What A Picture

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic


A short radio play about the problems faced by a family and a painting bequeathed to them.

Submitted: July 21, 2018

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Submitted: July 21, 2018

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Characters:

POX – the delivery man. Broad Cockney Accent.

BELLAMY – the butler. Very superior attitude extremely posh.

JACK – well to do young socialite.

BETTY – JACK’s sister. Debutante

DORA – the Lancashire Maid.

DONATELLO – Painter and decorater. Northern accent but not as broad as Dora.

ERIC – Donatello's young assistant – tries to sound gangsta.

ART DEALER – Very luvvy.

PC WOODCOCK – typical old English Bobby.

MRS LANGSTROTHER – Posh Landed Lady.

MR PERRIWINKLE - Posh man with a slight country twang to his voice.

VICAR - Very cheery and positive.

PERKIN - Precisely spoken solicitor.

 

GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION PROMENADE

POX

Blimey guvnor that’s quite ‘eavy that painting.

BELLAMY

I’m not a guvnor, I am a butler.

POX

Sorry Guvnor; any chance of a cuppa to quench me thirst?

BELLAMY

I’m sorry but due to a poor sugar cane harvest I couldn’t possibly make it to your taste.

POX

All right, I’ll just leave it here then.

BELLAMY

You can’t just leave it there, the solicitor wants it kept safe.

POX

It’ll be safe here, who’s gonna nick it; the servants?

BELLAMY

(SIGH) Just put it in the drawing room; then you can pop down to the kitchen for a beverage.
FX: SOUND OF PAINTING SCRAPING ALONG THE GROUND

BELLAMY

Careful with it; and make sure that cover stays on it. I can’t have your unworthy ocules catching sight of it before the grand unveiling.
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 1 BEING OPENED

POX

When’s that gonna be then Guv’nor?
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 1 BEING CLOSED

BELLAMY

 After the reading of the will tomorrow.

POX

Maybe I could get to see it then.

BELLAMY

Now listen here, the gathering to hear the will and to see that painting will be a select one. I can assure you that the name of Pox the Delivery Man will not be on the guest list.

POX

I just wanted to pay me respects to his Lordship.

BELLAMY

Yes, it was a tragic loss.

POX

Well I did warn him not to go metal detecting on Salisbury Plain.
FX: SOUND OF PAINTING BEING PUT ON AN EASEL.

BELLAMY

There we are that’ll be perfect. Now come on I’ll take you down to the kitchen where you can have your cup of tea and crate of biscuits.

POX

Right you are Guvnor.
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 1 BEING CLOSED.
(PAUSE)
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 2 BEING OPENED.

JACK

Come on Betty, it’s all clear.

BETTY

I’m not sure.

JACK

Come on, you can trust me, I’m your brother.

BETTY

That’s not what mum says.

JACK

Yes, well… anyway let’s get a sneak preview of this painting.

BETTY

All right, you grab that end then.

JACK

I have hold of it already.

BETTY

Well lift it up then.

JACK / BETTY

Oh my!

BETTY

Goodness, what is Father doing; and who is that he’s doing it with?

JACK

Mr Perriwinkle I think.

BETTY

We can’t let anyone see that.

JACK

Well we can’t tell anyone. Dad’s last wish was that this painting should be revealed after the will was read.

BETTY

We’ll have to think of something.

JACK

Quick cover it over again; I can hear someone coming.
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 2 BEING CLOSED
(PAUSE)
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 1 BEING OPENED

DORA

Oo ‘eck what’s this in ‘ere now. There’s always something to get in the way of me cleaning.
 
Look out for’t picture he said, didn’t say it were’t size of a barn door.
 
Oh well, I suppose I’d best get… Oo look at that cobweb; it’s like a Dutch sailor’s hammock.
FX: SOUND OF STANDING ON A CHAIR
(MAKES SOUNDS OF STRETCHING AND TRYING TO REACH)
FX: SOUND OF LAMPSTAND FALLING OVER
Oo look out!
FX: SOUND OF CANVAS RIPPING
Bugger.
FX: SOUND OF GETTING DOWN OFF CHAIR
I’m going to have to do sommut about that.
FX: SOUND OF MOBILE PHONE BEING USED
Eh Danotello, how are doing me little petal?
(PAUSE)
Well tell ‘im to put surgical spirit on it. Now listen I’ve got a bit of painting for you, but it’s urgent so can you pop round straight away?
(PAUSE)
Oo gradely, I’ll see you then; ‘bye love.
Right, come on Dora; you’d best make yourself scarce.
FX: SOUND OF DOOR 2 BEING OPENED AND CLOSEDFOLLOWED BY FOOTSTEPS

DORA

(SURPRISED) Ahhh!

JACK

I say, steady on Dora.

DORA

Oh ‘eck sir, you gave me a right fright. I fair jumped out of me skin and back in again.

BETTY

Is everything all right?

DORA

Of course it is; I just want everything right for tomorrow.

BETTY

Yes, we all do; have you finished in that room?

DORA

Uh, well yes, but I shouldn’t go in there before the unveiling tomorrow.

BELLAMY

Everything all right sir?

JACK

Yes I think so.

BELLAMY

It’s just that I heard screaming you see sir. In my years of service I’ve known few screams in this house that weren’t down to childbirth or the beginning of a crisis.

BETTY

Well rest assured Bellamy all is well; we just startled Dora.

DORA

And not many people have done that since ‘t crew of HMS Belfast.

JACK

While you’re here Bellamy, make sure no-one goes into the drawing room. We have to go out for a while and we want it all neat when we return.

BELLAMY

Very well sir, and when will that be?

JACK

Not until later, so there is no need to wait up for us.

BELLAMY

Very well sir, I shall endeavour to fill my evening in other ways. Should you need me I will be at the lodge.
FX: SOUND FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF QUICKLY

BELLAMY

There they go; always in a rush.

DORA

Well it’s a good job in this case, because I need to tell you something.

BELLAMY

Is it rude?

DORA

No it’s nothing like that.

BELLAMY

Oh well, you’d better tell me anyway.

DORA

I’ve had a bit of a mishap.

BELLAMY

Really? Do we know the father this time?

DORA

No, not that, an accident.

BELLAMY

Oh dear well…

DORA

I’ve made a slight tear in’t painting.

BELLAMY

(RELIEVED) Oh good, (REALISES WHAT SHE SAID) Eh oh no, what’re we to do.

DORA

Don’t worry, just keep everyone out of the drawing room. My nephew is a painter and he’s coming to fix it.

BELLAMY

Are you sure that’ll be all right.

DORA

Oh of course it will, he’s a very talented young man.

BELLAMY

(NOT CONVINCED) Very well, since we have no choice.
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION - PROMENADE
FX: SOUND OF DOORBELL RINGING THEN THE DOOR OPENING

DONATELLO

Hello Auntie

DORA

Ooh there you are come on in; and who's this little cherub you have in tow?

DONATELLO

This is my assistant.

ERIC

 I is very pleased to be making your acquaintance.

DORA

Good to have you along petal. Now listen, we've only got a few hours, I have to leave at 6 o’clock. I rarely stay later than that, and I don’t want to arouse suspicion.

DONATELLO

I hope this isn't too big a job.

DORA

Oo no need to get your kippers in a codpiece; your mum speaks very highly of you.
FX: SOUND OF A DOOR OPENING

DORA

In you go; the painting is under the cover.

DONATELLO

Painting! Wait a minute, I....

DORA

I know it's not as good as painting your own; just get in there, you're as bad as your uncle.
FX: SOUND OF A DOOR CLOSING
(PAUSE)

ERIC

What sort of painter does she fink you is?

DONATELLO

I thought she knew.

ERIC

Okay what is you wanting; matt emulsion or gloss finish?

DONATELLO

Somehow I don't think it's going to matter much.

ERIC

Go wiv emulsion then, it'll be easier to clean the brushes.

DONATELLO

Right then, let's get this cover off and see what we can do.
FX: SOUND OF COVER BEING REMOVED

ERIC

That is very ... artistic.

DONATELLO

It would be that bit she ripped.

ERIC

Not the best part of the picture to be touching up.

DONATELLO

Okay, let's get a grip.

ERIC

I isn't grippin' nuffin'.

DONATELLO

Just bring the paints and let's see what we can do.
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE
FX: SOUND OF SHOP DOORBELL RINGING

JUSTIN

Hello you two, good to see you.

BETTY

Hi Justin, how are things.

JUSTIN

All the better for seeing you; what brings you to my humble emporium?

JACK

A bit of an emergency.

JUSTIN

Have you tried Kaolin?

BETTY

We need a painting.

JUSTIN

Doesn't sound too drastic; what sort of painting?

JACK

We don't mind as long as it's so big by so big.

JUSTIN

That's not small then. Any particular artist?

BETTY

Yes, preferably one that isn't well known.

JUSTIN

You'd better come and see the ones we have around the back.
FX: SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS THROUGH THE SHOP

JUSTIN

Here we are, this is where I keep all the house clearance items. Perhaps there is something to your taste here.

BETTY

What's this one?

JUSTIN

Oh that's just one I found in a house in some far off place. Waste of time travelling to it really. I think this was someone who fancied themselves as an artist, but the brush strokes are rather crude and...

BETTY

It looks like just what we need, what do you think Jack?

JACK

Looks okay, how much is it?

JUSTIN

Yes it does have a certain naive charm about it; as though the artist was looking at the landscape through the eyes of a child.

JACK

How much?

JUSTIN

For your chance to own an undiscovered, yet truly remarkable talent; just 500 Guineas.

JACK

All right, will a cheque do?

JUSTIN

Of course.

BETTY

You have to deliver it though.

JACK

Tonight.

JUSTIN

Very well; what time would suit you?

BETTY

Midnight.

JUSTIN

That’s a rather unusual time for a delivery.

JACK

That’s not what Aunt Harriet says.

JUSTIN

Is she in the art business?

BETTY

She’s a midwife.

JUSTIN

Well who am I to argue with a midwife. Now if you would just like to follow me back to the office and we can complete the formalities.
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE
FX: DOOR OPENS

DORA

‘ey, how's it going in 'ere? 

DONATELLO

It'll have to do. I don't think I can make it any better.

ERIC

It's well minging.

DORA

What?

DONATELLO

We had to go over all of it in the end, otherwise you could see the bit we’d done.

DORA

I’m sure it will be all right; nobody has seen it, so it won’t matter if the style is slightly different.

DONATELLO

If you leave the curtains closed and make sure everyone has plenty to drink it might be okay.

ERIC

Yeh, like get them well smashed.

DORA

Right well you two'd best get out of here before anyone realises there is anything wrong.

DONATELLO

You don't have to tell me twice. Come on, grab the brushes.

DORA

Ey up be quick about it and quiet, go out that way so that nobody sees you.
 
Oo eck, I'm getting to old for this.

BELLAMY

Ah Dora, there you are; good. What's happening about the picture?

DORA

Don't panic, it's all under control.

BELLAMY

What have you done?

DORA

Oh a woman has to have some secrets. You'll find out tomorrow.

BELLAMY

Yes, well there is nothing either of us can do now. You’d better be getting off home. It will be an early start tomorrow.

DORA

I'll be here bright and early, don’t you worry.
FX: SOUND ON FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF QUICKLY
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE
FX: VAN PULLING UP INTO THE DRIVEWAY

BETTY

Ah good, here he is.
FX: VAN DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES THEN A SLIDING VAN DOOR OPENS

JUSTIN

Here we are then I’ve brought the painting.

BETTY

Good, now all we need to do is swap it with the one inside.

JACK

Okay you keep watch, we’ll carry it in.

JUSTIN

There’s no need to carry it, we can use this trolley.
FX: SOUND OF A SQUEAKING WHEEL

JACK

This trolley is noisier than a donkey singing Slade's greatest hits. Couldn't you have put a bit of oil on it?

JUSTIN

It doesn’t normally matter. I don’t have that many midnight deliveries.

JACK

Yes and the reason we wanted the delivery now was so that it would be a secret exchange. At this rate half the county will know.

JUSTIN

I don’t know how else we can get it in.

JACK

Tell you what; you back the van right up to the house over there and we’ll take it in through the window.

JUSTIN

All right.

BETTY

I’ll go in and open the window.
FX: SOUND OF THE VAN REVERSING

JUSTIN

All right, grab hold and we'll carry it the last little bit of the way.

JACK

Like this?

JUSTIN

Yes, but grab your own end; leave mine alone.

JACK

Certainly; how's that.

JUSTIN

That's it, now let's go.

BETTY

Right come on through this window.

JACK

Right, I'll go in and you pass it to me.
(JACK MAKES GRUNTING AND HEAVY BREATHING NOISES)

JUSTIN

Are you all the way in yet?

JACK

Almost. Who would have thought fenestrations would prove so difficult.

JUSTIN

Only you I think. Now here's the end, you grab and pull it in.
(SOUNDS OF THEM BOTH STRUGGLING)

JACK

Right, I've got it; now I'll pass this one to you.

JUSTIN

Oh, I see you've wrapped it.

JACK

Yes Indeed.

JUSTIN

I thought it was being thrown away.

BETTY

It is but we don't want everyone to see it.

JUSTIN

Perhaps I should take a look; perhaps I could sell it for you?

BETTY

No, believe me this wouldn’t sell.

JACK

All we need you to do with this is put it in the van and give me a lift down to the end of the drive. Drop me and the painting off and I’ll put it by the rubbish bins for collection.

JUSTIN

Well, as long as you’re sure.

JACK / BETTY

We are.
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE
FX: BIRDS SINGING – DAWN CHORUS FOLLOWED BY CAR PULLING UP

POX

Ah, lovely, dawn on bin day; my favourite time of the week. Let’s see what the wealthy folks are throwing out this time.
 
That looks like the painting I delivered. I expect it’s one that is being replaced by the new one. It could be a Rembrandt or some other geyser.
 
First things first; I need to get it on this roof rack and then I can find out what it is.
FX: SOUND OF OBJECT BEING SLID ONTO A CAR’S ROOF RACK
(POX BREATHING HEAVILY)
FX: SOUND OF TWO TONE BICYCLE BELLS

POX

(UNDER HIS BREATH) Great that’s all I need. (LOUDLY) Ah Constable Woodcock, always a pleasure.

PC WOODCOCK

What are you up to then?

POX

You 'ave a very suspicious mind.

PC WOODCOCK

What I have is experience of your dealings; remember that chess set?

POX

That lovely historic Viking set, from the Hebrides?

PC WOODCOCK

Yes, I seem to recall that was the yarn you span about that particular set of plastic figures.

POX

It was soapstone; it only looked like plastic. I tell you that was a genuine set of Viking pieces.

PC WOODCOCK

Very well then, you had better submit a paper to the historical society.

POX

You what?

PC WOODCOCK

You should share with the world, the news that Taiwan was visited by Nordic traders.

POX

You what?

PC WOODCOCK

Never mind, there's no time to wait for your synapses to fire. What are you taking from that rubbish?

POX

You can’t be done for stealing from a rubbish pile.

PC WOODCOCK

Stealing from people’s rubbish is an offence, which I will be more than happy to arrest you for.

POX

Ah that’s all right then because I wasn’t stealing; I was just picking this up to take it to the church.

PC WOODCOCK

Oh so you are a churchgoer now are you?

POX

No, I’m just doing the Vicar a favour.

PC WOODCOCK

Have you no shame at all, trying to pass off a man of the cloth as the criminal mastermind in your devious little plans?

POX

I’m not stealing it. I brought another picture here yesterday, and now I’m taking this one to the church.

PC WOODCOCK

Yes I had heard there was one to be brought here for the reading of the will. I will believe you this time, though it is against my better judgement.

POX

Thank you; can I put it in the van now?

PC WOODCOCK

Of course; I wouldn’t want to stop you when you are in the middle of an act of pure altruism. Be warned though I will check with the vicar later to check that you have dropped it off there.

POX

(DISAPPOINTED) Oh lovely, thanks.

PC WOODCOCK

No problem; now I must continue my rounds.
FX: BICYCLE RIDING OFF AND BELL RINGING
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE

JACK

Pssst, Bellamy.

BELLAMY

It would appear the foliage is talking to me now.

JACK

Bellamy are you alone?

BELLAMY

Indeed I am, and it seems to be getting to me.

JACK

Good, we're coming out.

BELLAMY

Ah young master Jack, what are you doing among the pot plants, are you on safari?

JACK

Okay Betty, it's all clear.

BETTY

We've been waiting to catch you alone.

BELLAMY

I'm honoured.

JACK

Has anyone been in that room today?

BELLAMY

No-one sir.

BETTY

Good, we don’t want anyone to go in until it’s time to uncover the painting.

JACK

We don’t want anything to happen to it before the grand unveiling.

BELLAMY

All right Sir, as you say. Of course something might already have happened to it.

BETTY

What do you mean?

BELLAMY

Well, nothing really Ma’am; it might just be that in a certain light the painting might not appear exactly as it did to the artist when he had painted it.

BETTY

Bellamy, it seems there are no secrets from you in this house.

BELLAMY

Not since we moved those coffins out of the cellar.

JACK

Well you don’t have to worry, it’s all fixed now, and there is nothing to worry about.

BELLAMY

You sound very confident sir.

JACK

I am. Now we’re going in to mingle with the guests. As long as nobody goes in there we’re home and dry.

BELLAMY

Very well sir.

BETTY

Okay, well come on then, let's get in there and speak to a few people before the reading.
FX: FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF

BELLAMY

I wonder where Dora has got to.
FX: WOODEN KNOCKING SOUND

DORA

(SLURRED MUFFLED VOICE) I’m in here you great spawny eyed wazzock.

BELLAMY

There appears to be knocking from the Major’s Grand Tour Travelling chest; and not of a Whitsun holiday.

DORA

Oh eck; come on open the box.

BELLAMY

I’d rather take the money.

DORA

Oh don’t be daft; let me out.
FX: LID OPENING ON THE CHEST

BELLAMY

What an earth were you doing in there?

DORA

(SLURRED VOICE) What sort of a question is that to ask a lady?

BELLAMY

You’re drunk.

DORA

(DRUNK) Ooh you're right there me little sugar dumpling.

BELLAMY

You've been drinking.

DORA

Of course I have.

BELLAMY

Well we don't have time for this now. Have the guests had plenty to eat and drink?

DORA

They've all had plenty to drink.

BELLAMY

Haven't they had anything to eat?

DORA

Oh picky, picky, picky.

BELLAMY

You'd better go and get them something from the kitchen.

DORA

Ooh I don't think there'll be much time for eating. They're circling that poor lawyer like a swarm of Buzzards.

BELLAMY

Then we had better get in there.
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE

PERKIN

Thank you everybody for coming to this sober occasion; at least that’s what it should be. My name is Perkin Howard, from Castle, Howard, Keele, Hall Solicitors. Specialists in conveyancing, family matters and children’s entertainment. Ask about our no fee – no win service.

JACK

Get on with it. 

PERKIN

Now, now sir these things have to be done in the traditional way. I am as skilled in my way as you aristocrats are in marrying your own cousins and guffawing at the dinner table.
FX: SOUND OF PAPER BEING UNFOLDED
 
I Terence Droga Langstrother being of sound mind, flabby body and somewhat irregular bowel movements do hereby make my last will and testament.
 
I wish to say at this juncture that I abdicate the title of Emperor Napoleon the Fourth of St Helena; an honour I claimed in 1958.
 
To my Butler Bellamy, I always promised I would mention you in my will. Now that I've done that I can get on with dishing out my estate.
 
To the receptionist at my Doctor's Surgery, I leave a £10 book token so that she may buy a book on polite etiquette and good manners.
 
£100 thousand I leave to be placed on trust for 100 years. The aforementioned sum to be given to King Arthur, should he return within that time.
 
To my son Jack and my Daughter Betty, I leave the sum of 250 guineas each; I hope you spend it wisely.
 
To my lovely wife I leave the rest of the estate. I make only one covenant on my estate. I have arranged for a painting to be brought and shown to you after the will has been read. It shows who I truly am and though it has not been seen before I expect it to be displayed proudly in the house in my honour.
 
That concludes the reading of the will. If you would like to just talk among yourselves, and we will shortly go through and view the picture.
FX: CHAIRS SCRAPING AND PEOPLE GETTING UP TO MINGLE

VICAR

Ah Mrs Langstrother; are you all right, is there anything I can do for you?

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Not at the moment Vicar, though I do thank you for coming. It has been such a trying time, to lose one’s sweet dear husband.

VICAR

Yes, I can see he loved you very much, the reading of the will did not last long.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Oh he’s always been like that; nothing he did, ever lasted long.

JACK

Good afternoon Vicar.

VICAR

And to you, and you Betty; I trust you are all right.

BETTY

Yes thank you Vicar.

VICAR

Since you are all here I wanted to thank you for the painting.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Oh I usually leave all that sort of thing to the Children and the Servants. I’m afraid you must excuse me Vicar, I must try to get around all the guests. I will leave you in the capable hands of my son and daughter.

BETTY

I’m sorry about that vicar, she seems to have no interest in art at all.

JACK

Yes it’s usually us that deals with all the paintings and such around the house. I confess though I didn’t know we had given you a painting.

VICAR

Oh come now, don’t be modest. You must remember; you sent Pox round with it this morning. He had it all neatly wrapped up. I must say, it was very thoughtful of you.

BETTY

(SOUNDING VAGUE) Oh yes, yes of course, it slipped my mind. We have so many paintings you see.

JACK

(VAGUE) Yes, so many.

VICAR

You can’t have many the size of the one you had Pox bring round. He said that you had asked him to bring it round since you no longer needed it.

JACK / BETTY

(WITH A HORRID REALISATION) Oh that one.

VICAR

Yes indeed Pox said to keep it somewhere safe and out of sight.

BETTY

Out of sight, that’s right. You wouldn’t want it to be damaged by sunlight.

VICAR

Oh I couldn’t do that, it’s such a generous act I think everyone should see it.

JACK

Have you seen it?

VICAR

Oh Indeed not. I see the gift as not to me personally but the church, so I will wait until I can share it with everyone.

BETTY

Everyone? Where are you going to put it?

VICAR

I already have put it where it shall now live thanks to your generosity. It took me a little while to get it hung but I now have it in the very heart of the church.

JACK

In the middle of the church?

VICAR

Yes indeed; right where the whole congregation can see it and draw inspiration from it.
 
(PAUSE)
 
Are you two all right?

BETTY

Uh – oh yes sorry Vicar, we were overcome with the thought of it hanging there in front of everyone.

JACK

She’s not wrong there Vicar.

VICAR

I hope you are fully recovered by Sunday. I shall look forward to seeing you at the morning service where we will have the grand unveiling.
 
(PAUSE)
 
Oh dear you’ve gone again. Well I must tend the rest of my flock. Until Sunday then God go with you.
FX: FOOTSTEPS WALKING AWAY

BETTY

Oh no, we’ll have to do something. It’s all very well having skeletons, but they belong in cupboards not in churches.

BELLAMY

Is everything all right; you both look a little pale. Can I get you some beef tea?

JACK

No; no beef tea thank you.

BETTY

What is beef tea anyway.

BELLAMY

I have absolutely no idea, but the butler’s handbook says to always offer it when illness, mental fatigue or family crisis is suspected.

BETTY

Doesn’t it say how to make it?

BELLAMY

No, there is a footnote to say that it will never be needed in a British Aristocratic home.

BETTY

Why not?

BELLAMY

The stiff upper lip will always be too strong for the British to admit they need anything.

JACK

Well we need something now; we need your help.

BELLAMY

Certainly Sir, shall I get the liniment and Vaseline?

JACK

Not this time Bellamy, we need your help to get the painting from the church.

BELLAMY

Does the Vicar know about this?

BETTY

No he doesn’t.

BELLAMY

Oh in that case, I just need to…

BETTY

What are you doing with your watch?

BELLAMY

I thought that in view of our planned theft of valuables from the church I’d better set it back to 1536.

JACK

Just gone twenty five to four?

BELLAMY

No; the reign of Henry the Eighth.

BETTY

Oh come on Bellamy we’ll replace it. No one has seen it so they’ll be none the wiser.

BELLAMY

Very well ma’am. What would you like me to do?

BETTY

For now explain our absence while we arrange for another late night painting delivery.

BELLAMY

Very well; now if you would excuse me I must attend to the guests.
FX: FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Oh hello Mr Perriwinkle, so good of you to come.

MR PERRIWINKLE

Oho, you’re very welcome Lydia, may I call you that?

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Of course you may. My name is Daphne but I never cared much for it anyway.

MR PERRIWINKLE

Thank you, and for inviting me to this gathering to remember your husband. He was a good man.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Oh you’re welcome; we could barely separate you in life, so it is only fitting that you should be here today. I am just sorry he did not leaveyou anything in his will.

MR PERRIWINKLE

Probably just as well, but then this day should be about you; is there anything I can do for you?

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Not if the rumours are true.

MR PERRIWINKLE

Well if there is anything you need, please feel free to call me.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Thank you Mr Perriwinkle, but I believe I am all right for the moment. Unless you would care to accompany through to the drawing room?

MR PERRIWINKLE

Of course it will be a pleasure.

DORA

Ooh ey up, have you had enough to drink?

MR PERRIWINKLE

Um, yes, yes I’m fine thank you.

DORA

Oh come on Flounder Face; wet your gills with a drop of this.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Do not insult our guests

DORA

You’re right; you leave this cheap plonk alone. Wait here I’ll get the good stuff from the cellar.

MR PERRIWINKLE

No thanks, honestly.

DORA

Oh come on, you’ll need it; the air is as dry as the Gobi Desert in there.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Dora! Have you been drinking?

DORA

I most certainly ‘ave. I’ve been doing it all my life. Otherwise I would shrivel up like a dry old current.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Well I think you’ve had enough.

DORA

Oh don’t be daft. I have to keep drinking, I have a thirst that’s quite unquenchable. You know what I mean, don’t you Mr Perriwinkle?

MR PERRIWINKLE

Well, er yes er no – oh is that a crudité I see over there.

DORA

Ooh ‘e didn’t last long. I shall have to quench me thirst with someone else.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Bellamy!

BELLAMY

Yes Ma’am, is there something I can do for you?

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Yes Bellamy, Dora is drunk.

BELLAMY

(PAUSE) Indeed she is Ma’am; you’re very observant if I may say so.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Oh nonsense Bellamy; anyone could have seen it.

BELLAMY

Of course Ma’am I’ll get her out of here for you.

DORA

Oo where are you going to take me you big brute?

BELLAMY

Down to kitchen where you can drink some coffee and sober up.

DORA

You romantic old devil.

BELLAMY

Come on.
FX: FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE

JACK

Okay everyone I hope you are all in where you can get a good view of the picture.

BETTY

As you know from the reading of the will, it was our father’s wish that this painting be put on display prominently in the house.

JACK

We don’t know what the significance of it is or why he was so keen for it to be shown off.

BETTY

We would like to invite you all up to take a good look at it, and perhaps offer your own interpretation to Dad’s rather eccentric tastes.
FX: SOUND OF THE CURTAINS BEING DRAWN BACK
(SILENCE)

BETTY

Well I can see you are overwhelmed by Dad’s choice of painting.

VICAR

I think it has a rather unique charm.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

You’re a good Christian Vicar.

VICAR

Do you not like it then?

MRS LANGSTROTHER

What’s to like?

VICAR

It has a simple charm.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

I suppose so; it’ll be all right on the hall wall where it can cover up that damp patch.

VICAR

To all things there is a purpose Mrs Langstrother, but if you will now excuse me I have to be getting along; I must prepare for the Sermon on Sunday.

MRS LANGSTROTHER

Yes of course; I must see to my guests and then I shall look forward to retiring for the evening.
FX: SOUND OF FOOTSTEPS WALKING OFF
GRAMS: PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION – PROMENADE
FX: CHURCH DOOR OPENING

DORA

Oo ey up it’s pitch black in here. Where’s the light switch?

BELLAMY

We can’t go putting the light on in the church.

DORA

Why not; didn’t the Lord say let there be light?

BELLAMY

Yes he did. He also said thou shalt not steal, especially from my house late at night.

DORA

Don’t be such a big girl’s blouse. We have to get the picture out of here before everyone sees it.

BELLAMY

Well come on then; quickly.

DORA

Ooo ‘ang on a minute I keep tripping over the hassocks.

BELLAMY

Here look I’ll light your way till you get to the end of the pews and then we’ll go up the aisle together.

DORA

Oo Montague Bellamy, you old romantic; I didn’t know you cared.

BELLAMY

Let’s just keep in mind what we came here for; which suddenly seems more appealing.

DORA

Come on now, don’t you think I would make a lovely bride, all decked in white?

BELLAMY

In white? I think that would be hardly appropriate after that time in the Theatre Royal.

DORA

I’ve always been fond of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers; well the seven brothers anyway.

BELLAMY

And don’t we all know it? It wouldn’t have been so bad, but you did two encores.

DORA

Well I ‘ave to think of my audience; as I recall you gave a standing ovation.

BELLAMY

Yes I was a lot younger then. Wait: someone’s coming; quick let’s get out of sight.

BETTY

I thought I saw something.

JACK

Relax, there won’t be anybody else here at this time of night.

BETTY

Then why was the door open?

JACK

Who’d want to break in; all the lead’s on the roof?

BETTY

Well I’m sure I saw movement in the pews.

JACK

Probably just rats. Now come on let’s get this painting out of here or people will see something much more offensive.

BETTY

Come on then, it must be over there behind that cover.

JACK

Right, let’s go.

BETTY

Wait; I can hear someone coming. Quick let’s hide in here.

JACK

Quick close the door.

BETTY

Do you think anyone will find us in here?

BELLAMY

I would imagine so sir.

JACK

Aaahhh Bellamy; what on earth are you doing in here.

BELLAMY

No need to sound so surprised sir, it seems quite busy in here tonight.

DORA

Oo ‘eck you could have picked a quieter spot than this to hide out.

BELLAMY

I can explain everything.

BETTY

It’ll have to wait; there is someone else who has just come in.

JACK

Can you see who it is?

BETTY

No, but they seem to be heading for the painting.

DORA

We ‘ave to stop them; there’s a bit of a problem with that painting.

BETTY

How do you know about that?

DORA

I’m bound to aren’t I; it was me that caused it to happen.

JACK

What; how did you cause that?

DORA

It’s a bit of a long story involving a Dutch Sailor’s hammock, a lampstand and a duster.

BELLAMY

I don’t think we have time for the whole sordid tale right now; we must get out there and apprehend the villain or he will steal the painting before we do.

JACK

Right.
FX: SOUND OF RUSHING OUT OF THE SMALL ROOM

BETTY

Get your hands off that picture. 

POX

Crikey, you scared me half to death.

JACK

Just a minute I’ll light a candle.
FX: SOUND OF A MATCH BEING STRUCK

BELLAMY

Ah Pox; I might have known that if there was skulduggery was afoot your wretched body would be at the centre of it.

POX

That’s a bit rich coming from you guv; you’re the one what was hiding in the church.

DORA

We weren’t hiding, we were just rehearsing for next year’s panto.

BETTY

Yes; the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

POX

That’s not a pantomime.

DORA

How can you say such a thing; you should see Bellamy as the Witch.

PC WOODCOCK

I shall very much look forward to that particular performance.

JACK

Ah, PC Woodcock, what brings you to the church this evening?

PC WOODSTOCK

I have been keeping a close eye on this church ever since Pox brought the painting here. You can’t be too careful as to what ne’er do well might come creeping about.

BETTY

I trust you don’t suspect us Officer.

PC WOODCOCK

Of course not Sir. Had I known you were in here rehearsing I would not have needed to come and find out what the light was in here.

JACK

Since that is all now cleared up, perhaps we should all be heading for home.

BELLAMY

Excellent idea sir, shall I put the cocoa on this evening?

DORA

Oo yes, I could do to snuggle up with something warm and comforting.

PC WOODCOCK

Just one more thing before you all go.

JACK

Yes Constable.

PC WOODCOCK

You see sir, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a thespian so if there are any parts in this particular theatrical extravaganza, perhaps I might be able to fill a particular role.

BETTY

I’m sure we would love to have you in the play, but judging by the way the rehearsal went, I don’t think it will be ready for this Christmas.

JACK

Or any for that matter.

VICAR

Perhaps you never meant it to be performed?

PC WOODCOCK

Good evening Vicar, did you see the light as well?

VICAR

Metaphorically speaking perhaps.

JACK

We didn’t expect to see you here.

VICAR

So I can tell; is that why you are here for a clandestine play act?

BELLAMY

I believe you have it surrounded.

VICAR

More than you think; now let us be honest in God’s house. There was no pantomime rehearsal was there?

JACK

No; I suppose there wasn’t.

VICAR

You have no need to be embarrassed. You are not the first people who have come here to pray after the loss of a loved one.

BETTY

Yes Vicar we miss him terribly.

VICAR

Of course, it’s only natural, but remember he is in a better place now.

DORA

I wish I were in a better place; this pew is making my bum proper numb.

JACK

Thank you Vicar; that is a great comfort.

VICAR

Please remember that the door to God’s House is always open and if there is anything I can do you have only to ask.

BETTY

Thank you, the offer is very kind.

BELLAMY

Sir, Ma’am if I may be permitted to speak for the Langstrother Family for the moment. I know that you are probably too sorrowful and full of mourning to ask this for yourself. I think vicar, what would ease the family’s thoughts in these trying times would be to have the painting back in their possession.

JACK

Excellent, I mean thank you Bellamy; you are as ever an asset to the household.

VICAR

Well I was looking forward to showing everyone what you had donated at this week’s service but I see no reason why it cannot wait until another time.

BELLAMY

Thank you vicar, I know it will mean a lot to the family.

POX

I’d be happy to move it for you.

PC WOODCOCK

I have no doubt, but in this case I think they want it to end up back with them and not at the local market.

BETTY

We would like very much to take it back with us tonight.

VICAR

I know, since we are all here, why don’t we all just have a preview of the painting here? It would be very fitting with all of you here because you miss your father, and it was his gift that brought this to the church.

PC WOODCOCK

You have the right to remain silent of course but there is no reason why you can’t answer the Vicar.

VICAR

That’s quite all right constable; they are probably embarrassed at the offer.

DORA

Oo not much embarrasses me; not after that naked bungee jump in Swindon.

VICAR

Once we’ve all had a look we can help take it back to the Langstrother home.

PC WOODCOCK

It would appear they are overcome by the reverence of your kind offer.

VICAR

Very well then if you would do the honours Constable.

PC WOODCOCK

Certainly Vicar.
FX: SOUND OF CURTAIN BEING DRAWN BACK
(COLLECTIVE GASP)

VICAR

You see, I knew it would belong here in the heart of the church where the whole congregations can see it. What a thoughtful gift it is that you gave this painting to us all.

BELLAMY

I think it is fair to say that is not what I was expecting to see.

DORA

I’ve no idea what it’s supposed to be.

PC WOODCOCK

If I may be so bold; it appears to my trained eye to be a group of men wearing furry balaclavas.

VICAR

Indeed it does; Jack and Betty know what it is though don’t you?

JACK

Well it’s er hard to explain it’s…

BETTY

Why don’t we let the vicar explain, just so that we can see whether the idea has worked?

VICAR

Excellent; I’d be happy to. You see this represents the last supper in the style of the old Zaragozan woman who repainted Christ in the chapel. It’s symbolic that we can all give of ourselves to God and the church regardless of our talents and abilities. All that is required is that we mean well as we labour.

BETTY

Amazing Vicar.

JACK

Yes that’s exactly right.

MR PERRIWINKLE

A lovely sentiment, but I was expecting to meet you alone vicar.

VICAR

Ah Mr Perriwinkle, yes this congregation were already here when I arrived. Don’t let that stand in the way of God’s work; what was it you wanted to see me about?

MR PERRIWINKLE

It was a private matter really – I have a lot resting on my mind, and I wondered whether you might have time for a confession.”


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