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Behind Closed Doors

a two act black comedy

by Janet Shaw

Behind Closed Doors by Janet Shaw © Janet Shaw 2005. All Rights Reserved This script may not be copied or transcribed by any means electronic, optical or mechanical without the prior permission of the copyright owners or their agent. Photocopying this script without a suitable license is strictly prohibited. This play is a work of fiction. The characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is fully protected under the international laws of copyright which are enacted in the UK as the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. The right of Janet Shaw to be identified as the intellectual owners of the work have been asserted by her in accordance with the above Act. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation of this musical play, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the material contained herein. Published, and worldwide rights managed by :

Stagescripts Ltd Lantern House, 84 Littlehaven Lane, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 4JB, UK Tel : +44 (0)700 581 0581 Fax : +44 (0)700 581 0582 Publication History:

July 2006 :

First Edition

ROYALTY FEES A royalty fee is payable every time ‘Behind Closed Doors’ is performed in front of an audience irrespective of whether that audience pays for attending or not. Producing organisations MUST obtain a ‘Licence To Perform’ from the address above prior to starting rehearsals. NOTE : The act of preparing material in quantities sufficient to rehearse a performance of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ will be taken as intent to stage such a performance should litigation be necessary in the event of non-payment of Royalty Fees later found to be due. Producing Organisations may not make video recordings of dress rehearsals or performances of ‘Behind Closed Doors’ without the prior permission of the copyright owner or their agent.


(Rev D)

Synopsis Set in 1969, when physical and mental abuse was a fact of life to many women, this play is about domestic violence inside marriage - a subject still regrettably topical over thirty-five years later. The engagement of two university students brings together their families. Sandra is from working class Doncaster and Tarquin is from the stockbroker belt of Chertsey in Surrey. The parents of both these students, although geographically and sociologically distant, share a common problem - the two fathers are controlling bullies with large fists. One mother seeks continual refuge in vodka bottles, the other in a make-believe gentleman companion, who is the antithesis of her husband. The play explores their different social attitudes in a dramatically comedic way to start with, but the mood darkens considerably when the brutish red mist and balled fists become unbearable and unstoppable, with unpleasant, but not altogether unexpected results.

Characters (5m, 3f) The Heptinstalls Eddie



Kevin Thomas

40’s, a dustbin man (refuse collector). He is a good man but has mixed feelings about social graces and behaviour which makes for a complex character. On the surface he is loud, rude and tries to be comical. On the inside he is insecure and childish which stems from a bad upbringing. He does love his wife and children, but doesn’t have a clue how to show it. 40’s, harassed and worn out, Eddie’s wife. A ‘salt of the earth’ character, she is always busy and is either dressed in overalls or a tabard. She normally wears no make up and her hair always look like it needs a good brush. 19-20, a very intelligent young lady. She adores her mother, but can’t understand her father’s attitudes. Has the ability to adjust her accent to suit the people to whom she is talking, but talks in more of a Yorkshire accent when speaking to her parents. 19, their son. Naïve, gullible and easily teased. a fantasy character in Pearl’s mind. This character must always be dressed over the top to emphasise that he is a fantasy.

The Pollocks Vernon

40’s, the Chairman of a football pools company and extremely rich. He is bombastic, arrogant and selfish. This comes across not in a loud way, but in an extremely cold and calculating manner. His aggression towards his wife builds up slowly and at first his put-




downs must be done pleasantly, but still with manipulation. His attitude will slowly change until he loses control completely. He is a perfectionist and everything must be in its place. 40’s, a quiet unassuming lady. She is bullied and chastised by her husband; he controls her completely. This makes her very nervous in his company, as no matter what she says or does, it is always wrong. She tries to be pleasant at all times but sometimes this makes her come across as silly and air-headed. She never knows the right answer to anything Vernon asks her. 20-21, has been brought up not to question his father and therefore looks straight past his faults. He is very close to his mother.

Staging The play is set in 1969. The main acting areas are :Stage Left - (Doncaster) : the kitchen of a typical council house of the era, with at least a table and four chairs and maybe an old sideboard or dresser. There should also be a window covered in net curtains. Stage Right - (Chertsey) : the conservatory area of a very large detached house with at least two or three basket chairs and a coffee table, (which must be set visibly as it is an integral part of the plot later on) plus a side table for a dial telephone. On the coffee table there is a letter opener, a cigarette lighter and an ashtray. Plants surround the chairs and French windows lead to a patio area. Stage Centre (Act Two only) – The Student Union Bar : venue for the engagement party; three tables are set with tablecloths and the appropriate paraphernalia required for such an event. A suitable number of ‘bar’ chairs will be scattered around. The Heptinstalls will always use the SL table, the Pollocks will always use the SR table, with the other table in the centre being ‘neutral ground’. If possible, fly a practical mirror ball above the tables. A small area (maybe front of tabs on the apron) is required for the students meeting at the opening of Act 1 and for Pearl to use as the telephone box in Act 1, Scene 8. Although the dialogue is written for a Doncaster-based family, if the Yorkshire accents this requires prove to be unsustainable on stage, then with a few minor modifications, it would be possible to locate the Heptinstall family in (say) Dagenham or some other industrial town. The action is continuous throughout each Act. The scene numbers shown are provided to assist at rehearsals only.


Conventions Used Text in upper case is shouted, and underlined text is spoken with emphasis.

Music Some music is specified in the script (see below). Additional music may be inserted during scene changes at the discretion of the Director.

Act 1 : ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (Charlie Rich) : ‘Cheek To Cheek’ (Fred Astaire) : ‘Lets Face The Music And Dance’ (Fred Astaire) : ‘Cheek To Cheek’ (Fred Astaire)

Scene 1 Scene 5 Scene 12 Scene 13

Act 2 Scene 1 : ‘You Always Hurt The One You Love’ (Mills Brothers) Scene 2 : ‘You Always Hurt The One You Love’ (Mills Brothers) Scene 3 : ‘Behind Closed Doors’ (Charlie Rich)

ACT ONE Scene 1

MUSIC ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS’ (CHARLIE RICH) Fade music. Lights up on apron. Sandra and Tarquin meet to each post their letter to their respective families. They meet in the middle and Sandra gives Tarquin her letter; they share an apprehensive moment and then split and leave the stage exiting through their own side of the stage. The tabs open as they start to leave. Lights up on Doncaster (stage left). Eddie and Kevin are both sitting at the table wearing overalls. Eddie is reading the local paper, while Kevin is trying to emulate him by reading his comic. On the table is a teapot and a bottle of milk, mugs and sugar, as well as a plate of bread and butter.

Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin

(Shouting offstage) For

gawds sake hurry up with that breakfast or I’ll have to go and shave again. (Without looking up from his comic) Bugger off dad, you only shave on a Saturday; same day you change your underpants. Just a figure of speech, son. A figure of what …


Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Never mind, read your comic and shut thee gob and don’t bloody swear. (From offstage) Hang slack … I’ve only got one pair of hands. Well move ‘em quicker then … Lend us one of yours then … Tha can sod off. The day I do that I hang up me bloke status … that’s woman’s work, so shut tha rattle and get on wi’ it or you’ll feel the back of my hand.

Enter Pearl, carrying two plates, she has hidden the bacon under the beans because she has burnt it. She puts the plates on the table, pours the tea, puts the sugar in and stirs it

Eddie Pearl Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie

About flaming time…’ere where’s me bacon? (Trying to change the subject) Postman’s late today (She walks over to the window, lifts the nets and looks out). (Poking about on the plate) It’s under the

beans, dad.

Religious again, is it? Eh! Crucified. I don’t get that. What’s crucified got to do with the bacon being burnt? Kevin, shut thee gob and give thee arse a chance. Don’t keep going on at him, you’ll give him a complex. How can you give someone who is brain dead, a complex? Ah well, at least he’ll never die of a brain tumour. Eddie stop it, give the lad a chance. I’m always giving him a chance, he’s bloody puddled. I don’t know how I managed to sire something so bloody useless. He must take after your side of the family, cause he’s naught like mine. Don’t keep talking about him like he isn’t here. He isn’t here, he’s on Krytpon, with all those comic books he reads He’s a good lad and he must be good at something … Kevin … (Kevin ignores him deeply engrossed in his comic). Kevin! What? What yer good at? Eh? Your mother says you must be good at something, so what yer good at?


Kevin Eddie

Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl

My teacher used to say I was good at nothing. Your teacher used to say you were a good for nothing; anyway your teacher didn’t know who you were. We had to point you out to him. That’s not true … anyway you never went to his school. He never went to his school. That’s because you used to put him down all the time, he can’t help it if he’s not like our Sandra. Aye well, I don’t think she’s mine either, she’s too bloody brainy. So neither of our two children are the fruit of your loins.

Kevin looks up totally bewildered by this statement.

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl

Well I allas said you were a slapper, you’d sleep with anybody with a dick. I’ve only slept with one dick and I’m looking at him … You’re asking for a side winder, you keep your gob shut and don’t talk to me like that. Show some respect. Respect? You don’t give respect, you earn it, and in your case that’ll never happen. (Eddie gets up to hit Pearl but she ducks out of his way and goes to sit down. Eddie sits back down to finish his breakfast).

Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin

And you can keep your fists to yourself. I’m sick of going to work with black eyes. Well behave yoursen then and just do as you’re told. Then I won’t have to crack you, will I? What do you mean, “fruit of his loins”? Never heard of that before, what is it? Meat and two veg, lad. Like a Sunday dinner? Kevin, me and you are going to have to have a little chat about the birds and bees. (Giggling) Aw dad, you mean sex, don’t you. Aye lad. I don’t need telling about that dad, I already know. I can’t wait to hear your version son, or have you already done it? Dad, not in front of me mam. Some things are private, like. I’d like to meet the bird that popped your cherry. Cherries? What’s all that about?


Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Kevin Pearl Kevin Pearl Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl

Where did she leave her dog? What dog? Her guide dog, ‘cause she must be blind to have dropped her kecks for you! She i’nt blind … Mentally challenged then … She’s got two O-levels. Aye, and I’ve got two spirit levels … Dad, she’s a real nice bird, she works in Woolworths … Bloody hell … (sarcastically) I’m impressed. (Proudly) I thought you would be. I don’t know nothing about a girlfriend, why didn’t you tell me? Why should he? Keep your nose out. Cause he’s my son. Well that’s nothing to be proud of. I’m proud of him. Ta, mam. I’ll always be proud of him and our Sandra. I aren’t brainy like our Sandra. You’re a good lad Kevin, don’t mind what yer dad says. I’ve got a good job. Aye, only because I got it for you. He’s stuck at it, you said he wouldn’t … Give ‘im time, he ant got used to the stink yet. I have, dunt bother me now and, (again proud) I can empty bins faster than half of them. You thick prat, the more bins you empty, the less they have to. But they told me I’d get a bonus if I did twenty more than them every day … If they told you Newmillerdam (or local lake) were full of beer, tha’d go get a glass. Don’t be daft, I wouldn’t (pause), it i’nt though, is it? Stop it, the more you tell him he’s thick, the more he’ll believe it. If the cap fits … You’re a bastard. 6

Eddie Pearl

Watch your lip. (Ducking before Eddie can hit her) Where’s

that flaming postman?

Scene 2 Crossfade to stage right, the house in Chertsey. Particular attention must be made to the items on the coffee table. Vernon enters from the breakfast room carrying the Financial Times. Harriet is sitting, contemplating a cup of coffee. He sits down and straightens up the items on the coffee table. This he is seen to do quite often, especially the letter opener.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet

How much money do we pay that woman to cook? (Harriet ignores him). Harriet! Sorry dear, what did you say? I said, “How much housekeeping do you give Mrs Wilkinson”. Vernon dear, don’t upset yourself over breakfast, you’ll give yourself indigestion. It’s the breakfast I’m discussing. Why, what’s wrong with it? What’s right with it … those kidneys should still have been extracting urine … I’m sure they had never seen the grill. You should have had the eggs then. (She walks over to the window and looks out, not listening to what Vernon is saying).

Vernon Harriet

I can’t go to a board meeting on eggs! Go on the train then.

Vernon picks up her coffee cup and sniffs the contents (checking for alcohol).

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

What are you doing? Nothing … oh yes, don’t forget we are having the Bradshaw’s for dinner tonight. (Distantly, not paying attention to Vernon) I thought we might have salmon. Can’t you think of anything more … how shall I say … interesting? Would you like to make a suggestion, dear? Don’t tempt me … The Bradshaw’s are important. (Timidly) I don’t really like them, Vernon. It’s called socialising. But Vernon, I think you do too much, and you’re already chairman of the board. (She sits back down and sips her coffee). You never know when Bradshaw might come in handy … he is a mason …


Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon



I thought he was a solicitor … I suppose I could invite George and Mavis … You will not, I can’t stand either of them and they never know when to go home. He’d have stopped another hour at Dunkirk But, Vernon … “But, Vernon”, nothing. You will entertain the Bradshaws, and you will do it with style and panache. Do I make myself clear? Yes, dear. Are you going to speak to Mrs Wilkinson? I always speak to her at some point during the day. I meant about the kidneys. What kidneys, dear? Kidneys, the bloody kidneys … Have you got a chill in them? … You ought to wear a vest. The bloody kidneys I ate for breakfast. I don’t like it when you swear. Sometimes Harriet, I think you could make a parson swear; and stop answering me back otherwise you know what I will have to do, don’t you? I’m s..s..sorry, Vernon, I will try, but sometimes I feel like … Sometimes you feel what … come on, you feel what? … Speak up woman! (He takes hold of her and shakes her violently). You see; do you see what you do to me. It’s all your fault … you make me do these things. I don’t want to, but you push me to the limit. (Pause). What do you do? P..p..push you to the limit. You will have dinner served at eight o clock precisely. We will have drinks and canapés in the library at seven fifteen … Do you think you can manage that? And do not buy cheap brandy again … you will buy the best … and do make sure the wine matches the food. It’s bad form otherwise. You do not serve dry wine with the dessert. I’m sorry dear, it was that lovely young man in the shop … he insisted it was the best wine to serve with crème brulee; he seemed to know what he was talking about. What young man, what shop?




Harriet Vernon Harriet


Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

I’m sorry Vernon, he obviously didn’t know as much about wine as you do. I will tell him when I see him that you were upset. You will do no such thing. Do you always talk to complete strangers about our personal life? Write a list and send Mrs Wilkinson. How many times do I have to tell you Harriet? (He takes hold of her arm and squeezes very hard). I said, how many times do I have to tell you? Too many, Vernon … you’re hurting me! That, is the general idea … it’s the only thing you seem to understand. Now, what are you going to do? Serve the right wine with the food, canapés at seven thirty … (he squeezes very hard again). Ouch, ouch … I mean seven fifteen … (In a polite, well controlled manner, not aggressive but cool and menacing)

And don’t wear that red dress again, the cleavage is far too low. You looked like a prostitute; and don’t look Bradshaw right in the eye, he’ll mistake it for a come on … he’s known for his dalliances with the opposite sex … bad form. (He lets her arm go and she walks over to the window again). Are you expecting something? Yes, the postman. Tarquin usually writes on a Tuesday. That means more expense. Why? Every time he puts pen to paper he drops big hints at how expensive things are … where’s my cheque book … (He finds his cheque book and writes out a cheque). And this is the last time. Well if you don’t want to finance him, I’ll send him some money myself. (Laughing sarcastically) You’ll send him some money? And where will you get that from? From my allowance. And where do you get your allowance from? Er … well … er … from you … Yes, from me … so you won’t be sending him anything will you, you stupid woman. You do not have any money. Yes dear … but I could get a job and help out … Don’t be so ridiculous. What could you do … you have never worked in your life. 9

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

But I might like to. Doing what? I don’t know, I have never thought that far. Correction, you have never thought. I do that for you, because you are not capable of thinking. I..I..I could maybe start a little business … Yes, and I hinted at that when you wore that red dress … and come away from that window. I’ve never known the postman to be this late. Ah well, no news is good news.

Scene 3 Crossfade to Doncaster. Pearl is still looking out of the window.

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Kevin Pearl Kevin Eddie Pearl

Are you expecting somat? Aye, me premium bonds to come up. Tha ain’t got none. I ‘ave, me dad bought us some years ago. How many? None of your business. Let’s ‘ave a look. You can’t cash ‘em, they’re in my name. Who said anything about cashing ‘em? Your eyebrow was twitching. And … When your eyebrow twitches, you’re up to sumat and its usually sumat to do wi’ money, my money. Our money love … what’s yours is mine. Aye, and what’s yours is yours an’ all. And what do you mean by that? You keep me short. You bloody liar. Last time you gave me more housekeeping … Hitler were knocking on the door. Hitler who? Adolph Hitler. Did he come here, to our house … you never said. Is he for real? I’ve teld you, don’t put ‘im down.



Pearl Kevin Eddie Kevin Pearl Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Pearl Eddie

I would, if the vet would. … So don’t chuffing tempt me. Anyway, I give you enough money, you just don’t manage it right. There’s only so much you can do with an oxtail. What’s an oxtail? Oh, bloody hell! Where do they come from? Where do what come from? Oxtails. They come from sheep. Oh! You’ll just have to cut down. On what? How the bloody hell do I know, I earn the sodding money. What more do you want me to do? Cut down on what you spend. Then you can give me more for housekeeping. Who the chuff do you think you are talking to. You’ll manage on what you’re given … You’re getting as tight as yer fatther. My dads not tight … he’s careful. He’d cut a sweet in ‘alf. Tha’s naught wrong with been careful. That’s rich, your dad’s as tight as a nun’s fanny … Pearl, I’m shocked. Where did you hear language like that? Saturday night; half past eleven; when you get in from the pub, pissed. Kevin! He’s here, postman, go and see what he’s shoved through.

Pearl exits and comes back with two letters.

Pearl Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie

One from me Auntie Elsie, and one from our Sandra. Let’s ‘ave a look. There won’t be any pictures. I can read. It’ll be joined up. You think I’m thick. I know you’re thick!


Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin

I take after you then. Ooh, which one of us still tunes in to ‘Listen With Mother’? I do not … Only because your mother won’t listen to it with you, and you think you’re not allowed to listen to it on your own. Piss off, dad.

Eddie slaps him.

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Kevin Pearl Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl

Eddie Kevin Pearl Eddie

So, come on then, what does number one daughter want? Give me a chance. Just read it will you? OK. (She reads the letter slowly). “Dear Mum and Dad. Just to let you know things are really great here. I’ve made loads of new friends and lectures are just great. Things are a bit tight though, my little job just pays the rent, so there isn’t much left over, but don’t worry I am managing” … If she wants money she can whistle. I’ll have a look in my tin … I’ve been putting a bit by. There should be a couple of quid in there. Er … Er … there’s somat I’ve been meaning to tell you. If you’ve had your sticky fingers in my tin … I only borrowed it. Well you can just unborrow it, put it back; now. I ain’t got it. Where is it then? ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ Don’t you speak to me like that. Mam, he’s put it on ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ … it’s a dog. It’s a what? It’s a dead cert. I’ll give you a dead cert, you thieving bastard … and I swear it’ll be a cert that your dead if that money is not back in that tin when I get back tonight. In your bloody dreams, you’ll get what Mary got. Mary who? Sod off you thieving bastard. Piss off, Pearl … go and scrub some floor, it’s all your good for … come to think about it, I bet you’re not even good at that. 12

Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl

Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Yes she is … me mam’s a good scrubber. Do you want to ‘ear the rest of the letter or not? She doesn’t waste much time getting straight to the point. She in’t actually asking for money, is she? In my book she is, get on wi’ it. … “Don’t worry, I am managing, I have learnt a thousand and one recipes for mince, some of them quite good,” … She wants to give you a lesson then. (Ignoring him) … “but that isn’t the reason for writing. I have some wonderful news for you all.”. I knew it … she’s up the duff. “I have met the most fantastic man.” … What did I tell you … “His name is Tarquin …” … (Spluttering into his tea) His name is what? … “His name is Tarquin Pollock,” … What! … “…Tarquin Pollock, and he is studying to be a doctor.”… Oh, my baby has fallen for a bloke who is going to be a doctor. Fallen for a bloke who’s name is Tarquin … bollocks! No, me mam said “Pollock”. And I’m saying bollocks. Nobody on this earth is called Tarquin. Well he is so shur up and let me finish. You have finished as far as I’m concerned. … “And, we have got engaged.” … Up the duff. … “I can’t wait for you to meet him …”. Meet him, I dun’t think so … I’d bloody die laughing … ‘ere Tarquin do you want bitter or mild? (Mimicking posh accent). Pimms number bloody one please, two cherries … Is that somat to do with sex? I think it’s wonderful. You bloody would. She wants us to meet him. I bet she bloody does, well I aren’t paying for no wedding … I told you, she’s up the duff. 13

Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Kevin Pearl Eddie

I thought she was up at Lancaster. Shut up, idiot. Him that’s knocked her up can pay for the privilege. She wants us to meet him so he can ‘officially’ ask for her hand. Well he didn’t bother to ask for ‘owt else before he had it, why bother to ask for her chuffing hand? Because he has probably got good manners, which is a lot more than can be said for you. Bollocks. Po… Don’t! They’re having a bit of an engagement do, and they want us to come. Me and all? Yeah, of course you and all … Oh, bollocks.

Kevin opens his mouth.

Pearl/Eddie Don’t. Scene 4 Crossfade to Chertsey. Harriet is still looking out of the window offstage.

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Oh, here he is now. Don’t go chasing him, it’s bad form. What on earth do you think I am? A rottweiller? No dear, a pampered french poodle more like. I do so enjoy reading Tarquin’s letters, it must be good fun to be at university. It had better not be “good fun”, he is there to work, not to play.

Harriet exits and comes back with a few letters. She sorts through them, opens the one from Tarquin, and reads the first couple of lines. She gives Vernon his mail which he opens with his paper knife, and which he makes a point of flourishing.

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Oh, dear … oh, dear. “Oh, dear”, what? You are not going to like this. Woman, stop waffling on and give me the letter.

Harriet passes the letter over still mumbling “Oh, dear”. Vernon reads from the letter.



Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

“I hope you are both well and I hope you are going to like my news.” … Hmppph … “I have met the most wonderful girl and we are going to get engaged (when I have asked her father for her hand of course). You are going to love her. She is called Sandra Heptinstall and she comes from Doncaster inYorkshire.” ‘She is called Sandra Heptinstall’ … nobody on God’s earth is called Sandra Heptinstall. It’s like something from a Morecambe and Wise show … Sandra Heptinstall from Yorkshire. Oh, I can just see her … blonde, busty and thick … and from a council estate. She can’t be thick dear if she’s up at Lancaster. He never said she was at Lancaster; she’s probably working in the local chip shop. No dear, it says here that she is reading bio-chemistry. I don’t care if she’s reading ‘War And Peace’ … she is not marrying my son … nobody called Sandra is going to marry a Pollock. But if he has set his heart on marriage then … Set his heart on nothing. She can, and will, be bought off. It’s surprising what the offer of money can do to those who don’t have any. But if he loves her, Vernon. Love has nothing to do with anything at his age … it’s all down to sex, and it’s dammed obvious that’s what she has got to offer him … ah well, that can be sorted. Nothing a good prostitute can’t offer. Vernon! Look Harriet, I am not going to allow some working class strumpet to stand in the way of Tarquin’s future. He is going to make Harley Street and if that means paying for someone to alleviate the need for him to have sex with a person called Sandra, then that is what he must do. I will pay for him to have his desires fulfilled and you will say nothing about the matter … to anyone … do you hear! And may I ask how you are going to find a prostitute, do they have them advertised at your lodge meetings? I will not discuss this situation again. End of conversation. But … I said, the end!


Scene 5 Crossfade back to Doncaster.

Kevin Pearl Eddie

Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

I wonder what his parents are like. Probably very nice people. Well when they see her, they’ll wonder what their lad is marrying into, cause they always say the daughter ends up looking like her mother, and just look at the state of that. Why do you have to be so awful? Cause I enjoy it. Let’s face it, you’re a waste of space. And I don’t want egg and bloody chips for tea again. Give us some more money then. Come on we’re off to work, I can’t stomach much more of that letter or that breakfast, or Godzilla moaning … (mimicking) “Give us some more money then” … You ought to get off your fat arse and get some more hours in … Come on, Kevin. I ant finished. Shove it in some bread. Aw, dad. Do I ‘ave to, the beans allas fall out. Just take what you can, cause there’s no point throwing it to the birds … cause they won’t eat it neither! I’ll swing for you, Eddie Heptinstall. I’ll give you the bloody rope. It’ll be worth it to see you six foot under. Goodbye you ugly slapper. When God gave out the faces, he modelled yours on a bears arse, (shouting at the door) … having a crap!

Exit Eddie, followed by Kevin.


Bye, mam.

Lights up on Chertsey to show both men storming out and slamming the doors behind them.

Pearl/Harriet I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Pearl takes out her handkerchief and blows her nose, Harriet gets out a bottle of vodka from inside a plant and pours a large measure into her coffee cup. Fade out Chertsey. Lights up on Doncaster.


(She closes her eyes tightly and shouts) Thomas, Thomas

are you

there, I’d love a cuppa. Enter Thomas, Pearl’s fantasy, carrying a china cup and saucer. He is wearing just a Gstring (or is dressed to kill).


Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas

Pearl Thomas

Tea madam, milk and one sugar. Oh, not David Niven today. I fancy Humphrey Bogart or Jimmy Cagney. Ok maam, your wish is my command, you want a bit of rough. Oh, for heavens sake no … I’ve just got rid of a bit of rough. In that case may I suggest Cary Grant or Clark Gable … a bit of romance maybe? Oh yes, just the job … but I don’t want a sissy. A bit of New York Bronx maybe … hey lady, howya doin’? Wanna coffee and maybe one of those bagels you love so much? … Or a bit of Southern hospitality? … Maam, why don’t you just sit your lovely self down there and let me fetch you a little ole mint julep, or maybe we could drift off down to New Orleans and imagine you are on the great ‘Mississippi Belle’ with a good old colonial Frenchman. … Pardon, excusez moi, may I say how charming you are looking this morning … I need a bit of pampering and I don’t care which accent you use. OK, I’ll just do a few and you stop me when you find the one you like … (Thomas now speaks in a variety of accents until Pearl calls (In a very upper crust accent)

out the one she likes the most).

Pearl you are the light of my life, my one true love. You’re my world, my planet, my universe. Being able to breathe the same air as you is likened only to kissing stars and chasing rainbows. You are my passion and the reason for my sanity. Without you my life would be meaningless, My waking moment’s useless, And my sleeping hours would be bereft if you were not there beside me. I want to hold your hand and gaze into those bottomless pools of liquid sea that are your eyes. I want to kiss your ruby red lips and drink in the vision that is your body. You are the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo. You are likened only to the goddesses of love



That one, I’ll have that one today … and Thomas, (she moves as if to kiss him), go and do the washing up, cock! And when you’re done, I’ll have a chorus of something.

Thomas clears the table humming “I Feel Pretty”. Crossfade to Chertsey. Harriet is standing looking offstage waiting for Vernon to drive off. She goes over to the plant pot, lifts out the plant and takes out a bottle of vodka, she sits down fills up her tea cup and drinks it straight down, puts her head back and closes her eyes. Crossfade to Doncaster. Thomas is now standing with rubber gloves on, and nothing else but an apron and G-string.

Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl

That’s the washing up done Pearl, now what? ‘Cheek To Cheek’, I think. The full works? Why not.

MUSIC : ‘CHEEK TO CHEEK’ (FRED ASTAIRE) They dance, and after a few moments, fade lights in Doncaster and then fade song out. Exit Thomas.

Scene 6 Lights up on both houses. Harriet is seated with her precious bottle. Pearl comes down into a single, front stage, spotlight as the lights dim slightly on both houses.


I married Eddie when I were seventeen … thought I were pregnant, but it were a false alarm. Too late to back out though … me mother tried to talk me out of it, but I were a stubborn cow. Said I loved him … that’s a laugh. I think I were in love with the idea of being in love. I should have seen straight through him. We fell out on our honeymoon! I should have known what the rest of my life were going to be like. As soon as he’d ‘ad his end away, he buggered off to the club … he said I couldn’t go cause it were men only … bollocks. He likes a drink … if there were a nip in the air, he’d try to drink it. That’s how it’s been for the last God knows how many years … He in’t all bad, it’s just that he treats me like somat he’s fetched in on his shoes … I can’t remember the last time he were nice to me. If it want for Thomas here, I think I’d have been put in a loony bin years ago. Oh, and he’s too handy with his fists … but I give him back what he gives me. I don’t want it to be like that though … I want to be loved and cherished and the only way that will ever happen is if by some quirk of fate I change into a greyhound. I suppose if truth be known, I’m miserable. Unhappy and miserable. I know what I ought to do … leave him; but where would I go, and what 18

would I do. I can’t afford to run a house on what I earn and who’d look after our Kevin … he in’t the brightest star in the sky. Thank the Lord our Sandra has got out, and I hope she never comes back, because the last thing on this earth I would want for her is what I have got here. I’m glad she’s met someone called Tarquin, and I’m glad he’s going to be a doctor, and I’m bloody glad she’s going to have a better life than what I’ve had. I don’t think there is a woman on this planet who is as miserable as I am. Pearl sits down and Harriet takes her place in the spotlight.


Miserable is an understatement. Suicidal is more the terminology I would use. If it wasn’t for my friend ‘Vladivir’, I think I would have left this mortal world years ago. Tarquin is the only reason I turn to my friend here rather than the alternative. My husband is a bully. A manipulative coldhearted bully. I did love him once. Years ago when the skies were bluer and the grass was greener. I loved him with all my heart and soul. A soul I sold to the devil. I was young and naïve and obsessed with finding the man of my dreams … oh, and not to forget the man of my mother’s dreams. And behold there he was. Ambitious, outgoing, handsome and good stock … oh, that was so important to my parents … good breeding stock. And how he fitted that bill. I was of course a virgin, like most of the well brought up young ladies of our era … and our wedding night was a revelation. I was eager, apprehensive and excited, I thought making love was going to be the best thing that could ever happen between two consenting adults. How wrong could one young misguided fool be? How was I to know I had married a control freak, a man who thought any woman who even considered enjoying sex was a wanton hussy. No, my idealistic thoughts were dashed that night, cruelly thrown against the rocks of life. Smashed into a million smithereens that now float around in the dark and dismal chasm that is my marriage. My body is numb and I feel as though I am losing my mind. I’m glad that Tarquin has escaped my husband’s ideals. Glad he is hundreds of miles away from the grimness in this house. I pray he will find a love that is warm and giving, and I hope that Sandra, whoever she is, will love him unconditionally and that she will devote herself to him in a way that I will never know or experience. I hope the 19

love they share is strong enough to prevent them from ever turning to the vicarious alternative. A cold colourless substitute with the incongruous name of ‘Vladivir’. The lights fade on both houses.

Scene 7 Fade up on the apron. Sandra and Tarquin are discovered. Both of them are worried about their families reaction to their engagement; for the same reason in a different way.

Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra

What do you think your parents will say when they get the letter? Do you want the truth? I’ll tell you what mine will have said, and then yours won’t sound as bad. Go on then. Mum will have read the letter out loud, ‘cause me dad has trouble with words of more than one syllable. Then dad will have clouted our Kevin round the head for saying something he shouldn’t have, and then he’ll say something on the lines of, “Who in all this world is called Tarquin”, and then he’ll make some inane comment about not being able to take you down the boozer cause all his mates will laugh at you. And then he’ll say I’m pregnant or in his words, “up the duff”. Why should he think that you’re pregnant? If you live on our estate, that’s the only reason to get engaged. Well, we’ll have to show him the alternative, won’t we? Go on then … tell us what your parents will be saying. Mum will be pleased … and I know she will love you … that’s if you meet her on a good day. Dad on the other hand will be doing his best to think of a way to talk me out of it. He will probably try and bribe me, or you for that matter. He’ll be saying, “It’s ‘bad form’ to marry anyone who lives north of Watford …”. What are we going to do? We are getting engaged whether they like it or not. But they are never going to get on, never in a million years. Well they’re not exactly going to be seeing a lot of each other are they? But it will make it awkward at social gatherings; and what about the wedding? 20



Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

There’s always Gretna Green, and besides, I’m not bothered about a big white wedding. As long as we’re married, I don’t care where or how. I just want to be with you. You’re right, this is probably the only time they are ever going to meet, and if we live somewhere in between, we won’t have to see either of them too often. I’ve always like Stratford upon Avon. Norfolk is nice, we went to Great Yarmouth once. There you are then, as long as there’s a hospital there, we’ll be OK. But what about Harley Street? What about it? Your dad has set his sights on it. Yes, he has. Tough luck. At least mum will be happy for us … she’ll be so impressed that I am going to marry a doctor. What is it about mums? They always know what’s right for you … I bet they’ll get along, even if our dads don’t. But he’s got to be impressed with your qualifications, even I didn’t get straight A’s. What’s your mum like? She’s sweet, she gets very nervous in company, but I think that’s something to do with dad. Why? Well, he always seems to be pulling her up over something trivial; you know the kind of thing, wrong wine, wrong dress, wrong word, wrong everything in his eyes. Does he hit her? No … I don’t think so … she is clumsy though, always walking into doors and tripping up. He hits her. Do you think so? I know so … I’ve lived with it long enough. You mean, your father hits your mother? Frequently. In front of you? Yep. And she lets him?




Sandra Tarquin Sandra

Tarquin Sandra

Tarquin Sandra

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

No she doesn’t ‘let him’, but there’s not a lot she can do to stop him. She does hit him back though, when she gets a chance. You know, now you come to mention it, mother did seem to suffer an awful lot of little accidents … well I never. If I ever see him lay a finger on her, I’ll kill him. No you won’t, because you’ll never see him. How do you know? Because there are two types of abusers. The first one, like my dad, just lashes out when he can’t get his own way … he doesn’t think of it as domestic violence; he is the man of the house and what he says should go … but it doesn’t, because my mother answers him back. If things aren’t done the way he wants them doing, he hits her. It’s the only kind of discipline he understands. I think he must love her, but he makes her life so miserable. The second type is the control freak, that sounds like your dad. They dictate everything their partner says or does and if they don’t conform, they abuse. (Pause). I bet you can’t guess what my mother has … she has a fantasy man. A what? You know, like children have imaginary friends, well she has this fantasy man. He comes in to her mind and she pretends that he’s real, that he is the man my dad will never be. An escape. Yes, that’s the only thing that keeps her sane … when I have qualified, the first thing I want to do is try to get mum out of that hell-hole. Would she want to go? You know what all the psychiatric manuals say? No go, on, I’m intrigued. That the abusers have to be in control at every stage, but the people they inflict their anger on actually enjoy a certain part of the abuse. Never … nobody in their right mind would put up with it. So why do they? Probably because they have nowhere else to go. No, they see the brutality as their fault. But it isn’t.




Dammed right it isn’t … you have to re-educate people, show them that they are perfectly sane. The only way to do that is to get them out. Because bully’s don’t change. They promise they will, they beg, cry, even get down on their knees, and for a few weeks things will be normal and then something trivial will just set it all off again … and each time it gets worse, and from what you’ve said, your father belongs to that exclusive club … I hope it’s not hereditary. Darling I have not got a vicious bone in my body … well maybe one and it’s not really classed as a bone, but if you want to find out how vicious it can be … grrrr come here …

Tarquin pulls Sandra into his arms. Fade to black.

Scene 8 A few days later. Lights up on both Chertsey and Doncaster. Enter Pearl and Harriet, both reading letters from their children.





Pearl Harriet

“Dear mum, please don’t let dad see this letter, This is Tarquin’s mum’s telephone number. Would you go to the phone box and ring her before five o’ clock, that’s when his dad will be at work. We think you ought to speak to each other before the engagement.” “I would like you to speak to Sandy’s mum before you meet at the engagement party, which by the way is going to be held here in Lancaster in the student bar. That’s before dad gets any ideas to hold it at the golf club. Sandy’s parents would be totally at a loss in the company of dad’s cronies.” “I think you and Harriet have a lot in common and it would be nice for you to get to know each other a little bit before the party, and then you won’t feel so alienated. I know you will want to speak to Thomas first so please let me know what he says. Love you, Sandy.” “It will be alright mum, you won’t need your usual talk with Vladivir, because Sandy’s mum sounds really nice. I love you and don’t you mention this to dad. I will ring him at the office.” Oh, chuffing hell … how does she know about Thomas? Oh, Tarquin, how do you know about Vladivir? What am I going to say to Sandy’s mum, I don’t know … the weather, the engagement, my husband’s dislike of common people …



And what does our Sandra think I am going to talk to Mrs ‘High-And-Mighty’ about? The weather, the engagement, my husband’s dislike of anybody who earns more than five quid a week? Harriet/Pearl Oh Tarquin/Sandra, what have you done? Pearl puts on her coat and hurries out to the phone box. Harriet finds yet another bottle of Vladivir. Doncaster fades to black. Lights up on apron (or wherever is used to represent the telephone box). Pearl dials the number and the phone rings in Harriet’s room.


Pearl Harriet

Hello, Chertsey 2687, Harriet Pollock speaking. (Silence … Pearl opens and closes her mouth not knowing what to say). Hello, Chertsey 2687, this is a bad connection, please speak up. Er, er, er … er er … is that Mrs Bollocks … oh shit, I mean Pollock. Hello, who is this? (Silence). Have you pressed Button B?

Pearl looks offstage, presses Button B and the money drops.

Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl

It’s me. And who is me? Pearl … er, Mrs Heptinstall … er … Sandra’s mum. Oh, yes Mrs Heptinstall, yes hello. Hello.


Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet

Pearl Harriet

How are you? (Silence). Mrs Heptinstall. Can you hear me? (Pearl nods). How much money have you put in the box? Fourpence. Read me the number off the dial and I will ring you back. Doncaster 8686. Right put the phone down and I will ring you back. (They both put the phone down and Harriet dials 100 for the operator). Hello operator, could you please connect me to Doncaster 8686, thank you. (The payphone rings). Hello, Mrs Heptinstall … are you still there? (Pearl nods again). Could you speak up please I can’t hear you. I hant said ‘owt…anything…er ‘owt Oh.


Pearl/Harriet Nice weather we’re having. Silence.


Pearl/Harriet Engaged! Silence.

Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl

This came out of the blue, don’t you think? Just a bit. Are you pleased About what? The engagement. Oh aye … I’m just glad she’s got out. Out of where? Out of this town, out of this estate, out of this house. Oh … yes, I suppose in a way, I agree. Why? Why what? Why do you agree that it’s good that Sandra’s got out of this house? No … sorry I meant I’m glad that Tarquin has got out of this house. Oh … don’t you talk posh. Do I? Yeah … it sounds nice … better than what I talk like. Oh, I don’t know. It’s sort of … er, well … Common? Earthy. Same as common luv … don’t worry you can’t offend me. Why? ‘Cause I’m unoffendable. Oh I see. No you don’t. No I don’t what. No you don’t see. Don’t I? No. Oh. It’s like this luv, after living with my old man for the last God knows how many years and listening to his daily rantings and ravings, anything that sounds ‘owt like an insult just goes ovver my head … so there is nothing you can say that would offend


Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl

Harriet Pearl

me, unless you started slagging off our Sandra and then I would have to punch yer lights out … gor it? No not really … your old man, is that your father you are referring to? No … me husband. Oh … I see, and I suppose punching my lights out means what I think it means. Right lady … no one is allowed to say anything wrong about our Sandra, except me. I’m just the same with Tarquin … Vernon is always being derogatory. Derogawhat? You know … what you said … ‘slagging off’ was’nt it? Oh, aye … we ‘ave a bit of a language problem dunt we? (Laughing) I like you … I like you an all. We ought to meet. I dunt see ‘ow. Neither do I. Vernon won’t let me out of his sight, unless it is to go to the shops and then he prefers Mrs Wilkinson to go. Who’s Mrs Wilkinson? Our housekeeper. Bloody ‘ell … oh sorry, pardon my French. (Laughing again) Oh Mrs Heptinstall, you’re like a breath of fresh air. Oh, aye up, call me Pearl, love. Pearl, I think you and I are going to get on like a house on fire, and please call me Harriet. Thank the Lord for that, cause I were frightened to death I were going to call you Mrs Bollocks. (Laughing again) Pearl, will you come to the phone again at the same time tomorrow, I would love to talk to you again. I dunt see why not, as long as you ring me. I can’t fork out four pence at the drop of an ‘at you know … four pence up ‘ere would buy a bag of chips. Do you think we could be friends? ‘Appen we could … even if you do talk like the bloody Queen!


Harriet Pearl


Pearl Harriet Pearl

Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl

Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet Pearl Harriet

Can I tell you something … well I’m going to anyway … I’ve never had a friend before. Come to think on it, neither ‘ave I. Our ‘ouse is not what you call a friendly zone, not wi’ Eddie burping and farting like he does … and when he in’t doing that he’s ‘aving a go at me. Who in their right mind would want to come to our house and watch him and our Kevin seeing who can pick the biggest bogey … do you still want to be my friend? More than anything in the world. You have given me something to look forward to and nothing you can say about bogeys or … you know … … farting … … or farting … will put me off. (Laughing) It sounds different when it’s said posh. (She tries to imitate Harriet). “Farting” … Right, I’d best be off. I’ll have to call at ‘chippy’. I ant done him any tea and he’ll go apeshit if it int on the table when he gets in. Yes, I’d better go and see if all is well in our kitchen as well. What are you ‘aving for your tea then? Dinner … we have dinner at night. Dinner at night … that’s a bit queer int it? We have dinner at dinner time and tea at tea time. What about Sunday? Do you ‘ave dinner at night on a Sunday? No, we have Sunday lunch, which is in fact Sunday dinner, and we have it at about two o’clock. So why dunt you call it Sunday dinner then? I don’t really know … but we’re having company tonight and we’re having salmon. Oh, I like a bit of salmon mysen although it’s not often I can afford a tin of that. Oh, it isn’t out of a tin! ‘Course it’s out ‘on a tin, what other kind of salmon is there? Well it’s a big fish, and you steam it in a special tin, and serve it with a hollandaise sauce. What’s that when it’s at ‘ome? Well it’s made of eggs and butter and lemon juice, it’s pale cream in colour and creamy to taste.



Harriet Pearl

Oh, you mean salad cream … well fancy salmon not coming out of a tin … I knew it were a fish like … I ain’t thick, but I never knew it came from a fish, if you know what I mean … (The sound of a church clock chiming five is heard). Oh my God, is that five ‘o clock, I’d better get my skates on or Eddie will string me up by me finger tips … see you Harriet … tara. Goodbye Pearl and it’s been lovely talking to you. Aye, you and all … so long.

Scene 9 Pearl hangs up the phone and runs offstage, returning immediately into the room in Doncaster carrying a parcel of fish and chips. She hurriedly opens them up and puts them onto a plate on the table, runs off into the kitchen, comes back with a teapot and pours tea into a large mug. She sits down and as soon as she does so, Eddie comes in.

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

What the fuck’s that? Your tea. Fish and bloody chips! It int Friday, it’s bloody Monday! I know what chuffin day it is … I were behind. Behind … Aye sat on the bloody thing … Look Eddie, like it or lump it, please yoursen. (He picks up his tea, has a drink and spits it out) No sugar, you stupid cow!

Pearl spoons sugar into his tea and stirs it, while Eddie looks at the table and notices there is no bread buttered.

Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie

Pearl Eddie

Where’s the bread? In the bread bin. What did you say? I said the bread is in the bread bin. Are you answering me back? Looks like it. You sit on your fat arse all day, whilst I’m out sweating my bollocks off, and when I come home you haven’t even cooked me a bloody tea. You put fish and bloody chips on the table, cold bloody fish and chips, and you haven’t even bothered to butter some bloody bread. You useless bitch. I’m sorry, Eddie. (Mimicking) “I’m sorry Eddie” … you will be sorry when I’ve finished with you.

He picks up the food from the plate and rubs it into her face, then hits her across the face.


Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl

Stop it, Eddie. (Mimicking) “Stop it Eddie” … say you’re sorry. I’ve said I’m sorry. Well say it again, and mean it this time. (Sobbing as he grinds the food into her face again) I’m sorry, Eddie, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

He forces her to her knees and then makes her eat the food.


Now you eat it bitch … every scrap, and then next time you might think twice before giving me cold fish and chips. (He makes her eat every crumb and then he takes her by the arm roughly).


Now, you will get your arse into that kitchen, and you will make me tea. Do you hear what I say … a tea that is fit for a bloke who has been grafting all day. And if I ever come home again to fish and chips when it is Monday, you will find you will not be able to sit on your arse again … not for at least a week. Alright? Yes, Eddie.

Pearl starts to get up to go to the kitchen. Eddie knocks her back down and kicks her roughly.



On second thoughts, don’t bother. I’m off to the pub. You’ve put me right off me food, you ugly cow … and get that mess cleaned up before I get back. Piss off, Eddie.

She shuts her eyes and cringes waiting to see if he heard her or not. She sits down and sighs. Enter Thomas, dressed in jeans and T-shirt.

Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl

Not now, Thomas. I just thought you might need some company. No thanks. I think I want to be on my own. I’ll just sit here with you for a while, OK? OK … I bet it’s not like this in bloody Chertsey.

Fade to black.

Scene 10 Lights up on Chertsey. Harriet and Vernon are in eveningwear. Harriet has a glass of vodka in her hand. As the lights come up, Vernon knocks the glass out of her hand in temper.



Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

If you ever show me up like that again, I will not be responsible for my actions. Do I make myself clear? (Silence. He raises his voice). I said, do I make myself clear? I have never been as embarrassed in my life. You are a disgrace. But Vernon … what did I do? I don’t understand. (In a very controlled, low-key voice) What did you do … it was what you didn’t do, you stupid bitch. You sat there all night like a dummy … you didn’t join in any of the conversations and you were drinking that wine like it was going out of fashion … bad form, Harriet … and I told you about wearing anything low cut. You were sending out signals that Bradshaw clearly took as a ‘come on’. I saw him staring at you on more than one occasion. I’m not having it, do you understand? I will be a laughing stock. You are supposed to be the wife of the company director, and you look like a slut. But I took great care in my dress for tonight, I thought you liked it. Liked it! It’s loathsome, just like you … and Harriet, you are wearing far too much make up.

He takes a handkerchief out of his pocket and starts rubbing at her face.

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet

Vernon, you’re hurting me! Hurting you! Nothing more than you deserve. You’ve hurt me all night; you have hurt my sense of decency, you have hurt my business, and you have hurt my feelings by putting your body on display. Harriet you deserve to be hurt now, do you understand? I, I … I … I … I said, do you understand? (In a very small voice) Yes. I can’t hear you, Harriet. Yes.

Vernon takes her roughly by the arm and speaks right into her face.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

You deserve to be punished, don’t you. (Harriet nods). I can’t hear you. Yes. Yes, what? I deserve to be punished. Good, I’m glad we agree on that.


Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Please Vernon, don’t hit me. But Harriet, you agreed that you deserve to be punished. Vernon, please don’t … no please … You have behaved like a whore all night so now you can finish the job. Take off the dress. (Harriet ignores him). I said, take off the dress …

He rips the dress off her. She remains standing in her underskirt.

Harriet Vernon

Please Vernon, don’t … But you like it, don’t you Harriet … DON’T YOU!

Black out.

Scene 11 Lights up on apron.

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

Sandra Tarquin Sandra

Well, no news is good news I suppose. I hope we haven’t made things worse. From what you have said, I don’t think things at home could be much worse. Why can’t they see what they are doing to each other? Why put up with it? Money. Pardon? Money … my mum doesn’t earn enough to keep herself and our Kevin, so dad has got her where he wants her. I suppose the same could be said for my mother. She has never worked in her life, I don’t think she would know where to start. Her parents had money and so has dad, so she hasn’t had to. You know, I’ve been thinking about what you said about domestic violence. It’s hard to believe isn’t it? I can’t imagine my father actually hitting my mother. It doesn’t bear thinking about. You know I’m really worried about her now … I think I might go down this weekend, what do you think? Do you want to come with me? I think that’s a great idea, but I think I’ll go to Doncaster and see how the land lays there. Good thinking, and then we can tell them exactly what we have in mind for our engagement party. I love you, Mr Pollock.


Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

So do I. What! I love you … idiot! We’re never going to get like our parents are we? Never in a million years …

Fade to black.

Scene 12 Lights up on Doncaster. It is the next morning. Breakfast time is over and Pearl is clearing the table. Kevin is reading his comic and Eddie is reading the paper.

Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie

Int me mam speaking to you, dad? No. Bliss, in’t it. Why in’t she speaking to you? Mind yer own business.

Enter Pearl.

Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Kevin Pearl Kevin Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl

I’ll tell you why I aren’t speaking to him … ‘cause he’s a prat. Ah, but you love me, don’t you. Love you? You must be joking. Come here and give your old man a kiss. No. I’ll buy you a new frock. No. And a pair of shoes. No … anyway how come you’re flush wi’ brass. His dog came in. Which dog? ‘Whistle Down The Wind’. Did it now? Gobby bugger. So you can give me back my brass then. You’re a hard woman Pearl. Give us a kiss and then I might give you a quid or two. I ain’t kissing you, and you will give me back exactly what you nicked out of my tin. Give us a kiss first. Go on mam, give him a kiss. What’s up Pearl, what you got ‘dog on for? You know bloody well why I’ve got ‘dog on. 32

Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie

You shouldn’t have given me cold fish and chips. I said I were sorry, I could have put them in the oven for five minutes, but no, you got to get yer fists out, ant you. I’d ‘ad an hard day. No you didn’t, you skived off for most of it. Shut thee gob, Kevin. Skived off did you … so it were a load of bollocks about grafting ‘ard all day. You’re a lying git, Eddie Heptinstall. Come here … I’m sorry I hit you, but you provoked me, like you allas do. Say it again, say you’re sorry again. Don’t push your luck, and to make up for it you can make me a meat and tattie pie, with cabbage. Farting tackle, dad. We’ll have a competition lad, whoever does the best fart, buys the beers. You know I allas win dad. Aye lad, you allas win, so you’ll get to buy the beer again. Don’t you ever get fed up of losing? (In mock sincerity) Aye lad, I’d love to beat you, but the best man allas wins.

He slaps Kevin on the back. Kevin looks as pleased as punch.

Pearl Eddie

Priceless. Come on Kevin, the bins are calling us

Exit Eddie and Kevin. Pearl sits down with a cup of tea. Enter Thomas.

Thomas Pearl Thomas

Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas

(Australian accent) G’day Pearl

how yer doing? Better than yesterday Thomas, and dunt do Australian, I dunt like it. Why don’t you just leave him? I don’t know why you put up with it … Neither do I, but where would I go if I did leave him. I can’t keep mysen; and there’s our Kevin to think about. You deserve better. Do I, Thomas? You are a nice woman, Pearl Heptinstall. You care about people, and that counts for a lot in my book.



Thomas Pearl

Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas

I was speaking to that Mrs Pollock yesterday, her who’s son is marrying our Sandra, she sounds nice … sounded a bit lonely if you ask me … said she dunt have any friends. She must be hard up if she wants me as a friend. Why’s that? Well I’m no God’s gift, and I aren’t exactly overrun by women wanting to share their precious moments with me; ‘ow many friends do I ‘ave? You’ve got me, anyway don’t put yourself down, Pearl. Eddie does that enough for both of you. Take some pride in yourself. I can hardly share you with her, can I. I mean you don’t really exist, do you. Well if I don’t exist, you’re as nutty as a fruit cake, aren’t you. I suppose you’re right. I’m always right. I don’t know what lies ahead, Thomas … and I don’t think I want to. I think there is going to be trouble, and a lot of it. There may be trouble, ahead …


Scene 13 Lights up on Chertsey. Fade music. Harriet has a black eye and is sitting nursing a cup of coffee. Enter Vernon.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet

Look old girl, I’m really sorry about last night, it was bad form. Yes, it was. You shouldn’t do things that upset me. No, Vernon. Right that’s that then. We shall say no more about it. I’ve made a small increase in your allowance, so off you go shopping today and buy yourself something nice. I think we might have a weekend away as well … play a bit of golf … maybe a rubber or two of bridge. What do you say, old girl. Fine, whatever you want. Well don’t sound so enthusiastic. Sorry Vernon … that would be lovely.



Good, see you at dinner … don’t forget to take my suits to the cleaners, and I’ve ordered some records … Maria Callas and Mario Lanza. Be a good girl and pick them up for me, you’ll love them, I know I do. Bye.

He comes over and plants a kiss on her cheek, she tries to turn away but he turns her face back.

Vernon Harriet

Goodbye, Harriet. (Spoken in a monotone) Have

a nice day, Vernon.

Exit Vernon. Harriet goes straight to the plant pot and fills her coffee cup to the top with vodka.


Take my suits to the cleaners; pick up my records; play a rubber of bridge, sit there like a dummy whilst you hit your stupid little ball into a stupid little hole; sit there like a dummy whilst you hit me … I’m mad, totally stark raving mad. And … Mario bloody Lanza! I hate Mario Lanza, and I hate you too, Vernon. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!

She drinks the vodka in one go and hurls the cup across the room. Enter Tarquin, carrying a small overnight bag.


Hello mum, is everything alright?

Harriet looks up in sheer surprise and slight terror that Tarquin might have seen her throw the cup. He goes over and picks up the pieces.



Everything is fine darling, I just dropped … it slipped … you know. What on earth are you doing here? … Nothing wrong is there? Nothing whatsoever. I had some free time, so I thought I’d pop home and see how our news went down.

Harriet turns round. Tarquin notices her black eye.


Mum … what happened to your face?

Harriet is embarrassed and doesn’t know what to say. Her mind races to come up with a feasible excuse.

Harriet Tarquin

What, this … it’s nothing … It doesn’t look like nothing to me. Come here and let me have a look.

He touches her face and she winces.



Tarquin Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin


Tarquin Harriet Tarquin




Like I said it’s nothing … I was so silly, I went to get, er … something out of the, er … kitchen cupboard and this enormous glass dish fell out … smashed to smithereens. Mrs Wilkinson had not put it away properly. I had words with her … nice dish … it’s a shame … Mum, did dad do this? What? Dad … do this … no … don’t be silly … it was an accident … I told you. And I don’t believe you … you’ve had too many ‘accidents’. No I haven’t … The broken arm … the perforated eardrum … two cracked ribs … concussion … countless black eyes … I haven’t had a black eye for years, until this … Yes, the amazing flying glass dish … I know you haven’t had a black eye for years, only because dad got clever … hitting you where it doesn’t show. You’ve never thought your dad had hit me before, so why suddenly start saying it now. You don’t know what you’re talking about … Oh, yes I do … Mother, it has to stop. I didn’t realise this was happening, not until Sandra pointed it out … Sandra … what … I don’t understand … Oh, it happens elsewhere you know … Sandra’s dad is always hitting her mother, except he’s a bit more open about it … he doesn’t care who knows and she tries to give back as good as she gets. You’re wrong. Your father doesn’t hit me … I mean … well you know what I am like. I’m always getting things wrong and your father, well you know, he’s a perfectionist … I do irritate him slightly, he does get a little bit cross with me sometimes … Mother, my dad is a control freak. He’s not a perfectionist, he’s a manipulative bully and you have got to stop this before he kills you. I think your over-reacting, Tarquin. Your father wouldn’t kill me, he loves me.




He loves himself and the hold he has over you. Men like my father are incapable of real love so please don’t try to defend him. Since Sandra told me about her parents, I have thought back over the years and remembered all your little accidents, and the circumstances and the weird behaviour that went on in this house … and now all the little pieces fit together like an almighty jig-saw puzzle. And mother, I don’t like that picture one little bit. I’ve started reading up on domestic violence, and I don’t like that either. You and Sandra’s mother are in the same boat, and there is only one solution … and that is to leave. I don’t want to talk about this any more, Tarquin.

Tarquin goes over to the plant pot and lifts out the bottle of vodka.


No mother, I don’t suppose you do. So here you are, talk to your friend instead.

Fade to black on Chertsey.

MUSIC : ‘CHEEK TO CHEEK’ (FRED ASTAIRE) Scene 14 Lights up on Doncaster. Fade Music. Pearl is just finishing off her dance routine with Thomas. Enter Sandra. She stands watching the finale and then applauds.

Pearl Thomas Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl

Sandra Pearl Sandra

(Breathless) Oh,

our Sandra, you gave me the fright of my life. (Exiting) Hello Sandra. Goodbye Sandra. You looked like you were enjoying yourself. Aye, a bit of exercise never ‘urt anyone. You ought to go out dancing or something, if you enjoy it that much. Aye, and who’s going to take me, yer dad? Yes, you have a point … where is the miserable old bugger? ‘E’ll be here soon. ‘E’ll have a shock when ‘e sees you … which leads me in nicely to what yer doing ‘ere. Well, that’s a nice welcome. Oh love I didn’t mean it like that, come ‘ere and gi’ us an hug (They embrace). I ‘ave missed you love … it int the same now you’re gone. You mean dad is more of a bully than usual. You know yer dad love, you can’t change ‘im. No mum, but you can change. 37

Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl

Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl

What for, love. I’m alright as I am. So you are ecstatically happy are you? Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but there are people wurss off than me. I don’t care about other people, I care about you, and if you were dancing with Thomas, then my dad has been at it again … hasn’t he. It were my fault. What did you do this time … No sugar in his tea? You didn’t stir it right? Someat like that. So go on then, enlighten me. I did as you asked me and went and rang Tarquin’s mam and we got talking and the time passed and it were too late to cook ‘owt so I went to ‘chippy’ and ‘e were late home and they were cold. So why didn’t he just warm them up? I hadn’t done ‘im any bread and butter. So he lost it, and you ended up … (She shakes her head in amazement). I don’t think I want to know. It’s OK now, he’s apologised. Oh well, that’s alright, we’ll say no more then shall we? Mother, wake up, will you? It’s not your fault, it’s never your fault and nothing you say or do should cause him to hit you and abuse you like he does … it’s not right. ‘E doesn’t mean ‘owt by it, ‘e’s just got a bit of a temper, that’s all. And now you’re sticking up for him, making excuses for his behaviour. Do you know something? Tarquin has got all the books on domestic violence and you are right up there at the top … “101 Excuses Why My Husband Hits Me”. Tarquin … you ant been discussing our business wi’ a complete stranger? Tarquin is not a complete stranger. ‘E is to me. Mother, you don’t realise. You are not the only person in the world that suffers with a bully for a husband. Don’t talk about yer father like that, ‘e int a bully.



Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl


Pearl Sandra


Yes he is. He bully’s you and our Kevin. The only one he doesn’t manage it with is me, and that’s because I stand up to him … you challenge a bully and they back down, because underneath all that bravado, they are cowards … Right I think that’s enough, subject closed. Go on, bury your head in the sand. Mum, this is not going to go away. You are not going to wake up one morning and find yourself next to Paul Newman. Is this what you want for the rest of your life? … Well, is it?! You must want to be happy, mum? Go on tell me … does dad make you happy? (Silence). Well, does he or doesn’t he? It’s a simple question. (Silence. She realises how upset Pearl is, so she softens her tone). Mum, I’m really worried about you … I want you to be happy. Can’t you remember what your Gran says, “You’ve made yer bed, now lie in it”. No mum, not anymore. You deserve better. You can get out, just leave him. And go where? Anywhere … Gran’s? Oh aye, and she’d love that … she told me ‘e were a miserable bugger and I wouldn’t listen to ‘er. So all that you would lose is your pride … small price to pay. Your generation are different to us. You’re more open with one another. Divorce is ‘appening all the time, but not wi’ us … it’s not the done thing. Well make it the done thing … set a trend, break the mould, get out while you are still young enough to start again … start living. And what would I do, I don’t make enough money to keep me and our Kevin. Yes you do. It’s me dad that spends it all. He takes all your money to give to the pub and the dogs. Our Kevin’s earning good money on the bins. He’ll have to give you more than two quid a week. If there were only the two of you to feed, you’d get by. And when I leave university I should be able to get a good job, and then I can help you out. I don’t think your Tarquin would like that.



Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra


Yes he would, because he knows what it’s like … you and his mother are just alike. In fact you ought to move in together because you’re as daft as each other, letting them get away with it. I can’t believe that nice woman’s husband hits ‘er. Believe it. And he’s worse than me dad, because he must plan it. Nobody has ever seen him do it, so he must wait and beat her up systematically, which in my book makes it even worse. She can’t go to the loo without him following her. Tarquin thought it was because he was worried about her, now he realises it’s all control. He probably thinks she’s got a fella stashed behind the toilet, because apparently he is dead jealous … he even buys all her underwear for her. She has to ask him for every penny. Manipulation at it’s worst if you ask me. Why doesn’t she get a job? Not allowed to. Why not? They don’t need the money, so he doesn’t think that she should lower herself to join the working class … status … not the ‘done thing’ in their circles. Well come to think about it, I don’t suppose I’d choose to work if yer father put his hand in ‘is pocket.

Enter Kevin and Eddie.

Eddie Kevin

I do put me hand in me pocket. Aye, to scratch your conkers.

Eddie clouts him, and then realises that it’s Sandra that Pearl is speaking to.

Eddie Sandra Kevin Pearl

Bloody hell, if it isn’t the ‘Brain Of Britain’. Did they finally realise that you’re a fraud, and sling you out? Hi Dad … Kevin. Hi Sand … Me and me dad are going to have a farting contest tonight, do you want to join in. Shut up Kevin and give yer sister a kiss.

Sandra kisses Kevin and he immediately wipes it off. She goes to Eddie and hugs him. He responds awkwardly.

Sandra Pearl

No dad, they haven’t slung me out. I’m doing fine. I’ve come to see how the news of our engagement has gone down. We’re dead pleased, aren’t we Eddie. 40

Kevin starts to giggle.

Eddie Sandra Eddie


Aye lass, he’s bound to have a bit of brass with a name like that. What does his old man do? Think about the name dad, doesn’t it ring any bells? I ‘ave thought about it … Pollock, Pollock, and more Pollocks. (The penny suddenly drops). Jesus … not Pollocks Pools … Flaming Nora! (Mimicking his dad) Flaming Nora.

Eddie clouts him round the head.

Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Kevin Sandra Kevin Eddie Pearl Sandra

Pearl Sandra Eddie

We think it’s lovely. Fancy ‘im going to be a doctor. Aye, that’s what she should have done, instead of whatever it is that you’re doing. Leave ‘er alone Eddie, she’s doing what she wants to do. And what is it again, something I’ve never heard of … At least I know what a doctor does. If she’d ‘ave become a doctor, the first thing she’d say to you is stop drinking and smoking. Tha’ can go bollocks. Biochemistry. Biobloodychemistry. What’s that when it’s at home? Thy ought to be where the brass is. It’s the study of living organisms. Eh … We’ll have none of that filth in this house … we don’t talk about sex here. Yes dad, we do … remember? Meat and two veg, and cherries and stuff? Organisms … not orgasm. Dad, what’s an … (Interrupting) Shut up, Kevin. It sounds interesting love. (Now trying to change the subject). What will you do then? I want to help people, I want to discover new treatments, new drugs. I love finding out what makes things work and why they don’t. Ee, Eddie. Can you remember when she were ten and she took wireless to bits? I can. He tanned my backside. Too right. 41

Sandra Eddie

Kevin Pearl

I put it back together. Aye, but every time I put the Light Programme on I got the bloody Archers. Anyway there’ll be no money in bleeding orgasms. What’s your chap like then? Yes love. Tell us about Tarquin.

Eddie and Kevin start laughing.


Are you two going to laugh every time his name is mentioned? Eddie/Kevin Yes! Sandra All his friends call him Bill, cause William is his middle name. Pearl Then that’s what we’ll call him then, in’t it Eddie. Eddie Aye, cause there’s no way I could ever call him pissing Tarquin. They laugh again.


Eddie Pearl Sandra Eddie Pearl Eddie

Anyway the engagement party is on the twenty-seventh at the student bar and I’ve booked you into a pub on bed and breakfast … we’re paying. Bloody good job … a pub, eh? Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought. I’ve naught to wear. We’ll go shopping tomorrow and we’ll get you something nice. I hope you’re paying for that an all. No Eddie, you are! Like you said this morning, you’ll buy me a new frock and some shoes. Aye well, I say more than me prayers. (A Yorkshire expression that means he’s lying).

Kevin Eddie Pearl Eddie Sandra Eddie

Mam’s right dad, you did promise. And you can shut yer gob. So our Sandra, what kind of doctor is Bill going to be? A sodding rich one I hope. A paediatrician. Oh good, he can sort out the corns on my feet.


Scene 15 Crossfade to Chertsey.

Tarquin Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin

I’m sorry mother, I didn’t mean to interfere. We’ll say no more about it. Did Sandie’s mum ring you? Yes she did; she sounds very nice in a strange way. What do you mean by strange? Well, it was quite a job getting past the accent, but once I did, I found her quite compelling. She’s a lot like you in a different kind of way. I sensed that they don’t have a lot of money. They don’t have any money and Sandie’s dad is a bit of a bully. (Harriet holds her breath waiting for the subject of abuse to be brought up again, but Tarquin just continues). He keeps a tight hold of the purse

Harriet Tarquin Harriet Tarquin

strings and Pearl has to scrimp and scrape to make ends meet, whilst he goes to the pub and the dogs. The dogs? Greyhound racing What does he do for a living? He’s a dustbin man.

Harriet winces.


Your father is not going to like that.

Enter Vernon.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Tarquin Vernon

Your father is not going to like what? Hello, Vernon dear. Never mind the “Hello Vernon dear”, what am I not going to like? Hello, father. I said, and I will not repeat myself further, what am I not going to like?

Tarquin and Harriet look at each other not knowing what to say.

Tarquin Vernon

I’ve heard from a good contact that the Chancellor is thinking of introducing some kind of purchase tax … Typical, take it from those who work hard and give it to the scroungers. Can’t say I’m surprised … anyway old boy what brings you down to this neck of the woods, not been sent down I hope (Vernon smiles at his idea of humour). 43

Tarquin Vernon


Tarquin Harriet Vernon Tarquin Harriet

No father, I’ve come to discuss the engagement party with you. (His mood changing instantly) Oh, that nonsense. I want to talk to your about that … we will go to the golf club after dinner, where it is more private. (He shoots a look at Harriet). That is if your mother has bothered to sort out dinner. Yes dear, of course I have. Mrs Wilkinson has done you a nice trout … oh dear she’s only done the one, what will you have, Tarquin? (Concerned that she isn’t eating, only drinking) What are you having mother? I had a salad at tea time … I could ask Mrs Wilkinson to rustle something up before she goes home … Why don’t you go and ‘rustle something up’ … make yourself useful for a change. Mother, don’t worry about me. I am quite capable of looking after myself. I’ve become a dab hand with a frying pan! (Nervously looking at Vernon in case she upsets him further) I wouldn’t hear of it.

Exit Harriet. Vernon sits down and takes out the Financial Times and, after straightening the items on the coffee table, starts reading. Tarquin looks uncomfortable as he tries to think of a way of bringing up the abuse issue. He clears his throat a number of times and then sits down.

Vernon Tarquin Vernon

Tarquin Vernon

Tarquin Vernon Tarquin

Bit of a bad throat you have there son, or is there something that you would like to say. I was just thinking about mother’s little accident, the one that gave her the black eye. How did it happen? (Going straight on the attack) How the hell do I know. Your mother is always having accidents, probably walked into a door after consuming more than her fair share of alcohol. She said something about a glass dish falling out of a cupboard. (Allowing himself the smallest of smiles) If that what she says, then that’s what happened. Now, I’m trying to read this paper. I am not really interested about your mother’s escapades. No, I bet you’re not. (Banging the paper down angrily) What do you mean by that? Well, I think she has one or two more accidents than what would be considered as normal.



Tarquin Vernon Tarquin Vernon



Tarquin Vernon

Tarquin Vernon Tarquin

Vernon Tarquin Vernon

So two years of studying to be a doctor has made you an expert on the stupid little mishaps your mother seems intent on making into world war three. There are things about your mother that you do not know. You haven’t got a clue what I have to put up with. Your mother is a stupid, blithering idiot at times, and I have to live with her. And now, that is the end of this conversation. I will not discuss this further with you. If you are talking about the vodka, then I already know. Right then, that is the answer to all your questions. We will say no more But … I said, the subject is closed. And seeing as your mother is not here, you and I can talk about putting a stop to these silly ideas you have had about a ridiculous engagement. (Standing up, trying to gain the upper hand) I am getting engaged to Sandie, and nothing you say or do will change my mind. And, as you have just said … about the subject of mothers accidents, the subject is closed. (Standing up and moving into a position to dominate the conversation)

Well, that is where you are wrong, Sonny. What I have to say might change your mind. I doubt it. If you carry on with this insanity, I will have no alternative but to withdraw your funding. Then we will see just how much this ‘Sandie’ (said sarcastically) cares about you I’ll bet you a pound to a penny that she will dump you quicker than you can say “money”, because without even meeting her, it’s clear that’s all she wants you for. If only you knew how wrong you are. If there is one thing I can smell son, it’s a gold digger. So it doesn’t matter that she is my intellectuall superior and will probably earn twice as much in the future as me, it’s because she comes from a council estate in Doncaster. And that, in your book, puts her in the gutter. Got it in one son, you just don’t want to admit it to yourself. You are so wrong … if you would just meet her, you would see what I mean. Look here, Tarquin. You are my only son, and the heir to all I possess. If you think for one moment I am going to let some


Tarquin Vernon


northern hillbilly loose on the money that I have worked damned hard for, then you are sadly mistaken. OK, I get your point. But all I am asking you to do is to meet her. You will change your mind. (Thinks for a moment) Alright, we will attend your ‘engagement’, if only to prove to you that I am right and you are letting your libido cloud your judgement. She will run a mile once she gets the idea that if you marry her, you will not inherit a brass farthing! … I can’t imagine what her parents are going to be like … ‘Steptoe And Son’, no doubt. For once in your life father, you are going to lose. Sandra is the nicest person you are ever likely to meet, and I don’t care what or who her parents are. Let me assure you, father, I will marry her, come hell or high water, with or without your blessing, and with or without your money. I really don’t care. (He starts now to lose his temper slightly). And if you think for one moment that I am going to be fobbed off with your pathetic excuses as to why my mother is always having “little accidents”, then you are very sadly mistaken … you may have won the battle, but I assure you that the war is far from being over … Goodnight.

Tarquin leaves before his father can turn the conversation again. Vernon walks up and down a few paces with his hands clasped behind his back and then mutters to himself.


If you want a war son, then a war is what you will get … (He raises his voice). Damn you; damn you both.




ACT 2 Scene 1 Lights up on the engagement party in the Student Union Bar. Sandra and Tarquin are sitting at the centre table, each nursing a drink. He is in ‘black tie’, she wears an evening dress.

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

I don’t know why we agreed to dress up like this. It’s called compromising. Your dad wanted a posh do, we wanted it here, so we do a bit of both. At least we managed to get a private room. What so no one can see the bun fight. Do you think there is going to be one? Oh yes, I’ve never been to an event yet when my father hasn’t upset someone. There’s always the exception … Don’t bank on it. We shouldn’t have bothered having a party, we should have just done it. And then they would have met for the first time at the wedding! We could have gone to Gretna Green. But I want my mum there. Yes, I suppose I do as well. So we have to bite the bullet as far as our fathers are concerned. Do you know he was an absolute pig when I asked how mum had got her black eye. What makes people behave like that? I don’t know, I really don’t know … and don’t forget, he will do his damnedest to banish you from my life forever. I can’t wait to hear how he is going to word it. I’ll be glad when it’s all over.

They lean over and kiss, just as Eddie and Kevin arrive, very loudly.

Eddie Kevin Eddie

Aye up lad, put her down, you don’t know where she’s bin. Shut up dad, me mam said you ‘ad to behave. Stuff yer mam, I’ll do as I please.

Tarquin and Sandra stand up, they usher Eddie and Kevin to their table, stage left.


Sandra Eddie

Hello dad, Kev; where’s mum? In the chuffing bog. She says ‘er hair keeps falling down … don’t know why she had it done in the first place, cost me three quid and it looks a right bugger. So you must be Tarquin.

Kevin giggles.

Tarquin Eddie Kevin Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Tarquin Eddie Kevin Sandra Kevin Tarquin Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra

Tarquin Eddie Sandra

Everybody here calls me ‘Bill’. Aye well, ‘Bill’, I’m Eddie and everyone calls me Eddie; and that there is my lass so thad better watch yer step wi’ her. Or me dad will thump yer. Got it right there, son. Dad! What! Behave … and I thought I told you it was black tie. I am as I am. Tha can like it or lump it, and I am wearing a black tie. It your funeral tie. I meant a dickie bow. Tha can fuck off, I ain’t dressing up like a penguin for nobody, even Lord and Lady Muck. Dad! (Trying to defuse the situation) I’m very pleased to meet you. (Trying to talk properly) Hime very pleased to meet you son, now gettus a pint, I’m gasping. I’m Kevin, and so am I. Just watch what you drink will you. I allas watch what I drink. Two pints then is it? Aye lad, and a babycham for our lass. He means my mother. I dunt need you to interpret everything, he’ll ‘ave to get used to my lingo. I didn’t mean that dad, it’s just a different language that’s all. No doubt Mr and Mrs Pollock will say things that you don’t understand. What will you have darling? (Rolling his eyes upwards) She allas drunk half of bitter when she were at home. Half of bitter please. 48

Tarquin goes out for the drinks.

Eddie Kevin Eddie

Pearl Thomas Pearl Thomas Pearl

Good on yer lass. Listen Kevin, when it’s their round get a pint and when it’s our round we’ll get halves. Got it? Why don’t we have a whisky when it’s their round? Kevin, I tek it back … you’re not allas as thick as you look. That’s a good ‘un. (Enter Pearl with Thomas, he is in evening dress). I think your mother is pissed already, she looks like she is talking to herself. Dunt get up to any mischief, Thomas. I will if ‘pillock face’ starts any trouble. He’s promised me. And that counts for a lot, doesn’t it. I think ‘e will try, for our Sandra’s sake.

Tarquin comes back with the drinks.

Sandra Tarquin Sandra Tarquin

(To Tarquin) It

looks like my mother has brought Thomas. I hope my mother has left Vladivir at home. Oh, God. (Putting his hands on her shoulders) It will be alright, I promise. Look my mother is here.

Enter Vernon and Harriet. Vernon pauses for a moment to straighten his tie and glance around which leaves Harriet free to walk forward and catch the eye of Pearl.


Mrs Heptinstall, is it?

Pearl does a little curtsey, Sandra closes her eyes in horror.


Mrs Pillock … Bollock … Pollock. Hime so pleased to meet you.

Harriet kisses her on her cheek. Pearl is astonished at this display of affection.


It’s Harriet, and please don’t worry, everything will be alright.

Vernon comes forward to the empty table stage right and notices the friendliness between the two women.

Vernon Tarquin Eddie Kevin Vernon Eddie Pearl

Tarquin, would you do the honours. Certainly. I’ll have a scotch. Me an’ all. I meant the introductions. Pardon me for breathing. (Through clenched teeth) You won’t be soon if you don’t shut yer gob. 49


Mother, father, this is Sandie. Sandie, my parents.

Sandra moves across to shake hands and then she leads Tarquin over to her parents.

Sandra Vernon Harriet Vernon Tarquin Vernon Eddie Vernon Sandra

Mum, dad, this is Tarquin; known to his friends as ‘Bill’. (Aghast) Bill?! And why the devil are you known to your friends as ‘Bill’? It is his middle name, dear. I’m well aware of his name Harriet, and don’t interrupt me. It’s just easier father, that’s all. Ridiculous if you ask me. Bloody stupid if you ask me. Pardon? Mr and Mrs Pollock, this is my mother Pearl and my father Eddie, and this is my brother, Kevin.

The two fathers meet in the middle.



Pearl Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie

Vernon Eddie Vernon

(Hating every moment, but his social standing will not let him forget his manners so he reluctantly holds out his hand) Mr Heptinstall, Mrs

Heptinstall, Kevin. Pleased to meet you hime sure. Can’t get me head round the fact, you’re someat to do wi’ the pools … any chance of fixing it? Eddie! What? If tha’ dunt ask, tha’ dunt get. I’m sorry? Aye, so am I. No. I’m not sorry … Well I aren’t, then what aren’t you sorry about? I’m not sorry about not being sorry. I’m sorry, I don’t understand what in God’s name you’re talking about. Ah well, that’s as clear as chuffing mud. Good God man, speak English! What the bloody ‘ell do you think I’m doing. (He speaks in a monotone). I want … to … know … if … you … can … fix … it … so that … I win … the … chuffing … pools. I … don’t … think … so. (Meaning ‘not on your life’). Well, I’d ‘ave thought you would have known one way or another. That’s not what I meant.



(Taking the mickey) Well,

for God’s sake man, say what you

mean. Sandra Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon

Eddie Vernon Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie

Harriet Eddie Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie Pearl

me you play a lot of golf … a good walk if you ask me.

(Changing the subject) Tarquin tells (Under his breath) Spoils

I do try. Well you can’t be good at everything, old cock. I meant, I do try to play a lot of golf; when my work schedule allows me. Not that I try to play golf, because I do that very well. I have a handicap of seven. My handicap is my sodding feet, I must get your lad to look at them. Why? (He goes back to his table). ‘Cause he’s going to be a ‘pedio’ thingy. Dad, he’s going to be a paediatrician. It’s nothing to do with feet. It is, that nurse is allas coming to give your gran one. Dad, that’s a pedicure. Aye so a pedicuritioner sees to feet. No dad, a paediatrician looks after children. Tha’ bloody what! That’s no good to man nor beast. Hey tha’d better not be thinking of having one of them, my girl. Get my drift lad, thad better keep tha cock in tha kecks. (Now she tries to change the subject) And what do you do for a living, Mr Heptinstall? I’m a cleansing officer. Piss off dad, you’re a bin man. It said on my job description, that I’m a cleansing officer. Aye, it says Oxo’s on buses, but they dunt sell em. You’re asking for a crack, lad. (To Harriet, trying to change the subject again) So, how did your dinner party go then, with that salmon and dutch sauce?

Vernon looks at Harriet in amazement. He hadn’t realised that they have been in communication and Harriet is mortified that Pearl has indicated that they have spoken previously. She is now very nervous. Tarquin and Sandra move away from the rest of the group and don’t hear what is going on.


Everything was fine … that’s a very pretty dress.

Thomas walks over to Vernon and looks him straight in the eyes and sees the venom.


Oh, ta … our Sandra bought it for me didn’t she Eddie!


Thomas Vernon Harriet

Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie

Uh-ohhh … Look out; dearest Vernon is not happy. And, (taking hold of her arm very tightly) what dinner party are we talking about, dear? It’s nothing, dear … I just happened to mention to Mrs Heptinstall that we had had a dinner party and served salmon and I was explaining how to make a hollandaise sauce. And when did this intercourse take place? Hey up … who’s been shagging? I’m talking about verbal intercourse. Verbal intercourse? Conversation. Well why didn’t tha say so. (Indicates ‘tosser’ to Kevin).

Thomas goes over to Pearl.


Look out Pearl, the old boy doesn’t like the fact that you’ve been gossiping to his missus. Try to get her out of this one, otherwise she’s in for a bit of fisticuffs tonight.

Pearl looks at Thomas in horror.


Vernon Eddie

Pearl Eddie Vernon Harriet

In the bog … err, in the toilet … your missus was telling me about this ‘ere salmon, but she never told me how it all went … you know women’s gossip … toilet talk … other women’s frocks, that sort of thing. I never saw you go to the ladies. They’re allas in the bog. I don’t know what they do in there. And I don’t know why they have to go in pairs … allas wondered about that an ‘all. Well she did …we did and we were sat on the bog discussing salmon, amongst other things. Priceless. Is this right? Yesss … I think so … oh dear …

Tarquin looks over, and, seeing the distress on his mother’s face, comes straight over. Sandra follows.

Tarquin Harriet Vernon Harriet

What is it, mum? I’m just a bit confused. You’re always confused. Bit of a headache, that’s all.

Vernon takes her handbag and looks through it.


Tarquin Vernon Tarquin Eddie

What are you doing, dad? (Sarcastically, as he is actually looking for vodka) Just

looking for an

aspirin for your mother. Another drink, Mr Heptinstall. If you insist, lad.

Eddie and Tarquin move away from the others.


Sandra, ‘ere a minute, fix my hair, will yer. (She uses this as an excuse to speak to her in private).

The party splits up into smaller groups : Tarquin Eddie and Kevin; Sandra and Pearl; Vernon and Harriet. Vernon moves Harriet out of earshot of the others. Thomas stays at Pearl’s side, whilst keeping an eye on Vernon.

Tarquin Eddie Tarquin Eddie Tarquin Eddie Tarquin Eddie

Thanks for coming, it means a lot to Sandie. Listen lad, we may be a bit rough round the edges, but where she’s concerned, well you know what I mean … I’m sorry about my father, well he can be a bit bombastic. I’d agree with you if I knew what it meant. A pain in the arse. Now you’re talking my language. You’re old lady seems alright. She’s not herself, and I’m really worried about her. Well you’re supposed to be the doctor, get doctoring. But go to the bar first, my throats like a parched whippet.

Tarquin exits to the bar.

Kevin Eddie

I thought it were bottom of a budgie’s cage. Nay lad, that’s tomorrow … wi’ a bit of luck.

They continue to talk, but the action moves over to Pearl and Sandra.

Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl


What’s up, mum. You look worried. I’ve dropped Harriet in the shit. How? I just mentioned that we’d spoken before and her old man hit the roof. What did he say? It wasn’t what he said, it was the way that he said it. Scared the shit out of me, never mind ‘er. Thomas says she’s in for a pasting tonight. Oh no, that’s all we need. Look out, he’s on his way over.


Pearl Sandra Pearl

I’m off to the bog. I can’t be doing with his big words … dunt know what he’s saying ‘alf the time. People like him need standing up to, and that’s just what I intend to do. Oh, Lord … I’m off.

Thomas starts to go off with Pearl, then decides that it might be more interesting to stay.

Vernon Sandra Vernon Thomas Sandra Vernon Thomas Sandra

Now then … (emphasising her name) Sandra, isn’t it? It certainly is, Mr Pollock (emphasising his name). How are you? Could be better. Could be right. And why might that be? I think you know the answer to that. Give it to him with both barrels, Sandra. Now, let me guess. (She thinks for a second). Oh, yes … I’ve got it … You don’t like your son marrying the likes of me. You would rather him come home with a Vanessa somebody rather than a Sandra nobody. Am I right so far …

Vernon splutters as her attack has caught him off guard.

Thomas Sandra

Thomas Sandra

Thomas Sandra

Fifteen, Love! Yes, I thought so … Unfortunately, Tarquin and I have other ideas. You see, as much as this may be unpalatable, I find your attitude incomprehensible and I take umbrage at your animosity. Your obnoxious behaviour is ludicrous and unbecoming to a man of your stature and supposed intelligence. So there is nothing you could say or do that would induce me, or Tarquin, to change our minds. Thirty, Love. And if you’re are so naïve as to think that the introduction of a monetary inducement could, or would, make a difference, then you have spent too much time in the company of socially deficient reprobates. Let me assure you Mister Pollock, that in a few years time I will be in the position to remind you of this conversation. You will be embarrassed and ashamed that you even contemplated trying to bribe me out of your son’s life. Forty, Love. If I have been presumptuous, and that is not what was in your mind, then I apologise profusely for my behaviour and impudence. I assure you that Tarquin and I will be married,



and I hope we will make you and your lovely wife proud of us both … Now, may I buy you a drink? … Scotch is it? Game, Set and Match.

Sandra walks off leaving Vernon speechless. Tarquin has returned from the bar and stands at an angle behind Vernon. He smiles at his father and raises his glass in a mock toast. Vernon ignores the gesture and walks over to Harriet.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

I have seen and heard all I need to. We are leaving this ridiculous charade now. Oh, but I thought … we were supposed to be … right now … oh. Are you contradicting me, Harriet? No … I don’t thinks so … err, I’ll get my coat shall I? Yes, you do that. We have a long drive back to civilisation. But I thought … You thought what … well … you thought what? Nothing … I didn’t think … No Harriet, you never do … now go and get your coat.

Harriet goes off to get her coat and Eddie comes over to Vernon.

Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie

Vernon Eddie

Good do, eh? I beg your pardon? Why, what yer done? (He slaps Vernon on the back). I meant, it’s a good party! If you say so … I suppose all we need now are pork pies. Have they arrived then? … I could just eat a growler. I was being facetious. Oh, got the shites ‘ave yer? Growlers don’t do that to me … mushy peas, yeh, they can make you fart for England. It’s when the cockle man comes, that sends you straight to the bog. Your problem Vernie, is you’re not relaxed enough, get a few more of them down yer neck, loosen up …go with the flow. Mr Heptinstall. Call me Eddie, Vernie … seeing as we’re going to be related. (He slaps him on the back again).

Vernon Eddie

Related … I couldn’t think of anything better. Me neither … ‘ere, you and your lass will have to come to ours. We’ll take you out and show you the bright lights of Doncaster.


Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie


I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather do, apart from hang myself. There you go then. I’ll take you down our boozer and throw a few arrows, and I’ll whoop yer arse at cards. Cards? … Whist, poker? Bridge? I can play ‘owt. You have rubbers then? What? A rubber. In’t there any in the bog. I don’t have one on me … do you need one … you sly old devil! Do I need what? A rubber. Yes … you and your wife and Harriet and myself. I don’t think our lass would be interested, if you know what I mean … nudge, nudge, wink, wink. But I’m up for it … you can count me in. Well just you and me then, we could always find … two … (Eddie jumps in before the end of the conversation).

Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie

Yer what? … Me and you? … What’s your game? … I don’t do that queer bit. Are you bent or what? I was only saying if your wife won’t play, I could find someone else to make up the four. Men or women? It doesn’t really matter. It does to me.

Eddie is getting agitated. Sandra comes over to see what is wrong.

Sandra Eddie

Kevin Eddie

What’s up dad, you’ve gone red in the face. It’s this dirty get. First of all he wants me and yer mam to make up a foursome, and then he suggests me and ‘im have a go, and then he’s on about getting someone else in on the act. I nearly knocked ‘is ‘ead off ‘is shoulders. What’s ‘is game. He’s right, our Sandra, I heard him. Wants to use rubbers an all. (Swiping at Kevin) You shouldn’t be listening in to other peoples conversations.




What on earth is going on … would someone please translate, because I lost the gist of this conversation several very long minutes ago. You’ve lost it full stop pal, and your gonna get my fist in yer gob.

Thomas shouts at the top of his voice and runs round everyone, rubbing in hands in glee.

Thomas Sandra Vernon Eddie Thomas Sandra Eddie Kevin Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Kevin Eddie Sandra Vernon Sandra Vernon Sandra Vernon Thomas Sandra Vernon

FIGHT … FIGHT … FIGHT. Hang on, dad. Mr Pollock, may I ask what you were talking about? Your father was rambling on about cards, so I offered him a rubber of bridge. There ‘e goes again (He puts up his fists). I ought to deck ‘im now. (Dancing round in a mock fight) Go on … deck him … DECK HIM! Dad, Mr Pollock is talking about a game of bridge. What’s that when it’s at ‘ome. Is it like monopoly? I allas beat you at that, dunt I dad. Aye, only cause you cheat. It’s a card game, and they are played in rubbers, that’s all … it’s nothing sinister. It’s a bloody good job … now, where’s yer mam? She’s just nipped to the toilet, why? ‘Cause I want a pint and she’s got the brass. I’ll get you a drink. Do you want one, Kevin? Aye’course I do. Dad, we’re only having halves when we buy … Speak up, Kevin. I don’t think he quite ‘eard yer. Mr Pollock? No, thank you. We’re going to head back now. I’ve seen all I want to see. We’ll see you at the hotel tomorrow then? No, I meant we’re heading back to Surrey. I thought you were staying the night. Harriet has got a headache, and I think we ought to go home. Aye, so you can knock seven bells of shit out of her. It’s a very long drive. Our chauffeur can manage. 57

Eddie Sandra Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie Kevin

You have a chuffing chauffeur; chuffing ‘ell. I’m impressed. And so you should be, girl … What kind of car is it? This one is a Bentley. This one! … ‘ow many do you ‘ave? We have a Rover for around town. Bloody ‘ell. Bloody ‘ell.

Tarquin comes over.

Tarquin Eddie Tarquin Vernon Eddie Sandra Kevin Sandra Eddie Tarquin Vernon Tarquin

Thomas Vernon Tarquin


Is everyone getting along then? Champion lad … your old fella is going to teach me to play bridge. Is he now? (Glaring at Tarquin) Your mother and I are going home. I thought you were off to the bar, our Sandra. Here Kevin, there’s five pounds. Go and get some drinks. Can I keep the change? No. I want a pint an’ all. Why are you going home, father? I thought you were booked in overnight. I have decided that we are going, and I’m sick and tired of you and your mother questioning all my decisions. This is the twentieth century and we are about to turn another decade. Houses are no longer ruled by a rod of iron wielded by the man of the house. We have a democratic system. Why don’t you use it. (Thumbs in the air) … Rock on, Tarquin … Tarquin … Tarquin … Why you impudent little whippersnapper. I ought to teach you a lesson you will never forget You could try father … In fact I invite you to try … but there again, I’m more your size aren’t I … You don’t like that do you … you’re more used to an unresponsive partner, aren’t you. (Jumping up and down like a boxer) Go on Tarquy, baby. Use his head as a punch bag, go on … mince his ribs, black his eyes, break his nose … deck him. 58

Pearl Eddie Vernon Thomas Pearl

(Entering) What on

earth is going on Eddie? I can ‘ear you in the toilets. Ask mighty mouth ‘ere. Nothing is going on … nothing that my son and I will discuss any further in public. Everything is fine. No it is not … Tarquin was just gonna sort him out. He’s just told him his name with nobs on. And I missed it.

Pearl is talking to Thomas but Vernon thinks she is talking to him. Enter Harriet.

Vernon Thomas Pearl Vernon Harriet Thomas Pearl

You have missed nothing, I can assure you of that. Oh boy, did you miss it … You can tell me later. There is nothing to tell. Harriet, where is that damned car? Thomas is just bringing the car round. No I am not. Not you, another Thomas.

Everyone looks at her strangely.


Good, the sooner the better. Mrs Heptinstall. (He nods in her direction). Mr Heptinstall.

Eddie puts out his hand and Vernon ignores it.

Pearl Vernon Thomas


So long then … err, Mr … err, Vernon … I ‘ope we will be seeing more of yer. (Under his breath) Not until hell freezes over. I heard that … well you’ll see it if it does, because that’s where you will be going … you and everyone like you … piss off, you snobbish get. Thomas!

Pearl runs over to Thomas, and takes him downstage. Everyone looks at her in amazement.

Vernon Pearl Vernon Pearl Vernon

(To Pearl) Where.

Where what? Where’s Thomas? Which Thomas? Our chauffeur.

Vernon gives up, walks away and goes to Harriet. There is an uncomfortable silence amongst the rest of the party.




(Imitating Vernon) Thomas,

our damned chauffeur. Thomas bring the car round here immediately. I wish to return home. (He turns to Pearl). And you know why that is, don’t you. He is either going to put her in hospital, or kill her, and nobody knows, because nobody knows what goes on behind closed doors. Somebody is going to have to stop it but there are only three people who know this is going to happen … and you are one of them! Oh, Thomas … what can I do?

Everyone looks at her again.

Thomas Pearl Eddie Pearl Vernon Tarquin Vernon Tarquin Sandra Vernon

Harriet Vernon Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Vernon

Eddie Vernon Eddie Vernon Eddie

Tell someone. I can’t … You can’t what? Nothing. She’s mad, just like the rest of you. Father! I’ve had enough of this charade. Pretending to like people I can’t stand. Father, that is enough. No … let him finish. You are ignorant common good-for-nothings, and as far as I am concerned, Tarquin, if you marry into these peasants, then you are no son of mine and I will wash my hands of you. Vernon … no … you can’t do that … he’s my son too … Yes, just like you … weak-willed, gutless … a waste of space. Hey … there is no need to talk to your wife like that. Why not … you do. Hey, watch your lip. See … People like you should have been drowned at birth, you are no use to anyone. Mentally inferior, parasites, living off successful, intelligent people. Like you. Like me. Why you bastard … you ignorant bastard. Ignorant, you’re the ignorant one, resorting to the use of profanities. Profanities, I’ll give you fucking profanities, you bag of shite! 60

Tarquin Thomas Vernon Harriet Tarquin Vernon Tarquin Vernon

Father, the car is here, I think you had better leave. Yes, and sharpish … before someone puts your lights out. Goodbye, and I mean that in the most positive way you could imagine. I’m sorry … Tarquin … I … Mother, don’t worry, it will be alright … we’ll sort something out. You will do no such thing. Father, I am warning you. And I am shaking in my boots …

He escorts his wife roughly off the premises.


(At the top of his voice) THANKS

FOR COMING … I wish your

father hadn’t. Enter Kevin with the drinks and bags of crisps.


Cheese and onion anyone?

They all just stand and stare at him.

Tarquin Sandra Tarquin Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Eddie Sandra Eddie Pearl

It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have stood up to him. That’s rubbish and you know it … It was like an accident waiting to happen. Good riddance if you ask me. Yer just don’t get it, do yer. Enlighten me, oh woman of wisdom. There’s nowt to choose between yer. Who? You and ‘im that’s just gone. You want what Mary got? And I’m sick of ‘earing that stupid expression. Why am I like that pillock? Because yer both talk with violence. Aw, come on Pearl. You get a tap now and then, which you always ask for. Dad, just listen to yourself. What right do you have to hit anyone, let alone your wife. Exactly. My wife. She’s mine, belongs to me. I do not. Where in our wedding vows does it say, “To love honour and own”.


Eddie Pearl Eddie Pearl Thomas Pearl Sandra Thomas Pearl Sandra Pearl Sandra Pearl

It says obey, and you don’t do that, so you get a crack. There’s nowt wrong with that. Yer, there is Eddie. Give me that pint Kevin, and you, wobblegob, shut thee rattle. Yer enough to turn the beer sour. (To Sandra) It’s useless. Love. It’s all falling on stony ground. We’re just wasting our time and energy. Something will make him see the light, my love, you wait and see. Now then, would you like to dance? What ‘ere? Now? What? Why not. Caveman over there isn’t going to ask you, is he? No. No, what? Oh, go on then … I just fancy a bit of a waltz … Mother, are you talking to Thomas? Yer, yer I am … and do you know somat … I don’t give a damn.

Pearl and Thomas move off to the back of the room and start to dance. Thomas positions himself near the wings and slips off. Sandra watches in amazement. Tarquin, Kevin and Eddie are chatting amongst themselves quietly. They turn to see what Sandra is looking at and see Pearl dancing by herself. This is a very sad and poignant moment and should be played with pathos.


Puddled, bloody puddled.


Scene 2 Lights up on Chertsey. Vernon struts on stage and stalks around, hands behind his back. He straightens the items on the coffee table making a big deal of moving the paper knife. He moves the chairs and cushions. Enter Harriet.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

Sit down! (Harriet sits down, clearly uncomfortable). Well? Are you alright, dear? You didn’t speak a word all the way home. And you are surprised? I’m sorry Vernon … I … Sorry! I should think you are sorry. How dare you make a fool out of me.


Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

What am I supposed to have done? You are so stupid … you haven’t a clue … you show me up, go behind my back and then have the nerve to say, “What have I done”. Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? No I don’t want a cup of bloody tea. I want you to pay attention to me for once in your miserable life. You will listen to what I have to say. You will not open your idiotic mouth, do you understand? Yes, Vernon. If Tarquin insists on going ahead with this ludicrous marriage, then I will disown him. Cut him off without a penny and you will never see him again. (A look of panic appears on Harriet’s face. She is about to lose the one thing in the world she loves - her son. She opens her mouth to speak). I said do not utter a word. He has brought

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon

shame on this family by consorting with the likes of the Heptinstalls, and I don’t care how many A-levels she passed. She is a common guttersnipe, just like her parents, and I won’t be associated with a family like that. Now, do I make myself clear? So, it is in your best interest to talk him out of this relationship. Because Harriet, I will disown him, and you know I always mean what I say. Right … have you been lying to me? No, Vernon. Oh, I think you have … I didn’t buy that, “We were just having a chat in the toilet”, story. You having been talking to that common woman, haven’t you. No, Vernon. I will find out, Harriet. I will ring the Telephone Company and ask for records. So if you have anything to say, you’d better say it now. I … didn’t think you’d be interested in woman’s gossip. So you did lie to me. No … I mean … I did speak to her on the telephone, but it was nothing … Nothing … you were discussing my business, my affairs, with a woman who can’t understand words of more than one syllable. How dare you. (He drags her out of the chair and hits her straight across the face. She falls to the floor where he kicks her, then drags her up by her hair and punches her in the stomach. She doubles over and he


pushes her back to the floor, where she cowers, crying). I knew

Harriet Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet

you couldn’t be trusted. You always have to lie, to go behind my back. You do it just to irritate me, don’t you? Like the drinking, you do that to annoy me. So where is it this time, in the vase, under the cushion? (He searches for her bottles and finds two. He opens one and tips it over her). You do this to irritate me … don’t you … I said, DON’T YOU! No. I try not to irritate you … and I don’t lie to you. You’re lying again. Just tell the truth … Yes, Yes. Alright, I admit it. I spoke to Pearl on the telephone. So you admit you were lying? Yes … yes … yes … damn you, yes … (now hysterical).

Vernon walks over to where she is cowering. She turns her head away and lifts her arms to protect herself from the blows that he gives her.

Vernon Harriet Vernon

Harriet Vernon Harriet

So, now at last we are getting somewhere. Why did you lie to me? I don’t know. You don’t know … you lie because you are useless piece of baggage. You are good for nothing. You contribute absolutely nothing to this world, this country, this house and to me. You are a waste of space. Someone should put you out of your misery. If you were a dog, you’d have been put down years ago. The only decent thing you have ever done is to give me a son. And then with your pampering and molly-coddling, you turn him into your clone. Well it has backfired. You will talk him out of this marriage, or else. (Finding some inner strength) You will not stop me from seeing my son. I beg your pardon? I said, you will not stop me from seeing my son.

She attempts to stand up and he knocks her back down near to the coffee table and his letter opener.

Vernon Harriet Vernon Harriet

I will do exactly that, or you will leave this house now. In that case, that is exactly what I will do. I will leave this house, and you. (Sees red and explodes) YOU WOULDN’T DARE. Oh yes I would, and I’m going right now!

She goes to stand up again but he takes her by the throat.



You will go when I tell you to go … you will not leave of your own accord.

He starts to strangle her and she drops to her knees. She feels for the letter opener on the table behind her. Quick fade to black on Chertsey.

MUSIC : ‘YOU ALWAYS HURT THE ONE YOU LOVE’ (MILLS BROTHERS) Scene 3 Lights up on Doncaster. Eddie and Sandra are sombrely sitting at the table.

Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra

Well who’d have thought it? Tarquin is devastated. I bet he is … to lose a parent like that. Well, to be honest dad, he’s lost both of them, hasn’t he? Aye lass, I suppose he ‘as. That could have been you and mum you know. Get on … Dad, you don’t realise how you hurt mum. I don’t mean to … .it’s just me temper. I know, but it’s not fair … me mum does her best, and you just don’t help. It’s the way I were brought up … That’s no excuse for hitting someone. She gives as good as she gets. You’re missing the point … she shouldn’t have to. You shouldn’t have to hit her to win an argument. I miss her. Don’t tell me, tell her. It were nice of ‘er to want to go, after all she hardly knew the woman. Tarquin was glad of the company. Didn’t you want to go with ‘im then? I’ve got an exam tomorrow. I have to get back to Lancaster tonight. How long do you think she’ll be gone? I don’t know, as long as she’s needed I suppose. You really are missing her, aren’t you? Aye … I’m down to me last pair of socks. Bloody hell, dad! Haven’t you listened to a word I’ve said. What’s up … don’t you know how to use the washer? 65

Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra

Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra

Eddie Sandra Eddie

Get stood on … that’s women’s work! There you go again … Well it is. I go out to work, your mother does everything else. Ok … I’ll go along with that. Good. As long as she doesn’t have to go out to work as well. Tha’ wants … I know … what Mary got … and what exactly did Mary get? A good stuffing out. And I think out of the two of you, it’s you that wants the good stuffing. Marriage is supposed to be a partnership. Pulling together, not ‘hers’ and ‘mine’. What are you trying to say. Tip up me wage? Well that would be a start … You could pay the bills, and then what’s left you get … … I get what? I hope you’re not going to say half. Me mum doesn’t want a lot does she. A game of bingo now and then … I’ll think about it. Well, I suppose that’s a start. You don’t think she’s losing it do you … you know, senile dentures? (Laughs, but doesn’t correct him) What makes you say that? Well, she’s talking to herself a lot … and then there were that crack with her dancing by hersen’. It’s not normal. Nothings normal. Killing your other half isn’t normal … but that’s what despair does. I didn’t know yer mam were in despair. Dad, you’re not an easy man to live with, and she wasn’t talking to herself, she was talking to Thomas. Who the bloody hell is Thomas? Her imagination I suppose … He’s the man you’re not; the man she wished she’d married … her fantasy, her longing, her … I’ll put his lights out. Dad, he isn’t real. He’s a figment of her imagination. She is puddled then … lost it completely … have you ever seen him … this ‘ere, Thomas?


Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra Eddie Sandra

Eddie Sandra Eddie

No, but … “No but”, nowt. She’s not right in the ‘ed if she’s dancing wi’ an imaginary fella. Harriet drank, you know. Nowt wrong wi’ that. About a bottle of vodka a day? Like I say, nowt wrong wi’ that. Dad, she’s an alcoholic. Well, she won’t be getting any of that where she’s going … how long do you think she’ll get? Dad, it were self defence; the bastard was strangling her. She should get off. I hope yer mother dunt get any ideas about doing me in. Well, stop behaving like a Neanderthal then. You reckon on this Thomas was good looking then? Well you aren’t going to imagine up a creep, are you? Mmmm … and you reckon she actually saw him. Well, he was real to her … Now dad, I’ve got to go for the train … Here’s the telephone number of the Pollocks, go and ring me mother and sit down and talk, sort it out. Go back to square one. Remember how it was when you were courting. Aye, alright lass I will … See you, dad. Tara. Tara, love.

Exit Sandra. Enter Kevin, chewing gum loudly. He pulls it out of his mouth and sticks it on the table. Eddie sticks his elbow straight in it.

Kevin Eddie Kevin Eddie

Coming for a pint, dad? Nah … I’ve got somat to do. It’s your turn … remember? I got the biggest bogey … Bugger off. Kevin. I’ll see you in the pub, I’ve got to go ring yer mother … and shift that bloody mess.

Kevin picks up the gum puts it back in his mouth, and leaves. Eddie looks round making sure no-one can see him. He pulls a few “Shall I?” or “Shan’t I?” faces as if he is talking to himself in facial expressions, he looks round for one last time.


Mmmm … Bridget Bardot, Sophia Loren … a bird with big knockers and no morals, with loose elastic on her knickers … and with the hots for me. (He opens his eyes and looks round). Oh balls, one more try and then I’m off to the boozer. (He closes his


eyes and wishes again). Big knockers,

no knickers, and my

knackers in yer hand. Enter Thomas, dressed as ‘Big Bertha’, wobbling as she walks.


You called for me, honey bunch? … Then come to mama!

Slow fade to black.




Behind Closed Doors  

(5m, 3f) Set in 1969, when physical and mental abuse was a fact of life to many women, this play is about domestic violence inside marriage...

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