Under Milk Wood ( cont 2)

Mary Ann Sailors

I’m eighty-five years three months and a day!

                

Mrs Pugh

I will say this for her, she never makes a mistake.

 

First voice

Organ Morgan at his bedroom window playing chords on the sill to the morning fishwife gulls who, heckling over Donkey Street, observe

 

Dai Bread

Me, Dai Bread, hurrying to the bakery, pushing in my shirt-tails, buttoning my waistcoat, ping goes a button, why can’t they sew them, no time for breakfast, nothing for breakfast, there’s wives for you.

 

Mrs Dai Bread One

Me, Mrs Dai Bread One, capped and shawled and no old corset, nice to be comfy, nice to be nice, clogging on the cobbles to stir up a neighbour. Oh, Mrs Sarah, can you spare a loaf, love? Dai Bread forgot the bread. There’s a lovely morning! How’s your boils this morning? Isn’t that good news now, it’s a change to sit down. Ta, Mrs Sarah.

 

Mrs Dai Bread Two

Me, Mrs Dai Bread Two, gypsied to kill in a silky scarlet petticoat above my knees, dirty pretty knees, see my body through my petticoat brown as a berry, high-heel shoes with one heel missing, tortoiseshell comb in my bright black slinky hair, nothing else at all but a dab of scent, lolling gaudy at the doorway, tell your fortune in the tea-leaves, scowling at the sunshine, lighting up my pipe.

 

Lord cut-glass

Me, Lord Cut–Glass, in an old frock-coat belonged to Eli Jenkins and a pair of postman’s trousers from Bethesda Jumble, running out of doors to empty slops — mind there, Rover! — and then running in again, tick tock.

 

Nogood Boyo

Me, Nogood Boyo, up to no good in the wash-house

 

Miss Price

Me, Miss Price, in my pretty print housecoat, deft at the clothesline, natty as a jenny-wren, then pit-pat back to my egg in its cosy, my crisp toast-fingers, my home-made plum and butterpat.

 

Polly Garter

Me, Polly Garter, under the washing line, giving the breast in the garden to my bonny new baby. Nothing grows in our garden, only washing. And babies. And where’s their fathers live, my love? Over the hills and far away. You’re looking up at me now. I know what you’re thinking, you poor little milky creature. You’re thinking, you’re no better than you should be, Polly, and that’s good enough for me. Oh, isn’t life a terrible thing, thank God?

 

[Single long high chord on strings

 

First voice

Now frying-pans spit, kettles and cats purr in the kitchen. The town smells of seaweed and breakfast all the way down from Bay View, where Mrs OgmorePritchard, in smock and turban, big-besomed to engage the dust, picks at her starchless bread and sips lemon-rind tea, to Bottom Cottage, where Mr Waldo, in bowler and bib, gobbles his bubble-and-squeak and kippers and swigs from the saucebottle. Mary Ann Sailors

 

Mary Ann Sailors

praises the Lord who made porridge.

 

First voice

Mr Pugh

 

Mr Pugh

remembers ground glass as he juggles his omelet.

 

First voice

Mrs Pugh

 

Mrs Pugh

nags the salt-cellar.

 

First voice

Willy Nilly postman

 

Willy Nilly

downs his last bucket of black brackish tea and rumbles out bandy to the clucking back where the hens twitch and grieve for their tea-soaked sops.

 

First voice

Mrs Willy Nilly

 

Mrs Willy Nilly

full of tea to her double-chinned brim broods and bubbles over her coven of kettles on the hissing hot range always ready to steam open the mail.

 

First voice

The Reverend Eli Jenkins

 

Rev. Eli Jenkins

finds a rhyme and dips his pen in his cocoa.

 

First voice

Lord Cut–Glass in his ticking kitchen

 

Lord cut-glass

scampers from clock to clock, a bunch of clock-keys in one hand, a fish-head in the other.

 

First voice

Captain Cat in his galley

 

Captain Cat

blind and fine-fingered savours his sea-fry.

 

First voice

Mr and Mrs Cherry Owen, in their Donkey Street room that is bedroom, parlour, kitchen, and scullery, sit down to last night’s supper of onions boiled in their overcoats and broth of spuds and baconrind and leeks and bones.

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

See that smudge on the wall by the picture of Auntie Blossom? That’s where you threw the sago.

 

[Cherry Owen laughs with delight

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

You only missed me by a inch.

 

Cherry Owen

I always miss Auntie Blossom too.

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

Remember last night? In you reeled, my boy, as drunk as a deacon with a big wet bucket and a fish-frail full of stout and you looked at me and you said, ‘God has come home!’ you said, and then over the bucket you went, sprawling and bawling, and the floor was all flagons and eels.

 

Cherry Owen

Was I wounded?

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

And then you took off your trousers and you said, ‘Does anybody want a fight!’ Oh, you old baboon.

 

Cherry Owen

Give me a kiss.

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

And then you sang ‘Bread of Heaven,’ tenor and bass.

 

Cherry Owen

I always sing ‘Bread of Heaven.’

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

And then you did a little dance on the table.

 

Cherry Owen

I did?

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

Drop dead!

 

Cherry Owen

And then what did I do?

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

Then you cried like a baby and said you were a poor drunk orphan with nowhere to go but the grave.

 

Cherry Owen

And what did I do next, my dear?

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

Then you danced on the table all over again and said you were King Solomon Owen and I was your Mrs Sheba.

 

Cherry Owen [Softy]

 

And then?

 

Mrs Cherry Owen

And then I got you into bed and you snored all night like a brewery.

 

[Mr and Mrs Cherry Owen laugh delightedly together

 

First voice

From Beynon Butchers in Coronation Street, the smell of fried liver sidles out with onions on its breath. And listen! In the dark breakfast-room behind the shop, Mr and Mrs Beynon, waited upon by their treasure, enjoy, between bites, their everymorning hullabaloo, and Mrs Beynon slips the gristly bits under the tasselled tablecloth to her fat cat.

 

[Cat purrs

 

Mrs Beynon

She likes the liver, Ben.

 

Mr Beynon

She ought to do, Bess. It’s her brother’s.

 

Mrs Beynon [Screaming]

 

Oh, d’you hear that, Lily?

 

Lily Smalls

Yes, mum.

 

Mrs Beynon

We’re eating pusscat.

 

Lily Smalls

Yes, mum.

 

Mrs Beynon

Oh, you cat-butcher!

 

Mr Beynon

It was doctored, mind.

 

Mrs Beynon [Hysterical]

 

What’s that got to do with it?

 

Mr Beynon

Yesterday we had mole.

 

Mrs Beynon

Oh, Lily, Lily!

 

Mr Beynon

Monday, otter. Tuesday, shrews.

 

[Mrs Beynon screams

 

Lily Smalls

Go on, Mrs Beynon. He’s the biggest liar in town.

 

Mrs Beynon

Don’t you dare say that about Mr Beynon.

 

Lily Smalls

Everybody knows it, mum.

 

Mrs Beynon

Mr Beynon never tells a lie. Do you, Ben?

 

Mr Beynon

No, Bess. And now I am going out after the corgies, with my little cleaver.

 

Mrs Beynon

Oh, Lily, Lily!

 

First voice

Up the street, in the Sailors Arms, Sinbad Sailors, grandson of Mary Ann Sailors, draws a pint in the sunlit bar. The ship’s clock in the bar says half past eleven. Half past eleven is opening time. The hands of the clock have stayed still at half past eleven for fifty years. It is always opening time in the Sailors Arms.

 

Sinbad

Here’s to me, Sinbad.

 

First voice

All over the town, babies and old men are cleaned and put into their broken prams and wheeled on to the sunlit cockled cobbles or out into the backyards under the dancing underclothes, and left. A baby cries.

 

Old man

I want my pipe and he wants his bottle.

 

[School bell rings

 

First voice

Noses are wiped, heads picked, hair combed, paws scrubbed, ears boxed, and the children shrilled off to school.

 

Second voice

Fishermen grumble to their nets. Nogood Boyo goes out in the dinghy Zanzibar, ships the oars, drifts slowly in the dab-filled bay, and, lying on his back in the unbaled water, among crabs’ legs and tangled lines, looks up at the spring sky.

 

Nogood Boyo [Softly, lazily]

 

I don’t know who’s up there and I don’t care.

 

First voice

He turns his head and looks up at Llaregyb Hill, and sees, among green lathered trees, the white houses of the strewn away farms, where farmboys whistle, dogs shout, cows low, but all too far away for him, or you, to hear. And in the town, the shops squeak open. Mr Edwards, in butterfly-collar and straw-hat at the doorway of Manchester House, measures with his eye the dawdlers-by for striped flannel shirts and shrouds and flowery blouses, and bellows to himself in the darkness behind his eye

 

Mr Edwards [Whispers]

 

I love Miss Price.

 

First voice

Syrup is sold in the post-office. A car drives to market, full of fowls and a farmer. Milk-churns stand at Coronation Corner like short silver policemen. And, sitting at the open window of Schooner House, blind Captain Cat hears all the morning of the town.

 

[School bell in background. Children’s voices. The noise of children’s feet on the cobbles

 

Captain Cat [Softly, to himself]

 

Maggie Richards, Ricky Rhys, Tommy Powell, our Sal, little Gerwain, Billy Swansea with the dog’s voice, one of Mr Waldo’s, nasty Humphrey, Jackie with the sniff. . . . Where’s Dicky’s Albie? and the boys from Ty-pant? Perhaps they got the rash again.

 

 

[A sudden cry among the children’s voices

Captain Cat

Somebody’s hit Maggie Richards. Two to one it’s Billy Swansea. Never trust a boy who barks.

 

[A burst of yelping crying

 

Right again! It’s Billy.

 

First voice

And the children’s voices cry away.

 

[Postman’s rat-a-tat on door, distant

 

Captain Cat [Softly, to himself]

 

That’s Willy Nilly knocking at Bay View. Rat-a-tat, very soft. The knocker’s got a kid glove on. Who’s sent a letter to Mrs Ogmore–Pritchard?

 

[Rat-a-tat, distant again

 

Captain Cat

 

Careful now, she swabs the front glassy. Every step’s like a bar of soap. Mind your size twelveses. That old Bessie would beeswax the lawn to make the birds slip.

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