Ryedale Writers at Helmsley Arts Centre

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Jeanette Hambidge

Zoomtime

Characters: Elenor and Reg in the early 70s

…As both Elenor & Reg come up on screen

ELENOR That’s it. You’ve got it now, I can see you.

REG I don’t want to see you. I’ve seen enough of you as it is.

ELENOR Start talking to me.

REG What for?

ELENOR You need to practice.

REG What do I need to practice for? I’ve been talking for 68 years.

ELENOR We’ve got to be ready to go live with our Alan.

REG Yes. Later. We don’t need to talk about anything now.

ELENOR It’s important to keep in touch.

REG We are in touch!

ELENOR Stop being difficult.

REG Stop talking then! I just want get on and watch Top Gear on catch up. I don’t need all this hassle from you.

ELENOR You’ve got to join the modern world.

REG I’m already in the modern world. I’m watching Top Gear on catch up! I’m modern. I know technology. I just don’t need to see your face on my bloody phone! It’s a phone for god’s sake. It allows me to talk to people with a certain level of privacy. I don’t want all and sundry looking in.

ELENOR I’m not surprised, the state of you. It must be three days since you’ve had a shave.

REG Why should I be bothered with shaving?

ELENOR To keep up standards.

REG Who’s standards?

ELENOR You’re letting yourself go.

REG I let myself go when I married you. That’s when I let myself go.

ELENOR Stop trying to be cruel. Nobody likes you when you’re cruel. In fact, nobody likes you much at the best of times.

REG Everybody likes me. You know they do. That’s what makes you so jealous.

ELENOR Jealous, of you!

REG Yes, jealous. You’ve never liked the way I’m so popular with women.

ELENOR Just because Pauline in the café gave you an extra butterfly bun you think you’re god’s gift.

REG It happens to me all the time though, doesn’t it? Extra bun here, extra cup of tea there. I’m a honey trap.

ELENOR The only thing you trap is wasps when you’ve spilt your beer down your shirt.

REG And that woman at the Co-op… she fancies me.

ELENOR (sighs deeply, wearily and looks away)

REG Right, so can I get back to the tele now..

ELENOR When I married you all those years ago… how could I possibly have imagined that you’d turn into this.

REG There’s nothing wrong with me that a divorce wouldn’t cure…Will you get off my phone!

ELENOR I just want to have a nice video call with Alan. You and me. Just being nice. It’s not so much to ask, is it?

REG Alan doesn’t want us to be nice! He’s not used to it. He’d think he’d come to the wrong house.

ELENOR He can’t come to the house, though, can he! That’s it, that’s the point! We can’t see him! I can wave to him down the path and that’s it! Then he goes home and all we’ve got left is gadgets!

REG It’s all that Boris’s fault. I never liked him.

ELENOR You don’t like anybody.

REG I mean… who would have thought it? I was switching the TV on at five o’clock with the express intention of listening to Boris Johnson! Who would have thought it?

ELENOR Well, it’s extraordinary times…

REG You can say that again… (pause) Right. How do I switch this thing off?

ELENOR We need to talk.

REG No! We don’t! You’re always talking. That’s your trouble.

ELENOR But most of the time you’re not listening.

REG Hooray! She’s finally noticed! How can I keep listening when you’ve worn my ears out over the years.

ELENOR You know that’s not true. And it’s about time you stopped talking like a 1970’s comedian. At least the mother-in-law jokes have stopped.

REG Yes, well. I thought it was a bit heartless to keep mentioning her since she died of that heart attack in 2006.

ELENOR How thoughtful of you.

REG She was a pain in the arse though…

ELENOR Anyway. It’s you that wears everybody out, not me… You’re always ranting! People can’t wait to get away from you!

REG Who can’t?

ELENOR Everyone.

REG Come on, name someone. You don’t know a single person that wants to get away from me, do you? You’re just clutching at straws.

ELENOR Everyone wants to get away from you. Sometimes… it’s embarrassing.

REG Embarrasing? What sort of b... rubbish is that? I’m not embarrassed.

ELENOR Of course you’re not. But I am. It’s embarrassing for me.

REG What’s embarrassing? Come on, name it.

ELENOR You are.

REG You’re just being childish now.

ELENOR (Sighs… looks away…)

REG There you go again.

ELENOR What?

REG Acting like I’ve done something wrong.

ELENOR You have.

REG Do you know what I fancy?

ELENOR What?

REG One of them pies.

ELENOR The organic mushroom and leek ones?

REG Hhmm…

ELENOR They’re in the freezer…

REG A box of ten and we haven’t even started them yet.

ELENOR You always did like a pie.

REG Man food.

ELENOR … It’s worrying though.

REG Yes.

ELENOR And all this time… without seeing anyone.

REG Yes.

ELENOR We’ve never gone more than two weeks without seeing our Alan, have we?

REG It was nearly a month when he went on them trains around Europe.

ELENOR That was awful. We’ve never gone that long without seeing little Jazzy and Jordan though.

REG It’ll be fine… not so little now, are they? They’re not far away are they?

ELENOR Not far… but not to see them. It’s worrying… How long now before he’s due on here?

REG Two hours.

ELENOR Well at least we’ve checked we know how to use it.

REG Yep!

ELENOR It’s not the same, though.

REG Nope …

ELENOR I don’t know how I’m going to manage it… three months.

REG You’ll be fine.

ELENOR You’ll have to give me a hug.

REG Don’t be stupid.

ELENOR Sometimes it’s as if you don’t even know I exist.

REG Course I know you exist, look at you.

ELENOR Reg…

REG Don’t go getting all doe eyed on me.

ELENOR It’s just…

REG Look, come on. Let’s watch something on TV.

ELENOR I don’t want to watch Top Gear. I’ll watch something on my tablet.

REG Look, come on. Last Tango in Halifax!

ELENOR You fell asleep last time.

REG But I’m awake now, aren’t I?

ELENOR Shall we, then.

REG Go on, you mad cow. Come downstairs. We’ve got two hours. Come and watch Last Tango with me.

ELENOR You big daft git. (she walks away from the screen and we hear a door opening)

REG (he picks up the TV remote and turns away from the screen as he calls out..) Make yourself useful and bring that bottle of wine in! I’ll need it if I’m going to sit through this shite…

ELENOR (From off) Will that be the bottle containing arsenic?!

REG Yep. The one you prepared earlier… ‘you know some guys just can’t hold their arsenic.’ (Smiles as we see him put his hand up to switch off).

THE END

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