read much of his work and haven’t read Breakfast of Champions in about 15 years, although I feel another reading may be on the cards soon.

Suicide, free will, mental illness, and social and economic cruelty are the main themes of Breakfast of Champions so you’d be surprised to find it’s also one of the funniest books I’ve ever read.

In the book is a character called Rabo Karabekian who is an artist who has sold an abstract work called The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Here’s a fictional image of a fictional painting. temptation-of-st-anthony

Although he’s not a main character my favourite part of the book comes when Rabo has to justify the money spent on his work to a group of angry and cynical towns folk. He says…

“I now give you my word of honor,” he went on, “that the picture your city owns shows everything about life which truly matters, with nothing left out. It is a picture of the awareness of every animal. It is the immaterial core of every animal – the ‘I am’ to which all messages are sent. It is all that is alive in any of us – in a mouse, in a deer, in a cocktail waitress. It is unwavering and pure, no matter what preposterous adventure may befall us. A sacred picture of Saint Anthony alone is one vertical, unwavering band of light. If a cockroach were near him, or a cocktail waitress, the picture would show two such bands of light. Our awareness is all that is alive and maybe sacred in any of us. Everything else about us is dead machinery.”

There we go. Now you’re looking at it from a new perspective. Which is what most art is about.

Now here’s one of the new entries for the Turner prize.

bum

Looking at this you may come to the conclusion that the Turner Prize has reached its natural conclusion and disappeared up its own. But the point is this bit of art is by the artist, Anthea Hamilton, who has enlarged it from a design by Gaetano Pesce for a New York apartment block, to which it would have been a doorway (a back entrance, so to speak) for social housing tenants.

And now you have another perspective. No other great point to make here. And so it goes…

A stab at a 20 minute Play called Raw.

As a recent project we went to see a play and where asked to write a 20 minute “response play” to what we saw. I’ve never written a play in my life…and probably haven’t yet. I decided to go for something that is about my very first fumbling with University and drama, woven with a tale of near scandal, and mucking about with regular theatre conventions.  This goes for about 15 pages so no bother if you want to skip it. x     

PS  SORRY ABOUT THE WONKY FORMATING…but it won’t come over right from Word. But it’s not too bad still easy to follow.  

PPS The play features heavy use of Metafiction which comes from my love of Kurt Vonnegut and breakfast of Champions.  See next blog.

RAW.                          

A RESPONSE PLAY

Scene 1.

Two actresses enter. There is a blue lighting filter the same as used in the production Bacon Knees and sausage Fingers. The lighting will change to denote time and context. Blue is the past amber the present. One actress is standing the other seated. Morecambe and Wise Bring Me Sunshine plays.

Father.          Just look at what you’ve done. Look at the state your mother’s in. What have you

Got to say about that?

 

Son.           But I didn’t do this. This isn’t the full truth.

Father.        So who’s responsible then? Who did this? Who reduced your mother to tears?

Son.            It’s Mr Davidson. He did this. He’s got…he’s got…it’s hard to explain.

There is a lighting change to amber to denote present time.

Seated.      Hmmmnnn. That was a bit raw. What my dad did that day changed everything.

Standing.   Well that’s kind of appropriate is it not? That’s what you are… raw. You’re a first year

Drama and Script fresher you’re one week in and you’re having a go at writing

some theatre.  And now here you are being played by two women. How does

that feel? This is a whole new world Mr.

 

Seated.     It feels fine. Kind of like a dressing up game that you do in separate rooms from

each other. Actually when the casting for this was originally going to be a man

and a woman I was going to have the woman play the more…err…informed half

of me.

 

Standing.   Why?

 

Seated.       Because of my mum.

 

Standing.   So your mum’s more informed than your dad?

 

Seated.       My mums’ side is what informs me.

 

Standing.   OK, so now that the gender of one performer has changed who do we

represent?

 

Seated.     Err…Well I’m the writer side and you’re the performer.

2.

Standing.   Oh that’s nice. I get the fun job. And what is it exactly we’re doing here?

 

Seated.       Well I’m writing a response play to the production Bacon Knees and Sausage

Fingers.

 

Standing.   Ah yes the play that we watched last week. And what did you make of that?

 

Seated.       I thought it was great.

 

Standing.   Are you sure you’re not just saying that in the hope that your piece wins and

gets picked for performance?

 

Seated.       No! But if that was my intention then it looks like it’s worked. But no, certain

aspects of the play really resonated with me.

 

Standing.   Ooh…”It really resonated with me” Mr Theatre knickers is in da hoose. Don’t get

too close ladies he’s resonating!

 

Seated.     Fuck off I know some stuff.

 

Standing. You know bugger all about Theatre.

 

Seated.     I do so, I know some things. I know Pinteresque.

 

Standing. Really! Alright then show us all Pinteresque. Try not to resonate too much we’ve

just decorated.  

 

SEATED then stands up has a look around and spots a plastic bucket that is quite obviously away from the stage area of the play. They go retrieve the bucket, sit back down and put it over their head then shout from beneath

 

Seated.     (Colloquial) “SPOONS! I’ll give you fucking spoons. You’ll have spoons coming out

of the other side of your face!”

 

Standing.   How on earth is that Pinteresque? (PAUSE) Hello, are you still in there? I’m

asking what on earth is Pinteresque about a bucket on your head and shouting

about spoons (PAUSE) HEEELLOOO! Earth calling writer…what are…

 

Seated.     The long pauses! That’s Pinteresque! Ha told you. (REMOVES BUCKET)

                    That and the comedy of menace.

 

Standing. That was the comedy of menace?

 

Seated.      Well it would be if you bumped into me down the Bigg Market doing that.

Actually I saw a bloke doing exactly that in the Bigg Market and it was bloody

terrifying. Look I think we should maybe get back to the response play.  

3.

Standing. I think we’re all pretty desperate to. So you say it resonated. Why?

 

Seated.     Well the play examined issues of neglect and abuse in childhood and how they

can impact heavily in later life. That struck a chord.

 

Standing. So you were abused and neglected as a child?

Seated.    Ah that’s a bit too strong a description. But there were definitely events that

impacted…Big style. But I’m not sure I’m quite ready to talk about that just yet. As

I said it’s a bit raw.

 

Standing. Right raw. We get it. The name of the play and the word used to indicate both

your lack of knowledge in the field and an emotional state. For heavens sake it’s

the third time you’ve used it only three pages of dialogue. Watch you’re not

using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut here.

 

Seated.    Well I said I was new. Look maybe before we get to the…err…the guts of things

maybe we could look at some things I’ve written.

 

Standing. Must we?

 

Seated.     Well it will give you something to perform.

 

Standing. OK now I’m interested.

 

Seated.     I’ve written a poem.

 

Standing. Oh for fuck sake, “These are my words. See me bleed.”

 

Seated.     Look I’m not saying I’m WB Yeats or anything here. I’ve not written many poems.

It’s not something I plan to make a career of…

 

Standing. At the moment your future in theatre isn’t looking too rosy either.

 

Seated.      Can you stop being so antagonistic please?

 

Standing. Nope, it’s my job. Protagonist antagonist. Key elements of a story. You learnt that

in your first week. Anyway don’t get all shirt and tie with me, you bloody wrote

this. OK come on tell us about your poem.

 

Seated.     Well… you know how workers’ rights are being stripped away, what with zero

hours contracts, push down economics and the slow erosion of trade union

support. Well, it’s just I’ve heard from a few locals about an employer in

Newcastle who are actually quite good with their staff.

 

Standing. Right so this is definitely not about Sports Direct. OK It sounds like it could have

4.

some substance. What’s it called?

 

Seated.     The Ladies Of Greggs.

 

Standing. (LAUGHS) Oh my word. Or perhaps I should say oh my Wordsworth.

 

Seated.      Look could you just perform the bloody thing.

 

Standing. (LAUGHS) Ok let me compose myself…right…here we go.

The Ladies of Greggs…

The ladies of Greggs work hard on their legs

To bring us those pasties that keep us all fed

The ladies of Greggs rise early from bed

They’re the best of all mothers I’ve oft heard it said

With a smile and a cheery, “There ye gan pet”

To say they seem happy’s a fairly safe bet

But why do they bother to bring us good service

Most workers these days of their jobs they are nervous

Because Greggs are an employer of decent repute

That’s why they don’t end up in industrial dispute

For the cakes that they bake pay a good hourly rate

So to be happy at work is these ladies fate

So let us say thanks to the people of Greggs

Because they deliver us from evil

With our daily bread.

 

Well you’re right, you’re most definitely not WB Yeats. But that line at the end

has a nice sentiment behind it. I’ll give you that.

 

Seated.    Thanks.

 

Standing. You’re welcome.

 

Change of lighting back to blue to signify the past.

 

Father.       Just look at what you’ve done. Look at the state your mother’s in. What have

you got to say about that?

 

Son.            But I didn’t do this. This isn’t the full truth.

 

Father.       So who’s responsible then? Who did this? Who reduced your mother to tears?

 

Son.            It’s Mr Davidson. He did this. He’s got…he’s got…it’s hard to explain.

 

Father.       Come on then let’s hear it.

 

5.

Son.           He’s got…he’s got…(SIGHS) He’s got it in for me.

 

Father.       Of course he’s got it in for you. You’ve been skiving bloody school.

 

Son.           But I haven’t.

 

Father.       So where were you today? Why did he phone your mother to say you were

absent?

 

Son.           It’s the last day before the Easter holidays. Loads of folk take it off. I haven’t

before but Martins mum said it would be alright. I only took the morning off

and went in in the afternoon. But Mr Davidsons lying, I don’t skive school.

 

Father.       You don’t skive school? So what were you doing today? You’re a liar. That’s all

We ever get from you, lie after lie. And I tell you this that’s the last you’ll be

seeing of Martin. The trouble with you is you think you’re better than the rest of

us.

 

Change of lighting back to the present.

 

Standing.   Why did you just repeat that scene?

 

Seated.       It’s a technique they used in Bacon Knees. At some point these two strands of

time will meet and we’ll have a revelation. Well…at least I hope we do. I’m not

that far into the script yet and I’m not entirely sure I have the skills yet to pull

that off.

 

Standing.     Ha! Well that’s one of creating dramatic tension. Now everyone’s going, “OK

so we might get a dramatic climax…or it could be another one of his bloody

poems.” So why did Mr Davidson have it in for you.

 

Seated.         That isn’t actually what I wanted to say. I didn’t want to say he’s got it in for

  1. What I wanted to say was…he’s got…secrets.

 

Standing.     Ooh now we’re listening. Did he try it on with you?

 

Seated.         No not really. I mean we were both a bit flirtatious with each other.

 

Standing.     Holy fuck if this is your coming out piece I highly recommend you don’t invite

your wife of 16 years to the premier.

 

Seated.       No I wasn’t gay, he was…Look it was the 1980s. Everyone was mucking about

with gender. It was a sure fire way to get a number one single in the charts.

I was very effeminate as a boy, and I was a Goth so I used to wear some make

  1.               You combine that with all the drama and art I was doing and everyone used

to genuinely think I was gay. It got me in a lot of fights. I used to play up to it,

you know, to wind up the homophobes. They’d say, “Oi! Are you a poof?”

And I’d say, “Look I’ve told you it’s the 1980s…I’m not gay…I’m a Dandy

Highwayman.”  

 

 

Standing.   I can see why they wanted to kick your head in. You know psychologists now

reckon being alternative or a Goth can actually be a form of self-harm.

 

Seated.       Yeah I’ve read that. Utter bollocks. All it meant to me was I wanted to shag

slightly overweight lassies in fishnets. How can you have some kind of a

condition when you’re in a band called The Cure?

 

Standing.     Fair point. So tell us, what was Mr Davidsons secret.

 

Seated.         OK…Look could I possibly break the fourth wall for a second?

 

Standing.     Now hang on Pinter never did anything like that. That’s a separate discipline

you’re talking about there. This is theatre, that’s not a common technique.

 

Seated.         Actually they did it all the time in ancient Greek theatre. Well maybe it will

become known as one of my techniques.

 

Standing.     Jeezo, you do actually think there’s a future in this. I’ll tell you what I’ll do it for

you, (TO AUDIENCE) “I’d just like to say ladies and gentlemen I am a local

actress with a good CV, but you know how sometimes you commit to

something before you see it…Bloody students.” OK that’s me done on you go.

 

Seated.         (TO AUDIENCE. STANDING) I’d just like to say ladies and gentlemen that

everything I tell you about my dad and Mr Davidson is one hundred percent

true. I didn’t create this story for dramatic effect. I say that because there will

be a revelation at some point that really is quite horrible and possibly

unbelievable. I can however provide evidence to back it up. The only thing I’ve

changed is Mr Davidsons name. That’s not his real name.

                       (SITS BACK DOWN)

                     So one day me and a lad Keith Weston stayed behind after school. This was

secondary school I think it’s important to say. Keith had keys to the drama and

music department as he was a prefect and Drama student. Anyway we were

just dicking about going under the Assembly hall stage and that when I decided

to have a look inside the school piano. Well…When I lifted the lid inside I found

four Polaroid snaps of a mans cock and balls…or perhaps a prefects cock and

balls. Mr Davidson was head of the music department and the school pianist so

you can draw your own conclusions.

 

Standing.   And at the age of fourteen did you find this a bit unsettling?

 

Seated.       Fuck no. We were ecstatic, in absolute hysterics. We set about trying to solve

the case like a gay porn Holmes and Watson. Never before this moment had

two pubescent hetro teenagers put so much study into another mans block and

tackle, trying desperately to figure out who they might belong to.

 

Standing.    And did you figure it out?

 

Seated.       Well we knew they definitely didn’t belong to Mr Davidson. He had dark hair

and these bits were very ginger.

 

Standing.   Ah…but this was in Scotland wasn’t it? So that wouldn’t really narrow things

Down.

 

Seated.     Exactly. We’re a land awash with the gingers.

 

Standing. So what did you do then? Go on some kind of Cinderella style quest getting

ginger blokes to expose themselves to you? “Whomever these ginger bollocks

doth match shall marry the Prince.”

 

Seated.     I wish we had. Then I might have not ended up in such pathway of life altering

trouble. No that night we had Drama Club with Mr Stewart. You know how cool

teachers can be as much like your pal as anything? Well that night we found out

Mr Stewart maybe wasn’t as much of a pal as we thought.

 

Standing. What…Don’t tell me you went skipping up to another teacher with four gay porn

Polaroids that you found in a vessel that defines his colleagues’ very existence

and livelihood?

 

Seated.     Err…Yeah that’s pretty much exactly what we did.

 

Standing. Wow did you know there’s no such word as naïve in the English language.

 

Seated.     Really?

 

Standing. Never mind. So how did Mr Stewart react?

 

Seated.      Well first he went very white and then he went very quiet.

 

Standing. Pinteresque comedy of menace quiet?

 

Seated.     No just quite. It was also around this moment that we realised Mr Stewarts hair

kind of was a lot redder than the blonde we’d always assumed it was.

 

Standing. Fuck off! You’d found your prince?

 

Seated.     Quite possibly. I suppose in a way this was lucky. This was the 80s we could have

caused a total scandal. We got the dressing down of our lives and told if word

got out our time at this school would be pretty much over. Little did I know that

was soon going to happen to me anyway.

 

Standing. And did you stay quiet.

 

Seated.     Yeah absolutely. Look we were young but not complete idiots. With all the stress

I used to get from the homophobes I was very sympathetic to the trials gay

people can experience.

 

Standing. And so Mr Davidson found out.

 

Seated.     I reckon so. He became quite aggressive towards me and a fortnight latter caused

a ruckus for me at home. If it was a plan to get me out of his hair it worked.

 

Standing. Err…shouldn’t we cut to a flashback at this point.

Seated.       Actually I was wondering if just before we did that we could have a wee look at

something else I’ve written.

 

Standing.   Oh Christ. I really don’t think this is the right moment for another of your poems.

If there ever is such a moment ever again, on this planet, in any type of

multiple imagined futures.

 

Seated.     No, it’s a scene from another play.

 

Standing. So now we’re doing a play within a play? I swear to God if you bring up Bertolt

Brecht here I am genuinely going to slap you.

 

Seated.     (LAUGHS) But that is quite Brechtian.

 

Standing. No! This is not bloody Brechtian! Look I’m a professional actress…

 

Seated.     (STILL WITH LAUGHTER) Ooh now you’re breaking the fourth wall. I never put

that in the script. Although doing that is a bit Brechtian.

 

Standing. No it isn’t! This isn’t Brechtian! I’ll tell you what it is, its Morecambe and Wiseian.

It’s Little Ern turning to Eric and going, “Do you want to hear the play what I

wrote?”

 

Seated.     (WITH HUMOUR) It’s a new genre.  

 

Standing. No it’s not a new genre. It’s the literary fumbling of a first year student with

                   two weeks experience under their belt at Uni.

 

Seated.     Exactly! So cut me some slack. Actually before we do the play can I say a little bit

Bit about Brecht?

 

9.

Standing. (SIGHS) Enlighten us.

 

Seated.     Well first off you’re right. I know very little about Brecht. The other students do

but they’ve done A Level Drama I haven’t. But what I am finding out so far I’m

really excited about it. All that socialism and strangeness is right up my junction.

But the point I want to make…well the discovery I’ve made…

 

Standing. You’ve made a new discovery about Brecht? After over a century of academics

studying him?

 

Seated.     No not so much Brecht more David Bowie.

 

Standing. Oh Christ, we might have known you’d try and crowbar him into this somewhere

along the line.

 

Seated.      There’s a bust of him in the bar of this theatre. Bowie’s cool. Look just listen. In

class last week we were split into groups to discuss Stanislavski and Brecht. As

the other students spoke more about Brechts work, mentioning alienation

etcetera, as a lifelong Bowie fan, it hit me quite hard how much Bowies output is

influenced by Brecht. He did actually study him you know.

Let’s take for example Ziggy Stardust. The lyrics and story of Ziggy have a winking

quality to them. One minute he’s talking about Ziggy but at the same time also

about himself and the business of pop stardom. That provides multiple levels to

the text. It’s not just Rock and Roll but drama and music about Rock and Roll.

As the story unfolds the protagonist is survivor and victim rolled into one and the

villain is the audience and the trappings of fame. Also is there a weirder icon

than Ziggy? He’s the most successful weird haircut in show biz history.

Then there’s the alienation effect. Bowie performs Ziggy at arms length from the

character. He narrates the character from a distance. Pure Bertolt Brecht!

“Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.”

 

Standing. Right…I’ll tell you what little Ern before you write your next play not so many

Cheese sandwiches…Come on then what’s the play?

 

Seated.     Well it’s just a scene really. It was another exercise we did. But what came out

I quite liked it’s kind of left wing but commercial. It’s a bit Educating Rita. You

know like the sort of thing you might see at The Live Theatre.

 

Standing. Well let’s hope for the sake of your future they’re not in.

 

Seated.     It could be fun to do. And it gives you something to perform.

 

Standing. OK but can we agree in this context this isn’t Brecht. It’s what I would refer to

as padding.

 

Seated.      Yes you’re probably right. But you know I’m…

 

10.

Standing.   We know, you’re new, you’re raw. What’s it called?

 

Seated.       The Cleaner. I’ll do Mr Radisson you be the cleaner. You should perhaps read

The opening stage directions.

 

 

THE CLEANER.

AN EXERCISE SCENE.

 

Scene 1.                                                                                                                                                                

A man enters and finds a letter. He opens the letter, reads it and tears it into little pieces, then leaves.

A woman then enters. She is cleaning. On the wall are two paintings, one of Winston Churchill and one of Margaret Thatcher. She dusts the Churchill then blows a raspberry and makes a rude gesture towards the Thatcher leaving it uncleaned. She then finds the letter and starts to piece it back together.

Mrs Ribble.    Ee…Someone’s not popular. There must be about two thirds of that shower asking for

his resignation. Shower o’ shite the lot of em.

The man re-enters. He finds the cleaner with the letter.

Mr Radisson. Err…hello. Are you the new cleaner? You really shouldn’t be reading that you know.

Mrs Ribble.   Divin’t worry pet. Your secret’s safe with me. Ah haven’t got that git from the papers

lodging in me spare room to cover that friggin’ tax o’ theirs.

 

Mr Radisson. You mean Rupert Murdoch?

 

Mrs Ribble.   No the one that does the gossip column. Piers…something…Anyway he’s gone right

doon in my estimation since he was hacking all them phones. How dare they, and Hugh

Grant was such a gentleman about it all.

 

Mr Radisson. Yes but I really must stress the severity of this. If one word gets out…err…Mrs, Ms?

 

Mrs Ribble.   Ribble. Like rabble but with an ibble as opposed to an abble.

 

Mr Radisson. Well Mrs Ribble I really can’t emphasise enough how what you’ve read mustn’t be

spoken of outside this room. I have to prepare a statement in response. You do realise

this is what we call a political coup? There’s every bit of a chance I might not even be

in this office this time next week.

 

Mrs Ribble.   It must be hard…

 

Mr Radisson. It was expected. You see I’m trying to take the party back to…

Mrs Ribble.   No I mean on your feelings. It must be hard on your feelings. There’s a lot of people

on that list I’m sure you regarded as friends and yet here they are putting the knife in.

That must be hard. I reckon a lot of folks don’t really see you as a real person. Just

another face off telly. To tell you the truth Mr Radisson I’ve never really been

interested in the world of politics but that was because the world of politics was never

really interested in me. But then you arrived and I thought you had some nice ideas. I’d

like cheaper trains. I have to get the train here every day and it costs a bloody fortune.

It’s no wonder they’re called Virgin ‘cos no bugger wants to ride on them. (LAUGHS)

 

Mr Radisson. (LAUGHS) Oh that really is quite good…

 

Mrs Ribble.   Ee maybes you could use it at the next Prime Ministers question time.

 

Mr Radisson. Well… perhaps not. Look, Mrs Ribble that really was the kindest thing I’ve had said to

me in months.  I am a person and yes this betrayal is causing all sorts of pains. These

ideas of mine aren’t new, if anything they’re quite old fashioned. They’re what this

party is supposed to stand for. However much a brave face I put on this I really am not

sure this is a fight I can win. Too many of own party have a lot to lose.

 

Mrs Ribble.   Well I for one hope you take them on and fight this oot. And there’s a lot of folk fee

l like me aboot you. You’re a proper fresh breath ye are. If it helps there’s a saying we

have in my family, I don’t know if it’s become popular, but we say it a lot. It goes,

Divin’t let cunts put ye in a mincer.

Mr Radisson. Err…I think that might be, don’t let the bastards grind you down.

Mrs Ribble.   Trust me pet. I know what I mean. My husband came up with it after he saw that film

Frago.  Anyhoo I best get on. I’ve got a pile of overtime on since we did a Brexit. Most

of the other cleaners have buggered off back to where they come from. And who can

blame them! (LAUGHS)

 

 

Seated.           That’s it.

 

Standing.       Really? I wanted to know what developed.

 

Seated.          Well I thought she would become his main confidante and give him all the advice he

needed to lead him to power.

 

Standing.       And then they get married?

 

Seated.           No, then there’s an outbreak of zombies and everybody dies.

 

Standing.      For real?

 

Seated.          You know there’s no such word as naive in the English language.

 

Standing.       I think it’s time we went back.

 

Seated.           I think it is.  

 

 

 

12.

Lighting change to blue.

 

Father.       Just look at what you’ve done. Look at the state your mother’s in. What have?

You got to say about that?

 

Son.             But I didn’t do this. This isn’t the full truth.

 

Father.        So who’s responsible then? Who did this? Who reduced your mother to tears?

 

Son.             It’s Mr Davidson. He did this. He’s got…he’s got…it’s hard to explain.

 

Father.        Come on then let’s hear it.

 

Son.             He’s got…he’s got…(SIGHS) He’s got it in for me.

 

Father.       Of course he’s got it in for you. You’ve been skiving bloody school.

 

Son.             But I haven’t.

 

Father.       So where were you today? Why did he phone your mother to say you were

absent?

 

Son.             It’s the last day before the Easter holidays. Loads of folk take it off. I haven’t

before but Martins mum said it would be alright. I only took the morning off

and went in in the afternoon. But Mr Davidsons lying, I don’t skive school.

 

Father.       You don’t skive school? So what were you doing today? You’re a liar. That’s all

we ever get from you, lie after lie. And I tell you this that’s the last you’ll be

seeing of Martin. The trouble with you is you think you’re better than the rest

of us. It’s all play and no work with you. A normal job isn’t good enough for you is

is it?

 

Son.           I don’t think that.

 

Father.     Yes you do. It’s time you faced up to reality. Helen is it this week he hands in

his O-Level choices? Well he’s not doing drama and art anymore…no don’t you

stick up for him look at the state he’s had you in.

 

Son.           No…no…please that’s why I love school…

 

Father.     Oh love school do you that’s why you can’t be bothered going.

 

Son.           Please…I’m good at those things.

 

13.

Father.   Those things won’t get you a job in the real world. And the real world is where

you’re going to start living. That’s my final word.

 

Son.          Please, please, please….

 

Lighting change back to present.

 

Seated.     Shit that really is raw. I can remember every minute of that.

 

Standing. You wanted to study drama?

 

Seated.     Yes.

 

Standing. And that’s where you got stopped from doing that.

 

Seated.     Yes.

 

Standing. That must have been hard.

 

Seated.     I was devastated. But the real truth was I always knew this would happen. I’m

from a mining town in the Lothians of Scotland. People don’t do drama where

I’m from. I sometimes make a joke about it. I say, If Billy Elliot grew up in the

town where I’m from they would have broken his fucking legs.

 

Standing. That’s really not that funny.

 

Seated.     I know.

 

Standing. That really was quite cruel of your father.

 

Seated.     I hated him for years. But I see things different now. In his way he was trying to

look out for me. He could be a distant man but when I became ill he was always

there for me.

 

Standing. You became ill.

 

Seated.     Not long after this incident I fell into my first depression. I was fourteen. It was

noticeable to everybody. I went from being this bright happy go lucky kid to being

incredibly withdrawn. Suicide was on my mind a lot. It turned out this was just

the tip of the iceberg. I’d been a good academic achiever at school, but after this

things started to slide. I left school at sixteen and took an apprenticeship as a

printer. I left that job after seven years. It was in my mid-twenties that the

condition fully manifested itself.

 

Standing. The condition?

 

14.

Seated.   Bi-Polar disorder. Bi-Polar one to be more accurate. Quite an acute version of

The illness. I was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia at first. That was shit. Not the

best of chat up lines when you’re young. “Hello you’re a sexy Goth. By the way

I’ve got this wee schizophrenia thing going on but don’t worry you’ll like all of us.”

But I fought back. It was really hard. I lost years. Eventually though I started to

make a living doing funny monologues in bar rooms and clubs around the UK.

Around seven years ago I responded very well to a new type of treatment. I’ve

been pretty well ever since. Before that was chaos. It’s funny but my dad used to

say, “If you’re going to study drama you’ll  need to have a trade to fall back on.” I

think we both would have laughed at the fact that my fall back trade is actually

the performing arts.

The past impacts the future. The impact it had on me was to induce pure

determination. I even think had I been allowed to do what I wanted none of us

might be here now. I might have just drifted. The condition was going to happen

regardless of how good an actor I was

 

Standing. I see, you said earlier there would be a horrible or even unbelievable revelation.

I fully understand how difficult things must have been for you but you know

these experiences of yours aren’t that out of the ordinary.

 

Seated.     Oh no that isn’t to do with me. No, that’s to do with what happened to Mr

Davidson. Look I wouldn’t make this up. If you need evidence just Google

British school teacher, Thailand, throat slit.

 

Standing. Someone slit his throat? Killed him?

 

Seated.     Yes. The weird thing was it was reported in the press that he’d been killed in

what was described as “A ritual sacrifice.” I’m from a small town and everybody

just assumed this was some kind of cover up. We all thought he’d been some

kind of dubious sex tourist. Please understand that was nothing to do with is

sexuality and everything to do with the fact he was in Thailand.

 

Standing. Did you feel a sense of vengeance?

 

Seated.     No. But I didn’t exactly feel sorry for him either. The thing is though when I was

putting this together I did some research into his death and it brought me back

to another theme in Bacon Knees and Sausage Fingers. In that play Bacon Knees

has a horrendously abusive child hood and it impacts on his behaviour. That

impact on his behaviour then impacts on how people perceive him. As I was

writing this I realised the events of those days with the Polaroids had really

impacted on how I perceived Mr Davidson and his death. When I looked into it I

discovered it had been misreported. It was a straight forward burglary.

I was glad to find this out. I was glad he wasn’t the villain I’d created of him.

It’s all in how the stories told I suppose.

 

Standing. But things are good now yes? You’re finally at uni. You’re enjoying it.

You’re learning new things. You’re being creative.

 

Seated.     Yes I love it. I actually found out I was accepted on the day David Bowie died.

That day was also happened to be my birthday and I was at my mums’ house. You

know what she said…she said…”That’s David Bowie leaving the planet so you can

have some of his life.” That made me blubber all the way from Edinburgh to

Newcastle, but in a nice way. Kind of like an emotional buzz. I was filled with all

sorts of emotions. Expectation and closure and grief and sadness and happiness.

 

Standing. That’s drama for you.

 

Seated.     I suppose so.

 

Standing. Any final words? A poem, a play, perhaps a one hour monologue on your mental

health.

 

Seated.     Actually it’s funny you should say that but that’s exactly where I am just now. I’m

In another theatre doing exactly that. That’s what I find so thrilling about this. I

can give it away. The collaboration with others is the most exciting thing. As a

species I think we do better in gangs.  I’m not precious about this at all.  Trust

me you can do it dressed up as Ziggy Stardust if you want.

 

Standing. Boy am I glad that’s one bit of stage information our director chose to ignore.

 

Seated.   Thanks ever so much for doing this it means a huge amount to me.

 

Standing. You’re welcome.

 

Morecambe and Wise Bring Me Sunshine plays.