THREE CHEERS FOR INDEPENDENCE

(WE OPEN WITH THREE SCHOOLBOYS, ATTIRED TO MATCH THEIR SOCIAL STATUS - INDEPENDENT, GRANT- AIDED AND STATE COMPREHENSIVE)

INDEPENDENT: Im independent !

GRANT-AIDED: Im grant-aided !

STATE: And Im state !

INDEPENDENT: I look down on them, of course.

GRANT-AIDED: Well, I look down on him. But I quite envy him !

STATE: He would !

INDEPENDENT: I believe in an élite !

GRANT-AIDED: Oh, so do I ! Well, sort of.

STATE: Whats an élite ?

INDEPENDENT: My parents pay for my education.

GRANT-AIDED: My parents would if they had to.

STATE: So thats what an élite is !

INDEPENDENT: At my school all the staff wear gowns.

GRANT-AIDED: Mine, too. Well, some of them.

STATE: (RAISES HIS EYES AND PRETENDS TO HOLD HIS SKIRTS)

INDEPENDENT: You wont find teachers with beards at my school.

GRANT-AIDED: I must admit we have a few.

STATE: And thats the women.

INDEPENDENT: We have to have our hair cut short back and sides.

GRANT-AIDED: Were allowed to wear ours fairly long.

STATE: I cant compete with my teacher.

GRANT-AIDED: Theyre talking about having girls at our school.

INDEPENDENT: Girls ? What earthly use are they ?

STATE: Boy, does he need an education !

INDEPENDENT: At least we know our three Rs !

GRANT-AIDED:

} Is that all ?

STATE:

INDEPENDENT: Anyway, Im still independent !

GRANT-AIDED: And Im still grant-aided.

STATE: And Im off !

(EXIT STATE SCHOOL BOY, WHISTLING)

INDEPENDENT: Common type !

GRANT-AIDED: Quite !

INDEPENDENT: Pity about you, though. Not paying fees.

GRANT-AIDED: There is talk of it.

INDEPENDENT: I hear otherwise.

GRANT-AIDED: Oh ?

INDEPENDENT: I hear youre going back to being a State school.

GRANT-AIDED: Oh no !

INDEPENDENT: I shant be able to talk to you then, of course.

(EXIT GRANT-AIDED SCHOOLBOY IN DEJECTION)

INDEPENDENT: Common type. Its very sad, you know. I cant think what the Old Countrys coming to. (BEGINS TO WHIMPER) First it was India. (TAKES OUT HANDKERCHIEF) Then the rest of the Empah. (BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) Itll be Wales and Scotland next, I gather. (MAKES A GREAT EFFORT TO OVERCOME HIS EMOTIONS) Still, stiff upper lip and all that. Mustnt let the lower orders think were cracking up. (TAKES OUT SMALL UNION JACK ON A STICK) Three cheers for Independence ! (NO RESPONSE) No ? Two cheers, then ? (STILL NO RESPONSE) Oh, come ! One ? (STILL NO RESPONSE) Oh, well . . .

(EXIT, DEFEATED)

© W. G. Stanton BA (Hons.)