Tuesday evening – The White Hart
Magdalena finally comes clean.
James: I like your earrings!
Magdalena: Well, I don’t. They’re not my style. A little cheap, don’t you think? A little garish? The sort of things the floor mop would wear on a night out.
James: Yes, they are actually. Not garish, I mean, but they are the sort of thing she would wear.
Magdalena: Well, the time has come.
(She stands up, calmly removes her long black skirt to reveal a green miniskirt.)
What are you doing? (He looks round worriedly at the other diners) Don’t, please don’t! Not here!
(Magdalena takes off her coat to show the scarlet T-shirt.)
James: What on earth are you doing?
(Then Magdalena sits down again, calmly opens her hand bag and takes out the yellow wig and looks at it.)
Magdalena: Here it is! Ugh, how ghastly! Anyway, it’s all in a good cause.
(She puts on the wig, leaves it roughly placed hardly covering her own hair and then looks at James.)
There. Finished! Well, there’s no need for me to put on the purple trainers, is there!
James: (A long pause) Oh no. Oh no. It’s you, isn’t it! You are her, aren’t you! And you have been all the time. (He bangs his head on the table.)
Magdalena: What are you doing? (She looks round worriedly at the other diners) Don’t, please don’t! Not here! Yes all the time. But we had some good evenings, didn’t we!
James: You were her every evening, in the Llandogger Trow, here in the White Hart, everywhere.
Magdalena: Yes, everywhere. It was quite tiring, but there we are.
James: You have been making a fool of me, Magdalena. And to think I went to you for advice on how to approach… you.
Magdalena: I am very, very sorry. I should never have let it go on so long.
James: And yesterday I admitted to you that I was Alex in the Ferrari. I made the big confession! And you…
Magdalena: And I said nothing about April. Instead I made a stupid little scene and walked out. I am very sorry.
James: You knew that it was me in the Ferrari, didn’t you!
Magdalena: Yes. The moment I saw you. Before I got in the car. When I was in the rain with all my books.
James: And I thought I was so clever! And I was a complete fool. All the time.
Magdalena: Why do you men never look at the eyes? You are much too busy looking at other things! (Quickly) I’m sorry I said that! I’m sorry about everything. I’m sorry for being April.
James: You did it very well. Very well indeed! (He pauses and comes to a decision.) Let’s wind this up, Magdalena. I am not the right person for you. I am far too slow. Not bright enough at all! (He stands) Good luck! Goodbye. I hope you do well.
(Quietly he leaves.)
Magdalena: (She takes off the yellow wig and throws it on the floor.) And he never slammed the door. He never threw his Guinness in my face. I wish he had. Here I am, then, on my own. With my own pleasant self for company! Well, that’s it then. Exactly what I deserve. Oh how I hate this place!
(She gets up and leaves.)
Magdalena phones Ana
Magdalena: Come on. Answer Ana. Ah, good. Hi.
Ana: Hi. Good news? (She waits for an answer.) Bad news?
Magdalena: Very bad. I told him.
Ana: And he shouted at you, ran out and slammed the door?
Magdalena: He got up very quietly, and he left.
Ana: Oh dear! That is bad.
Magdalena: He even wished me well.
Ana: Then there is hope yet.
Magdalena: There is no hope at all. I am going back to the White Hart, Ana, and I will drink gin and tonics till I come to my senses!
Ana: I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Magdalena: I am tired of good ideas. Look where good ideas have got me. Bye!
Ana: Now look. Just come over here. We’ll have a nice cup of tea and… She’s gone! Now, Ana, don’t panic. What do I do now? Phone Henry! That’s it, phone Henry!
(She phones him.)
Henry, thank goodness you answered. This is important. Listen. Magdalena is in the White Hart, and she’s very down, and she’s probably on her fourth gin and tonic by now, and you must get James to go there and talk to her.
Ana: Yes, James! Your friend, James! Who else? You are very slow sometimes! Tell him to go now. Right now! Just tell him that Magdalena needs him. And don’t tell him I phoned you. He’ll think it’s another trick, and he’s had enough of those! Just make sure he goes.
Henry: OK. Don’t worry. Rely on me!
Ana: And do it quickly!
Henry: Right, I’ll phone him right now and I’ll…Oh, she’s gone. Here we go then.
(He phones James)
James, hi. Ah, now I’ve just seen Magdalena. Er…your Magdalena. You see I’ve been practising my Sherlock Holmes/Philip Marlowe role with touches of Maigret thrown in. You know, just honing my skills. Anyway, I have seen Magdalena walking across Queens Square. She didn’t look happy, James. And then I saw her go into the White Hart. She looked very down.
James: But I’ve just come from there. That’s where it all happened. Magdalena and I have finished, Henry. It’s all over. I am quite simply not the right person for her.
Henry: But you are, James, you are! I can see it. Ana can see it. Everyone can see it except you! Look, I don’t know what’s happened but she needs company right now. She needs you. She’s in the White Hart. Drinking on her own. OK?
James: I’ll think about it Henry. I’ll think about it.
(He turns off his mobile.)
Henry: Well, fair enough, James. But don’t think too long. You see, she’s …Oh, he’s gone. Talking to myself! Let’s hope it all turns out well. Now, I’d better report back to Ana.
James: Thinking gets me nowhere. Just get on with it, James. Go back to the White Hart. She’ll probably make a fool of me again but never mind. It doesn’t matter. Come on, James! Come on!
The White Hart
Magdalena is sitting on her own at the round table in the corner where she and James parted an hour before. James comes in, wet from the rain, and sees she is drinking gin and tonic. He orders one at the bar and walks over to her.
Magdalena: Go away!
James: Thank you!
(He sits down and pushes the glass over to her.)
Magdalena: Thank you.
James: I am sorry I walked out.
Magdalena: You did right to walk out. You should have slammed the door as well! And thrown your glass of Guinness over me. I deserved it!
James: I nearly did slam the door, but as I was going out a waiter was coming in with three plates full of spaghetti! So I refrained! (He points at the glass he has brought.) This is what you’re drinking isn’t it?
Magdalena: Yes, I will drink gin and tonics till the day I die, as a penance. It will remind me of April.
James: Ah yes. April. April Showers! But you did it very well! Being April, I mean. Very well! Brighter men than me would have been taken in!
(Magdalena drinks and says nothing.)
And April was kindness itself. She helped me a lot! She told me not to give up! That was good of her.
Magdalena: Was it? She was still a deceit!
James: A very pretty deceit!
(James takes the glass from her hand and puts it on the table.)
James: You did it very well! “Were you the doctor, and I knew you not?”
Magdalena: “I was April, and you knew me not!” (Very surprised) So you know ‘The Merchant of Venice’?
James: It was my first Shakespeare play at school. You always remember your first Shakespeare play.
Magdalena: Yes, you do. It becomes part of you. It’s a rite of passage!
You’re soaked! You came through all this rain to see me?
James: (He takes Magdalena’s hand.) “Come,
I will have thee, but, by this light, I take thee for pity.”
Magdalena: (Looking perplexed) But that’s not from the Merchant of Venice!
James: No, but right now it’s more to the point. So, we give it a go?
Magdalena: ‘So, we give it a go?’ ‘We give it a go!’ That’s not very romantic!
James: No, but it’s practical. And that is what is needed now! The practical breeds the romantic, just as horse manure breeds the finest rose. That’s bound to be in Shakespeare in some play or other. Every thought worth thinking is in Shakespeare somewhere!
Magdalena: Horse manure! That’s even less romantic! (She pauses) But OK, we give it a go!
James: (He kisses her) That’s that then. That’s sorted. Nothing more to worry about! The die is cast, we have crossed the Rubicon and a peaceful, calm and relaxing life lies ahead!
Magdalena: Peaceful, calm and relaxing! I doubt it! Things are just beginning.
James: But the first hurdle is over, Magdalena. The foundations are laid. And I know something about foundations, remember!
Magdalena: I remember making a joke about foundations, a few weeks ago, when we first met. I am very sorry.
James: No more sorrys! We give it a go!
Magdalena: Thank you. So what do we do now?
James: I think we should announce it to the world at large, a big get-together.
Magdalena: Not too big! Please!
James: What about a dinner tomorrow evening? With Henry and Ana? And with your parents! Let’s make everything clear.
Magdalena: I doubt if we can ever manage that.
James: You’re right. I hardly understand it all myself! Anyway, we’ll have an explanatory dinner tomorrow evening!
(He raises his glass.)
James: Ugh, that’s horrible. How can you drink that?
Magdalena: It’s not my drink. It’s April’s!
James: But April’s gone!
Magdalena: Yes, she has! She actually has! The wig and everything else will go out with the rubbish first thing tomorrow morning.
James: A pity! She was quite attractive, you know!
Magdalena: Shhh! (She places her finger on his lips!) Or I shall get jealous!
James: I’ll never mention her again! But she was quite something! I may think of her from time to time!
Magdalena: A dinner tomorrow then!
James: At your flat! Oh, and leave that. (He pushes away her glass) I think you’ve had enough penance for one evening.
Magdalena: So do I. But this one was to celebrate!
James: In that case. (He pushes the glass back to her.) Cheers! (They drink again.) Let’s go.
Magdalena: Yes, there are too many people in here. But after tonight, I will always like this place. It’s a lovely place. Let’s walk in Queens Square.
James: But it’s raining!
Magdalena: Then let’s get wet! Come on! Let’s get drenched!
Dinner for all
Wednesday evening. At Magdalena’s flat.
Vivienne and Harold are in the dining room. The table is set for six.
Vivienne: Right, Harold. Let me tell you again who is coming tonight. I don’t want you to put your foot in it.
Harold: Right. Fire away!
Vivienne: We are going to be six altogether.
Harold: Is that young girl coming? You remember. The one that we saw James with in the restaurant that time. April, wasn’t it?
Vivienne: No. April is not coming. She has gone. Just remember that! She’s gone!
Harold: Where’s she gone?
Vivienne: I don’t know, Harold. Nobody knows and I can’t see that it matters. She’s just gone! She’s left! She’s out of the picture!
Harold: I see. And what about that man in the marvellous car?
Vivienne: What marvellous car?
Harold: The red Ferrari, of course. Never seen a car like it! I’m afraid Magdalena was very keen on him. Well, keen on him or on the car, I was never quite sure which. Is he coming?
Vivienne: No, of course he isn’t.
Harold: So he’s gone too?
Vivienne: Yes, he’s gone too. And don’t ask me where.
Harold: Right! Perhaps he’s gone off with April!
Vivienne: (She sighs and is then business like) So the table is set for six. Perhaps you could go and get two more chairs, Harold.
Harold: Right away. Two more chairs.
Magdalena comes in.
Vivienne: (Anxiously) April has gone for good, hasn’t she?
Magdalena: Oh yes. She’s gone. She went off in the rubbish this morning. She’ll be in some landfill by now. Or at least, the yellow wig will be!
Vivienne: And that’s the best place for it. I don’t know why you kept her alive so long. I really don’t!
Magdalena: Don’t you start! Please. Let’s just forget her.
Vivienne: Well, if you had listened to me in the first place! Anyway, you and James are happy?
Magdalena: We are the happiest couple since the world began!
Vivienne: Ah. So you are at that stage, are you! Long may it last!
Magdalena: Yes, long may it last!
Vivienne: Well. I have to attend to things in the kitchen. If you are as much in love as you say you are, you will be no earthly use in practical matters like getting a meal ready. No use at all! Now, where is Harold with those chairs?
Harold comes in from the opposite direction carrying a chair.
Harold: You look happy!
Magdalena: Yes, I am. Very happy. James will be here soon!
Harold: Good. Good. But, Magdalena, I don’t want to pry, no business of mine, of course, but weren’t you awfully taken with the man in the red Ferrari? The other night, you know?
Magdalena: He has gone. He has gone.
Harold: With the car, I suppose.
Magdalena: Yes, with the car. I have James now.
Harold: That’s good! A pity about the car, though! A marvel it was. I wish I could have driven it, even just once! Perhaps in my next life. I’m beginning to feel I have to rely on my next life for so many pleasures! Oh dear! Anyway, you can’t have your penny and your bun, I suppose. Now you have James but you don’t have a Ferrari. By the way, what car does James drive? A Porsche perhaps?
Magdalena: At the moment he rides a bicycle.
Harold: Oh really? A bicycle? Well, he’ll have to get a tandem now, won’t he!
“You will look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle made for two!”
No just joking! Now, I think I have to get another chair. I can’t remember how many your mother wanted.
Magdalena: I should just bring one more.
Harold: Just one? You’re sure? Right. I thought it was two, but never mind.
(He leaves, singing.)
“Daisy, Daisy tell me your answer do,
I’m half crazy, all for the love of you…”
Ana: I’m not late, am I?
Magdalena: Not at all. Very good timing! By the way, how are you getting on with Henry? I thought I saw a spark or a glimmer of something there!
Ana: Oh, he’s awfully slow! Slow but sure, I think. But there is light at the end of the tunnel! I think!
Magdalena: It’s a long way off?
Ana: Yes, why are men so slow? But, we shall see. We shall see.
(They leave together.)
James and Henry arrive.
James: No one here! They’re all in the kitchen, I suppose. By the way, how are you getting on with Ana? I thought I saw a spark or a glimmer… well, something or other between you!
Henry: Very slowly. It’s a case of slow but sure, I think. It’s difficult to say. She doesn’t give me much encouragement.
James: But you have to encourage yourself! That’s how things are! Get on with it. Start now! No time like the present!
Henry: That’s rich! Coming from you!
Magdalena comes in.
Magdalena: Ah, James. Good.
James: Here we are then. Ready for action.
Magdalena: Good. Hello, Henry. I think Ana is in there.
James: (To Henry) Well, go on then!
Henry: Ah yes. No time like the present!
James: Yes, that’s it. Strike while the iron is hot! Make hay while the sun shines! Off you go.
He’s awfully shy! I just can’t understand it!
Magdalena: Well really! I seem to remember… No, perhaps I don’t. I don’t remember anything! By the way, did you ever read that play I recommended?
James: Which one was that?
Magdalena: The one by Tirso de Molina. ‘La celosa de sí misma’.
James: Oh, that one. The dessert with coffee. No, I never did find the time to read it. Was it important?
Magdalena: Well, it might have helped you understand one or two things. But never mind. Things have sorted themselves out anyway. Luckily!
James: That reminds me, I have just booked a flight for us.
Magdalena: A flight? Where to?
James: To Madrid, of course.
Magdalena: To Madrid?
James: And from Madrid it’s only two hours’ drive to that place you talked about. Almazan. I said I’d take you there. You said you wanted to see where Tirso de Molina lived.
Magdalena: Sometimes you do just the right thing! Not often, but sometimes! I’ll enjoy that. But I’d better get a Spanish phrase book.
James: A phrase book?
Magdalena: Yes, a phrase book! For you!
James: Oh, I already have one. Fully interactive, connected 24/7.
James: You! (He points at her)
Harold comes in with Vivienne. He is carrying a chair which he leaves some way from the table. Then Henry and Ana arrive.
Vivienne: Now, where is everyone going to sit? You here, Harold, at the head of the table. Age before…everything else! James over there. Harold, you didn’t get enough chairs.
Harold: Yes, I brought two. I think.
Vivienne: Ah. (James gets up and brings the chair to the table.) Thank you James. That will do nicely. Henry, could you open this bottle of champagne.
(He opens it, pours some into the six glasses and hands them round.)
And as April has gone, Magdalena will have to sit here in her place, which is here.
Magdalena. You see the two of us can’t be here at the same time.
Harold: You mean you can’t abide the sight of each other.
Magdalena: Well yes, something like that. In fact, April has gone for good and we’ll never see her again. Will we, James.
James: No never. Oh, and the man in the red Ferrari has gone too.
Magdalena: In fact, April has gone off with the man in the red Ferrari!
Harold: Well, I never. That’s killing two birds with one stone!
Magdalena: Yes, they seemed to fancy each other! They have gone off together, driving into the sunset.
Harold: In the red Ferrari. Well, I never!
Vivienne: I’ll explain it all to you later, Harold dear. Now I propose a toast. (She raises her glass) To Magdalena and James! A long life together and may you each be completely (looks at Magdalena, and emphasizes each word) frank, open and honest with each other! Magdalena!
Magdalena: But, of course!
All: (Raising their glasses) Frank, open and honest!
Harold, Vivienne, Henry and Ana: (Raising their glasses again.) To Magdalena and James!
Harold to Vivienne, taking her to one side: Now there are one or two things I didn’t quite follow in all this.
Vivienne: Yes, I’ll tell you later.
Harold: Don’t bother. It’s often better not to understand everything! (Raising his glass) Here’s to you, my dear!
Vivienne: (Raising her glass.) To us, Harold. May they be as happy as we have been!
Harold: To us all!
Each person toasts their partner.
Finally, all turn to the front and raise their glasses.