A Play by David Erdos
TOM, Middle aged, Celebrated
BOB, Middle aged, Accomplished
KEN, Middle aged, Influential
SHELLY, Young Woman, able to look 17
JESS, An Intruder, post teen or well preserved OAP
JAY, A Vagrant, aged around 33
BEN, A Reporter (played by the Jay Actor)
SAM, A Trainee Reporter, 22 (played by the Shelley Actor)
TIM, Middle aged, Sam’s Dad (played by the Tom Actor)
DONALD, Middle aged, Editor (played by the Jess Actor)
STEVEN, Middle aged, a Tour Guide (Played by the Bob Actor)
The (possible) cause and effect
of the ultra dark secrets of the power elite.
A test for the Actors: You are not allowed to be liked.
Summer. A private garden at night. Three middle aged men sit beneath a Gazebo. They wear underpants only and lounge in contentment. A small table between them bears the detritus of a full evening’s drink.
BOB. I was out in my garden last night. Everywhere I turned, fucking insects! Every inch of air – centimetre – some sort of bloody ant, midge or fly. When they pass so close to your face? It was practically a Brands Hatch situation! That snatch of sound, that’s the worry. It was as if they were –
BOB. Warning one.
BOB. I hated it.
BOB. It was a stream in the air, made of insect! I felt alarmed. Worse: assaulted! These bloody bugs..everywhere!
KEN. You sound unreasonably paranoid..
BOB. Why? One doesn’t imagine wasps in the summer!
TOM. You didn’t mention wasps..
BOB. Wasps were buzzing! It was like the fucking Bible! Still is!
KEN. But now you’re here.
BOB. Now, I am.
KEN. Safe in the bosom of England.
TOM. Safe in the garden of Eden..
KEN. Or in it’s gazebo..
BOB. Well, yes.
KEN. No insects. No buzz. A place where even the air is protected. Where the trees, look, are perfumed with the odour of –
TOM. When are they arriving?
KEN. They’re here. The first batch are upstairs now, being pampered.
BOB. Preened, I hope.
KEN. Powdered. It will be talcum or tits everywhere.
BOB. I bloody love Summer.
KEN. Ditto. And yet I have a particular fondness for April..
TOM. You’re forgetting May..
BOB. And glorious June!
KEN. You’re quite right!
TOM. So much to choose from..
KEN. Oh, lots!
BOB. And so many fine things to savour..
KEN. So many sweet things..
TOM. To savour..
BOB. There’s just so much good in the world, isn’t there?
(They toast. Bob swats a fly.)
Similar. Another evening. Different underpants. Different bottles. A different arrangement of chairs.
TOM. My balls ache.
KEN. Age, Tom. Can you tell if it’s going to rain when that happens?
TOM. Not especially.
KEN. Pity. I once predicted snow with a rash.
BOB. I’m tingling.
BOB. She was so..receptive! I loved it. How was yours?
KEN. Shudders. One from the feet.
BOB. Very good!
KEN. When you’re fully engaged. When it starts, or seems to, in the feet – that’s astounding. I believe it’s the reason why..
BOB. The one reason..
KEN. Its the ultimate yes..
BOB. Oh, it is.
TOM. Look, there’s one up there now, looking down from the window..
BOB. Wave, Ken.
KEN. An Angel.
BOB. Look at her look at me.
(They wave. Darkness falls.)
Similar. Another Evening. BOB and KEN lounging. Scene I’s pants. Different drinks. A faint music is heard: ‘The Lark Ascending.’ The evening is lighter as Summer stretches on. Ken conducts with a hand. Bob shifts and settles. TOM eventually enters in Tuxedo and shoes, kicking them off as he sits.
KEN. Saved you a chair.
KEN. Reasonably busy this evening. One or two names you’d remember. And quite a few current ones.
BOB. The great and the good. Not to mention the grand and the ghastly. We’ve done well with this patch here..
KEN. Well, it’s my bloody gazebo! Screw them!
BOB. So, how was it?
TOM. Grand too. And that just refers to the dresses!
KEN. Were they both there?
TOM. Her, mostly. He was only ever there for the start.
BOB. He only ever is. He slips off. The greasy Greek they still call him..
KEN. What about Sis?
TOM. Yes, I glimpsed her. But she’d ordered in company.
BOB. Not at the theatre?
KEN. Why not? It’s why they give their names to the boxes..
BOB. But surely people would see them?
TOM. Not in the back boxes they won’t. There are the boxes you see and then there are these other boxes. I’ve been in one or two. They’re quite roomy.
BOB. So the sister was there?
TOM. For a while.
KEN. And yet it was your night.
TOM. It was.
KEN. Quite a thing to have held in your honour.
TOM. You do your bit, you get honoured and my bit, as they say, has been done. It’s hot out here.
BOB. Well, it usually is in the summer.
TOM. Not that kind of heat, though..I’m burning..
KEN. Loosen your tie. We’re in pants.
BOB. Easy access..
TOM. And what, you don’t believe I’ve had access?
BOB. What do you mean?
TOM. I’ve had access!
BOB. Access where?
TOM. When I left!
KEN. You didn’t!
TOM. I did!
BOB. But you’ve just won a BAFTA!
TOM. I arranged it! Picked someone out. Spoke to Clarkey..
KEN. Philip Clarke..
BOB. The Procurer..
KEN. Ah, yes, the good Doctor. He has a certain –
TOM. As do you.
BOB. As do I.
KEN. As do we all, I imagine.
TOM. But now, I’m more tired. I think I’ll grab a little chance to reflect.
(He stretches out, shuts his eyes..)
KEN. Can one in ink?
KEN. Inner blackness.
TOM. I dream. I imagine.
KEN. Of course. Silly of me to forget. You do that.
Afternoon. KEN lounges, naked. He is wearing headphones and motioning to the sound. TOM enters, stops, held by the image. He makes no noise, merely wavers until finally deciding to move. Ken stops him. He raises his hand, even though his eyes do not open.
KEN. Ssh, Tom. Lovely Sunday. There’s a song in my heart. Can you hear?
Similar. Later that evening. The remains of a meal. Emptied bottles, as stirred on by drink, they dicuss.
BOB. Well, of course he was vile..and yet in some ways a hero…Millions raised – some say raided – but as I say..for the spastics.. and millions more for the others; the poor at heart, the tamed souls..
KEN. Tamed or lame?
BOB. Both. Ours of course have abandon. But no, he gave service and what’s more, he – what?
BOB. ..Sympathised. (what?)
(Bob turns in drunken accusation to Tom, who just shrugs.)
KEN. Planned, though. All planned..
BOB. Well, yes..
KEN (He was) a particularly clever person..
TOM. And for clever, read cunning. Mapping it out. Making plans.
KEN. You sound suspicious. Don’t be. He had over sixty years practise. He died, his arms folded and a fucking huge smile on his face.
BOB. His work had been done. His were the hands of a preacher.
TOM. Some strange religion..
KEN. Yes, but with the same bloody message each time.
KEN. Yes. If one defines things as legal.
BOB. Or not.
KEN. An existence outside the bounds of most lives.
TOM. If I do this, I get this. Fold tab A into C and etc.. It all fits..
KEN. It’s perfect.
BOB. And I mean, what a campaign! Years and years!
KEN. A slow growth..
TOM. A graph. The marked ascent of perversion.
KEN. An Artist..
BOB. More: Master..!
KEN. Of the inner excrement of the soul.
BOB. Of all souls?
KEN. Well, his..
BOB. Yes, but his alone, or all others?
TOM. He was unique..
TOM. You think so? Can one cultivate oddity? Surely it happens? It forms..some sort of weed that keeps growing..the inner root, searching, creating itself free from light.
TOM. Wounds heal either way..when you cut your hand I mean, or your finger..the whole process happens..and then there you are, good as new..
KEN. So you’re saying he – what?
BOB. I’m not sure he knows what he’s saying. What are you saying?
KEN. I’m saying that he was a real oddity.
BOB. An oddity?
TOM. Yes. You don’t think he was odd?
BOB. He was different.
KEN. But was he an advance on the template?
BOB. What template?
KEN. The model of what we think man should be.
KEN. Did he reflect appetite or grow his own one, entirely? Did he cultivate it, to use your word, Tom.. Possibly. All I know is this: admired or damned, dead or alive, he is crucial. He’s the bloody poster boy..
KEN. Of a number of part generations..
TOM. Poster boy?
BOB. Mascot. Emblem, anyway. What do you do? You do this. And then you make friends with the others. With the ones who know. Then you show them just how bloody special this is. We always want something more. We always want something extra. Get to the top and what is there? Get everything you want then what’s left? We’re never happy, I think. We just can’t enjoy it. We look to the stars, we chase planets. We cruise round the world, the world stops. Hunger, you see? That’s what it is. He was hungry. Hungry until the end! He was Eighty! No, he was older than that..
BOB. The hunger is all. Contrary to popular belief it grants power! It keeps you sharp, keeps you focused; the resolve most lose track of but which is bred from a real emptiness! Shakespeare writes with a quill..all of those plays through a feather! He is empowered and so he writes on! He writes on! He writes on indeed until the bloody feather collapses! So what does he do?
KEN. Find a chicken..
BOB. Yes! He finds himself a fat bird!
BOB. Ah, but then he does more..he goes back to the egg and asks questions! He seeks understanding. He’s after gaining truth from that egg! From the source..do you see? That is why he stopped writing.. The egg wouldn’t tell him. So, what could he do? Had to stop. But not Lord Jim. Lord, no. The patron saint of our darkness. He kept on going! He bore no brook with that egg!
TOM. You’re drunk.
KEN. We’re all drunk.
BOB. All this opportunity..bubbles..They lift us all, set us floating..
KEN. All borne away on dark eggs.
BOB. Everyone knew.
KEN. He took the flak. He allowed us.
TOM. Why didn’t they say?
KEN. They were frightened. Frightened of a world he defined. Oddity works. People find it appealing. Even if they don’t realise. They’re all the little moths to one flame. A lot of the jews weren’t in camps. They were just cannon fodder. A lot of the queers and subversives. A lot of the communists. Flak. We should salute him.
TOM. We can’t.
TOM. It’s perverted.
KEN. And this garden isn’t?
BOB. The inverted fucking forest, this is.
Music from the dark: A burst of Vivaldi (Summer). Revealed, a young woman who could pass for around Seventeen. She sits, withdrawn on the ground, clutching a towel or tablecloth to her. BOB enters with a plate of prized snacks, sits, watches, taking his place quietly. When he speaks she jumps and visibly tenses. Bob is amused. Eats a blini, or something suitably prosperous.
BOB. Are you one of the Smithers girls?
BOB. How old are you?
BOB (LAUGHS) You’re not! You’re joking!
SHELLEY. It’s what I feel inside.
SHELLEY (PAUSES) No.
BOB. I could guess, but I don’t have to play games. I won’t play them. This place is exclusive and we can bloody well do what we want. So you can tell me, or not. But if you don’t, no complaining. If you don’t just be ready for the full and proper consequence when it comes.
SHELLEY. And is it coming?
BOB. It might. Would you say you were lucky?
SHELLEY. Lucky when?
BOB. Well, on average.
SHELLEY. What do you think?
BOB (LAUGHS) Oh, that’s good! I like you, you know. You’ve got a good sense of humour. Everything here can get dour, if you want the God’s honest truth. It’s all a bit serious here. There’s a lot of intent. There’s intention. Banging away. Fucking. Forging. Slowly defining itself.
BOB. That’s right. It’s all a bit heavy handed. There’s a fair amount of declaiming. A good deal of declaration goes on. People say what they feel. You get a full range of opinions. It’s all slightly..coloured. I prefer my world black and white.
SHELLEY. Plain and simple.
BOB. That’s right! I like this conversation we’re having. Its a welcome relief from the darkness, which I have to admit is a strain. This is like talking to the pig before you put the pineapple on it.
BOB. Gammon. The pig.
SHELLEY. Oh. I see.
BOB. I have my own insights, of course. It isn’t just the creatives. It isn’t just the do-gooders who can set up the standards for us. For instance, I think – no offence – that girls are like Buses. They seem to come at you out of nowhere and from such strange routes in some places that you don’t catch the number until of course it’s too late. I’ve missed a good few that way, but other times you go with it. You hop on board and get going. Not much point in leaving the house otherwise.
SHELLEY. Jump on a lot, do you?
BOB. Yes. Well, I’ve got to know many cities. Hopping on board. Charting. Checking. Seeing the world. Feeling it.
SHELLEY. The world?
BOB. Spread your..legs. Or if you’re not going to do that then bend over.
SHELLEY. And if I don’t?
BOB. Tell your Daddy. But he won’t want to be disturbed. He’s upstairs.
(She stares at him horrified. He relaxes further, regarding. A silence. TOM enters. He stands there unsure, but polite..)
TOM. Oh.. Am I intruding?
BOB. Not yet. Though, I had a mind to, Tom. If I’m honest…
TOM. I was upstairs.. through the window..I thought I saw someone new..
TOM. Are you new?
TOM. Are you new here?
SHELLEY. Yes. But I know you. And I know your name isn’t Tom.
BOB. Oh, good…
BOB. A Problem!
KEN (ENTERS) I’m afraid you’re mistaken. We’re all backroom boys around here. (TO TOM:) Go inside.
KEN. I’ll take it from that, that you’ve never seen any service. Now, yes. (TO SHELLEY:) He’s leaving. He’s very shy, as you see..
(Tom leaves. Bob sits.)
BOB. This should be entertaining..!
KEN. I’m Kenneth. Hello. I don’t believe we’ve met. But you’re Shelley. We know your Father as Robert here, will have said. Oh, by all means call him Bob and do call me Ken for that matter. You’re one of us now. You matter. As this is the place no-one knows. Do you know, there are people so rich that they no longer need any money? I’m talking of the multi-Billionaires, those few people who help us to prop up the world. Everyone knows they’re so rich, so their credit is strong the world over. They could buy up whole countries. They can literally afford anything. When you meet them you know that anything you have is now worthless. Their presence renders it worthless because it would be nothing to them to buy it. They can save..Citadels. Principalities. Nations. Imagine having that as one person..just having all of that in one life. People just give you things. Or you take. Because you have moved beyond money. Well, it’s the same thing with morals. It’s exactly the same thing with the soul. We are the pen. Our bodies are the pen writing questions. Thinking, then writing allowing all that’s within to find place. We are the pen. I hope you don’t think I’m joking. Our hearts and minds..writing. Our penises. We’re the pen. We are the pen and you, my love, are the paper. You’re what we need. Welcome, function. You have no need of currency here. What I’m trying to say is, don’t leave. Because if you did, none could help you. We own everybody. And we’re writing new rules sitting here. Now you can help us. Or not. But ‘not’ would make you unhappy. ‘Not’, my love, isn’t. It just isn’t an option for you. The world now is small. You can travel it in a second. And in that second we’d find you, because the technology too, is all ours. The Web is just that and Pornography is the Spider. It reels us in and we worship. Every man jack of us hunkers down. Even those who don’t watch. It is our instrument of entrapment. In that mili-second we can click and infect any life. Perhaps Bob is right. I heard him talk about Buses. Well, we are also the Depot. This is a kind of Eden for us. This is the place where you start. We can show you the truth, if you let us. Or you can choose to live the illusion that everyone else suffers from.
BOB. What’ll it be,dear? Bend, or..?
SHELLEY. I don’t know what to do.
KEN. There’s no option. Your known life is over but it can still have some worth under ours.
Similar. KEN and BOB reading broadsheets. The remains of a dinner. A number of wine bottles too. TOM enters, stands there. He wears a long raincoat.
BOB. You look like a wanker.
KEN. We’re supposed to be a cut above, Thomas.
KEN. You’re also late.
TOM. Somewhat, yes. I’m afraid I dawdled slightly.
TOM. Troubled. I feel a little aground. Or unmoored.
BOB. Can you be both?
KEN. They’re both the same!
BOB. You’re quite certain?
KEN. Aground means you’re drifting, as does unmoored, idiot.
TOM. That girl shook me up.
KEN. The girl’s ok. She’s been talked to.
TOM. By who?
KEN. Her father! You’re not implying that I give a shit? It’s not an ideal world. Never was. That’s why we’re here in this garden. That’s why we have mansions, or houses of – what should we say? Strained repute? We can create here. Refine. We can construct a new order. She didn’t know. Well, how could she? But this is where she will now go to school.
BOB. She looked like she was school leaving age.
KEN. Yes. It must have been a great disappointment.
BOB. I don’t know what you mean!
KEN. She’ll stay with us. We need an Au Pair, Nanny, Maid.
TOM. You’re going to employ her?
KEN. Why not?
BOB. What does that mean? That we pay her?
KEN. Not us. Her Father. The Detective Inspector will naturally supervise. He has for a while. We had a word before, just in passing. Apparently she caused problems so he had to take her out of Bedales. Home schooled her himself. Admirable, with his duties. How he found the time! Midnight Tutor. A task for those special hours when the mind is alive to new things.
TOM. I think I am drunk.
KEN. Relax. And take off that Flasher! The rationale is we’re sated. There’s always a degree of aimlessness after that. The body empties. Then fills. Each day’s a fresh season. Tectonic shifts. Inner landscape. A sense of rearrangement takes place. Take it off.
(And Tom does. He wears vest and pants only.)
BOB. Now you look geriatric, what on earth is wrong with you, Tom!
TOM. She knows me.
BOB. So what if she does? We’re not living in the same system. Don’t you know where you are? You’re in Eden. We’ve created our own Paradise!
TOM. I thought it was Eastbourne.
BOB. Where’s that?
TOM (CONFUSED) Somewhere on the coast and in England.
BOB (MOCK IGNORANCE) Where?
BOB. Sorry, I’m not sure I follow you..
KEN. Bob! (SMILES. TO TOM:) We’re all aground, all unmoored. We are all three of us drifting. And those still upstairs are the waving, each of them keen to sail on.
BOB. They could jump from that window and dive right into the ocean we’re making..
KEN. Searching for our new, bold horizon, a gazebo for a sail..
BOB. We’re fulfilled.
TOM. Well, I’m not!
KEN. Clearly. Explains why you’re dressed like a wanker..
TOM. I paniced! I dawdled! I didn’t know what to do!
BOB. What to?
TOM. Or why! If!
BOB. You are troubled.
KEN. But he’s not drunk. Start drinking. They’re bringing somebody new in tonight.
KEN. Dolphin blue. Something fresh as the daisy.
BOB. As opposed to this last one,. She was what I called half mown lawn.
KEN. But not at all what was asked for. When a man works hard, relaxation has to come in the form he wants most.
BOB. Have something to eat. Soak it up.
KEN. He isn’t drunk, Bob. He’s troubled.
BOB. Prawns, cheese, etc. Fresh crusty bread. Little meats.
TOM. I want to confirm why we’re here..!
KEN. You know why we’re here. We deserve this.
TOM. This is what we are?
BOB. He is troubled..
TOM. I had an uncomfortable dream…
BOB. Don’t we all?
KEN. When you get to the top there has to be something else still above you. Something else you can reach for, to make the journey worthwhile. Otherwise you jump off with only the depths to receive you. At the end of your body is where the next body starts.
BOB. Is that one up there now?
KEN. Up there where?
BOB. At the window.
KEN. Glaring? Yes.
TOM. They must hate us.
BOB. They don’t!
KEN. The must prize us..!
TOM. Prize us?
KEN. Exactly. Because we are teaching them how to love.
KEN. That and life. We are showing them what will happen. We’re preparing them. From their soft earth we are ploughing the field with strong swords!
BOB. Mine’s more of a dagger. But sharp.
KEN. I’ll tell you what we are: Navigators. We’re on a Crusade! We’re crusading!
BOB (TOASTS) Yes, here’s to each new virgin beach..!
KEN. Tasteless. But what I expect from you.
KEN. Bob, you’re a slow shit. You linger, scratching both the bowel and the bowl.
Similar. KEN and BOB play backgammon. A silence prolonged by decision before Bob makes his move. Ken throws his dice and removes one of Bob’s counters. Bob flusters.
BOB. Bloody backgammon!
KEN. I’d say Bacon, with what looks like a Quails egg on top.
BOB (SULKS) Where is he now?
KEN. Back upstairs. No doubt putting his doubts through their paces. Pushing his way through the darkness. Placing the light beneath thumbs.
BOB. I should think about getting dressed. I have a recital to go to.
KEN. Wigmore hall?
KEN. You’ll have to fly back. Tea and Thames.
BOB. Fucking poetry.
BOB. Not that keen.
BOB. On poems. I was as a child. Learnt by buckets. But strangely enough, never now.
KEN. It’s strange how we lose touch with some of the things that first touched us..
BOB. Some of us..
BOB. For the better?
KEN. These days I just change into these.
BOB. How is retirement?
KEN. Grand. I’ve room to express myself, freely.
BOB. Can’t do that on the Southbank, although I know some who’ve tried.
(TOM enters, draped in a towel. He slumps down.)
TOM. I’m parched.
BOB. I’m Bob. Pleased to meet you.
KEN. How did you go down?
TOM. I didn’t.
KEN. G and T?
(Tom nods. Ken serves.)
Bob’s popping out to a concert.
KEN. On the mainland. Our chariot of dreams flies him there.
TOM. Ah. Then not really a concert.
BOB. Going to meet a man there about something.
KEN. Care to expand?
BOB. That’s your job.
BOB. A film.
KEN. Oh, a film. Isn’t that more Tommy’s corner?
BOB. We’re going to ban it.
KEN. Oh, I see what you mean..
BOB. This man knows a man who helped another man make it. He’s who we’re after. Going to nail his dirty arse to the ground. Public figure.
KEN. I see. Anyone we know?
BOB. Best not asking.
KEN. It is, then.
BOB. We get them so that none of them can get us.
KEN. The reds and the blues. It’s the same the entire world over. Everywhere you go, Oxford/Cambridge: The Gaza Strip. Palestine.
BOB. Glasgow and London..
BOB. Moscow and Washington..
BOB. Abagavenny and –
BOB. I don’t know where else to say..
KEN. It’s a shame you’re out, Bob because I’ve heard tell Sir is coming.
BOB. Sir? No!
TOM. He’s coming..?
BOB. Here? Tonight?
KEN. So I’m told.
BOB. I better cancel then..
KEN. No. You can’t do that. It’s important.
BOB. So is Sir coming!
KEN. But we need you out there, Robert.
BOB. Don’t call me that.
BOB. Don’t call me Robert.
KEN. Well, what else should I call you? Afterall you’re using no cover. Here you are, Bob. In plain sight.
BOB. Yes, but nobody knows me.
TOM. Some do.
BOB. I’m not hanging about in your quarter.
BOB. Sir is coming..I need him to know where I stand!
KEN. Oh, I’m sure he knows, Bob. I’ll say, I’ll make it my business to tell him. We’ve all sworn an oath of allegiance. He knows the list of names. He’s apprised.
TOM. Who told you?
KEN. A fax. Nobody looks at them these days.
TOM. A fax from who?
KEN. Mister Orange.
BOB. Mister Orange faxed you?
KEN. Yes, he did. Mister Orange faxed me with his special message.. He keeps me in the loop. He informed me that the ‘Raspberry’s’ on his way.
BOB. Why is Raspberry at the top?
KEN. Apparently it’s his grandchild’s favourite flavour.
TOM. I thought orange was.
BOB (SAVOURS:) Raspberry.
I don’t know what to do.
KEN. You’ve no choice. You’ve already been given your mission. Defend the realm. Go among them. Skewer our enemies with a sword.
BOB. While you two do what?
KEN. Whatever the Raspberry tells us. We’ll possibly tame the peaches and garner their juice one by one.
BOB. You’re a monster.
KEN. I am. And now I need feeding. Tom, are you coming? Let the waters flow..
(He leaves, excitedly.)
BOB. Ken’s a cunt.
Similar. Another evening. KEN and BOB sit together. TOM sits apart, separate. He has his trousers on.
BOB. Tom’s got his trousers on.
BOB. Is he on strike?
KEN. No. Peculiar. He’s decided to become a kind of conscientious objector, but in the sexual sense. Is that right?
TOM. I’m just deferring, that’s all.
BOB. Then why is here?
KEN. That’s the question. Some might call it transition. He’s trying to decide where to be.
BOB. Or what to be.
BOB. After his fill’s been had.
KEN. Its cold turkey.
KEN. Cold brisket.
BOB (TO TOM:) Idiot.
KEN. Yes. Well, its these actors, you see. None of these actors have manners. They just pretend at them. They need somebody else to show them. Writers. Producers. Older actors. Directors. But they cant do it solo. They can never decide by themselves. (TO TOM) I’m very angry with you. But I’m preparing myself to forgive you. It can be a bind, this dark knowledge. It carries weight. I see that.
BOB. In for a penny, though.
KEN. Quite. When you get to the end of the body everything gets complicated. We crave new sensations. So what is there left?
BOB. Human flesh.
KEN. You’ve said it there, Bob.
BOB. I have.
KEN. Yet its never enough for some people. Human flesh, Tommy.
BOB. As akin to the precious raspberry.
BOB. Yes, the soft hairs. The down. The pulp. The juice flowing. The blood in the raspberry, pumping. Its very important to us.
KEN. You could say it’s the lifeblood..
BOB. You could..
KEN. As has been sanctioned..
BOB. As has been..
BOB. We follow our leader..
KEN (TO TOM:) We must do as we all have been bid.
TOM. Follow him?
TOM. After what he did here on Sunday?
BOB. Sunday’s the rest day. A man can do what he likes, that’s the point.
TOM. I couldn’t. I can’t.
KEN. Ah, but that’s because you’re newly made money. You’re lucky in films. It comes quickly if you tap the appropriate vein and push through. But what you don’t do is learn. You don’t understand why things happen. Or how they do. But the leader, he is the –
KEN. You think we’re privileged here? Imagine what he has grown used to. There are people alive on this planet who live in a totally fresh universe. You wouldn’t know. You can’t know. As soon as you’re famous you’re stunted. People are aware. You need cover. So you go to extraordinary lengths to fall through. You seek the light, then you hide, away from the one thing you most wanted. Because you can’t use it. You frightened I think by the glare. But the Raspberry and his kind? The Prince of fruits? He keeps going. His life is out there but he doesn’t care what they know. He can kill them. They’ll go. There are offices he can turn to. There are procedures. This is beyond governments. He’s had a long hand in death. His stock all knew Jack the Ripper. They were probably greatful. Jack drew such heat. They relaxed.
BOB. He’s right. Ken’s quite right. Your little outburst means nothing. Your stand.
KEN. But he’s sitting.
BOB (TO TOM:) Don’t ever think you decide what to do.
The same. Later that evening. The some froideur. Same positions as they sit staring out. SHELLY enters with a tray of drinks and nibbles. They barely regard her as she serves each in turn.
(She stands there.)
BOB. She’s waiting..
KEN. What do you want, dear? A tip?
KEN. There’s no tip. We’re free from that particular obligation. Do you understand? This is private. I’m afraid the normal rules don’t apply.
SHELLEY. I don’t want a tip.
SHELLEY. I just want to know what will happen.
SHELLEY. To me.
SHELLEY. This evening.
KEN. I can assure you, my dear. You’re quite safe.
BOB. How old are you?
BOB. Old enough.
SHELLEY. Than your requirements.
Because I could still call someone here. I could do it right now. I don’t give a fuck for my Father. My Father – Listen: because I think I’ve worked out who you are. You especially.
SHELLEY. But then, there’s you also..
BOB. Oh? Ah.
SHELLEY. So, tell me. I just want to know what might –
SHELLEY. Because this shift won’t end with a taxi for me back to Fulham..
TOM. Is that where you’re from?
SHELLEY. Fulham Broadway.
BOB. Where is that near?
BOB. Hammersmith. Yes. There are just so many places in London. Do you remember an ancient piece in the Standard about a famous Cabinet member who spoke of a day trip down to good old Leicester Square? He walked through, agahast! As if it were some Third World Country! As if he’d never been there!
KEN. The Riff-raff. They must have put him off..
BOB. Yes, the Riff-raff..
TOM. So where else do they go to, the easy elite?
KEN. They come here.
SHELLEY. I just want to know..
KEN. For your files? For your reference?
SHELLEY. I suppose so.
KEN. As a point of fact..
KEN. You mean theoretically?
KEN. I see.
SHELLEY. This is ridiculous..
KEN (AMUSED) Oh?
SHELLEY. I mean, I never believed this would happen! I never actually thought I’d be standing in someone’s bloody garden like this!
KEN. Like what?
SHELLEY. Like this!
KEN. Well, you have a very welcoming body. We should put it to use. Such a body, has to be both seen and believed.
BOB. By us all..
KEN. You have your Father to thank.
BOB. I don’t think she wants to talk about Daddy. Daddy’s been dirty. He’s been a bit of a shit, Daddy has.
KEN. What are you options, you mean? That’s the crux of your complaint?
SHELLEY. Yes. My options. If I stay. If I leave here..
KEN. Oh, I don’t think you’ll leave. Not today.
BOB. Is she complaining?
KEN. Are you? Because there are a lot of tastes round the table. A lot of views to consider. And a good deal of experience, too. There is a certain breeding. And class. Although class these days is more to do with opportunity, really. These days class is different to what it was in my day. Class is activity now. Class is the club you belong to.
BOB. HMRC .
KEN (LOOKING AT TOM:) BBC. (TO HER:) Because it isn’t even your school. The current PM’s made them wretched. Or if not him, his minions. Are any of them in tonight? They’d decide, you see. They would vote. There has to be a concensus. About you and your options. You’re part of a large company. Born into it, some might say. Thanks to your father. His tastes are legion. He swings quite a sword around here.
BOB. He’s very versatile.
SHELLEY. And what have you got to say about this?
KEN. About what, your father?
TOM. What would you like me to..?
KEN. Please don’t bring God into it. God’s in his box. This is the place he’s forsaken. God’s got the lid down and Tom’s been upstairs, haven’t you?
KEN. Just come down. He’s been toe to toe with your Daddy. He’s quite a force, is your father. It’s thanks to him we’re still talking. We don’t usually put up with all this. We don’t really expand. I’ll be honest. But we’re very pleased you’re here with us.
SHELLEY. But what will you do to me later?
KEN. Well, we’ll probably have a chat.
BOB. Are you all alone in the world or do you have a little brother or sister?
SHELLEY. One brother.
BOB. Really? And where is he now?
SHELLEY. He’s at home.
BOB. With your Mother?
KEN. She’s here.
SHELLEY. My Mother’s here?
BOB. Oh, I didn’t realise.
KEN. She’s with us.
BOB. Which ones’ your Mother?
SHELLEY. What do you mean?
KEN. Here’s her shoes.
(He retrieves them from under his chair.)
KEN. Lovely woman. Game.
SHELLEY. Oh, shit..Oh, God..!
KEN. Steady now. Careful.
BOB. She’ll need to clear that up when she’s done.
Similar. Another evening. KEN darns a sock as BOB approaches. The evening is cooler. They both wear long dressing gowns.
BOB. The Prime Minister’s here.
KEN. Best not to mention which nation.
BOB. This one.
KEN. Yes, but where is that?
BOB. I’d tell you..but I’m not sure I know anymore.
KEN. Well, what does he want?
BOB. To unwind.
KEN. No, I meant does he want the full of half menu?
BOB. Oh, the full.
KEN. He’s a trier.
BOB. I suppose that’s why we voted for him.
(Bob sits. Ken lays down his darning.)
KEN. Did you meet the famous Footballer?
BOB. Just now. Strong and silent type. Charming.
KEN. And his lovely wag?
BOB. Buxom. But sadly all on the face.
KEN. He seemed more than a little excited..
BOB. Did he?
KEN. Oh, yes. The proverbial kid at Christmas..!
BOB. But this is July..
KEN. Have some Sherry. I feel positively –
BOB. It’s colder now.
KEN. Is. The garden is practically lunar.
BOB. Quiet too.
KEN. Yes, they’re sleeping.
BOB. Then we’ll tender their dreams until dawn.
KEN. Drink to that..
Later on. The empty gazebo. A sportsjacket. A briefcase. The obligatory cups and plates. SHELLEY enters, distressed. She still wears her apron. She stands there, deciding. She holds a large kitchen knife. Tom enters and stands. She turns to regard him. They stand there in silence.
TOM. You’re crying.
TOM. Clearly, you’ve chopped quite a few. Move to carrots. They’re notably safer and you’ll get to see in the dark.
What are you doing?
SHELLEY. Don’t know. But I have to do something.
TOM. No. You don’t.
SHELLEY. People love you. People look upto you.
TOM. That isn’t real.
SHELLEY. Then what is?
TOM. This, apparently.
TOM. He’s not around. He can’t help you. And if he was, he’d be special. He’d probably be one of them.
TOM. We are. You’d have to describe us as different. You couldn’t deny that.
SHELLEY. I wouldn’t..
TOM. You’d have to accept that..
SHELLEY. I can’t. I’ve grown up with this shit. I knew about my fucked father. You don’t grow up with that as a Father and not bloody know! How could you? I was marking my time. I thought I might try and kill him. I still might.
TOM. They’d kill you. They’d lock you away.
SHELLEY. This is it.
TOM. Yes, of course. Pass it.
SHELLEY. Why? Where are your onions?
TOM. Sweating in the dark, Shelley. Pass it. I want you to give me the knife.
SHELLEY. You need to do something.
SHELLEY. Because you still seem to have half a conscience. Someone should know.
TOM. No-one can know. Not about this. Not at all.
SHELLEY. What if I told them?
TOM. You can’t. You won’t.
SHELLEY. Would you stop me? If I did. Would you try to?
TOM. No, but there are people we call. People here.
SHELLEY. Meaning men.
TOM. Men and women.
SHELLEY. There are women here? They condone this?
TOM. This is their work. And they’re loyal. I think you just need to relax. You should concentrate in your duties. They’ll be rooms to sort. Plates and glass all have to be cleaned..
SHELLEY. Or destroyed.
SHELLEY. There are bins at the back full of partly used plates and glasses. Cutlery, also. Not to mention sheets. Sheets and towels. Tons of them, partly burnt, or with shit on them or whatever. Other stuff.
SHELLEY. Why are they loyal?
TOM. Put it down.
SHELLEY. Do they burn everything so that every trace of you is extinguished? Is that how it happens? Is that how you get away with all this?
TOM. Not me.
SHELLEY. All of you!
TOM. There’s a lot of people here, Shelley..And one knife.
SHELLEY. I found it. I smuggled it out from a bin. Nobody looks at me now. They know who I am. Plus I’m older. Too old.
TOM. Just older.
SHELLEY. So I managed it fine. My own knife. I could cut you.
TOM. You won’t. You won’t get close.
SHELLEY. Are they watching?
TOM. If I ask them, they fall out the trees like ripe fruit.
TOM. That’s right. That’s exactly right, Shelley. Apples.
SHELLEY. But never onions. I hate them. They make you cry.
TOM. Yes, they do.
SHELLEY (PAUSES) So, the stuff..
TOM. Some gets chucked, if it’s bad. And then some gets recycled. It’s sent out or granted. To old folks homes. Homeless shelters. And one or two hospitals. All evidence there in plain sight, lining the beds of the dying. Hidden from view. Written over. By illness and death. And by need.
SHELLEY. You mean give it to others..! You’re sick!
TOM. Yes and no knife will cure it. This is vast. You don’t realise. You don’t recognise what this is. Even if it close to home. There are endless rooms in the mansion. Secret corridors. Corners. Places behind cabinets. It’s desperate and dark and not incurable, Shelley. And I want you to know I have wavered. I have tried to fight this. I’ve sweated. But I know what I am, what this is. We can always resist but you can’t separate what’s inside you. They can cut away tumours but then the potential for tumours remains. Privilige won’t be sliced. It’s Alchemical, almost. Magical. It’s protected by the weight of its own industry. There are others here infinitely more distinguished. Names we’d never say. Never publish. Are you saying you know everyone? There’s a country inside and another one out, in the garden. There are names in the trees. Reputations. Legends beneath. Histories. Do you know where you are? You’re in the garden of Eden. You’re in the place few can dream of. You’re in the fucking first place on earth.
SHELLEY. You’re mad.
TOM. I’m not mad. But I am drunk on something. I’m changed. I’ve found something I never dreamt I would find. I don’t pretend to like it but still, I recognise it explains me. I realise what it tells me about my life on earth. Put it down.
SHELLEY. I can’t. I can’t..!
TOM. Try. Just holding it makes you weaker.
TOM. It’s defensive and also –
TOM. Ignorant. It shows you don’t understand. And are therefore of no proper interest to them. They are already different. They’re already beyond your concerns. Cut one, they’ll heal. They have the country’s best Doctors. Kill one, you’re finished. Murder is just suicide. I know. I have seen. You’re not the first, Shelley, really. All clubs are founded on what the desperate and dark can’t accept.
SHELLEY. Is this who you are?
TOM. Part of me. You won’t get an explanation. We’re set. After a certain point, things just happen. Certain behaviour happens. Certain thought processes. I’m creative. I need more than a few minutes applause every evening. I had to accept. It was spotted. And spotted by Ken, luckily.
TOM. Rather him, than the rest.
SHELLEY. I can’t quite believe I’m actually here talking to you. First, that I’m here, talking to you and then, that I’m talking to you and you’re this.
TOM. I’d say there was a rather a lot you don’t get, rather a lot you don’t follow. People aren’t ever what you sit and want them to be. They move, constantly. That’s the only proof of the soul; their opinion. Their view. Their outlook. Everything else is just chemical. The body ages and dies so you have to use it to it’s full extent while you have it. You have to expand it. Disgust it. You have to push it to its fullest extent and to try.
TOM. It’s the way. The only recourse is stagnation. The hamster on the treadmill or whatever you call it. The wheel. We have to progress. We all think we want the next level. Man dreamt of flying but it isn’t the actual flight that inspires. No. It’s the need or desire to try and get away from ourselves.
SHELLEY. I don’t want to get away from myself. I just want to get away from these..people.
TOM. Yes, but they’re not people, are they?
SHELLEY. So what are you?
TOM. One of them. I’m a tryer. I try. I want ot see the next thing that happens. I want the forbidden. Because that stands at the limit of what we are expected to do. When you touch something or see something beyond belief truly happen you see what’s inside us. It’s as if the fluid of the soul were expressed.
SHELLEY. You mean it’s wept out.
TOM. It’s cried.
SHELLEY. And people are hurt.
TOM. Yes, its painful. But pain is a process that we have been taught to accept. Some people like pain. There are even people who seek it.
SHELLEY. But not here..
TOM. Who says so?
SHELLEY. Well, how could they know?
TOM. People know. It isn’t age. People know. It isn’t just about things that happen. I personally don’t enjoy it. But I watch. I’m close to it. I don’t deny my involvement. But I don’t indulge.
SHELLEY. But you’re up there..
TOM. Yes, but I let them decide what to do. I was the same as a child. I grew up in a rough part of London. I saw old people beaten. And once as a baby I saw a cat on the street.
SHELLEY. A cat?
TOM. You won’t believe me, I know, that I remember this cat, as a baby. I was just out of the pram, more a toddler, but I was only just walking by then. I had been taken out on the street, while my Mother talked to a neighbour and across the street, the cat lay there, close to the edge of the road. It had been run over. It’s legs and part of it’s stomach were flattened. There were guts..yes..intestines..crying out on the road. But the cat was alive. It was reaching out with it’s front legs, reaching out there for something – perhaps the soft God of cats to help it. Its eyes were full, wide..it was at the moment the owner of a wholly legitimate kind of knowledge. Of a truth, a full knowledge, that thing that we all clamber for. I felt it could see what came next. Or what didn’t come next, very clearly. I was struck by that. As a toddler. I sensed some of the things that cat felt. Now, I could say it turned to look at me, that it spoke, but I can’t pretend that did happen. It may have done. That’s forgotten. But not the image of it in the road. It’s destiny had been set, as soon as it woke on that morning. It had marked it’s time. Met it’s maker and purposefully lain down before. It had been sacrificed. Possibly by it’s own design. Or another’s. A small thing, abstracted, taken away from itself, but in stages. The last half first. No-one touched it. By which I mean we all watched it! Nobody took it away. It was just left to die that whole day. A lesson of sorts, for the village.. Everyone respected the process. It was inhumane. It was awful. And it exposed us all, everyone. It seemed as if the whole borough passed by. It was our television. Everyone on that street. ‘Normal people.’ No matter how poor, or how awful, it simply exposed what we were.. the fact that we don’t care. Won’t help. And that we remain fascinated. By the things we can’t explain. By the ugly. As they make their demands on us all. I saw that day there’s no point in trying to live in a way that’s accepted. You do the accepted things to survive them so that you can actually live how you want. In your little room. Close the door and bar all the windows. Turn off the light. Suck the darkness first into and then breathe it out of yourself. Try the unexpected. Taste it. Live in the imagination, entirely. Involve yourself in the horror. The unspeakable thing sits in us. You want to know what’s up there? Well, you don’t need me to say. We both know that. But there are also your parents. Now, what do you want to do about that? What do you want to do about that, apart from in some way commend them? For their honesty..
SHELLEY. They’ve both sold me!
TOM. Nobody owns anything. Only ourselves. This is light entertainment. Because the darkness surrounds us. It explains who we are. We neded change.
SHELLEY. But you told jokes..
TOM. I still do. Who’s to say I just haven’t? You know there’s a point in all films and most plays when the villain explains what they’re doing? It’s James Bond at the end about to get lasered in two by Goldfinger; (ACCENT:) ‘You know Mister Bond I so wish that you and I could be friends..’ Then he goes on to explain why he wants world domination. It’s the same thing with Hitler. ‘Because nobody loved me..’ Boo hoo. There’s a term for the speech. Do you what it is? Shall I tell you? You’ll laugh. As its funny. It’s a wonderful phrase, actually. It’s called the ‘Death of the Kitten speech.’ Right? Do you get the joke? It just happened. I said I wouldn’t explain. And I haven’t. Or do you find that all reasonable? You have to decide if this is about damaged people or if the human spirit is something that nobody can quite recognise. Even in themselves. Why do we all just keep going? Do you always have custard for pudding, or will you try crème brulee? Do you always have chips or will you try oysters? Would you eat frogs legs, or will you stick with –
SHELLEY. It isn’t about food!
TOM. It’s taste. If you’re not living every opportunity, are you living? Are existance and life any different, or are you tied to the construct? Do you obey the rules, codes, the morals or do you stop and see there’s no rules? We live in boxes all day and go to our boxes in boxes. We eat in boxes, shit boxes and think in them too, box like thoughts. I wont say step outside as I don’t want ot be thought of as clichéd. But put a hole in yours. Tear it. And live in the slit. That’s the point. You get a strange little light that may or may not reveal what’s inside you. But you will get a method for how to deal with it while it shines.
SHELLEY. You’re worse than the others.
TOM. I’m not. I at least think about it. I’m the cat in the road. You’re the toddler. So are you going to help me, or not?
SHELLEY. I don’t know what to do.
TOM. No-one does. And everyone knows that’s the secret. The point is, we keep it. And that’s the reason we are damned.
(She kneels down.)
That’s good. Now, I am going to make an exception. Shelley, this is a favour which will possibly save your life.
The Garden. JESS sits. He is thin yet possessed with a real air of danger. He could be young and vicious but it more likely impossibly old and composed. He remains in good shape and wears leather trousers. No shirt, bare body, skin Iggishly lined or indeed icy smooth. The atmosphere appears changed. The light is unnaturally clear or strange, hazy. This makes the garden feel different and far more akin to a realm.
JESS. The air smells of lemon and sex. The grass beneath is sharp, crisp and gives off a faint trace of smoke as you cross it. The flowers are nipples, mothering out of the ground. And then of course, there’s the fruit; alien tongues on all branches. Strange buds, like sinew, with the soft core of others, like eyes. The entire camp is alive, for that is what it is..or an Island. Certainly a private enclosure, of which nobody knows or could bless. Everything ages you, deep within, yet, on the outside, a sense of immortality rages. You are walking through blood. Breathing primrose. Ammonia plays at your nose. I love it all, love it so, but then I know no different. Was it made for me? Did I make it? It was so long ago, I forget.
Certainly there’s a man, an older man, who abuses. He sometimes appears at the border, shouting at me, obscene things. Insults. Attack. But I am perfectly composed and refuse him. I do not answer. There are so many other things I can do.
(Voices approach. Jess moves away, slyly. BOB and KEN enter, still in their pants, free from drink.)
BOB. When did the girl die?
KEN. Last week.
BOB. Why did nobody think to tell us?
KEN. No need.
BOB. Tell Tom that.
KEN. I’m not about to say anything. He’s in a fragile enough state as it is. We wouldn’t want to – well – tip the balance. In a way, I feel for him. It’s still a little bit new, all of this.
BOB. He hasn’t complained during it.
KEN. No. But then you’re forgetting reflection. Instinct’s persuasive. It’s a nucleur bomb to the soul. But when it settles, things shift. And if you’re like him, something happens.
BOB. Such as?
BOB. Really? You don’t think it’s a little bit late for all that? The moral argument?
KEN. Yes. But not with him. He is younger.
BOB. Not by much.
KEN. But still younger. He isn’t quite of our time. He comes a few years afterwards. When there had been a change in perspective. Out of the grey we’d had colour. We were moving so fast, thanks to that. But he’d had it all. By the time he’d arrived things were different. New rules. No abandon. Everything had been sanctified. We’d seen the revolution of choice. You’re so much in thrall you’ve forgotten. This girl’s death should teach you..
BOB. What else does death teach?
KEN. Stay alive.
BOB. You’re right, Ken, of course. I don’t take enough time to remember.
KEN. You got on the horse and kept riding. But there’s more to you, Bob. I know that. But he doesn’t, you see. The horse is riding him. That’s the problem. He doesn’t and can’t quite control it. He needs a bit of help, coming out.
BOB. Like the queers.
KEN. If you like. But must you be so judgemental?
BOB. It’s just a joke!
KEN. You should have more respect for yourself. No, of course, you do. Respect’s wrong. I think this is more to do with the others. How others see you should be the uppermost thing in your mind.
BOB. Even here?
KEN. Even here.. They have to understand what we’re doing. We’re giving them life. We’re providing the precious resource of the truth.
BOB. I suppose so.
KEN. Summer stretches on, into Autumn.
BOB. And the weather?
KEN. That’s funny.
BOB. I just thought I could be freer here.
KEN. Everything costs. If it didn’t, be frank, how could we tell what was pleasure? How would we define without pressure. How else could we all sanctify?
BOB. You’re right, Ken. You’re right.
KEN. We’re both here to set an example. For want of a better term, we’re both leaders.
BOB. Leaders need a drink.
KEN. None around.
BOB. I could certainly do with one!
KEN. Do without.
BOB. You’re very regime change, today, Kenny. Almost puritanical.
KEN. There’s a mission.
BOB. A mssion to do what?
KEN. Fuck the free.
BOB. Or the unfree.
BOB. Or is that like choosing between beef or chicken? Or chicken and fish? Is it pudding?
KEN. Bob, you seem to forget everything.
BOB. I’ve had a bit of bad news, actually. So I could do with a steadying hand to be honest.
KEN. What news?
BOB. My daughter.
KEN. The one you don’t talk to..
BOB. That’s right. It seems when she left and went to stay with that friends of hers, somewhere..
KEN. You don’t know where it was?
BOB. I DO! Surrey.
KEN. Surrey where?
BOB. Taunton, I think..
KEN. Bob, that isn’t Surrey, that’s Cornwall!
BOB. Is it?
KEN. I think so..
BOB. We don’t know where these place are! You forgot!
KEN. Alright. True.
BOB. Taunton, let’s stay. This friend of hers was a Vicar. Or rather her father was. The friend’s father. Some piddling church somewhere there. Noleen was fifteen. This would have been 1990. I sent her away..you remember..because I simply couldn’t bear who she was. Somehow sullen..yet loud.. Aggressive too.. Silence. Music. Well, not music: racket! Filling the house every day! I’d just come back to this noise and this infernal smell, every evening. Not even cigarette smoke, tye-dying, for dying ones clothes. And hairspray. The whole house was clogged all the time and then we all of the doors always slamming. The moods, too. The monthlies. The onrush of blood,anger.. all. It was too much, anyway. She had truly begun to disgust me. So I sent her away. I just couldn’t..understand what she was. I worshipped her as a child. A beautiful doll in it’s bonnet. Soft and small. A potatoe. No, not a potatoe.. a cake! To have turned into this. So I cast her out to this.. Vicar. Well, someone just showed me the paper. The man was a –
KEN. I see..
BOB. I mean, can you imagine!
KEN. Yes, Bob.
BOB. Well, of course..But that’s not the point! No, the point is quite different!
KEN. Which point?
BOB. Look, Kenny –
KEN. You can call me by my name if you want.
BOB. Thankyou, Ken. But I won’t. Isn’t that the point of this, really? This place grants us the freedom to actually be who we are. I was never Melvin, Malcolm. Or anyone else. Never Michael. I was and am what I feel like, the essence of me. The sound. Bob. It’s somehow functional.
BOB. Like someone diving for apples. Delving down into water to be met by the far stronger force. But I certainly felt a twinge for Noleen, to have moved from the frying pan into fire. And this bastard Vicar had been at it for years! Other girls! Choirs of them! Entire congregations! Miles of them! Metres!
KEN. Metres of miles?
BOB. Which is worse?
KEN. Once one has been soiled does the actual number matter? Once you’ve corrupted, the virus – or so it would seem – is confirmed.
JESS. Good evening.
JESS. I hope I haven’t disturbed you. I was just taking a tour of the garden. I haven’t been this far down, not in years.
KEN. This far down?
JESS. From the house.
BOB. But the house is here..
JESS. Oh, yes, this house. But I meant the other.
KEN. There’s another house?
JESS. Over there. The path is a little obscured, but as you will see, it’s much grander.
BOB. The path.
JESS. House. It’s mighty. It is My Father’s house.
JESS. He’s the Lord around here.
BOB. The Lord?
JESS. Of the Manor. And indeed of the shires. The surrounding fields. Village. Green. He owns the birds and the bees. The wasps and flies, all the insects. He owns all who trespass. His is the house of the Lord.
You don’t sound convinced.
KEN. No, we’re –
KEN. Well, just a little surprised, to be honest. We did think that we generally had our bearings and knew everyone else around here.
JESS. Apparently not. I am the Heir apparent. Technically, you’re intruders and pitching yourselves on my patch.
BOB. Are we? Oh. Ah.
JESS. But you’re very welcome.
KEN. Alright. Then, thankyou.
JESS. We are of course, all united.
BOB. Like a team?
JESS. In a sense.
BOB. Ah, but who would we play for?
JESS. Those who honour distraction.
BOB. We try to do more. Celebrate it.
KEN. Well, I suppose we must, musn’t we?
The same. Later still. KEN and BOB in attendance while JESS lounges now.
JESS. So, there is another?
KEN. Yes. Tom. I’m afraid he’s tending his tail at the moment.
BOB. Or getting someone else to.
KEN. Reflecting. And no doubt giving himself a hard word.
BOB. Conscience struck. Plus, he’s one of those..
KEN. Actor. Pretender. And still, of course, fairly new.
BOB. We come here most nights. We drive all the way down from London. I suppose it’s a habit..
KEN. Oh, it’s more of a club, say..
JESS. A strange one.
KEN. Or something Masonic, perhaps.
We certainly thought this was it. Remote as it is, unsurrounded..
BOB. We had no idea at all!
JESS. It surrounds me, so it couldn’t have anything else, orbiting. These are the grounds. This is the edge of the garden. This is the undergrowth.
JESS. Yes. This is a place of compost.
BOB. You wouldn’t have a drink, would you?
JESS. No. This is a high but dry season..
KEN. The weather has changed..
BOB. We’d better switch to beer! Guinness, then?
JESS. No drink.
JESS. No. I thought that we would just share the garden. On it’s own terms.
KEN. Your garden..
JESS. Yes. But there can always be wheels within wheels within wheels.
(JAY enters. Tall, lean, a charismatic Tramp, his eyes staring. He is suitably dirty and wears a battered and torn overcoat.)
JAY. Or trees.
JESS. Jay is here!
JAY. One of these men called me special.
JESS. Oh, you heard that..
BOB. Are you?
KEN. Is he?
JESS. He moves around the grounds and he hears things..
BOB. Does that make him special?
JESS. No, it makes him a spy.
KEN. For your Lord?
JAY. There are a lot of people here.
JESS. Yes. None of whom sought permission.
KEN. Perhaps they didn’t know to..
JESS. Then tell them.
KEN. I assure you, I will..
JESS. I’m upset. But that is the problem with grounds if they are of a certain size, scale or nature. One can miss detail. One easily loses track. Perhaps that’s why Jay is here. He at least grants perspective. He keeps me informed. He reminds me of some of the things I must do.
KEN. Is he a friend?
JESS. Hired hand.
JESS. Irritant, mostly. He’d previously proved quite useful but then he disappeared on me, for years! Caused the house quite a strain. Induced lots of worry. But then he came back determined to prove himself once again. It hasn’t quite worked out yet, as you can see. There are problems. Tramp. Hygiene. Odour. Wouldn’t let him in the house in that state. A man of the people, he says. But who wants those people? I have a barn. He sleeps in it.
JAY. You know I never sleep.
JESS. He has dreams. Worries. Visions. I suppose you could say he’s tormented. He’s had a chequered career. Lots of trouble. More than his worth some might say. But I am a man of my word and strangely compassionate, also. I threw him a chance. I allowed him. Granted him a way and means to redeem.
BOB. Is he – ?
JESS. Drunk? He drinks a lot these days. Hence the rules. It’s these Drop-outs, they always fall back on themselves.
(Jay’s laugh is dragged out. He slowly rouses..)
It’s the disappointment..
KEN. I see.
JAY. But I am not disappointed! I drink to obscure, not forget things! As a matter of fact, I remember every bloody thing, every step!
JESS. He holds me responsible..
JESS. Probably because I’m the Landlord. I own the lease. I’m the Squire. And there he is, freezing, risking his health in the field. He’s always been poor. Haven’t you? He’s always struggled. He abhors the privilege so he wavers. It’s wavers and piss everywhere.
JAY. And now I’m hungry.
BOB. Me, too. You haven’t seen our dressing gowns, have you? I could use a shirt. Or my briefcase. I usually keep gloves in there.
BOB. And spare socks. Shaving stuff. Novel.
BOB. Isaac Asimov’s.
BOB. I’ve always liked robots.
JAY. I read history.
JAY. And I also read faces. Hearts, souls, etc.
JESS. Yes, he has a certain skill. Gypsy.
BOB. So, what happens next?
JAY. Turn the page and we will all share the sentence.
BOB. That sounds rather Biblical for a Wednesday. It sounds rather –
BOB. Sunday school.
The same. Some moments later. TOM enters. He’s pale and shows signs of discomfort. He wears only pants but is trying to protect himself from the cold.
BOB. Everyone, Tom’s back!
BOB. Two more plates for the party..
TOM. Pleased to meet you.
BOB. Not that you will be for long.
TOM. I’m sorry..?
JESS. How are you feeling?
JESS. Oh, you are?
TOM. Also fuzzy.
JAY. What’s fuzzy?
KEN. Its one of those indecipherable words people use.
TOM. It’s gotten colder.
JESS. It has. Though I like to feel it’s got clearer.
JESS. Yes. Cleaner. As if, through that clearing everything is now focusing..
TOM. I’ve been in the cellar.
KEN. Why, Tom?
TOM. I don’t know why. I was hiding.
BOB. Of course, I forgot – he’s a jew.
TOM. I don’t want it to be a shock when they come. I want to know what it feels like. I want to be prepared.
BOB. It won’t happen. Because people like us are protected.
TOM. People like us..
BOB. Though, we’re hamsters. This gentleman owns the wheel.
(Tom stares at Jess.)
KEN. He wanted to talk to us, Tom.
TOM. Is he Police?
BOB. No, the owner.
JESS. That’s right. I’m the owner.
TOM. The owner of what?
JAY. A battle’s been fought and for now, he’s the owner. It’s a constant to and fro. It’s a struggle across many grounds, many years.
TOM. But what does he want with us?
KEN. Well..that is the question..
JESS. How are you feeling? How do you feel?
TOM. I just said.
JESS. A little distracted? Of course. And a little removed from your purpose..?
TOM. I feel I have wandered, slightly.. I feel I have indeed walked away.
JESS. Then we will lead you back.
BOB. To his house. He owns the garden. The garden and the grounds.
KEN. He’s the owner.
TOM. And who is this gentleman?
BOB. A Tramp.
KEN. Apparently, Gypsy.
JESS. Angel. Or so he was once said to be.
He’s also a Muff-diver..
JESS. And a Cock-Gobbler, also..He’s a Bum-Feeler. A Yearner. A Player of the sad, old Trombone. He’s a Businessman and a Thief. A Semi-Motivational Speaker. A Voice in the Wilderness voicing only the very wildest of things. Nobody actually cares anymore. I just keep him on for amusement. He comes and goes. He’s a Season. All bitter and stuck. Unwound Spring.. He’s here to observe you..
JESS. One of his main skills is staring. You are supposed to feel something. Possibly, judged. I’m not sure. It fails to work on me. But in you, it should prove effective. Do let him. It’s funny. It always makes me smile, anyway.
(Jay has been staring.)
JESS (CONT) A freak. But some of them can be charismatic. They have a certain charm. Or a presence.
TOM. He’s making me feel colder.
Vivaldi from the dark. Very possibly Winter.
The light rising. A form of dawn, somewhere else. The Gazebo is cleared. A Crucifix is erected. TOM is suspended. TOM and KEN have been bound. JAY observes. JESS is lounging, a bowl of fruit by his side.
JESS. They’ll try to blame me of course, but it’s really you who arranged it. Just as we taste the freedom, we also tighten the noose. If you’d had any sense you would have felt it all around, all the changes. It was in the trees, that sharp whisper, rattling its way through the leaves. ‘Do this.’ ‘Do that..’ Naturally, the rationale will be misted. But my fault. I’m the Landlord. But how does that influence tenancy? You did all of this because this what people do. Dumb desire. You acted on yours because status has been successfully granted to you. By a system you control or which is controlled by others who are nevertheless known to you. It was not me. Not I. I always watch from a distance. I don’t get involved. I collect things and then let them wither away, as they do. (TO JAY:) Tight enough?
JESS (His thought continues:) When you look at certain points in the dark, your imagination – or what passes for it – is ignited. You will project on the picture everything you want take place. This could be a point in those trees or some strange void above us. Sucking stars. Sucking people. There is, so they tell me a commonality to it all. Death in the Universe. Sex. Which entails the little death when it happens. The build up of blood, sperm, excitement – as soon as it’s spent, empties you. A thrill is used up and with that thrill, a sensation. But then another one follows. For a limited time. That strange spell.
JAY. He’s breaking.
JESS (Thought continues:) And if you have too much of it? Well. It reduces itself to a function. All of that body magic akin to a belch, shit, or fart. You go against yourselves all the time because of your short desires. Your craven fumblings. Your ties to the fetid earth you crawled from. You seek redress, instantly as soon as you reach your limit and clamber instead for the extra just as all of you here have now done. You seek darker paths. Other means of excitement. You want to explore that black corner in which the accepted universe duly ends. You enter the space to feel changed but the black hole will grant no perspective. It will lead back to yourself, your own darkness, or take you to a place you can’t see. It will be a place in which sight and what knowledge you have cannot help you. It will mean fresh dimensions that you will not understand.
(Jay stares at Ken.)
JAY. Do you understand?
JESS. All you have are the walls that you have built yourselves to confine you. As well as define you. And perhaps to imprison you, too. But the realm is endless out here. It isn’t at all as you picture. It grows and spreads without context and for better or worse is unhoused. It exists. It expands. It breathes. It’s organic. It has come here to suck you, to swallow you up. You’re the judged. You are the dead that the snake’s come to smother. And I’m the snake. I’m the Serpent, who turns out in the end to be God.
JESS. You’re going to feel sick now. You’ll fade. Look at what you have done with the prizes! Look at all you have squandered for a fluttering of the flesh. You have spat on the fruit but the fruit has returned and is biting. Temptation’s no answer. It is only the question –
KEN. But we’re –
JESS. Is this what you imagined? Is this what it felt like on those long, private nights of the soul? Were you tempting fate? Did you strain against belief to imagine the pain you were causing and risking of course for yourselves? Did you trouble to think of these countless others? Of these hours OF stripping, the sheer layers of life you’ve removed! And can you feel it now? Because we want you to feel it..
BOB. Ken –
BOB. I’m burning!
KEN. Burning from where?
BOB. The soul up!
(Bob suffers and writhes. Ken can only regard him.)
JAY. And so he bursts into flames, as has been written..! Swoop down, dark Angels and Vulture away at the bones!
(Ken starts laughing..)
BOB. Ken, please!
KEN. You don’t find it funny? You don’t think it’s funny? It’s Light Entertainment, is this!
KEN. Such fun. All of my senses are thriving! Relax, Bob! Relinquish! This is true nourishment!
(The Sound of flames, music, jeers; an artificial excitement. The sense of production. A strange, strained tableau..)
KEN (CONT) Music cuts!
(Darkness. Sound cuts)
(A Change: A Radio begins playing. Something recognisable, something English. A snatch of the Archers, perhaps. Light slowly builds..)
The Garden, much as it was in Act One. The glasses and bottles return, as does the briefcase. An Isaac Asimov novel is laying face up on the grass. Police Crime Scene tape has also sagged but is featured. Two Journalists enter. BEN and SAM (Female).
BEN. It’s just grass. And grass leaves no traces. It’s simply torn or grown over.
SAM. Or possibly, smoked?
BEN. English lawn? Not much call for it.
SAM. True. I prefer my Lambert and Butler.
BEN. Lucky Lambert.
SAM. Lucky Butler! I grew up quite posh, dont’cha know!
BEN. Yes, I forgot, you’re the child of privilege.
SAM. Sort of.
BEN. Explains why you’re getting trained on this paper.
SAM. WHAT? It’s still a Broadsheet!
BEN. It’s Broadloid..
BEN. It’s Ok. But we’re looking at the death of the news in the final sense any minute..
SAM. You’re so much fun, Ben..
BEN. Why, thankyou, Mistress Samantha..
SAM. Sod off.
(They look around.)
BEN. This is the spot, then. The place.
SAM. Do you think people knew he was like that?
BEN. I expect so. Don’t we think everyone is? That’s their legacy now. We suspect all Entertainers. Of a certain age. And all Teachers. And Politicians, too.
SAM. So, who’s left?
BEN. Probably Greengrocers.
BEN. Because you can’t lure kids with an apple. They’d run a mile.
SAM. I like apples.
BEN. Oh, I expect you like lots of things.
(She sticks her tongue put.)
SAM. Why have the Police left?
BEN. No cause. And this probably never happened.
SAM. Hush hush?
SAM. So why are we here?
BEN. It’s research. Background.
BEN. We’re showing you some of the things that can happen. So, you know. Information is blood in the vein. It fuels things.
SAM. I’m not sure I follow you.
BEN. Being flip only works over substance..if you understand the full context then nothing you write is hollow. We don’t deal in news. Our actual trade is distraction. We’re the Traffic Police of attention. We direct people towards, then away.
SAM. But these men were perverts!
BEN. Old word!
BEN. That’s too common..
SAM. So what are they, Devils?
BEN. I don’t think there is a word, actually. The Elite, possibly. This is like Caviar or the Opera. Not for everyone. Slightly different. And everso slightly placed to the side. This is the way things are done. This is how it happens now, in this country. At the edge of the eye. Under noses. We get a little whiff of it but no smell. It’s like you smell a gas leak..it’s gone! And then you get paranoid about fire. You start to move very slowly, taking your time everywhere. Meanwhile, they smoke. But put you off the scent in so doing. There are people moving now, in this city who are living on a completely different planet to us. There are wheels within wheels. Sugar in the meat and the water. Grit in the salad. And a little bit of shit in all cakes.. It’s disgusting I know. But there are different meals for some people. There are diverging appetites rising right off any scale we can hold. You’re going to be watched from now on. It’s really important you know that. Every patch of air is a prison. Every breath you take their force-field.
BEN. It’s true! We’re living in Science Fiction right now. (Picks up the book:) This is an Isaac Asimov novel. He wrote about Robots and future societies in the sky. He was a Utopian with a healthily dystopian vision. But real life today is like Ballard. Everyone is going mad in their cars.
SAM. Why did you bring me here, Ben?
BEN. Because I happen to think something of you. Codename KEN was my Uncle. We keep it in the family, Sam, around here.
Another Garden. Day. TIM, apron on, stands at a makeshift Barbeque, failing. A single sausage is sitting, refusing to cook. SAM appears.
SAM. Hi, Dad.
TIM. Hello! (Kiss!) I can’t seem to get this barbeque going.
SAM. You’re useless…!
TIM. Am I?
SAM. Here, let me try. Woman’s work.
(He watches her closely as she has some success.)
TIM. So.. how was today?
SAM. Like a Thursday. We went out to that mansion that hasn’t been talked about.
TIM. Where the trouble was?
SAM. Yes. Have you put the whatsit on it?
TIM. On what?
SAM. Parafin. Daddy!
TIM. I got a little distracted. Sorry..
SAM. You are useless..
TIM. Perhaps. That must have been why your mother..
SAM. Don’t, Dad.
TIM. How is she? And what’s his name?
TIM. Perhaps I’ll order a pizza.
TIM. My reduced circumstance feels much better.
SAM. Happy to help.
TIM. You look lovely.
SAM. Thankyou. Do I? I’m Ok.
TIM. More than that.
TIM. I can still embarrass you, can’t I? Come on, let me spoil you..
SAM. Dad, I’m 22!
TIM. What’s your point?
SAM. I should spoil you..
TIM. No, no..
SAM. I’m a grown up adult person..
TIM. I’m not.
SAM. I’m hungry. Have you got a pizza –
SAM. Leaflet thing.
TIM. You do think I’m useless..
SAM. I don’t!
TIM. Can’t even get a barbeque started..
SAM. I don’t! They’re hard. Dad..
TIM. I’m lonely..Is that such a wrong thing to admit?
SAM. No, not at all.
TIM. I don’t really know what to do. I got so used to your Mother..
SAM. I think that was probably part of the problem..
TIM. Is that what she said?
SAM. It was key.
TIM. She never said.
SAM. Did you ask?
TIM. It’s so predictable, Sam! Why do people live in these..patterns?
TIM. Codes..of behaviour..
SAM. Well, this certainly isn’t privilege..
SAM. No. It was something someone said.
SAM. Today. At this place. It was like the Holocaust, sort of. Like visiting Auschwitz. Not that I ever have. A scene of devastation. A lawn. Where people must have sat and drank and had conversations. While in the house upstairs, children and lives were destroyed. It was nothing. A lawn. There was nothing there but wine bottles. It made me sick.
TIM. I’ve got beer here..
SAM. No, I don’t want to drink anything. Why do these places exist?
TIM. Well, everybody needs somewhere. Look at me. I’m in Ruislip. We used to live in Richmond! It’s a hell of a fall. Some people have rooftop gardens..
SAM. This one was no rooftop. This was somewhere else. Hell.
TIM. Life is limited, Sam. And life is limiting, also. At the peak of success, well what is there? Everyone soon enough needs a shit.
TIM. But it’s true! So, you may go and mix with the famous. You may make decisions. You might construct legacy. But then you die, anyway and just pass on the baton. It’s all a ruse. It’s a middle.
SAM. A middle to what?
TIM. Nowhere fast. This isn’t just me. This is an informed opinion.
SAM. Because you’re alone?
SAM. You’re lonely. But would you feel the same if you weren’t?
TIM. Hard to say.
SAM. There, you see!
TIM. What? I hope you’re not calling me shallow..
TIM. I’m not shallow! This doesn’t matter, you know! Look at this! This little pink shit! This insignificant sausage! Not doing this –
SAM. Dad! I’m sorry..
(He grabs hold of her breast. Silence.)
TIM. It’s mine. I made that. I helped bring that into being.
(She moves away. Silence.)
I am the God of small things.
The Same. SAM sits alone, huddled. Ben,in coat is stood with her. He holds another for her.
BEN. What do you want to do?
SAM. I don’t know! This is my fucking father!
BEN. What did you tell him?
SAM. What? Nothing!
BEN. You told me you said where you’d been.
BEN. I did say..
SAM. He was in the Police.. He would have assumed I would tell him! I wanted advice!
BEN. I advised you.
SAM. I’m sorry. I know.
BEN. This is bad.
SAM. Ben, I called you to help, so I want to know, will you help me?
BEN. I’m here, Sam.
SAM. So help me!
BEN. Where is he now?
BEN (TAKING PHONE) I’ll call and check how he is.
SAM. I just put a hot fork in my father!
BEN. He’ll be alright..
SAM. In his stomach..
BEN. Rather there than his eye. Or his heart.
SAM. Christ. He grabbed me..
BEN. You said.
SAM. You don’t understand..
BEN. I did hear you..
SAM. On the tit. Said he owned it! I mean, that’s the sort of thing paedos say!
BEN. I don’t really think they’re titmen, are they? Once, a friend of my Mum’s touched my bollocks. I must have been six or seven. She just smiled at me then walked on. It was as if she were checking for change or carrying out an inspection. She was very strange. Very quiet. I think they had a kid who died early on. People just do things sometimes. It doesn’t always necessitate labels.
SAM. You were abused!
BEN. Was I bollocks! There was more to me than that, even then.
SAM. Jesus, Ben!
BEN. What? I’m telling you, it was nothing. The tragedy is it took ages before somebody did it again. People know inside what they are. But can just never admit it. It’s all a game. It’s all cover. We are the Godly because we fear Godlessness. We don’t want to be alone.
SAM. Like my Dad.
BEN. Ah, but we’re not all in Ruislip.
SAM. I want to be touched.
BEN. So, no problem.
SAM. But I don’t want to be touched everywhere.
The first garden. Dusk. The Police tape still laying. BEN and his Editor, DONALD standing, and then idly walking through.
BEN. So, what are we saying?
DONALD. We’re not.
BEN. So, you’re saying there’s no need to contain this?
DONALD. What’s to contain? There’s no reason. This is one the things people know not to know. It’s like the Aliens in the woods or way out there, in the desert..
BEN. The Woods?
DONALD. 1948, so they say.
BEN. Wow. And the desert?
DONALD. The States. The place that ignites all the programmes.
BEN. The space place.
DONALD. The space place..
BEN. You’re talking about the X- Files and wotnot..
DONALD. The X-Truth. Exactly. It’s all scrotal confusion, dear boy. Balls. Area 51 is where Drone technology has been mastered. It’s not full of little green men, but grey men, beavering away on the bomb.
DONALD. This is where they relax.
BEN. The little grey men..
DONALD. And others. Not that we know, Ben.
BEN. Yes, Donald.
DONALD. I like the Police tape. Nice touch.
BEN. Do you come here?
DONALD. No. But I did go to dinners. They used to have dinners after, in restaurants no-one knows. Do you know there are even streets no-one knows? Usually two or three in each city? And I’m talking all over the country. All across the UK. And not just us: Europe, too. Russia. America. Asia. East Asia. Eurasia. And any other bloody Asia there is. There are magical carpet rides and strange clubs that cater for exotic tastes and for dullards who don’t wish to feel anything. Absolute power corrupts, but it also convinces. Did you know the Royal family are all lizards and all of us are the ants? They can do anything. You’re on the wrong frequency, Benjy. As your Editor, I order you to retune your dial and accomplish any little thing you might want.
BEN. But surely you’re not saying –
DONALD. What? Just because these men killed themselves doesn’t mean they weren’t murdered. Their excesses killed them. Their internal weight dragged them down.
BEN. A classic Entertainer, Police chief and Cabinet Politician were murdered and no-one’s interested? Come on, Donald! Donald, you have to be –
DONALD. I have to be what?
BEN. Kidding me!
DONALD. Benjy, I’m not. Why would I? They’ll be written out. We’ll forget them. It’ll take a while but we’ll brave it. There are just too many things to protect. We’ll bluff it all out while they try, behind a steely glare, soon erected. Before it pales. And it will pale. Because people are just not listening. They like the details, the facts but they do not like decisions. Those, they want made by others. That’s why we have Governments! And these ones at that, full of these sorts of people. The great unwashed are hands only; Pontius Pilates all, to a man! Meanwhile, things pass. And then other things happen. But we’ll keep biding our time. We’ll keep waiting. But yes, if you’re asking – there’ll be a question or two, I’m quite sure. But soon enough it will pass. It was exactly the same with John Lennon. Anyone who dies. If it’s sudden they whoop and they wail, then forget. It happens in the theatre as well. When Harold Pinter died, did you notice? Do you go to the Theatre? There’s a rush of stuff, plays, productions. Tributes and such. Then it stops. They leave them to die for a while before the retrospective is programmed. Then they become a nostalgia. A period piece, in a box. Successive generations survive on the bones of the former. They do it in books. Reputations are built on destroying the previous Gods and heroes.
BEN. So, there’ll be more?
DONALD. Who can say? There’s always going to be more politicians. New entertainers, too. By the bucket. Although, let’s be honest they’re not going to be any good. Now, have you noticed that? Do you go? Do you worship the latest fad by the Docklands? There are no more Danny Kayes. No more Chaplins. No new Lenny Bruce, Peter Cook. No new Tony Hancock. My God, we don’t even have a new Sid james, do we, really? No Tony Newley. Or do you not know who he is?
BEN. Not sure.
DONALD. Newley wrote a song or two for Nymphets but he was nothing at all like these bastards. Savile the monster has drawn them like Christ to a wound to compete. What feels like an entire century has been felled and brought into question. A whole way of life’s been gestetnered. A specific decade scrutinised. People think kids are key but they only grow up to be people. We’re not protecting them at all. We’re delaying all of the inherent horrors in them..
BEN. Jesus, Donald..
DONALD. I’m jaded, I know. I get like that when I’m hungry. What shall we have? Chinese? Turkish? Or a spot of fine dining, Ben, somewhere fine? Come on. Let’s go. How about a little drive into Knightsbridge? There are treasures there. Shall we find them?
BEN. So, you’re saying this is going to start again?
DONALD. What’s this!
BEN. All this! All this unmentionable horror! Paedo Politicians! Actors who abuse, then deny! Police Chiefs far worse than the Murderers that they’re after! Waves of kids..
BEN. I don’t understand, Don..It’s awful..I mean even my own family..
DONALD. Uncle Ken.
BEN. Uncle Ken.
DONALD. You maybe accountable, Benjy.
BEN. What do you mean?
DONALD. He’s your Uncle. So, will you explain or shut up? We’re told that they’re dead. Disappeared. Taken from us. But as yet, no bodies. The unofficial line coloured in. Was it all a bad dream? Where is our proof of purchase? Where are the Children? Or did the fucking Pied Piper take them. They never come back. That’s the proper burn in that story. You freed us from rats, take our children! And off they all go to the Hill. One of our oldest tales, right at the heart of our culture. Did Uncle Ken like his music? Did Uncle Ken play the flute? That’s why we’re here. You were the one given access. I’m not unconnected. I’m the fucking passenger here.
BEN. What are you saying?
DONALD. You know. So, are you culpable, Benjy? Which ones your story? Did Uncle Ken suck your thumb?
BEN. Jesus, Don..
DONALD. What? What do you want me to tell you? What should I say? What will help you? What do you want?
BEN. This is shit.
DONALD. You probably need to go home and talk to your parents. Or you need to sit in a room and remember, that’s if you can, the whole thing. Or we can leave and fill our heads with something expensive in Knightbridge. Live it up. We’re all passing. So, what does it matter what we actually do to each other? What does it matter what we actually do to ourselves?
BEN. It must do.
DONALD. Let’s hope. All we have now is this garden. It grows through the seasons, casting it’s leaves, spreading weeds.
BEN. We’re going to be chasing them then, without asking questions?
DONALD. I once had a child who asked questions. We had him adopted. Let’s go.
The Garden, now cleared. A Croquet set is positioned. A Summer’s day. Silence. Then the sound of a wasp or a bird. STEVEN, a Tour Guide appears with a sparse group of tourists. He holds a clipboard. They, brochures. Jacket and shirts are intense.
STEVEN. This way, please, everyone..You can move from the path if you’re careful..Mr Yamahura, Ms Hirtig..this way, that’s right, if you please..
(They enter properly.)
STEVEN (CONT) .. Now, we’re truly privileged to be here as the house and grounds have become so exclusive. The national Trust has allowed us to go as far as the gate over there. I think we can see from this point the best of the far western quarter..with it’s historic markings. Admiral Nelson stayed here. Lord and Lady Mountbatten, too..although that was many years later..! The Prince of Wales. And his Father – though never together, I think.. They held grand and great parties here in which a great many things were decided.. People like Greta Garbo attended..Greta Garbo..? The Actress? And Charlie Chaplin, too, I am told.
(He moves around, checks. A couple of tourists take pictures.)
No pictures! Thankyou. Can you delete? (He gestures) Pictures dimninsish. So much richer, I think, in the mind. Palaces, yes? Palaces of our pleasure. The great and grand houses where the privileged freely roamed.
(The Tourists are suitably chastened.)
Now, there would have been two Lions here, made from the most magnificient marble..as well as a Henry Moore sculpture, although that was removed, some years back..
(He checks his list.)
STEVEN (CONT) Frank Sinatra played here. As did Elvis Presley. As did the Beatles, although I have to tell you that the given date doesn’t fit. They had finished touring by then, so that could well be conjecture..Do we all like the Beatles? ‘When I’m 64?’ (Nods) Submarine..?
(The select few nod along. He takes in more of the garden.)
STEVEN (CONT) ..Now, this is interesting..Under this very grass was said to be Strategic command for (or so it says here) Central Europe. A descending Babel of storeys leading all the way down through the earth. There were said to be Cathedrals! And Bars. Even Tennis Courts! (In your Brochures!) But mainly, offices. Boxes. With the keys to the future contained. But it’s still a garden up here. As close as England gets to an Eden. But no snakes! No Serpents! Just more than it’s fair share of wasps! There is richness here, as you see. And spectacular design, even vision! Something resplendent. Something that we otherwise do not see.
(One of the tourists speaks up. American accent. Sunglasses.)
TOURIST. Did the Queen stay here?
TOURIST. What about Michael Jackson?
STEVEN. Not that I know of.
TOURIST. Freddie Mercury?
(The Tourist laughs.)
STEVEN (CONT) I’m sorry, but no. This fine place is England. England at it’s best. At it’s rarest. I like to think of this garden as the type of place William Blake wrote about.
TOURIST. But children suffered here.
TOURIST. Don’t worry, the rest of these don’t speak English. But I do.
(The Tourist takes off his glasses and accent.)
STEVEN. Who are you?
TOURIST. Stop it. Recognise me now, don’t you, Steve?
TOURIST/KEN. Hello, Bob.
STEVEN/BOB. Don’t call me that..
KEN. What’s the problem?
BOB. Things are different now..!
KEN. How’s the Mrs? And how is little Jane?
END OF PLAY.