Hoodening Play 1972
- I'm getting too old for this old game
- Me too
- I've got indigestion, boy, right across here
And that catches me cruel after grub or my beer
For that starts in my guts and works round to the back
So that when I bends down there's a click and a crack
And I often gets stuck when I bends down like this
Oh, aw, bugger, help, Boy!
- Why, Joe, what's amiss?
- I can't get back up, Martin, give me your hand
- Oh, come on now, Joe boy; I bet you can stand
- No I can't, Moll, I swear it — Ow — 'old me!
- … Well, there
- Well, help the poor chap, boy. Don't just stand and stare!
- The disks of my backbone have a got all confused
That's it, stupid lot, you just stand there amused!
- You sit on his feet and we'll sit on his head…
- No, Allan, don't do it. I'd rather be dead!
- (Joe is straightened out)
- Oh, aw, oh, my God!
- Help, Moll. Don't just laugh
- He's coming, he's straight — Christ, we've broke him in half!
- Like an ancient old hinge that hangs on all rusted
Till you open the door, his old back is busted
Let's put him on his feet anyway
- Hold 'im steady
- Oh, my lord, my shin!
- What's up with it, then?
- My ulcer
- I never knowed you 'ad an ulcer
- As thick stems of ivy climb up a beech tree
From my foot to my thigh, but avoiding my knee
All blackened and swollen huge soft veins appear
(They're particularly bad at this time of the year)
And on my right shin's a carbuncle or wen
Which dries up in Summer, then breaks out again
The skin near's all blackened and flaky and dry
And that's all red and bloody — like a poor devil's eye
That's been plucked from its socket by a dagger or spike
Or the prong of a pitchfork — or just what you like
That throbs and that itches; that nigh drives me insane
If that stops for a minute, that soon starts again
If you like, you can see it. 'Tis a hell of a sight -
All red and inflamed…
- No thanks, not tonight!
- Why, there's times when I'd gladly be shot through the head
For if this is old age, mate, I'd rather be dead!
- Ay, the old years, they passes
- They do, too. Why, look at old Moll
- Her hair's grey and thin, and wrinkled her forehead
And her skin is all warty, and coarsened and horrid
- And sixteen grey whiskers embellish her chin
Which juts to suspend yards of grey, flaccid skin
And below her veined neck and her old scrawny throat
Are what, judged by their shape, once belong'd to a goat!
- Yet her full rounded bosom when she was sixteen
Was as smooth as a peach and the colour of cream
- Or the skin of a mushroom that pokes up at dawn
Or the unblemished skin of a baby new born
- No well, actually, Martin, that isn't quite so
She'd a mole on her left one
- Why, how do you know?
- For a bit we walked out, y'see, Molly and me
- You di'n't only walk, Joe, by what I can see!
- Now the fingers of Time alone handle her thigh
- Well, Time's welcome to that — (aside) and what is nearby!
- I reckon we're all the same then — born too soon, that's our trouble
- Empty-gummed and shiny-pated
Wind and vigour both abated
To pain and sorrow only fated
- Mind and body both decaying
Beauty gone and temper fraying
This is not life, but death delaying
- Though beauty's bloom can still affect us
Yet young and lovely now reject us
Or heedless of our wounds reject us
- Ay, boy, enjoy your youth while you got it
- Ay, that'll soon pass, soon pass, and every day'll bring new pains
- Well, answer, can't ye, when your elders talk to you. What's up?
- (hands clasped over his jaw tightly enough for his words to be as nearly indecipherable as makes no difference)
I got the bloody toothache
- Allan, Moll & Joe:
- I got the bloody toothache
- Allan, Moll & Joe:
- The what?
- The toothache -
Fifty spiteful little elves
Amuse their nasty little selves
By sticking crowbars in my jaw
And twisting 'em to make me roar
Of pains with which a man's accursed
I reckon toothache is the worst!
- Let's have a look at it
- Come on, open up
- All right — but don't you touch it
- (Joe, Allan and Molly all peer into Martin's mouth)
- Which is it?
- (Martin attempts by pointing and grunts to indicate the place. Allan spots it)
- I sees it — Ugh!
- What's it like?
Well, you know Basil Broadley's foul, stinking old yard…
- Every time I goes past it I holds my nose hard
- There's a hole near the wall that seems like a loo
In the corner of Hell, for the devils to spew
You'd stink for a month if you ever fell in
- On the top, when it's dry, there's a film or a skin
And the gases beneath slowly rise to the top
And inflate the foul skin which then bursts with a plop
- That's just what your tooth's like — a black, soggy lump
Like a busted off stake or a rotten tree stump
Never mind — we'll soon have it out
Now sit you down and open wide
And let me have a look inside
Ah yes, top left, I see the one…
The pinchers, Joe, we'll soon be done
Now, wider boy, I've got a grip…
Oh, blast! I let the damn thing slip
Whenever I attempt to twist
- 'Ere, let me try. Oh blast, I missed
- We need a charge o' dynamite
The blasted thing is in so tight
- Allan, I know. You get a grip
And round behind him I'ull slip
And thrust this spike in his behind
- That's rather rusty
- Never mind
He'll jump and then you hold on tight
we'll never pull it else tonight
- Well, that's worth trying, Joe, all right
- Oh, ah, my arse! You rotten lot
- That just proves what long roots that's got
I once seen a tooth that took five hours to draw
How we delved and we hacked, why, we nigh broke the jaw
And the roots was that long — I wouldn't pretend -
Like a great big old parsnip that forks at the end
- I know!
- No thanks. I've 'ad enough of your ideas
- 'Arness 'im up to Dobbin
- 'Arness 'im? What for?
- 'Is tooth, ye fool
Tie on a cord to it, like so
An' then a chain. Woah, Dobbin, woah!
I reckon summat's got to go
- Joe, Allan, stop it; I objec'!
You fools, you'll break my bloody neck
- Don't interfere boy. Quiet! Keep still!
These folks'd think we meant to kill
Instead of cure you. Be resigned
- Pain, boy, is only in the mind
- Then my mind must be in my gum
Or where you jabbed me in my…
We've parley'd surely long enough
Here, Allan, hold his waist; you're tough
And you his head Moll, firm and steady
Right Martin, Allan, are you ready?
Now, Dobbin, pull with might and main
- Root out the source of all his pain
- We want our Martin whole again
- (During the tug-of-war which follows, Martin lets out a series of blood-curdling screams, Molly attempts to sooth him, Allan demands silence from him, whilst Joe encourages Dobbin)
- My God, that blasted jade is strong
- Stop, Joe. We can't hold on for long
- The nag won't stop; he's pullin' now
He thinks he's harnessed to 'is plough
- 'Old on!
- I can't. There. He's away
- My God, now there'll be hell to pay
- 'E's bouncing him around the place
My God, there's blood upon his face!
Oh look! His skull has hit the wall
And now he hardly moves at all
- There's grey stuff trickling from his head
- Now Dobbin's stopped… but Martin's dead
- (They all stand round Martin)
- Like 'ero Hector, him of Troy
Dragged 'hind a horse was our poor boy
- Or else like poor Hippolytus
(His mum, you know, made such a fuss!)
Whose foot was caught up in his traces
- 'E lose his breeches?
- Fool, not his braces!
- Behind an horse both heroes died
And now here's our poor boy beside
- (Joe, Allan and Molly, after composing the corpse, stand sadly around it)
- See that bloody, huge contusion
Caused by Dobbin's hoof's intrusion
In the chaos and confusion
- Take him to the sacred place
There within a little space
His remains we'll gently place
- There below the turf he'll lie
As we shall all when we too die
There, there, old Molly, do not cry
- Under a slowly sinking mound
He'll lie and fester in the ground
Till the final trump shall sound
- Then, assuming he's a sheep
With sudden stirring, up he'll leap
And into Abram's bosom creep
- (The funeral march)
- My God, old mate, he weighs a ton!
This undertaking ain't much fun
- Let's put 'im down and have a break
I'm damned if I'ull undertake
To get 'im to the Church today
'Course, Dobbin might drag 'im away…
- You rotten, stinking, idle crew
That's just the kind of thing you'd do
What! Drag the lad along the ground!
You idle, rotten, stinking hound!
- Come, Molly, sit. Don't take on so
The lad's no featherweight, you know
- We shan't stir till we've 'ad a rest
Look, quieten Dobbin; 'twould be best
He's restless, frettin' much too much
- He needs a woman's soothing touch
- (Molly deals with Dobbin. Joe and Allan squat down and begin to talk)
- She's not a bad old gal for all her sharp tongue
- Ay, Moll's all right
- You knowed her when she was younger, didn't you say, Joe?
- Knowed her? Yes, you might say as I knowed her
You know that big meadow out Down Barton way -
That was June and was fine. We was carrying hay
That was quarter past nine but we still didn't stop
We'd our beer brought in bottles. I'd 'ad me a drop
The moon had come up and was caught in the trees
Silver clouds went across it blown by the breeze
There was Moll on the rick, which wasn't yet high
And me on the load; no other was nigh
She'd a light summer dress on — not much else, like as not
For though that was late, that was still pretty hot
Well, she gave me a look that made weak my back bone
And made me feel thankful that we were alone
Then she bent for some hay, and what did I see?…
A clear sight of Molly's plump, pretty young knee
Then she reached for some more and what did I spy?
The outline of Molly's smooth, shapely young thigh
Then she reached yet again…
- (Joe's idyll is interrupted from under the sheet by a sound indicating that Martin finds Joe's story interesting, not to say stimulating — a kind of "Whooor!!" sound)
- He's alive!
- He's heard every word!
- Well, take the sheet off him, can't you, and get him up
- (They lift Martin and dust him down)
- How d'you feel, boy?
- Hello Joe, Allan, Molly, oh, er — not too bad
Well, pretty well, really
- Oh, dear boy, I'm glad!
You're fresh as a flower and as right as the rain
- I feel pretty good. Why, quite lively again
- You still feel, I suppose, boy, the pain in your tooth
- My tooth, Molly? Why where's it gone? By God's truth
That's gone, Moll, Joe, Allan. That's not there at all
And all that remains is a bloody great hole
And I can't feel no pain — no never a spasm
And all that remains is a great bloody chasm
- Why look, Joe, it's there still tied on to the chain
- Let's see it, you bastard, take that for the pain
And the horrible anguish you've meant to my jaw!
There! You won't after that hurt no one no more
- How's the leg, Allan?
- The leg? Why, that's better! That don't hurt no more
The hole it is dried up. Why, that's not even sore
Why, the thick oozing matter that 'ould down my shin course
'As, by God or good fortune, been stopped at the source
- That's funny, my back doesn't hurt any more
I can bend down quite easy, and look — touch the floor
I feel proper lissom and lively and gay
Why, stiff and erect like ash saplings in May
This old frame's become since this boy was restored
- Why, there's life in us yet
- There is, thank the Lord
- And look. Our old Molly looks sunny again
Like an October day that comes bright after rain
And surely a rose hip's as fine in its way
As the soft tender flower…
- Well, that's what some say!
But she's got a good heart and that's the main thing
- She's dancing about like a ewe in the spring
- Well, Joe, I reckon we best go
- Ay, I reckon we had. Collect old Dobbin, Martin
- We better just say goodbye to this lot, though
- Well, masters, we have tried to please
Before we go; you, take your ease —
- Forgive us where we have offended
We're simple folks; 'twas not intended
- Our hands and minds alike are crude
What, none offended? Not one prude?
- That's good, I hope. Our hearts are sound
And now, before we leave this ground
We've brought this bag for you to fill
- Come, we'll not budge, my masters, till
Our bag's weighed down. It's not for us
- Come, ma'am — we know you've got your purse
- 'Tis Christmas, when One came who paid
All mankind's debt. Why be afraid?
For He who notes the sparrow's fall
Will give you raiment, food and all
- Come, my good friends, squeeze out some more
You'll not regret it, good friends, for…
- If ye the Hooden Horse do feed
Throughout the year ye shall not need
Produced by +Ben Jones (contact details). All rights reserved.