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2005-06-02 | | Submited by Nane Samargescu
The Porters' one-room flat in a large Midland town.
Early evening. April.
The scene is a fairly large attic room , at the top of a large Victorian house. The ceiling slopes down quite sharply from L.to R.
Down R. are two small low windows. In front of these is a dark oak dressing table. Most of the furniture is simple, and rather old. Up R. is a double bed, running the length of most of the back wall, the rest of which is taken up with a shelf of books. Down R. below the bed is a heavy chest of drawers, covered with books, neckties and odds and ends, including a large, tattered toy teddy bear and soft, woolly squirrel. Up L. is a door. Below this a small wardrobe. Most of the wall L. is taken up with a high, oblong window. This looks out on the landing, but light comes through it from a skylight beyond. Below the wardrobe is a gas stove, and, besides this a wooden food cupboard, on which is a small portable radio. Down C. is a sturdy dinning table and three chairs, and, below this, L. and R., two deep,shabby leather armchairs.
AT rise of curtain,Jimmy and Cliff are seated in the two armchairs R. and L., respectively. All that we can see of either of them is two pairs of legs, sprawled way out beyond the newspapers which hide the rest of them from sight.
Jimmy: Why do I do this every Sunday? Even the book reviews seem to be the same as last weekâ€™s. Different books-same reviews. Have you finished that one yet?
Cliff: Not yet.
Jimmy: Iâ€™ve just read three whole columns on the English Novel. Half of itâ€™s in French. Do the Sunday papers make you feel ignorant?
Jimmy: Well, you are ignorant. You `re just a peasant.
(To Alison) What about you? You`re not a peasant are you?
Alison (absently): What`s that?
Jimmy: I said do the papers make you feel youâ€™re not so brilliant after all?
Alison: Oh â€“ I haveâ€™t read them yet.
Jimmy: I didnâ€™t ask you that. I said â€“
Cliff: Leave the poor girl alone. Sheâ€™s busy.
Jimmy: Well, she can talk, canâ€™t she? You can talk, canâ€™t you? You can express an opinion. Or does the White Womanâ€™s Burden make it impossible to think?
Alison: Iâ€™m sorry. I wasnâ€™t listening properly.
Jimmy: You bet you werenâ€™t listening. Old Porter talks, and everyone turns over and goes to sleep. And Mrs Porter getsâ€™ em all going with the first yawn.
Cliff: Leave her alone, I said.
Jimmy (shouting) : All right, dear. Go back to sleep. It was only me talking. You know? Talking? Remember? Iâ€™m sorry.
Cliff: Stop yelling. Iâ€™m trying to read.
Jimmy: Why do you bother? You canâ€™t understand a word of it.
Cliff: Uh huh.
Jimmy: Youâ€™re too ignorant.
Cliff: Yes, and uneducated. Now shut up, will you?
Jimmy: Why donâ€™t you get my wife to explain it to you ? Sheâ€™s educated. (To her.) Thatâ€™s right, isnâ€™t it ?
Cliff: (kicking out at him from behind his paper).Leave her alone, I said.
Jimmy: Do that again , you Welsh ruffian, and Iâ€™ll pull your ears off.
He bangs Cliffâ€™s paper out of his hands.
Cliff: (leaning forward). Listen - Iâ€™m trying to better myself. Let me get on with it, you big, horrible man.
Give it me. (Puts his hands out for the paper)
Alison: Oh, give it to him , Jimmy, for heavenâ€™s sake!
I canâ€™ t think!
Cliff: Yes, come on, give me the paper. She canâ€™t think.
Jimmy: Canâ€™ t think (Throws the paper back at him)
She hasnâ€™t thought for years! Have you ?
Jimmy: (Picks up a weekly) Iâ€™m getting hungry.
Alison: Oh no, not already!
Cliff: Heâ€™s a bloody pig.
Jimmy: Iâ€™m not a pig. I just like food â€“ thatâ€™s all.
Cliff: Like it! Youâ€™re like a sexual machine â€“only with you itâ€™s food. Youâ€™ll end up in the News of the World,boyo, you wait. James Porter, aged twenty-five , was bound over last week after pleading guilty to interfering with a small cabbage and two tins of beans on his way home from Builderâ€™s Arms. The accused said he hadnâ€™t been feeling well for some time, and had been having black-outs. He asked for his good record as an air-raid warden, second class, to be taken into account.
Jimmy: (Grins) Oh , yes, yes, yes. I like to eat. Iâ€™d like to live too. Do you mind ?
Cliff : Donâ€™ t see any use in your eating at all. You never get any fatter.
Jimmy: People like me don't get fat. I've tried to tell you before. We just burn everything up. Now shut up while I read. You can make some more tea.
Cliff: Good God, you've just had a great potfull. I only had one cup.
Jimmy: Like hell! Make some more tea.
Cliff:(to Alison). Isn't that right? Didn't I only have one cup?
Alison:(without looking up). That's right.
Cliff: There you are. And she only had one cup too. I saw her. You guzzled the lot.
Jimmy:(readinf his weekly). Put the kettle on.
Cliff: Put it yourself. You've creased up my paper.
Jimmy: I'm the only one who knows how to treat a paper, or anything else, in this house.(Picks up another paper). Girl here wants to know if her boy friend will lose all respect for her if she gives him what he asks for. Stupid bitch.
Cliff: Just let me get at her, that's all.
Jimmy: Who buys this damned thing? (Throws it down). Haven' t you read the othe posh paper yet?
Jimmy: Well, there are only two posh papers on Sunday - the one you're reading, and this one. Come on ,let me have that one, and you take this.
Cliff: Oh, all right.
I was only reading the Bishop of Bromley.( Puts out his hand to Alison). How are you, dullin'?
Alison: All right thank you, dear.
Cliff: (grasping her hand). Why don' t you leave all that, and sit down for a bit? You look tired.
Alison: (smiling). I haven't much more to do.
Cliff:(kisses her hand, and puts her fingers in his mouth). She's a beautiful girl, isn't she?
Jimmy: That's what they all tell me.
His eyes met hers.
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