Tuesday, June 01, 2004

In Dreams 

Voiceover : A Free Man In Preston is recorded in front of a live studio audience.

Title music : I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free - I’ve been to Widnes, but I’ve never been to Leigh.

The scene is a busy office canteen. There are a dozen tables, mostly occupied. The atmosphere is chatty and friendly. The décor is fifties Americana. A Wurlitzer jukebox stands in one corner of the room, playing In Dreams by Roy Orbison. The camera pans down to a young woman sitting alone at a table near the window. She is reading a typed script.

A young man enters the room. (Cue canned applause.) He is handsome and in terrific shape. His jet black hair is slicked back. He wears a Hawaiian shirt, unbuttoned several buttons down, revealing a large gold medallion on his smooth and well toned chest.
Everybody in the canteen looks pleased to see him entering in the room - there is a distinct buzz of excitement - and all call out in unison “Hey Tim!”

Tim: Hey everybody! Howz it hangin’? Don’t you stop eatin’ on my account. Hey Louis - finish that soup before it gets cold!
(Ripple of laughter from the audience. This is a well loved catch phrase.)
Tim moves to the table where the young woman is seated. She is the only person not to have noticed his arrival.
Tim: Hey Sexy! Mind if I join you?
Diana: Oh hi Tim! How’s things?
Tim: Things are good. Things are real good!
Diana: So why are you dressed up looking like a twat then?
Tim: I thought my character needed pepping up a bit.
Diana: And you thought this could be fixed by dressing up like Sam out of Cheers, and acting like you were The Fonz?
Tim: Heyyyyy!
Diana: Muppet!
Tim: So what do you think? I got this medallion for ten quid on Preston market. I think it makes me look distinguished.
Diana: It makes you look virtually extinct, if you‘re asking my opinion.
Tim: Hey! Extinct! That sounds good. I could live with that!
(Small ripple of laughter from audience.)
Diana: So did you talk to your girlfriend over the weekend?
Tim: Sure. Lots of times.
Diana: About your blog?
Tim: Erm. I’ve got a plan. It’s in pre-production. It’s shaping up nicely.
Diana: Shaping up nicely my arse!
Tim: Well I wasn’t going to say anything, but those trousers really suit you…
Diana: Come off it, Blog Monkey! You haven’t got the bottle have you?
Tim: The jukebox has gone quiet. Have you got a nickel?
Diana: You know it’s free, now don’t try to change the subject.
Tim: Fancy a cup of tea? I’ll just go and ask Kath…
Diana: Sit down!
Tim: I need to go to the toilet!
Diana: Well just cross your legs.
Tim: Can you smell burning?
Diana: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up, you fuckwit!

Diana throws her script up in the air. Sheets of paper gather round her feet, like confetti, or rising flood water. There’s a small gasp of recognition from the audience, and for a moment there’s an awkward silence. For three seconds the faces of the actors are held in freeze frame. It’s a chilling three seconds. Was she the one in the newsagents? Tearing up Bride magazine? But there’s no time to dwell on it now - today we’re in fast moving comedy mode.

Tim: That was your script! How will you know what to say now?
Diana: I’ll just have to make it up as I go along won’t I? I usually manage alright. Now listen. What are you doing tomorrow evening?
Tim: Digging holes. It’s my new hobby.
Diana: And what about your girlfriend?
Tim: She follows round after me, filling them in again.
(Small ripple of laughter from the audience.)
Diana: Well tomorrow you’re having a change. Get some food in, and get something prepared for, shall we say eight o’clock? Splendid. Tell your girlfriend I can’t wait to meet her at last.
Tim: But what shall I…? Will it be a formal…? What should I wear?
Diana: Wear anything you like Tim, just so long as it’s not that hideous Hawaiian shirt!
(Another ripple of laughter)

Diana stands up, gives Tim a peck on the cheek, before walking briskly off the set. Tim is suddenly alone on the stage now, even the canteen window is shut up. He picks up the sheets of discarded script from the floor in silence.
Cut the lights and fade to black.
Cue end credits and generous canned applause from the audience.
The house band plays an outro of the “I’ve Been To Widnes…” theme music, in a cheesy mock-Hawaiian style.

To be continued...

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