I started this early in the summer holidays just after I was thrown out of college for the second time. It was intended to parallel Shakespeare's Henry V and bring it into modern times. As you can see, I didn't get very far before I lost enthusiasm.
A house on the outskirts of Clappers, a small village to the North-west of Berwick-Upon-Tweed, just off the A6105, behind Halidon Hill. The village is on the England-Scotland border, and the house itself straddles the border. The main set is the living room of the house, with side sets depicting two local pubs - "The Sporran" on the Scottish side (STAGE RIGHT), and "The Beadle" on the English side (STAGE LEFT).
Two guys (HENRY & JAMES) are sitting watching TV. HENRY is a slob - beer can, T-shirt, jeans, etc.; JAMES is middle class - glass of soft drink, shirt, slacks, etc. JAMES is Rimmer to HENRY's Lister. The TV is "in" the front row, facing the stage. There is a sofa, behind which, a table. At either end of the table, two wooden chairs. There is a significant sense of "sides" to the room. HENRY keeps STAGE LEFT, JAMES keeps STAGE RIGHT. They are watching a news report about an SNP rally.
Henry (Scottish) Alex the bloody Salmon again!
James (English) You what?
Henry Alex Salmond - Alex the Salmon. You've gotta admit he looks like a ruddy fish!
Henry How do you feel that the champion of your nation's cause looks like a fish? It's gotta be embarrasin', that has!
James He doesn't look like a fish.
James He looks like he's been hit in the face with a frying pan, but he doesn't look like a fish.
PAUSE. HENRY considers the TV screen.
Henry Now I look harder, the resemblance to a piscine lifeform that habitually tries to swim up waterfalls, is minimal.
James Meaning what?
Henry Meaning, that Alex the Salmon's party is based on one particular overriding principle - that of splitting from the rest of the UK. A task which, viewed objectively, could be compared in difficulty to swimming up a waterfall like the very fish he derives his name from.
James He doesn't derive his name from a fish!
Henry Well, I do.
James You derive your name from a fish?
Henry No! Alex Salmond!
James Oh. And it's Alec Salmond, not Alex.
Henry Oh, okay.
JAMES picks up the remote and turns the TV off.
Henry What'd you turn it off for?
James With news like that, we're only going to have another ridiculous argument about nationalism.
Henry You could have turned it over.
James Can't be arsed. (He picks up a newspaper and tries to read it.)
Henry Then I'll change the channel.
He reaches for the remote. JAMES picks it up and put it on the floor on his side of the sofa. HENRY gets up and reaches for it.
James Ah-ah-ah! Invasion, remember?
Henry Oh don't be a prat! (He sits down without the remote.) I could be watching Xena now.
James If that's your optimum entertainment, I'm glad I switched off.
Henry Orh! Jim!
James Don't call me "Jim". It makes me sound like Captain Kirk.
Henry Does it bollocks! If you're Kirk, that makes me Bones McCoy. I'm not a doctor, I'm a bricklayer.
James You're not a bricklayer, you're a taxi driver.
Henry Yeah, but McCoy never said "I'm a doctor, not a taxi driver".
James Shut up Henry. That wasn't funny and I'm trying to read.
Henry What're you reading?
James The Times. I suggest you don't try and read over my shoulder, you couldn't cope with all the long words.
Henry Up yours! I've had a university education
James You did an Open University course on accountancy, and failed.
Henry Got a better mark than you did.
James I got 23% at Edinburgh University for advanced mathematics. You got 33% at the Open University for basic accounting. Hardly the same thing.
Henry Still a better mark than you.
James It was your third attempt! They only let you do it because you changed your name!
Henry I got it though.
James And made a pig's ear of it! Oh, I've had enough, I'm going down the pub!
JAMES gets up.
Henry "The Sporran" or "The Beadle"?
James "The Sporran".
Henry I'll come with ye.
HENRY also gets up.
James You'll have to go out the back door.
Henry Aye, I ken!
BLACKOUT. END OF SCENE 1
"The Sporran", a rampantly Scottish pub. Plaster & lath walls. An oil painting of Edinburgh Castle on the wall. The two Scottish flags are pinned to the wall behind the bar. HENRY and JAMES have been here a while, and are now in a regular argument.
Henry There must be some reason.
James For what?
Henry For you being so crap at football.
James I'm not crap at football.
Henry Not you personally - I mean you as a nation. I mean, come on, ye couldnae even get into Euro 2000.
James So? You were the second-worst team of the tournament. You only beat Germany.
Henry Aye, well, the way I see it, the whole point of Euro 2000 was to beat Germany, We did what we came to do, and getting the cup was something of an optional extra.
James You were thrashed shitless in midfield! You played like total puddings! It's only because the German side was in turmoil from inside that you beat them.
Henry Aye, well, at least we did beat them. You lot didnae beat us.
James That's beside the point. Anyway, we did beat you.
Henry Orh, we've had this one before! We beat you 2-0 away, we lost 1-0 at home. Total score 2-1 to us - we beat you.
James Yeah, we've done that one to death. Okay, we lost on average, but we kicked your butts for ninety minutes, and that was enough.
Henry Aye, right. (Finishes his drink) So what now?
Henry Aye, probably a good idea. Home it is.
BLACKOUT. END OF SCENE 2
Both enter STAGE RIGHT. HENRY crosses to his side of the room ASAP. Both still have jackets on. As HENRY takes his off, his zip gets stuck. JAMES notices something.
James Hey, there's an answerphone message.
Henry Play it for us, will you?
JAMES crosses to the answerphone on the table and presses play.
Voice Mr. Planet? Mr. Henry Planet? You won't know me, my name is Dr. Gunn. I'm afraid I have some rather bad news for you. Perhaps you'd better sit down. I'm afraid your uncle, Jonathon Fullstof, has suffered a serious accident. I'm sorry to tell you that he died in hospital early this evening. I offer my sincere condolences. If you want to contact me about the funeral arrangements, my number...
Henry (Still trying to undo his jacket zip) Stop the tape.
JAMES does so. There is a short, shocked silence.
He storms out STAGE LEFT.
James Henry! Blast!
BLACKOUT. END OF SCENE THREE.
HENRY is in "The Beadle", drowning his sorrows. The pub is an English one, decorated in oak panelling. There is a copy of Contsable's "The Hay Wain" visible on the wall. A small Union Jack sits in a glass behind the bar, along with a similarly-sized St.George flag. The BARMAN is looking sympathetic, but bored, and there are a few other DRINKERS nearby, in various stages of inebriation and sorrow.
Henry I mean, why? Why him? Why now? Why the fuck was he killed?
Barman I thought you said it was an accident?
Henry It was! But he still died of it! Bastard doctor didn't even tell me what it was that happened. Could have been a car crash, could have bin run over, could have fallen doon the stairs! Anythin'! A wheelbarra could have fallen off some scaffoldin' an' hit 'im on the heed!
Drinker 1 A wheelbarrow dropped on his head?
Henry It can happen!
Drinker 1 Yeah, but not very often.
Barman You don't know what happened though. It could have something totally harmless, like falling down the stairs, like you said.
Henry But it wasn't! I can feel it wasn't! The doc said it was an accident.
Drinker 2 Well, there you are then. Just an accident. Accidental, like. That's why it's called an accident.
Henry That's just a euphenis... a euthanimis... a cover-up! They say that shit to break it gently!
Henry Aye, that's the one! Ah just know it was something dreadful. He was run over. Or a drunk driver crashed into him. Or he was stabbed at work! It happens, you know, he's got a high-risk job!
Drinker 2 Had.
Barman What's his job?
Henry He's a driver with the Post Office.
Drinker 1 A what?
Henry A Driver with the Post Office. (Notices the incredulous looks) It's valuable, the post! Anything happens to it, it's treason! The average post van carries enough cheques and postal orders to buy a Ferrari!
Barman Yeah, okay, that's a high risk job, all right. No-one's arguing with that (Glares at the DRINKERS). That's why he was stabbed. Died heroically defending the Queen's property.
Henry You reckon?
Barman Probably. Of course, it might just have been an accident.
Henry He was stabbed accidentally?
Barman No! Gave life and limb for his country - monarch - whatever. Probably get a medal - posthumous, you know.
Henry You think?
Barman Yeah, the George Cross! The highest civilian award for valour!
Henry You reckon? That'd be somethin', eh?
Drinker 2 Probably just got run over crossin' the road.
Henry You shut up! My uncle's a hero!
JAMES enters, STAGE LEFT
Barman Oi, you - out! You're barred, remember?
James Henry! This is where you are, I might have guessed.
James I thought I'd better let you get it out of your system, but it's been four hours.
Barman I won't tell you again. Leave, please!
James I got that doctor's number, if you want to talk to him. Here. (Hands HENRY a bit of paper)
The BARMAN comes round the front of the bar.
Barman I've asked you politely, so don't make me call the police to remove you.
James I'm his flatmate, I'm trying to help, you arsehole!
Barman Right, that's it! You've just added another month to your ban!
He grabs JAMES and attempts to manhandle him out the door. HENRY gets up and attacks the BARMAN. Once the two are separated, he continues. JAMES tries to hold HENRY back.
Henry (To the BARMAN) Bastard! (To JAMES) Let me go! (to the BARMAN) You Bastard! I'll teach ye to attack my friends.
James I think you've had enough, Henry. I think he's learnt his lesson.
Henry No he hasnae! I'm gonna teach him what a real accident looks like!
James I think he knows already, now come on! Leave him!
He starts to drag HENRY backwards from the pub. The BARMAN recovers. As they are exiting, he shouts:
Barman You're both barred for the next year! D'you hear! One year! The pair of you!
© Brian Wakeling