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There must be something we can do with these gadgets, we thought. If we don’t use them we’ve got to find a place to put them. We could put the actors on them and see what happens. We’ll use both of them. What are they called again?

A KEY ONSTAGE APPARATUS IN THIS PLAYLET IS THE VERMETTE LIFT, A PORTABLE HAND-CRANKED WINCH CAPABLE OF LIFTING, IN THE MANNER OF A FORK LIFT, HEAVY LOADS OR PERSONS ON A PLATFORM. IF A PERSON STEPS ONTO THE PLATFORM S/HE MAY BE VERTICALLY LIFTED BY THE EFFORTS OF ANOTHER, WHO WILL OPERATE THE DOUBLE HANDLED CRANK.

THERE ARE TWO LIFT VISIBLE, ONE EITHER SIDE OF THE STAGE. THE PLATFORM OF THE LIFT ON STAGE RIGHT IS RAISED TO ITS LIMIT, THE OTHER ON STAGE LEFT IS AT FLOOR LEVEL.

A YOUNG WOMAN IS DISCOVERED ON THE STAGE RIGHT LIFT, LIT IN SUCH A WAY THAT SHE SEEMS TO BE FLOATING IN MID AIR. AT THE FOOT OF HER LIFT IS A PAGE, WHO WILL OPERATE THE CRANK WHEN APPROPRIATE.

WOMAN So I said “What do you mean? All I want is for you to tell me the truth is that asking too much? Is it asking too much for someone to want someone to be truthful to them, so that when they say something they know that the person’s not trying to deceive them? Never knowing that is horrible, can you imagine what that’s like? Just hearing all this stuff and it could be just rubbish, just being made up on the spot and you’re supposed to act like this is all fantastic, it’s all so real and at last someone is being open to me, at last after all the lies and pretence, time after time, it’s so tiring, it makes you so sad, will you ever find someone who can just look you in the eye, it’s not asking such a great lot, is it? I mean really, do you think I’m being unreasonable, do you? I mean, do you? Someone who can just look you in the eye, not just to say ‘I love you, I really want you forever,’ not that, I don’t mean that, I don’t need that, I’m just saying, you know, ‘Look me in the eye when you speak to me, don’t shift away, what are you hiding? What do you really want? Do you want me to pretend? Is that what you want? Like “Let’s make it up like in a book or a film? Where she runs across very slowly, in slow motion, and there’s sad uplifting music and his arms are held out and her arms are held out and they’re both laughing both crying – even the way I’m saying it gets you going, it gets me going – and they meet in the middle and the music is going…” I mean, is that what you want? Do you want it like that? I mean, we all probably do, at some level, love at first sight, arms held out, just reading each other’s hearts, no words, just looks and everything you’d thought of they’d thought of and all the things that’d moved them move you, and isn’t that so fantastic, it’s unbelievable, ‘Yes, I had a nervous breakdown too’, ‘Yes, my father had affairs too’, ‘Yes, I lost a dog to a truck on the road’, ‘Yes, I fell on a run, I hit my head, I saw the sand, I looked at the sky, I held my arms out, I…

AT GROUND LEVEL, COMING UP OUT OF OF THE DARK, MAN 1 CRANKS HIMSELF ON THE STAGE LEFT LIFT TO A POINT JUST BELOW THE WOMAN, AS IF HE WERE BELOW HER BALCONY.

MAN 1 Bill, that’s Bill Hunt, said, “The man wants the woman but it must not be too fast.” What he meant was you shouldn’t hurry, you’ll regret it, what’s the hurry? There is no hurry. So why hurry? But that’s Bill. He’s a racing driver. Well, he drives at the weekends. He has his own cup – the Bill Hunt Trophy. He’s out near Wisbech. But that’s all very well. The rest of us have to get on with it. I have to. I ask myself “Am I asking too much? Am I looking for something that actually doesn’t exist, actually cannot exist? That can’t be wrong. What could be wrong about that? We’re just talking about standards. If you don’ t have standards you might as well fuck a mud puddle. Which, frankly, now that you mention it, more or less sums up Bill Hunt’s taste. He’d shag a letterbox if there was hair round it. No disrespect. In many ways he’s a lovely bloke. Not that I’m talking about sex all the time. No. I was actually talking about standards. How can you not have them? Are you going to say “I’ll just take it as it comes, weighing up each case on its merits? I’m just open to what happens, me.” Well, excuse me, Mister So Fucking Smart, taking the case on its merits, what are the merits? Eh? Who decides what merits the merits? If you see what I mean. Who is to say, at the end of the day – song lyric there – who is to say, just what it is that this case has got that is so special? Because that’s making standards. People say to me “Victor, you expect too much of the woman. You expect beauty including a great body, a terrific sense of humour, great clothes sense, a taste for fine wines, loves dancing particularly soul and relaxing to Sinatra or Peggy Lee but not averse to bigging it up if the sounds are right, very good at quick delicious snacks, enjoys the cinema, will give a quick blowjob without expecting a lot of buildup, takes it up the arse now and again, not to the detriment of the front way, of course, the front way is where you make babies, after all, and that’s great, I have nothing against that, it’s biology and it’s very impressive, and who knows, one day, if I meet the right person, but there’s no hurry, there’s really no hurry, that’s one thing you have to be very sure about, very sure indeed, you have to get it right because that’s a kiddy you’re talking about, a tiny little child, but no, at the end of the day it’s statistics – at my age, an age women like by the way, not headstrong but still trim, still something you’d like to fondle…

AT THE FOOT OF THE LIFTER BEARING THE WOMAN, A YOUNGER MAN APPEARS

MAN 2 Very fresh, not affected, long walks, headlands, lovely flowers – gorse, vetch, poppy, dog-violet, lovely fabrics – tulle, organza, grosgrain, linen, lovely music – Mendelsohn, Brahms, the Welsh Male Voice Choir, lovely wines – Pouilly, Vouvray, very emotional, fond of cheese, cries in films, excited by contact sports, drawn to animals, protective of young puppies or foals, fond of fragrances, nothing too robust, argument is fine, discussion is probably better, sees the other’s point of view, not defensive, likes the window open, doesn’t mind a fug when the cardigans are wet, a dog, not the smell of dog on clothes, bright not clever clever, the coast in February, subtitles okay but a decent story, Aragorn or Legolas? It’s a tough call, being silent isn’t a problem, a takeway Indian, passionate about human rights, particular about trainers, a special haircut for special occasions, not too bothered, no need to be aggressive, poker, Scrabble, Legolas at the end of the day, not too sure about Damien Hirst, look after your body, you only get one, fond of humour, gorse, spaghetti, Ayrton Senna if possible, agnostic at the end of the day, wouldn’t rule it out wouldn’t rule it in, it’s something you feel…

THE WOMAN AND MAN 2 FALL IN LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT.

MAN 2 A horse goes into a bar…
WOMAN Haha.
MAN 2 The barman says ‘Why the long face?’
WOMAN Hahaha
MAN 2 Hahahaha
WOMAN Hahahahaha
MAN 2 You laugh like water.
WOMAN You laugh like the sea.
MAN 2 Which is water.
WOMAN Yes!
MAN 2 Your breath smells…
WOMAN I hope not!
MAN 2 Hahaha
WOMAN Hahaha
MAN 2 No! I mean…
WOMAN It’s just me!
MAN 2 I thought…
WOMAN No!
MAN 2 You’re direct. You’re straight.
WOMAN You’re honest.
MAN 2 I try to be.
WOMAN You’re quiet.
MAN 2 …like honeysuckle.
WOMAN Is that quiet?
MAN 2 No, your breath.
WOMAN Haha
MAN 2 Hahaha
WOMAN Do you have brothers and sisters?
MAN 2 No.
WOMAN You seem easy though.
MAN 2 I feel easy with you.
WOMAN We haven’t met before, have we?
MAN 2 I think I’d remember.
WOMAN I feel as though I know you.
MAN 2 That’s what I feel.
WOMAN You’ve got an old soul
MAN 2 Old King Cole.
WOMAN What?
MAN 2 Was a merry old soul.
WOMAN I don’t think I know him.
MAN 2 A merry old soul was he.
WOMAN No.
MAN 2 It doesn’t matter.
WOMAN Nothing matters.
MAN 2 Have you had a nervous breakdown?
WOMAN Yes! Have you?
MAN 2 Yes!
WOMAN Are you over it?
MAN 2 Definitely.
WOMAN Do you know why?
MAN 2 Why I’m over it?
WOMAN No!
MAN 2 Haha
WOMAN Hahaha
MAN 2 Family things, I think. My father was having an affair.
WOMAN That’s wonderful!
MAN 2 Yes.
WOMAN What are you thinking?
MAN 2 I was wondering if I could come up.
WOMAN I’d love that.
MAN 2 It could be tricky.
WOMAN It looks tricky.
MAN 2 Don’t go away!

MAN 2 LEAVES THE STAGE RIGHT LIFTER AND WALKS OVER TO THE OTHER LIFTER, WHICH IS STILL OCCUPIED BY MAN 1.
MAN 1 CRANKS HIMSELF DOWN TO GROUND LEVEL.

MAN 2 I wonder if you can help me.
MAN 1 What’s your problem?
MAN 2 I wonder if I could borrow your vehicle.
MAN 1 What for?
MAN 2 I’ve just met a very beautiful woman and I want to get up to her.
MAN 1 I don’t lend my vehicle.
MAN 2 This is exceptional.
MAN 1 Not for me. For you.
MAN 2 I’ll bring it back.
MAN 1 Of course you’ll bring it back. If I was to lend it to you, which I won’t, I wouldn’t say ‘And by the way, don’t bring it back.’
MAN 2 Of course not.
MAN 1 Do you think I’m a cunt?
MAN 2 Certainly not.
MAN1 You think I’m a cunt.
MAN 2 No.
MAN 1 You said ‘I’ll bring it back.’ That’s a cunt talking to a person as if they were a cunt.
MAN 2 Are you calling me a cunt?
MAN 1 I fucking seem to be. I fucking seem to be calling you a cunt that wants to get up a very beautiful woman.
MAN 2 Not get up. Get up to.
MAN 1 You don’t want to fuck her then?
MAN 2 It’s none of your business.
MAN 1 Are you queer?
MAN 2 None of your business.
MAN 1 You’re queer. You’re a fucking poof that wants to get up a woman’s arse.
MAN 2 That’s not queer, is it? That’s normal.
MAN 1 Fucking normal! Up a woman’s fucking arse?
MAN 2 I didn’t say I wanted to.
MAN 1 No. Of course not. Because you’re a fucking nancy boy.
MAN 2 Don’t call me a fucking nancy.
MAN 1 It’s not judgmental. You’ll have to learn to live with it.
MAN 2 Fuck you.
MAN 1 You and who?
MAN 2 Fuck you in the face.
MAN 1 Do you want some?
MAN 2 Try your luck. Try your fucking luck.
MAN 1 You want some, don’t you?
MAN 2 I’ve fucking got some, cunt.

THE YOUNGER MAN PRODUCES A KNIFE AND STABS THE OLDER MAN, ONCE IN THE STOMACH, TWICE IN THE BACK AS HE DOUBLES OVER.

THE WOMAN GROWS ANXIOUS.

WOMAN Beautiful. So beautiful. He’s like a song. I can’t believe it. He’s so beautiful. I never would have thought… I just wasn’t expecting it. He speaks to me. He tells me. His eyes… He looks into me. I melt away. He knows me. What shall we do? Will we kiss? I’m shy. I’m burning. Where is he? What’s he doing? He’s been gone too long. But he told me. He was honest. He looked into me. What did he see? Was I too pleased? Did I laugh too much? Does he mind women who laugh? Was I ugly? Did he see that? Can he see under my eyes? Did he think I was lonely? But I’m not, I’m not! It just doesn’t happen that often. And when it does, you want to laugh because it’s like a song and you know the songs are foolish but you know they’re true, they’re what we feel but we daren’t say. But I wasn’t expecting it and it was a surprise and I was so pleased. Did he see that? Did he not like that? Did he think I’d cling? Did he think I’d turn into something else? All over him? Smothering him? But I don’t want that. It’s just that it’s been so long. You get excited. Perhaps you shouldn’t show it. You shouldn’t show it, idiot! You fool! He saw your shit! He saw your blood! He put his eyes in! He put his hand in! Into my blood! Into my shit! He saw worms! He saw them – writhing, yellow, hissing. He saw my mouth, under my arms. He saw my eyes – like jelly! He feels sick! He’s lifted up a rock and he doesn’t like it! Who would? It’s normal, isn’t it – you step on it. Get out of my way!

SHE PRODUCES A KNIFE AND CUTS HER WRIST. BLOOD RUNS DOWN HER DRESS ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR BELOW THE LIFTER PLATFORM. SHE DIES.

THE YOUNGER MAN GETS THE PAGE TO PUSH THE STAGE LEFT LIFTER TOWARDS THE LIFTER BEARING THE WOMAN. WHEN THEY ARE ALIGNED TO HIS SATISFACTION HE GETS THE PAGE TO CRANK HIM UP TO THE LEVEL OF HER BALCONY. WHEN HE ARRIVES AT THAT LEVEL HE IS HORRIFIED TO DISCOVER THAT THE WOMAN IS DEAD.

THE PAGE CRANKS HIM DOWN TO GROUND LEVEL. HE TAKES THE HANDLES OF THE OTHER LIFTER AND CRANKS THE WOMAN TO THE UPPERMOST LIMIT. HER BODY PASSES INTO A BAND OF LIGHT AND SHE SEEMS TO HAVE ENTERED AN UNEARTHLY REALM.

MAN 2 No! No! No! Why? Was it my nerves? Didn’t I seem keen? Was I cold? If only she knew! I wasn’t reserved! I looked straight at her, told her what I felt. I was there, all the time, never wavering. I opened myself. What more can you do? You have to let people know! That can’t be wrong, can it? Am I the only one that does it? Can’t people take it? Are they scared of my passion? What else have I got? What else is there? It’s the only way! I won’t let it stop me. I’m doing what I believe is right. I have principles. I’ll do what I must. I have to. I ask myself “Am I asking too much? Am I looking for something that actually doesn’t exist, actually cannot exist?” That can’t be wrong. What could be wrong about that? We’re just talking about standards. If you don’t have standards you might as well fuck a mud puddle. You’re like a dog that you piss on in the night. A fucking gypsy. No, there are others out there. I know it. Lovely ones. Ones that respect a person that believes in things. If they don’t respect that…well, what can you say? I shit them.

SLOW FADE TO BLACK AS ‘ROLY POLY MAN’ BY DONOVAN PLAYS.

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