Location: Garden Centre in West Yorkshire. Cafe. Interior. Day.
Annie - female, 83, white permed hair, glasses, smartly dressed in red M&S coat with shiny buttons, cream silk scarf, slacks and well polished shoes with a low heel.
Liza - Annie's Daughter-in-Law, 42, slightly overweight, untidy hair, scrubbed face, jeans, fleece top, boots (need polishing)
Annie sits at a table. Liza walks towards her carrying a tray loaded with plates: fish and chips, a panini, an enormous slice of chocolate gateau, and a pot of tea for two. Liza takes everything off the tray, arranges it nicely on their table and sits down.
Annie is slightly deaf and consequently talks loudly.
Annie (LOOKING AT HER PLATE): That's not a haddock. That's a blinking whale.
Liza: It's certainly a big piece of fish. Just eat what you can.
Annie: It would feed a family of eight. And a cat. And next door's cat. (PRODS AT IT WITH HER FORK). It won't even fit on the plate.
Liza: Leave what you can't manage.
ANNIE LEANS FOWARD AND PEERS CLOSELY AT THE FISH.
Liza (OFFERING HER OWN PLATE): Would you rather have my panini?
Annie: A sandwich? A sandwich on my birthday?
Liza: Or shall I get you something else?
Annie: What else was there?
Liza (DOUBTFULLY): We did go through the menu several times... You didn't fancy the hotpot.
Liza: Or the curry...
Liza: Or the jacket potato...
Annie: It is my birthday.
Liza: I suppose I could ask them to make you a salad...?
Annie: There's no substance in salad. It's why rabbits stay small.
Liza (GRABS A MENU AND SCANS IT HURRIEDLY): The carvery opens at 12.30
Annie: Well, if I'd known that.
Liza: I did mention it...
Annie: Money doesn't grow on trees. No wonder our Jonathan looks so stressed. (SHE LOOKS AROUND, CATCHES THE EYE OF A COUPLE SEATED AT ANOTHER TABLE AND NODS AT LIZA). I'm sat with Imelda Marcos here.
Annie: Wants to buy me two dinners! (CUTS INTO THE FISH). This batter is lovely and crispy.
Liza (WEAKLY): I -
Annie: I always have fish and chips when I come here.
Annie (POINTING HER KNIFE AT LIZA'S PLATE): That toastie looks dry. Wouldn't fancy it myself.
Liza (PICKING IT UP): I wasn't very hungry. Wanted something light.
Annie (WITH HER MOUTH FULL OF FOOD): I know it's Modern, but I've always thought it very unladylike to eat with your fingers.
LIZA PUTS DOWN PANINI QUICKLY AND PICKS UP HER KNIFE AND FORK.
Annie: And that tea'll be stewed.
LIZA PUTS DOWN HER CUTLERY, PICKS UP THE TEAPOT AND STARTS TO POUR
Annie: Milk first!
LIZA PUTS DOWN THE TEAPOT AND POURS MILK INTO TWO CUPS. THEN POURS THE TEA.
Annie (WORKING HER WAY THROUGH HER MEAL): I like the food here. It's a shame I don't get brought more often.
Liza (BRIGHTLY): The mirror in your hall. Is it new?
Annie: Four years old. But then you don't visit often, do you?
Liza (QUICKLY): I was here last month, Annie.
Annie: Not that you stay long when you do visit.
Liza: I have to get back for the children.
Annie: It'd be nice to see my grandchildren occasionally.
Liza: They're busy at weekends. Mandy's got a Saturday job, Connor's in a football team. Practice. Matches.
Annie: That should get some fat off him.
Liza: He's not fat.
Annie: I wouldn't know. I don't remember the last time I saw him.
Liza (UNDER HER BREATH): The last time you saw him you made him cry by calling him fat.
Annie: What's that?
Liza: I was wondering if you needed the salt?
Annie: Salt? No. High blood pressure. And cholesterol. And sugar. Getting old's no fun at all.
Liza: I can see that.
Annie (STABS A CHIP WITH HER FORK AND THRUSTS IT AT LIZA): Take this.
Liza: I'm fine. Thanks.
Annie: No take it. I can't eat all of them.
Liza: I really don't want any chips. Thank you.
Annie (PICKS UP HER PLATE AND SHOVES HALF OF HER CHIPS ONTO LIZA'S PANINI): There!
Liza (TRYING TO FIND HER PANINI UNDER THE MOUNTAIN OF CHIPS): I did say -
Annie: Oh, just eat 'em. It's not like you bother about your weight.
Liza: I -
Annie: Jonathan's first wife - Monica - she was all skin and bone. (BEAT). I was quite surprised when he brought you home.
Liza (PUSHES AWAY HER PLATE AND PULLS HER CUP OF TEA TOWARDS HER. SHE TAKES A DEEP BREATH): So. Have you heard from Molly?
Annie: Molly? No. She'll be in the Isle of Mann. Spends the summer there.
Liza: Any other of the old neighbours?
ANNIE CHEWS AND THINKS. (BEAT)
Annie: Well I got a postcard from Cliff and Marjorie.
Liza: Cliff and Marjorie?
Annie: Marjorie mainly. Cliff's been dead twenty year.
Annie: They lived opposite us in Bury.
Liza: When was that?
Annie: Before we moved to Kippax. (BEAT) We kept in touch. (BEAT). In those days, people were prepared to make an effort.
Liza (CALMLY): That's nice.
Annie: Kept in touch until Cliff had his... Had his.. (SHE PAUSES AND FROWNS). Well, I suppose you'd call it a mid-life crisis.
Liza: Mid-life crisis?
Annie (DOUBTFULLY): I suppose you'd call it that. (BEAT). Pass my gateau over.
Liza (PASSING OVER THE CAKE): Did he run off with someone?
Annie (OUTRAGED): Cliff? Cliff wouldn't do anything like that! (SHE LOOKS AT THE CAKE). Is there any cream?
Liza (CAREFULLY): Your cholesterol...?
Annie (CROSSLY): It is my birthday.
LIZA GETS UP, GOES TO THE COUNTER AND RETURNS WITH A JUG OF CREAM. ANNIE EMPTIES IT OVER HER CAKE.
Annie: It was a bit dry before.
Liza: It's nice to see your appetite's back.
Annie: I doubt I'll eat much tomorrow. Probably just a cracker. (BEAT). If that. When you're on your own, you don't feel like eating.
Liza (HURRIEDLY): So what happened to Cliff?
Annie: He started wearing women's clothing.
Annie: He said it was a joke, but it's not a joke when you fit your garage out with wardrobes and shoeracks, is it?
Annie: He had drawers full of long blonde wigs. (BEAT). He packed them when we went to Malta!
Annie: Harold was horrified. There we were in the bar, and in floats Cliff in a sequinned frock, gold shoes and a wig.
Liza: When was this?
Liza: Had he shown any signs before?
Annie (THOUGHTFUL): A few years earlier, he'd asked what denier my stockings were but I thought he was just trying it on.
Liza: You know, I really wasn't expecting this.
Annie: And then we had to stop inviting them to visit.
Annie: After the incident at the Miners' Club.
Annie: They'd come over to stay with us for the weekend. Saturday night we were going to the club. There was an act on.
Liza: Sounds fun.
Annie: And bingo. Anyway, Cliff comes through to the kitchen in his frock. Harold lost his temper. I mean, Harold was a man who didn't like to part his hair differently. He said "I'm not taking you to the bloody club dressed like that!"
Liza: The Miners' Club?
Annie: Hard men, miners.
Annie: There was a scene and they went home. After that we stuck to birthday and Christmas cards.
Liza: I can see why!
Annie: We were in Benidorm when he died. Missed the funeral. I bet the flowers were lovely.
Annie: But Maureen did well. She had his frocks taken in and booked a cruise round The Med. Anyway, where are you taking me for tea?