Fssst!

CAST

Don

Angela / Young John Hargrave

John Hargrave / Baden Powell

 

An untidy living room. Curtains closed. Above a computer screen to display what is on a lap-top. Don is sitting slobbed in a chair. Angela enters.

Angela:  You look like shit.

     You smell like ...

Don:  Point taken.

Angela:  Right!

She opens the curtains

Angela:  You’ve no objection to light have you? Light’s fine isn’t it?

     And ...

Opens the window

     Oh yes! Air!

     You might remember it? You know that stuff some of us breathe.

     As opposed to

     Fug!

     I mean it’s not as if the wind’s going to reach in through that transom and drag you out into the dreaded ...

Don:  This’ll be you running out of sympathy I take it.

She unloads groceries

Angela:  Bread milk cheese.

Don:  The ...?

She places a bottle of vodka down impatiently

     One?

Angela:  One!

Don:  Come on Angie!

Angela:  Ration it. Mix it.

     Lump it. Or ...

     There’s the shop on the corner. Hold your breath. Wear blinkers.

     I’ll be back on Thursday.

     Four days. Eke it out.

     Newspaper.

     Toilet rolls.

     Aldi’s version of Twix. Called ...

She reads it

     Oh “Jive”.

     One of which I’ll have with the cup of coffee ...

     ... you’ll make for me now.

     That was now!

He sighs and rises – goes off stage

     Thank you sis.

     It’s a pleasure Don.

     I don’t know what I’d do if it wasn’t for you, Angela.

     Oh don’t! You’re embarrassing me.

     No, I really mean it.

    Oh shucks you big lug!

Don calls in from the kitchen

Don:  Okay.  Shall I say it?

Angela:  We might as well get it over with.

Don:  “Sugar”?

Angela:  “No thanks! I’m sweet enough!”

Don:  Right. I’m glad that’s out the way.

She goes to the window - touches the pane - contemplates the dust on her fingers. Picks up a stray sock - disgust on her face. Gingerly wipes the window with it.

Angela:  You’re going to have to be careful.

Don:  Mm?

Angela:  It’s still there!  The outside.  It doesn’t look like it’s going to go away any time soon.

Don:  I’m right then.

Angela:  Mm?

Don:  The sympathy’s wearing thin.

Angela:  Along with your socks.

She throws it down

Don comes in with the cups

            Sorry!

Don:  It’s all right. Sympathy has a sell-by date.

Angela:  No I mean I’m not sure whether that’s the sock corner.

Don:  It’ll do. I tend to improvise.

Angela:  I’ve noticed.

They sip coffee

     So what’s been happening?

Don looks at her

     You know!

     Like ...

     ... how many bowel movements since my last visit?

Don:  Ah!

He pulls a newspaper from under his chair

Angela:  God, they must be struggling for copy.

Don:  There’s an article here.

     Somewhere.

     Shit!

     It’s just a few lines.

     But ...

     Oh come on!

Angela opens the Twix-alike and takes a bite

     Here!

He folds the paper - points

She pulls her head back to focus

     Where’s your glasses?

Angela:  Fuck off!

     There’s nothing wrong with my eyes.  It‘s the light in here.

     The lack of it.

She starts to read. Looks up.

     June?

She starts to count on her fingers

     July ... August ...

Don:  Time’s relative. You ask Einstein.

     Focus!  The bit I showed you.

She reads

Angela:  Fascinating!

Don:  Someone’s remembered him.

Angela:  Whoever he is. And it’s only cos it was his birthday. The usual couple of lines to fill up space – there mustn’t have been much else happening in the world on these days.

     If you don’t count ...

Reads

     D-Day.

     Levi Strauss’s first pair of jeans and ...

Reads

     Three giant turtles found in the Bronx sewage plant.

Don:  I didn’t see that.

     You’re joking!

Angela:  I’m not. It’s here.

     It doesn’t give their names though.

     Anyway ...

Don:  Anyway!

Angela:  Go on.

Don:  It’s a bit of serendipity.

Angela:  Doo da!

            Serendipity ay.  My oh my what a ...

Don:   You know how you ...

Angela:  ... wonderful day.

Don:  ... read something and then you slide over into Google and ...

Angela:  Assuming you’ve got the time.

Don:  Forget it.

She looks at him

     Not telling you now.

     I’m not.

She looks at him

     No!  You’ve missed out now!

     What famous plane was dad obsessed with?

Angela:  Sir sir I know!

Don (as University Challenge voice-over):  Grimshaw-As Was. Widnes Comprehensive.

Angela:  Concorde.

     A grown man with an Airfix model dangling over the bed!

Don:  They’d have had sex under it.

Angela:  That’s not something I really want to imagine.

Don:  The string snapping that time. It was never a dusting accident cos it’d have had a soft landing on the bed.  It was sabotage.

Angela:  No black boxes on Airfix kits though.

     Concorde.

     Yes?

Don:  This guy ...

Angela:  Yes?  The clog-popper!

Don:   John Hargrave.  He designed this!

He hits a key on his laptop. A picture flashes up on screen behind them of a valve cabinet

Angela:  One of those old radios? So?  What’s that got to do with ...?

Don:  It’s “Hargrave’s Autonavigator.”

     Mark Two.

Angela:  They’re all right, aren’t they?

Don:  What?

Angela:  These (reads) “Jives”. They’re no different to the real ...

     Sorry.  Sorry.  Go on.

     I assume we are heading towards a point?

Don:  Well - they went and pinched the idea to use in Concorde.

Angela:  They ...? That wouldn’t have been on Concorde! How would that have ...?

Don:  Not like that it wasn’t. / Angela:  It’s ancient.

Don:    This guy designed it in 1941 during the war.  It produced a rolling map. Like an early version of a sat-nav I suppose. It made sure the pilot knew where he was so he could drop bombs in the best place.

Angela:  On people’s heads.

Don:  But the government shelved it.  And then ...

Angela:  Yes?

            Come on!  I’m on the edge of my seat here!

Don:  You shouldn’t have such a fat arse then!

Angela:  Ha ha.

Don:  No, years later it mysteriously turns up in Concorde - in a tarted-up version of course but it’s the same machine – the same idea anyway.  Undoubtedly.

Angela:  You have been busy, you little googler you!

Don:  Hargrave discovers Concorde’s got it on board.

     And there’s an inquiry. Which went on for years.

Angela:  They have a habit of doing that.  Like Chilcote and all the others.

Don:  It goes on for 9 years. He finally gets them to admit it was descended from his machine.

Angela:  Well done Mister ...

Don:  Hargrave. But does he get a penny?

Angela:  Presumably not or you wouldn’t ...

Don:  He lost it on a technicality! Maybe if he hadn’t insisted on representing himself he’d have got somewhere.

Angela:  Except 9 years of legal fees would have eaten up any award anyway.

Don:  So ...

Angela:  So?

Don:  I’m researching him. He died in 82. Back in 76 when the inquiry started he was 82. And deaf as a post. I don’t suppose that helped his case. A good lawyer might have won him money. But ...

Angela:  Like I said - Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

Don:  Exactly. The law is an ass.

Angela:  Wo! Two Dickens references in the space of a minute!

     He knew what he was talking about all right.

     Old Charley D.  

     So are you gonna to research this guy some more?

Don:  I already have. Hence ...

He waves a hand at the screen

     And thank Berners-Lee I don’t have to step outside the door.

Angela:  I suppose it’s something to do with your time. It’s better than you just sitting there with ...

Don:  Don’t mention the vodka.

Angela:  I didn’t. “Vodka” didn’t pass my lips.

Don:  Go on!

Angela:  What?

Don:  No, go on! “Unlike ...”

Angela:  I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.

Don:  Yeh. Sure.

Angela:  Come on! This ...

She reads again

     ... John Hargrave

Don: It turns out he’s lived a pretty full life. I’ve gathered up lots about him. He’s ...

     The White Fox!

Angela:  A super hero?

Don:  Dig ... well “Surf” - and you discover - Suvla Bay - the Kibbo Kift – the Greenshirts.

     And after that - faith healing and Paracelsus!

Angela:  Well that’s clear as a bell.

Don:  Oh! And would you believe a tribute musical by Van Der Graff Generator?

Angela:  Even clearer.

     And when you’ve done the research?

Don:  I’ll write the book.

     Don’t look like that!

Angela:  You forget - I’ve seen your enthusiasm before.

            Several times.

            Briefly.

     It’s like Bonfire night fireworks.

     Cardboard tubes producing a few seconds of bright lights and lots of noise. After that they end up sitting months in the rain.

     Getting soggy.

     Disintegrating.

Don:  A bit of a contrived simile that!

Angela:  Sorry. Pretty good though, don’t you think - off the cuff.

     And - well - you know ...

     Stick at it! Show me!

     Why this guy though?

Don:  Like I said – a personal connection.

     Of a sort.

Angela:  Of a very sort.

Don:  Rehabilitation.

Angela:  You or him?

Don:  Both of us.

     Maybe.