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Part 2: Nails
Act II

Auksford crest: a great auk displaying a book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
-  Auksford, 2010  -

©  Copyright Robin Gordon, 2010

Link to Nails Act I
(Other links at end)


    A street.  Marlene and Claire.

Claire:  Yeah, I’m going to the pictures wid’ him again tonight.  We’re going to see Dracula and the seven werewolves, or something.  Seems he likes horror films.  Do you like horror films?

Marlene  [absently]:  They’re orright.

Claire:  I can’t stand them meself.  Nothing but vampires and bats and creepy old castles and that sort of thing.  They give me nightmares.

Marlene  [absently]:  Why d’you go then?

Claire:  Well, Keith likes them.

Marlene  [absently]:  He’d go somewhere else if you asked him.

Claire  [lubriciously]:  I know where he’d like to go.

Marlene  [absently]:  Well ask him then.

Claire:  Ooh, Marlene!  A’m not some tart from Swarrell you know.

Marlene  [absently]:  Mmh?

Claire:  Aren’t you interested in Keith?

Marlene  [absently]:  Mmh, yeah.  Course.

Claire:  He’s got lovely curly hair.  Hey, the bit I like is where it’s all soft and fluffy round the back of his neck.  It’s sort of nice and … sexy … and … well … you know.

Marlene  [absently]:  Yeah.

Claire:  Honestly!  You don’t care a bit!  You’re not one bit interested in Keith.  I might as well have been speaking to a brick wall as to you, Marlene Foster.  I bet you’re still mooning over Nails.

Marlene:  No I am not!

Claire:  I bet you are.  Just ’cos he hasn’t come for you for the last five days.

Marlene:  Six.

Claire:  A told you!

Marlene:  I don’t care!  A don’t know why you think I care!  If Nails Palmer wants to go round making a fool of himself, I don’t care!

Claire:  Ooh, you do!

Marlene:  A don’t!

Claire:  You’ve hardly said a word all week.  You and Nails have been going together for ever such a long time.

Marlene:  Four years isn’t such a long time – and it isn’t even four years.  It’s only about three and three quarters.

Claire:  Yeah, I know, but … A mean … why doesn’t he come?

Marlene:  I don’t know.

Claire:  Has he found someone else, d’ya think?

Marlene  [forcefully]:  No!

Claire:  How d’you know?

Marlene:  A just do, that’s all.  Who d’you think would ’ave him after he let that Swarrell lot … make a fool of him like that.  I wouldn’t.  Don’t you ever mention his name again!

Claire:  All right.  I won’t.


Marlene:  If he would only do something.

Claire:  Such as what?

Marlene:  Well, like raiding Swarrell.  A mean, it’s not just him that’s getting laughed at.  They’re laughing at all of us now.

Claire:  Yeah, there’s always somebody whistling that tune.

Marlene:  I don’t care!

    Enter Tommo and Scouse.

Tommo:  ’Lo, Marlene.  ’Lo, Claire.

Claire:  Hi!

Marlene  [as if disgusted]:  Oh, it’s you.

Tommo:  Heard about Nails?

Marlene:  A don’t want t’ know.

Claire:  She’s sick of him.

Tommo:  That’s all right then, ’cos he’s found himself a new bird.

Marlene:  Course he hasn’t!

Tommo:  He has.

Marlene:  You’re a liar!  That’s what you are, Richard Thompson!  You’re a liar!

Tommo:  Why d’you think he’s been keeping out of your way?

Marlene:  ’Cos he’s ashamed of himself, and well he might be.  Fancy letting them do things like that to him!

Scouse:  They’re like that in Swarrell.

Tommo:  Marlene’s right!  It’s a bloody disgrace.  Calls himself leader of the gang, and then he lets the Swarrell lot steal his trousers!

Marlene:  It wasn’t his fault!  They’d have stripped anybody.  They’d have stripped you if they’d caught you.

Tommo:  But they didn’t catch meI had me mind on the job.  I wasn’t thinking about Janice Greenwood.

Marlene:  Who?

Tommo:  Janice Greenwood.  Nails’s new bird.

Marlene:  Never heard of her.

Tommo:  She’s one of them church lot.  Works in the public library.

Marlene:  A don’t believe ya.

Scouse:  It’s right.  Nails told us himself.  Doesn’t care about any of us any more.  He’s gone all religious.

Tommo:  “Better I should lose my pants than my soul.”  That’s what he said.

Scouse:  You should ’ve seen him when Tommo asked if he was getting’ it off her.  Hey, he was mad!

Tommo:  Says he’s going to marry her.

Marlene:  Well, more fool her if she’ll have him.  I wouldn’t, A can tell you that.

Tommo:  A thought you were keen on each other.  You went around together for long enough.

Marlene:  I went out with the leader, with the commander-in-chief.  Not with a boy that lets the Swarrell lot take his trousers off and send him home in his shirt, and’s too scared to do anything about it.

Tommo:  So you … sort of … don’t care about him?

Marlene:  Listen, if you were leader of the gang I’d go round with you.

Tommo:  Would you?

Marlene:  Or anybody.

Tommo:  Would you though?

Marlene  [emotionally]:  Anybody that was leader and could stay leader.  That’s what I said and that’s what I meant.  You don’t think I care about Nails Palmer, do you.  You’re daft if you do, ’cos A don’t.  She can have him if she wants him – if she’s daft enough to want him.
I don’t – come on, Claire, A thought we were goin’ down to Miltons to get some o’ that stuff.

Claire  [puzzled]:  What stuff?

Marlene:  Come on!  You know.

    Exit Marlene, followed by Claire.

Tommo:  A told you, didn’t A?

Scouse:  Yeah.  Now all you’ve got to do is get to be chief of the gang.

Tommo:  Easy!  Nails is finished.

Scouse:  There’s others.

Tommo:  There’s only us that’s done anything about them Swarrell lads.

Scouse:  Oh yeah, we’ve done great, haven’t we?  Chased some kids for singing that song.

Tommo:  They were dead scared.

Scouse:  They were only little kids.

Tommo:  We nearly caught one of ’em – and anyway I’ll think of something.  A’ve got plans.

Scouse:  Huh!

    Enter Nails.

Nails:  Hey, lads!  Where’s the gang?

Tommo:  What d’you want wi’ the gang?

Nails:  Watch it, Tommo!

Scouse:  They’re somewhere around.

Nails:  We’re gonna do that bloody YPF!  And then we’ll do Swarrell.

Tommo:  The YPF?

Scouse:  Swarrell?

Tommo:  What about Janice?

Nails:  Don’t mention that bitch’s name to me!  Come on!  What are you standing about for?  A want everybody at the corner of Wellington Street in half an hour.

    Exit Nails.  Tommo makes an angry, two-fingered gesture after him.

Scouse:  What are you going to do now, Tommo?

Tommo  [after a pause]:  Come on!

    Tommo moves off.

Scouse  [following]:  Where?

Tommo:  YPF.

    Exeunt Tommo and Scouse.


    Street outside St Sweyne’s Church Hall.  Tommo and Scouse.

Scouse:  A still don’t know what you’re up to.

Tommo:  A told you: we’re gonna join the YPF.

Scouse:  Yeah, but what for?

Tommo:  So we can warn ’em about Nails an’ them.

Scouse:  What do we want to warn them for?  They’ll be ready for us when we attack.  Hey, man, Tommo, the gang’ll do you for that if they find out.  It’s high treason.

Tommo:  Belt up and listen, will ya?  We’re gonna tell Janice Greenwood that Nails has gone back to violence and evil ways and she’s got to stop him.

Scouse:  What good will that do?

Tommo  [imitating Yogi Bear]:  You still haven’t got it, have you Boo-boo boy?

Scouse  [imitating Boo-boo]:  No, Yogi.

Tommo:  Listen, m’n: Janice’ll go after him to save the rest o’ them.  It’s summat religious people do.  It makes ’em feel good.  And she’ll tell him, she loves him, and she’ll slobber over him, and before you know it he’ll have forgotten the gang and be turning the other cheek again – and that’s where we come in.

Scouse:  Yeah, but supposing Nails and the gang come in while we’re still at the friggin’ YPF?

Tommo:  We’ll have to be quick, then, won’t we?  Aw, don’t worry, m’n.  Leave it to Nelly, Claggy, Wank and ’Utch .  They’ll stall ’em as long as they can.  Come on!

    Tommo sticks his thumbs in his belt and moves towards the YPF.  Scouse does the same, moving with a slight swagger to simulate the confidence he does not feel.



    St Sweyne’s Church Hall: the YPF dance, as before.  Enter Tony and Des, agitated and running.

Des:  Hey!  Look out!  It’s Nails Palmer’s gang!

Tony:  They’re coming!

    Des and Tony barge through the dancers towards Mouse.

Des:  They’re coming to do us over!

Tony:  Nails Palmer’s lot!

    There is a general buzz of panic.

Mouse:  Keep calm!  Keep calm!  Des, Tony, come here and tell me, calmly, what it is you have to tell me.

John:  We haven’t time for that.  They’re coming!

Des:  Nails Palmer’s gang!  They’re coming!

John:  Should we bar the doors?

Mouse:  Are you sure they’re coming here?

Des & Tony:  Yes!  Yes!

Julie:  Look!

    All eyes turn towards the door, where Tommo and Scouse have entered and are now standing looking around, their thumbs still tucked into their belts.  Scouse affects a gum-chewing motion, but keeps slightly behind and very close to Tommo.

Scouse  [whispering to Tommo]:  You sure it’s all right?

Tommo  [who is not]:  Yeah, course I am.

    Tommo and Scouse look around them challengingly.  After a short pause in which all the YPF members seem frozen, Mouse moves forward.

Janice:  Oh, do be careful, Victor.

    Mouse advances like a western hero across the empty floor.

Mouse:  Er … um … Hello.  Is there anything we can do for you boys?

Tommo:  Yeah.  We’re friends of Nails Palmer’s.  We’ve come along to join your club ’cos Nails said he had such a great time here.

Scouse:  Yeah, that’s right.

Mouse  [relieved]:  Oh … er … good … splendid.  Come on in.  We were a little worried when Michael left so suddenly.

Scouse:  Who’s Michael, Tommo?

Tommo  [whispering]:  Nails, ya berk!  -  [To Mouse]:  Yeah, he suddenly remembered a pressing engagement, but he told us what a great time he had, so we come along, ’cos we’re tired of hanging round street corners.

Scouse:  Yeah.  You only get into fights an’ that.

Tommo:  That’s right.  If there were more places like this, lads wouldn’t get into trouble with the fu … er … police so much.

Mouse:  Well it’s very gratifying to hear you say it.  Do come in and meet the chaps and girls.

Tommo:  Thank you, Sir.

Scouse  [whispering]:  Sir?!

    Tommo makes a threatening gesture behind Mouse’s back and Scouse subsides.

Mouse  [without turning]:  Your friend’s quite right.  You don’t have to call me Sir.  I’m Victor.  What are your names?

Scouse:  Call me Scou …

    Tommo kicks him.

Tommo:  I’m Peter Smith and he’s Paul Jones.

    Mouse leads Tommo and Scouse into the crowd.  Des, Tony and Alan come to the front.

Des:  I tell you that’s Tommo Thompson.  The other one’s called Scouse.  A dunno what his real name is.  Everybody just calls him Scouse – but A know the other one’s Tommo Thompson.

Tony:  What would he say he was called Peter Smith for if he’s not?

Des:  How do I know?  They must be up to something.  Somebody better tell Mr Mouse.

Alan:  You go then, if you’re so clever.

Des:  We should tell him.  They could be spies.

Tony  [scornfully]:  Spies?!

Des:  Yeah.  You all saw the look on Nails Palmer’s face when he went out.  We all said he would probably come back with his gang and do us over.

Tony:  What’s he need spies for that for?

Des:  Find out how many of us there are.  Make sure we’re not prepared.  Lull our suspicions, and then – WHAM!

Alan:  Wham?

Des:  Yeah: WHAM!  First thing we know they’ll be on top of us.

Tony  [mockingly]:  We’ll all be murdered in our beds!

Des:  Yes!

Alan:  I think your imagination’s running away with you.

Tony:  He’s getting over-heated.

Alan:  He needs cooling off.

    Julie and Norma join them.

Julie:  I suppose little Miss Smarty-Knickers’ll take the credit for this now as well.

Alan:  What?

Norma:  Those friends of Michael Palmer’s, Peter and Paul.

Des:  Tommo and Scouse.

Tony:  Des thinks they’re spies.

Norma:  What?

Julie:  She’ll be the Queen of the May.  Just look at her swanking round as if the sun shines out of her … elbow.  Well I’m not staying here to look at her smirking all over the place.  Come on, you lot.  There’s a bad smell in here.

    They move away as Tommo, Scouse, Janice, Mouse, John, Anne and the rest of Mouse’s group come forward.

Tommo:  Yeah, it’s great here.

Mouse:  I wish you could stay a bit longer.  Get to know a few more of the chaps … and chapesses.

Tommo:  Yeah, well, we’d like to …

Scouse:  … but we got a pressing engagement.

Tommo:  Yeah.  We promised some o’ the lads – but we’ll come back next week.

Janice:  Oh I do hope so – and Michael too.

Tommo:  Oh yeah.  Michael’ll be back.  He can’t wait.

Scouse:  He talks of nothing else.

Tommo:  See ya.

Scouse:  Tarrah.

Mouse and others:  Goodbye.

Janice:  Come again!

Scouse:  Yeah, we will.

    Exeunt Tommo and Scouse.

Mouse:  Well, Janice, it looks as if more than we thought is going to come of your conversion of Michael Palmer.

Janice:  Do you think so, Victor?  How wonderful!

Mouse:  I’m sure of it.

    Janice smiles adoringly at Mouse.


    The street outside the church hall.  Tommo and Scouse.

Scouse:  Why didn’t you tell them?

Tommo:  Subtlety.  We’ve got to gain their confidence first.

Scouse:  So what do we do now?

Tommo:  Get back to Nails and them.  Stall ’em a bit more.  Make sure things are going right.  Then back here and warn the YPF lot.



    The corner of Wellington Street.  Nails’s gang has assembled.  Marlene and Claire push their way through to the centre of the crowd to find Nails.

Marlene:  Nails!  Is it true?

Nails:  What?

Marlene:  That you’re going to do Swarrell?

Nails:  Yeah – and the YPF.

Marlene:  Then you’ve finished with that bitch Janice Greenwood?

Nails:  If I see her again I’ll kick her up the fucking twat!

Marlene:  Oh, Nails!

    Marlene embraces Nails.  They cling to each other in a passionate embrace.  Tommo and Scouse push their way through the crowd.  Tommo scowls when he sees Nails with Marlene.

Tommo  [loudly]:  Are we ready to move off yet, Nails?

Nails  [disengaging himself unwillingly from Marlene]:  When I give the word!  It won’t take long to smash the YPF.

Tommo:  Are we moving right on to Swarrell after?

Nails:  Yeah!  Is everybody here?

Tommo:  Hang on a bit!  Nelly and them’s not here yet.

Scouse:  They went looking for the Victoria Park mob.

Tommo:  They’re handy lads in a fight, the Victoria Park mob.

Nails:  We haven’t got all night.

Tommo:  I’ll go and look for them, eh?

Nails:  Hurry up, then!

    Exeunt Tommo and Scouse.



    The YPF.  Couples are dancing.  Enter Tommo and Scouse, running and out of breath.  They force their way through the dancers, colliding with some and knocking them off balance.  The dancers turn angrily, but Tommo and Scouse do not stop until they reach Mouse.

Tommo:  They’re coming!  You gotta bar the doors!

Mouse:  What’s wrong?  Who are coming?

Tommo:  Nails and them!  They’re going to do you over!

Mouse:  Surely not?

Janice:  Michael would never do anything so wrong.

Tommo:  You don’t understand.  It’s the others.  They said he was chicken for not smashing the Swarrell lads for what they did to him.  They told him everybody was laughing at him.  Said he would have to prove himself again.

Mouse:  I don’t see what this has to do with us.

Tommo:  They said it was you lot stopped him getting his revenge.  They said if it hadn’t been for her –   [he indicates Janice] – he’d have slaughtered the Swarrell lot.

Scouse:  They said you lot told him to turn the other cheek.

Mouse:  It’s what our Master taught us: Love your enemies and do good unto them that hate you.

Tommo:  Yeah, that’s all very well, but the lads don’t see it like that.  They think it’s a matter of honour.  If you don’t stick up for yourself they think you’re chicken.

Scouse:  They’ve persuaded him.

Tommo:  It’s not easy to stand up against all your mates even if you think you’re right.

Scouse:  Not when you’re on your own.

Tommo:  So they’re coming, and there’s nowt you can do about it.

Janice:  There must be something!

Des:  Lock the doors.

Tony:  There’s the cricket gear for weapons.

Mouse:  No!  No!  We must not return violence for violence.

John:  We can’t just stand here and let them beat us up.

Tony:  We’ve got to stop them!

Tommo:  There’s one way.

All:  What?

Tommo:  He’d listen to her.

    Tommo indicates Janice.

Mouse:  What do you mean?

Tommo:  If she went to him … I mean … He thinks a lot of her.  He listened to her before.

Mouse:  Yes.  I see.  The power of Love bringing a backslider to Christ again.

Tommo:  That’s right.

    Mouse looks at Janice expectantly.

Janice:  No!  I couldn’t!

Mouse:  But you could prevent an ugly fight, injuries – perhaps even someone’s death.

Janice  [snuggling close to Mouse]:  I’m afraid, Victor.

Mouse:  Even Our Lord was afraid, Janice.

Tommo:  They wouldn’t hurt you.  They’d never touch a girl on her own.

Scouse:  You’d be safer out there than staying here.

Julie  [sarcastically]:  Now’s your chance to be a real heroine.

Mouse:  It would be a splendid deed – like a beacon on a dark night.

Janice:  Well …

Tommo:  I know he’d listen to you.

Janice:  I’ll do it if she comes with me.

    Janice indicates Julie.  All look at her expectantly.

Julie  [sullenly]:  All right.

    There is a general feeling of relief.  Tommo and Scouse escort Janice and Julie to the door.  Tommo turns in the doorway.

Tommo:  Hey, mind, nobody’s to leave.  Understand?  They’ll have lads watching the place.  If they see people leaving they’ll start the attack before she gets a chance to talk to him.

Mouse:  Then how will you get through.

Tommo:  We’ll be all right.  They know us.  They’ll think we’ve just picked up a couple of birds – but if you lot start sneaking off, that’ll be different.  They’ll go for you – and it’s not just you I’m thinking of.  There’s me and Scou … er … Wassisname.  They’ll know we’ve warned you.  As for Janice – well I don’t know what they might do to her.

Mouse:  We’ll stay put, won’t we, Fellowship.

    The YPF murmur unhappy agreement.

Tommo:  Right, then.

    Exit Tommo.

-  End of Act II  -

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Nails Act I

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