A Night in Llareggub
First Voice: Sinbad Sailors draws the night, in thick black sweet gloop, from the cellar barrel and into the waiting glasses of Cherry Owen and Mr Waldo. A third glass stands empty, abandoned. Time is invisible within the tockless, un-sprung Sailors' Arms, but stout, dense night has rolled around, pricked by dancing lights in the bay. As contents are drained, so the dark strengthens, consuming the streets and strangling fox cries from the wood beyond.
Second Voice: Cherry Owen is thinking, slowly.
Cherry Owen: Where's he gone?
Mr Waldo: Where who?
Cherry Owen: The man who was here, foreigner, wearing a hat too small and coat too big for him.
Mr Waldo: That were no foreigner. He came from Swansea, took up the house on legs, said he wanted the quiet and peace, unless he was busy making his own noise.
Cherry Owen: When did you learn all that?
Mr Waldo: Three pints ago, sure of it, unless it was four. Must have gone while our backs were turned. Probably his round. But he could drink though?
Cherry Owen: I'll say.
Second Voice: Washing glasses in the corner Sinbad Sailor smiles. He had watched the man, stagger and sway, land lubber leggy, out of the door crying brotherly love, adjust his coat, give a wink and stroll away, nipping from a hipflask. But that was 3 pints back and for once in his publican's life Sinbad is keen to close for the night.
Mr Waldo: Same Again?
Cherry Owen: Don't mind if.
Sinbad: Not tonight my boys. I'd have the law on me, if only they weren't sleeping it off by now themselves.
Mr Waldo: That's a fine way to treat loyal customers.
Cherry Owen: After all we have done.
Mr Waldo: Civic duty.
Cherry Owen: Community spirit.
Cherry Owen: Come Waldo, we know where we are not wanted.
First Voice: With ill grace and occasional flatulence the two men roll out of the inn and onto Coronation Street. A history of The Sailors Arms lies within 'The White Book of LLareggub.' You will find that the various buildings that have occupied roughly these boundaries to be a refuge for minor smugglings, black marketers and blackleg miners. No King has ever slept within its varied walls or Rake die needlessly, the result of a drunken duel; and today visitors to the town must exchange its licenced welcome for the puritanical pleasures of a night under the roof of Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard.
Second Voice: Alone in his saloon kingdom cave Sinbad…
Sinbad: Slides back the bolts, pushes dust around the tables, clinks the final glasses, chinks the daily takings into a leather bag and hornpipes to the back room, horsehair couch and strong box.
First Voice: From his apron pocket he retrieves a note, smoothing it down with a broad, rough hand.
Sinbad: Lavender paper, copperplate handwriting, scented with Lilly of The Valley.
First Voice: The note contains one word.
Sinbad: A very educated YES that, shaped to perfection.
Second Voice: One month before, Mrs Bucher Beynon's elderly mother had been taken ill, and she, with daughterly devotion, and one eye on her inheritance, had packed Butcher Beynon and herself off in a twirl to Llansteffan; leaving the Saturday afternoon shop in the graceful care of Miss Gossamer and delivery boy Billy Swansea. So it had been when Sinbad entered the shop that fateful day and through his stilted and her twitching conversation had left with half a pound of bacon and the promise of stew supper, if he didn't mind reheated leftovers. Now, still fearing for the wellbeing of a silver cruet set, the Beynon's expedition was being repeated, affording Gossamer the chance Sinbad never thought would be his.
Sinbad: Gossamer, oh Gossamer show me the secret of turning words into 'books' where all the men are strong and proud and the fine girls fall from their own graces eagerly into their open arms.
First Voice: In her own neat square ruled room, Gossamer Beynon, school mistress and muse wakes to the muffled sound of an alarm clock under her pillow. Her sharp eyes adjust to stray moonlight and she passes soft by the boxroom of Lily Smalls, safely bribed by the promise of dress material from Mog's, down the creak-less stairs and to her coat, high heels and the street door.
Second Voice: It is almost examination time for Sinbad and he creeps to the yard with the intent of opening the small door in the drayman's gate when suddenly…
Second Voice: Sinbad knocks over the dustbin, a screech of gulls fly up into the darkness. He holds his breath. From the room above the bar Mary-Ann the Sailors sleeps on, dreaming of…
Mary-Ann: The Walls of Jericho tumbling to Joshua mighty horn.
Second Voice: Next door PC Attila.
PC Attila: Snores like a rhinoceros.
First Voice: But the sound is enough to pitch Captain Cat from his dream held clutch of Rosie Probert. His blank eyes need no time to function had his sharp ears pick up the clack of night bound heels.
Captain Cat: Now there's a schooner seeking port at an odd hour. Polly Garter? No, not confident enough. [Whispers] Gossamer Beynon!
First Voice: With subconscious habit he counts the steps.
Captain Cat: One, two, high lady's shoe, three, four, but to who's door?
FX Door Squeaks
Captain Cat: Sinbad indeed, The only hinge in this half-hinged town to make that particular sound. Don't you worry Gossamer, your dark voyage is safe with me. Well, well, may your course be true and cargo a worthy bounty.
First Voice: And Gossamer sails calmly into harbour.
Gossamer Beynon: Here I am my love, the winds of fortune have blown kindly and the time to dawn is ours alone.
Sinbad: You, more beautiful than any prow head, voice more enchanting than an ocean of mermaid sirens. You came?
Gossamer Beynon: I came for the man who holds my heart in his hand.
No promise will I ever make
That I do not intend to keep
To bide the longing when I wake
Until it feeds my fitful sleep
When all I desire I cannot take
And all I count are sheep
I trust you my love will not forsake
And my life will be complete.
Sinbad: I am caught in your rigging of poetry my sweet angel.
Gossamer Beynon: But what use is a poem without practicality to hang it by?
Sinbad: Then let me show to you my trade. I want to drown you in gallons of kisses, so that sawdust sticks to every curve of your body, count your beauty like domino spots and ring our last love orders from a silver bell.
Second Voice: From the back yard he leads her, to the cellar steps and down to the barrels and low beams, cobwebs and crevices, where their love can explode and rise on the tail feathers of the Reverend Jenkins' final, night wrapped, private prayer. Away from the jealous scorn of the town women, the leer of Mr Waldo and Willy Nilly's letter opening kettle steam. As Llareggub drifts into fragments of dreams, like moonlight on a cracked mirror, one dream tonight becomes real and solid.
First Voice: But this dream, and all the other dances that night,fail to find the net of the foreigner from Swansea. For he too dreams in the house on legs. Sleeping the cock-sure tide of uncertainty, cat fought, beer swelled, proud pinned, anxious father and showman, boy-bound, cowboy and King. Tossing now, but later to rest serene, upon the hill, white sentinel cross at his head. But while the dreams of this night are slipping slowly into the sea, others before have been caught by the page, and swim strong as salmon into a world beyond.