Rob Hayes Writes Plays

Free Plays From Rob Hayes.

Category: Free Play

Doctor’s Appt., 9am

This is a play I wrote for the Royal Exchange’s FUTUREWORLDS project – a series of short radio plays all set on the same day in the year 2020. 

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Welcome To Parkhurst Road Surgery. Please type your identification number now.

Beep beep beep beep beep.

If you are not– Mr.– Paul– Cressman please press the hash key now.

Pause.

Thank you. If you would like to order a repeat prescription, press one. If you would like a diagnosis, press two. If you’d like to pay your–

Beep.

Thank you. If previous symptoms have continued or worsened, press one. If you are experiencing new–

Beep.

Thank you. If you are experiencing– extreme headaches, press one–

Beep.

If you are experiencing– a stabbing pain behind the eyes, press one–

Beep.

If you are experiencing– lapses in memory and concentration, press one–

Beep.

If you are experiencing– occasional vomiting, press–

Beep.

If you are experiencing– loss of feeling in extremities

Beep.

If you are experiencing– diarrhea press one now.

Pause.

If you are experiencing any new symptoms, please enter them using the keypad now, separated by the hash key.

Several beeps.

You entered Read the rest of this entry »

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Primate Example

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An interior office. The blinds are drawn. The desks have been overturned and pushed to the walls. The chairs have been arranged to form a makeshift climbing frame. There is debris – files, papers, food, furniture – scattered across the floor.

Three men in suits squat like monkeys in the middle of the room, eyeing each other. They grunt, beat their chests and roll around the floor. They are, in effect, acting like monkeys.

After a moment, one of them shuffles out the room. One of the remaining men, Davies, immediately stands up.

DAVIES: I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.

Shenton also stands up.

SHENTON: Just go with it a little longer. Please.

DAVIES: This is insane. We have our first project appraisal on Tuesday and we’ve done nothing. We’ve not even started.

SHENTON: It’s under control.

DAVIES: How? How is it under control? We’re pretending to be monkeys!

SHENTON: I’m telling you his system works. I’ve seen it.

DAVIES: We’ve made no progress.

SHENTON: But we have. Subconsciously. It’s all about unlocking creativity. Primal behaviour. We’re allowing our brains to do all the work. Last day, we get it all on paper.

DAVIES: I’m getting nervous Shenton.

SHENTON: Just trust me. The man’s a maverick, but he knows what he’s doing.

DAVIES:I just don’t see it.

SHENTON: Did I tell you about the Thai monk who trained him?

DAVIES: Yes you told me about the Thai monk who trained him.

SHENTON: We can’t expect to understand his ways. We must only serve them. And remember, you can’t show any signs of weakness, okay? If he senses even for a second that you’re not fully committed then the whole thing will go down the toilet. Is that clear?

Davies sighs, nods.

DAVIES: But I’m gonna need a break. My knee’s playing up again.

SHENTON: Okay. Fine. Just a little longer I promise.

The third man, McKee, enters. The three immediately start acting like monkeys again.

After a moment Davies exits. McKee immediately stands up.

MCKEE: How much longer is this going to go on for?

SHENTON: I don’t know mate, I don’t know.

MCKEE: We can’t work carry on like this. The man’s a nutter.

SHENTON: He’s having a really tough time. His wife left him, he’s under a lot of stress.

MCKEE: But this is ridiculous. We have nothing to show for the past two weeks. Why the hell should we risk our entire project pandering to that man’s neuroses? He’s a nut! He should be suspended.

SHENTON: Don’t worry, I’ve been working on the report in my spare time. It’s almost ready. You just keep quiet and carry on. And don’t, whatever you do, break the illusion. He’s very unstable at the moment. God knows how he’d react if he thought we weren’t genuine monkeys in an actual jungle.

MCKEE: But it’s not right. It just isn’t right.

SHENTON: All I’m saying is he’s a semi-professional archer. That’s a fact.

MCKEE: He shouldn’t be in a workplace environment. He should be in a secure unit.

SHENTON: We need to indulge him. Just till it’s safe for him to start therapy.

MCKEE: Shouldn’t we, I don’t know, tell someone?

SHENTON: In time, yes. I’ve got it under control. Listen, I’m gonna have to go and work on the report for a few minutes. Can I trust you?

McKee sighs, nods.

SHENTON: You’re a good man McKee, I’m sorry I dragged you into this.

Shenton exits. Davies re-enters. He and McKee eye each other, then both crouch down and start acting like monkeys. Again they grunt and howl, banging on the floor.

McKee moves over to Davies and starts grooming him.

Davies responds by climbing onto the furniture.

McKee moves over to a large bowl of fruit and starts chewing it up, skin and all, and throwing the mushed up remains around the room.

Davies pulls his tie off and rips open his shirt. He moves over to a bucket, sits into it and starts taking a shit.

At that moment the boss, Squire, enters.

SQUIRE: What the…

He puts his tie over his nose, gagging at the smell.

SQUIRE: Oh god! Shenton warned me you two were fooling around but…this is insane! You have a project appraisal looming and you’ve spent the whole time…hopping around like animals! What the hell do you think you’re playing at? You think it’s all one big joke? You know we’ve got another round of layoffs coming, don’t you? You are aware of that. In fact, what am I talking about? You’re both fired! Thank you for making my job a little easier.

The two colleagues are paralysed with shock.

DAVIES: But sir–

SQUIRE: I don’t want to hear it. You couldn’t possibly have an adequate excuse. Get out! Now! Pack your things and get the hell out!

The two men abjectly shuffle out of the room.

Shenton saunters in.

SQUIRE: Thank you for bringing this to my attention, Shenton. It couldn’t have been easy.

SHENTON: Such a shame.

He takes out a banana and peels it.

SHENTON: I have no idea what they were playing at.

He takes a big bite.

Gangster Priests – Part One

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Father Caine – 50s. The Boss.

Father Dymmock – 60s. Dreary alcoholic.

Father Labine – 30s. Dumb henchman.

Father McCullagh – 40s. Mouthy Irish bastard.

Father Tremaine – 50s. Morally conflicted. Too old for this shit.

Father Ransome – 30s. Young, observant, ambitious.

SCENE ONE

Parish house, afternoon.

All the priests, bar Dymmock, are sat around drinking tea.

Caine.

Fuck is Father Dymmock?

Nothing.

Caine.

Eh? Where’s fuckin Dymmock? Hello? Talkin to myself am I?

Labine.

He’s doing the five o’clock at Bluefield.

Caine.

He’s doin the what?

Labine.

The five o’clock.

Caine.

At Bluefield?

Labine.

Yeah.

Caine.

The fuck is he doin that for?

Labine.

Cos I did his midday here.

Caine.

And why in great Satan’s arsecrack did you do his midday here?

Labine.

I had errands.

Caine.

Errands. You fuckin comedian. You had errands? And what possible errand could you have had, Labine? When the entire universe of your day should have been encompassed in my simple instructions to wake the fuck up, sit on your arse for four hours, do the five pm service you were scheduled to do, then come over here and wait without causing any major accidents. What errands did you manage to squeeze in to that so as to fuck up the entire evening’s proceedings?

Labine shrugs.

Labine.

Just errands.

McCullagh.

What the fuck does it matter? Labine does the 12 o’clock. Dymmock does the five o’clock. What’s worth getting your bollocks in a twist for?

Caine.

I’m glad you asked. I’m glad one of you had the presence of mind to ask, even if it was the fuckin farmhand. It’s especially worrying considering I briefed you all on this two weeks ago. Honest to fuck, you can remember the entirety of Mark’s Gospel in Latin but you can’t recall what you had for fuckin breakfast. The reasons why this is another monumental mark on Labine’s already heavily annotated card, are twofold. Firstly by five pm Dymmock would’ve got enough sacramental wine down him to drown a warship. By now he’ll be makin as much sense as the old biddies on the dementia ward.

Tremaine.

They won’t notice the difference down there.

Caine.

The dribblin cadavers who’ve been wheeled in there maybe not. But you can bet your bollocks the nurses will. And that’s exactly what we need, more idle speculation surrounding this bag of turds you call a parish. And anyway, that’s small cheese compared to the second problem. Which is I’ve got half a ton of tainted Eucharist floating into the estuary at 7.30. And believe it or not, Padre Matissio is going to expect Father Dymmock’s rosatia-ridden mug grinning at him from the dock, otherwise he’s gonna think the whole thing’s gone sour. Say what you want about the old fermented bag of fruit, but for some unholy reason he’s got a way with people. They trust him. That’s why we put him up there in all the deals. We turn up without him, it’s gonna look like we’re pullin a right number.

Ransome.

Tainted eucharist? What you gonna do with that?

Caine.

I’m gonna feed it to the old dears down at St. Patricia. Give them a CAFOD meeting to remember. The fuck you think I’m gonna do with it? Colleges break for Easter on Thurday. They wanna go out ravin. What they gonna do, shove a load of pills up their bum?

Ransome.

So they buy unleavened bread?

Caine.

Laced with the finest DMT you’ll find this side of India mate. Only one thing harder to get hold of round here and that’s pure uncut Pakistani opium, which forget about it. College kids ain’t about buyin baggies off hoods on street corners anymore. They got university careers to think about. We put on a special student mass, they park their arses on the pews, collection plate goes round, we lay it on them. Three hours later they’re dancin on the clouds.

Tremaine shakes his head.

Ransome.

That’s pretty smart.

Caine.

Thank you. I know. I came up with it.

McCullogh.

No you didn’t. Italians been doin it for years.

Caine.

Shut your spud hole. Except now whole thing might be scuppered because this casualty went and started swapping around the schedule without permission, which he still hasn’t explained why. Errands. Gimme a fuckin break.

Ransome.

I’ll go.

Caine.

What’s that son?

Ransome.

I’ll go. To the meet.

Caine.

Will you now? Well well. Look at new boy over here. Fuckin Ballykissangel over here. Fuckin choirboy wants to come along on a drop. Where’d that come from then?

Ransome.

Be a shame to derail the whole thing over a misunderstanding. Worth a shot.

Caine.

You do realise you get on that boat and look at them funny, even for a second, Matissio will slit you open.

Ransome shrugs.

Caine.

They ain’t fuckin about mate. They come from a different place. Got all kinds of shit behind them.

Ransome.

I know. I’ll give it a go.

Caine.

What makes you so sure of yourself then?

Ransome.

I have a trustworthy face.

Caine.

Fair enough. Ransome’ll come with. See how that one turns out. Still, best make some use of that face of his before he hits puberty and the whole thing goes to shit. Labine, you’re temporarily. And I mean temporarily. Off the hook. You are driving though. McCullagh, Tremaine, go nurse a stout and meet us at the drop off in two hours.

SCENE TWO

The docks, dusk.

Caine and Ronsome sit on a bench. Ransome is smoking.

Caine.

Whatever you do, don’t get on the boat. That’s alarm bells time. Everythin happens on the dock. Neutral ground. And don’t talk neither. Not a word. Think it’s that one there. See. Like two lights. Like two blinking lights, just.

Ransome.

Oh yeah. Like 200 yards.

Caine.

Bout that.

Ransome.

Couple of minutes then.

Caine.

Listen, the split might get a little sticky on this one. Even though that old cunt didn’t have the neurons to turn up, he did broker the whole thing. That swallows up the lion’s share, once operating costs are dealt with.

Ransome.

What about your share?

Caine.

That comes under operating costs. But Dymmock’s a funny one. You wouldn’t know it to look at him but he’s a shrewd bastard when it comes to his numbers. He’s got a nephew, summink. And a lot of friends called Glen.

Ransome.

So you’re saying there’s nothing in this deal for me then.

Caine.

I’m saying there’s nothing more than the others are gettin, even though you’re the one riskin your cojones. What I’m saying is you coming out here, putting your face up. It’s not gonna pay off like you’d hoped on this occasion. Is what I’m saying.

Ransome.

Did you hear me quibble about percentages before I offered to come along?

Caine.

No.

Ransome.

Well then.

He flicks his cigarette away and stands up. Caine follows him to the edge of the mooring.

A small tug-boat pulls in. Caine catches a thrown rope and helps pull it to the bank.

Padre Matissio steps off the boat with two tall, muscular, Italian-looking priests.

Matissio and Caine embrace.

Caine.

Padre, padre. How are ya? Chao bella. I see you’ve bought your on-board entertainment.

Matissio.

Careful Caine. Those jokes don’t float on the wind like they used to.

Caine.

Alright alright. We want a nice clean flight. Now I want to introduce you to someone. His name’s father Ransome, and.

Matissio spies Ransome. His face drops.

Caine.

And he’s one of the best priests we have. New to the parish, he is. Lovely lad.

Matissio.

Where is Dymmock?

Caine.

He got caught up. No bother. Nothing to worry about. Sends his wishes.

Matissio.

Where. Is. Dymmock?

Caine.

Look we’ve got the cash. We ain’t packing. We’re here for a friendly swap.

Matissio.

I will not ask again Caine.

Caine.

Come on Padre. You know me. This here’s a new boy. Showing him the ropes, that’s all. Dymmock got caught up with a five o’clock service.

Matissio looks to his henchmen.

Matissio.

Si muove, uccidere.

Caine.

Now come on, there’s no need to be speaking all Italian. We got a common language.

Matissio moves over to Ransome and presses a switchblade to his throat. Ransome barely moves.

Caine.

Alright. Okay. First things first, you get one of your boys to frisk me. No fuckin around. All gentle slow, like. I ain’t carryin Padre. I’m tellin you, it’s legit mi amigo. All legit.

Matissio.

Tanerlo.

Matissio’s henchmen restrain Caine.

Caine.

This is ridiculous.

Matissio.

Where is Dymmock?

Caine.

I’m tellin ya he’s been held up.

Matissio.

Is that a euphemism?

Caine.

Ain’t a euphemism, no. He’s literally been help up. Look we got the cash. We ain’t tryin to mug you off Padre.

Matissio.

Sulla barca.

The henchmen start to muscle Caine onto the boat. He resists.

Caine.

No. Now come on. I’m tellin ya. I am telling you. There’s no need to put me on the boat now.

A raspy hum makes everyone stop and listen.

After a moment, Father Dymmock rolls in, slumped over a mobility scooter.

He slows to a stop by the priests, unconscious. Everyone watches.

Matissio.

He’s dead.

Caine.
He’s not dead. Are you Dymmock. Dymmock?

Matissio nods to a henchman, who moves over and nudges Dymmock.

On the second nudge he snaps awake.

Dymmock.

Peace be with you peace be with you peace be with– wah? Where am I? Ha? Oh yes, the drugs deal. Sorry I’m late Padre, I had a service down at Bluefields. I realised I was late so I got here on the fastest mode of transportation I could find.

Caine.

What about your car, dymmock?

Dymmock thinks, remembers.

Dymmock.

Ah feck it. I did drive there in a car, so I did. Have to go back for that later.

Dymmock takes in the scene.

Dymmock.

What the bleedin’ hell’s goin on here then? For pity’s sake Matissio, put the knife away.

Matissio lowers his switchblade. He nods at his henchmen, who release Caine.

Dymmock.

Look at you. Honest to goodness. With your weapons and your frowny faces. You Italians have become so uptight since you stopped fiddlin with the little boys. Well, what the feck are you waiting for? Are we doing this or not then? We’ve all got homes to go to.

Matissio nods to his henchmen, who move onto the boat to pick up the stash. Dymmock moves over to Ransome.

Dymmock.

Well hello there young Father Ransome! How are you lad? Your first job with us, that’s exciting, isn’t it?

He spins to Caine.

Dymmock.

This fecker better not be getting my cut?

Caine.

Your cut is safe.

Dymmock turns back to Ransome, smiles sweetly.

Dymmock.

I have a nephew.

The Birthday Play

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An Office.

Carl is working at his computer. James approaches with a cake.

JAMES: Happy birthday Carl!

CARL: I don’t like your tone.

JAMES: Oh. Sorry. I was just– with a cake, and–

CARL: Just stay away from me, alright?

James puts the cake down on Carl’s desk and leaves.

Carl returns to his work.

A Slackening Ache

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A quaint, chinzy living room. A very old lady, Mary, enters, followed by another slightly younger lady, Eileen. They shuffle towards the table and armchairs. On the table are various ornaments, including a half-knitted sweater.

EILEEN: Absolute murder out there.

MARY: Cold is it?

EILEEN: It’s the ice.

MARY: Do be careful.

EILEEN: Absolute murder.

MARY: I didn’t realise you were coming over, I’d’ve made a cake.

EILEEN: Oh no Mary I’m just popping round.

MARY: Put a sponge in if I’d known.

EILEEN: Have you been knitting?

MARY: I’ve been knitting yes.

EILEEN: Who’ve you been knitting for?

MARY: No one in particular.

EILEEN: I shouldn’t think you’ve anyone to knit for nowadays.

MARY: I just like to knit.

EILEEN: I suppose if it keeps you busy.

MARY: Kettle’s just boiled. Would you like a cup of tea?

EILEEN: That’d be lovely, thank you.

MARY: I’ll do you a tea.

Mary exits.

Eileen sits down in an armchair and makes herself comfortable.

Mary re-enters with a cup of tea and puts it on the table. Every time Mary exits, a little jingle plays until she has put the cup down on the table.

MARY: There you are love.

EILEEN: Thank you love.

MARY: Are you well?

EILEEN: Very well, yes thank you.

MARY: How’s the garden?

EILEEN: Rosemary’s come through lovely.

MARY: Has it?

EILEEN: Come through lovely, yeah.

MARY: Only I thought because of the frost.

EILEEN: Well it’s hardy isn’t it. Had Derek round yesterday, taking pictures of my pulse patch for his magazine.

MARY: Maggots did you say?

EILEEN: Pardon?

MARY: The maggots have been at your pulses have they?

EILEEN: No, magazine. I said magazine.

MARY: Oh, magazine. My ears nowadays, honestly.

Pause.

MARY: What’s that about a magazine then?

EILEEN: Derek’s magazine.

MARY: Derek’s got a magazine? I thought he couldn’t read.

EILEEN: He takes photographs for it. It’s a gardening magazine. He does the photographs for it.

MARY: You should have him round your garden. He could take some photos.

EILEEN: Yes.

MARY: For his magazine.

EILEEN: Yes that’s what he was doing, see.

MARY: Oh I see. No trouble from maggots then?

EILEEN: No, not this time of year.

MARY: Because if you’re having photos taken you wouldn’t want any trouble with maggots, would you?

EILEEN: No I wouldn’t, no.

MARY: Well it’s lovely to see you Eileen. It’s been ever so quiet. Not many people out in this weather.

EILEEN: Best stay indoors when it’s like this. I hope you’re not going outside, not with your knee.

MARY: I’d never get back up if I fell.

EILEEN: Not with your knee.

MARY: I’d be out there all night if I went over.

EILEEN: Well I wouldn’t have made the journey, but I’ve some news.

MARY: Some news?

EILEEN: Before I forget let me come out with it. I’ve a bit of gossip you see.

MARY: What’s that love, you’ve been to Glossop?

EILEEN: No, I said I’ve a bit of gossip for you.

MARY: Oh I see.

EILEEN: I know you like a bit of gossip.

MARY: You’d like some bitter cough syrup?

EILEEN: No, I said you’d like a bit of gossip.

MARY: Would I? Oh yes.

EILEEN: It’s about Joan. You know she’s getting married at Christmas, well they’ve chosen a destination for their honeymoon. You’ll never guess where they’re going.

MARY: Hold that thought Eileen, can I get you a cup of tea?

EILEEN: Oh, I’d love a cup of tea, thank you Mary.

MARY: I just realised you’ve been sat there and I haven’t offered you a cup of tea.

EILEEN: I’d love a cup of tea Mary, thank you.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen picks up a dead plant. She sniffs it, then drops it on the floor. She takes out a live plant in a plant pot from her bag and puts it on the table.

Mary enters with a cup of tea. She places it on the table with the other one. The music stops.

EILEEN: Thank you love. You always did make a good cup of tea.

MARY: I like to host. Keeps me active.

EILEEN: Not so much since your Pat left though.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: Not so many parties since Eric died and your Pat left for New Zealand.

MARY: What love?

EILEEN: I’m saying you don’t host as much now.

MARY: Not with my knee.

EILEEN: No, no not with your knee.

Pause.

EILEEN: Are you still drawing? The birds?

MARY: Eh?

EILEEN: Are you still drawing birds?

MARY: I don’t have the fingers for it any more.

EILEEN: Shame that. They gave you a nice little income I imagine.

MARY: I liked the freedom.

EILEEN: That reminds me, I’ve got some news about the wedding.

MARY: Wedding?

EILEEN: Our Joan’s Wedding.

MARY: Oh yes.

EILEEN: They’ve chosen a date.

MARY: They’ve chosen a date?

EILEEN: Yes.

MARY: What date have they chosen?

EILEEN: Christmas time.

MARY: A Christmas wedding, how lovely.

EILEEN: They were hoping for Easter but the church was booked up. Paul wanted it around a religious festival you see.

MARY: Oh of course, I forget he’s a Catholic. Have they thought about a honeymoon yet?

EILEEN: Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to ask her. I can’t think of any catholic honeymoon destinations.

MARY: I went to Glossop.

EILEEN: Yes but they like to travel nowadays, don’t they? Look at your Patricia. Went halfway round the world and never came back. Mind you after what happened I should think that’s for the best.

Pause.

MARY: Would you like a cup of tea Eileen?

EILEEN: You read my mind Mary.

MARY: Kettle’s just boiled.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen looks through her bag and takes out a picture in a frame. She takes a picture off the table – a drawing of a bird in flight – and drops it on the floor, replacing it with her family photo.

Mary re-enters with two cups of tea. She places one in front of Eileen. The music stops.

EILEEN: Did you say you’d put a cake in?

MARY: Oh. Uh.

EILEEN: A sponge was it?

MARY: Should I put one in?

EILEEN: A sponge?

MARY: I could do a sponge. Should I put one in?

EILEEN: Only I did mention I was coming today. I thought we could have a nice piece of cake.

MARY: Did you?

EILEEN: Yes I did ring ahead. Do you remember? Me ringing ahead?

MARY: Let’s see.

EILEEN: I called two days ago asked if it was okay to pop round. In case you were busy, already had visitors. I knew you wouldn’t but thought it polite to ask all the same. Do you remember?

Pause.

MARY: I’ll put a sponge on.

EILEEN: Oh no Mary I’m just popping round. Don’t trouble yourself. I just came because I’ve a bit of news about our Joan.

MARY: Oh I’ve not seen your Joan in weeks, how is she?

EILEEN: She’s getting married.

MARY: She’s getting married? To that lovely catholic fella?

EILEEN: That’s the one.

MARY: Oh bless her. Little Joan all grown up and getting married. I remember when she was running round in skirts and scraping her knees. Do pass on my congratulations.

EILEEN: I shall do.

MARY: You’ll have to take her one of my bird pictures. As a present.

EILEEN: I’ll do that.

MARY: Don’t have many left now but it’s a special occasion.

EILEEN: She’ll be grateful.

MARY: I enjoyed the freedom. I’ve not the fingers for it now.

EILEEN: They’re hoping for an Easter wedding, so it coincides with the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary nods.

MARY: And it’s in Glossop, you say?

EILEEN: Glossop? I shouldn’t’ve thought so.

MARY: Oh.

EILEEN: Not Glossop.

MARY: Have they got a cake?

EILEEN: I don’t know.

MARY: I could do a sponge.

EILEEN: There’s an idea. I could give you some strawberries from the garden.

MARY: What about the maggots?

EILEEN: The what love?

MARY: I thought Derek said you had a problem with the maggots? In the garden.

EILEEN: Did he? No love I think you’re mistaken. It’s all come through lovely.

MARY: Here’s your tea by the way.

She hands Eileen the other cup of tea.

MARY: I’d do one with plums from the tree but whenever I go to collect them the branches are always empty.

EILEEN: I’ll ask if you can come along.

MARY: Come along where?

EILEEN: To the wedding. It’ll be nice that won’t it?

MARY: Lovely, yes.

EILEEN: Because your Pat never did get married did she? In the end.

Pause.

EILEEN: Mary, I’m saying you never had a wedding to go to for your Pat, did you? She was never married.

Pause.

EILEEN: Mary.

MARY: Yes love?

EILEEN: Your daughter never married.

MARY: No, no.

Pause.

MARY: Can I get you a cup of tea?

EILEEN: Yes please, I’m gasping.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen goes through her handbag and takes out a handful of plums, which she tips into an empty fruit bowl on the table.

Marry re-enters with a teapot and a cup of tea. She puts them on the table with the collection of teacups. The music stops.

MARY: I brought the pot in. Save me going back and forth for refills.

EILEEN: You don’t want to be doing that with your knee Mary.

MARY: Well I thought, see. How’s that chest of yours?

EILEEN: What chest of mine?

MARY: You had a bad cough didn’t you?

EILEEN: Did I?

MARY: You were asking after some bitter cough syrup.

EILEEN: If I were ever ill it’s all cleared now, thankfully.

MARY: I’ve some Echinacea. For your cough.

EILEEN: Thank you. I’m fine though.

MARY: It’s very good.

EILEEN: Yes, my granddaughter Joan uses it. Did I tell you she’s met a fella?

MARY: Your granddaughter Joan?

EILEEN: Yes my granddaughter Joan, she’s met someone.

MARY: Is he nice?

EILEEN: He’s lovely. A catholic man.

MARY: So he’s got morals then.

EILEEN: He’s a bicycle courier.

MARY: He’s got a bicycle career?

EILEEN: Yes that’s right.

MARY: Well I never.

EILEEN: I do hope she settles down. She’s had such a hard life.

MARY: She’s met a catholic now.

EILEEN: He’ll see she’s well looked after.

MARY: He sells bicycles does he?

EILEEN: He may well do.

MARY: For a magazine did you say?

EILEEN: Very possibly.

MARY: He sells photographs of bikes to a magazine?

Eileen hesitates.

EILEEN: Yes.

MARY: I wonder if there’s money in that.

EILEEN: Well everyone needs a bicycle.

MARY: In this weather?

EILEEN: Not with your knee love.

MARY: No, naturally.

EILEEN: Can’t even make it up the stairs nowadays can you? Let alone jump on a bicycle. Remember when we used to cycle down to coffee mornings?

MARY: I remember, yes.

EILEEN: Every Sunday we did that. You me and your Eric.

MARY: Yes.

EILEEN: And now you’ve a mattress in the dining room to save you using the stairs. Funny isn’t it, really? How things change.

Pause.

EILEEN: They still ask after you at the coffee mornings. Sometimes.

MARY: I’ve left the kettle boiling, would you like a quick cup of tea?

EILEEN: A quick one then, yes please.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen goes over to a pair of slippers and puts them on after taking her shoes off.

Mary re-enters. The music stops.

MARY: I’m sorry Eileen, I can’t find the teapot.

EILEEN: Oh not to worry love, I’m just popping round anyway.

MARY: I could’ve put a sponge on if I’d known you were coming.

EILEEN: Next time.

MARY: Yes next time.

EILEEN: I’ll bring our Joan.

MARY: Your Joan?

EILEEN: She’s all grown up now.

MARY: Really? Well I never. It goes fast doesn’t it.

EILEEN: She’s a lovely young lady now. When was the last time you saw her?

MARY: I think she’d scraped her knee.

EILEEN: Oh.

MARY: You gave her Echinacea. For the wound.

EILEEN: That must’ve been a long time ago, I can’t seem to remember that.

MARY: It was many many years ago.

EILEEN: Well she’s much older now. She’s blossomed.

MARY: That’s good to hear. Bless her.

EILEEN: I do hope she finds a good man. She’s been through so much hardship and woe. I just want her to find a nice fella and settle down.

MARY: Bless her.

EILEEN: She bought a bicycle the other day.

MARY: They do them in magazines now, don’t they?

EILEEN: Do they?

MARY: Apparently. They take pictures of them for the magazines. Then people buy them.

EILEEN: I’ve never heard of that before.

MARY: Well. The things they have nowadays

EILEEN: You’ll have to meet her again. She’d love to see you.

MARY: Maybe she can cycle round.

EILEEN: Yes, when the ice clears.

MARY: Wouldn’t want her cycling around on the ice.

EILEEN: It’s murder out there. Coffee morning’s been cancelled on account of the ice. Not that you’d have gone of course. You’d hardly recognise anyone down there anymore. So many new faces.

MARY: New faces.

EILEEN: New to you I mean. Unfamiliar. Of course they wouldn’t know who you are. You’d be a stranger now.

MARY: A stranger.

EILEEN: You’d be lost. Even your old friends wouldn’t recognise you. I suppose that’s just how it goes.

MARY: Would you like a cup of tea?

EILEEN: No thanks, I’m not a big tea drinker. Could I have a wheatgrass smoothie?

MARY: Yes of course. Give me a moment.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen takes a flannel blanket from her bag and spreads it over her knees.

Mary re-enters with a glass of wheatgrass smoothie. She struggles to find a place on the table for the glass. Eileen waits, watching. The jingle continues playing on a loop.

Finally Mary moves some cups around and makes space for the glass of smoothie.

MARY: There you go love.

EILEEN: I can’t remember the last time we saw each other Mary. When was it now?

MARY: Oh dear I can’t remember. It must be some weeks ago now. Before the frost.

EILEEN: Feels like years.

MARY: Yes it may be some years now, looking back.

EILEEN: I’ve so much to tell you Mary. I don’t quite know where to start.

MARY: Perhaps I could put a sponge in.

EILEEN: I have a granddaughter you know.

MARY: You’ve a granddaughter?

EILEEN: Joan. She’s lovely.

MARY: A granddaughter. Well I never. And all that time you thought she was barren.

EILEEN: Who?

MARY: Your daughter.

EILEEN: What daughter?

MARY: Rosemary.

EILEEN: Well, she’s very hardy.

MARY: Good for you. A granddaughter.

EILEEN: People say she has my features. I think you’d recognise her without even meeting her.

MARY: Fancy that. What a queer idea.

EILEEN: I hope you don’t think I’ve come to gloat. It must be sad for you.

MARY: What’s that?

EILEEN: Having no-one left, the way it is with you now.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: You’ve no-one left, do you? It must be ever so lonely.

MARY: I like to host.

EILEEN: Not so much now though. Not since your Pat left.

MARY: It is quiet.

EILEEN: Mary love.

MARY: Yes dear.

EILEEN: I don’t mean to be impolite, but this tea is cold and green.

MARY: Is it?

EILEEN: And it’s a bit thick. I think you may have let it stew for too long.

MARY: Goodness, I am sorry. Let me get you a new one.

EILEEN: Would you?

MARY: Give me a moment.

Mary exits. The music plays.

Eileen takes up the half knitted sweater and starts to knit.

Mary re-enters, empty handed. The music stops.

MARY: I can’t find my cups.

EILEEN: Excuse me?

MARY: All my cups have gone.

EILEEN: Can I help you?

MARY: Pardon love?

EILEEN: I said can I help you?

MARY: Eh?

EILEEN: I’m sorry. Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.

MARY: My cups.

EILEEN: I’m sorry love but I don’t usually allow strangers into my home.

MARY: Strangers?

EILEEN: I’m all alone you see. My husband died a long time ago and I live alone. I’m very vulnerable.

MARY: Vulnerable.

EILEEN: On account of my being all alone. It wouldn’t be very prudent to allow strangers into my home. I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.

MARY: Pardon?

EILEEN: Yes, you’ll have to go I’m afraid.

MARY: I shouldn’t really leave the house.

EILEEN: Well goodness knows how you ended up here then.

MARY: With my knee.

EILEEN: I’d have you to stay only I’m knitting a sweater for my granddaughter.

MARY: The weather.

Eileen moves to usher Mary out the door.

EILEEN: Do be careful on the way out, with the ice.

MARY: It’s very cold

EILEEN: Yes make sure you wrap up warm. It’s very cold out there.

MARY: My bad knee.

EILEEN: You’ve a bad knee do you? Well make sure you take care with that. Wouldn’t want you going over on the pavement. You’d be there all night.

They have reached the door. Eileen is gently pushing Mary out.

EILEEN: And watch for the ice. It’s absolute murder.

Mary exits.

Eileen moves back to the armchair and continues to knit.

Innuendon’t

This play was actually inspired by shocking real events. Now you can see them for yourself. Watch if you dare…

Did I Show You The Dump Valve?

 

Craig and Jock, peers, are stood by Craig’s parked car.

CRAIG. So that’s a six stage paint job. Yeah with a double matte finish. So even if it gets chipped yeah it still stays even.

JOCK. Yeah?

CRAIG. Yeah because even a gloss finish fades after a couple of years but. With that it’s.

JOCK. Yeah.

CRAIG. They do it in Formula One conditions. It’s the same process. See that. They’re bucket seats. See how there’s that bit in the middle? The bit that comes up in between the legs? Mate?

JOCK. Yeah.

CRAIG. That’s because the torque’s so strong yeah. So strong that when you take corners you fuckin. There’s a danger of slidin off the seat. So That bit’s to keep you on the actual fuckin. You can take a corner in fourth mate.

JOCK. Yeah?

CRAIG. Serious mate. Did it last night. It’s mental. Yeah torque’s like 200 pounds a foot.

JOCK. What’s torque?

CRAIG. What’s torque?

JOCK.Yeah.

CRAIG. Mate. Torque’s like. What keeps the car on the fucking road mate.

JOCK. Right.

CRAIG. Good one anyway. Means you can go fast and keep it stable.

JOCK. Thought that was traction.

CRAIG. Yeah it’s the same thing. But yeah those seats. Well you’ll see in a minute. Steel pedals, and the gear discs are all alloy. Six gears, which for a two wheel drive is.

Jock takes out his mobile phone and starts writing a text.

CRAIG. Crazy. Those alloys yeah. Six spoke twenty inch forged RAYS aluminium yeah.

Jock doesn’t look up from his phone.

JOCK. Sick.

CRAIG. That’s necessary. That’s not even a upgrade. They need that cos of the engine thrust and the six speed gear mechanism. Same reason why the exhaust pipes are chrome-tipped. People think it’s an accessory but the output’s too hot. Can’t hear the unit though, even at a cruise. Engine refinement is amazing. And even if you could, surround sounds’ got eleven speakers and a 1200watt sub. That’ll drown out anything.

JOCK. Nice. Sorry mate. Just finishing.

CRAIG. MP3 compatible as well. Got 30gig hard drive music storage. That’s like four times more than that.

Craig points to Jock’s mobile phone.

CRAIG. Bluetooth as well. Voice control.

JOCK. Yeah?

CRAIG. Yeah. When I called you last night, I didn’t even have to pick up my phone. I was in the cabin. Just dropped my mum off. Carbon fibre-finished dash. Individually-heated anti-steam mirrors. Dual climate control.

Jock’s phone starts ringing.

JOCK. Shit. Sorry mate.

He takes the call. Throughout his conversation, Craig just stands, looking at either him or the car.

JOCK. Dude I was just calling you. Yeah. Shit man where did you go last night? I literally turned round. You didn’t. You didn’t! That’s hilarious! Ah, I can’t wait to tell Kev, he’s gonna freak. Mate, he’s gonna find anyway! You think she’ll keep it a secret? That’s hilarious. We stayed. Only left about half eight this morning. Serious. Why do you think? We were all in a bad way. Benson literally couldn’t talk. We put him to bed in that room with all the penguins on the wall. Yeah bit weird, there was a wendy house in the corner. Nah it was good though. Yeah I think I will for a bit. Not gonna drink though. Mate I was so far gone last night. I’m still feeling it in a big way. No I mean obviously I’ll have a drink. But I’m not gonna, you know. I’m not going Prague, put it that way. Haha. I’m never going Prague.

Jock checks his watch.

JOCK. Well I’m meeting Matt in an hour. Said we’d get something to eat. Is he? What time? Oh, so you’re just gonna. Oh sweet. Oh so I might as well come straight there. I’ll drop him a text then. Just check you’re not lying to me as usual. Like when you said Vanessa was coming to Wales. You did. Yes you did!

Jock spins to see Craig waiting.

JOCK. Right mate I’d better go. Yeah I’ll drop him a text. Alright catch you in a bit. Cheers.

Jock hangs up.

JOCK. Sorry about that.

Craig shrugs shakes his head.

CRAIG. No worries. So err. So yeah. So you can control all that from the wheel. All that stuff I was saying.

JOCK. Yeah.

Jock starts writing a text on his phone.

CRAIG. There’s an eight inch LCD display built in. It’s got this easy-touch system supposed to be the most responsive touch screen available or whatever. So you can literally check the weather. Get traffic reports. Get like. Fuel gauge and stuff whilst also checking revs per second and all the usual shit. Play music through it. Everything.

JOCK. Cool.

CRAIG. Automatic xenon lights. They’re energy saving. Rain-sensing wipers. Rearview camera. Four wheel anti-lock breaking stem. Dual fork suspension.

JOCK. Sorry mate.

Jock finishes his text. Puts his phone away.

JOCK. Yeah. Awesome.

CRAIG. I mean the real point is the twin-turbo V8 with NOS adaptability. 0-60 in 2.5. That’s why you buy the car, really. All the rest. Just serving that basically. But mate I’ve not even scratched the surface.

JOCK. Serious.

CRAIG. There is so much tech goin on.

Jock nods.

CRAIG. So do you wanna go for a ride then?

JOCK. Uh.

CRAIG. Grab a drink or whatever. Could take you back home after if you like.

JOCK. Oh, no I’m.

CRAIG. It’s cool I’ll be going that way.

JOCK. No I’m not going home. I’m, er.

CRAIG. Oh. Fair enough.. Well we could.

JOCK. But round the block maybe? Couple of times?

CRAIG. Round the. Okay.

JOCK. Yeah that should.

Jock checks his watch.

JOCK. Yeah.

CRAIG. Cool.

JOCK. Ten minutes?

CRAIG. Whatever mate. All good for me.

JOCK. Great.

CRAIG. Alright. Get in then.

Innuendon’t

Image

SALLY Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

PHIL No, it’s a tumour.

SALLY Oh, you must be happy to see me then.

PHIL That’s right Doctor, I’m glad you could fit me in.

SALLY Well let’s have a look.

PHIL The tumour is on my penis, causing it to show as a bump underneath my trousers.

SALLY Oh. Perhaps that’s the bulge I initially mistook for a banana.

PHIL Also my penis is currently erect because I find you attractive.

SALLY I see. That may have been a contributing factor.

PHIL Possibly. Do you mind if I eat a banana whilst we wait for my tumescence to subside?

SALLY Ah. So you do have a banana in your pocket?

PHIL Yes, but it’s in my back pocket.

SALLY That’s where I first saw it.

PHIL Then how did you mistake it for my penis?

SALLY I’m not really a doctor. I’m a pervert.

PHIL Surely you still know where the penis is located on the human body?

SALLY No, I’m also an alien.

PHIL That’s odd, you opened this conversation with a very familiar human phrase.

SALLY Pure coincidence. It was a genuine question.

PHIL How confusing.

SALLY We’re here to take over your world. I’m afraid I’ll have to subject you to the some of the most hideous and painful torture techniques imaginable.

The real Sally enters and shoots Alien Sally.

Alien Sally drops dead.

PHIL Doctor! Am I glad to see you!

REAL SALLY I can see that. You’re disgusting!

*Big Play* Excellent Choice

Excellent Choice

 

A wine shop.

Peter stands rigid behind the counter. Samuel has entered. The two men stare at each other.

PETER: Hello.

SAMUEL: Hello.

PETER: Hello.

Beat.

SAMUEL: Are you open?

PETER: Very open, yes. I hate secrets.

SAMUEL: I meant the shop.

Peter lets his eyes wander around the shop, as if he’s only just realised what it is.

SAMUEL: As in the wine shop. The thing we’re stood in.

PETER: Oh yes, that’s.

Beat.

PETER: Come in.

SAMUEL: I am in.

PETER: Good. Stay there. Make yourself at home.

SAMUEL: Make myself at home?

PETER: Please.

SAMUEL: This is a wine shop.

PETER: No that’s true.

Samuel nods. Scans the shelves.

SAMUEL: I’ve been told this is the best in London.

PETER: Really? Who told you that? Was it Sean?

SAMUEL: I don’t think so.

PETER: Sean? Short guy. Huge beard. Pot belly.

SAMUEL: No, that wasn’t.

PETER: Irish. Probably wearing bright yellow trousers. Bit of a squint in his left eye.

SAMUEL: It wasn’t him.

PETER: Gammy knee. Spits a lot.

SAMUEL: Definitely someone else.

PETER: Are you sure it wasn’t Sean?

SAMUEL: Pretty sure.

PETER: Massive red face. No? Perhaps it was someone else.

SAMUEL: I think it was.

PETER: Very weird. Were they making fun of me?

SAMUEL: No.

PETER: Poking fun were they? Being sarcastic?

SAMUEL: No.

PETER: That would’ve hurt my feelings.

SAMUEL: I think they were genuine.

PETER: Good. That’s. Good.

SAMUEL: Seems like a well kept secret. I walked up and down this road twice before I found you. It’s almost as if you don’t want to be noticed.

PETER: I’m glad you persisted.

Samuel smiles. Browses the wines.

PETER: Anything in particular I can help you with?

Samuel takes a dramatic step forward.

SAMUEL: I would like to buy some wine.

He retreats back to his original position.

Beat.

PETER: I’m so sorry we’re closed.

SAMUEL: Pardon?

PETER: We’re not selling wine today we’re closed.

SAMUEL: No you’re not.

PETER: There’s another place down the road.

SAMUEL: You just said.

PETER: Perfectly passable selection.

SAMUEL: You said you’re open.

PETER: A range to suit every price bracket. Wines from all over the world etc.

SAMUEL: Stop it!

Peter looks at his watch.

PETER: I suppose I could squeeze in one more customer. How can I help?

SAMUEL: I’m looking for a fine wine.

PETER: This is a fine wine shop. All my wines are fine. Some are excellent, but they’re all fine.

Samuel takes one from the shelf.

SAMUEL: How about this one?

Peter shrugs.

PETER: It’s fine.

SAMUEL: I think we’ve misunderstood one another. I’m looking for a particularly fine wine.

PETER: Which one?

SAMUEL: I was hoping you could tell me.

PETER: I see, you need an expert’s opinion. Well, what’s the occasion?

SAMUEL: Yes, it’s not quite as simple as that .

PETER: It’s a girl, isn’t it?

SAMUEL: In a way.

PETER: Of course. Fine wine for a fine lady. How much are you looking to.

SAMUEL: How much?

PETER: On the wine, what’s your price range?

SAMUEL: Well, I really don’t.

PETER: I can’t suggest a wine unless I know how much you’re prepared to spend.

SAMUEL: Right. I. £5 million. Top end.

PETER: I see.

Beat.

PETER: Sorry, how much wine were you hoping to buy?

SAMUEL: Just the one bottle.

PETER: Just the one. I see. Bit of a wine fan are you?

SAMUEL: Getting there.

PETER: It’s a rare student that has that kind of capital to throw around. You must really, really love wine.

SAMUEL: I do. I really do.

PETER: You could buy an entire vineyard for that.

SAMUEL: I only need the one bottle.

PETER: What’s your favourite?

SAMUEL: Pardon?

PETER: Your favourite wine?

Beat.

SAMUEL: Red.

PETER: Red?

SAMUEL: And sometimes white. With fish.

PETER: And what’s your opinion on the 1964 Chateau Neuf Du Pape?

Beat.

SAMUEL: It’s nice.

PETER smiles.

PETER: Yes, it’s generally considered to be. Nice. Of course with your budget you could use that as mouthwash. You could bathe in it.

SAMUEL: People do that, do they?

PETER: There are other ways of impressing a girl you know.

SAMUEL: I’m not trying to impress her.

PETER: £5 million could go very far in wooing a lady.

SAMUEL: No, that’s not.

PETER: Right, trying to keep her then.

SAMUEL: Something like that.

PETER: Have you tried bringing food into the bedroom? Spice things up a bit?

SAMUEL: No, that’s not.

PETER: I once baked a flan on my wife’s chest. The scarring was horrific but the flan was quite delicious.

Beat.

PETER: Summer fruit.

Samuel turns, browses the shelves.

SAMUEL: How long have you owned this place?

PETER: Oh, longer than I care to remember. Can’t say I was much of a wine drinker when I took it over. Learnt on the job.

SAMUEL: Family business, is it?

PETER: Something like that. I was coerced a little bit, to be honest.

SAMUEL: Who by?

PETER: Who do you think? My wife. Women, eh? Can’t live with them.

Beat.

PETER: I hope she’s worth it.

SAMUEL: She is.

PETER: She must know a thing or two about the grapes as well, if she’s going to appreciate your gift.

SAMUEL: She’ll appreciate it.

Samuel looks to the shelves.

PETER: I’m afraid those wines will do you no good. The best we offer on the shop floor barely brooch the price of a second hand Porche.

SAMUEL: Is that so?

PETER: That’s a type of car.

SAMUEL: Yes, I know what a Porche is.

PETER: They’re pedestrian by your standards. Toilet water. Fit for heads of state, Arabian princes, wealthy collectors the world over, but for a man of your means, absolute dog piss.

SAMUEL: Perhaps you can show me some wines of a suitable calibre then.

PETER: Certainly sir. I keep them out back.

He does not move.

PETER: Think very hard about what you’re doing.

SAMUEL: I have.

PETER: Very well sir.

He does not move.

PETER: I’ll introduce you to some bottles slightly lower down the spectrum to start with, in case you find something that suits your needs without committing to such a massive financial outlay.

SAMUEL: That’s really not necessary.

PETER: I insist. There’s every chance you’ll be happy with just a bloody good red. Or perhaps a white if you’re having it with fish.

SAMUEL: Don’t waste your time.

PETER: I certainly wouldn’t want to be accused of fleecing you.

SAMUEL: Advise me well and you won’t be.

PETER: Value for money is a crucial part of customer satisfaction. It wouldn’t do me any good at all to oversell some jumped up beaujolais to a bewildered young pup with more money than he clearly knows what to do with.

SAMUEL: I know what to do with it. I only hope you do too.

PETER: What do you do for a living, if you don’t mind me asking?

SAMUEL: I’m an engineer.

PETER: An engineer, you’d want a bold, well constructed wine with discrete flavours that traverse the tongue one at a time. Like a ‘97 Grenache. Great with steak. Nothing mellow or flowery like a new world Pinot Noir. Yes, something dense and layered. The same sensation with every mouthful, perhaps a Zinfandel. If I fobbed you off with a Rioja, you’d be in a right state. It jumps all over the place like a maniac. Throws flavours at you from all angles. Never know where you stand. If you were, I don’t know, a poet for example, then that’d be right up your street. Then again if you were a poet you probably wouldn’t have £5 million to spend on a single bottle of wine. For the sake of a girl.

SAMUEL: I appreciate your consideration, but try not to over-think it. I’m prepared – in fact I’m quite keen – to spend up to my limit. And I’m sure if you let your instinct take over, you’d know exactly the kind of drink I’d like to buy.

Peter immediately produces a bottle of wine from under the counter.

PETER: Yours for a mere £500,000.

SAMUEL: What is it?

PETER: A very special wine. Only two made in the world, and this is the last.

SAMUEL: So it’s rare.

PETER: As unicorn faeces.

SAMUEL: What is it?

PETER: Unicorn faeces.

Beat.

PETER: That was a joke. It’s nowhere near as spectacular.

SAMUEL: So what is it?

PETER: The contents of Princess Diana’s stomach on the night she died. Pulped, sieved and fermented.

SAMUEL: What’s it like?

PETER: Tart. Laced with cocaine and vastly overrated.

SAMUEL: I see.

PETER: It’s deceptive, inconsistent. Bit of a minefield really. It’s the kind of bottle you keep behind glass in a foyer. Dinner party fodder. Six of us shared the last bottle, all experts, at a convention in Paris. We supped whilst the crowds wept. It was a bit young then, might have matured in the intervening years.

SAMUEL: It’s not what I had in mind.

PETER: It’s a crowd pleaser. Provided you never open it.

SAMUEL: People don’t like to be reminded of tragedy, especially not through wine.

PETER: I couldn’t agree more.

SAMUEL: Not really the right price bracket either.

PETER: If this baby was quaffable then it would be a completely different story. Price would go through the roof. Perhaps it is. Perhaps its silently become the most valuable wine in the world. We’ll never know. And if we ever do find out it’ll be too late.

Peter stares at the bottle, then puts it back behind the counter.

PETER: I’m afraid that may be the most interesting wine we have in stock. There are better wines, sure. But they can all be placed on a chart, or read up in a book. A neat little value on them based on a quantifiable matrix of region, topography, climate, year, volume in circulation…tiresome stuff if you ask me. The best wines have good stories to go with them. Nothing impresses a girl like a wine with a good story.

SAMUEL: I’m not trying to impress a girl.

PETER: I heartily suggest you try the food in the bedroom thing. It really adds another dimension to proceedings.

SAMUEL: I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, or… but I have come here to buy wine, I’d appreciate it if you respect that fact. I’m offering you a lot of money and I expect your most precious bottle. It really is as simple as that.

PETER: Just want to be sure we’re making the right choice, sir. All part of the service.

SAMUEL: Please don’t call me sir.

PETER: What’s your name?

SAMUEL: Samuel.

PETER: Samuel. Very pleasant. Don’t like the contraction?

SAMUEL: I prefer to keep it gender specific.

PETER: Good choice. Avoid any potential for confusion. Are you married, Samuel?

SAMUEL: No. No I’m not married.

PETER: Why not?

SAMUEL: Marriage either ends in divorce or death. I never fancied either.

Peter laughs.

PETER: Gosh that is clever.

The two men watch each other.

PETER: I’m Peter by the way. And I would strongly endorse marriage, if pushed. I agree, it never ends well but they say the journey is the destination.

SAMUEL: Depends on where you’re going.

PETER: Let me tell you a joke.

SAMUEL: Really? I’m actually a little short on.

PETER: A man and his wife have been married for thirty years. Every year at three o’clock on the morning of their anniversary, he goes downstairs into the kitchen and takes out their honeymoon pictures. He looks over them and cries himself to sleep right there at the table. After thirty years of finding her husband asleep at the kitchen table on the morning of their anniversary, holding their honeymoon photographs, she finally asks him, ‘why? Why do you do this every year? Why so early in the morning? Why our honeymoon photos?’ And he says— have you heard this before?

SAMUEL: No.

PETER: Oh, that’s annoying. I was hoping you’d remember the punchline.

SAMUEL: All this talk about customer service and you’re not actually very good at selling wine are you?

PETER: You’re getting impatient aren’t you?

SAMUEL: Yes!

PETER: It really shows. It’s not healthy Samuel. Not in this game anyway.

Peter exits. Samuel browses.

Peter re-enters with a wooden box. He places it on the counter.

PETER: Look at this. Any idea what it is?

SAMUEL: It’s a wooden box.

PETER: Ah, but this is no ordinary wooden box. Take a look inside.

At Peter’s beckon, Samuel opens the box and looks in.

SAMUEL: It’s a bottle of wine.

PETER: Ah, but that’s no ordinary bottle of wine…

Peter leans in to pick up the bottle.

PETER: No hang on, that is an ordinary bottle of wine.

He inspects the box.

PETER: Come to think go it, that’s an ordinary wooden box as well. Oh dear.

Peter takes the box and exits.

Samuel produces a pistol. Holds it, inspects it. Puts it away.

Peter returns with an identical box.

PETER: I must apologise. My mind is not my friend. I once forgot an entire decade.

SAMUEL: An entire decade?

PETER: I think so.

SAMUEL: Which one?

PETER: Can’t remember. I think it straddled the ‘70s and ‘80s. I have a vague awareness of being in Chicago. I’m also paying a substantial monthly stipend to someone called Jubella Truelove.

SAMUEL: And the wine?

Peter is lost in his thoughts.

PETER: I think I was a jazz pianist at one point.

SAMUEL: The wine, Peter.

PETER: Of course, excuse me. Do you know what this is?

SAMUEL: That’s no ordinary wooden box.

PETER: Quite right. And do you know what’s in the box?

SAMUEL: No ordinary wine. PETER: Ah, but it’s no ordinary wine — oh, you said that. No ordinary wine.

SAMUEL: How much does it cost?

PETER: Estimated value £2.3 Million. Per bottle. It’s one of the few wines we sell by the glass.

SAMUEL: It’s not the wine for me.

PETER: You don’t know what it is yet.

SAMUEL: How old is it?

PETER: Nearly a thousand years.

SAMUEL: It’s not the wine I’m looking for.

PETER: I assure you it’s worth consideration.

SAMUEL: I don’t care, I don’t. Listen, I’m very short of time and I really don’t have an evening to spend hearing you prattle on about… I have the money waiting nearby. In cash. Now can we please stop flirting and get down to business?

PETER: This one’s from Genghis Khan.

SAMUEL: I have a pistol. I have a gun. In my pocket.

Pause.

PETER: And I thought you were just happy to see me.

SAMUEL: What will happen if I use it?

PETER: I think we both know what’ll happen if you use it.

SAMUEL: Tell me more about your wife. How old was she when she died?

PETER: Sixty-two.

SAMUEL: And when was it?

PETER: I try not to think about it nowadays. It makes me terribly sad.

SAMUEL: How long ago was it?

PETER: Sometimes, I’m so lonely I can’t even think properly. Sometimes I get so lonely I make up stories to keep myself entertained.

SAMUEL: Stories?

PETER: Stories. People. Anything. I really don’t get much custom. I have to keep myself going somehow.

SAMUEL: What stories?

PETER: Anything.

SAMUEL: Made up?

PETER: I’ve been alive for such a long time, my memories and fantasies have all blurred into one. I had a wife, I’m sure of that. She died what feels like decades ago. I had a daughter, I’m sure of that, too.

SAMUEL: And when did she die?

PETER: Feels like centuries ago.

SAMUEL: How did they die?

Samuel struggles not to cry.

SAMUEL: What would you say to your daughter if she were here right now? If she was right here with you now? What would you say to her?

PETER: Die zombie scum.

Samuel laughs through the tears.

SAMUEL: Tell me about the wine.

PETER: Oh, it’s a long story. Which I will now tell. Mongolia. A mass grave at the foot of Burkhan Khaldun mountain, just by the Onon river. An archeological dig in the 1930s unearths 24 identical bottles of ancient wine. The burial site of Ghengis Kahn. Legend has it that his kinsmen were concerned that should the news of his death be made public, his armies would riot and the empire crumble. They were so concerned, in fact, that he was buried in an unmarked grave, and any living thing that witnessed the funeral escort was killed on sight and given an unmarked burial or their own. According to the legend, they were killed by one sip of this wine.

SAMUEL: It’s poisoned.

PETER: Apparently so. But no active ingredient has been found. No traces of known toxins from our age or theirs. On paper it’s completely innocuous. But on the palette…

SAMUEL: It’s deadly.

PETER: Not just deadly. Untraceable.

SAMUEL: So what is it?

Peter shrugs.

PETER: An ancient curse. Some undiscovered element. Perhaps it’s all folklore. Maybe I just made it all up.

SAMUEL: Why so expensive then?

PETER: Plenty of people would like to get away with murder. Willing to pay for it as well. You understand.

SAMUEL: Well, yes. I mean.

PETER: Ah, so you are interested after all. Would you like to sample it first?

SAMUEL: No thanks.

PETER: I couldn’t have you purchase a wine without trying it. It’s all part of the service. Please.

Peter takes a glass from below the counter and uncorks the wine. He pours a glass and swirls, holding it just under his nose.

PETER: Deep and musty on the nose. Dirt and snuffed candles, like a crypt. I’m also getting almonds, weirdly. Perhaps I didn’t rinse the glass out properly. Sniff?

SAMUEL: Really, I’m fine.

PETER: I have to say, I’m at a complete loss. I know you like red, and occasionally white. And I know you find the legendary and multi-award winning ‘64 Chateau Neuf Du Pape quite nice. But you really will have to give me something more to work with here.

Samuel takes out the gun.

SAMUEL: I hear AD33 was a vintage year.

Peter smiles.

PETER: Who sent you?

SAMUEL: You know who.

PETER: Tell them they’ve made a mistake.

Samuel raises the gun.

SAMUEL: I can’t do that.

PETER: If you shoot that thing then we both lose.

SAMUEL: I don’t believe you.

PETER: And you’re going to take the trouble of finding out?

Samuel wavers with the gun.

SAMUEL: Please help me.

PETER: I’m just an old man with a wine shop. Just trying to get by from one day to the next. Entertaining myself with my stories, my memories, and the memories of my stories.

SAMUEL: They have my child. They have.

Samuel fights back tears.

PETER: Samuel. You’ve got yourself in a right mess, haven’t you?

SAMUEL: They said they could help me.

PETER: Course they did. Why have they sent you?

SAMUEL: Because I’m not one of them. I don’t know anything about them. Or you. Or wine. They say you’d recognise them if they came, give them another fake bottle.

PETER: It’s true.

SAMUEL: You know how they test its authenticity, don’t you?

PETER: Yes.

SAMUEL: They’re not prepared to risk the life of another clergyman. So they. So they.

PETER: How old is she?

SAMUEL: Six.

Peter closes his eyes.

PETER: Wait there.

Peter exits.

He returns with an old, oddly shaped bottle. He puts it on the counter.

SAMUEL: Is it true? It’s not one of your stories?

PETER: That depends on what you’ve heard.

SAMUEL: The wine contains…

PETER: Yes?

SAMUEL: The. The active ingredient has powers to.

PETER: What have you heard Samuel?

SAMUEL: That the wine contains the semen of Jesus Christ.

PETER: Legend has it.

SAMUEL: And it’s properties. If I were to.

Samuel waves the gun.

PETER: What makes you think I’ve tried it?

SAMUEL: You want me to believe you’ve never drunk it?

PETER: I want you to think very hard about what you believe right now.

Peter produces a glass and pours out some wine. It stands identical to the Genghis Khan wine next to it.

SAMUEL: Please, they’re going to kill her. That’s what they’ll do you know. Mix it with poison and make her drink it. I can’t afford to fail.

PETER: If only there were an easier way.

SAMUEL: I have to believe this is true. Please if you know the truth, I need to know.

PETER: Yes, it is a bit of a stretch, isn’t it? This is my blood, take this and drink it, etc. They sanitised it for the crowds. Made it slightly more palatable, even though the idea of drinking blood is a little more macabre. Still, I suppose no one needs the image of their Lord and saviour wanking into a cup at the dinner table like some drunken schoolboy.

Peter shrugs.

PETER: Mixed in with twelve bottles of wine. Divided, diluted, denounced, defamed over the centuries. With a mere handful, if that, surviving almost intact. Still potent. Still divine.

SAMUEL: Let me drink it.

PETER: Join me.

Samuel steps forward.

Peter switches the light off. For a moment, they are cast in darkness.

SAMUEL: Wh. what are you doing? Why did you do that? Put the light back on.

Peter turns the light back on. The glasses have been disturbed.

SAMUEL notices as he approaches the counter.

SAMUEL: What did you do?

PETER: There has to be an element of fate involved.

SAMUEL: What do you mean fate? What do you mean?

PETER: This kind of power is too big to rest in the hands of one man. I am protector of the wine, I have to do my duty.

SAMUEL: Your duty?

PETER: Safeguard the wine at all costs, including my own life.

SAMUEL: But you can’t die. You’ve drunk the wine before. Of course you have!

PETER: It’s a possibility.

SAMUEL: My daughter is in a room somewhere, terrified, alone, and facing death if I can’t save her. And you turn it into a game?

PETER: But you win either way. You either choose the right wine, in which case you save your daughter’s life, or you choose the wrong wine, in which case the sweet release of death delivers you from any sense of loss, or pain, or any other trivialities of human existence.

SAMUEL: You’re prepared to have blood on your hands. Every time someone comes you’re prepared to destroy a life.

PETER: That’s my curse. That’s what I have to live with. Every day. S

AMUEL: And your wife. Your own daughter.

PETER: I miss them dearly.

SAMUEL: You’re inhuman.

PETER: And what’s the alternative? An immortal cabal with more wealth and power than you can possibly imagine. The iron fist of dogma rendered legitimate by a magic potion. A vast, unending holy war.

SAMUEL: I don’t believe it. I really, truly do not believe it.

PETER: That’s a shame, because it’s time to make a decision.

SAMUEL: Just give me the bottle!

PETER: If we’re both still standing in a few minutes then we can complete our transaction.

SAMUEL: And what if you’re the one that’s dead?

PETER: Then you’ll be left with the right wine. You’d just better hope I never got round to drinking it.

SAMUEL: Please. Peter please. I’m not one of them. I don’t know what they did to you but I’m not one of them. I’ve just made some very bad decisions in my life and. And I need to rectify that. I just need a chance to make it better.

PETER: Samuel.

SAMUEL: Help me. Help me.

PETER: I can’t change the rules. They’re not mine to change.

SAMUEL: Think about what you’re doing. Just think about what this means to me.

PETER: I know what it means to you. And I wish you the best of luck.

Samuel shakes his head.

PETER: It’s time Samuel.

Peter nods to the two glasses.

Samuel steps forward slowly. He stares at the two glasses, then picks one up.

Peter smiles.

He takes up the other glass and clinks it with Samuel’s.

PETER: Excellent choice.

They drink. 

The Interrogation Scene

A meeting room, Scotland Yard.

Detective Inspector Rex stands staring out the window, chain smoking.

Detective Inspector Harris sits at a table, staring at the floor.

HARRIS He won’t talk.

REX He’ll talk.

HARRIS I’m telling you he won’t talk.

REX He’ll talk.

HARRIS You go in there then. You make him blab. Cos I’ve been at it three hours and he hasn’t so much as opened his mouth to bloody breathe.

Rex takes a long drag.

REX Have you asked him?

HARRIS Asked him what?

REX Who killed Constable Bailey?

HARRIS Course I’ve asked him. What the hell do you think I’ve been doing?

REX I mean, have you asked him?

HARRIS I just said yes didn’t I? You heard. You’ve been watching.

REX I never saw you ask a question. I saw you bark a statement.

HARRIS Bark a statement?

REX You announced the words. You leaned into his face and offered the statement. Who. Killed. Constable. Bailey. You didn’t ask him, like you expected an answer. Not like you ask someone about their holidays, or what they had for tea last night. You played your role. And he played his.

HARRIS So what do you want me to do?

REX I want you to go in there and inquire of him the information you need. And I want you to stand there and expect an answer.

Harris rubs his face.

REX Well go on then.

Harris leaves.

Rex smokes.

Harris re-enters. He sits down.

REX Well?

HARRIS I asked him.

REX And?

HARRIS He gave me an answer alright. Says Billy Dexter did it. Lured him to the warehouse on a false lead then stabbed him.

REX He’s lying.

HARRIS What?

REX You think he’d give in that easily? There’s more. I can smell it.

HARRIS We’ve got a name. What more do you want?

REX I want the truth.

HARRIS He told me the truth!

REX Did you look him in the eye?

HARRIS Oh for fuck.

REX When you asked him, did you look him in the eye?

HARRIS I can’t remember.

REX You wanna get the truth? You gotta hold a man’s gaze. Stare deep into his soul. Connect with him. Only man who can tell a lie under that kind of scrutiny is a psychopath. And if we know one thing from his file, it’s that he’s not a psychopath.

HARRIS So now what?

REX I want you to go back in there.

HARRIS You’ve gotta be kidding. He said Billy Dexter. We can sew this up.

REX Why did you join the force, Pete? Was it to clog up our nation’s prisons with inveterate cannon fodder like Billy Dexter, whilst the real criminals wander free? Or was it to bring justice to our streets?

HARRIS Think it was the management opportunities.

REX Get in there, look our boy in the eye, and get me the truth.

Harris wearily gets up, exits.

Rex smokes.

Harris re-enters. Sits down, dazed.

HARRIS It’s Duke Spencer. He ordered the hit on Bailey. Paid good money to make it look like a stab and grab.

REX And Billy Dexter?

HARRIS A patsy. Paid off to take the fall. Eight grand for every year of time served.

REX Poor old Billy.

HARRIS This is huge Rex. We can bring down the entire organisation on a testimony like that. Duke Spencer’s been at the head of the family for twenty years. If he gets a stretch, it’ll put the entire city trafficking trade on its knees.

REX Nope.

HARRIS What do you mean nope?

REX It’s useless.

HARRIS Useless? This is a promotion. It’s our ticket to early retirement!

REX There’s more to it. A lot more. I can feel it.

HARRIS How?! How can there be more to it? It goes right to the top for Christ’s sake.

REX When you asked him, and looked into his eyes, did you make him feel loved?

Beat.

HARRIS I beg your pardon?

REX The only way to draw out the truth – and I mean the real truth, rather than not lies – is to make them feel like it really matters. Like you care so deeply about their behaviour that for them to act in anything other than perfect decency will not only let you down, it’ll break your little heart.

HARRIS I can’t do this any more.

REX You think he’s ever been loved? Look at the file. No siblings. Foster care. Two failed marriages. Three estranged kids. Six business partners in ten years. You really think he’s ever felt true love? Do you, Harris, believe that the man through there has ever felt that his actions have personal consequences on any other living being? I need you to depend on him. I need you to care for him. Will him to do the right thing. Weep for his soul. Beg for his attention. Pete, I need you to love him.

HARRIS Can I say anything at this point to.

REX Don’t make me pull rank.

Harris drags himself out of the room.

REX smokes.

Harris re-enters, beleaguered. He collapses onto a chair, shaking his head in disbelief.

HARRIS I loved that man more that my own wife. I did things to him I never thought I could do to anyone.

REX And?

HARRIS Duke Spencer’s a cog, Rex. A cog in a very large machine. And driving that machine is Chief Superintendent Shepherd. He manages a network of bribery, kickbacks, racketeering, blind-eyes, and extortion that touches every layer of Scotland Yard. From the beat lads to top brass, Shepherd has puppets at every level. He’s got all the crime lords in his pocket. He’s running the entire game from his office. From this building, Rex. That boy in there has enough evidence to put every man who’s ever worn a uniform on the dock. The apple’s rotten Rex. Rotten to the core. Even our pension fund and bonus schemes are built entirely on dirty money. The filthiest money there is. When this comes out, it’ll threaten to destroy the not only infrastructure of the British Force, but the very concept of policing in a democratic, free market economy.

A long beat. Rex smokes.

REX Shall we arrest Billy Dexter?

HARRIS Yeah alright.