Hoodening Play 1988

(Moll enters)
The Hoodeners are here! Old Moll is my name
I'm here to sort all you lot out once again
(If need be, Moll shunts audience around to appropriate position)
Right — listen — I've got a few things to impart
'Cos when Dobbin arrives, heaven knows what'll start
I've never known Dobbin as lively as now
He's usually shagged out after pulling the plough
Joe reckons he's hyperactive, whatever that means
I THINK it's what Sam gets, on eating baked beans…
(Joe hurtles in — breathless)
Cor blimey! I'm shattered! That Dobbin's gorn crackers
He'd better calm down, or it's off with his …! / straight to the knacker's!
(From outside — a lot of bellowing, shouting, cries of pain, curses etc)
… Hold him! Hold him! Ow! He kicked me! Hold there! No — not there! Ow! Got 'im!…
(Sam, Boy and Adam enter wearily, limping and rubbing their bruises…)
(Standing positions: Moll, Joe, Sam, Boy, Adam, stage right to left)
Where's Dobbin?
          Outside — he's tied up to a tree
That should hold him!
Adam: (ruefully)
          The so-and-so buggered my knee!
Cor, I need a breather — that nag's going bonkers
He kicked out — and pretty near shattered my conkers!
(Boy holds up two horse chestnuts)
We can't really complain — he's been working so well
He goes off down the lane like a bat out of hell
The cart wheels are humming, they're running so free
We've done a day's work by a quarter to three!
By about twenty past, Sam's after the cod
You'll find me by the seawall, a-dangling my rod…
(Moll and Joe give Sam a disapproving look)
Well, while Dobbin's missing, there's nothing to fear
So we'll bid you hello 'cos we like coming here
No — I'm feeling rough! Think I'll have a sit down…
Joe:   (to Sam)
Looks like he's been spending too long down the "Crown"!
Sam:   (to Joe)
ANY time's too long down the "Crown"!
At the Crown: You can never be too long at the "Crown"!
He's been suffering all week with a dose of the flu
(to audience)
You best keep well clear or you might catch it too!
(Boy collapses in a shivering heap)
Well, I've heard folks talk
That he went for a walk
With that girl who gives favours in kind
Ah, I'll bet you ten
That he caught something then…
But flu weren't what I had in mind!
It was freezing, I heard
When he went with this bird -
He'd got with him some bottles of liquor!
They cost him 50p
Least, that's what he told me
(SHE lost more than just HALF-a-knicker!)
Now plants get the blight
If they spend half the night
Standing out in the wind and the freeze…
Aye, NOTHING will grow
When it's fifteen below…
… and your trousers are down round your knees!
Oh no! Look who's coming!!
(Dobbin charges in. Attached to his rein is a substantial piece of tree branch. As he rushes round, he evacuates himself on to the floor, behind the action. All the others scatter and take cover wherever they can. Dobbin roots about for a while, then sees the Boy in a heap on the floor. He stops and nuzzles up to him)
Well, look at that! Old Dobbin's found his friend down on the ground. He's quiet now — I never dreamed that THAT would calm him down!
(Dobbin continues gently nuzzling the Boy who weakly strokes his head)
How long's he been so active then? What caused this sudden change?
(Dobbin strolls over to Sam)
I reckon that it started when he sniffed round something strange
(Dobbin sniffs at Sam's backside — then hurriedly backs away. In doing so, he sits on the Boy who promptly passes out. The others don't seem to notice.)
It was like this, see. Our nag and me, 'fact all of us together
Had been out ploughing near the sea in real brass-monkey weather
That usually drags Dobbin down, but this time he survived
The Boy did too…
           … but that's because for half the time he skived!
Apparently, down near the sea, some seaweed caught his gaze
He caught a whiff so had a sniff, and stood up in a daze
From that time on he seemed to have the strength of twenty horses
Who'd have thought that seaweed could possess such hidden forces?
That milkmaid that you fancy, Joe, she cooks seaweed for dinner
Adam: (aside, to audience)
That must explain why her old dad is looking so much thinner
Joe:   (embarrassed)
Yes, well, I thought I'd ask her if the seaweed gives you strength
I took her behind the cowshed and I questioned her at length
We chatted about this and that and what and which and how…
But she knew nothing at that time…
Joe:   (aside to Sam)
          … She ruddy well does now!
Moll:  (realizing the implication)
Joe, I'm surprised at you, 'cos you're a happy married man…
Sam:   (to Moll)
That's how he STAYS so happy, but it's quite a risky plan!
Joe:   (scheming to get his own back)
S'pose now YOU'RE going to bring up that time when my car broke down…
Moll:  (embarrassed)
Of course not — anyway, we had BOTH been out on the town
It was a "classic" evening — it was full of Brahms and Liszt
She tried to get into the car — would you believe she missed?
When she's had six too many, she gets distinctly amorous
It's not a nice experience as you'd hardly call her glamorous !
She don't take a brush-off easy — she keeps trying it on all day…
I hear you've got to GIVE her one to make her go away
She asked me what my lips were for as we sat by the hedge
I said they're there to stop my mouth from fraying round the edge
The stars were shining bright. She says, "Look — Castor and Pollux"
She pushed me back upon the grass and squashed me anabolics…
Moll:  (interrupting hastily)
That's quite enough, Joe!!
… STEROIDS, I was going to say — I hadn't finished sayin' it…
Is that your missus over there? With your ex-army bayonet?
(Joe hides behind Sam)
Why're you taking steroids? You're no Olympic sprinter…
(Joe puts finger to mouth as if "shushing" Adam)
Builds him up for his athletics — behind the cowshed, through the winter
(looks across at the Boy)
Oh look there — the Boy's getting crushed by the nag!
He's just being friendly, you silly old bag
I'm not sure about that — the lad looks a bit odd…
(Sam rushes over to examine the Boy)
Sam :
He's stopped breathing — he's dead! You get off him, you sod!
(Sam irately heaves Dobbin away, who guiltily creeps off to a corner. The others gather round the prostrate Boy, except of course, Joe)
I reckon he's had it — that jade is a weight!
It's like crushing nuts with a twenty-ton crate…
(Joe winces at a mis-placed thought)
Moll:  (sobbing)
He had so much to do with his promising life
All that learning, and laughing, then courting a wife
So young! Life wrenched from him before he'd caught up…
He looks more like something the cat's just brought up!
BROUGHT IN, you mean, Joe. Yes, he looks a bit bent…
I knows what I said, and I knows what I meant!
Oh, cover him up with that sheet over there…
(Sam looks puzzled, but obediently picks up a couple of Dobbin's droppings)
           … No, SHEET, I said — there!
(Sam and Adam wrap up the Boy, leaving his head exposed)
I THOUGHT there was something else tainting the air
They say music soothes the savage breast; let's sing a song of mourning…
… Or even one of afternoon
          Shut up, Sam. That's a warning
(Song — tune "Poor Old Horse")
  1. Joe:
    Old Dobbin's gone quiet; he knows he's been bad
    Poor old horse
    He got over-excited and squashed the old lad
    Poor old horse
    He's broken a tree and he's "poop'd" on the floor
    I don't think you'll want him to come here no more
    I'll give him a whipping when we're out the door
    … and me!
    Poor old horse
  2. Joe:
    Now we've got to decide what to do with the Boy
    Poor old Boy
    Before rigor mortis his muscles do cloy
    Poor old Boy
    We'll take him outside, put his head in the dyke
    His backside pointing up in the air if you like
    The vicar (landlord etc.) can use him for parking his bike…
    Poor old Boy!
(End of song)
(Dobbin comes forward with some seaweed in his mouth)
For Heaven's sake! We're standing here, the Boy's corpse at our feet
Then up you come, seaweed in mouth… well, what a time to eat!
I quite agree, Joe — what a thought — and at a time like this…
It's quite obscene! Though p'raps a BEER would not come too amiss
Now that's a good 'un! P'raps an ale WOULD help us all to think
Mine's a large one!
Sam:   (Looking at Joe's nether regions)
          Doesn't show
                    Not THAT, you twerp — the DRINK
Count me in too — I need a beer. You see, my will is weak
Sam:   (puzzled)
Your willy's what? You better go that way and take a leak…
(Adam holds up a leek; Dobbin dangles the seaweed over the Boy's face)
Now look, you lot, why can't you see? Our Dobbin's trying to help
He's trying to bring the Boy round with that smelly bit of kelp!
Well, whadyeknow, that so-and-so is brighter than he looks… (say "lukes")
(Dobbin drops the seaweed on the Boy's face)
For gawd's sakes get this stuff off me before I goes and pukes!
(Boy sits up)
He's alive!
How d'you feel, Boy?
Boy:   (retching)
Adam: (passing a bucket to the Boy)
What did the seaweed taste like?
Boy:   (retching still more into the bucket)
(Boy forces his head into the bucket and stands up — bucket firmly on his head. He looks around.)
You had us worried there, my boy
You lay just like a broken toy
I'm pleased to see you LOOKING better
UNLIKE CRUEL JOE; perhaps I'll get a
Sharpened, twelve-inch carving knife
Cut off his sordid social life…
(Joe lets out a cry of surprise, and gets behind Sam)
Now steady on, for Hell hath spawned
No fury like a woman scorned
Don't worry, Moll, you'll find a man
Who'll turn into your greatest fan
You'll be the height of his ambition…
I'll point him to a good optician!
(Sam turns on Joe)
Oh, shut up, Joe! You've upset Moll; up, down, left, right and centre
She doesn't need a prat like you to tease and to torment her!
You don't care if the Boy was dead. Kind feelings? You have NONE!
(Adam takes bucket off Boy's head)
You've a cruel streak in your make-up — you just think of "number one"
Boy:   (crossing his legs)
My bladder's weakening I fear
"Number ones" might be a good idea!
(Adam takes bucket and holds it in front of Boy)
Though after eating seaweed chews
It might turn into "Number twos"
(Adam hastily moves bucket behind Boy and puts it on the floor)
OK, OK, I get the point — self-centred? P'raps I am
I'm sorry. S'pose it must appear I couldn't give a damn
I guess you think I'm nothing but an ageing lager-lout
Moll:  (softening)
Oh, don't be daft, we ALL like you, despite the rot you spout!
(to audience)
It takes some COURAGE to apologise and be contrite
Besides, it's not just for OURSELVES that we turned out tonight
That's right — though p'raps a drop of beer would help to make us smile
We ask you for some money — for a cause that's well worthwhile
In Margate hospital they have acquired a Cancer Laser
It lets them operate without resorting to the razor
We're helping them to set it up — prepare a special ward
They need your cash to help, so give us what you can afford
I know I've been a right old boor
I feel ashamed; I won't say more
I'll help my mates preserve THEIR health
One day, I may need help myself
So, like old Joe, help YOUR mates, too
For this is something YOU can do
Give generously to help our cause
Help save a life — it may be yours!
If ye the Hooden Horse do feed
Throughout the year ye shall not need

Produced by Ben Jones (contact details). All rights reserved. .