CHRONICLES OF HALDEN, II
Part 1: Sid: Act II
- Auksford, 2010 -
--- Act III --- The Banner: Index
--- Robin Gordon's works: Index ---
II, SCENE 1
living room of the Thatcher house. Sid is lounging on a
battered couch, reading. Jake enters muttering.
If I wasn’t an old man I’d show him. If I
or thirty years younger I’d give him what for.
teach him. Great bully, picking on an old man.
are you muttering about?
I’m an old man!
lean and slippered pantaloon, sans hair, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans
I’ll give you sans
everything, you little bugger! It’s
all on account o’ you!
is? Do try to talk coherently, father.
Don’t you take that tone of voice with me!
having it. Think you’re so bloody superior,
you. Well I
different. I’ve looked after you since you were a
washing your dirty nappies, watching you running home from school
pissing yourself with fright comes some lad’s threatened to
you, and I know what you were up to when you went sneaking into the
coalhouse to play with yourself. Pretending you’re
fancy great poet and reading all them fancy books. The only
you’ve got in common with them poets is that you’ve
done a day’s work in your life.
have you been up to with young Jim Gormley?!
heard! What have you been up to with young Gormley?
Come on! You’ve got a tongue in your head,
you? You’ve usually got enough to say for
If you’ve been up to summat I want to know about it.
don’t know what you mean.
Jake: You know!
are you talking about, father?
Don’t you come the innocent with me!
You’re a bugger!
You’re a bugger!
That’s what you are. I know all about it.
I’ve heard. Everyone knows.
Sid: What … are
… you … talking … about?
Jake: If I
wasn’t an old man …
Jake: If I
wasn’t an old man I’d … I’d
cut ’em off for you.
dirty la’al bugger! Should have ’em cut
dunno what you’re on about.
Where did you take him?
Jake: Jim! His
likes me to call him Kim.
He’s led you on, hasn’t he? Young
Gormley. Little nancy-boy Kim. He’s led
He’s led you on. That’s it! A
to have something. You didn’t know what you were
doing. He’s so like a girl, that Kim
Jake looks at
Sid for corroboration. Pause.
It’s not true.
It’s not true. I’ve never …
You’ve never been
wi’ Jim Gormley?
No! Not with him, not with anybody! I’m
Albert Gormley says you have.
He’s a liar!
says you’re after his lad.
A’ll kill ’im!
me. A’m an old man, you know.
A’m not young any
more. A can’t stand up to people like A used
A’m an old man!
You’ll ’ave to see ’im.
Albert Gormley. You’ll ’ave to speak to
’im. Tell ’im ’e
can’t knock an old man
about like that.
can’t tell ’im.
You’ll ’ave to. You’ll
’ave to tell
’im about you an’ ’is lad. Tell
there’s nothing in it.
good will that do?
know what they think o’ queers round ’ere.
Listen, if you don’t see him and tell him, he’ll
about that you’re after his lad. He’ll
everybody. They’ll all get to hear of it.
wouldn’t want that.
should I care what the lower orders think?
Listen, ya daft la’al bugger, they’re not lower orders,
they’re your neighbours. They’re people
you’ve got to live with.
Well I don’t give much for your chances if them lads in that
get to hear about it. That’s given you summat to
about, hasn’t it? They’ve been looking
for a chance
to get you; this’ll be just what they want. Well,
it’s up to you. I wash me hands of it.
Jake goes off
into the kitchen.
Bloody hell! What do I care what the bloody neighbours think?
– Bourgeois morality, that’s what it is.
see further than the end of their own snotty, running noses.
have to justify
myself to a pack of senseless yobs? – Thick!
what they are: thick as two short planks. – I can’t
friend and talk about art and music and poetry and things like that
without them calling us queer. – They know nothing about
nothing! All they know is their own dirty selves, watching
and getting drunk and crawling about in their own spewed vomit and
hating anybody that tries to raise himself out of it.
They’ve always had it in for me. They
picking on me at school, calling me nancy-boy and trying to pull my
trousers off – just cos I was interested in bettering
meself. They’ve always had it in for all of we who
doesn’t fit in wi’ their ways. – Well,
it got to do with them? What’s it got to do with
Gormley? Why should I take it from them? They
stop me seeing my friend. I’ve got a right to go
whoever I want, and no-one’ll stop me, not Albert Gormley
He could take it out on Kim. There’s
nothing he wouldn’t do. He’s a big
brute, vicious … When he’s drunk
… Knocks his
wife about … He’s already threatened Kim
… What am
I going to do. Kim couldn’t stand being knocked
Then there’s King’s gang … erm
tragic decision]: I can’t let him take it out on
Kim. I’ll have to see him. [He calls]: Father!
Jake [from the kitchen]:
What d’you want?
I’m going to see Albert Gormley.
Sid. Enter Jake from the kitchen looking both cunning and
uncertain, half proud, half fearful. He dries his hands on
grimy towel he is carrying, but does not speak.
II, SCENE 2
street. Sid and Jim meet.
Hi! I was on me way round. A’m sorry
A’m a bit
late. It was me Mam. We’ve still got time
there before the main picture starts though.
Sid [in a tone of high tragedy]:
Wait for me, Kim!
day you will understand.
Don’t think badly of me, Kim, however things turn
Always remember: I did it for the best – I did it for you!
are you talking about?
Sid: It is
a far, far better thing that I do now than I have ever done.
One day, Kim, one day it will all be clear to you. One day
will know. One day you will understand. If I should
you, forgive me. Remember, I shall always be your friend,
whatever happens. [He
clasps Jim by the hand]. I shall return when I
have accomplished my task. Wait for me,
II, SCENE 3
street. Steve, Pete and Andy.
Bloody great evening this
Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.
I might just as well ’ave stayed at ’ome, with me
man soring his head off in front of telly and me ol’ jane
on about her rotten, stinking, aching feet and ’er rotten,
stinking arthritis and ’er rotten, stinking varicose veins.
Steve [in a woman’s voice]:
Oh me feet! Oh me feet! A’ve been
roun’ them shops all day lookin’ for summat A can
Pete [in a woman’s voice]:
Money goes nowhere these days.
Steve [woman’s voice]:
Nowhere at all.
Pete [woman’s voice]:
Why don’t you hand over your pay packet …
voice]: … dole packet …
Pete [woman’s voice]
… dole packet like other husbands. You
don’t care about me …
Steve [woman’s voice]:
… scrimping an’ saving …
Pete [woman’s voice]:
… working me fingers to the bone …
Steve [woman’s voice]:
… slaving over a hot stove …
Pete [woman’s voice]:
… with my
Steve [woman’s voice]:
You never give me enough!
Well, at least you can get it regular when you’re
married. We never get it at all!
Except King and Ronno.
Yeah! We have to do whatever them tarts tell us,
King can get his oats. We could’ve ’ad
still might. Look!
It’s Jim Gormley, la’al Kim!
Let’s get ’im!
is hanging round at the corner, waiting as he thinks Sid told
him. Pete and Andy rush over, jeering, and push and jostle
him. Steve follows more slowly.
sorry, Miss. A didn’t see ya.
a thing to do: knocking a lady into the gutter!
leave ’im alone. A don’t see what
you’ve got against ’im.
There’s a lot you don’t see, Howe!
are you doing here? Waiting for your boyfriend?
he going to give you a big kiss when he comes?
he going to come when he gives you a big kiss?
He’s waiting for his sweetheart,
sweetheart, his sweetheart.
waiting for his sweetheart
a dark autumn night.
should take his knickers off! Are you going to help
Right! Well we know what you are, don’t
don’t see what you’ve got against him.
Pete [mimicking Steve]:
“A don’t see what you’ve got against
him.” He’s a friend o’ Sid
inn’e? And Sid Thatcher’s a queer.
Sid Thatcher is a queer,
Thatcher is a queer,
Sid Thatcher is a queer.
Jim: Is it
because he reads books?
Is that why you say he’s queer? Because he reads
likes poetry and good films – because he’s cultured
that what they call it now?
A know not many people round here go in for culture, but it’s
all that queer to like it. I mean, it’s a way of
yourself, isn’t it. It’s a way of getting
Whass’e talking about?
A mean, we all have to read books at school, like for O-levels and
that, so if it’s not queer to read books at school, why is it
queer to read them after you’ve left?
What’s beuks got to do wid it?
told you he didn’t know.
We’ll have to tell ’im then.
mean, even if it is queer in Swarrell, it’s quite normal in
Oxford and Cambridge and places like that.
and Andy burst out laughing. Jim is bewildered.
II, SCENE 4
Leg and Leper. Alice behind the bar, Gormley and Ted at a
table, two middle-aged drinkers at the next table, three young men at
the bar, other drinkers.
can’t get it out of me mind.
it rest, Albert.
It’s upset me.
half as much as it upset Old Jake.
Not that. It’s just this whole bloody
mess. A mean,
A’ve got to face it, Ted: my son just isn’t normal.
He’ll grow out of it.
Will he? When I think of him going round wi’ that
little poof Sid Thatcher …
It’s his mother to blame. A’ve told
an’ told ’er: no good’ll come
o’ giving the lad
fancy ideas. O’Levels! What good are
in a place like Swarrell?
she wants him to get a white-collar job.
That’s all he’s good for – a bloody
Sid. The drinkers look up. As Sid passes the three
men at the bar one covers his arse with his hands and backs against the
bar in mock-fear of being sodomised. The other two
Sid tensely pretends not to notice and continues towards
The two middle-aged drinkers bend forward to speak quietly, avoiding
involvement. The others watch, some covertly, most
Sid arrives at Gormley’s table.
Hold me down, Ted, or A’ll swing for him. As sure
as the Lord made little apples, A’ll swing for him.
Excuse me, Mr Gormley.
What do you
believe you have been making certain allegations concerning your son,
Jim, and I.
A’ll kill him! A’ll brek ’is
Well … er … I thought I’d better let
you know that
there is no truth in these allegations. Kim and I are just
up and grabs Sid by the throat.
Gormley: What did you call
my son?! What
did you call my son?!
Crrrrr … nothing … arrrgh … I
… nothing …. crrr … gerroff
You called ’im Kim!
Arrrrh … he likes
me to call him Kim.
If I ever catch you within a hundred mile of our Jim again
A’ll break every bone in your body!
middle-aged drinkers at the next table look up agitatedly as if about
to rise and intervene.
Do you hear me?!
Sid even more violently. The two drinkers hurry to stop him.
Hey now, easy, easy. You’ll kill him if
you’re not careful.
A’ll bloody kill
’im all right!
Now, come on now. Come on. You’ve given
’im a fright. That’s all that’s
him go! Please, Mr Gormley! A’ve got the
licence to think of.
He’s nearly passed out. Let him get some air, for
the Lord’s sake.
drinkers pull at Gormley’s arms to make him let go of Sid.
A’ll break ’is flamin’ neck!
Let go, man!
The First Drinker pulls Gormley’s arm
free. Sid gasps
for air. Gormley clutches at him again. Sid flails
wildly. The two drinkers stagger back. Gormley
Sid again, looking as if he is determined to kill him. Sid
continues flailing wildly.
GERROFF! GERROFF! AARRRGH! STOP IT!
I’m going to call the police!
two drinkers recover their balance and lunge forward to drag Gormley
off Sid. Ted grabs one of the drinkers to pull him away from
Gormley. One of the young men at the bar nods to his
and they dive into the fray. There is a chaotic
The others crane forward to see.
drinkers pull Gormley out. He comes to his senses and stands
breathing heavily while Ted and the three young men overpower Sid, who
is eventually held immovable. There is a heavy silence apart
A’ll not ’ave ’im sniffin’
round my lad!
unbuckles his heavy leather belt.
Bend ’im over that table!
Ted and the
young men obey.
Get his trousers down!
GET ’IS TROUSERS
fumbles under Sid’s belly. Sid lies still and
giving an occasional, almost silent sob. There is total
as Ted pulls Sid’s trousers down. Gormley, who has
his belt, moves forward, and, taking deliberate ail, gives Sid six
slow, carefully measured lashes across his buttocks.
If Jake Thatcher had taken a strap to him when he was a kid, he might
have saved us all a lot of trouble. Get ’im out of
turns away and puts on his belt. Sid, released, slides to the
floor. The two drinkers help him up. Alice comes
behind the bar.
Poor lad! Bring him into the back room.
No! No! Lemme go!
free of their helping hands and stumbles to the door, clutching his
still unfastened trousers.
II, SCENE 5
outside the Leg and Leper. Mrs Gormley and Mrs Howe.
A know what it’ll be like if A don’t find
the blame for everything. Albert thinks it’s all my
fault. A mean, A try
to give Jim some sense of decency, and this
is all the thanks A get.
It’s the same with our Steve – well, not quite the
but you know what A mean. Ah’ve tried, A really have.
We’ve kept him on at school an extra year so he can get his
O-levels, so he can get a good job – a nice job, A mean.
Albert wanted him to leave school soon’s ’e could.
Our Steve was always good at his school work. He could have
made something of himself …
Well, you know what Albert thinks about it – and now
there’s that Sid Thatcher.
He should be put away!
And Albert blames me!
A don’t know what A’ve done to deserve it.
There he is!
Sid runs out
of the “Leg and Leper”, scurries across the road
and takes refuge in the shadows of a nearby back lane.
Is Jim there?
runs after Sid. Mrs Howe follows. Mrs Gormley grabs
Sid by the arm.
swings wildly at Mrs Gormley. She stumbles and clutches at
for support. They fall to the ground struggling.
terrified and trying to get away from this new attack. Mrs
Gormley hangs on to him and he hits at her wildly.
Gerroff! Help! Gerroff! Gerroff!
Mrs Gormley screams loudly and
Help! Police! Help! Murder!
Howe grabs at Sid to pull him away from Mrs Gormley. All she
succeeds in doing is pulling his trousers down. This makes
struggle even harder.
Aaaargh! Help! Rape! RAPE!!
Help! Police! RAPE!!
Jim, Steve, Pete and Andy, running.
What’s gan on?
Help! He’s raping her!
The boys drag
Sid to his feet. He grabs his trousers and pulls them up.
Jim! Oh! Don’t look at me!
Don’t let him see me like this! Not like this!
Mam! What …?
Don’t look at me, Jim! Oh, the shame!
Mrs Howe [helping her up and speaking in
a tone the boys are not meant to hear]: He
No, thank God.
did ’e do?
Nothing. Never mind. It’s all right.
Mrs Howe [full of hatred]:
He tried to rape
himself at Sid, beating him with his fists.
hate you! I hate you!
force of Jim’s attack knocks Sid and the boys holding him off
balance. Mrs Gormley stretches out her hand towards Jim and
to move forward.
stumbles and falls. Everyone turns to help her except
He seizes his chance to flee. Pete and Andy make a grab for
but too late.
Let him go. He’s not worth it.
A’ll get ’im! A’ll get
this! Don’t worry, Mam, A’ll get
The police …
No! Albert mustn’t find out!
right. There’s no harm done – but
we’ve got to
get home before Albert comes.
round her, then set off to take her home.