Hoodening Play 1981
- Come on now, you lot, move aside
We need a space here, nice and wide
- Joe (outside):
- Sounds as if they're having a riot
We're not going in until they're quiet
- There's so much noise I've got to shout
We'll have to throw somebody out
The trouble-maker's this girl here
You'll have to go: come on, my dear!
- (throws one woman out)
- Adam (enters):
- That's better. That'll ease the crush
And now let's have a bit of hush
- [SPECIAL WORDS FOR EACH HOUSE]
- Here, how much longer's this going on?
Get on with it, and let's be gone
Outside our friends are getting cold
- All right then, mates, come'n join the fold
- (Joe, Sam, Dobbin & Boy enter, singing "5 Jolly Hoodening Boys". Adam exit)
- Yes, hunger's made us beg for alms
Can't earn a living on the farms
All we want's a couple of bob
For five poor chaps who've lost a job
- It's all because our former boss
Pretends his farm has made a loss
Although he still seems quite well off, it
Seems his farm don't bring much prof-it
- So each of us was kicked outside
To join three million unemployed
Without so much as a sack of coal
We had to sign up for the dole
- Old Dobbin TOO's been made redundant
His post has got a new incumbent…
A dirty great big yellow tractor
Exhaling fumes like a nuclear reactor
- The gov'nor calls it "new technology"
Doesn't care about ecology
Says he simply can't employ
Three waggoners and a waggon boy
To cut the wages that he pays
Poor Dobbin's been put out to graze
- What rubbish you talk, boy! He don't want to work
Take HIM near a plough and he'll go quite beserk
I think, unlike us, he quite likes unemployment
It gives him more time for his private enjoyment
He's what Maggie Thatcher would call "a real shirker"
The last thing he wants to be called is a worker
- At least Dobbin ain't got a wife to maintain
If he had my missus, she'd drive him insane
With nagging and asking for housekeeping money
I tell you: for MARRIED men, the dole ain't so funny
- But Joe, you're forgetting, he HAS got a wife…
That Street Acre mare, with teeth sharp as a knife
- The one who keeps on breaking out of her stall?
- Yes, LAST week we found her outside Manor Hall
- She must be quite near, 'cos he's twitching his ears
He's still a bit randy, in spite of his years
- (to boy)
Hold on to him hard, or he'll gallop away
We've had enough trouble with Dobbin today
- (mounts Dobbin)
Whoa, boy, steady! Don't wear yourself out!
Oi, give us a hand with this blooming great lout
- (A neigh is heard off-stage)
- It's all right; I think I just heard someone neigh
It must be his missus…
(looks out of door)
She's coming this way!
- (She arrives)
- Ah, here she is, bless her heart. Come on, old dear
Say "How do you do" to these gentlefolks here
- (She bows)
- Just look at her standing there, silent and snooty
You'd almost believe that her name was Black Beauty
- (She farts)
- And look at the way Dobbin pricks up his ears
That means that his mate is in season, I fears
'Cos raising the ears is a kind of erection
Which stallions display when they show their affection
- (to Boy, who is having difficulty controlling Dobbin)
Keep hold of that horse; he's had too many oats
We mustn't let these randy beasts get too close
TWO horses are quite enough trouble for us
A third would create even more of a fuss
The last thing we want is a ruddy great foal
Hard times bring a need for strict birth control
- You stand in between them, Moll. Keep them apart
Perhaps we could harness the mare to a cart
It might serve instead of a chastity girdle
Old Dobbin can't penetrate that kind of hurdle
- (Taking hold of Black Beauty)
You'd have quite a job; she will not stand still
She's hoping that Dobbin will give her a thrill
I can't hold her longer — she's rearing to go
- And HE's even friskier. Whoa, Dobbin, Whoa… !
- (The two horses rush towards each other. Moll, caught in the middle, is knocked down)
- Cor blimey! The horses have killed our old Moll!
She's lying there motionless, dead as a doll
- Whatever went wrong? They're supposed to kill me!
The BOY is the one that you kill, don't you see?
What made you hit Molly I can't understand
- Ne'er mind. That just means you can give us a hand
The shroud that you wore must fit Molly instead
You wrap up her feet and I'll cope with her head
- She looks a bit heavy. D'you think that we'll manage?
It might save us trouble to order a carriage
- No. Moll was your pall-bearer many a yur
Now you can perform the same service for her
- Let's lift her together, now — 1, 2, 3, 4!
- (Boy fails to lift Moll's middle)
- You've gone and left poor Molly's arse on the floor
- This corpse must be under a terrible curse
It WOULD be much simpler to call for a hearse
- Such a great effort, and all in vain!
Ah well, I suppose we'd best try once again
- To carry Moll we're just too few
We need an extra hand or two
What we want's a volunteer
- (Grabs a member of the Audience)
- You'll do nicely. Thank you, dear!
It's not as hard as you believe
Now, all together — Ready? Heave!
- (They nearly lift her. Then the Boy drops her feet and they all collapse!)
- I'm sorry. I just couldn't manage no more
Her feet were so heavy, my shoulder got sore
- Come off it! You can't leave the girl lying there
Her putrefied flesh will pollute all the air
- My job is to farm and to look after horses
Not walk up and down the road carrying corpses
- That WAS your job, mate; but you've just had the sack
It's no use pretending that you'll get it back
The best we can do is acquire some new skills
And find a new job that'll pay all our bills
There's only one industry not in decline
It's funerals. 'Struth! They're a reg'lar gold mine
'Cos people keep dying; they just cannot stop
All the year round they continue to drop
I think we might get a job with Bernard Cole
It MIGHT just be better than being on the dole
All right, then. Just give us a hand with these feet
I reckon what makes them so heavy's that sheet
- (Again fails to lift them)
- Come on, you fool, lift them! They can't be that bad
You ought to be strong as a horse, young lad
- Hold on, mates! That gives me a better idea
Let's tie her to both of these cart-horses here
That way we'll make use of our OLD expertise
To do our NEW job with a little more ease
(to the horses):
Right, you two! Enough of that lazing around!
We need you to pull this old hag on the ground
A rope round each ankle should do just the trick
The horses can manage, but watch they don't kick!
- Well, while they are dragging her body along
We may as well sing our funeral song
Two horses pull Moll's remains away from here
With them we don't even need a fun'ral bier
They hit her on the head
And the poor old girl is dead
It's not very long since she wed in May this year
- (Horses, led and assisted by Sam and Boy, drag Moll around in a circle. At end of song, they reach a wall and, due to a disagreement between Sam and Boy, begin to move in opposite directions, pulling Moll's legs apart)
- Here, why are you trying to drag me away?
They're killing me! Murderers!
- All: (Staring at each other)
- What did you say?
- You treat me like a blooming cart
And then you pull my legs apart
I've no desire to do the splits
Let go of my ankles, you stupid gits!
- Stone me! She ain't dead after all!
(helps Moll up)
- Not quite; I had a nasty fall
- It MUST have been nasty. You're looking quite pale
- Oh, I'd soon perk up with a few pints of ale
- We might manage that. It depends on our host
If he's got some booze, we can all drink a toast
Come landlord, fill the flowing bowl and pass some over this way (2 x)
- 'Cos we're all as dry as hell
- We know you to be kindly and generous as well
- We can't afford the prices that are charged at the Bell
- So pass some over this way
- Some liquid refreshments would give us the strength
To sing a few songs and amuse you at length
And while we are pausing to moisten our throats
We'll pass round a bag to collect some pound notes
- This year we're collecting for our village hall
A cause which we know will appeal to you all
- The caretaker there was our old friend Tom West
For twenty long years he has given of his best
For us, Tom's a personal link with the past
Of all the old Hoodeners, HE is the last
Living here in St Nicholas, and so we all thought
We'd ask HIM to tell us what ought to be bought
- The old doctor's surgery's in need of repair
They want to redecorate the ceiling in there
They also need money to tile the floor
Each tile costs around ｣3.50 pr more
The reason we're making so much of a fuss
Is because we still want doctors coming to us
You go to Birchington Centre, they'll say
"Unless you are dying, please wait till Friday".
There IS no reception in our village hall
You'll see a doctor, provided you call
At least in the village they're here twice a week
As long as you get there, things won't be so bleak
So let's help to make our surgery nice
Perhaps then our doctors will visit us thrice
- We need contributions from everyone here
Last year and also the previous year
We collected a hundred and sixty odd quid
This year we need more. Come, what am I bid?
- (pointing at a member of the audience)
- YOU look nice and rich. I hope YOU'll give a lot
Now, empty your purses; give all that you've got!
- All: (sing)
- If ye the Hooden Horse do feed…
Throughout the year ye shall not need
Produced by +Ben Jones (contact details). All rights reserved.