Sunday 16 August 2015



                                       IT WAS A BLACK DOG AFTERNOON.

I woke this morning in a pool of vomit,
on standing I lost my footing,
cracking my head upon the table
and splitting my lip on the cold stone floor.
It was another black dog afternoon.

I crawled my way to the broken mirror,
to see myself with a cubist eye,
staring back all black and jagged,
some one looking back, it wasn’t me.
It was another black dog afternoon.

I heard a voice say take your medication,
pink first, then blue and white.
Stop shouting with your megaphone,
too loud, too loud, turn it down.
It was another black dog afternoon.

Some days the noise won’t go away,
sharp ones and oblongs too,
banging in my semi consciousness,
flashes are worse, I hate that sound.
It was another black dog afternoon.

I’m scared to death of bloody voices,
I need to shelter in my youth,
the only place where I feel safe,
snuggled in my blanket, warm.
It was another black dog afternoon.

The only way to escape the screaming,
is the solace of a Prozac haze,
more and more and more and more,
until the terror fades away.
It was my last black dog afternoon.



                               I WENT TO MY LOCAL INDIAN RESTAURANT AND.....                                           

Thirty years ago I went to my local Indian restaurant, it was the opening night.
At the time I didn’t live locally nor did I expect to still be using the same restaurant
some thirty years later.


I went to my local Indian restaurant, there was a group of deaf people feverously talking together using sign language. The room was full of conversation, but no sound.


When I first went into my local Indian restaurant I was the only bloke who would go there and eat alone. Over the years others have followed my example. I felt I made a mark for single mans lib. I still await the women to follow suit


An elderly man who I thought was a school teacher always came with his wife and preceded to verbally brow beat her all evening. She never fought back. I always wondered why not?


Two elderly ladies came into my local Indian restaurant, they looked as if they might have been gay. I hope they were lovers, to be friends would be too dull.


A group of musicians from Albania came into my local Indian restaurant, how interesting was that. They didn’t come back. They were on a world tour.


A very large man came into my local Indian restaurant with his girl friend. They proceeded to have a row, whereupon she exclaimed.
“I’m pregnant with his child and normally he’s a very nice man.”
Sadly he started to eat the wine glasses and was eventually evicted by nine police officers. I found out the next day that he beat up his girlfriend and the taxi driver who was unlucky enough to take them home.


I used to go into my local Indian restaurant many years ago with my then girlfriend. She was slightly taller than me, slightly younger than me, and much more attractive than me. She was also black and at the time very much in love with me. So, why was everyone looking at us?


I’ve been going into my local Indian restaurant for over thirty years. I should have started taking notes years ago.


The first time I went to my local Indian restaurant and needed a wee and the mens loo was engaged, I sneaked into the ladies. What a revelation, it was immaculate. I had become used to the gents which were frequently like a pig sty.


I went into my local Indian restaurant having just seen the film Oscar, based on the life of Oscar Wilde. Tragic how they destroyed such a talented man and his only crime as they saw it. “The love that dare not speak it’s name.”
Although perhaps they really punished him for his arrogance rather than his sexual persuasion.


A group of very odd looking people came into my local Indian restaurant. They looked like a sad dating agency group. Whatever they were, they were perfectly behaved and left.

I went into my local Indian restaurant prior to the Iraq war. The waiters asked me if I thought the Americans would bomb Iraq. I said “yes they would bomb the shit out of the place.” They didn’t believe me and seemed to have some miss guided belief that Saddam Hussein was some how invincible. I wondered why.


I went to my local Indian restaurant, I’d just finished playing the butler in The Importance of Being Earnest at Wimbledon Theatre. Although the run had finished I was still on a high, it was a good evening. That’s why we are prepared to work for nothing. Who else would do that.


The dullest man in the world came into my local Indian restaurant. I believe he was an accountant, which perhaps explained it. He later came in with an even duller friend. What had I done to deserve that.


I went into my local Indian restaurant, two young people were sharing an ice cream. They were feeding each other. How romantic.


I went into my local Indian restaurant and two men came in discussing their children and school. They discussed a school play where one of the boys had performed an amazing dance number and how brilliant it was. What progress, not that many years ago he would have been called a bloody poof.


I went into my local Indian restaurant and while I was there I wrote another childrens story, it didn’t get published. It made some children who read it happy and kept me fairly sane while I was writing it. Everything in life has a purpose.


I went into my local Indian restaurant with my mother who had come to stay with me for a year after my father’s death. She was well into her seventies and this was the first time she’d been in an Indian restaurant, Sad what a sheltered life my mum and dad had led.


I went into my local Indian restaurant, it was busy and as usual I used the loo. The seat was covered in piss splashes. How come most men can find a vagina and insert their penis in this comparatively small orifice. Yet with a target as large as a toilet bowl they miss every time. After using the loo I took some toilet paper and carefully wiped the seat. I hate doing this but don’t want the next person in to think it was me who made the mess. Why am I the only person who ever does this.


I went into my local Indian restaurant after watching a television programme about Muslim women complaining that they were not allowed to prey in the Mosque with the men. I was going to ask the Muslim waiters why this was but I knew all they would come up with would be a load of bollocks. Sometimes I haven’t the energy to try to have a sensible discussion with them.


Many years ago I went into my local Indian restaurant and sat and chain smoked all night, I was a nicotine addict. I believe in freedom so don’t feel the need to apologise.


Recently I went into my local Indian restaurant having given up smoking for five years. The couple on the table next to me smoked all night. As an ex eighty Molborough a day man I felt it would be a little hypocritical to complain.


I went into my local Indian restaurant, sometimes I get depressed, I’m sure I’m affected by the moon. It’s like I’m on the verge of tears, but being alone with my thoughts for the evening sometimes pulls me out of it. Sometimes it doesn’t.                 


Two older men came into my local Indian restaurant. One dressed in a very expensive and smart suit, the other in scruffy trousers and a jumper. One had a full curry with all the trimmings and the other had an omelette and asked for brown sauce. Oddly the sophisticated looking one in the smart suit had the omelette with brown sauce.


A girl and two boys came into my local Indian restaurant. They moaned during the course of the meal and refused to pay at the end. They became somewhat aggressive and as the only customer left I tried to assist the waiters in getting payment, only for the two boys to pick on me. My bravado was backed up by the fact that one of the waiters had called the police in a voice loud enough for them to hear. Eventually they got bored made the girl pay and left. I was a little upset that the police hadn’t arrived sooner. I was even more upset when the waiter informed me he hadn’t really called the police he was just pretending. I was somewhat lost for words.


I have been using my local Indian restaurant for over thirty years. The food is excellent but the service is abysmal especially for those of us who have been going in for some years. Sadly familiarity breeds contempt.


I don’t think the d├ęcor in my local Indian restaurant has changed since opening night, over thirty years ago.
It won’t take many more years for it to become a listed building. 


A large group of men, about twenty or more came into my local Indian restaurant. How strange to see such a large group of men with no women with them. The first time they came in they told my friend they were a religious group and later a rugby team. Although to look at them they looked a little old for rugby. Perhaps they were vicars who played in a seniors rugby team. I suppose they would always win having God on their side.


I have been using my local Indian restaurant for over thirty years. The food is excellent but the service is abysmal especially for those of us who have been going in for some years. Sadly familiarity breeds contempt.


When I moved away from my local Indian restaurant some five years ago there were only two or three of the regular locals who came to eat virtually every night. We did point out to the owner that it was us who were keeping the place going, one fellow even going as far as to suggest we might be entitled to a tad more respect in the service department. Sadly our comments fell on deaf ears. Not long after I moved I was passing and to my surprise the restaurant was closed, perhaps there was a truth in our comments about keeping the place going. It's a shame it closed and never made it as a Listed Building.



                                                RONALDS WAR. (A WARTIME TALE)


I bought my Austin Seven brand new in 1935, well I say I bought her, it was actually Doreen who paid for her, she’d come into a legacy from her Auntie Maud.
She was a bit of a character Auntie Maud, none of the rest of the family had anything to do with her, which is why I suppose Doreen got the money.
She always used to say, 'just because she lives with Amelia doesn’t mean there’s any hanky panky going on, and even if there is, so what, judge ye not lest ye yourself be judged'.

She was like that, always looking for the good in anyone, 'you’ll get your reward in heaven', she’d say, although in our case we got our reward from heaven, good old Auntie Maud.
We even lashed out the extra seven pounds for the deluxe with the sun roof, Doreen said, 'it will be easier for Auntie to look down and see us'.
We certainly had some fun in her, picnics in the country, trips to the sea side and unlike our bicycles we didn’t get wet when it rained, although Doreen made us keep the roof open whenever possible just in case Auntie was looking, I think they were probably the best years of my life.
We were so lucky, I got promoted to senior officer at the station which pleased Doreen, she always worried when I was working, it meant more responsibility but less front line fire fighting, which I missed a little.

Life for us was blissfully happy for almost four years, in fact looking back, those carefree years before the war were good for everyone, not just us.
We could all see it coming but didn’t want to admit it, and of course the, 'peace for our time' speech made us cling to the hope of a negotiated peace, it wasn’t to be of course, but even the early years of the war lulled us into a false sense of security as nothing much happened.
I think as a nation we are good at pulling together when the chips are down, even so we hadn’t expected what a devastating effect modern warfare would have.
People were very surprised and frankly very scared when the war came to us, last time it was all over seas, I remember thinking when I laid up the car, I hope we’re all here to use her when this mess is over.

I’d taken the spark plugs out and put oil down the bores and turned her over every week to stop her seizing up, even though I couldn’t use her I kept her ready, just in case.
When I was a lad I’d worked in a garage before joining the fire brigade, so I had been taught to respect motors and to treat them properly.
One of my greatest pleasures was to work on an Austin Ulster that raced at Brooklands, not that I was allowed to do anything too crucial and when Mr Gordon won his class we all felt immense pride and that some small part of his victory was because of us.

When the war first started I thought I was so lucky not to be called up, I know fireman is not the safest job, but at least I was at home with Doreen and the kids.
I’d sometimes talk to my father about his war but he didn’t like to talk about it, he was in the cavalry, he used to ride the gun carriages.
He told me how he removed his spurs and replaced them with halfpennies so he wouldn’t hurt the horses, an amazing thing to have done in all that carnage, but I have to admit I’d probably have done the same.

I knew Doreen always used to worry about me when I was at work, but as the war went on it was me who had to worry about her, she’d got a job at the munitions factory, I didn’t want her to, but as she said, 'everyone has to do their bit and this bit is mine'.
Of course so many men had been called up we had to use the women, in fact without the land army girls, the ambulance women and the factory girls and all the others we couldn’t have kept going.

Then the blitz on London started and we were all in the front line, with nowhere to hide, for eleven weeks day or night the bombing was ceaseless, there was no let up we were working as long as we were able to stand, I didn’t go home from work for days at a time.

So many bombs and incendiaries fell that many nights our worst fear was realised, the fire storm, you could sense it coming, first a gentle breeze, then the wind, then that extraordinary roaring sound and the unbearable heat.
When a fire storm took hold there was nothing you could do except let it burn itself out and prey you didn’t get trapped in the inferno, or crushed by the falling buildings.
After a while we got used to the noise a building would make before it collapsed, an odd creaking sound, but with all the other noise going on you couldn’t always hear it and sadly many men were crushed to death this way.
There was one night in December 1940 when the Luftwaffe dropped so many incendiaries that the whole of the Square Mile was ablaze.
We were getting water from the Thames but it was low tide and even that ran out, some parts of Moorgate were left to burn and then we got the call from Mr Churchill to save Saint Pauls at any cost.
Amazingly it was only hit by one small incendiary bomb which was put out by a fire watcher with a bucket of sand, all around was ablaze but Saint Pauls was untouched.

I think initially a hell of a lot of people were scared to death by what was going on, but it’s amazing how quickly you become hardened to such things, you have to or you don’t survive.
Even during all this madness people still went out to enjoy themselves, dancing the night away in underground clubs, going to the flicks or the pub. I was told the Savoy still kept it’s policy of only permitting dancing for people in evening dress which I felt was unfair on the troops on leave who couldn’t dance as they were in uniform.

We’d become used to seeing casualties from the front and relatives dead or missing, but innocent children were much harder to bear and sadly at work I was seeing far too many, even though lots of them had been evacuated to the country.
I’ll always remember Jack who I went to school with, he volunteered for the navy right from the start.
When he came home on leave we met up for a drink, he told me his wife was pregnant but it couldn’t have been his, he swore me to secrecy, then I heard he’d volunteered  for submarines, I can’t imagine how anyone can go in those things.

I couldn’t meet him on his next leave but I heard he was in a bad way, they said he’d been mined on two separate occasions, he was in such a state his mother wouldn’t let him go back when his leave expired.                                                                                                                             
The next day the Military Police came for him, but his mother said, 'I am keeping him for one more week and then you can have him back', surprisingly enough they went away, of course they came back a few days later, then five weeks after that we heard the news he was killed in action.
His mother stood by his wife regardless of the tittle tattle, and when the child was born she was still there, it’s people like that who win wars.

Work was tough but Jacks’ mother was always an inspiration to me and when London’s burning someone has to deal with it.
You almost couldn’t cope with it, not just the physical effort but the mental effort needed to turn out night after night knowing what you have to face.
Then all of a sudden the raids stopped, day and night, and for me it was almost back to normal, the only bad news was the retreat from Dunkirk, I lost my cousin there and his brother only just got out although he lost a leg, such a shame as he had been a promising athlete.
Tom told me they were on the beach together for three days before they had a chance to escape, all the time strafed by machine gun and rocket fire from the Luftwaffe.
Hundreds of small boats had been commandeered to transfer the troops from the beach to the larger ships, mostly crewed by the navy though some were taken over by their owners, fishermen and the like.
The first one Tom and Harry were on was destroyed so they had to swim back to shore for another miserable day sheltering as best they could waiting for another chance to get away.
Tom said the last time he saw Harry he was boarding a London tug and assumed he would get home safely, it was only when he got back he found out it was sunk on the way.
His last attempt to leave was on a fishing boat but once again it was strafed by machine gun fire which destroyed his leg, and he was incredibly lucky to have got out on one of the last hospital ships.
We were grateful to have only lost Harry, although I don’t think Tom saw it that way.
The medical advances in those days were amazing, they gave him a new tin leg, but I heard later he’d been killed in a tragic accident, apparently he fell under a tube train and was killed instantly.
I hope that was it, but I just think the thought of not being able to run ever again was too much for him, war makes people do crazy things, sometimes they end up heroes and sometimes they don’t.

Still in all this madness normal life did carry on, Doreen and I went to the Odeon whenever we could and even went to the Palladium once, we saw Tommy Trinder, Arther Askey, a full bill and the dancers, that was a night to remember.

We had some more nights, and days to remember when the Doodle Bugs started to come over, the papers said they were rocket powered bombs launched from France.                                                       The scariest thing about them was you could hear them coming, a strange sort of wurr,wurr, noise that would suddenly stop, that was the frightening thing, when the noise stopped it meant they had run out of fuel and they were coming down.
It was alright if they did it above your head as they would glide past you to the ground but if it was coming towards you and stopped that’s when you were in trouble.
As the war went on the RAF got faster planes and would intercept them and shoot them down or sometimes fly along side them and flip them with their wing tips into the Kent countryside where no one was injured.

Eventually even the doodle bugs stopped and life became a bit more relaxed, people still lost friends and relatives overseas but at home the worst gripe was about the rationing, it was odd that there were children who had never seen a banana.

I managed to buy some petrol on the black market but was too scared to use it as it was for the forces and marked with a dye, but I promised myself as soon as it was over I would take a chance and go for a run in the car.                                                                                                                            
We plodded on with more and more good news, then all of a sudden it was all over, Victory in Europe was declared and although it seemed a long time afterwards we eventually got Victory in Japan and the whole thing really was over.
Even though we still had rationing everyone organised street parties to celebrate with tables in the street and bunting, what gay times we had, getting back to normal was almost an anti climax.
Doreen gave up her job at the factory although a lot of the girls didn’t, which did cause a bit of resentment from some of the returning chaps, but things had changed, everyones lives had changed and we had to move on and look to the future.
What times we’d been through both physically and emotionally, but we’d all come through it, that’s what mattered, I always felt grateful especially at work, every bombed out house or building told a tale of someone who didn’t make it.

Everything in the garden was wonderful, things couldn’t be better, then one day at work I got a phone call to say Doreen had been taken ill, no details but I was to get home as soon as possible.
When I got there her mother met me at the door, 'it’s bad news Ron', she said, 'Doreens dead', I’m afraid I just went to pieces I couldn’t accept it, how could we have gone through all that for nothing, it seemed so dreadfully unfair.
Apparently she’d had a massive heart attack, no warning, nothing, just taken from me in an instant, I sobbed like a child.
I’m afraid I embarrassed myself at the funeral, I broke down at the graveside and wept, I know I should have had more self control but I couldn’t help myself.

The kids are at Doreens mums, I couldn’t look after myself, let alone them, I would cry uncontrollably for no reason, I felt so utterly helpless.
When I woke this morning I knew what I was going to do, I just wanted one last drive in the car first, I hadn’t been able to in the war and anyway I had to warm the engine, I didn’t want it to stall half way through.
It should be easy, just put the hose on the exhaust pipe and the other end through the window, off you go to sleep, easy as that, all the pains gone.

It was raining when I went out, a terrible day, so I was surprised when I got to Audley Wood it stopped raining, the sun came out and there was the most amazing rainbow.
I couldn’t see it properly until I opened the sun roof, it was so beautiful I started crying, but not in the same way as before, somehow in that moment I’d let everything go, I knew Doreen was up there looking down, and I felt peace.

I threw the pipe away and drove back like a lunatic to get the kids, it’s such a lovely day, I think we should have a picnic.

Tuesday 11 August 2015



                                                         HI DIDDLE DEE DEE


                                         CHARACTER BREAKDOWN











                                                 SUMMARY OF THE PLAY.

Hi Diddle Dee Dee is set in the dressing rooms of ten of the cast in the pantomime Cinderella. The story is about the relationship between all of them and how they may not be quite as they are seen.

                                                                 SCENE ONE

                                                            THE FIRST NIGHT.



ERIC                                       George you’re such a bloody liar.

GEORGE                                I don’t know what you mean.

ERIC                                       Yes you do you bastard, get me out of this, the bloody zip is stuck again.

GEORGE                                There, better now Eric.

ERIC                                       No, look George you said no more rubies when we’re working and you farted constantly.

GEORGE                                Don’t be such an old queen.

ERIC                                       It’s all right for you, you bastard, you’re in the front, you should try mincing about stuck in here with your head up some ones arse.

GEORGE                                All right Erica dear, calm down, I’m sorry for farting.

ERIC                                       It’s not just the farting, although God knows it’s driving me mad. One night we ought to swap ends and see how you like it.

GEORGE                                Not with my back I can’t, you know how I suffer with my back, I’m in constant pain, I’ve tried everything.

ERIC                                       Perhaps you ought to have a word with Rosie, I’ve heard she does that massage where they walk on your back, very therapeutic so I’m told by Mike in the band.

GEORGE                                Well even if you fix it, I’m still not going in the back.

ERIC                                       I’d like to get Trevor in the back of this thing when you’re having one of your bad nights.
GEORGE                                Our esteemed director, well yes I’m inclined to agree with you, God knows how he became a director.

ERIC                                       Like an awful lot of them deary, he’s a failed actor, I’ve met so many of them in my time. It’s all just a power trip for them. The only reason he’s doing this is he can’t get anything better; he’s not fit to direct traffic.
GEORGE                                He’s not that bad, he could manage traffic, just about.

ERIC                                       How can it have come to this, I went to RADA for Gods sake. My best friend then was Laurence Booth, look how successful he has been since leaving. He’s been playing Pontius Pilate in Joseph for years, that’s where I should be, not the back end of a pantomime horse in Cleethorpes.

GEORGE                                The trouble is that’s all he’s done since leaving RADA, low budget films and the tour of Joseph, over and over again, it would have driven you mad. Anyway what do you mean RADA, they chucked you out after the first term.

ERIC                                       That’s not the point, I’ve served my time, I’ve done years of training, look at my CV, what have this lot done of any worth. Look at Tracy, Miss Thing, Phillips, straight out of University with a Performing Arts Degree. How did she get Cinderella, don’t make me play the who’s sleeping with the director game dear.

GEORGE                                Well every ones got to start somewhere.

ERIC                                       I know George, I’ve just had enough, I’m sick to death of it. Flogging myself to death eight shows a week for Equity minimum in some God forsaken place, what’s the point.
GEORGE                                Money, that’s the point, if you had my ex wife to pay you’d see the point, I have to pay for her and the kids every week regardless of whether I’m working or not, it drives me mad. I know she’s got another bloke, but until he moves in, they’re just good friends and so I keep having to pay. I think I’ll join Fathers for Justice, how do you fancy climbing on the roof of the House of Commons with me in the horse suit and Superman on our back.

ERIC                                       Are you mad I hate heights.

GEORGE                                I didn’t expect the answer to be yes, by the way, but it would be a bit of fun. That’s the trouble I’m stuck working any show I can get just like you, what else can we do, you’re not exactly cut out to be a bricklayer and think how quickly you’d be bored to death flouncing about in a hairdressers making tea.

ERIC                                       It’s all right for you, you don’t care what you do as long as you’re working.

GEORGE                                Oh, don’t I. I’ll have you know I care very much, even now. I still live in hopes of that big break, I did Chekhov last year.

ERIC                                       At Edinburgh in a grotty church hall.

GEORGE                                Better than never at all and it wasn’t in a church hall, it was in the Traverse Theatre; we had full houses all through the run and some of the best revues I’ve ever had. That’s what made it worth it; it’s not about the money.

ERIC                                       I admire your perseverance George I really do, but I’ve just run out of energy. I hate this bloody company, look at them. Buttons. Buttons, have you ever met anyone so arrogant. Ex pop star Wayne Peters, if he could stick to the script we could get home half an hour earlier every night. Have you any idea how old he is.                                                  

GEORGE                                He says he’s forty nine.

ERIC                                       Don’t make me laugh dear, if he’s forty nine that would make us about sixty.

GEORGE                                Well he is the housewives favourite and he puts bums on seats.

ERIC                                       He may be the housewives favourite but he isn’t anybody else’s favourite. I know when he was doing Singing in the rain, everyone, even front of house used to piss in the tank they used for the rain. That’s how popular he was dear.

GEORGE                                Well no one’s perfect.

ERIC                                       Yes, they also pissed in the bath when he did Some like it hot, just ask Dilly the SM.

GEORGE                                I’ve never quite got along with her, she seems such an aggressive old dyke.

ERIC                                       No she isn’t, it’s just a front, a defence.

GEORGE                                I know I shouldn’t say it, but it’s the tattoos, they look like they were done with a rusty nail. The sad thing is I know underneath she’s a really attractive girl.

ERIC                                       She is, in fact she’s one of the few people on this job that I can actually have a conversation with. You know her girlfriend is Sarah; yeah stunning Sarah, could have been a model Sarah, like they say, never judge a book by its cover.

GEORGE                                Things aren’t that bad then that’s Dilly and Fairy Godmother that you like.                                                                                      

ERIC                                       Gwen Thomas soap star, well she makes me laugh, though probably not for the right reasons. I’m sure she means well, but when she’s on she’s fumbling with her lines and the rest of the time she’s off having a fag at the stage door. It’s not fair George, look how long we were left hoofing last night before she realised it was her cue. I was bloody knackered, my lallies were killing me. Then on she strolls in a world of her own and utters the wrong line.

GEORGE                                Come on Erica love, I’ve never seen you like this before, cheer up.

ERIC                                       Cheer up, cheer up, are you mad. We’re working with Bert Baxter the most homophobic comic since Kenny Lanning and you want me to cheer up. Ugly Sister, yes, ugly is an understatement and I don’t just mean his eek. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I was up for a commercial a few years ago and so was he, but he went in first. When I went in the director asked me if I was feeling better. I told him I was; well I’d just had my piles done. I didn’t get the job, nor did I ever work for that director again. It was years later I found out he’d told them I had aids.

GEORGE                                Well I’d like to say I’m surprised, but sadly I’m not.

ERIC                                       Here’s one if you want to be surprised, Simon.

GEORGE                                What Simon the MD.

ERIC                                       Yes, Simon, nice as pie, friend to all, Simon.

GEORGE                                So, what, tell me.

ERIC                                       He’s in the BNP dear, he’s a narrow minded bigot he hates me and Dilly; he’s probably in the Bert Baxter fan club dear. That’s why he never speaks to anyone.
GEORGE                                I just thought he was a muso who just wanted to be in the pub with the rest of the band getting pissed.

ERIC                                       Sometimes you’re delightfully naive George it’s Simon who fixes the band, they are all in it together and even if they’re not no one is going to say anything, they can be replaced just like that.

GEORGE                                Well what about the other sister Norman Allen he’s not like that, he’s a well respected family man isn’t he, I know there were rumours a few years ago.

ERIC                                       Rumours, rumours dear, I should say so; he’s a naff old queen and a bitchy one too. Have you ever seen his wife, they haven’t lived together for years it’s all just a front. Just follow him one night when he’s off cottaging and as for the rug dear, it looks more like a door mat.

GEORGE                                Well I’m no oil painting.

ERIC                                       That’s different, you’re my friend.

GEORGE                                Thanks Eric that means a lot to me.

ERIC                                       Well it’s the little things that make the difference don’t they George. I remember the time that bitch Allison from front of house said we’d all got to do the publicity photos outside on the front and it was bloody snowing and you stood up to her and said no.

GEORGE                                Well I had to I’m the Equity dep.

ERIC                                       It was still very brave of you, I mean I’ll stand up for myself but she’s a very scary woman, there’s something just not right about her. She’s always hanging around with those odd looking blokes; they look like ex KGB.

GEORGE                                I know what you mean, I’m sure she’s dealing drugs; she certainly hangs around with some very dubious looking characters.
ERIC                                       I’m sorry George it must be my time of the month but things just seem to be getting on top of me at the moment. Mind you the only one who hasn’t got on top of me is Rosie Morton. I mean that literally, I think she thinks she can change me, God knows why. I keep telling her I’m an omi-palone, gay dear, homosexual, will she listen. No. I’m Dandini she says, I’m a man too. Sad old cow she’d shag anything with a pulse.

GEORGE                                I don’t think that’s true, not anything.

ERIC                                       Oh George, I’m sorry I didn’t mean you.

GEORGE                                It’s alright Eric dear, I was feeling a bit lonely.

ERIC                                       I know what you mean, you do some silly things when you’re feeling lonely. I’ve been having a bit of a thing with Camp David.

GEORGE                                You mean young David in the chorus.

ERIC                                       Yes, that David. The thing is he’s not even gay, I know he thinks he is at the moment but just wait until this is over and he wouldn’t give me a second glance. That’s the way it is, I’m desperate and he’s lonely.

GEORGE                                Yes, we all need someone who cares, especially when we’re on tour.

ERIC                                       That’s half the problem, feeling lonely, it’s hard not to when you’ve only this lot to choose from. Look at Baron Hardup, poor old git; I’m Donald Colepepper I’ve been with the RSC for years. Yes dear, you have, but you’re not there any more, those days are gone. I’m sick to death of his stories of when I was at the National with Johnny and Ralphy.

GEORGE                                Perhaps you’re right, but we can’t give in we’ve a show to finish.
ERIC                                       Show to finish, are you mad. I’m on the verge of suicide and you’re talking about finishing the show.

GEORGE                                Come on, the second acts very short and it is our big number with Prince Charming.

ERIC                                       Yes it is our big number but can you remember how hard we had to work for that number, I nearly left the show because of it. Bloody Sophie Augins, she’s a bitch.

GEORGE                                Surely she’s just a perfectionist.

ERIC                                       No George, she’s a bitch; I’ve known her since the beginning when I met her in Pineapple. I used to go to the same cattle call auditions that she went to. Hundreds of dancers in the day all fighting to be one of ten or twenty for some minor pop video or trade show. She was a hard faced cow even then. Pity anyone trying to pick up the routine should ask her for the counts. It’s not that hard to tell them; no it’s five six seven eight and one two and three and four, I mean how hard is that. It’s easy, if you help them and they get the job it just means they’ve got the look they were after. You know in those days all they wanted was white girls with blond hair. She was the first to have her hair dyed although she swore it was natural, but I know girls who saw her in the shower and she didn’t have a matching set. Then she made it in one of those dance groups on Top of the pops, Hot Sex, or whatever they were called. She was a pushy cow, don’t get me wrong I admire her success in a way, but I think she paid a high price for it. She lost her soul. Then eventually she got too old to dance and became a choreographer and destroyed the lives of so many girls who joined the group. So many of them got anorexia or became addicted to drugs to keep their weight down. She was a cow; she didn’t care as long as the show looked good. Now she’s taking it out on us.
GEORGE                                I’m sure you’re right, but we still have our big number with Prince Charming.
ERIC                                       How in Hells name you can call John Sydon charming is beyond belief. I’m sure he’s a paedophile, have you seen him with the young kids in the chorus. Most of the time he’s so coked up he’s almost incoherent. It’s all too depressing I think I’m going to cry.

GEORGE                                Oh Eric, I hate to see you cry; John isn’t that bad, you’re just having a bad day. Let me give you a hug; you know the show must go on.

ERIC                                       Must it George, must it.

STAGE MANAGER              Act two beginners this is your call.

GEORGE                                Yes Erica dear, it must. Now wipe your eyes, it’s show time.

ERIC                                       Thanks George, of course you’re right. There’s just one thing.

GEORGE                                What’s that.

ERIC                                       Just promise you won’t fart second act.

GEORGE                                All right, I promise.


                                                                  SCENE TWO

                                                         THE SECOND NIGHT  


JOHN                                      Tracy, it’s John.

TRACY                                   Come in.

JOHN                                      Hiya, you’re in early tonight.

TRACY                                  Yeah, I came in to run through a couple of new numbers with Simon.

JOHN                                      New numbers, just for you.

TRACY                                   Yes, it was Trevor’s idea.

JOHN                                      Oh, Trevor’s idea eh, has he any other plans for anyone else, do you know.

TRACY                                   Not as far as I know, why is that a problem.

JOHN                                      No, not at all, it’s nice to see someone young who’s enthusiastic about their career. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit lax with mine. It’s sad, I’m not that much older than you and yet we’re so far apart. I can remember being like you, a fresh faced youth just out of drama school and desperate to succeed. It’s surprising how soon you learn to compromise, to settle for second best.

TRACY                                   What on earth are you talking about, you’re in Eastsiders, you’re famous. I see your face in the magazines every week; you’re always at some party or other. You’re rich, you’re successful, what more can you want.

JOHN                                      Yeah, but look who’s at those parties; sad C list celebrities desperate for some publicity. I don’t want to be there, I want what you’ve got, I want to be back at the very start of my career, I want to start again.
TRACY                                  What on earth for, you’ve made it.

JOHN                                      Made it, is that what you think Tracy.

TRACY                                  Yes, that is what I think, you’re in one of the most successful soaps on tele, you earn a fortune and you want more. For what it’s worth I think you’re a greedy bastard, most of us would give our right arm for what you’ve got, you should be so grateful for what you have.

JOHN                                     I am grateful, I am, I can’t tell you how grateful I am. In many ways I have everything I could ask for, I’ve shed loads of money, I’m famous, for what that’s worth, I can have any girl I want, I should be as happy as a pig in shit. The trouble is in real life I’m still like you. I was bloody lucky getting Eastsiders so early, I thought at the time, I’ve hit the big time what more can I want. It’s only now I’m beginning to know what I really want.

TRACY                                   I’m sorry but from where I’m seeing this you still seem to be somewhat ungrateful to say the least.

JOHN                                     I can see why you think like that, but don’t believe all you read in the tabloid press. I’m not a coke addict, never was. I have a speech impediment which comes on when I’m stressed or tired which makes me slur my speech. Ok I used to do a line every now and then but never anything serious. The trouble is once the press have an opinion on you that’s what sticks and people believe it. All that rubbish about being at so and so’s party and all the other things, so much of it isn’t true. You know there was a rumour I was a paedophile, just because I liked being with the young kids. There’s a reason I like being with the young people, it reminds me of my sister Holly who died when she was eleven. She had melingitis and I miss her like hell. That’s why I like being with young people, it reminds me of the good days with my sister. We used to have such good times, I was her elder brother, I should have been there to look after her. It was because of her I’m in the business; I went with my mother when she took Holly to ballet class and I wanted to join in, that was the start of my career. I wish she was here today to share my success, well not all of it, not the silly parties. People like me go to the opening of an envelope just to keep our faces in the press, because without the publicity we’re dead. Do you remember when you started your career, doing some fringe play in a pub theatre, or some low budget film about some worthy topic. That’s where I started, a fringe play about The Marchioness River Boat disaster, a play that eventually made a difference to safety on the Thames river boats. That’s where I want to be, I want to be doing something that matters, not leaning on the bar in The Red Lion in Eastsiders asking for a pint and chatting about the weather. I don’t want to be a Gwen Thomas, God knows she means well but look at the poor old cow. She’s been in Grange Road since the first episode, you know the one they keep showing on the outtake shows, the one where the set fell down. Nothing much has changed there, the sets still wobble and so do the actors. I know they joke that they wheel Gwen about on a dolly but I don’t think it’s far from the truth.

TRACY                                   I think she’s sweet.

JOHN                                      She is but I can’t stand to see her, she’s me in thirty or forty years time if I don’t do something about my situation. The only reason she’s still in Grange Road is to pay for her scrounging children.

TRACY                                  You have a very jaded outlook on life, I’m surprised, you’re nothing like I thought you were.

JOHN                                      I know, I’m sorry, I told you I’m not like my tabloid persona.
TRACY                                   I didn’t mean that, I meant you seem a bit sad.

JOHN                                      I am bloody sad, you’re right; I’m drowning in a sea of success. That’s the problem with the press; all you ever see is me going to parties apparently enjoying myself, when I’m actually a far more serious person who’s desperately concerned about his career.

TRACY                                   Why don’t you just ask them for better story lines.

JOHN                                      You have no idea how many times I’ve asked, I even slept with one of the producers in the hope it would make a difference. I know it’s mad but I want to be like Donald Colepepper.

TRACY                                   He’s a boring old fart.

JOHN                                      He may be to you and to some of the others, but if you really listen to what he has to say you can really learn from him. Have you ever bothered to look him up in Spotlight and read his CV, he’s done everything that’s worth doing and more.

TRACY                                   The trouble is he rabbits on about the old days all the time, that’s why no one listens to him.

JOHN                                      Well perhaps you should listen in the future, he taught me loads of things and he’s some great stories about the old days. Do you know the one where he was in rehearsals with Johnny Gielgud and Johnny came up to him and asked him; what are you doing in this scene Donald. Donald had no lines in the scene and said to Johnny I’m doing nothing in this scene, whereupon Johnny turned to Donald and said; oh no, you can’t be doing nothing in this scene dear boy; I’m doing nothing in this scene. That’s class, I love it.

TRACY                                   Yeah, but he’s skint and he’s doing this for the money and you’re doing it for the publicity.
JOHN                                     What about the other one he tells about Dustin Hoffman when he was working with Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man. Dustin has to run into the room out of breath as it’s a cut from outside when he was jogging. So before the director calls action Dustin starts running up and down the studio, the director calls action and into the room runs the out of breath Hoffman. They do endless takes as they do in film, Hoffman the method actor keeps running before every take. Finally the director is satisfied with the shot and Olivier says to the exhausted Hoffman; have you ever thought of trying acting dear boy. You’ve got to admit he had a point, I’m a great believer in method acting but you can take it too far sometimes. You know in some ways I’d rather be like George.
TRACY                                   I see what you’re saying about starting again, but surely you don’t want to be like George, although at least he’s the front of the horse.

JOHN                                      I do, that’s my point, he did Chekhov last year at Edinburgh.

TRACY                                   For peanuts though.

JOHN                                      It’s not about the money, it’s about the quality of the work.

TRACY                                  That’s easy for you to say, you’re rich, you could do something like that any time you want.

JOHN                                      No, that’s where you’re wrong, if I leave Eastsiders and I’m off the tele for six months I’m as good as dead. How many times have you heard people say, whatever happened to so and so, I thought he was dead.

TRACY                                   I know what you’re saying but you have the money which gives you the opportunity to take a chance, to do something risky.
JOHN                                      Ok, Tracy, I give in you’re right, I’ll tell you the truth. I’d love to do Chekhov or something risky. You know what stops me, I’m scared to death of failure. I can stand in the bar in Eastsiders and do my lines week in week out, it’s safe, it’s within my comfort zone. Can you imagine the reviews if I did Chekhov and made a mess of it, they’d slaughter me. Then see how quickly my storylines in Siders would dry up and my character would have a nasty accident or leave to go on the run in Spain to escape from some minor gangster.

TRACY                                   That’s really sad John, I thought you’d made it, I thought you had everything you could possibly want; now you’ve depressed me. I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I got this job; it’s my first since leaving Uni.  I fought hard to get it; I had three recalls before they finally told me I’d got it. I nearly wet myself I was so excited, I beat four other girls to get this job fair and square.
JOHN                                      I don’t want to upset you but the rumour going round is that you only got it because you slept with the director.

TRACY                                   Slept with Trevor, are you mad, who told you that.

JOHN                                      Oh, no one.

TRACY                                   That’s terrible, Trevor and I are good friends he went to school with my cousin, but we’re certainly not sleeping together. He’s a lovely bloke to talk to but sexually I wouldn’t fancy him if he was the last man in the world. I hate beer guts, no no no, not Trevor.

JOHN                                      I’m sorry I got it wrong, it’s so easy to believe the rumours.
TRACY                                   It’s the same with the rumour about Eric being a bitchy old queen. He certainly isn’t like that with me; he’s been the most helpful member of the company as far as I’m concerned. I remember when I first arrived I bumped into him at the train station, we shared a cab as his digs were close to mine. He came round later to see how I’d settled in and found me in floods of tears; my digs were absolutely awful, there was mould and damp everywhere. He physically dragged me out and told the landlord where to stick his agreement. Five minutes later I was in a cab with Eric on the phone and ten minutes later I was at the new digs he’d found for me. He pops round all the time to check I’m ok, he’s one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met.

JOHN                                      I think you’re right; who else do you like

TRACY                                   Well David’s very nice but I think he’s gay so I don’t fancy him.

JOHN                                      He’s not gay, he’s just lonely, anyone else.
TRACY                                   Oliver, the black boy in the chorus, I could fancy him. He’s got the most fabulous body, the trouble is he knows it and I have a feeling he might not be the most loyal boyfriend to have.

JOHN                                      You know who I fancy in this company.

TRACY                                   No.

JOHN                                      You.

TRACY                                   You’re winding me up; you don’t really, do you.

JOHN                                      I’ve been nuts about you since the first day I saw you in rehearsals.
TRACY                                   Why didn’t you say something.

JOHN                                      Because I’m not like they portray me in the press; I am actually a very shy person.

TRACY                                   John; kiss me.

                                                THEY KISS.

JOHN                                      Thanks.

TRACY                                   Where are we going from here.

JOHN                                      I don’t know, but I do know wherever it is I want to be  there with you.

TRACY                                   You need to know some things about me before you say that, I’m not what I seem, I’ve been an awful person, you need to know.

JOHN                                      Know what.

TRACY                                  You’re obviously a very shy bloke and I don’t want to hurt you; I’ve had more men than you’ve had hot dinners. I used to have anorexia; you know what it’s like in this business especially if you’re a dancer. Then I went the other way and  put on loads of weight and I lost my self respect, I couldn’t see any man wanting to be with me; I became a complete slag. I threw myself at any man who came along just so I felt wanted. It took me years to become normal; I’m sorry but you should know.

JOHN                                      I don’t care about your past there were reasons for the way you behaved, all I care about is our future. I think both of us have learned something very important about each other tonight. I shouldn’t have believed the rumours about you and Trevor but you know what it’s like if no one stops a rumour it tends to become truth.
                                                I’m sorry I got it wrong about you and Trevor, I thought…

TRACY                                   Well you thought wrong.
JOHN                                      I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.

TRACY                                   Well you did and you’re going to have to pay for it.

JOHN                                      Ok, sorry, what do you want, flowers, dinner, what.

TRACY                                   Nothing so easy, when we finish the run you and I are going to get together and we’re going to do a Chekhov or some risky fringe play and your agent is going to give it maximum publicity.

JOHN                                     Ok we will.

TRACY                                  Good.

JOHN                                      Tracy.

TRACY                                   What.

JOHN                                      I love you.


                                                                  SCENE THREE


                                                             THE THIRD NIGHT



GWEN                                    Rosie, is it safe to come in.

ROSIE                                    Yes it’s safe, of course it’s safe.

GWEN                                    What do you mean, of course it’s safe; the number of times I’ve come in here and found you in the middle of some sexual act with one of the band or some other  poor soul you’ve dragged off the street.

ROSIE                                     Gwen dear, perhaps we need a do not disturb sign for the door.

GWEN                                    Do you mind, this is my dressing room as well as yours.

ROSIE                                     It’s not my fault, I can’t use my digs they keep complaining about the noise.

GWEN                                    I’m not surprised the way you scream; I’m surprised they haven’t called the police thinking someone’s being murdered.

ROSIE                                    It’s not my fault I have multiple orgasms.

GWEN                                    That’s because you’re doing it with multiple partners. Lord alone knows what you were doing the last time I caught you with the two young boys from box office; frankly I’m amazed someone of your age is so flexible.

ROSIE                                     I do a lot of yoga.

GWEN                                    You do a lot of something.

ROSIE                                     You’re only jealous.     
GWEN                                    Not of your reputation; you know the band call you Rosie the bike because they’ve all ridden you.

ROSIE                                     If they want to get bitchy I’ll tell you some things about the boys in the band. You know John the drummer, you wouldn’t believe what a bad sense of rhythm he has. The only way to have sex with him is to lie him down and climb on top, then tell him I’ll do the rhythm, you just lie back and think of England. Then there’s massive Mike on the bass; he can only do it if you abuse him. He gets off when I take of my Dandini costume and walk all over him just dressed in the stockings suspenders and stiletto heels. Ask to see his bruises, he’s not shy.

GWEN                                    I couldn’t possibly.

ROSIE                                    I think you’ve led a sheltered life.

GWEN                                    I think, compared to you everyone’s led a sheltered life.

ROSIE                                    I’ve had a twosome with Stan on trombone and Jack on trumpet; you can’t believe what they can do with their lips, it must be something to do with all that puckering they do.

GWEN                                    I’m never sure if you don’t just make this stuff up.

ROSIE                                     Oh no, you can’t make this up; the only one I’ve not had in the band is Simon. You know he’s in the BNP, well he uses prostitutes, black ones; it’s the only way he can get it on, he absolutely hates it and he’s terrified that people will find out. There must be some deep seated phycological reason but I’m dammed if I know what it is. Perhaps he had a miss spent youth reading all those old National Geographic magazines with the naked tribeswomen. I know I stole them from the school library when I was a girl; very stimulating.

GWEN                                    You’re beyond help, you are.
ROSIE                                     No I’m not, all I need is some more help from Oliver the gorgeous young black boy in the chorus, he’s divine. He’s also hung like a donkey and so obliging, if I wasn’t old enough to be his mother I’d seriously consider becoming monogamous.

GWEN                                    Rosie, you’re just so tacky, sometimes I find you embarrassing beyond belief.

ROSIE                                     Don’t have a go at me; people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

GWEN                                    And why do I live in a glass house.

ROSIE                                    Gwen dear, are you joking; I’m sorry but just look at the way your children treat you, what you put up with there leaves me lost for words. No wonder you always get cast as the Fairy Godmother. There’s not a week goes by without your Justin coming in here demanding money with menaces. If he acted like that with anyone else they’d have him arrested.

GWEN                                    He’s always asked for money like that, I’m used to it; it looks worse than it is.

ROSIE                                     Worse than it is; he stands up in your face and pushes you around the room, I’ve seen how terrified you are of him.

GWEN                                    It was my fault I left their father when they were just teenagers they must have felt awful. I destroyed their lives, I’m the guilty one, it’s my fault.

ROSIE                                    What the Hell are you talking about, you’re guilty; you left a man who was physically and mentally abusing you and you think you’re the guilty one. Get real here, where do you think your children have got it from; like father like son.
GWEN                                    I know you’re right, but I can’t stop feeling I’m guilty, it’s just the way I am.

ROSIE                                     No, it’s the way you’ve been conditioned to feel; if you’ve been constantly beaten down and told you’re useless for years it’s hardly surprising you believe it after all this time.

GWEN                                    I don’t know how to change.

ROSIE                                     Well we’re going to have to find a way; it’s hard to believe you’re such a successful actor, you’ve been in everything, now you’re the star of Grange Road and yet you let your children walk all over you.

GWEN                                    I know, it’s pitiful isn’t it.

ROSIE                                    Yes it is, but I’ve got the solution; you’re a brilliant actor, I think we need to do some improv; some role play where you take control. Come on lets give it a go.

GWEN                                    Ok, I’ll try.

ROSIE                                    Right I’ll play your son; ready.

GWEN                                    Ok; action.

ROSIE                                    Hi ma, give me some money, ma give me some money, come on I need some money. I need it now, give me the money don’t mess me around.

GWEN                                    Would you please let go of my arms, you’re hurting me.

ROSIE                                     I’m not going to let go until you give me some money, come on give me some money; I’ll go away as soon as you give me the money. Give me the money; now.

GWEN                                    Please stop you’re hurting me.
ROSIE                                    Gwen, stop this, you’re supposed to be acting and you’re just being yourself; you’re just being a victim.

GWEN                                    I’m sorry but you scared me it was just like when Justin scares me.

ROSIE                                    You know what the problem is Justin is a bully, just like his father and the thing to know about most bullies is that underneath they’re cowards. Now lets try again.

GWEN                                    I’m sorry, you’re right.

ROSIE                                    Ok, so; give me the money, Ma give me the money, I’ll go away as soon as you give me the money. Come on I want money; now.

GWEN                                    SHOUTING
                                                Let go of me, let go of me Justin, I mean it, I mean it now. I’ve had enough of your bullying. Leave me alone, Justin.

ROSIE                                    That’s better, see, you can do it.

GWEN                                    Yes I can, you’re right I can; it’s time to put a stop to this, pass me the phone.
                                                Hello, Jason, it’s your mother here; now don’t say anything I have something important I want to say and you need to listen. I said listen. I’ve had enough Jason, I’ve had enough of your bullying ways and I’m not putting up with it anymore. You’ve picked up your violent temper from your father and I should have stopped you years ago; well better late than never. Jason, shut up. Listen to me Jason; don’t you ever come demanding money from me ever again. If you do I swear I will call the police and have you arrested. If you or your brothers want to see me I will see you on my terms, that is properly and respectfully. Do you understand. Good. Goodbye Jason.
ROSIE                                    My God Gwen, I knew you were a good actor but that was brilliant.

GWEN                                    No it wasn’t; I wasn’t acting.

ROSIE                                     I don’t know about you but I could do with a drink.

GWEN                                    Yes I think that would be a good idea, open the wine; look my hands are shaking.

ROSIE                                     I’m not surprised I’m a bit in shock myself.

GWEN                                    You know I’ve been so foolish I should have done that years ago, you were right I was bullied, I was bullied all my married life. When I look back I can see where I went wrong; my husband was such a waste of space. I carried him all through our married life and yet he made me feel like I was the useless one. It wasn’t me that had affairs, it wasn’t me down the pub all the time. He just treated me like a skivvy to look after him and the kids. I’ve been taken for a ride all along; well now, thanks to you that’s all over.

ROSIE                                     I’ve never told anyone this before, but I was married once.

GWEN                                    You married, I don’t believe it.

ROSIE                                     I can hardly believe it myself, it was such a long time ago. He was from the same mould that your husband came from except he was worse. It all starts in such a subtle way, they get control of you before you’ve realised what they’re doing. Little things like criticising your cooking, undermining your confidence in everything you do to the point where you believe it’s all your fault. I used to cook him meals every night, if I had a pound for every one he threw at the wall I’d be rich The mad thing is, he comes home drunk throws your food at the wall and you’re the one who feels guilty and apologises and cleans up the mess. Some nights if I was lucky he’d fall asleep in the chair before he threw the food, other nights I’d have the option of a good slapping or having sex. Actually the option was a good slapping or being raped, or some nights both. The tragic thing is you eventually accept all this as normal and even worse you accept it as your fault, I wouldn’t have treated an animal the way my husband treated me. He’d frequently humiliate me in front of my friends, to the point that in the end I didn’t have any friends; he was my only friend. How bizarre is that, my abuser became my only friend. I suffered his abuse for years, the police didn’t get involved in domestics in those days, though God knows they came often enough. It would always be a male copper and my husband would say, oh she’s been getting out of order and deserved a slap. As long as things were pacified they would leave and I would quietly submit to yet another rape from the man I had grown to hate. The trouble is you hate and fear them in equal measure, so how can you get away. I had a girlfriend in the same situation, she tried to leave and he found her and threw acid in her face. He’s in prison now, but she’s disfigured for life and petrified in case he finds her when he comes out and we’re supposed to live in a civilised society. I’ve become involved with the battered wives refuge; if you spent a day listening to some of their stories it would break your heart. There have been far too many honour killings just lately and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. For every death there are at least ten suicides, young girls who are in love with someone the family won’t accept, scared to death they will be sent home to marry someone they haven’t even met. What a sad waste of a young life and the worse thing is lots of men get away with it such is the climate of fear they create, people are too frightened to testify against them. I've known that fear, I’ve been hospitalised by my ex too many times to remember, that’s why I hated to see the way Jason was treating you. The last time my husband hit me I ended up in intensive care and yet I still went back. I told him I’d give him one last chance and what does he do two months later; well this time I’d had enough. We were in the kitchen and I grabbed a knife and I stabbed him.

GWEN                                    My God, Rosie, what happened.

ROSIE                                    I hit an artery; I didn’t mean to I was just lashing out to protect myself, he was a brute, he deserved it.

GWEN                                    What happened.

ROSIE                                     He died; I watched him bleed to death in front of me, I watched him screaming and squirming on the kitchen floor. You know what I felt.

GWEN                                    What.

ROSIE                                     Nothing, I felt nothing.

GWEN                                     What happened to you.

ROSIE                                     I got ten years.

GWEN                                     My God Rosie how did you cope with that.

ROSIE                                     The same way you cope with the beatings; you can get used to anything if you have to. The only good thing about prison, was the sex, as long as you’re broad minded; I’d never thought of myself as lesbian but inside it’s different. I was locked up from the beginning, I didn’t get bail; you can’t imagine the shock when you go inside for the first time. The first night I shared a cell with a prostitute who was addicted to crack, she scared the life out of me but I suppose she must have been scared to death of me too, after all I was in for murder. Gradually you get used to it and by the time you’re sentenced you’ve become institutionalised. The thing that got me through it was the friendship and support of the other girls, some in a mental way and some physical. I had more sex in prison than I had before when I was being raped by my husband all the time. The difference was of course inside it was by choice; I still prefer sex with a man but my God some of those girls had some imagination when it came to sex. I only served six years what with time served and remission, I came out changed my name and got on with my life; in many ways it was worth it to be rid of him.

GWEN                                    I’m so sorry I had no idea, I shouldn’t have been so critical of your lifestyle.

ROSIE                                     That’s ok, we all have our ways of coping with life.

GWEN                                     Maybe there’s more to your way than I thought.

ROSIE                                     It does put a smile on your face every now and then; you ought to try it. I’ll tell you what I’ll set you up on a date with Colepepper you could do with some love in your life. Ok.

GWEN                                     Yes, yes ok Rosie, thanks.    

                                                                SCENE FOUR

                                                         THE FOURTH NIGHT



DONALD                               Hello Wayne old boy, are you there.

WAYNE                                 Yes I’m here where else would I be.

DONALD                               I’ve no idea, but it’s just polite to ask.

WAYNE                                 How are you tonight Donald.

DONALD                               Well actually I’m in a delightful mood, although I’m a little tired.

WAYNE                                 And what have you been up to that should make you so tired.

DONALD                               Well old chap, for the first time in years I had a date.

WAYNE                                 A date eh, who with.

DONALD                               With Gwen.

WAYNE                                 Gwen, who.

DONALD                               Gwen Thomas; Fairy Godmother Gwen.

WAYNE                                 Really, and did you have a good time.

DONALD                               Absolutely fabulous, I haven’t had such a good time in years. I’d forgotten what it was like to go out with a woman on a one to one basis. She’s such a nice person she seems to have blossomed all of a sudden. We went to the Italian in George Lane; we chatted all night. It made me feel like a young man again and the best thing is we’re going to do it again; I can’t wait I’m like an excited schoolboy.

WAYNE                                 Did you get your leg over then Donald.
DONALD                               I can’t believe you would ask such a question. No I didn’t, although I do believe if I’d had the chance I could have done.

WAYNE                                 You old devil, so tell me more.

DONALD                               There’s not much more to tell; we chatted all night, I haven’t felt so relaxed with someone for years. She told me all sorts about her life and may I say I reciprocated.   I haven’t been that open with anyone for years. I found it a very cathartic experience, she helped me to let go, to open up. Thirty five years ago my wife was killed in a car accident and last night with Gwen was the first time I’ve spoken to anyone about it since it happened.

WAYNE                                 I’m so sorry Donald, I didn’t know.

DONALD                               That’s awfully sweet of you old boy but you don’t have to worry, after last night I can talk about it with anyone. I’d always been a shy old bugger so I was getting on a bit when we married but it was the best day of my life; I’ve never loved anyone like I loved Dorothy. Then to put the icing on the cake not long after we found out she was pregnant, I couldn’t have been happier. Shortly after that I got Henry five with the RSC at Stratford upon Avon, how much better could life get. Dorothy drove me up and stayed to do some sightseeing while I was in rehearsals, it was one of the best times of my life. She went back on opening night; I told her to wait and go back in the morning but she had an early meeting the next day so she went back that evening after the party. I was woken in the early hours by a policeman who told me Dorothy had been involved in an accident and had died at the scene. My life fell apart; in that moment my wife and baby were dead and I didn’t have the where with all to deal with it. The only way I could deal with it was to immerse myself in work; wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said; I love acting, it’s so much more real than life. I know I keep quoting Gielgud and Olivier and a lot of this company think I’m a sad old fart but that was a very important part of my life. Working with Johnny, Laurence and Ralphy at the RSC was the high light of my career and yet the lowest point of my life. I could have killed myself at the drop of a hat and yet the applause and the adrenalin kept me going. I kept all that sadness bottled up for years and then last night in Gwens digs I let go of it all.

WAYNE                                 Oh, in Gwens digs was it.

DONALD                               Yes it was and I know how your brain works, so yes we did spend the night together, what was left of it. We had a cuddle in bed, naked, it was heaven.

WAYNE                                 No wonder you’re in such a good mood, I’m really pleased for you, I hope it works out ok for you both.

DONALD                               Thank you Wayne, I hope things work out for you to.

WAYNE                                 Work out for me.

DONALD                               I do know Wayne and if there’s anything I can do to help.

WAYNE                                 Know, what.

DONALD                               I know about your dementia; it was obvious to me I’ve seen the signs before with my uncle. I know you’re desperately trying to hide it, that’s why I always try to help you with your lines.

WAYNE                                 I didn’t think it showed.

DONALD                               It doesn’t yet to the others, they just think you’re an arrogant old pop star milking it for all it’s worth. I’m sure I’m the only one who realises you’re just doing it because you can’t remember the lines. When were you diagnosed.
WAYNE                                 Last year; they prescribed Donepezil which initially seemed to slow it down but lately it seems to be getting worse again.

DONALD                               And the prognosis.

WAYNE                                 I don’t know; well they don’t know, except of course it’s going to get worse.

DONALD                               I’m very sorry old chap.

WAYNE                                 That’s ok Donald, in some ways it’s a relief to tell someone about it.

DONALD                               Yes, a problem shared is a problem halved.

WAYNE                                 I’m afraid Donald, I’m really scared for the future, my mother had it, I know what it can do to you. I feel so sorry for my sister she had to look after her, I was lucky to be working away all the time. My mother deteriorated from a fit healthy old person to a shell in six years, my sister went through hell in that time. Mother started to loose her physical abilities first, it started with being unable to walk the dog or get to the shops. It seemed to have come on so suddenly; it was after she had a fall in the street, they took her to hospital but could find nothing wrong except her blood pressure was a little high. They sent her home but it was the start of her slow deterioration. Gradually she became more and more dependent on my sister to the point where my sister was her full time carer. Every day mother would loose her wedding ring and they would spend hours searching for it before she could pacify her. Eventually my sister took it from her for safe keeping so then she started to loose the keys for the house, there was always something mad going on. Mother started to see things, she’d see a young girl behind the couch or people climbing the walls, she’d be terrified. Some days sis could calm her down by telling her it wasn’t real, it was her brain playing tricks with her and she’d be ok, but other days there would be nothing she could do to pacify her. I don’t know how my sister coped being on call twenty four hours a day; she’d get calls from the police to say they had found mother walking the streets in her nightie, it was frightening anything could have happened to her. Eventually my sister had to move in to be there full time, by now mother had lost control of her bladder, she’d be standing there talking and just piss herself. My sister persevered for years because she’d promised mother she wouldn’t put her in a home. It would have driven me mad, in fact I think my sister was close to a nervous breakdown. She phoned me one night to say she’d locked herself out of the house and couldn’t work out how to get back in, she was crying uncontrollably. All she had to do was go to the next door neighbours who had a spare key, but she couldn’t work it out for herself. Thank God not long after that mother had another fall and was taken into hospital, they thought she’d had a stroke. It was the final straw she had to go into a nursing home, she was virtually a vegetable. My sister visits her every day except Sunday, she gives herself one day a week off. I don’t know why she goes, it’s got to the point that mother has no idea she’s there; she hasn’t opened her eyes for almost six months and when she speaks it’s completely incomprehensible. I think my sister is so conditioned to going every day she doesn’t know how to stop. She’s still in the nursing home unable to do anything for herself, shitting in a nappy like a baby. I don’t want to end up like that.
DONALD                               It hasn’t come to that yet, that’s a long way off old chap, in the mean time there’s not much I can do to help, the only thing I can suggest is to be honest with everyone else, at least then everyone can help you with your lines.
WAYNE                                 Yeah, thanks for the line prompts, it does help. You know I’m so pleased you’ve got together with Gwen, I knew her years ago. She was in my film Summer Weekend and she was a very nice girl and I mean that literally. She was virtually the only girl I didn’t sleep with on that job, after all I was the star, they were lining up outside my dressing room. Gwen was better than the others she had the integrity to say no.

DONALD                               Well that’s nice to know.

WAYNE                                 You know who else was on that film, Norman Allen; that was in his hay day when he and Bert Baxter used to have their TV show The Comedy Hour. It’s amazing now to think that celebrities were queuing to appear on their show to be humiliated by those two fools. They had Shirley Bassey on and they did a black and white minstrel act.

DONALD                               Yes, indeed, I know they had Johnny Gielgud on and as you may know he was convicted for persistently importuning for immoral purposes, or picking up a man in a public toilet, cottaging as they call it nowadays. So predictably all the jokes were taking the mickey out of gay people; the trouble was you had to go on even if you didn’t want to. Can you imagine the press in those days, if they’d found out you were asked and had refused.

 WAYNE                                The sad thing is they’re still using the same gags today.

DONALD                               I must say I’m not a fan of them at all, their material is so sexist.

WAYNE                                 Yes especially Normans, but there’s a reason why he’s so sexist, it’s a front.

DONALD                               How do you mean.

WAYNE                                 He’s gay.
DONALD                               I know there were rumours in the business, but what about his wife.

WAYNE                                 She was his secretary, he just married her as a front, he’d been living with his manager for years. They all used to live together in that big house in Totteridge next door to Adam Faith. I was friends with Adam in those days so I used to get all the gossip. They both used the same gardening company which was mostly staffed by fit young men. Normans wife Ellen had sex with nearly all of them at one time or another, sometimes two at once, apparently she was insatiable, it’s no wonder the garden looked so unkempt. They did say that while all this was going on Norman and his manager Brian were frequently seen arguing around the swimming pool; Brian dressed in a blonde wig, pink dress and white sling backs, just like Doris Day, except for the moustache.

DONALD                               Blimey

WAYNE                                 It was only a couple of years ago when his manager died that he divorced his secretary, he still won’t come out though. Perhaps we all have our skeletons in the cupboard.

DONALD                               I suppose you know mine, now what’s yours.

WAYNE                                 Mine Donald, I don’t have one.

DONALD                               I’m sure with your miss spent youth there must be something.

WAYNE                                 What’s this, true confessions, get it off my chest before it’s too late, before I’ve lost my mind.

DONALD                               Well perhaps, if you have something to confess, now would be a good time.                                                                                                                                                                         
WAYNE                                 Ok Donald, you and I are more alike than you would imagine, remember I said I’d had every girl on Summer Weekend, well there was one in particular who I fell in love with, her name was Wendy. I would have married her if I’d had the chance, but in those days it was the kiss of death to a young pop stars career, we had to be seen to be available. Looking back it’s ridiculous but that’s how it was then; anyway one day Wendy came to me and said she was pregnant, I was just a kid, just starting my career, I couldn’t have anything jeopardize that. I gave her the money to get rid of it but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. I told her that if she had the child never to name me as the father as I would deny it and she would look like a fool. She must have felt so rejected she threw herself in front of an underground train and killed herself. I was the one who was the fool, I should have had the guts to stand by her. Like you Donald, the love of my life was dead; no one connected her with me, there were just a few lines in the paper; young dancer killed in tragic accident. I did exactly the same as you, I worked myself to death. That’s why everyone thought I was so arrogant, because all I thought about was me and my career.

DONALD                               It wasn’t your fault Wayne, that was the way things were in those days, we’re all victims of our circumstances.

WAYNE                                 I know you’re right but it’s hard to move on, even now.

DONALD                               Hard, but not impossible; you’re right we are surprisingly alike and yet so different. We’ve both lost someone we love, someone who meant everything to us and have both taken far too long to come out the other side. I’ve come through it with Gwens help, now it’s your turn to let go of the past. It wasn’t your fault, we were both victims, but like me it’s now time for you to stop being a victim and move on.
WAYNE                                 You’re right Donald, it is time for me to move on.

DONALD                               I’ll tell you what, I’m going for a meal after the show with Gwen, come with us old chap. Nothing heavy, nothing pressured, just a drink and a meal with friends who care.

WAYNE                                 Thanks Donald, I’d love to.


                                                                   SCENE FIVE

                                                               THE LAST NIGHT



NORMAN                              Come in.

BERT                                      How do I get in.

NORMAN                              Turn the knob on your side.

BERT                                      I haven’t got a knob on my side.


NORMAN                              Goon Show 1960, I’ll name that gag in one.

BERT                                      Evening Norman, dead right, although I think you’ll find the year was 1959.

NORMAN                              Yes Bert, I bow to your superior knowledge you’re right Eccles and Bluebottle 1959.

BERT                                      I can’t believe this was the last night, it seems to have flown by.

NORMAN                              Well it was a fairly good company this year, that helps.

BERT                                      Have you been with the same company as me, some of them are the most boring people I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.

NORMAN                              Who.

BERT                                      Colepepper, God if I have to listen to another of his; when I was at the RSC with Johnny and Ralphy speeches.

NORMAN                              He’s a sad old bugger but he means well.
BERT                                      What about the two fools in the panto horse, I’m sure they’re an affair, they’re always skulking around together.

NORMAN                              I sometimes wonder about you; you can be such a bitchy old queen yourself.

BERT                                      Bitchy moi, how about Gwen, no wonder she’s always on her own. God knows I like a fag, but she’s like a bloody chimney.

NORMAN                              What about Rosie, I thought you two might get together, there was a rumour she was a nymphomaniac.

BERT                                      I’m sure she is, that’s why I hate her; she rejected me, I’ve no idea why.

NORMAN                              She’s very deep, that one.

BERT                                      Unlike Tracy Phillips, she’s such an air head, what’s wrong with young people today, all they think about is their looks.

NORMAN                              Perhaps it’s a lesson we could learn from.

BERT                                      Not at my age, we can’t, I’m old I’m balding and I’ve a beer gut; it took years of abuse to get to look like this. There is no way I want to go back to the way I was when I was young. When you’re young you can do all night what it takes you all night to do when you’re old, that’s the only good thing about being young. Old man of eighty decides to take a Thai bride, all his friends are worried about his health.

NORMAN                              So he goes to the doctors for a check up and the doctor warns him about the dangers of violent sexual activity and the possibility of a heart attack.

BERT                                      So the old man says; well if she dies she dies.                                                                                                                                 
NORMAN                              I thought you got on with John he’s a young thrusting Prince Charming, just like you were when you were his age.

BERT                                      Are you sure, I never did drugs, well only fags and booze, I may have been thrusting but I’ve never been charming in my life.

NORMAN                              Wayne’s ok, I worked with him on Summer Weekend, he was fun.

BERT                                      He might have been fun then, but now he’s a pain in the arse. Milking every scene for all he’s worth, why he can’t stick to the script God knows, anyone would think he’s got dementia.

NORMAN                              Well we’ve had a laugh, haven’t we.
BERT                                     Yeah, I suppose so. Mans idea of safe sex.

NORMAN                              Padded head board. I married Miss Right.

BERT                                      I hadn’t realised her first name was always.

NORMAN                              I haven’t spoken to the wife for eighteen months.

TOGETHER                           I didn’t like to interrupt her.

NORMAN                              I can still enjoy sex at 74.

BERT                                      I live at 75 so it’s no distance. I want to die in my sleep like my father.

NORMAN                              Not screaming and terrified like his passengers.

BERT                                      They’re proper gags, not like this modern rubbish. It’s come to something when there’s more things you can’t make gags about than things you can. The only people who can crack Jewish gags have to be Jewish, don’t get me going about black gags, that was half my act. I hate to think what would happen if you cracked a gag about the wife or the mother in law, I can’t stand all this political correctness. 
NORMAN                              You know what we are, dinosaurs; all our feeding grounds have gone and we’re slowly dying out. All the pubs and working mens clubs are closing, you’re looked on as a leper if you have a fag in the street; God forbid anyone should dare to light up in the pub. It’s all well and good for those politicians to ban smoking but it was our living. What the hell was wrong with a smoke filled club, we all chose to go there, Les Dawson had it right, you can’t die of nothing.

BERT                                      He used to do some fabulous gags, remember Cissie and Ada, him and Roy Barraclough dressed as women. That was a class act, I wanted to steal his Over The Garden wall act for us when he died but it seemed disrespectful. Take her at number fourteen, she’s no better than she should be. Too thick with her lodger for my liking.

NORMAN                              Well I heard her bed springs going at three o’clock this morning and her husbands on regular nights.

BERT                                     Yes, he was magic; I went to the doctors to get something for persistent wind, he gave me a kite.                                                                                                                                      
NORMAN                              I took my mother in law to Madame Tussards Chamber of Horrors and the attendant said keep her moving sir, we’re stock taking.

BERT                                      You know he left his dressing room in The Empire Theatre in Sunderland vowing never to work there again. He never said why, although it’s supposed to be haunted by the ghost of Sid James who died of a heart attack in the building.

BERT                                      Ironic that Les died of a heart attack not long after. Want a fag Norm.

NORMAN                              Yeah, I’m gagging.
BERT                                      Here you are.

NORMAN                              Thanks Bert; this is ridiculous, here we are two grown men, senior citizens, skulking around by an open window to have a fag like two naughty school boys.

BERT                                      How are the mighty fallen.

NORMAN                              You’ve got a point, when we were doing The Comedy Hour we used to smoke on the set.

BERT                                      Yeah, happy days, we were the best, there was no one to touch us. What’s blue and fluffy.

NORMAN                              Blue fluff. There was a knock at the door, I knew it was the mother in law because the mice were throwing themselves on the traps.

BERT                                      The wife said, how would you like to talk to mummy, I said through a spiritualist.

NORMAN                              Mixed feelings is when you see your mother in law driving over a cliff in your new car.

BERT                                      My mother in law has come to our house at Christmas seven years running. This year we’re having a change.

NORMAN                              We’re going to let her in.

BERT                                      Yeah, the good old days, we had chauffeur driven limos then, what have we got now.

NORMAN                              Our bus passes and our memories; we’ve known each other for so long we’re like an old married couple, we even…

BERT                                      Finish each others sentences. I said to my neighbour; take my wife, now they’ve gone away together.

NORMAN                              I don’t half miss him.
BERT                                      Well you should know.

NORMAN                              Know what.

BERT                                      Norman, it’s five years since Brian died.

NORMAN                              Brian my manager.

BERT                                      No Norman, Brian your lover.

NORMAN                              I can’t believe you said that, I thought you were my friend.

BERT                                      I am your friend, that’s why I said it. Don’t you think it’s time to come clean.

NORMAN                              Don’t you mean come out; how can I come out it will ruin my career.

BERT                                      Your career. Norm your career and mine went down the pan years ago when they invented political correctness. Out of the two of us you’re the one with a chance of a career if you do come out. Look at Frankie Howerd he rose from the ashes more times than the Phoenix and you both went to the same rug maker.

NORMAN                              How dare you, do you know how much I paid for this syrup.

BERT                                      Too much.

NORMAN                               Don’t mock Francis.

BERT                                      There you are, you can do it, that’s your new career sorted.

NORMAN                              I think I need a lot more rehearsals before I can pull that off.

BERT                                     That’s ok, we can work on it, I’ll be your manager, although I’ll just stick to the manager bit, I’m not Brian. I’ll leave the shirt lifting to you.
NORMAN                              That’s a bit politically incorrect Bert.

BERT                                      Like I care, I’m too bloody old to change now, you were right, we are dinosaurs.

NORMAN                              It’s a funny old business being a comedian.

BERT                                      No, it’s actually deadly serious.

NORMAN                              You’re right, so many of them have committed suicide, look at poor old Hancock.

BERT                                     Yeah, Tony was a beautiful man, too fragile for this business. Drunk himself to death consumed with self doubt about his talent, so sad. They published his suicide letter; it said, things went wrong too many times.

NORMAN                              My friend Kenny Williams, tortured soul he was. He was like me he never came out, even though everyone knew he was gay. I never did a Carry On, but they say Charles Hawtrey was worse; he was a drunken promiscuous old queen who smoked and drunk himself to death.

BERT                                      We’re lucky at least we survived.

NORMAN                              Do you have any regrets Bert.

BERT                                      Loads, and you.

NORMAN                              One or two; you’re right I should have come out ages ago.

BERT                                      I’m surprised you haven’t been caught by the press.

NORMAN                              There have been the odd; Friend of Dorothy stories, perhaps I’m not a big enough story any more.

BERT                                      Anything else.
NORMAN                              Well, yes, remember all those years ago I was in Wayne Peters film Summer Weekend. He got one of the young dancers pregnant and told her to get rid of it. She came to me for advice and I told her to think of her career and get rid of it. She was such a delicate thing and I was so hard on her, she looked upon me as a father figure and I let her down. When I found out she’d committed suicide I was devastated, it was as if I’d lost a child myself. Then later when Brian died that’s when I should have come out, not pretending he was just my manager. You have now idea how I hated his funeral, I wanted to shout out, he was the man I loved. The man who had devoted his life to me was dead and I didn’t have the guts to say I loved him. That’s my biggest regret.

BERT                                      We all have our regrets, I was a right bastard in the early days, I’d do anything to get a job. You know how homophobic the old bookers were especially in the northern clubs, well I’d start a rumour that some of the acts were gay, it’s amazing how soon their bookings drop. I did it to Eric, you know Eric Shirvell, back of the horse. We were up for a commercial and I told the director Eric had aids. I know he never worked for that director again; I wonder if he ever found out what I’d done, I must ask him one day. He wasn’t the only one I did that trick on, I was an absolute bastard.

NORMAN                              Did you ever do that to me.

BERT                                      No, you were a bloody good comedian, better than me that’s why I wanted to work with you. You know how we got together as a double act.

NORMAN                              Yes, my agent suggested we’d work well as a double act and he’d already had a tentative offer for a TV show.

BERT                                      Actually, that’s close but no cigar, it was me who set the whole thing up. I set up the TV deal, then told them to speak to your agent to sort it out. I always was a manipulating so and so, that’s why I was always top dog in the act even though you were a better comic.
NORMAN                              Well you learn something every day, you cunning bugger,

BERT                                      That’s one of the best things I ever managed to arrange, I’ve never had a moments regret about our partnership it was the best thing I ever did.

NORMAN                              Blimey Bert, I never knew you cared.

BERT                                      Well now you know.

NORMAN                              Come on let’s go or we’ll be late for the party.

BERT                                      There’s no rush, it will be the same old rubbish as last year. Trevor going on about what a wonderful company it’s been this year and how he’s really looking forward to working with us again next year and it will sound like he really means it.

NORMAN                              Perhaps he does, I know I do. Come on we’ve a party to go to.