Fatty & Skinny Meet a Woman

                      FATTY & SKINNY

- mythical figures from the non-indigenous dreamtime -

             MEET A WOMAN (1960-1970)

The 2nd play in the FATTY & SKINNY series:

1. "FATTY and SKINNY Go To Work (1950-1960)"
2. "FATTY and SKINNY Meet A Woman (1960-1970)"
3. "FATTY and SKINNY Go To War (1970-1980)"
4. "Vote 1 FATTY for PM (1980-1990)"
5. "FATTY and SKINNY Become Rich And Famous (1990-?)"

(c) Tim Gooding May 2006


A minimum seven actors are required, some in multiple roles. Males double some female roles.

  • BRIAN (Skinny) O'BRIEN

Scene 1

(Upstage: The Bay cemetery. A shovel leans on a headstone marking the grave of Ron's father. A shirt hangs on the shovel. A second shirt hangs on an early model lawnmower.

Downstage: The Bay beach, denoted by the sound of surf, the squawking of gulls.

Upstage: Unseen dogs bark. RON and BRIAN enter, shirtless, untanned skin, longish greasy hair, cut-off jeans.

RON: (FATTY): 19. Rotund. Violent red hair, translucent pink eyelids to match. An antipodean Billy Bunter bursting from, overflowing, his jeans. His exposed upper body exhibits the "moon-tan" - with red freckles - of an underground miner.

BRIAN: (SKINNY: 19. Thin, weedy. Tightly belted jeans crinkle at his underdeveloped waist. Head and neck like a cartoon tortoise. "Moon-tanned".

Brian's wrist is in plaster. He shoulders a radio blaring early 1960s 'rocker' instrumentals: Duane Eddy, Link Wray..

Ron carries several full brown paper bags. The barking of unseen dogs intensifies.

AUB GILLIES enters, violently blowing a whistle.

AUB GILLIES: 35. Leathery Beach Inspector. Bleach-white shorts, blue singlet, broad-brimmed hat with blue band. Zinc nose. )

GILLIES: Get those mongrels off my beach!

RON: They're not on the beach, Aub. They're in the cemetery.

GILLIES: Crapping on the dead, are they? See that's where they stay crapping.

RON: Stay, Prince. Stay, Blackie. Stay, Tessa. Stay. Stay.

(The unseen dogs howl reluctance. Gillies draws a line in the sand with his foot.)

GILLIES: If one of your furry friends crosses the line and craps on my beach again, I'll bait the lot of them.

(The unseen dogs bark angry protest.)

GILLIES: You heard, you mangey mutts. Mangey mutts want nice juicy strychnine?

RON: Home, Prince! Home, Blackie! Home Tessa!

(Gillies rushes at the dogs, whistling aggressively.)

GILLIES: Go on, get out of it, you mongrels!

(The unseen dogs bark savage refusal. Gillies backs off.)

GILLIES: I'll bait the lot of them!

RON: Home, Prince! Home, Blackie! Home Tessa! Go home! Go home!

(Howling disappointment, the dogs recede.)

GILLIES: And you can turn that bloody thing off too, before I confiscate it!

(Brian turns the radio off. He inserts his plastered wrist inside a plastic bag and ties it, watertight, pre swim.

Ron takes an array of pies, sausage rolls, pasties, cream buns from the bags. Arranges in order of consumption.)

BRIAN: Any rips today, Aub?

GILLIES: Rips, bluebottles, a migrating school of hammerheads and a sandbar about to collapse. I've got the bloody lot.

(Gillies continues his grizzling patrol up the beach. Brian removes the plastic bag from his wrist.)

BRIAN: I'm not going in.

RON: He was having you on. Aub's a card.

BRIAN: That looks like a rip to me. The paper said it's hammerhead season. They had this photo of hundreds of them, taken from a plane.

RON: That photo was taken in 1928. By Smithy. Near Hawaii. Hammerhead is delicious.

BRIAN: Beer batter: Hunter Old. Sea salt. Squeeze of lemon.

RON: Chips.

BRIAN: You going in?

RON: I have to wait two hours for my lunch to digest.

BRIAN: You'll be hungry again by then. You never go in.

RON: These buns are bloody good, mate.

BRIAN: It's the jam.

RON: And the cream.

BRIAN: I use a blend of Mrs Jones' blackberry and Mrs Vella's plum and cumquat.

(PHYLLIS WILLIS enters. With (unseen) toddler, DOT.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: 19. "Queen Of The Bay". Strawberry blonde, pale, powdered skin. American style hair and makeup. Hawaiian print smock, hat, accessories.

She seems not to notice Ronn and Brian as she passes. She spreads a towel on the sand, downstage.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis. Mate, Phyllis Willis.

RON: Phyllis Willis?

(The sight of his long-time flame drives Ron to nervy consumption of a hot pie. He burns his mouth.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis's come down from Snob Hill. Something's up. Something's gone wrong.

(Phyllis Willis walks to the water's edge with bucket and spade, and plays with (unseen) toddler, Dot.)


RON: I know.

BRIAN: Goldfinch's kid.

RON: I know.

BRIAN: Doesn't look much like Goldfinch. You sure you and she didn't..?

RON: You're the one who did it with her.

BRIAN: Only once. I knew she was yours, mate. I wouldn't mind another go. If it's all right with you.

(Phyllis Willis leaves Dot and returns to her towel. She strips off her smock, revealing a bikini of the time.

Ron gawks. Brian whistles weakly. Phyllis Willis ignores them, anoints herself with oil, and reads a paperback.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis?

(Brian edges closer.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis?

(Brian edges closer.)

BRIAN: Phyllis Willis? Don't go in the water. There's rips, bluebottles, a school of hammerheads and a collapsing sandbar.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Do I know you?

BRIAN: Brian? Brian O'Brien. Brian with an 'a', O'Brien with an 'e'. You broke both my arms at school with a full Nelson. I've got chalky bones.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: There's no such thing as chalky bones.

BRIAN: I mow lawns now. I do the cemetery, the bowling club, and the pit manager's lawn. Ron digs graves.

(Phyllis Willis produces her winning smile for the first time. Aimed directly at Ron.)


(Ron blushes, pie in mouth. Phyllis Willis reads her book.)

BRIAN: How's married life treating you?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Mind your own bloody business. I'm getting a divorce. He's a lying cheating bastard.

BRIAN: That's no good. (to Ron) She's getting a divorce, mate. What're you reading?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: "Tropic Of Cancer."

BRIAN: Any good?


(Gillies enters, patrolling. Phyllis Willis whistles loudly.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: (foghorn-like) Aub! Aub!!

(Gillies stops in his tracks. Stares.)

GILLIES: Flaming hell.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Any work going at the club, Aub? I pull a good beer. I need a job, Aub.

BRIAN: She's getting divorced, Aub.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'll clean the dunnies if I have to.

GILLIES: You can't wear that on this beach.

(He produces a tape measure and measures her bikini.)

GILLIES: A bikini bottom must be a minimum three inches wide at the hip and a maximum one inch below the navel. It's the law, Phyllis.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Come on, Aub. This is The Bay.

GILLIES: And it can't be knotted. It has to be sewn. Cover yourself or I will be forced to escort you from the beach.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You've seen me in the nude on this beach.

GILLIES: When you were little. I'm asking you to cover up or be escorted off.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You've been in the sun too long, you bandy-legged clown.

GILLIES: Provoking excitement in immature males is a dangerous game, girlie.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Don't call me girlie, you old goat. I'm the mother of a four year old child.

GILLIES: The Queen Mother's off the flaming beach if her bikini's not three inches at the hip.

RON: (closes eyes) I see the Queen Mother attending a nature camp not wearing a thing.

GILLIES: You're a disgrace, son.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Which immature male am I exciting, Aub?

GILLIES: I am officially escorting you from the beach.

(He tries to wrap a towel around Phyllis Willis. She dodges.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Are you two excited?

RON: I'm not excited.

BRIAN: I'm not excited. Not much.

(Gillies clocks the paperback on the sand.)

GILLIES: "Tropic Of Cancer"? That's a banned book. You're reading a flaming banned book dressed like that? In public?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Lend it to you when I'm finished.

GILLIES: It's going straight to the police.

(He snatches at the book. Phyllis Willis tosses it to Ron. He tosses it to Brian. Gillies becomes piggy-in-the-middle.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Dot! We have to go, sweetheart.

(Ron kneels behind Gillies. Brian pushes him backwards over Ron. Phyllis Willis escapes into the cemetery. Ron collects his pies. He and Brian follow Phyllis Willis to safety.)

RON: Cemetery, Aub. Demarcation.

(Gillies stops, having no jurisdiction over the line.)

GILLIES: You're banned from the beach. You and you and you. I'm calling the police about that piece of filth. And there's no work at the club.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Will this affect my chances of becoming a lifesaver?

GILLIES: And women can't be lifesavers.

(Gillies exits. The three sit by the gravestone.)

RON: Hungry? Homemade. Brian made them. Steak and kidney. Steak and mushroom. Lamb and peas with mint.

BRIAN: I bake every day.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: (to unseen Dot) Watch out for that hole! Stay where I can see you.

RON: That's Short Owen Jones's hole.

BRIAN: Short Owen's dusted. Lungs like concrete. Won't be long.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Lucky you got kicked out of the pit.

BRIAN: We didn't get kicked out. We quit.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: My ex husband said you got blackballed because you were scabs. But Gerry's a lying cheating bastard, so..

BRIAN: I thought World War 3 was starting and we'd run out of coal because of the strikes. Goldfinch tricked me.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You and me both. You know he wore his father's medals that night you caught us in the dunes? His family made me eat in the kitchen.

BRIAN: Because you were common?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: He's a snob lying cheating bastard. Plus he's tight as a fish's arse. We're out in the snow, me and Dot. Without a penny. He reckons Dot's not his daughter.

BRIAN: She doesn't look much like him. I mean, it's good Dot's got your looks. Because he's ugly. I have to mow the bowling green.

(Brian exits, with a backward glance at Ron and bikini'd Phyllis Willis. Gives Ron a lewd gesture of encouragement.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: (re gravestone) Is this your father?

RON: He wanted us to work together.

PHYLLIS WILLIS You're funny. Do you still see through your eyelids? What do you see?

(Ron closes his eyes.)

RON: Food, mostly. Food past, present, and future. Food in historical events. The Chicken Maryland getting cold in the dressing room as Miss Australia is crowned Miss International Beauty. The hundreds of abandoned Ham Steak and Pineapples as Sandra Nelson walks topless through the streets of Sydney. The Spaghetti Bolognaise which will go to waste as huge crowds greet the appearance of Australia's first woman Prime Minister on the steps of Parliament House. That sort of thing. Other times I see sense. When there isn't any. Or vice versa. Like football. Football doesn't make sense. It just looks stupid. Until I close my eyes.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Is Brian a poofter?

(Ron chokes on his pie.)

RON: No. I don't think so. Do you?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: He bakes every day. That says something.

RON: His mother's sick.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: She's always sick. He said she was sick and ran away when I dacked him in the dunes. I was drunk. It was dark. I thought he was someone else. I bet he told you me and him did it.

RON: No.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: It's his mother's fault I got pregnant. She was Gerry's girlfriend but he got sick of her being sick. I only married him to get out of this place.

RON: I'm saving up for a boat.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm flying out. To London. To work in a boutique in Carnaby Street. After I get a job here and save the dosh. Swinging England, here I come.

RON: (closes eyes) I see you wearing a red white and blue plastic dress, with cutouts, dancing at Eel Pie Island with one of the Rolling Stones.


RON: (eyes closed) The club is dark and filled with smoke. He's wearing a fur coat.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: What happens next?

RON: (eyes closed) He takes you outside and gives you a rollie.


RON: (eyes closed) I lose you in the fog.



PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm sorry I was mean to you in school. I was a bitch.

RON: You just say what you think.

PHYLLIS WILLIS:  I was a bitch at that dance. Where Gerry got me up the duff.


PHYLLIS WILLIS: The pit, the club, the cemetery. That's the job scene in The Bay. Plus going on the game.

RON: You won't go on the game.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: No women miners in The Bay. No women gravediggers. And I just dipped out with the club president.

RON: Don't go on the game.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm going on the pill. Wish it was invented four years ago.

RON: Is it safe?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Safer than ending up with ten kids.

RON: You're the Queen of the Bay.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I should've married you. You're different to the rest.

RON: I'm not that different.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: We have to get out of The Bay.

(Gillies enters, at a distance, on patrol.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Maybe if I give Aub one in the office. Yuk.

RON: I'll talk to him for you.


RON: Hide. Quick. Where's that book? Quick. Before he sees you.

(Phyllis Willis hides behind the gravestone.)

RON: Mr Gillies?

GILLIES: She gone? She'll come to a flaming sticky end, that one.

RON: She said give this to the police. She said sorry, she didn't know it was filthy. Lucky she hadn't started reading it. Goldfinch gave it to her.

GILLIES: That'd be right. Bastard. Have you read it?

RON: Goldfinch gave her the bikini too. He makes her wear it around the house. When she's vacuuming. And when they have big wig visitors.

GILLIES: You're having me on. Is he an animal or what?

RON: Now she's kicked out and looking after Dot, she can't afford a decent cozzie so she's going to St Vinnie's in Swansea this arvo to get a proper second hand one.

GILLIES: I'm flaming glad to hear that, son. I knew she wasn't all bad.

RON: You know Goldfinch tricked her into marrying him? He got her pregnant on Anzac Day, when she was vulnerable, by pretending his father's medals were his.

GILLIES: He wasn't even in the war, was he?

RON: Mine management. Protected occupation.

GILLIES: Bastard. Us miners were protected too. We still went. From mine fodder to cannon fodder. Flaming bastard.

RON: Phyllis Willis has had a big fall, Mr Gillies. She's trying to make a new life.

GILLIES: She your girlfriend?

RON: No.

GILLIES: You say she's divorced?

RON: Getting one.

GILLIES: Tell her to see me at the club. I'll give this to the cops.

(Gillies exits.  Phyllis Willis emerges and embraces Ron.)

Scene 2

(Weeks later. Darkness. Faint dance music. A distant light.

Gillies - bowls jacket over beach inspector gear - enters with a large torch. Rigorously searches unseen bushes. Torchlight hits Brian, standing in the shadows.)

GILLIES: Flaming hell!

(Brian is clad early 1960s "scruffy",  early Rolling Stones style. Suit jacket, high-collar shirt, thin tie, boots. He rolls, lights, a cigarette.)

GILLIES: You look like the wild man from Borneo. What do you think you're doing lurking in the bushes?

BRIAN: Waiting.

GILLIES: You haven't got a girl in here, have you? You seen any underage kids hanging about?

BRIAN: They went thataway.

GILLIES: Every flaming dance some silly schoolgirl gets up the duff and some dill goes up on carnal knowledge. Or a whole flaming queue of dills. And the club cops a bad name. Flaming hell! What's this?

(Ron enters, in torchlight. With a Carnaby Fop makeover. Hairstyle, velvet pants, floral shirt, scarf, suede boots. But entirely the wrong shape, and somehow unconvincing.

Ron and Brian exchange the secret handshake: Ron's fist hits down on Brian's fist, Brian's hits down on Ron's, then both hit own foreheads with own fists: the old ice cream cone joke.

They continue towards clubhouse light as...

Scene 3

...a bar on wheels rolls into view, Phyllis Willis tending, and we are inside the club.

Ron and Brian  enter.

HUGHIE: MURDOCH, semi-sozzled, props up one end of the bar. Ron and Brian move circumspectly to the opposite end.

HUGHIE: MURDOCH: 50+. Ex Glasgow. Thick brogue. Bears somewhat cultivated resemblance to Lenin. Amiably violent, tending to hellfire-driven with alcohol. Historically aggrieved.

HUGHIE: (at the sight) Sweet baby Jesus. Just keep telling yourself, Hughie Murdoch, we don't know pain. We don't know pain.

PHYLLIS WILLIS Put a sock in it. You look groovy, Ron.

RON: I don't stand out too much?

(She puts a corduroy Beatles cap on his head.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Finishing touch.

(He returns the cap.)

RON: You're saving up for London.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I won't make bloody Swansea. You know he's paying me a third less than the blokes?

HUGHIE: Organise, lassie. Organise.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Go out in sympathy, will you?

HUGHIE: The pit men stand ready to show solidarity with our sisters in the hospitality industry. Equal pay for equal work.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Yeah, yeah. You old commos might be onside, but..

HUGHIE: I'm a middle aged commo, lassie.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: The rest of the blokes want their birds at home working for nothing.

RON: Me and Brian will go out in sympathy too.

HUGHIE: Sweet baby Jesus! The gravediggers and lawnmowers are going out too! Watch your back, lassie. Give the fat one a cake and the skinny one a fright, and they're solid as strike pay soup. Who's your rep?

(Gillies enters, with torch.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Haven't got one.

HUGHIE: You have now. You.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Aub? Can I have a word?

GILLIES: I saw some kids hanging round the dunny.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: How come I don't get the same pay as the men?

GILLIES: You stirring again, Murdoch?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm a good worker. I serve twice the beers because the punters all reckon they're going to crack on. And they have to get drunk before they're game. I should get extra.

GILLIES: It's the same everywhere. Except in Russia. You want to live in Russia? Like Hughie here?

HUGHIE: No-one wants to live in Russia, you daft sunburnt pillock. You've been reading the papers again.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm just asking for equal pay, Aub.

HUGHIE: Russia is a sad story. We don't know pain.

GILLIES: I'm doing you a favour, Phyllis. Because of your situation.

(Phyllis Willis emerges from behind the bar. Wearing a miniskirt. Males gawk.)

GILLIES: What is that? What is that you're wearing?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: It's a skirt.

GILLIES: It's a flaming handkerchief. You can't come to work in that!

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Two thirds the pay, two thirds the skirt.

(CHOCKO and MARIA enter.

ALBERTO "CHOCKO" VELLA): 30+. Ex Valetta, Malta. Residual accent. Olive skin. Pit ostler.

MARIA: 19. Ex Malta, recently. Plumpish. Dark skin.) 

GILLIES: Get behind the bar before somebody sees you.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I want to join the lifesavers too.

GILLIES: Get behind the bloody bar and stay there until closing!

(Phyllis Willis retreats, miming the reeling-rope-on-top-of-the-head lifesaving drill.)

GILLIES: Women aren't flaming strong enough to be flaming lifesavers.

(Phyllis Willis puts an arm on the bar, arm wrestle fashion.)

GILLIES: Do you want this job or don't you?

(Gillies exits, with torch.)

CHOCKO: Comrades.

(He leers at Ron/Brian. Animosity dating from the earlier pit strike.)

CHOCKO: (to Ron) You look like a train smash in a fruit shop.

HUGHIE: We don't know pain. Russians know pain.

CHOCKO: Maria's up from Sydney. Schooner of old and a shandy, Phyllis.

BRIAN: What do you think of The Bay, Maria?

MARIA: It is a pretty village.

BRIAN: Greatest little town God ever stuck legs on. Name's Brian. I'll show you round if you want.

CHOCKO: She doesn't want you showing her anywhere, scab.

BRIAN: Goldfinch tricked us, Chock.

CHOCKO: (to Maria) Stay where I can see you.

MARIA: I must go back tomorrow. I have work at the Royal Easter Show. I sell the pluto pups, the fairy floss, and the polly waffles.

RON: Are there lots of those jobs?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You don't want to work there. You'll make yourself sick. And I'd miss you.

HUGHIE: Who'll dig our graves for us Fatty? No-one digs a hole as comfy as you.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You speak good English for a Malteser. Where is Malta?

RON: (closes eyes) Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. The capital is Valletta. Summer is hot and dry, winter is cool and wet. Natural resources are limestone, salt, and fish. In 1915 miners from Malta were imported to The Bay because of a labour shortage.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Who are you trying to impress?

(Phyllis Willis scents a faint Ron/Maria chemistry..)

CHOCKO: My grandfather was with those miners.

BRIAN: How come he didn't go back after?

CHOCKO: The Prime Minister begged him to stay because he wasn't allergic to work.

(Gillies enters, a man with a mission, and a torch.)

GILLIES: Those flaming kids are hanging round the phone booth again, smoking like flaming chimneys.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I want to wear pants too, Aub. And drive a taxi. And join the army.

GILLIES: You can finish up tonight if that's what you want.

(Gillies exits.)

BRIAN: Phyllis's boss is exploiting her because she's a single mother whose ex husband won't pay up because he's got a new floozy.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Who said he's got a floozy?

BRIAN: We're going out in sympathy. We're slapping a ban on the club. Tomorrow. We're quitting drinking until women get equal pay.

HUGHIE: I'll drink to that.

PHYLLIS WILLIS :A flock of pigs just flew over. Who told you he's got a floozy?

BRIAN: We'll drink at The Swansea instead.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: They underpay barmaids at The Swansea too, you moron. Do you get paid the same as men, at the Show?

MARIA: No. It is the same in Malta.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: It's the same everywhere.

RON: We'll quit drinking altogether.

BRIAN: We'll quit drinking altogether.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You're full of it. You'll quit drinking altogether?

BRIAN: If that's what we have to do.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: What do the rest of you think?

HUGHIE: We need a meeting.

CHOCKO: We don't need a bloody meeting. I'm not stopping drinking. Stopping drinking is unAustralian.

HUGHIE: You're fooking Maltese.

CHOCKO: It's unMaltese too. I'm as Aussie as you, you haggis guzzling commo.

HUGHIE: We're having a meeting and if the meeting votes to go out, we go out. Top up your beers and over here.

(Phyllis Willis tops them up. They exit/retreat to a corner.)

HUGHIE: What do you two think you're playing at?

RON: It just came out.

HUGHIE: Put it back in.

MARIA: (to Phyllis Willis) Do you have wine?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Wine? What sort of wine? Sherry? Port? Muscat?

MARIA: I do not know another word for wine.


MARIA: It is made from grapes.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Wogs tread on them and out it comes, yeah? Der. Pardon my french. No-one in The Bay drinks the stuff.

MARIA: I will have a glass of water please.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: They all as fussy as you back in the old country? You with Chocko?

MARIA: I am Alberto's niece.

BRIAN: Alberto!? Is his name Alberto? Is your name Alberto?!

MARIA: What is it you call him?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Chocko Short for chocolate. Chocolate frog? Skinny's trying to crack on to you.

MARIA: Crack on?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: He'll go anything. He's got chalky bones. Don't do The Twist with him. He'll end up talcum powder on the floor.

MARIA: The big one dresses well.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: That's because I dress him.

(She finds a long-opened bottle of red wine. Pours a middy.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: It's not cold. You want ice in it? How can you drink this stuff?

MARIA: You are going to the dance?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Working. I'm a mother, aren't I?

MARIA: You are young to be a mother.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: He forgot the frenchies and the pill wasn't invented. The Bay reckons I got what's coming to me.

MARIA: My uncle says the big one can see through his eyelids.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Keep your beady eyes off the big one. Or you'll get what's coming to you. You on the pill?

MARIA: The Pope says it is wrong. I tried but the doctor told my mother.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You might as well know now. Mixed marriages don't work in The Bay. Except maybe with Skinny. You can do what you like with him.

(The men return. Place their empty glasses on the bar.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Do I pull more beer or don't I?

HUGHIE: The issue was thoroughly canvassed, lass. We cannot see it working.

CHOCKO: It was unanimous.

BRIAN: It was the drink talking.

RON: If we stop, you'll lose your job.

(Phyllis Willis pulls a schooner.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: We get paid less so we can never save enough to live without you bastards.

(She plonks the schooner on the bar. It is only two thirds full.)

CHOCKO: What's this?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Two thirds of a schooner.

CHOCKO: Good one. Now fill her up, girlie.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: That's all you're getting.

HUGHIE: Two thirds the price?


HUGHIE: Aub! Get yourself in here! Aubrey!

CHOCKO: Gillies!

(GOLDFINCH, not Gillies, enters.

GOLDFINCH: Late 40s. Ex Nottingham and London. Managerially educated accent. Work suit. Cut from superior cloth (for The Bay) but not toffee-nosed. Soft cop.)

HUGHIE: Look out, lads. The Nottingham toecutter's here. We broke the stay-in record, didn't we, Goldie?

CHOCKO: 203 hours. An hour for every man who still lost his job. And a couple more for the scabs.

(Goldfinch approaches Phyllis Willis. A hush descends.)

GOLDFINCH: What do you think you're doing?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Got another floozy, have you?

GOLDFINCH: Who's looking after Dot?


GOLDFINCH: Is she sober? I'm surprised your mother's not here.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Another sixteen year old, this one? Or have you gone back to Skinny's mum? Don't knock her up too.

(Phyllis Willis emerges from behind the bar.)

GOLDFINCH: What on earth are you wearing?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I can't afford clothes, can I? Sewed it myself. Cut up an old curtain. I made Dot a dress out of a teatowel. What do you want?

GOLDFINCH: To see for myself. And talk some sense into you. Come home. We can work something out.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You're too old for me.

GOLDFINCH: You're the mother of a four year old child.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I can still have a life.

GOLDFINCH: Is that what the skirt is in aid of? You're a disgrace. I'm taking Dot home.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You'll have to find her first. I'm not stupid, Gerry.

HUGHIE: I think I saw the wee lass at Mrs Clutten's, Goldie.

CHOCKO: That can't be right. I saw Dot ten minutes ago. On the bus to Swansea.

BRIAN: You sure it was Dot? I just saw her at Janice Jones'. Playing with matches under the house.

RON: I saw her in the cemetery with Wayne Burns and his pet Death Adder.

CHOCKO: Don't worry. She'll be with Peg Thorpe. Down the railway cutting. Flattening pennies on the tracks.

HUGHIE: Or at the Wisharts. Catching redbacks in a jar.

BRIAN: If you ask me, she's at Flipper Phillips' teasing his greyhounds.

RON: Flipper's dead. I weeded him today. She'll be with Betty Baker.

HUGHIE: Is Betty on the metho again?

(Goldfinch exits.)

Scene 4


Downstage: Ron, Brian, Maria smoke, share a bottle of beer, under a streetlamp. Ron devours a packet of Iced VoVos.

Upstage: Silhouetted/dimly lit, Phyllis Willis works. Gillies enters. He tries to kiss her. She resists. He backs off. She sits and cries. He sits by her. Tries to kiss her again. She breaks away and exits.)

MARIA: Will your girlfriend go home to her husband?

RON: Phyllis Willis isn't my girlfriend.

BRIAN: Bulltwang. You've been in love with Phyllis Willis since you saw her big blue undies in kindy.

RON: We're friends.

BRIAN: Men and women can't be friends. Something always happens.

MARIA: Phyllis Willis says you are taken.

(Phyllis Willis enters, at a distance. She sits and cries.)

BRIAN: Told you. Something always happens. Specially at dances. She's waiting for you, mate.

RON: (closes eyes) I see me waiting while she lies with her dress up under the white bridge with Jockey Jones. I see me waiting while she's upside down in the back row of the flicks with Cowboy Butcher. I see me waiting while her sand-covered body rolls in the dunes with Mine Under Manager Goldfinch.

BRIAN: She's not so fussy any more. She got her comeuppance. She wants you to put your arm around her, mate.

(Ron devours an Iced VoVo for courage. Goes to Phyllis Willis. She puts her head on his shoulder. He hesitantly puts his arm around her. )

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Aub sacked me.

RON: It'll be all right.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I wouldn't let him kiss me.

RON: It'll be all right.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: When I cried he tried to kiss me again.

RON: It'll be all right.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Bullshit. I'll always be a girl.

RON: Are you hungry?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm twenty! I'm not supposed to be a mother! I'm supposed to have a mother! Who's worried about me.

(They sit in silence.)

BRIAN: Show you the sand dunes now?

MARIA: I must stay with my uncle.

BRIAN: I really like your hair. It's shiney and black, like coal.

MARIA: You are a nice boy, Brian. But..

(Brian puts his arm around Maria.)

BRIAN: The dunes don't take long.

MARIA: I have the wrong shoes, Brian.

BRIAN: Just a pash in the bushes then.

(Chocko enters.)

CHOCKO: Get off her. Get your hands off. (to Maria) What're you playing at? Your papa said not to let you out of my sight.

(He shoves BRIAN:. Twists his arm.)

BRIAN: I've got chalky bones!

MARIA: Uncle Alberto - !?

SFX: A loud crack!

Chocko releases Brian. Brian dances in pain.)

CHOCKO: Bloody hell!

BRIAN: My arm! My arm! My arm!

CHOCKO: Sorry, mate. I warned you.

(Chocko notices Ron conceal a newly-broken dry stick.)

BRIAN: My arm! My arm! My arm - !

CHOCKO: I'll break every chalky bloody bone in your chalky bloody body. I'll smash in your chalky bloody skull. (to Maria) Get back inside and stay there.

MARIA: Uncle Alberto - !

(Brian exits, pursued by Chocko, pursued by Maria..)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm not going to London.

RON: (eyes closed) I see you catching a red double decker bus to Chelsea for an appointment with Twiggy's manager who spotted you on a Qantas flight.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm not going to London! I never was! I'm going somewhere else.

RON: (eyes closed) I see you in white jeans and white denim jacket with a red polka-dot shirt and black leather cap sitting up on the back of an open top MGB as it speeds round Nelson's column.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Shut up. You don't understand. I'm trapped. Like my stupid mother. Bloody Dot'll be the same. My mother had six of us! What if I end up having six too?

RON: (eyes closed) You won't have six.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Seven? Eight? Nine? Bloody hell.

RON: I hear a voice. It says history has other plans for Phyllis Willis. (eyes closed) I see a woman in a long black dress eat a plate of scones as she chains herself to a railing.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Who gave me the dress?

RON: (eyes closed) She's not you. I see another woman abandon a strawberry pavlova to hurl a bomb at a politician. Not you either. I see a third woman polish off a Chelsea bun then throw herself under horses galloping down the Derby straight.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: That's me. Dead.

RON: (eyes closed) No. I'm still in England in 1913.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Speed it up, Fatty. Get to me.

RON: (eyes closed) I see a huge plate of Brian's spaghetti bolognaise. In the distance a giant bonfire of women's undergarments burns out of control. And you're elected Prime Minister.

PHYLLIS WILLIS Tripe. I see massive sheets of tripe. I see me stuck in The Bay cutting up massive sheets of tripe, curdling white sauce, and forcing it down a tribe of bawling throats.

RON: Brian makes his white sauce really creamy, with parsley and wild peppercorns.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Brian's a pack of Omo. He's so desperate to prove he's not a Willie Woofter he's chasing wog birds.

RON: I'm getting a job at the Easter show.

(He points to distant clusters of coloured lights, flashing, whirling in circles, tracing patterns. Beautiful, alluring.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You fancy that wog girl too.

RON: I don't. You could get a job there too. We could work together.

PHYLLIS WILLIS I need a lot of money. Quickly.

RON: They pay overtime at night. And weekends. Plus I'll lend you what I make. You can pay me back when you get a job in London.

(Phyyllis Willis hugs Ron. Near tears. She continues holding him.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I don't have to go as far as London.

RON: (eyes closed) I see us find well paid jobs in a happy world of coloured lights, wild rides, rural smells, and tents teeming with misfits and human oddities on overtime and penalty rates.

(Brian enters. Limping and bandaged.)

BRIAN: I'm not working as a human oddity.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Is he coming with us?

RON: (eyes closed) I see Rikki and Tikki the Siamese Twins. Davy the Pinhead. Rita Two Heads. Perry The Human Lungfish. He eats bananas underwater. Prince Yuri the Three Legged Cossack. Dance, Yuri, dance! Maxine the Bearded Lady. Arachnia the Spider Woman. Jimbo the Half Man Half Woman. Brian the Human X-Ray!

BRIAN: I'm not working as a human oddity.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Who'd pay to see chalky bones? Serpentina the Snake Girl has no bones. Except in her skull.

(Brian faces inland. Ron and Phyllis Willis face the ocean.)

BRIAN: Looks good, doesn't it, The Bay? Snuggled down there with the smoke rising from the breakfast fires. Smell the bacon and eggs? How quiet does that cemetery look? Greatest little town God ever stuck legs on. Are we mad? We can't leave The Bay! The rest of the world wants to move in, not out. If we leave, that makes room for three outsiders.

(Ron offers the secret handshake to Phyllis Willis.)

RON: (to Phyllis Willis) Tomorrow?

BRIAN: The secret handshake is men only.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Not any more.

(She completes the handshake. Ron offers the handshake to Brian. He is rteluctant..)

BRIAN: What if the human oddities are dirty? What if they carry germs?

RON: What if you go to school in your jarmies? What if there's a fire and your undies aren't clean? What if you stop wetting yourself at every little thing?

(Goldfinch enters.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Couldn't find her, could you?

GOLDFINCH: (contrite) A mother shouldn't be working behind a bar. Not the mother of my child anyway.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I got the sack. You are the father now, are you?

GOLDFINCH: I was angry.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm going away, Gerry.

GOLDFINCH: With these two?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You can pick up with Skinny's mum again.

BRIAN: I don't know if I'm going yet.

GOLDFINCH: Do they know why you're going?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: They know enough.

GOLDFINCH: I want to talk to you.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I don't want to talk to you.

GOLDFINCH: Yes, you do. Five minutes. Then you can do what you like.

(Phyllis Willis and Goldfinch. Brian consoles a worried Ron with a Weston's Wagon Wheel..)

BRIAN: What'll happen to my mum if I'm not around?

RON: She might get better. Maria will be at the show.

BRIAN: My mum'd have a fit if she saw me with a black girl.

RON: You like girls though, in general, don't you?

BRIAN: Who says I don't like girls?

RON: No-one.

BRIAN: If you're talking about that time down the creek..

RON: I'm not talking about that time down the creek.

BRIAN: I thought we were mates. Just because I've got chalky bones. I gave Phyllis Willis one. I gave them all one. Never had any complaints.

(Brian angrily offers the handshake. Ron completes it. Brian injures his thumb.

Phyllis Willis enters.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Ron! The most amazing thing has happened! Gerry's seen sense at last. He's paying for me to go to London after all!

Scene 5

(Coloured lights glow, flash, whirl giant circles, travel snake-like patterns..

SFX: A sound collage: farm animals; rodeo noises; rattles/screams from mechanical rides; clatter of pinballs; a distorted recording of "Ride the Ghost Train!..

Ron enters, laden with sample bags, wearing a Showworker's dustcoat.)

RON: Sample Bags! Get your sample bags here! Sample Bags!

(SFX: A distant metallic rolling. Like a runaway coal skip? Getting closer. Louder.

Ron panics, but on the spot. A Ghost Train carriage enters (redressed coal skip) powered - or unsuccessfully slowed - by Brian. Wearing a Skeleton Suit. En route to the repair shop.

Brian's injured thumb is in a special sling.)

BRIAN: Ghost Train! Ride the Ghost Train!

(He all but runs Ron down.)

RON: Shite!

(Ron approaches Brian, in a fury.)

BRIAN: Chalky bones! Chalky bones!

RON: A runaway skip killed my dad!

BRIAN: Sorry. Sorry. I forgot. Owe you a meringue. With a maraschino cherry.

RON: Jimbo's looking for you.

(Brian - instantly jumpy - looks left and right.)

BRIAN: Jimbo! Jimbo chased me into the Mirror Maze and tried to kiss me! All he got was glass. I was in there dodging him for two hours. He's been after me all week.

RON: He says he's a harmless Half Man Half Woman.

BRIAN: Which half is after me? Listen, good news, mate. The Suez Canal is closed. The Ahabs and the 4 be 2's are at it again. Phyllis Willis's postcards, mate? They're not getting through! She misses you heaps. A whole shipload of postcards is on its way, mate.

(A whip cracks, off.)

BRIAN: Jimbo!

(Brian hastens to exit. Too late. JIMBO enters.

JIMBO: Sideshow performer of ambiguous gender. Big, swarthy, unisex or 50/50 garb, gold chains, whip. Gender/ethnic background may be fraudulent.)

JIMBO: Brian! There you are, dear chalky boy. Voil‡! Two tickets for the opening of "Hair". The Minister of Police will be there. We must see the show before it is raided. Do say yes. Jimbo is a harmless Half Man Half Woman.

(He pinches Brian's bottom.)

BRIAN: Repair shop.

(Brian exits, hurriedly, with the Ghost Train carriage.)

JIMBO: Brian?

(Jimbo displays a pickpocketed wallet. Brian returns.)

JIMBO: See what you do? You drive Jimbo back to his crazy Cairo backstreet ways. Have no fear, Brian. Jimbo is a happily married Half Man Half Woman. He is just dotty about you.

JIMBO pinches BRIAN:'S bottom again. BRIAN: exits.)

JIMBO: The skeletal boy is slippery as an eel.

(Jimbo exits, following Brian.)

RON: Sample Bags! Get your sample bags here!

MARIA: (off) Pluto Pups. Pollie Waffles. Fairy Floss. Delicious Pluto Pups here.

(Maria enters, with tray.)

MARIA: Pluto Pups. Polly Waffles. Fairy Floss. Ron? Is that you? Hi!

RON: Maria! Hi.

(The chemistry scented by Phyllis Willis resurfaces.)

MARIA: Pluto Pup? Polly Waffle? Fairy Floss? Take two. You made it out of The Bay.

(Ron takes three Polly Waffles.)

RON: I made it out of The Bay.

(Brian enters. Wary of Jimbo. Nervously rolling cigarette.)

BRIAN: I made it out too.

RON: Brian's going to the opening of "Hair" with Jimbo.

BRIAN: Freaks like him should be banned. Or put on that island.

MARIA: Jimbo is a harmless Half Man Half Woman. You've lost weight.

BRIAN: I drive the Ghost Train, babe. Want to ride the Ghost Train with the Skeleton Man, foxy lady?

MARIA: I have a headache, Brian.

BRIAN: Skeleton Man's afraid of the dark, babe. How about it?

MARIA: I am working, Brian.

BRIAN: It's smoko in five minutes. Your spooky carriage awaits, foxy lady. Show you the Mexican drawback?

(He inhales, drops the cigarette, stomps on it, dance-style.)


(Then kisses Maria, as a concluding move. Jimbo enters.)

JIMBO: We could go to Les Girls instead.

(Brian puts his arm around Maria.)

JIMBO: Found a beard, have we? It will only end in tears, my Maltese kewpie. Hands off.

(Brian exits, left.)

JIMBO: Slippery as an eel. I'm just dotty about him.

(Jimbo exits, left.)

MARIA: How is Phyllis Willis?

RON: She went to London.

MARIA: For long? You are sad?

RON: No. No. We're friends, that's all.

MARIA: I like it how in Australia men and women can be mates.

(Brian enters, right.)

BRIAN: Maria. Help me?. Ride the Ghost Train with me and tell Jimbo I was all over you like a rash. Please?

(Jimbo enters, right.)

BRIAN: Ghost Train, smoko. It's a date.

(Maria reluctantly nods. Brian kisses her and exits, left.)

JIMBO: Have you tasted his passionfruit flummery?

(Jimbo exits, left.)

MARIA: Will you come with me? On the Ghost Train? I do not like to be alone with Skinny. He gets the wrong idea.

(She takes Ron's hand.)

MARIA: I think you are lovely, Ron.

RON: Me too. You.

MARIA: Another Polly Waffle?

(Maria leads Ron away...They meet Brian entering, pushing a Ghost Train carriage..and we are at the ride site.)

BRIAN: Ride the ghost train! Ride the - (sees Ron) Maximum two people per carriage. Or one fat person. Ron, you go first.

(Brian hustles Ron aboard, shoves the carriage on its way.)

MARIA: He can't go on his own, Skinny!

(Shequickly squeezes in with Ron: as the carriage exits.

Brian, alone, hears Ron and Maria scream loudly, off. Again, fainter. Again, fainter. .

Jimbo enters,)

JIMBO: This can't go on, Brian.

BRIAN: Yes, it can. Ron! Maria!

JIMBO: Why do you deny the chemistry between us? You feel the bubbles rising. I know you do.

BRIAN: Jimbo, you're a top Half Man Half Woman. I like you, mate, but -

(A final scream tails off inside.)

BRIAN: All right in there?

JIMBO: We know not ourselves until we sample every sweet in love's lollyshop.

(The Ghost Train carriage enters, right. Empty.)

BRIAN: Ron! Maria! I'm coming in!

JIMBO: Methinks your rotund mate and the Maltese Siren do not wish to be found.

(Jimbo puts a restraining hand on Brian.)

BRIAN: Watch the collarbone! Ah!

JIMBO: Shall I tell you why you find disturbing the image of them naked and frolicking in sawdust? Because you saw him first.

BRIAN: No. No. I saw her first. And we're supposed to be mates.

JIMBO: The cry echoes through history.

BRIAN: He'll miss my meringues.

(Jimbo offers a consoling embrace.)

JIMBO: A faithless mate is unworthy of a single one of your meringues. May Jimbo gently soothe your betrayal over cocktails in his tent? Jimbo is a harmless happily married Half Man Half Woman. Why must you choose between man and woman? When both are right here, just dotty about you?

BRIAN: Ron! Help!

(Brian exits.)

JIMBO: Brian.

(He displays Brian's pickpocketd wallet. Brian hares in, seizes the wallet, and hares out again. Jimbo laughs and follows.)

JIMBO: The thrill of the chase.

Scene 6

(A shaft of light.

Ron and Maria sit under a blanket, surrounded by show food and the contents of many confectionery sample bags. Contentedly consuming.)

MARIA: Papa does not know I work at the Show. He thinks I am learning to cook at the Valetta Club.

RON: The show finishes tomorrow.

MARIA: I study at the Receptionist Centre. Papa does not know that either. We learn to speak properly and cross our legs and walk with books balanced on our head until we get married. Will you go back to The Bay?

RON: Who'll save Skinny's neck if I'm not around?

MARIA: Is Skinny afraid of Jimbo because he thinks he might be a girl-boy too?

RON: Skinny's scared of everything. He gave me his lunch on the first day of school because I looked after him. It was a fantastic lunch. Hobbsie the teacher warned us Skinny had chalky bones so everyone lined up to Chinese Burn him. I threatened to sit on them. Been mates ever since.

(Maria offers a stick of Fairy Floss to Ron, to share.)

RON: His fear makes me fat.

(They eat the floss together, their faces nearing.

BRIAN: enters, unnoticed. Collarbone in a sling. He watches the faces meet, kiss lightly, with sugary lips.)

RON: I think you're lovely too.

MARIA: Love can also make you fat.

(She whispers in Ron's ear. They crawl under the blanket, and embrace in a largeish mound.)

MARIA: I've got you. I won't let you go.

(Brian watches the mound change shape. He coughs.)

RON: Skinny?

BRIAN: Yes, mate.

RON: It's Skinny.

MARIA: Hello, Skinny.

BRIAN: Mate. Phyllis Willis is back from London. She's here. At the show. Looking for you.

RON: Skinny. Mate.

BRIAN: She left a message at the office.

(He delivers a crumpled note.)

BRIAN: She's waiting at the Ferris Wheel. She's in trouble.

MARIA: What sort of trouble?

RON: That's not her writing.

BRIAN: It's the office girl's. It says it's for you. There. I'll go if you're busy.

RON: I better go if she's in trouble.

(Ron exits.)

BRIAN: Sorry.

MARIA: You will still be mates, Skinny.

BRIAN: You've lost me.

MARIA: Is Phyllis Willis really at the Ferris Wheel?

(Brian sits beside Maria.)

BRIAN: Dead set, Maria, I tried to warn you. Ron and her are forever.

MARIA: He says they are just friends.

BRIAN: That's the Polly Waffles talking. Wave a Polly Waffle in front of Ron and he's anybody's. Not anybody's. I didn't mean it like that. Sorry.

MARIA: He is playing with me until she returns? Is that what you think?

BRIAN: He can't resist Polly Waffles. I told you men and women can't be mates. Not in The Bay anyway.

(He puts his good arm round Maria, consoling.)

BRIAN: Plenty more fish in the sea.

(The arm becomes more than consoling..as pheromonal proximity cuts in.)

BRIAN: You're gorgeous.

(He tries to kiss her.)

MARIA: Brian. No.

BRIAN: Just one little kiss? I'll help you forget Fatty. Just one -

MARIA: Get off me!

(She slaps him.)

BRIAN: It was an accident. What's wrong with me, anyway?

MARIA: I think you are trying to drive me away. You are afraid you will lose Ron. I think maybe you are in love with Ron.

BRIAN: We're mates! You just felt nice.

(Ron enters. Notes the tension.)

RON: She wasn't there.

BRIAN: She must've gone looking for you.

RON: She's still in London, isn't she?

BRIAN: I'm not making it up.

MARIA: You will still be mates, Skinny.

RON: (closes eyes) I see Phyllis Willis on Eel Pie Island, in a red white and blue plastic dress with cutouts, dancing with an unidentified Rolling Stone in a fur coat. They go outside to smoke and become lost in the fog.

(Phyllis Willis enters. She embraces Ron, while sobbing.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Ron. (to Maria) I need to talk to Ron. It's important.

(It's all too much for Maria. She exits.)

RON: Maria -

PHYLLIS WILLIS: (to Brian) I need to talk to Ron.

(Brian exits.)

RON: You are back.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I never went. I didn't want to say what the money was really for. I could sneak down to Sydney on my own and nobody'd know. Only now I have to go to Adelaide.

RON: Adelaide?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I can't do it on my own. Will you come with me? Gerry gave me money.

Scene 7

(Phyllis Willis and Ron wait.

Phyllis Willis wears a hospital gown..)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Beats a kitchen table in Swansea.


PHYLLIS WILLIS: I went to this place in Sydney. When I walked in the door the receptionist went white as a sheet. She just said "Go. Quickly." Fifteen minutes later the cops raided the place. Gerry is the father. In case you were wondering.

RON: How come he had to work today?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You're a good man.

RON: Are you going back to The Bay, after?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: For a week or two. To rest up. Before London.

RON: You're still going.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Gerry's paying. He wants to get rid of me for good.

(A NURSE enters.)

NURSE: Would you like to come through now, Phyllis?

(Phyllis Willis takes Ron's hand.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Thanks, mate.

RON: I'll be here.

(Phyllis Willis and the Nurse exit.

Brian enters. He produces a concealed bottle of beer.)

BRIAN: Get this into you. I got you a rainbow cake too.

(Ron guzzles beer and devours cake, as lights fade to black.)

SFX: the roar of a jumbo jet taking off and receding..)

Scene 8

(A year later.

Brian changes into flared jeans, a tight tie-dyed t-shirt; Ron into flares and a loose hippy-ish shirt.)

RON: Not one postcard. In a year.

BRIAN: Today's the day, mate. You don't want to leave The Bay. I've got a 'stay by the letterbox' feeling.

RON: You stay if you want. I'm going down to the show. I'm off the hook, mate. The postie can whistle all he likes.

BRIAN: But you and Phyllis Willis are forever.

RON: I forget what she looks like.

BRIAN: You're low in sugar. Have some homemade Apple Charlotte.

RON: I'm not hungry.

BRIAN: It won't last. What if Maria isn't at the show this year? What if the sight of you makes her sick? What if she stabs you with scissors?

RON: I shouldn't have left it so long.

BRIAN: What's wrong with Bay girls?

RON: If Jimbo goes the grope again, tell me and I'll sit on him.

(Ron proposes the secret handshake. Brian completes it, without enthusiasm..)

Scene 9

SFX:  Reprise Easter Show sound collage.

Ron and Brian are in the front row of the audience as..

A sideshow backdrop - "Deadlier Than The Male" - unfurls upstage. Depicting ARACHNIA the SPIDER WOMAN, SALOME and her SEVEN VEILS, and MAXINE the BEARDED LADY.

(ARACHNIA, SALOME, MAXINE are factual characters. All played the 1950s/60s show circuit. Names have been changed.)

Jimbo enters, with MAXINE the BEARDED LADY, pushing a large wheeled case hidden under a dropcloth.

MAXINE: 20ish, long beard, body hair. Gruff, efficient, no nonsense.)

MAXINE: Will that be all, petal? Can I vacuum the tent for you?

JIMBO: Don't start, Maxine. Do not start. Hello, Brian. Stand back, boys! "Deadlier Than The Male" presents:

(Jimbo whips off the dropcloth.)

JIMBO: Arachnia The Spider Woman!

(ARACHNIA: Half-woman/half spider. A woman supplies a sexily made-up head, via strategic hole, to a large papier-mache spider body, mounted on a rope web, inside the wheeled case.)

ARACHNIA rears into 'strike' position. Brian faints.)

JIMBO: Half woman, half arachnid, abandon hope any man caught in her web. Arachnia mates, then eats her mate alive. Arachnia: child of a spider mother and an intrepid, foolhardy entomologist who became daddy, then dinner.

(Brian revives. Seems transfixed as Arachnia flirts with him.)

JIMBO: Is she an illusion or is she real? Careful, son. To desire is to flirt with death.

(Jimbo pinches Brian's bottom.)

JIMBO: Is there man among you brave enough to hold her in his arms? Buy a ticket, take the test! "Deadlier Than The Male" gives you three femmes fatales for the price of one! Presenting: Sexy SalomÈ and her Dance of the Seven Veils!

(SALOME - Maria, veiled - enters, dancing. She does not see Ron...)

JIMBO: Look at her go! Look at her go!, Look at those hipsy wipsy woos!

..Until she finds herself dancing in front of him.).

MARIA: You. Get lost.

(She dances away. Ron tries to follow her progress around the tent.)

BRIAN: Woo! Take 'em off! Hey, Salome! Take off your veils - !

RON: Skinny. Shut up.

(Phyllis Willis enters, unnoticed. (And now very different: short hair, no makeup, boiler suit, Doc Martens. English accent.)

Unrecognised, she watches Maria dance, and Ron follow.)

JIMBO: Salome's dance so enchants the portly young man he will grant her anything she desires.

MARIA: Get lost.

RON: Meet me after? Please?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Stop putting down women! Stop stereotyping women as men's fantasies!

JIMBO: Ignore her. Name your heart's desire, O beautiful Salome.

MARIA: (points at Ron) Bring me the head of John the Baptist!

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Bring me the head of a male chauvinist pig! Spider women, exotic temptresses, butch bitches. We all want to cut off your knackers, don't we?

BRIAN: Is that Phyllis Willis?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: You sexist pigs better start shakin', today's pigs are tomorrow's bacon!

RON: It is Phyllis Willis.

MARIA: It must be important.

BRIAN: She's gone mad. London's driven her mad.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I'm 110 per cent sane for the first time in my life. The weather was crap, it's filthy, you can't eat the food, the beaches are a complete joke. But I had my consciousness raised.

ARACHNIA: Cut the cackle, will you, girlie? It's bloody hot in here.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Don't call me girlie, you hairy-legged gender quisling. I'm not flaming Little Miss Muffett.

ARACHNIA: Ah! Cramp! I've got a cramp! Maxine! Get me out of here!

(Brian and Ron run to assist Arachnia.)

ARACHNIA: Get away! I'm not decent. Maxine!

(Maxine enters, notes the disarray, as she attends Arachnia.)

MAXINE: Oh, very professional, Jimbo.

ARACHNIA: Leg! Leg! Left leg!

JIMBO: That concludes the performance, ladies and gentlemen.

MAXINE: You couldn't keep flies at a shit picnic.

JIMBO: Oh, bite your tongue and poison yourself. Who rescued you from the quarter acre prison farm? Jimbo. Moi. El me. Do you want to go back to being a housewife?

MAXINE: I am a housewife! I just stand in a smelly tent looking hairy in my spare time. Then I clean it.

ARACHNIA: Maxine. Do you mind?

(Maxine returns attention to Arachnia. Maria lifts the veil covering her face.)

MARIA: (to Phyllis Willis) What's so important this time?

RON: Do you remember Maria?

MARIA: The Malteser. Chocko's niece. The wog plonk drinker.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Maria. Maria! Of course.

(She embraces Maria.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I apologise, sister. I felt threatened. I was insecure and possessive.

MARIA: Ron will always come when you call.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: No. Please. Let me say this. I parroted the bigotry of The Bay's chauvinist culture. I am ashamed.

ARACHNIA: Maxine. Do you mind?

(Maxine is again distracted, this time by Phyllis Willis.)

ARACHNIA: It's a swamp in here. I'll need talcum powder for the late show.

MAXINE: I'm boiling in my chin merkin too, you know.

(Arachnia emerges from her spider body, like Venus, to be cloaked with a towel by Maxine.)

JIMBO: I do miss the days of the genuine freak. I wonder where they go now? Reality is far too distasteful for the post-polio audience.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Especially in women.

JIMBO: Oh, who is this shrieking harridan? Go home, take a bex, and have a good lie down, dear.

(Phyllis Willis defiantly removes her bra. But retains her top.)

JIMBO: Oh my God! Oh my God!

BRIAN: This is getting weird, Ron.

(Phyllis Willis douses bra with petrol. Produces lighter.)

RON: She has gone mad.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Join me in a symbolic act of liberation, sisters.

BRIAN: There's a total fire ban! You'll burn down the tent!

JIMBO: Maxine. Call Darlinghurst police. Tell them to bring telephone books. The woman is clearly a deranged manhater.

BRIAN: What if a westerly blows in and the whole of sideshow alley goes up?

JIMBO: Maxine. Avoid eye contact. Walk slowly to me. Do not panic.

MAXINE: (to Phyllis Willis ) Sixteen years I've spent with that Half Man Half Woman. Sixteen years!

JIMBO: Maxine. Remember Sharon Tate.

MAXINE: Sixteen years I turned a blind eye to his broad spectrum philandering. Did he squeeze your rear? Yours? Yours? That's it. That is it.

(Maxine defiantly removes her bra. Retains her top.)

JIMBO: Are you saying you want a divorce?

BRIAN: What if blazing rural exhibits stampede into the SCG? The Members Stand is like heritage kindling!

(Phyllis Willis and Maxine turn to Maria: are you with us?)

MAXINE: Whip it out, Salome. (the bra)

MARIA: I am surprised that Phyllis Willis thinks a mixed Anglo-Malteser sisterhood will work.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: My enemy's enemy is my friend.

MARIA: Even if I do not like you?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: We are united by a common political oppression.

BRIAN: Who is the enemy?

RON: I think we are.

BRIAN: Us? Just us? What'd we do?

RON: I'm hungry.

BRIAN: Told you.

(Brian searches his pockets for edibles.)

BRIAN: What if Centennial Park is engulfed in flame? What if the entire metropolitan area is razed to the ground? Where will it end?

(Brian finds his pockets empty. He exits.)

MAXINE: Whip it out, Salome.

MARIA: (resistant) I must dance.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Salome perpetuates a male stereotype of women's sexuality.

MAXINE: I've got a spare lung bonnet in the van. You can burn that.

(Phyllis Willis douses Maxine's bra in petrol.)

JIMBO: I do fix the generator when it breaks down.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Ron is on our side. He's a woman in a man's body.

(She embraces RON.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I apologise, mate. You're my rock. I am the wild seabird who lands on you every now and then, to crap on you. Not any more. I am ashamed. I'm cutting you loose, mate.

RON: I've already cut myself loose. I forget what you look like.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Please. Let me say this. You've always been there for me, wanting to get into my pants, since kindy. So I used you. I see that now. The liberated me does not need to own anyone. Go to Maria.

RON: I am going to her.

SFX:  A loud rumble. Ron's stomach.

RON: Anxiety goes to my stomach.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: We'll always be mates. Go to her.

SFX: Another loud stomach rumble.

(Ron vacillates.)

RON: You could've sent a postcard.


(Brian enters with a large plate of spaghetti bolognaise.

Ron: looks at the spaghetti. Looks at Maria. At the spaghetti.

SFX: A very loud stomach rumble.

(Ron hoes into the spaghetti. Maria watches with incredulity.)

RON: I faint if I don't eat.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I almost forgot. I got you some duty free Belgian chocolate and a bottle of Grand Marnier.

(Which she presents to Ron. As he continues his spaghetti.)

RON: One postcard wouldn't have hurt. (closes eyes) I see the Queen in a Union Jack Mini Minor. She smiles and waves "Greetings from Swinging London". In the back seat long-haired corgis play guitars and sing "She loves you, arf arf arf!"

MARIA: Maltese expletive! (tba)

(Maria angrily removes her bra. Retains her top.)

MAXINE: Right on, whip it out, Maria!

MARIA: Maltese expletive! Papa bars me from the Receptionist Centre. Skinny molests me every time we're alone. You kiss me and whisper in my ear till your wild seabird calls then you disappear. For a year! Now you stand me up for a plate of spaghetti?
(to women) My patriarchy makes your patriarchy look like a flock of sissies!

RON: Nearly finished, Maria.

MARIA: You're too late.

(Maria grabs the petrol and douses her bra.)

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Are you angry, Maria?

MARIA: I am going back to Malta. To marry.

RON: Marry who?

MARIA: Someone's son. The son of a friend of my father.

MAXINE: Congratulations. Australian men are Neanderthals.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: Congratulations. We'll miss you.

RON: Someone you don't know?

MARIA: Mama says it worked for her. I will buy a return ticket, and give it twelve months. There will be no children until I am convinced.

(The women set the bras alight.)

BRIAN: They've all gone mad.

Brian exits with Ron's empty plate.

RON: (eyes closed) I see the ribcage of a mammoth barbecuing in the mouth of a cave. In the distance a woman invents the wheel.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: There is no need for sarcasm.

RON: A woman in a man's body?

PHYLLIS WILLIS: I said I'm sorry.

(Brian returns with a 1960s portable BBQ and more spaghetti.)

BRIAN: The state is a tinderbox!

(The women toss the burning bras on the barbecue.)

RON: (eyes closed) I see huge plate of Brian's spaghetti bolognaise as a giant bonfire of women's undergarments burns out of control.

PHYLLIS WILLIS: And I am elected Prime Minister.

BRIAN: (to Ron)  What did we do?

The End


© Tim Gooding
May 2006