by Ros Billingsley
Una has an interest in the occult.
is a friend of
Rose is a civil servant in the intelligence service-
a ‘Miss Moneypenny’ character.
Hugh writes a newspaper column, and Rose is his wife.
J’s voice. He is a senior official in the secret service and is Rose’s boss.
The play is set between 1960 and 2006, in any country with an English speaking Secret Service Department. (Ros, the author, was a Miss Moneypenny to J in GCHQ in England.)
Essential Props: A rolled newspaper, a stylish ultra-modern pen, a realistic snake, a mixing bowl and spoon, a notepad for story writing, a crumpled page of Jim’s story, a chart showing pictures of coloured fish, a cushion that Una regards as a cat.
Abbreviations: cds is centre down stage, l is left, r is right.
Stage: Marcia’s room is centre
stage with a small
table and two chairs.
Downstage centre, interrogation of spies will take place.
Rose’s area is far left, with a chair beside a telephone table with phone on it.
Una’s area, apron right, has a table to mix ingredients on, and left of it a double seat facing square to the audience.
SFX1 – bewitched theme (2 mins) until houselights go down, then warmers fade to blackout.
Light comes up on apron, stage right (Una). The curtain remains closed.
SFX 2 – Pink Panther music.
Una enters through closed curtain.
She addresses a cushion as if it were a pet cat.
Una: My dear, cushion Cat,
are no ordinary cat.
You never ask to be fed,
You never ask to be let out to do your duty.
You would never be seen licking your bottom.
loving owner Una is home again with
Far from the crimes of Cuba and their mangy mongrel moggies
and their foreign goings on!
Breathe in the happy morning. A sunny day is dawning.
With everything around me that I love!
And any moment now another treats awaits. Any moment now the wonderful Hugh will be here!
PROPS: A rolled news paper is thrown onto apron.
Here! Spot on the dot! He has come!
Una picks it up, unrolls it and looks into it excitedly:
The sharp, shrewd,
sagacious, scintillating, Hugh
will have given us another crafty column to collect,
another intrigue to investigate,
another tangled teaser of temptation to test us!
another mystery to mull on.
Disappointed, checks the paper’s date etc.
Monday? Yes. The Monday crime column — no.
He isn’t here! No crime column. No Hugh’s Hunt!
Hugh Cleverly is taking a break from his column to teach a crime writing class. He will replace Jack Jeffries at the Community Centre, this term.
Now here is a mystery. Why is Hugh with so much talent and renown going there?
Queen of Cats! I could join that class and my crime writing would shimmer in Hugh’s brilliant flame! Indeed I must join it.
Muses and gets ready to visit Marcia. Puts on boots.
My neighbour, Marcia, attends the Community Centre. A writing class taught by a Jack Jeffries. I scoffed at it! I said, “Jack is a hack.”
But Jack has gone!
Puts on cloak
And Hugh is now in view!
Looks at clock.
six. Sun rising up nicely, a good omen, just
right for a visit to Marcia.
People are usually at home at twenty to six in the morning.
Fade up to light stage centre (Marcia) together with apron right (Una)
Una crosses to cds, presses ‘doorbell’ on curtain.
SFX 3 doorbell ‘ding-dong’
Una presses the door bell again. It sounds again as the SFX continues.
the Curtain opens
to reveal Marcia centre stage ‘answering door’ adjusting her dressing-gown.
Una: Marcia! Aren’t you up yet, Marcia dear?
Marcia: I am up now! I had to get up to answer the door. You are Una from next-door, aren’t you?
Una: Yes, you are quite right, Marcia. I’ve come to ask about your wonderful, worthy, venerable, writing class. Is your class teacher leaving and is . . .?
Marcia: Oh yes! Jack has gone and Hugh, of the investigative newspaper column Hugh’s Hunt, is taking over.
Una: There he will be in the flesh! Sharing his genius with me!
Marcia: You are a bit late dear! The class is already full. I’ve heard that we have six on the waiting list too.
Una: Full! And six more before me!
Marcia: And there’s a strict policy of limiting numbers to give each writer the individual attention they need.
Una: I knew
it! I am being punished! I should have taken my Cat
to Cuba. But he would have been x-rayed in airport
security, on the way out and coming back!
I dared not let it happen. Oh no. Oh dear! It could have caused a catastrophe.
Marcia: As long as someone came in to feed your cat, I expect he preferred to stay at home. Cats are home loving creatures.
Una: I will leave you to enjoy your clever class, your scrumptious breakfast and your happy life. I shall go home and dwell upon my disappointment!
Una starts to go. Marcia calls after her.
Marcia: Una, you might like to know that we start classes again tomorrow at seven in the evening.
Una: Tuesday evening at seven shall be engraved upon my heart.
Centre stage dims, leaving light on right apron
Una goes back to her home sadly.
Cat! What foul trick is this? So much hope and so much sorrow. Seven students must be - disposed of. Found out and - eliminated from that class.
Lights fade from stage right (Una) and come up stage left (Rose)
Rose enters, left. She picks up phone and makes a call.
Rose: May, darling, it’s me, Rose, so early in the morning.
I’m phoning to thank you for a lovely holiday. I should have phoned last night, but when I got home, my dear loving husband, Hugh gave me some extraordinary news. By the time I’d gathered my breath again, you would have gone to bed, so I’m giving you a quick call before I head off to work.
What news? I will tell you.
While I was staying with you, he has completely run off the rails. He has taken leave from his newspaper column to teach the writing class I go to.
He won’t say why! He won’t give me a single word of explanation!
the class is not worthy of him. It’s a social
group, a sort of evening babble session for
amateurs to explore crime writing and story telling!
Hugh hates babble. You know him; his investigative column was his joy, his all-consuming passion. And it distinguished him.
announcement, he patted me on the shoulder and said, “Rose, I
out. Won’t be late home.”
“Is it another woman you are dashing off to?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “that’s what it is!”
I said, “I don’t believe you!”
He said, “So, you think I can’t ‘cut it’ anymore, Rose?”
I said, “I don’t feel safe with you hiding things from me. Next thing you’ll be murdering me in my bed.”
“Our bed,” he said.
I replied, “Not for much longer, Hugh; not the way you are behaving.”
And he came back quite late, looking sharp, like he did when he worked in the Secret Service.
May, I’ll phone you later. Lots of love dear.
Yes, I will try to keep cheerful. I’m off to work now to see what sort of mess the boss has made in my office while I was away!
Light comes up stage centre (a spot if possible) to reveal Hugh
Hugh is on stage.
We hear J’s voice, somewhat metallic from the tannoy:
SFX4 J: Good morning, Hugh. You are nice and punctual on this Monday morning. It is good of you to help us out in our crisis.
Hugh: Not really so good, J. I am appalled at your demands of me, Sir.
SFX5 J: We must all pull together, Hugh. Vital secrets are being leaked from my office. I cannot reveal how we found out, I cannot even tell my own staff of the matter, but we have reason to suspect that the writing class is somehow involved. We even had our suspicions of your newspaper column, Hugh. We trained you in espionage. You have become a journalist and used our training to spy on us.
newspaper column is perfectly innocent, Sir!
And, Sir, you threw me out of the service yourself. As a
result of being exposed by one of our
I have to make a living somehow.
SFX6 J: You swore a lifetime’s allegiance to us. Must I remind you of your duty to the state?
Hugh: No, Sir, there is no need. I am constantly aware of it.
SFX7 J: I gave you a suspicious packet to investigate. What have you done about it?
Hugh: I examined
it. It contained a pen, possibly one of
Q’s inventions. The poison pack was
missing from inside the cap but it still writes perfectly well.
I know that my wife Rose has a pen just like it, but I had one myself, and so did you, a year or two ago.
SFX8 J: That model was withdrawn, but I have noticed that Rose still uses hers about the office. The pen I gave you was not entirely innocent.
Hugh: With it there
was a note that
reads: “Use this to blow your bloody
head off.” That is hardly Rose’s
ladylike language, nor is this her handwriting.
I can’t help but feel that you have brought me in because you doubt Rose’s loyalty.
SFX9 J: I fully
expect Rose to be cleared, Hugh. Indeed
I do. But I am bound to investigate
The pen was handed over to us by the police. They found it rattling around loose inside the tee shirt of a drunk named Jim Scroatham. The note you have there was attached to it.
Hugh: Yes, Sir. Although I have to confirm that Jim Scroatham is a member of the writing class that Rose attends, I am in no doubt that he stole the pen from her and most probably attached the note to it himself.
Rose does not associate with drunks. With your permission I would like to question this man.
SFX10 J: I cannot let you question him officially at this stage. You understand that we must not alert our suspects. I have asked you to quietly scrutinize all the members of the writing class.
Hugh: Yes Sir, despite the fact that my newspaper column is a popular read I have laid it aside for a few weeks. As you requested, or should I say demanded, I am about to join this class for amateur writers in place of the class teacher.
SFX11 J: I have told you that time is of the essence.
Hugh: You have Sir, but the class is at present on holiday. Their term starts again tomorrow evening.
SFX12 J: So have you found anything useful to report yet?
Hugh: No Sir. My wife Rose, your Miss Moneypenny, as they call her, Sir, has only just returned from a short holiday with her sister. You must have missed Rose from your office?
SFX13 J: I have missed her. My office is in danger of being renamed ‘Chaos Headquarters’. I’ve even heard myself referred to as ‘Blofeldt’, or wait a moment, wasn’t it ‘Maxwell Smart’ who ran ‘Chaos’?
Hugh, I realise that Rose’s involvement in this matter must be of great concern to you.
Hugh: It is,
Sir, though I am sure that Rose is absolutely clear of any treachery.
Surely Sir, you have an undercover officer not known to Rose who could investigate this. I have found it impossible to explain my behaviour to her. She thinks I’ve gone stark raving bonkers, Sir!
SFX14 J: Don’t explain it to her. That was my advice to you. You are the man I want on this job. It requires sensitive handling.
Leave the pen around in the class and report any developments. That’s my final word on it, Hugh.
Hugh: Yes, Sir. You will hear further from me soon, Sir. As usual, I’m not sure that you have given me the whole truth here, J.
Fade to blackout
Light up on apron left (Rose)
Rose enters, phones May.
Rose: Hello May. Oh I’ve just had an awful day at work.
My office? It was in
a dreadful state, absolute
chaos! It will take days to sort out.
And, despite the warning I gave Hugh, he has still not explained why he is poking his nose into my writing class. Perhaps he thinks I am up to something. But honestly, May, the class is all women — well except for Jim!
Jim! Me interested in Jim? He’s as rough as blazes! He’s a dead spit of Frankenstein’s monster! And he is extremely aggressive.
Anyway, my first lesson with Hugh is tomorrow night. How I shall bear to sit through it I really don’t know.
Hugh’s gone out again this evening. I tailed him to the end of the street. Then he turned round and said, “Go home Rose, I’ll be back by nine.”
I’m going out myself in a moment. I had a call from Marcia from the writing class. Jack Jeffries had given us homework to do over the break. She wanted to know if we should still do it now that Hugh has replaced Jack. I said, “We’d better do it. It will be something to start Hugh off with.”
She wants me to pop round to help her with it. She is writing a crime story about fish, fish, I ask you, crime amongst fish? How pathetic! My heart bleeds for her.
May, you’re such a softie! Of course I will be nice to her. I’ve got a chart for her all about fish. It tells you all about them and who eats whom. I shall pop it round to her right away.
I’ll phone you again straight after our class tomorrow night.
Oh, May, I think there’s someone lurking round outside. I’m afraid it might be Jim. Pray for me as I venture out. Bye-bye, dear.
Light fades briefly to blackout, then comes up stage left and centre.
Rose enters again
Rose, worried about being followed, hurries over to visit Marcia (centre stage).
Marcia comes downstage looking for her.
Rose: Is there someone behind me?
Marcia: No dear,
I don’t think so.
Come in. How kind of you to come. And to think, you are Hugh’s wife, Hugh of Hugh’s Hunt, and I never realised it in all the years. And he is ex-secret service, I am told? (a slight question in her voice.)
Rose: Marcia, you must have known it for ages. Now look, I have brought you a chart with lovely tropical fish, all in colour. It should answer all your questions.
Marcia: I don’t understand you, Rose, what questions?
Rose: The story you are stuck on. Your crime story about fish!
dear? Oh, ‘Fishy Business’!
It’s not about fish. It’s a terrorist
(disdainfully) Rose, I’d better get you a cup of tea.
Rose: No, I can’t stay, dear.
Marcia: Oh but what about my story, Rose. Our class is tomorrow evening!
Rose: Well, couldn’t you write something about fish? Fish can be quite vivacious you know. Have a look at the pretty chart. It’s all in colour.
Marcia: No, Rose! I can’t write about fish!
Rose: I really have to go. Hugh promised to be home by nine. I can’t expect him to conform if I’m out on the razzle myself. I must get home.
Marcia: Oh but Rose . . .
Rose: Perhaps you could give the fish a humorous slant!
Marcia: Really? Perhaps if I bring in sharks and divers?
Rose: Stick to the small fish. Parrotfish could be funny, or sardines. I used to play a game called sardines. Keep it light; perhaps introduce a shrimp or two.
Marcia: Oh go away, Rose. You’re no help at all.
Rose: Yes, I
must go. Marcia, just poke your head
out and have a look.
See if there is anyone lurking.
Take care, Rose.
And please come and visit properly very soon!
Fade to blackout, immediately fade up to light apron right (Una)
Una: Well, Cat, we have no list of students, but we have the book I bought in Cuba, Advanced Modern Voodoo.
Now I need
only a toad,
a lot of fruit bat droppings, some owl down and a precious personal
from each student, the closer to their hearts and souls the better.
What do writers love most? Their stories and favourite pens I suppose.
I will go and watch outside Hugh’s class and see who attends it, apart from Marcia.
You can stay here in the warm, dear Cat, and wish me luck.
Fade to blackout, fade up to light Rose, apron left
Una exits in dark.
Rose is on the phone in her apartment.
Rose: May! My first writing class with Hugh is over.
What he said was exactly what I
expected. He masterfully scorned all
the homework we’d done! Particularly my
story and Marcia’s!
He showed great aplomb there.
Then he gave us a lecture about plot construction. That hit a nerve with Jim and it all turned into bedlam.
I feared for Hugh’s life.
Hugh enters with his jacket wrongly buttoned.
Oh, May! Night-night May! By-bye.
She rings off and faces Hugh.
Hugh: Are you finished on the phone, my dear?
Rose: I am. And I am going out to the kitchen to take two or three tranquillisers and then I’m going straight to bed.
Hugh: Headache, dear?
Rose: Yes. From looking at you all-evening!
Hugh: What was wrong with me?
Rose: Look at yourself.
Hugh: Bad shave?
Hugh: Not . . . ?! (looks down at fly)
Rose: Your jacket buttons!
Hugh: Oh, is that all. Well let me get to the phone.
Rose: You’ve got to take more care, Hugh.
Rose kisses him and exits.
Hugh dials. Looks round to make sure Rose is gone then talks.
Hugh: Hugh Cleverly, my first report on the writing class.
Sir, this evening I met all the members of the writing class. I must report Sir, that they are all very unlikely suspects. All the ladies are just as scatterbrained as my wife. — Correction, Sir, I should say that Rose is the sanest member of the group.
My only male student is Jim. He attends the class as part of a rehabilitation programme following a ten-year prison sentence for grievous bodily harm. During the class he seized me by the throat and accused me of lecturing to him. If you are recruiting, Sir, mark Jim down; he’d make an excellent hit man.
And tell me Sir, how I am supposed to teach him literary finesse — without lecturing to him?
Finally, Sir, any thought of Rose plotting against the realm is ludicrous. There is no trace of a plot in her story-writing. She babbles gently and continually about nothing of any substance whatsoever.
You may feel for me Sir, when I tell you that one student read me six pages about a shrimp and a sardine knocking scales off each other. Do shrimps have scales, Sir? I really don’t see any of these people as a threat to national security.
That concludes my first report.
Fade to blackout
Lights come up stage right (Una’s)
Una enters with a screwed up piece of paper in her hand.
On her table are: a mixing bowl, ladle and some ingredients.
Una: Dear Cat, I
crept into the classroom after
they’d all gone home. This was on the
floor. It is written by a student
called ‑ Jim. (She straightens the page and reads) He
says he wants to blow up the whole bloody world and everyone in it!
I hope his rage will not affect my spell. We have to be so careful.
She drops it nervously into her bowl.
Into my mixture it goes! In with the puree of fruit bat droppings and the owl down.
while checking in the book she stirs the contents of the bowl
Now stir, one, Two, Three, Four . . .
Continues to stir while looking at the book.
vital to be
exact! Er, two, three, four, five . .
Now pop in the toad’s leg.
Drops in an item from the table, then looks at the book.
No! The chopped toad’s leg! I should have chopped it up.
She fishes out the leg.
Out comes the toad’s leg.
Fishes out the leg and drops it.
She picks it up, inspects it.
Now it’s covered in blasted fluff!
She checks it over, removes a bit of fluff and drops the toad leg into the stew again.
Well, this is an art not a science. It will have to do!
have a blasted
hex with whole toad’s leg and extra fluff.
I may yet explode the world!
pulls out a piece of screwed up paper covered in slime
here. Whatever is this slimy piece of nasty?
It must be Jim’s story!
Just look at the gunk on it! Poor old Jim, he really is in for a pasting!
Light fades on Una.
Light up on Marcia’s room, centre stage
Rose arrives at Marica’s.
Marcia: Rose, come in quick! You are quite safe here with me.
Rose: I hope so. It’s another quick visit.
Rose, it’s almost a week since
Hugh was so cruel about my sardine-and-shrimp tale but I am still badly
I should have told him was your idea.
Rose: The subject matter was fine, it was the way you handled it, that was pathetic.
Marcia: Usually, Rose, you are an inspiration to me. You inspire all my plots.
Rose: I’ve never told you anything in particular, have I?
Marcia: You said you once wrote a shopping list on the back of a spy’s letter! That was a crime of sorts.
Rose: It was a crime, because decoding wasted a whole week analysing my shopping list, before they questioned me and I owned up to it.
Marcia: The service didn’t sack you, all the same.
Rose: No, but don’t write about it, please, especially not for Hugh.
Marcia: How about when you sent that logbook off somewhere?
Rose: Did I tell you about that?
Marcia: It was the log of all the sensitive papers you send out, with addresses of the agents you are sending to! You sent if off in one of the parcels! That was hilarious!
Rose: Not for me it wasn’t! I do make mistakes sometimes, you see, it can get very hectic in the office.
Marcia: Jets went flying off all over the world to bring back all the official mail! They found your logbook in Madagascar, didn’t they?
Rose: Marcia! You’re making me feel quite ill.
Marcia: You’re the only one I know who commits any crimes.
Rose: You’ve got to think of something else to write about.
Marcia: Well, I have made a start. Here is my latest effort.
Rose looks at a manuscript Marcia gives her.
Rose: Your spelling is awful. Plutonium has an ‘iu’ in it.
Rose picks up a pen from the table to alter the spelling.
Marcia, this pen is exactly like mine.
Marcia: I must have picked it up by accident.
Rose looks in her bag, takes out identical pen.
Rose: I still have mine.
Marcia takes both pens to compare them, muddles them, hands ‘other’ pen back to Rose. Rose puts it in her bag.
It must be Hugh’s. He has one like it too.
Marcia: Take it. Give it back to him. I’d hate him to think I’d stolen it.
Rose: I will. (Takes the pen, corrects a bit more then lays the pen down)
Marcia is looking over the story.
Marcia: You see, Rose, my agent’s wife gets into the nuclear power plant to steal plutonium . . . excuse me . . .
Marcia picks up the pen and corrects the word.
‘i-u-m’, by borrowing the agent’s pass.
Marcia then puts the pen down on the table, not hidden but away from Rose’s sight.
Well, maybe you gave me that idea too.
Rose: No, Marcia! They’d have very strict security. I can’t have given you that idea. It’s even sillier than your fish story!
Marcia: If a pass code was hidden in a pen, obviously the agent’s wife could get hold of it. Agents probably lose things. I mean look at you.
Rose: Oh look at the time. I have to go. You must find something else to write about! Really! Tear this up!
Rose gets up and takes her bag. She starts to move ‘cds’.
Marcia: Listen, Rose, maybe we should work together. We could pick an idea from one of Hugh’s old columns, then add and speculate a bit.
Rose: Have you got any old newspapers here?
Marcia: No, the rubbish was all collected yesterday.
Rose: Hugh saves all his columns at home. I’ll bring you a snippet first thing tomorrow.
From ‘cds’ Marcia
moves left accompanying Rose.
Una creeps across ds from the right and enters Marcia’s door cds.
Marcia is still saying goodbye to Rose while Una searches the table in Marcia’s apartment. Una finds the pen and rubs it with a cloth.
Marcia: Oh! Who’s there?
Una: Ooow, it’s just me. Just me!
Marcia: What are you doing in here?
Una: The door was open. I’m Una, your neighbour.
Marcia: I know that! What are you doing with that pen?
Rose starts to return to Marcia’s apartment.
Una: Um? Er, I was just going to leave you a message!
Marcia: Give it to me.
Una: (Holding the pen gingerly by the base, she hands it over) Well, yes, of course . . .
Rose enters the imagined doorway.
Rose: Marcia. Oh, I’ve come back for Hugh’s pen.
Marcia: She had it!
Una: Is that pen Hugh’s?! Oh, I’ve put a voodoo spell onto Hugh’s pen. Hugh is now in great jeopardy. I never meant it for Hugh!
Marcia takes the pen from Una
Marcia: Voodoo? That’s nonsense.
Una: It worked on Jim. Oh yes. I doused his essay in a slight mishap spell. Then yesterday he crashed his car and set his house on fire!
Rose: Jim from our class? That Jim! It was rather a large mishap!
Marcia: He is a nasty man and mixes with a bad crowd, that’s why he is in trouble.
Una: Well, maybe but . . .
Rose: What else have you done?
Una: I rubbed Deirdre’s doorknocker with an amnesia spell.
Marcia: She’s suddenly gone back to that violent husband of hers. She must have forgotten all the awful things he did to her.
Rose: He beat her up whenever she went on a political march.
Una: I rubbed Nola’s car door handle with the same thing.
Marcia: Nola forgot to go to her animal-rights meeting yesterday.
Rose takes the pen from Marcia.
Rose: So what is Hugh going to suffer from?
Una: A confinement spell. He may be confined indoors for a while.
Rose: So My husband will be stuck at home? That will be a nice change for me.
Una: Oh, you are Hugh’s wife! I’m a great admirer of his column.
Marcia: You intended that spell for me, did you?
Una: I did.
Rose: Marcia and I have touched the pen. Will it affect us?
Rose offers the pen back to Una who is suddenly rather nervous of it and points to her bag. Rose slips the pen into Una’s bag.
Una: You may feel a sense of unease.
Marcia looks towards the audience as if through a window and during this paragraph they move downstage in anxiety.
Marcia: Aaah!!! Look there! Someone’s at the window? Is it Jim out there? I gave him some advice last lesson. He hates advice. Go out and see if he is there.
Rose: He is very vengeful. You go yourself! I corrected his spelling in class.
Marcia: The spell must be making us nervous. Hurry up and undo it!
Una: I must take it home to un-hex the pen properly.
Rose: We’ll all go together and we’ll watch you undo it.
Marcia: I’d rather stay here. The – er — night air is no good for me. Hurry out, I must lock the door!
Una: I’ll need fresh ingredients. I have a torch here and an empty jar.
Rose: Let’s go together. Goodnight, Marcia. Tuck up in bed, that’s best.
Marcia: I will. Hurry up and clean the pen. Go on!
Light fades to blackout
SFX15 Toads croaking in a pond
Marcia exits upstage.
Una and Rose shine the torch into the audience and adlib remarks about catching a toad, such as “There’s a big fat toad.” “Try and get it.” “It’s a good one” “There’s a pretty little one”. “Too small.” There’s a Granddaddy of a toad,” “Now it’s raining we could catch a cold,” “Look there, is that Hugh,” No, I think it’s Jim.” “It is Jim, come on hurry!”
They hurry off stage.
Light up stage left
Hugh enters wearing a dressing gown, a plaster on his nose.
Sits at telephone table, dials. Speaks with a bad cold.
Hugh: J, Sir, I’ve been on this job for two weeks. I’ve followed them about and caught nothing but a bad chill. I am reporting after my second class. Last night Jim slammed a door into my face. I have a bruised nose, as well as a chill.
Monday night I followed my wife to a block of apartments. I waited outside and it started to drizzle. Later Rose left with another woman and they went down to a patch of scrub close to the power station. They seemed to be intent on fishing something out of a pond on the waste ground at the back of the plant.
They found an object that they placed into a glass jar. When Rose shone a torch onto the jar this object looked remarkably like a live toad. The other woman took the item and jar away with her.
Even though I was soaking wet, I followed the woman back to her home. I fixed my bug microphone to her door and I believe I heard her talking to her cat. She followed this with some sort of mumbled incantation. It’s quite beyond me, Sir.
I have snuffled all through my second class and have now retired to bed. My head is throbbing badly. (pours rum into a glass)
I have questioned Rose about her fishing activities, but all she will say is that “two can play at keeping secrets.” I suppose I deserve this, bearing in mind my recent behaviour towards her.
And now, Sir, you must find a replacement for me. I won’t be getting out of bed for at least a week. I am now confined to the house and totally useless to you.
I suggest, Sir, that you call in and interrogate the woman with the cat.
Light fades, comes up on UNA’s home apron right.
Exit Hugh in the dark.
SFX16 Cat purring. At end of purr:
Una: (presses cat’s head) Hello, Una here.
SFX17 J: Una, good-morning. How are you?
Una: I am well, Sir. I am very well, thank you. And how are you, J?
SFX18 J: I am still holding together fairly well. Overworked and underpaid as usual.
Una: You would find a cup of my special tea most refreshing.
SFX19 J: Thank you, but I think I will have to decline your kind offer. And how is your wonderful cat?
Una: Tibby is hurt and bewildered, Sir. He was unable to accompany me on my recent trip to Cuba. No provision was made for his special clearances.
SFX20 J: It was a private trip of yours, Una.
Una: I went there to study voodoo. Magic is useful in my detective work.
SFX21 J: Do you realise that you were seen creeping around outside the writing class. Why was that?
Una: When news got out that Hugh was taking over, it filled up so that I couldn’t get into it. I had to creep around outside, gathering vibes from it as best I could.
SFX22 J: You were also discovered prowling in the grounds of the power station.
Una: The pond there is populated with a plethora of toads, Sir.
SFX23 J: Toads!
Una: Toads. I use them in my spells, Sir. They are a vital ingredient.
SFX24 J: Of course.
Your magic spells.
And whom did you intend to hex with these spells?
Una: I intended, with the use of very mild spells, to eliminate some of the students from the class.
SFX25 J: I assume that you studied these members of the writing class very thoroughly?
Una: I did, and I found that the class is a hotbed of intrigue. Deirdre is a demon women’s libber and an ardent antinuclear nut. Nola with a karate black belt defends animal rights and has chemical interests. Jim wants to blow up the world.
SFX26 J: Jim Scroatham, ah yes. What is he up to now?
Una: Jim has
been injured in a recent rock fall. He
was experimenting with explosives down at the quarry when the accident
I am told that he will be out of hospital fairly soon.
SFX27 J: So have you learned anything that might affect national security?
Una: Yes, this is why I called you. I found a very suspicious pen. I have it here. Emanations were earnestly and emphatically emitting from its entrails.
SFX28 J: And you sense suspicious secrets seeping from its substrates, eh?
Una: I think you’ve got it, Sir.
SFX29 J: We have examined this pen before. The police found it on Jim Scroatham, apparently planted there by Jack Jeffries. They found a note with it that read, “Take this to Secret Service Security and claim your prize.” We found Hugh’s DNA on a chip inside it. The chip held a recording of everything that was going on in my office over a whole week. I changed the note, took out the chip and gave the pen to Hugh with orders to put it back into the writing class. We wanted to see what he would do with it.
Una: That is very
strange. This pen still has a chip inside it. As
well as snatches from your office, it
holds an incriminating conversation between Hugh and Jack
There is enough here to ensure that Hugh is
convicted. Clearly he still resented
being thrown out of the Secret Service.
You will be happy to hear that the conversation clears Rose completely.
SFX30 J: Excellent! That is excellent. When we interrogated her, she had a similar pen, but it had no chip inside it. I didn’t want to lose Rose.
Una: She will be horrified when she hears the news about Hugh.
SFX31 J: I am sure she will be. He has already been apprehended and confined.
Una: Giggles. Hugh confined! My spells must have been working overtime.
SFX32 J: Hrrmph, that’s as may be. If I have my way he will be recruited by us as a double agent and will soon be released.
But Jack Jeffries is our prime target, by the time the police found the pen on Jim Scroatham, Jack had left the country. If you are interested in monitoring him I can arrange a briefing for you. We know Jack’s location abroad and we would fly you over there.
Una: I would want top diplomatic immunity and no airport x-rays for my possessions, this time, you understand!
Bring your cat in for updating, Q will be glad to meet him again, and
will get all the paperwork organised.
And you can travel as a ‘demented investigative writer seeking inspiration’. Just stick to this same barmy act of yours.
Una: Act? Me?? Barmy?? Take care, Sir! Tibby will have heard you say that!
SFX33 James Bond music, blackout, curtain.