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Playwrights - The Seedlings

The year is 2040

The Scene is set in a potting shed at the bottom of Stan’s back garden. Stan is standing at the potting bench potting on seedlings. Ada is sitting at one of two old wooden chairs beside a small table. There are bottles of beer on the table together with their plastic lunch boxes. Ada has one eye on the Daily Mail which she is reading and the other eye on Stan.

CHARACTERS

Stan: Age 85.

Ada (Stan’s wife): Aged 84.

Ada: What you potting up there Stan?

Stan: Ask no questions, told no lies my dear. But I’ll tell you one thing they’ll be good little earners on the black market later in the year, and they grow like topsy – plenty of light and a regular feed – that’s all they need. They’ll soon green up. Come on my little beauties (Stan addresses the seedlings).

Ada:: You can get arrested for that, you know Stan. How long is it? Five years for a first offence and ten for a second. It’d see you out! And what would I do on me own?

Stan: It’ll not come to that, old love. Trust your Stan.

Ada: (Reading the paper – rattle paper) That bloody Chief Medical Officer is at it again Stan. Guess what’s not good for us today? Milk – that’s what. Before long we won’t even be able to have a bloody cup of tea.

Stan: If you listed everything that the bloody Chief Medical Officer has said over the years ain’t good for us on a toilet roll, it would stretch all the way round the M25. Bet you don’t remember the little bottle of milk that we had every day in the morning break at school?

Ada: You’re going back some Stan! I hated milk in them days. And those bloody secret police prefects. They used to stand over the drains during the breaks so that we couldn’t pour it away. Cheers anyway.

(Stan sits down and they both take a good long swig from the bottles on the table).

Ada: Good bit of stuff this, Stan. Can’t beat a bit of old fashioned dandelion and burdock. You always did make a good brew, if I say it meself.

Stan: And there’s plenty where that came from, Ada. The garden’s not all weeds for no reason. Always did like dandelions – pretty yellow flowers and spread their seeds everywhere. Got enough dandelions and roots out there to keep the two of us going ‘til doomsday – and that’s probably not far off.

Ada: You do know it’s a banned substance, don’t you Stan? The old Chief Medical Officer would have a field day if he knew we drank D&B.

Stan: who’s going to telling him, Ada?

Stan: You remember the milkman, Ada? I’m sure my old lady was having it off with ‘im. I used to count the milk bottles on the door steps when I went to school; nearly all the councils ‘ad two bottles on the doorstep every day. My old Mum had four pints a day and I don’t once remember her paying a milk bill. You remember milk bottles with the foil tops? Proper cream on top of the milk in those days, there was.

Ada: You remember the holes in the foil tops! Them bloody bluebirds – talk about dawn chorus – most of ‘em was up before dawn having breakfast on the doorsteps; cheeky little beggars they were. And I’ll tell you what – you don’t see many of them bluebirds any more either. Little devils have got nothing to put a lining on their tums any more.

Stan: That was in the days when we had cows and they had udders, and milk came from a cow. Not like the plastic stuff they give us now. Got to go to the zoo now to see a cow, and I’ll bet my bottom dollar they don’t have udders anymore. Global warming, or some such bloody nonsense. Bloody shame.

(Stan and Ada take another swig from the bottle. Ada burps)

Ada: And what about butchers Stan? Do you remember them? You know those places where they used to sell meat? Remember that one down Carters Lane, just beside the market?

Stan: Bert the Butcher you mean? No-one could forget old Bert and his cleaver! All those carcasses hanging up out back, and that bloody great butchers block. I used to keep my distance from ‘im, but Mam got on well enough with ‘im. Mam used to choose the beef she wanted and ‘e used to mince it before our eyes. ‘e used to make good faggots as well – now they were a treat.

Ada: We had a dog in those days. Towser – that was ‘is name. A bit of this and a lot of that – that was old Towser. ‘e used to like going into the butchers too – you could take ‘em in with you in those days. There weren’t many times that old Bert didn’t find some scraps for Towser. And then me Mam used to buy lites to take home and cook for ‘im. You know the lungs from the sheep that no-one else would eat. But now we ain’t got no sheep, there ain’t no lites.

Stan: He had the best chickens as well. Come Christmas they were strung up from one end of the shop to another.

Ada: Those were the days Stan. I remember Christmas Day and all of us sitting round the table waiting for Dad to carve the chicken. Couldn’t afford turkey in those days. Ask the kids today what a chicken is or a turkey is and they look at you as though you’ve come from Mars. I don’t think there are any of them on Mars either – at least that’s what our grandson told me last time he went for the day.

Stan: When was it they banned meat, Ada?

Ada: Must be twenty years ago now – back in about 2020. That’s when we all had to eat that artificial stuff? Too many people getting obese; less calories, they said. Bad for the planet. Mind you I used to knock up some good stuff. Tasted a bit like sawdust but if you closed your eyes it wasn’t so bad.

Stan: Reckon we had ten years of that Ada, until the NHS couldn’t cope anymore – people were dropping like flies. You remember? You know what it was, don’t you? It was only a bloody fungus! Fungus – I ask you. Mycoprotein they called it. Myco my backside. Poison is what it was. Chief Medical Officer got egg on his face that year.

Ada: Myco what?

Stan: Mycoprotein . They discovered it north of the Watford Gap in the 60s. They grew it in bloody great vats and it came out looking like mince. They thought we’d all come out of the cabbage patch, but there wasn’t much choice. It was that or nothing.

(Stan and Ada drain the bottles)

Ada: Do you want to see what I’ve put in your lunchbox today Stan?

Stan: My Ada. This is a treat: Vegetable soup to start - let me take this pill first. (Picks first pill out of the lunchbox and swallows it). Chicken pie – you’re the best cook, you know that Ada? (Swallows the second pill). Green beans and tomatoes all rolled into one small pill. (Swallows the third pill). And what’s this? My favourite: Apple Pie and Custard? (Swallows the last pill and rubs his stomach). What are you having today?

Ada: Prawn Cocktail to start (Swallows first pill); Lamb cutlets (Swallows pill and Coughs) Must be the bones stuck in me throat! Brussel sprouts and creamed potatoes – it’s the colour I like (Swallows third pill). And to top it off – a little brown pill – chocolate mousse and cream (Swallows the last pill and licks her lips).

Stan: Not like it used to be, is it Ada?

Ada: No, Stan it’s not but we have to pretend and make the best of it, hey?

Stan: But it could be worse, Ada. (Stan winks and nods towards the seedlings). There’ll be a few bob in that lot and plenty for us too. Now what would you like me to put aside for us?

Ada: (Grins) Three pounds of tomatoes, two cucumbers, six lettuces, some of that beetroot, and we’ll have a couple of bunches of spring onions too! Bugger the food police and the Chief Medical Officer - we’ll lock the door and have a feast!

Stan: No sooner said than done, my dear.

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