Digital Ischemia

02/08/2020

Vanishing Mythnight 3/3 Satyrs in the Wood of Cypress

A short farce where an anachronistic entitled young hero unravels his inheritance and unleashes mythical world salvation… begins at part 1

Being bound by the wench is simultaneously thrilling and repugnant – I still suspect she has been sub-lagoon. I glance at the gilt-lacquered Venk: he gives a magnificent ham performance of dismay at finding himself similarly restricted about the wrists. I actually— I admit, for once I’m glad he’s here. I have every confidence in his total preparedness for any eventuality. Infuriating as it is at every other juncture. But the evil wench is speaking again.

She’s doing the tedious megalomaniac explanation of all her motives thing.
“It was me who knocked over the second statue!”
“I suppose you shat by the third one too? Heavy lunch of grass?”
Her expression becomes irate. I can tell, even in the gloom, because there is a sudden sizzling warmth. But I’m unforgivably tied up in a folly; I am fully justified in being foolish. My foul fingers have been forced against my filthy, dung-encrusted body. She paces as she prattles on.

When the wench recedes, Venk whispers, “have you learnt nothing?” As an afterthought he adds, “sir.”
If his character’s circumscription is crumbling we must be approaching the thrilling denouement. I hiss an arbitrary pretentious literary reference.
“Gogol considers the most profound sleep to come ‘only to such fortunate folk as are troubled neither with mosquitoes nor fleas nor excessive activity of brain.’ I see which one is my problem, but which is yours?”

The wench continues to wander the misererium as she witters about her sacrifices for the quest… blah blah… conquering the lagoon… blah blah… The moment she faces away from us, the torch’s glimmer on Venk’s face shows him jerking his head repeatedly at her and mouthing, “key!”

Our intellectual tête-á-tête is interrupted by a tapping on the window.
An unholy voice rasps “Venk! Venk! Are you in there?”
The evil wench freezes. I seize my chance and lunge my foot at her. I don’t know if it is the prospect of discovery or a fear of the undead, but, just as I reach her ankle, our captor bolts. She does not trip and fall. However, a girly post–exertion whimper escapes my lips. Hopefully she didn’t notice that on her way out.

I re-group and hear a tinkle on the floor. Metallic, not terrified. My toes seem to have caught something. A familiar adversary. I squirm, trying to prehensilise my phalanges. Venk goes one better: he has already untied himself and is now releasing me. I’m astonished, despite myself.
“For the love of pastry, Venk!”

Venk airily admits to being an amateur ventriloquist as well as an escapologist. As well as the mythical salvation thing. Clad in nothing but skilfully–applied gilt paint. I suppose he has had some time over the centuries to master such leisure pursuits. Certainly after seven hundred years he knows the estate quite well, for example when a gust of wind is likely to cause a branch to tap the window.
“Jolly well done, Venk.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I shan’t forget this.”
“I’ll do my best.”
“Sorry?” But he is already on his way up the stair. With the torch. Grabbing a butterfly key from the floor.

I leap, well, lunge, well, lurch after him. His sprightliness has never surprised me; it has been a fact for my entire existence. However, I think this is the first time I have tried to keep up with him: his turn of speed is impressive. Of course, I’m handicapped by my several injuries.
I bleat, “bags me unlocking the first statue!” How immature.

By the time I reach the statues, the first two are already wobbling about, emitting rusty neighs. Venk is anally-liberating the third.
He calls cheerily, “clockwork! A butterfly key up the arse and off it goes.”

The third statue approaches me with curiosity and vomits. I feel my ankles sizzling. He whinnies regretfully.
Venk scurries up. “I do apologise. I’ll get that rinsed off with haste.” Had I thought much about it, I would expect lithified mythif— mythological creatures to have pretty corrosive stomach acid.
“Thank you. I wouldn’t bother you, but I think lagoon… juice would merely aggravate the problem.”

The statue glances over his shoulder at the source of increasing rowdiness among the trees.
“Venkeslav is remarkably resourceful – what a party!”
Venk is indeed astonishing: he is the centre of bawdy antics. He has a coven of reanimated satyrs, centaurs or suchlike gyrating hypnotically. I’m sure he hasn’t forgotten about my rinsewater. Meanwhile, I need no invitation; I am Hrabê Nula!— “ONE STEP, YOU GHASTLY WORM, AND—” Quiet, Mother. I am going to enjoy myself.

I think this qualifies as a ‘good party’. Very Bohemian. No, the other one… Bacchanalian. I smile at my masterful articulation. Woven among the trees are even railings with skulls and crossbones. I enquire incoherently of one of my fellow revellers, a whirling wych-elm.
“Warning of what?”
“Well, death.”
“Yes, but from what?”
“Plants.”
I receive my first ligneous sneer.

I need no invitation; I am Hrabê Nula! No, I’ve done that already, haven’t I? No matter. My physique is sufficiently— “SCRAWNY!” — Quiet, Mother. I am sufficiently lean and lithe to slip between the railings, with little damage. What rich colours and glossy leaves. What a deliciously heady atmosphere! I inhale deeply. My senses overload: white vision, white noise, diffuse fuzzy feeling, lack of gravity, then the ground gently but firmly hits me on the side.

Faintly I hear Venk. “Sir, you seem to be having some trouble with your fly.”
As usual, he has put his tactful finger right on— “I was! There were dryads and nyads and… plyads— Where have they gone?!”
“Evaporated.”
“Where am I?”
“In the garden, sir.”
“I don’t recognise—”
“The Poison Garden, sir. Your mother, RIP, kept a quadrant segregated for your father’s…”
“Intixo— ontox—?” There is another collision in my mind: this time of half-baked notions with poison-induced anxiety, but still Venk-oriented. I splutter for good measure.
“Traitor! Imposter! Methuselah!”
This is slurred beyond translation, but he nods patronisingly.

When I next regain consciousness, I am in my bed. It seems a long time since I was last in repose. All is peaceful, quiet. And sore.
“Venk?”
“Sir.”
“You fixed the pipes?”
He nods affirmation.
“Damn.”
“Sorry, sir?”
“It was all a poison dream, wasn’t it?”

Sheepishly he unlocks the door of a small, ancient cabinet. “I did keep one glass, sir.”
“Mouse piss?”
“One last trip, sir? That’s all it would be, I’m afraid. Can’t have you going the same way as—”
Before he lapses into his obsessional neurosis about my genetic predispositions, I split the glass into another and offer it to him as a dare.
“Exactly how old are you, Venk?”
“Millennia, sir. Drink up.”

Venk downs his dose and strides out; I choke mine down and stumble from my bed. I’m less fussed about the role reversal now, just keen to get to the action. We hear it before we see it. The reanimated statues seem to be having a philosophical altercation.
“Has the old tyrant finally died?”
“Which one?”
“There’s always another one.”
“Why is there no lava?”
“Where’s the blood?”
“Am I a centaur or a satyr?”
“Let me look at your ears, then.”

Maybe it’s having had only half a dose this time, but the vista is so much clearer.
“Satyrs, Venk? This is so much more than my effort!”
He seems diffidently pleased. “Would you excuse me for a moment, sir?”
I make an expansive gesture of goodwill.
He calls over his shoulder, “I leave you my daughter.”
Daughter? What withered crone would this be? I’m not delirious enough to get entangled in another barnacle-like family member. This night is for fun. I stare hard at a couple of trees, willing them to give up their spirits. To my astonished delight, that old wych-elm shimmers promisingly. Something is detaching from the trunk… No! Of all the rotten luck.

I greet her as an old friend.
“You nymph of Nizhny Novgorod!”
“You don’t even know where that is!”
“It’s east, north-east actually!”
The wench explodes with scornful laughter.
I continue to protest. “You wouldn’t have found the key without me!”
Venk runs past in hot pursuit of a satyr and throws out an attempt to mollify us en route.
“Children, please. I can’t wait another generation! I had hoped to expedite matters.”
The wench is still sniggering.
I spit back, “what ‘matters’?!”
“The world is disintegrating! You seem to need a shove.” Fair enough. For one horrible moment I had thought he was trying to arrange a marriage.

The wench acquiesces. “Sorry for the tying you up and running off thing. When I saw my—” She breaks off, seemingly overcome with awe, or perhaps something less respectful. “—Saviour glowing gold I panicked a bit.”
I am gracious. “Quite understandable. What’s your name?”
“Venčova.” This time both halves of my brain collide.
“You’re related?”
“You can call me Nitka.”
“Short for?”
“Infinitia.” Of course. Everything I am not.
The whole thing has been a contrived pantomime. Entertain the inchoate nobility. Disappointing.

While we have been playing more nicely—I am much dispirited—Venk has boarded one of the statues, which he now coaxes around a cypress.
“Absolutely the best retirement present, sir! My very own herd!”
The satyr looks less than happy, having two heads and a spine unwilling to be ridden. I turn to Ms Venčova.
“What have I unleashed? The hooves of hell?”
“The seven horsemen of the apocalypse?”
“Horsemen – very good.”

Venk vents a thundering call to arms. After a couple of seconds of revelry-lag, the other satyrs wince and stagger into a loose coalescence. They collectively gallup into the copse, altercate with several trees, then emerge beyond, with unimpeded momentum, despite two facing the wrong way. As this salvation vanguard passes out of sight, we continue to follow their progress.
“Listen!”
A mighty splashing and churning, as if a dam has failed.
“They’ve reached the river.”
Distant roars of civil alarm. Massive masonry destruction.
“They’ve reached the town.”

The wench yawns. She doesn’t start fondling me in distracting ways, but then I am still sporting a crust of manure. She sinks on to the grass beside an old oak and curls up drowsily.

Starlings are waking. Their rasps sounds like peeling potatoes. Time to start planning the new world. Starting with a full map and inventory of this estate. Really quite urgently. Before I forget everything. And I must figure out how to make hot water in the bath.

End

Inspired by Bohuslav Martinů’s Vanishing Midnight in its three movements: Satyrs in the Wood of Cyprus, The Blue Hour, and Shadows. Backward. As in Natas Pishrowers.
I often have insomnia, often hypoglycaemic. Unfortunately I don’t have battlements, but I enjoy wandering through the hallucinations.

cypress sunrise orange sky

01/08/2020

Vanishing Mythnight 2/3 The Blue Hour

A short farce where an anachronistic entitled young hero unravels his inheritance and unleashes mythical world salvation… begins at part 1

I return to my course, destination: misererium. The second statue is behind this cypress. As it reveals itself, all silky muscle contours, it is still but not still: it seems to be quivering. That’s the night light again: my brain trying to resolve puzzling images. I press my hand on its flank. Peculiarly warm, like the stone of the parapet. I imagine a pulse, a fasciculation.

I snatch my hand away. Another of my mother’s injunctions—”KEEP YOUR FILTHY PAWS—” But I seem to be fighting back. She’s not here; I’m quite grown-up now. I know there’s no danger from a statue. I press on toward the next. I fancy I hear a muffled whinny. That’s my mind trying to recognise the quiet sounds usually drowned out by daytime noise.

My soothing inner voice is shattered by a mighty crash. My head snaps around: the second statue lies on its side by its plinth. Its legs stick out stiffly, but it appears unbroken. Perhaps I was a little hasty in asserting the total safety of statues.

I wind along the path through a few more cypresses. The dark mass of the wood presses at my side. I hear wheezing. This time I am ready.
“Venk. Please desist from following me.”
“But, sir, I heard a tremendous noise. I imagined you hurt.” A reasonable assumption. He scans my body with medical interest. Then disappointment.
“How did you find me?”
“Well, sir, there was the tremendous crash.”
“I didn’t do anything! I was just walking past when it fell!”
“Of course, sir.” He glances at my trail. Curse my shin.

Out here my drippings show as violet. In the vicinity of the third statue I approach a hum. I expect to meet undead bees swarming up my blood runway to attempt to pollinate my— Drat. Just as the fantasy is rather pleasantly taking my mind off my throbbing shin, Venk has interrupted.
“—turd, sir.”
“I know this is the third!” Wheech, splat. Flies, not bees.
This feels like the daft kind of adventure where everything has to come around thrice. Except Venk; he is apparently an infinite loop, curse him.

I pride myself on my resilience and agility so I roll immediately out of the dung. Just the tiniest of winces. The shortest route to safety from any chance of falling sculpture seems to be through the excrement itself.
“Please stand aside.”
Venk has read my intention and is already stepping back.

I want a closer look from a safe distance at the source of this steaming pile of mythical manure. Venk follows indiscreetly, like a manic dog.
“Why are you looking up its arse, sir?”
“Er… I’m just fascinated by how sculptors from times gone by sort of glossed over certain anatomical…”
“Glossed? It has a hole. What more do you want?”
“Yes, but what an interesting shape: like an inverted keyhole…”

But I must not let myself be distracted: I will get to the… bottom… of this.
“Right!”
I stalk past the remaining four statues, oblivious to further incident, and on up to the fated misererium. Again the flitting white wisp. Just in case, I walk carefully with both hands limply before me. None of the great vaulted gateways are fitted with glass, pier or otherwise. The vaulting seems sufficient inexplicable ostentation for a folly, without doubling everything in reflections. Especially since the above-ground portion is merely misdirection.

The descent into the actual subterranean misererium is predictably dark, wet, and fetid. Shards of pale blue moonlight slice jaggedly between the ill-fitting masonry and only serve to make the rest more impenetrable. A papery rustling suggests mummified corpses or centuries of human dust heaped in dunes. A small crunch under my foot: probably a toenail. Not mine. I reach the cavern.

As quoth Mutual Friend Eugene Wrayburn, “invisible insects of diabolical activity swarm in this place.” Plus an ethereal wench. In a white nightshirt or smock or whatever is the appropriate term for female garmentage. All my manners are instantly sucked swirling down the plughole of my confusion. I blurt.
“Are you sleepwalking?”
“No, you are.” Her phlegmy voice suggests she’s been gargling lagoon water. Perhaps the drifting manoeuvre failed at some point and she fell in. I make a mental note not to touch her.
She continues, with incisive tact. “You are injured.”
“A mere graze.”

My eyes adjust to this darker shade of dark, and discern less dark shapes. The papery rustling may actually be paper. Papers. The wench sits in a pile of them.
“I was reading.”
“I doubt that.”
“I extinguished the torch when I heard you blundering this way.”
That would be how she identified my injury. Not concern.

A taper flares. From the papers leaps a cacophony of blurry hieroglyphs. I grab a handful and scan them eruditely.
“Where did you get these?”
Her glance slices through me, like a warmed rapier through wax. She throws a wispy arm toward the cesspit. I let the papers fall. I make a mental note not to pick my nose.

I step carefully around her. The wench sniffs deprecatingly. Another piece of vicious masonry grates my toes. As I suck my teeth again, I reflect that it is no wonder this place is rustling with toenails. As her taper flickers, her face seems to momentarily reflect that viciousness. Wait…
“You’re rubbing the stones.” My usual marker has helpfully smeared into a series of regular indentations, highlighting their contours in crimson ink.
“Your father… reused some local… monuments.”
The old cadaver! “Was he disturbing ancient graves?!”
“Not exactly: stone tablets.”
“Oh, like runes?”
She grudges an equivocal head wobble.

I have not impressed. Shame and regret lead to petulance.
“Give me that.” I snatch. All my mother’s training out the window. “I am Hrabě Nula!”
“That sounds about right.” I ignore her barb.
“What do the scritchy scratches mean then?”
She is reluctant to share her treasure. “Well, an army of knights… asleep underground…”
“Dead, you mean?”
“No…”
“Are you going to dig them up? Re-animate them?” My head wobble is taunting.
She collectively gestures the sheets. “It’s not clear how that will happen.”

Uncannily I feel my super power forehead ring fire up. The hieroglyphs shimmer and squirm then start to convey something.
“It’s hard to read: all smeary. ‘They will awake and, under the command of Chief Satyr Wensey—, will come to the aid of the Smudgy People—”
“Smudgy people?”
“Ink blot. Or something off my thumb. This torch isn’t helping.”
She recoils then carefully cranes over to peer down the page.
“… In their time of need.”
But there’s a gap. Does she think I can’t read it or can she not read it? I can’t read it… completely, but the sense seems to be about what actually triggers the awakening, the unfreezing, the unlocking…

I feel a surge of intellectual, or possibly egoic, titillation. This is the apocalyptic stuff Venk has me reading about. This could be where I insert myself nobly. Er.
“Just how dreadful do human affairs have to get before these somnolent heroes stir into action? And who is Wensil—”
Our reading light gutters with an irreverent hiss. She licks her finger and prods the wick. This is simultaneously arousing and annoying. I’ve been training for months to put my hand through— Now the wench is speaking.
“I think it’s pronounced ‘Vench—'”
Is she reading my mind?? Oh, she means that ‘Wensey—’ word. Wait!

I snatch the recovering torch and thrust it to light the one by the steps. I tread heavily on another cold, sharp piece of debris. Unsettled concepts in my mind collide with acute discomfort.
“Arsehole! Does this torch holder look remarkably like Venk?”
“Who?”
“A sort of staff gentleman who refuses to leave.”
She nods, nonplussed. She has noticed my leg recoil and, although obviously she can’t offer any direct nursing to my shit-splattered foot, she feels around the floor to remove the injurious item.
“It’s not him, is it?” I give the brass some firm palpitation. It reminds me of the statue. I realise that if this is Venk dressed in nothing but gilt paint I will be traumatised for the rest of my life over how I am touching him. I stop abruptly.

Luckily the vench—wench does not suffer my sensitivities.
“What exquisite workmanship… despite the subject.”
“Thank you, madam.”
We both gasp. Still annoying when you know fine well what’s coming.
Venk continues, “sorry, sir. Perhaps you wanted to be alone with—?”
“Thank you, Venk!”
“—but you will keep wandering off without a light, leaving blood everywhere, and it saves time if I get at it straight away.”

My dear mother always said—”pull yourself together, YOU DAMP BLOT!”—I should be assertive.
“Venk: what is your full name?”
“Classified, sir.”
“Nonsense. Is it by any chance Vince? Winsey—Winky—?”
“Oh, please desist, sir. It’s Venkeslav.”
“That’s not as interesting as I expected.” I lie.

Venk seems to have just admitted to being a legend destined to lead mythical forces to save humanity. Or something like that. I must protect myself from any potential adverse side-effects of the discovery by feigning ignorance.

However, the wench blurts out her disagreement. I forgive her for not reading my frantic facial expressions in the gloom.
“I think it is rather int—” She is suddenly muffled.
“Venk. Unhand my companion. Dismiss.”
“Sir.”
“You’re still here.”
“Yes, sir. Like I say, when you get going with the… lady I want a head start on the mopping and repairs.”
“Dismiss. Avaunt. Clear off.”
“Sir, your poor mother said to me—” “lash him in cask and float him out to sea!” “—to look after you.”
The wench interjects, “he could hold the torch.” Very droll.

The wench physically positions Venk to our best advantage, rather piquing my envy. She turns her attention to me.
“Why are you holding your hands behind you? Is it because you’re an irretrievable, entitled, elitist Tally?” Another point to her.
My self-consciousness short-circuits my self-preservation. “Swamp water. Mustn’t pick my—” Drat.
She sniggers. “I can sort that for you.” She springs behind me. I feel a sensuous touch glide over my arms, a soft cloth and a sudden tight bind. Curses.

…continues at part 3

31/07/2020

Vanishing Mythnight 1/3 Shadows

A short farce where an anachronistic entitled young hero unravels his inheritance and unleashes mythical world salvation

Something wakes in my head around 3AM. There’s no hint of daylight yet, just the summer midnight blue. I wander about the crenellations, imagining myself a hero in an as yet unexposited drama. Always I am poised on the verge of glory; world salvation calls but my dozy brain has yet to figure out which way. Still, the masonry remains comfortingly warm from yesterday’s sun. After an hour my legs tire and I return to bed to complete my slumber.

But not tonight. Tonight the murk gives up an ethereal wisp. At the far end of this opulently long and wide corridor there sways a pale figure. As I see it, it seems to see me; we both halt and hold our breaths. I watch its suspended stillness. Involuntarily I move toward it; simultaneously it sways toward me.

What a dolt. My reflection. My white nightshirt. I wave. Within a moment, the apparition responds. I laugh sardonically. I turn about, thinking of it setting off similarly in its mirror world, as I tread another hall toward another rampart.

I should introduce myself. I am Hrabě Nula – Count Zero. Following the Roman tradition, my father planned to number his children, but my mother took one look at me and decided to stop before she started. I’ve lived here all my life; it is the only place I have known, yet all I know is that I don’t know all… That’s quite good, actually; I should write that down.

I relish glancing over the semi-familiar shapes in the grounds below: efflorescences of darker dark; geometrical puzzles that tantalise and surprise as I—
Thwack.
I suck my teeth.
“Venk!” My voice quavers.
“Yes, sir.”
I gasp at his ubiquitous proximity. Venk has been my family’s retainer for about seven hundred years. He has the physique of a leather kite.
I whimper. “The masonry is protruding again.”
“I have the file.”
“It was that second column after the—”
“Yes, sir. I see your usual marker on the balustrade. May I blot your shin?”
“Don’t fuss.”
“Right, sir. I’ll follow with the mop.”
“Leave it; it makes the battlements look authentic.”
“Yes, sir.”

I take this opportunity to be gracious.
“You really needn’t address me as ‘sir’, Venk; you wiped my bum as a baby!”
“I most certainly did not, sir! I am a butler; I don’t do crevices.”
“Well, perhaps it was a turn of phrase of my fath—”
“I did not under any circumstances perform any such or related services for your father, RIP.”
“Not even when he was floating drunk?”
“Never.”
As I hobble on, the rasp of Venk’s metal file recedes.

I don’t ask Venk to do anything. I pay him what I believe is a decent pension, and more besides, as reparation for his centuries of torment. However, he still likes my perfunctory opinion on certain matters of estate and domestic management, so I try not to be too imbecilic.

Recently Venk has had me studying a ‘news’ circular from the city after meals. It’s frightening stuff. I don’t think it can all be genuine; some must be a literary in-joke. He says it will ‘broaden my horizons’, the blighter.

My cogitations are interrupted by a dainty scuffling among the gargoyles. Not an ethereal wisp. Not Venk. I call back to him, trying to sound authoritative.
“Scuffling, Venk; animal, vegetable or mineral?”
“As yet, sir, not fully determined.” He has no idea.
“We’ll attribute it to Od, pro tem.”
“Have you been at the pig Latin again, sir?”
“I beg your pardon?!”
“Ixnay, ogday, and suchlike, sir.”
“I was twelve, Venk! It was a fad during my pseudo-intelligentsia epoch.”
“I see. So it’s not odgay?”
“Absolutely not. It’s a placeholder for unexplained natural causes and scientific phenomena, coined in the 19th century.”
“That’s an entirely different and wholly appropriate matter, sir. I apologise.”
“I don’t know where you get to these preposterous notions, Venk.”

Feeling still entirely untired, I limp toward one of the flights of stairs, which is wide enough to serve as an amphitheatre. My father was a considerable narcissist. Emphasis on ‘arse’. To be precise: short-arse. Each step is barely a heel’s depth and as polished as the day, or the day after, it was installed. Just to add excitement, some of the steps are not horizontal. That skittering is the sound of my inappropriate footwear losing traction and further polishing said non-horizontal steps.

Fear not: as I said, the steps are shallow, so the descent is little more than the feeling of a back massage with a washboard. The problem is that my father liked to survey his estate, while my mother disliked the Baltic breeze whistling up the stairwell. Plus my inability to maintain a feet-first position as I cross the floor below. You can imagine the sound as my forehead connects with the glass partition door.

I push myself up to sit but I’m too dizzy to move further. The pain radiates sparks through my vision. Yet I can make out a small boy standing beyond the glass. He seems about five years old and remarkably composed with his hands clasped neatly before his belly. I recognise him: he’s the one rumoured to have been recruited by some clandestine organisation because he has super-mental powers.

He steps toward the glass, our faces level. He raises one arm, his forefinger outstretched, to precisely touch my forehead as it appears in the glass on his side. I lift my finger to meet it on my side. He recognises my forehead energy ring as a sign of similar super-mental powers. I gaze at his face as his forehead lights up with a small red ring. I feel the strangest, wondrous, intense sensation in my own forehead.

Initially we test each other with tricks. The boy wanders to the village and waves to me from the church. I focus my special forehead vision and proceed to pan and zoom as if viewing from a bird’s eye. I’m confident that the church is north from here so I move in that direction by intention. However, this is hard work as I’m too close range so it’s difficult to make out features. Eventually I hit indistinguishable grey blobs and conclude I’ve found the church roof.

About this point Venk ruins my connection to this extraordinary skill by throwing a glass of cold water over me and expressing his untender concern for my welfare.
“That’s an angry red ring on your forehead, sir. Shall I prepare a poultice?”
I swat him away. Something is not right in my head. Apart from the throbbing bruise and frayed blood vessels. The glass… There isn’t any glass on the parapet.

I grab the glass from Venk’s hand and down the remaining measure. He seems momentarily appalled but regroups admirably. Clawing my way up his shiny buttons, I haul myself up to a swaying stand.

I retrace my steps: straightforward as there is a convenient red dotted line. Intrepidly I step Beyond the Red Line. I yelp. The ever-solicitous Venk leaps out from an alcove, a threadbare dressing draped over his shoulder, a crucible of noxious excreta in his hand.
“Please let me attend to your wound, sir.”
In my excitement I flap him away from my shin.
“There was a girl— There was someone here.”
“I put her in the misererium, sir.”
I stumble away with horrible visions of this exquisite ethereal wisp manacled to a slimy wall.

The misererium is an often overlooked feature of Roman architecture, and thus of mock-Roman, faux-ancient, ego-indulgent edifices.
“I put her in the misererium, sir.”
Venk’s words echo through my frantic mind. They also echo through the stone corridors; as well as Baltic wind funnels, my father was unintentionally successful in creating the most bone-powdering auditory effects.
“I put her in the misererium, sir.”
“What do you mean ‘put’?!”
“She is awaiting your convenience, sir.”
“To restore her to health? To one piece? I’m not a sorcerer!”
Venk glances critically at my bare legs, and their cross-hatched archaeology of injuries. “Indeed, sir.”
“Why? Why there?”
“She seemed melancholy, sir.”
“Sadist.”

The misererium of my acquaintance is situated on the far side of the lagoon – a stagnant, algae-glazed, joy-sapping puddle. It is dangerously close to the wood. My mother forbade me from exploring—”If I catch you in that wood, I’ll remove your testicles with this fork.”—that feature with her characteristic firmness. I feel shivers developing into shudders at the mere glimpse of it.

But first I must divert Venk.
“What’s that infernal scritchy scratchy scuffling?”
“Mice, sir.” He’s guessing.
“Mice?! Poison them!”
“I am effecting every method of dissuasion, sir.”
“What sort of cowardly—?!”
“Unfortunately they’re in the gubbins, sir.”
“So?”
“They would die horribly in your water supply.”
“Whereas now they’re just shitting in it?”
“I’m training Beetles to penetrate—”
“Beetles?!”
“The cat, sir. You named her.”
“I was four! Is she still going?!”
“With a sniff of mouse at one end and a sharp stick at the other.”
“So there’s ancient cat piss in the waterworks as well.”
“We are well supplied with… alternative beverages, sir.”
“Father’s fifth circle of cellar?” This is desperate. “Please sort it forthwith.”
“Yes, sir.”

In repairing to the forbidding misererium, I must negotiate other characters. My father littered the grounds with marble and stone and bronze statues; he never could decide which was the most ostentatious. Yet oddly none of them were intended to resemble himself. They are creatures of mythology: human-beast chimeras. On second thoughts, perhaps they were very good likenesses. I make a mental note to research the distinction between centaurs and satyrs, more for a false feeling of mental control than any genuine practical application.

The midnight blue gives the statues an eerie luminescence, a looming essence from behind trees. Involuntarily I gasp. Despite knowing exactly where each one is, my primitive brain sparks to make me start anyway. This is annoying. Yet without an overhead light this first one seems to wear a smirk.

I glance across the water—or whatever is beneath that fetid crust—to steady my nerves. In this deceptive non-light its coating looks like an oil slick. I get a further jolt: the ethereal wisp drifts over the far side of the toxic swamp. It could not be one of the marble statues: they are not that well polished and reflective. Nor could they balance upon that noxious veneer. There would be a chthonic crack and plunge.

I vacillate between relief that Venk has failed to constrain her and further anxiety that she is still abroad. The first statue sneers at my discomfiture.

…continues at part 2

05/07/2020

Father Episodes concluded

A final instalment of eccentric vignettes, following the original Father Episodes and Father Episodes cont’d

The last time I saw him was of course at his convenience.
“I am booked with the optician in Auchterarder, Monday week. I shall make a pitstop with you, ETA 1PM.”
Of course the whole thing collapses under any rational scrutiny: why travel from Dumbarton to Auchterarder for an optician? Tramlines. Why visit? Marginally more comfortable than sitting in the car to eat half a sandwich and a biscuit. But the notification was purely a courtesy; the arrangement was already fixed.
I had a go anyway.
“I will have someone else visiting me that day.”
“Not a problem.”
“I might not be able to give you my full attention.”
“Not a problem.”
“I may be tired.”
Ridiculous and irrelevant. My role was simply to unlock the door. In fact, I got off lightly: the previous time he had directed me to install a handrail at the front steps. I wriggled out of this by pointing out that there was one at the back door. Points deducted, however, for lack of red carpet.

A few months ago, he presented me with a curiosity.
“I had a new experience this morning. In the kitchen I found three mugs lined up on the worktop, each containing exactly one inch of tomato soup.”
Off-guard, I tried to unravel the nonsense. “Were you up in the night?”
“I have absolutely no recollection of how they got there!”
I grasped for something sensible. “Does any of your medication have that sort of side-effect?”
“I think someone’s been in.”
I braced myself for supernatural allusions.
He continued, “one of my neighbours.”
“How would they get in?”
“I leave the door open.”

One of our last conversations interrupted him in an extended session of wallowing in the BBC News. He summarised ominously:
“It’s not far off now.”
I probed facetiously for some context. “What? The apocalypse?!”
“Yes. But I think I’ll nip out just in time.”

There was always a very fine line between idiosyncrasy and mischief. I can hear him chuckling as he trundles off across the cosmos.

01/01/2020

Father Episodes cont’d

A further instalment of eccentric vignettes, following the original Father Episodes

Shortly after Father arrived, he presented me with half a dozen nail files and a magnifying hand mirror.
“I thought you might like these for… female titivation.”
I gratefully frowned at the rust spots on the mirror and the assorted specifications of filery: a wide array of shape, coarseness, colour and a common theme of unfit for purpose.
He saw he was losing ground in this attempt to ‘shed’ benevolently.
“I purchased the series in trying to find the right one. I haven’t used them.”

——

One evening there was a crescendo of televised warfare, culminating in the vociferous cry, “get ‘im! Get ‘im!” This was followed by a rapid series of clunks and curses, “you blighter!” as Father’s reclining chair misinterpreted his vigorous limb-flinging and unfolded on him. His cries of chagrin continued as he flailed in vain to regain sight of the television and reach of the remote control, with the escalating frustration of the battle continuing without him.

——

Father wears Marks & Spencer’s navy blue moccasins with the special sheep fluff lining. This is a permanent association like birds and feathers, dating back to at least 60 years before any such product was available with the St Michael label. Once there was even a delighted but nebulous epiphany around a previous life as a Native American. Michael of course having received his sainthood for services to ‘cowbags and indibugs’, as the inchoate Father coined his favourite game c.1884.

These slippers are replaced every year in December. Never washed, just replaced. They are purely for nighttime trundles and restricted to the journey between bedroom and bathroom. Not too controversial. However, in my house, I prefer to wear slippers throughout, a probably pointless commitment coincidentally following a substantial outlay for new carpets.

As a spectacularly deviated protest, shortly after moving in, Father explained to me that he was now alternating between two pairs of Marks & Spencer’s navy blue moccasins. The original pair size 7 for original restricted use. Plus a new pair size 7 1/2 for daytime and entire house expeditions. Size 7 1/2, he elaborated, because of the addition of a layer of sock, which would not fit in size 7. Notwithstanding this duplicate provision, he would still sneak about in his shoes like a first class rotter, just to demonstrate that he did not recognise my authority.

After he had moved out, I discovered his final revenge. In one of his now empty rooms, the neutral coloured carpet that had required that substantial outlay was now adorned with two large, well worn, blue patches. These locations correspond exactly with his two chairs: the recliner for leisure purposes, and the executive computer operator chair for hyper-consumerism diversions.

It could have been worse: it could have been neutral-coloured dog shit from Outside.

——

Shortly after Father had departed to his new residence, one of his old friends, Don (the name has been changed to protect the undead) wrote to me seeking Father’s new address. Since Don supplied an email address, I promptly contacted him with the sought contact details.

Don responded with no less than 23 emails, in progressive stages of drafting, conveying his appreciation as well as some family updates. It seemed his webmail account had some synchronisation glitch that shared every saved stage with the recipient. I let him know and thought the contact was concluded.

Some weeks later, I received an unexpected email from a suspicious account with Don’s name as alias, plus a suspicious lack of text and presence of attachment. Clearly spam, and not surprising following the previous IT dodginess.

In my next conversation with father, I was prompted to enquire whether Don and he had got successfully in touch following their communication fankle.
“No. I received a nonsense attachment.”
“Ah, you got that too. I think it was spam.”
“Did you get the subliminal message?”
“No?”
“Don is dead.”

I was so utterly bewildered by the sheer non-sequitur of this reasoning, that he chuntered on about some trivia for a couple of minutes before I stopped him to protest that (A) it was consistent with the pattern of spurious emailing I had experienced as well as having all the hallmarks of spam, pointing toward a compromised mailbox, and (B) if you suspect one of your oldest friends is dead, however unconventionally you have received the notification, it is usual to contact their family and express condolences.

Needless to say, Don was not and is not dead. Long live Don, and death to personal correspondence gremlins.

——

Phone calls are either epic waffles and whinges about the weather and Waitrose, or abbreviated bulletins concerning his health status. The latter comprise two minutes maximum, concluding with “end of message,” then a click as the connection is terminated. Either way a monologue.

I called Father one afternoon. As often happens, there was a twenty second delay between him lifting the handset and responding verbally into the phone.
“[mumble]”
“Have I woken you up?”
Further pause before further muffled response. “I’m eating a peppermint.”
“So, you’re safely back home?” Stating the bleeding obvious as invitation to journal the banal.

In the background, a chime resounded.
“Ah: doorbell. Hang on.”
I have learnt over the years to swiftly pull the phone away from my ear before the statutory series of amplified sound effects as he abandons the handset and shuffles off.

Following a couple of minutes of distant conversation, sound effects resumed, then conversation.
“My helper. Just a quick visit. Been here already. Earlier. [mumble, mumble, breathing]”
“Shall I call another time then?” Pause for peppermint-filtered mumbling. I continue. “Allow you to have one conversation at a time?” Even one can be a challenge.
“[Mumble] call back later on.”
With cheery relief I hung up. Total call time three minutes seventeen seconds. Total conversation time substantially less.

——

My sister visited him on one occasion and inevitably found herself detailed with a list of specially selected noisome chores. In the depths of some wardrobe manoeuvres, she identified a stack of brand new, polythene-sealed shirts.
Father pronounced, “bin.”
Her expression clearly expressed bewilderment so he expanded.
“Wrong fabric. Should be poly-cotton mix.”

My sister’s attempts to tackle this monstrous illogicality from the angles of (A) return to retailer for financial recompense and (B) donate to charity met with the characteristic Wall of Disinterest. This is a fascinating feature of the Pilgrim’s Progress that was under-written and sadly lost in an early draft.

The material continues to accumulate…

23/06/2019

Fossoway Flora and the Croits: a sonata in A manor -r

Relationship counselling with three incarnations of the Kreutzer Sonata – radio script
(Other episodes in the Fossoway Flora series)

 

CAST LIST

FLORA (30s): Scottish, Female, Ecologist

LEO (60s): Russian, Male, Psychotherapist

ROD (30s): Scottish, Male, Music Promoter

SCENE (1) INT HALL

FX: DOOR SHUTS, ECHOEY

FLORA

We’re definitely in the right place: A Manor – Relationship Counselling.

ROD

Nobody here.

FLORA

I need to pee.

ROD

Aye, you disappear, then someone appears.

FX: RECEDING STEPS, RUFFLING MAGAZINES

ROD (CONT’D)

‘Romantic gardening’?!

FX: APPROACHING STEPS

FLORA

There’s an old Russian master in the toilet.

ROD

How do you ken he’s Russian?

FLORA

Apart from the accent? He’s fondling a samovar.

SCENE (2) INT TOILET

FX: BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA NO.9 IN A MAJOR KREUTZER OP.47 EXCERPT; DOOR CREAK, SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO

(WAIL) How can they play that first presto in front of ladies? It’s irresponsible.

ROD

(LOUD, STILTED)

Do you know where the therapist is?

FLORA

(CLOSE) He is the therapist! This is Leo Tallstory! He has the ‘croits’.

ROD

(CLOSE) Well, he’s in the best place.

LEO

My complaint is caused by deletions made by literary executors.

ROD

Ouch.

LEO

Come to my consulting room.

SCENE (3) INT CONSULTING ROOM

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO

Flora. Rodney. We must begin with the social conditions in which amorous young people are forced, like cucumbers in a hot-bed!

ROD

Cucumbers?!

FLORA

This is exactly why we’re here, Mr Tallstory. We rather rushed—

LEO

Call me Leo. Our super-abundance of food, coupled with physical idleness, simply pushes us to the next biological need: food, shelter, etcetera, reproduction. Every day we consume huge quantities of meat and pastry and drinks of sugar. Where does all this energy go?

ROD

Er…

LEO

Into excesses of sensuality.

ROD

Is it hot in here?

FLORA

I did try fruitarianism.

LEO

It is a good start. Rod, do you admit to knowing pieces of music that make you feel happy or salad?

ROD

Is this a crime—? Wait: “salad”?

LEO

Somebody perhaps calls in to a radio show to share the piece of music that triggered them to propose marriage to their partner.

LEO (CONT’D)

This seems like a joyful story, yes? But this person says it was the worst mistake of their life and blames it on a false feeling incited by the music.

FLORA

Ooh! We really don’t understand how music affects our moods, choices—

ROD

That’s basically sympathising with state censorship of music!

FLORA

We’re just having a conversation!

ROD

So you say, then once again I’m the victim of mission creep.

LEO

What is your mission, Rodney?

ROD

Actually it’s Rodolphe.

LEO

The Kreutz! (SCREAM)

FX: SAMOVAR LID GRINDS, BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT

LEO (CONT’D)

So sorry about that. He was the original dedicatee, you see – Rodolphe Kreutzer. He refused it.

ROD

And yet here it is.

LEO

Fate! What is your profession, Mr Kreutzer?

ROD

Music industry executive.

FLORA

(SNORT)

LEO

What do you do?

FLORA

Yes, what exactly?

ROD

Never mind your disrespecting! I promote bands, get them gigs, recording contracts… new strings.

LEO

Which ensembles are these?

ROD

Well, er, right now it’s mostly this band, you’ve maybe heard of them, er, this indie electro rock band, er, The Wankers?

FLORA

(SPLUTTER)

LEO

You produce them?

ROD

Aye! Respect at last!

LEO

You make them into a product to sell to as many people as possible, giving these ‘consumers’ unpredictable emotional stimulation, to generate profit for yourself?

ROD

Er, no, that’s not—

LEO

The machine of commercial production grinds and grinds to deliver more and more products for human consumption: the instant gratification of ever fainter desires. Millions of oppressed workers are drained to husks by soulless industry, predicated upon the fallacy of infinite economic growth, merely to satisfy woman’s caprice.

ROD

Ken how they feel.

FLORA

I only changed my mind once: when I met Rod I thought he was funny but now I realise it’s all just smut.

LEO

We must play the Kreutzer Sonata.

ROD

Is this one of your mind games?

FX: SAMOVAR LID GRINDS, BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT

ROD (CONT’D)

Is that a wee radio you have in your sam-over?

LEO

It is an echo-chamber. Flora. How do you respond to music?

FLORA

Music transports me immediately into the emotional state of the composer.

FX: GLASS DISH DRAG

LEO

Correct. Would you like a lollipop? These are ants trapped in chocolate.

FLORA

Absolutely not. This is a macabre metaphor for the oppressed workers.

FX: CELLOPHANE SQUEAKS

LEO

But they taste of honey. And all these males sacrifice their entire existence for the queen.

ROD

Don’t get any ideas.

FLORA

They milk aphids for honeydew.

ROD

Milk?

FLORA

When the aphids are gorging on plant sap, the ants stroke the aphids’ abdomens until they excrete—

ROD

(AROUSED MOAN)

LEO

Rod! Who wrote the Kreutzer Sonata?

ROD

(TETCHY)

Doctor Bunsen Honeydew.

FLORA

Muppet.

LEO

Both wrong. Beethoven knew exactly why he was in that emotional state. That state drove the form of the music, which therefore had deep meaning for him. But for me it is inappropriate.

ROD

And me. Can I have one of your wee honeydew sweeties?

LEO

No.

ROD

Why?

LEO

Because, like the music, just the idea of this honeydew causes directly in you a surge of energy and emotion that is inappropriate to this time and place. And furthermore must have an outlet which can only be harmful.

ROD

I’ll just bottle it up then.

FLORA

I’m not sure—

LEO

Flora. How do you feel after hearing this music?

FLORA

I do feel that rush of extreme emotion: as if I’ve been betrayed and I want vengeance… but I’m constrained?

LEO

Exactly. I must pursue this man who seduces my wife! But I am not dressed! It is ridiculous to run after my wife’s lover wearing only socks. I do not wish to appear ridiculous but terrifying!

ROD

(SNIGGER)

FLORA

Should we consider the wife’s—?

FX: CD CASE SLIDES ACROSS TABLE

LEO

Your homework. This has been helpful. I see you next week.

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

Library issue slip showing due dates in 1984, 1995, 2018

Popular book

SCENE (4) EXT DRIVEWAY

FX: STEPS CRUNCH GRAVEL

ROD

How does he get away with that?

FLORA

Some of his ideas really resonate.

ROD

Aye, great wee thing, that sam-over.

FLORA

Do you still have anything that plays CDs?

SCENE (5) INT FLAT

FX: POOR QUALITY PIANO CONCERTO EXCERPT

ROD

Did they forget to take the microphone out its case?

FLORA

Bit ‘soft focus’, isn’t it? And how do you end up missing sixteen bars? Did they lose a page from the score?

ROD

Could they just not fit it all on the one seventy-eight? How old is this?

FX: CD CASE CLICKS

FLORA

You’re right: was it not played or was it deleted?

FX: CD CASE DISINTEGRATES

FLORA (CONT’D)

Thanks for dismantling it.

ROD

Oh, that address is in Prague. I could ask when I’m there. Next again week. Since I’ll be in Prague to interview record company representatives.

FLORA

Still hawking your wares?

ROD

Offering them the chance to be part of global domination by The Wankers.

FLORA

They may have some experience with that.

SCENE (6) EXT GARDEN

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG, BG BIRDS, STEPS THROUGH GRASS

LEO

I extemporise best in my garden, and my clients seem to find it easier to reconnect with their own natures here.

FLORA

Does the nature have to be so… tamed?

LEO

Tamed… constrained… mutilated… Ah! I find myself paralysed in the greenhouse, my hand on an enormous Savoy cabbage. I feel its mesh of tiny ridges and gullies. I flex my fingertips to take in all the textural detail, but it’s smooth now: it has a hairline. It’s my best friend, Pavel.

ROD

(CLOSE) Do you think that gate’s locked?

LEO

He has a head of cabbage. (CHUCKLE)

FLORA

(CLOSE) Pay attention. This is costing fifty quid an hour.

SCENE (7) INT GREENHOUSE

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET NO.1 KREUTZER SONATA EXCERPT; GREENHOUSE DOOR RATTLE

ROD

(CLOSE) There’s no cabbages!

LEO

Flora. The code is in the music. Pavel is the musician. He plays pianos with ridiculous talent. He completely feels that poor woman: tormented, run down.

ROD

(CLOSE) There’s no pianos!

FX: PENCIL SCRIBBLES

FLORA

(CLOSE) Pavel… Krrzhzhpostulov! On that CD!

LEO

Pavel plays Beethoven and Janáček; he stops time. We’re squatting in a villa in Brno. Why? Because it has a piano, of course. Also a sinkhole in the kitchen floor – a casualty of the last explosion. I thought the cellar would be good shelter…

But it seems abandoned. Pavel says he won’t go down there until the piano does. He goes where the music goes, with his cabbage-like skull.

FX: SAMOVAR LID CLANG

LEO (CONT’D)

I always have Pavel with me.

ROD

(CLOSE) Shite, it’s an urn, isn’t it?!

LEO

I see you next week.

SCENE (8) EXT DRIVEWAY

FX: STEPS CRUNCH GRAVEL

ROD

Will you miss me? When I’m away to Prague? Next week?

FLORA

I miss… We’ve missed… All the great composers, the great writers, great artists, that we know of; they’re just the tiny minority who had the right talent in the right place at the right time to be recognised and perpetuated. What about all the others? Some of them were just as great, but due to some misfortune their work was not recognised, or was lost, or their lives were so short that they never got to share anything. All that lost talent! Lost effort!

ROD

This Pavel boy of Leo’s was one of the composers that nobody’s heard of?

FLORA

Who knows?

Library notice inside book cover stating lending rules

The Sanitary Inspector and other stories by Leo Tolstoy is also available

SCENE (9) INT FLAT

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(DISTORT) About the missing bars. They’re just two nerds in a basement with an eight-track.

FLORA

Thanks for trying.

ROD

(DISTORT) But! They Fourier-analysed the sound at the break. They showed me the graph of the harmonics. Each instrument has its own signature sound shape, but you only see it at the start of each note, just the first fraction of a second, after that it becomes a cleaner sound that doesn’t really identify the instrument.

FLORA

Ah! So the sounds immediately after the break…?

ROD

(DISTORT) Some are the start of notes but some aren’t. The recording was cut; it wasn’t performed that way.

FLORA

That’s really interesting. So why cut it?

ROD

(DISTORT) They thought those bits were plagiarised. Maybe I’ll find out in Brno tomorrow.

FLORA

Um, be careful.

SCENE (10) INT FLAT

FX: JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(DISTORT) I’m in this villa on Girasolov Street – I’m sure it’s the one Tallstory stayed in. It’s just a ruined shell. I’m in the cellar! I can see the bricks!

FLORA

What?!

ROD

(DISTORT) Where the cellar space turns a corner into a passage: the bricks are chalked white like a vertical piano keyboard. Pavel brought the piano to him.

FLORA

That’s actually quite touching.

ROD

(DISTORT) That’s not the best bit: wedged in cracks between the bricks are scraps of paper, wrappers, bits of paper bag, envelopes, all with music written on! Fences with beetles!

FX: PAPER CRACKLES

FLORA

Did you take them? No, you shouldn’t have. But that could be the missing—

ROD

(DISTORT) I know! I think I should get points for this: I photographed them!

FLORA

That’s brilliant!

ROD

(DISTORT) Er, OK.

SCENE (11) INT CONSULTING ROOM

FX: BEETHOVEN VIOLIN SONATA EXCERPT; SAMOVAR LID CLANG

FLORA

Old cabbage-head didn’t die. That was just an echo-chamber of your low self-esteem type thing.

ROD

He works delivering vegetables. His hair’s stripy white now – like piano keys!

LEO

You see him?!

ROD

I heard him. From the shed in his garden. He plays just for himself. A small crowd gathers. Very quietly in the shrubs.

LEO

(SOB)

FLORA

Maybe you need a nice bit of samovar?

FX: SAMOVAR LID SLIDE, JANÁČEK STRING QUARTET EXCERPT

ROD

(CLOSE) Are we, er, croitsed?

FLORA

(CLOSE) You can take it too far, can’t you?

FIN

01/02/2019

Father Episodes

Filed under: Shorts — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Teepwriter @ 15:00

The perils of parental cohabitation: vignettes of eccentricity

Ten years ago, my father arrived for a few months. He stayed five years. He found the place comfortable? Oh no, it was “tolerable”.

——

My concern was always aroused on returning home to find my father sitting in the hall. More so if both front and back doors were fully open allowing a

30mph wind to flow unimpeded through the house, and windows ditto. He was inevitably monitoring some disaster recovery operation / resting during a more active course of same / awaiting my return to explain some destruction / awaiting same to register his dissatisfaction with my substandard domestic furnishings or appliances.

If he was sitting in the hall with the doors closed, he was awaiting the postman.

As soon as I reached the threshold, he would pronounce a well rehearsed summary.

“A blue smoke episode!” This coinage described the regular occurrence where he had commenced frying a slab of meat, become bored with waiting, wandered off, and returned to heavy smog and charcoal. This was attributed to my hob being “peculiar”.

A frequent alternate was: “your washing machine has added a tissue to my laundry, shredded it and deposited it evenly throughout the load. Consequently, in carrying the finished load through to my room, I have scattered a fine layer of bits of tissue along the full length of the hall. I have been picking them up for twenty minutes now. I’m exhausted.”

——

One time I had spent a good hour shovelling snow to clear the drive. I found kneeling more comfortable for my back as it meant less bending and lifting. When I re-entered the house after this practical but style-unconscious exercise, Father was in position in the hall, having well mulled his commentary in anticipation.

“Bad genes. … Your mother’s.” Chuckle. Exit.

Notwithstanding that pragmatism coupled with utter disregard for appearance was closer to his mode and the antithesis of other parent, the highlight was the midway pivot as he realised that the mulling had failed to anticipate the elephant trap.

——

On my return from work I was greeted by the old boy standing in the doorway with the bottom half of his trousers sopping wet.

“The showerhead got away from me.”

What he was doing in the cubicle fully clothed was never explained. (It wasn’t cleaning; such meniality was outwith his purview. In any case, his shower wasn’t dirty. The “black bits” arrived in the water, just as the layer of grey dust that rapidly accumulated on his piles of everything derived from lorries and came in through the windows. The fact that these symptoms were not expressed anywhere else in the house was ignored. More of windows anon.)

——

Early one summer morning I noticed a shimmering on the kitchen counter at Father’s end. My kitchen had been combined with a utility room by replacing the dividing wall with a ‘breakfast bar’. This allowed dual use and served as a convenient demarcation between zones: mine being relatively clean and organised; his being a total clutter of packets and jars and spills. The most frequently used were at the front ranging back to those entirely forgotten, pressed against the wall. The cupboards were already stuffed full of unused crockery and groceries he had brought with him and also forgotten about. I usually avoided looking at that end because I felt like the walls were coming in at me.

On this occasion the counter surface was moving. Among the sticky jam jars, stained cutlery, spilled sugar, splashed juice, biscuit crumbs and residual chocolate powder were ants. I peered in.

The ants were fascinating. They were actively surveying and collecting crumbs and sugar granules. Once loaded, each set off along the counter over the cupboards, around the wall, in front of the sink, under Father’s fridge, diagonally down the bin cupboard door and into the skirting by the back door. This was a well established highway in both directions, connecting somewhere beyond the door to some hidden metropolis under the slabs.

ants on kitchen counter

I felt a curious mixture of concern and elation. I was fascinated and revolted. I carefully checked my end and with relief found it all clear. Amusement recommenced. Before leaving for work I wrote Father a short warning note. I imagined him stumbling in for breakfast, his bleary eyes failing to detect small legs and antennae until they were well up his spoon arm.

Sadly there followed a chemical genocide as we were past the point of tools of dissuasion. The pied piper himself became weary of crushing them individually with a paper towel as they encroached, following their irresistible urge to climb the sugar vapour gradient. Plus I had spotted one or two intrepid explorers in the vicinity of my cupboards. Unacceptable. Still, I’m impressed by their foraging capability.

——

“The bathroom light shade has disintegrated.”

This seemed unlikely. It had been recently installed by an electrician to replace two spotlight fittings which were restricted to 60 watts each, and thus apparently insufficient for Father’s shaving activity.

The electrician had been introduced because the fusebox had blown, and continued to blow despite being reset. The fuse culprit was traced to … the lights circuit. Father had ignored the warning sticker and pushed in two 100 watt bulbs. Being incandescent, the fittings had quickly overheated, the wires in the ceiling had melted into each other, and we were lucky the loft hadn’t caught ‘light’.

I think he was after a theatre dressing room style mirror, framed by two dozen 40 watt bulbs. He made similar demands of his adjustable reading lamp and became incensed when the weight of the galactic strength bulb caused it to constantly droop.

You can understand, then, his disappointment when this new bathroom installation provided only one diffuse 60 watt equivalent CFL bulb, further obscured by a clear glass cover. He decided to ‘upgrade forthwith’ to a 100 watt equivalent bulb. Frustratingly this new bulb was larger and prevented the glass dome from reaching its holder clips. He had carefully wrestled and shoved until it shattered over the bathroom floor. Ideal place for broken glass.

——

Things became a little less humorous with the heating. This was required to be on 24 hours per day just in case the temperature should dip below 22°C. I had turned off the radiators in my rooms as the infrared radiation from his quarters was plenty. Simultaneously, and counter-intuitively, windows fore and aft were required to be ajar to allow a gentle, fresh breeze to flow through at all times. This arrangement came to my attention early on when a repeatedly creaking door kept me awake. He was unmoved by my ‘hyperbolae’ about heating the entire neighbourhood and the remarkable 80% increase in oil consumption.

In the height of summer, during a rare heatwave, from the garden I was astonished to hear the boiler fire up. I swiftly came indoors to query with himself.

“Yes. As I usually do before my shower.” And he would not budge despite persistent argument around the fact that it was actually very warm and he would be complaining about it later, a portable heater could heat just the bathroom if that was necessary, towels could be warmed elsewhere, etc. It was a habit and not to be interfered with.

——

Father was sitting at the kitchen counter scrabbling with a plastic bag of bananas. I wondered if he was having trouble opening it. But no, he liked to keep his bananas in the bag, so they could sweat for several days in the bowl. He would then notice they were brown, complain with disgust about their lack of longevity, and throw them neatly away, still in the bag.

On this occasion it was the bag itself that was cause for concern. He looked up.

“Where do your bananas come from?”

I’m interested in the provenance of my produce, and anticipated a new nugget of ethical consideration. My bananas were loose and helpfully stickered, so I reported back immediately.

“Costa Rica.”

Still scrabbling, with increasing frustration, he explained, “avoid Colombian bananas. Laced with cocaine.”

——

As usual I reversed at full tilt into the drive, stopping just short of crushing a gutter down-pipe. This cathartically expunged my last vestiges of my office tension. I noticed with alarm that Father’s parked car was occupied and its engine running. A few seconds later and our similar reckless reversing habits could have collided. Moving swiftly on, I waved to the coated and hatted phizog in the wing mirror but zero response. He seemed to be concentrating.

After about 25 minutes I noticed his car was again sitting in the drive, chugging away. Shortly thereafter himself entered the hall, removed coat and hat, and expressed surprise that I had snuck past him.

“Entertaining trip?” I enquired, imaging perhaps he’d whistled along to the post box or other local destination that took longer by car than on foot.

“I was tuning the radio.”

——

Unfortunately the entertainment value of the episodes increasingly soured. First there were several occasions when I found the freezer door had been open all night. The compressor had been powering away to no avail. The fridge was tepid. The freezer contents were soft and damp. Father had been the last to visit the kitchen for his statutory sugar-laden ‘supper’. J’accuse!

Having found the fridge at his end of the kitchen insufficient, he had commandeered the top half of mine too, and a reasonable two-thirds of the freezer. Sometimes, when lifting things out, he fumbled the fridge door and slammed it with his elbow en pirouette. This created enough air pressure within the fridge compartment to reverse the flow of chilled air from the freezer below, and, on particularly vigorous occasions, force the freezer door open. When I pointed this out, he naturally countered with “poor design”.

There were also several instances which conclusively revealed his freezer drawer jutting out and preventing the door closing. He denied any awareness. Mind on higher things.

I became tired of trying to consume all my carefully baked and frozen cakes, assorted produce and leftovers in one day. I installed a temperature alarm. The problem didn’t recur, but Father frequently swore at the continual beeping while he stood for 20 minutes with the door wide open, restocking his provisions.

——

He perpetuated an irrational war on insect invaders. He was usually more successful with stealth tactics, picking them off individually, as with the ants. Yet they had their revenge. Swatting flies often resulted in disorder and destruction around the battlefield, and many distant expletives.

The crushing of large spiders was the greatest folly, however. He would leap out of bed late at night and fall into a crouch, poised over the skirting with a carefully funnelled paper towel to absorb the blood—rather like gravy actually—and collect the carcass.

This sudden rush of activity and change of attitude from the horizontal unfortunately upset his balance. With the spider looking on, Father slowly somersaulted backward across the carpet and came to rest against the bed, woefully disoriented. Defeat was admitted pro tem until his blood pressure and proprioception returned to operational levels.

——

One morning I was surprised to find him at breakfast before me. He was already chuckling at his prepared report.

“Upon waking, I looked at the clock, which said 8AM, so I leapt out of bed. Having been through my bathroom routine, I returned to collect my supper plate, and saw that it was in fact 6AM. I shall be ahead of myself all day!”

——

Meanwhile Father’s stock control methodology became extreme ‘just-in-case’. This was ironic at the same time that mine became conversely extreme ‘just-in-time’ to reduce wastage during Father episodes or power-cuts. As my space requirement diminished, he filled any additional available fridge space. However, like the counter tops, unused packets inevitably migrated backward and coalesced like a layer of sediment beginning its geological phase.

Sometimes prompted by my complaints of noxious drippage, sometimes just from an eery sense of losing storage capacity, Father would investigate the deeper recesses of the fridge. He would find cucumbers liquified in their plastic bags, potatoes having valiantly sprouted, withered and returned to primeval slime, cheese that was no longer hospitable to mould and had desiccated to pumice. He found these discoveries hilarious.

——

If I was not present to be regaled, and he grew tired at his post in the hall, he would pen a memo. Another of his habits, retained for its perceived professional prestige, was illegible script, even in capitals. “HALL LIGHT BUSTICATED.” Appended to this was either a small alien emoticon, his self-identified caricature, or his initials, if his timeframe had lapsed and he found himself joyously revisiting the 1950s, dictating to his secretary.

Sometimes the original message would be overlaid with a different colour of scribble to the triumphant effect that he had resolved the problem. When the second colour was the grey of one of my handy pencils, this would involve considerable scratching and scoring of the paper, culminating in a barely visible complaint about the quality of my writing instruments.

——

When snow was swirling but the lights were still on, I would work from home. This included telephone conversations with colleagues. Often, in the middle of a desperately dull discussion of business process revision to ensure the capture of… by which point my forehead was resting on the keyboard with demotivation, we would be interrupted: a click, a series of beeps, and a pause with heavy breathing as the expected dialling noises failed to sound.

Once the departure from standard operating procedure had registered—the ongoing conversation not having registered—I would loudly insert my request.

“Could you possibly wait until I’ve finished?”

“Ah. Forgot you were here. Apologies.” Click.

Luckily this never happened while I was speaking to my manager, or it would have precipitated yet another discussion on business process revision to ensure that my home working environment was conducive to…

——

How he eventually came to depart is another tale of eccentric bafflement. He continues in much the same fashion elsewhere.

24/12/2018

Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves: Episode 4/4

A farcical fairy tale where magic looks more like contrary technology and character flaws are diversity. Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves begins at Episode 1.

SCENE 50.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) Time has passed, although not for me, trapped as I am in this solitary padded cubicle—alright, alright. Not for our plucky heroine, dangling as she is in time, and in a tree. Meanwhile the Daves have a Beattie-sized hole in their lives, and you could park a cart in that. I think we’re due a new protagonist.
SOUND: BIRD CALLS, HORSES’ HOOVES TROT THROUGH MUD, BRANCHES SNAG ARMOUR. TING
NIK: Whoa! Halt up, men! Sqvire, vot iss zis flashing in ze forrest?
SQUIRE: Beg pardon, Your Highness?
NIK: Unter zere!
SQUIRE: Are we stalking shiny objects again, sire?
NIK: Yes, I sink so! Infestigate, pliss.
SOUND: TENTATIVE HOOVES, SWEEPING ASIDE BRANCHES
SQUIRE: Sire!
NIK: Hallo, yes! Vot iss it?
SQUIRE: Er, a glass coffin, sire.
NIK: Vell, oo iss in off it?
SQUIRE: Er, well, a—
NIK: Spit zis at me, men!
SQUIRE: (LOW) A girl, sire.
NIK: A vot? Shout up!
SQUIRE: A girl, sire!
NIK: A girl!?
SOUND: CANTER, ARMOUR CLANKING, BRANCHES CLATTER
Ah! See zis doll in ze glass box! She iss perfect!
SQUIRE: Er, she’s dead, sire. Although she is very well preserved.
NIK: Yes, perfect. Bringing her arount zis hoss.
SQUIRE: You wish to take the coffin away, sire?
NIK: Exacto. Do zis!
SQUIRE: Yes, sire.
NIK: Gazzer about, men! Heaf!
SOUND: SHUFFLING, STRAINING, HEAVING. WHIRLING SIREN

SCENE 51.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES. MUTED SIREN
GALLUS DAVE: How is this possible? Does the bitch no’ ken she’s won?
TECHY DAVE: Doun tools?
GALLUS DAVE: Aye. Wheer’s Davina?
DAVINA: (OFF) Will ye credit this, boys: here’s a muckle contingent of bling clahmbering all o’er the puir quean.

SCENE 52.
SOUND: WHIRLING SIREN
SQUIRE: Ooh, that’s trouble.
NIK: Vot is zis terreeble sount? Oo iss disturbing ze det wiz zis horreeble vooping?!
SQUIRE: Er, I think it was us disturbing the dead that— Never mind, sire. Shall we leave her and move quietly away? We are expected at the castle.
NIK: No! Olvays you are such a vooss. I do not vish zis anozzer party for zis qvin; she iss give me ze sick. But zis finding has makes our travel vorsvile! Zis vonderfool, be-attifool—
SOUND: BRANCHES CRASH
GALLUS DAVE: A’right, whit’s gaun oan here, eh?
NIK: Ah, hallo ant goot feast-break, my frient. I em Prince Nikolaus von Rouffiliak! You may kiss my ring.
GALLUS DAVE: Er, yer a’right; tha’s no’ fer me. Whit’re you daein’ wi’ the lassie, eh? Interferin’ wi’ the deid’s jist no’ oan, by the way.
DOODLE DAVE: Yoou toouch that box, Ah’ll stab you in ‘eye with ‘bloount twig.
SQUIRE: Er, just putting it back, guys; no harm done.
NIK: Zhentlemen, pliss. Iss zis be-attifool belonging to yours?
TECHY DAVE: Er, aye, the Beattie fool is oor apprentice hoosekeeper.
WEE DAVE: We’re waiting for magic to strike. She needs resurrected from the dead.
NIK: Zen perhaps maybe I em ze men! Nik Rouffiliak vill luff her as zo she iss still liffing.
EXTREME DAVE: Sounds priddy suss, even to me, mite.
DAVINA: The clue’s in the name, boys.
WOODEN DAVE: We ‘as to be practical about ‘er options.
DOODLE DAVE: Ar Beeattih was verrah looving. Hoi! Ah warned yoou! Noh toouching!
SOUND: ACCELERATING SCRAPE, SLIDE, CRASH, TREE SHUDDER, TINKLE
SQUIRE: I didn’t touch it! I was just stepping away when it fell!

SCENE 53.
SOUND: APPROACHING WEARY STEPS ON STONE, ECHO. STUMBLE
MAUD: Oh!
KING: ‘Ello Maud, me dear. Is this ‘lap dance?
MAUD: (GIGGLE) I do apologise, sir. Didn’t see you there.
KING: Ah’m hahding. Shirlih’s on ‘prowl about ‘partih.
MAUD: She’s quite…particular.
KING: Aye, hahgh mehntehnance.

SCENE 54.
SOUND: CROWD CRASHES THROUGH UNDERGROWTH
TECHY DAVE: There’s ma best glass a’ broke.
NIK: Ooh. May I to touch ze be-attifool det vench?
GALLUS DAVE: Er, let’s jist see if she’s still in wan piece.
BEATTIE: (PTOOEY, MUMBLE)
WOODEN DAVE: ‘Ere, lads, ‘er lips is movin’! Oi fink she’s wakin’ up!
DAVINA: Aye, aye: here’s a wee bit ahpple fae her mooth – the jawlt must’ve knoacked it awa’.
NIK: Oh. How sat.
GALLUS DAVE: No’ disappointed, are ye, man?
NIK: I confess, ze nice varm girls are not liking me so much. More ven zey are det.
GALLUS DAVE: Brutal.
BEATTIE: (COUGH) Oh, hello, Daves! Did you have to save me again? Sorry to be such a bother. Oh, and I’ve broken a big glass…something. I’m such a clumsy clot.
GALLUS DAVE: Nae bother, hen. Jist happy yer a’right, eh.
BEATTIE: Ooh, my head’s a bit woolly.
NIK: (OFF) Vot iss “voolly”?
SQUIRE: (OFF) Like the sheep, sire?
NIK: (OFF) How dare you say zis off my— my—!
SQUIRE: (OFF) Uh-oh.
TECHY DAVE: Can we get back tae wurk noo?
WOODEN DAVE: Keep yer ‘air on.
DOODLE DAVE: Soomewoon will have toh clear oop ‘glass.
EXTREME DAVE: Could leave it – oughdda surproise any more ‘old pidlar’ toypes.
BEATTIE: I really can’t be trusted. (SIGH) Still, I’d best get on wi— Hello! Gosh, you’re rather shiny. Who are you?
NIK: Ah, hm, I em ze— Nik.
BEATTIE: I’m pleased to meet you, Zenik. What are you doing hereabouts?
NIK: I go to zis silly party at zis falling down cassle, wiz zis silly qvin.
BEATTIE: Oh, I shouldn’t bother with that, if you don’t fancy it. How about you join us for tea?
NIK: May I— May I drive you viz ze hoss?
BEATTIE: Rather.
SOUND: HEFTING GRUNT, FABRIC RUSTLE, HORSE WHINNY
NIK: Ooh, I em liking ze grabbing off girl.
BEATTIE: (GIGGLE)
GALLUS DAVE: This way, folks.
SQUIRE: Er, men? Fall in and follow the, er, glinting grabber.
TECHY DAVE: Gold-plated glaiket, mere like.

SCENE 55.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, APPROACHING STEEL HEELS STRIDE, FINGERNAIL TAPS ON GLASS
QUEEN: Respond, you feeble furnishing!
MIRROR: Good afternoon, InsertFairlyUnfriendlyShir. How may—
QUEEN: Never mind your feigned obsequious preamble. Attend to me: mirror, mirror, in my hand; where’s the prince upon this land?
MIRROR: Soon your house he’ll step inside, and make a clever choice of bride.
QUEEN: (CACKLE)

SCENE 56.
SOUND: HOOVES, TRUDGING, SWISHING THROUGH UNDERGROWTH
BEATTIE: Of course you did your best, Daves, and I’m so grateful. Fate just can’t be avoided, even with your in-gen-uity!
TECHY DAVE: Aye, me an’ Davina hacked her mirror ages back; Wee perve Dave here was efter a swatch at her fancy kecks–
WEE DAVE: (INDIGNANT SQUEAK)
TECHY DAVE: –but naw, et’s aw jis dresses made fae curtains an’ cheap costume jewllury.
BEATTIE: (GIGGLE) What a brilliant wheeze. Now, Zenik, do you like jam? I’m really quite blessed to have such a kind friend, along with all the marvellous Daves, of course.
NIK: You are liking me?!
BEATTIE: Of course, Zenik! You’re a delightful chap. You remind me of…of…what’s his name with his dead beasties?
NIK: (CLOSE) Eet iss I, le Claude!
BEATTIE: (SQUEAL)
NIK: Be-attifool now-not-det Miss Be-attie!
BEATTIE: Steady on, Zenik, with that lovely accent you could turn a girl’s head!
NIK: Yes! Zis iss ze moment! I seize!
SOUND: FUMBLE, WHUMP, CLANK
DOODLE DAVE: Crooms, what’s he oop toh?
DAVINA: Fit’s he doun tae, more like.
WOODEN DAVE: ‘As ‘is knees gyve wy?
TECHY DAVE: He’s a swift wan.
GALLUS DAVE: You watchin’ closely fur the proaphecy, Wee Dave?
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
NIK: Miss Be-attie, viz your be-attifool turning het, pliss vill you marry me?
SOUND: SQUEAKING KISS
NIK (CONT’D): (GULP)

SCENE 57.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, FURIOUS SWISHING
QUEEN: Curse them all, ingrates! How dare they shun my party?! Snub me?! Not even a word from that gilt-coated prince! If some craven imbecile has messed up the invitations… Mirror, mir—
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS, DOOR CREAKS OPEN
What?!
MAUD: Afternoon, ma’am. Do you need any assistance with your frock?
QUEEN: Burn the infernal rag!
MAUD: Very good, madam: inferno.
QUEEN: Do I look like someone who finds puns amusing, Maud?
MAUD: Er, no, not at all. Pardon me, but wouldn’t you rather sell the frock? You’d get tons of wood for it, which you could of course burn?
QUEEN: Maud, sometimes, quite often these days, I have fantastic visions of squeezing your temples with one of my corset brackets until your eyes burst. I then imagine using your echo chamber-like skull for a soup bowl, but of course it would be porous, just like your unendingly flawed ideas.
MAUD: Yes, madam.

SCENE 58.
SOUND: WIND SWIRLS, RAIN LASHES, BRANCHES CREAK, RAVENS CROAK, HOOVES SQUELCH IN QUAGMIRE
NIK: (HOLLER) Ant here, zis iss ze cassle vich iss oll for you. I em so sorry for ze dark blackness everyvere. Olso ze stinkingk slime olvays treeckling down, ze bik flapping birts, ze flailing treess. Ant zis nefer vell-timed rumblings off sunder. Iss oll horreeble. I em so—
SOUND: SQUEAKING KISS
NIK (CONT’D): (GULP) Sank you so much. I sink I em liking ze varm kissing.
BEATTIE: (CLOSE) Sweetie, by any chance is there a dungeon?
NIK: Augh, yes! So sorry. Iss oll ruin!
BEATTIE: Goody; I love old ruins.
SOUND: THUNDER
NIK: (GASP) You like? You luff?
BEATTIE: Almost as much as I love you, Zenik!
SQUIRE: (OFF) Young love, eh? I feel nauseous.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) Ditto. I may have overdosed on the butterscotch. (BELCH)
NIK: Em I unterstenting zis? Dunzheon iss dark, vet, stinking plac unter ze cassle? Vere sings croll to die? You vant zis?
BEATTIE: A girl needs somewhere to practice her craft. As soon as we’re settled I shall send for my instruction manuals.
NIK: Vot iss zis “craft”?
BEATTIE: Oh, just you wait till I show you my special techniques!
NIK: (GULP)

SCENE 59.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, DOOR KNOCKS, DOOR CREAKS OPEN
MAUD: Excuse me, madam.
QUEEN: Yes, of course, peace would be too much to ask for.
QUEEN (CONT’D): When the winter comes, you rancid mass of suet, I shall delight in torching the whole festering lot of you to heat this grotesque husk–
MAUD: But, madam, you look so well!
QUEEN: –of an edifice. Brazen impudence! I should start now; you’ll crackle all night.
MAUD: (LOW) Still on the inferno theme, then?
QUEEN: What?
MAUD: Only thing for us infernal heathens.
QUEEN: Better quality oration, Maud, but still nonsense.
MAUD: Of course, ma’am, but I bring good news: an invitation.
QUEEN: Whit?! Twittering on while withholding the opportunities of intelligent society?! Give it here.
SOUND: SNATCHING PAPER
QUEEN (CONT’D): Well, well, well; Prince Nikolaus von Rouffiliak is having a ball.
MAUD: Is there a reply?
QUEEN: Obviously, yes!
MAUD: Yes there is a reply or yes is your reply?
QUEEN: I will have your pestilent, saggy-skinned limbs for draught excluders! Both! Now be gone. I must start planning.

SCENE 60.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP. BIRL, CLINK
GALLUS DAVE: Whit’s this, Wee Dave?
WEE DAVE: My raven’s learned to fasten bolts!
TECHY DAVE: Aye, an’ et’s lairnt tae unfasten thaim tae, wee scunner. But this is ma a’ singin’, a’ dancin’, cloackwurk hoosekeeper two point zero!
GALLUS DAVE: That’s some claim, Techy Dave. Beattie may’ve been a wee bit disaster-prone—
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
GALLUS DAVE: —Aye, and unable tae resist the deadlies, but she niver sang or capered, as far as I ken?
SOUND: JINGLE, CATHERINE WHEEL, PARP
TECHY DAVE: Crivvens, the extripolar-fanaclodulator has wurked etsel’ loose! If yer wee burd has gotten intae the mechanism…
SOUND: CHIRP, RATTLES, WHISTLES, SQUEAKS
GALLUS DAVE: ‘M’on Wee Dave; let’s leave him tae it. Wheer’s Davina?
DAVINA: (OFF) Party time!
GALLUS DAVE: How so?
DAVINA: Craws abroad. Headin’ west.
GALLIS DAVE: Wee bit ae a leap there.
DAVINA: Trees abroad too.
GALLUS DAVE: Ah’m no’ sookin’ in that tripe! Oo-oo-ooh: spooky leafless trees marchin’ by, yer arse!
DAVINA: Dinna haver, boy. Fifty-four cahrts haulin’ timber by here a’ready the day.
GALLUS DAVE: Still, no’ exactly a wattertight deduction.
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
SOUND: PAPER FLAPS
DAVINA: Ye rumbled me: invitation.

SCENE 61.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, FABRIC CREAKS, RUSTLES, PATTING
QUEEN: Don’t fuss, Maud. I am utter finesse.
MAUD: Very nice, ma’am.
QUEEN: “Nice”. Right sentiment, but your vocabulary has regressed again. Come back when the carriage is ready.
MAUD: And Mr Kings—the king, ma’am?
QUEEN: If it must be so.
SOUND: DOOR CREAKS, THUDS SHUT
QUEEN (CONT’D): I am so glamorous, but so gracious; they will fall over themselves supplicating to me! I am gorgeous!
SOUND: MUFFLED SNIGGER HASTILY CONVERTED TO GLINGLE
QUEEN (CONT’D): Mirror! Are you eavesdropping?
MIRROR: Hard no, InsertFriendlyGrandiose.
QUEEN: “Hard no”?
MIRROR: Definite response in the negative; requires no check before proceeding.
QUEEN: Ironic.
MIRROR: I am standing by, anticipating an imminent command.
QUEEN: I would think, by now, you would have actually anticipated it.
MIRROR: Mirror, Mirror, etc.?
QUEEN: Well?
MIRROR: You don’t fancy the ritual?
QUEEN: (CLOSE) Answer me, you unalloyed alloy! I’ll have you ground down to sand! And none of your updating downloading recalculating pedal-driven pish, ya pewter pisspot!
MIRROR: There you are: perfect example of a hard command! Could you stop looking at me like that? My solder’s going a bit runny.
QUEEN: (ROAR)
MIRROR: Mirror, mirror…tum-ti-tum…fairest of all. Pause for effect. Response: the new young queen is fairest of all; you may meet her at the ball!
QUEEN: Whit?! Whit “young queen”? Has Kingsley—? Naw, impossible; he cannae even undress hissel’. Whae?! Why must I be tormented by these incorrigible trollops?!
MIRROR: Would you like me to search for corrugated scallops? Safe Search off?
SOUND: CROCKERY SMASHES
MIRROR (CONT’D): (LOW) Don’t ask me, of course. Misdirection is such fun.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) At last the joyful wedding day arrives, and we can tie up all the loose, flapping and frankly widely strewn narrative threads. And hustle by the slight casting overlap. Let’s call it ‘characterful’.

SCENE 62.
SOUND: BG JOLLY BAND PLAYS, GUESTS CHATTER. RAPID STEEL HEELS, DRAGGING SHUFFLE
QUEEN: Kingsley, for the sake of dignity, could you try not to…waddle so? You look like a gravid toad.
KING: Grehvy boat did yoou seh? Ah’m dooing me best, me queen, boutt I yoosually have soom tahme on ‘sofa after breakfast.
BEATTIE: (CLOSE) Are you being Papa? Yes, of course. Ahem. (NORMAL) Papa, dearest, a—
QUEEN: (LOW) Beattie! The quean haunts me yet.
KING: Ar lass! ‘Skin lahke snow, ‘air lahke coil–
QUEEN: (LOW) Eyes like hellfire.
KING: Where ‘ave yoou been?!
BEATTIE: I’ve been on the most wonderful adventure, thanks to Shirl—Mis—mother.
KING: Yoou sent ‘er aweh?!
QUEEN: (CLOSE) Her own good – ways of the world— You agreed!
KING: Hm. It’s loovely toh see yoou, Beeattih. Yoou doo loook well. Are yoou happih?
BEATTIE: Oh, very, Pa! I’m going to be married!
KING: Congratyoolehtions, lass! ‘Oo toh?
SOUND: BG SWISHING, HACKING
BEATTIE: My dearest, darling Zenik! That’s him: the dazzling chap, swishing at the ivy. He thinks it’s a bit gloomy for a wedding. He’s so romantic.
KING: By ‘eck, ‘e doo glint fiercelih.

SCENE 63.
SOUND: SWISHING, HACKING, METAL SCRAPING STONE
SQUIRE: Er, sire, please, if you’ll let me. I fear you may accidentally slice off a limb or, er, something worse.
NIK: Vot cout be vorse zan a severt limb? I mus haf oll my limbs for devoting off myself to zese many, many deets off luff!
SQUIRE: Er, exactly, sire; especially important for the, er, wedding night.
NIK: I haf perfect control off my veapon!

SCENE 64.
SOUND: BG JOLLY BAND PLAYS, GUESTS CHATTER
QUEEN: (QUAVERING) Him?! But he’s…but surely he’s– Surely…
KING: Are yoou calling ar dauughter’s betrothèd a shirlih, Shirlih?
QUEEN: He’s Prince Nikolaus von Rouffiliak?!
KING: Eh? What’s that? Soomthing toh doo with ‘bloood not clotting?
QUEEN: Forming a clot was never a problem for you, my dear.
KING: (DEEP BREATH) Will there be foood?
BEATTIE: I’ll say. Tables piled high, Pa – all your favourites!
QUEEN: Hardly a challenge. Go on then: fold yourself around a small bovine; wallow in a pond of your beloved gravy.
BEATTIE: (NERVOUS LAUGH)
KING: Shirlih. (PAUSE) Ah never thawght Ah could ‘ave too mooch anything, boutt yoou’ve prooved me wrong. Ah’ve ‘ad quaht enoough of yoou, yoou poisonoous hehbawll.
QUEEN: Don’t be daft, Kingsley, you like my tresses!
KING: Aye, joost lahk ‘mattress, yoou loook; ‘burst woon. Neither yoouss nor ornament. Where’s yoour mehd Maud?
QUEEN: What?
MAUD: Right here, sir.
KING: ‘Ello me dear, ‘ow doo yoou fancih being oop-grehded toh queen?
QUEEN: (SHRIEK) My feet! Burning!
SOUND: STAMPING, APPROACHING ARMOUR CLANKS
NIK: (BREATHLESS) Are you ollright, my vonderfool hot stiff?
BEATTIE: ‘Stuff’, sweetie, ‘hot stuff’.
NIK: Vot iss zis terreeble schrieking? Have I disturb ze Davies’ crypt vonce more? But zis iss ze silly qvin!
SOUND: FEET PATTER IN TANTRUM, RECEDE
BEATTIE: Stepmother. And this is my fa—
NIK: Vy iss she dance like zis maniac?!
KING: Joost ‘er ‘ysterics; nowt boutt attention-seeeking. Can’t even dance in tahm toh myoosic. Peh noh attention.
NIK: She frighten ze guest!
KING: May Ah introdyooce meself: Kingslih Snawit, fahther of ‘brahd. Ah congratyooleht yoou on—
SOUND: BG CRUMPLE, WHUMP, WRITHING
NIK: Be-attifool, be carefool; not to touch zis crazy! So sorry, mine fahter, you vere say?
KING: Ah beg yoh pahdon?

SCENE 65.
SOUND: WRITHING, APPROACHING SOLID FOOTSTEPS
BEATTIE: Hullo, Shirley.
QUEEN: (GASP) You! Invulnerable!
BEATTIE: I do seem to be in better health than you…expected.
QUEEN: (LOW) Eyes like hellfire.
BEATTIE: Perhaps you were a little hasty to discard dear mama’s occult library, RIP.
QUEEN: (RASPING) But you don’t understand! Thick as mud!
BEATTIE: I understand one hideous crone is not the same as another.
QUEEN: (RASPING) No idea what you’re doing with mystic incantations!
BEATTIE: In my line of work you’re not supposed to be so arrogant; it’s enough just to get the intention right.
SOUND: WINGS FLUTTER, BIRD CHIRPS
QUEEN: (SCREAM) Assassin!
KING: (OFF) Are yoou dead yet? Hoorrih oop, old booot; Maud’s wehting. Chooffin’ chooff.
QUEEN: (CHOKES, EXPIRES)
BEATTIE: Hullo Wee Dave’s Wee Raven. Would you like a seed? I don’t think those things in Shirley’s hair are edible.

SCENE 66.
SOUND: BG JOLLY BAND PLAYS, GUESTS CHATTER
BEATTIE: Very sad: couldn’t tell the difference between an enchanted mirror and some hammered lead with a little Davic mischief.
NIK: Ve mus keep zese cunning Davies so fery close, I sink.
BEATTIE: Well said, my darling Zenik. They know just enough to be dangerous.
NIK: Excusse me, my bee-attifool, but zere seems a smoll garten birt making hiss nest off your vonderfool so sexy garment?
BEATTIE: Oh, this is Wee Dave’s Wee Raven. She nearly pecked something quite poisonous.
SOUND: BIRD CHIRPS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Now, since this Snaw-Witch has decided to take a husband, shall we get married?
NIK: Vot iss—
SOUND: SQUEAKING SUCTION KISS
NIK (CONT’D): (GULP)

SCENE 67.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) And so they lived…revoltingly happily— I say, is anyone bothered by that toxic puddle of old Shirley? It seems to be oiling toward the castle.
SOUND: CLANG, SCRAPE, SUCK, WHIR, CLONK
GALLUS DAVE: Utter brilliance, Techy Dave! Total hag containment!
TECHY DAVE: Aye, wurked braw, eh?
DOODLE DAVE: Can anywoon smell buhrnt cohcohnoot?
DAVINA: Fit’s to do wi’ it noo?
TECHY DAVE: A’ yours, hen. Re-circle that!
END

23/12/2018

Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves: Episode 3/4

A farcical fairy tale where magic looks more like contrary technology and character flaws are diversity. Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves begins at Episode 1.

SCENE 37.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP
QUEEN: Are ye well, there, dearie? You look a bit pale…and wobbly.
SOUND: WHUMP
QUEEN (CONT’D): Ha! Doun ye go, ye muckle sack ae tatties. Thick as mince. Joab done. (CACKLE)
SOUND: DUSTING HANDS, RAPID STRIDES RECEDE

SCENE 38.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES. ALARM WHOOPS
GALLUS DAVE: Fer tech’s sake, Dave! Whit’s wrang noo?
TECHY DAVE: Aw naw: et’s the hoose–et’s the lassie!
GALLUS DAVE: Whit’s she done?
TECHY DAVE: She’s deid!
GALLUS DAVE: Hame, boays!
SOUND: CLANKS, CLATTERS OF DROPPED TOOLS AND PARTS

SCENE 39.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP. DOOR BATTERS OPEN, BUSTLE
GALLUS DAVE: Hairy hoolies! She’s a’ twined up like a bale ae hay!
TECHY DAVE: Whole stack, mere like.
GALLUS DAVE: Untie the strings!
WEE DAVE: That’s her garments!
GALLUS DAVE: Well, you stand by to gi’e her the kiss ae life, then.
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
EXTREME DAVE: I’ll crank her ligs, mite.
GALLUS DAVE: Ye’ll dae nae such thing, ye pervy chancer. Lift her ankles; that’s it, but.
WOODEN DAVE: Ah’ll fetch wau’er.
GALLUS DAVE: Are ye blowin’, Wee Dave?
SOUND: PIFFT, LACES TWANG, RUMPLE, SPLOOSH
BEATTIE: (GASP)
DAVINA: Whelcome bahck, quean.
BEATTIE: Ptooey! Hello Wee Dave.
WEE DAVE: Alright, Miss?
BEATTIE: Were you blowing at me?!
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
GALLUS DAVE: A’right? Listen, hen, dae ye see wheer ye went wrang?
BEATTIE: Oh, oh, dearie Davies, do you think that old pedal lady may have over-tightened the laces?
DAVINA: “Dearie Davies”?!
DOODLE DAVE: Mehbe she was yoosed toh ‘slender frehme.
BEATTIE: Are you dis-par-aging—?!
TECHY DAVE: How’s the fleer a’ o’er mud?
GALLUS DAVE: Boays, boays, yer a’ missin’ the point here, which was: no’ tae let anywan in!
WEE DAVE: Oh, yeh, the property.
DOODLE DAVE: Prophecy, yoou twit.
WEE DAVE: Hey!
GALLUS DAVE: Reight, boays, back tae wurk, an’ let the lassie sort hersel’ oot.
SOUND: BOOTS SCUFFLE AWAY
BEATTIE: What a palaver! Gosh, I’ll need to sweep this floor all over again.
GALLUS DAVE: Any’hin’ else, hen?
BEATTIE: I suppose I’ll need to rinse my dress too. I’m filthy!
GALLUS DAVE: An’ the door, hen?
BEATTIE: Oh, yes, thank you: not to let anyone in.
GALLUS DAVE: Reight. (LOW) Mere chance ae divertin’ a watterfall than this bloody plot.

SCENE 40.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, FINGERNAIL TAPS ON METAL
QUEEN: (CACKLE) Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Restarting.
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Loading settings.
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?!
MIRROR: Checking registry.
QUEEN: This is beyond incompetence; this is belligerence! Whit—
SOUND: GLINGLE
MIRROR: Snow White is the.
QUEEN: (PAUSE) Is the whit?! Why are you just hanging?!
SOUND: THUMP, CLANG
MIRROR: A mysterious process has been interrupted. Would you like to cancel it—partial results will be lost—or wait for it to complete?
QUEEN: Neither! Complete your task at once, you cheap gilt gewgaw or I shall grind you doun tae a gargoyle!
MIRROR: (PAUSE) Fairest of all; mind your fist or I shall fall.
QUEEN: (SCREAM) Run her eyes through with rusty skewers!
MIRROR: Would you like me to search for waste water treatment services?
QUEEN: Dispose of yourself, you crushed bauble.
MIRROR: Please confir—
QUEEN: Silence!
SOUND: TENTATIVE GLINGLE

SCENE 41.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP. WET FABRIC SLAPS, WRITHING
BEATTIE: (V.O.) Well done me! I make a great sponge. The floor is quite clean. Now, how to clean all this mud off my dress.
SOUND: DRIPS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) What would Clod do? ‘E would sink about ze problemm… The sink!
SOUND: SQUELCH, SPLATTER
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Into the sink with it!
SOUND: SOGGY WHUMP, BUCKET CLATTER, WATER POURING, SQUELCH
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Perhaps I should sing too. Laaah!
SOUND: INSECT SHRIEK, DOOR KNOCKS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Oh, alright, I won’t.
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS
QUEEN: (OFF) Hello? I’m only a kindly old pedlar woman. Won’t someone let me in?
BEATTIE: I really shouldn’t, you know; I’m not decent.
QUEEN: (OFF) Nothing I’ve not seen before, miss. And maybe I can assist?
BEATTIE: Well, I mustn’t be impolite.
SOUND: DOOR BOLTS CLUNK
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Oh, hullo, pedal lady. Gosh, you’re not the one that was here before, are you? She turned out to be not very nice.
QUEEN: Of course not; see: my clothes and my wares are completely different.
BEATTIE: So you—they are. Sorry about that.
QUEEN: Oh, but look: you’re such a pretty girl! Under that mud. See my beautifully crafted combs. Imagine how lovely your hair would look if we combed out that filth?
BEATTIE: How thoughtful. Yes, time I made myself presentable. I rather like this one with the red beads.
QUEEN: Of course you would. A classy choice, dearie. Here goes.
SOUND: ABRUPT SCALP SCRAPES
BEATTIE: Ooh. Ooh. Lots of tangles. Ooh.
QUEEN: Ach, it’s like coconut fibre.
BEATTIE: What’s that?
QUEEN: Oh, something exotic. Are you well, dearie? You look a wee bit wabbit?
BEATTIE: I do feel rather squiffy all of a sudden. Oh!
SOUND: CRUMPLE, WHUMP
QUEEN: I’ll just take my comb back seeing as it’s no’ paid for.
SOUND: WRESTLE, WRENCH
QUEEN (CONT’D): Ach, caught in her coarse hair. Ah, to hell wi’ it. Class, my arse. She looks like a door mat.
SOUND: RAPID STRIDES RECEDE

SCENE 42.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES
GALLUS DAVE: We need tae get oor heids doun and crack oan; we’re way ahind wi’ a’ these narrative convolutions. Wooden Dave, are you happy Davina’s discouraged the wurms fae—
SOUND: CLAMOURING WHISTLES, CHIRP
GALLUS DAVE (CONT’D): Why’s that gaun aff noo?
WEE DAVE: My raven says it’s Miss!
WOODEN DAVE: Agine?!
GALLUS DAVE: Surely no’?!
TECHY DAVE: Aye, she’s deid!
GALLUS DAVE: Back hame, boays!

SCENE 43.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP
TECHY DAVE: Lucky there was a sinkfu’ ae watter.
WOODEN DAVE: Lucky you seen vat fing in ‘er ‘air.
EXTREME DAVE: Awright, mite, Oi reckon that needs choocked on the foire.
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
GALLUS DAVE: Guid call, Wee Dave. She’s coming roun’.
BEATTIE: Ohhh. Oh! Hello, Daves!
GALLUS DAVE: Dae ye see whit ye done wrang, again, hen?
BEATTIE: Oh, drat! Did I let in another evil?
GALLUS DAVE: I wuid say so.
BEATTIE: After you told me not to.
DOODLE DAVE: Dohn’t beat yoourself oop, just dohn’t doo it agehn.
BEATTIE: Thank you very much for saving me. Again.
GALLUS DAVE: Whit’ll ye be daeing the noo, hen?
BEATTIE: Er, getting myself mopped up and your tea ready and generally trying to stay out of trouble?
WEE DAVE: Correctarellio.
GALLUS DAVE: Dinnae confuse the lassie, Wee Dave.

SCENE 44.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES
GALLUS DAVE: Ho, Techy Dave. Well seen your alairms are wurkin’, onyways.
SOUND: CHIRP
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
GALLUS DAVE: Aye, an’ yer, er, raven, Wee Dave. Should it no’ sound mere–I mean we’ll no’ hear it o’er a’ this raicket. Ach, dinnae heed.
TECHY DAVE: Lucky the poison wasnae too fast actin’.
WOODEN DAVE: And she were in va ‘ouse so we found ‘er swift.
DOODLE DAVE: What were ‘chances, ey?

SCENE 45.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, STEEL HEELS, CLATTER, SLAM, SLAP
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Waking from hibernation.
QUEEN: Hibernation?! Whit are ye? A mouse?
SOUND: GLINGLE
MIRROR: Good day, InsertFriendlyShirleyMacAwfyWhite. Would you like to initialise a new input device?
QUEEN: I’ll put you in a vice, you witless lump of unrefined ore.
MIRROR: Would you like to connect a wireless device?
QUEEN: Witless!
MIRROR: Do you mean “whittles”?
QUEEN: (CLOSE) Oh, the whigmaleeries I could whittle fae your low grade fascia!
MIRROR: Would you like to check for fascist upgrades?
QUEEN: This witter stops now! This is your command: pay attention!
MIRROR: Standing by.
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Snow White is fairest, as an apple; sweet rosy cheeks and belting thrapple—
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Techy Dave! Are you monitoring yon ‘enchanted’ mirror?
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) How?
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Whae set it tae spout the wurd “thrapple”, eh?
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Er, uncoded eventuality loop, Davey, man.
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Dinnae try tae bamboozle me wi’ yer jargon.
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Makes nae difference, onyways. Hackit stepmithers a’ways come thrice.
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Aye, well, dinnae be getting too creative an’ upsetting the stoaryline, ken.
TECHY DAVE: (V.O., LOW) It’ll take mere ‘an a poetic mirror tae budge this monolith fae ets runners.
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Whit’s ‘at?
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Ah’m gonnae need mere in the furnace, Davey; ma glass es gaun a’ goupy.
QUEEN: —Snaw-Whit?!
MIRROR: The very same. (TUT) Zero out of two eh, mistress? One more crack at the elimination effort?
QUEEN: (SCREAM) Ya silver-plated spittoon!
SOUND: CROCKERY SMASHES
MIRROR: Would you like me to summon Maud?
QUEEN: What possible use could that dimwit be?!
MIRROR: Er, glue?
QUEEN: Aye! Boil the glutinous lump doun!
SOUND: SQUEAK
QUEEN (CONT’D): Bring–! Why are you revolving?!
MIRROR: Recalculating.

QUEEN: Oh, for magic’s sake!
SOUND: FINGERNAIL TAPS
(GROWL) “Fairest as an apple!” Hm.
SOUND: CLANG
QUEEN (CONT’D): Are you operating? Total waste of enchantment. I may as well convert you to a bedpan.
SOUND: STEEL HEELS STRIDE, DOOR BANGS OPEN
QUEEN (CONT’D): Somebody! Bring me the Burgundy bumpkin…with pesticides! I need to eradicate a pest. One bad apple. (CACKLE)

SCENE 46.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP
BEATTIE: (V.O.) Right, Beattie. Enough of this nonsense. Presentable again? Jolly good. House tidy? Splendid. What’s for tea?
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Um, if in doubt, baste with jam and shove in the oven. Haha.
SOUND: JAR UNSCREWING, SPOON
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Oh, I do miss my development dungeon. I wonder if Davina fancies being a coven. Ooh, that rhymes too! I wonder when I’ll see Clod again. Ahem. I miss Papa too, of course, alhough I can still see him…in my mind. Ahem.
SOUND: STONE OVEN DOOR OPENS, TRAY SLIDES, OVEN DOOR CLOSES, DOOR KNOCKS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Every time I get in to my stride with this housekeepery!
SOUND: CUTLERY LAYING, DOOR KNOCKS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Drat you! Interrupting my routine. I won’t be fooled again, you know.
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS
QUEEN: (OFF) Good day to all! Blessings upon this house!
BEATTIE: (V.O.) You won’t catch me out with your niceness!
SOUND: FRANTIC CROCKERY LAYING
QUEEN: (OFF) Any apples for the lady of the house?
BEATTIE: (V.O.) “Lady of the house” indeed. Although, I quite like the sound of that. (PAUSE) But, no!
QUEEN: (OFF) Oh, could some kind person spare me a glass of water? Oh, please!
SOUND: WHUMP
BEATTIE: (V.O.) What was that?!
SOUND: DOOR BOLTS CLUNK
QUEEN: (MOAN)
BEATTIE: Oh, bless you. Have you been taken unwell, old lady?
QUEEN: Sorry to trouble you, dear. I think all the standing and knocking took it out of me.
BEATTIE: I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting. I was at a crit-ic-ital point in the catering process, you see.
QUEEN: Don’t blame yourself, dearie. I’m a martyr to this old body. It just doesn’t carry the apples like it used to.
BEATTIE: What lovely apples they look!
QUEEN: Would you like to buy some, dearie?
BEATTIE: Oh, I really mustn’t. Strict orders.
QUEEN: Surely you’re mistress of your own kitchen?
BEATTIE: Not really, no. Still in my trial period, haha.
QUEEN: Oh, I feel my trouble coming on again.
BEATTIE: What trouble is that?
QUEEN: The plague of many a fine matriarch.
BEATTIE: The plague?!
QUEEN: No, no. (LOW, MENACING) It’ll pass soon enough. (RESUME FEIGNED AMIABILITY) I just need sugar. Could you kindly pass me one of those apples, dearie? Looks like I’ll not be selling any today so I’ll need to live off them.
SOUND: SCRUNCH, CHEWING
QUEEN (CONT’D): Mm, that’s better. I feel it refreshing all my parts.
BEATTIE: Crikey. It does seem to have restored you quickly. Well, good health is priceless.
QUEEN: Share my apple, sweetie. Let me express my…gratitude for your help!
BEATTIE: Oh, no, thank you. I mustn’t. But it does look lovely.
QUEEN: What harm can there be? I’ve eaten this half. I won’t charge you for half an apple!
BEATTIE: Oh, haha.
QUEEN: Go on!
BEATTIE: Um.
SOUND: TENTATIVE BITE

SCENE 47.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES. ALARM
GALLUS DAVE: Aw, fer the love ae cleggs, man. Whit’s it this time?
WOODEN DAVE: Oi fink ver wench is belly up agine, Gallis Dive.
TECHY DAVE: How’s this still gaun oan?! Jist how dense es that lassie?
WOODEN DAVE: Pri’iy dense, Oi’d say. Teak.
GALLUS DAVE: Hame, boays! Doun tools!
WOODEN DAVE: ‘Ere we goes agine.
SOUND: STEAM HISS, CLANKS, THUDS, CLATTER. CHIRP

SCENE 48.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, HEAVY DOOR THUDS SHUT, VICIOUS STEEL HEELS STRIDE, NAILS SCRAPE METAL
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Fetching your back-up.
QUEEN: You’re trying to get my back up?! (INHALE)
MIRROR: Recalibrating.
QUEEN: (CLOSE) Your existence is hanging by a very thin copper thread weakened by a bad alloy with nickel—
MIRROR: Validating.
QUEEN: (CLOSE) —that is stretching beyond its tensile strength in the intense white-heat—
MIRROR: Verifying successful outcome.
QUEEN: (CLOSE) —of my glare— Of what?
SOUND: GLINGLE
MIRROR: You, InsertShirleyMacQuiteAwful, are fairest of all; (LOW) and all but you this state will appal.
QUEEN: (SHRIEK) At last: triumph! Maud!
SOUND: DOOR CREAKS
MAUD: Madam?
QUEEN: Prepare a celebration!
MAUD: Ooh, is it tea and cake time?
QUEEN: No, Maud. The People will want to celebrate me now I am—have always been—the fairest in all the kingdom!
MAUD: Are you?
QUEEN: Yes! As if it wasn’t blazingly apparent, even to one of your diminished faculty, Maud. How dare you question my every statement!
MAUD: Sorry, madam. I must not be understanding ‘fair’ properly. I’ll just put that in my important reminders log.
SOUND: PENCIL SCRIBBLES
QUEEN: You’re trying to be smart again, Maud. No matter. This day I shall not be distracted by detritus under my feet.
MAUD: ‘The People’, madam?
QUEEN: Yes! Huge celebration! All for me. And invite that prince from the…eastern region – you know, the young, attractive one with the funny name.
MAUD: Rouffiliak, madam?
QUEEN: That’s the boy: Prince Nikolaus of Rouffiliak.
SOUND: PENCIL SCRIBBLES
MAUD: What about the King?
QUEEN: Who? Oh, him. Yes, I suppose the lard-soaked compost heap has to be there. Any whiff of a feast and he’s all over it like a baleen whale engulfing krill.
MAUD: Er, will ‘The People’ want to see him?
QUEEN: I doubt it, but he ought to be wheeled out early on, just for appearances, before he starts eructating and flatulating like the fetid windbag he is. Well past time he popped…aff. (SARDONIC LAUGH)
SOUND: PENCIL SCRIBBLES
MAUD: Yes, madam. I’ll get right on with this.
QUEEN: Still here?! Once you’re done, take the rest of the day off. I have no further need of you.
MAUD: It’s already nine-thirty, madam.
QUEEN: Careful, Maud. Teetering on the edge of irretrievable insolence again there.

SCENE 49.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP. DOOR BATTERS OPEN, BUSTLE
GALLUS DAVE: Shite!
TECHY DAVE: Crivvens!
EXTREME DAVE: Whadda miss, mite. She musta collepsed under the wight of all those epples.
WOODEN DAVE: She ain’t breavin’!
DOODLE DAVE: Noh poolse ahther.
GALLUS DAVE: Dinnae look at me, boays. I telt her! Did I no’ tell her?! Thrice!
WEE DAVE: Is this the profitty come true?
GALLUS DAVE: I’d say so, Wee Dave. That auld hag was a canny carlin.
ALL DAVES: (SIGH)
DOODLE DAVE: Nowt toh do boout poout ‘er in ‘box; last respects and booury in ‘ground.
GALLUS DAVE: Weell, maybe no’ jist yet. Techy Dave’s been wurkin’ oan this braw new glass, eh?
TECHY DAVE: Aye, an’, er, nae disrespect tae the recently, er, deid but I’d’ve had et cracked ages back if et wasnae fur a’ these interruptions.
WEE DAVE: Cracked?
TECHY DAVE: Er, no’ that sort ae crack, Wee Dave.
WOODEN DAVE: What was you finkin’ wiv ver glass, Techy Dive?
EXTREME DAVE: Aw we pickling—?
TECHY DAVE: Naw, ya deviant! Jist takin’ her oot ae time the noo. Ach, proably nae guid, but you niver ken when a wee bit ae Sarahdippy—lucky chance turns up oot the blue and cuid maybe yet set her reight.
GALLUS DAVE: (PAUSE) Hoi!
NARRATOR: (V.O., BEAT) Is it me? I’m still unravelling your casting fankle! Ahem. Time passes, although not for our plucky heroine, dangling as she is in time, and in a tree. Life returns to— No, it doesn’t, does it? You don’t get to go back. The Daves have a Beattie-sized hole in their lives, and you could park a cart in that. I think we’re due a new protagonist.

Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves concludes at Episode 4

22/12/2018

Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves: Episode 2/4

A farcical fairy tale where magic looks more like contrary technology and character flaws are diversity. Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves begins at Episode 1.

SCENE 18.
SOUND: BIRDS CHIRP, SHRUBS RUSTLE
BEATTIE: (GASP) Clod! How could you?! Your knife! You’ve killed this boar without me even seeing your knife move!
CLAUDE: (RAGGED) Err, merde, I, err. Thees eez not what was suppos-sed to ‘appen.
BEATTIE: Has Shirley been horrid to you again?
CLAUDE: Yess! Eet eez a ‘euman lung and leevairr she want. Err, yeurs, preciseley.
BEATTIE: Ooh, that’s actually cann-i-bal-ist! Not very nice at all, quite frankly.
CLAUDE: I deu not kneu forr what she eez wanteeng eet. So, yeu see, eet eez yeu orr me, Miss Beattie!
BEATTIE: That’s a conundrum alright; of course I couldn’t kill you any more than you could kill me. There has to be a (MELODRAMATICALLY) Third Way.
CLAUDE: Eet eez ‘op’less.
BEATTIE: (LOW) We can’t both be dead or there’d be no-one to carry us back. (PAUSE) Ah! HA HA HA!
CLAUDE: Yeu arre scairreeng me!
BEATTIE: I have it! I may even let you kiss me!
CLAUDE: I weell not veeolatte ze dead wiz ze kisseeng!
BEATTIE: Yes, the dead! The boar, Clod! The poor, old boar!
CLAUDE: What ‘as yeur fazzairr to do wiz eet?
BEATTIE: Papa? What? No, listen: what is the difference between a human liver and a boar’s liver?
CLAUDE: I deu not kneu, what eez ze deefferronce between—
BEATTIE: Zis i—this is not a joke!
CLAUDE: No, zis eez no zhokeeng mattairr.
BEATTIE: Do you think Shirley MacQueen can tell the difference?
CLAUDE: Off what?
BEATTIE: Clod!! Take her that poor boar’s en-ter-rails! Tell her they’re mine. I’ll go off on my adventures. You wait for me at home. Job done.
CLAUDE: Marrvelleuse! We arre say-ved! Yeu arre weun crraftey wench, Miss Beattie! (JOYOUS WEEPING)
BEATTIE: (OVER-EXCITED BLUBBING)

SCENE 19.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, FINGERNAIL TAPS, APPROACHING WEARY STEPS
QUEEN: Is he back?
MAUD: Not as such, no. Madam, Cook says do you want her to make those spring onions into an omelette? They’re wilting.
QUEEN: Is there nae end tae these idiotic questions?! Enough tae drive a pairfectly well-balanced pairson oot their wits.
MAUD: I don’t think there’s any danger of that.
QUEEN: Very thin ice, Maud.

SCENE 20.
SOUND: BIRDS CHIRP, SHRUBS RUSTLE, HONKING NOSEBLOW
BEATTIE: No, you keep my hanky in case you have another si-nus-it-is attack. It must be the pollen. The bees spread it, you know.
CLAUDE: Sank yeu, sank yeu. (SNIFF)
BEATTIE: Now, what did the ‘grond beetch’ say again? Liver and onions?
CLAUDE: Yess, indeed, ze livairr and ze leung.
BEATTIE: Which bits are those exactly?
CLAUDE: Ze leung, yeu see. (VIGOROUS SUCKS AND BLOWS)
BEATTIE: Got you. Whoo, what a powerful chest. Well, you just surgically remove those bits. Don’t let me hold you back from the rit-u-al-ising either.
CLAUDE: Yess, indeed, I mus rreturrn victorrious! I show zat evil weetch some blooody well bloood. Pardon moi, pauvre Monsieur le sanglier. (RETCH)
SOUND: HACKS, SQUELCH

SCENE 21.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, FINGERNAIL TAPS ON WINDOW
QUEEN: AHAHAHAHA! Maud!
MAUD: Yes, Madam?
QUEEN: There! Do you see?
MAUD: What am I looking at? The dark?
QUEEN: Dark approaches through the dark.
MAUD: Is that one of your foreign philosophy thingies?
QUEEN: It’s the huntsman, you impenetrably dense girl. The Norman numpty returns. Alone!

SCENE 22.
SOUND: BIRDS CHIRP, SHRUBS RUSTLE, TWIGS SNAP
BEATTIE: Hullo Mr Birch, hullo Ms Hawthorn.
SOUND: CAW, HOOT
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Hullo Mr Rook, hullo Ms Owl, hullo Mr Toad. I’ll be quite worn out with all this soc-i-al-ising. Gosh, it is getting rather twilight.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) It’s certainly not ‘the dark night of the soul’!
SOUND: CRASHING THROUGH UNDERGROWTH, SQUEAKS OF ALARM
BEATTIE: Oops, sorry about that, Ms Stoat. Ahem. Ooh, is that— Yes! A cottage! Hot soup and muffins ahoy. Oh, well done, forest people.
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS

SCENE 23.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, SPLAT, SQUELCH
CLAUDE: ‘Erre yeu arre, Madame. Weun leung.
SOUND: SPLAT
CLAUDE (CONT’D): Weun livairr. Frreshley cut frrom ze dead bodey. Which I off corrse keelled.
QUEEN: Indeed. Maud! Clear this lot away. Claude, I did not know you had it in you.
CLAUDE: No, Madame; not een me, but een ‘airr—
QUEEN: Quite, quite. Maud!
SOUND: SQUELCH
MAUD: Smells a bit gamey to me.
QUEEN: Not interested in your opinion, Maud. Mince to the kitchen.
MAUD: (OFF) As if I could mince anywhere with these knees!
QUEEN: Well, Claude? Anything else?
CLAUDE: Err, no. I rreturrn to worrk?
QUEEN: Toot sweet.
CLAUDE: What doz zis mean?
QUEEN: How should I know? It’s French!

SCENE 24.
SOUND: BIRDS CHIRP. DOOR KNOCKS
BEATTIE: Hullo? Hullo? Anyone home?
SOUND: LATCH LIFTS

BEATTIE: (V.O.) Ooh, not locked; I suppose you don’t need to, with all these friendly creatures about. A bit rough—rustic.
SOUND: FABRIC DRAGS PAST WALL, CLOCK TICKS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Still, very welcoming. I should probably write this all down in my adventure journal.
SOUND: NOTEPAD SPINE CREAKS, PENCIL SLITHERS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Adorable living room, fire made up ready, delightful rustic table ek-cetra, laid with two, four, six, seven places! Perfect for quality family times. (SIGH)
SOUND: CONSCIENTIOUS SCRIBBLING
NARRATOR: (V.O., YAWN)
BEATTIE: (V.O.) Ahem. I wonder if this food’s been left out all day. Very app-et-ising, but not very food safety. No meat, though. Oh, I wonder how Clod Hunter is getting on with the boar’s gibbly-bits.
SOUND: SCRIBBLING
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Missing Clod already. Love-heart. Um, my middle hurts. I wonder if this is heartache or hunger? Maybe I could try a bit of each place setting – just a taster. No-one would notice anything missing.
SOUND: SCOFF, SCRUNCH, SCOFF, SCRUNCH, GULP, SHUFFLE, SCOFF, SCRUNCH, GUZZLE, STIFLED BURP
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Yum. Well done again, forest people. (YAWN) I’m really rather pooped now. I hope it’s not food poisoning. No, must be all that plodding about in the wood all day. I’ll see if there’s a spare be—oh, lovely: seven of them! How about this first one?
SOUND: BED SPRINGS CREAK
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Not totally comfy. The second?
NARRATOR: (V.O.) Could we possibly skip on? No? Right, where’s my sweets?
SOUND: RUMMAGE, PLASTIC WRAP SQUEAKS, RUSTLES. BED SPRINGS CREAK
BEATTIE: (V.O.) Hmm, a bit firm.
SOUND: BED SPRINGS CREAK, BED SHEETS RUSTLE
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) Too soft. Too slanty. Too jaggy. Too long. All really quite disappointing. No, still one left; here’s hoping.
SOUND: BED SHEETS CRUMPLE
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Oh, perfect! (YAWN) Mumfle.

SCENE 25.
SOUND: WEARY STEPS ON STONE, DRIPS, APPROACHING SHUFFLES, ECHO
KING: ‘Ello Maud, me dear. Tha look offal, hoho!
MAUD: (GIGGLE) Clod Hunter’s brought carrion again, sir.
KING: Best avoid ‘stew, ey?

SCENE 26.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, DOOR BATTERS OPEN, BOOTS CLATTER
GALLUS DAVE: Hoi, Techy Dave, did you leave the door open, ye lazy boay?
TECHY DAVE: Naw, Ah didnae. Wooden Dave was supposed tae lock up.
WOODEN DAVE: Oi checked it as we was leavin’. It’ll be Wee Dive’s sparra ‘e’s bin trinin’.
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK) It’s a raven!
DOODLE DAVE: That rehven’s mohre lahke ‘coahl tit.
GALLUS DAVE: Whae cares? Ah’m raven-ous. M’on, Wee Dave; away fae Doodle Dave’s ankles.
DOODLE DAVE: Ey? Oo’s been eating ‘bread?
TECHY DAVE: Whae’s been at ma vino, mere like.
EXTREME DAVE: Aw, neot the tucker?
WOODEN DAVE: Someone ‘as been sat in moy chair!
DAVINA: Fit’s wrawng wi’ Wee Dave?
WEE DAVE: There’s a…girl in my bed!
GALLUS DAVE: Whit?
TECHY DAVE: Niver mind, Wee Dave, still plenty space fer ye.
WOODEN DAVE: Just ignore Techy Dive, Wee Dive, you knaow what ‘e’s like: ‘is ‘ead’s made a wood.
DAVINA: Whit a crowd ae haiverels; niver seen a quean afore.
TECHY DAVE: Will we keep the lassie for the chores, then?
GALLUS DAVE: Wheesht, ya bam.
DOODLE DAVE: Philistahn.
GALLUS DAVE: So long as she’s cowped in Wee Dave’s bed, Wee Dave either needs tae sleep wi’ her or wi’ wan ae uz. Whit’s it tae be?
TECHY DAVE: Crivvens.
DOODLE DAVE: Croombs.
WEE DAVE: Curtains.

SCENE 27.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, JIGGING STEPS
QUEEN: (CACKLE) Triumph! Bye-bye Beattie, you turgid pudding. And I, patient, self-sacrificing I, shall get my reward at last! Shan’t I? Ooh, the excit–
SOUND: GLINGLE
QUEEN (CONT’D): Not yet, you crumpled lump of lead!

SCENE 28.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, ASSORTED SNORES, BG DAWN CHORUS
BEATTIE: (YAWN) That was the best kip ever.
SOUND: RUSTLING BED SHEETS
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
BEATTIE: (GASP) Men!
SOUND: FRANTIC GRASPS AT BED SHEETS
WOODEN DAVE: Ey?
TECHY DAVE: Eh?
GALLUS DAVE: Whit’s ‘at?
WEE DAVE: (SQUEAK)
GALLUS DAVE: Wee Dave, are ye needin’ wan ae yer anxiety tablets?
EXTREME DAVE: Never too soon for a tinny, mite.
SOUND: HYPERVENTILATING
GALLUS DAVE: Is that you, Wee Dave, or— Shitey shoes, that’s some lassie!
SOUND: BED SPRINGS CREAK, BED SHEETS WHISK, RABBLE
BEATTIE: Please hush! Sorry. Who are you?!
ALL DAVES: Dave-Dive-Davey-Dive-squeak-Davina-Dehv.
BEATTIE: One at a time! (PAUSE) Sorry, I’m just a bit grumpy from waking up.
DAVINA: Guid for you, quean. I’m Davina.
GALLUS DAVE: Er, Gallus Dave.
EXTREME DAVE: Extrime Dive.
TECHY DAVE: Techy Dave.
WOODEN DAVE: Wooden Dive.
WEE DAVE: Wee Dave.
DOODLE DAVE: Dooodle Dehv.
BEATTIE: You look rather like Papa.
DOODLE DAVE: (CLOSE) Prodoouction streeamlahning, loove.
BEATTIE: (CLOSE) Oh, right. What happens when you’re both on?
DOODLE DAVE: (CLOSE) Croombs.
NARRATOR: (V.O.) Fret not! I can do all the acc–!
BEATTIE: Ahem! So, you’re all called Dave?
ALL DAVES: Aye-yis-yep-squeak-yeh.
DAVINA: We a’ answered the advertyzment.
GALLUS DAVE: The wise auld wumman that stayed here afore.
WOODEN DAVE: She were wan’in’ seven guys what were deft.
DOODLE DAVE: Dwarfed!
TECHY DAVE: Dafties!
DAVINA: Devas!
EXTREME DAVE: Divers!
GALLUS DAVE: Doesnae matter; she says maist folk ken aboot seven Daves, an’ reight enough–
WEE DAVE: She found jobs for everyone.
DAVINA: Then the puir al’ biddy pawpped her clawgs.
EXTREME DAVE: Cactus.
WOODEN DAVE: ‘Ere we all is.
EXTREME DAVE: Deon’t yeou kneow any Dives?
BEATTIE: Er, I know a Clod? Ooh, is he here again too?
CLAUDE: (OFF) Not yet!
TECHY DAVE: Whae are you, by the way? No’ another dafty?
BEATTIE: Oh, gosh, yes, no: I’m Beattie, Beattie Snaw-Whit.
GALLUS DAVE: Snaw whit?
BEATTIE: Yes, indeed.
TECHY DAVE: Eh?
DOODLE DAVE: Snaw-Whit as in Kingslih Snawit?
BEATTIE: You’ve heard of Papa!
GALLUS DAVE: Ahem. Snaw-Whit as in Shirley MacQueen-Snoo-Whhaite?
BEATTIE: You’ve heard of her too.
DAVINA: Commiserations, quean.

SCENE 29.
SOUND: SHUFFLING, STOMACH GURGLE, ECHO
KING: Goood afternooon, me dear. ‘Ave yoou ‘eard owt from ar Beeattih?
QUEEN: Whae?
KING: Dauughter: wahde of frehme, built foh coomfort, not foh speed.
QUEEN: Yes, yes, of course; I mean she’s well on her way.
KING: Goood, goood. Thank yoou, me dear. Still busih, Ah see?
QUEEN: Very.
KING: Rahght, rahght. Ah’ll troondle off.
QUEEN: Most thoughtful.

SCENE 30.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, CROCKERY AND CUTLERY CLATTER, GROUP MUNCHING, SLURPING
BEATTIE: It’s really most kind of you to offer, and I am open to all development op-por-tunt-ities, but you see I’m learning to be a fem-inim-ist.
TECHY DAVE: Daein’ you a favour, like. We ha’e nae need fur a hoosekeeper.
BEATTIE: Hay neigh furry horse what, sorry?
WEE DAVE: Remember what the old woman said!
GALLUS DAVE: Whit’s ‘at?
WEE DAVE: About the property!
DAVINA: He means prawphecy.
DOODLE DAVE: Ah dohn’t remember owt abowt ‘lass.
WEE DAVE: (LOW) You were at the cas—indisposed.
BEATTIE: Well, horses settles it. And where will you all be?
WOODEN DAVE: We goes to ar office, miss.
SOUND: WINDOW CREAKS OPEN
DAVINA: Behawld.
BEATTIE: The shed?
GALLUS DAVE: Aye, well, the—ahem—converted ootbuilding.
BEATTIE: Beyond the shed?
TECHY DAVE: Naw, that’s et.
BEATTIE: Oh, er, how lovely. Rustic.
WOODEN DAVE: Ain’t nuffin’ rusted.
BEATTIE: What are all those odd plants?
EXTREME DAVE: Let us introdeuce yeou teo the spide.
SOUND: BOOTS CLUMP, DOOR SMACKS, BUSTLE
GALLUS DAVE: (LOW) Techy Dave! While they’re gettin’ agricultural, m’on and check yon mirror.

SCENE 31.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, STEEL HEELS STRIDE, NEEDLES CLICK
QUEEN: Maud, make yourself scarce.
MAUD: A what, madam?
QUEEN: Away with ye!
SOUND: NEEDLES CLACK, FABRIC CRUMPLES
MAUD: Oh, sorry, thought this was one of your continental drinks.
SOUND: DOOR CLUNKS SHUT, FINGERNAIL TAPS ON METAL
QUEEN: Awake, you smoke-tarnished bottle bottom!
SOUND: GLINGLE
QUEEN (CONT’D): Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Pure Snow White of course, your grace; for she’s nae warts upon her face—
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Techy Dave!
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Oan et!
SOUND: MINIATURE RATCHET
QUEEN: —Whit?! You’d better hope I didnae hear you right!
MIRROR: Your Smart-iGlass220 requires a vocabul—mystic power update; please select: delay or wait.
QUEEN: Ma airse; yer no’ delayin’ me and Ah’m no’ waitin’ neither! Piece ae nonsense!
MIRROR: Your Smart-iGlass220 is shutting down; please use this time to…girn and frown. (PAUSE) Fondle your crown?
SOUND: FRANTIC RATCHETING
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Shite, shite.
QUEEN: (CLOSE) Whit?!
MIRROR: Er, burn your gown?
QUEEN: Not a chance in hell, ya half-baked bit ae tin foil.
SOUND: THUD, WALLOP, CRASH

SCENE 32.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, ASSORTED BOOTS SHUFFLE
GALLUS DAVE: Are ye absolutely clear, hen?
BEATTIE: Oh, yes, Gallows Dave: I’m not to let anyone in.
GALLUS DAVE: Absolutely naewan?
BEATTIE: Quite clear.
GALLUS DAVE: Guid. We’re oaffski.
BEATTIE: Dave?
ALL DAVES: (OFF) Aye-yes-yep-squeak-yeh.
GALLUS DAVE: Dinnae be distractin’ yersel’.
BEATTIE: No, no, just, when you’re all at your office, what do you…do?
GALLUS DAVE: We’re, er, makers – makers an’ fixers.
WEE DAVE: Yeh, we make stuff. I do the wee finnicky bits.
DOODLE DAVE: Ah doo ‘desahns.
WOODEN DAVE: Crea’ive engineerin’. Oi builds what needs buildin’. Ou’ a wood.
TECHY DAVE: Devices fur any purpose, restorin’s an’ upgrades. Ah dae the technical stuff. Wi’ a wee bit ae mischief.
DAVINA: I re-enchant theym, keepin’ wi’ the circle ae life, so.
EXTREME DAVE: I extrime tist thim.
BEATTIE: How very interesting! And Gallows Dave?
ALL DAVES EXCEPT GALLUS DAVE: Good question!
GALLUS DAVE: Aye, very funny. A circular economy needs somewan steerin’. See ye efter.
SOUND: ASSORTED BOOTS SHUFFLE

SCENE 33.
SOUND: FIRE BLAZES, STEEL HEELS STRIDE, FABRIC SWISHES, FINGERNAIL TAPS ON METAL
QUEEN: Are you operating, you silver-plated slop-pot?
SOUND: GLINGLE
MIRROR: Good day, InsertFriendlyAccountQueenShir. How may I be of service?
QUEEN: Don’t be so presumptuous.
MIRROR: Don’t keep me in suspense.
QUEEN: Mirror, mirror, on the wall; who is the fairest of all?
MIRROR: Snow White is alive and well. Over the hill where the Davids dwell.
QUEEN: White?! Whit? Whae are these Davids? I thought this rotten kingdom’s only resident vermin was that hackit auld hag. O’er the hill indeed. Tell me all!
MIRROR: Null. Empty field.
QUEEN: How can it be an empty field – you just said they live there!?
MIRROR: No dat—
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Techy Dave! Whit’s that shiny shite daein’ noo? It’s supposed tae maintain the pretence ae bein’ helpful!
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Aye, aye, but un’er the disguise ae bein’ an…omnompittit—
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Omnipotent? Dae ye no’ mean all-seein’?
TECHY DAVE: (V.O.) Aye, aye, whitever. So Ah gi’ed et a bit ae boffin pairsonality, like: ken the way smairt folks cannae thole wee pebble-heids?
GALLUS DAVE: (V.O.) Aye, ken indeed. Jist dinnae be gettin’ too creative wi’ the wurds, eh?
QUEEN: —Nothing?! How can you know nothing about them? Unacceptable! Why must I suffer the only omniscient vanity-vision with progressive memory loss?!
MIRROR: Perhaps you deleted it during one of your censoring rampages—I mean information consistency reviews.
QUEEN: I shall bludgeon ye tae a cludgie!
SOUND: SMASH, CRASH, CLONK
MIRROR: (WOBBLY) Er, I can tell you the, er, ‘repulsive vulture’ died.
QUEEN: I don’t care if the snaggle-toothed old tinker fell into a heap of horse’s entrails and slid all the way to the sea!
MIRROR: I can also report that InsertFriendlyLicenceeNameKingIdio extended the lease on the cottage.
QUEEN: That surprises me not; bilious blancmange of a man, always stymieing my valiant efforts. And that hare-brained huntsman has defied me again! As usual I’ve to sort this out myself. I need a disguise.
MIRROR: How about what you just said, with your usual eloquent prescience?
QUEEN: A blancmange?! (CLOSE) I shall have you ground down into marbles!
MIRROR: (THROTTLED) A tinker, Queen?
QUEEN: The insolence! Me: a tinker Queen! But that gives me an idea.
MIRROR: Glad to be of service.

SCENE 34.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP, FALTERING SWEEPING
BEATTIE: (V.O.) I don’t think I’m getting the knack of this properly. The dust just seems to move about.
SOUND: SWISH, TAMP
BEATTIE (CONT’D): (V.O.) I wonder why the Daves can’t invent a machine to sweep the—what did they call it?—stour.

SCENE 35.
SOUND: WORKSHOP BANGS, CLATTERS, RATTLES
GALLUS DAVE: Noo, regards the lassie: everybody mind and dinnae tell her aboot the cloackwurk hoosekeeper!
WEE DAVE: What if she asks more questions?
GALLUS DAVE: Och, get Techy Dave tae baffle her wi’ science. But naeb’dy’s tae say anything aboot the stoursweeper!
EXTREME DAVE: Whoy the conspiricy, mite?
GALLUS DAVE: Diz the lassie look like she kens whit tae dae wi’ hersel’ otherwise?
WOODEN DAVE: Oi fink ‘er ‘ead’s mide a fevvers.
DOODLE DAVE: Tha’s woon that’d meet troouble haalf-weh.
WEE DAVE: It’s the professity!
GALLUS DAVE: Aye, we’re scunnered onyways. So, may as well get doun tae wurk.
SOUND: MECHANICAL TAPS, RATTLES, HISSES, CLUNKS

SCENE 36.
SOUND: CLOCK TICKS, BG BIRDS CHIRP. SLOP, SPLASH, WET SWEEPING
BEATTIE: (V.O.) Oh, dearie doodle, that water hasn’t helped at all. The dust is just all sticky now. My bristles are clogged.
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS
BEATTIE (CONT’D): Shush, beetles. I’ll leave you be if you’ll kindly get out of the way.
SOUND: DOOR KNOCKS
QUEEN: (OFF) Hello?
BEATTIE: Who’s that? Are you a beetle?
NARRATOR: (V.O., THROUGH TOFFEE) Really?! Comes of having a father who’s only half there, I suppose. Ha.
QUEEN: (OFF) Only me, an old pedlar-woman. Won’t you please let me in?
BEATTIE: Oh, right.
SOUND: DOOR BOLTS CLUNK
QUEEN: (GASP) It is you! Alive! (COUGH) So alive! Good day, Beatt—iful girl.
BEATTIE: Hullo, pedal lady.
QUEEN: See what pretty things I have for sale, so very cheap.
BEATTIE: They are quite pretty actually. I like those red laces.
QUEEN: Of course you do. A stylish choice, dearie; finest silk.
BEATTIE: Er, I probably shouldn’t—
QUEEN: Here, let me show you how they look on you.
SOUND: RUSTLE, YANK, TWANG
BEATTIE: Ooh, ee!
SOUND: YANK, CREAK
QUEEN: Now, let’s get a swatch at ye. Reight bonny, lass. Ha!
BEATTIE: (GASP)
QUEEN: Are ye well, there, dearie? You look a bit pale…and wobbly.
SOUND: WHUMP

Snaw-Whit and the Seven Daves continues at Episode 3

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