The Banner
The Banner: jeans on a pole a

Part 4: The Battle

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

©  Copyright Robin Gordon, 2011

Links at end


    The embankment.  The Dragons.  Pete arrives.

Pete:  Willie!  M’n, you’ve gotta do summat!  They’re all over the Engine Sheds!

Willie:  So what?

Pete:  The Engine Sheds, Willie!  They’re our headquarters now.

Dragons:  Yeah!
    The Engine Sheds!
    We gotta drive ’em off!

Willie:  I’m not ready yet.

Pete:  But … the Engine Sheds!

Dragons:  Yeah!

Pete:  What’s got into you, Willie?

Willie:  I’m sick of King, that’s what!  He treats me like a kid.  I want him really annihilated.  We’re waiting till they’re all shagged out – then we’ll get ’em!

Pete:  But the Engine Sheds!

Dragons:  Yeah, the Engine Sheds!
    What about the Engine Sheds?
    What we gonna do?

Willie:  When I give the word we’ll sweep down on ’em.  Then we’ll have the pants off the lot of them!

Dragons:  What about the Engine Sheds?
    [chanting]:  What about the Engine Sheds?
                         What about the Engine Sheds?

Pete:  You’ll have no gang left if you don’t do summat.

Willie:  When I’m ready.

Dragons:  What about the Engine Sheds?
                  What about the Engine Sheds?

Willie:  Orright.  You can take some of the lads and clear ’em off the Engine Sheds.

Dragons:  Raaay!

Willie:  But that’s all.  Just off the sheds, then you come back here.  Let ’em keep fighting King’s gang.  Off the sheds and that’s all!

Pete  [leading a squad away]:  Yeah.  Orright.  


    The viaduct.  The girls are looking down on the battlefield.  Tommo and the Wild Bulls, Hotrod and the Furies, Johnny Cowan’s gang and others are on the roof of the Engine Sheds, taunting the Swarrell youths who have retreated to the scrapyard.

Halden lads:  We’ve got the engine sheds,
        We’ve got the engine sheds,
        We’ve got the engine sheds!

             We shall not, we shall not be moved
        We shall not, we shall not be moved
        We’re the lads from Ha-al-den
        and we shall not be moved!

             Where are Swa-rrell?  
        Where are Swa-rrell?
        They’re among the scrap!
        Cos the wankers
        fro-om Swa-rrell
        A-are just a load of crap!

             We’ve got the engine sheds,
        We’ve got the engine sheds,
        We’ve got the engine sheds!

Rita:  Look!

    Rita points towards the far side of the goods yard, where the Black Dragons are swarming towards the Engine Sheds.

Norah:  It’s the Black Dragons!  Now there’ll be some fun!  Hey, Jane, are you watching?  The Black Dragons are coming!

Jane:  Yeah!  Now it’s Halden’s turn to get beaten.

Norah:  Yeah!  The Dragons’ll have their kecks off!

    The Dragons suddenly begin yelling as they come upon the Halden lads milling round the Engine Sheds.  The effect is immediate: taken by surprise the Halden lads break and flee towards the Alebeck.  The youths on the roofs break off their songs, scramble down and join the headlong flight.

Norah:  They’re getting away!

    One of the last of the Engine Sheds stumbles and is grabbed by the Dragons.

Rita:  They’ve got one!

Ada  [shouting over the parapet]:  Take his trousers off!

Rita:  They’re stripping him!

    Down below most of the Dragons are following Pete in pursuit of the fleeing Halden lads.  Norah trains her binoculars on the group stripping their prisoner.  They pull off his jacket and boots.

Rita:  I can’t see properly.  Are they taking his pants off?

Ada:  Let’s all shout!

Norah  [shocked]:  It’s Johnny!

Rita:  What?

Ada:  Shall we shout?

Norah:  Ye… No!

Thelma:  It’s a boy, Norah.  Let’s get his pants off!

Norah:  No.  He’s school bully.  I need him to debag the lads at school.  Let him go.

    The Dragon’s begin throwing Johnny’s jacket and boots around.  Suddenly he makes a break for it and hares towards the steps.  The Dragons chase him.

Dragons:  Get him!  Get his pants!

    Johnny redoubles his efforts and runs up the steps.  The Dragons give up the pursuit and turn away.

Norah  [to Rita]:  Get him away.  Send him home while he’s still in one piece.

Rita:  But …

Norah:  We need him.  There’ll be debaggings at school.  Send him home.

    Rita nods and goes over to Johnny.


    The battlefield.  The Halden lads are still fleeing across the goods yard.  As they get further away from the Engine Sheds the pursuing Dragons give up the chase.  Pete, carried away by enthusiasm and the possibility of an easy capture, is close on the heels of Scouse.  Scouse cannot outrun him, nor can he shake him off by jinking this way and that.  Pete gets between Scouse and the Halden lads, forcing Scouse sideways towards the viaduct.  At last Scouse makes a supreme effort to circumvent Pete, only to be tackled and brought down.

Scouse:  Gerroff!  Help!

Pete:  I got one!  I got one!

    Suddenly Tommo and the other Wild Bulls turn to rescue Scouse, and Pete disappears in the middle of a wild scrimmage.

Norah:  Raaay!  Get his trousers off!

Rita:  Here come some more!

    Ronno leads out a sortie from the scrap-yard.  They charge towards the scrimmage, but the other Halden lads have turned and drive them back.

Norah:  Look!  Look!

    The Wild Bulls have removed Pete’s scarf, jacket and shoes and are pulling off his trousers.  They’re off, and Tommo waves them triumphantly.  The Halden lads and the girls cheer wildly.  While the Halden youths mock the trouserless Pete, Tommo climbs onto a pile of rubble and waves the captured trousers at the discomfited Swarrell gang.

Tommo:  Raaay!  We got another Banner!
    [sings]:  Oh we’re coming for your trousers,
                  Swarrell scum!

Wild Bulls:  Swarrell scum!
        Oh we’re coming for your trousers,
        Swarrell scum!
        oh you’d best run to your mums
        before we bare your bums,
        cos we’re coming for your trousers,
        Swarrell scum!

    Pete breaks away from the Halden lads and flees trouserless to the Engine Sheds.  A hail of stones speeds him on his way.

Tommo:  Raay!  Look at him go.  – [He waves Pete’s trousers]:  Halden!  Wild Bulls!  Tommo the Dragon-Killer!  Tommo, King of the Two Towns!  Raaay!


    The viaduct.

Norah:  Things are really moving now.  Hey, that’s one pair o’ kecks to us, eh?

Jane:  What d’you mean: to you?

Norah:  To us!  And when Little Willie comes he’ll have the pants off all the Halden lads.  Hey, great, eh?  Boys are so stupid.  Hey, we’ve gotta make sure they all have to go home in their shirts, eh?  Yeah, listen: egg ’em on, eh?  Eh, Jane?  Eh, Thelma?  You go on down and egg the Swarrell lads on.  Go and get Willie!  Tell him what’s happened!  Tell him to come and get the pants off the Halden lads!  And Rita’ll go and encourage the Halden lads, eh?  Get ’em all to take each other’s pants off as trophies, eh?

Girls:  Yeah!

Norah:  Tell ’em we’ll keep the trophies safe, eh?  Get ’em to hand ’em over to us, eh?

Girls:  Yeah!

Norah:  Then we’ll nick off with them, eh?  We’ll nick off wi’ their knickers, eh?  And they’ll all go home in their shirt-tails, eh?  Great, eh?

Girls:  Yeah!


    Battlefield.  The victorious Halden youths are chanting and jeering at Swarrell.  Tommo brandishes Pete’s trousers.

Halden:  We’re coming for your pants!
    We’re coming for your pants!
    Ee-aye-addio, we’re coming for your pants!

    We’re gonna teke them off!
    We’re gonna take them off!
    Ee-aye-addio, we’re gonna take them off!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    We’re coming for your pants!
    We’re coming for your pants!
    Ee-aye-addio, we’re coming for your pants!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    Onward Halden hooligans,
    marching as to war!
    We’ll take the pants off Swarrell,
    just like we did before!

    We’ve got a Dragon’s trousers.
    We’re coming for some more.
    We’ll use ’em for our banners
    in our holy war.

    Onward Halden hooligans,
    marching as to war!
    We’ll take the pants off Swarrell,
    just like we did before!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    We’re coming for your pants!
    We’re coming for your pants!
    Ee-aye-addio, we’re coming for your pants!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    Oh we’re coming for your trousers,
    Swarrell scum!  Swarrell scum!
    Oh we’re coming for your trousers,
    Swarrell scum!
    Oh we’re coming for your trousers,
    yes, we’re coming for your trousers,
    yes we’re coming for your trousers,
    Swarrell scum!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    While all this is going on Scouse has been trying to attract Tommo’s attention.

Scouse:  Tommo!

Tommo:  What?

Scouse:  Let’s get out of here.

Tommo:  What?!

Scouse:  Let’s go while we’re still ahead.

Tommo:  What’s wrong with you?

Scouse:  I don’t like it.  Let’s go.

Tommo:  You must be mad.

Scouse:  They’re gonna attack again.

Tommo:  So what?  We’ll have their pants off!

Scouse:  They might have ours.

Tommo:  Get lost!

    Rita has arrived.

Rita:  Yeah, get lost, you!  Don’t listen to him, Tommo.  Hey, we’re all up on the bridge, cheering you on.  We’re all dead chuffed.  We think you’re heroes.

Tommo:  Yeah.  Heroes!

Rita:  We’ll have a heroes’ welcome for you – and you know what that means.

Tommo:  Yeah!  Hear that, lads?  The lassies think we’re heroes, and they’ll have a heroes’ welcome for us.

Halden:  Raaay!

Rita:  Yeah.  You’re really making Swarrell look daft.  Hey, taking the pants off that lad, eh?  Taking his pants off!  That was great.  You really made him look silly.  Hey, I reckon you could take the pants off all the Swarrell lads before you’re finished.

Tommo:  Yeah, easy!

Rita:  Course you don’t want to have any of your lads tied up guarding the trophies … I know: bring ’em over to us.  We’re up on the bridge.  We’ll look after’em!

Tommo:  Yeah!  Strip the pants off the Swarrell lads and give ’em to the girls!  Great, eh?!

    Tommo hand Pete’s trousers to Rita, then he takes the Banner from Nelly and gives that to her too.

Halden:  Yeah!  Raaay!

    We’re going to take your trousers off!
    We’re going to take your trousers off!

    We’re coming for your pants!
    We’re coming for your pants!
    Ee-aye-addio, we’re coming for your pants!


    The Engine Sheds.  The sound of Halden chanting fills the air, and the Swarrell lads are battered, gloomy and dispirited.

Jane:  What d’you mean you wanna go home?  Listen!  All the lassies from Swarrell are up there on the bridge watching – and you’re gonna let yourselves be beaten?  You wanna  go home?  Call yourselves men?  You deserve to have your pants taken off – the whole lot of you!

Ronno:  There’s nowt we can do.  There’s more o’ them.

Jane:  Thelma’s gone for Willie.  The Dragons are coming.  All you’ve got to do is keep the Halden lads occupied.  Once the Dragons start on ’em it’ll all be over.  D’you want everybody to think you’re scared of Halden?  Listen, they’re a load of hot air!  If you lot go out and look as if you can fight, they’ll back down.

    The Swarrell lads murmur uneasily.

Jane:  Yella!  I’ll give you one last chance – but if you don’t go out and fight, we’re gonna start cheering for Halden – and when they come and take your pants off we’re coming down for a good look, just to see if you’ve got anything.

Ken:  We fought ’em.

Stan:  There’s more of them than us.

Ken:  We fight clean.

Stan:  Yeah.  We could’ve taken the pants off them, but we didn’t.

Jane:  Well, now’s your chance.  Hey, anyone who gets us a pair of Halden jeans gets a hero’s welcome – and you know what that means!

Swarrell lads:  Hey!
        Hero’s welcome!


    The embankment.  Willie’s camp.

Thelma:  Yeah, then they stripped him.  Took off everything, even his trousers – the dirty sods!

Willie:  Who did it?

Thelma:  Tommo.  He’s waving Pete’s trousers round and calling himself Tommo the Dragon-Killer and Tommo the King of the Two Towns.

Willie:  Right!  We’re gonna make our move!

Thelma:  We’re all up on the bridge, cheering you on.

Willie:  Go for Tommo first!  Get the others later!

Thelma:  You can bring their pants up to us.  We’ll look after them for you.

Willie:  Yeah!  I’m gonna have the kegs off that Tommo the Dragon-Killer!


    The girls on the viaduct are looking down on the confused mêlée as the Swarrell lads come out from behind the Engine Sheds and the Halden lads advance, still chanting and cheering.
    Rita comes up the steps and brings Pete’s trousers and the Banner to Norah.

Rita:  I gottem!

    Jane arrives.

Jane:  Are you going to give those back to Pete?

Norah:  Am I hell!  Nobody’s getting his pants back after this fight.  You don’t think any of them are going to win, do you?  We’re the winners!

    Down below the struggle moves into the shadow of the Engine Sheds.

Norah:  I can’t see … Ooh, look!  Somebody’s lost his pants!

Jane:  Here come the Dragons!

Norah:  Raay!

    The Dragons charge into the struggle, laying about right and left.

Norah:  Raaay!  Great!  Go down and collect the trophies, you lot!  What are you standing about for?  Go on!  They’re all ripping each other’s pants off!  Go on!

    Some of the girls go off down the steps.


    In the thick of the battle.

Willie:  Dragons!  Come on, lads!  Where’s Tommo?  Where’s the King of the Two Towns?

Steve:  There he is!

    Willie and a squad of Dragons pursue Tommo and the Wild Bulls.  The chase is wild and confusing through a mêlée of fighting and struggling boys.  The Halden lads retreat, except for those in the clutches of the Dragons.  The Wild Bulls make a break for the Alebeck.

Willie:  Head ’em off!

    Willie shoots off to intercept the Wild Bulls and crashes into Rita, Ada and a group of Halden girls.

Rita:  Ow!

Ada:  Watch where you’re going!

Rita:  Ooh!  Look who it is!

Ada:  We were winning till you lot came!

Rita:  Hey, now’s our chance to even the score.

Halden girls:  Yeah!

    The Halden girls grab Willie.  he puts up a furious struggle but is overborne and pulled onto the ground.

Willie:  Gerroff!  Gerroff!  Help!

    Jane, Thelma and some other Swarrell girls come rushing up.

Jane:  Leave him alone!

    The Swarrell girls dive in to rescue Willie.

Jane:  You’re supposed to be egging ’em on, not stripping our lads!

Rita:  Don’t you tell me what to do – or I’ll have your knickers off!

Jane:  Oh yeah?

    Norah arrives.

Norah:  Stop it, will ya?!  Just stop it!  You’re as bad as the boys.

Jane:  She …

Norah:  Nobody joins in fighting!  Egg ’em on!  And bring me their kecks!

    The rival factions of girls part, Willie scrambles away, and Norah returns to the viaduct.


    From the viaduct Norah is looking out over the battle.  Most of the Halden lads have fled over the Alebeck towards the allotments between the main railway line and the beck.  Willie rejoins his mates.

Willie:  Where is he?

Steve:  There!

    The Wild Bulls are cut off from the main Halden retreat, dodging round rubble, buffers and disused sidings as they try to outflank the Swarrell lads and get back to Halden.
    More Dragons join Willie and they move slowly towards the Wild Bulls, who retreat.
    The Dragons increase in number and fan out to surround the Bulls.  Suddenly the Bulls make a dash towards the main railway line.  The Dragons race after them but the Bulls are ahead.  Just as they reach the embankment a goods-train thunders past and they have to stand helpless while the Dragons close in.  As soon as the train is past the Bulls charge up the embankment and across the line with the Dragons at their heels.  
    Tommo is caught.  The Dragons cheer, and the Bulls continue their flight, floundering through the Alebeck marshes.

Willie:  Let ’em go!  I wouldn’t want to touch their kegs after they’ve been through the Alebeck Marshes.  We’ve got the one we want: Tommo, King of the Two Towns!  Let’s take him back for his coronation.

    The Dragons hoist the helpless Tommo onto their shoulder and carry him off with his legs kicking harmlessly in the air.


    The viaduct.  The girls watch as the Dragons bring Tommo back as their prisoner.

Thelma:  Hey, this’ll be good, Norah.  Hey. they might give ’im the Count.

Norah:  What’s that?

Thelma:  You’ll see.

Jane:  What are we gonna do with the trophies?

Norah:  I’ll look after them.

Jane:  You’ll give ’em to the Halden lads.

Thelma:  She won’t!  They’ll be safer with her than any of us.

Norah:  Where’s the Halden lads gone anyway?

Thelma:  Run away.

Norah:  We’ve gotta get ’em back!  It’s not over yet.  Hey, Rita!  Go and get ’em back.  Tell ’em Tommo’s caught.  They’ve gotta rescue ’im.

Jane:  No!  We want to see him really done over!

Norah:  So do I – and they won’t be in time to stop it, but they might try and rescue him when it’s too late – and we might get a few more trophies.

Thelma:  Aw leave it, Norah.  We’ve had some good fun, and this’ll be the big finish.

Norah:  Go on, Rita!

Rita:  I’ll be missin’ all the fun … aw, all right.

    Rita leaves.  Norah and the others look over the parapet at what is happening in the goods yard.  The procession bearing Tommo has swollen to include all the Black Dragons.  Other Swarrell lads are looking on or joining in.  The procession chants continuously and with great relish.

Swarrell lads:  We’re going to take his trousers off!
                          We’re going to take his trousers off!
                          We’re going to take his trousers off!

-  End of Act III  -

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