Hoodening Play 1984

(Moll enters)
Moll:
The Hoodeners are here! Will you give us some room
Or you might get a poke in your eye with me broom!
— - — - -
Now be a bit quiet so you hear what's been said
Or I'll give you a clout round the back of your head!
(Sam enters)
Sam:
You sorted 'em out, Moll? They ready for us?
(to audience)
She don't half give you hell if you make too much fuss!
— - — - -
'Struth, it looks like us two have been left on our own
I reckon our mates must have all gone off home
(Joe staggers in)
Joe:
Don't worry — I'm here — but I feel pretty rough
My joints need a massage with ointments and stuff
My shoulders are aching, my back has gone numb
(That causes strange feelings down here round my bum!)
Sam:
All right, Joe, I don't think we need to know that
We know you're an ancient and crippled old prat
Moll:
That's nice, Sam! And after all he's done for you!
Sam:
Yeah, passed on a cold and a dose of the 'flu
Joe:
OK, that's enough
(to audience)… he's a sarky old devil
I'll talk to you lot — I'm sure you're on the level
— - — - -
You must all be thinking old Dobbin's got lost
Or maybe the boy's gone and got himself tossed…
(Sam sniggers)
… off the HORSE, I mean, Sam. Christ! He's quick off the mark!
Moll:
It ain't funny, you know, getting tossed in the dark
(Sam sniggers again)
Joe:
Where HAVE they got to? It's about time they came.
(Dobbin, Boy and Musician enter, Dobbin hobbling painfully)
Boy:
Sorry we're a bit late, but he's gone a bit lame
(Dobbin limps around stage area and settles in a corner; Boy continues…)
We've been walking so slow
There's cobwebs on my toe
And my knee-cap is starting to rust
We dropped way behind Joe
The wind started to blow
And me fingers attracted the frost
Mus:
He saw a young girl
Got his head in a whirl
He really got into a state
She made his hair curl
And his passions unfurl
They crept into a field, through a gate
Boy:
Oh yes, she smiled at me
As she squashed a stray flea
That had hopped from her hair to her chest
She showed things to me
Like her thigh and her knee
And those things she keeps under her vest…
Moll:
I don't think I want to hear more of this tale —
Fancy doing all that in the teeth of a gale!
You have odd ideas about when to go courting
You should choose a warm place where to do your cavorting
Joe:
Now Moll has had a fling this year, but that was in September
She wouldn't do the things you did this end of bleak December
Moll:
I don't know what you're on about — I'm not that way inclined
I'm no loose woman, Joe, you know! I've got a cleaner mind!
Joe:
She spent some time with that old cowman, Bert, from up the street
Sam:
The one with halitosis and the evil-smelling feet?
Moll:
Please! Bert has such a lovely voice — he hails from Aberystwyth
He's just a friend!…
Joe:
                … In other words, he's someone to get pissed with!
Moll:
Poor Bert had had things hard then — he'd been set on by a mugger
Sam:
What kind of pillock would attack that smelly little bugger?
Moll:
He demanded all Bert's money and he grabbed Bert by the neck
But he'd not a penny on him, so he wrote him out a cheque
Sam:
I had a dream one night about a mugger with a knife
I begged him, "Please don't kill me, but you're welcome to the wife."
Boy:
Look, what about old Dobbin here? His leg is rubbed red raw
He's hardly moved a muscle since he limped in through that door
Joe:
Which leg are you referring to? A big one at the back?
Or that stupid bloody broomstick what is sticking out that sack?
Sam:
I've often wondered why it is, when Christmas time is near
We trudge around the frozen lanes dressed up in all this gear
Joe:
It's history, Sam! This Hoodening's a custom very old
For centuries now, through wind and snow and through the freezing cold
As Christmas nears and folk keep warm, the wintry gale roars
And this troupe of costumed idiots comes knocking on their doors
Boy:
You keep on rambling on, you two. LOOK, WHAT ABOUT THIS HORSE?
Sam:
You better check him out, Joe, 'fore the boy resorts to force
Joe:
I'm sure it's just because he's had a bloody hard day's toil
Trudging up and down a field, a-ploughing up the soil…
Here, look at this, Sam!
Sam:
What?
Joe:
He's lost a shoe
Sam:
What?
Boy:
No wonder the poor old thing has a limp
Sam:
Has a limp what??
Joe:
Here boy, you run off to the forge for a shoe
(Boy leaves)
I'm sure Simon Jakeman's got one that'll do
Moll:
A nice pair of Hush Puppies should do him fine
I think he's size ten — or perhaps it's a nine
Sam:
You're thick as a post, Moll, you stupid old bat
You don't put DOGS' shoes on a horse — I know that
(Boy reappears)
Boy:
A stroke of luck — just as I left this abode
The blacksmith was walking home, just up the road
I hailed him — and look what he had in the sack
That he carried so effortlessly on his back
(Boy holds up shoe; passes it to Moll)
Sam:
That's all very well, but how d'we put it on?
Moll:
The lace-holes are here but the laces have gone
Joe:
I don't think our Moll has quite got the idea
You NAIL the thing on, Moll — the nails go through here
Moll:
It's barbaric — I never thought I'd see the day!
I'll report you, Joe, to the R S P C A
Joe:
You hold the nag, Boy, while I get round the back
This shoeing is easy once you got the knack
(Boy takes Dobbin's bridle; Joe picks up foot, blacksmith-style)
Now, I need a hammer, and some kind of pin
Then you hold the beggar while I bang it in
Sam:
A good idea, Joe — with just one little snag
We ain't got no nails in this little bag
Joe:
Oh come on, there must be SOME thing that will do?
Sam:
All I can find is this ruddy great screw!
Joe:
Cor blimey! Well, we'd better give it a go —
I've no idea if it will work so well, though!
(Sam passes Joe a large screwdriver and holds the screw in place; Joe gives it a turn; Dobbin yells, and hurtles off like a rocket right over the boy, squealing in agony)
Joe:
I reckon I pretty near twisted my thumb!
Moll:
You stupid old devils — and you call ME dumb!

(runs over to Boy)

The poor lad's been flattened; got kicked in the head
It wouldn't surprise me if he were quite dead

Joe:
Well, that didn't work. P'raps I'll get you two men
To hold Dobbin steady while I try again
Moll:
Joe! Show some respect for this shattered young lad
Sam:
She might have a point, Joe, he looks pretty bad
Moll:
His breathing has stopped. Oh, please, what can we do?
Joe:
You catch hold of Dobbin — I'll give him a screw
(Dobbin approaches Joe, snapping at his backside and nudging him towards the body of the Boy)
Hey,what are you doing, you mangy old cuss!?
Sam:
I think that he wants you to help all of us
(Moll sobs)
Moll:
The poor lad has left us — he's gone on his way
Joe:
No he ain't — he's down there — sure as night follows day
Sam:
(angrily)
I'm fed up with you, Joe. You're cold and you're cruel
I'll look after him, Moll, not that heartless old fool
You leave it to me, for I won't get things wrong
Let's dump him outside before he starts to pong
(The boy is wrapped up in the ever-faithful sheet and raised on to Joe's, Moll's and Sam's shoulders in the time-honoured manner)
Sam:
It's just like old times, giving this one a ride
It's quite a few years since the boy went and died
Joe:
All right, we've picked him up — and now what shall we do?
My back's feeling stiff and my shoulders are, too
Sam:
We'd best put him down again; give it some thought
And when we've decided, we'll do what we ought
(They drop the boy to the floor, propping him against whatever is handy)
Moll:
We need some refreshment to help us to think
A whisky and soda, or gin, white or pink
Sam:
You've got something there, Moll; a bitter or mild
Might help us decide what to do with the child
A lager might help us — the kind we're told which
Refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach
Joe:
I fancy a vodka — or p'raps a large brandy…
Boy:
And I'll have a packet of crisps and a shandy
(They all look at the mummified figure of the Boy in astonishment)
Moll:
He's alive! Quick, unwrap him. Let's see how he is
(The others unwrap him)
Boy:
If you like, I'll make do with a bottle of fizz
Moll:
Well, I'm just delighted our fears came to nil
(Not many recover when fatally ill)
Look, even old Dobbin's now light on his feet
Replace his shoe later, Joe, out in the street
Let's ask our host that we get a drink here
We'll sing you a song for it — you pour the beer
(They sing, to the tune of COME LANDLORD, FILL THE FLOWING BOWL)
Joe:
Come Landlord, pour us all a drink. We need fortification
Sam:
We all believe that alcohol improves the situation
Moll:
The boy's all right — he's fit and well
Restored from heaven…
Sam:
                … (Or p'raps from hell!)
Joe:
So as there ain't no more to tell
All:
Let's have a celebration, -bration, -bration…
Boy:
We ask of you to give us ale
In a glass…
Moll:
          … Or a cup
Sam:
                    … Or a jug
Joe:
                              … Or a pail
Then we'll get outside that shoe to nail
All:
Let's have a celebration!
(End of song)
Joe:
Before we start drinking, there's one thing to do
Boy:
With all this excitement, I'd best find the loo!
Sam:
Not now, this is no time to answer a call
Boy:
If I don't do it soon, I might go up the wall
Joe:
We'd like to relieve you of your surplus money
Moll:
They're not miners I hope, or they won't think that's funny
Joe:
No. but seriously now, let us have your attention
We appeal to you all — we expect no abstention
Sam:
This year, all us Hoodeners lost an old mate
Way back in the summer, he met a sad fate
Moll:
Brian Debenham was Joe for a number of years
He wrote many scripts; full of laughter — no tears
Boy:
To remember my father, we felt that this year
We should give towards something he held very dear
Moll:
To the Church he donated so much of his time
His energies, faith and his talents sublime
Sam:
We recall his choir singing, his once vibrant voice
Which prompted us all to decide on this choice
For, over the years that he sang in the choir
There's developed a need to renew their attire
Joe:
Providing new cassocks is what we want to do
So help us obtain enough cash to renew
Not just the odd one, but all of them, please
Dig deep in your pockets for cleric chemise
Sam:
To finish, we will change our metre
To rhyming lines much shorter, neater
Moll:
They fit in with our parting rhyme
These words we end with every time
Boy:
Now here's a secret we've not told
Our parting lines are not THAT old
Joe:
Brian wrote them nineteen years gone past
And we have always read them last
All:
If ye the Hooden Horse do feed
Throughout the year ye shall not need

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