Copyright of Kathy Da Silva ( formerly King)
(Catherine’s Wheel/ The measure of all things/…other possible titles)
Seeing Through to Forever (The Play Version)
Two dishevelled companions, ( who live in London town), have settled on a roadside bench after a party. Wilf is seemingly falling asleep under the influence of alcohol. Thoughtfully Stoker will say aloud:
Stoker: It can’t be denied!
Stoker: It can’t be denied!
Wilf: Wot can’t be denied? Wot?
Stoker: Failing to see.
Wilf: To see, yes….
Stoker: There is the general failing to see, and the specific failing to see.
Wilf: Seeing, seeing double, seeing the sea, ha!
Stoker: That bar room fight, last night. Aren’t I right! Seeing through the mire.
Wilf: Well! (lifts his head to face Stoker in answer) So what! So what! So what! ‘bout that bar room fight, last night. We’ve always been frendz.
Stoker: We’ve always been friendz! Tha’ bar room fight, last night will cost ya! ____You say we’ve always been friendz? It matters not you say! An’ whose God the Father anywayz! (to himself) Drink! Drink! Drink, to be merry! So, merry we woz! (looks back to his friend) So merry we got …….so merry!(muttering)
Wilf: Babbbbbbabbling Brooke.
Wilf: Babel-onsika. (hick, passes the bottle of wine or beer to his friend).
Stoker: No, no, no! That ‘s not right must be Babylonia, ah___bit more Italian sounding I think! (whispering under his breath, exhausted by the nights activities, and drink) Babylonia. Vintage Babylonia. Definitely vintage. (looks at the label, and possible burp!)
Wilf: Right down to the bottom. (laughter)
Stoker: Old Aled is to blame again. Old Aled, told the lie, that sank a ship.
Wilf: Old Aled, and his as you may please…please sir, I only did it ‘cos I needed the money….bury him I say quick as you may…bury him I say!…
Stoker: Well, Gardot might consider his earlier predicament, the child left alone to do as he would, his own games to play until………, never had any discipline, that boy!…..But, now he’s grown older……….yes…….
The scene at the bar, in the prisoners dock, is relived with characters present, on a small section of the stage.
Aled: Well, she got in me way, and I couldn’t get any work, no one would employ me, an’ anyway it was so much fun, she couldn’t stop me, all the magic I could do an’ she was unable to stop it, all the sods, that sodomize, and all the buggers who bugger. I just couldn’t resist it!
Gardot’s representative: Damned, if you plead insanity. Damned!
Aled: Try as you may, but I’ll never die.
Stoker: But, he’s the same whilst dead, and buried he may be.
Wilf: More fuel for the fire, light a match and we’ll watch him go up, just like a Christmas candle…….need a bonfire….tonight….
Stoker: Where ‘s the bottle stop on this one? (picks up bottle sitting by the roadside) Tin top bottle stop! (Gets up from bench to look about on the ground).
Wilf: But, not enough to stop the beer from flowing! (smiles, eyes sparkle, then shows regret, nudges Stoker).
Stoker: Keep on going!
Wilf: Keep on going? I’ve never stopped! For one minute, no maybe two!
The ground appears to be moving, as if the globe gave a jolt……so players one and two act as if a mini earthquake were under foot or as if the stage is sliding one way and then another as if on a seesaw.
Wilf: (Recovering). What was that you say? Oh! Oh! Oh! (holds his head as he gestures, both players could emphasise this. Was it me moving or the ground?
Stoker: Too much time ‘s gone past, too much time. There ‘s the folk in the soiled oily rag rumble…..well they’re about to take a tumble…..business men, making the money, eating for three are we? Everyone relying on the vintage guarantee. Can’t you see?
Wilf: See wot? (Pretending to look into the distance) Light’s all gone a funny colour, everythings gone grey, grey like a cloud! (holds his head) Everything’s grey, are they dressing that way deliberately?
Stoker: Oh, no, you’ve got to understand they’ve been dressing that way for centuries, kind of uniform, they don’t know any different. Must be the herd instinct, like elephants, they herd. Monochrome. Shrouded, in a non-descript light, not quite sunlight and not quite night, am I right? It’s the night after all!
Wilf: (Pause…, saying it drunk) Had that dream again, last night, the one where I’m choked, choked. (Stoker is smirking slightly)Lost in the middle of a department store, in the middle of town. There was just so much stock on show, so much stock, and the carpets were thick, and springy, I couldn’t hear any noise, just muffled sounds, and my own effort to breath. I kept thinking, I was breathing in material dust, no air. All the exit signs were obscured, and the doors were miles away, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get out! Like being in a giant padded cell! Bedlam. (attempts to mop brow).
Stoker: Escape isn’t easy once you’re past the first door it’s true. Exeunt.
Wilf: Escape?(pause) Now there’s a thought. American dreamers, …fast cars, fur coats for the ladies, massive mansions in Florida, billionaires the lot of them ….I couldn’t care much for all the glitz and the glam,…..largest polluting nation in the world, America….!
Stoker: Pollution, is a good point, massive oil slicks, polluting cars, the worlds a massive tip, a bowler hat tip!
Wilf: I’ve got a burning desire for fire, (strikes a match and puts it out, and repeats the action with a new match) a burning desire for fire….I could set a car on fire!
Stoker: It’ll cut the fuel bill! The bill, the costa….the costa livin’ , the costa bruvar, the costa da soul…..! (they both cheer each other on).
Wilf: What abou’ the Italian job then. There were three men in an open topped railway truck, hand pumping the thing along the track, Three of them! An Englishman, a general from the army, kind of moustachioed, and white haired, standing, and you’ve got to believe it! Shoulder to shoulder, with a foreign chef, Italian looking very foreign. And ‘is accomplice. The cart they are stood in is shunting this way and shunting that, as it picks up speed. The chef is wearing his tall hat and overalls, he’s Italian, I think I told you that! Already! …ha! ha! ha!……(laughs and gesticulates as he tells the tale.) In the cart, in a large canister, there’s boiling soup, made by the aforesaid chef…….yes …um…and the soup is slipping and sliding, slopping and plopping, all over the place!…..It gets onto everyone, and it gets into the English generals eyes, whose hands go up to the stinging stuff on his face, ….’cos this stuff stings like hell!….umm and that ‘s that really! Only they tried to sneak into the country….ought to be illegal…..bury the stuff they do, or burn it….then we’re the ones to suffer…..suffer little children to come unto me…..
Stoker: And the day is coming, when tides will roll, and the earth will know the depth of its folly. Oh angry earth, we do make our mother angry….she carries us……turning relentlessly, turning every day and every night. Loaded heavy, earth. Loaded with all that we do, no sigh no why, just turns like clockwork…..does she moan? Or sigh……?……Well, she could be like Etna, about to pour her molten fury on us all…..she carries us. And what do we do….cover up, yes the cover up job…..tarmac and cement. No soil, for miles, lifeless concrete jungle….steel girding, concrete turning, massive oil slicks, slick scolding due I think!…We almost forget from where we have stemmed….Adam, of clay. The land the real land is alive and flowing, our bodies made of her nutrients, substances, all mineral and iron, and gore. We bleed and we readily know when things are wrong. but the earth sits apparently still, and yet we know she is spinning, and that for millions of years this has been so…. so we hope rather complacently, that this is so….. Antarctica, Antarctica such a pretty name for a white, white frozen land. And she’s melting, oh so fast, so fast! Don’t settle on the flood plain dearies! Unless you want to be like the Venetians. Ha! Rowing your boat out me hearties!…..Gondola makers get ready for the orders to come in, make yourselves a fortune while you can! Dare I say it?….Yes!
Wilf:(Singing) Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream!
Stoker:(In a voice not unlike Charlton Heston!) But, the boat better be made of stern stuff, ‘cos if the floods are floods of steamin’ molten ouzy stuff……..you know the molten stuffing that lies, deep within the bowels of our mother…..ummmmmm, a red, roaring river, a gassy choking river,….oh! C’est la vie, mes amis….You’ve gone all ashen? Are you all right?
Wilf: Just feeling a bit queasy. Carry on, carry on, it’s more than amusing to the rest of them, don’t mind me!(coughs)…
Stoker: Anyone here got a glass of water? Can anyone help me with a glass of water? (Someone from the audience brings to the player a glass of water, Stoker gratefully receives the glass). You see we’re all in this together. Water very reviving, only not so reviving when it’s a flood. Damned nuisance, all this climatic change….get very depressing for the farmers. As if they haven’t got enough to worry about. Foot and Mouth, and down comes the rain, but an itzy bitzy too much of it. Poison fumes and cars to blame, and an industrial chimney or two.
Wilf: I wonder how many aerosols we have to destroy to get the balance back and so forth…..and all those CF some things…
Stoker: Too much time, too much time’s gone past…seems such a shame….Chernobyl, Chernobyl, used to be such a sweet town, and sweet lovely people lived there. Some still do, and they drink from her wells too, yes, they do, only the water ain’t so sweet today, the water ain’t so sweet. ‘Cos it’s full of such fizz, it is, such fizz, and the water just looks like this (holds the glass up and takes a sip, and puts the glass down). The big C…….
Stoker: Lowers the threshold of resilience this does…….ummm…tell it to yer doctor, why you get those lumps….madam.. tell it to your doctor, why you get that diarrhoea hope they find a cure sometime soon!
Wilf: BOOOOM! BOOOOM!….BOOOOM! (also imitates a machine gun firing)
ah,ah,ah,ah,ah,ah, ah BOOOOM! BOOOOM! …BOOOOM!
Stoker: So! There we are huddled in the front living room, wife, kids, crouched, on all fours, yes ma’am, on all fours, …..an’ there’s no protection….no sir…..the buildings on the hill have melted like icing sugar…..they lasted seconds….there was a light, a white flash, and then nothing was left…KABOOOOM!
Wilf: Etna, oh…Pompeii, revisited…not Brideshead, Ha! Hah!….Plenty of time to be toffs though left….Plenty of time, like the Titanic…..hey?! Keep on drinking the champagne, it might go off! And, that would be a shame, what a game…..(imitates the swing of the golf club)The President,is still playing a game of golf while he can……off, off, off with their heads!……Here comes the chopper to chop of their heads! Chip, chop, chip, chop off comes the last mans head..!
Stoker: Only he has chopped a few heads off himself, metaphorically speaking, in his time! Ha! ha! Ah,ahhhhhh!
Wilf: Or burned them on the electrical stake…sizzle and fry, in fifty seconds or so…barbeque weather, this time of year isn’t it?
Stoker: The misfortune of our time is we’re so civilized…about the way we die…all stand in line form an orderly queue….wait your turn…..and don’t worry about turning BLUE…while you wait….pity there is no emergency eject button from this universe…..still plenty of the old, ya know, (lifts bottle joyously). Vintage, did you say?!
Wilf: Steel girding, concrete turning…massive oil slicks…slick scolding, bubbling brooks of fire…………………..angry isn’t she!
Stoker: Oh! No! Weeping, (softly said) weeping inconsolably. Did you ever taste iron on your tongue? (dabs fingers on the tip of his tongue) Did you ever rub your fingers along a rusty nail? And smell, and taste? Well, iron can taste like blood, and blood like iron, and I’ve tasted blood too many times, too many times. The queens carpet is crimson coloured. History is crimson coloured. The colour of our land at eventide, is crimson coloured. (Rolling the ‘r’ s), Red, roaring rivers ahead….red roaring rivers… the dresser, was left outside the house, the crockery, still laid out upon, it as if it were yesterday….yes, yesterday, just after the washing up. The Spanish guitar, was leaning to one side of the dresser, just a small guitar. We may not have homes, but we will have music.
Wilf: Make way, make way….!
Stoker: Across a field of grey!…..
Wilf: Lake’s frozen over! We’ll have to skate…..(Wilf dives for the exit……in a hurry).
Stoker: Life! What is this…this sense of being…alive…..if your heart is beating, and your blood is warm, if you have breath in you. And death cold death, greyness . For a soul to have life, and for that life to be true. White light, bright shining white light. Indistructable and complete, and endlessly perpetually in existence. There is the soul life. As much as your heart beats and you breath air to feed your blood with vital oxygen, your soul has needs to breath by a spiritual oxygen. As the body needs water and food, for energy and vitality, so you need spiritual food, a spiritual sustenance. Both things are necessary for a person to have life. A person is dead if either one or the other is no longer present. And death. If death is painful, what must the sense of death of the soul feel like? That place of pain. Desolate, agony. A perpetual torment of hate or the hated desparate starved souls of other generations, circulating you until you feel maddened. An inescapable torment of raging, rebellion. They are all starved the great horde of Sauls/(souls). Pirana. Yes it’s good to be afraid of the day you die. It is good to respect this truth.
(Chorus of angels: Made of one being with the Father…)
End of Scene One
Scene two shows two or three shop fronts in a high street. two figures in grey, stocking like material, with demon masked faces, recline in the sagging part of the shop canopies. There is a small group of women, with various coloured hairdo’s in bottle blonde, red, and brunette, curled, permed, flicked hair. All shoppers, curiously looking in the windows of the garish shop fronts. The shop fronts are brightly lit like stalls at the fairground. They chatter amongst themselves. Two spirit figures. like players in scene one only in paler clothing…enter…..in conversation….
Sordor: They’re coining it in at the market today!#
Torbet: Roll up! Roll up!
Sordor: Get a bargain if you dare!
Torbet: Roll up! Roll up!
Torbet: And Claire!
Sordor: And there’s Floris from Ayr!
Torbet: With their hair flicks, and pin curls!
Sordor: Bright reds, and bottle blonde. There they go, and don’t expect to see them for a while…….
Torbet: Roll up! Roll up!
Sordor: Only they obscured the doorways, the entrance levels, the gateways. There’s just grey light at this level, but not so black, as you can’t see ahead of you, bit like a fog in a park.
Torbet: It’s probably why in recent years they’ve added all them lights.
Sordor: There’s no moon and stars here, no more.
Torbet: And there ‘s no sunlight neither! Shame ain’t it.
Sordor: Well this is the before and the after. The no man’s land of purgatory. Some say it’s hell, because you don’t know whether you are alive. No one can tell whether they have any blood in their veins. There’s no emotion. Just your station as a ghost. They carry on shopping, caught up, following the same pathway, as when they were alive, only they are dead you see? Or do you?
The small group go women, have entered a shop, and are trying on the clothes, almost hypnotised in the effort. Mable has put two sweaters on already, and trying to fit a third one over her head, not realising her error. Marjie tries a cardigan, and the arms are too long.
Mable: I’m only trying them for size. I get so cold. They never told me I’d be living in Scotland.
Margie: Glaswegians like shopping.
Mable: Ayh, that’s where my habit came from, my grandmother used to take us to the shops, each Saturday, for a treat mind. And I haven’t stopped since, enjoying, you know the thrill of something new. And what lovely colours, half the price of the one’s in London! ( She seizes five more jerseys in an ecstatic rapture) Shopping heaven!
Margie: Well! I can’t seem to find anything to fit, and we’ve not got long.
Mable: Can you help me get into this…and why not just get something to say you came here. I always collect something from each place I visit, just to say I’ve been. You can never have enough useful sweaters, and wasn’t the forecast for snow and stormy weather? You’d be daft not to get something more in keeping with the climate.
Margie: (Looking down at her dull clothes) Well! Just to say I’ve been here, I suppose. (Picks up sweater but find arms are too long to fit, she folds the sleeves back resolutely).
Sordor: (Imitating a female Scot’s voice). And in case I can’t come back!
Torbet: Can’t get enough!
Sordor: Haven’t got enough!
Torbet: Always need a new one!
Sordor: Need a new one incase!
Torbet: And so forth!
Sordor: The human condition! To shop ‘til you drop!
Torbet: What ‘s the difference between a truth and a lie?
Sordor: It makes no difference to them now.
Sue comes rushing back from the make-up counter, with an armful of items in separate boxes and bags.
Sue: There are so many bargains! On that counter, I guess some of the make-up must be nearly out of date, but who cares….( The items were covered in grey dust, but Sue has not seen this. She’s seen pushing a lipstick she’s opened around her pouting lips, her eyes opened wide in amusement, at the effect which is in truth hideous, the lips come out in blue colour, her hair is bright auburn. )
Mable: Well, in all truth, I’d rather not try it! Didn’t they have any red?
Sue: I’m sure I picked the red one up. But, hey the boxes must have been mixed up with the sunscreens.
Deidre: Holy mother of Jesus! What do you look like?!
Sue: (Patting her face with a powder puff then scowls). Well! I’ll take it off, are you happy now!
Carol: I wish I was young and in love again!
Sue: And with who?
Carol: Well, I’m not that fussed, about who, or the where, just can’t stand it anymore, this interminable shopping for something special, with no one special to please. I’ll go mad, I’ll go mad if this situation of ours doesn’t change.
Deidre: I do miss all the attention of a man, and the walks along the shore of Dingle Bay. All the air and sea, and gulls…..
Claire: Well, I couldn’t handle it all that space and air, my idea of good romance is a night out on the town. We used to go down town every Friday to the nightclubs. My man an’ me. Dressed up to the nines.
Floris: My man and me! Just listen to her, as if ………..
Claire: Well it doesn’t hurt to add a touch of nostalgia every now and then!
Deidre: You dont’ know what being alive is, if that’s your opinion. And didn’t you come from that industrial town Sheffield?…….Smog and fog, and the odd fowl snog, beyond the factory gates, that’s all you had to look forward to!
Claire: Punk rock, Sting forever!….Couldn’t be without me Doc Martins, and skin tight jeans, not for one minute. Still got the pierced belly button too to prove it! (Points to her bared belly).
Sue: Get away with you. Did it hurt? I quite fancied a tattoo once but, the hubby wouldn’t let me thought I’d look ridiculous when I grew old, a wrinkly with a rose, didn’t think it would have the same meaning at that age.
Claire: I’ve got one of those an’ all!
Sue: Show me!
Claire: ( Baring her shoulder). Look! Here! A Siberian tiger. Endangered species! Bit, like me!
All of a sudden, a wind or vacuum, build up in the store coming from the air vents and the women find items of their apparel and hair, scarves, anything loose, and dangling being sucked through the air vents, they literally are suctioned to the walls wailing.
Marjie: They never said we had to pay! Can’t they forgive me. I’ll give the sweater back! Ahhhhhh! Can’t they stop this wind? …..I’m going to be sucked out of my skin soon!
Doris: You haven’t got any skin no more, don’t you remember?..
Carol: Leave it out it won’t do to remember the past. And anyway we seem to be near enough in shopping paradise. Only the clothes don’t seem to want to leave the shop.
Sue: Have you tried getting out?
The vacuum is switched off, by a demon figure.
Demon One: Had enough ladies? Or would you like the super vacuum to be turned on too?
In chorus: Nooooooooooooo!
All have fallen in a heap on the floor and are seen helping eachother up. The bus engine is heard in the distance. They rush out of the store………
Sordor: And how much on account mrs, how much on account.
The interior of a sauna suite. Three fat business men sit in towels round their waists.
Alfredo: (Italian accent)Twenty minutes more I think, twenty minutes more. And then I’ll lay on my other side. It’s not too hot today. (An assistant turns the dial of the sauna up a few degrees, and Alfredo pours water over the coals, and steam issues out of the embers.
Norris: (English) Gamble a million, gamble a pound. Spent half of it on a woman. Would have done better, backing a horse….Can’t get it back once it’s gone, that’s the only trouble.
Henry: (English Northerner) I’m more satisfied with placing the money where it counts. Shares. Half a million more rich for the experience. (Pours a whisky). Bought most of the stock that was going free nearly for Glacco Pharmacies. Pills for the elderly. Big market.
Reg enters the road with a cart on wheels, clanging a bell and asking for iron….
Reg: Any ol’ iron? (loudly), any ol’ iron? Has anyone got any ol’ ir__on? ! ( Sees an old rusty rake to the side of the road and picks it up examines it and puts it in the cart) Any ol’ iron? (pushes trolley further across the stage slowly, picks up another found item a shovel, with a broken handle….an item of furniture is pushed on the stage, an old stove) Give me a hand won’t ya? I ‘m not so strong as I was an ‘ the years have played havoc with my back ya see. Well, they give me everything and anything these days……(sits down on open end of cart).