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:
THERE IS NO RESPONSE, CHRIS STOPS RUNNING AND TRIES AGAIN.
CHRIS: Good Morning
CHRIS: I said, “Good Morning”
ANNE: Indeed you did
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?
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, aren't they part of fishing?
ANNE: Fish love them. Apparently. Can't see the attraction myself.
ANNE: Not if you are a fish. Maggots are to cod what cod is to us ...
CHRIS: You wont catch cod here. Not in the canal. That much I do
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
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.
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: 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
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?
CHRIS: Can I ask you something?
ANNE: Why not, I'm also quite good at bad advice on men or advice on
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: (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
CHRIS: Otherwise I run in the park
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
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
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!
CHRIS: (SHE IS GETTING MORE WOUND UP) I'll never get this clean, I
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
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?
PAMELA: Are you going to stand like that all day? Hang on, right foot, size 5?
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
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]