[Two men, quite burly, dark suits and ties, sunglasses, black gloves watching a front door. One of them keeps looking nervously in a ring binder]
MCCANN: You sure this is it?
GOLDBERG: How many towns called Haltemprice do you think there are around these parts?
MCCANN: And this is definitely the house?
GOLDBERG: Not many families called Davis in these parts. Wales mostly.
MCCANN: I suppose. And you sure I’m right for this?
GOLDBERG. You know what I said when Mr Cameron called my office? I mean naturally he called me personally to take care of it. And you know who I asked for?
MCCANN. That was very good of you, Goldberg
GOLDBERG. No, it was nothing. You’re a talented man, McCann.
MCCANN. You’re too kind, Goldberg, coming from a man in your high-up position.
GOLDBERG. Well, I’ve got a position, I won’t deny it.
MCCANN. Umm, Goldberg, just one little thing …
MCCANN. This job — no, listen — this job, is it going to be like anything we’ve ever done before?
GOLDBERG. [Makes an exasperated sound]
MCCANN. It’s a simple question, Goldberg.
[Goldberg puffs himself up, and puts on an extremely poor upper-class accent, in an attempt to patronise McCann into silence]
GOLDBERG. Without wishing to obfuscate our fundamental purpose, and recognising the broad similarity of duties to be undertaken this evening with those of previous endeavours in the taxonomy of our professional activities, there may be cause this evening for novel additions to the usual routine. However, I can assure you that tonight (whilst perhaps carrying a tinge of the unfamiliar) will not substantially differentiate itself from our methods, either in the past or in the future. Satisfied?
MCCANN: [grinning with relief] Thanks, Goldberg!
[Go to black. Sound of a window being carefully smashed, and a door unlocked. Single bulb lit Centre-stage with a simple wooden chair beneath and a full-length mirror behind it. Goldman enters through door stage right, followed by a miserable-looking man in his pyjamas and an SAS beret, guided by the shoulders by McCann]
GOLDBERG: You know why we’re here to see you Davis, don’t you?
DAVIS: I want my breakfast [being seated on the small wooden chair by McCann].
GOLDBERG: You’ll get breakfast in good time, Davis. We just need to ask you some questions, that’s all.
MCCANN: Nothing to worry about
GOLDBERG: Over by sunrise
MCCANN: Bacon and eggs
GOLDBERG: Maple syrup on toast
MCCANN: Orange juice in the coffee pot
DAVIS: What do you want with me?
GOLDBERG: It’s very simple, Davis
MCCANN: We’ve been asked to collect you
GOLDBERG: Vet you
MCCANN: Bring you back into the fold
GOLDBERG: Clean you up
MCCANN: Put you back where you belong
GOLDBERG: Destroy your history
MCCANN: Re-ignite that bond of love with the party
GOLDBERG: What did the Director of Liberty tell you to do?
MCCANN: Where did Miss GB finish in the re-election?
GOLDBERG: What tie were you wearing when you chose to resign?
MCCANN: What was the bus you caught to the House that day?
GOLDBERG: What did your wife think about your betrayal of the Organisation?
DAVIS: I never betrayed the Organisation, I mean, the Party … it was principled!
GOLDBERG: But they felt betrayed, Davis, horribly betrayed
MCCANN: Shown up, humiliated, humbled
DAVIS: I stood up for what I thought was right … [shouts] I have no regrets!!
MCCANN: There’s a role for you, Davis, if you want it
GOLDBERG: Even if you don’t want it, Davis, there’s a role for you
MCCANN: Nasty business, this new ‘No Moonlighting’ rule they’re bringing in
GOLDBERG: It’ll hit some of them where it really hurts
MCCANN: Some more than others
GOLDBERG: Not an even-handed punishment, some might say
MCCANN: But can’t deny the link to performance, can you though?
GOLDBERG: The very good performers will survive, I’ve no doubt
MCCANN: But wouldn’t like to be one of the lazy ones
GOLDBERG: The distracted ones
MCCANN: The complacent ones
GOLDBERG: Nasty business, this new ‘No Moonlighting’ rule
GOLDBERG: Difficult time for the upper classes
MCCANN: Difficult time for the plebs too, of course, out in the … wider world
GOLDBERG: Difficult making them see eye-to-eye with the incoming regime
MCCANN: Hard to make the plebs see that the Organisation understands their plight
GOLDBERG: Feels their pain
MCCANN: Metaphorically, of course
GOLDBERG: The image is wrong, you see? Too much toffery, too much…
GOLDBERG: Grossly unfair, of course. Best chaps for the jobs, but for the life of them, some of them just can’t hide their breeding
GOLDBERG: Education’s an issue too – no-one likes a smart-arse
MCCANN: Especially a rich one.
GOLDBERG: Need more normal faces
MCCANN: Know any normal faces, Davis? Ones that might not fit the current club?
GOLDBERG: Of course, Mr Osborne in particular is irreplaceable
MCCANN: A titan of a mind in a hummingbird of a body
GOLDBERG: No-one better placed on the intricacies of macro-economics
MCCANN: Gives a rousing speech when pressed, too. Remember the PBR response?
GOLDBERG: True, true, clearly uniquely-placed to shadow the Exchequer
MCCANN: Loves the job too, rarely away from his desk
GOLDBERG: Not one of the work-shy or a moonlighter. Privately wealthy, you see?
MCCANN: We might never get a better Shadow Chancellor
GOLDBERG: But has to go
MCCANN: Of course, of course
[Pause – they look at Davis simultaneously to register any response. There is none]
GOLDBERG: [deliberately] If only there were someone to take his place
MCCANN: Someone numerate you mean?
GOLDBERG: Helpful but not necessary. A history degree would cover it. BSc even better, especially if actually in a ‘science’
MCCANN: Used to high office I presume?
GOLDBERG: Maybe, but better he has had a financial role
MCCANN: Public finances
GOLDBERG: Taxpayers’ money
MCCANN: Protecting their liberties
GOLDBERG: Safeguarding their wallets
MCCANN: A big beast?
GOLDBERG: Not too big, you understand
MCCANN: Clarke’s out
GOLDBERG: Redwood’s never going to happen
MCCANN: Neither could be trusted
GOLDBERG: But then they said that about you, after your episode, Davis?
DAVIS: [suddenly seems to rouse himself] They did? Not…trusted?
GOLDBERG: Of course! Thought you a madman. Fighting the law and the government and an election and the Speaker. Coming … back up North?
MCCANN: They’re still not convinced by you
GOLDBERG: Very talented, but unpredictable
MCCANN: A loose cannon, they say, highly-strung
GOLDBERG: No doubting the potential, but far too risky
DAVIS: And my face doesn’t fit. That was the other reason. The face doesn’t fit…
MCCANN: But don’t you see, that’s not a problem any more – it’s the solution!!
GOLDBERG: You chaired the Public Accounts Committee, did you not?
MCCANN: A ruthless defender of the taxpayers’ purse-strings!
GOLDBERG: A Master’s degree in business!
MCCANN: And a successful corporate career to boot!
DAVIS: All a long time ago … I’m a civil liberties campaigner now
GOLDBERG: And you will be again Davis – we just need you to do this small favour
MCCANN: Brush-up on the old Maths skills
GOLDBERG: Think back to your old Finance classes
MCCANN: Recover your rank and reputation
GOLDBERG: Take that heavy burden from Mr Osborne’s shoulders, won’t you?
DAVIS: But what then? Do I get to keep the job in government? Do I get to talk about civil liberties and Magna Carta? What time will the driver be here?
GOLDBERG: All in good time, Mr Davis, all in good time
DAVIS: Wait … surely you can’t want me just for my face? Not that alone?
MCCANN: Of course not, Mr Davis, your voice is just as important
DAVIS: And the others? What about the others? I wouldn’t want them hurt
GOLDBERG: And they won’t be, Mr Davis, if they behave themselves.
MCCANN: Mr Osborne will get a … less-prominent role
GOLDBERG: But no less important – Chairman of the Party. Not Chairwoman.
MCCANN: An important distinction. Duncan goes. And Letwin.
GOLDBERG: And then the other one too – the other reason you can’t be left out
MCCANN: What if you hit it off with Mr Hague, eh?
GOLDBERG: Friend on the backbenches – the Yorkshire connection
MCCANN: Dangerous times, that would lead to. Serious conversations.
GOLDBERG: Far better that you’re put back on the front bench, Davis. Where they can keep an eye on you
DAVIS: Do I have a choice in the matter?
GOLDBERG: Of course you do, Mr Davis, and a fine choice it is too.
MCCANN: You start tomorrow, after a press conference
DAVIS: And if I say no?
[Silence. McCann and Goldberg look at each other in trepidation, nod, place a hand each on Davis’ shoulders, bow their heads, and begin singing Parry’s “Jerusalem”. Music fades]
[Fade to black]
[Light-bulb flickers back on. Davis is sat, chin on chest, making no movement]
GOLDBERG: So you see Davis, we’ll watch over you
MCCANN: Advise you
GOLDBERG: Give you proper support and briefings
MCCANN: Let you join the Carlton Club
GOLDBERG: An office at CCHQ
MCCANN: Hold the doors
GOLDBERG: Bake you cakes
MCCANN: Darn your socks
GOLDBERG: Polish your ties
MCCANN: Lick your cufflinks
GOLDBERG: Unbutton your shoes
MCCANN: We’ll provide the red box
GOLDBERG: The green benches
MCCANN: The black door
GOLDBERG: The steel-rimmed glasses
MCCANN: The tumbler of whisky
GOLDBERG: The Biretta pistol
MCCANN: The pocket watch
GOLDBERG: The final speech
MCCANN: The tear-jerking eulogy
GOLDBERG: What more could you ask for?
MCCANN: Now then, Mr Davis, where are your socks?
GOLDBERG: Still the same old Davis. Come with us, sir. Come on, Mister Shadow Chancellor…
Morus, with apologies to Harold Pinter