Words Worth Hearing
A short play for Radio
By Connie Jensen
Lucy: thirties, Midlands or South East
Jim: thirties, faint North West
Guide: male or female, young
William Wordsworth: slight Cumbrian
Walter Scott: refined Lowland Scottish
EXT. THE ROAD FROM WHITE MOSS COMMON TO GRASMERE
sfx Heavy rain and tramping, squelching feet
LUCY: I’ve got cold water running down my neck! So much for your wonderful Lake District. I knew it would rain; it always rains in the Lake District! It’s never stopped since we got here!
JIM: We always had great weather when I was a kid, even in winter.
LUCY: That was a while ago now, and you probably had hair in those days! We should have gone for a bit of winter sun in Lanzarote with Mum and Dad
JIM: OK, OK- no need to rub it in.
LUCY: If we don’t find somewhere dry soon I’m going to cry. And then I’ll leave you..
JIM: You know you won’t Luce. Aha! Jim to the rescue, I seem to remember there’s a cottage along here somewhere- look you can just see it.
LUCY: We can’t just go up to a cottage and ask to be let in like babes in the wood.
JIM: No silly, it’s some famous writer’s place, National Trust or something…. (off mike now) I’ll run ahead and get tickets.
fx one set of footsteps fades away, running
Fx lucy sighing and squelching
LUCY: (Muttering)…. And one of my boots is leaking…
INT. DOVE COTTAGE
fx cottage ACOUSTIC. murmurs from other visitors. fade in the voice of the guide then fade under the other dialogue
GUIDE: ..just in here, this is the room William slept in ….
JIM: (Whispered) Wordsworth
JIM: You know: “I wandered lonely as a cloud…”
LUCY: There you go- clouds. It probably rained all the time in his day!
GUIDE: He brought his bride Mary Hutchinson here in 1802…
LUCY: That bed doesn’t look big enough for one, let alone two!
WILLIAM: I can assure you young lady, it suited me fine, and I am generally considered to be tall…
LUCY: You? Tall?
JIM: Hang on, I’ve never claimed to be tall, just perfectly formed!
LUCY: Then why did you suddenly say you were tall?
LUCY: Just then!
JIM: I didn’t open my mouth! You’re hearing things! Come on- she’s gone next door now; we’re behind.
GUIDE: … We make a point of only having objects and furniture that belonged to the Wordsworths here, so this is William’s actual couch…
WILLIAM: When oft upon my couch I lie, in vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude.
LUCY: I’m impressed Jim, I didn’t know you knew that much poetry.
JIM: Me? Poetry? What are you on about?
LUCY: But you quoted some just now, I heard you!
JIM: Have you got water in your ears as well as down your neck?
WILLIAM: Do not worry dear lady, you have a special gift. Very few folks who come here can hear us, but our voices are still here!
LUCY: You can’t be William Words…..
WILLIAM: At your service dear lady..
WILLIAM: (To himself) -Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky.
LUCY: That’s beautiful!
JIM: Are you talking to yourself again? It’s the first sign of madness you know! Come on we need to catch up again!
GUIDE: This little room was often used as a guest room. The Wordsworths entertained all the great writers of the day, amongst them, Samuel Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott… and ..
LUCY: Look Jim, it looks as if it’s on the ground floor, but we’ve just come upstairs!
JIM: It’s built into a slope silly- they have hills as well lakes here!
LUCY: You could easily climb out of the window!
WALTER: Oh dear, you’ve found out my little secret!
LUCY: (Tentatively) Er.. William?
WALTER: Shush my dear- don’t let on- he never found out at the time, and I don’t want him to know now!
LUCY: Found out what?
GUIDE: Sir Walter Scott shut himself in this room while he worked on his poem Marmion. He issued instructions that he was not to be disturbed under any circumstances.
WALTER: (Chuckles) I didn’t want to upset them you see; thoroughly good people of course, and he wasn’t a bad writer, but oh dear… the food!
LUCY: The food?
GUIDE: Dorothy boasted that they always had three hot meals a day..
WALTER: …and two of them were porridge!
LUCY: Didn’t you like porridge?
WALTER: Frugal soul- she used to dry out the tea-leaves and cooked nothing but boiled potatoes and thin broth.
LUCY: Who did?
WALTER: Dear Dorothy.
LUCY: I thought you all used to eat roast beef in those days.
WALTER: Precisely, so that’s why I had to make my escape!
WALTER: Through the window- as you noticed, it’s near the ground.
WALTER: ..to get a decent roast meal at the Swan of course, which is what I suggest you do young lady.
LUCY: Is there a pub near here?
WALTER: It’s only a half a mile away on the road to Keswick.
WILLIAM: I used to go to the Red Lion in the village. Better ale than the Swan.
WALTER: William! You’ve been listening!
WILLIAM: I knew all along old friend, but don’t tell Dorothy! I used to wonder that you got out so easily- with your leg, and you’re even taller than I am!
WALTER: The will to do, the soul to dare!
WILLIAM: She was always such a marvellous manager, but even I tired of boiled potatoes!
WALTER: And the interminable porridge!
WILLIAM: Do not go on so my friend- I never did enjoy such an income as you did from your poems.
WALTER: (Modestly) Well, The Lay of the Last Minstrel was rather a success. But why the Red Lion- The way was long, the wind was cold..
WILLIAM: It was certainly no further than the Swan!
Fade out as they bicker gently, and their voices become murmurs which fade into the general murmur
LUCY: Listen- let’s get out of here, it gives me the creeps. There’s a good pub just down the road.
JIM: How did you know there was a pub near here? I didn’t know there was pub!
LUCY: You don’t know everything you know!
JIM: OK, you win. Lead the way Lucy!
WILLIAM: Lucy? Lucy….