It was far too early o’clock on a cold wet June morning, the window was encrusted with semi-wet sand-infused sea slime, and mountains lurked far away in the mist. Wind rattled the door and blew the curtains about a bit in front of the ill-fitting farting window. This was how Peter recalled his holidays as a child; no running around a foreign beach in bathing trunks and sunshine, waving a bucket and spade about, not in his family. They had sought out a nearly forgotten seaside town where to go outside at the height of summer meant you had to dress for semi-Arctic conditions and put a wet suit on over the top. This attire would allow anyone brave enough to venture out-of-doors to cower in one of those large ornate bus shelter type things that Victorians were so prone to build on every seaside promenade. Occasional passers-by would bellow to fellow adventurers, “BRACING, ISN’T IT?” even as minor structural damage was being caused by the force something gale swirling around them and the combination of seawater and beach particulate sandblasted any exposed skin raw.
Just like here, now, at Yr Academi Ynprhynawnsibl, somewhere on the coast of Wales. Whether it was the weather or whether it was nearing the end of the course he wasn’t sure, but Peter was feeling hemmed in. Stuck. Trapped. The scene he was supposed to be writing for Drama had been refusing to reveal itself all night long. Sighing and turning away from the PC with its empty word processor document, he decided it was time to indulge in one of his favourite early morning pastimes… making – and drinking – coffee. While it sat brewing to full strength, he switched on the TV morning news to see the latest lottery winners being interviewed from yesterday.
The Lottery ‘minder’, Bob, led to the podium the latest multi-millionaires: Mr and Mrs Soap-watching, talent-show-voting, red-top-tabloid-reading Ordinary, all tacky tracky bottoms and fake designer polo shirts. Peter always tried to guess the first question and sure enough, he was right again: “Has it sunk it yet and how do you feel?” asked Bob to get the whole thing going. They reminded Peter of rabbits caught in headlights, and he began to wonder how he would feel if…
“If,” he thought. “The smallest, saddest word in the English language, pregnant with improbable possibilities.” He sighed again and closed his eyes. When he opened them, he was There, in their place. So he snapped off the TV, sat at the PC and let his hands go into automatic. With relief, he let his fingers do the talking, taking him by the hand into the scene he had just seen…
SCRIPT: THE WINNING LOSER
ENTER BOB AND PETER AS LIGHTS UP. PETER PAUSES FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHERS, WAVING AND POSING, THEN THEY SIT.
BOB: So, tell us Peter, has it sunk in yet, and how do you feel?
PETER: Well, yes it has, and how to I feel? Well… A while back, I was out on the seafront with a friend, just wandering about as you do, and we met a retired couple we’d often had a chat with. Well, the woman kept going on about the amount of dog mess everywhere and how people should clear it up, and I said that the council used to have street sweepers, but they’d had to cut back. She just kept saying that people should be responsible and not leave it lying around.
PETER: So, I said – as a joke, “I expect the government’ll come up with a Scheme. Make all the jobless earn their keep by getting them to LICK it up – !”
“Oh, yes!” she laughed, “quite right too! Best thing for them!”
PETER PAUSES A MOMENT, THEN LOOKS RIGHT DOWN THE LENSES OF CAMERAS.
PETER: I’m living in a country where a respectable-looking woman – most likely quite kind, and the sort of person you’d want as a next door neighbour – had that response to the mental image of people on their hands and knees, in public, removing excrement from pavements with their tongues.
PETER PAUSES, THEN ADDRESSES BOB.
PETER: So you tell me: how do you think I feel?
© Jeremiah Savant – used by permission
Jeremiah is ashamed to be British and has fallen through almost every safety net. Finally finding a voice, read his explosive memoirs...
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