Monday, 19 September 2011

Parrots and Pirates and Pedalling Backwards

Mrs Slocombe appears with a sheaf of paper.
'What's this?' I say, as she flings it at me in order to free both wings to dib into the jaffa cake supply.
'It's my script,' she says. 'For my musical - 'Parrots of Penzance'. I thought, with you being a writer and all that you could take a look at it and tell me what you think.'
'And are you likely to take any notice of my opinion?' I say.
Mrs Slocombe shrugs. 'Probably not,' she says, ' but I understand it is the artistic thing to do. You know, pay lip service to the professional, hope for some kind of endorsement.'
'Such as?' I say.
'Well, I was thinking, 'Celebrated author of Nearly King Jimbo says, 'Parrots of Penzance is the funniest thing I've ever seen. Go and see it yourself and tell me I'm wrong.'

I sigh. It's been a long day. I've had to tolerate a classful of Year 11 boys hooting like maniacs because they've suddenly understood the phallic imagery in Romeo and Juliet and now think Shakespeare is the filthiest thing since Rambling Sid Rumpo nadgered his cord-wangle. I've had no lunch (again) and came home with a stonking headache and by next Monday I have about 100 exercise books and 50 pieces of homework to mark, including progress stickers, summative and formative comments and SMART targets. (SMART stands for Silly Morons Are Rubbish Teachers - well, in my book it does.)

Do I really need to spend time reading a script for a dubious musical written by an even more dubious chicken? Who, I have to add, looks thoroughly ridiculous at the moment because she's moulting, has no tail feathers left ergo resembles a flabby, spotty rugby ball.

'Just give me a rough synopsis,' I sigh.

'Well,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'there's this parrot who lives in Penzance and he wants to be a pirate but the pirates won't let him because he gobbled their After Eights...'
'Pieces of Eight,' I say. 'After Eights are chocolate mints wrapped in individual envelopes.'
'That's a stupid idea,' says Mrs S. 'Chocolate in an envelope indeed. So the parrot decides to set up his own pirate gang and he calls it the gang of the Parrots of the Carry Ben Ann. Ann is the heroine. She is an honorary pirate because women shouldn't be pirates, they should be at home baking croquembouche and embroidering hose.'
'That's a bit sexist,' I say. 'Why can't a woman be a pirate?'
'Because of the dubloons,' says Mrs Slocombe, rather too mysteriously.

In fact, she is so mysterious I daren't question her further in case there is some double meaning to the word dubloon that I don't know about. It was bad enough with the Year 11 boys today, what with all the 'swords' and 'thrusting' and 'pricking' and 'heads of maids.'

'And who is Carry?' I ask.
'It's a verb, not a noun,' says Mrs S. 'The parrots get to carry Ben Ann around. She can't walk because of the dubloons.'
'And why is she called 'Ben Ann?' I ask.
'Well,' says Mrs Slocombe, 'it's like Ben Gunn. He was a famous pirate, wasn't he?'
'Probably,' I say. I am distracted by the fact that every time I glance down at the script I go cross-eyed and everything shifts out of focus.
'I could always change her name to Long John Sylvia, if you think it would aid comprehension,' says Mrs Slocombe.
'At this stage of the game I think it would be wise to stick with what you've got,' I say.
'So you'll read it through for me then?' says she.

'Yes,' I say, watching the last of my jaffa cakes disappear down the chicken hatch.
'Good,' says Mrs Slocombe. 'Any time before breakfast tomorrow would be fine.'

I add it to my list of 'to-dos.' I'm busy going nowhere fast.

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