MATRIMONIAL NEWS

The following are the chief characters: 

FLORENCE KIPPINGS
The idea of her Mother 
The idea of her friend, Alice 
The idea of a Man 
Other Phantoms
 
In this play, many of the lines are to be regarded more as rhythm and jingle 
than as "sense." This applies especially to the later scenes, when the episode 
is working to its climax.

By this means, it is hoped to convey the half-formed ideas and images surging, 
tumbling, churning in the consciousness of Miss Kippings as gradually she 
"loses her head." 

Florence must be imagined with a mezzo voice and a suburban accent.
 
Alice is a soprano--squeaky, weak.

Mother is a beefy contralto, more common than the girls.

Such a paper as "Matrimonial News" really does exist, under a slightly 
different title. It is obtainable at many bookstalls, and is not in the least 
indecent.
 
____________________________________

 
ANNOUNCER.--What follows is supposed to be happening in the mind of Miss 
Florence Kippings,--who is sitting alone in a cheap restaurant in tbe Strand 
in London. The time is about a quarter to twelve, midday. She has ordered a 
cup of coffee.... Remember you are overhearing her thoughts--she is alone....
 
FLORENCE  ... Hope the chair's clean.... I never sit in one of these places 
without remembering what happened to poor Mrs. Philpotts ... 
People are so careless--
And with cream too--
Cream--
The funny little cardboards that they put it in--
And the lids such a bother to open--
Cream for the cat--
Puss puss puss--
Dear little thing and how sweet with its ribbon and its bell--
Cream for the cat--
Now who said that-- 
Oh, those horrid girls at the League Social--
Little beasts--
Ten years younger than me--
Cream for the cat--
One can hardly believe it ... 
Ten years younger--
Ten years ago--
Why it seems like yesterday--
Cream for the cat--
Ten years younger that would make me twenty-two--
Ten years younger that would make me twenty-two--
Ten years younger that would make me tootaloo--
Twenty two to two tattoos at Tooting. 
I don't feel a bit different--
Not a bit--
And I don't believe I look so very different neither--
Not a bit.
 
ALICE  Why you look a picture in that blue.
 
FLORENCE  That's what Alice said--only last week.
 
ALICE  Just a picture--
You know Flossie you don't look a day older than young Maud--
When you stand together there you might be the same age.

FLORENCE  And how old's young Maud?--
Twenty--
Yes, she's twenty--
I remember because it ... 
Cream for the cat--
Little beasts--
Saucy little brats--
Cream for the cat--
I know what they meant--
Oh yes I do--quite well--
Cream for the cat--
You're getting on they meant--
Getting old maidish--
Getting nippy--
Those tired lines round the eyes and mouth--
Lady Di--Pompeian Cream--
Getting scraggy--
Getting scraggy in the neck--
Mutton dressed up as lamb--
 
ALICE  Why you look a picture in that blue.
 
FLORENCE  I wonder if the grey would have been ... if it'd-a-been out of doors 
I'd have said the blue by all means, but in here--well, I wonder.
 
ALICE  Why you look a picture in that blue.
 
FLORENCE  Oh dear, I wonder if I ought to.... I don't know what mother'd 
say....
 
MOTHER  What's that Flo?

FLORENCE  Nothing, mother.

MOTHER  Oh yes it is--you needn't try to have me on.
 
FLORENCE  Go away.

MOTHER  You needn't try to keep me out of your thoughts, you can't you know.

FLORENCE  Can.

MOTHER  Can't--you're chained to me--chained...
 
FLORENCE  (With deep emotion) No--that's impossible--it's because I know that 
it's impossible that I've come here--I've come here to get away--to escape.
 
MOTHER  You can't you know.
 
FLORENCE  I can--I can--I will ... she doesn't know I'm here--how could she 
find out--I'm just going up to town mother--Alice's going too--we're going to 
Ponting's sale ... white sale--white lie--well? My own money--why shouldn't I? 
...
 
MOTHER  You're going to town to meet a man.
 
FLORENCE  Mother!

MOTHER  Oh yes--I know all about it.
 
FLORENCE  She can't--that's nonsense--she can't--I won't think it.

MOTHER  You needn't try to keep me out of your thoughts.
 
FLORENCE  She can't know--
I burnt the newspaper--
Tore it up and put the pieces in the range--
Tiny pieces--
Smell the scorching--
I remember seeing the print stand out as the paper went black--
Crumbled to ash--
Every piece--
Tiny pieces--
I remember seeing the title burn--
Matrimonial News--
 
MOTHER  Matrimonial News--So that's how you got into touch with him--
 
FLORENCE  Who?
 
MOTHER  The man--through a dirty filthy little rag of a newspaper.
 
FLORENCE  Mother, I never--it isn't....
 
MOTHER  Oh yes it is--a dirty filthy ... Oh, Flo, how could you--how could 
you....
 
FLORENCE  Crying!
Her body as she sobs--
So huge--
Warm jelly--
Crying--and she's got a moustache--
Like a man--
Dirty old man--
Smelling of eucalyptus--
 
MOTHER  You'll break my heart you will ... break your old mother's heart, you 
wicked girl you!
 
FLORENCE  Wicked girl. Flo's a naughty wicked girl.
 
MOTHER  (Angry) Wickedness that's what it is--
 
FLORENCE  What is?
 
MOTHER  What is? What is?--the idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of 
them things.
 
FLORENCE  There's no harm--lots of people do it.
 
MOTHER  Yes and lots of people do other things as well.
 
FLORENCE  There isn't any harm either--
What harm is there? 
It isn't as if I was compromising myself--
Nothing compromising meeting someone just--
That's all I'm doing--
Just meeting someone--
Why lots of people....
 
MOTHER  Yes, and lots of people do other things as well.
 
FLORENCE  Other things as well--
Other things--
Saucy Nighties in that window at the Bon Marché--
Saucy and no mistake--
Made me think of--think of--
Now why should I think of the hot-water bottle?
That's beastly--beastly--
That sailor in the Beulah Road--
Nice--his teeth when he smiled--
Oh white--white--
And the jolly way he looked at you--
Not cheeky--oh no--
And his legs--
I wish "He" could have legs--
Glad I've got on my good stockings he's sure to look.

MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things.
 
FLORENCE  There's no harm.

ALICE  You look a picture in that blue.
 
FLORENCE  What will he be like ... ?

Bachelor age 38, 5 foot 8 inches, fresh complexion, dark hair, blue eyes, own 
business in the North, £250 p.a. increasing; fond of good music, even-
tempered, healthy; desires to meet lady up to 35, medium height and figure, 
home-loving and companionable ... 

What will he be like ... 
What will he ...

Dear Sir, I have read your advertizement in the Matrimonial News and would be 
willing to meet you with a view to ...
 
Well nothing compromising about that--
Nothing compromising in meeting someone just--
 
MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things.
 
FLORENCE  There's no harm ... if we don't like one another ... well ... we 
simply ... after all its a purely business arrangement ... Well no ... perhaps 
... oh no I want--
I want--
His teeth when he smiled--
And the jolly way he looked at you--
Not cheeky--Oh no--
Dark hair--blue eyes--
Blue eyes--
And he wants a girl to be--
Home-loving and companionable--
Companionable--
Companion--
Well nothing compromising in meeting someone just ... I took care he shouldn't 
know my real address--wrote the letter in a slopy writing with a thin pen--not 
printing--no--he'd know printing meant I didn't want him to--no, not printing 
but slopy writing with a thin pen--"a disguised hand"--quite romantic really--
like that picture Alice and me saw at the Central--no at the Kosmo--no at the 
Grand--the one with Greta Garbo--

ALICE  They say she has lots of lovers--
All the men she acts with--
They say no man can resist her.
 
FLORENCE  Lots of people do it ... slopy writing with a thin pen--and then I 
posted it from Charing Cross--well nobody could guess from that--not even if 
they was ever so cute--why it might be anybody--anybody.... I had quite a 
rush to catch the 6.24 after posting it--the man at the barrier said ...
 
TICKET COLLECTOR  Come along, Miss, come along, come along, come along.

FLORENCE  Talk of run ... and then I only caught it by jumping into a crowded 
carriage--
Oo! Smoking--
Nothing but men--
What a lot of smoke--
Makes the eyes burn--
I'm the only girl in the carriage--
The only bit of skirt--
 
TRAVELLER  Won't you have this seat? 
 
FLORENCE  Oh, please don't trouble.
 
TRAVELLER  No trouble.

FLORENCE  I don't mind standing--I--well--thanks ever so much ...
And then they all looked at one--all the men.
 
ALICE  All the men she acts with--
They say no man can resist her.
 
FLORENCE  But then they just went on reading their evening papers-- 
Somehow men don't seem to ...
They seem to like a girl to be--well! sort of giddy ...
She's getting on--
Getting nippy--
Getting old-maidish--
It's the neck that gives them away.... 
I don't care--
I don't care--
I've just posted my letter--
That's how I felt--
Walking on air--
Slopy writing with a thin pen--
The way to escape--

Dear Sir, I have read your advertizement in the Matrimonial News, and would be 
willing to ...
 
MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine, writing up to one of them things.
 
FLORENCE  What will he be like--
What will he be like--
What will he be like--
What will he--
What will he be--
Tit Willoughby--
Tit Willoughby--
Bit willingly--
Sit willingly--
Feeling giddy--
How my heart beats. 
Giddy. Giddy. Giddy--
Hope my nose isn't shiny--
Five foot, eight and a half inches--
Fresh complexion--
Dark hair, blue eyes--
If he should ... 
He'd 
Step in there at the door--
Hesitate--
Look round the shop--
I shall be dressed in a blue costume, with a paler blue flower in my coat--
Slopy writing with a thin pen--
He walks towards me--
He's in blue, too--
Navy blue--very smart--
How well he walks--
Nice--his teeth when he smiles--
Oh white, white--
And the jolly way he looks at you--
Not cheeky--oh no--
If he should--
If he were to ...

MAN  Good morning--madame.
 
FLORENCE  (Swallowing) Good morning.
 
MAN  So you have come.
 
FLORENCE  Yes.

MAN  I knew that you would come--
My little lady of the slopy handwriting.
 
FLORENCE  Our eyes meet--
Dark hair, blue eyes--
 
MAN  Medium height and figure.
 
FLORENCE  Dark hair, blue eyes.
 
MAN  Up to 35.
 
FLORENCE  Even-tempered, healthy.
 
MAN  Home-loving and companionable.
 
FLORENCE  He smiles.

MAN  She smiles.

FLORENCE  Nice his teeth when he smiles--
 
MAN  Nice her teeth when she smiles--
 
ALICE  You look a picture in that blue.
 
MAN  (Laughs.) 

FLORENCE  He takes my hand--
What splendid hands he has--
So strong--
And yet tender--

[An orchestra is heard far off playing a swooning waltz--flick-flick, flick, 
flick of a film fades in.
 
MAN  (Through a megaphone) I knew that you would come--
Little girl--
I knew it.
I've waited for you--
I knew that somewhere I should find you--
That somewhere you were hiding--
I want to take care of you--
To protect you--
Little girl--
I love you--I love you--I love you....
 
ALICE  They say she has lots of lovers--
 
CINEMA ATTENDANT  Seats at two and four and three and six only--standing only, 
one and three. 

[The music fades away.
 
FLORENCE  (In time with the fading waltz.) How silly--silly--silly--silly--
It won't be like that at all.
 
MOTHER  You're just a silly, romantic girl, Flo; Why, if people thought as you 
do....
 
FLORENCE  Yes, I know mother--silly. 

MOTHER  Silly.

FLORENCE  Silly.
 
MOTHER  Silly,  romantic--
 
FLORENCE  Silly, romantic---

MOTHER  Silly, romantic girl Flo--
Just a silly, romantic girl Flo--
Silly, romantic girl, Flo--

[Repeats and fades out.
 
FLORENCE  (Cross-fading-in) Dark hair, blue eyes, own business in the North, 
£250 p.a., increasing....
 
MAN  After all, romance isn't everything.
 
FLORENCE  No. That's just what Mother says.
 
MAN  Oh, then, you've got a mother.
 
FLORENCE  Oh yes, I live with mother.
 
MAN  And your father?
 
FLORENCE  Oh, father died when I was twelve--no, I mustn't say that, he'll 
guess my age--why shouldn't he--I'm only thirty-two--
 
GIRL  Cream for the cat.
 
ALICE  You look a picture in that blue.
 
MAN  So, your father's dead?
 
FLORENCE  Yes.
 
MAN  Any brothers and sisters?
 
FLORENCE  No--I'm the only one--there's mother and me, just--we live at 
Bromley in our own house.
 
MAN  Freehold?
 
FLORENCE  Freehold--above the shop, of course, but a very select 
neighbourhood--
 
MAN  All insured, of course--
 
FLORENCE  O, of course--I'll tell him that if he asks--I expect we are.

MOTHER  Of course we are, Flo, don't be so silly--You leave things to me, Flo
--you've no head for business.
 
FLORENCE  I've no head for business, mother says--I leave things to her 
really--of course I help in the shop, but mother always checks up the cash 
each evening.

MAN  Good business, is it?
 
FLORENCE  Not so bad really.

MAN  Drapery, I suppose.

FLORENCE  Oh, no--Art Needlework--it's hardly a shop, really--I mean, I 
sometimes think we ought to call it a studio---

MOTHER  You make me tired, Flo--studio! You're just a silly, romantic girl, 
Flo, why if people thought as you do--

FLORENCE  Yes, I know, mother.
 
MAN  So, you're tired of being at home.
 
FLORENCE  Oh, so tired--so tired--oh, if only you knew--if only I could tell 
you--nobody knows--nobody understands me--nobody.

[The waltz has faded in again, and the flick.
 
MAN  (Again through a megaphone) My poor, little girl.
 
FLORENCE  It's so hard for me--so terribly, terribly hard.
 
MAN  Poor little, misunderstood woman.
 
FLORENCE  That's it--misunderstood--nobody understands.
 
MAN  (Still blaring--a celluloid hero) I understand--
I understand--
Girlie--
Let me take you in my arms--
 
CINEMA ATTENDANT  Seats at two and four and three and six only.... 

[The music stops.

FLORENCE  Silly Romantic--Silly Romantic--
Romantic--Romantic--Romantic--
Rome Antic, Rome Antic, 
Rome Anti-chrome, Anti-chrome. 
Anti-chrome. 
Time.
What's the time? 
He isn't due for seven minutes, yet--
Will he be in time?
Twelve o'clock precisely--
Precisely--
That's what I said in the letter--
Slopy writing, with a thin pen--
Twelve o'clock precisely--
Precisely looks rather business-like--
 
MOTHER  Flo, I wish you'd be more business-like--
 
FLORENCE  I hate business--
I hate it--
I hate the shop--
With its stupid little bell--
 
[Shop bell.

CUSTOMER  Skein of three-ply vest wool, please.
 
FLORENCE  White?

CUSTOMER  No, baby pink--how much?
 
FLORENCE  That'll be fifepence, pleece.
 
CUSTOMER  Fivepence? ... Oh well--
 
FLORENCE  Thank you.
 
CUSTOMER  Thank you.
 
FLORENCE  That'll be all this morning?

CUSTOMER  Yes thank you.... Good morning.
 
FLORENCE  Good morning. 

[Shop bell.
 
CUSTOMER  Good morning.
 
FLORENCE  Good morning. 

[Shop bell.
               
CUSTOMER  I want a reel of 40 white ... thank you.
 
FLORENCE  And the next pleasure?

CUSTOMER  That's all, thank you--good morning.
 
FLORENCE  Good morning. 

[Shop bell.

MAN  So you hate the business, do you?
 
FLORENCE  Yes, I hate it--hate it ... own business in the North--£250 p.a. 
increasing ... that is, I--well, not all business you know---
 
MAN  Shall I tell you about my business?
 
FLORENCE  Yes, do.
 
MAN  It's not a shop.
 
FLORENCE  No?

MAN  No--it's not a shop--are you glad?
 
FLORENCE  Yes--I hate a shop.
 
MAN  It's an agency business--I'm an agent for--well--various firms who make 
steel castings and mouldings and things like that....
 
FLORENCE  Oh yes--I'll put my elbows on the table and put my chin in my 
hands--
He's crossed his legs--
What lovely shoes--patent--
And his socks--real silk--
His legs--
Glad I've got on my good stockings--
 
MAN  But I don't suppose you're very much interested in the business---
 
FLORENCE  Oh well----

MAN  I didn't expect you to be--I don't like a woman to be too--well...
  
MOTHER  Flo, I wish you'd be more business-like---
 
FLORENCE  Go away.
 
MOTHER  You needn't try to keep me out of your thoughts--You can't, you know--

MAN  Mind if I smoke?
 
FLORENCE  Oh no--not at all--silver cigarette case--
 
MAN  Will you?
 
FLORENCE  Oh well ... thanks ever so--after all men like a girl to be--well--
sort of giddy--not that smoking really--yes--thanks ever so--
 
MAN  No, I don't like women in business--
I think a woman ought to be--well--sort of...
 
ALICE  You look a picture in that blue.
 
MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things---
  
MAN  Tell me--why did you answer my--well--my advertizement?

FLORENCE  I'd never dare to tell him this really--
Or would I?
I don't know--I might--
If he looked kind--
Dark hair, blue eyes--
I want to tell someone--
 
MAN  Tell me.
 
FLORENCE  Shall I?
 
MAN  Yes--tell me.

FLORENCE  I'd like to--
I want to tell someone--
I can't talk to Alice about things like ...
I hate Alice--
With her pince-nez and her long neck--
 
ALICE  (Reproachfully) Oh, Flossie, you look a picture in that blue.

FLORENCE  Poor old Alice! I don't hate her--no I don't hate her--but she's so 
... well I mean men like a girl to be--well--sort of giddy....
 
ALICE  Oh, Flossie, I don't think we ought to--
I mean what will people think--
I mean it's all very well--
I mean if a gentleman takes you--
Well, that's one thing--
 
FLORENCE  But there are partners there--professionals.
 
ALICE  Flossie! How can you be so awful!
 
FLORENCE  Why?
 
ALICE  Well, some of those men--
Well, I mean I read a bit in the paper about a man at the Palais at 
Wimbledon--
 
FLORENCE  No. I can't talk to Alice about things like this.
 
MAN  Well, talk to me.
 
FLORENCE  Oh, I'd--I'd ...

MAN  Come on--don't be frightened--tell me--
Why did you answer the advertizement? 
Why did you come here?
 
FLORENCE  I was so lonely--
There's no one at home--
I mean mother and me ...
Well, mother has her friends, of course--
There's Mrs. Philpotts--she's all right--
And the Mildmays.
 
MAN  But no young people--no one of your own age.
 
FLORENCE  That's right--there's Alice of course.
 
MAN  Who's Alice?

FLORENCE  Oh, she's my friend-- She works at Ballard and Shepherd's.
 
MAN  She's same age as you?
 
FLORENCE  Yes, we were school-friends and we kept it up ever since--of course 
I'm ever so fond of Alice--we go everywhere together.
 
MAN  Everywhere?
 
FLORENCE  To church, to the pictures, sometimes on Sundays in summer we take 
the electric and go to Orpington.
 
MAN  Do you go to the pictures often?
 
FLORENCE  Oh, about once a week--to the Central generally--sometimes to the 
Kosmo--Alice likes Ronald Colman but Greta's my favourite.
 
MAN  (Caressingly) Greta Garbo--Greta Garbo.
 
ALICE  They say no man can resist her.
 
FLORENCE  They say no man can resist her.
 
MAN  Don't you ever go to the pictures with a man?
 
FLORENCE  I don't know any men.
 
MAN  Not any?

FLORENCE  Oh well, there's Mr. Mildmay--he's the gentleman from next door--
it's a tobacco business and news agency--he's over seventy.
 
MAN  I see. So that's why you ...
 
FLORENCE  Yes, that's why I ...
 
MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things.
 
FLORENCE  No that's not altogether the reason--I had other reasons as well---
 
MAN  Oh?
 
FLORENCE  Yes.
 
MAN  Won't you tell me?
 
FLORENCE  Well----
 
MAN  Yes?

FLORENCE  There's mother.

MOTHER  There you go!
Grumble, grumble, grumble---
Talk of nasty!

MAN  Don't you and your mother get on together?
 
FLORENCE  Oh, mother's not so bad really--if only ... You see, it'd be all 
right if I had more friends.
 
MOTHER  What do you want friends for? Isn't your mother good enough?
 
FLORENCE  It's not that, mother--You know it isn't.
 
MOTHER  Well, what is it then?
 
FLORENCE  Oh, nothing. 

[Shop bell.
 
CUSTOMER  Good morning. 

FLORENCE  Good morning. 

[Shop bell.
  
MOTHER  (Loudly, sudden, alarmingly ... like the Red Queen) 
Fish pie again--well really--
I know you've no head for business--
You leave it all to me--
I do everything--
Toil and plan the whole blessed day for you. 
Nothing but work work work at the blessed shop--
And my health all to pieces--
 
FLORENCE  Well, I work at it too--
 
MOTHER  You--all you do is to stand behind the counter---
 
FLORENCE  Well?
 
MOTHER  Well? Who buys the stock? 
Who checks the cash?
Anybody can stand behind the counter--
Any fool can sell the stuff--
I have to do all the real work--
I leave you to do the house--
I pay a girl to help you. 
And what happens--
What happens? ...
(Shouting) Fish pie, fish pie, fish pie--
It makes me sick--
It does really.
 
MAN  (Very quiet and near) Then you don't have any say in the management of 
the business?
 
FLORENCE  I hate the business. 

[Shop bell.
 
CUSTOMER  Good morning. 

FLORENCE  Good morning. 

[Shop bell.
 
FLORENCE  I hate the business.
I stand half the day behind the counter--
Selling bits of silk and canvas--
Reels of cotton and fancy cushion covers ...
 
CUSTOMER  Yes, that is artistic--
 
FLORENCE  Yes, it's the very latest ...
But I haven't any interest in the business--
Mother never tells me anything--
 
MOTHER  You've no head for business, Flo--
 
FLORENCE  And the house--I hate the house.
 
MAN  Why, I thought you said....
 
FLORENCE  It's mother really--
Nitter natter. 
Nag, nag, nag,--
Nothing ever right.
 
MOTHER  You've upset my medicine, Flo--
 
FLORENCE  No, mother--

MOTHER  Well, somebody's upset it.
 
FLORENCE  Well, it wasn't me--
 
MOTHER  Oh no--suppose it was the cat.
 
FLORENCE  Medicine.
Bottles and bottles--
On the table by her bed--
Bottles and bottles--
And pills--
Nurse Roche, 121 Avondale Road, Swansea--
Found that in the back pages of a magazine--
Backache, uric acid, superfluous hair, bad legs--
Dr. Pilcer's herbal balm--
Found that in the back pages of a magazine--
 
MOTHER  Done wonders to my backache--
Done wonders to my corns--
Found that in Tit Bits--
It purifies the bile--
 
FLORENCE  Bottles and bottles--
On the table by her bed--
Eucalyptus, eucalyptus--
Open the window--
 
MOTHER  You put it down--making a draught--
Want to kill me?
 
FLORENCE  Eucalyptus--
I hate the house--
I hate doing her room--
I dread it every morning--
Makes me sick--
Bottles by the bed--
Her bed--touching her sheets--
Empty her slops--
Hairs in the basin--hairs and soap suds--
Her dirty combinations hanging over the chair. 
She's ... I tell you what she is--
She's a man--
A dirty old man--
Makes me frightened--
Makes me sick--
Open the window--
 
MAN  Come with me.

FLORENCE  Through the window?
 
MAN  Yes.

FLORENCE  Yes--anything to get away--
It's mother really--
Nitter-natter, nag, nag, nag--
And the girl--

MAN  Why--what's wrong with her?
 
FLORENCE  I hate her--
 
MAN  But why--
 
FLORENCE  I hate the girl--giddy little hussy--
 
MAN  She's younger than you and prettier--
 
FLORENCE  She's a giddy little hussy.
 
MAN  You're jealous.

FLORENCE  Yes, jealous--she thinks I'm an old cat. 
Cream for the cat--
(Accelerando) I'm only thirty-two--
I'm only thirty-two--
I'm a picture in the blue--
 
MAN  You're a picture in the blue--
You're a picture Rootitoo--
 
FLORENCE  Now you're at it tootitoo--
 
MAN  Two to two tattoos at Tooting--
 
MOTHER  Two to two tattoos at Tooting--
 
ALICE  Two to two to two tattoos at Tooting--
 
FLORENCE  Two to two to two to two tattoos at Tooting--
 
MAN, MOTHER, ALICE, FLORENCE
Two to two to two to two to two tattoo tattoo tattoos at Tooting.
 
FLORENCE  Time.... Time.... Wrist watch.
 
MOTHER  Happy Christmas, Flo!
 
FLORENCE  Oh mother, what a lovely present-- 
A wristwatch!! --just what I wanted--
Wristwatch--wristwatch--
(Accelerando) Time. 
Time, gentlemen, Time! 
Wonder if he drinks--
 
MAN  Oh no--Strict T.T.
Don't drink--don't smoke--
 
TICKET COLLECTOR  Come along, Miss, come along, come along, come along-- 
(faster, faster, faster).
 
FLORENCE  (Presto) Don't smoke?
 
MAN  Never.
 
FLORENCE  Never?

MAN  (Sings) Well hardly ever.
 
FLORENCE  Time, gentlemen, Time!
 
MAN  Strict T.T.--never touch the stuff.
 
FLORENCE  You let me alone--
Don't touch me--

MAN  Never touch the stuff--
 
MALE CHORUS  Time, gentlemen, Time!
 
FLORENCE  Time--

MAN  Time--
                
CHORUS  Time-- (They prolong the "M" into a humming chord.) 

FLORENCE  Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick, Tack, Tick....
 
MAN  Tack Tick Tack Tick Tack....
 
CHORUS  Tick Tack Tick Tack ... (they continue). 

FLORENCE  (through the chorus). I feel giddy--
Can't see the hands--
 
MAN  Its two minutes to--
Two to--
 
MOTHER, ALICE  Two to--Two to-- (they continue and sing the words with cruel 
insinuation).
 
FLORENCE  Oh, God--I'm so frightened!
 
CHORUS  (Continuing) Tick tack Tick tack (they fade away). 

[Silence.
 
FLORENCE  (Appealing) Mother!
 
MOTHER  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things.
 
FLORENCE  Father!

FATHER  I'm dead. Can't hear what you say.
 
FLORENCE  Alice!
 
ALICE  Oh, Flossie, you didn't ought to....
 
FLORENCE  Miss Cox! Miss Cox!
 
MISS COX  Florence Kippings, you're the worst girl in the whole school.

FLORENCE  Mr. Mildmay.

MILDMAY  I don't 'old with it meself--

FLORENCE  Alone! Alone!
 
ALL and CHORUS  Alone. Alone. Alone. 

[Pause.

FLORENCE  (Whisper) God--oh, God, please help me.
 
GOD  The idear--a daughter of mine writing up to one of them things--good 
morning. 

[Shop bell.
 
CHORUS  (Shout) Good morning.

[Cascade of shop bells and a slam like a huge door.
 
MAN  (Low) I'm still here--
I'm here--
You've still got your idea of me--
 
FLORENCE  You!
 
MAN  Yes, me--
The man you came here to meet--
Your lover--
You've still got your idea of me--
 
FLORENCE  How do I know that you're true?
 
ALICE  You look a picture in that blue.
 
MAN  Won't you believe in me?
 
FLORENCE  How can I? You're just pretence.
 
MAN  Isn't pretence more real than reality?
 
MOTHER  You're just a silly, romantic girl, Flo----
 
MAN  More real--
Isn't Greta Garbo more real than a real person?
 
FLORENCE  (Struck by a new idea.) Yes--Yes, that's true. 
How clever of you.

MAN  How clever of you.
 
CHORUS  How clever of you.
 
FLORENCE  Which of us? 

CHORUS  Which? 

MAN  You.
 
FLORENCE  You.

MAN  Impossible!
I'm not real--
I'm only a pretence.

FLORENCE  But pretence is more real than reality.
 
MAN  (Cruelly) Is it?  Try it and see. 
(Coaxing) Stretch out your arms--
Take my hand--
Come on--come on Greta--
Take my hand--
Girlie-- 

FLORENCE  Nice--his teeth when he smiles--
White, oh, white--
 
MAN  Take my hand--
More real than ...
 
FLORENCE  Sticky!
The table's all sticky--
There! I've spoilt my glove.
 
MOTHER  Silly--Silly romantic girl--
 
FLORENCE  My good glove, too--

TICKET COLLECTOR MAN  Come along, Miss, come along, come along, come along--
 
FLORENCE  Time!

CHORUS  Time, gentlemen, Time.
 
FLORENCE  Wrist watch, wrist watch, wrist watch--
 
CHORUS  Tick tack, tick tack, tick tack (they repeat as before.)
 
FLORENCE  It's time.
 
MOTHER  Time!

ALICE  Time!

MILDMAY  Time!

MAN  Time!

COLLECTOR  Time!
 
[Accelerando, and rising in pitch and volume.
 
FLORENCE  If he should come--
 
CHORUS  (Continuing, faster and louder) Tick tack, tick tack, tick tack--
 
FLORENCE  If he has a beard--

[Fast.
 
MOTHER  Time!

FLORENCE  Or a limp--

MOTHER  Time!
 
FLORENCE  If he tries to kiss me--
 
MOTHER  Time! Time! Time!
 
ALICE  Oh, Flossie, you didn't ought to--
 
FLORENCE  If he should come--
If he should come-- (Faster and faster, louder and louder. Panic.)
 
MOTHER  Time!
 
MAN  I'm here, you know.
 
FLORENCE  You're not real--
The Real One may come--
If he should come--

MAN  He may be like me--
 
MOTHER  Time!
 
MAN  Just like me--
Love at first sight--
 
ALICE  You look a picture--
 
MAN  At first sight-- 

ALICE  They say all the men she acts with--
 
MAN  I love you--I love you--I love you---
 
MOTHER  Time!

FLORENCE  Slopy writing with a thin pen--
If he should come.

ALICE  Picture in that blue--
 
MAN  At first sight--
 
FLORENCE  More real than reality--
If he should come--
 
MAN  Love--Love--Love--Love--
 
ALICE  All the men she acts with--
 
MOTHER  Time!

ATTENDANT  Standing only at one and three--
 
MOTHER  Time! Time! Time!
 
FLORENCE If he should--
 
MOTHER, ALICE, MAN
If he should--
 
FLORENCE  (Very quietly and slowly) If he should come....
 
CHORUS  (Continuing relentlessly) Tick tack, tick tack--
 
FLORENCE  He'd come to the door--stop--look round--looking for me--for me--"I 
shall be sitting alone, dressed in a blue costume, with a paler blue flower in 
my coat" ...
 
[Silence--the chorus has faded away.
 
There is someone at the door--he's stopped--he's looking round--for me--
 
CHORUS  (Suddenly, loudly, rapidly)  Time--time--time--time--time-- (they 
continue like a fire-bell.)
 
FLORENCE  I can't see what he's like--
I can't see anything--
My heart beats so--
 
CHORUS  Time! Time! Time! Time! Time! (they continue and fade out.)
 
FLORENCE  Do something--Do something--
What is he like--
 
MAN  Like me--
 
FLORENCE  No--he's real, I tell you--
This one's real--
A MAN--
 
CHORUS  (Shouts) MAN (staccato, like "Halt!").
 
FLORENCE  Going to Faint--
Red--
Round and Round and Round 
Circles of red
 
MOTHER  And blue. 

ALICE  And red. 

MOTHER  And blue. 

ALICE  And blue.
 
FLORENCE  And blue to two tattoo, tattoo, tattoo--
 
CHORUS  (Fading-in) Tattoo, Tattoo, Tattoo--
 
COLLECTOR  (Beginning faintly, swelling up loudly, as though approaching)  
Come along, Miss, come along, come along, come along.
 
FLORENCE  Yes--Yes--Yes--
Do something--Do something--
 
ATTENDANT  Standing only, one and three....
 
FLORENCE  Do something--he's at the door--
 
CHORUS  (Continuing) Tattoo-- Tattoo-- ...
 
MOTHER, ALICE  At the door--
 
FLORENCE  He's coming towards me.
 
MOTHER, ALICE  Do something--Do something--
 
FLORENCE  Must go--where?
 
MOTHER, ALICE  Where? Go where? Go where?
 
FLORENCE  To the door--can't, he's there--
He's there at the door--
 
MOTHER, ALICE  He's there at the door--
 
FLORENCE  I am here at the gate alone--
 
MOTHER  For the black bat night has flown--
 
ALICE  The brick bat night has flown--
 
FLORENCE  Do something--Do something--
 
MOTHER  (Shout) Go--go--go--go--go--
 
FLORENCE  (Shout) Can't get by 
He's at the door--
He'd see me--
Stop me--
Hand on my sleeve--
 
ALICE  (Shout) Time--time--time--time--time--
 
FLORENCE  Do something--go where--
 
MOTHER  Where--
 
ALICE  Where--

CHORUS  Where-- (They scoop this down like a falling rocket.)
 
FLORENCE  To the cloakroom--
 
MOTHER  Where--where--where--
 
FLORENCE  To the cloakroom--
Down the stair--
 
MAN  Stair--stair--stair--
 
FLORENCE  To the cloakroom--
Tidy my hair--
 
ALICE  Hair--hair--hair--

CHORUS  Fair hair--
Fair share--
Fair hair--
Fair share. (They repeat and fade-out ... like waves breaking over shingle.)
 
FLORENCE  Cloakroom--cloakroom--
 
MOTHER  Run--run--run--run--run--
 
ALICE  Run--run--run--run--run--
 
MAN  What fun!
 
FLORENCE  Hide and Seek.
 
MAN, ALICE, MOTHER  Run--run--run--run--run-- 
 
FLORENCE  Home!

CHORUS  (Loudly--a great staccato chord)  Home!
 
FLORENCE  Secret--hidden.

CHORUS  Home!

FLORENCE  No.
Cloakroom--not home--cloakroom--
Tidy my hair--Oo Flo Kippings, you awful girl, just you tidy your hair.

CHORUS  Home!

FLORENCE  Just you tidy your ... 
Wait here till he goes--
Wait till all's blue ...
 
ALICE  Picture in blue--
 
FLORENCE  Safe---Out of sight--can't see me ...  
(Sings) A--B--C--Tumble down D 
The cat's in the cupboard 
And can't see me. (She cries.) 
And now ... what now?
 
CHORUS  (Scooping upwards) Well?
 
FLORENCE  Now--Home.
 
CHORUS  (Scooping downwards) Home.
 
FLORENCE  To mother.

MOTHER  Fish-pie--Fish-pie--Fish-pie--
You've no head for business, Flo--
Business, Flo--
Fish-pie, Flo--
 
CHORUS  Business, Flo--
Fish-pie, Flo--

MOTHER  Fish-pie, Flo--
 
CHORUS  Business, Flo--

[Shop bell. 

CUSTOMER  Good morning.
 
FLORENCE  Good morning.

[Shop bell.

MOTHER  Fish-pie, Flo--Business, Flo--Fish-pie, Flo--Business, Flo.
 
[Repeat ad lib., and fade away.
 
 
1