Sunday, 13 March 2011

Enza - Scene Five.

This isn't going to make much sense unless you start reading from the beginning - Enza - Scene One.

(Mrs. Taylor and Maude at home.)

MAUDE. When’s my tea?

MRS. TAYLOR. When it’s good and ready and your father gets home, that’s when. And you can count yourself lucky to be given any, my girl. Your father and I are still very angry with you.

MAUDE. Nobody told me that I couldn’t go out at night.

MRS. TAYLOR. I should think not, too! We’d have thought that you’d have had more sense than to want to. We’ve never forbidden you from lying in front of a steamroller, neither, but you know full well enough that you’re not supposed to.

MAUDE. I’m hungry. When did father say that he was coming, then?

MRS. TAYLOR. Half past six, I think. It is Wednesday today, isn’t it?

MAUDE. No, Mother, it’s Thursday! Don’t you even know what day it is?

MRS. TAYLOR. No, I don’t, child. It’s only when you’re at school or at work that it matters very
much what day it is. Oh, bother! Now I’ve got everything ready for half past six. Bother, bother! It’ll spoil, too. You’ll have to go out and fetch him.

MAUDE. You want me to go out into the cold and dark?

MRS. TAYLOR. Yes, try and be quick.

MAUDE. But you just said that you didn’t approve of me going out at night.

MRS. TAYLOR. I’m not going to rise to your bait, young lady.

MAUDE. I might get lost in the fog.

MRS. TAYLOR. On the High Street? I don’t think so.

MAUDE. But I’ve got homework.

MRS. TAYLOR. Never known you bother about that before. Now you know that your father will
either be in the Railway Tavern or The Pipers, so it’ll only take a quarter of an hour or so.

MAUDE. You expect me to go into pubs? They will be full of drunkenness and wickedness.

MRS. TAYLOR. No, your father will be smoking a cigar with the other clerks from the foundry in a table in the corner, talking about the price of machinery. Now do go, dear, and let me get on with my cooking.

(Exit Mrs. Taylor. Maude sticks out her tongue and amuses herself, displaying little intention of leaving the house. Phyllis arrives home. She wearily notices the presence of Maude and removes her hat, coat and gloves. She sits down and looks at the torn glove for a while)

MAUDE. Good evening!


(Phyllis puts the gloves to one side and decides to pick up her book instead. Maude stares at her throughout)

MAUDE. A cat may look at a king, you know.

PHYLLIS. I see that you’ve managed to stay indoors for once.

MAUDE. I see that you’re in a bad mood again.

PHYLLIS. I’m just tired, Maude. Can’t you leave me alone for once?

MAUDE. Sorry, I’m sure. What’s that you’re reading?

PHYLLIS. Not telling.

MAUDE. Why - is it rude?

PHYLLIS. No - because you’re not really interested.

(Maude takes the book.)

PHYLLIS. Oh give it back, you horrible girl!

MAUDE. The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett”. What’s that about, then?

PHYLLIS. Oh, these two sisters. Let me have it back, please, Maude. I want to finish this chapter.

MAUDE. Two sisters. That could be interesting. What do they do?

PHYLLIS. One of them elopes to Paris with an unsuitable man and the other one has to stay in
Stoke-on-Trent and run their family’s shop, since you ask. Now, do leave me alone.

MAUDE. Huh! Only half of that sounds worth reading. You’re strange.

PHYLLIS. Oh really? I’m sure that you’re going to tell me why.

MAUDE. Because you don’t have to read books once you’ve left school.

Do a favour for me.

I said, do a favour for me.

PHYLLIS. Maude, I’m not listening to you. I just want some peace and quiet. Go and tease Caroline or something if you’re bored.

MAUDE. Can’t. She’s gone to the Slaters

PHYLLIS. Have they had their new baby yet?

MAUDE. Yes - for a week- A boy called Andrew.

PHYLLIS. Good. Why don’t you go and see him, too, then?

MAUDE. Babies are stupid.

Do a favour for me.


(Maude sticks out her tongue. Phyllis sighs and covers her ears with her hands.)

MAUDE. (sings) My sis-ter is an ugly old maid.
My sis-ter is an ugly old maid.
My sis-ter is an ugly old maid.
Ev-ry-bo-dy hates her.

(No response. After a while, Phyllis has to take her hand off her ear to turn a page. Instantly-)

MAUDE. Do a favour for me. Phyllis? Pleasepleaseplease!

PHYLLIS. Nonono.

(Phyllis continues to attempt to read but her concentration is now broken. After a while,
Maude waves her hands between Phyllis’ face and the book. Phyllis closes her eyes and curls forward.)

PHYLLIS. Owwwwwh!

(Eventually, Phyllis uncurls back up into an erect posture, takes her hands away from her ears and looks at Maude with an expression of infinite weariness.)


MAUDE. Why doesn’t anybody we know die of the ‘flu? Anna Briggs was walking to school yesterday, and she saw a milkman die in the street. Why can’t I get to see things like that? It’s not fair!

PHYLLIS. Maude! Even you would get upset if you saw somebody die in front of you!

MAUDE. At least it would be something exciting.

PHYLLIS. If you became a nurse you’d discover that the novelty soon wears off.

MAUDE. I s’pose that you’ve seen people die of it, then?


MAUDE. What’s it like?

PHYLLIS. They get hot, their face turns maroon, they fall over and die. Stop grinning! It’s not very pleasant.

MAUDE. That’s how I’d like to die.

PHYLLIS. No you wouldn’t. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You want to die like everybody does: painlessly, in your sleep, when you’re old. Oh, why am I talking to you?

MAUDE. No. I want to know when I’m dying. And I want everybody to see me die and everyone to be appalled, like I was – Archduke Franz Ferdinand!

PHYLLIS. You want somebody to shoot you?

MAUDE. Maybe not. But I’d like everybody to know when I die. I’d like to upset everybody.

(Maude performs dying feint.)

MAUDE. Oh! Oh! Help me!

PHYLLIS. Oh, get up.

MAUDE. No, no. I do feel faint. Perhaps I’m coming down with something.

PHYLLIS. What’s the matter with you?

MAUDE. Err - I’ve got a headache.

PHYLLIS. No, you haven’t.

MAUDE. I’ve got a headache!

PHYLLIS. You are a headache.

MAUDE. Nurse! Nurse! I’ve got a headache!

PHYLLIS. If you really were ill you’d want to go to bed and be quiet and still. And if you really
were ill everybody would be glad, because you’d be out of our way, and meek and humble and appreciative, and not the mean and spiteful little slut spoiling everybody’s lives that you are. So go to bed, and I don’t care if you’re ill or not.

(Exit Maude, pouting. Phyllis reopens book, stares blankly at pages. Examines her chilblained fingers. Re-enter Mrs. Taylor, distracted.)

MRS. TAYLOR. Hello. Good, you’re back and she’s gone.

PHYLLIS. Caroline? She said that she was going to the Slaters after school tonight, to see their new baby. She’s not late back yet, is she?

MRS. TAYLOR. No, Maude!

PHYLLIS. She’s in - She’s just gone to bed.

MRS. TAYLOR. Well, whatever for?

PHYLLIS. She claims to have a headache.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh, that minx!

PHYLLIS. What’s she done now?

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh, I asked her! We’re too good to her! I asked her very kindly to go and fetch
your father for his dinner. She won’t even do the simplest thing to be of assistance.

PHYLLIS. Beat some sense into her.

MRS. TAYLOR. Now, my girl - You know that that’s not how civilised people do things.

PHYLLIS. She’d probably hit you back, anyway.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh, that disobedient nuisance! She won’t do the tiniest thing to help.

PHYLLIS. I’ll go and tell her to find him, then. You don’t want to let her get away with things.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh well, though - if she says she’s got a headache -

PHYLLIS. But she hasn’t! She’s jumping about like a kitten. She just refuses to put herself out for anybody. I’ll make her do it.

MRS. TAYLOR. No, no - I’d rather you didn’t, dear. If she says that she’s got a headache.
We can’t take any risks these days.

PHYLLIS. That girl needs to be told what to do.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh yes, I know - I do know that you’re right, dear. But sending a child who says that she feels ill out into the fog… I could never forgive myself if she caught a chill and got the influenza.

PHYLLIS. My sister is indestructible.

MRS. TAYLOR. Just imagine how awful it would be if she died!


Well, I’m sure that my father can find his way home.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh, we have to fetch him. It’s Thursday today and I thought that it was Wednesday. His dinner will be spoiled if he doesn’t get home in time. Oh, he would be cross if his dinner was spoiled. You’ll have to do it, I’m afraid.

PHYLLIS. (slowly and exhaustedly) Of course. I’ll do it. Maude must stay indoors.

MRS. TAYLOR. Oh good. That’s a relief. You needn’t lay the table tonight. I’ll just make the gravy.

(Mrs Taylor leaves. Phyllis slowly gets up and puts her book to one side. She gets her coat.)

MRS. TAYLOR. (Off) Phyllis? He should be in the Railway Tavern!

(Phyllis puts on her coat. She puts on her hat. She puts on her gloves, examining the seam of the torn one with displeasure and leaves)

Next -
Enza - Scene Six.

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