Thursday, 5 January 2012


(The time is now. The setting: a pseudo-converted farm building on the edge of an unfashionable overflow town close to a fashionable city. We can see two rooms. The first is a multi-purpose living space, with a TV and sofa to the left foreground, and a dining set and shelving to the right foreground. Behind is a kitchen area, delineated by a breakfast bar and stools. There is a high window on the back wall. On the left-hand wall are two doors, the nearest of which is open, and leads through to a bedroom. In the bedroom, a man lies on the left side of a double bed. He is dressed in a t-shirt, propped straight-backed against several pillows; his lower half beneath the bed covering. He is reading a book, and has a drink in a mug beside him on a small bedside table. There is an identical table on the other side of the bed. The bedroom also contains two wardrobes, but is otherwise large, and empty. It is evening, and each room is lit only by a single standard lamp.)

(Two men enter the living area. The younger of the two removes his coat, and hangs it on a stand beside the right-hand wall. He points the other man towards the rear door on the left-hand wall.)

YOUNG MAN: It’s just through there.

(The two men make their way across the room, until they draw level with the bedroom door. The man in the bed looks across at them, but does not get up.)

YOUNG MAN: Andrew just needs to use the bathroom.

(Andrew and the man in bed exchange simultaneously awkward ‘Hello’s. There is a momentary pause, before Andrew continues to the bathroom door and enters, closing the door behind him.)

YOUNG MAN (hushed): What are you doing in bed?

MAN IN BED (also hushed): I just thought I’d wait for you in here. How was I supposed to know he’d be coming in? (He gestures in the direction of the bathroom. There is another pause.)

YM: He’s using the toilet, that’s all! He’ll only be a second.

MIB (frosty): Well why didn’t he use the one at the pub? Or wait until he gets home? He only lives fifteen minutes from here, doesn’t he?

YM: I don’t know. What difference does it make? He’ll be gone in a minute.

MIB (still suspicious, but warming): Okay, well….. did you have a good time, anyway?

YM: Yeah, fine. It was only a couple of drinks. He’s having a hard time at the moment.

MIB: Where did you go?

YM: That new place in town. It was fine, pretty quiet.

MIB: And the rest of your day?

YM: Yeah it was alright. Went shopping after work, watched some TV, went for a run – normal stuff. How about you?

MIB: We had a nice time. I left work early so got to my parents’ around four. I opened my presents, then later we had a takeaway. I got back about nine.

YM: Oh yeah, happy birthday again by the way. What did you get?

MIB: Cash from my parents. (He picks up the book from the bedside table and shows it.) This book from my brother. Clothes and vouchers from the minor relatives. Just like any other birthday, really.

YM: Okay.

(The bathroom door reopens, and Andrew emerges to stand next to the young man.)

ANDREW (to both of them): Thanks for that. I’ll be off. (To the man in the bed) Nice to meet you.

MIB (with badly feigned sincerity): You too. Bye.

ANDREW: See ya.

YM: Okay, see you tomorrow.

(Further ‘bye’s are exchanged as the Young Man sees Andrew out of the house, before returning to the bedroom door.)

YM: That was rude.

MIB: I was not! You took me by surprise. I was half-asleep and a strange man walks past the bedroom door. How am I supposed to act? I was polite.

YM: You call that polite?! And it wasn’t a strange man, it was Andrew. I’ve told you about him loads of times.

MIB: Yes, but I’ve never met him, have I? And from what you’ve told me, he’s pretty weird anyway.

YM: I’ve never said he was weird. He’s just confused, and really upset at the moment.

MIB: Perfect drinking companion then!

YM: He needs someone to talk to. Anyway, it was better than staying at home by myself!

MIB (guilty): I suppose.

YM: You didn’t even get out of bed!

MIB: Well I don’t have any trousers on, do I?


Anyhoo said...

Happy Birthday! Oh wait, are you Andrew?

Anonymous said...

I like snapshots of life generally. Did you observe this, or is it an amalgam, or pure invention? Do you write plays? Undertones of Ayckbourn and Bennett - very low key, but suggestive. I liked it. :) xx

Ben said...

Anyhoo, meet Alec. Alec, this is Anyhoo. I'd recommend each of you to the other, in a blog-reading sense.

Thanks for the comments, chaps. To answer your questions...

Anyhoo: It's not my birthday, but I have had birthdays in the past, one of them somewhat like this one. I'm not Andrew - that question made me laugh.

Alec: You could say observed, yes, although there's invention in there too. I'd love to write plays even more than I'd love to write a novel (which is a lot), but even if I had the inspiration, I'm not sure I have the craft to cobble together anything watchable. Like you, I am fascinated by 'normal' life, and by the complex thoughts and feelings that may be driving apparently routine behaviours.

Anyhoo said...

I only asked because I tend to be the Andrew.

And you're suggesting my blog to someone who can read the influence of Ayckbourn in your writing, whereas I muddle him with the Please Mrs Butler one? I suspect at least one of us won't thank you for this.

So hello, Alec.

Anonymous said...

I've not been formally introduced to anyhoo through a blog before. How do you do *curtsies*. Couldn't link to you but I'm notoriously inept. I'll approach you more surreptitiously later :)

Anyhoo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anyhoo said...
But there are better reads out there, not least our mutual friend.

And spot who managed to bugger up the last version (a dozen words and still it's too hard).

Ben said...

Ah, you two are getting on famously I see.

I'd forgotten about Please Mrs Butler. Must have a rummage in my parents' loft...