The Banner
The Banner: jeans on a pole a

Part 4: The Battle
Act II

Auksford crest: a great auk displaying an open book with the words "Ex ovo sapientia"
-  Auksford, 2011  -

©  Copyright Robin Gordon, 2011

Links at end


    A quiet back street in Swarrell.  Norah, Rita, Ada, Wilma, Thelma  and other girls.

Norah:  It’s not over yet.  After the lads, you lot.  Get ’em all back down to the goods yard.  Tell ’em  Swarrell’ll not be expecting ’em.  Hey, Thelma.  Come ’ere!  Make sure the Swarrell lot stick around.

    Wilma and the Halden girls go off towards Halden.  Thelma and the Swarrell girls go to the goods yard.  Ada and Rita stay with Norah.

Norah:  Now we’ll see some fun.

    Norah gets out cigarettes.  Her friends cluster round to light up.

Norah:  We’ll have to think of some way to get Little Willie and the Dragons into the fight.

    A movement catches their attention.

Ada:  Who’s there?

Rita:  It’s that old man.

    Old Jake is slinking along the street.  He stops when he sees the girls and starts to sneak away.

Norah:  Let’s get him!

    The girls dart forward and surround Old Jake.

Norah:  What’s an old man like you doing playing with a gang of boys?

Jake:  Eh?

Rita:  He’s a queer!

Jake:  I’m an old man!  Don’t hurt me!  I’m an old man!  Oh, me heart!  I can feel it going!

Norah:  Time to worry is when it stops.  What d’ya go round with them lads for?

Jake:  Nothing.  O-o-oh me heart!

Norah:  You know what we wanna see, don’t ya?

Jake:  I’m an old man.

Norah:  We wanna see them lads getting stripped.

Rita:  That’s what he wants to see an’all, innit?

Norah:  Hey, were you there when they stripped Nails Palmer?

Jake:  No.  My son was there though.  He caught him.

Norah:  Is your son Sid Thatcher?

Jake  [proudly]:  Yeah.  Heard of him, have you?  He’s a hero, he is.  Takes after me.

Rita:  Way I heard it, he’s a poof.

Norah:  You Sid Thatcher’s father?

Jake:  Yeah.  Jake Thatcher’s the name.  They call me Old Jake.  They all know me, all the lads.

Norah:  They know you in Halden too – and we’re gonna take you back there.

Ada and Rita:  Yeah!

Norah:  They’re gonna have some fun with you, old man.

Ada and Rita:  Yeah!

Jake:  No!  Me heart won’t stand it!  I’m an old man.  You’ll be had up for murder.

Rita:  Somebody’s coming.

Ada:  S’orright.  S’Tommo an’ them.

    Enter Tommo and other Halden lads.

Norah:  Hey, Tommo.  Look what we’ve got for you.  The lads are gathering down at the goods yard.  You could use his long-johns for a banner!

Jake:  No-o-o-o!!!


    A street in Swarrell.  Sid, mooching alone, hears voices nearby.

Voice of Jake:  No-o-o-o!!!

Sid:  Dad!  They’re murdering him.

Voice of Jake:  I’m an old man!  Help!

Sid:  I’ll go for help.

    Sid turns away and is bowled over by Stan and others charging to rescue Jake.  He picks himself up and stands listening.  Stan and his companions return, bringing Jake.  Sid hurries forward.

Sid:  Dad!  Are you all right?  I thought I heard him shouting for help.

Stan:  Halden lads had him.

Jake:  Girls!  Horrible!  Let’s go home.

Sid:  Yeah.  All right, Dad.  I’ll take you home.

Stan:  No.  We need you.  King wants everybody down by the engine sheds.  He says they’ll come again.

Sid:  But me dad …?

Stan:  He’ll be all right with us.  Bring him along.  He’ll be safe enough at the engine sheds.

    Sid and Jake go with them unwillingly.


    The girls are looking down from the viaduct onto the goods yard.  A raucous Halden charge pushes the Swarrell lines back in disarray.

Rita:  Good, eh?

Norah:  Yeah!  Boys are stupid.  You can make ’em do anything.

Ada:  They haven’t taken anybody’s pants off yet, though.

Norah:  Don’t worry.  Things are just starting to liven up.

Jane:  It’s not fair.  Our lads are outnumbered.  You lot have been helping Halden.

Norah:  They’ll have to call for the Black Dragons, then.  That’s what I’m waiting for.

Girls:  Yeah!


    A corner of the battlefield.

King:  We’re outnumbered.

Ronno:  We’ll have to get La’al Willie to help.

Jake:  Yeah.  That’s the way.  Bring up reinforcements.  His lads’ll be fresh.  They’ll tek ’em by surprise, like we did that time in the Italian campaign.  Near Monte Cassino it was.  The Jerries had dug in, and we …

    King and Ronno move aside and leave him chuntering to himself.

King:  Think he’d help?

Ronno:  Yeah.  Against Halden?  Course he would.

King:  I dunno.

Ronno:  Send Sid.  He’d do owt for Sid.

King:  Yeah.  Sid.


    Corner of the goods yard.  Little Willie and his Dragons, Ken and Sid.

Willie:  I don’t care if they strip King and parade him round the town in his shirt – in fact I hope they do, and you can tell him that!

    Ken and Sid turn away.

Willie:  The only way we’ll join the battle is if King joins the Dragons.  So you can tell him to come along for initiation if you want.

    The Dragons guffaw and cheer.


    King’s command-group.

Ronno:  Getting’ dark.  Reckon they’ll call it a day?

King:  Some hope!

Jake:  They’re regrouping for another thrust.  Jerries was always doing that.  You wanna put out sentries and send out spies on recce.  I’d go meself but I’m and old man.  Me joints aren’t what they used to be.  No good going on recce when your joints keep creaking.

Ronno:  We’ll send Sid.

Sid:  Me?!

Ronno:  Yeah.  Inborn skill and that.  Handed down from father to son.  Almost as good as sending Jake himself.  Better really: Sid’s still young, his joints don’t creak.  Just the sort of job for the hero who captured Nails Palmer, don’t you think, eh Jake?

Jake:  Er …

Ronno:  And Sid hasn’t had anything much to do yet.  I mean, we’re not using him properly.

Stan:  Aw leave him alone, Ronno.  I’ll go.

King:  Let ’em both go.  If there’s two they’ll have more of a chance.


    Halden lads.

Dolly:  I’ll go if I can have La’al Willie’s colours, whoever takes ’em!

Tommo:  Yeah, course you can.  All we need to know is where they are and if they’ve got any ambushes laid.  When we know that: POW!  They won’t know what hit them.

Dolly:  OK.

    Dolly creeps away.


    Rough terrain.  Darkness.  Sid and Stan creeping stealthily.  A movement alerts them and they freeze.  Dolly creeps past.  Stan signs to Sid and they follow him as he crawls along spying.

Stan  [whispering to Sid]:  Spy.

    Stan takes off his jacket and hides behind a pile of rubble.  Sid hides too.  Dolly peers at the Swarrell lines, obviously counting, then turns and moves down the line.  He is clearly visible in the moonlight to Ken and Sid.  As Dolly draws level Stan springs.  He muffles Dolly’s head in his jacket and brings him down.  Sid jumps in to help and they overpower Dolly.

Sid:  Make him tell where they are.  Save us going.

Ken:  Orright, you!  What’s your name?

Dolly:  Dolly.

Ken:  Dolly!  Well, little Dolly Daydream, you better tell us everything we want to know, or it’ll be Dolly’s nightmare from now on.  How’d you like to be taken back to the Engine Sheds for the Count, eh?

Dolly:  Will ya lemme go if I tell you?

Stan:  Yeah, but we’ll have your colours.

Dolly:  Not me kecks!  You won’t tek me kecks, will ya?

Stan:  You can keep your kecks – if you tell us.


    The girls on the viaduct.

Rita:  It’s getting too dark to see.

Norah:  Once that cloud’s gone there’ll be a full moon – see?

    The scene below is clearly lit.

Ada:  Look!

    Norah whips her binoculars to her eyes and watches as Stan and Sid strip Dolly of his denim jacket, scarf, boots and belt.  He departs in stocking feet, shirt and jeans.  Norah sighs.


    Willie’s camp.

Pete:  We should be helping.

Willie:  No!  I’ve told you.  If they want us they’ll have to join us.  I’m not going near them till they join the Dragons.

Pete:  Halden could be at the Engine Sheds.

Willie:  Never!

Pete:  They could be.

Willie:  Well … even if they are, we’re not interfering – not till I’m ready.  We’ll go up onto the embankment.  We can see from there.


    The girls on the viaduct.

Rita:  Look, Norah!  Summat’s happening.

    Down below a sudden Swarrell charge sweeps towards the Halden position.  The Halden lads are overrun and retreat towards the Alebeck.

    Suddenly Hotrod and his gang, the Furies, appear on the Swarrell flank and send a hail of bricks and stones at the Swarrell youths, who falter.  King and Stan are hit and have to be dragged to safety.

    At the edge of the battlefield.  Sid is crouching down, hiding.  Suddenly he is surrounded by Halden lads.

Halden lad:  There’s one of ’em!

    Sid springs round, looking for an escape route.  His name “SID” is clearly visible on the back of his jacket.

Halden lad:  It’s Sid!  We’ve got Sid Thatcher!

All:  Raaay!
    We’ve got Sid Thatcher!
    We’ve got Sid Thatcher!
    We’re going to take his trousers off!
    We’re going to take his trousers off!

    The girls are looking down from the viaduct.

Norah:  Hear that?  They’re going to take his trousers off!

    Down on the battlefield Ken and Ronno lead a rescue party.  The Halden lads are driven off and Sid is rescued unharmed.

    The Swarrell lads withdraw to the Engine Sheds.


    The railway embankment where Little Willie and the Dragons are clustered.  They do not have such a good view of the battle as the girls on the viaduct.

Willie:  What are they retreating for?  They could have driven ’em into the beck and drowned the sods.  Where’s Pete?  Why doesn’t he come and tell us what’s gan on?


    Behind the Engine Sheds.  Swarrell are in a bad way.

Jake:  A’m an old man!  They should get someone to take me home.

Pete:  Where’s King?

Ronno:  Is Willie coming?

Pete:  What’s happening?

Jake:  Yeah, bring Willie – him and his Dragons.  Fresh blood!  Reinforcements!  Turn the table!  Monte Cassino  … I shouldn’t be here … Why doesn’t he bring them?

Ronno:  Tell him if he doesn’t, Halden’ll win.

Pete:  He dun’t care.

Ronno:  Some of ’em must care.

    Sound of Halden cheering.

Ronno:  Here they come!

    Pete bolts for the way out back to Willie.

Ronno  [calling after him]:  Bring the Dragons!

    The Swarrell lads clamber up to defend the Engine Sheds.  Jake sinks down in a corner.

Jake:  I’m an old man.


    Norah and the girls watch from the viaduct as Halden charge.

Norah:  Now we’ll see some fun!

    Swarrell are driven back from the Engine Sheds.  Ronno and a few others are marooned on the roof.  Tommo and the Wild Bulls clamber up via some adjacent ruined buildings.

Norah:  They can’t escape!  We’ll get a good view of this! – We’re going to get their trousers off!

Halden girls:  We’re going to get their trousers off!
                        We’re going to get their trousers off!

    Unnoticed by Norah, Jane and some of the Swarrell girls have collected a pile of pebbles and rubbish at the point where the viaduct runs closest to the Engine Sheds.  The now let fly with a fusillade just as the Wild Bulls and their followers reach the roof.  The Halden lads leap around dodging the missiles.  Tommo slips and falls from the roof.  The Wild Bulls leap down to rescue him.
    Ronno and his group triumph.  The Wild Bulls and their followers retreat as Swarrell surge around the sheds.  


    The viaduct.  Norah and her girls advance on Jane and the Swarrell girls.

Norah:  What did you do that for?  I told you not to stick your nose in!  We’d have had some good fun if it hadn’t been for you.

Halden girls:  Yeah!

Jane:  Oh yeah?  It’s all right for you to go interfering to help Halden, innit?

Norah:  I’m not helping any of ’em!  Boys are stupid.  If you’d’ve listened to me we’d have had the pants off that lot on the roof.

Jane:  Yeah, you want the Swarrell lads to lose their pants, but not your precious Halden lot.

Norah:  I want the pants off all of them – and I don’t want any more out of you!

Jane:  Shuddup!

Norah:  Don’t you tell me to shuttup!

Jane:  Don’t you tell me what I can do and what I can’t do!  I’m not one of your gang!  I’m from Swarrell!

Thelma:  I’m from Swarrell an’ all, but Norah’s right.  If we start fighting among ourselves we’ll be as stupid as the boys.

Jane:  Well I don’t see why it’s always Swarrell that has to lose.

Norah:  It’s not always Swarrell.  The one I really want to see stripped is that Tommo – King of the two towns!

Rita:  Hey, I wonder what’s happened to him.

    The girls rush back to look over the parapet.

Ada:  They’ve attacked again.

    The Halden lads are swarming up the Engine Sheds.  Ronno and his lads hurl a last few missiles, then beat a hasty retreat.  Led by Tommo and the Wild Bulls, Halden swarm onto and around the Engine Sheds.  Tommo stands triumphantly on the peak of the roof.  A great cheer goes up from Halden.

Norah:  They didn’t take any prisoners – but now the Dragons will have to join in.

-  End of Act II -

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