YOU‘RE JUST A NUMBER !

A SKETCH FOR THREE PLAYERS

by

BILL STANTON

copyright

 

 

COMPERE: Have you looked at your electricity bill lately ? It called for a stiff whisky, remember ? But did you notice that you don‘t seem to be a name any longer ? The Gas bill‘s just the same. And the telephone. You‘re just a number now. A long number. A very long number. We thought we‘d take a leap forward in time to the day - it can‘t be far off now - when the system‘s really caught on. When we‘re all numbers to each other. After all, as Shakespeare might have said, what‘s in a number? Something like this, perhaps ?

(COMPERE INDICATES OPENING CURTAIN AND EXITS. ENTER FIRST AND SECOND LADY)

FIRST LADY: I say ! Do you see who that is ?

SECOND LADY: Who d‘you mean ?

FIRST LADY: Just coming out of the bank. See ?

SECOND LADY: No ?

FIRST LADY: Must have been in to rub her two pennies together.

SECOND LADY: Oh yes. Now I see who you mean. Isn‘t that Miss 583 Stroke 75241 ?

FIRST LADY: Well, yes, it was. But not any more.

SECOND LADY: You don‘t mean she‘s married now ?

FIRST LADY: Oh, very much so.

SECOND LADY: Well, I never !

FIRST LADY: It is rather surprising, isn‘t it ? I mean, looking like that. Oh yes, she‘s a Mrs now. Mrs 583 Stroke 46129.

SECOND LADY: 461 - ! I don‘t believe it ! Him ? 583 Stroke 46129 ?

FIRST LADY: 583 Stroke 46129 Bracket A, dear.

SECOND LADY: Bracket A ? Him ?

FIRST LADY: The Birthday Honours, dear. Didn‘t you see it ?

SECOND LADY: Well, no. I never actually met her, you know.

FIRST LADY: Didn‘t you ? Well, here‘s your chance now. She‘s coming this way.

SECOND LADY: Oh my goodness ! How does one address her ?

FIRST LADY: Just Mrs. The bracket doesn‘t do anything for her.

SECOND LADY: You‘re sure ?

(ENTER THIRD LADY)

FIRST LADY: Quite sure, dear. She‘s plain Mrs 583 Stroke 46129. Very plain.

SECOND LADY: Sssh ! She‘ll hear you.

FIRST LADY: Oh, hello there, Mrs 583 Stroke 46129 !

FIRST LADY: Why, hello ! If it isn‘t Mrs 837 Stroke 58421 !

FIRST LADY: Oh do call me 837 ! I insist !

THIRD LADY: Then you must call me 583.

FIRST LADY: You know Mrs 287 Stroke 75321,of course.

THIRD LADY: I don‘t think I‘ve had the pleasure, Mrs 837 Stroke 58 — I mean 837.

SECOND LADY: No,we haven‘t actually met, though of course I know your number well. I mean, I remember you as Miss 583 Stroke 75241.

FIRST LADY: Then of course, you must call me 583, too !

SECOND LADY: 5832 ?

THIRD LADY: How silly of me ! What did I say ‘583 too‘ for ?

FIRST LADY: 58324 ?

(ALL THREE LOOK VAGUELY PUZZLED)

FIRST LADY: Oh yes, of course I see. 583, too. Actually, I was just telling 287 about your husband‘s bracket.

THIRD LADY: Oh, don‘t speak of it, please !

FIRST LADY: Don‘t speak - ?

THIRD LADY: Oh. You haven‘t heard.

FIRST LADY: Heard ?

THIRD LADY: I‘m divorcing him.

FIRST LADY:

} So soon ?

SECOND LADY:

THIRD LADY: Men !

FIRST LADY: Whatever happened, dear ?

THIRD LADY: I thought you would have heard...

FIRST LADY:

} Heard ?

SECOND LADY:

THIRD LADY: I thought - when I married him, I mean - I thought he had an honourable number.

FIRST LADY: But surely - ?

THIRD LADY: I was wrong. Horribly wrong !

SECOND LADY: But surely the Queen must have thought so. I mean, to give him a bracket.

THIRD LADY: Well, she was wrong. I was wrong. We were all wrong.

FIRST LADY: Whatever happened ?

THIRD LADY: They found him out. Stripped him of his bracket. Oh, the shame of it !

SECOND LADY: Oh, my dear !

THIRD LADY: After the trial -

FIRST LADY: Trial ? You don‘t mean - ?

THIRD LADY: Yes. Prison. (BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) He - He‘s disgraced the family number !

SECOND LADY: Oh, my dear, how awful for you !

THIRD LADY: (BREAKING DOWN COMPLETELY) Yes, yes. It was horrible. And now he‘s not a number any more.

FIRST LADY:

} You mean - ?

SECOND LADY:

THIRD LADY: Yes, yes ! He‘s just a name ! Just a name !

(LET US DRAW A CURTAIN UPON THE REMAINDER OF THE HARROWING SCENE)

© W. G. Stanton BA (Hons.)

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