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Morus’ Saturday Slant

December 27th, 2008

[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. Who?

GOLDBERG. You.

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.

[Pause]

MCCANN. Umm, Goldberg, just one little thing …

GOLDBERG. What?

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

[Pause]

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

[Pause]

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!!

[Pause]

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

[Pause]

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…

MCCANN: Bullingdon

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?

[Pause]

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?

[Pause]

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?

[Pause]

MCCANN: Now then, Mr Davis, where are your socks?

GOLDBERG: Still the same old Davis. Come with us, sir. Come on, Mister Shadow Chancellor…

 

[END]

Morus, with apologies to Harold Pinter






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