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KATRINA: Well at eight o’clock Maurice brings me my breakfast on a

tray. I have half a grapefruit, a soft-boiled egg, toast soldiers, a cup of tea and
five milligram of Librium. Then when he’s gone to work I listen to Terry Wogan.
He sometimes plays one of Barry’s records but he can never pronounce his
name properly, he calls him Harry Manilow.
Sometimes I think Terry does it on purpose. Then what do I do? Yes, so I get up
and have a Sainsbury’s bubble bath. Then I get out, cream my knees and
elbows, Immac under my arms, put all my make-up on and do my hair. Then of
course I have to choose what to wear. Well times getting on so I go downstairs,
he’s done all the housework but I have to water the plants: then I sit and listen
to Barry until Maurice comes home.
He’s home at one o’clock. He has tomato soup and two slices of bread and I
have a doughnut, a cup of coffee and a five milligram Librium. No sooner that’s
done then he goes back to work and I have to have a sleep until he comes back
at teatime. Then while eating out digestives Maurice tells me all the news; all
about the riots and the muggings and the rapes and the old people getting
murdered, and the blacks kidnapping white women and the little kiddies that’s
molested by perverts and the animals that’s tortured by teenagers and the
multiple crashes on the motorways and how people have been trapped inside
their cars and been burnt alive.
Well when he’s told me all the latest. I have ten milligram Librium and he cooks
the dinner. Meat, two veg, gravy, tin of fruit and dream topping, let’s say. Then
Gwenda comes round and Maurice and her talk about how the country’s going
down the drain.
Then it’s cocoa, two Cadbury’s fingers, Mogodon and bed.

SHEILA One of these days I’ll hit him.

Honestly. He thinks he’s only got to cry to get what he wants. I blame his
mother. She gave him the kind of suffocating love that makes him think the
world revolves around him but because he’s too intelligent to believe it really,
he gets into these paddies and depressions. And when he’s in one of those, he'll
do anything to draw attention to himself.
That beetle on his face, you saw that. And all this stuff about Freddie. And yet it
was Brian made me join these amateurs in the first place, he said I needed to get
out more, have a rest from Joe. But she’s no trouble. It’s Brian. I don’t know
which is the greatest baby.
Watching somebody as limited as Joe over ten years, I’ve begun to feel she's
only one kind of cripple. Everybody’s damaged in some way. There’s a limit to
what we can do.
Brian, for instance, he goes so far-and hits the ceiling. Just can’t fly any higher.
Then he drops to the floor and we get self-pity again…despair.
I’m sure, though, if he could go farther he could be a marvellous painter. That’s
another reason I said I’d join the amateurs: the thought that he’d be forced to
go upstairs several nights a week and actually put paint on canvas.
And even if he isn’t any good, he seems to need some work he can be proud of.
Something to take his mind off his jealously of anyone or anything I talk
to…relatives, friends, pets…even pot-plants.
I’m sure it’s because they take up time he thinks I could be devoting to him. And
Joe, most of all, poor love…
Look, you mustn’t assume I feel like this in the ordinary way. And even when I
am a bit down, I shouldn’t normally talk about it to a lot of complete strangers.
But all this childish temper over Freddie - this showing-off…it's more than I can
stand, it makes me boil, honestly!
Wouldn’t you feel the same? That’s why I’m telling you all this. A lot of total
But wouldn’t it make you boil? Honestly! A grown man jealous of poor Joe…
BEEN SO LONG by Che Walker

I was taking my clothes to the dry cleaners and I found his number on a
matchbox and I crumpled it up ‘bout to dash it when I remembered something
I’d seen in his eyes and I fished it out the bin and called him up on his mobile
and he was so excited, couldn’t hide it.
We met up at the Parkway Pizza, all Art Deco shit and marble chess board floors,
pizza all fresh and healthy and cappuccino and Cointreau, the full fucking Monty,
did it the way it’s supposed to be you know and thick red wine and jokes and
laughs and gentleness and a thrill to it, a dazzle to my belly when I look in his
eyes and I’m thinking, I’m thinking this guy really has something, a sweetness, a
weight, so he pays the bill, insists on it and now we’re strolling up the hill and
you know me how I hate to walk, but with him I felt no effort, we got near the
top and we down half a bottle red from the pizza place and we start up a nice
little spliff, we’re watching little doggies scamper and old people hold hands and
the sky burnish purple red, and we watched each other, he kissed me so sweet,
didn’t kiss me like ordinary blokes kiss me, he kissed ME y’know? He kissed my
entire history y’understand?
Kissed my history.
So then it just flowed, we jumped in a cab, took it back to his and me feeling like
I’ve known him before, these car head lights constantly sweeping cross his
ceiling, swirling above us as we lay down together, lit up by the friendly UFOs
come to light our path. And now I know what the fuck you’ve been going on
about all these years! Now I know my own strength. Raymond tapped me into
my own strength.
DANTON’S DEATH by Georg Buchner

MARION My mother was a clever woman; she used to tell me that

chastity was a great virtue. If she gave me a book there were nearly always a
few pages torn out. But I could read what I liked of the bible.
But a young fellow used to come to our house. A good-looking lad. My mother
invited him quite often. That suited us both. We were allowed to sit together.
Finally we thought; why not swap our chairs for a pair of sheets? I didn’t see
why I should be allowed the small pleasure and denied the big one.
I was a sea, and the depths of me had been stirred; I swallowed up everything.
For me every partner was the same; all men merged into a single body. In the
end the boy noticed. One morning he came and he kissed me as if he were
going to throttle me. He would his arms around my neck, I was petrified. Then
he let go and laughed and said he’d almost done something stupid.
That evening I was sitting at my window, I was just sort of floating away with the
sunset, then a crown came down the street, I looked down and it was him. They
carried him past in a laundry basket. The moon shone on his forehead, and his
hair was wet. He had drowned himself. I couldn’t help crying. Other people
have Sundays and weekdays, every year they look forward to their birthday, and
to the New Year, and they feel sentimental. I don’t understand all that. People
point their finger at me, that’s stupid! The only thing that’s important is what
you enjoy – bodies, flowers, pictures. The feelings are just the same.
Enjoy yourself – that’s the best way to pray.
EPIPHANY by Heidi Decker
So, I was walking across the back part of the store to get some milk, when
something in the seafood section caught my eye. You know how a lot of grocery
stores have a big tank with lobsters in it? Well, last night there weren’t any
lobsters. One tank was empty and the other had seven or eight crabs in it. Big
What caught my eye was this: all those crabs were huddled over in one
corner…all but one. He was sitting right at the edge of the tank, pressed up
against the glass and, I swear to God, watching what was going on in the store.
Well, there’s no-one around but me…and…you know how they have those little
eyes on top of their heads, sort of like mini-antenna? Every time I moved, they
would follow me. Back and forth, up and down, whatever. It was getting late. I
started to walk away when…I swear…I heard a little tapping…noise. I looked
back, and that crab was lifting one of his front claws and tapping steadily on the
So I crouched down, put my fingers against the glass, right in the spot where he
was tapping.
He stopped.
I tapped my fingers, twice, against the glass. He tapped back. Twice. I tapped
once. He tapped once
So there I am, nose to nose with the daily under-the-sea special and for a
second, I swear I felt something. I know it sounds ridiculous but he had his claws
against my hands and my eyes were level with his, with just half an inch of glass
between us, and I felt…something…right in the middle of my chest.
And so now, I can’t get it out of my head. What if it’s supposed to mean
something and I just don’t know what? I mean, really, what? Don’t eat
seafood? What was I supposed to do, buy him? Where would I have kept him?
Some people hear voices, some people have visions…but me, I have a spiritual
experience with a crab.
What the hell does that mean?
GOOD FUN by Victoria Wood

Promise you won’t say anything?! I passed my pregnancy test today. I kinda
knew before though ‘cos I was sick every morning and my period was five weeks
late and I thought to myself…eh up! It’s not meningitis is it!
Kev doesn’t know yet. He’d run a mile if he know I was up the duff. He’s been
wanting to marry me for yonks but I‘ve been telling him to get lost. ‘Cos (a) he’s
hardly Brad Pitt, (b) he only wants to so that he can leave home, get his own
place and put his Scaletrix all over the living floor and (c) I know we’re not
compatible ‘cos I did a quiz. Still, what can you do?
It’s gone to my head being pregnant you know. I’ve been nice to Kev all day.
I’ve not sworn at him, I’ve laughed at his jokes, I even offered to play on his
Scaletrix with him. I’m going off my nut! And now I’m stuck with him for forty
I mean, I didn’t even enjoy it. If it hadn’t been ‘Heartbeat’ on then I would never
have bothered doing it in the first place.
Well, it’s alright for you men isn’t it? You just take it out, wipe it and put it back.
Mad dad is going to go mad. He’s deranged enough as it is. He has been ever
since he banged his head on the cistern celebrating the world cup. He’s going to
make me marry him I know he will, but I don’t want to ‘cos he doesn’t make me
go all funny inside, do you know what I mean?
How can I have a baby? I’ve never even had a goldfish!
GULP by Roger Williams

SUSIE The first time it happened it was like really funny. Not hysterical,
roll about on your arse funny, but amusing like, do you know what I mean? Well
it is now anyway, looking back on it.
David was perfect right? He was tall, blonde, rugged and far too gorgeous to be
mine really, but there we go! I should have known there was a snag, right? And
I should have realised he was queer when he asked me back to his house to
listen to his new Pet Shop Boys album. But I didn’t! I fell for him, hook , line and
sinker. Bless!
It wasn’t until one of my best mates pointed out that it was like, quite unusual
for a boy David’s age to have a giant poster of Jason Donovan above his bed that
I started to question the exact nature of our relationship. And when I
confronted him he said that yes, he didn’t feel as strongly about girls as the
other boys at school seemed to, and confessed that yes, like me, he was really
attracted to Henry Ramsay from Neighbours.
Getting over David didn’t take that long, bless him. A quick snog from Paul
Morgans at the next school disco saw to that. But Paul Morgans didn’t equal
love somehow, not proper make-your-heart-go-boom love, do you know what I
mean? And it wasn’t until I met Steve that I thought I could ever be sucked in
like that again. Fuck, I pursued Steve like a woman possessed I did. I left notes
for him inside his lever-arch file, and wrote “I love you” on his pencil case with
Tippex. But however much I worshipped him it didn’t seem to get me anywhere
nearer a snog! And it wasn’t until we’d left school and he’d gone off to college
that I found out why. He was gay. Strike two!
Well, we still saw each other, and had amazing nights out clubbing together and
sussing out perfect partners for one another…It was one of those nights that I
spotted Rob across the dance floor….Love at first sight! I knew he was mine, he
had to be mine right? Bollocks to that! By the end of the night. Rob and Steve
were swapping telephone numbers in the car park, actually, I think they were
swapping tongues as well! Strike three.
I AM YOURS by Judith Thompson

MERCY So I miss the bus, have to hitch. Stick my thumb out, this guy pulls
over, old English guy in an old blue car, I get in, his name’s Raymond, Raymond
Brisson, he gives me a smoke, we get talking and like he’s really intelligent, he’s
read ‘Lord of the Rings’, three times, and like, I’m thinking, this guy could be my
boy-friend. Like none of the other guys at school would even look at me, but
this guy, Raymond, he sees, see? He sees what I always knew…..that there’s
something….like a star in me, something, like if they really knew me, even
….truly great would love me….cause I’ve got something….
So we part at the school, the bell goes off, “Oh my God, I gotta go”, he looks at
me, goes, “You know, you might be quite pretty if you lost some of that
poundage”….He said that. He actually…..believed me to be …….lovely. Lovely.
So he leans over, his eyes going all yellow and he kisses me, put his….tongue
right in my mouth….like an egg cracking open in my belly pouring out all this
like….honey everywhere, God I wanted to kiss him again and again. Shit the bell.
Then I see these guys, leaning up against the wall, having their smoke before
class, and I walk by them, almost past them, don’t want to be late, when –
“You dropped something”
I feel my face turning red; like Christ, what if something dropped from my body
or something, but I keep going anyway.
“Hey…whoredog….you gonna do for us what you did for that old man?”
I can’t cry, no please God don’t let me, I shut my eyes, I’m standing there, why
can’t I move when owwwww. Something hit me in the eye, what the owwww.
Owwww. Stop it, what…what – pennies. They’re throwing……..what did I owww
oh no, no this is so bad please, Mum….when poof I know what to do, I know. So
I just bend over, and….pick up their pennies….till my fists are stuffed….and I walk
right up to them and I go, I say, “Here, here’s your pennies back”.
ICARUS’S MOTHER by Sam Shepard

JILL We’re walking up the beach, see – we’re walking along like this. Very
slowly and dejected and sad. So suddenly she stops. We both stop and she
says, guess what? And I said what? She says I really do – I really have to pee
after all.
So I said all right. I’m very serious with her, see. I say all right, Patsy dear, if you
have to you have to. So then she said I have to pee so bad I can’t even wait. I
have to go right now. Right this very minute. So we’re in the middle of the
beach with nothing around but sand. No bushes or nothing. So she whips down
her pants and crouches right there in the middle of the beach very seriously.
And I’m standing there looking around. Sort of standing guard. And do you
know what happens?
All of a sudden I have to pee too. I mean really bad like she has to. So I whip my
pants down and crouch down right beside her. There we are sitting side by side
on the beach together, and along comes our friend in the jet plane. Except this
time he’s very low. Right above our heads. Zoom!
So there we were. We couldn’t stand up because then he’d really see us. And
we couldn’t run because there was nowhere to run to. So we just sat and
pretended we were playing with shells or something. But he kept it up. He kept
flying back and forth right above our heads. So do you know what this nut
does? She starts waving to him and throwing kisses. Then he really went nuts.
He started doing flips and slides with that jet like you’ve never seen before. He
went way up and then dropped like a seagull or something.
We thought he was going to crash even. Then I started waving and the guy went
insane. He flew that thing upside down and backwards and every way you could
imagine. And we were cracking up all over the place. We started rolling in the
sand and showing him our legs.
Then we did some of those nasty dances like they do in the bars. Then we both
went nuts or something and we took off our pants and ran right into the water
yelling and screaming at his plane.
LIKE A VIRGIN by Gordon Steel

You just thought. That’s your bloody problem, you don’t think. You just put that
big mouth of yours into megadrive and off you go. I’m dying. And I wish I
wasn’t. I wish it wasn’t me. I wish it was you.
Why aren’t I normal. Why does nothing normal ever happen to me. I’ve not got
a dad. I’d give anything to have a normal dad who’d talk to me and give me a
cuddle…and comfort me. Is that too much to ask?
I’m not going to grow up. I’ll never grow up and be a woman and have children.
Why me? Why the fucking hell does it have to be me? It’s not fair.
And people are so full of understanding…so full of shit. ‘I’d go on holiday. I’d
travel.’ What is the point of spending your time in strange lands with strange
people. So I’ll have lots of happy memories to look back on? So people will be
able to gork into my coffin with tear-stained eyes and say: ‘She looks good.
She’s the best sun-tanned corpse I’ve ever seen.’ Well, they can all fuck off!
Sometimes I feel as though I should have dignity and write poems and raise
money for charity an’ all that. Be a symbol for other people to look up to. But
why should I? What has anybody ever done for me?
Look at you, you’re pathetic stood there not wanting to say anything in case you
hurt my feelings. Making excuse for me. ‘It’s her condition…it’s
understandable…she’s just a bit down.’ Well, don’t patronise me. Tell me to
fuck off. Slap me. Go on.
Go on. Do something!
You haven’t got the guts.
LOOSE KNIT by Theresa Rebeck

Well, I do think it’s nice to have beautiful things.

In your life.
I wish I had beautiful things in my life. I wish I had your car in my life. I mean,
I’m glad it’s in my life. It’s in my life tonight, anyway. And I find that really just
wonderful. And I find you fascinating, but also want to tell you to fuck off. Do
you know what I mean?
I mean, I don’t really want to tell you to fuck off. Really what I want to do is
have sex in the back seat of that amazing car, but frankly, I don’t know, I’m really
just so stunned by all this. Stunned and repulsed, you know?
The thought of kissing you makes my blood run cold but, on the other hand, I’m
really hoping that you’ll pick me. Pick me, Miles. Pick me. Let’s not waste time.
That’s why I signed up to this stupid dating service, because I didn’t want to
waste any more time. I don’t have any more time to waste. But women aren’t
supposed to do that sort of thing. We don’t choose, do we? You guys are the
ones that do the choosing.
Well sometimes we FORGET THAT! ALRIGHT?
I wish I would just shut up. I really do. But I just don’t think that’s going to
What is the matter with me? Why can’t I do this? I’m really sorry. It’s just, you
know…you can’t just be like this, but you are.
And I want to fuck you in the back seat of that car.
You make me sick.
LOVE AND MONEY by Dennis Kelly

DEBBIE I put wallpaper paste in the coffee machine at work.

You know the powder, you buy the powder in, while no-one was looking I put it
into the machine and stirred it all in and left it and it clogged up the machine
and they all stood around staring at it, hurt, like it was a dead puppy.
Last week I caught a mouse in my flat. I have mice, which is something I don’t
really, I don’t really like that, I have mice and I caught this one on glue paper,
you know, the glue traps. I’ve tried everything else and that’s the only thing that
works and the worst thing is that when you catch them they’re still alive so you
have to, you know, dispatch them, so I put a cloth over it and I hit it on the head
with a cup, a mug, ut it took quite a few, you know, hits and it was screaming
and I felt sick and I was crying and everything.
And then I peeled it off the paper. You have to be very careful because the
body’s quite delicate, and then I took a scalpel that I have for handicrafts and I
slit its little belly open and I tugged out all the insides and I stuck them and the
body onto this Christmas card, so that it was splayed open with the guts out
onto this Christmas tree design.
And I sent it to my boss with writing cut out from a newspaper saying: ‘Thanks
for all the hard work and good luck in the new job cunt-face.’
They called the police.
I wanted to be a newsreader when I was a little girl.

CATRIN I was thinking about you, the other day. I was thinking – why
doesn’t Scott get himself a nice boyfriend?
I mean properly nice. Because it’s gonna be your first time, you don’t want
some townie cunt leaving you all traumatised. Like me and Lee, my first time I
got like really panicky and my head was spinning and I was gonna chuck, and I
thought if I try to stop him now, he’s gonna you know hit me and it’ll be like a
rape thing and I can’t hack that so I’m just gonna have to go through with it –
and he stops.
He says, you alright?
I don’t say nothing cos I’m like – on a knife edge.
He climbs off me, goes what’s wrong? Right then I gag. I clamp my hands over
my mouth, not quite quick enough to stop the first wave of cider-vom spraying
all over him.
And does he go wild? Does he fuck. He holds my hair, strokes my back while I’m
chucking up into his mum’s u-bend, and dabs the little strands of sick away from
my mouth with pink quilted toilet paper. All this still with a huge hard-on poking
out of his boxers.
And I’m riding the spasms of puke, thinking – please God, please God, please
don’t let me wee myself in front of him – because that might be a step too far
on a first date.
But then in between retches, I turn, and I look into his eyes – still watering red
from the acid in my sick – and I realize it’s alright.
Lee’s a really really decent bloke. He’ll accept me for who I am. And I just –
And he’s fine with it. Puts my knickers and the bathroom mat in the wash, lends
me a pair of his pants. Even says that I look cute in them.
He’s that lovely.
MANY MOONS by Alice Birch

JUNIPER I am Looking for Love. I am Actively, looking for love. You

know those traffic light parties where you wear red if you’re not available,
amber if you might be and green if you absolutely are? Well I’m on green.
I like a lot of things – I love a lot of things. I get excited pretty easily about food
and friends and parties and events and the weather and sex and films and just
hanging out.
I like Facebook a lot – I have it as an app on my iPhone which I sort of hate,
because I like to think of myself as quite an arty kind of person – a bit of a free
spirit, even, which is so cheesy but if you knew me you wouldn’t think it was so
bleugh you know? I’m a bit cartwheel, a bit sort of out there, you know? I
sometimes just get on a train to wherever without buying a ticket and just chat
away to whoever I’m sat next to.
I have been told I smile a lot. I was once told my smile was my best feature – my
bottom is my worst, I know – and I do like to smile. I read somewhere –
Glamour, I think – that smiling is statistically proven to be more attractive that
makeup is ….. which now I say it out loud sounds ridiculous – I’m not sure how
you’re supposed to come up with statistics for that, but…
I’d never do online dating – you do hear horror stories – and it’s so horribly
unromantic, but I didn’t once put an ad on um Darwen Dating dot com. Just to
see. You have to come up with a name and a little tagline – I had ‘Insert
something witty here’ and got a whole load of cock jokes, so had to start again.
Small Northern Smiler seeks Man with Hands that might be good at holding my
hand. For Walks, Kisses and Cook-offs. Must be tall enough to rest your chin
upon my head. Tolerance of kind-of feminists into Eighties pop, potatoes and
legwarmers essential. Good voice for reading stories out loud is a bonus.
Still seeking.

It was the logical outcome of certain events. Things I said. Not bad things.
Nothing awful, really.
It’s a very sort of unexpected but not entirely unheard of syndrome I developed
recently. I noticed it one day a few months ago. I was going to breakfast one
morning – a morning like any other morning – and I passed one of the sisters in
the hallway. She’s a woman I saw every day, some I never harboured an evil
thought about. She smiled as she went by, looking serene, and I smiled back at
her and said “Isn’t it a lovely morning Sister Shit?”
I don’t know where it came from. It’s one of my clearest memories though: the
look on her face, the way she recovered almost immediately and asked me to
excuse her, but she hadn’t quite heard. And even I wasn’t sure at that moment,
just what I’d said. I couldn’t have said what I thought I’d….
So anyway, I smiled pleasantly and apologetically, and took a deep breath, and
said “You heard me Fuck Face” and walked on.
I swear I didn’t mean to. Sister Beatrice never hurt me in her life. She was one
of the one’s I liked best. And it’s not even that. We’re in the same Holy Order,
we’re children of God. But it just came out of me. Like speaking in tongues or
something. The words just leaped out of me. They had to be spoken. That’s
what my psychologist said.
And I’d say other things. Things I’d heard on the radio, rules from games I
played as a kid, bird calls, sounds from comic books: Bam! Rat-a-tat-tat-! Ka-
Usually during meditation.
My psychologist thought I wasn’t cut out to be a nun. He said I was
unconsciously trying to break out of the constraints of convent life. I’ve been
numb for months. I mean there I was committed to a life of service in the
church and suddenly it was…Sister Shit.
ROAD by Jim Cartwright

VALERIE I’m fed up of sitting here waiting for him, he’ll be another
hundred years at this rate. What a life, get up; feed every baby in the house. Do
everything else I can, without cash. While he drinks, drinks it, drinks it, and
Nothing my way except his fat hard hands in bed at night. Rough dog he is. Big
rough heavy dog. Dog with sick in its fur. So sadly dried. I’d cry but I don’t think
tears would come. And there’s nothing worse than an empty cry. It’s like
choking. Why do we do it? Why do I stay? Why the why why?
Drink’s a bastard. Drink’s a swilly brown bastard. A smelling stench sea. And
he’s the captain with his bristles wet through. Swallowing and throwing,
swallowing and throwing white brown water all over me. Oh what am I saying,
it’s a nightmare all this. I blame him then I don’t blame him. It’s not his fault
there’s no work. He’s such a big man; he’s nowhere to put himself. He looks so
awkward and sad at the sink, the vacuum’s like a toy in his hand. When he’s in
all day he fills up the room. Like a big wounded animal, moving about, trying to
find his slippers, clumsy with the small things of the house, bewildered.
I see this. I see the poor beast in the wrong world. I see his eyes sad and low. I
see him as the days go on, old damp sacks one on top of another. I see him, the
waste. The human waste of the land.
But I can’t forgive him. I can’t forgive the cruel of the big fucking heap. The big
fucking clumsy heap.
He’s so big and hunched and ugly. Oh, my man. I hate him now, and I didn’t
used to. I hate him now, and I don’t want to.
Can we not have before again, can we not?
Can we not have before again?
Can we not?
TENDER by Abi Morgan

And I’m in this bar and I see this guy I know. And because at that exact moment
I am the most interesting woman in the place who understands him I have to go
up to him and say “Hi”. Then I see who he’s with and she’s really famous, you’d
know her, off the telly, she was in that thing, you know, Cutting it off, Chopping
it out…”Superb” I say… You were gorgeous in that…. It made me and my friend
cry. “I love you”.
And this guy, this fucking famous Shoreditch artist twat is just stood there
staring at me. “Go Away” he says in this monotone bloody android voice, and
because I’m pissed and because I’ve powdered my nose too many times to
justify any truly intellectual conversation, I proceed to tell him just how boring
I’d find myself and what is he doing here? Because shouldn’t he be at home
with his wife and kid? And I’ve really hit a nerve now…”Go away”, and he
pushes me on the shoulder so I push him and we start playing patacake,
patacake malarkey and I’m getting more embarrassing and will not leave them
alone. I’m like a limpet clinging to them, and I’m not a clingy person am I?....
Then I see this tall guy and keep saying “So what’s your name?” “Paul.” “And
what do you do?” “I’m a fucking famous popstar – UB40”…..I say “Shouldn’t you
be black?” Which pisses him off something chronic and I say “I’m sorry” and I
pull out my trump card, the one that normally gets them:
“Look mate, I’m off my tits. I’ve been tied up and drugged and made to take
copious amounts of alcohol I didn’t really want….so don’t be rude to
me…Imagine if I was your mother or sister.
And he looks at me, this super big pop star and says, “My sister would never
degrade herself like that”.
Fancy a drink?
THE ACID TEST by Anya Reiss

JESSICA Everyone thinks they are so much fucking better than me or grown
up or something because they’ve had sex and I haven’t.
Everyone thinks the world just comes down to sex. Not even love, but sex.
Every soap, every book, every film, every conversation, every emotion I ever
have, there is always someone tracing it back to sex, the origin of everything!
Even my own dad, it’s all come down to what I like in sex or whether he is having
sex with my mum or not, or whether I’ve had sex.
I know, I know. It’s not a big deal. Sex isn’t a fucking big deal. I’m not
embarrassed. It’s not like I couldn’t if I wanted to, there has just been no-one
I’ve wanted to do it with, so why would I do it? What’s the point? I’m not
missing out on something huge. Don’t be like that.
It’s just like just because I’ve never actually done it, I’m an idiot or unattractive
or immature or a freak or apparently a fucking lesbian! I mean the actual what
ten maybe fifteen minutes where you actually have sex, where you actually have
a guy’s dick…
Why is that such a big deal? Just because I have not done one thing with one
guy just once for less than a quarter of an hour everyone thinks I am somehow
lacking and don’t understand the absolute key to the world.
THE AGE OF CONSENT by Peter Morris

I told Raquel, the one cardinal rule in this nasty business we call show, this is
what I said, I said, Raquel, there are three T’s in Entertainment. Which is a fact
incidentally. I mean Raquel’s fucking illiterate so she wouldn’t notice. Talent,
Teeth and Tits. And it’s adorable now, before she goes into an audition I’ll just
say to her, ‘RAQUEL!’ Call her to attention like, and she just looks up at me and
whispers. “Teef and tits, Mum, teef and tits!”
But she’s become so….gloomy lately. I don’t understand it..i mean, today was
unforgivable really. They’re changing casts, right? In Les Miz. And you can’t
imagine how hard I fought to get the audition, I mean it would have been
slightly easier if Raquel signed with an agent, but why piss away that extra ten
percent? I mean, you know the show, you know Raquel, wouldn’t she be
perfect? Imagine. And that’s what I said to Raquel before she went on, I said, I
want you to make them fucking weep, torture them. And I gave her a Chinese
burn and pushed her on the stage.
And she was….spell binding…until she actually started to cry, and it was a nice
effect, but then she stopped singing altogether and just started saying ‘Mummy,
Mummy’……and the stage manager comes to fetch me and they say thank you
very much and it’s just….evaporated, that magic.
It’s clear now that she’s not really a pro, she’s only six but if she can’t fucking do
it now when is she going to do it? I said ‘Raquel, I’m here as your agent and
manager, I can’t have you calling me mummy in front of all those professionals’.
She says, ‘Fine, I don’t want to call you Mummy anymore’. So I said ‘Well I am
your fucking mummy and you’ll call me Mummy when I tell you to, alright?’
Thinking about it now it’s actually quite nice and precocious…but when she said
it I was so fucked off I slapped her across the face and she fell over.
She didn’t cry though.
She’s a trooper.
THE POSITIVE HOUR by April de Angelis

MIRANDA I told people I’d been sick. That was the easiest thing to say. But to
tell the truth I was exhausted in a different sort of way.
I found a child. Quite a young child. It was dead. Starved actually. A bus ride
from here. A neighbour let me in.
I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I mean, you hear about things. You
read reports, but it doesn’t prepare you.
I remember standing in that room and just feeling my mind emptying. Till there
was nothing. Just me and the child in the room.
When I got closer, I saw there were little cuts on its body. Tiny cuts. Hundreds
of tiny cuts. Like stitches, but cuts. You only take that much care if it affords
you some…satisfaction. You see, I can understand anger, I can forgive anger.
But satisfaction? Isn’t that pleasure?
It took me a long time, a long time to get back to myself after that.
FRAN & LENI by Sadie Hasler

Fran I've got breast cancer.

No. I actually have actual breast cancer. I'm in chemo, Len.
It's shit.
Hence the scarf. Which is also shit. Fifty p, Oxfam. But I couldn't bring myself to
buy a nice one. In case I die. And my daughter thinks she'd better not throw it
away because it cost fifteen pounds in Marks and Sparks. So I got a shit one, like
old ladies wear when it's raining. And I didn't even wash it. So that she'll know
it's OK to throw it out. And I've stopped washing my hair because it hurts to see
it come out and, really, what's the point?
So the scarf smells. It smells of greasy head and cancer.
Because cancer smells, Len. It's gone beyond that stale charity shop smell of
cheap washing powder and forgotten people and stale biscuits. I'm the bad
smell now. So she won't keep it if I forget to throw it out when I'm too distracted
by dying and she won't be reminded of the brief time when they thought I might
be OK.
They're the kind of things you think about, when they tell you, when it gets
worse. It's like they place a little chip in your brain that takes your normal
thoughts and reprocesses them all as Death.
Dying, Len.
I'm dying.
THE RIVER by Jez Butterworth

Woman It's no big deal. After all, we're both adults. We can be honest with
each other. Can't we? I mean, can't we?
Today on the beach, you were teaching me to cast. And I asked you, as a joke, I
think... just being silly, who knows why, I asked how many other women you'd
brought here. To this place. And you went quiet. You picked up a stone. So for
fun, or for some other reason, some deadly serious reason, or just playing, who
knows, I said come on, give me a number. I don't know why. I mean what does it
matter? If I'm the third, fourth, seventh, eighth. What difference does it make?
But I asked.
And you looked me straight in the eye and said do you really want to know? And
it all went silent out there on the beach and the sea was coming in I looked back
at you and I was suddenly afraid. I suddenly, desperately, urgently didn't want to
know. But I said yes. Tell me. (Pause.) And you told me. (Beat.) And I said come
on. In all these years. Come off it. I wasn't born yesterday. (Beat.) And you said
it's true. (Beat.) Afterwards, in this room we made love. When it was over, you
said something. You told me something. Words which completely surprised me
and scared me. And I've thought of nothing else since.
You said you loved me. You said 'I love you'.
This morning you said you came to the river, and you watched me dive in the
water. You said it was the most honest thing you'd ever seen and you realised
you had to be as honest and truthful as that moment.
That you would always try to be that.
Hanging in the cupboard next door is a dress. A scarlet dress. Under the bed, in
the box there's a framed picture. A drawing of a woman. She's sitting there in
that chair. She's wearing a scarlet dress. The woman in the picture. Her face has
been scratched out.
Why is her face scratched out?
Why is her dress still here?
BOYS by Ella Hickson

Sophie Do you; have you ever actually felt any - guilt? Because it's come as
a bit of a surprise that um, that - you, one, I don't, can't actually feel it. Like I
can't get my body to do it, on its own, it's not something I can generate
somehow, like, I - I find myself having to actually summon it, trying to encourage
myself, to summon it and even though I can't do it, really, I can't feel it. I
thought it might be shock at first and then - grief or but I think I might not feel it.
I can't. I don't.
All I can feel is total joy, total - peace. I look at you and I sometimes actually
make myself think of him, I force him into my head and I don't feel guilty. What
does that mean? What kind of person does that make me? Hm?
Sometimes I think it's because - what we have is love, meant to be. That we love
each other, yes, Mack, that is what I sometimes think. Is that ridiculous? And
sometimes I even think that that love is so important that it is bigger, or equal to
- what he did. That they are just two feelings, one is love and the other is despair
and both just have an action. And that those actions are different but that they
somehow are equal - does that make me a monster? I sat at his funeral looking
at his parents and Benny but all I could think of, all I could feel - was you.
But then I look at you and I wonder if it's actually there. I wonder if I added up
the amount of minutes, hours, fucking days I have spent thinking about you, the
amount of fucking longing I have done - if I added that up and weighed it against
anything you have ever actually said...and...
But then you do the smallest thing you make me a cup of tea when I don't ask,
or you touch my hand really lightly in a room full of people and I think no,
Sophie, don't laugh - don't laugh because it's real and it's so much more real
because it's unsaid and unspoken and un- un- un- it's so much more real
because I can't touch it, because we can't say it and I can't see it, it's so much
more real because I don't know if it's there.
Please say something. Please. Please tell me if...
PERVE by Stacey Gregg

Layla Sorry, yeah. Uhh. It's something - it's something I never. I never did
nothing about it then - at the time - cos I - you know I was embarrassed. Stupid.
Stupid to have... But then I didn't think. I didn't know. He was - I went out with
him for like, seven months, which is like forever when you're sixteen. He was - I
dunno - must've been twenty-one? Twenty. Four years older. Well, three and a
half. But he was so sweet, he never made me feel little, you know?
You know what, he didn't even sleep with me. Swear to God. Even though we
went out for so long, isn't that cool? Amazing? In this day and age. I mean, we
lied, we said we'd done it cos otherwise his friends would've been assholes.
Mine too. But we never did. Well, we did eventually, like after we broke up, like.
We were messing about, just. You know. And it was really hot. Really hot I think,
he had his T-shirt off first. We were, you know. Messing about. And I took my
top off, it was a top from H&M, nice maroon vest so it was. I took it off you
know and my bra - I mean it is, it was half my fault - and he took this stupid
fucking picture - and I was like 'delete it! Gross! I look like an ALIEN or
something!' But he was like 'no, it's beautiful.'
Like, I don't know, I seriously don't know how it came to be... And starting a new
school in September was like, the most mortifying, humiliating thing I've ever
had to do. Some of the teachers knew, but they didn't really know how to deal
with it I think. I wasn't in the papers or anything the way it is now - they had
other problems you know? And I didn't want any action taken - I just wanted to
like, disappear. It felt like - like -
I just wanted it to disappear. Or for me to disappear. I don't know. God. I - it felt
so... uhhgh. I tried to disappear - if you know what I mean...
I told my mum. She said I should come here. Not for me. Not so much. But in
case there's others. In case it wasn't a one-off, you know? I don't want to waste
anyone's time. I just thought. You know? I should. You know? Say.
PLASTIC FIGURINES by Ella Carmen Greenhill

Rose But you're not telling me anything.

You walk past and smile and I don't know what that smile means. Yeah you're
telling me it doesn't mean anything but what about when it does. What about
when you walk past and look in and you smile at me and what that really means
is sorry for your fucking loss, what then?
Do they train you to smile like that?
Do they train you to smile like a fucking Cheshire cat all the time? Because I'm
telling you now, it doesn't work. It's fake and nasty and with no ounce of
sincerity and I just need to know.
I need to ask you if they train you to do it like that because if they do then the
whole fucking NHS needs to have a word with itself because Jesus that's
It's just
It's just an awful, awful smile on your face right now. Awful! And it's making me
feel, it's making me feel, like I'm fucking powerless, your smile is making me feel
like I'm made of nothing, like I'm made of, of like twigs or something and I'm just
gonna snap.
That's what you're doing with your smile that they've fucking trained you to do!
You're making me feel like I'm gonna break, or just, just disintegrate on this floor
right now, just fall into a heap of dust on the floor. So stop it.
Stop smiling at me.
PRAMKICKER by Sadie Hasler

Susie I happen to think she's... cool. She knows what she wants, likes, is,
isn't, wants to be. She doesn't give a shit. I don't know fucking anything. Do you?
OK. FINE. Growing up with her was... challenging. There. Being eight years
behind her was like being the tail of a bloody kite, just bouncing along behind.
She was the centre of everything in my universe, it all orbited her, and I was
just... me. The invisible satellite. The little sister. But I thought she was just
She taught me to swim. In the sea. Said I didn't need the baby pool because it
wasn't real. She let me bob in her arms for hours at a time until I was ready to
paddle off on my own.
She'd always swim out to the crowstone, then go way past it like she was trying
to get to Kent, which I thought was France, like a dick. I'd try and keep up, but I
couldn't. One day she kept going and I thought that's it, she's in France and I'll
never see her again. And I could see her, laughing with men in berets with loads
of onions and fancy ladies in fur coats with cigarettes on sticks, and I was so
scared. I kept swimming but she was nowhere; I couldn't find her. Then the
waves got big, and the back of my hand kept smacking hard against them as I
tried to keep my chin out of the water and my mouth was filling with solid chugs
of salt and I thought I was drowning. I was probably close, but I wasn't afraid of
dying. I was afraid of not being with her. I called out, hoping I could make my
voice carry to France. Jude! Jude! JUDY!!
She'd only swum to the edge of an old dinghy and was doing pull-ups on the
side. She swam us all the way back, me under one arm. She dried me off, put my
shoes on, and walked with her hand on my head, all the way home. Put me in a
nice warm bath.
Soon after, she left home. But that is how I know what it feels like when Jude is
on your side. Strength. Bravery. Life.
BIRD by Katherine Chandler

Ava I went there.

To the house.
About a year ago. I thought about it a lot. And I thought I'll just go. There's
nothing. Nobody to stop me. What can they do. An' I'm thinking all day what to
wear cos I don't know why but I wanted to look, it was important you know, I
wanted to look good.
An' on the train all the way there I'm thinking about what I'm gonna say, how
clever I'm gonna talk. I think of all this stuff to talk about and then I gets off the
train and I can't remember a word of it. It's all gone mashed up in me head. An'
I'm thinking about getting back on the train but I forces myself to keep on
walking and I gets there. To the house and I sees a family through the window
and it ain't my family.
And I walks next door just to check and I knocks the door and Lesley Jacks
answers and she nearly fell on the floor when she sees me like but she says
'She've gone. Been gone over a year.' She didn't know where you was, didn't
care to know neither.
So you moved.
I knew that.
You didn't know, I knew that.
I knew you moved.

Stella: I find adults fascinating. I could watch them, for hours. Much more than
animals at the zoo. They make everything in life so complicated. Then they say,
'Uh, if only everything in life wasn't so complicated.' But I swear they enjoy it.
The create it.
To me it all seems so simple. If you like someone, tell them. If someone is hurt,
then help them. Sort out the problem, at the root. Don't just patch it up, or
ignore it. It'll only come back, and it'll hurt more the next time.
My mum always says to me,' You don't understand because you haven't
experienced it yet. Once you experience it, then you'll know. Then you'll feel it.
Then you'll be able to empathise. Life is complicated.'
She talks as if I were an innocent. A blank canvas, fresh and ready for the
painting. But I'm not. She's the one that's forgotten. We aren't born innocent.
We're just born more obvious, that's all. With all our needs and desires right out
there in front of us, naked, for everyone to see.
And then we learn to hide them. Call them by different names. Make them seem
more sophisticated. To complicate it.
Don't we?
Well, that's how I see it.
OIL by Ella Hickson

Amy: People here, Aminah's family - they sleep in the same room. Five, ten - all
close together. I can't do that. I couldn't even. When I was. The flat, his clothes
on the floor, going to bed in the same way with the same person, having the
same conversation every fucking night; I can't do it. There was one night - I
couldn't sleep - I looked at him sleeping, the sound of him breathing, that
whistle - the relentlessness, on and on and on - I wanted to put a pillow over his
face to make it stop, so furious with wanting my own space.
At about 4 am. - I was standing by the window, desperately waiting for the sky
to get light. I put my shoes on and walked - just walked - the streets with houses
all asleep, empty shops, empty stations; I stood on Waterloo Bridge at dawn and
The size of it. How well it all worked - everything I could see only existed
because someone once imagined it might be possible.
I got a room in a hotel. I lay down on the bed and I could breathe for the first
time in. I stared at the ceiling and thought of all the women in the world that
were lying in bed alone. I could see us - like little tin soldiers, each in our ocean
of white sheet - cool and calm and on our own, in our twenties and thirties,
forties, fifties sixties and seventies - across the world - like a silent army. It felt -
so - obvious, so exciting, our quiet secret - that we all know - we were made to
be alone.
I slept better than I'd slept for years.
I woke up. Ordered myself a boiled egg; good bread, salty butter - heavy silver
knife, thick linen. Newspaper. Strong coffee.
I was happy.
CHIMPS by Simon Block

Stevie Shut the fuck up, Marky.

Please. Now. Shut the f-
(To Gabriel and Lawrence) Now listen to me. You have to listen to me now
because we don't have any money and you're much, much better at this than
we are. What I'm saying - you see how we are. We're nothing special. We're not
out of the ordinary - just trying to deal with each new thing as it hits us, like
everyone else. But we can't deal with this.
We don't know how to deal with you... and this. We don't know business. We
don't know what to do. We don't know how to stop this. You've seen it all a
hundred times and you twist every word to your advantage. It's your job, I know,
and you're - believe me - you are very good at it.
But you've got to stop now because I don't know what happens if you get us to
sign. We've got no money.
I'm sorry, but we just haven't got any money. We have no money. I wish we did.
I know you say we don't need money, but that's not true. I know, at least, that's
not actually true. Sooner or later we have to have the money, and if we missed
payments you go to court and we could lose our home. So please. I'm asking you
to help us.
Things aren't exactly easy for us at the moment. You've probably noticed. So you
must appreciate how unfair this is - how one-sided this is. So I'm asking you to
stop now.
I know it's not what you want, but as one human-being to another. Please.
Stop this now and leave us be.

Steph Listen, it's weird, I know that, because I don't count looks as my top
thing in a guy, not at all - take Greg, for instance. He's got a good face, really, not
knockout but very OK, yet I never used to even think that to myself, I mean,
envision him in that way.
Sometimes a friend or, like, a cousin of mine visited a few months back and she
whispered to me at a family thing we were at, a barbecue, 'God, he's cute. He's
so cute!' And I looked over to where she was pointing, expecting to see a boy
from the neighbourhood, and she's pointing to Greg. Just right there, my
boyfriend, who's over at the grill and laughing and making burgers for all of us...
with the sun going down - you know how it shoots out a ray sometimes around
something, like a halo, almost - it was doing that and he was bathed in this light
for a second, in this splash of gold and creamy light, and I thought, 'Yeah, he is.
He really is a handsome man,' but, see, that still isn't a big deal to me. Even
though he is good-looking... in his own way... it's not the thing about him that
first made me like him. It isn't.
I really do feel that... that I'm not this person who gets off on looks or the more,
like physical side of men, but shit, you know?
'Meant as a compliment,' he says to me, like that should calm my nerves or
something... fuck that! I mean, really? My face?!
I'm realistic and I know me as a person - I don't have that much going for me as
a person - I don't have that much going for me, not all educated and smart or
anything, and not completely gorgeous, not like some girls out there - but I like
what I've got and so I'm gonna protect that.
I am. Yeah.
I mean, wouldn't you?
IMMACULATE by Oliver Lansley

Rebecca Hi. Look, there's something I have to say. I probably should have
told you earlier, but I didn't know if it was going anywhere but now I think it is,
or I thought it was, but now you're pregnant, so I probably shouldn't tell you
anyway 'cause stress is bad for the baby, not that you're keeping it, right?
Look... Michael and I are together. We're a couple, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I
didn't plan it, I was out and saw Michael and said hello and we got talking and it
came out that he'd always quite fancied me but couldn't do anything about it
obviously 'cause we were best mates and I said I quite fancied him too, which
was why I was sometimes a bit of a bitch towards him because I think
subconsciously I fancied him and anyway, we weren't going to do anything
because you two had just broken up and I knew how pissed off you'd be but
then we said, well, maybe we should just have a kiss, while we're both single
then, just to get it out of our systems, so we had a kiss, and then the kiss carried
on, and things and things and we ended up having sex, which I'm not proud of
but it was good, but it was bad because the condom broke and I had to get the
morning after pill, which was fucking awful and I was terrified 'cause I thought I
was gonna have a baby, and you know how much I fucking hate babies and that
was the day we were supposed to go to Bluewater to try and find some shoes to
go with that brown skirt you got from Hennes and I said I couldn't come 'cause I
was sick and you were pissed off and I wanted to tell you but I couldn't and I felt
really guilty, and I cried, and then I called Michael and told him and he was really
good about it and made me feel better, we had decided we weren't gonna see
each other again, but I was crying on the phone so he came over and then he
ended up staying the night again...
But now you tell me that you're pregnant and you say that you haven't had sex
with anyone since Michael, which means he must be the father but you don't
want to tell me because I made such a fuss about what a fucker he was when he
dumped you. Which means you're lying to me and he's lying to me, and I'm lying
to you, and you're fucking him and I'm fucking him and he's fucking you... and
me... and I'm going to lose my best friend and my boyfriend, not that I call him
my boyfriend but technically he is, and I'll be helpless and hopeless and
friendless and loveless and die old and alone with thread veins and bladder
weakness and a houseful of cats...
WASTED by Kate Tempest

Charlotte I say nothing. I just stand there and listen to them telling each other
to fuck off, I stare at the broken clock, the work peeling off the walls, and I know
this is the last time I'll stand here in front of them, the last time. And I'm staring
at them, wondering what they'll be like ten years from now.
And then, suddenly, I'm thinking of Danny. I'm thinking of last night. It was
perfect. But then I woke up and I looked at him, and I thought about the future.
Six months down the line, a year, maybe two. I'll be distant, worn out by him,
and he'll be pretending nothing's changed, out of pride he'll put his doubts
away, convince himself to be this man he tells me only I can make him, this
better man he talks about. But really, we'll be sick of each other, we'll be stifled
and clinging to each other as tight as we can to keep ourselves from accepting
there's nothing you can give a person that don't take half of them away.
I can see myself, eating alone at the kitchen table, wondering where he is, the
nagging girlfriend, uptight and unreasonable, his laughter in the pub, shrugging
it off, me, sat there, feeling so self-righteous that even when he does come
home I can't show him that deep down I'm really fuckin happy to see him. And
then the moody silences, and off to bed, and strange, private dreams, and
waking up to the alarm going and kissing him goodbye without smiling and on
and on until everything I want for myself is forgotten, even if it feels good now,
it'll end in the same grey routine, the cosy choking afternoons. The unsaid words
getting heavier and heavier till we don't even fight out loud anymore.
And so here I am, in front of the class, and the classroom's hot and I feel like I'm
drowning and I walk out of the classroom. I open the door and walk out of the
classroom. And the kids are shouting after me, but I ignore them. I walk down
the corridor, I turn left, I walk down the stairs, kids everywhere, I swim through
them, turn left again, the doors. I walk through the doors. I'm in the air. I'm
outside. It's raining gently. It's good. I'm walking to the bus stop. I'm leaving.
I'm making a decision. I'm changing things.
This is it.
STONE FACE by Eve Leigh

Ali So what happened it me and my best mate Jenni we went to this party in
this warehouse in Tottenham, we're in our coats and we walk in and it's like this
wave of heat it's like a totally different climate in here and it was filled with
these, these kind of, it was weird, all the younger people at this party were
really posh I mean not posh like you - no offence - but posh like they talk and
you're like they've got to be taking the piss but no, seriously, they seriously talk
like that. And the older people are all really really old like forty or something like
not being funny but that is, that's, really old, to be at a party like this when
you're basically just crunching on canisters wherever you walk and you can hear
the sound system all the way from the station and we wouldn't normally go to
some party like this but we hear it and we think well why not basically.
And there's this guy, this gorgeous - proper MAN with dreads, this French guy,
Matthieu, like, we are stunned from across the room Jenni and me, we are
stunned. By his FACE.
And Jenni has a boyfriend so she was like, for me. You have got to do it for me.
You have got to do it and tell me everything.
And we actually made up a little hand signal for when we are overwhelmed with
his hotness but we don't want to point or anything and the music's too loud to
I knew from when I saw him. And certainly from fucking when I talked to him,
when I heard his accent, Matthieu, it's happening, it's on.