CHRONICLES OF HALDEN, II
- Auksford, 2010 -
Characters in order of appearance
Boys and girls of the YPF
The Halden gang
* * *
Où suis-je? Qu’ai-je fait? Que
dois-je faire encore?
(Where am I? What’ve I done? What have I
still to do?)
-- Racine: Andromaque
* * *
= = ACT I = =
ACT I, SCENE 1
street in Halden. Tommo and Scouse.
Scouse: Hey, Tommo, did you hear them Swarrell
Tommo: Yeah, I heard ’em.
Scouse: Whistling “John
Tommo: “Nails Palmer’s
trousers” you mean.
Scouse: Summat’ll have to be
done. A can’t
understand why Nails doesn’t … Hey, Tommo,
wid ’im? Is it true he’s scared?
Tommo: Course he’s scared.
He’s not been out
wi’ the gang once since he got stripped. He spends
time wi’ that Janice Greenwood.
Scouse: Her that works in the library?
Tommo: That’s right.
He’s always with
’er. Follows her round like a little dog.
to church wid ’er.
Scouse: Mebbe he’s in love.
Tommo: In love my arse! How often do
you see any of the
lads in the gang going on like that? If
you fancy a
girl you tell her so, and you either get it or you
And what about Marlene? What does he need to go mooning round
tight-arsed bint like Janice Greenwood for, when he’s got
Marlene? He’s gone soft. That’s
what I keep
telling ’em all: Nails has gone soft. He
expelled from the gang.
Scouse: Some of the lads think it was your fault for
coming out too early.
Tommo: Don’t be daft.
They’re just taken in by
his big talk: all this stuff about strategy and tactics and
They should have known summat would go wrong. And then, fancy
getting himself caught by bloody Sid Thatcher!
Scouse: Who’s he?
Tommo: The Queen of Swarrell. You know
him. We saw him poncing around the cathedral with his
Tommo: Yeah. So you see why
laughing. And Nails does nowt. If you ask him he
on about turning the other cheek.
Scouse: Hey, I wouldn’t turn your
other cheek to Sid Thatcher – not if you’ve got no
Tommo: Listen, Scouse. We’re
gonna have to get rid of him. I’ve got summat to
Scouse: Shuddup a minute.
Tommo: Hey, Nails! Here a minute!
Nails: What d’ya want, Tommo?
Tommo: Listen! When are we gonna get
Nails: I’ve told you, Tommo.
I’ve put all that behind me. I’ve seen
Tommo: What bloody light?
Nails: The light of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
Tommo: But …
Nails: Love your enemies.
Scouse: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a
Nails: Under the old covenant,
Scouse. But we
under the new
covenant: love your neighbour as yourself, and if any man
wrong you repay him with kindness.
Tommo: And if any man strip you?
Nails: If any man asks for your cloak give him
your jacket an’ all.
Tommo: But they had your pants off!
Nails: Better I should lose my pants than my soul.
Scouse: But what do you think it’s
like for us? Aw,
come on, man. They’re still laughing over it down
Swarrell. We can’t go by without them jeering at
They come up here just to laugh at us.
whistles a few bars of “John
Brown’s body.” A spasm of anger crosses
face, but he recovers quickly.
Nails: When I was a child I saw through a glass
darkly, but now I am a man I put off childish things.
Tommo: Like trousers.
Nails: Vanity, Tommo. Vanity.
Tommo: I wouldn’t let anybody steal my trousers without
Nails: Then learn from my example, Tommo, and
change your way of
life before it’s too late. You should be thinking
settling down anyway.
Scouse: Marlene’ll not want to know
you if you let them Swarrell lads get away with it.
Nails: A’d rather not talk about
Tommo: He’s found a new bird.
Nails: A should be grateful to them Swarrell
lads. If it
hadn’t been for them A’d ’ave been out
lot in Sunday, an’ A wouldn’t’ve met
Tommo: Are you getting’ it off
angry and dominant]: A’m warning you,
Tommo! You say one more word about Janice, just one word,
an’ A’ll smash you! Right?
Tommo: Yeah. Yeah. Sorry,
Nails: Yeah, well, just you remember.
Not one word.
You’re not worthy to do up her shoes for her. One
that’s all. One word!
Scouse: It’s the Swarrell lot you
Nails: A’ve told you.
A’m not goin’ in
for street-fightin’ an’ that.
A’ve joined the
Church. I’ve been converted. And
I’m not doing
anything that she wouldn’t like – so you can keep
soddin’ noses out o’ my business. Right?
Tommo: Yeah. All right,
Nails. All right.
Nails: Right then.
Nails in righteous anger. Pause.
Tommo: A told ya: he’s shit-scared.
Scouse: Oh yeah?
Tommo: Course he is. Come on!
Tommo: Find Marlene.
Scouse: What for?
Tommo: Tell her about Nails. Tell her
he won’t fight. Tell her he’s got a new
Scouse: You must be bloody mad.
She’ll half kill you.
Tommo: Scared of a tart?
Scouse: Don’t be daft – but
you know what she’s
like. She nearly goes off her head of anyone starts whistling
whistles a few bars of “John Brown’s
Tommo: Listen, Scouse. I fancy
the best-looking, sexiest bint in Halden, an’ if I can get
away from Nails Palmer, A will.
Scouse: Thinking of settling down, are
you? Getting married?
at Scouse’s crotch]: A’ll
Tommo: Come on then.
Tommo, whistling “John Brown’s
body”. Scouse follows and joins in.
ACT I, SCENE 2
Halden Public Library. Nails is waiting. Janice
comes out of the building.
hurries over to Nails and gives him a quick,
bright peck on the cheek. Nails makes an involuntary movement
with his arms, but checks the impulse to hug her as being not
I wasn’t expecting you.
A was passing, so A thought A’d wait an’ walk home
hooks onto his arm and they walk along the street.
Are you coming to the dance tonight.
At the Young People’s Fellowship. It would be
so nice if you came. I’d like you to take me.
darts a swift, sideways, lubricious grin at
her, but, seeing she is not making a pun, quickly wipes it off.
A’d like to, but …
… but …?
Well … I don’t know that your Young
People’s Fellowship is really my sort of scene.
You’d enjoy it.
Yeah … but … we don’t really get along
wi’ them religious boys an’ girls, me an’
Oh, Michael, you’re a religious boy yourself now,
Well, yes … A suppose so.
You’re one of us.
squeezes his arm].
A suppose A am, pet.
attempts to nuzzle her ear. She obstructs him by patting her
You’d enjoy it, I know, Michael. You’ve
never really known the joy of fellowship, have you?
There was the gang …
I mean true fellowship in Jesus Christ.
A still get embarrassed when A say “Jesus Christ.”
It shows you love Him but don’t know him very well
yet. Come to the dance.
Yes, all right – and A’ll dance with you all
Hey, hey, you’ll want to dance with some of the other girls
when you see them.
A bet A won’t.
nuzzles at her ear. She pats her hair to obstruct him.
We’re so glad you’ve become a Christian,
Michael. Mr Mouse was saying only yesterday what a great
influence for good you could be.
A still can’t believe that’s his real name.
funny. – [She
gives his cheek a quick peck].
A thought it was a nickname.
Like you’re called Nails?
Yeah. Cos he’s just like a scared little
Mouse, even when he’s putting on his What-ho, you chaps?
Puir, wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, tim’rous
Yeah. Dead scared o’ Canon Tollgate.
Oh Michael, you are
funny. You’ve only seen
him once, and you’ve never actually spoken to him.
isn’t scared, you know. It’s just that
meek and humble.
And the meek shall inherit the earth?
I don’t think you like Victor Mouse.
Like you said: A don’t really know ’im.
walk on in silence. Hotrod and another youth come towards
them from the opposite direction.
other youth nods.
youths pass on. A few yards beyond Nails
Hotrod begins to whistle “John Brown’s
The other youth joins in. Nails stiffens and stops, anger
in his eyes as he checks his impulse to turn and attack the youths.
What is it?
Nothing. It’s nothing.
You get angry every time you here anybody whistling that tune.
It’s nothing. Don’t worry.
But I do
worry. It’s not like you, darling.
It’s just something from the old days.
There’s no need for you to worry. It’s
just something that happened. I get angry when they whistle
but I won’t let it get the better of me.
You can do so much for the Lord if only you can master your passions,
Michael. I know you can.
You can bring so many to the Saviour.
I’m not a saint.
be. You are.
You’re one with the communion
Janice, I’ll try to do what I can for the
Lord. He knows it’s not much, but what I can do I will
try. But I must
have some help. A can’t
do it alone.
pray for you, Michael.
I … er …we all
love one another, Michael. That’s what being a
Christian is all about.
Janice, you know how I want you.
Give me time, Michael. Give me time. I
don’t know yet what my heart is saying to me.
I, SCENE 3
Young People’s Fellowship dance. A
large bare room. Youths and girls dancing to the sound of a
record-player. Some girls dancing together. Other
rather more youths are watching from the sides. At the end of
room furthest from the door the Curate, Victor Mouse, is talking to
John and Anne and two other couples. The whole gathering
with perspiration and youthful vitality.
Enter Janice and Nails. They pause just inside the
A don’t know anyone here.
You soon will. Come on! I’ll introduce
looks around. The wallflowers have
moved away from the door and are watching her and Nails. Alan
& Des are talking.
What’s he doing here?
I hope there’s not going to be any trouble.
He’s by himself.
Are you sure? He could have his gang outside.
He goes round wi’ Janice Greenwood now.
She’s brought him.
and Nails standing alone by the door.
takes Nails onto the dance-floor. As
they dance he is acutely aware that he is being regarded with
considerable speculation by everyone in the room. Although
dance-floor is crowded, space opens up around Janice and
Several couples leave the floor and join groups around the walls.
A group of girls, including Julie and Norma are talking
at her! Showing off her latest acquisition!
I thought she was after Victor Mouse.
is. It’s all just to impress him.
I don’t see how.
It’s obvious, isn’t it? If she brings
Nails Palmer to Christ, a lot of his gang’ll
She’ll be the great white missionary heroine. You
Mousey’s like about converting people.
and Norma look over with venom at Janice who is still dancing with
Nails on the almost empty floor.
Nails is unhappy, but
Janice enjoys being the centre of interest.
gives him a quick peck. He does not reply either by word or
Mouse’s group look around the floor.
Mouse rapidly indicates Nails and Janice and then the sides of the
room. Two couples separate from his group and each moves down
side of the room, one couple pretending to dance but the other
obviously splitting up and walking around to do Mouse’s
which is to get the dancer’s back onto the floor to avoid
embarrassment to Nails.
Nails notices these manœuvres and is even more
Can’t we go somewhere else?
Don’t be silly, pet.
Of course they’re not. You’re just
imagining things. Come on! When this
finished we’ll go and talk to Mr Mouse.
dance on, Janice triumphant and happy, Nails
awkward, self-conscious and miserable. The music ends and
leads the unhappy Nails to join Mouse’s group.
Victor, this is Michael Palmer. Michael, Mr Mouse.
Hallo, Michael. I’ve been hearing quite a lot about
you from Janice.
Um … she’s told me quite a lot about you too, Sir.
Oh, no, no, no! Don’t call me Sir!
me feel a hundred years old. Everybody here calls me
looks around]: Don’t they?
is a murmur of unconvincing assent.
Well, how are you enjoying our little dance?
Oh, er … yes, er …thank you, yes.
We’re always happy to have new blood. I hope
you’re going to come along to our regular YPF meetings.
Er … yes, Si… um … yes. [Aside to Janice]:
[without lowering her
voice]: Oh, Michael, you are
forgetful. Young People’s Fellowship. He
know what YPF stands for.
group laugh. Nails is embarrassed.
No need to be embarrassed, Michael. How could you know?
I hope you’ll bring some of your friends along when
you get to know us. You’ll find there’s
so satisfying as winning new souls for the Lord.
Yes, Victor. You really feel that you’re about your
music starts again. Janice, who has turned
to Mouse to answer him, looks as if she expects him to ask her to dance.
[trying to draw
Janice’s attention to Nails with his eyes as he speaks]:
What about a dance, Janice?
Ooh, yes please, Victor!
sweeps Mouse away. Nails is left with
the three couples. There is an awkward silence. One
boys takes his girl’s hand and gives it a slight tug, then
move out into the dance. The others stay with Nails, who
looking after Mouse and Janice.
Um … were you a member of any other church?
Er … Janice is a nice girl.
How did you meet her?
At a café.
Do you play football?
Oh. Er … neither do I.
I used to support Halden United.
Oh. I’ve only seen them once.
The other couple move off onto the
floor. John nudges Anne and indicates Nails. She
Not dancing, Michael.
John and Anne look at each other.
Um … excuse us, would you?
takes Anne out among the dancers. Nails
stays where he is watching the dancing couples enjoying
themselves. As they whirl past him he hears snatches of
… didn’t want me to dance with him?
… doesn’t look very happy …
… where she found him, that’s …
… say the funniest things, Victor. Where do
… don’t think he’ll stay, do …
… fighting like hooligans …
… on, just one kiss …
… Palmer …
… convert him she can convert any …
turns away from the dancers to the side of the
room where some girls are talking, including Julie and Norma.
You see? She’s left him now. Gone off
with Mr Mouse to boast of her triumph. If she really cared
him she wouldn’t just leave him standing there.
Somebody should go and talk to him. He’ll go back
to his gang if nobody talks to him.
Why don’t you,
Er … no. I’ve got to go and look for
Robin. See ya.
looks hard at Nails. He averts his eyes
and looks over to where Des and Alan are talking. He can only
hear odd words of what they say.
… out ’s trous’s …
Who’s … … trousers?
… … … [inaudible].
… z Palmer … s …s … s
… … …eard … …z
… … Palmer … … …
draw their heads close together then dart
another quick glance at Nails, see that he is looking at them, and melt
uneasily into the crowd. Nails looks back at the
Suddenly Julie appears beside him.
Did I make you jump? I’m sorry.
It’s a bad habit I’ve got of creeping up on
I’m Julie Bates.
I know: the famous Nails Palmer. We were green when we heard
Janice had picked you up.
Yes. Another magnificent trophy to add to her
list. She’s over there now with Mr Mouse.
they make a lovely couple?
They’re always together. She does so many good
works just to impress him – you know: converting the heathen
that. Well, you know what he’s like about
He thinks it’s our highest Christian mission.
if disappointed]: They’ve gone through
into the back office. Never mind. Would you like to
dance? I hope you don’t mind me asking you, but I
you might be shy since you’re a stranger here, so to
Not that I expect you’ll be a stranger for long.
looks towards the office door, but Janice does not reappear].
Come on! The record’s nearly over.
No. A don’t want to dance. A’ve
got to be going. See ya!
hurries away, leaving Julie
open-mouthed. Des, Tony and Alan move out of his way in some
alarm, but he ignores them and pushes his way through the dancers
towards the door. Some turn to protest at being shoved aside,
move out of his way as soon as they recognise him. Nails
from the hall.