The Banner:
a dramatic tetralogy

The banner: a pair of jeans on a pole by
Part 1: Sid

Auksford University arms: a great auk displaying a book with the motto "Ex ovo sapientia"
-  Auksford, 2010  -
©  Copyright Robin Gordon 2010


 Act II  ---  Act III  ---  The Banner: Index  ---  Robin Gordon's works: Index  ---  Auksford Index

Characters in order of appearance
Mrs Gormley
Jim Gormley
Little Willie
Albert Gormley
Jake Thatcher
Sid Thatcher
First Drinker
Mrs Howe
Nails Palmer

King’s gang
Nails  Palmer’s gang
Tommo’s mates: Nelly, Claggy, Wank & Hutch
Customers in the “Leg and Leper”
Second Drinker (non-speaking)
Three young men (non-speaking)


* * *

Don Diègue:
O rage, ô désespoir, ô vieillesse ennemie!
(Oh rage, oh black despair!  Old age my enemy!)
                -- Corneille: Le Cid

* * *

Puisqu’ après tout mon père est l’offensé,
si l’offenseur est père de Chimène.
(Since, after all, my father is offended,
though his offender’s father to Chimène)
                -- Corneille: Le Cid

* * *


    The living room of the Gormleys’ house
    Mrs Gormley, Jim Gormley

Mrs  Gormley:  Hey! Where d’you think you’re going?

Jim:  Out.

Mrs Gormley:  Out where?

Jim:  Just out.

Mrs Gormley:  What do you mean, “just out”?  I asked you where you’re going, and I expect a proper answer. You treat this house like a hotel.  You seem to think I'm just here to cook your meals and clear up after you.  You treat me like a servant, like a skivvy.  You’ve got no respect for me, or your father.  You never tell us anything –  and where do you think you’re going to now?  Come here when I’m talking to you, you cheeky little beggar, and answer my question: where are you going?

Jim:  Just out.  Nowhere.

Mrs Gormley:  I never know where you are. You could be up to anything for all I know. – You’re not going with that gang?

Jim:  What gang?

Mrs Gormley:  Don’t you “what gang?” me. You know what gang, and don’t say you don’t.  That boy King and those hooligans of his. They’re going to get into serious trouble one of these days, so you’re not going around with them.  Understand?

Jim:  Yeah.

Mrs Gormley:  You know what your father said, don’t you?

Jim:  Yeah.

Mrs Gormley:  He said he’d take his belt to you if you got into trouble.  That’s what he said, and that’s what he’ll do.  So mind on.  And you know what else he said, don’t you?  If you can’t let us know where you’re going, you’re not going out at all.  So you can take your choice: either you tell me where you’re going or you can get upstairs to bed – and don’t look like that when I speak to you!  It’s for your own good, though I don’t know why I bother, I really don’t.  Dumb insolence, that’s what it is.  Dumb insolence!

Jim:  Look! I’m not going out with King’s gang.  I’m going to the pictures with Sidney.

Mrs Gormley:  Huh!  Sidney!

    She pauses. Jim does not take up her challenge.

Mrs Gormley:  What do you want always to be going round with that “Sidney” for?

Jim [wearily]:  What's wrong with Sidney?

Mrs Gormley:  Well if you don't know, you can hardly expect me to tell you.

    Jim shrugs and turns away.

Mrs Gormley:  It’s not natural. Why don’t you go round with boys your own age?

Jim:  Sid’s only four years older than me.

Mrs Gormley:  Four years is a lot at your age.

Jim:  He knows about things.

Mrs Gormley:  I’ll bet he does!

Jim:  Art and literature and films and music and that.  Culture!

Mrs Gormley:  Culture!

Jim:  Yeah, culture.  What’s wrong wi’ culture?  I thought you wanted uz to get on.   You used to be always on about it – and now I’m going round wi’ somebody sophisticated, you don’t like that.   Well I don’t always want to be stuck here in a dump like Swarrell, wi’ nothin' to do but telly an’ booze an’ that.  I don’ wanna end up like me Dad!

Mrs Gormley:  Oh, so we’re not good enough for you now, is that it?   We've scrimped and saved to keep you at that school so you could get your O-Levels, and this is all the thanks we get.  You could have been earning good money – it wasn’t easy for us, you know, with your Dad in and out of work. There’s been times I haven’t known where the next penny’s coming from.  And if … if you think we went through all that for you to go prancing round with your fancy Sidney with his fancy airs and graces … well … you’ve got another think coming.

Jim:  I’m going out.

    Exit Jim.

Mrs Gormley [calling after him]:  There’s only one thing that Sid Thatcher wants you for – and don’t say I didn’t warn you!


    A street corner.   Effie and  Sandra.

Sandra:  So what are we going to do then?

    Effie shrugs.

Sandra:  Well, are we going down to the Boot then?

Effie:  If you like.

Sandra:  We could find Ernie King and the lads.

Effie:  If you like.

Sandra:  I don’t know what’s got into you, Effie, I really don’t. You don’t know what you want to do, you don’t care where we go.  Hey, you must be in love.  That’s it: you’re in love, aren’t you?

Effie:  So, what if I am?

Sandra:  Are you though, are you?

Effie:  Oh well, you see, it’s this fella.  I can’t get him out of me mind.

Sandra:  Have you spoken to him?  Have you told him?

Effie:  No.

Sandra:  Why not?

Effie:  What’s the good?

Sandra:  What d’ya mean, “what’s the good”?  D’ya fancy him or don’t you?

Effie:  Yeah.

Sandra:  Well tell him.

    Effie shrugs.

Sandra:   Well how can you expect him to fancy you if you won’t even speak to him?

Effie:  I don't.

Sandra:  You don’t?

Effie:  No.

Sandra:  Why ever not?  You mean he’s got someone else?

    Effie nods.

Sandra:  Well, even so, he could still prefer you.

Effie:  He won’t.

Sandra:  How do you know?

Effie:  He’s that sort of bloke.

Sandra:  What do you mean, he’s that sort of bloke?

    Effie shrugs.

Sandra:  He’s not married is he?

Effie:  No.

Sandra:  Well then?

Effie:  He won’t fancy me.

Sandra:  Course he will.  Any bloke would.  They’re always saying so.  They think you’re great.  Honest.

Effie:  Ay, I know.  All those healthy, normal blokes can’t wait to get their hands on me, and I have to get hung up on him.

Sandra:  Who?  Come on, who is it?

Effie:  Sid Thatcher.

Sandra:  Sid Thatcher?!

Effie:  Yeah.

Sandra:  But …

Effie:  I know.

Sandra:  But he is, isn’t he?

Effie:  So they say.

Sandra:  But he must be.  He’s running after Jim Gormley – he’s  started calling him Kim.

Effie [with a sudden spark of anger]:  That’s it.  That’s the trouble.  Little fancy-pants Kim Gormley.  He’s leading Sid astray.  Going swanking round calling himself Kim and getting Sid to take him to posh films and operas and art galleries and that.

Sandra:  They’ll be going to ballet next.

Effie:  I’ll give him ballet!  Listen Sand, I’m sure Sid’s not like that really. It’s that Kim Gormley.

Sandra:  That’s not what I heard.

Effie:  I don’t care what you heard.  I met him the other day – it’s the only time I’ve ever spoken to him – and he wasn’t a bit like people say.

Sandra:  It’s disgusting.  He should be put away.

Effie  [in despair]:  He’s not queer!  He’s not!  I’m sure if I could just get to know him properly I could make him … love me.  [Pleading]: You’ll help me, won’t you, Sand?

Sandra:  I always get landed, don’t I?  Oh well, I suppose I could fancy Jim Gormley. It’s that innocent look of his.  I’ll feel as if I’m cradle-snatching.

Effie:  Oh, ta, Sand.  I know it’ll be alright.

Sandra:  Hey, look out. It’s King’s gang.

    Enter King’s gang.

King:  Hallo, little dollies.  Pining for me, were you?

Sandra:  You must be joking.

King:  What about a little kiss for your old pal King?

Sandra:  Gerroff, you!

King:  Aw, come on.

Gang  [cheering]:  Raaay!

Sandra:  A said Gerroff, didn’t A?  And watch where you’re putting your hands, Ernie King.  I’m not cheap, you know.

King:  S’orright, love, I’m not mean.

Gang:  Wayhay!

Sandra:  One of these days, Ernie King, one of these days …

King:  Is that a promise love?

Sandra: Oh!

Ronno:  Aw, come on, man, King.  We’re all waiting on ya.

Gang: Yeah, come on.
Come on, we’re waiting.
We’ve gotta get them!
 Let’s go.

King:  Ay, orright, A’m comin.

Sandra:  Where you going?

King:  Can’t bear to be parted from me, is that it?

Sandra:  Huh!  Gerroff!

Ronno:  We’re going queer-bashing.

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  We're going to do ’em over, aren’t we, King?  We're going to give them a real duffing up.

King:  You tell ’em, La’al Willie.

Willie: We're gonna punch ’em and kick ’em!

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  We’re gonna get ’em on the ground!

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  We’re gonna kick ’em in the balls!

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  And in the guts!

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  We’re gonna kick their heads in!

Gang:  Yeah!

Willie:  We’re gonna slaughter ’em:

Gang: Yeah! Yeah!
We’ll show ’em;
That’s right!

Sandra:  Ooh, you little monster!

King:  What do you mean, little monster?  He’s a great little fighter is Willie.

Willie  [arrogantly]:  Yeah!

Sandra:  He’s a bloodthirsty little beast.

Ronno:  He’s a spunky little devil, inn’e lads?

Ken  [rumpling Willie]:  Yeah. Right little fighting cock.

Willie:  I’m warning ya!

Stan:  Wassa marrer, Willie?

Willie:  Gerroff!

King:  Orright, lads, leave ’im be. We’ve go to get after Sid Thatcher and his boyfriend.

Effie:  What?!

King:  What’s up wid ’er?

Sandra:  You’re not really going after Sid Thatcher and Jim Gormley, are you?

King:  Course we are.

Ronno:  A said we were going queer-bashing, didn’t A?

Effie:  Sid’s not a queer.  Leave him alone.

King:  What’s up wid ’er?

Sandra:  She’s in love with him.

King:  That great poofter?  Next thing you’ll be telling me you fancy Jim Gormley.

Sandra:  So, what if A do?  He’s better looking than you at any rate.  Anyway, what harm have they done you, and what right have you got to go round calling other people queers and beating them up.  You seem to think that anybody that doesn’t join your rotten gang is queer.  Well you’re wrong.  You don’t know anything at all about them two.  Only what you’ve made up your own selves.  You ask Steve about it. He used to go round with Jim Gormley.  Go on, you ask him.

    Steve suddenly finds himself the centre of attention and is greatly embarrassed by it.

Sandra:  Well, is he or isn’t he?

Steve:  Um …

Sandra:  Steve would never have gone round with a queer.

Steve:  No.  Least, he wasn’t when I went round with him.

Sandra:  There you are.  So leave ’em alone, both of ’em.

Ken:  Don’t listen to ’er, King.

Gang: No.
Come on.
Let’s get them.
Everybody knows they’re queers.

Sandra  [snuggling sexily up to King]:  Tell me you’ll do what I ask; you will, won’t you, Ernie.

King  [cuddling her]:  You comin’ down be’ind the engine sheds, then?

Sandra:  If you like.

Ronno  [to Effie]:  How about it?

Effie:  If you promise to leave them alone.

King:  All right.  We’ll leave ’em.

Gang:  Aw, King.  
    Aw,  come on.
    They’re queers.
    Come on, let’s get ’em.

King  [impatient for his oats]:  I said leave ’em, didn’t I?  So leave ’em.  I haven’t got time to stand here all night while you lot argue about it.  Right.  We leave ’em.  But we’ll be watching, and if we catch ’em at it, we’ll debollock ’em.

    The gang give a faint, dispirited cheer.  Exeunt King and Sandra, Effie and Ronno.  The girls already giggling as King’s and Ronnos hands begin to explore.

Sandra:  Oooh!  You never think of anything else, do you?

King:  No.  Do you?

    The gang are left in boredom.

Ken:  Bloody rotten!

Pete:  What we gonna do then?

Willie:  Let’s do Steve.  It’s all his fault.  What did he want to say they weren’t queers for?

Stan:  He must be one himself.

Andy:  Aw, leave him alone.

Willie  [chanting and clapping in time to his chant]:      
We’re going to take his trousers off!
We’re going to take his trousers off!

Ken:  Aw, give it a rest, Willie.

Pete:  Let’s go down the One-Oh-One.

Stan:  No.  You spend all your money on a flash tart, then you don’t even get a nibble.

Ken:  Could go for a few beers.

Pete:  We’ve been chucked out of every pub in Swarrell.

Andy:  Even the Leg and Leper.

Ken:  Let’s go down Nelson Street.

Willie:  There’s nowt down there.  Let’s go down the canal, eh?

    They drift off aimlessly.

Stan:  We could’ve had a good time tonight, but for them tarts.

Willie:  Let’s get Steve, eh?

Ken:  Should we get some chips?

Stan:  Not from that rotten dump in Nelson Street.


    The bar at the "Leg and Leper".  Alice behind the bar, Albert Gormley, Ted, other drinkers.

Gormley:  Hallo darling. How about a little kiss then?

Alice: Gettoff, Mr Gormley.  None of that.

Gormley:  Don’t you fancy me any more?

Alice:  Not half as much as you fancy yourself.  Now what’s it going to be?

Gormley: That’s up to you, darling.

Alice:  I mean, what are you going to order?

Gormley:  Pint of bitter – best, mind.  Mr Leckford’s special.  None of the weak rubbish you sometimes serve.

    Alice draws the beer.

Ted:  Looks like rain, Albert.

Gormley:  Ay, but they still charge for it like best bitter.

    Gormley and Ted laugh uproariously.  Alice puts on an expression of pained boredom.

Gormley  [to Ted]:  What’ll you have?

Ted:  Pint of best bitter and a pound out of the till.

Gormley:  Right, Alice love, another pint and a pound out of the till.

    Gormley and Ted are even more amused by this.  Alice serves them without changing her expression.

Gormley:  What’s got into you tonight Alice, you’re usually the life and soul of the party.

Ted:  Got lots of bounce has our Alice.

Gormley  [cupping his hands before his chest as if supporting  large, full breasts]: Buoyancy!

Ted:  Boy-ancy nothing.  It takes a man to satisfy our Alice, don’ it, love?

Alice:  Better man than you, anyway.

Gormley:  Ay, that’s telling him.  [Confidentially] You need a real man, Alice. I’ll see you after closing time, eh?

Alice:  Come closing time you can hardly walk, never mind anything else.

Gormley:  There’s not a man in this town can hold his liquor better than I can.  I can drink any man in this town under the table.

    Some of the other drinker cheer and applaud.

Alice  [acidly]:  That’s exactly what I mean.

    Gormley pays for the drinks.

Ted:  I’ll bag that table in the corner.

Gormley:  Take the crisps.

Alice:  Change.

Gormley:  Ta, love.

    Gormley picks up his beer and turns to follow Ted, but he bumps into Jake Thatcher who has just come in.

Gormley:  Watch out.

Jake:  Eh?  Oh, sorry lad.

Gormley:  I want a word wi’ you, Jake Thatcher.

Jake:  Ay, I’ll just get me drink, and I’ll be with you in a second.

Gormley: You’ll be with us now.

Jake:  Eh?  What?

Gormley:  I said, you’ll be with us now.  I want a word with you, Jake Thatcher. Not a conversation, a word.

Jake:  Ay, all right, all right.  What is it?

Gormley:  It’s about your Sid.

Jake:  Ay, he’s a good lad, our Sid.

Gormley:  He’s to stay away from my lad Jim.  You know what I mean.

Jake:  Eh?

Gormley:  He’s to stay away from my lad Jim!

Jake:  I don’t …

Gormley:  He’s to stay away from our Jim!  We know all about your Sidney, with his fancy airs and graces.

Jake:  He’s a brainy lad, our Sid.  Knows all about Art and that sort of thing.  Mind, I don’t know nowt about it at all.  Wouldn’t do for me, that sort of thing.  I haven’t got the brains, you see.

Gormley:  It won’t do for our Jim either.

Jake:  I thought he was a bright lad, your Jim.

Gormley:  He’s having nothing more to do with that sodding Sidney of yours. Brains have nothing to do with it.   We all know what your Sid’s after.

Jake:  Eh?

Gormley:  I said, we all know what your Sid’s after – and I’m not having our Jim mixed up in it.  Going round corrupting young boys like that! He should be put away!

Jake:  Don’t you...

Gormley:  If he lays one finger on our Jim, just one finger, I’ll do him.

Jake:  Are you calling our Sid a …?

Gormley:  A poof!  A fairy!  A queer!

Jake:  That’s it!  I’ve had just about enough from you, Albert Gormley!

    Jake makes as if to strike Gormley.  Gormley seizes Jake’s  arm and twists it behind him, holding him in a half-nelson.

Gormley:  Violence will get you nowhere, Jake.

Jake:  Gerroff! … Lemme go! … I’ll have the law on you.

Gormley:  You’ll have the law on me?  That’s good, innit?

    Chorus of “Yeah”s from some of the drinkers.

Jake:  I’m an old man!  It’s me heart!  Ohhh!

Ted:  Fling him out, Albert.  We don’t want any of them in here.

    Noises of assent from the drinkers.

Gormley:  Right:  Out, you!

    Gormley propels Jake to the door still holding him in a half-nelson.  Some of the drinkers, especially three younger men at the bar, cheer Gormley on and jeer at Jake, others turn away, pretending not to see what is happening or disassociating themselves from it.  Gormley pushes Jake through the door with a blow from his knee in Jake’s bottom, which provokes more mirth from the young men at the bar.  Gormley returns, dusting his hands in a heroic and self-satisfied manner.

Gormley:  That’s that.

Ted:  That showed him.

Alice:  What did he ever do to you?

Gormley:  Now don’t you start, Alice.

Ted:  We don’t want his sort in here.

Alice:  But what did he do?

Gormley:  What did he do?  What did he do? – I don’t like to say in front of you, Alice.

Alice:  No, but what?

Gormley:  It’s his son.

Alice:  What about him?

Ted:  He’s after Albert’s lad.

Alice:  Beating him up, you mean?

Ted:  No, he’s after him.

Alice:  Ooh!  You mean he’s one of those?

Gormley:  He’s a bloody queer!

Alice:  Language, Mr Gormley!

- End of Act I -

Please remember this play is copyright.  See Copyright and Concessions for permitted uses.

Sid: Act II

Sid: Act III

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