Early Sunday morning. Magdalena phones Ana.
Ana: Do you know what time it is? It’s Sunday morning, my only day for a lie-in! You can’t…
Magdalena: (Excitedly) Listen! It happened, Ana!
Ana: What happened?
Magdalena: He turned up in a very nice car and we had a pleasant meal.
Ana: In a posh Bristol restaurant?
Magdalena: Well, not exactly. Things never work out quite as you plan them, do they! For a start, it wasn’t James who picked me up in the car. It was Alex!
Magdalena: I had just finished my last lecture and was coming out of the faculty building, loaded with books, and then it started to rain. I was thinking about a taxi, and you know how it is when it’s raining, it was impossible to find one. There I was at the top of Park Street…
Ana: Can you get to the point?
Magdalena: Anyway I was thinking about looking for a taxi when this red Ferrari stopped by me, and James leaned over and asked me to get in. Well, of course, it took me a nanosecond to see that it was James. He wore dark glasses nearly all the time we were together, and wore his Alex gear, and talked like Alex, but there we are. You can’t have everything.
Magdalena: The car wasn’t just a nice car, it was a red Ferrari! It must have cost him half a month’s salary, even just for a day!
Ana: And are you worth half a month’s salary, just for a day? And the meal?
Magdalena: And the meal. I couldn’t let him spend the other half of his salary on the meal so I insisted on buying some sandwiches and a couple of cans of Thatcher’s cider.
Ana: Not quite the posh affair we had in mind.
Magdalena: No, it was much better than that! Anyway, as I was saying, I got in, sat back in the seat, closed my eyes, and it was great! The car was warm. The seat was cushioned like an armchair! It felt so good! And to think that a minute before I had been struggling with my books, the wind and the rain in Bristol! Then we cruised down the M5 to Clevedon and parked on the sea front, you remember Clevedon, above the stony beach and looking across the Channel to Wales. Then we walked to the end of the pier in that Bristol Channel breeze, you know how that is, the wind from the sea that almost knocks you over. It wakes you up at the time and then makes you sleepy afterwards. Then we walked back along the sea front and up that path with the old church on one side and the cliff and the sea on the other. It’s called Poets’ Walk, I think. There’s a connection with Coleridge or someone. Near the church we sat on a bench and had our sandwiches and cider. I have never tasted anything better. And together we looked across the wind-swept sea to the hills of Wales cloaked in the distant mist. Nothing I have ever seen before looked so pretty! Never before have I …
Ana: Sorry, but I stopped listening when you were at the end of the pier! Now, never mind all the poetry. What did you do next?
Magdalena: We went back to his Ferrari, a red Ferrari…
Ana: I know what colour it was!
Magdalena: And I snuggled down in the cushioned seat and then we drove back to Bristol and he took me home. My father was there. In my flat!
Ana: Your father?
Magdalena: Well he was shopping in Bristol and then he needed the loo so he called in.
Ana: And he saw you with James as Alex?
Magdalena: Yes, but he never notices anything like that so don’t worry about him. So, it was a very successful day, wasn’t it!
Ana: Well, not really. You have had a windy walk by the sea with James who was pretending to be someone else.
Magdalena: Pretending? Oh, that’s a mere detail! We’ll sort that out! You worry about these small things too much!
Ana: And you don’t worry about these small things enough!
Magdalena: It will all be fine! I have never let you down yet, have I?
Ana: Well, there have been one or…
Magdalena: Come on! Trust me! Bye!
Sunday lunchtime. James phones Henry
James: Henry! I did it! The deed is done!
Henry: That’s something then. So, how did it go?
James: A Ferrari works wonders. I should have thought of it before!
Henry: Ah, so you went for the Ferrari! How much did that set you back?
James: Well, it wasn’t cheap! Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained! But it went well, Henry. It went really well.
James; Well, there is just one small thing.
Henry: How small?
James: I was Alex not James.
Henry: So you have got nowhere, James. Don’t you realise? If she thought you were Alex, you are no further forward!
James: But I couldn’t face her as myself. As Alex, inspiration was strong within me! I knew I could do it. Life is so easy when we are acting a role.
Henry: We are always acting a role. All day through! Right now my role is advisor to a friend who is going round in circles!
James: I mean consciously acting, having a face you can hide behind! The doctor, the lawyer the policeman, they are all acting a role. They don’t have to think. The script is given to them by the job. The doctor speaks, the lawyer speaks, the policeman speaks, and it is all scripted! They say what they have to say! See them in a bath towel with their hair all over the place wandering round the bedroom looking for their slippers and they are no one!
Henry: But what happened?
James: The heavens conspired with me. It was pouring with rain. I saw her coming out of the university building. She was loaded down with books and had no umbrella. I stopped the car! Not any car, remember, but a gleaming red Ferrari! I offered her a lift. She said no. I insisted! Yes, I insisted, Henry. I actually told Magdalena what to do! James would never have done that! And she got in the car! She got in the car, Henry!
Henry: Well, she got in the car! And what then?
James: We cruised down the motorway to Clevedon, and walked to the end of the pier and then we had sandwiches on a bench and looked out over the sea.
Henry: Sandwiches! You had sandwiches? You will never be a true romantic. Nothing romantic ever came from eating sandwiches! I said you should treat her to a meal in the best restaurant in Bristol.
James: She insisted on sandwiches. Egg mayonnaise. And very good they were too! We sat on a wooden bench and looked at the waves and ate egg mayonnaise sandwiches! A little rain in the air but not too much, a little breeze from the channel, the seagulls in the sky, the spray in the wind. Marvellous!
Henry: And then?
James: Then in the sleepy luxury of the Ferrari we drove back up the motorway to Bristol once more. I took her home, but her father happened to be there.
Henry: Her father!
James: Yes, but I don’t think he recognized me. So no problem there! Well, there we are. Actually, I’m seeing her again tomorrow.
Henry: When you say ‘I’, you mean you?
James: Of course, ‘me’.
Henry: James, not Alex?
James: Yes, me, James. She phoned me, James, and said it was urgent. Anyway, I’ll keep you up to date.
Henry: Goodbye. James. Now take my advice. Alex will land you in a lot of trouble. Get rid of him! Good luck!
Sunday afternoon. In Magdalena’s flat.
Magdalena is in very high spirits. She is dancing round the room singing a song from ‘My Fair Lady’.
Magdalena: (Singing) I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night…
(The doorbell rings.)
…if I wasn’t interrupted!
(She opens the door and James enters.)
I’m so glad you’ve come, though you are a little late! I want to show you a photo, just to see what you think of it. Here. Look at this.
She hands James her mobile showing a photo of the red Ferrari.
James: Nice car. It’s a red Ferrari, this year’s model. Very good. But Magdalena, I didn’t come all the way to look at photos of cars! This afternoon I was going …
Magdalena: You should drive a car like that! Even if only for one day! You could take me out in it! We could go down the coast! To Clevedon or somewhere like that, you know! It would be…interesting!
James: Well, yes, it’s a possibility. Perhaps later in the year when the weather’s better.
Magdalena: But you never do things like that, do you!
James: No, it’s not really my thing!
(Absentmindedly, he scrolls back to the next photo.)
Well, well, well. Look at the next one. There’s a man here, in dark glasses, next to the car. A thin, rather drab specimen he is. Not much to look at, is he!
Magdalena: Oh, that was just some tourist I met. He must have walked in front of me when I took the photo! A real nuisance! I told him where to go, I can tell you!
James: You told him where to go?
Magdalena: Oh yes. And you’re right, he does look a rather drab specimen! Anyway off he went!
James: (Scrolling again.)
Yes, off he went into the next photo! In this one you are sitting with this tourist on a bench. Perhaps he just walked in front of you again and then sat down next to you.
(He looks closer.)
And you are eating a sandwich! An egg mayonnaise sandwich.
Magdalena: (Taking back the phone.) You can’t see that! Don’t be ridiculous!
James: Well, it looks like egg, and the best way to keep egg on the bread is to mix it with mayonnaise. Did you know mayonnaise is a sauce from Mahon in Menorca? The name is from the town of Mahon! Mahonaise then became mayonnaise. Interesting, isn’t it?
Magdalena: Not really!
James: Anyway, back to what matters. Who was this man in dark glasses who you told to get lost, and who then appears again and again…
(Taking the mobile again and looking closer at the photograph.)
… with his arm around you on a bench by the sea?
Magdalena: I have no idea. He never told me his name, his real name. Anyway you should never go through the photos on someone else’s mobile. It is no business of yours, is it!
James: Of course, it is business of mine. You can’t be gambolling around the country with any Tom, Dick or …
James: With any Tom, Dick or Alex on a Saturday afternoon!
Magdalena: I can do what I want on Saturday afternoon!
James: But I don’t like… But you’re right. It is no business of mine. Nothing to do with me at all!
Magdalena: And have you anything else to say about these photos and the Ferrari and the bench? Do you want to throw any light on the matter?
James: No. Nothing!
Magdalena: Nothing will come of nothing! Speak again!
James: I have nothing more to say.
Magdalena: Well, in that case neither have I. Oh, and for your information I am very keen on this Alex. There is the door. Goodbye.
(James leaves reluctantly and Magdalena slams the door after him.)
(In the street outside Magdalena’s flat.)
James: That’s done it! Where do we go from here?
James starts to go, but Harold arrives.
Harold: Ah James, I’m glad you’re on your own. I have been wanting to talk to you. I don’t quite know how to put it. It’s rather tricky you see, but Magdalena has met someone. Thought you ought to know. He must be very well off. He drives a red Ferrari. Lovely car! I wish you could have seen it. What I’d give to have a drive in it! Anyway, this man brought Magdalena back here last night! I saw them arrive. I asked her where she’d been and she said she’d had the most marvellous afternoon of her life! Sorry about this! Very sorry! But I thought you should know what you’re up against.
James: “The most marvellous afternoon of her life.” Did she really say that?
Harold: Yes, and I’m very sorry, but there it is. But look on the bright side! There are plenty more fish in the sea, you know.
James: No, don’t be sorry. Did she say any more about this Ferrari man?
Harold: Well, she seemed to be very taken with him. She said he had finally made a move and had swept her off her feet! I am very sorry, James.
James: Swept her off her feet!
Harold: Well, you know what girls are!
James: No, I don’t really!
Harold: Well, you know what Magdalena is like!
James: No, even less, to be honest. But I’ll find out! I am not finished yet.
Harold. That’s right! That’s the spirit! Perhaps things are not as bad as they seem.
James: No, I don’t think they are, Harold. I really don’t think they are.
Harold: Well, I just thought you ought to know.
Harold leaves to go into Magdalena’s flat.
James: I’ll phone her up and we’ll meet in the Llandogger Trow and there everything will be unravelled. I hope.
Sunday evening. Magdalena phones Ana.
Magdalena: Come on Ana. Ah good. Ana, listen. James came this afternoon and I showed him the photos of our trip in the Ferrari.
Ana: And what good did that do? He was Alex then. Did he confess that he was taking you in?
Magdalena: That he thought he was taking me in. No, he didn’t so I flew into a temper and told him to leave. Right now he’ll be regretting that he never told me and any time now the phone will ring and he’ll suggest that we meet again.
Ana: He’ll phone you?
Magdalena: Of course he’ll phone me!
Ana: And then you’ll meet and he’ll confess he was Alex?
Ana: And you will then confess that you were April
Ana: I repeat. And you will then confess that you were April?
Magdalena: Of course I will. (The landline rings). Ah, there he is! Right on time. Bye Ana.
(She picks up the other phone) Hello James…
Monday evening. In the Llandogger Trow.
James is alone at a table in a corner of the lounge bar. He is nervously sipping a pint of Guinness. Magdalena comes in with a glass of Thatcher’s cider in her hand.
Magdalena: Dutch courage?
James: Yes, in a way it is. Please sit down. I have a confession to make.
Magdalena: Really? A confession! And is the sin so very bad that it needs a pint of Guinness?
James: It may need two or three!
(He puts on Alex’s sports jacket.)
Is it familiar?
(He puts on Alex’s dark glasses.)
Magdalena: And your red Ferrari is parked outside?
James: Yes, it was me. I want to apologize. It was a very silly idea and I am very sorry.
Magdalena: (Pretending to be surprised.)
So it was you! It was you all the time?
James: I’m afraid it was. In any relationship there should be no deception and no tricks, no concealment. I am very sorry!
Magdalena: That’s the meanest trick! It’s just not fair! Taking me in like that! I’d never have thought you capable of it.
James: You’re right. It was despicable. But can we put it behind us and move forward now?
Magdalena: Move forward! We’re not moving anywhere. That’s it! All over! And I’m leaving! Just to think that you made a complete fool of me!
James: Stay and finish your cider!
Magdalena: (She picks up her glass and looks at James. She considers throwing it over him. In the end, she controls herself and puts the glass back on the table). (Dramatically) I couldn’t touch a drop! I’ll never have a drink with you again!
She storms out and slams the door.
James: That went well!
(He picks up her cider.)
At least she never threw it at me! But it was a close thing!
(Then he picks up his Guinness, looks at it, and puts it down untasted.)
So where do we go from here?
Later Monday evening. Magdalena phones Ana.
Magdalena: Ana, I just been even sillier than usual.
Ana: Oh dear. This is not a good start. With James, I suppose?
Magdalena: Yes, of course it was with James. I’m not silly with anyone else.
Ana: So what happened this time?
Magdalena: We met this evening in the Llandogger Trow.
Ana: So far so good!
Magdalena: And James confessed that he was Alex, the man with the red Ferrari.
Ana: So when he confessed he was Alex last Saturday, of course you confessed you had been acting for weeks as April.
Magdalena: No, I couldn’t. I pretended to be in a temper and I stormed out of the bar and I slammed the door. (Pause) It was a wonderful exit!
Ana: Marvellous! Absolutely marvellous! The perfect moment to come clean and you get all uppish and storm out of the room! It was the worst thing you could have done! Don’t you see that?
Magdalena: I do now. Of course I do now, but I didn’t see it then. I wanted to make the grand gesture. I did it really well! But what can I do now?
Ana: You have to get it off your chest! You have to make a clean breast of it!
Magdalena: Could we have fewer anatomical references? Look Ana, right now I risk losing him all together.
Ana: You tell him now or never. Imagine you don’t tell him, but you still get together. You don’t want to through years of married life with this nagging you every day. Years will pass and there will never be a good moment for telling him! You’ll be 80 years old, hunched in front of the fire, and you’ll say, “Oh by the way James, it’s just occurred to me. There’s something I want to tell you!”
Magdalena: Don’t be ridiculous!
Ana: And then you’ll have to repeat it three times because by then James will be so deaf that he won’t be able to hear you!
Magdalena: OK, I’ll do it. I’ll do it next week some time.
Ana: You’ll do it tomorrow! And then you phone me.
Magdalena: I have a lot of exam papers to mark tomorrow!
Ana: You’ll do it tomorrow. Exam papers or not. And if you don’t tell him, I will. And that will be much worse.
Magdalena: I thought you were my friend.
Ana: This is the friendliest thing I’ve done for you for a long time. Tomorrow evening! Goodbye!
Magdalena: Tomorrow then! And I’ll need more than a glass of Thatcher’s cider!