The Play is set in Wigton, mainly in the Market Place. Act One starts in the present, then takes us back in time to 1262 and brings us up to 1753. Act Two takes us from 1836 to the present.
In every age, in every village, and every country, there are Seths and Jeannies- salt of the earth, the people who sustain and nourish our families and communities. There is always a Katharine - cynical and sarcastic, and a Susanna, trusting and compliant. There are always Young Lovers - thwarted by circumstances and families. There is- sadly - always conflict, and often violence. There is always hardship, but there is too, always friendship, love and loyalty. Above all there is community. This play was written for one small community- so loved by its members that it is known for certain to be "The Throstle's Nest of All England"
Here are two scenes from the first half of the play showing the hardships of the early years on the border- famine, flood, violence and burnings, and three scenes from the second half, showing some of the same characters during World War II and its aftermath.
ACT I scene 5
RAIN EVERY DAY FOR TWO YEARS: THERE'S BEEN
FLOODING AND FAMINE, THIRTY YEARS ON IN 1316
THE MARKET PLACE, A TUESDAY IN APRIL 1316
JEANNIE, KATHARINE AND SUSANNA ENTER AND SIT, EACH WITH A BASKET WITH VERY FEW PROVISIONS, HUDDLED UNDER BLANKETS AGAINST THE RAIN
KATHARINE G'Morning Jeannie lass … and Susanna, though what's good about it I'm blowed if I know!
SUSANNA Looked as if the rain was going to stop earlier but I didn't get more'n a blink of the fells before it started sheeting down again.
KATHARINE I don't know why we bother to come every Tuesday I don't. We've got nowt to sell and folks have got nowt to buy it with!
JEANNIE We come because we've always come, and our mams and nannas before us. There's always been a market here- goes back longer than anyone can remember. It'd be the end of Wigton if we didn't have the market!
KATHARINE PICKS UP A BRUSH AND TRIES TO CLEAR A SPOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STAGE
KATHARINE It'll be the end of Wigton if this rain doesn't stop- place'll just float away on a sea of mud (POKES AT SUSANNA'S FEET WITH THE BRUSH TO GET HER MOVING)
SUSANNA (IN GOSSIP MODE, RAISES HER FEET AND OTHERWISE IGNORES KATHARINE) My Granddad said there wasn't always a proper market here. The old King Henry, he gave us a Market Charter (SHE IS SOMEWHAT IN AWE OF THIS) with his own hand they say- gave it to old Baron Walter.
KATHARINE (STOPS BRUSHING, BUT USES THE BROOM TO EMPHASISE HER POINTS) What do you mean "gave" you soft body? He didn't give us nothing. They don't ever give us nothing. All they ever do is take! Kings, Barons they're all the same. They take from the poor to line their own pockets. This blessed Market Charter your so set on my lass- it's just a piece of paper that says the baron has a right to take tolls off of us in return for letting us sit in our own town and sell our own goods. It's not "given", it's imposed!
SUSANNA You be careful what you say lass, you never know who's listening. My Granddad says before the King granted (LOOKS AT KATHARINE FOR APPROVAL OF THE WORD) us the charter, you couldn't sell your turnips and beans because there was that many thieves and robbers about. The Baron looks after us you see lass, in return for our taxes.
KATHARINE (SNORTS AND TURNS AWAY, TOWARDS JEANNIE) Let's get set up proper like- You're right Jeannie, it really will be the end of Wigton if us lasses don't keep the market going
JEANNIE Peace now Susan! All this arguing won't get any of us any supper, and here comes old Mistress Heslam!
THEY TURN STOOLS UPSIDE DOWN TO MAKE TABLES, AND SET OUT THEIR MEAGRE GOODS.
ENTER MISTRESS MARY HESLAM. SHE TALKS TO SUSANNA WHILE KATHARINE AND JEANNIE INSPECT EACH OTHERS'GOODS
KATHARINE (PEERING INTO JEANNIE'S BASKET) Are them turnips or peas?
JEANNIE Yer daft besom it's too early for peas. Any road, why wouldn’t I leave em in their shells?
KATHARINE You might want to sell them separately lass- make more money that way!
JEANNIE Have you been talking to Seth?
KATHARINE I haven't seen him for a week or two. Haven't seen any man for a week or two come to think lass. Mine's away north with that Andrew Harclay, trying to stop them Scotch devils!
JEANNIE Aye- him they call the Sherrif of Cumberland?
MRS M H Yis aye they say he raised the siege at Carlisle just last year. It was surrounded by Scots
KATHARINE And he did- so the bastards came here instead didn't they? They burnt my Granda's steading down!
MRS M H There weren't many places left in the spot lass, and that's the truth. Thank God most of us got away into the forest.
SUSANNA And the poor Baron, poor old Sir John, him on his death bed too, while they burnt the town round his ears
KATHARINE But he didn't give a thought to his poor daughter that he's disinherited did he?
MRS M H That Margaret? Well she's no better than she should be, gadding off to London! Now that Sir Andrew- Well, now he's called on all the Wigton lads, we should all be able to sleep safer in our beds!
SUSANNA My Harry came back for a couple days a few weeks back- I think he thought he was going to get feasted on Fat Tuesday, but it was as thin as any other Tuesday this last year or more …
JEANNIE That's right- we've had six month of winter and now..
KATHARINE We're in for six month of bad weather..
SUSANNA Another year of crops rotting like the last one
JEANNIE And the rain never stopping- floods and mud everywhere, beasts drownded or starving
KATHARINE Like Nowel's flood all over again
SUSANNA Aw diven't be so miserable- I could see Skidder on me way here
KATHARINE That's a sign o rain!
ALL And when you can't see it- it's raining! (THEY CHUCKLE GRIMLY AND AS THE CHUCKLES DIE AWAY JEANNIE IS HEARD TO BE SOBBING)
SUSANNA What is it Jeannie love?
JEANNIE It's my little old one… my Penny…
MRS M H (Aside to SUSANNA) She's never lost a bairn?
JEANNIE I was going to wring her neck this morning, I'd made up my mind to it.
I went out and there she was- legs in the air and covered in mud! Drownded or starved I don't know, but I've hardly got the heart to put her in pot!
SETH COMES IN QUIETLY BEHIND THE WOMEN
SETH I could get you a good price for a scrawny hen- it'd be a luxury up north!
JEANNIE Don't do that our Seth, you crept up on us! And any road, it's luxury here, what do you think we've been living on while you've been gallivanting away with that Sir Andrew?
SETH I'll not hear owt agen him, even if he did beat me down for a bushel of barley! Why do you think you’ve not had your roof burned over yer head this year by them Scotch devils?
JEANNIE Nivver mind Sir Andrew this and Sir fancy sherrif that- the old King Edward would've sorted them out, eh. This one … from what I hear … you can't believe he's the son .. and I have heard (whispers) …
SUSANNA Well what does he know anyroad about us? It's probably running with milk and honey down in the south.
SETH Don't you believe it lass. I met a man in Carlisle who's been all over the world, he's just come from Compostella and he's on his way to Whithorn although Lord knows how he's going to get there with them Scots swarming all over the place
KATHARINE A pilgrim!(SIGHS) Must be rich… and handsome
SETH Nah- scrawny as Jeannie's old hen. Anyroad, he says it's everywhere, this endless rain. All over the world in every country in every place, there's nowt but mud, and beasts dying and oats and barley drownded in the fields
KATHARINE Come Lammas it'll be two year since they beat us at Bannockburn and we haven't had a day of peace since. Come to think, we've hardly had a day without rain since
SUSANNA Old King Edward now he was the one. He sent 'em packing. "Hammer of the Scots" they used to call him
SETH Aye but then he upped and died - of a flux mind- at Burgh
KATHARINE My Grandad always said we'd got a soft spot for Southerners- it's called Solway Moss
JEANNIE The old king'll be turning in his grave. He wouldn't have let the Scotch beat him, and now he's gone and his son is fit for nothing but his fancy…. (claps hand over mouth)
KATHARINE You might as well say it lass, we all know it! His father was a proper man.. and this… well it's God's judgement all right to send us all this rain, as well as these devilish thieving Scots.
JEANNIE I don't see why God's wrath has to descend on us for the King's… unnatural …. er affections
KATHARINE Don't be so soft it's always the poor that gets the blame
SETH Mark my words, lass the King's got it coming to him!
JEANNIE What's he got coming to him our Seth?
SETH Not sure, but it'll be worse than a day in the pillory. God works in mysterious ways to punish … the unnatural …
JEANNIE HUSH Seth- as Susanna says, you don't know who's listening. Theres' a few more folk coming now rain's eased off a bit.
SETH I'll be off then- where did you say that old hen was?
MRS M H (peering into Jeannie's basket) Is them turnips or peas?
JEANNIE Sorry love that's as big as they get these days before they rot. (HOPEFULLY) They're a good flavour though
MRS M H How much do you want for them?
JEANNIE (VERY QUIETLY) A penny
MRS M H (LOUDLY) How much?
JEANNIE Sorry love that's less than it'll cost me to plant new next year.
MRS M H I don't know how a body's supposed to live.
SETH (RUSHES BACK IN, OUT OF BREATH) Jeannie, Jeannie- they’ve took your old hen and every scrap of food you had- they must have got past our garrison up by Carlisle! Come with me now Jeannie, you can't go home, they’ll be burning the thatch by now
MRS M H The bairns! (RUSHES OUT)
KATHARINE I knew they'd come- we'd best away. If you’ve no bairns you'd best run to the forest JEANNIE. Lord knows what's happened to my man- you stick to yours Jeannie- least he came back for you!
SUSANNA Come on Jeannie she's right we might just save our skins- they’ll have that off our backs if we don't run now
FRANTICALLY, THEY PICK UP THEIR PITIFUL FEW BELONGINGS, AND KILTING THEIR SKIRTS, FOLLOW KATHARINE OUT. SETH CHIVVYING JEANNIE ALL THE TIME.
ACT I scene 6
HORRORS AND BURNINGS REPEAT TIME AFTER TIME
OVER 200 YEARS BUT NOW IT’S THE REIVERS IN 1559
THE WOMEN WANDER ON, UTTERLY DISCONSOLATE, HEADS DOWN, IN RAGS. THEY GAZE AROUND THEM AND ALL THEY SEE IS ASHES AND DESOLATION
KATHARINE Oh Jeannie, Jeannie, Jeannie- look what they’ve done to us! Look at us all- we've barely a rag between us
SUSANNA (Sobbing) … and my man
KATHARINE All our men
JEANNIE (Barely holding back her tears) .. and the bairns, all my pretty ones
SUSANNA the hens, the beasts ..
KATHARINE ..and even my old pig
SUSANNA Not a stick nor a stone of any of our houses .. ..
JEANNIE Not a wisp of straw nor a grain of barley-
KATHARINE No men, no children… no beasts no food-
SUSANNA No hope
JEANNIE Just us three women
SUSANNA No point in going on really…
JEANNIE The reivers have done this to us just too many times- makes no difference if they come from the Scotch side or the English
KATHARINE .. . they don't care whose beasts they steal or whose thatch they burn!
SUSANNA Aye, I mind my Granny saying the same -burnt the thatch over their heads so they did, and left just about nobody, no men .. no bairns
KATHARINE Just a few womenfolk
JEANNIE But Katharine- you survived- you must have been nowt but a wee bairn
KATHARINE Well yis aye- my Granny hid us under her cloak as she ran for the forest
JEANNIE And my Granny must have done the same…
SUSANNA (Rocking and keening) They're all gone, all..
JEANNIE -and Katharine, your Grannie and my Granny and all our grannies before them, time out of mind, must have saved what they could, come back to weep when the burning's done, and tried to start all over
SUSANNA … yes it's all over… all over
JEANNIE No Susanna, it's not! We must pull ourselves together, we must keep a bit of life going in this old town, we must do what all women have always done
SUSANNA But Jeannie there's nothing here! It's all burnt; when you scratch away the cinders, you're only going to find bare earth
KATHARINE (beginning to understand) ..and that's all we need! The good Cumberland soil- she won't let us down. She is our always and ever Mother. (Smiles briefly, but then looks sad again) But Jeannie- there's no seed!
JEANNIE Come on Susanna, Katharine, this was the market place; we and our mothers and grandmothers before us sold barley here. I don't believe they never spilt any.
KATHARINE GETS DOWN ON HER KNEES, BESIDE SUSANNA WHO IS STARTING TO SNIFF AND LOOK ABOUT HER, WHILE JEANNIE FINDS A CHARRED STICK AND STARTS TO SCRATCH AWAY VIGOROUSLY
JEANNIE Aahh! Just a few grains, and they're not all burnt....
KATHARINE I've found some!
SUSANNA Jeannie, Jeannie, come and see- I think I've found something else
KATHARINE Let's see- what is it?
JEANNIE Well I nivver- blowed if it isn't a tiny oak tree!
BLACKOUT- END OF SECTION
ACT II scene 4
lights up. in the farmhouse kitchen. seth is sitting. jeaNnie enters
jeaNnie: I’m shattered.
seth: We knew looking after someone else’s bairn wouldn’t be easy.
jeanNie: Michael worries me though… six weeks he’s been here and he’s still wetting the bed every night. Poor little mite. He was crying during the night and I went into his room
and he was sitting there with no pants on. Just bubbling away fit to bust. I
know I shouldn’t have, but I couldn’t stop myself, Seth (beat) I took him in my arms and cuddled him as if he were our own.
seth: Imagine how you would feel miles from home and living with a lot of strangers.
jeanNie: And he’s probably never seen a field before, let alone a herd of cattle. (beat) And that’s not all. He talked about home. He told me he hasn’t got a dad and his mam’s ill. He’s not even allowed to visit her in hospital. (beat) Must be TB. He’s living with his nanna.
seth: We’ll have to do more to make him feel at home. Make a bit of a fuss of him. He’s not a bad lad. I’ll get him out on the farm after school; see what he makes of the animals.
john enters carrying a box.
seth: And where have you been young John?
john: I took Shirley down to the Keswick to show her what Cumberland was really about.
jeanNie: I hope you behaved yourselves! You haven’t known her two minutes. We were worried sick, weren’t we Seth?
Seth: You should have let us know where you were, lad. It’s only fair.
john: How? The jungle drums were out of commission and we haven’t got a telephone.
seth: I’ve told you, I’ll not have one of those things in this house. Bells ringing all hours of the day and night, people listening in to your private conversations - and no way of knowing who’s on the other end.
jeanNie: Someone rang Mary at ten o’clock the other night. She didn’t know him from Adam. He said he was very sorry but it was the wrong number. She told him it was the same number she’d always had.
john: Sorry Seth, I’ll send a telegram next time.
seth: See what I mean – it could’ve been one of Hitler’s spies, for all we know.
john: (AMUSED) Aye, Hitler’s bound to be interested in what we get up to.
jeanNie: (TAPS HIS HAND)Don’t be cheeky! What’s in the box?
john: A present, for the best sister in the world.
he passes the box to jeanie. she pulls out four pairs of nylons. John snatches back a couple of pairs.
john: For Shirley.
jeanNie: Nylons! Oh John! You angel! Look Seth, nylons...you’ll have to take me to the dance tomorrow now, so I can show off!
seth: Can’t, no babysitter – unless Valentino here’s volunteering.
john: Sorry, I’ve promised to take Shirley.
jeanie delves into the box.
jeanNie: What’s...Sugar! A whole bag of sugar...and chocolate…where did you get all this?
john: A bloke at the market. The chocolate’s for Michael.
seth: Black market you mean! You know I won’t have black market in this house!
John: No it’s not. Not really. I swapped it...for eggs.
seth: You’ve got no right. They’re my eggs, and they don’t feed the black market.
jeanNie: Oh, Seth! What’s a couple of dozen eggs?
seth: It’s wrong, that’s what it is, and I’ll have no part of it.
John: It’s no worse than hiding an occasional lamb or pretending to drop a tray of eggs. Other folks have to feed their families too, only they can’t eat nylons or live on sugar.
jeanNie: He’s right Seth. You’re always saying it’s only fair to share what we’ve got – so why can’t other people share what they’ve got with us.
Seth: Oh, do what you want – but I’ll not be part of it.
JEANNIE flings her arms around his neck.
jeanie: Ooo thanks Seth. I swapped Mary some butter for some dried fruit last week. I’ll make you a lovely cake.
seth looks exasperated.
john: And if I happen to come across another couple of pairs of nylons perhaps she’ll babysit tomorrow.
jeanNie: And we can go to the dance! Ooo, I hope so the Tommy Jackson’s playing. He’s our favourite, isn’t he Seth?
seth: So you say.
john: Should be a grand night.
seth: I’d best see the beasts are settled.
jeanNie: I’ll give him a hand.
jeanie goes to exit john stops her.
john: Jeanie - have you still got that little bag of bits Ma left us.
jeanNie: (SUSPICIOUSLY)Y-e-s. You’re not in some kind of trouble are you? It’s not the black market thing?
john: Of course not! Please Jeanie, can I see it…
jeanNie goes to a drawer/cupboard and gets a small draw-string bag. they sit at the table and she spills out the contents, the brooch and a few pieces of jewellery.
jeanNie: It hasn’t been opened since I took this out for our wedding. (FINGERING HER WEDDING RING) It’s the only thing I brought into our marriage. Except for you of course.
john: Jeanie, I’m going to propose to Shirley after the dance and I want to give her something…as a token until I can afford a decent ring. Do you mind…
jeanNie: Of course not. It was left to both of us.
john picks up the broOch and admires it.
jeanNie: It seems a bit soon though, Shirley’s a lovely girl but
are you sure…
john: There’s no time to waste these days Jeanie, not with Hitler knocking at the door. We have to grab every opportunity. (beat) Have you ever looked at this…properly I mean?
jeaNnie: Not really, it’s a bird or something isn’t it?
john: Yes, a bird of some kind...It’s a … throstle. The throstle’s nest…the symbol of Wigton!
jeanNie: It’s pretty.
john: It’s silver, feel the weight of it - must be worth a bit. I wonder where it came from.
jeaNnie: We’ll never know.
john: It’s perfect, may I? I’ll return it as soon as…
jeanNie: Don’t be daft! You can’t give it then take it away. It’s yours as well as mine and Shirley is welcome to it. I just hope you’re doing the right thing.
ACT II scene 5
1939 outside the market hall. there is a door leading into the hall. inside the dance is in full swing. Glen Miller music (to BE DECIDED) is playing, John and Shirley are sitting on a bench.
shirley: Fancy your Seth offering to take a van full of evacuees to the beach on Sundays.
john: He’s a good'un is Seth. One of the best.
shirley: Most of the folks round here have no time for them. They seem to think Geordies keep coal in the bath and wash their hands in the lav!
john: Don’t they?
shirley: (SMILING GIVES A PLAYFUL PUNCH) You don’t know what it’s like being an off-comer, they don’t accept us you know, they treat us like...aliens.
john: They don’t mean any harm. Our Mam was an off-comer – from Scotside. She always complained that they didn’t accept her but when me father died they all rallied round…they didn’t have much, but what they had they shared, we never had empty bellies or bare feet. And when she died, a year later Seth took us in. Old Seth that is; our Seth’s Da. I was five and Jeanie was ten. He said the old house was dying and needed more bairn’s to bring it back to life.
shirley: Sounds like a lovely man. I wish my Dad ….
john: You always wear those....
SHIRLEY It's all I've got left from my Mam
john brings the brooch out of his pocket. as he does so the music changes to something lively. possibly ‘The Wigton Walk’.
HE BEGINS GETTING INTO POSITION TO propose; AS HE DOES SO shirley leaps up and exits into the hall, knocking the brooch out of his hand.
shirley: Come-on, this is my favourite!
John scrabbles about looking for the brooch. he finds it, wipes it, admires it then he opens the door to the dance. he looks in and freezes
JOHN: Bloody yanks!
He comes down stage, looks at the brooch again (SEEING IT A DIFFERENT LIGHT NOW)
John: So much for this bit of shit!
He lets it drop and walks away. Hesitates, comes back and picks up puts it in his pocket.
JOHN: Jeannie would say it’s all we’ve got from our mam.
deliberately turns his back and walks away.
ACT II scene7
THE PASSING YEARS EXACT THEIR FEE
POOR JEANNIE DIES IN 1963
1963. The farmhouse. after jeanie’s funeral. seth is alone. a knock at the door. seth opens it. john enters in a wheel chair. seth greets him frostily.
seth: Hello John. You came then.
john: You knew I would.
seth: How would I know that? One minute you were lurking, at the back of the churchyard and the next minute you’d vanished. Ashamed to show your face were you?
john: No! I just wanted some time alone with Jeannie. I waited until they’d all gone then I went to say my goodbyes.
seth: You should have come back with the others. There’s some that would have liked to see you again.
john: I doubt it after all these years.
seth: Aye, maybe. It was good of you visiting Jeanie in hospital all the same. Can’t have been easy for you travelling (indicates the wheelchair) with this.
john: I’d have come sooner if you’d (BEAT) If I’d known.
seth: Aye, maybe.(BEAT) Still, cheered her up no end, it did.
JOHN: Good. (He wanders around the room looking at things) The old place hasn’t changed much. (PAUSE)How’s the farm doing?
SETH: Very well, no thanks to you. (PAUSE) Why did you do it lad, run off like that without a word?
JOHN: Things happened.
SETH: Things is always happening lad. That’s what life is about – things happening. It fair broke our hearts. We’d both lost uncles and cousins in the last war. A whole generation of lads wiped out – an for what? I said to Jeannie; ’Jeannie love’I said, ‘if this war goes ahead the town will never recover – Wigton will never be the same again’
john: I wouldn’t have hurt either of you for the world. But it all went wrong – with Shirley, I mean. I was going to propose that night after the dance but…
seth: Well why didn’t you? You didn’t have to join up. Farming was reserved.
john: I knew that, and I just wanted to marry her and stay here on the farm and live happily ever after. But then I looked in the door and the place was swarming with yankee airmen. What was it they said? Over paid, over sexed and over here! She was surrounded by them Seth - and lapping it up.
SETH: She was young and bonny. What did you expect?
JOHN: She was my girl, I expected to spend the rest of my life with her, but there they were with their smart uniforms, money and prospects … and there was me, stony broke and stinking of sheep-shit. What chance did I have?
seth: That never mattered to my Jeanie and it would never matter to our Shirley.
john: I didn’t know that then, I was so young.
seth: But why sneak off without a word? Why didn’t you come to us? What had we done to deserve that?
john: Nothing! It wasn’t anything to do with you. It was me. I was all mixed up. I left the dance and walked for miles. I ended up at the airfield and somehow...I don’t know I just felt as if I belonged. Like I’d come home.
seth: You were a farmer; I’d trained you from being a lad. It would all have been yours one day.
john: Oh, Seth, we both know I wasn’t cut out for farming. It wasn’t that I was ungrateful for all you’d done. You’d been good to me and I was very happy. It was a good life, but farming never excited me … not like the planes. They were beautiful, Seth … I wish you could have seen them close up. They had a smell all of their own … grease and fuel and leather … and the noise of the engines …
seth: You were always one for engines, I’ll give you that. But life was hard after you’d gone - no lads left to work the farms you see. Oh, they brought the land girls in and things and weren’t so bad. They worked hard those lasses but it’s not like having your own lad about the place. (PAUSE) And Jeannie cried for days.
john: I wrote often enough but she said I couldn’t visit because you’d got a lodger in my room. I gave up asking in the end. Times must have been hard if you took in a lodger.
SETH: Aye, well like you said – things happen. Circumstances change. Where are you staying now?
JOHN: The British Legion found me a place near the hospital.
SETH: You should have come here. It’s your home.
JOHN: I couldn’t.
SETH: You’ll stay tonight though? Jeannie would never forgive me if I didn’t keep you here tonight at least.
SETH: There’s tatie pot in the oven and Shirley always makes enough to feed an army. Not as good as Jeannie’s mind, but good enough.
shirley enters silently and is unseen by john.
john: I saw Shirley…she still wears her mum’s bangles.
seth: Aye a grand lass is Shirley. Pity her father never forgave her. What kind of bloke treats his daughter like that eh? Still, his loss, our gain.
john: What was the row about, with her Da?
seth: She never said; though anyone with half a brain would have figured it out.
shirley: Why don’t you ask her, John? Or are you afraid of the answer?
john: (STARTLED) Shirley!
shirley: Hello John.
shirley: Long time no see.
barbara barges in. Closely followed by michael with a pram.
barbara: Mam, will you… (PAUSES, STARTLED AT THE SIGHT OF JOHN)
shirley: Come in, luv. There’s someone here you should meet.
shirley: Are you married, John?
shirley: That’s fortunate.
shirley: Can you really be so naïve?
shirley: (INTRODUCING HIM) You remember Michael, the evacuee. He came back after the war to work on the farm for Seth.
john: Yes, of course I do … hello Michael. (they shake hands enthusiastically) By, you’ve grown since I last saw you. It’s good to see you again…
michael: I never thought I’d see you again.
shirley: And this is his wife, Barbara, with their son, Seth. (beat) Our grandson, John.
John: Our grandson?
shirley: You heard.
seth: I’m not young Seth anymore, John, he is.
barbara: You mean this … this … (WRINKLES HER NOSE &FLUTTERS HER HAND TO INDICATE DISGUST) is my father; the great war hero you never stopped talking about? Doesn’t look much, does he?
john: Why didn’t you tell me?
shirley: I couldn’t. I was afraid.
shirley: What if I told you and you didn’t believe she was yours, or what if you believed me but hated me for getting pregnant?
john: Hate you? I loved you must have known that. She’s ours, I can’t believe it. She’s beautiful,Shirley. The baby’s beautiful. I can’t believe I’ve got a ready made, beautiful family.
barbara: Don’t kid yourself. You can’t just turn up out of the blue and lay claim on us! Uncle Seth’s been more of a Dad to me than you could ever be.
michael: (LOW ASIDE TO BARBARA) Leave it Barb. John’s alright. I remember him from way back.
seth: He was a good lad, Barbara. He was good to your Aunty Jeanie and he loved your mam from the first day he saw her. He wrote regular asking about her but she wouldn’t let us say anything.
barbara: Ugh! Pardon me while I throw up.
john: (to shirley) If only you’d told me. I was going to propose, that night at the dance…
shirley: Well I wish you had, John Daniel Witton. It would have saved an awful lot of trouble for more than one person in Wigton.
barbara: And if you thought so much of her, how come you never came back?
john: I couldn’t. I was hurt and angry. And when my war was over…well look at me…who would want this.
shirley: It would have been nice to have been given the choice.
lights down. all exit.