THREE CHEERS FOR INDEPENDENCE

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

INDEPENDENT: I‘m independent !

GRANT-AIDED: I‘m grant-aided !

STATE: And I‘m 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: What‘s an élite ?

INDEPENDENT: My parents pay for my education.

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

STATE: So that‘s 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 won‘t find teachers with beards at my school.

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

STATE: And that‘s the women.

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

GRANT-AIDED: We‘re allowed to wear ours fairly long.

STATE: I can‘t compete with my teacher.

GRANT-AIDED: They‘re 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 R‘s !

GRANT-AIDED:

} Is that all ?

STATE:

INDEPENDENT: Anyway, I‘m still independent !

GRANT-AIDED: And I‘m still grant-aided.

STATE: And I‘m 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 you‘re going back to being a State school.

GRANT-AIDED: Oh no !

INDEPENDENT: I shan‘t be able to talk to you then, of course.

(EXIT GRANT-AIDED SCHOOLBOY IN DEJECTION)

INDEPENDENT: Common type. It‘s very sad, you know. I can‘t think what the Old Country‘s coming to. (BEGINS TO WHIMPER) First it was India. (TAKES OUT HANDKERCHIEF) Then the rest of the Empah. (BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) It‘ll be Wales and Scotland next, I gather. (MAKES A GREAT EFFORT TO OVERCOME HIS EMOTIONS) Still, stiff upper lip and all that. Mustn‘t let the lower orders think we‘re 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.)