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Wilfred Pickles played Albert Smith
and







Tony Robinson played Charles
in the first radio play
by Bill Stanton
to be broadcast by the BBC.

THE COMPOST HEAP

by Bill Stanton

OPENING ANNOUNCEMENT:

(WE OPEN WITH ALBERT SITTING IN HIS ROCKING CHAIR. AND SINGING IN TIME TO THE CREAKING)

ALBERT: Rocked in the cradle of the deep, I lay me down in peace to sleep. Secure I rest -

(HE BEGINS TO HUM THE TUNE. THE SOUND IS SUDDENLY ACCOMPANIED BY THE WHISTLING OF THE KETTLE)

Hmmm . . . Now, let me see. Where did I put that teapot ?

(SOUND OF CROCKERY)

And where's the - ? Hah, that's where you'd got to, is it ? Now, the cup that cheers but not ineberates. Worse luck ! Still, sometimes a cuppa - May the day never come when I can't enjoy me cuppa.

(ALBERT'S alter ego, SMITH, NOW SPEAKS)

SMITH: May the day never come ? Ha, ha, ha ! May the day never come ? But it will, Albert ! It will ! You know it will ! Don't you ?

ALBERT: Aaagh, to 'ell with yer, yer flamin' pessimist ! What d'yer want to bring that up for ? Sure it'll come. No call to dwell on it.

SMITH: No call ? Ah, but the call will come, me lad. Never fear, the call will come. You ready for it, Albert ?

ALBERT: Ready ? Ready ? As ready as I'll ever be, I reckon. Roses. They don't smell the same. Not any more. An' no taste in tea, to speak of.

(SOUND OF ALBERT SPITTING)

No, if it weren't for me bit o' garden -

SMITH: Your bit o' garden ? Just as well you care for it. Nobody else does.

ALBERT: Don't I know it ? You tellin' me something ? When I think - All that plannin'. The fetchin' and carryin'! Tons an' tons o' compost I've made - and carted - over the years. Tons an' tons. An' who cares ?

SMITH: Who cares indeed ? You can say that again ! Who cares ? And soon you'll be past caring. eh ?

ALBERT: You suppose that troubles me sleep ? Stop mitherin', do ! Sometimes -

SMITH: Yes, Albert ? Sometimes ?

ALBERT: Sometimes I looks at that garden, an' me compost, an' I says to meself - some day, Albert - soon, Albert - you'll be no more than compost yerself. An' then I looks at me roses. All them roses. An' I thinks -

SMITH: It comforts you, eh ? To think -

ALBERT: What ! Hell as like it comforts me ! Where's all that resignation I'm supposed to get, eh ? Where is it ?

SMITH: Don't ask me, Albert. (PAUSE) Albert, you've finished.

ALBERT: Finished ?

SMITH: Your cup of tea.

ALBERT: Oh, aye. Me tea . . .

SMITH: Have another. Make the most of it.

ALBERT: What d'you mean ?

SMITH: How many more d'you think there'll be ? You could measure your time out in cups o' tea. Couldn't you ?

ALBERT: Oh, give over. do !

(A FAINT CRY, DISTANT)

HARRY: Mr Smith ! Mr Smith ! Are you there ?

ALBERT: Comin' ! I'll be with you ! Hold on, let me get to the door !

(SOUND OF DOOR-SNECK)

Oh, it's you, Mr Topham. Just stay where y'are. (GOING) I'll bring you a cup o' tea.

HARRY: Oh no, Mr Smith, you mustn't bother !

ALBERT: (APPROACHING) Here we are, then.

HARRY: You shouldn't have bothered, Mr Smith.

ALBERT: Me name's Albert.

HARRY: Eh ? Oh yes - well . . .

ALBERT: Here you are. I've sugared it.

HARRY: Well, actually, I don't usually -but thanks all the same. I just came to ask if I could borrow your shears. If you don't mind.

ALBERT: Oh, that's all right. Going to do the hedge then ?

HARRY: Yes, while the weather holds, I thought.

ALBERT: (GOING) Hang on there a minute ! I'll get 'em from me shed.

HARRY: No end to the jobs in a garden. eh ?

ALBERT: (DISTANT) Just a minute. I know I put 'em back in here. Don't go away now ! Ah, there they are. (APPROACHING) 'Ere y'are, Mr Topham, and welcome. Now, what was that you were saying ?

HARRY: Saying ?

ALBERT: Yeah. Just now.

HARRY: Oh yes. I was just saying there's no end to the jobs in a garden.

ALBERT: Know what you mean. Know what you mean. Like this compost o' mine.

SMITH: Careful, Albert. Who wants to know about compost?

HARRY: Well, thanks very much. I'll let you have them back as soon as I've finished.

ALBERT: Of course, you haven't been here long, have you ? Everybody round here knows about me compost. Everybody.

HARRY: Compost ?

ALBERT: Yes. Over here. Look !

HARRY: Yes, I see.

ALBERT: One of the best heaps of compost in the country, if I do -

HARRY: It's not a thing I've ever had much interest in, I'm afraid -

ALBERT: D'you know, for centuries we've been turning the soil over. Centuries. Digging it up and shoving things in it -

HARRY: Yes. Yes, I see. Well -

ALBERT: An' all the time Nature was goin' on in her own way. Laying compost on top of it. Dropping seeds in it. Never so much as a trowel -

HARRY: Really ?

ALBERT: Fact. We've been watchin' 'er at work all these years, and takin' no notice.

HARRY: You must tell me about it some time -

ALBERT: Worse. We've been doin' just the opposite. Diggin' away while she managed without.

HARRY: Yes. See what you mean. Well, thanks for the -

ALBERT: Ah, but you don't, you see. It's not just not digging.

HARRY: No ?

ALBERT: It's what you 'ave to do instead.

HARRY: Oh ? What's that ?

ALBERT: Compost. Everything. Tea leaves. Grass cuttin's. Old newspapers. Mattresses. Flock mattresses, you know -

HARRY: Sounds like a proper dog's breakfast.

ALBERT: Ah, but just see what you get in Nature's good time. (GOING) Just you wait there - don't go away now - and I'll show you. Look ! Down at the bottom o' the heap here. Where it's all broken down, you see ? (APPROACHING) 'Ere ! 'Old yer 'and out ! Just look at that. Just look at it. Black - and sweet. Packed wi' goodness. Packed !

HARRY: (MOVING AWAY) Sounds like a lot of work to me.

ALBERT: Well, so's digging, ain't it ? You just have to keep collecting it. Every day a bit. Never burn anything as will rot down, d'you see ?

HARRY: Ah well, I shall have to be going -

ALBERT: You should try it. Raisin' your own compost heap, I mean. It's like - well, raising kids. You know, all mucky an' untidy at first. Make your arms ache, like. The way kids are, you know.

HARRY: No, I'm sorry, I don't. Have to take your word for that.

ALBERT: You're not a family man, then ?

HARRY: No such luck. We'd both have liked them, you know.

ALBERT: I'm sorry.

HARRY: Don't get me wrong. We're very happy, the wife and me. But yes, we would have liked two or three kids. Not that they'd be kids now, exactly. At our age. How many did you have then ?

ALBERT: Me ? Oh, they're all up and gone now. I lost me wife ten - no, twelve years ago. Course I could go an' live with one o' them , you know. But I'd rather be on me own. 'Ave me like a shot, they would -

HARRY: How many did you have then ?

ALBERT: Eh ? How many ? Oh well, there's Richard. He's the eldest. Done very well, has Richard. Then there's Maggie - Margot, that is. And me youngest, Christine.

HARRY: Three, eh ? Lucky devil. All married ?

ALBERT: No, not Maggie - er, Margot. Career woman, you know. Doin' well. Fact is, they've all done well.

HARRY: Makes you feel proud, I should think.

ALBERT: Eh ? Oh yes, yes. Nice to see 'em settled and gettin' on. But I was thinkin' - if you'd fancy 'avin' a go at this compost business -

HARRY: Tell me later, eh ? I must get on with that hedge or I shall have the wife out here. (MOVING AWAY) I'll see you get 'em back. Soon as I've finished.

SMITH: You couldn't keep him, Albert.

ALBERT: Eh ? No, I expect he's busy.

SMITH: Busy, Albert ? Or bored ? You sure you didn't put him off with all that compost stuff ?

ALBERT: Put 'im off ? Now why should I do that ? It's very interesting -

SMITH: So you say. Ah well, go and get another cup of tea.

ALBERT: Aye.

SMITH: Perhaps he'll come out to play a bit later on. Pour yourself another cup. (FADE OUT) The pot will still be warm, I expect.

(CUT IN CLOSING DOOR)

There you are, Albert. What was that you were saying ? Sooner live on your own, eh ?

ALBERT: Aye.

SMITH: Well, you're on your own. Again. So cheer up.

(KNOCKING AT DOOR)

ALBERT: Now who could that be ?

SMITH: Are we expecting anybody ?

ALBERT: I'll go an' see.

SMITH: Ho, Ho ! Don't go rushing, now. Don't want to seem too eager, do we ?

ALBERT: Look, shut up, will you ? I don't want to get caught talkin' to meself again. Not out loud. (CALLS) Come in, whoever it is !

(LATCH LIFTED)

MARGOT: (DISTANT) Hello, father !

ALBERT: Oh, it's you. Maggie !

MARGOT: All on your own ?

(DOOR CLOSES)

ALBERT: On me own ? Of course not ! Of course not ! Where's yer eyes ? Can't yer see all me friends an' neighbours sittin' round ? Just like a wake, it is. All we need is a bit of boiled 'am. There's Mrs Entwistle, d'yer see, an' 'er old man. An' Miss Jarvis, an' the new bloke from next door, an' the Bookers, 'an -

MARGOT: I merely asked a civil question, father. Out of politeness.

ALBERT: Oh, politeness is it ? Well now, I ask yer, Maggie, is it politeness to come burstin' in like that ? Just when I've got meself lined up for a bit o' fun ?

MARGOT: Fun ?

ALBERT: Of course it might not be your idea of -

MARGOT: I'm sorry, I simply don't understand.

ALBERT: Maggie, me girl, upstairs at this very moment, palpitatin' in me erstwhiles lonely bed, is that there bit o' stuff from down the street. Yer know, the one wi' trousers stretched right tight across 'er -

MARGOT: Father, don't be coarse ! And, please, not Maggie !

ALBERT: An' why not ? You were Maggie years enough. Before you got all toffee-nosed. Started callin' yerself Margot. Margot ! You were Maggie when I dandled you on me knee, me girl. Strikes me you could do with a bit more dandlin' -

MARGOT: I'd rather not hear about it, father. Now, how are you feeling ?

ALBERT: Wi' me 'ands, same as usual. When I gets the chance, which isn't often these days. (PAUSE) Yer can cut out the civilities, Maggie. What d'yer want ?

MARGOT: Want ? I don't know what you -

ALBERT: Oh yes, you do ! You 'aven't been inside this house of a Saturday afternoon in years, and well you know it. What is it ?

MARGOT: Really, father, you are offensive !

ALBERT: Out with it !

MARGOT: I merely came to -

ALBERT: Out with it ! Or out you go !

MARGOT: I - we want to talk to you, father.

ALBERT: We ?

MARGOT: Yes. We want to -

ALBERT: Who's we ?

MARGOT: Richard and I. And perhaps Christine - I'm not sure.

ALBERT: Oh, Richard and you, and perhaps Christine. Proper family conclave, eh ? What about ?

MARGOT: What about ?

ALBERT: Yes. You want to talk to me. What about ?

MARGOT: I'm not at all sure that I should -

ALBERT: Come on ! Come on !

MARGOT: No, I'd rather not -

ALBERT: What about ?

MARGOT: No, not till the others come. Now do calm down, father. Remember your heart.

ALBERT: My heart ? My heart ? Fat lot any one of you cares about my heart. Not one of you ! Not one ! Not been near the place in a month, almost. My heart ? I could have been dead on the floor here for all you care !

MARGOT: Well, what sort of a welcome do we get ? You start the minute we get inside the door, you know you do !

ALBERT: Oh, so that's it ! I've got to get the red carpet out for you, eh ?

MARGOT: I'm sorry, father. I - we thought Christine came.

ALBERT: Christine ? Christine ? No better than you. Or Richard. If it hadn't been for Charlie -

MARGOT: There you are then. Charles has been -

ALBERT: That's it ! Oh, fine. Charles has been. You didn't know, but Charles has been. You'd 'ave been 'ere if you 'ad known, I expect.

MARGOT: I don't know what you -

ALBERT: Still, it lets you all of the 'ook a treat, doesn't it ? Me son 'asn't been, me daughters 'aven't been, but me son-in-law has, eh ?

MARGOT: I thought you liked Charles.

ALBERT: What the 'ell's that got to do with it ? Best of the bunch, is Charlie.

MARGOT: I know you've always thought so.

ALBERT: But why should 'e 'ave to look out for somebody else's old man ?

MARGOT: You seem determined to pick a quarrel -

ALBERT: Pick ? I don't need to pick.

MARGOT: No, I won't quarrel with you. I'd rather just - talk to you. Come and show me round the garden.

ALBERT: You want to see the garden, you go and look at it. I show people round me garden who are interested.

MARGOT: But I am interested, father !

ALBERT: And stop callin' me father, as if I was some blasted monk or somethin'. Go and admire me compost 'eap.

(SOUND OF DISTASTE FROM MARGOT)

What's wrong wi' compost. eh ? Be compost yourself one day, me girl. Or bonemeal !

MARGOT: Father ! Oh, really !

(DOOR SLAMS)

ALBERT: Interested ? All she ever sees in a garden is fairies !

SMITH: What's wrong, Albert ? Don't love your daughter any more ?

ALBERT: Love her ? Love her ? I can't stand the sight of 'er wi' the nasty smell under her nose and 'er deenty hebits -

SMITH: Strange ! There must have been a time -

ALBERT: I know, I know. When I dandled 'er on me knee. Ah, I used to pick 'er up in me arms, and I'd crush her against me till I was scared I should hurt her. Me heart'd near burst for lovin' 'er. Aaagh, what's the use ? If y'ask me. kids shouldn't ever grow up.

(SOUND OF LATCH)

MARGOT: (APPROACHING) Don't mind me, Richard ! I imagine you push in front of ladies all the time.

RICHARD: (APPROACHING) What's that ? Oh, I see.

MARGOT: And don't bother to apologise, of course.

RICHARD: Oh, all right, if it'll make you feel any better. Now, Dad ! You're looking very well, I must say -

ALBERT: (GRUNTS)

RICHARD: I say it's nice to see you looking so hale and hearty.

ALBERT: How the hangment would you know whether I'm hale and hearty or not ? I'm surprised you even recognize me, it's been that long !

RICHARD: All right, Dad, all right. I have got a business to run, you know.

ALBERT: Aye, and a wife. (CHUCKLES) You aren't doin' so well there, though.

RICHARD: Now look here ! We'll leave Caroline out of this if you don't mind.

ALBERT: Suits me.

MARGOT: He's in one of his moods, Richard.

RICHARD: I see. Just so long as we understand each other -

ALBERT: We don't.

RICHARD: What d'you mean ?

ALBERT: You seem to think you know a lot more about other people than anybody else, Richard.

RICHARD: It's my job to know what makes people tick. Couldn't run a business otherwise.

ALBERT: So much the worse for your business.

RICHARD: I hope you're not trying to run down the one member of the family who's made something of -

MARGOT: Steady, Richard. The only member of the family ?

ALBERT: That's right, Maggie. You tell him.

RICHARD: Forget it, Margot. Can't you see what he's up to ?

ALBERT: Me ?

MARGOT: He's trying to provoke you, Richard.

ALBERT: Wouldn't dream of it. Not enough opposition, me girl. Too easy. No fun.

RICHARD: Fun ?

ALBERT: Any sort of fun's better than sittin' 'ere while you wind us all up and make us tick.

RICHARD: Let's start again, shall we ?

ALBERT: Just as you like.

RICHARD: I've come - er, we've come to decide what's to be done for your welfare.

ALBERT: Oh, you 'ave, 'ave you ? An' suppose, just suppose, I don't want to be bloody welfared by you or by anybody else. You clever dick, where d'you get the right to run other people ? Who elected you God ? You think because you spend all day orderin' other people about - I'm not your bloody slave !

MARGOT: Father, stop it ! Stop it ! You'll bring on another stroke -

(KNOCKING AT DOOR)

What's that ?

ALBERT: I'll tell you who that is. It's Charlie, that's who it is. I'd know 'is knock anywhere (GOING) Allus knocks, does Charlie. Not like some folk, Out o' the way, I'll let 'im in. (APPROACHING) Come in, Charlie lad. Good to see you.

CHARLES: (APPROACHING) Hello, Dad. Oh, hello, Margot. Richard. Been waiting long ?

RICHARD: We weren't waiting for you, were we ? Where's Christine ?

CHARLES: She couldn't make it. She - er, we didn't know it was all that important. Anything I can do ?

RICHARD: I think not. This is a family matter.

CHARLES: ( Oh. Well, you know, I do regard myself - (

ALBERT: ( What d'you mean ? Charlie is family !

MARGOT: That was rather uncalled for, Richard. I'm quite sure that Charles -

CHARLES: Still, I don't mind backing out, if you don't like me being here. (QUIETLY) I don't much like the idea, anyway.

RICHARD: Don't like what ?

CHARLES: This - er, meeting.

RICHARD: Oh, you don't !

CHARLES: No, but Christine wouldn't - er, couldn't come. So I thought perhaps I should put in an appearance, like. Make her apologies, sort of.

RICHARD: Wouldn't come ?

CHARLES: No, no. It's -

RICHARD: Why not ?

CHARLES: Weeell -

RICHARD: Well, go on !

CHARLES: Didn't seem to be much point.

RICHARD: Oh ? Why not ?

CHARLES: Well, you see, we'll both be out if it, sort of.

MARGOT: Out of it ? What do you mean ?

CHARLES: Out of the picture.

MARGOT: ( Out of the - ? (

RICHARD: ( What d'you mean ?

CHARLES: I can't say any more just now. Not here.

RICHARD: Why not ?

CHARLES: You - and Margot - you'd better carry on without us.

ALBERT: Good, First sensible word I've heard. You two clear off into the kitchen.

MARGOT: Oh, really, father ! In the kitchen ?

ALBERT: Do your jawin' in there. Charlie an' me'll watch the match on the telly.

RICHARD: No !

CHARLES: Now look 'ere, Dickie lad, don't you start arguin' wi' me. This is still my house -

RICHARD: I feel that perhaps, after all, Charles should be in on the discussion.

CHARLES: Oh ? Why ?

RICHARD: Well, if Christine won't come - . You agree, Margot ?

MARGOT: Oh yes, I'd like Charles. To be there, I mean. Oh, yes. Yes, whatever decision we come to, it ought to be a family decision. I mean, there's really no other way. I mean, if Christine can't be here. I do feel Charles ought to be.

CHARLES: I'm easy. You don't mind, Dad ?

ALBERT: I might if I knew what it was I might mind, lad. If Richard and Maggie want to hold a meetin', let 'em get on with it, I say. I get the impression I'm to be the main item on the agenda. Well, that means they'll be leavin' somebody else alone. Just so long as they don't expect me to take any notice of their resolutions.

RICHARD: Oh, you're impossible. You're - what now ? Seventy-four ? Seventy-five ? You can't go on indefinitely -

MARGOT: Oh, Richard, really !

RICHARD: Do you mind ? I meant living on his own.

ALBERT: I thought we should get to it !

RICHARD: We merely want to arrive at some sort of plan -

ALBERT: Plan ? You couldn't organize a decent booze-up in a brewery, and you - Aw, you go ahead and make all the plans you want !

RICHARD: I might have known -

ALBERT: I've got me own plans !

MARGOT: Father, we're only tryin to help -

ALBERT: There's one way you can help. You can clear off into that kitchen. Or you can clear off home. I'm not fussy either way. But you're not holding forth in here while the match is on. Can't think why you didn't hold such an important meetin' at your house, Richard.

RICHARD: I had my reasons. It wasn't - never mind. Come along , Margot. (GOING) Charles !

CHARLES: Coming !

ALBERT: Charlie !

CHARLES: Yes, Dad ?

ALBERT: Shut the door !

CHARLES: Shut the - ? Why ?

ALBERT: Shut the door.

CHARLES: (GOING) Oh, all right ! (RETURNING) Now, what is it ?

ALBERT: Before you go -

CHARLES: Yes ?

ALBERT: What did you mean ? Out of the picture ?

CHARLES: Oh, that ? Nothing.

ALBERT: Come on, lad !

CHARLES: I can't tell you. Dad. Not now. Not yet.

ALBERT: Why not ?

CHARLES: It's to do with work. But it's not official - yet.

ALBERT: Promotion ?

CHARLES: Weell, yes. I can say that much. Up to me, really.

ALBERT: Put it there, Charlie lad. I'm that pleased. You've earned it, son. Not like - well, never mind that.

RICHARD: (DISTANT) Charles !

CHARLES: Yes, coming !

ALBERT: Charlie !

CHARLES: Yes ?

ALBERT: Just a minute !

CHARLES: What is it, Dad ? I must go -

ALBERT: Watch 'em !

CHARLES: Watch 'em ?

ALBERT: That pair. Richard, well, he's never really cottoned on to you. Suppose you make him feel - what he is. And Maggie, just the opposite.

CHARLES: The opposite ? I don't -

ALBERT: Haven't you got any eyes, lad ? It didn't stop when you got married. Not for her.

CHARLES: I don't know what you're on about.

ALBERT: I wondered whether you'd ever noticed. Moons after you, like.

CHARLES: Oh, no !

ALBERT: Just watch 'er, that's all. If it goes the wrong way, it could be - well, she might do you more harm than t'other one.

CHARLES: It's ridiculous !

ALBERT: It's right !

RICHARD: (DISTANT) Charles !

CHARLES: (GOING) OK ! OK! I'm coming !

SMITH: You look - worried, Albert.

ALBERT: Hmmm ?

SMITH: You look worried. Anything wrong ?

ALBERT: Not like Charlie, that.

SMITH: What's not like Charles ?

ALBERT: He can trust me. He knows that.

SMITH: Trust you - ?

ALBERT: He was keepin' something back.

SMITH: Now what makes you think that ?

ALBERT: Now why would he do that ?

SMITH: Perhaps he was waiting until the others were safely out of the way.

ALBERT: Of course ! Of course !

SMITH: That must be it.

ALBERT: Still -

SMITH: Oh, Charles is all right.

ALBERT: Of course he is. I'm glad he's here. He might keep that pair o' mine in order, When Richard starts holding forth he's liable to get carried away. (BEGIN FADE) I expect that's what he's doin' right now. Holding forth. (FADE OUT. FADE IN CONVERSATION IN KITCHEN)

RICHARD: Well now, as I see it we've got to consider the possible contingencies, Father may live on for years in good health. I hope he does.

CHARLES: Do you now ?

RICHARD: On the other hand, he could have another stroke at any time, and be almost completely helpless. Bed-ridden, perhaps.

CHARLES: Richard, why are we meeting here ?

RICHARD: We've got to accept this as a real possibility -

CHARLES: I would like to know. RICHARD; What's that got to do with the point at issue ? Now, as I was saying -

CHARLES: Why are we ?

RICHARD: Look, let's get on, shall we ?

CHARLES: By all means. When you've answered my question.

RICHARD: What question ?

CHARLES: You arranged this - meeting, as you call it. You arranged the venue, I imagine. Why here ?

RICHARD: Why not ?

CHARLES: No. My question first.

RICHARD: I merely thought - Well, if we do decide that something must be - When we decide what's to be done, we can acquaint father with -

CHARLES: And suppose we don't ? Suppose we decide to let things stay as they are ?

MARGOT: Can we let things stay as they are, Charles ? I mean, I can't quite see us deciding - What I mean is -

RICHARD: Of course not !

CHARLES: Oh ?

RICHARD: Of course not ! Out of the question !

CHARLES: Why ?

MARGOT: I agree with Charles, Richard. Why ?

RICHARD: It's common-sense, that's why !

CHARLES: I'll tell you what I think is common-sense, Richard. To let the old man go on enjoying his freedom and his independence as long as he can.

MARGOT: Of course !

RICHARD: Look, I've been over all this once today !

CHARLES: Oh ? Who with ?

MARGOT: Only me, Charles. We talked it over on the 'phone.

CHARLES: Well done, Richard ! That's what I call a free and frank discussion.

RICHARD: It was never intended that you - anyway, I spoke to Christine -

CHARLES: I know that. But only to tell her that you wanted to meet here.

RICHARD: No, you're wrong. I discussed the entire matter with Christine.

CHARLES: Oh, you did.

RICHARD: What's more, she agrees with me.

CHARLES: Tell me, Richard, is there anybody else in the dark ? Apart from me, I mean ?

RICHARD: I said it was a family matter -

CHARLES: Then you won't have discussed it with Caroline ?

RICHARD: Of course I've discussed it with Caroline ! Caroline's my wife.

CHARLES: And Christine's mine ! And if Caroline's family, so am I !

RICHARD: I really can't see where all this is getting us -

CHARLES: I'll tell you, Richard. I didn't like the idea from the start. And I like discussing it here even less. I can quite see that in the long run we might have to do something about him. And, whatever it is, it will affect us all. The whole family. So we should all be in on it. And we should all agree.

MARGOT: I think Charles is right.

RICHARD: You didn't think so this morning !

CHARLES: What did Caroline say, Richard ?

RICHARD: Caroline ? I - er, she agreed with me, of course.

CHARLES: Of course ?

RICHARD: Yes, of course.

CHARLES: Really ?

RICHARD: We discussed it this morning. In the car. (BEGIN FADE) Shopping. Right after breakfast.

(CROSS FADE TO SOUND OF CAR)

It's quite out of the question, Caroline. Quite out of the question.

CAROLINE: But, Richard -

RICHARD: It's no good, Caroline. We can't have him with us. I'm surprise at you suggesting it.

CAROLINE: I quite see that he's happy enough where he is. I wasn't thinking of that. I just thought we could perhaps make him more - comfortable with us. (PAUSE) You drive well. Richard.

RICHARD: Aha, that won't work !

CAROLINE: Won't work ?

RICHARD: Soft soap.

CAROLINE: Believe me, I had no such idea in mind. I was merely remarking that you drive well.

RICHARD: And what prompted the remark ?

CAROLINE: Nothing. Except -

RICHARD: Go on.

CAROLINE: All right. It is surprising. The moment you get behind the wheel you're more - tolerant. You don't bully-rag pedestrians. You don't - compete.

RICHARD: Why should I ? I'm easy-going enough.

CAROLINE: Hmm.

RICHARD: Well, aren't I ?

CAROLINE: Sometimes.

RICHARD: Go on then. Tell me when I'm not.

CAROLINE: Like sometimes. Like now.

RICHARD: Now ?

CAROLINE: Your father.

RICHARD: Oh, that's it. It's no good, Caroline. We can't have him with us.

CAROLINE: Why not ?

RICHARD: It wouldn't be - It wouldn't work.

CAROLINE: Why not ? He wouldn't be in the way. It's not as if we had children to upset him -

RICHARD: That's not the point. There are - other things.

CAROLINE: What other things ?

RICHARD: Weeell, never mind.

CAROLINE: I wouldn't mind.

RICHARD: I would ! Imagine ! If we had friends in. For a barbecue in the garden, say. Can't you just see him doddering around boring the pants off everybody with his blasted no-digging method. We'd get nothing but blasted compost morning, noon and night.

CAROLINE: He'd save you money in the garden, you know -

RICHARD: Garden ? Inside six months it wouldn't be a garden ! It would be a blasted compost-heap. Him and his back-to-Nature nonsense. He's not coming !

CAROLINE: Richard, have you thought ? He'd be company for me. The weekends you're away so often. On your business trips. I sometimes get - lonely.

RICHARD: Ah, there's an empty space !

(CAR SLOWS DOWN AND STOPS).

PAUSE. DOORS CLOSE)

CAROLINE: I mean it, you know. I'm not just saying it.

RICHARD: Mean what ?

CAROLINE: Oh, never mind. Come on.

RICHARD: No. What do you mean ?

CAROLINE: What I said. I get lonely.

RICHARD: And when I get back I need rest. Relaxation. Fat lot I'd get with him mooning about the place.

CAROLINE: What do you suggest we do about him then ?

RICHARD: I don't know ! Does it matter ? Get some help in or something.

CAROLINE: Couldn't you let him get his own help ? He might prefer that. Make him feel more -

RICHARD: And how's he to pay for it ?

CAROLINE: We could help.

RICHARD: Oh, no ! Oh, no ! Not that again ! No more allowances !

CAROLINE: You made him an allowance ? You never told me !

RICHARD: Weell, no. Come on !

CAROLINE: Why not ?

RICHARD: I didn't want to.

CAROLINE: I'm sorry. I shouldn't have pried. But if you will keep these things to yourself -

RICHARD: If you must know, he wouldn't take it !

CAROLINE: Just a minute. No, don't hurry on. Why ?

RICHARD: Why ?

CAROLINE: Why wouldn't he take it ?

RICHARD: I'd arranged a cheque monthly. Through the firm, of course.

CAROLINE: Oh, of course. Wouldn't actually cost you anything that way, would it ?

RICHARD: It was all the same to him, wasn't it ?

CAROLINE: Keep your voice down, please. Was it all the same to him ?

RICHARD: Of course.

CAROLINE: Then why wouldn't he take it ?

RICHARD: I don't know why ! Good God, how would anybody know how his mind works ?

CAROLINE: He'd have taken it from you out of your own pocket, I expect. If you'd put it to him properly. Just a small token in return for what he's done for you. But he didn't see why he should be the means of a tax fiddle -

RICHARD: Blast you ! You read the letter !

CAROLINE: No, I didn't need to. I know you.

RICHARD: Don't you adopt that tone with me -

CAROLINE: Richard, will you please keep your voice down in public ? You can make that allowance to me. I'll see he gets it.

RICHARD: I'll do no such thing.

CAROLINE: You will. Nobody will ever convict you of not knowing which side his bread's buttered.

RICHARD: What d'you mean ?

CAROLINE: I expect my own father had someone like you in mind when he left me enough of the business to make me secure. You'll make that allowance to me. And not out of the firm.

RICHARD: All right, all right. But he's not coming to live with us.

CAROLINE: I don't think I'd wish it on him. I was thinking of myself, I suppose.

RICHARD: That's settled then.

CAROLINE: I'll go down and see him oftener.

RICHARD: Though I can't see for the life of me why it shouldn't come out of the business.

CAROLINE: We must try to persuade him to get some help with the money.

RICHARD: It's not as if he would know. If it came through you.

CAROLINE: But mind, not a word of this to the rest of the family .

RICHARD: It's only his stupid pig-headedness.

CAROLINE: I said that the rest of the family are not to know about this.

RICHARD: All right, all right. They'll get to know, I expect.

CAROLINE: Not from him they won't. So mind you don't let it out when you see them. Just be extra tactful this afternoon, eh ?

RICHARD: Anyone would think I had no tact at all.

CAROLINE: That's right, Richard. (BEGIN FADE) I expect that's what some people would think.

(CROSS FADE TO ALBERT'S KITCHEN)

CHARLES: I don't get it, Richard. That's Caroline's opinion ? I must say it doesn't sound like Caroline to me. I don't know her all that well, of course.

RICHARD: No, you don't, do you ? (PAUSE) Caroline comes of very good stock. People like her have - er - standards. A position to maintain, you know.

CAROLINE: Quite.

RICHARD: I'd have had him like a shot.

MARGOT: You would ?

RICHARD: Rather ! We've plenty of room. I thought he'd be company for Caroline.

CHARLES: Did you ?

RICHARD: And he'd have had the run of the garden.

CHARLES: You talk about him as if he was a spaniel !

RICHARD: Eh ? Oh. Yes. But you can see, can't you, that it wouldn't work unless Caroline accepted the arrangement.

CAROLINE: Which, according to you, she won't ?

MARGOT: Well, that seems to be that. We can't force Caroline to have him, can we, Charles ?

RICHARD: No. And with me away such a lot it's Caroline who has to be pleased, you know.

MARGOT: What next, then ? Can you suggest anything, Charles ?

RICHARD: I can. What about you ?

MARGOT: Me ?

RICHARD: Yes.

MARGOT: You can't be serious ! In my little flat ?

RICHARD: It's a daughter's duty to look after her father.

CHARLES: Just a minute ! I don't get the logic of that.

RICHARD: Everybody know it is.

CHARLES: Well, I don't for a start.

MARGOT: Thank you, Charles ! Thank you for standing up for me !

CHARLES: Besides, if that's the argument, Christine's in the running as well.

RICHARD: Granted. But I thought you said -

CHARLES: Yes, we are. Out of it, I mean. There's nothing we can do about it. It isn't up to us. I wish it was.

RICHARD: What you're trying to say is that Christine won't have him.

CHARLES: No. Naturally, I've talked it over with her. After lunch. Just before I came. What I'm saying is that we haven't any choice. (BEGIN FADE) I'm sorry about it, but that's the way it is.

(CROSS FADE TO SOUNDS OF CROCKERY)

CHARLES: No, Chris, that's not it. They didn't actually say they wouldn't take him. But they can't tell us - they won't tell us before the medical. And even if he failed it they wouldn't have to tell us why.

CHRISTINE: Medical ? Do we all have to take a medical ?

CHARLES: Yes. But we shall be all right. And the kids.

CHRISTINE: When are you going to tell them ?

CHARLES: The kids ? When we - when they've given us the verdict.

CHRISTINE: Verdict ?

CHARLES: Yes. About Dad.

CHRISTINE: But why ?

CHARLES: Why what ?

CHRISTINE: Why won't you tell the kids now ?

CHARLES: You know what they're like. They'd be filling him with tales about Australia until - well, I thought it was best to wait. When we're sure that he can go -

CHRISTINE: He can't !

CHARLES: What's that ?

CHRISTINE: He can't go !

CHARLES: We don't know for sure yet. Naturally they didn't say -

CHRISTINE: We're not taking him !

CHARLES: What d'you mean ? We're not taking him.

CHRISTINE: He's not going with us !

CHARLES: I'm sorry. I didn't -

CHRISTINE: I was talking to June. June Marriott. Jack's been over to Sydney a lot. And Melbourne.

CHARLES: Well ?

CHRISTINE: She says if we're going to live in Sydney it would have to be Belle Vue Hill. Or Vaucluse, I think it was. She gave me some names -

CHARLES: What's all this got to do with Dad ?

CHRISTINE: Those places. He wouldn't fit in !

CHARLES: Wouldn't fit - ?

CHRISTINE: He'd feel awkward. He's not used to -

CHARLES: Come off it, Chris ! Australia's not like that.

CHRISTINE: It is ! It is ! I found out ! It is !

CHARLES: And suppose it is ? Do we have to fit into any of their snobby little strait-jackets ? Of course he's coming. If they'll have him.

CHRISTINE: And if they won't ?

CHARLES: We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

CHRISTINE: As far as I'm concerned, it's here now.

CHARLES: Here now ? What d'you mean ?

CHRISTINE: If he goes, I don't !

CHARLES: What !

CHRISTINE: I've had all I want of this life -

CHARLES: It's not a bad life !

CHRISTINE: Speak for yourself. You have all the fun. All the excitement. Promotion. But what about me ? I'm sick and tired of scrimping and scraping. Mending and making do. Going without. Trying to make the kids and me look like ten poundsworth on fifty pee. I'm sick of it. I've only stuck it for this - this chance. I'm sick of trying to compete with everything against us.

CHARLES: I know, love. I know. You've been - But what's all this to do with Dad ?

CHRISTINE: He'd hold us back. He wouldn't fit in. He's not going !

CHARLES: I vote we talk about it later, When we know -

CHRISTINE: There's nothing to talk about. If he goes, I don't ! And if I don't you can't ! Can you ?

(PAUSE)

CHARLES: How are you going to tell him ?

CHRISTINE: I'm not ! You are !

CHARLES: Oh no ! Oh no !

CHRISTINE: You've no choice !

CHARLES: Why not ?

CHRISTINE: He wouldn't believe me. If I told him - started making excuses - he'd know.

CHARLES: So ?

CHRISTINE: He'll believe you !

CHARLES: I see.

CHRISTINE: Look, if you think I'm enjoying this - I feel sick. Dirty. But I'm not going back on it - ! He's not coming ! We've got a whole life. He's only - a few years.

CHARLES: That's what I've been thinking all along.

CHRISTINE: Anyway, I'm not going this afternoon. You'll have to.

CHARLES: And what do I tell him ?

CHRISTINE: What you like. If I go, he'll guess. He'll know. I don't want to hurt him -

CHARLES: Well, that's something, I suppose.

CHRISTINE: Oh, for God's sake don't stand there looking righteous ! If he fails the medical, what will you do then ? Stop here ? Chuck away this chance ?

CHARLES: Of course not.

CHRISTINE: I'm saving him that disappointment then.

CHARLES: It's a point of view.

CHRISTINE: One thing - Don't you go holding out any faint hopes. It'll only make things worse.

CHARLES: You really mean it.

CHRISTINE: I do. I'm fighting for all of us, can't you see ? You're on your way to be a top executive in Sydney. Nothing's going to stop that. Nothing ! I don't care how you tell him - (SHE BEGINS TO WEEP BITTERLY) Only tell him ! Tell him! He's not coming ! He's not coming !

CHARLES: I'll tell him this afternoon. And the others. All right, Chris, all right. (BEGIN FADE) I - I'll think of Something. Something -

(CROSS FADE TO SCENE IN KITCHEN)

CHARLES: So you see, don't you ? I simply couldn't do anything else. Christine wanted to take him naturally, but we couldn't afford to take that risk.

MARGOT: You're a poor liar, Charles.

CHARLES: I don't know what you mean.

MARGOT: I don't believe a word of it.

CHARLES: Now why should you say that ?

MARGOT: Why shouldn't I ? I know my sister. It's her. You'd take him. Wouldn't you ?

CHARLES: What gives you that - ?

MARGOT: It's obvious. It's not you. It's her. My precious sister. She won't take him. I'm not surprised.

CHARLES: You've got to see her point of view.

MARGOT: So it is her. Selfish little bitch !

CHARLES: Now, look - !

MARGOT: Why ? Why ? She's always had things her own way. Baby of the family, always getting things she wanted. Things I wanted.

RICHARD: It's just what I would have expected -

MARGOT: The grabbing little - ! Why does she always get away with it ? She's got - everything else.

CHARLES: It's not like that !

MARGOT: Isn't it ? I know why she won't take him. She's a snob. She always was. She doesn't want him. I've got to have him. That's it. And you - you'll be thousands of miles (BREAKING DOWN) I can't stay here. I'm too - (GOING) I - I'm going. Suit yourself

! I've - (DOOR SLAMS. SOUND OF RADIO)

ALBERT: Hello, hello ! What's all this then, Maggie ? What's goin' on in there ? Fallin' out ? You shouldn't let Richard upset you, girl.

MARGOT: It's - It's not Richard.

ALBERT: Ho, ho ! Not - ? Don't tell me it's Charlie.

MARGOT: No, no, of course not ! He's -

ALBERT: He's what, Maggie ?

MARGOT: He's - well, he's too good for that little bitch of a Christine !

ALBERT: But that's the bed he picked. Maggie ! Such language !

MARGOT: Well, he is - !

ALBERT: So it's Christine, is it ? What's she been up to now ?

MARGOT: She's - well, never mind. You'll find out soon enough.

ALBERT: Just as you like. (PAUSE) I'm not nosey, (PAUSE) I expect Charlie agrees with her.

MARGOT: He doesn't ! He doesn't ! He - he can't !

ALBERT: Oh. (PAUSE) Christine'll win. anyway. (PAUSE) She usually does.

MARGOT: You don't care, do you ? You don't care !

ALBERT: Me ? No business o' mine. (PAUSE) I told you, I'm not nosey. (PAUSE) Nowt to do wi' me.

MARGOT: But it is !

ALBERT: Eh ?

MARGOT: To do with you !

ALBERT: Oh. Oh, I see. Well, I expect Charlie'll tell me. All in good time.

MARGOT: He won't ! He won't ! He - he can't ! I mean, he can't tell you what's really happened.

ALBERT: That'll do ! Charlie's all right. He won't lie to me.

MARGOT: He will ! He's got to !

ALBERT: Not if it's important. I can trust Charlie.

MARGOT: But he can't tell you the truth. Not this time - !

ALBERT: Why not ?

MARGOT: Because it's Christine - ! Christine decided. So he can't come out with it - I mean -

ALBERT: I don't know what you're on about, Maggie. Ah well, there's only the show-jumpin' now. I'll go an' do a bit in the garden. I think. Make yourself a cup o' tea if you want one, Maggie.

MARGOT: So you're not bothered ?

ALBERT: Not - ? What about ?

MARGOT: Going with them.

ALBERT: Going with who ?

MARGOT: Charlie and Christine, of course.

ALBERT: Charlie an' - ? Where ?

MARGOT: Australia.

ALBERT: Aust - ?

MARGOT: I thought he'd told you. When he stayed behind. Perhaps I shouldn't have -

ALBERT: No, I reckon you shouldn't. (PAUSE) So that's it. I knew there was something. Something that he couldn't - So that's it. Go on, Maggie. You knew he hadn't told me, didn't you ? You'd best let me have it all.

MARGOT: Oh no ! No, I couldn't ! I shouldn't have -

ALBERT: You'll tell me now, or I'll go in there and ask him myself. Then he'll know who told me, won't he ?

MARGOT: Very well. It's just that he was going to ask you -

ALBERT: To go with 'em ?

MARGOT: Don't look like that. It wasn't Charles ! It was Christine ! She wouldn't let him !

ALBERT: I know. I know. My daughter. My own flesh and blood. (PAUSE) And she'll win.

MARGOT: Come to me, father ! I'll get a bigger flat. With some garden.

ALBERT: No !

MARGOT: I've been meaning to -

ALBERT: Haven't you done enough between you ? I'm not going to anybody, d'you hear ? Not to anybody. I'm - I'm stopping here. Go on, clear off ! Clear off, the lot of you ! Leave me in peace ! I - I don't want anything from any one of you -

MARGOT: Father, I mean it ! Come to me !

ALBERT: Get out ! D'you think I don't know ? Go to you ? D'you think I can't see through that ?

MARGOT: What do you mean ?

ALBERT: Charlie'll think well of you then, won't he ?

MARGOT: That's not the reason !

ALBERT: Isn't it ? Never mind, never mind. Just go away. Leave me alone. That's all.

MARGOT: Oh, very well. I'm going anyway. We can't settle anything.

ALBERT: No, you can't. (PAUSE) Nobody can.

MARGOT: Very well then, father. I shall see you again.

ALBERT: Aye, aye. When you think on. I shall be here. (DOOR CLOSES) I'm not going' anywhere.

SMITH: What's the matter, Albert ?

ALBERT: Oh, be quiet !

SMITH: Christine, is it ?

ALBERT: Aye.

SMITH: You never know. She might change her mind.

ALBERT: Not her. Like me, she is. Stubborn. (PAUSE) She'll not change.

SMITH: Then you won't be going ? (PAUSE) Disappointed ?

ALBERT: Oh, give over, do ! (PAUSE) Yes, of course I'm disappointed. I'd have liked to see foreign parts. never been abroad. Not once. (PAUSE) The kids'll grow up. They - they'll forget me. I - I'd have liked to -

SMITH: You mean before it's too late ?

ALBERT: Will you be quiet ? Leave me alone, can't you ?

SMITH: Be quiet, Albert ? Leave you alone ? You'll be quiet soon enough when I leave you alone !

(SOUND OF DOOR HANDLE)

ALBERT: Go on, clear off ! There's somebody comin' !

RICHARD: (APPROACHING) Margot ?

ALBERT: She's gone.

RICHARD: Gone ?

ALBERT: Yes, gone. You don't like folk to do things without asking you first, do you, Dickie lad ?

RICHARD: Gone where ?

ALBERT: How the hell do I know where she's gone ? She's gone, that's all.

RICHARD: Well, of all the -

ALBERT: It's no use, Dickie lad. You can't organize everybody. Some people 'ave to do as you tell 'em and some don't !

(SOUND OF DOOR)

CHARLES: (APPROACHING) What's the trouble ?

RICHARD: ( It's Margot. She's gone ! (

ALBERT: ( There's no trouble, lad. It's just Richard -

CHARLES: Gone ?

RICHARD: As far as I'm concerned, that settles it !

CHARLES: There wasn't any point anyway.

RICHARD: What d'you mean ? I merely wanted -

ALBERT: We all know what you wanted, Dickie. It's just one more bit of your usual bloody presumption. No sort of a man yourself, but you've got the gall to go around tryin' to organize other folk. Go on home, do ! You look silly standin' there splutterin'. Go on home, lad. Happen Caroline can make a man of you one day. I couldn't.

RICHARD: And who the hell are you to pass judgement ? All I ever wanted to do was mess about with cars. Work in a garage. Anything . But no ! You wouldn't have that, would you ? No, I had to go into an office. Clean hands and all that. And look at you ! Just look at you ! You should talk about clean hands, you should, with your finger-nails full of muck.

ALBERT: You should know about muck, all right. You an' Maggie. Turnin' your noses up at good compost. Just think on, the pair of you. You'll both be muck yourselves one day. Aye, and it'll be an improvement.

RICHARD: Oh, you're - you're impossible !

ALBERT: It's my day for it, lad. Shut the door behind you as you go, And don't say you'll see me again, like Maggie.

RICHARD: (GOING) Oh!

(DOOR SLAMS)

CHARLES: Dad, you know, you really shouldn't.

ALBERT: I know, I know, Charlie. I didn't behave well.

CHARLES: He didn't -

ALBERT: It's not enough, Charlie.

CHARLES: He's not -

ALBERT: I hope you have better luck, lad. It's - it's hard to bear. (PAUSE) When they're small they're - special. Not like anybody else's kids. Special. Then they grow up. You realize They're just - people.

CHARLES: They're not bad sorts really. yo u know.

ALBERT: No, no, Charlie, you're taking me wrong. They're not wicked. They're not good. You wonder what it's all about. They're no better than you are yourself. You've wasted your life.

CHARLES: Dad - !

ALBERT: Well now, aren't you going to give me the minutes ?

CHARLES: Minutes ? I'm not with you.

ALBERT: The meeting. T'other two committee members have gone -

CHARLES: Oh, that ! It was a nonsense from the start.

ALBERT: Of course it was ! Once folk have made up their minds, holdin' a meeting's not going to change anything. (PAUSE) What did you come for, Charlie ?

CHARLES: Well, I - er - Christine -

ALBERT: You two 'ad a row ?

CHARLES: No, of course not ! (PAUSE) Good programme ?

ALBERT: Difference of opinion ?

CHARLES: In a way. (PAUSE) What was the score ?

ALBERT: Racin'. Let me just 'ave a guess what it was all about, eh ?

CHARLES: Oh, nothing. It was - nothing.

ALBERT: About me, wasn't it ?

CHARLES: Weell -

ALBERT: It's no good, lad. You can't tell lies. You need practice at that. What is it ?

CHARLES: Nothing, Dad. Nothing you need worry about.

ALBERT: I shan't worry about it. Whatever it is. When you get like me - old - you don't worry so much. You get a sense of proportion, like. Things - some things, that is - don't seem so important somehow.

CHARLES: Yes, I see what you mean -

ALBERT: No, you don't, Charlie. You only think you do. But you will, you will, never fear. All in good time. Wherever it comes to you. Here - or in Australia.

CHARLES: You knew ! How did you - ?

ALBERT: Find out ? About you and this Australia business ? Let's say a little bird told me. (PAUSE) Not such a little bird, neither.

CHARLES: It's not settled, you know.

ALBERT: Oh ? You mean you 'aven't settled all the details ?

CHARLES: That's it.

ALBERT: But it's definite ? You are going ?

CHARLES: Yes, yes. Its settled.

ALBERT: So where's the problem ?

CHARLES: You must know.

ALBERT: I do, Charlie. I do. It's me, isn't it ?

CHARLES: Weeell -

ALBERT: Put it out o' your mind, lad. Me ? With my ticker ? Even if I wanted to go.

CHARLES: My God ! You knew all about it !

ALBERT: Enough, Charlie. More than enough. (PAUSE) Charlie, there's nobody I'd sooner go with. And the kids. And - Christine.

CHARLES: Look, Dad -

ALBERT: I know, I know. You've been tryin' to pluck up courage to ask me, eh ?

CHARLES: As a matter of fact -

ALBERT: I guessed as much. (PAUSE) It's very good of you, Both of you. Sort of restores my faith in humanity, you know.

CHARLES: Dad - !

ALBERT: No, let me finish. As I say, it's - But if you don;t mind, I'd rather not. (PAUSE) Gettin' a bit long in the tooth, you know. Can't teach an old dog new tricks. I - I shall miss you, of course. And the kids. But you'll write. And there'll be photos. I shall see 'm grow up.

CHARLES: Oh, we will, we will !

ALBERT: Besides, I've got roots 'ere. Friends. Neighbours. Me garden. Years o' work gone into that, you know. Seems a pity to - waste it. I couldn't leave it all, you know. You understand ? You don't mind, Charlie ?

CHARLES: I'm beginning to understand, I think. Up to you, Dad.

ALBERT: Yes, yes, you could say that. It's up to me.

CHARLES: I'd better be going. We shall see you again.

ALBERT: Charlie. don't say that ! Don't say that !

CHARLES: I don't underst -

ALBERT: Just come !

CHARLES: Of course !

ALBERT: An' Charlie -

CHARLES: Yes ?

ALBERT: Bring the kids, eh ?

CHARLES: Yes, yes, I will. (GOING) Well, so long, Dad !

ALBERT: So long, son. Remember me to the kids ! And give my - my love to Christine. (DOOR CLOSES)

SMITH: So that's that, Albert.

ALBERT: Oh, clear off, do !

SMITH: What next ?

ALBERT: What d'you mean ? What next ?

SMITH: You're getting old, Albert. You've got a bad heart.

ALBERT: Aye, aye. I've got a bad heart all right. Not that it matters.

SMITH: Not that it matters ?

ALBERT: Not now.

SMITH: You mean - ?

ALBERT: Aye, I've found it, Resignation.

SMITH: And what's that, Albert ?

ALBERT: I don't care. I don't care any more. That's it.

SMITH: Oh, come, Albert ! They haven't gone yet.

ALBERT: Yes, they have. Yes, they have. All of 'em.

(FADE IN SOUND OF ROCKING CHAIR)

I'm tired. Tired.

(VOICE OF HARRY TOPHAM, DISTANT)

HARRY: Mr Smith ! Mr Smith ! Are you there ?

(ROCKING CEASES)

ALBERT: (TO HIMSELF) I'm not coming. I'm not coming, d'you hear ?

SMITH: Go on, Albert. He might want to talk about compost.

ALBERT: To hell with compost. And you too !

(ROCKING BEGINS AGAIN. THEN TAPPING ON DOOR)

ALBERT: Charlie ! Is that you ?

(DOOR OPENS)

HARRY: It's me, Mr Smith. Harry Topham ! Can I come in ?

ALBERT: Yeah. All right. Come in !

HARRY: Just been talking to your son-in-law. Nice chap !

ALBERT: Aye.

HARRY: Said he though to might be needing a bit of company. So I thought, if you don't mind, I'd bring your shears back. Kill two birds with one stone, sort of.

ALBERT: Aye.

SMITH: You know, I envy you, Mr Smith.

ALBERT: What's that ?

SMITH: I said I envy you. I've been out there in the garden all afternoon. Seen 'em all coming and going. Not Nosey Parkering, you know. Just interested.

ALBERT: Oh, aye.

SMITH: I thought to myself, it must be nice, that. Having a family like that, coming and going, you know. And grandchildren, no doubt ?

ALBERT: Aye, aye.

HARRY: You know, as the wife and I get older, we wish sometimes we had grown-up kids bringing their kids home, you know. You don't know how lucky you are, you really don't.

ALBERT: No.

SMITH: Well, I mustn't stop. Tea-time, you know. (PAUSE) I do';t suppose you'll be much in want of company as a general rule. With all your family, I mean. But if there's anything we can do at any time, give us a shout, eh ?

ALBERT: Aye, aye, I will.

SMITH: Well, cheerio then. See you later. eh ?

ALBERT: Yeah. So long.

(DOOR CLOSES. ROCKING BEGINS)

Rocked in the cradle of the deep I lay me down -

(THERE IS A CHOKING SOUND. TURNING TO WEEPING. SLOWLY FADING)