James and Magdalena, as Alex and April, in the White Hart.
James: Thank you for coming, April. I didn’t think you would after that hotel business. I think that has more or less finished things between us, hasn’t it? It’s probably time to end on that note.
Magdalena: Well, I’m not sure exactly what note that was, but I think you’re probably right. There’s a time for coming and a time for going. Now it’s time to go our separate ways, as they say.
James: Do they? Well, yes. I suppose they do.
Magdalena: (Getting up) So that’s it then. Goodbye.
James: Please sit down. I have something to ask you. Look, I’m in a mess, and I think you are the only person who can help me. I need advice.
Magdalena: On your investments? Remember shares can go down as well as go up! I recommend…
James: No, no! Well, yes it is about an investment really, but a very long-term one. You remember Magdalena?
Magdalena: Ah the la di da one with the books? The one who keeps on turning up at the wrong moment? The bean pole?
James: Yes, that’s her. No, I mean she isn’t a bean pole. You see, I’d like to get to know her better.
James: The question is ‘What do I do about her?’ You know about these things, April! You know what impresses a girl. Just point me in the right direction!
Magdalena: In the right direction?
James: Yes, where do I go from here, from where I am?
Magdalena: And where are you exactly?
James: Well, I had a word with her father, and…
Magdalena: (Very surprised) Her father?
James: Well, he had a word with me really. He was very kind, he was only trying to help.
Magdalena: And what help did he give?
James: He said I had to be more ‘bloody, bold and resolute!’
Magdalena: He said that?
James: Well, not in those exact words! But he told me I should be more courageous. He said I should do something. I should be more ‘proactive’, as the jargon is.
Magdalena: Is it?
James: Oh, everyone has to be proactive these days. It’s the fashion. Well, her father didn’t use that word either. But he said I should …er… take the bull by the horns.
James: Yes, and that I had to grasp the nettle!
Magdalena: Yes, that sounds more like him! More horticultural!
James: But you don’t even know him!
Magdalena: No, of course I don’t. What I mean is that sounds the sort of thing the bean pole’s father would say.
James; So I grasped the nettle, and what a nettle it turned out to be.
Magdalena: So what did you do?
James: Well, I phoned Magdalena and I suggested a weekend in London, you know, a classy hotel, a musical on the Saturday evening, etc etc
Magdalena: That etc etc sounds ominous! And what did she say?
James: The phone just went dead. She cut me off!
Magdalena: Of course she did! Really Alex! A weekend in London! That’s no good! Anyone could have thought of that! That was exactly what you shouldn’t have done!
James: So I put my foot I it! That’s it then! First, she has seen me with you! Bad! Then I suggest a weekend in London! Worse! One disaster after another! It’s all over before it started.
Magdalena: Don’t give up! This isn’t taking the bull by the horns! This isn’t grasping the nettle! She must still fancy you. She’s just jealous of me!
James: There’s not a chance of her fancying me! If ever she agrees to see me again, it will just be because I serve as a bit of comic relief. For her I am just a change from the more serious things in life!’
Magdalena: Then drop her.
James: I can’t do that! I don’t want to do that! There’s the rub! So what do I do?
Magdalena: It’s back to basics then. Back to square one. Now let’s see. For a start, you must compliment her on her beautiful eyes.
James: Her beautiful eyes?
Magdalena: Yes, every woman has beautiful eyes! Didn’t you know that? Now, what colour are they?
James: (A long pause) I don’t know!
Magdalena: You don’t know! This is ridiculous! How can you fall for a woman when you don’t know the colour of her eyes? This is worse than I thought. Anyway, they are green.
James: You noticed that? You’ve only seen her once and you noticed that?
Magdalena: Of course I did. They are green. Just like mine!
James: (Looking her in the eyes) Why, yes. Your eyes are green too. Well I never! Just a moment! Just a …
(He looks her steadily in the eyes, a little puzzled, as if recognizing something. Magdalena quickly looks down and interrupts him..)
Magdalena: Anyway, back to the matter in hand. What clothes does she wear?
James: Well, she has a lovely red dress. It fits like a glove and yet it has a swirl as she turns. It’s a beautiful dress! She looks like a top model when she wears it. A dream!
Magdalena: Did you tell her that?
James: Of course I didn’t tell her that! She’d have laughed at me.
Magdalena: Well, so much for the dress! And her jeans?
James: Oh, I’ve no idea about her jeans! Men don’t care about jeans. Did you ever hear a man who said, ‘I remember you that night in the restaurant. You wore some jeans!’ But a dress that has some style, that’s another matter! A man never forgets a dress! Women should realise this!
Magdalena: Yes, I think they should! You’re not as simple as you look!
James: Thank you very much!
Magdalena: No, what I meant was that you have made a very interesting comment that I didn’t expect you to make. That’s what I meant!
James: Most women dress for themselves, not for men! That’s where they go wrong!
Magdalena: And most men dress for themselves, not for women.
James: Most men just dress to be comfortable, but you’re probably right. This is not really my subject.
Magdalena: Tell me more about this Magdalena. I can’t help you if I don’t tell me more!
James: She just feels right! It’s not just her voice, or what she says or how she looks, it’s everything.
Magdalena: (Getting angrier and angrier) What on earth is the problem then? Why don’t you just ask her out, for heaven’s sake? You still haven’t invited Magdalena out for a really special evening!
James: How do you know?
Magdalena: What I mean is that from what you say it seems to me that you haven’t asked her out yet.
James: She’d just put me down with some clever comment or other! You see, I just feel so stupid when she’s nearby. I’m longing to say something clever and something funny and I end up tongue-tied. In fact, I am not just tongue-tied, I’m brain-tied too! Sometimes I feel that she is just playing with me, just to amuse herself. But then, I’m sure she wouldn’t do that!
Magdalena: (Quickly) No, no. I don’t think she’d do that!
James: No, of course not. She’s too kind to do that. I don’t know why I mentioned it! But what do I do, April? What do I do?
Magdalena: You must find her weak point. You’re tall, well-built, and fairly good-looking. You’re OK. Just look her in the eyes! Whatever colour they are! Stand up to her! Find out what she likes. Find her weakness. For some women it’s a man who can dance! Other women fall for a uniform. Think of poor Bathsheba Everdene! For some it’s a house in the country. Just find out what attracts her!
James: Who’s Bathsheba?
Magdalena: Oh, in ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ Bathsheba Everdene married a worthless soldier. She was taken in by the uniform!
James: You’ve read ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’? I wouldn’t have thought that…
Magdalena: No, no. I …er… saw the film recently.
James: Oh, I didn’t know it was on here. Which cinema was that?
Magdalena: No, I saw it online. Anyway I have to go now, Alex. And I agree that we should never meet again. Given the way things have turned out.
James: Yes, of course. Absolutely. I’m very grateful, April.
Magdalena: Good luck with the bean pole. Find her weak point! And just tell her that she looks good in that red dress!
James: And the jeans?
Magdalena: Perhaps it’s better not to mention the jeans!
James: Thank you, April. (Gives her a hug)
Magdalena: It’s as well your Magdalena never saw that!
James: Yes, perhaps it is! So what are you going to do now?
Magdalena: I’m going away. I am not needed here anymore. It’s the right time for me to do some traveling! I may go to the north of Spain! You never know!
James: The north of Spain. That’s funny. The north of Spain is becoming quite popular. It seems to be cropping up all the time! Well anyway, enjoy it! You deserve it! You are a good person, April! Honest and open! No tricks! No deceit! You are exactly what you seem to be! That’s what I like about you! Goodbye!
Magdalena: Why does he say things like that? Yes, it is certainly time for April to disappear! For good! For everyone’s good!
Magdalena phones Ana.
Magdalena: Come on, Ana. Answer it! Answer it!
Ana: Magdalena? So what’s the latest twist in the saga?
Magdalena: Ana, listen. I have a cunning plan. It’s the only way to sort all this out!
Ana: Sort all what out?
Magdalena: James and me, of course. April has disappeared, by the way. She’s gone.
Ana: Thank goodness for that! Not before time, either! She will not be missed!
Magdalena: I will miss her!
Ana: That doesn’t matter.
Magdalena: And Alex will miss her!
Ana: Alex doesn’t matter either. He is like April. He doesn’t really exist. So what now?
Magdalena: I want you to phone Henry and ask him to give a message to James.
Ana: A message from you?
Magdalena: A message from me, yes, but James must never know that! He must think it’s all Henry’s idea.
Ana: I’ll do what I can. So what is this message from you that is Henry’s idea?
Magdalena: Well, James must hire a car, an impressive car, and ask me out to a restaurant, a very good restaurant, in Bristol. OK? Then when he does that, I will so impressed by the car and the restaurant and the meal that I will be very happy, and James will be very happy and that’s it! And James will have done something original.
Ana: Something original that was your idea!
Magdalena: Well yes, it will be all my idea but nothing’s perfect! All misunderstandings will be resolved! All done and dusted!
Ana: I always have misgivings about your cunning plans! But I’ll do my best!
Magdalena: OK. Phone Henry! Now please, Ana!
Ana: As I say, I’ll do my best! And, as I also said, I have misgivings! Bye!
Ana phones Henry.
Ana: Come on, answer it, Henry! Where are you? Ah good. Henry, I’ve just had an idea. It’s to help out Magdalena and James.
Henry: Best not to interfere, Ana. Very tricky!
Ana: Well, they are not getting anywhere by themselves. They need a push, a gentle push. Look, it’s very simple. Just phone James and ask him to take Magdalena out.
Henry: Take her out?
Ana: Yes, he must hire a really good car, a Jaguar. Then he must take her to that posh hotel on the waterfront for a meal. You know, something special!
Henry: It may work!
Ana: And this is your idea, not mine!
Henry: My idea?
Ana: Yes, he must never know that it has come from me! He’ll listen to you. So phone James. Now, please, Henry!
Henry: OK. OK. Bye.
Ana: Bye. (She puts down her mobile.) Right! I have done my best. A woman can do no more!
Henry phones James.
Henry: Come on, answer it, James! Where are you? Ah good. James, I’ve had an idea.
James: You have?
Henry: Yes. I have the answer, the key, the solution. All your troubles are over! You have to make a direct advance.
James: An advance on what?
Henry: On who, you mean. On Magdalena. All you have to do is hire a Ferrari, a red Ferrari is best, and then invite her out to that new hotel down on the waterfront for a dinner she’ll never forget!
James: Just that! A Ferrari and a dinner! That sounds like an expensive answer or key or solution or whatever.
Henry: Trust me, James. This is the way forward. I have never let you down yet, have I?
James: Well, there have been one or two…
Henry: But trust me on this. You have to make the most of yourself! Now, if you had a Ferrari, a red Ferrari, you could sweep girls off their feet.
James: I don’t know whether I want to sweep girls off their feet.
Henry: Well, you will sweep Magdalena off her feet!
James: I’m not sure you’re putting it the right way. All this sweeping! And feet! Anyway, I’ll think about it!
Henry: That’s just it! Don’t think! Thinking gets you nowhere! ‘the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought’ Macbeth, is it?
James: No, I think it’s Hamlet but I’m not sure. Magdalena would know.
Henry: Well that doesn’t matter. Beg, borrow or steal a Ferrari and ask Magdalena out. ‘Faint heart never won…’
James: I know. I know.
Henry: So just do it! Next Saturday. It’s Thursday so you’ve got a couple of days to improve on the plan. Elaborate on it a bit and then Saturday is D-Day.
Henry: No wells, no buts. Upwards and onwards! You owe me one! When all this succeeds, you know who you have to thank!
James: And if it fails, I’ll know who I have to blame!
Henry: On Saturday, then. And don’t let me down!
James: OK, I’ll do it! Saturday, did you say?
Henry: Yes, Saturday.
James: This Saturday?
Henry: This Saturday.
James: OK. It’s on. Operation Ferrari. Bye.
Henry: Phone me on Sunday! Tell me what happened! Bye.