Splutters

A Short Play

by David Clemson and Charles Woodhouse

Written jointly in a 15 minute exercise in Iona on Angela Locke’s May 2019 Writers Retreat. Denis is named after David’s childhood cricket hero, Denis Compton (Middlesex and England) and Len after Charles’, Len Hutton (Yorkshire and England)

Selection Committee, Haltwhistle

Stage Direction
Denis knocks on Len’s door

Denis: Morning, Len.
Len: Morning, Denis. I have put the kettle on.

SD
Denis sits at kitchen table. Len makes pot of tea.

Len: We’ve got a real problem here, Denis. Saturday approaches and we still don’t have a team.
Denis: That’s right, Len, and Haydon Bridge are top of league.

SD
Men ponder and drink more tea.

Len: You don’t think they’d lend us a couple of players?

SD
Denis splutters and nearly spills tea.

Denis: Haydon Bridge! Them beggars wouldn’t give you time of day even if stood by church clock.

Len: Aye, you’re right. So what are we going to do?

SD
Men ponder and drink more tea.

Denis: Haltwhistle isn’t just up to much this season. But we could reach out a bit. What about asking help up at Alston and then over at Brampton?

Len: It’s a bit of a stretch but why not? I’ll ring Steve in the Post Office at Alston.
Denis: And I’ll ring Bert at the grocers at Brampton. Then we’ll see what we can do.

SD
Denis and Len sit back and enjoy rest of tea.

Denis: You know, Len, Haydon Bridge won’t know what’s hit ‘em. They’ll be stuffed.

SD
Curtain closes

The Woman’s Own

How long does a river flow to the sea?
How high are the clouds in the sky?
How deep is the valley between you and me?
How many times can you lie?

You are a river that flows deep and fast
You are the sea and the land
I am the woman who still comes in last
I am the well-bitten hand.

How to survive when you can’t breathe the air?
Or live in the world unmolested?
How do you speak up? How do you dare?
When love is eternally tested.

If I was a tiger, then you’d be the gun
If I was a candle, then you’d be the wish
I honestly feel as if I am all done
Like I came to dinner, and I was the dish.

Lorraine Mackay

Leave Taking

stairs-2062236_1280
Solid stone steps lead down to fields and flower beds,
Before this ancient house, a green lawn spreads.
But turn your head, look back towards the door
An anguished couple stand, as sun drops lower.

And what of the lad who’s saying good-bye?
His gaze looking past Shepherds Crag,
Is he riding away with a sword at his side?
Or wearing a khaki cap?
Is he trying to smile, and promise his mum
That one day, very soon, he’ll be back.

Can he see how the bees make the petals expand?
Hear the fountain that plays in the pond?
Will he care if the trees are cut down when he’s gone?
Does he feel any sort of a bond?

The house must have known many similar scenes
It’s stood on this brink for so long.
But the strength of the love when your boy takes the place
Of failed politicians, in war,
Is something beyond what we know of as love,
It’s not better than love,
It’s just more.

Lorraine Mackay

Walking with Gods and Saints

Loutro-Agios_Stavros-04
colin dixon | walking with gods and saints | aghios stavros, crete

Crete is the largest of the Greek islands and strategically separates Europe from Africa. Here on the southern edge of Europe King Minos once ruled; the legendary Minotaur roamed deep in the labyrinth of Knossos and Zeus is claimed to have been born in a cave in the Lefka Ori mountains which form the backbone of the island. To walk along sections of the south west coast of Crete is to travel back in time. In places, where the limestone cliffs fall vertically into the sea, the old sea level is clearly visible. Seismic activity has violently tilted the land upwards until it is three metres higher than in ages past. As well as a journey through geological timescales there are also events which occurred in more recent times. Shortly after leaving Chora Sfakion, where over 20,000 British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers were evacuated when the Germans occupied Crete during World War II, a walker travelling west comes to the steep descent down the cliff face to the long sweep of Sweetwater Beach. So named for the freshwater springs which emerge here after percolating from high in the limestone mountains. St. Paul landed here as the ship he was travelling on collected fresh water. Two kilometres further west from Sweetwater one comes across the tiny church of Aghios Stavros perched above a semi-circular bay. On a hot day a swim here in the silky waters of the Libyan Sea is refreshing before continuing the walk along the oleander fringed path to Loutro, five kilometres further on. Half way round Loutro Bay is the Blue House restaurant and their fish soup makes a perfect first course followed by tender artichoke hearts in lemon sauce. Take your time at the Blue House if you are waiting for the 5.00pm ferry back to Sfakia but be warned, as Loutro may work its magic on you and you decide to find a room here for a night or two.

Colin Dixon