In Greenwood, studded with crab and perry,
out of tempest mind tumbled Caliban.
So say yeomen of sixteenth century,
‘Bring thee where the crabs grow,’ said the madman.
Drinking proverbial acidity,
Gossip’s Bowl was spice sipped by Bidford folk
in restaurants of ancient forestry
acid draughts intoxicate shallow jokes.
But three crabbed months had soured themselves to death.
‘He’ll never have Miranda,’ they concurred.
The Bidford souls muttered under their breath
‘Goddess and a madman?’ with spoon they stirred.
‘Whose apple thou art, gem grown from deep root?’
‘Yours, but I will never bear sweet fruit.’
Copyright © Deborah Edgeley
Ball of wool on floor rolled between both characters
MUNGO: How are you finding it?
PRUDEY: (scratches back of neck) Bit itchy, to be honest, especially when I’m doing my 3 o’clock wash. My paw bumps into it
MUNGO: Hmm, it’s not as if we’d go that far though, is it? Mind you, Floof went 56 miles North back to his previous human
PRUDEY: I don’t blame him. If my human carries on, I’ll do the same, though I’m rubbish with directions. By the way, have you been presented with that new pouch yet?
MUNGO: The one with peas and carrots from The Wet Nose brand?
PRUDEY: Yes! Force feeding us veg. Abuse! Deprivation of liberty!
MUNGO: What next? A pudding version of Spotted Richard and custard?
PRUDEY: Yuck…Ha, yeah, anyway, not only does mine itch, it vibrates when there’s a thunderstorm
MUNGO: Double tremors? Unthinkable. You must have a faulty one, but how do you tell them?
PRUDEY: Extra meows, hunger strike? Point my paw to my neck?
MUNGO: Yeah, right. As if they’ll understand…
PRUDEY: All this technology nowadays, they should invent a way for cats to speak to humans
MUNGO: They can’t even get the microchip right, let alone anything advanced like that. Imagine the things that could go wrong? Mis-translations, subtle pauses mistaken for aloofness, black humour mistaken for wickedness. It would all be guesswork. We would have to have some input and devise a second version. Besides, what would we talk about with them? The weather? Existentialism?
PRUDEY: Well, we’re quite au fait with those subjects, and mine harp on about both all the time, so yeah, that’s two for starters.
(Both MUNGO and PRUDEY stare into space)
MUNGO: You going anywhere this year?
PRUDEY: Two weeks in November, apparently, at Aunty Joan’s. Excellent victuals, though she only hoovers fortnightly, and there’s always a faint smell of urine in every room
MUNGO: So where are your humans off to?
PRUDEY: A flight free jolly in Finland. Looks like they’re finally getting a footprint conscience.
MUNGO: Thought they liked hot places?
PRUDEY: It’s all about the search for the Northern Lights after watching that talking bear on TV
MUNGO: If only they knew we could talk. We could give them our review of the whole series
PRUDEY: We may have a choice of what to watch!
MUNGO: Good point. What would be the first thing you would say to your human?
PRUDEY: Less with the goo-goo talk, I’m not an idiot. You?
MUNGO: Any chance I could sleep on your cashmere jumper, mate?
Sound of thunderstorm
Copyright © Deborah Edgeley
ROBOT PRIEST faces audience
SINNER sits sideways to ROBOT PRIEST
SINNER: (Crosses themselves) Bless me Robot Priest for I have sinned. It’s been one year since my last confession.
ROBOT PRIEST: Go on, Sinner.
SINNER: I blocked somebody on Bookface.
ROBOT PRIEST: Have this stone slab for your neck to keep your head bowed.
SINNER: I walked past a homeless man and didn’t give him any money, even though it was payday.
ROBOT PRIEST: Spend two days fasting, outside Greggs.
SINNER: Talking about food, I bought a really expensive lasagne, when a no frills one could have done. Plus, I could have made it from scratch. Wait…that’s two deadly sins in one. Sorry. Oh, and I hoard things.
ROBOT PRIEST: Forget the lasagne. Hoard what?
ROBOT PRIEST: Why?
SINNER: So I can display them.
ROBOT PRIEST: To thimble lovers?
SINNER: No, in my living room. Makes me look interesting to others…
ROBOT PRIEST: Maybe you should think about going thimble-less. It serves no purpose if they aren’t practical. Do you do any sewing? How many thimbles does a person need?
SINNER: They are pottery thimbles.
ROBOT PRIEST: Ridiculous *coughs* Oh, problem solved, then. Suggestion: Use as water cups for insects on your window ledge.
SINNER: I don’t read about politics, but I read silly articles about celebrities.
ROBOT PRIEST: Neither do I. So do I…
SINNER: Sometimes I can’t be bothered to brush my own hair.
ROBOT PRIEST: I suggest you run continuously at top speed, every day, on waking, for ten minutes, for the rest of your life.
SINNER: I was angry with my boss for reducing my hours.
ROBOT PRIEST: Don’t be a double slave to yourself.
SINNER: Robot Priest have mercy on me!
Do not look upon my sins
But take away all my guilt. Here (gives ROBOT PRIEST a black heart, which he rips up)
Create in me a clean heart
And renew within me
an upright spirit.
(SINNER receives absolution from ROBOT PRIEST and receives a white heart)
ROBOT PRIEST: (short circuits) The audience is your conscience (repeat x 6)
Copyright © Deborah Edgeley
THALASSA: So, Poseidon, tell us about your watery domain…
POSEIDON: Well, my two brothers and I divided up creation, no biggie. I got the sea, Zeus got the sky, and Hades got the Underworld. The sea was my second choice, actually, as I do have a soft spot for the Underworld, as you know, but I think I’ve finally come to terms with it. Well, you never know, though, one day I may rule all three.
THALASSA: Wouldn’t that be a lot of work? How could you oversee three places?
POSEIDON: I could manage it, easily, better, in fact. Zeus is a bit lazy, to be honest, and Hades, well, Hades doesn’t appreciate his position. Always wishing he were somewhere else. I mean, what else would you need in the Underworld?! They have everything. It’s amazing!
THALASSA: Have you been? I thought that once you’re in, there’s no escape?
POSEIDON: Hades was having a one off open day, just for writers, to give them inspiration. They got the opportunity to chat to ancient authors. He made a fortune. One gold ingot entry fee.
THALASSA: Fascinating. Who did you get to meet?
POSEIDON: I went straight to Tatarus and asked Sisyphus why he murdered his dinner guests, and to show me his rock collection, then a quick trip to the Elysian Fields to ask Shakespeare about his alternative ending of The Tempest
THALASSA: What did he say about The Tempest?
POSEIDON: Sorry, can’t tell you that. It’s a future idea for a sequel
THALASSA: Right, ok, so what injuries did you sustain in striking the acropolis with your prong?
POSEIDON: Ah, it was nothing really, just gouged my left eyeball and lost a couple of digits. The Greek Chronicle made a big fuss about it, so I killed them all in an earthquake
THALASSA: Ah, yes, your brothers called you the Earth Shaker. Walk us through your day as Poseidon
POSEIDON: I’m a bit like a lighthouse, really, King of Navigation, making sure sailors are safe, conjuring a storm if I’m a bit moody, killing people if they insult my new beard shape, that kinda thing.
THALASSA: Thankyou for the interview, Poseidon
POSEIDON: My pleasure. So, Thalassa, I protect sailors and you lure them to their death! Funny old world, isn’t it? What have you got against sailors?
THALASSA: I think we’re both quite dangerous, really, Poseidon. Well, quite simply, sailors are a perfectly balanced diet for us sirens. What else are we supposed to eat? Crabs? Eels. Ugh. Not a chance!
POSEIDON: But isn’t it about power? Having control over men? Luring sailors to their death is a game to you?
THALASSA: Nah, it’s just survival. I don’t enjoy it. I can’t even sing in tune, for Hades sake, but the sailors seem to like my discordancy. Oh, yeah, and I also match their souls to their celestial host, but sometimes it gets complicated, and mixed up, like a comedy of errors.
POSEIDON: Can you give us a song?
THALASSA: Erm, well, no, because I would die, wouldn’t I, if a non-sailor heard my song?
POSEIDON: Ah…moving on. So how would you describe your daily life?
THALASSA: I’m a bit like a mermaidian grim reaper, to be honest, noticing sailors who are going to die soon anyway (they always have a purple aura) ringing up their celestial host, booking them in, singing discordantly, killing them, and then feasting on their fleshy shells, before the whales get a whiff
POSEIDON: Thankyou, Thalassa
Copyright © Deborah Edgeley