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Drop-In

Drop-In

by 

Dafydd Williams

 "We believe that you have a genuine talent and an understanding of how theatre might work and an empathy with your subject".

Sherman Theatre, Cardiff 

 

 

Character List: 6 Characters

Kyle: black, nineteen, tall and thin, small moustache.

Bird: white, late sixties, ex merchant seaman and manic depressive.

Franco: white, nineteen, chav.

Mary: white, fifty-five, faint Irish accent.

Lilly: black, seventy, Kyle’s grand-mother. A Cleaner in the Church and Drop In. 

Jenkins: White, forties, Council official.

 The City is Cardiff 2013. The set is an amalgamation of three distinct places, an alleyway, a mental health Drop-In centre and the old Docks skyline . A Fusion of City Icons above,  The Millennium Stadium’s girders, the Hilton Hotel and the Castle Ramparts. The animal wall on Canton Bridge should be transposed to the alleyway. 

 

 

Some Graffiti on the alleyway reads ‘Óbey, Conform, Consume.’

The Drop In should have an old sofa and chairs. The alleyway should reflect a passage, tunnel like quality.

ACT 1

SCENE 1

Alleyway

Franco: Did you hear what happened over Penarth? Monday it was. A car pulls up outside the Principality Building Society by the roundabout at the top there. You knows. Well a guy gets out in a V for Vendetta mask and a brown mackintosh. He walks in like and the pensioners were in taking their life savings out. There’s three real man haters behind the counter, pinched noses and arses that squeak when they walks down the road. Well this unknown person opens his jacket and he his stark bollock naked bar his city socks, Doctor Martens and a purple strap on dildo. I’m serious Clart, well the walking sticks went over, pacemakers going off all over the shop. He’s back in the Ford Focus and Hi Ho Silver, Away. They were analysing the CCTV down the Cop Shop and Jimmy the Copper who plays for the Albion came in the clubhouse and said allegedly it’s the first time all three of them smiled at the same time and they’ve got it on tape. They said it was unusual for an attempted robbery because no money was taken.

Kyle: Your brother Steve’s got a Ford Focus.

Franco: I repeat, Person or Persons unknown.

Kyle: Class Franco Class.

Kyle and Franco hear voices and jump over the alley wall.

Bird and Mary are walking to the Mental Health Drop in Cardiff South.

Bird: If Jesus had not performed the miraculous he would have stood a better chance of being believed.

Mary: It’s the Vicar you want to be talking to. I’m just a simple soul.

Bird: People just don’t believe in miracles.

Mary: Where have the last two decades gone?

I’m supposed to be married now.

I’m supposed to have children.

Bird: Who says so?

Mary: What is the point of Hope?

Bird: Without hope your nothing!

Mary: I know but I can’t do it.

Is it death that stops us?

Bird: You got to keep going

Franco pops his head above the wall.

Franco: Here come the loons! Yoohhooo Loony Toons.

Mary shrieks in fright.

Mary: Shoo, Shoo Go away. It’s one of those horrible hoody things. 

Franco puts his hood up and struts.

Franco: Hey Kyle, we got a couple of beauties here. Have you got any cigarettes?

Bird: We don’t smoke!

Franco: All the mad ones smoke. That’s all you do.

Kyle: Got any Ganja?

Mary: Excuse me.

Kyle: Weed, Draw!

Mary: No, certainly not!

Kyle: Do you want to buy some?

Franco: You pair looks as if you could do with some. Lighten up a bit. Chill! Get some loving inside of you.

Mary: Have I seen you before somewhere?

Franco: Probably I gets about.

Kyle: Where do you keep your savings?

Mary: Why? Are you going to mug us now?

Franco: Shut up Kyle!

Kyle sniggers

Mary: You do look familiar.

Mary looks at his Dr Martens boots and City socks.

Kyle: You might have seen him over Penarth.

Franco: KYLE!

Kyle: Do a George Bush Accent Kyle!

Marys eyes light up with recognition

Franco: You Tithead! Wooah, steady like! You’re passing through our turf, our manor.

Mary: And you are the Kray Twins I take it?

Franco: The Who?

Kyle: Good Film that.

Franco: Yeah Right!

Mary: The Turf, Manor! They stopped talking like that in 1963. And anyway that was London and not Cardiff.

Kyle: How do you know?

Mary: Because I was born in Cork and raised in the East end of London of Irish parents. They were always immaculately turned out in dark suits and ties which is more than can be said for you pair.

Well which one’s which?

Franco: He’s Ronny and I’m Reggie.

Kyle: Shut your mouth, Ronny was the batty man.

Mary: So who else do you hate apart from gays and the mentally ill?

Kyle: We don’t like the English or anyone from Swansea.

Mary: Well I’m English

Bird: And I’m a Swansea Jack. Havast there you Landlubbers!

Kyle: You’re going to have to pay a forfeit then!

Bird: Leave us alone lads and let us get to the drop in will you?

Kyle: So what do you do in there then?

Franco: Fart and Play Bingo.

Mary: We talk and have a cup of tea.

You should come and join us one day.

Franco: No way man!

Kyle: Serious, Raast!

Mary: Well if you’ll excuse us, our friends will be wondering where we are!

Franco: Not so fast.

Kyle: You got to pay a forfeit for coming through the lane.

Mary: Our forfeit has been the misfortune to come across you. What’s all this glass on the floor? Is that you and your friends?

Kyle: Might be old lady!

Mary: Do you mind. I’m only 55.

Kyle: Well she looks a lot older, don’t she Franco

Franco : Yeah she does!

Kyle: You looks about seventy five. Just about ready for the graveyard.

Bird: Steady now. That’s enough.

Mary: Do you get a kick out of insulting your elders?

Kyle: You’re not my elder, you’re just a mad one. You should be in an asylum or something.

Mary: and you should be in the army or jail.

Kyle: Piss off and go party with the other pensioners.

Bird: Now steady on lads.

Franco: It speaks.

Mary: You’ve upset me today, young man.

Franco: Oooh Young Man, Young Man (Harry Enfield style)

Whose this gibbering cabbage? Your boyfriend.

Mary: Leave him alone.

Franco: I haven’t done anything to him…..yet.

Kyle: Bit old for you isn’t he!

Bird: Keep a civil tongue in your head

Franco: What did it say Kyle? What did it say?

Bird takes his coat off and hands it to Mary.

Bird: I haven’t lived this long to be brought down by the likes of you. Right whose first?

Franco: What the F…….. Go away Gramps before I blow you over.

Bird shows lightning speed and dexterity and gets Franco in a neck-hold. Mary makes a threatening Karate Chop movement towards Kyle.

Franco: Excuse me! I can’t breath. Kyle do something you cunt.

Bird: Language! What have I told you about a civil tongue.

There are ladies present.

Franco: Sisters of Mercy!

Mary: Aha he’s betraying his Catholic roots.

Bird lets Franco go and gives him a huge kick come shove and propels him into the bin.

Pause as Mary and Bird start to walk off.

Franco gets up off the floor and shouts after them. He is holding a knife

Franco: Empty your pockets!

Franco is red and enraged

Mary: Are you officially mugging us?

Franco: Look you Irish Bitch, shut the Fuck up.

I’m officially telling you to empty your pockets.

Franco: You, you old cunt, don’t look at me, look at the floor.

Mary and Bird look at eachother quickly and then do as bid.

Kyle turns over a dustbin lid and Mary and Bird start placing items on the lid.

Bird: You pair really are big time gangsters. A little man with a big knife.

Mary is slowly pulling out items from a pocket.

Franco: Tablets! You are a Drug Fiend.

Kyle: What’s that?

Franco: It’s a little furry white mouse.

It’s a Jam Rag! A Tampon.

Ahhha, knew it, ciggies.

Ok Old Sea Dog, your turn.

Bird: No

Franco: I’ll cut your pockets open.

Franco grabs Mary by the arm.

Bird: Ok, Ok Here, my pension for a week. You wait until you get old.

Franco: Nice One. We’ll have that! Look old man I don’t intend to get to your age. How you pair can look in the mirror in the morning and then leave the house I’ll never know.

Starts putting the money in his own pockets.

Kyle: No man

Franco: Yes Man!

Kyle makes a grab for the money to give it back to Bird and Franco waves the knife in front of him.

Franco: Put it back Kyle. You’re not going soft on me now bro.

Right you pair! Piss off to Potty Time.

Mary: We’ll call the police!

Franco: They won’t believe a pair of Zombies like you!

Franco starts to move away.

Franco: Come on Kyle!

Kyle stands motionless then looks at Franco and then at Bird and Mary. He runs off behind Franco.

Scene 2

Mr Jonathon Jenkins is in the middle of a power point presentation. 

If town councils wish to develop a town centre they may hand out compulsory purchase orders. In the UK most orders are made as subordinate legislation under powers given to local authorities in existing legislation.

Whilst the powers are strong the authority must demonstrate that the taking of the land is necessary and there is a compelling case in the public interest. Owner/Occupiers can challenge this and their objections heard by an Independent Inspector.

This is a prime piece of real estate. It’s on the edge of the city centre this could be, sorry gentlemen will be part three of St David’s Two. The Mental Health Drop-In Centre is no longer a going concern, not that it ever was. It was run by a trust but the last member of staff left two months ago and it is currently occupied used by three people, one who believes that she is being paid to clean the place.

It appears we won’t have much trouble with the alleyway. Local residents have been campaigning for its closure for years so really this affair is done and dusted. As the Drop In does not have Owner Occupiers, they have no legal right to request an Independent Inspection.

Here will be Retail. Shops. Economy. Money spinning. What we are talking about here is the re-vitalisation of the Inner City, the development of economic and social activity and the increase in state revenue created by a more active property market.

Pause

Gentlemen, this not just planning. This is master planning.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with Premier Holdings on this development project and one final thing if you’d like to see me at the end gentlemen, the W.R.U have kindly offered complimentary tickets for the next international match at the Millennium Stadium.  

A roar of affirmation and applause. 

Scene 3

The Mental Health Drop-In. Lilly is cleaning and Bird and Mary walk in. Bird goes straight for the sofa and Mary stands and lingers by the door looking at Lilly. 

Lilly: Nobody tell you it rude to stare.

Mary closes the door behind her and goes over to the couch. She places her coat over Bird who is looking visibly shocked and is shaking slightly. Lilly has noticed but feigns disinterest.

Mary: We’ve just been mugged.

Lilly: This town has gone man! Where it appen?

Mary: In the alleyway.

Lilly: What you come down der for? That is a bad place.

Mary: It is the easiest and quickest way for me and Bird to get here.

Lilly: Easiest and quickest ain’t always the best.

Mary: Thanks for the advice but it’s a bit late now. Is there nobody else here. No staff!

Lilly: Just me

Mary: Bird had his pension stolen by a hoody ting with a knife.

Lilly: You report it?

Mary: We didn’t report it no!

Lilly: Why not?

Bird: Because we recognised the black boy.

Lilly stops sweeping and dusting and looks out at the traffic.

Lilly: there’s a lot of faces through windscreens today. Where dey go I don’t know. Just driving, driving everywhere.

Pause

There were no cars on our Island. Your Island is going to sink under the weight of dem tings man!

You should have reported it to the police man, plenty faces through windscreens come den and sort you out especially if dem know there was a black boy. 

Mary: You could at least offer to make us a cup of tea or something.

Lilly: I am just the cleaner not the tea maker.

Mary: Will you at least sit here with Bird while I make a cup of tea for us.

Mary gets up and Lilly takes her place on the sofa, while Mary goes through to the kitchen Lilly puts her arm on Bird. He looks at her and smiles.

Lilly: How much dem take?

Bird: Doesn’t matter.

Lilly: How much dem take?

Bird: £92.00 pounds. My weeks pension.

Lilly: I give it back to you.

Bird: No 

Lilly: You sure it was him?

Bird looks at Lilly and nods his head in affirmation.

Lilly: Dat boy! He don’t stand a chance. He fallen into bad company. It isn’t him Bird. He’s got problems in the head.

Lilly: Did you say something Sister Mary?

Mary: I’m not sister Mary. I’m just plain old Mary as you know very well.

Bird: It’s going to be baked beans for me this week then!

Mary: It’ll be nothing of the sort.

Lilly: No you’ll be coming to me for your meals this week.

Mary: Well I thought…..

Lilly: Na, tink nothing of it. Cooking for two is just as easy as cooking for one.

Bird: Well, that’s kind of you but….

Lilly: That’s sorted den!

Mary: I thought you’d agreed to come and eat at mine.

Lilly: I didn’t tink dem allowed male visitors at the hostel.

Mary: you’re very a very pushy lady Lilly!

Lilly: Sister Mary! I’d better get on wid my cleaning.

Mary: it’s got to be said Bird

Pause

You do know your grandson just threatened us in the alleyway.

Bird: Mary!

Mary: What!

Bird: Mary! It wasn’t Kyle. It was Franco

Bird: How do you know it was my Kyle?

Mary: Because Bird recognised him.

Lilly: He should a told ya to shut your mouth!

Bird: I think Lilly knows better than anyone what her grandson is like.

Bird: I’ll talk to him.

Mary: It’s not good enough. It’s bad enough trying to get here across town but when you’re accosted by the son of a fellow member, well it’s just not good enough. Those people in the flats where I live, they’ve got dogs and those dogs frighten me.

Lilly: I ain’t a member. I’m the cleaner, I keep telling you.

Bird: I’m going back to find him.

Bird returns to the alleyway to look for Kyle and Franco.

Lilly approaches the window to see Bird leave and now she is oblivious to Mary who sips at her tea sheepishly.

 Lilly: My boy, Kyle dem say, dem white doctors, dem say he got Schizophrenia. I can’t even say it let alone write de damn word but I reckons as the descendant daughter of a slave from Africa that what my grandson is suffering in his mind is the oppression and injustice of that man. They say it is a reaction against reality. “Sweet Mother of Pearl”. Mother Africa in your name I beseech the. The Sins of Dem fathers. Our children is carrying dem in their genes. Look what is happening now. They’ve sold you a story and you are buying that story. If dis development goes ahead where my grandson gonna go den? Straight into the white man’s mental hospital. They won’t take the time to see him as a human being. They will just label him as a young black man just as they labeled him a Schizophrenic.

Mary: What development Lilly?…….Lilly?

Lights down.

 

Scene 4

The alleyway

Franco: They should be castrated that lot. Paedophiles and Loonies, they’re all the same.

Pause

Cheeky Bastard! Doing that to me. Kicking me up the arse! I should have stabbed the old cunt.

Enter Bird. Franco looks visibly shocked.

Bird: Is that what they taught you in school son?

Franco: Haven’t you learnt your lesson, if you’ve come back for your pension, we’ve spent it on weed.

Turns to Kyle

Bird: I’ve just been talking to your grandmother.

Kyle: Say what?

Bird: Your grandmother Lilly Smalls, she cleans over the Drop In.

Franco turns and looks at Kyle. He sucks his teeth, spits on the floor and walks away in a mixture of shame and disgust.

Bird: You didn’t want to rob me of the money!

Kyle: Says you!

Bird: I saw you!

Kyle kisses his teeth.

Bird: I’ve never been able to do that, will you teach me how!

Kyle: You sure my Gran ain’t sent you. What is it between my granny and you then man! You getting the hot flushes, the palpitations.

Bird: God’s honest.

Bird: How come Franco?

Kyle: He was named after his great grandfather Francis. He fought in Spain.

Bird: So he fought against Franco!

Kyle: Fuck Knows?

He was from up the Valleys, Tonypandy I think.

Bird: He looks like a guy whose fighting against himself.

Kyle: Fuck Man!

Bird: You swear a lot!

Kyle: What the Fuck do you care!

Bird: I care because you care!

Kyle: I care!

Kyle smiles.

Bird: That’s better or did you just fart.

Kyle chuckles and throws Bird a quizzical look.

Pause

Bird: So lets talk, old man to young man. Let’s see what we have in common. We know what the differences are. Let’s see what we have in common.

You’re a dead ringer for Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank by the way.

Kyle: Don’t say that, he was shit in the Final.

Bird: So what’s been bugging you brother?

Kyle: Boredom and shit.

Pause

You have to try and persuade me that those out there are happy even contented. They can’t be with the specter of death hanging over them all the time and it is all the time Bird isn’t it. Don’t kid me. Do you think about death Bird?

Bird: Not a day goes by without me thinking about it. Were meant to think about it. It’s what keeps us alive.

Kyle: But what is success to you?

Bird: Getting up in the morning and getting through the day!

Kyle: Big Ambitions man!

Bird: When you get to my age…sorry!

You just accept things and look for the simple things.

Kyle: So to survive you got to give up your dreams and ambitions.

Bird: No, not at all. It’s just that when you’re a young man you have…let’s say ambitious ambitions.

Kyle: So you got to be realistic.

Bird: I don’t like that word.

Bird: I seen the world kid. I been to Montevideo and Rio. I been down the Panama Canal.

Kyle: I just don’t know where I come from Man! I don’t know what my identity is.

Kyle: I didn’t go to school much. It was boring.

Bird: Where’s all this hatred come from?

Kyle: My step-dad. He hates everybody.

Bird: Do you think he hates himself?

Kyle: Most probably!

Bird: Hurting people hurt people.

Kyle: He’s a prick, I hate him. He only stays with my mum so he can fuck her.

Bird: You don’t think he loves her then?

Kyle: Love, what’s that?

Bird: Ever heard of Jesus son?

Kyle: Course! He’s the one who exterminated all the Jews.

Bird: That was Hitler.

Kyle: Oh aye, H and J in the alphabet, they’re close, that’s how I tried to learn names and dates and that.

Bird: So you do like learning?

Kyle: Some.

You’re different man. You got time and you got Love!

Bird: It’s all about forgiveness. If I couldn’t forgive Franco then it would hurt me.

 

Act 2

Scene 1

Bird and Lilly take a stroll down the Docks (aka The Bay) to Mermaid Quay.

Lilly: No Blacks, No Dogs No Irish. That was de first ting we saw when we got off the Windrush. Sixty years dis year Bertram and I want to go back and I want to take Kyle wid me but it has gone so violent over there now. June 22nd 1948. I was wearing a white dress with red polka dots and I was so damn cold even though it was summer.

Bird: Three days later Joe Louis knocks out Jersey Joe Walcott to retain the world heavyweight boxing title.

On March 1st the following year, World Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis retires after 25 successful title defences.

Lilly: St David’s Day, Patron Saint of Welshmen

Bird: And women

Lilly: You never married Bird?

Bird: No Lilly Love. I never had time. I was too busy drinking. A Life on the Ocean waves, well you know. Plenty of time to drown your sorrows.

Lilly: We came to Cardiff for a better life. We found community oh yeah sure we did. There were good times. We had carnivals and fun. There was joy to be had but not now, not anymore.

Bird : We’re having  a bit of joy now Lilly aren’t we love?

Lilly: It’s nice Byron, it really is. You are an old fashioned gentleman and there are very few left.

Bird: You have to learn to grow in grace.

Lilly: These young boys, they are racing to their graves.

Longevity has its place.

Bird: The sadness is that we forget what it was like to be young. The uncertainty, the resentments, two fingers to the state.

Lilly: But we had respect for the rule of law.

Bird: And look where it got us. Laws made by man!

Lilly: I appreciate you making time for my Kyle! More time than his mother and father had for him.

Bird: He’s a good kid!

Lilly: You’re just saying that because we are….

Bird: Friends

Bird: He’s a good kid. You’ve done a good job.

Lilly: I haven’t.

Bird: I don’t recognise this place any more!

Pause

You see that row of houses over there. Old Sea Captains Houses. You could buy one of those in the 1980’s for £35,000. Now they’re worth £750,00 plus. You see that one on the end. That’s a special house. That house belonged to Captain Ivor Timms. I crewed with Ivor Timms through the Panama Canal and the Gulf of Mexico, then through the West Indies, and then up past the Florida Keys and on up to Bermuda. We came up through the Bermuda Triangle, Lilly.

Now Ivor Timms was the Captain that took us out there but it wasn’t the same Ivor Timms that came back. All the crew said the same thing.

We’d pulled into Tucker’s Town, Castle Harbour and did you know that there was a place called St David’s Island on Bermuda. Well he decided on heading out there on his own, which was unheard of in them days, late sixties, early seventies. Well he came back all right, but it wasn’t the same Captain Ivor Timms. He’d seen something on that Island, he’d heard something because he was the quietest Captain on the return leg to Cardiff.

Well, Timms died in 1983. All the old crew went to the funeral at the Church at the top of Bute Street there.

Well, this is the God’s honest now Lilly. There were Government Men at his funeral. MI5 were at Captain Ivor Timms’ funeral. His daughter Debs had told a few of the boys how she had opened the door to two gentlemen while her father was in the Hamadryad hospital and they claimed that they were from the Council and that they were checking all the lofts for asbestos. Now Debs, had told us that Ivor had told his family never to go up in the loft but this was only after he’d come back from Bermuda. Well as all kids will do, Debs snuck a look and she had seen lots of white charts, sea and shipping charts. They didn’t make any sense to her but she could read in Bold Letters across one of the Maps the word ‘BORTHNIA’.

Well the maps and charts weren’t there after the men from the Council had been. When she told her father in the hospital, he had a seizure and died that night. She was naturally very upset and felt she had to tell the boys at the funeral.      

Long Pause

Lilly: What do you think it was all about?

Bird: Nobody ever found out! Some of the boys went to the Reference and Archives at Cardiff Central Library but the only Borth they could find was the one just North of Aberystwyth on Cardigan Bay there. Nothing about Borthnia. But it left a nasty taste in the mouth and it wasn’t salt. So you can understand why we Docks boys have got an inherent distrust of Councils, Property Developers and agents of the Government.  There are things that they just don’t want to talk about. There are definitely things that they don’t want us talking about and it begins with a big fat R: Revolucion.

Lilly: Is you one of dem conspiracists? Kyle is into all dat! He keep saying if Man did go to the moon in 1969, well why aven’t he been back there?

Pause

Lilly: I’m looking forward to seeing the Mermaids.

Bird: There’s no Mermaids Lilly, just estate agents and property developers.

Pause

Lilly: She likes you, Bertram! 

Bird: Who does? 

Lilly: Mary. 

Bird: We’re friends. 

Lilly: I’ve seen the way she looks at you. 

Bird: I didn’t think you were the Jealous type. 

Lilly: Jealous! 

Bird: We are Docks people Lilly! You and me. The community of Tiger Bay in the sixties and early seventies and then the eighties came and then desolation. They shuts the Steelworks and that was the beginning of the end. This place is plastic.

Bird: Shall we take a boat trip across the Bay? After we’ve had an ice-cream.

Lilly: This is so relaxing. I almost feel free. 

Bird: Freedom. 

Lilly: It’s a long walk to Freedom. 

Pause 

Lilly: He’s started to shouting at his voices. He’s getting worse. I’m frightened the police will come and arrest him.

I’m worried Bertram. He spending much time in his room smoking. And it’s not tobacco. I know they all do it but he’s not well, my grandson isn’t well. He’s put wooden planks across his window and locks on the door. It’s a Housing Association Flat.

He’s up there all the time wearing headphones and listening to Bob Marley.

I feel so isolated. 

Lilly: I see dem outside the Maltsers Public House in Canton. Dem like the Mafia, I don’t know whether its Giro day but they’re all out on the porch. White T shirts, Tattoos and sunglasses with pints and that’s only the women with their prams in a circle like a wagon train. It was the hottest day of the year so far, it was midweek and the fumes were belching. The traffic is horrendous. I swear I spend half my life waiting to cross de road. All these people wid der headen music so loud. Dem Just are just Faces through Windscreens and they stop me from getting around.  They’re pedestrianising the whole of the city centre so these faces are going to have to introduce themselves to dem legs and feet. I reckon that’s what a face is, it’s a limb. It’s a limb and there sure are some sad looking limbs out there. There’s nothing worse than seeing a face without hope. I have to turn my head because its how I used to feel before I found God and Jesus like. Well they found me. I’m re-reading the Bible but I haven’t got to the bit about ‘Love thy Neighbour’ yet.

 Bird: She was highly underated. They makes a fuss over Frank Henessy and Shirley Bassey but I reckons Tessy O’Shea knocks spots off them both. She was born not a stone throw from here, Plantaganet Street, Riverside.

Lilly: Dey say white people are racist but I think, no I know black people can be just as bad. I tell you when I was discovering God and Jesus well I went to this Pentecostal church in Grangetown and the things they were saying well I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t feel welcome from the moment I walked in. The woman playing de organ, her smile it was like frozen on to her face when she saw me for the first time. I think she knew I was the real deal and that I was looking for the light. As it happen dis church is across the road to a Hindu Temple. I don’t know which has been there the longest, it don’t matter. I don’t have a problem with any faiths. India is very mystical. After an opening chorus of throw out the lifeline, this strange little man  from the valleys gets up on the podium and says and I quote “ We will rejoice in Jesus name when the towers of that temple fall”. The week before a kick arse preacher from the West Indies had called them the enemy and the week before that the pianist with the frozen smile and dead eyes had said that Muslims were taking over our shops. I thought hang on, our shops, this third generation child of the Windrush Generation, a daughter to slave owners and she casting the first stone. They weren’t preaching love in that church. I got enough bitterness inside me I don’t need anyone feeding my head with any more. So that’s when I found this church.

Bird: God’s inside there Lilly. Not inside some building.

 pointing to her heart. Lilly holds his hand and brings it to her breast.

Lilly: And in der Bird, love ave been growin.

Lights down. 

 Scene 2

The Drop-In.

Mary has brought in a paper. She is reading the headlines out loud and shaking her head when Bird walks in.

Mary: Schoolgirl dies after being hit by police car.

Death driver who ploughed into family faces jail.

Bird: First sign of madness, talking to yourself.

Mary: It’s death and carnage on the roads.

Bird: That’s why we walk dear, remember.

Mary: You haven’t been down that alleyway since Byron?

Bird: I may look soft but I’m not daft.

Pause

Some letters are posted through.

Bird: Junk, Junk. Aye , Aye now this looks important. It’s got the County Council Post mark and what’s this Premier Holdings Inc.

Bird scans the letter and then his face changes. He sits down and hands the letter to Mary. Mary reads quickly

Pause, A light of recognition in Marys face.

Mary: When you went after those two hoodlums, Lilly mentioned a new development and now we receive a letter telling us that they are going to bulldoze this whole area.

A coincidence!

Pause

I want to know how she knew.

Bird is flat

Bird: Well ask her?

Mary:  Why don’t you ask her?

You are the love interest. You ask her.

Bird: Behave yourself, were both over sixty five.

Mary: So what some of the randiest priests are in their sixties and seventies and they don’t care.

Bird: You’re scared of her.

Mary: Am I Feck? Sorry Lord God.

I only have to look in her direction and she roars her disapproval.

Pause

What do you see in her?

Pause

Mary: I wouldn’t have thought she was your type.

Bird: You mean, she’s not my race.

Mary: Well, I mean to say!

Bird: What? You mean to say a lot, but you never say it.

Mary: Look, I’m not happy about her attitude. She’s very uppity.

Bird: Do they still use that word in Ireland? I haven’t heard that word for twenty years.

Mary: We get mugged by her grandson and the missing link, no apology and no reporting to the police because you don’t want to get him into trouble. You lose a weeks pension and now they’re going to knock down the only place that we can go and feel comfortable and find a bit of peace.

Bird: Peace. You call this Peaceful. She’ll be in shortly. You’ll have to ask her if you want to find out. I’m certainly not going to.

Mary: Well what are we going to do about this letter then.

Bird: Fight it.

Mary: You’re like the Captain of the Marie Celeste. The last Core worker left last two month ago without telling us and we haven’t heard Boo nor Be from the Trust who are meant to be running this place. I’m surprised she hasn’t changed the locks.

Enter Lilly from the kitchen.

Lilly: Morning Both! Bird did you enjoy your Ackee and Swordfish last night.

Mary: Last night! Ooh I see.

Pause

Mary: Lilly have you seen this letter?

Lilly: I haven’t brought my reading glasses.

Mary begins to read

To whome it may concern. Cardiff County Council in association with Premier Holdings hereby notify the dwellers of this establishment of their intention to place a compulsory purchase order on the building. The occupants have 14 days in which to lodge an appeal with the Council.

After this date, demolition and building work will begin immediately.

Lilly: Would anybody like a cup of tea.

Mary: You don’t seem surprised.

Lilly: No I ain’t surprised.

Mary: You knew about this?

Lilly: Man in a grey suit come round last week and said something.

Bird: You never said anything Lilly.

Lilly: My mind been on my work and on my grandson der Bird.

I can’t be expected to remember everything you know!

Mary: But this concerns our future and your grandson’s future. They intend to demolish the Drop-In and the alleyway.

Lilly: Well, we been on borrowed time here, you know dat!

Mary: Your’e still getting your wages paid!

Lilly: I don’t tink dat’s any of your damn business.

Mary: You didn’t tell us. It means we’ve only got seven days left to lodge an appeal.

Lilly: Dem gonna knock it down anyway whether you lodge appeal or not. Don’t you tink it about time you moved on anyways. You been hanging around here like a ghost.

Mary: How dare you? You’re not mentally ill.

Lilly: Neither are you! You just scared of living. Dat’s your damn problem.

Mary: Bird!

Bird: Leave me out of this! I’ve seen too many cat fights in too many ports.

Mary: I see what your game is now. The Drop In shuts and you’ll have Bird all to yourself. I’ll be out of the way.

Lilly: You too young for de man anyways!

Mary: Do you seriously think I’d be interested in him.

Lilly: What wrong wid him?

Mary: This is all about Bird and not about the future of the Drop In! You disgust me.

Lilly: It ok dahlin. I do disgusting radder well!

Mary: And I bet the man in the grey suit has offered you a nice little job in one of the shops or offices they’ll be building instead of this place.

Lilly starts to clean.

Bird: Mary!

The door opens and in walks Jonathon Jenkins.

Lilly: Well talk of de devil!

Jenkins: Good Afternoon, My name is Jonathon Jenkins representative of Premier Holdings and Cardiff County Council.

Bird: You’re destroying this city you know!

Jenkins: That’s a matter of opinion Mr……

Bird: Bird, Mr Byron Bird. Merchant Seaman Retired.

Mary: Don’t tell him your name!

Lilly: Would you care for a cup of tea Mr Jenkins.

Jenkins: That would be very nice. Milk no sugar thank you Lilly - Sister Mary, Bird.

They shout NO in unison.

Jenkins: You’ve seen the letter then.

Bird: You don’t give people a lot of notice.

Jenkins: Well with all due respect Byron!

Mary: Mr Bird!

Jenkins: With all due respect Mr Bird, this letter is just a formality. The records kept at County Hall actually show this area as derelict land. There is nobody on the electoral register here.

Mary: So that means we don’t count. If we don’t vote we don’t count.

Jenkins: Well I wouldn’t put it as bluntly as that.

Bird: So what is going to be here instead?

Jenkins: Well it hasn’t been finally decided yet!

Bird: More shops. You pulled one perfectly functioning market down and now you want to build more shops. I’ll tell you about that market shall I! I worked on the market after I comes off the sea and they pulls it down. Alfie Rogers from Tremorfa was thirty five years on the market, man and boy. With the compo he and his wife Vera went to one of the Costas, the Dorada I think. The moment he opened the door to his villa, apartment whotsit he fell forward on the terracotta tiles, stone dead. Vera was still getting out of the taxi with her shopping and duty free. He never missed a day on that market. He would have been open Christmas Day if they’d let him.

Jenkins: Like I said Mr Bird, no final decision has been made about the site. 

Mary: Where are we going to go?

Jenkins: There’s a perfectly good and effective Drop-In at Mind in Newport Rd.

Mary: Oh, you’ve done your homework haven’t you! Yes and all very well and that (She becomes more Irish the more animated she becomes) Well, this one is Independent, It is user led.

Jenkins: And it appears that you are the only two users.

Lilly returns with the tea.

Jenkins: Thank you Lilly.

Yes, you’re actually breaking the law by being in here.

This really is a hard hat area, health and safety.

Bird: You and your rules and regulations. Who makes these up?

Jenkins: Where would we be without rules Mr Bird?

Mary: Now look mate! I don’t care what kind of two penny/halfpenny job you’ve offered this woman in your new development but this has been a home to us, a sanctuary, a refuge. We’re not all blessed with skin as thick as yours Mr Jenkins and some of us have got to take medications because of what people like you get up to.

Lilly: For your information Sister Mary. I won’t be working anywhere in dis God Forsaken Country anymore. I been waiting for an opportunity lik dis to hang my mop up.

Me taking Kyle back to St Kitts where we come from in de first place. On June 22nd it will be sixty years since I arrived on the Windrush and I’m going back to a place where dem don’t have any car. I’m getting sick of looking at dem Faces through Windscreens.

Jenkins: I’m sorry you feel like that ehm..

Lilly: Her name is Mary…..Sister Mary

Jenkins: I’m sorry you feel like that Mary. We are looking to re-invigorate this part of the city. Inward Investment. You have to admit this place has seen better days.

Mary: We’ve all seen better days Mr Jenkins.

Pause. Jenkins slurps his tea and wipes his glasses

Jenkins: Could you tell me about the alleyway next door.

Mary: There’s two…

Bird: Nobody goes down there! Like you said it’s derelict.

Jenkins: Sorry, there’s two what down there?

Lilly: Two magpies nesting down there. Ders a lot of wild life. Shame you gonna get rid o all that.

Mary: Stray Dogs. There’s two stray dogs.

Jenkins: Two Magpies and two stray dogs. We’ll have to get the environmental health team involved.

It’s safe enough to take a walk down there then.

Bird: Safe as the Bank of England! I’d wear a hard hat just to be on the safe side. The animal wall is crumbling.

Jenkins: Well thank you for the tea. I wish you well on you journey home to the West Indies Lilly and I’m sure you’ll enjoy Mind in Newport Rd once you settle in.

Mary: Nobody in your family suffer from Mental Illness Mr Jenkins?

Jenkins throws Mary an uncomfortable glance

Jenkins: Good Day to you! 

Scene 3

The alleyway.

Franco talking to Kyle

Franco: I love em man. Grand Theft Auto is just fucking mayhem man. I’m in the Scarface game which teaches you how to sell drugs and then I went into San Andreas where I played a cracked-out rap star who had his lyrics stolen and the person that stole them became a star. So I went on crack and by the end of the game I get my reputation and my mansion back.

Franco: What’s wrong with this guy man! I should have fucked him up.

Bird: I’ve come for your help.

Franco: Fuck Off!

Kyle: Hear the man out Franco!

Bird: We need your help. We’ve had this letter from the Council. They’re going to close our Mental Health Drop-In Centre.

Franco: Good!

Bird: They’re going to close down this alleyway as well.

Franco: Let me have a look at that.

Snatches it and then realises that he cant read it and hands it to Kyle.

Kyle: Compulsory Purchase Order. Date June 22nd 2012

Signed Jonathon Jenkins.

Franco: We got to find a way of getting hold of this guy.

Bird: He’s just been in not half an hour ago. Tall, thin, glasses.

Franco: I bet the Fucker’s been to University.

Bird: He came in last week, the day we met.

Franco: Did he have a Range Rover? I bet he had a black Range Rover with shaded windows. We’ll have that.

Kyle: Are you online at the Drop-In?

Bird: We’ve got a computer if that’s what you mean but none of us know how to work it.

Franco: We’re not going in there, we might catch something. Like a Loony Virus or something.

Bird: You’re Ok, Mental illness is not contagious, I don’t think.

Kyle: If we don’t reply to this letter within 7 days they’re going to start construction work. As far as their concerned the area is derelict anyway.

Bird: That’s what he just told us. We’re breaking the law by being here anyway.

Franco: Fascist Bastards

Kyle: We’ll get some leaflets printed and go round town and leave them on people’s windscreens.  Get a petition going as well.

Franco: What good is that man! Dem out der dey don’t want to know.

Kyle: You got any better ideas.

Franco: Kidnap the Fucker.

Kyle: That’s serious against the law.

Bird: Protest and Survive.

Bird: That’s the spirit. Are you with us then? United we stand, Divided we fall and all that.

Kyle: Doesn’t look like we have a choice. This is our lane, our alleyway. They’re gonna knock it down to build offices that we won’t be working in or shops that we’ll be forced to shoplift in.

Franco: Just because we’re helping you, doesn’t mean we’re mad right?

Bird: Of course not!

Franco: If anybody says that were mad, you’ll put em straight like. You’ll tell em that were just helping out.

Bird: Absolutely. I’ve got one other little favour to ask.

Franco: Speak

Bird: Would you mind apologising to the lady that you mugged, she’s an ex nun you see and it’s caused a lot of friction in the Drop-In.

Franco: Apologise. We’ve got our reputation to think about.

Bird: I don’t mind. I know you’re not bad lads. In fact having heard your stories I’d have been surprised if you had not have mugged us. For every action there’s a reaction.

Franco: What the Fuck you been telling him?

Kyle: I’ll apologise Franco. You can wait outside.

Bird: Steady, let’s lodge an appeal first before we resort to violent tactics.

Franco: Appeal! Nobody hears us when we scream! What chance have you got?  Won’t be no violence involved. You get him in the Drop-In and I’ll just take his wheels and park it down the alleyway.

Kyle: Then we’ll torch it.

Franco: Yeah man, bonfire night in reverse, this time, where the real criminals get shafted. We’ll do this number for Guy Fawkes. R.I.P

Bird: We got a right band of Revolutionaries here.

Does your Grandmother know ?

Kyle: She taught me all I know about not taking no shit from no-one.

Franco: Respect.

Bird: No Passaran, No Passaran! 

That’s what your great grandfather would have said!

Franco: What the fuck you been telling this dude man!

Kyle: Take a chill pill bro. I told him your great grandpapy was in Spain fighting the Fascists.

Franco: Damn right bruv. I got his hat in a shoebox in the house.

Bird: Wear it then Comrade!

All three animated, exit the stage with clench fists shouting No Passaran, No Passaran. 

 

ACT 3

 

Scene 1

 

Mr Jenkins is walking down the alleyway to the Drop-In.

Jenkins: Are you the Stray Dogs?

Franco: Don’t move.

Jenkins: One for Sorrow, two for Joy

Franco: So what you doing down here then?

Jenkins: Looking for my car. Somebody stole my Range Rover!

Kyle: You think you’re a clever fucker don’t you?

Franco: Jonathon Jenkins Fearless Fucker.

Jenkins: No I don’t. I wanted to see what the area that we were knocking down looked like.

Franco: This is our home and your going to knock it down to build shops so we can spend money we haven’t got in them. We’ll be forced to shoplift. You’ll be responsible for turning us into criminals.

What do you really think of people like me and Kyle?

You know he’s black don’t you?

You white middle class honkies, you is frightened of de black man isn’t you? You is frightened that he going to sleep with your women.

Jenkins: I don’t think anything.

Franco: He doesn’t think about us Kyle, I’m upset.

I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking scum, chavs, danger, drugs, wallet.

Well you’d be right.

Jenkins: I’m not thinking anything, I told you.

I’m just on my way back from the Mental Health Drop In.

Kyle: What you got in there?

Jenkins: A laptop.

Franco: You really weren’t expecting to meet anyone down here were you? You haven’t heard of the lanes? Well Kyle we got us a looloo here, a real beauty.

Franco: get your people on the phone and tell them to cancel the Compulsory Purchase Order.

Jenkins: How do you know about that?

Kyle: That’s my grandmother you been trying to bribe back there at the Drop In.

Franco: Reverse the Decision and you might get your Range Rover Back.

Jenkins: I can’t do that.

Kyle: Yes you can.

Jenkins: I don’t have the power, I’m just the middleman.

Franco: Just the middleman! You’re the bleeding spokesman.

Kyle: You’re the face of new development.

Franco: We could kidnap you and ask for a ransom!

Kyle: We could kill you

Jenkins: You could but then what? The development would still go ahead. I’m dispensable.

Kyle: Hand over the Bag!

Jenkins: It’s not mine, it’s the councils.

Kyle: It’s ours now (grabs the bag)

Kyle: You’re going to put my grandmother out of work. You could kill her.

Jenkins: She could get another job, with us.

Kyle: Keep Talking.

Jenkins: Whatever is built in place of ….. these …..buildings. She could get a job in there.

Franco: What rinsing out teacloths in a Drive Thru StarFucks or flipping burgers in a McFuckdonalds.

Jenkins: There will be cleaning jobs!

Franco: I think she deserves a promotion your granny Kyle don’t she. She came over to these piss stained streets from the sunshine and gets treated like a fucking slave all over again.

Jenkins: That isn’t my responsibility.

Franco: What is your responsibility? To whom are you responsible?

Jenkins: To my boss and then to my wife and children.

Enter Bird with an old Dockers Hook.  Mary and Lilly stand back!

Bird: In that order. What about your responsibility to us, the community. The oldest community in Cardiff.

Kyle: Ex Merchant Seaman and Manic Depressive Byron Bird pleased to meet you.

Bird: We’ve met. I was brought up in the same era as you but I didn’t benefit from Your Messiah’s Message.

Jenkins: My Messiah?

Bird: Herr Thatcher! While you were swanning it in some Ivory Towered University I was forced to crew with that infamous bolemic John Prescott.

Jenkins: Look, you’ve got me all wrong! You don’t know me and you are making all sorts of judgements about me.

Bird: As you and your bosses have been making about Kyle and Franco and the Mental Health Drop In clients  Young People, Old People and Mad people. You think you can do what you like to us because you have power. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo. Read the first part about the Court of Miracles, this is what you and your slave masters are creating in this part of town. People from at least 50 nationalities settled in this area. You of all people should appreciate this. The Docklands has given this city it’s wealth but it has now been disinherited.

Jenkins: What are you advocating? A Communist Utopia?

Bird: A socialist one would do brother? A socialist one would do.

Mary: You’ll have to let him go! You’ve just made the situation worse. Whatever sympathy our cause might have had, has gone straight out of the window. People will know that you have taken somebody’s liberty.

Kyle: They’re taking our liberty because they’ve got more money than we have.

Franco: You’re just a do-gooder.

Mary: Thank God somebody is! Sorry Father. Look, you’re just going to have to face the fact that you’re not cut out for a life of crime. You’re actually a pair of nice kids and you’re pretending to be gangsters. Look I used to be a nun but I’m not anymore, you used to be gangsters but you’re not anymore. You’re a bit old to be wearing bandanas and sunglasses and riding around on bikes.

Jenkins: It doesn’t really matter what you do. The development is still going to go ahead.

Jenkins: What is this place?

Bird: It’s the old slaughterhouse. I remember when I was crewing out of the Docks.

Franco: You can still smell death.

Kyle: All the shit that used to go into school meals went in there! It was like porridge.

Mary: Are you telling me that the Drop-In is situated on the site of the old Slaughterhouse.

Bird:Turns and winks at Mary and Lilly, bangs the hook on an old oil drum  I’ve had enough of this. I’m going to kill him. You are going to be a human sacrifice at the Court of  Miracles. You will die in place of all those infected with the Affluenza virus. Maybe by cutting off one of their main arteries, it might stop the spread of the virus at least for a short time.  We’re going to feed you to the pigs. We’re going to take you down the old slaughterhouse and lets the spirits of the departed animals take you man.

Jenkins: Look, let me go and I will try my best to influence their decision. Like I said, The demolition of this area is going to happen regardless of what I say. If they found my legs sticking out of the concrete on the Butetown Flyover they would still carry on with their expansion programme. I agree with you. It’s relentless. All I can possibly do is influence the final meeting. I could possibly lobby for change of usage but that’s all.

Franco: What else you got? Mobile phone, wallet, come on lets have a look. Get up against the wall. Spread your legs. It’s not your lucky night is it(opens his wallet) Jenkins, Jonathon Jenkins. That’s a good old Cardiff name innit. I would hazard a guess that this gentleman is middle-class Kyle by deed of what he have got in his wallet. Mastercard and Visa ooh you greedy bastard.  Oooh will you look at this? Oh in that nice Kyle a family portrait. Two kids and a good looking wife. (Hands the picture to Kyle)

Kyle: Your kids, they’re black!

Jenkins: Mixed Race! My wife’s from Nigeria.

Bird: Let’s say you’ve found something! The deeds to the church to say that it’s a listed building.

Jenkins: It’s not a listed building, we checked. 

Kyle shakes his head in disbelief.

Kyle hands back the photograph and the laptop and the wallet. Franco can’t believe it.

Franco: What’s going on Kyle? This is the Man from the Ministry. This is the guy whose going to close the lanes, turn them into a gated community and you’re giving him his stuff back.

Kyle: He’s a Father.

Franco: So what, so am I?

Kyle: But you don’t know where your kids are! He does.

(Pause)

Kyle: On your way!

Franco: I don’t understand you Kyle! It’s because his Missus was black innit. If she’d been a white tart from Cyncoed you’d be playing Grand Theft Auto on his laptop as I speak.   

Kyle: Maybe.

Franco: Well that’s just down right bloody racist that is.

Kyle grabs Franco round the neck and rubs his hat.

Franco: They’ve got all the power.

Bird: We’re just like chess pieces in a game that they can move around the board.

Jenkins: Look let me have a word with them.

Franco: He’s just saying that.

Jenkins: Have you got a phone, I’m going to phone my wife. Tell her I won’t be home for a while. Tell her that I’m stopping down here. Tell Her that I’m going to join you.

Franco: I don’t trust him.

Bird: haven’t you heard of the Conversion on the Road to Damascus. Saul. Paul.There’s one thing we haven’t thought of or rather one thing, they haven’t thought of. The ruined ivy covered building dat stands between the Drop In and the Alleyway. Myself and Mary have been spending some time down the library and we’ve found that it was an old Baptist Chapel way back. They can’t knock it down. It’s sacred ground. It’s consecrated ground.They can’t knock it down and build anything.

Jenkins: Bad News I'm afraid. This building was not a church but a Seaman’s Mission. You of all people should have known that. As such it does not qualify for sacred ground status as there are no longer any seamen to mission to and any building can be used for that purpose.

Bird:  A Seaman’s Mission. I didn’t know it was a Seaman’s Mission. It must date back then. Surely it should have listed building status then. 

Jenkins:  Due to it’s wooden and rather slap dash construction. Sorry but your efforts have been for nothing.

Bird: What about the Norwegian church? That was wood. What was the name on the Mission?

Jenkins: I have it hear in my notes, somewhere, bear with me.Unusual name.  Here it is, it was called ’Borthnia’.

Lilly: Dem damn headen (heathen) man! Dem only care about the Temple of de moneylenders He saw something but heard nothing.

Bird: So we’ve just got to take your word for it have we?

All this history, all this soul and spirit. Gone to empty vacuous estate agents. We don’t want your money. Money doesn’t mean anything. We want community. We want our community back. Progress, it’s not what we would called progress. It’s going backwards.

Your Council lies man! Your Council told the Docks boys that there would be work. We had letters through the Post. In the end you gave the work to the Valleys boys. They were cheaper although they lived thirty miles away. It’s all about money with you isn’t it. You just don’t understand that money is just passing through our hands, we don’t own it.   

The noise of diggers and heavy plant machinery. Yellow and blue flashing light. Kyle and Franco are very animated and angry. Lilly and Bird hold hands.

Kyle - You lied, you said seven days. Man!

Bird picks up a loudhailer

Bird: “The Ruling Class control and dominate all economic and political systems through government and Capitalism. They use violence and poverty to amass wealth and co-erce everyone else into obedience.”

Franco grabs the loudhailer off him

Franco: Our enemy is the ruling class.

Lilly grabs the loudhailer off Franco.

Lilly: Young People, Old People, Mad People.

And the Rest, well they’re just Faces through Windscreens

 

End

Red Button

Dixie Dickenson

Red Button Theatre began at the University of Glamorgan after the Artistic Director Dafydd Williams began planning with Keith 'Dixie' Dickenson for a Theatre Movement that would give voice to the underdog, to those on the fringes of mainstream society.

After the success of 'Catharsis' at the University of Glamorgan, the new company comprising Dixie, Richard Lewis and Alex Shaw began working on different projects. We have worked with Alan Osborne on realising his Oratorio 'This is the Day' at the Myfanwy Theatre, Merthyr Tydfil and our most recent work has been the acclaimed 'Lost Souls' Laundrette/Golchfa'r Golledig' which was staged at the Weston Studio, Wales Millennium Centre in August 2010.

In 2016, our focus concentrates on 'Theatre for Mental Health', we will be workshopping and improvising with Mental Health Service Users across Wales and the UK and those who self identify as sufferring with anxiety and depression and other Mental Health Conditions, to perform work which already has Mental Health as its theme as well as new work which we hope will offer fresh focus and challenge the stigma associated with Mental Ill-Health.


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