Bloomers at Bloomsbury (Writing Challenge 2; This Time It's War!)
Now I think I'm right that this is a piccy of Gary celebrating the publication of his first novel Fat Tuesday. His second novel Streakers is out in July. Boy, I'm looking forward to reviewing that one! Apparently he got the idea for Streakers when his trousers fell down when he was rapping one night. Unfortunately, he was so concerned about his double chin he failed to put his hand over the necessaries and was arrested for indecent exposure.
I'm hoping Gary is going to invite me to his next bash because we haven't actually met in the flesh yet.... although... now I'm thinking that when he reads the result of my writing challenge he may not be entirely happy with me. Besides, both of us rapping in the same room could have severe environmental consequences.
Anyway, here for your (dubious) pleasure is the result of the challenge, a short play, entitled Bloomers at Bloomsbury.
BlOOMERS AT BLOOMSBURY
The set is the reception of Bloomsbury HQ in London. A secretary is seated at a desk on the right with her back to a large window which overlooks a bustling London street. On her right, centrally placed, is the entrance from the hallway with a nearby hatstand and opposite, on her left, is a door to Ian Waldorf’s office, senior contracts manager. Opposite the secretary's desk is a seating area which comprises 2 light tan leather couches and 3 fabric covered chairs in a darker shade of tan with an assortment of plush cushions strategically placed. In the middle is a coffee table, with a variety of books, newspapers and a vase of exotic flowers. Behind the seating are a water dispenser, a side table with a coffee percolator and other accoutrements. Pictures of famous authors and novels adorn the walls.
Miss Pamela Sidebottom: Secretary. Late 50s, a rather prim secretary who purports to be a fan of Zadie Smith, Salmon Rushdie and James Joyce but secretly reads raunchy Mills and Boons in the bath whilst sucking dark chocolate. The last time she dropped her knickers was in 1981 when she caught them on a pitchfork during a protest march at Greenham Common. She has been writing her memoirs for the last 10 years.
Mr Ian Waldorf: Senior Contracts Manager. A spindly man, with silver rimmed glasses who wears ancient suits and waistcoats from Saville Row. He also sports a pocket watch and albert and repeatedly looks at the time. He is a stickler for detail and dines mainly on salads and fruit and vegetable smoothies. He lives with his mother and his been working on a self help manual for the last 5 years entitled “Getting by without meat.”
Mr Gary Davison: Published author. A Northerner with delusions of grandeur. Debonair in a Northern kind of way. Although good looking unfortunately has a baggy chin which is a source of annoyance and discomfort. He is contemplating plastic surgery but can only afford it if he clinches a mega contract with Bloomsbury so he is desperate to clinch a deal of a lifetime with his second novel “Streaky Bacon and Eggs,” the story of a Northern chip shop owner named The Fryer who replaces his cod and chips for streaky bacon and eggs and becomes an overnight success securing his own TV series and best selling cook book.
Mrs Jane Turley: Surprisingly young looking 40 something and global blog superstar. Stunningly attractive despite a larger than average bottom. Her first novel failed to find a publisher but her memoir Diary of a Housewife Extraordinaire is now up for grabs. She is a blog friend of Gary Davison but as yet they have never met.
An unknown Author(??)
Miss Sidebottom is at her desk reading a copy of Crime and Punishment, unfortunately her copy of Mills and Boon’s “ A Night to Remember” by I M Raunchy keeps slipping out between the pages and falling on her keyboard. Mrs Turley is seated on of one the sofas, a coffee on the table, and her head buried in a copy of Bloomsbury’s latest coffee table publication “Scatter Cushions for the Visually Impaired.” By A.Twat.
The main door to the reception opens and in strides Gary Davison. He is looking extremely nervous as he is 15 minutes late for his appointment. His suit is looking rumpled and there is a rip in his shirt. His purple tie looks particularly hideous and his trainers look totally out of place with the suit. He carries a yellow builder’s hard hat and a briefcase bulging with manuscripts. A copy of The Sun (page 3) is sticking out of the top.
Gary; Good morning Pammy (Miss Sidebottom cringes at the over familiarity and the sudden interruption causes her Mills and Boon to drop out. She hurriedly picks it up and hides it again.) I’m sorry I’m late. Bloody Underground. You know how it is.
Miss SB; (Regaining her composure) Ah Good morning Mr Davison. (Mrs Turley looks up with a quizzical expression.) Well better late than never. Luckily for you Mr Waldorf is running late. Perhaps you like to take a seat with Mrs Turley while you wait.
Gary; Mrs Turley? (Gary spins round. And eyes up the attractive woman on the couch. He mutters to himself.) Hmm….Can’t be the Mrs Turley I know this one is gorgeous…and so slim… ( He makes a coffee and while waiting desperately tries to cover up the ripped shirt and polishes his trainers on the back of his trouser legs.)
Mrs T is sneaking the occasional look at Mr Davison and trying to hide her laughter. Gary sits down opposite Mrs Turley and pulls out a massive manuscript covered in coffee and beer stains whilst trying to eye up Mrs Turley’s legs.
Mrs T; (Looking up from her book at Gary.) I hope you don’t mind me saying you look so much like a friend of mine. There is a remarkable similarity although there is something a little different. (Gary is looking as puffed as a peacock by the interest of the incredibly sexy woman.) Oh yes… now I see the difference… it’s the chin. My friend has a….. (Pauses as if searching for a suitable word)… different chin. (Gary looks very deflated and tries to cover up his chin with his manuscript whilst talking over the top of it.
Gary; Oh… um…yes. People often mistake me for Brad Pitt but the chins are a little different.
Mrs T; Oh really? (Raises eyebrow)
Gary; I think it’s the eyes that are the same.
Mrs T; Not the dress sense? (Gary, is so pleased with himself the humour of Mrs T’s remark is lost on him.)
Gary; No definitely the eyes. (Gary leans forward lowering the newspaper and stares at Mrs T with his eyes wide open like an owl.)
Mrs T; Oh yes, I see exactly what you mean. (Said in a way that she absolutely no idea what he means.)
Gary; And who is your friend who looks like me. Do I know him?
Mrs T; Oh it’s unlikely you know my friend. He’s from The North – probably couldn’t even find his way here on the Underground and no doubt would probably get himself stuck in a turnstile. (Gary goes bright red and looks very uncomfortable.)
Gary; Well perhaps you can tell me who you are then?
Mrs T; Oh I’m just an aspiring writer.
Gary; I see. (He’s recovered a bit now and is feeling a bit flirtatious.) And what pray, brings you to these prestigious offices today?
Mrs T; I’ve written a book. Bloomsbury has been considering it for a while and now they’ve asked me in here today. I’m hoping I’ll get a contract.
Gary; That’s tremendous! I’m here for a meeting too. I’ve had a book published independently already but I love to get a contract with Bloomsbury! (Runs hand unconsciously under chin and then gets out a copy of Fat Tuesday and pushes it across the table.)
Mrs T; Hmm…Fat Tuesday? That rings a bell. Is it about a Northern gangster who runs a protection racket of the black pudding industry?
Gary; Um….no. It’s about….
Mrs T; (Cutting across Gary) So you’re THE Gary Davison?
Gary; That’s right. (Beaming) I’m a builder by trade but I’ve taken to writing and now I write seriously.
Mrs T; I guess that explains the hat then.
Gary; (Looking defensive) There’s a lot of scaffolding in London one should always be prepared.
Mrs T; Oh I quite agree. One should always be prepared. That’s why I always carry spare knickers with me.
Gary; (Looking like his luck is in.) Oh… yes…. Never thought of that….
Mrs T; Well you know – just in case one has the touch of the runs. You can never be too careful.
Gary; (Looking deflated) What’s your book about then?
Mrs T; Oh it's a sex manual with a self help orientation. (Gary suddenly becomes very alert) I had to do a lot of research. It was so tiring especially putting all the photographs together…… (Gary is straining forward on his seat) I had to study them in detail…. In fact I went to this demonstration…..
The door opens from the inner office and out comes Mr Waldorf, looking spruce.
Mr W; Ah Good morning Mr Davison, Mrs Turley. I hope you are both ready for me. (Turning to Miss SB) No sign of our third guest? (Gary and Mrs T get up to greet Mr W.)
Miss SB; Not yet Mr Waldorf. His plane was delayed but he should be here any moment.
Mr W; (Rubbing hands together with glee.) Well I am looking forward to your presentations. May the best man or woman win!
Gary; What exactly do you mean? Presentations? I thought my appointment today was to discuss my contract?
Mrs T; Yes, I’m not exactly sure what you mean. My letter said just to discuss my book.
Mr W; (Looking perplexed) Oh dear. Miss Sidebottom didn’t you send those follow-up letters out?
Miss SB; Definitely Mr Waldorf. They must have gone astray.
Mr W; Oh dear, dear, dear. This is not what I was expecting. But we shall just have to make the most of a bad situation! (Claps hands together in sudden excitement) Now let me explain. It’s approaching the end of our fiscal year and I only have the budget for one more contract so as I been unable to make a decision on your books I thought I’d give you the chance to do a presentation and whoever is the most convincing wins the deal of a lifetime!
Gary; (Horrified face) I’ve never heard of such a thing! (Mr W looks annoyed)…. But what an excellent idea…. I’m game for a laugh.
Mr W; And you my dear Jane? Will you consent to my little request?
Gary; Jane? Jane Turley?
Mrs T; (Talking to Mr W and ignoring Gary) Yes…well alright Mr Waldorf. I’ll try my best.
Mr W; That’s the spirit! We’ll kick off when our third guest arrives. In the meantime get your thinking hats on! (Returns to office looking suitably pleased.)
Mrs T sits back down.
Gary; It is you isn’t it? The Housewife?
Mrs T; (Grinning wickedly) Yes.
Gary; Why you bitch! All that stuff about getting caught in turnstiles and the sex manual!
Mrs T; Well you fell for it hook, line and sinker!
Gary; And now we have to fight it out over a book contract. (Sits back down) I’m going to win you know.
Mrs T. You’ve already got a book contract. You don’t need this one. You could concede. (Flashes eyelashes and hitches skirt subtlety.)
Gary; Don’t think I’m going to fall for that old trick and don’t even think about trying it on with Waldorf.
Mrs T; All's fair in love and war and book contracts you know.
Gary; I happen to know Waldorf is gay.
Mrs T; No he isn’t.
Gary; Yes he is.
Mrs T; No he isn’t. I know he isn’t.
Gary; (Looking suspicious) Just how do you know?
Mrs T; Weeeeell…. he helped me with my manual…..
Gary; Oh don’t start that again! You haven’t written a sex manual. Remember I’m your writing buddy. Your book’s called The Diary of a Housewife Extraordinaire. Who wants to read that mindless gibberish anyway?
Mrs T; Well who wants a read a book called Streaky Bacon and Eggs?
Gary: More people than those who want to read about dishcloths!
Mrs T; Oh yeah! We’ll see about that! If people bought John Major’s autobiography why wouldn’t they buy mine?
Gary; Maybe because you’ve not been Prime Minister?
Mrs T; That’s just the sort of answer I’d expect you to come up with. I’m going to get a coffee and think about what I’m going to say.
Gary; Yes, let’s call a truce and have a think or we’ll both blow it. Luckily I’ve brought my manuscript. Maybe I’ll read an excerpt or two.
Mrs T; Good idea. (Gets up and makes coffee) Do you want a fresh one?
Gary; (Studying manuscript) Umm… yes… thank you.
Mrs T fills up two coffees and moves next to Gary. As he moves she emits an enormous sneeze and the coffees jerk violently dropping their hot contents all over Gary’s manuscript.
Gary; Oh my God! (Leaping to feet.) Look what you’ve done to do my manuscript! It’s ruined!
Mrs T; Oh dear, I’m sorry. That sneeze just took me by surprise. I’ll clear it up. (Mrs T pulls a solitary tissue out of her pocket and starts to dab feebly at Gary’s manuscript.)
Gary; You did that on purpose didn’t you?
Mrs T; (Mortified look.) Gary how could you even think that? I thought we were best buddies?
Gary; You’ll stop at nothing to get this contract will you?
Mrs T; Well you’ve already said you’re going to win it so what are you worried about?
Gary picks up the vase of flowers and empties the contents over Mrs T’s head.
Gary; Yeah, well explain your new “look” to Waldorf and I’d just like to say you DO have a big arse.
Mrs T (Drenched and with several flowers strewn on her head.) God, you Northerners are all the same. No manners. (She picks up his builders hat and sits on it crushing it beyond recognition.) Yeah well … sometimes my big arse comes in handy!
Gary; Hey that was my favourite hat!
Mrs T; Oh poor, poor little Gary. His little hatty-watty is sicky–wicky.
Gary; You bitch! ( Grabs a scatter cushion and starts to pummel Mrs T)
Mrs T; You bastard! (Grabs another scatter cushion and a book and starts to retaliate.)
Miss Sidebottom; (Screeching) Mr Davison! Mrs Turley! There’s no need for this!
Mrs T; Oh yes there is! (Now covered in feathers from a split cushion.)
An almighty fight ensues. There are feathers and flowers everywhere. Gary is chasing Mrs T around the room. Mrs T is screaming. Mr Waldorf enters from his office and is looking around totally bemused. Mrs T grabs hold of an umbrella from the hat stand and so does Gary. They are duelling. The room is a complete shambles
Mrs T; Take that you Northerner! (Poking him in the belly)
Gary; ( Beating Mrs T around the arse) Take that you stuck up bitch!
Mrs T leaps on the sofa and they continue duelling. Gary leaps on the sofa too and with the extra weight it tips over and they both lie breathless on the floor. Mrs T has landed near her handbag and starts to reach out for it. Gary grabs her leg and is trying to pull her away but she gets hold of it and starts to clobber him on the head. The bag spills open and the contents fall all over the floor as she continues clubbing him.
Gary; (Trying to defend himself he lets go of Mrs T’s leg.) You crazy woman! Get off!
Mrs T; You started it! (Seeing Gary is temporarily incapacitated she jumps up and sits on his chest whilst picking up the large pair of granny knickers (A dull grey) that have fallen out of her bag and holds them threateningly above Gary’s face.
Gary; Noooooooo! Not the Granny Knickers! Help! Help!
Mrs T starts to stuff the knickers in Gary’s mouth as he makes desperate muffled cries and bangs his legs up and down on the floor. Unfortunately for him Mrs T’s big arse is winning the day.
Gary lies defeated on the floor and Mrs T is punching the air with her fist.
Mrs T; I win, I win, I win!!
At that moment the door opens and in comes a man with a bronzed suntan, wearing khaki shorts, tee shirt and a hat like Crocodile Dundee.
Man; Ah….G’Day folks. Have I interrupted anything? (Looking somewhat bewildered at the sight of wrecked office.)
Mr Waldorf: Ah…Paul…. Delighted, delighted to see you. (Hurries over to the new arrival and puts his arm around his shoulder) Just in the nick of time…you have no idea what’s been happening…..
Gary spits out the granny knickers and at the same time he and Mrs T turn round and see the new arrival.
Mrs T and Gary cry in unison; PAUL BURMAN!
Gary; (Despondently) Fancy a drink Mrs T?
Mrs T; (Even more despondent.) Yeah, okay.
They pick up their stuff and head towards the door.
Gary; Your round first.
Mrs T; WHAT?
Gary; Yeah okay, okay…my round……
The door closes behind them. The sound of muffled voices gradually developing into shouting...
Yep, I think we can safely say this play won't be in the West End. But what the heck, I enjoyed writing it!
Copyright Jane Turley 2009