Hoodening Play 1970

(All enter together looking embarrassed and self-conscious)
Joe:
We 'aven't got Dobbin
Allan:
'E's gone
Martin:
Run off!
Molly:
We'd best tell them all about it
Joe:
Working we'd been in a field by the sea
Allan, and Martin, and Molly and me
Allan:
Come five o'clock and we can't see no longer
And the lure of refreshment grows stronger and stronger
Joe:
I wanted my beer and Dobbin his hay
He'd ploughed pretty nearly six acres this day
Martin:
And we had been ditching since the first streaks of light
So we packed up our tools to go home for the night
Allan:
I sat on my coat and rolled me a fag
Then got on my feet for the long weary drag
Across the dread marshes to my missus and tea
Where rustle the rushes, and there's never a tree
To hold off the wind which claws at the sack
Which I'd got round my shoulders to shelter my back
Molly:
Christ, that was bleak!
Allan:
Ay, cold and chill the north wind blows
That forms a dew-drop on my nose
Which like to any diamond gleams
Reflected in the bright moon's beams
Which made old Joe and Molly laugh
And so I wiped it with my scarf
Molly:
Christ, that was cold!
Martin:
Birds chitter in the ivy clumps
And the clods in the fields are solid lumps
And the naked moon in the water reflected
Shiver'd like beggar maid neglected
Who's alone in the world, and lost and betrayed
And with never a stitch to protect the poor maid
Molly:
Christ, that was hard!
Joe:
You know the head of an Ayrshire bull
When you reach out your hand to touch his skull
It is soft on top, but if you feel
The underneath is as hard as steel -
So with the fields we walked acrost
The top soft grass, below hard frost
Molly:
Christ, that was lonely!
Martin:
On the marshes this night nothing stirred but we five
And, what with the cold, we're more dead than alive!
Allan:
And my leather / nether purse shrivelled like an old apple john
And the thing(s) appertaining nigh vanished and gone
Joe:
So the whole of creation seemed frozen dead
(And I slipped on the ice and went arm over head!)
Martin:
So we jogged along, Joe, Molly and all
Till we crossed the bridge near to Chambers Wall
Where frozen's the dyke and wither'd the sedge
Joe:
(And I stopped for a minute to look / leak in the hedge)
Martin:
Then turned to the left and went up the hill
And passed by Nine Nails, and on until…
Allan:
All of a sudden we heard a strange sound
Which floated clear 'cross the hard frozen ground
Joe:
Some shrill treble notes which rang out loud and clear
And found their own way with Dobbin's cocked ear
Martin:
'Twas a sound that to us meant nothing at all
But to Ulysses Dobbin, the gay Siren's call
Allan:
Yes, the promise of love and of sweet hay and oats
Were borne to his ear on those few treble notes
Joe:
'Twas a soft gentle neigh of that little gray filly
That they've got at Wade House, that sent Dobbin quite silly
Martin:
And he stopped in his tracks and his nostrils dilated
Joe:
(He's a stallion, you see, and a little frustrated)
Allan:
And he shuddered and shook; his leg gave a twitch
Which knocked our young friend on his back in the ditch
Molly:
That ditch was a gutter than ran from a farm
There was not a thing in it could do a man harm
Allan:
'Cept the guts of a goose and some hens' eggs gone bad
And some piglets half eaten when th' old sow went mad
And some over-ripe apples from this year's great glut
And the swollen remains of a putrid sheep's gut
Joe:
The whole batter coated with a thick dark green skin
Which gave way quite easy when Martin went in
Allan:
He still stinks now
Molly:
Well, we got him out as best we could
Joe:
He wasn't very pleased, I can tell you. He just stood there cursin'. I reckon if he'd 'ave 'd a gun, he'd 'a… shot him. But Dobbin, he didn't take no notice, and he didn't move — I reckon he had something else on his mind
Martin:
Down dale I cuss'd him and up hill
And kicked and beat the brute until
He suddenly pricks up his ears
And kicks and stamps and bites and rears
Molly:
Martin was holding his bridle
Martin:
Discretion's valour's better part
I let him go. He gives a start
And gallops off into the night
His hooves gave me a proper fright
Joe:
And so we've had to come without a
Hooden Horse, who's stopped to mount a…
(Agitation and embarrassment)
Allan:
Joe, friend, have a little sense
Joe:
Sorry, ladies, no offence!
Martin:
Well, there 'tis. We 'aven't got Dobbin, and I don't suppose we shall see him till tomorrow
Allan:
So I suppose we better sing 'em a song and then be off. We're sorry — I know you like to see Dobbin
Joe:
Let's sing then… Lah, lah!
(Others tune up and clear throats. The first few notes of Twanky Dillow may be sung. Then there is a sound of bells and heavy hooves and Dobbin enters, enthusiastically greeted by all.)
Molly:
Look, he's here and docile too
Come Dobbin, say how do ye do
To these good people, there — be civil
Allan:
Look, he's tame; no more devil
Left in him. We forgive your carry-ons
Boys will be boys and stallions, stallions!
Joe:
That's all very well; but it's not very handy
If he goes running off every time he feels…
Resentful of the single life
You hold him, boy. I'll get a knife
Martin:
You going to take old Dobbin's life?
Joe:
No, merely calm him down a bit
Martin:
What bleed him?
Joe:
          Perhaps / Yes, a little bit
(They go into a huddle and whisper)
Martin:
Surely that will hurt bad, come!
Joe:
Only if I cuts my thumb
Martin:
I know my wits are not too big
But someone tell me — what's a rig?
Allan: (diminuendo)
A rig's an 'orse with just one…
Martin:
Ah, tell me more when we're alone
Joe:
Hold him then, boy
Martin:
I can't. He must have heard us
Allan:
He's going mad!
Joe:
Catch him, boy
Molly:
Now tell me horses have no wits!
Allan:
He's kicked the best chair all to bits!
Molly:
His hoof's gone through the chandelier!
He must have heard us — that much's clear
Martin:
Look, he's smashing all the furniture!
Allan:
That chair was made in 1810!
Joe:
That's time they had a new one then!
Martin:
Hold him can't you, wretched oaf! A
Pox! His hoof's gone through the sofa!
Allan:
And it bore Adam's mark. 'Tis true!
Joe:
That now bears Dobbin's hoof mark too!
Allan:
That Queen Anne desk — and where to seek a
Second one?
Joe:
          It looks antiquer
Ma'am, don't fret
Allan:
          That's Hebblewhite!
Molly:
Say was Ma'am, for it's ruined quite!
Martin:
My God, I hope they're well insured
Joe:
Just write it down an act of Gawd!
Molly:
I know, Joe. Put your knife away
Martin:
Ah, look, he's calm as summer's day
Joe:
Here boy, offer him this apple
Martin:
Come on, Dobbin, come on Dapple
Allan:
Look out, he's rearing again
Joe:
He's got the boy down
Molly:
He's kneeling on him
Allan:
He's forced his ribs right through his back
Joe:
I know he has — I heard the crack!
(Dobbin runs off)
Molly:
Well, there's a thing
Joe:
Here, use my hanky
Allan:
Well, look!
Joe:
Quick — get the doctor
(Molly runs off whilst the others attend to Martin. She returns very shortly.)
Molly:
I found the doctor in his home
It's his day off; he wouldn't come
I told him his ribs was all stove in
He said send him to bed with an aspirin
Allan:
See o'er his eye a lifeless glaze
He's mumbling, Joe, see what he says!
Joe:
Yes boy, your purse, go on boy, I heard
Ah! All's silent now. I can't get a word
Allan:
See his features are set in a look of composure
Let's cover him up from all vulgar exposure
Allan & Joe:
From the gaze of the vulgar we cover his corse
Cut off in its prime by a vicious old horse
Joe:
Baptised in a bog and now killed in one day
Allan:
Let's wrap up the body and bear it away
But first speak a dirge o'er the early-plucked flower
To express the full flavour of this sad mournful hour
DIRGE
Molly:
Dobbin's cruel hooves have crushed him
To an early grave have rushed him
To his Maker's breast we trust him
Joe:
Dobbin's hooves like clap of thunder
Tore his frail ribs asunder
Lord, forgive his every blunder
Allan:
No more cruel boss to grieve him
Nor heartless hussies to deceive him
Lord, with tender arms receive him!
Molly:
In his funeral outfit doll him
Joe:
Get the parson to extoll him
Allan:
Now let's all combine to tell him
All:
DING DONG DING DONG DONG DING DONG
(Martin is carried out by Allan and Joe to the accompaniment of a dead march)
Joe:
My God, he's a weight!
Allan:
Let's put him down and have a smoke
Carrying this great weight's no joke
Joe, my friend — we might do worse -
You know his last words were 'My Purse'
I think he meant for us to spend it
Molly:
Oh, thieving villains, Lord forfend it
Joe:
The dying's wishes I respect
Why, Molly dear, should we neglect
To carry out our dear friend's will?
Allan:
By no means. We'll sit here until
We've spent the contents of his purse
Joe:
We'll leave a bit to pay the hearse
Allan:
Let's search him then
Right then, Joe, you take his breeches
Joe:
They're all befouled by putrid ditches
Allan:
Let's pick him up and shake him then
Now may the dead assist poor men
Joe:
This day and ever more, Amen
(They pick him up by the legs and shake him. He groans.)
Molly:
He's alive!
Now put him down; you'll make him worse
Joe:
Shut up! We haven't got his purse
Martin:
My purse, you villains! Ah, it's here!
Molly:
They tried to take it to buy beer
Joe
You told us to as you lay dying
Allan:
You did now, Martin, Joe's not lying
Martin:
I meant to give it my old mum
Joe:
She's rolling in it, Martin, come!
Martin:
All right then, boys, let's all have some
But first to say goodbye, friends, come

Come Molly, Dobbin, Allan, Joe
We've stayed here long enough, and so
Let's say goodbye and then away
I've had enough of this old day

(They form a line including Dobbin)
Well, gentlemen, I've kept my life
Allan:
And Martin didn't use his knife
Joe:
So Dobbin, too, is still intact
And still has two… well, it's a fact!
Martin:
The lesson, so it seems to me
Is catch 'em young or leave 'em be!
Joe:
Well, masters, since we've tried t' amuse ye
Use us as you'd have others use ye
Martin:
We're sorry if we've been too coarse
We're common stuff, and so's our horse
Allan:
But Dobbin didn't cast a stone
And nor should you. Now friends atone
For all you sirs…
Joe:
          You can't ignore
The forlorn glances of the poor
Come, give us freely, masters, for
If ye the Hooden Horse should feed
Throughout the year ye shall not need.

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