Two men and a woman sit on three deckchairs on a beach facing the sea in a semicircle but close together. Behind them the façade of hotels and shops. The two men are named Thomas and Richard. The woman's name is Harriet. All are middle aged.
Richard: The sea's calm.
Thomas: The tide's out.
Harriet: Looks nice and peaceful.
Richard: Sea can be dangerous.
Thomas: I like it calm.
Harriet: I prefer it when it's rough and untamed. It shows its true beauty then.
Thomas: People can be killed in rough seas. (Pause)
Richard: The sea is calm. It soothes me with its calmness.
Thomas: My brother drowned in the sea.
Harriet: Did he? (Looks at Thomas and raises her eyebrows. Then looks back at the sea.)
Richard: Shelley drowned at sea.
Thomas: Drowned down at Brighton.
Harriet: Who, Shelley?
Thomas: No, my brother.
Richard: How did he drown?
Harriet: Who, Shelley?
Thomas: No, my brother. He went down to Brighton with his friends on a stag night binge, and afterwards walked out in the sea and drowned.
Harriet: Why did he walk out in the sea?
Thomas: He was drunk. People do silly things when they're drunk.
Harriet: Like drown? Couldn't he have found something less dangerous to do?
Richard: Didn't his friends try to save him?
Thomas: They were drunk too. Too drunk to do much in the way of saving him.
Harriet: That's men for you. No consideration for others.
Thomas: They did call out to him. But he didn't hear them. They waved and called, but he just waved back like some idiot. (Thomas gets out his handkerchief and blows his nose. Wipes his nose while the other two stare at him) He always was a little hard of hearing. Too much loud music our father said. (Wipes his nose again. The other two stare out at the sea.)
Richard: The sea is very calm.
Harriet: Did he like loud music?
Harriet: Your brother. Did he like loud music?
Thomas: Yes. He loved his music loud. Mainly because he was a little hard of hearing.
Richard: There are ships on the horizon. Three of them. Two large ones and a small one.
Thomas: He should not have gone out and drunk so much. He would still be here now if he'd not drunk so much.
Richard: I think one's a tanker of some kind.
Harriet: I bet his fiancé wasn't too happy about him drowning at sea.
Thomas: She was quite put out by it. Only just bought the bridesmaids dresses. She'd spent a lot of her time picking them out and finding the right match.
Harriet: Yes, it can take time finding the colours to match. My cousin had an awful time getting the right colours to match.
Richard: The large one on the right is a tanker, I'm sure. Not that I'm an expert on ships, but it looks like a tanker to me.
Thomas: Mother was terrible about it all. She cried on and off for weeks. Father couldn't console her no matter what he said or did.
Richard: Wasn't your father at sea?
Thomas: During the War. He was frequently seasick he told us.
Richard: My father was a Desert Rat. Saw Monty a few times he told me.
Harriet: So what happened to your brother's fiancé?
Thomas: She married some young Jewish fellow called Stein something or other.
Richard: Very hot, my father told me, out in the desert.
Harriet: How long afterwards was the wedding?
Thomas: A year, I think. Pretty girl as I remember. Liked a pretty girl did our Gerald.
Richard: I prefer the sea. I'd have chosen the navy if it had been me during the War.
Thomas: She wasn't his first choice. He had his eyes on Milly Haggerd, but she went off with that Bruce Budgewig. Gerald was none too pleased. He'd spent a tidy fortune on her trying to get her to...
Richard: Torpedoed a few times, your father was, so my father said.
Harriet: Whom did your mother want him to marry? Mothers have an eye for their son's wife.
Thomas: I think it is a tanker. (Peers out at the sea intensely.)
Richard: And the following one's a liner.
Harriet: My mother wanted me to marry a son of her friend. I only met him twice. He wasn't up to much.
Richard: Was he torpedoed?
Richard: Your father.
Thomas: Yes. Twice. Said it became a bit of a routine in the end. Almost expected it.
Harriet: Yes, he did, I think. But I wasn't having any of it. I told my mother, I'd find my own husband, thank you very much. Son of her friend indeed.
Richard: Got up on a tank and spoke to the men.
Richard: Monty. Montgomery.
Harriet: That tanker's gone now. (She peers out to sea. Richard stands up and stretches his arms above his head. Then looks out at the sea.)
Thomas: I knew a man called Montgomery.
Richard: Not the Montgomery?
Thomas: No. This one was a part-time actor. He did small parts.
Harriet: Her son had small parts...So I was told.
Thomas: Married a dancer from up West.
Richard: Up West?
Thomas: West End of London. Bit seedy.
Harriet: I wasn't that type of girl. I told him that.
Richard: The liner's gone now. (Still standing he walks forward a few paces.)
Thomas: Out of sight. Wonder where she was off to? Somewhere nice, I bet. Looks like she went off over the end of the Earth.
Harriet: He was a bit seedy. Mind you most men are.
Richard: Fancy a bite to eat?
Thomas: Yes. Fine by me. (Stands up and walks to Richard. They both look at Harriet.)
Are you coming along, Harriet?
Harriet: Coming along, where?
Richard: A bite to eat. Up there somewhere.
Thomas: The sea's calm. (They all look out at the sea. Then after a few minutes, they walk up stage. Curtain falls.
END OF SCENE ONE.
Two hours later on the beach, Thomas and Harriet sit alone in two of the three deck chairs. Thomas sits back in his chair staring out at the sea. Harriet sits forward her hands fiddling with a cigarette packet deciding whether to open it or not. She finally decides to open it and withdraws a cigarette. She places the cigarette between her lips and puts the packet away in her bag, which is on her lap. She lifts the bag up and places it on the beach beside her chair.
Thomas: We should have waited for him.
Harriet: Richard will know where we are. (Lights her cigarette with a lighter from her skirt pocket. Then she looks at it for a few seconds before placing it back in her pocket.) Have you known Richard long?
Thomas: We were at boarding school together.
Harriet: He mentioned boarding school, but he never mentioned you until yesterday.
Thomas: We were in the same dormitory for years.
Harriet: Sounds fun. (Draws on her cigarette and releases a slow out pouring of smoke.) He never mentioned about sharing a dormitory with you.
Thomas: We also went to St. John's College together when we were eighteen.
Harriet: Share a dormitory there, too?
Thomas: No. We had rooms close by, though.
Harriet: He never mentioned you at that college neither.
Thomas: Have you known Richard long?
Harriet: About six months. We met at a musician's convention.
Thomas: Does he still write music?
Harriet: He seems to. Shuts himself away in his little music room and tinkers on his piano for hours on end some days. (Stands up and walks forward a few paces. She puts out her cigarette and drops it on the beach.) The sea's getting rougher.
Thomas: Do you and Richard live together?
Harriet: That's quite a personal question, Thomas. I shouldn't be answering questions like that should I? (She turns towards him and gives him a cool look.)
Thomas: Not if you choose not to. I was just wondering.
Harriet: Maybe you should ask Richard. He's your friend after all. He won't want to hide things from you I don't suppose. (Harriet looks back at the sea.)
Thomas: I hadn't seen Richard since 1966 until last Friday.
Harriet: The sea endlessly comes in and goes out day after day. You'd think it would get bored doing that so endlessly, wouldn't you. I know I would. I hate boring routines.
Thomas: Are you sure, he'll find us here? (Thomas stands up and looks back up towards the hotels and shops. After a few moments, he walks towards Harriet and stands beside her looking out at the sea.)
Harriet: He'll find us. He could find a pin in a haystack. (She looks sideways at Thomas and stares with screwed up eyes for a few moments.) For a musician he's got a lousy voice. (She looks away and stares at the sea.)
Thomas: He always did have a useless singing voice. I'm surprised he managed to write music at all.
Harriet: He hums.
Thomas: He what?
Harriet: Hums. He hums his melodies or whatever it is he calls those things he writes down. It sounds like he's keeping bees in that music room of his some days.
Thomas: Wasn't he married? I thought I read somewhere he'd got married.
Harriet: Yes. He did mention some woman he'd married some years back. Divorced now. (Looks back towards the landscape behind her.) Are you married, Thomas?
Thomas: Married once. Not anymore.
Thomas: No. She died. (Moves away from Harriet and sits down in his deckchair again. Harriet follows and does likewise.)
Harriet: Oh. Sorry. My big mouth and me.
Thomas: You weren't to know.
Harriet: I should have been more cautious. I never think before I speak. Richard's always telling me to use my brain before my tongue.
Thomas: I should have said. She was a good woman. She died because some idiot ran her over one night.
Harriet: How awful. (Harriet searches for her cigarette packet, finds it, withdraws one, and offers them to Thomas who refuses. She puts a cigarette in her mouth and then puts the cigarette packet a way.)
Thomas: The tides coming in.
Harriet: Seems closer than it was before lunch.
Thomas: Seems rougher too.
Harriet: Not as calm as it was. (Silence falls upon them. They gaze out at the sea.)
The curtain falls.
End of scene two.
A half an hour has passed and Thomas and Richard sit on two of the three deckchairs on the beach. Richard is looking behind him up towards the hotels and shops. Thomas is looking out at the seascape.
Richard: Where did Harriet say she was going?
Thomas: Said she was going to the pier to look for a fortune-teller.
Thomas: That's what she said. One of those gypsy tent things they have on piers.
Richard: Can't make her out sometimes. She has some weird notions that completely baffle me. She often tries to read tealeaves from my cup. Or grabs my hand and attempts to read my palm.
Thomas: Perhaps she is just trying to get close to you.
Richard: She is close to me. We share a house. We share a bed. How much closer does she want to get? (Richard stands up and looks out at the sea. He walks a few paces forward.)
Thomas: She does not seem your type. I thought you were more one for the intellectual kind of woman.
Richard: I have had my fill of intellectual women. (Pause. Looks back at Thomas.) I had a woman a few years back with a brain Einstein would have been proud to own, but she was like a fish in bed.( Goes back to his deckchair and sits down again.)
Thomas: How did you meet, Harriet?
Richard: Musician's convention.
Thomas: Is she a musician?
Richard: No. She was with some pianist who treated her like a slave.
Thomas: And you moved in on her?
Richard: You make me sound like some shark. No, we got talking over a few drinks and one thing led to another and here we are.
Thomas: Sounds romantic. Like something out of one of my books. Have you read any of my books lately?
Richard: No, I try to avoid them. You write like a woman. What happened to that Thomas I knew at university who was going to be the next Lawrence?
Thomas: He became poor and needed to make some money. (Pause. Both men sit in silence. They look at each other momentarily, then back out to sea.)
Richard: The sea's coming quite close now.
Thomas: Yes, you can smell the salt.
Richard: Where is she? Thought she'd be back by now.
Thomas: And if you close your eyes, you can hear the sea's voice more intensely. I often did that as a child. I'd close my eyes and listen to the sea's waves rush up the beach and suck the pebbles as it withdrew. (Thomas smiles to himself in deep thought.) I went with my grandparents once to Ramsgate and we had the top rooms of this boarding house. My cousin got out his telescope and showed me the sea through it. It seemed as if it were just out side the window and that if I opened the window the sea would pour right in on us. (Looks at Richard who is gazing at his shoes.) Strange what you think when you are a child.
Richard: She wants a child.
Richard: Harriet. She wants a baby.
Thomas: Isn't she a bit old to be thinking of babies?
Richard: She's only thirty-two. You make her out to be ancient.
Thomas: Thirty-two? Sounds young when you say it quick. Why does she want a baby, now?
Richard: Says she doesn't feel complete unless she has one.
Thomas: Have you any children of your own?
Richard: No. I've never been interested in having children. I let others with more time and less talent have children. I need my time and energy for my music.
Thomas: Have you told her that?
Richard: Not in so many words. I have hinted at it.
Thomas: How many words did you use?
Richard: One should have been sufficient. But she doesn't listen. Thinks I'll come round to the idea when it happens. I think she's even skipped her pill now. I can't be using...where is she?
Thomas: The sea's getting calmer. I like to sit and sense the power of nature near me. Makes you realise how small you are in the order of things. My brother learnt too late. My wife learnt too late. I wonder if I'll learn too late?
(Thomas shakes his head, then sits back in his chair, and stares out at the sea. Richard looks up at the sky, then slowly lowers his gaze and looks back towards the hotels and shops.)
End of scene three.
Richard and Harriet are sitting in two of the three deckchairs on the beach. Richard is staring out at the sea. Harriet is smoking a cigarette and staring at her bare feet.
Richard: He's changed.
Harriet: Who's changed?
Richard: Thomas. Changed completely. I'd not have thought he would have changed so much in such a space of time.
Harriet: People do. They change, as they grow older. My mother did. She used to be a good laugh when I was a child, but as she grew old, she became crabby and used to moan a lot. I suppose it comes with age. Age changes you.
Richard: He used to be quite adventurous. Wanted to do things to change the world. Now he just writes sloppy romance books under a pseudo name. How do people change so much?
Harriet: He's had a sad life.
Harriet: Thomas. He's had a sad life. What with his brother drowning and then his wife being knocked over by some drunk...Enough to make anyone write romances.
Richard: What do you think of him?
Harriet: I think he's quite a sad individual.
Richard: He used to have a good brain on him. He had bright prospects. Could have gone places.
Harriet: Such are the plans of cats and mice.
Richard: It's mice and men.
Harriet: What's mice and men?
Richard: The quotation you just used. It's mice and men, not cats and mice.
Harriet: Does it matter if it's cats and mice rather than mice and men? After all, Richard, cats and mice have something in common. Men and mice don't.
Richard: That's an example of women's logic is it? (Pause. Harriet looks side wards at Richard. Her eyes stay on him for a few seconds. He returns her gaze and they gaze at each other for a minute or two in silence.) Why quote something and change it? (Harriet pulls a face and sticks out her tongue. Richard shakes his head and looks back at the sea.)
Harriet: I wish I could swim. I would love to swim. Be able to float out with my arms out stretched.
Richard: You should have learnt to swim. Why moan about something you could have changed by your own efforts?
Harriet: I'm afraid of water.
Richard: Afraid of water? No one can be afraid of water, surely.
Harriet: I am. Always have been. Since I was a child.
Richard: Talking about children, are you still wanting this baby?
Harriet: More than you will ever know, Richard. I want it more than life itself. I want it as much as I have ever wanted anything.
Richard: Why did you leave it so late in life? Why not earlier when you were younger?
Harriet: I never realised then how much I wanted a baby. I never thought about it, then. But now I realise just what it is that has been missing in my life. (Pause.) When you are young, you think you have all the time in the world to have a baby. Then, one day, you realise just how much time has flown and how old you're getting. You think you can wait, but time doesn't wait. I want a baby, Richard. I want my own baby.
Richard: You know I never really wanted a baby. They always seemed to be part of someone else's world, never mine. I used to feel tied down by the mere thought of having a child and that child relying on me.
Harriet: What's changed?
Richard: That's just the point, Harriet, nothing has changed. I feel a child would tie me down and all my free time and inspiration would be taken up with feed times and nappy changing.
Harriet: I could do those things. You'd not be lumbered with those chores. You could still shut yourself away in your room and hum away to your hearts content. I just need you to...
Richard: Those seagulls make a hell of a noise.
Harriet: I need you to...
Richard: When I was a boy, I always associated seagulls with the seaside. I would listen out for them as the train entered the station and we traipsed up towards the sea front. Funny how memories of childhood seem so vivid.
Harriet: I want a baby. I want one before I get too old to look after it. I need you to...
Richard: And the smell of seaweed. I love the smell of seaweed. I can close my eyes and the mere smell takes me back to my childhood by the sea.
(Pause. He stands and walks a few paces towards the sea. Harriet stares at his back.) The sea. What a fantastic thing it is. Covers so much of the earth's surface. And unexplored at its very depths. The sea. (Smiles to himself in deep thought.)
Harriet: I'd do anything for a baby. I'd do anything necessary to get pregnant. (Harriet takes out a cigarette and lights it with her lighter, then replaces the lighter.)
Thomas likes children. He'd love children of his own.
Richard: I wonder what it's like to drown. I can swim, but for those who can't it must make drowning seem a real possibility. (Richard walks along the shoreline slowly.) My father taught me to swim. He was that sort of man. A Desert Rat.
Harriet: Thomas has heart and sensibility. I'm sure he'd like children.
Richard: Men went mad in the desert my father said. All that sand and the heat. He was a man's man.
Harriet: If his wife hadn't been killed, I'm sure he'd have had children.
Richard: He still is to a degree, but age has wearied him. He needs help now, being older.
Harriet: The sea is calmer.
Richard: The cool breeze refreshes you.
Harriet: The horizon so unchanging, except for...
Richard: Ships. Passing ships in the night.
Harriet: Or day. Passing ships in the day.
Richard: In the night, the quotation says. In the night.
Harriet: In the dark. In the dark.
End of scene Four.
Harriet, Richard and Thomas are sitting on deckchairs later in the day. Harriet is between the two men sitting forward gazing at the sea. The men are sitting back relaxed. Thomas has his eyes closed.
Harriet: You can feel the cold air off the sea. I can feel it round my ankles.
Richard: You should have put your stockings back on earlier at the hotel. I told you the air would be colder and damper.
Harriet: It's the freedom I like. Most of the year I have to wear stockings and
such; it's nice to be able to feel the air along my legs. (Harriet runs her right
hand up and down her leg. She looks at Richard for a few moments, then turns to look at
Thomas.)The sea air has made him tired. (Looks closer at Thomas)When men are
asleep they seem like children. They have that helpless look. (Thomas open
Thomas: I'm not asleep, Harriet, I'm just resting my eyes.
Harriet: My father used to say that. I'm just resting my eyes, young Harriet,
he'd say. Most of the time you could hear him snoring. Sounded like a ship
Richard: Talking of ships, isn't that that famous liner out there. (Richard sits
forward and points out to sea. The other two follow his finger's direction.)
Harriet: My mother used to moan at him. Kept her awake at night he did.
Thomas: It's not as large the new liner. I'm sure.
Richard: Looks the same to me.
Thomas: No, the funnels are different.
Harriet: Almost divorced him she did.
Richard: In what way are they different?
Thomas: More upright.
Harriet: She went to bed with earplugs after that. (Harriet sits back in her
deckchair and searches for a cigarette. She finds one and lights it. She holds the lighter in
her hand and stares at it for a few moments.)This lighter is his. He gave it to me
when he gave up smoking.
Richard: I wonder what it was like on the Titanic when she went down.
Thomas: Hectic, I should imagine.
Harriet: His breathing got so bad he had to give it up.
Richard: Give up what?
Harriet: Smoking. He had to give up smoking because his breathing was
Thomas: The unsinkable she was supposed to be, but she sank.
Richard: You should give up smoking.
Harriet: What sank?
Thomas: The Titanic.
Harriet: When was that?
Harriet: Some time ago, then?
Richard: Smoking is a bad habit. I can't see why people start.
Thomas: Yes. Sometime ago. (Pause. Thomas sits back and muses on the thought of
being on board a sinking ship. Richard looks back at the hotels and shops for a few
minutes. Harriet stares at her cigarette, watching the smoke rise from it.)
Richard: Do you remember old Mr.Thompson at school? (Turns and looks
across at Thomas.)
Thomas: Too well. Caned me enough times to have his name branded on my
brain cells for all eternity.
Harriet: Must have been a naughty boy then, Thomas.
Thomas: He was a sadist. He'd cane a boy for the sheer fun of it.
Richard: Wonder what he's doing now?
Thomas: Rotting in Hell, I hope.
Harriet: I knew a Mr. Thompson. He used to have a boutique in the West
End of London.
Thomas: Can't imagine our Thompson running a boutique, can you Richard?
Harriet: I think he fancied me. He would always manage to put his hands on
Richard: He'd have one of those...
Harriet: I was going to complain, but I didn't want to cause a fuss.
Thomas: Girly magazine shops, like they have in Soho.
Richard: More for the boys, I'd say.
Harriet: I wish my Mr. Thompson were one for the boys. (Harriet closes her
eyes. Thomas gazes out at the sea. Richard looks at Harriet.)
Thomas: That liner's gone now.
Richard: I wonder where she's going?
Thomas: Somewhere nice, I expect.
Richard: My father always promised himself a voyage, but he never did go.
Thomas: Don't we all make ourselves promises. As a child I promised
myself that as soon as I left school I'd never pick up another book.
Richard: Promises are easy to make, but harder to keep. A little like a
mistress: easy to make love to her, but harder to keep her happy.
Thomas: I wouldn't know about a mistress, I've never had one.
Harriet: I wonder if that boutique's still there. (Harriet opens her eyes.) Do you
think it could be, Richard?
Richard: Is what still where?
Harriet: That boutique. That one run by my Mr.Thompson.
Richard: I shouldn't have thought so.
Thomas: I had a good wife. I had no need of a mistress. She'd still be here
now if it wasn't for that drunk driver. They never found him. Got away with
it. Bloody murder. (Thomas wipes his nose.) She'd have been my age now. We
were only a few months apart in age.
Richard: That sea air is getting quite sharp.
Harriet: I wouldn't put up with that nonsense, now. Mr. Thompson or
Thomas: You can feel it on your cheeks.
Richard: Time to go back to the hotel for the evening meal soon.
Harriet: I was only young, then. Didn't want to make a fuss. Hands all over
you as you tried on some garment.
Thomas: The sun's going in.
Richard: Getting dark.
Harriet: Like passing ships in the dark as Richard says.
Richard: Night, Harriet, it's night. Passing ships in the...
Thomas: Calm isn't it out there. Tranquil as a lily pond.
Richard: The sea's getting darker.
Harriet: The plans of dogs and cats.
Richard: Mice and men, Harriet, mice and men.
Thomas: Passing ships have gone. Too dark to see much.
Richard: Best be going back.
Harriet: Night night, sea. (Richard sighs as he looks at Harriet. Thomas smiles in deep
thought.) Curtain falls.
End of Act One..
The outside of the small hotel is upstage with a door leading into the hotel bar. Downstage are two tables each with three chairs placed on a veranda over looking the sea.. Thomas and Richard are sitting in two of the three chairs. There some glasses on the table and an ashtray. It is early evening of the same day.
Thomas: Is Harriet not joining us for a drink?
Richard: Yes. She'll be down later. She had to powder her nose, so she said.
Thomas: My mother used to use that expression. Going to powder my nose, she'd say. And when she returned I always gaped at her nose to see if it had been powdered, but it never looked any different. It always looked a little shiny if anything. I often wondered why women used that expression. Why they couldn't just say they were going to the toilet or the loo, I don't know.
Richard: That's women for you, Thomas. Always planting a forest to get to a tree. Can't for the life of them say a simple word or utter a straightforward expression where a complex one will do.
Thomas: Does Harriet have any ambitions apart from having babies?
Richard: She hasn't mentioned any to me. (Pause. Picks up a glass and sips the contents slowly. The holding the glass just away from his lips he looks out towards the sea that is still visible, though dimly.) I thought at one time that she might paint again. But nothing came of it. She seems to have lost all interest in what arts she had been interested in and now just broods on this baby idea.
Thomas: Did she used to paint? Was she an artist of some kind?
Richard: Says she was. She's shown me the odd print of paintings she says she's done in the past.
Thomas: Is she any good?
Richard: Hard to say in this day and age: it all looks rather odd.
Thomas: I thought she might have had an artistic instinct somewhere within her yesterday when I spoke to her briefly.
Richard: She was only briefly a professional.
Thomas: Why did she give it up?
Richard: No one bought her paintings.
Thomas: Well, Van Gogh didn't sell more than one and he didn't give up.
Richard: Yes, but she doesn't have a rich brother to keep her fed and clothed. (Sips at his glass again. Thomas picks up his glass and there is a few moments silence.)
Thomas: I love art. I love the artistic kind of life. The bohemian attitude towards the outer world. The freedom of expression.
Richard: We all love art, Thomas. We're British. It comes with the territory. Name me a true English man who doesn't love art.
Thomas: Your father hated art. He thought it was for pansies.
Richard: No. That's not strictly true. He liked Constable.
Thomas: Constable doesn't represent the whole of art, Richard. Your father, if |I remember correctly, said that he'd rather shake hands with a dead German than a living artist.
Richard: That moon is new isn't? Or is it a full moon? I can't decide which it is.
Thomas: And when you played your father that Ravel piece on the piano he said when's the tune going to start.
Richard: And it is beginning to look quite romantic. I think the moon always looks romantic.
Thomas: And when you took him to see the Henry Moore sculptures, he was quite bemused and coughed on his pipe for laughing so much.
Richard: Harriet knows about the moon. She's interested in astrology. She showed me the various stars and what they were called. She's quite bright in her field. (Pause.) She's often late to bed because she's at the window peering up at the sky. I think that was a shooting star, she'll say staring up at the night sky through the parted curtains.
Thomas: And your father thought Monet was a French wine. (Puts down his glass and looks back the hotel.) Is Harriet going to come down here tonight?
Richard: You know women and their noses. I've yet to meet a woman who was ever on time. Won't be long, she said. (Peers back at the hotel for a few moments. Then both men turn and look out at the sea.)
Thomas: My late wife was always on time. Never late for anything. Except our wedding. Then she came late. The driver took her to the wrong church.
Richard: Good God. I wish my former wife had gone to the wrong church; I could have saved a hell of a lot of money on alimony fees.
Thomas: That moon appears to sit on the sea.
Richard: I'd paint that if I were an artist.
Thomas: The way the light spreads out.
Richard: Maybe |I should get Harriet to get out her oils again. I'd love to see her dab away with her brush.
Thomas: And the sea is shimmering.
Richard: She has an artistic way of lying in bed.
Thomas: And the greying clouds add that touch of mystery to the whole scene.
Richard: Spreading her arms out like some crucified Christ.
Thomas: I love the moon. I love its enigma. Like a woman. (Lights fall)
End of Scene One.
Act Two. Scene Two.
Half and hour later at the same scene. Thomas and Harriet are sitting in two of the three chairs. Thomas is looking out at the sea. Harriet is fiddling about in her bag.
Harriet: I'm sure I've left my cigarettes back in the room. Damn and blast it. (Searches more rigorously but finds no cigarettes.) I don't suppose you have a cigarette on you do you?
Thomas: No. I've not been one for the weed. My brother smoked, but I never got the taste for it.
Harriet: Lucky you. Wish I'd never started. (Puts her handbag on the floor by her feet. Sits and stares at Thomas.) What do you think of babies?
Harriet: Yes, those little human beings that seem to cause men so much anxiety.
Thomas: I've never had any.
Harriet: But would you like to have done if your wife hadn't been killed?
Thomas: Hard to say. I expect she would have liked one or two.
Harriet: I want a baby.
Thomas: Do you?
Thomas: What's Richard think?
Harriet: He's not keen. Frightened it will interfere with his music.
Thomas: That's your drink on the table. Richard said you liked your gin and tonic.
Harriet: I told him it needn't interfere with his music. I said I'd do the nasty jobs like nappies and such. Still not keen though.
Thomas: Not been much for the spirits. I prefer beer myself.
Harriet: Why are men so afraid of babies?
Thomas: My late wife liked her vodka. Drank it neat.
Harriet: They don't mind the sex, but they don't like the result.
Thomas: Not that she ever got drunk, but she liked a drink.
Harriet: Do you like children, Thomas?
Thomas: Yes. (Pause. Thomas looks at Harriet and their eyes engaged for several minutes in silence.) Liking children and having children are two different things. I like ballet, but I wouldn't want a ballerina as a wife.
Harriet: They are usually very thin.
Thomas: Get in some awkward positions.
Harriet: And leaping about all over the place.
Thomas: My brother had no time for ballet. Said it made him laugh all those men in tights chasing girls in tights and tutus.
Harriet: Shame he drowned; he sounds a laugh.
Harriet: Your brother. He sounds like he was a laugh.
Thomas: He never took anything serious. (Thomas is silent for a few moments. He watches Harriet walking up and down by the table.) He only took things seriously when it was too late.
Harriet: I like a good laugh. They say it does you good to have a good laugh.
Thomas: When he was brought out of the sea, he had a serious expression on his face, so I was told. (Thomas watches Harriet's hands fiddling in her skirt pocket.) If you're that desperate for a cigarette, why not go back to your room?
Harriet: Wish Richard would laugh more. He's such a serious person.
Thomas: If I was desperate for a cigarette, I'd go back to my room.
Harriet: Go back to your room? Whatever for?
Thomas: No. I meant if I was desperate.
Harriet: Desperate for what?
Harriet: Thought you didn't smoke.
Thomas: I don't. I meant if I was you and I was desperate.
Harriet: Desperate for what, Thomas? (Harriet sits down and gazes at Thomas.)
Thomas: I thought you wanted a cigarette. I thought you were desperate for a cigarette by the way your fingers were fiddling.
Harriet: I am, Thomas. I'd give anything for a cigarette at this moment.
Thomas: Richard's quite some time. He said it wouldn't take a few minutes.
Harriet: I shouldn't have started. I want to give up, but I've not got the willpower. I need a puff to calm my nerves. (Picks up her glass and sips daintily.) Did Richard tell you about my bad nerves?
Thomas: No. He said you were a painter.
Harriet: I've had bad nerves for years. I think it gets him down a bit. He hasn't the patience for nervous people.
Thomas: I'd love to be able to paint. Always wished I could pick up a brush and dab away like a Piccaso.
Harriet: It's not my fault I've bad nerves. My father's to blame. He led my mother and me such a life when I was a child. He was a drunk. He used to...
Thomas: Mind you, Piccaso was overrated, I think. Richard thinks he was a fraud.
Harriet: Fraud? Who?
Thomas: Piccaso. Richard thought him a fraud.
Harriet: The man was a bloody genius. Richard's opinion of art is quite narrow in range. We often argue over art. Him, his old stuff, the Moderns, and me.
Thomas: Your father drank you say?
Harriet: Like it was rationed. You could say he had a drinking problem: two hands and only one mouth. We dreaded him coming home. I would hide behind my mother and shake. He often used to...
Thomas: Richard said you knew about the moon and its phases.
Harriet: I was often black and blue.
Thomas: And the stars. He said you knew of the constellations.
Harriet: I think he was a weak man in retrospect.
Thomas: That moon has a mystery about it.
Harriet: He died eventually when his liver gave upon him.
Thomas: Shelley had a thing about the moon. I suppose most poets do.
Harriet: Richard's a long time. Always takes his time. Except bedtime. (Silence settles upon them.)
End of Scene Two.
Act Two. Scene Three.
Fifteen minutes later. Same scene as before. Richard and Harriet sit on two of the three chairs. The table has more glasses and the ashtray is getting full. Harriet is fiddling in her bag.
Harriet: Where did Thomas go?
Richard: Went to look for you.
Harriet: Did he?
Richard: Didn't you see him?
Harriet: No. (Harriet looks deeper in her bag. Doesn't find what she wants so looks under the table.)
Richard: What are you looking for?
Harriet: My cigarettes. I had them in my bag I thought. (She closes her bag in frustration.) You haven't seen them have you?
Richard: No. Are you sure you've not seen Thomas?
Harriet: No. At least not since dinner. (Searches through her pockets.) I must have a smoke. I shall die without a smoke.
Richard: You'll die if you do smoke so what the difference?
Harriet: I shall die with a cigarette in between my lips.
Richard: I thought you wanted a baby. It's not good to smoke if you intend having a baby.
Harriet: I can't get pregnant on my own.
Richard: Mary Tudor was desperate for a baby.
Harriet: Who's she one of your writer friends?
Richard: Bloody Mary.
Harriet: Not a friend then. I would do anything for a cigarette.
Richard: Don't you know any history? Mary Tudor.
Harriet: Battle of Hastings 10 something or other. They were in my bag.
(Looks at Richard for several seconds, then searches through her pockets again.)
Richard: Desperate for an heir. Even had phantom pregnancies.
Harriet: Unless they're upstairs. (Her face breaks into a smile.) Yes. Come to think of it, I think I left them in my room.
Richard: Didn't do any good though because nothing appeared.
Harriet: Can you buy me some more? I really am desperate. I'll go round the bend if I can't have a drag.
Richard: She murdered quite a few Protestants in her reign.
Harriet: Rain? Do you think so? Looks fine to me. Thomas he'd buy me cigarettes if he were here. (Looks back at the hotel. Then looks at Richard.) If he were here.
Richard: Then her half sister Elizabeth reigned for donkey's years and died a virgin.
Harriet: I was a virgin for years. (Looks out at the sea.) I might as well have stayed one for good it's done me. I wish at times that my mother had stayed a virgin. I am desperate for cigarette, Richard.
Richard: Hell has no fury like a woman... (Gazes at Harriet. Pause.)
Harriet: Men have been the low point of my life. Do you know that, Richard? Low point.
Richard: I can't imagine you being an old maid.
Harriet: I'm not an old maid.
Richard: You haven't the feet for it.
Harriet: There's nothing wrong with my feet. I only hope my baby has my feet and not yours. (Looks down at her feet, then at Richard's.) If I ever get that far.
Richard: Thomas must have got lost.
Harriet: All I want is a baby.
Thomas: He was always doing that at school. Getting lost was a past time with him. (Richard smiles.) And cross country runs were his forte. Went missing for hours and came back just in time for supper.
Harriet: Boy or girl, I don't mind which. As long as it's healthy.
Richard: Where has Thomas got to?
Harriet: If Thomas were here, he'd get me some cigarettes. He's got feelings.
Richard: I'd best go look for him. (Richard attempts to get up, but pauses.) You have a look for him, Harriet. He was searching for you.
Harriet: That moon is a full moon.
Richard: I thought it might be, but I wasn't sure. I said to Thomas that you'd know.
Harriet: Romantic isn't it. The moon.
Richard: It has an attraction that the sun lacks.
Harriet: The sun is gives us life, the moon gives us romance.
Richard: Life and romance. They seem to go together.
Harriet: Like a horse and marriage.
Richard: Carriage. It's horse and carriage.
Harriet: What's wrong with horse and marriage? I like horses.
Richard: The fact you like horses has nothing to do with the quote you gave.
Harriet: I do like horses and cigarettes. It's a fact.
Richard: Facts have to be interpreted.
Harriet: Have to be what?
Harriet: What's that mean? All these big words you use.
Richard: Thomas will tell you he's the writer.
Harriet: I like Thomas.
Richard: The stars are plenteous tonight. Like a carpet of twinkling diamonds.
Harriet: Diamonds are a girl's...
Richard: Best friend.
Harriet: Stars and diamonds, Richard. (Harriet stands and walks forward a few paces. She looks up at the sky and then smiles.) Thomas should be here by now.
Richard: He was always getting lost.
Harriet: He'd help me if I were that desperate. (Looks back at Richard.) Cigarettes help me cope. Diamonds and stars you can keep. All I really want is...
Richard: The sea's getting rough; you can see it.
Harriet: And hear it. The waves. Dark waves. (Pause. Silence.)
End of Scene Three.
Act Two. Scene Four.
A short time later. The same scene setting. Thomas, Richard and Harriet are sitting around the table. Harriet in between the two men. The table is full of glasses and the ashtray is overflowing. Harriet holds a cigarette between her fingers, unlit.
Harriet: All I need now is a light.
Thomas: What an expanse of sky.
Thomas: Makes you wonder what it's all about.
Richard: Pascal was frightened by such an expanse.
Harriet: A match or lighter.
Richard: That philosopher...French I think.
Thomas: Makes you think such a huge expanse of sky with stars so far away.
Harriet: Holding an unlit cigarette is like being a whore in a eunuch's convention. (Harriet puts the cigarette between her lips and moves her head towards Thomas.) Light? (Mumbles the sound)
Thomas: Where's your lighter?
Richard: That thing your father gave you.
Harriet: (Removing cigarette holds it aloft.) Mislaid. I'm desperate.
Richard: Go ask the waiter in the bar.
Thomas: Isn't it in your bag?
Harriet: Don't talk to me about him.
Thomas: I'm certain you had it earlier.
Richard: What's wrong with the waiter?
Harriet: Nothing's wrong with the waiter.
Thomas: Is it in your room?
Richard: You said don't talk to me about him.
Harriet: About whom? No, it's not in my room.
Thomas: I thought I saw you with it in your room.
Richard: You said don't talk to me...
Harriet: My father, not the waiter. The waiter's all right. Quite nice actually.
Thomas: He's Italian looking.
Richard: Her father Italian looking? I thought he was dead.
Thomas: The waiter. He's Italian looking.
Harriet: My father, rot his soul, wasn't Italian looking. He looked like a cross between Marlon Brando and Bertrand Russell depending which time of his life you knew and saw him. I unfortunately, knew too long.
Richard: My father was a Desert Rat.
Thomas: Shall I go and get you a light?
Harriet: My mother's life was made hell through him.
Thomas: It's no problem. I don't mind.
Harriet: Mine too.
Richard: The sun was so hot some soldiers cook eggs on the bonnets of lorries.
Harriet: I need a smoke. Yes, please, Thomas. You are a lifesaver.
Thomas: Shall I get matches?
Harriet: A box. Get a box.
Richard: Hard to imagine cooking an egg on a bonnet. That's what some did my father told me. Thomas gets up and goes into the bar. Harriet watches him go. Richard looks at Harriet.)
Richard: Where's he gone? Something I've said?
Harriet: Matches. He's gone to get me a light.
Richard: What did your father do during the war?
Harriet: He drank.
Richard: I meant in what service he served.
Harriet: The Royal Air Force.
Richard: Really. One of Churchill's few.
Harriet: He was one too many as far as my mother and I were concerned.
Richard: Brave men, my father said. Saved Britain from Hitler's invasion.
Harriet: Never saved us from my father's invasion. (Pause. Harriet looks back at the hotel. Richard looks out at the dark seascape.)
Richard: How tranquil it looks. The moon just above the sea. The stars spread wide as if tossed by some invisible hand across the dark expanse.
(Pause. Richard lifts his glass and sips his drink. Harriet turns round and looks at the sky.)
Harriet: He's quite kind and thoughtful.
Richard: Why don't you paint again? This scene would be lovely.
Harriet: I'm sure he'd want a child if he had the chance.
Richard: Watercolour or oils. Oils would be more professional looking.
Harriet: Must be sad losing someone you've loved. He looks sad sometimes when you look at him.
Richard: I'll buy you some paints if you want to start again. A hobby does you good. (Thomas returns slowly towards the table and sits passing Harriet the matches.)
Thomas: It was busy in there. Got talking to the waiter. He says his parents are Italian, but he was born London. Small world.
Harriet: You are a real lifesaver, Thomas. (Harriet light up her cigarette and takes a deep inhalation.) Lovely. Heaven. Nothing quite like it.
Richard: Art is the saviour of the soul.
Thomas: He moved down this way to be near the sea.
Richard: Give me a painting and I am saved.
Thomas: The waiter. Says he feels closer to Italy by the sea.
Harriet: He seemed quite nice. Soft spoken.
Thomas: Italy is where great art is to be found.
Richard: Is the waiter an artist?
Thomas: I always wanted to go there. Never got to go there. My wife wasn't keen on foreign cooking.
Harriet: Is he?
Richard: Is he what?
Harriet An artist. The waiter is he an artist?
Richard: How do I know, I've not spoken to him.
Harriet: I thought you said he was an artist.
Thomas: She was afraid of getting a stomach bug or food poisoning.
Richard: Ask Thomas, he's spoken to him.
Harriet: Is he Thomas?
Thomas: Is who what?
Harriet: The waiter. Is he an artist?
Thomas: I don't know, he never mentioned it. Said he found London too crowded.
Harriet: I thought he was an artist. (Pause.)
Richard: You can understand why Pascal found the immensity of space so frightening. It's so vast. Look at those stars. So far away.
Thomas: London is crowded. Too many people.
Harriet: Italy is a place I'd like to visit. See all those works of art. Those statues.
Richard: The contrast of light and dark and brightness and dimness. You'd make a good painting of this I'm sure, Harriet.
Thomas: I want to go to Italy. Now that she's gone.
Harriet: If I can't have a baby, I want to go to Italy.
Richard: Dab dab of the old brush against canvas.
Thomas: Can't bring back the dead. (Pause. All three sit in silence.)
End of Scene Four.
Act Two... Scene Five.
Late evening. Same scene as before. Thomas sits alone on one of the three chairs. The table is full of glasses and the ashtray is cluttered to over flowing. Thomas sits back and stares at the sky.
Thomas: The stars have a way of making you feel utterly insignificant. Look as hard as you might they seem endless. (He searches along the table for his glass. He sits up and moves a few glasses to one side. He finds his glass and sips from it.) If only you were here dear wife...You'd love this seascape. (Looks behind him at the hotel.) The hotel's not bad either. The rooms are fine. (He pauses. Turns round and stares at the sky again.) Remember that time in...Where was it?
Harriet: Where was what? (Harriet has cigarette in her mouth hanging from one corner. She looks at Thomas then sits down in a chair next to him.)Where was what, Thomas?
Thomas: I was talking to my wife.
Harriet: I thought she was dead.
Thomas: She is, but I still talk to her as if she were still here.
Harriet: Isn't that a sign of insanity?
Thomas: Who knows what's sane and what these days isn't.
Harriet: But where was what? (Removes the cigarette from her mouth and flicks it away.)
Thomas: Somewhere we stayed. My wife and I.
Harriet: Best to forget.
Thomas: Can't seem to some days.
Harriet: He who can forget is cured...So Richard told me.
Thomas: Maybe I don't want to be cured. Maybe I need the pain of remembering.
Harriet: That's masochistic. Big word that Richard taught me. He's full of big words.
Thomas: I'm fed up with words. I see words all day when I write. What does Richard know about masochism?
Harriet: You don't want to know.
Thomas: I thought he had enough of that at school with old Thompson.
Harriet: He often mentions his old teachers. Not mentioned Thompson before today though.
Thomas: Just as well. He was a cruel bugger.
Harriet: You can still smell the sea air.
Thomas: He'd cane boys all day if he could.
Harriet: It sweeps off the sea like an invisible ghost.
Thomas: Richard was at his mercy more than once. We all were.
Harriet: I feel it around my legs like a saucy sailor. (Pause. Looks at Thomas.) Where's Richard?
Thomas: Richard? He's gone for a walk.
Harriet: Walk at this time of night?
Thomas: Says it does his soul good.
Harriet: Then he needs to walk for a year or two.
Thomas: Do we have souls?
Harriet: Don't get too deep with me, Thomas. I'm not born for it.
Thomas: The sea soothes me. That's my God if any. The sound and the smell. The feel of it against my cheek. (Feels his cheek with his hand) Bliss.
(Harriet leans towards Thomas and kisses his cheek.) What's that for?
Harriet: You said kiss.
Thomas: I said bliss, Harriet, bliss.
Harriet: Oh. Sorry, Thomas. Thought you said kiss.
Thomas: No, it's all right. No harm done. (Stares out at the moonlit sea.)
Harriet: I don't kiss every man I see.
Thomas: No. I never thought you did. I thought after what happened earlier... (Pause. Looks at Harriet with sideward glance and then looks out at the sea again.)
Harriet: It happens with men sometimes.
Thomas: That moonlight on the sea is like something Friedrich would have painted.
Harriet: Friedrich? Is he a friend of yours too?
Thomas: No. The German artist. Caspar David Friedrich.
Harriet: Oh, him. Yes. Yes. (Smiles to herself) I knew an artist called Caspar. David Caspar. Thought he was God's gift. (Still smiling looks at Thomas.)If he was God's gift then God's got a strange sense of humour. I've seen better-looking warts.
Thomas: Men can be conceited.
Harriet: Thought he knew it all. Thought I'd throw myself at his feet because we shared a studio for a while. (Harriet becomes silent)
Thomas: Women have a different sense of worth. They know themselves better. (Picks up his glass and sees that it is empty.) Would you like another drink?
Harriet: He had quite a few passing through the studio. His models he called them. Whores more like. He was an abstract painter. Didn't need models.
Thomas: You can have what you like. I'm going onto coffee.
Harriet: Don't know what they saw in him, ugly sod. (Pause.)Coffee?
Thomas: I've drunk too much to go on with it, so a coffee will do me fine.
Harriet: Gin? Can I have a gin?
Thomas: What you like. I've no problems what you have.
Harriet: Now you are tempting fate.
Thomas: Gin it is then. (Thomas rises to go, but Harriet grabs his hand.)
Harriet: And tonic. I must have my tonic.
Thomas: Your hand's cold.
Harriet: You know what the say don't you. Cold hands, no drawers.
Richard: Warm heart. (Richard stands beside Thomas. His eyes are on Harriet.) It's warm heart, Harriet. Cold hands, warm heart.
Thomas: Did you want a drink, Richard? (Looks uncomfortable and embarrassed.)
Richard: Her hands are always cold. (Looks at Thomas with a smile.) Nevertheless, her heart's warm most of the time. Rum. Double to warm me through. Chilly down there by the sea. (Thomas goes off towards the bar. Richard moves to the chair next to Harriet and sits down. He sighs deeply. Breathes in the air.)Did you miss me?
Harriet: I thought it was cold hands, no drawers.
Richard: Warm heart.
Harriet: What are no drawers, then?
Richard: Red hat, I think. Red hat, no drawers.
Harriet: Why red hat?
Richard: Just a saying. Who knows. Who cares.
Harriet: The woman with no drawers, she'd care. Especially on a night like this. (She lifts her handbag onto her lap and searches through it.) Red hat indeed. I'm sure it was cold hands.
Richard: Cold hands, red hands, red drawers, no drawers, who cares, Harriet? (Richard becomes silent. His eyes scan the seascape.)
Harriet: It makes sense to me having cold hands with no drawers on. (Finds cigarette packet and takes out a cigarette. Looks at packet for few moments then puts it away in her handbag. She holds the cigarette in between her fingers and turns it slowly as if she was deciding whether to smoke it or not. She decides she will, puts it in her mouth, and lights it with a match. She puts the matches away in her handbag and puts it on the floor.)Was it cold down there by the sea? You look cold.
Richard: Yes, it was cold, but it was a refreshing experience. Thoughts swam around my head like goldfish around a bowl. I sucked in the air as if it were a fine wine.
Harriet: Just as well you had drawers on.
Richard: You seem to have a fixation about no drawers. Does the night air do nothing for you? Doesn't it open up your mind to the thoughts of the universe?
Harriet: Thomas and I were talking about art.
Richard: Art? That is a good subject to be discussing while holding hands.
Harriet: I only held his hand to make him wait.
Richard: Wait for what?
Harriet: Tonic. I wanted some tonic.
Richard: And what did Thomas say about that?
Harriet: He said I could have what I liked.
Richard: I bet he did.
Harriet: At least he gets me drinks.
Richard: Is that all he's getting you?
Harriet: Gin. Gin and tonic. (Turns away from Richard and puffs deeply on her cigarette.)
Richard: Red hats. Cold hands. No drawers. Warm heart. (Richard sits and stares up at the sky. He sits in a shared silence with Harriet.)
End of Scene Five.