Strange Free World: Act 1; Scenes 1-11

by richardhutton

Act 1: Scene 1

[Opening: it is the intermission of a play – Sutherland and R. are sitting in the front-row seats of a small, half-empty theatre, situated on-campus – the lights are on but not so bright; the background is noisy with chatter and bustling].

(Sutherland) That’s not true!
(R.) It is true.
(Sutherland) Well, maybe you’re right – but I disagree.
(R.) How can you disagree? If you think I’m right?
(Sutherland) It just doesn’t add up.
(R.) Well it does if you tally properly.
(Sutherland) Why? Why would anybody need a left-handed cheque-book? Why?
(R.) Well, I don’t know; but that’s what they gave me.
(Sutherland) Did you send it back?
(R.) Of course not.
(Sutherland) You should’ve complained.
(R.) Why? It wasn’t exactly a problem.
(Sutherland) That’s where I disagree with you.
(R.) No it wasn’t – you said they didn’t exist. That’s quite a leap.
[The lights go out]
(Sutherland) Well, we’ll just have to agree to differ.

[Actors enter stage from left and right; play begins.
Setting: two dining quarters in a small inn, separated by a heavy grey curtain which is drawn between the two rooms. There is a short corridor to the left of the Masters’ quarter; from which the doorway of the quarter can be seen.
The masters’ quarter is very fine, lit by a large fire and a three-branched silver candelabrum on the table: yet despite these the room is still gloomy, and the areas not close to the fire are in heavy shadow . The masters’ room is quiet. The sound of the fire crackling and chairs when they scrape on the stone floor are clearly audible. Heavy over-coats are noisy; placing cutlery down likewise. There is a coat-stand towards the back, with an expensively tailored coat hanging on it.
The servants’ area is very pauce, slightly smaller than the masters’ room, unheated and it has only a candle for light– but it’s bright enough to see the faces of the people in the room by. When speaking, people’s voices sound full and hearty. It’s a working room, with cupboards on the wall and tankards, pots and pans hanging up. There is a door in the right hand side wall. The inn’s servant is sitting at the table eating quietly. The table is a large wooden one with the candle in its middle, but otherwise bare except for the servant’s plate and cup. It has two benches for seats, and the servant is facing the audience.
The Innkeeper and his wife are in the masters’ dining room. The Innkeeper’s wife is seated on a wooden chair in the left-hand corner nearest the stage – her back to the audience – embroidering; Lord Featherstone-Hough of Wensleydale and his wife are seated at the highly polished wooden table in the middle of the masters’ dining quarter eating – silence between them. The Innkeeper is hovering about them noticeably. Both the Lord and the Innkeeper wear periwigs. Featherstone-Hough’s is voluminous and white; the Innkeeper’s is less ample and dark grey.
It is late at night. The Featherstone-Houghs are eating at the inn while on the journey to their home estate. They have been at the inn for approximately half-an-hour. Their coach has not off-loaded, and is ready and waiting for them to finish].

(Innkeeper) Lord Featherstone-Hough…
(Featherstone-Hough) [Glowers] Fan-shaw. Fan-shaw.
(Innkeeper) I see, I see. I do apologise, Lord Fanshaw.
(Fanshaw) Yes; well.
(Innkeeper) Indeed I do, sir.
My wife must have written your name down quite incorrectly.
Will it be the full three-courses tonight, sir?
[Fanshaw nods]
(Innkeeper) And coffee, and dessert? We have the most splendid…
(Fanshaw) Yes, yes. I expect you’ll put it on my tab.
(Innkeeper) Yes, of course, but…
(Fanshaw) Good man. You can add a tip to it.
(Innkeeper) Well, thank you, my lord.
(Fanshaw) A respectable one.
(Innkeeper) A…pound?
(Fanshaw) Two percent of the overall bill is tolerable.
(Innkeeper) [Under breath] A pound it is then.
(Fanshaw) What?
(Innkeeper) Nothing. Nothing – I will take no tip.
An honest ‘keeper’s wage is enough of a reward for me.
A privilege, even. A godsend.
(Fanshaw) It is at your discretion.
(Innkeeper) Well…
(Fanshaw) Well what?
(Innkeeper) Truly sir, I am a poor fellow that would make ends meet.
(Wife) And a tidy profit.
(Innkeeper) Be quiet.
(Fanshaw) [Chewing, swallows] A scold was once made to wear a bridle.
(Innkeeper) I assure you, my lord, my wife has never once attempted to fasten one on me. She has certainly never succeeded. She knows her place.
We keep one purely for the mice. It makes an excellent mousetrap.
(Fanshaw) Mice?
(Innkeeper) We have no mice here, my lord.
An ornament, an antique, a family heirloom.
[The Innkeeper gathers and prepares further dishes. Sutherland leans towards R. with a very sapient look]
(Sutherland) So, the innkeeper, right –
(R.) He owns the inn.
(Sutherland) I know that. Honestly. I was just thinking, his wife’s having an affair, right?
(R.) No, that’s the problem.
(Sutherland) [Loud enough for actors to hear] Ah, I see.
(R) What?
(Sutherland) It’s all clear now. That’s the key, isn’t it?
(R.) Sex?
(Sutherland) What?
(R.) Their unhappy marriage?
(Sutherland) [Pause; leans back in chair] I hadn’t thought about that. [Pause] You know, it’s just like…
(R.) Look, if you’re going to bring up that stupid theory again…
(Sutherland) No, no, no, no, no. Well, yes. Wait, what did she just say?
(R.) Who?
(Sutherland) The Innkeeper’s wife.
(R.) How should I know? I was listening to you.
(Sutherland) Was it something important? Only, I have to write a paper on this.
(Fanshaw) It’s just a simple question of respect. [Sutherland sinks into his chair – but the actor’s words are part of the play’s dialogue].
(Innkeeper) My Lord Fanshaw, I do apologise.
(Fanshaw) Yes; well.
(Innkeeper) Indeed I do, sir. I do indeed, sir. You must forgive my wife. She’s not used to such distinguished, gracious company. She doesn’t know how to behave herself accordingly.
(R.) They don’t love each other anymore, but they’re husband and wife.
(Sutherland) So?
(R.) I told you earlier – they can’t legally divorce.
(Sutherland) Oh, yeah.
(R.) Her looks are going, she has no children, she has nowhere to go, she can’t work, and they live between two cities in the middle of nowhere.
(Sutherland) Uh-huh, uh-huh. Sure.
(R.) Have you listened to any of it?
(Sutherland) Some. But…
(R.) So, what happens when there are no customers at the inn? When no-one else is around?
(Sutherland) [Thinks]. I see. Wait…
(R.) He has the inn, for better or worse…
(Sutherland) No, no, no. Are you going to finish your ice cream?
(R.) It’s not mine. Neither was the one you took when I went to the bathroom, incidentally.
[Sutherland sinks into his chair again].
(Innkeeper’s wife) [Puts embroidery down, gets up and motions her husband into the corridor. The Fanshaws continue to eat in silence].
(Wife) He still hasn’t paid the bill his party racked up last year.
(Innkeeper) I know that!
(Wife) Well, are you going to ask him about it?
(Innkeeper) Of course, of course.
But there are means and ways – means and ways.
See, we need to attract a better class of visitor.
You need money in order to make money…
(Wife) Well, that’s my point.
(Innkeeper) …horse dealers and bank clerks are all well and good,
But it’s the nobility who really pay by the pound –
And you need connections – a reputation and a standing – not riff-raff and refuse…
(Wife) Paying customers.
(Innkeeper) … muddying up the place embarrassing them to high heavens.
It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. It’s quite simple really.
This will be the finest inn on the finest road in the finest country in the world.
The service will be magnificent: the porcelain exquisite;
The tea-pots of silver, the canteens likewise; bread-baskets gilt with lace;
Beer-tankards and flagons of pewter; a tea-urn of gold.
People will be able to purchase an experience of gentility.
Who knows? With enough of a turnover I could buy a title;
One may even be forthcoming.
The gentry will surely wish to be guests in an established house –
The acquaintances of an equal, perhaps even…
Well, at any rate, not visitors to a mere tradesman’s lowly hub.
It will mean having to turn some custom away, of course, but there we go .

[The Inn’s bell rings noisily: the Innkeeper gives his wife a signal with a nod of the head, who then goes to answer the door – off stage – while the Innkeeper returns to the masters’ dining room. A few moments pass while the Innkeeper waits on Fanshaw, rubbing has hands, partly with cold from standing in the corridor. His wife calls his name indistinguishably: the Innkeeper leans his head out of the dining room door into the corridor].

(Innkeeper) What? No, no, no. No, there’s no room.
No – I’m sorry, but we can’t house everybody.
No. No. No. How much? Well, there’s the shed for the firewood.
Fine. There’s space in the stable. Look, it’s the best that I can do.
There’s a bucket. There’s a trough. There’s a floor.
Fine. I’ll fetch a blanket – just let me finish up here first.
And I want a deposit on it – up front.
[To Fanshaw – shaking head]
A gypsy stable hand and his wife.
[Tuts] I do apologise for the interruption, my goodly lord.
Is there anything you require, your graciousness?
(Fanshaw) [Talking with mouth full, without looking at the Innkeeper, mumbles vaguely].
(Innkeeper) Brandy? Brandy – the very best [scurries and fetches it from a cupboard]. Fully French. Well, part Swiss. Or Belgian.
[Fanshaw – shakes head]
(Innkeeper) No? What then, your superbness?
Whisky? Rum? Surely not beer? Perhaps ale?
[Fanshaw nonchalantly indicates the Innkeeper’s breast-pocket]
(Innkeeper) My handkerchief? [Hands it over to Fanshaw, who empties his mouth into it, then hands it back without a word]. Thank you. [His wife re-enters the room – the Innkeeper hands it to her, who puts it resignedly into a bin before taking her seat and stitching again].
(Wife) They’re just putting their things in the stable. They’ll be through in a minute.

[Another guest staying at the inn passes through the room – his overcoat wet and sounding heavy – en route to the servants’ quarter. The man cheerily addresses Fanshaw and his wife]
(Guest) How do you do, fella; misses?
(Fanshaw) [Puts down his cutlery in disgust] Impudence!
[The guest leaves the curtain open and sits down noisily opposite the Inn servant: his voice carries from room to room].
(Guest) It’s bloody freezing out! It’s bloody freezing in! What’s the eats? Bread? Ale? Ooh, not bad that [laughs. The Innkeeper closes the curtain and grimaces].
(Innkeeper) The common herd [tuts] – no manners my good lord. Little respect for us – for you – for etiquette.
(Innkeeper) [To his wife]
I told you to send the meagre guests to the tradesman’s entrance.
Go and make sure the newcomers go that way.
[His wife puts her embroidery down, gets up and goes through the servants’ quarter off stage].
(Fanshaw) A failure to defer to masters always has fatal consequences.
(Innkeeper) How so, my good lord?
(Fanshaw) [Speaking with mouth half-full]
Free and easy intercourse propagates the most dangerous and immoral opinions.
The designs the lower orders have…sedition inevitably follows.
I see it in your wife.
(Innkeeper) My wife? Yes, well, she persists, but she’s …
(Fanshaw) The wife…[still chewing].
(Innkeeper) Yes, my decency; yes your gracious lord. I cannot apologise enough.
(Fanshaw) [Indicates his own wife with his knife-blade]
A marriage of forty-five years, and evermore.
(Innkeeper) An example – a sterling example.
Even for a lowly, trustworthy, commendable tradesman,
Whose own spouse is quite the pity.
(Fanshaw) Pithy; quite.
(Innkeeper) Oh, don’t get me started.
You know [Fanshaw empties mouth into a napkin]…oh.

[The Innkeeper’s wife re-enters the servants’ quarter through the door on the right-hand side with a young couple – both dressed poorly; the woman is mid-term. The servant is talking quietly to the guest who has his back to the audience. The young couple take a seat near them, the young man sits next to the guest, the woman – evidently very tired and discomforted – is helped to sit down next to the servant by the Innkeeper’s wife, who then fetches them food and drink before returning to her own chair in the Masters’ room].

(Innkeeper) [To wife] No, no – go back around – the curtain must remain closed.
[Innkeeper’s wife ignores him and retakes seat].
(Fanshaw) It reminds me of France.
(Innkeeper) France? Oh no, no – none of that goes on here.
I keep a clean, respectable, upright…
(Fanshaw) The indecorousness of the French woman is a sign of the times.
Uncouth and loutish. Fit for no gentleman on earth.
The restaurants are no different.
(Innkeeper) The license? The tawdriness? The ease?
(Fanshaw) The seating arrangements.
Nobody chooses their neighbours; social precedence is irrelevant;
One is forced to take a seat next to the natives.
Those of a more genteel sensibility
Naturally prefer to dine in their own quarters, however confined.
(Innkeeper) Oh, yes. Of course. The only way to ensure a quiet meal.
(Fanshaw) Conversation spoils good company .
Familiarity is the ruin of polite society.
The French converse freely with associates in the presence of strangers,
Without displaying any unease.
(Innkeeper) Disgraceful; truly atrocious.
(Fanshaw) French shop-keepers would stare at you until their eyes were fit to rupture.
(Innkeeper) Oh, how horrid.
(Fanshaw) It has arrived here.
The behaviour of the English plebeians has taken a turn for the worse.
It was mortifying when we arrived back in England.
Being looked upon in our carriage by all the idlers and common debris of society – Staring and gaping up at you like fish on a riverbank.
It’s what I said to the parliamentarian we met in Dover – may he perish –
‘The obliging civility of the common people
Has been replaced with presumptions and insolence’.
I saw him writing it down.
(Innkeeper) Of course, of course. They’re all the same.
They visit us here all the time.
Government officials, health inspectors – all alike.
Always with the same attitude.

[Back in the servants’ quarter: all four people are sitting consciously close to each other for warmth].
(Servant) ‘S alright – draw near. Warmer that way.
[To the original guest] Your itching – do you have fleas, man?
(Guest) Probably – if the horses have them.
(Young man) [Polite but weary] You sell horses?
(Guest) No, no: I sell the manure.
Costs nothing to produce, does it? But farmers pay for it by the barrel!
Terrific stuff – and a painless living.
(Young Man) It beats scratches and blisters, that’s for sure.
(Guest) Absolutely. As good as gold. And everyone needs to eat.
And you don’t smell any better than I do, friend.

[The Innkeeper leans his head into the room and motions the servant, who puts his own cutlery down, comes through and clears Fanshaw’s table – taking the crockery to a small stand at the side of the room, and setting the dessert bowls – but remains in the room standing next to the fire. Fanshaw has a spoon poised near his mouth but refuses to eat until the servant leaves. Eventually he puts his cutlery down forcefully].

(Fanshaw) The servant.
(Innkeeper) Yes my lord. An excellent vassal.
(Fanshaw) [Aggressively] It is degrading to be expected to eat in the presence of the lower orders.
(Innkeeper) [To the servant] Why are you standing there?
(Servant) It’s cold out there – my hands…
(Fanshaw) Can’t afford to heat the servants’ quarters?
(Innkeeper) Nonsense – it’s perfectly well heated.
A veritable mountain of logs; a roaring fire.
(Servant) Not in the least…
(Innkeeper) Be quiet!
[The Servant goes to draw the curtain – the Innkeeper intervenes, and shoves the servant through, who knocks into the table spilling the guest’s ale on the floor. The Innkeeper’s wife is jarred in the process and gives her husband a look].
(Innkeeper) What? I pay the man enough.
(Wife) In food and lodging.
(Innkeeper) Precisely.
(Wife) It’s mid-winter and you make him sleep in the stable, and the dysentery…
(Innkeeper) [Coughs very loudly and ushers wife to her chair].
(Fanshaw) Every inn should invest in a dumb-waiter.
(Innkeeper) Don’t be so sure.
(Fanshaw) Yes; a dumb-waiter –
A small lift that hauls comestibles up and down from the basement.
Purchase one. The quietness is delightful – one forgets its existence;
As opposed to a mute servant and their silent insistence.
(Innkeeper) We have no basement here, my good lord.
We are but a small tavern – the ceilings are low, the walls are thin,
The plastering – if you’ll notice….
(Fanshaw) Very well. Give me wine. The red.
(Innkeeper) Of course.

[Innkeeper calls servant back in who leaves the curtain open. The guest’s voice is heard through the aperture: ‘the arse on it’ – Innkeeper coughs again and closes the curtain. After service, the servant retakes his position standing next to the fire].

(Fanshaw) The servant.
(Innkeeper) What? Oh, yes, of course. [Points to servant] You – out.
[Motions to wife] You – clear the table.
(Wife) Get bent.
(Innkeeper) What?
(Wife) Get…
[Innkeeper – splutters and ushers his wife and the servant from the room into the servants’ quarter – but realises he will have to clear the table himself and draws his wife back in].
(Innkeeper) Go and sit down and be quiet until I tell you. Get the coffee.
(Wife) And supposing…
(Innkeeper) [Marches her forcefully over to her chair by the arm] Silence. Not a word.
[His wife sits down and takes up her embroidery again. The servant has re-taken his seat at the table. The Innkeeper goes back through to the servants’ quarter].
(Innkeeper) Coffee, now.
[The servant gets back up and serves the Fanshaws; when he’s finished the Innkeeper bustles him back out again].
(Fanshaw) [Speech slightly slurred] Worse, even worse on the continent.
Throughout our stay in France,
We’d been obliged to drink our wine and break our bread
In the same room as postillons, labourers and tradesmen.
They almost strove to drink out of the same glass,
Not content with drinking from the same bottle .
(Innkeeper) Oh my word, how horrid. My lord, I mean. Appalling.
(Fanshaw) Time was, a person knew their place;
Time was, those who did not would merit the sword.
(Innkeeper) Lamentably no more. What has happened to manners?
You know, just the other day…
(Fanshaw) At one inn, there was a Dutch footman –
(Innkeeper) Oh the Dutch! Don’t even get me started…
(Fanshaw) … he refused to sit with his fellow servants,
Or remove his hat in our presence.
He would go into the servants’ quarter, cut himself a slice of bread,
And return to the parlour to eat it, speaking to his master and the ladies as equals.
Of course, the other servants were laughing all the while
At the thought of their masters dining with a servant .
(Innkeeper) Rightly so. Rightly so.
The thought of a gentleman dining with an subordinate present. Outlandish.
(Fanshaw) The French kindness to inferiors is spreading. It has arrived here.
It is a threat to society, no less – to good Christian society.
The French ease and familiarity;
Their easy going attitude towards mixing with lesser breeds.
Revolution is in the air.
(Innkeeper) Never fear, never fear.
(Fanshaw) [Inebriation showing] The lowest and dullest of mankind outnumber us.
The French common have begun to get ideas above their station.
Half-bred, half-educated. A herd, pushing at the gate.
So many persons there have raised themselves by their own exertions…
(Innkeeper) Contemptible.
(Fanshaw) …indeed, so much so that everyone thinks himself entitled to rise.
Very few are contented to remain in the rank to which they were born .
(Innkeeper) Oh, I know, it’s like…
(Fanshaw) It’s like breeding a horse –
If you maintain good stock, you produce a superior animal.
If you mix the mediocre elements with higher ones, however,
You get an inferior creature with pauce haunches and gimbly legs.
Unfit to win any race; unfit to pull a coach.
Unfit for any purpose, in fact. Useless.
(Innkeeper) Oh, yes. True breeding is…
(Fanshaw) A matter of birth.
[The clatter of tankards being slammed onto the table and raucous laughter from the servants’ quarter peals forth].
(Innkeeper) Oh for God’s sake; what now? Excuse me.
[The Innkeeper goes into the servants’ quarter drawing the curtain behind him. Sees the ale spilled on the floor].
(Innkeeper) [Barking] Look at this mess!
[To the servant] You’re paying for this!
This is coming out of your wages! No, stay in your seat!
[To the three guests] You, you, and you: you sit in your places;
Don’t move an inch until I say so!
[To the servant] Clear this mess up!
It’s what you’re paid for, isn’t it?
In fact, no. Go to the stable – I’ll sort it out myself –
Where’s my wife?
[To the Guest] You as well – beat it. This is the second night in a row.
[To the young couple, morosely] You stay where you are: finish your food,
Then I’ll my wife will take you to your beds.

[The servant and the Guest get up and exit via the door to the right; the young couple remain seated while the Innkeeper wipes the table down and dabs the floor. Meanwhile, Fanshaw and his wife put down their cutlery quietly and leave without paying their bill; slinking calmly out through the corridor to the left – Fanshaw’s wife unhappily, but impassively following him. The Innkeeper’s wife remains sitting silently on the Innkeeper’s instruction, embroidering perversely while they slope past. The Innkeeper returns].

(Wife) Your lord and his lady have left.
(Innkeeper) What? Why didn’t you say something?
(Wife) He hasn’t paid his bill.
(Innkeeper) What? Be quiet.
(Wife) He hasn’t.
(Innkeeper) Of course he has! He’s the fifth Lord of Wensleydale!
They don’t just bloody… wait.
You mean he didn’t pay you while I…?
No – it must just have been his distaste for …
He must have left it for me, somewhere.
No [checks table for bill] – no member of the nobility could be so…
You’re right; he hasn’t paid.
Not even for today’s fare. He hasn’t paid!
(Wife) He hasn’t paid his bill.
(Innkeeper) He hasn’t paid his bill!
(Wife) Apparently not; no.
(Innkeeper) A thief! A thief!
Nothing but a swindling, low-down dirty rotten common crooked thief!
Nobility! Nobility! High and mighty!
Nothing but a common crook!
Sitting there, picking his teeth like a common ragabond!
(Wife) Vagabond.
(Innkeeper) Spitting his offal into my handkerchief, my napkins.
(Wife) My embroidering.
(Innkeeper) Who’s the real beggar? The real low-life? That’s what I say.
That’s what I want to know! And the worst thing – the worst thing! –
They’ll be half-way to Yorkshire by now!
If he wasn’t – if he wasn’t…if he comes back…
Well, I’ll not accept his custom again.
He’ll be turned away at the door like the first-rate fiddling felon he is.
Him and all his friends!
(Wife) Indeed.
(Innkeeper) Oh, don’t you see if I won’t! Drifting moochers.
I’d rather have the stable-hands pay visit –
It may not be up to much, but at least they pay.
In fact, yes, bring them in – go and invite them in.
(Wife) Sure, I will in a few minutes. I’ll let them finish their…
(Innkeeper) No, no, do it now. Go on. I’ll set the table myself.
They may be poor, but they’re the true nobility, oh yes.
Honest labourers – the salt of the earth.
I’ll set the table for them myself. I will. Yes, I’m not too proud to.
Paying customers. On the house.

[The Innkeeper’s wife goes into the servants’ quarter to fetch the young couple. The Innkeeper begins to set the table; he thinks briefly about setting the remaining wine but decides against it, corking the bottle instead and putting it back into the cupboard. His wife returns with the couple – both sit down slightly awkwardly on the plush chairs. The Innkeeper’s wife re-takes her own seat and begins embroidering with her eyes averted].

(Innkeeper) Come, come. Sit down, sit down.
Here, have a glass of water; have something to eat.
This is the finest mutton we have.
Beats bread and ale, doesn’t it?
[To self] The Lord of Wensleydale.
Nothing but a common tapster – silk stockings, lace garters, velvet cloak!
A heart like a halibut – a face like a cod!
You know, there’s no wonder they secretly use prostitutes to…
[Fanshaw re-appears from the corridor].
(Innkeeper) My lord – you’ve returned.
[The Innkeeper hustles the couple out immediately, tipping the woman off her chair]. (Innkeeper) Get out, go on, get out! How dare you?
Sloping in here without my knowledge!
[Both return to the servants’ quarter].
(Fanshaw) [Off-handed] I left my coat; be a good man and fetch it will you?
(Innkeeper) [Bows politely] Yes of course; at once my lord.

[Nods to wife, who sighs imperceptibly, puts down embroidery, then goes to the coat-stand resignedly and returns with Fanshaw’s coat. She walks past Fanshaw and hands it to the Innkeeper, who hands it to Fanshaw, who takes his coat without expressing gratitude].

(Fanshaw) [On the threshold of the door] Oh, er, the er, the bill…
(Innkeeper) Oh don’t trouble yourself, my Lord. I’ll put it on your tab.
Such an esteemed guest.
Such worthy company, your decency: worth its own weight in gold.
Will attract untold custom, your having graced us with your presence.
In fact, it would surely only further our prosperity all the more
If you were to visit us again in good time, regardless of cost.
(Fanshaw) Yes, yes.
(Innkeeper) Bring your friends, your acquaintances.
I’ll have my wife set up a special waiting room for you.
We’ll set up tabs for all.
[Fanshaw walks out of the room and out of sight down the corridor].
(Innkeeper) [Calls] We’ll name it after you!
[Quietly] ‘The Featherstone-Hough suite’.
(Fanshaw) [Calls back] Fan-shaw. Fan-shaw.
(Innkeeper) Yes, my Lord.
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 2

[Sutherland and R. step outside the theatre hall. It is dusk; the evening is chill with the onset of autumn – breath has begun to mist; the sky is overcast. Both Sutherland and R. draw their coats more tightly. There are students passing by; a number of them gaudily dressed].

(R.) If there’s one thing I value most about university it’s the all-surrounding – yet subtle – intimations towards enlightenment; and the bonds of kinship that tie, occasionally bind, but ultimately and universally unite us all as brethren within a culture of studied progress and carefully measured illumination.
(Sutherland) Eh?

[A tall, slim young man walks by in shorts and sandals with sunglasses – despite being overcast and grey September day; cell-phone; fatigued Southern accent: “Yeah, yeah. It was completely boring. The whole lecture. And the book; the teacher as well. In fact the whole course itself is mind-numbing. But I went out afterwards and I got just twatted off my tits”]

(R.) For example.
(Sutherland) [In sympathy, but unwilling to say so] Are you still thinking of leaving?
(R.) No; I don’t see the point. I’ve already finished two years; one more’s not going to kill me. Plus, I’m only working on theses now, so I don’t have to attend seminars anymore.
(Sutherland) God, I wish I didn’t have to. I’ve lost count of which ones I’ve cut. I did have a system working for long enough, but I lost my diary. Left it in a lecture.
(R.) One of the ones you attended?
(Sutherland) Exactly.
(R.) Do you think the supermarket will still be open?
(Sutherland) What day is it?
(R.) Sunday.
(Sutherland) Well then, perhaps. Let’s take a chance. Why, anyway?
(R.) We have no food.
(Sutherland) Again? That’s ridiculous!
(R.) Do you have any money?
(Sutherland) On me?
(R.) Yes.
(Sutherland) No.
(R.) Nevermind.
(Sutherland) Do you think I swing my arms enough while I’m walking?
(R.) What do you mean?
(Sutherland) Well, I’ve been thinking about it recently; and I don’t think that I swing my arms enough.
(R.) For what?
(Sutherland) General purposes.
(R.) For instance?
(Sutherland) Well, I mean, suppose you walk into a job interview.
(R.) Aye; a thing like that could make all the difference.
(Sutherland) Okay, then tell me this: why do shopkeepers put nipples on the mannequins?
(R.) What? I don’t know. Would you like me to ask? Why?
(Sutherland) It seems like a superfluous detail to me.
In fact, why does the male body have nipples at all?
(R.) I’ve no idea.
(Sutherland) See, that proves that even if there is a God, he – or she – is flawed. And don’t even get me started on male genitals: they were not ergonomically designed and that’s final.
(R.) And if man was created in God’s image?
(Sutherland) Precisely. For all we know, he could be sitting around somewhere adjusting himself as we speak. Especially if he cycles. Particularly if he wears spandex.
(R.) Perhaps you could write one of your plays on the theme?
(Sutherland) Stop it; before you start.
(R.) Stop what? Didn’t you say you were planning a sequel to your comedy of terrors: ‘The Dawning of the Veronese Dead: Romeo and Juliet – the Revenge’?
(Sutherland) No. Not after last time.
(R.) The whole plagiarism issue?
(Sutherland) Create/steal – what’s the difference. I still have to take the module over again. Besides, I’m aiming for something .ore life-like, but less realistic.
(R.) Like the pornographic one? ‘Belinda, the Saracen’s adopted daughter’?
(Sutherland) Look, it was not pornographic. I explained this, repeatedly, several times. It was burlesque. And besides, who were you to call it smutty and childish?
(R.) I said prurient and puerile.
(Sutherland) Same thing. Besides, the sexual element was meaningful.
(R.) It was nothing but cheap titillation.
(Sutherland) And you have the nerve to call me smutty…
(R.) Prurient.
(Sutherland) Whatever.
[Sutherland and R. approach the entrance of a small grocery store. Walking towards them along the pavement are a black couple: a young woman carrying her child – hands her over to the husband. The woman shakes arms as they’ve gone to sleep. Two old men are standing next to the doorway talking as Sutherland/R. pass through]
(First Gentleman) I’ve always got plenty that needs doing, but I never get anything done.
(Second Gentleman) Nah, me neither.
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 3

[A woman is standing on stage, delivering a speech to business leaders and visiting party dignitaries. She is in her mid-thirties; of mixed race (light brown) and very professionally-spoken]

(Lab) Welcome to beautiful Kingston upon Hull: a great Yorkshire city.
Welcome to our town – a city of progress, peace and prosperity;
Of rest, relaxation and refuge. Elegance is endemic.
A northern city, with a proud and varied past.
A history of industry and labour; a maritime town –
A place of shipping and fishing –
Where modernity and antiquity meet, but do not collide.
Where the elderly and the young co-exist peacefully,
Having long ago learned to put their differences aside.
In fact, we are proud to say that our juvenile citizens
Are as peaceable as any to be found anywhere in the world.
Even in the most derelict neighbourhoods –
During the darkest nights of the year –
You are more likely to find a youthful, helping hand
Than a piece of litter.
Old residents – the salts of the earth –
Welcome newcomers, adding a dash of pageantry and spectacle
To create a modern, vibrant city.
It is a pleasure to see colourful peoples –
With their entertaining dresses and amusing customs –
Mingle gladly with down-to-earth, honest, no-nonsense folk.
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 4

[Sutherland/R. standing at counter, making payment]
(Sutherland) [Loudly enough for shop clerk to hear] Why do people make such a fuss over virginity? I mean, why do people make such a play of sex?
(R.) It’s over-rated. One of the blessings of evolution was for God to grant us opposable digits. Ask for no more.
(Sutherland) Exactly.
[Sutherland/R. exit the store; passing a canned goods charity collection stall on their way. The stall is staffed by one of the old men seated on a deck-chair next to the table, reading a newspaper. The table displays a paucity of meagre goods. Sutherland notices something]
(Sutherland) Green olives? Who donated those? Bloody sadists.
[The old man smiles cheerily and nods to Sutherland. Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 5

[Lab speech continued]
(Lab) This is a special place.
To the city’s residents I say this:
Aspire to be what you can aim to be.
And to the town’s many fine children:
Trust in yourself, and you can believe anything.
This is Kingston upon Hull:
Where democracy is its own reward;
Freedom its own virtue.
We believe in hope in this city;
And these are the people I propose to represent as a member of parliament.
Today, I am announcing my intention to permanently replace the sadly deceased party member, Mr Icke –
[Unveils a photo of the departed from behind a velvet curtain via draw-string: ‘The Rt. Hon. R. K. Icke’ is engraved in a brass plate beneath the portrait of an elderly white man]
– Who represented our city so well, for so long.
[Mild applause from audience]
Refreshments are available on the tables to the rear
By courtesy of Fare Solutions.
The investment forums are in the suite adjacent. Thank you.
[Exits stage. Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 6

[Sutherland and R. turn the corner onto Albion Street. A building at the end of the road is smouldering. As will transpire, a fire has gutted the building completely. Fire brigade personnel are leaving the scene].

(Sutherland) You know, there’s an awful lot of black smoke fuming out of our building.
(R.) Maybe it’s the one behind. They had a barbecue indoors last weekend.
(Sutherland) No – it’s definitely ours: the Czech woman and her kids are on the corner there. Look, her daughter just kicked that fireman.
(R.) Did you leave anything on?
(Sutherland) Me? No, no. I bet it was that bloody toaster. It caught alight last week.
(R.) And you didn’t think to throw it out?
(Sutherland) I gave it a wipe-down. What more do you want?
(R.) Somewhere to live. [Pause] It was probably the kettle anyway. The plug was sparking this morning.
(Sutherland) And you didn’t think to change it?
(R.) You dragged me off to that stupid play before I had chance.
(Sutherland) Shouldn’t the kettle put a fire out?
(R.) Not if the water’s hot.
(Sutherland) Oh, yeah. No, wait…do you think anybody was hurt?
(R.) No – the Czechs were the only other residents here over the summer break. Most of the students won’t be back until October.
(Sutherland) Do you think they’ll hold us responsible?
(R.) No; the landlord’s probably glad. It saves him a swindle.
(Sutherland) Eh?
(R.) He was pretty damn diffident the other month when I asked him to fix our radiator. I’m sure he was hoping for it to flood. Maybe that’s why he let us skimp the rent so often. He was being patient; canny bastard.
(Sutherland) Do you think they saved my scripts?
(R.) I don’t think they’d’ve gone out of their way to rescue them.
(Sutherland) God. The loss to literature – to humanity.
(R.) Didn’t you have them saved on your laptop?
(Sutherland) Ah, yes. Yes.
(R.) Where is it?
(Sutherland) I left it in the kitchen; on the sideboard. Between the kettle and the toaster. The safest place.
(R.) Well, can’t you write them over again?
(Sutherland) No, no; the pain is too fresh.
(R.) And the indolence?
(Sutherland) Ever-present.
(R.) Do you know anybody who can put us up for the night?
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 7

[The following day: it is early September: a bright autumnal morning. The setting is a small sunlit hall with large windows. The scene is vivid and rich. Announcing his candidacy in the upcoming European elections is Paul Cobblestone, the regional folk-leader of the British Notional Party. Cobblestone has taken to the stage; standing behind a podium bedecked with Union Jacks and the ‘BNP’ acronym. Cobblestone is middle-aged and overweight, but has a powerful frame. He is wearing a smart, dark suit and a scarlet tie. His appearance is therefore both sensible and striking. He motions to his audience – a hushed anticipation ensues. Cobblestone begins speaking: quietly and calmly; but staccato and raising his voice when making emphatic points].

(Cobblestone) Gentlemen; Britons; my fellow countrymen –
Today I ask you this:
What if free-range eggs transformed into free-range legs
Just as you were about to eat them?
And instead of warm, nutritious eggs –
Suitable as an accompaniment to toast,
Or as a light, savoury dish in their own right –
All that you had before you were liberated legs:
Hot, lithe, devoid of trousers, and therefore infinitely naked.
That, gentlemen, is what has happened to our country.
[Ceremonious applause. Scene ends].

Act 1: Scene 8

[Sutherland/R. are searching for a place to live; encountering various points of rebuff: ‘No students’; ‘No DSS’; ‘No children’; ‘No dogs’. Sutherland is standing at an open door].

(Landlord) [Irish accent] Look the sign clearly says ‘No DSS’.
(Sutherland) We’re students
(Landlord) Yeah; that’s what they all feckin’ say. Look at that bloody hair!
(Sutherland) What’s wrong with my hair?
[Door slams shut and locks. Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 9

[Cobblestone continues as before]
(Cobblestone) Do you remember Britain the way it used to be?
Sweet blue skies; green and pleasing meadows.
A clean and pleasant land.
[Murmurs of consensus from audience]
Time was this country was safe. It was secure. It had sensible weather.
Once, we Britons flaunted our Britishness;
We would saunter the city streets with spirit, with verve.
Now we are too ashamed – simply too embarrassed –
To even take pride in the days we dominated the very earth.
We are no longer even allowed to mention the name of our country – Britain.
My Britain. The most unassuming and greatly gentle of all lands.
Noble and resonant – a realm of kings and literary princes.
Ours is the country of Shakespeare and …well, many others besides.
Once Britons would read Shakespeare with pride.
Ask a former British child – they’ll tell you:
‘Shakespeare is who I am’.
That is the way it once was,
Truth be told.
But what was this Britain of old?
Cobbled stone streets; golden bright fields of fair budding wheat.
Hay bales cooling, while twilight champs on the bit.
Post offices robustly plying their wares on British street corners.
Children literally strolling down country lanes;
Their playful hands irresistibly drawn towards the long scented purples of mint.
The union Jack fluttering slowly in the sky.
England – my England.
A clock ticking as a dog barks:
‘Come in lad’ it’s owner would command with mastery.
Families swinging merrily; and frosted apple carts
Rattling along barely lit side-streets;
Gas lamps a-glimmer in the evening dusk,
As the gentle British wind blew upon
Each and every inhabitant of the city.
Yes, all of this was England.
And what else? What more besides?
Long shadows on cricketers;
Invincible suburban outlooks;
Tepid, small beer.
This was no ordinary country. This was a British country –
This was Britain, to be precise.
We would stand and hark at elderly maidens
Cycling through the Holy Communion,
As the parson had at them with his sermons.
‘Which creaks more?’ passers by would ask;
‘Their rusting wheels or their proud British hips?’.
Oh yes – there was reverence, in those days.
We were a nation of old maids and preachers.
St. Paul’s cathedral; Mrs Beeton:
There was simply no way of discerning between the two.
Both were equally British.
Time was, being British required a life-long experience of Britishness.
Time was ‘savour the flavour of Yorkshire’ actually meant something.
Well, not no more, my fellow countrymen.
Now it has gone the way of the honest British brogue.
Where once our native tongue was squarely wedded to our mother country
It has now simply, literally vanished.
Our firm regional accents lost to a meringue of non-European subversion.
Nobody is even allowed to mention the British twang anymore;
Less still employ one.
It is considered improper.
But we still remember –
We remember those glorious days:
Saturday nights by the fireside,
Wishing the time away until Monday morning
To begin a week of work anew.
We Britons loved our labour; our jobs more than our wives.
Every single Briton would gladly sacrifice their beings, their loves, their lives
For their work.
The honest British milk man:
‘Two pints of milk, madam’ he would say to every customer,
Without a trace of lewdness.
Pints – not demi-litres.
In his expert hands, the seditious French influence was kept adroitly at bay.
The great British post, and its magnificent mail:
It is now the laughing stock of the world;
But once our mailmen bestrode the earth
As did the very Gods themselves.
A rich culinary history: our proud food heritage – tastes formed for life.
Oh, British cookery may lack flair and panache –
But it has honesty and decency;
A certain inborn propriety lacking in other cuisines.
We British – we know what we like, and we like what we know.
Or at least we thought so.
Today, however, our shepherd and apple pies –
Our honest puff-pastry crust –
Are now gone, ruined, ruthlessly replaced and ravaged
By the brute creations of the Frenchman’s lust,
And his only too-tempting crostini.
Enough is enough.
Britishness is an art, you see; not a science.
You don’t perform it with precision.
It is not fitfully engineered:
It requires years of carefully honed Britishness to be fully British.
And what then are we Britons?
Unsurpassingly modest – we are rightly proud of our humility.
None are so humble as we. None in all the world behave so Britishly.
We built Britain with our bare hands.
Who but the Briton would ever have had
The simple sense of decency, of good order,
To create a proud Yorkshire city like Hull?
What wondrous hand, or eye
Dare not enjoy its lovely propriety?
Tourists will find no nude statues of women in this most satisfying city.
No aching cleavage of temptation awaits
The innocent eyes of unsuspecting men and boys –
Their gaze literally drawn.
Until recently, that is. How things have changed.
When we look upon our fair city, what greets our eyes today?
Unprovoked littering.
Unpatriotic unBritish facades.
Unjustified nudity.
Dogs crapping on street corners; children crapping on the elderly –
Or literally breaking the law with crimes.
Oh, I have seen them: hardened youths, souring street corners,
Literally – and I will repeat this –
Literally thinking about committing offences.
It is marked upon their very faces.
Honest Britons are now victims of their own demise:
Poor frail folk, tormented bitterly by the prospect of un-Britishness.
They soldier on – let there be no doubt –
But how can they hope to succeed
When our language, our very culture,
Has been perverted by despicable foreign mores.
What does ‘Tea bagging’ mean today, I ask?
Time was it meant innocent, wholesome delight.
And now? Now?
Now every single cup of tea ever made
Will fill the maker’s mind with bitter obscenity;
Especially if prepared in a teapot.
One cannot sit in an honest café without thinking of the French these days.
Our cultural tapestry, the very fabric of our nation,
Is now besmirched and blemished beyond compare.
Is it any wonder that all manner of mentalness transpires?
The promotion of French taste and manners is remorseless.
It is only the Frenchman who speaks with every part of his body .
Seeking to bring Britons to their level – to leave us no better than equals:
From Frenchness to Feminism to all manner of buggeration.
Gentlemen, ask yourself this: in the eyes of a Frenchman,
What – precisely – does the Channel tunnel symbolise?
And what the trains?
It is simply not normal. It is not British.
Gentlemen, I say unto you: when the baguette has supplanted the Parkin,
A tragic horror has befallen our land.

[Pauses and recollects self, re-straightening his tie]
It is worse, far worse than even this.
A veritable flange of outlanders has befallen us.
On this island, on our shores,
Every rogue in search of a fortune washes up.
Continually emptying and discharging themselves into this grand reservoir:
Britain is little more than a common culvert for the world.
Our country is literally bulging at the seams:
We are full of foreigners inserting themselves
Into every crevice of our country.
Medical facilities, educational establishments,
Restaurants and takeaways:
All – all – could have migrants in them.
The possibility for terrorism is simply impossible.
The threat has multiplied beyond all calculation.
It is at least twice what it once was; if not double.
The unbridled entry of foreigners into our country
Has literally left our motherland ravished – a stricken creature.
Today, the pay the drudging Briton receives is so meagre,
So paltry, that he cannot even live within it.
Houses are falling into ruin:
Their owners put to work as virtual slaves;
And all of this transpires while the foreigner looks on laughingly,
Larding its contemptible crust.
Gentlemen, enough is quite simply enough.
This appalling state of affairs must begin to end;
It must start to stop.
But who, or what, is the terrible enemy within the heart of our own country?
What is it that poses the great threat to civilisation?
Gentlemen, from France there comes a new power into our kingdom –
Most savage and unnatural;
Foreign to our nation, to our character, and to the genius of our people.
When we look across Yorkshire today,
What do we see?
Upstandingly British front-gardens
Forced to make way for many, many Mosques.
British flowerbeds have become veritable battlegrounds.
Each English rose in bloom is a step towards final victory.
When we scan the horizon of Hull,
What becomes patent?
Inner-city areas where ordinary citizens dare not venture after dark.
A depopulated wasteland brimming with foreigners.
Young Muslim men literally hanging around –
Literally conspiring against the downfall of Britain.
We know for a fact that they have connections to the outside world,
Where they have almost certainly received training in Islam.
In fact it is safe to say that Yorkshire has become a veritable Mecca
For Muslims and other criminal types.
Gentlemen: they hate us for our Britishness.
They literally despise us because we are better than they are.
Theirs is the awed contempt; ours the humble pride.
It is in their very blood.
The Koran teaches people to hate Albion –
It literally implores them to despise the honest British pleasure beach;
To loathe us because of our candour, and the liberties we take.
Muslims despise us because of our modesty.
By a striking contrast, Jesus understood well enough the importance of Britishness.
It is no coincidence that the Bible is written in English, you know.
[Applause; Cobblestone motions for hush]
Let us be clear here; let us state facts plainly:
A swan’s wing is powerful enough to break a man’s arm –
How many Muslims know this?
Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit –
How many Islamic lands have that in their constitution?
No Gentlemen, no:
The differences between the civilised and the savage are simply too great –
There can be no peace between us.
If we surrender – if we fail –
Then shall the realm of Albion come to great confusion.
Oh, you may disbelieve me;
But I have seen it.
I have literally seen it.
I saw one with my own eyes – undeniably looking suspicious –
Literally standing on a street corner.
Too many liberals have turned a blind eye to terrorism in the past and –
For the sake of England – I refused to follow suit.
I approached the Muslim.
‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’ I asked politely.
‘I’m sorry?’ came the vicious reply.
‘Well, I see you standing here
On the very corner of a street in the early evening –
What is one to presume?’ I retorted candidly.
‘I’m not sure I follow’ he snarled.
‘How dare you accost me in such a manner’, I broached tactfully.
‘The impudence of you creatures is legendary,
But even I had not expected this tirade of invective’.
‘Look mate, I’m not looking for any trouble, I’m just waiting for the…’.
But I was not about to be led astray by such vulgar calumny;
By such grovelling liberal propaganda.
‘Shut up’, I explained.
‘Did you seriously think you could get away with it?’ I continued peaceably.
No reply came. Not a single word.
And I will tell you why:
A bus had arrived, and – in the true coward’s fashion,
Customary to such foreign types – he boarded it.
[Audience murmurs with satisfaction; Cobblestone glowers]
But he dropped litter. By God I tell you –
I couldn’t believe it with my own eyes –
Before he climbed aboard –
He literally littered!
He befouled an innocent British pavement with his foul unBritish wares!
Final proof of what we all knew to be true,
But were simply unable to prove
Due to a dearth of so-called evidence.
‘That is a British pavement and that was literally assault!’ I cried.
All I could do was watch, however,
As that Halal biscuit wrapper fell cruelly towards the footpath.
A British footpath.
A cheese biscuit.
An Islamic cracker.
It was but inches from the bin –
Or, to the Muslim, mere centimetres.
Oh, the distance was quite deliberate. Quite intentional.
It was an assault upon our culture, our religion, our very way of life –
Yes, even our beliefs.
These Muslims: they hate us for our civilised walkways.
It was mockery! It was insolence!
That is sarcasm! That is literally terrorism!
[Applause and cheers from audience; Cobblestone cries over the clamour]
Oh yes – their hatred of the Britain is matched only by their desire to live here.
They deserve nothing but the basest form of contempt,
For that is all that a savage is capable of. Hatred and detestation.
Let it be said: we are standing today at the very gates of Hull.
For the first time in history – in our fair city –
Violent conflict may ensue.
Therein savagery does press and throng;
Gentlemen – welcome to Kingston upon Hullistan.
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 10

[Sutherland/R. being shown into a dilapidated flat by an Estate Agent. The latter is a young, slight, and well-spoken woman; wearing a smart suit and skirt.
The Agent pushes the door open with her shoulder – behind which is a collection of beer cans, as well as a pile of mottled and ripened rubbish].

(Agent) You’re going to love the flat – it’s just lovely. Its entire temperament is perfect for students. Absolutely perfect.
(Sutherland) How? How is it perfect?
(Agent) The window opens in summer and closes in winter. It has curtains and everything – though we do make no guarantee about those. It’s been a student residence for several months now – [to Sutherland] watch the floor there – but it played a keen role in contemporary local history beforehand, which I’m sure will only enhance your esteem.
(R.) Was it a drug pad?
(Agent) [Pause] It was a centre for subversive commerce and illicit exchange. A jive warren, in fact. You know, these are very exciting times we live in. The front door still works perfectly. There was no lock, so no forced entry was required whenever it was raided.
(R.) Is there a telephone?
(Agent) We feel that the lack of intrusive telecommunications affords privacy and peace – a sense of seclusion in today’s frantic world. Ideal for quiet study. Just the thing for exam preparation. [Stumbles on bottle] The previous occupants were students at the university; they were very comfortable here.
(R.) Why did they leave?
(Agent) Expulsion.
(Sutherland) Did they not pay their rent?
(Agent) Oh, it was nothing like that. They were squatting here. The building was condemned – we bought it shortly afterwards. The students were disqualified from their University courses. [Looks around the flat charily] They vanished afterwards.
(Sutherland) I’ll be honest – I have my doubts.
(R.) What else is there?
(Sutherland) True. My loan’s pretty sparse until next spring.
(R.) We’ll need to buy a phone.
(Sutherland) I’ll just leave my mobile here during the day. That way if anyone calls when I’m out, they’ll still be able to reach me.
(R.) What are they? [Motioning towards a row of glass bottles on the windowsill].
(Agent) Um? Oh – that’s a display of antique liquor bottles.
(Sutherland) Really? Are they worth anything?
(Agent) There’s a recycling box outside.
(R.) We’ll take the flat.
(Agent) Great. Excellent.
(R.) It’s all we can afford.
(Sutherland) And at least it doesn’t smell like a barbecue.
(R.) No; it just reeks of the aftermath. If you would be so kind as to clear the junk away, I’ll wash the vomit from the walls.
(Agent) [Automatically] Yes, the varied hues really add a touch of spectacle – and a real note of authenticity – to the whole character of the apartment. Quite how they managed to get it above the door adds a motif of mystery. [Pause] Here are the keys, anyway. You’ll need new ones of course if you have a lock installed. I’ll leave you to it.
(R.) Well, at least it has a door if not a lock. And half a handle .
(Sutherland) It has a door bell, only without the bell. And a milk bottle out front with a piece of bread in it. Maybe it’s a trap?
(R.) Could be. We have mice boarding with us.
(Sutherland) They’re probably not going to chip in.
[Scene ends]

Act 1: Scene 11

[Cobblestone has quieted; and has tidied his fringe. His face is no longer flushed. The audience is awaiting his next utterance. He speaks gently at first].

(Cobblestone) ‘But what are we to do in the face of such horrors?’ you ask.
Gentlemen, I tell you from bitter personal experience:
Our potency as a nation diminishes with each passing day.
We need a new, tactical Britishness.
Our mother country is in need of firm, British, masculine guidance.
It is thus today that I – for the very first time –
I unveil before your eyes
The new ideal of rugged Britishness.
Step forward the New Model Youth!

[Five men in single file troop into view; entering the stage from behind the scenes. Four are in their twenties – their hair is blond and close-cropped; one is an older gentleman with his hair bleached blonde and cut in the same style. The men are wearing tight white t-shirts, tan coloured shorts, and weighty paramilitary boots. All stand at ease in the military fashion, on the stage to Cobblestone’s left]

(Cobblestone) Behold: paragons of the manly British virtues.
The bejewelled crown of young British manhood.
Icons for our time.
Solid, upstanding members of our nation –
Their Britishness fully-fledged;
Brought to fruition by their hard-earned hands.
The kind of daring, bold, devil-may-care young men
That our movement sorely needs; that our ranks greatly desire.
Burning with pride; glistening with honest, trustworthy eyebrows.
Gentlemen, I like my men to be real men; my Britons – true Britons.
I am the one to make men of these British boys.
I will take them in hand. I will teach them the ways of Britishness:
The thrill of steely comradeship in the face of a common enemy.

[The New Model Youth take their queue and begin to march back and forth across the stage behind Cobblestone; their boots clunking on the wooden lattes]

(Cobblestone) Let their pure Anglo-Saxon instinct be a blistering example:
Birth alone can entitle men and women to the society of Britons.
Just because a dog is born in a stable
That does not make it a horse.
It has not the qualities we would associate most with a horse –
Loyalty, intelligence, courage:
Only Britons may truly be compared to stallions thus.
There is a pecking order in this country.
The top peckers must have their hard-won end!

[The New Model Youth cease to march, and retake their former standing positions]

(Cobblestone) You will find the spirit of Caesar in this youth –
A magnificent virile force – true Britons all.
The great military deeds of warriors and fighters shall they know;
The freedom of the city shall be theirs.

[The New Model Youth again take their queue and begin to stride about the stage once more]

(Cobblestone) These then are they
Who have the ability – and the will –
To fight for the honour of their mother country.
They can maintain a marching pace of five miles per hour
Over a distance of twenty five;
And when they stop,
They can strike one fire with two sticks in three minutes.

[The New Model youth fall into rank once more, slightly short of breath. Cobblestone walks along the line, inspecting his troops, occasionally testing their uniforms, and addressing his audience]

(Cobblestone) Gentlemen, behold the most perfect specimens of Britishness.
Legs: sinewed as though with steel cords;
So fine are the muscles and devoid of fat.
Chests: broad, deep and full –
Their heritage from generations of mountain-dwelling ancestors.
Probably Welsh.
They sweep along the walkway with a smooth, effortless stride,
As tireless as a machine and equally rhythmical.
The thought of attempting to catch one of them in the chase
Gives one a strange feeling of delight and vulnerability.
But we may well enjoy a sensation of the beautiful in watching them .
As tough as British steel; as swift as British trains;
And as uncompromising as British post-offices.
Note the English face: naturally calm, audacious and bold –
Like the ancient Viking heroes of old.
Note the attire, the arrangement:
The true Britishman’s leg was not designed by God almighty himself
With half-masters in mind.
These truly British shorts will reflect our imperial days of glory:
As the flag soared, so too the khaki hem.
Now is the period of our discontent made glorious somehow
By these flamboyant sons of Yorkshire!

[Cobblestone retakes his podium; the New Model Youth remain in position, one or two occasionally shaking their legs due to pins and needles]

(Cobblestone) Gentlemen I tell you this:
We will win the battle on the council estate,
In the schools, and wherever else it is found to be fought.
The appalling, wilful negligence of the political classes
Will not continue unabated!
[Applause]
The silent majority cry out in desperation.
They say to me ‘Cobblestone: you are our only hope.
Only you will ensure that British restaurants take pride of place
On British high streets for evermore’.
Yes, that is what they say. This is what they say to me.
And they are right. I am their only hope.
But Gentlemen I ask you this – history is at the back-door:
Will she find it locked or swaying?
We have achieved a string of magnificent minor successes –
Many upon many people have indicated that they could support us.
Unspoken desires should not be overlooked.
Now we need a final push to gain our first seat in the halls of power.
Gentlemen, our time has finally come – our time is at long last now.
As far as nationalism is concerned, there is only one circus in town.
The power and the glory must be ours.
We British nationals ruled the world once;
The day shall come when we will stand supreme in Hull.
It is time for an expression of our movement’s resolve and will;
The energy of our members must be harnessed and directed,
And brought to a spectacular climax.
Let us truly come to power:
It is time for a great expression of the peoples’ will!

[The New Model Youth take their queue to begin marching in the background; their clunky traipse audible as a backdrop to Cobblestone’s words]

We will mount a defence of the normal way of life in this country!
Oh, there will be no half measures:
When we mount something we go at it properly!
Thus the entire rabble shall know
There is one who will deliver and save England:
Cobblestone! He alone has the courage! He alone am I!
I am Britain! So can you!
Gentlemen, the future is a thing of the past;
Today we welcome the present.
Britannia is dead.
Now, we witness the birth of Albion
In this bastion of freedom,
This land of hope and glory, this…England.
[Standing ovation from the audience members. Scene ends]

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