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DAYSPRING IS AT HAND
SYNOPSIS


The central character is Joe Earnshaw, a pensioner of some seventy-odd years of age. He has a wife, Annie, and a daughter, Elsie, who is middle-aged and married to George Hardwick.

Anne has had a stroke, slight enough in its apparent physical effects, but damaging to the heart and brain. She is slipping rapidly and inexorably into seility, and has only occasional and brief intervals of lucidity. Most of her time her mind wanders erratically through the past. She meanders on about experiences of her childhood, her youth and her marriage, even waking in the night to sing the old chapel hymns of her earlier years. The title is taken from on line of a hymn which she often sings, and is an ironic comment on the central event of the play).

Joe and Annie have enjoyed an idyllic marriage, and the situation is for Joe well-nigh intolerable. The worry and the strain of attempting to nurse Annie are threatening to take their toll on his health. His daughter and son-in-law try to persuade him that Annie is now too much for him and needs round-the-clock nursing. He resists for a time, but eventually agrees to see the two doctors whose visit on the afternoon is the central situation around which the whole of the play revolves.

What Joe does not know and what his family have understandably not told him is that in order for Annie to be admitted to the geriatric ward attached to the local mental hospital she must first be certified insane - which she now unquestionably is. Nor is he aware that the hospital which his visitors have in mind is the place which Annie has known and dreaded as "The Asylum".

Their life together has been based on a simple and unquestioning Nonconformist faith. The idea of a suicide pact would be as abhorrent to Joe as his present situation. Nor can he bring himself, despite his great love for Annie, to administer a fatal dose of the brightly coloured sleeping pills which have been prescribed for her by Dr. Milner, the family physician. To Joe's simple mind that would be downright murder and a sin against the light.

When the G.P., as kindly as he knows how, tells him that Annie must be certified, Joe has approached the breaking-point. He leaves the doctors and seeks the comfort of Annie's presence. When he enters the bedroom he tries to make her understand that the doctors have come to examine her, without success. In a desperate bid to think out the problem he gives Annie two of the sleeping tablets, hoping that she will sleep too soundly for the doctors to complete their work, at least on this occasion. Then he goes back into the other room to play for time and allow Annie to fall asleep.

When at last he can put things off no longer, he goes into the bedroom to prepare Annie to receive the doctors. He comes out at once, alarmed by Annie's condition. It transpires that Annie in her bemused state (or in the interval ? - we are not told which) has taken the remainder of the tablets.

The G.P. with mistaken humanity, tells the distraught Joe that there is nothing to worry about, since Annie has only had the tablets a very short time. Privately he admits to the consultant that he is worried about the possible effects on Annie's suspect heart.

Annie is rushed to hospital, leaving Joe to ponder the doubtful benefits of her recovery. His son-in-law arrives from hospital where he had gone after summoning his wife, thinking Joe would have travelled with the ambulance and be already at the hospital. He has to tell Joe and Elsie that Annie has died. The end of the play is a comment from Joe on the way things have turned out.

Editor's Note:
In typing out this play I thought it fitting to add a short note at the end of the synopsis. This was one of my father's more powerful pieces, if it was not his best. His brother, my Uncle Arthur, felt that it had mirrored life too closely suggesting it was a commentary on how his own family had managed a similar situation with my grandmother. My father acknowledged that their experiences had certainly informed his understanding of senile dementia, but the characterisation was not based on his own parents.

Unfortunately my father had used my grandmother's favourite hymn, The Sands of Time are Sinking, as Annie's favourite as well and my dear old Uncle Arthur could not be reassured on this point. He dealt with it simply by not talking about the play again, and my father never mentioned it in his presence. This was a trial for my father. He had a great deal of affection for his older brother and a childlike pleasure in Arthur's pride of his success as a playwright.

So for both his and Uncle Arthur's sake I wish to emphasize that any similarity between the characters in this play and anybody living or dead is entirely coincidental.


THE SANDS OF TIME ARE SINKING
(To the tune : Rutherford )


The sands of time are sinking;
The dawn of Heaven breaks;
The summer morn I've sighed for,
The fair, sweet morn awakes.
Dark, dark hath been the midnight;
But dayspring is at hand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

The King there in his beauty,
without a veil is seen;
It were a well-spent ,journey,
Though seven deaths lay between:
The Lamb, with his fair army,
Doth on Mount Zion stand,
Amid glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

0 Christ : He is the fountain,
The deep, sweet well of love;
The streams on earth I've tasted
More deep I'll drink above;
There to an ocean fulness
His mercy doth expand,
And glory, glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.

With mercy and with judgment
My web of time he wove,
And aye the dews of sorrow
Were lustred by his love;
I'll bless the hand that guided,
I'll bless the heart that planned,
When throwned where glory dwelleth
In Immanuel's land.


(From the Methodist Hymn Book 1904 )
Words: Mrs. Cousin
Tune: C. D'Urham.

DAYSPRING IS AT HAND

C A S T


JOE EARNSHAW
ANNIE EARNSHAW

YOUNG JOE
YOUNG ANNIE

ELSIE HARDWICK
GEORGE HARDWICK

DR. MILNER
DR. SUDDABY-CLARK

A pensioner
His wife




Their daughter
Their son-in-law, Elsie's husband

The Family Doctor
A consultant psychiatrist




(WE OPEN WITH DOMESTIC SOUNDS, CLOCK TICKING, AND STRIKING THE QUARTER. OVER THESE SOUNDS IS THE GENTLE SNORING OF JOE EARNSHAW. THERE IS A KNOCKING ON THE OUTER DOOR, DISTANT. THE SNORES CONTINUE. THE KNOCKING IS REPEATED, MORE LOUDLY, AND THERE IS A SNORT AS JOE AWAKES)
JOE: ELSIE:h ? Wassat?
(THE KNOCKING GOES ON LONGER THIS TIME
Al right! All right !
(SOUNDS OF JOE STRUGGLING TO HIS FEET)
I'm coming!
(WE GO WITH HIM)
No call to bray the door down.
(KNOCKING AGAIN)
I'm coming, do you hear?
(DOOR BOLTS WITHDRAWN)
Oh, it's you, Elsie love. And George ?
Come in ! Come in! (MORE QUIETLY) Only keep your voices down when you go in the kitchen. She's only just the minute dropped of.
ELSIE:How is she, Dad?
JOE:Much the same, much the same. We mustn't grumble. She managed a nice boiled egg this morning.
GEORGE:Did she now ?
JOE: She did. And she finished it. It's a good sign, I reckon. (PAUSE) You'll be able to see her in a little while. When she's had her sleep out.
ELSIE:When she's had her sleep out. Aye. What about yours?
JOE:What about it?
ELSIE:You look done up.
JOE:Me? I'm alright. Not so young as I was, but who is?
GEORGE:You'll be needing a doctor yourself, if you carry on like this.
JOE:Who's talking about doctors?
ELSIE:Time somebody did. You can't go on like this.
JOE:Like what? What are you talking about?
ELSIE:You know well enough what we're talking about. I don't believe you've had a decent night's sleep in the past fortnight.
JOE:I've had enough.
ELSIE:It was the same yesterday when I came, you know it was. Front door bolted. You fast asleep in your chair.
GEORGE:I don't know why you bolt the door, Dad. Elsie's got a key. If you left the door on the latch, we wouldn't have to disturb you.
ELSIE:That wouldn't do, would it, Dad?
JOE:What do you mean by that?
ELSIE:Mother can turn the latch, can't she? She might find the bolt's a bit too much for her. And then you'd hear her wouldn't you?
GEORGE:Is that right, Dad?
JOE:: I don't know what you're on about. What if I do have a bit of a nap when I feel like it? Sign of age, that's all. I don't think I've seen a television programme in weeks. Not all through, I mean. On minute I'm watching, d'you know, and the next I'm off again. {TRIES A LAUGH) Not so much forty winks, though. More like half a dozen. Cat-naps, like.
GEORGE:(LAUGHS) I know what you mean. I'm the same myself.
ELSIE:GEORGE Hardwick, you'd buy wet matches, you would.
GEORGE:What do you mean, love?
ELSIE:Have you forgotten what we've come about? Listen here, Dad, you're knocking yourself up, that's all, looking after Mother.
JOE:Nay, love, it's not that bad.
GEORGE:No, Dad, Elsie's right. You'll have to face up to it. Her mother's no better than she was a week since. Nay, she's worse. A lot worse.
ELSIE:I wondered when you were going to do something useful.
JOE:You're both wrong. She was up and about this morning.
ELSIE:Oh aye, she was up and about all right. We know that.
GEORGE: )Elsie, love -!
)
JOE: )What do you mean by that?
GEORGE:It's nothing, Dad. Nothing.
JOE:Come on! Come on! What are you getting at? You know that?
ELSIE:We know, that's all. Mother's more than you can manage now.
JOE:More than I can manage? Me? It'll be a long time before the day dawns as I can't look after my own wife.
ELSIE:It's not just days, Dad.
JOE:It's nights as well.
JOE:I expect if I wait long enough you'll tell me what you're on about.
GEORGE:It's no good, Elsie. He'll have to be told.
ELSIE:)I thought you were going to do that.
)
JOE:)Told? Told what?
ELSIE:She was up and about this morning all right.
JOE:What's that supposed to mean?
ELSIE:She came over to the shop.
JOE:She did what?
GEORGE:She came over to our place.
ELSIE:(DISTRESSED)She was in her bedroom slippers and her nightie. She had that old grey coat of hers over the top.
JOE:Nay - !
GEORGE:It's right, Dad. It must have happened when you nipped out to the shops.
ELSIE:What do you think it looks like.
GEORGE:I brought her back in the car. I was here when you got back from the shops, remember?
JOE:I had to get her tablets.
ELSIE:And while you were gone, she got out.
JOE:I don't believe it.
ELSIE:You can't bolt the door behind you when you go out, can you?
JOE:I wasn't gone above a quarter of an hour. Twenty minutes at the outside.
ELSIE:Dad, we're as grieved as you are, but she's one body's work day and night. She needs - looking after.
GEORGE: Aye, and so will you if you donít get your proper rest.
JOE:Youíre making summat out oí nowt, the pair of you. She canít help it if she doesnít sleep well.
(CUT. FADE IN THE SOUND OF ANNIE SINGING A VERSE OF ĎTHE SANDS OF TIME ARE SINKINGí IN AN AGED AND REEDY VOICE.)

(WAKING) Whatís up love? Canít you sleep, then? Just a minute. (GETTING UP) Iíll make us both a cup of tea.
(HE YAWNS)

(OVER THE SOUND OF HIS YAWN ANNIE BEGINS TO SPEAK)
ANNIE:Sheíd no call to say that, though. Just because me Mam couldnít afford to get me a new frock for the Anniversary Sermons. (SHE SINGS A FEW MORE BARS OF THE HYMN, AND STOPS AGAIN) Whereís our Arnold?
JOE:You Arnold, eh? Eigh, Annie love, your brotherís dead and gone these twenty years. (GOING) Now donít go getting out of bed again, will you? Thereís a good lass. And Iíll bring us both a nice cup of tea.

(WE GO WITH HIM)
ANNIE:(DISTANT)Ee, it was a lovely wedding, though was that.
JOE:Whatís that? Weddings, is it? Aye it was a day to remember, was that. (CHUCKLES) And a night.

(REMINISCENT SIGNAL)
YOUNG ANNIE:JOE:?
YOUNG JOE:Yes, love?
YOUNG ANNIE:Oh, nothing.
YOUNG JOE:Come on now! No secrets, you said.
YOUNG ANNIE:Well, itís - Iím -well - donít laugh, will you?
YOUNG JOE:Laugh?
YOUNG ANNIE:You wonít, will you?
YOUNG JOE:What about?
YOUNG ANNIE:I - Iím scared. A bit.
YOUNG JOE:Scared? Of me?
YOUNG ANNIE:Oh no, not you, Joe. No, this - this wedding night business. Folk say - all sorts of things.
YOUNG JOE:Weíre not folks. Not like that. Weíre you and me. Thereís nowt to be scared of, Annie love. I wouldnít harm a hair of your bonnie head, you know that.
YOUNG ANNIE:(FALTERING)I donít know much, Joe. Just - talk.
YOUNG JOE:Nor me neither, lass. Nowt thatís any use to me now.
YOUNG ANNIE:I wish I did know. Now, I mean. Now itís come. This night. Iíve thought about it all these weeks and sort of - trembled inside. (BEGINS TO WEEP SOFTLY) Oh, Joe, Joe!
YOUNG JOE:There, there, my love. Sssh! Sssh! Thereís no call to cry. Come here! Come! Weíll just - lie here, like this, and - weíll take all the time we need. (BEGIN SLOW FADE) Weíve time enough. A whole life time.
ELSIE:Itís not just the sleeping, either. Mum needs care. Nursing. All the time.
JOE:Sheís getting it all the time. From me
ELSIE:Dad, will you listen? I canít come and stop here with all Iíve got on my plate.
JOE:Whoís asking you to? I can manage I tell you.
ELSIE:(DISTRESSED) Sheís ill. Sheís - very ill. She needs care. Proper care. In hospital.
JOE:So thatís it? Hospital, is it? (PAUSE) Sheís not going to no hospital. Any care she needs sheíll get it from me.
GEORGE:But, Dad, youíve seen her - this last few days. And then wandering off this morning. Sheís not sensible.
ELSIE:She could die of it.
JOE:Thereís worse than dying. Sheíll die in Godís good time - here - in her own bed. The bed sheís slept in all her married life.
(REMINISCENT SIGNAL)
YOUNG ANNIE:JOE: ?
YOUNG JOE:Yes, love ?
YOUNG ANNIE:JOE:, I love this bed.
YOUNG JOE:(LAUGHS)
YOUNG ANNIE:Donít you laugh! I mean it. Even when we donít - you know - I still love this. Just lying close to you, with your arms round me, you know.
YOUNG JOE:Aye, I know, Annie love. Best moment of the day, is this.
YOUNG ANNIE:Weíll never get rid of it, will we, Joe? Our bed?
YOUNG JOE:Nay, lass, itíll not last for ever. (LAUGHS) Yíask me, itís done well to last this long.
YOUNG ANNIE:JOE: Earnshaw !
YOUNG JOE:(LAUGHS EVEN LOUDER)
(FADE OUT ON LAUGH. CUT IN ELSIESíS VOICE)
ELSIE:Anyway, theyíre coming. This afternoon.
JOE:They? Whoís they?
ELSIE:Havenít you been listening? The doctors.
JOE:Doctors ?
ELSIE:Yes.
JOE:How many ?
GEORGE:Only two of them, Dad. Thatís all.
JOE:(GROWLS)
GEORGE:Now, Dad, be sensible. Do you want to crack up for the want of a bit of advice?
JOE:Advice? From doctors? It was a dcotor as told Elsieís grandma as Iíd be lucky to see my first birthday. (CHUCKLES) Heís been pushing daisies up these fifty years. Doctors!
ELSIE:So you donít need sleep, and you donít need help - and now you donít need doctors!
JOE:What I need is to be left alone, thatís all.
ELSIE:And what about Mamís needs ? Are you going to sacrifice her to your pigheadedness?
JOE:Now you put a guard on that tongue of yours, my girl. What other folk need is up to them, not you.
ELSIE:And how do you know what she needs ?
JOE:I donít (BITTERLY) God knows, I donít. (PAUSE) Iíve lived with her now for more than fifty years. Youíd think I know.
GEORGE: Aye !
ELSIE:GEORGE Hardwick - !
JOE:Aye, youíre right, love. Itís no use. If you want the truth, Iím fair werrited out of my soul-case.
ELSIE:Sheís no better, Dad.
JOE:No, sheís not. Sheís not. (HE BEGINS TO FALTER) A week ago she knew me most of the time. Now -

Iíve prayed, but sheís no better.
ELSIE:Theyíll be here about three, they said.
JOE:All right, thatíll do. I shanít bolt the door.

(ALMOST TO HIMSELF)

I - we hadnít reckoned on her being the one.
(REMINISCENT SIGNAL)
YOUNG ANNIE:Joe ?
YOUNG JOEYes, love ? What ?
YOUNG ANNIE:Iíd not like to be the first.
YOUNG JOEFirst what ?
YOUNG ANNIE:I - Iíve been thinking. About the baby, and all - I wouldnít like to be the first to go. I wouldnít like you to be left.
YOUNG JOENo.
YOUNG ANNIE:However would you manage ?
YOUNG JOENay, love you see a sight more widows than widowers.
YOUNG ANNIE:Aye, I suppose so.
YOUNG JOEIím glad of that. Itís selfish, I reckon, but I should be about as much use as toooth-ache trying to manage without you, love.
YOUNG ANNIE:(LAUGHS) Iíd better take good care of myself, then.
YOUNG JOEAye, just think on. (BEGIN SLOW FADE) I could manage without the baby, you know.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN GEORGEíS VOICE)
GEORGE:Dad, would you like one of us to be here, this afternoon ?
ELSIE:George - !
GEORGE:Elsieís got the shop to look after, of course, but I could come, if you like.
ELSIE:Youíve got the books to do.
JOE:No thanks, George. Itís very kind of you. But I reckon I can manage a couple of doctors.
GEORGE:I can do the books any time.
ELSIE:You heard what Dad said. He doesnít want anybody here.
(SOUND OF ANNIE SINGING)
GEORGE:Hello, Motherís awake.
JOE:Aye, allright. (GOING) You two go on in and say goodbye to her, and Iíll get on with her dinner.
ELSIE:George Hardwick, have you no sense ?
GEORGE:Now whatís wrong ?
ELSIE:What did you suggest that for ?
GEORGE:Whatís wrong with that, love ?
ELSIE:You know very well whatís wrong with that. Didnít you listen to Doctor Milner this morning?
GEORGE:Well, you know, love, he did most of his talking to you. I was in and out, looking after the shop.
ELSIE:If sheís to go into that geriatric ward, she has to be certified first.
GEORGE:Aye, well I remember that, of course.
ELSIE:Itís the only place he can get her in, the doctor says.
GEORGE:Yes, but surely she doesnít have to be certified, just because itís the only place.
ELSIE:No, she doesnít.
GEORGE:Well, then.
ELSIE:She has to be certified because sheís insane.
GEORGE:Nay, love -
ELSIE:(EXPLODING) Do you think I like the idea ? My own mother certified ? But there it is.
GEORGE:Whatever will folk say ?
ELSIE:Good God, is that all you can say ? Thatís not whatís worrying me.
GEORGE:What, then ?
ELSIE:How Dadís going to take it ? Heís dead set against her going into hospital at all. (ALMOST BREAKING DOWN) Whatís he going to say when he knows that ?
GEORGE:Aye, thatís a thought. Eigh up, heís coming !
JOE:(APPROACHING) Havenít you two been to see Mother yet ?
GEORGE:Elsieís a bit upset, Dad.
JOE:We all are. But happen things Ďll not look so bad when we hear what the doctors have to say.
ELSIE:Oh, Dad!
JOE:Come on, love, cheer up. You donít want your Mother to see you upset, do you ?
GEORGE:All right, Dad. Weíll go and have a word with her (BEGIN FADE) and then weíll get off home.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN JOEíS VOICE)
JOE:Here you are, Annie love. Your dinner.
ANNIE:Why didnít you tell me ? I could have got it.
JOE:Itís no trouble.
ANNIE:Anyway, our Elsie was here. Couldnít she have given you a hand?
JOE:Itís not easy for her, love, with the shop and all.
ANNIE:No. (PAUSE) Joe ?
JOE:Yes, love.
ANNIE:Did you remember to get the wine for the sacrament ?
JOE:Did I what ?
ANNIE:(BEGINS TO SING HER HYMN AGAIN)
JOE:Annie, donít go.
ANNIE:(STOPS SINGING)Ee, itís a lovely hymn, is that. (PAUSE) Whereís our Arnold, then? Time he was back.
JOE:Eigh, Annie, it doesnít last long, does it? Here, come on, Iíd better feed you.
ANNIE:(SINGS ANOTHER SNATCH OF HYMN TUNE, AND STOPS AGAIN) Whatís that, Mrs. Thompson ? Oh aye, heís gone down to the Labour. To sign on. Aye.
JOE:(ALMOST TO HIMSELF) Labour ? Would that be Arnold or me, I wonder ?
ANNIE: Isnít it about time you signed on ?
JOE:Nay, love, itís pension books now, not signing on. (REMINISCENT SIGNAL)
YOUNG JOE:Annie !
(SOUND OF RUNNING WATER, DISTANT. SOUND STOPS SUDDENLY)
Annie !
YOUNG ANNIE:Come out of my way. Iím just going to swill the yard.
YOUNG JOE:Now what have I done ?
YOUNG ANNIE:Nothing.
YOUNG JOE:Whatís up, then ?
YOUNG ANNIE:Nothing. Iím swilling the yard when you get out of my road.
YOUNG JOE:Now look here, Annie, Iím not daft. You look as if youíd lost a bob and found a tanner.
YOUNG ANNIE:Aye, you might say that. (PAUSE) Heís been.
YOUNG JOE:Been ? Whoís been ?
YOUNG ANNIE:That man you were epecting. From the relief.
YOUNG JOE:Relief ? (PAUSE) Oh. Oh, the means test.
YOUNG ANNIE:Oh, you know.
YOUNG JOE:Knew heíd been here ? No. I reckoned itíd be our turn before long.
YOUNG ANNIE: Aye.
YOUNG JOE:Whenís he coming back, then?
YOUNG ANNIE:Heís not.
YOUNG JOE:Nay, love, donít talk soft. Heíll not go away without what he came for.
YOUNG ANNIE:He didnít. (PAUSE) I gave it him.
YOUNG JOE:You tolf him.
YOUNG ANNIE:I manage the money here, I told him. Iíll tell you what you want to know. How much weíve got in savings for a start. Nowt. And the same goes for any other income, I said. Nowt.
YOUNG JOE:Nay, love. Thereís the chapel.
YOUNG ANNIE:Aye, I know.
YOUNG JOE:You didnít forget ?
YOUNG ANNIE:No, I didnít tell him.
YOUNG JOE:What !
YOUNG ANNIE:I didnít tell him!
YOUNG JOE:We canít do that, Annie love. We have to declare all the income we have. And the money I get from being caretakeer at the chapel is income. We have to declare it. Itís the law.
YOUNG ANNIE:Thereís law and law.
YOUNG JOE:It wonít do, Annie.
YOUNG ANNIE: Now listen to me, Joe Earnshaw. You know me. This Means Test, as they call it, isnít our idea. Itís something the clever men in London have wished on us. The ones with all the brass.
YOUNG JOE:Thatís ture enough.
YOUNG JOE:Do they declare what theyíve got ? Well do they ? No, and itís a sight more than we shall ever see.
YOUNG JOE:May be.
YOUNG ANNIE:Thereís no may be about it. When I see the likes of them having to spend all their savings and then declare everything theyíve got down to the piano in their front room I might do different.
YOUNG JOE:Itís no good. Theyíll ask the chapel treasurer.
YOUNG ANNIE:Iíve thought of that. Ernest Crptheríll tell Ďem that you do the job voluntary.
YOUNG JOE:He never will. (PAUSE) What do you mean ?
YOUNG ANNIE:I know something about Ernest Crowther. Never mind what it is. Itís between him and me. But if it got to be known he wouldnít be chapel treasurer any more, nor Sunday School superintendent, iether.
YOUNG JOE:Iím surprised at you.
YOUNG ANNIE:Lifeís full of surprises.
YOUNG JOE:Itís no good, Annie. I shall have to tell Ďem.
YOUNG ANNIE:You canít.
YOUNG JOE:Iíve got to. You know that.
YOUNG ANNIE:I know nowt of the sort. Thereís penalties for telling lies. You can get sent down the line for six months.
YOUNG JOE:Aye, I know that.
YOUNG ANNIE:Then youíll know this as well. If you go and tell Ďem now about the money you get for being chapel caretaker, I shall catch it. Happen go to prison.
YOUNG JOE:Nay, they wouldnít do that, love.
YOUNG ANNIE:Youíd better go and tell Ďem then, if youíre so sure.
YOUNG JOE:Annie, love, this is wrong.
YOUNG ANNIE:Wrong ? Thereís a lot of things wrong just now, if you ask me. Itís wrong that you canít get work, no matter how you try. Itís wrong as Iíve to carry a bairn inside me and live on bread and marge, with a scrape of condensed milk for a treat, like. Wrong? Donít talk to me about wrong.
YOUNG JOE:I wouldnít want it on my conscience.
YOUNG ANNIE:Itís not on your conscience. Itís on mine. (BEGIN FADE) And Iíve more important things to worry about.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN JOES VOICE)
JOE:(TO HIMSELF) Aye, thatíd be 1933. Or Ďappen í34. (ALOUD) Annie love, listen to me, will you ?
ANNIE:(BEGINS TO CROON HER HYMN TUNE AGAIN)
JOE:Nay, love, try to listen. Itís important. Thereís doctors coming to see you this afternoon, do you hear ? (BEGIN FADE) I shall have to spruce you up a bit.
(FADE OUT ON ANNIEíS HYMN TUNE.
CUT IN TO KNOCKING ON OUTER DOOR)
JOE:Coming ! Just a minute !
(GO WITH HIM)
(TO HIMSELF) Right on time.
(DOOR OPENED)
Come in, doctor ! Come in!
DR MILNER:Good afternoon, Mr. Earnshaw.
JOE:(GOING)Come this way, will you?
DR MILNER:Mr. Earnshaw, this is Doctor Suddaby-Clark.
JOE:Oh aye. Pleased to meet you, doctor.
DR S-CLARK:(GOING)How do you do ?
(WE GO WITH THEM)
DR MILNER:Doctor Suddaby-Clark is a consultant, Mr. Earnshaw.
JOE:Oh, I see.
DR MILNER:(COUGHS)
DR S-CLARK:There are a few questions we would like to put to you first.
JOE:Nay, thereís no call to worry me. Iím well enough.
DR MILNER:About your wife.
JOE:Oh. Oh, I see.
DR S-CLARK:May we sit down ?
JOE:Oh, Iím sorry, I wasnít thinking. Here have a chair, both of you.
(SOUNDS OF BOTH MEN SITTING)
Now, what is it ?
DR MILNER:You know, of course, that your daughter came to see me. (COUGHS) Mr. Earnshaw, has your wife any previous history of this trouble.
JOE:Nay, she allus had a wonderful memory. Sheíd remember things - like things the kids said - long after Iíd ever forgotten they ever said it. Word for word.
DR MILNER:I always thought you just had the one.
JOE:No.
DR MILNER:But -
JOE:It was before your time, doctor.
DR MILNER:You have others.
JOE:We had a boy. (PAUSE) He died when he was three. Meningitis.
(REMINISCENT SIGNAL)
YOUNG JOE:Annie love, donít just sit like that. Say something (PAUSE) Annie, you wouldnít wish him back. Not to suffer like that. (PAUSE) I know how you - Please, love, came and have a cup of tea. (PAUSE)Whatís that youíve got? What are you holding so tight? Let me see. (PAUSE)Oh his photo (BITTERLY) Aye, aye. Thatís all we have now. A twopenny-haípenny photo.
(ANNIE BEGINS TO WEEP, AT FIRST SOFTLY, THEN GRADUALLY GIVING WAY TO THE INTENSITY OF HER GRIEF. JOES VOICE OVER)
Thatís better, my love. Let it come. Let it come. Itís better out than in.
(HER SOBBING BECOMES MORE VIOLENT)
Godís good. Godís good.
(FADE OUT ON HER SOBS)
JOE:Aye, aye. I thought sheíd go out of her mind.
DR S-CLARK:Out of her mind ?
JOE:In a manner of speaking.
DR S-CLARK:So there is a suggestion of some previous history, Milner.
JOE:History ? I donít -
DR MILNER:Doctor Suddaby-Clark was asking if your wife had suffered in the past from any sort of mental disturbance.
JOE:Mental - ? Annie - ? She wasnít - anything like that. She was just - well, not herself.
DR S-CLARK:I see.
JOE:But she wasnít - mad.
DR S-CLARK:Itís rather a question of definition.
DR MILNER:Now this recent - illness. As I remember you called me late one night. About three weeks ago, wasnít it?
JOE:Aye, A Tuesday night.
(CUT. FADE IN SOUND OF JOE WAKING)
Eh ? Wassat ?
(INCOHERENT SOUNDS FROM ANNIE)
Whatís up, love ?
(the sounds continue)
Iíll put the light on.
(SOUNDS OF JOE RISING AND MOVING ABOUT. CLICK OF SWITCH)
Now then what is it ? Annie ! Annie love ! Whateverís wrong ?
(MORE MUMBLING SOUNDS)
What is it, love ? Your face ! Oh my God ! Annie, love ! Annie !
(MORE MUMBLING)
(GOING) Just a minute ! Iíll get Mrs Armitage from next door.
(PAUSE, THEN SOUND OF BOLTS BEING DRAWN. DOOR OPENED. PAUSE. KNOCKING DISTANT)
(DISTANT) Mrs Armitage ! Are you there ?
(MORE KNOCKING)
Mrs Armitage !
(SOUND OF BOLTS BEING DRAWN AND DOOR OPENING, DISTANT)
MRS ARMITAGE:(DISTANT) Oh, itís Mr Earnshaw. Why, whateverís wrong, love ?
JOE:Mrs Armitage, Iím sorry to get you up. Itís Annie. Would you stop with her for a few minutes while I get the doctor ? Thank you, love. Thank you. (BEGIN FADE) Iíll be as quick as I can.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN VOICE OF SUDDABY-CLARK)
DR S-CLARK:What were the indications ?
JOE:Eh ?
DR MILNER:What was it that made you call me ?
JOE:Well the side of her face had dropped, like. And she couldnít talk. Not to be understood.
DR S-CLARK:Ah, there was some motor disturbance.
DR MILNER:Well, yes. Transient.
DR S-CLARK:Any residual physical signs ?
DR MILNER:No. none. At lest none externally.
DR S-CLARK: Ah.
DR MILNER:There was some cardiac damage.
JOE:Is that all, doctor ?
DR S-CLARK: All ?
DR MILNER:Mr Earnshaw is doing all the nursing at the moment. Heís anxious to take care of his wife.
DR S-CLARK:But I understood -
DR MILNER:Yes, thatís true. It canít continue. Mrs Earnshaw needs professional care.
JOE: Nay - !
DR MILNER:All the time. Mr Earnshaw, Iím sorry, but Iím afraid your wifeís condition is beyond treatment.
JOE:You mean - ?
DR S-CLARK:I agree. Quite apart from the mental disorientation, thereís the heart condition.
DR MILNER:We must get her into hospital, Mr Earnshaw. Iím sure you see that.
JOE:(SIGHS) Aye, aye, I do. A few days in hospitalís what she needs.
DR S-CLARK:A few days - ? Milner, have you not explained to -?
DR MILNER:No, no, Mr Earnshaw.
DR S-CLARK:If Doctor Milner is right -
DR MILNER: What Doctor Suddaby-Clark is saying is that your wife will need care for the rest of her life.
JOE:Nay - !
DR MILNER:Iím sorry. I wish there was some way to put it more - gently.
JOE:What do you think I am ?
DR S-CLARK:Very well. Doctor Milner is of the opinion that your wife is certifiable.
JOE: Eh ?
DR S-CLARK:Insane.
JOE:No, no not that place !
DR MILNER:Iím sorry, Mr Earnshaw. Do sit down, please. We can make arrangements for your wife to be nursed in a geriatric unit. You understand ? But she couldnít be admitted to the unit unless she had been certified. Not this unit.
JOE: Oh, God !
DR MILNER:Iím sorry.
JOE:You mean youíve got to say that she is off her head before you can get her in there ?
DR S-CLARK:Thatís a distortion. Doctor Milner believes she is certifiable.
JOE:Doctor Milner - !
DR MILNER:Iím sorry. Thatís why I asked Dr Suddaby-Clark to come today.
JOE:You mean - ?
DR MILNER:Yes, the opinion of two doctors is required. Doctor Suddaby-Clark is a highly qualiified psychiatrist.
DR S-CLARK:Thank you.
JOE:Nay, itís not true. I - I wonít have it! I wonít have it, I tell you. Annie in that place? My Annie ?
DR MILNER:Things change, you know, Mr Earnshaw. Mental hospitals arenít the frightening places they used to be.
JOE:And whoís going to convince Annie ? Even if she was herself ?
DR MILNER:She does need care.
JOE:Itís not that. Itís - well, she has these spells. When she knows.
DR S-CLARK:Thereís not the slightest doubt that these periods of lucidity will become less frequent.
JOE:But suppose, just suppose, she came to herself and found that she was in that place ?
DR MILNER:I think itís most unlikely that she would be aware of it.
JOE:But can you be sure ?
DR MILNER:No. I must be honest. I couldnít be sure.
JOE:Then sheís not going in.
DR MILNER:Mr Earnshaw - !
DR S-CLARK:Milner, I think you should make it clear that this isnít an academic question.
DR MILNER:I understand Mr Earnshawís point of view. Itís a very natural reluctance.
DR S-CLARK:Quite. But here we have a patient -
JOE:Sheís not a patient. Sheís my wife !
DR S-CLARK:Itís abundantly clear that constant attention is required.
DR MILNER:Yes, I must agree.
JOE:You mean Iíve got to agree ?
DR MILNER:Mr Earnshaw, you must understand. Your wife had a seizure. A stroke, you know.
JOE:Aye, that was when her face was -
DR MILNER:Exactly, but that cleared up in a day pr two.
JOE:Well, then - !
DR MILNER:Iím sorry, Mr Earnshaw. It isnít just that damage was done. The damage continues. There is only one way her condition can change now.
JOE:You mean sheíll get worse ?
DR MILNER:Yes.
JOE:(ALMOST TO HIMSELF) Nay, not that place. Not that place. (GOING) Iíll have to go to her.
DR S-CLARK:I suppose we had better see the patient now, Milner.
JOE:(DISTANT) Nay, give me a minute, will you?
DR MILNER:I think it might be -
JOE:(DISTANT) I shanít keep you long.
(BEGIN FADE) Just give me a minute or two.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN ANNIEíS VOICE)
ANNIE:Itís gone eight oíclock. Itís time our Arnold was back.
JOE:Annie ! Annie, love, listen ! Listen !
(ANNIE BEGINS TO CROON HER HYMN AGAIN)
(Oh God help me, what am I to do with you ? Try and understand, Annie. Thereís two doctors here. Doctor Milner - you know, Doctor Milner. And another one. They want to - (HIS TONE BECOMES MORE URGENT) What am I to do ? Let me think. Let me - I - I anít just let Ďem - oh God, if only Iíd time. Time to think. (PAUSE) Tablets. Tablets ! Thatís it. Here, Annie love, Iím going to give you a couple of these things. Just soís youíll go off to sleep, you know. Give me a bit of time to think of something.
ANNIE:I donít want anything.
JOE:Annie love, look what a pretty colour they are. You allus loved pretty bright colours, you know you did. Thatís the ticket. Now have a drink of this water. Wash Ďem down. And try to get some sleep. (GOING) Iíll keep Ďem talking as long as I can.
(WE GO WIT HIM)
Doctor Milner, sheís asleep. Could we just give her a minute or two more ? She had a bad night last night.
DR MILNER:Well, we do have a few more details to get. For our records. Perhaps you could give Dr Suddaby - Clark the information he wants, and meanwhile Iíll be having a look at you. Youíre looking a bit - tired you know)
(CLICK OF FASTNER. CASE OPENED. RUSTLE OF PAPER)
DR S-CLARK:Now, your wifeís full name, please. (BEGIN FADE) Her maiden name, that is.
(FADE OUT, AND BACK AGAIN TO MILNERíS VOICE)
DR MILNER:There you are, Mr Earnshaw. I donít think thereís much need to worry about you.
JOE:Aye, Iíve allus kept in fair trim.
DR MILNER:Have you got all you need, Doctor Suddaby-Clark ?
DR S-CLARK:Thank you. May we now see the patient ?
JOE: (GOING) Iíll just go and waken her up.
DR S-CLARK:Really, Milner! Donít you think - ?
DR MILNER:Iím sorry this is taking longer than we thought.
DR S-CLARK:It is, isnít it?
DR MILNER:Right. Shall we see Mrs Earnshaw then ?
JOE:(APPROACHING) Doctor Milner ! Itís Annie ! Thereís something wrong!
DR MILNER:Wrong? (GOING) Letís have a look!
DR S-CLARK:Something wrong, you said ?
DR MILNER:Her breathing. Itís - queer.
DR S-CLARK:Queer ?
DR MILNER: Would you come through? Not you, Mr Earnshaw, please!
DR S-CLARK:(GOING) Excuse me.
(KNOCKING THE OUTER DOOR)
JOE:Now what? Blasted bread-man, I suppose. What a time to pick!
(KNOCKING REPEATED)
(GOING)All right ! Iím coming !
Oh, itís you Mrs Armitage !
MRS ARMITAGECan I come in, Mr Earnshaw ? How is she ?
JOE:Sheís - well -well, would you do me a favour, love?
MRS ARMITAGEWould you get our Elsie? (ALMOST TO HIMSELF) Though what sheíll say when she knows -!
MRS ARMITAGEI thought there was something - when I saw the doctorís car. But there, sheís in good hands, so youíve no call to worry. Theyíre a deal of comfort sometimes, are doctors.
JOE:Aye, aye. Would you mind?
MRS ARMITAGEOh aye, your Elsie. Itís no trouble at all, Mr Earnshaw. (GOING) Youíve only to ask, you know that.
JOE:(APPROACHING)Doctor Milner ! Is she alright ?
DR MILNER:Iím afraid not.
JOE:Whatever is it.
DR S-CLARK:I found this, Milner. Under her pillow.
JOE:It was on the bedside table.
DR S-CLARK:Empty?
JOE:No, no. I only fetched them this morning.
DR MILNER:What are they, Mr Earnshaw ?
JOE:Her sleeping tab - Oh God, sheís not taken them?
DR MILNER:We must get her to hospital. Do you have a telephone Mr Earnshaw ?
JOE:No, we havenít. Elsie keeps on at me about it. Sheíll be here any minute. Iíve sent for her.
DR MILNER:(GOING) Oh, good.
JOE:Thereís a call-box just down the street. Iíll see if sheís coming.
DR MILNER:(CALLS)Would you ask them to send an ambulance at once, please? Use my name. And tell them its an emergency, please.
JOE:Right. (GOING) Iíll be as quick as I can.
DR MILNER:(DISTANT)Thank you.
DR S-CLARK:You wonít be needing me, Milner ?
DR MILNER:(APPROACHING) I think not. (ALMOST TO HIMSELF) Iím not too happy about this. Sheís only just taken them, but with a that heart - No, no, Doctor Suddaby-Clark. I can manage her. Iíll be in touch, though.
DR S-CLARK:(GOING) Iíll hear from you later, then. Iíll see myself out.
(THE DOOR CLOSES AND FOR A MOMENT OR TWO THEN THE DOOR OPENS AGAIN)
JOE:(APPROACHING) Doctor Milner - !
DR MILNER:I must attend to your wife, Mr Earnshaw.
JOE:(GOING WITH HIM) Iím sorry, Doctor. (QUIETLY) How is she?
DR MILNER:Thereís notingmore I can do at the moment. Ecept keep an eye on her, of course. Fortunately we know what the tablets are, so we shanít lose any time over that.
JOE:Will she be all right ?
DR MILNER:Oh, yes, yes. Sheís only just taken them.
JOE:Youíre sure ?
DR MILNER:She has a very good chance.
JOE:She might have died ?
DR MILNER:Yes.
JOE:Iím not so sure it wouldnít have been a blessing.
DR MILNER:Thatís not a view a doctor can take.
JOE:No. (PAUSE) But tell me, what will you save her for ?
DR MILNER:Thereís no answer to that. But I believe in my place you would do the same.
JOE:Aye, aye. This business of duty. It only seems to make sense in the long run.
DR MILNER:Do you think your wife intended it ?
JOE:No. never. Iíve lived with her for over half a century. Thereís a lot I donít know about Annie yet, but I do know that. I might do it, perhaps. I donít know. But not Annie. Not to leave me. Never.
DR MILNER:I see.
JOE:It was my fault. I shouldnít have left Ďem where she could see Ďem. Not when they were such a pretty colour. I never thought.
DR MILNER:You mustnít blame yourself.
JOE:Iím not doing that, really. Iím not blaming her, either. Annieíd never do that in her right mind.
DR MILNER:No.
JOE:Sheíll not be held responsible, then.
DR MILNER:Thereís no question of legal proceedings.
JOE:Nay, doctor, I wasnít thinking of courts below.
(DISTANT SOUND OF AMBULANCE SIREN DRAWING NEARER)
DR MILNER:Would you show them the way in, Mr Earnshaw? (BEGIN FADE) Ask them to bring the stretcher through.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN SOUND OF KEY IN DOOR, DISTANT DOOR OPENS)
ELSIE:(DISTANT) Dad? Are you there ?
JOE:Iím in here !
ELSIE:(APPROACHING) Oh Dad ! Sheís gone.
JOE:In a manner of speaking.
ELSIE:Dad, what is it?
JOE:The doctor said not to go with her.
ELSIE:You couldnít have done anything. Anyway George has gone straight there - in case youíd gone in the ambulance and needed a lift home.
JOE:Weíve got to telephone at six oíclock.
ELSIE:Sheís going to live ?
JOE:Aye. Seems thereís not much doubt about that. Sheíll live.
ELSIE:How can they be sure?
JOE:They canít. But sheíd only had the tablets a few minutes.
ELSIE:Why in Godís name couldnít they let her alone ?
JOE:Nay, love - !
ELSIE:Well, what is there to look forwards to ? She hardly knows us now. Going to see her in that place - whereís the comfort in that ?
JOE:I shall go, all the same. Perhaps just holding her hand -
ELSIE:She wonít know us, Dad!
JOE:How do you know that ? Itís like saying you know whatís going on in a childís head. Thereís a sight more things we donít know than we know. How do you know thereíll be no comfort in it? (QUIETLY) For one of us, any road.
ELSIE:Well - it stands to reason.
JOE:Eigh, lass, if we did everything by reason, weíd never cross the street. (PAUSE) I shal go and sit with her. You never know.
ELSIE:Itís so - unfair !
JOE:Thatíll do !
ELSIE:Well - !
JOE:Thatíll do, I said. Lots of folk have things like this happen to Ďem. Lots of folk. Men like me. Only Iím different from most, I reckon.
ELSIE:Different ?
JOE:Aye, different. Iíve had more than fifty years of - well thereís no words for it. Do you think Iíll sit and curse in my hour of trial? No, by God, Iíll not be ungrateful! Thereís others have to suffer what Iím called to suffer without that fifty years. I reckon I can manage a few years of this - of this (BEGINNNING TO BREAK DOWN) just so long as itís not too long.
ELSIE:Oh, Dad, Dad!
JOE:But if you want the truth, Iíd sooner theyíd been taking her to the cemetery.
ELSIE:Dad, donít !
JOE:Iíve only one wish. I never thought to ask it, but - just to outlive her. To see her safe in the ground and free of - of this.
ELSIE:Dad, youíre worn out. Go and lie down for a while, and Iíll bring you a cup of tea.
JOE:Aye, happen youíre right. (GOING) Iím nobbut poor company, I reckon.
ELSIE:Iíll just put the kettle on.
(KNOCK ON OUTER DOOR, DISTANT)
JOE:Whoís that ?
ELSIE:Iíll see to it, Dad. (GOING) You get some rest.
(SOUND OF DOOR OPENING, DISTANT)
(SOTTO VOICE) Did you see anybody at the hospital ?
GEORGE:Aye, I did, love.
ELSIE:Well ?
GEORGE:Itís - well, I -
ELSIE:How is she ?
GEORGE:Itís not -
ELSIE:George Hardwick, whatís wrong with you ? Canít you open your mouth ?
GEORGE:Itís bad news, love.
ELSIE:Bad - ?
GEORGE:Aye. Your motherís gone.
ELSIE: Gone ?
GEORGE:It was her heart, it seems. They couldnít save her.
ELSIE:Oh, thank God, thank God !
GEORGE:Dr Milner said she died without coming round, like.
JOE:(APPROACHING)I thought I heard Georgeís voice. Oh, it is you, George. How is she?
GEORGE:Iíve got to take you to the hospital.
JOE:Oh, aye?
GEORGE:Dr Milnerís still there.
JOE:He wants to see me, does he ?
ELSIE:Sheís dead.
JOE:Dead ?
ELSIE:She never came round.
GEORGE:Iím sorry, Dad.
JOE:Aye, lad, I know. The timeíll come when Iím sorry, I reckon. When I wonder how Iíll manage to - to live without her. But just now, you understand, I - I canít feel grief. I ought to, I suppose, but I canít. Iím too - too full of thanksgiving. Godís good. Godís good.
(THE SOUND OF ANNIEíS VOICE SINGING THE FINAL VERSE OF ĎTHE SANDS OF TIME ARE SINKINGí BEGINS VERY SOFTLY. AS HER VOICE GAINS IN VOLUMN SHE IS JOINED BY THE CHOIR, ALSO BEGINNING SOFTLY. THE SINGING RISES TO A PEAK, AND ENDS WITH THE ĎAMENí)