Prose

FRIDAY 27th MAY: Written Piece for the Intnernational Alternative Press Fair Opening Party in 2011, with Jimi Gherkin, Ceri May and Steve Burgess

(this piece was performed by 3 people, with accompaniment by the Resonance FM Orchestra, which improvises sounds to live pieces. Hence you see these suggestions for an “orchestra” throughout. It was also combined with live illustration on an overhead projection, hence the references to “illustrators” in the piece).

The Players: Chloe (C) – young and looking for love, a poetess
Steed (S) – Chloe’s older friend & confidant, a poet
John (J) young gun, self-centred, cocky, stud in band

    Scene 1 – Supermarket

(3 minutes start for Orchestra and Illustrators to set the atmosphere before actors start speaking)

(Orchestra – beeps, repetitive, monotonous, general hustle bustle, the sounds of a supermarket – monotonous beats, rattle of trolleys, upbeat but inane and repetitive. So at 1st it feels upbeat, but after a bit the repetitiveness starts to frustrate. Maybe have the orchestra talking to each other in background, like members of the public in a supermarket)

(Illustrators – drawing the supermarket situation)

C “excuse me please can I get past you?”
C “I said….. can I get past you?”
C “get past you?”
C “your basket”
C “this! In way…..Yes……thank you”

C “It’s like Mexico City in here. Everyone comes on a Saturday, they must love this Supermarket. Now let me find my list before another Mexican Wave fills the shop. After that I can go and meet Steed at the Russian Tea House. That will be nice. I can do this. Who knows what inspirations I might find on these here shelves….. on the shelves…….

(pause)

“Ah, here we are. First thing on the list: two lemons. Mmmm…. over here are some single ones. Lots of lovely yellow lemons, sitting as if waiting for a jam. They all look so yellow and good. In fact, I’ve never seen a bad lemon. And they’ve come all the way from Europe too. Good for you lemons”

(pause)

“On we go. Shall I have apples or oranges today? It’s so hard to know. Apples are greener….but I like orange too. I know, I’ll have some of both. I’ll be orangey green”

“Such a choice, from all over the world, sent here for us”

“Look, Fresh New Zealand Lamb”

“How can it be fresh?”

“Mince meat – two for five pounds. What am I going to do with over one kilogramme of Mince Meat, I’ll be feeding on it through to next month.

“A leg of beef. That’s a big leg. That’s a really big leg…. and it’s only little me.

“That man at the delicatessen is big too. He looks very strong. Look at the way he’s handling that lump of meat with ease. Oh, he’s looking over here!

(pause)

“I’ll give him my cute smile. I don’t want to distract him too much, those cutting machines are dangerous. I bet he never bangs on about being an artist, and his anxieties, and how he needs to be free. I should go out with a man like that. I’d probably be happy.

“Here are some people walking in the wrong direction towards me, a family, they haven’t even got baskets. Ha ha, it’s Saturday Supermarket Madness! Follow me people!

(pause)

“What’s round this corner…….oh, they’ve changed the aisle around… Baby stuff… But I don’t have a baby, lord I’m glad I don’t have a baby!… Let’s try the next, there they are. Toilet Rolls…..need to get to the toilet rolls, “excuse me people, I need toilet rolls

……….here’s a pack of four…….. I think I’ll have the pink…….they look…….ehwait, these are different packaging……what does it say… “three-ply roll, for a soft and abosrbant experience”…that sounds nice

…. Wait maybe this is better …a Special Value Pack….if I get 9 of them, then that’s….. cheaper per roll.……I think…….divide by 9……cheaper…..though it costs more overall…….

…but… these are two-ply…. “With embossed hard-wearing” … I like the pattern, but are they any good? How can I tell? If I can tell, how am I going to carry all them and my shopping, I’d need car…… I don’t have a car……I don’t even have a bike….. and I can’t drive anyway…..…. I’ll just get the ones I first looked at and go to the checkout

(pause)

(Orchestra: start up your beeps – it’s the checkout!)

“Not there, not there, ah there’s a self-service that’s free. That woman’s looking there too, best get in first.

(pause)

“scan you stupid ….., try again….these people will think I’m stupid”

(pause)

…It’s just a chocolate bar you stupid machine!”

“There’s a man……Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! Sorry… it keeps saying invalid item in the bagging area…what does that mean?…..

(Orchestra: beep sounds, repeating, repeating to fade)

    Scene 2 – Russian Tea House

(3 minutes start for Orchestra and Illustrators to set the atmosphere before actors start speaking)

(Orchestra – creating the atmosphere of a Russian Tea House. You’d imagine it quietly in background. Maybe a Russian Cossack like music in background… you know starts slowly, builds up, with lots of “heys” in it as they bounce up and down, kicking their legs out. Music stops, then starts even faster. Or is it the chinks and teaspoon sound of a tea house, again orchestra chat in background, maybe talking to person beside them in orchestra, like people talking in a tea house. You might need one of you to conduct, or set the tempo for the others to follow)

(Illustrators – Drawing the two people having tea in The Russian Tea House)

C “This is my favourite place Steed, I love coming here
S “I must admit I look forward to our weekly meetings. That picture over there, reminds me of Dimitri Moor, I’m a big fan of his work. He did some revolutionary posters in the 1920’s in Moscow. You can see it all online. He came from Southern Russia and he used to walk around in Cossack headgear. No hat for you today Chloe? You look relaxed.
C “I don’t have to answer to anyone here. No stupid employer, no stupid ex-boyfriend, no stupid check out machine”
S “Well Chloe if he can’t realise and appreciate what he has, he is going to miss out….”

C “I feel like there’s a fault line right down the middle of me………….I can’t be the same again………..why do you think he did it? Wasn’t he happy?
S “Well……he’s young Chloe. At that age you think you’re immortal, I know I did. You always want to try something new and you never realise just what you’ve got”.
C “We could have been happy together. I could have made him happy”
S “I liked him too Chloe, but I doubt at the moment he even thinks much about the next day. I think us men generally mature a little later, it’s just timing. You girls should go out with older men, you see “(laughing).

(pause)

S “Anyway, Love doesn’t exist”
C “Oh Steed! Don’t say that! Of course love exists. I’ve read about it in books! You’ve been in love. You know it exists”
S “I know it does Chloe. I just thought it would cheer you up to try to convince me and convince yourself”
C “That’s very thoughtful, thank you”

S “Let’s order our teas, where’s the waitress……excuse me (clicks fingers)…excuse me (clicks fingers….) I can’t catch her eye”
“it’s like being back in class”
C (laughs)
S “Yes, Hi, can we order some teas please?”

(pause)

C “ Thank you Steed. I’ll have a peppermint tea please. Can I have a little cup of milk too?……..Yes milk…… Just a small bit…….. Yes a little milk…… Thank you!”
S “A Cherry Tea for me”
C “Ahh, you’re so sweet Steed”
S “Yes my dear, but you take the cream”

(pause)

S “who’s your favourite Russian author Chloe?, mine’s Kurkov. He wrote Penguin Lost”
C “Hmm. I’m not sure if I know much about Russian authors you know…. Someone once taught me how to say ‘i love you in Russian’… I’ve forgotten it (and him!!) of course now!

S “Here she comes. Thank you”
C “oh! They’ve forgotten the milk… But I want milk! Why can’t I have what I want for once?”
S Now Chloe, this is meant to be a relaxing time for us both
C “But how can I relax without milk?!”
S (clicking fingers) “excuse me” (click) Could we have some milk please?”

(pause)

S “Why don’t you come with me to the gig tonight, this guy I know plays in a band, I can get you in free.
C “I’ll give you a call later and let you know, would six be ok?”
S “Perfect. Shall we practice our poem for Tuesday?
C “What here? OK, I’m ready when you are”
S “Let me just get it out….

(pause for a minute or so to give Illustrators & Orchestra a chance to start on their reaction to the below poem)

(Illustrators & Orchestra: please interpret the poem!)

(C&S then performing poem together)

…HOXTON

Watch them all playing in the Summer sand-pit
See them slumped by Winter in a Ketamine dinge-pit

Watch them interact swapping football cards
See them changing partners at the local bar

Stop them stealing Smarties and Parma Violets
Now they’re buying pills from a man of violence

Climbing the rope ladder to a tree top turret
Breaking in to squat now in a place with no toilet

A child cycled downhill now she’s wearing a scar
And having dangerous sex with a shooting star

Penny’s got her dummy and she’s sucking the teat
Jenny’s getting messy down on Rivington street

There’s ice cream and jelly for a birthday feast
But someone dines alone noe with The Angel of the East

Ed was in detention and he wore a frown
Now he’s getting high with Charlie and a chap called Brown

A boy scrawls in pencil on the back of a school book
Another spreys a stencil saying “Banksy ain’t so cool look”

They’re splashing paint on paper with no shoes and no socks on
In the adventure playground made for adults called Hoxton.

(Leave up to 2 mins at end for Illustrators and Orchestra to finish off)

    Scene 3 – The Gig

(3 mins for Orchestra & Illustrators to set the scene before actors start speaking)

(Orchestra – night club energy, maybe rock music. When the actor starts below, it’s meant to be a rock number, like Oasis, so driving rhythm, dumbness, etc)

(Illustrators – night club scene, bands, energy, etc.)

J (we’re cutting into his rock song)
“We’reee the baaaaand
Uh!
C’mon…
….if you wan’ some

“We’eeerre the baaaand
Right here!
We play it, you luv it
It’s on!”

Song finishes, drum roll etc

(pause)

J “cheers! Hold onto your hats, it’s our new single, ‘one minute love song’”

(Orchestra: another Oasis rock song, faster than the last)

“Fuckin’ Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Fuckin’ Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Fucking Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah
We’re really giving it some
Oh Fuck Yeah

Tonight’s Right
That’s right, alright
Talking shit
But don’t you just luv it!
Is that a come on?
That’s what I say come on , come on
Come on, come on
Caahhhhhmmm Awwwhhnnnnn!

(stupid instrumental bit)

Oh Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah
Fuck Yeah
Yeah Yeah yeah
Give me some fucking yeah
Oh yeaaaahhhhhh
Oh yeaaaahhhhhhh
Oh yeaaaaahhhhhhh
YEAH!!! (shouted/screamed)

(Orchestra: Cheers from orchestra as song finishes, and clapping)

J “Thank you, we’re ‘I Have Arrived’

(pause)

(Orchestra: …then into sound of a night club, with lower music in background)
(Illustrators: , artists drawing nightclub scene)

C “They were good. That lead singer was good”
S “ That’s John, I’ll introduce you.”
C “His jeans are very tight”
S “It helps him hit the high notes. John’s a friendly lad. The band’s playing bigger gigs, they’re getting some good press, they’re on the up. Hey he must have seen me, he’s coming over”
C “…seen you…”

(pause)

J “alright Steed, who’s this?”
S “this is my friend Chloe, she’s a poetess you know”
C “Hiiii!”
J “you like the gig?”
C “it was great”
J “yeah I felt good tonight, felt it was gonna happen, y’know”
C “mmm”
S “when’s your album out John, must be near ready?”
J “next month, on a label…. we’re getting ready to do a tour to promote it
C “what’s it called?”
J “You love it” (noise too loud can’t quite hear)
C “You love it?”
J “Yeah, all the time!”

C laughs, J laughs
S (to self, weary) “oh dear! Here she goes again !”

(pause)

S “John have you heard ‘The Indelicates’? Chloe and I went to see them a month ago, I think they’re the best band around at the moment.
J “I haven’t heard of them. At the moment I’m into being very creative, so I don’t listen to other people’s work, just my own. I’m taking it to a whole other level”
S “Really?”
J “Our fans have always loved our energy and excitement. But for the album I want to bring the spiritual side of our music out”
S “I’m going to the toilet. See you in a few minutes”

(pause)

J “You like older men?”
C “I like younger men too”
J “You want to come to a party at my house after? Once we’ve packed the gear in the van, a whole bunch of us are going to come back, why don’t you come, it’ll be cool”

(Steed has gone into toilet)
(pause @ 1 minute to allow Orchestra & Illustrators to do below)
(Orchestra: toilet sounds)
(Illustrators: drawing toilet images)

S (to self) “Spritual level? Ha ha! Maybe a bottle of spirits after the gig…..paid for by the record label……..Spiritual level……I wonder if he can read?………..Pretty good song though ‘ Fuck Yeah’, good rock n roll. Ha ha, that condom machine, that’s them. They could bring out their own brand of condoms called ‘I Have Arrived’. Get a free pack with buy the CD. I’m getting old and cynical, I think I should leave”

(pause)

S “Chloe I’m going to cut out. You ok or do you want me to stick around?
C “That’s fine Steed, you go, I’m ok. I think I’ll hang around for a bit…..I’m not sure”
S “Well you have a good time, just remember what you said today to me?”
C “I think I’ve forgotten already”
S (to self “let the young be young”).

(up to 3 mins for Illustrators & Orchestra to say what might happen next to Chloe)

    Scene 4 – Chloe’s Bedroom

(3 mins Orchestra & Illustrators – C is starting from sleep then gently rising as she wakes and we move into the monologue then out of the room)
(Orchestra – sounds of the morning, rising gently, morning radio? Comes in, just as C is waking up.. with a voice of a radio dj saying what time it is. Samples etc?)

(Illustrator – Sunrise, bedroom stuff associated with waking up, think also about moving out of the room, doors etc)

C (yawns…..) ……………………(yawns a bit louder)…………………”what time is it?” …….where’s my mobile…..….let’s see……..Oh, there’s a text message….

(pause)

(laughs)

C “Now, should I reply to that?”

C “hmmm…..it’s a sunny morning, I should go out today……forget about everything”

C “Mr Radio I don’t think you have any ideas….I need some peace and quiet.

(pause)

I know I’ll go out to the woods. By myself. I’ll have some quality time alone

(pause)

C Come on Chloe, get yourself up and to the woods today. You can do it! Ok, get ready, and get out of bed………go!

(pause)

C Where are my clothes!

(pause @30 secs: Illustrators: use your imagination! Orchestra: Carry On noises? or something sexy?

Then
(1min: Ilustrators/Orchestra: Maybe sounds of doors shutting, tube/bus, basically a short thing saying that Chloe has travelled on public transport to get to woods)

    Scene 5 – The Woods

(4 mins start to set the atmosphere)

(Orchestra: animal noises, ambient sounds, peaceful)

(Illustrators: chance to draw forest, animals, nature, freedom, etc.)

C “what a beautiful day…..and I’ve got a picnic to have too”

(pause)

C “there’s a sweet flower”

(pause)

singing “here we go gathering nuts in may, nuts in may, nuts in may, here we go gatherin’ (fades out)

(pause)

“hey little squirrel I can see you! …..don’t think I’m stupid I can see you right in front of me”

(pause)

C “Shall I talk to you trees and tell you my story? Would you like to hear it? You’re an old wood, I bet you’ve seen and heard many things….you probably remember tales of Robin the Hood.and Friar Tuck! You woods, would be the best story tellers, …..but I know why not…..because the woods never tell….. .”

A lady dances barefoot,
She protects acorns,
Nurtures broken wings,
Enfolds birds.
She has discarded lipstick
And her husband,
A quip, a moan,
A restless ideal-
Shift.
She recalls her old address,
A cold leaf skeleton,
Mud purfling
Her fingernails,
Today she is planting daffodil bulbs.

(Orchestra & Illustrators: a few minutes to finish off your interpretation of this scene and poem)

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