Towpath by Robert Iles

This Play is the copyright of the Author and must NOT be Performed without the Author's PRIOR consent


ANNE IS SITTING ON A BENCH BY A CANAL TOWPATH

CHRIS ENTERS RUNNING

AS SHE RUNS PAST ANNE:

CHRIS: Morning

THERE IS NO RESPONSE, CHRIS STOPS RUNNING AND TRIES AGAIN.

CHRIS: Good Morning

NO RESPONSE

CHRIS: I said, “Good Morning”

ANNE: Indeed you did

CHRIS: So?

ANNE: So?

CHRIS: Well, would it hurt you to reply

ANNE: Would it hurt you to shut up

CHRIS: Just trying to be polite, I was brought up to be polite

ANNE: Shame you weren't brought up not to talk to strangers

CHRIS: I was. Oh, right. Sorry. (pause) What are you doing?

ANNE: Fishing

CHRIS: Except you're not are you

ANNE: Aren't I?

CHRIS: No, well, it doesn't look like it to me

ANNE: Doesn't it? I haven't done it before so I wouldn't know

CHRIS: Not that I'm an expert but it looks like you're just sitting
by the canal

ANNE: I thought that was fishing

CHRIS: There's more to it than that, I think. I'm pretty sure there's
much more to it than that

ANNE: Maggots

CHRIS: Who?

ANNE: Maggots, aren't they part of fishing?

CHRIS: Yuk

ANNE: Fish love them. Apparently. Can't see the attraction myself.

CHRIS: Disgusting

ANNE: Not if you are a fish. Maggots are to cod what cod is to us ...
or something

CHRIS: You wont catch cod here. Not in the canal. That much I do
know.

THERE'S NO RESPONSE

CHRIS: Looks like you've only just got all this, didn't it come with
a book of instructions or anything

SHE OPENS THE BOX, PICKS UP SOME BITS AND LOOKS AT THEM

ANNE: Fishing for Dummies

CHRIS: Did you read it?

ANNE: I was joking. Anyway, it's years old

CHRIS: Old?

ANNE: My husband's, he had it for years, was always out here

CHRIS: (SHE PUTS EVERYTHING DOWN) If you say so

ANNE: I do. Or rather, he did. He did say he was always out here.
Fishing

CHRIS: (AFTER A PAUSE) I'll leave you to it shall I?

SHE WAITS FOR A RESPONSE, AFTER A PAUSE, SHE LEAVES. ANNE POURS
HERSELF ANOTHER DRINK .... A FEW MOMENTS LATER CHRIS RE-APPEARS

CHRIS: (SHE STARTS ASSEMBLING THE ROD, SOMEWHAT INEXPERTLY) I'm sure
we can get you set up

ANNE: For what?

CHRIS: Fishing of course

ANNE: Why?

CHRIS: Why?

ANNE: Yes why? Why would I want to be set up? Why would 'we' want to
get me set up?

CHRIS: (A BIT DEJECTED) Well, you look a bit odd sat here with all
your fishing stuff but not fishing ...

ANNE: I thought you said you were no expert

CHRIS: Not on fishing, no

ANNE: On looking odd then?

CHRIS: Just trying to make conversation

ANNE: There you go again, positively flouting your mother's advice.
What's the matter, don't you like her?

CHRIS: Her only advice recently seems to be “find a man and get
married” ideally as soon as possible

ANNE: A little old fashioned I'll grant you

CHRIS: She doesn't think I'd amount to anything by myself

ANNE: Very supportive

CHRIS: She says that my only hope is to latch onto what she describes
as a “good man”

ANNE: Whatever that is

CHRIS: One with a job but no previous wife, children or convictions

ANNE: Criminal or personal?

CHRIS: Not sure ...

ANNE: Jane Austen would be impressed

CHRIS: That sort of thing, find yourself a Mr Right, preferably a Mr Right Now

ANNE: Double barrelled, classy

CHRIS: What?

ANNE: And your mother presumably led by example?

CHRIS: She's found Mr couldn't be wronger if he won the wrongest
thing in the universe prize on planet wrong

ANNE: Your father

CHRIS: No, Dad was ok, apparently, he ran off when I was young

ANNE: They can do that alright - and you think he's the ok one?

CHRIS: Mum was alone a while then found herself a lazy, jobless slob

ANNE: And this is the woman whose advice on men you listen to?

PAUSE

CHRIS: Can I ask you something?

ANNE: Why not, I'm also quite good at bad advice on men or advice on
bad men

CHRIS: Where's your husband

ANNE: Not very dearly departed

CHRIS: And you miss him?

ANNE: I did, for a while, I got over it

CHRIS: Are you here to feel close to him

ANNE: No, actually I'm here to try to discover what he found so
fascinating about fishing ...

CHRIS: Oh

CHRIS: (INDICATING A PLACE TO SIT) May I?

ANNE: (NODDING) You said this stuff looks new

CHRIS: Some of it is still in its packaging

ANNE: So it wasn't the fishing he found interesting after all

CHRIS: I don't understand

ANNE: He claimed to be down several times a week so either he wore
out his old equipment and had to buy new or he was lying

CHRIS: And you never noticed

ANNE: That he was a liar? Yes, I'd noticed that

CHRIS: No, that his equipment wasn't being used

ANNE: His equipment long since failed to interest me

CHRIS: (PAUSE) You probably want to be alone, I better go

ANNE: (OFFERING HER THE WHISKY BOTTLE, CHRIS SHAKES HER HEAD) Stay,
don't mind me, I'm not some kind of nutter, well, no more than anyone else anyway. Do
you run here often?

CHRIS: If the weather's nice

ANNE: Nice

CHRIS: Otherwise I run in the park

ANNE: Right

CHRIS: Round the park really ... round and round the park or up and
down the towpath

ANNE: A bit like fishing then

CHRIS: How do you mean?

ANNE: (TAKING ANOTHER DRINK) Boring

CHRIS: Not really, but then I've only been doing it a week. (pause) I
really had better get going. Nice to have met you.

ANNE WAVES DISMISSIVELY. CHRIS SETS OFF BUT BEFORE LEAVING THE STAGE
SHE STEPS IN SOME DOG MESS

CHRIS: Oh damn, damn damn damn damn, disgusting, I absolutely hate
that, vile, disgusting. Damn

ANNE: What?

CHRIS: (TRYING TO WIPE HER FOOT ON THE GRASS) Dog mess, dog mess on
the towpath, I hate it, really hate it, now I've stepped in it, why can't they clean up after
themselves

ANNE: The dogs?

CHRIS: The owners

ANNE: They can, they just choose not to, same as the dogs

CHRIS: You know what I mean. These are new trainers too, ruined. Damn it!

ANNE: Shit

CHRIS: (SHE IS GETTING MORE WOUND UP) I'll never get this clean, I
hate it

IN AN UPSET PADDY SHE RIPS OFF THE SHOE USING JUST HER FINGERS AND
HURLS IT OVER THE FENCE ...

THEY BOTH WATCH IT GO, CHRIS IS NOW STANDING ON ONE LEG NEAR TO TEARS

ANNE: (TAKING OUT THE WHISKEY) Fancy that drink now?

BEFORE CHRIS CAN REPLY THE SHOE COMES SAILING BACK OVER THE FENCE AND
LANDS OUT OF SIGHT (OR IN CANAL)

ANNE: Not something you see every day ...

PAMELA: (FROM OFF STAGE) Kindly keep your crappy shoes to yourself

CHRIS: (SOMEWHAT SHOCKED) You threw my shoe into the canal

PAMELA: You threw your shoe into my bed! Thank you so much

PAMELA APPEARS, SHE'S A TRAMP CLEARLY LIVING ROUGH UNDER SOME PLASTIC
SHEETING NEXT TO THE CANAL

CHRIS: Bed?

PAMELA: Yes bed, chez moi if you don't mind and I don't see what I've
done to deserve a rain of shitty shoes. If I'd wanted an early call I'd have
booked one with the concierge.

CHRIS: I didn't know you were there

PAMELA: And that, somehow, makes you throwing your unwanted shoes
over the fence ok?

CHRIS: Sorry

PAMELA: Are you going to stand like that all day? Hang on, right foot, size 5?

CHRIS: No

PAMELA: You are now (from off) strange how its only sizes 5 and 8
that get thrown away around here, and you're certainly not an 8

PAMELA GOES OFF AND COMES BACK WITH A WELLINGTON WHICH SHE HANDS TO
CHRIS, WHO LOOKS INSIDE, CLEARLY SEES SOMETHING UNPLEASANT AND HANDS IT BACK.

PAMELA GOES TO GET ANOTHER AND RETURNS WITH A LARGE ARMY BOOT, WHICH CHRIS PUTS
ON

ANNE: So much more normal, you'd hardly notice (smiles) quite a
little shoe shop you've got back there

PAMELA: Not bad, if you don't mind non-matching pairs of 5 and 8s.
Caught anything? I mean anything I might be interested in?

CHRIS HAS PUT ON THE BOOT, SHE LOOKS A BIT NON-PLUSSED

ANNE: Like some matching footwear?

PAMELA: I was thinking something a bit fishier, you know, like a
fish. I like a nice piece of fish.

ANNE: I haven't caught any

PAMELA: Didn't think so, I mean, you've not even put your rod
together, here let me, we'll soon have you straight

ANNE: Why is everyone so interested in my equipment?

PAMELA: Its called 'tackle' and you'd look daft sitting here ...

ANNE: And not fishing

CHRIS: I told her that

PAMELA: If you've got it you might as well use it.

ANNE: Tell you what, its yours

PAMELA: Do you mean it

ANNE: Sure, lock, stock and barrel

CHRIS: Hook, line and sinker (she laughs to herself, no one notices)

PAMELA: Well thank you kindly

[end of extract]

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