A Square of Ones Own
Written by Ivan Shakespeare
A Square of Ones Own
Written by Ivan Shakespeare
Pilot Episode/ EPISODE ONE: The Great
LYTTON: (INTRO) A Square of Ones Own Memoirs of the Budsbury Circle, by Lytton Strychnine. Chapter One: The Great War.
LYTTON: (D) The biographer is kinsman to the picture restorer. With the acid of conjecture he strips off the varnish of dissemblance to expose much exquisite detail. As exemplified in THIS portrait: Coins at Cambridge, Summer 1914. The greatest economic mind of his era is rehearsing a valedictory speech
COINS: So to sum up gentlemen, buy cheap, sell dear, do it often, do it quick. Thats economics. Right, off you go and rule the country.
FX: KNOCK ON DOOR
SCOUT: (DODDERY) Telegram, Doctor Coins. From the Foreign Office.
FX: DOOR OPENED
COINS: I suppose its about the forthcoming war that will drag on for four years and wipe out the cream of a generation. Let me give you a tip.
SCOUT: Well, only if youre sure, Doctor Coins sir
COINS: Put at least fifty per cent of your portfolio into gold.
FX: RIPPING OF PAPER
COINS : (READING) Seek views war effort stop. Whitehall Tuesday stop. (NORMAL) Ah, here we are. (READING) Third class rail fare plus subsistence ...(NORMAL) It's the Foreign Office all right.
SCOUT: Any reply, Doctor Coins?
COINS: Thirty words for threepence, right? Say, (READING) Sixpence mile Silver Ghost, plus ten shills nightly lowest acceptable, stop. Arranging own accommodation, stop. Like or Lump, stop. Would not expect Archbish. Cant. take drumhead service same rate local rector, stop. Regards, Coins.
SCOUT: Is 'Archbish. Cant.' one word, Doctor Coins?
COINS: Yes. Any argument, change it to 'Pope'.
FX: CLOSING DOOR. JINGLE OF BELL OF OLD-FASHIONED TELEPHONE
COINS: Budsbury 1212, please, Mrs. Woof. Come on Ginny .
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE ONE
FX: FADE UP
LYTTON: Supposition, perhaps. But if with the Ancients we hold that Character is Destiny, then by no means unfounded supposition. Mutatis mutandis, the events of that same day at Number 28, Budsbury Square, home to art critic Clive Pill and his wife Vanessa.
FX: SLOSHING OF PAINT
VANESSA: Tum-tee-tum-tee-tum oh, do sit still Clive darling. NOW look, the way you keep moving your head, Ive given you an extra nose. People will think Im trying to copy Picasso.
FX: SCRAPE OF CHAIR
VANESSA: Oh darling, now where are you going?
CLIVE: Find my notebook. Just had an idea.
VANESSA: Oh dear, I suppose this means youll be writing another book and I shant see you for six weeks.
FX: BACKGROUND FOOTSTEPS (UNDER)
CLIVE: No, no, just a pamphlet. Called Civilisation. About how civilisation is both a process and a something else.
VANESSA: I should have listened to Mother Never marry an intellectual.
CLIVE: Cant help being clever. Anyway, your sister married one.
VANESSA: Virginias an intellectual herself, who else would have her? Now Clive darling, DO come and sit down.
FX: HORSE AND CART PULLS UP OUTSIDE
VANESSA: You KNOW how important this is. My first exhibition, and the gallerys spacing them out as it is.
FX: KNOCK ON DOOR
VANESSA: And now heres the man to pick up my painting, and its still oh, never mind, Ill use this.
CLIVE: My blotter what are you ?
VANESSA: Just drying the paint, darling. Oh, I knew I should have done a still-life.
FX: ANOTHER KNOCK ON DOOR
CLIVE: Look, that old Cezanne in the attic, just sign it, give them that.
VANESSA: Dont be silly darling, Ive got my reputation to think of (SHOUTING) Yes, Im coming.
FX: FOOTSTEPS, THEN OPENING DOORS TO STREET ATMOS.
MAN: Come to collect the opus, Maam.
VANESSA: Oh oh .
FX: CLOSED DOORS, THEN FOOTSTEPS.
MAN: Oh yus. Unmistakeable touch of greatness shimmering from every stroke, if I may say so, Maam. Thatll be half-a-crown.
MAN: Delivery, Maam. And if you would sign this .
VANESSA: Ah, sweet man. He wants my autograph, Clive.
MAN: Indemnification form, Maam. Ta. Well, good luck with your exhibitionism tonight. Good-bye.
FX: SLAM OF DOOR
VANESSA: Bye. Charming man, if perhaps just the teensiest bit on the rough-hewn side.
FX: GEE-UP, THEN HORSE AND CART DRIVES OFF.
CLIVE: Oh, I cant find my hey! Stop that man! Stop him!
VANESSA: What on Earth is the matter, Clive?
CLIVE: Hes gone off with my blotter.
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE TWO
LYTTON: Let us now weave a further thread in our intricate tapestry by traversing Budsbury Square to Number 26, where that afternoon I myself called upon the great, and shortly to be published novelist Virginia Woof. To set the stage, this reconstruction of events immediately preceding my visit may be found helpful.
GRAMS: EARLY RECORDING- BOCCHERINIS MINUET (UNDER)
FX: VIRGINIA WOOF SCREAMS
BUTLER: You called, Maam?
VIRGINIA: Oh God,this is completely, utterly unbearable. Im enveloped in a black cloud of misery, Nash, and nobody loves me.
BUTLER: No Maam. Though with respect Maam, Mrs Pill must harbour some affection for you or she wouldnt have invited you to her exhibition tonight.
VIRGINIA: Thats another thing, Ill have to hold a soiree to invite HER to. Oh God.
GRAMS: STUCK IN GROOVE
VIRGINIA: Now that gramophone needles stuck, Nash. Is there no end to it?
BUTLER: Indeed Maam, it never rains but it pours. Allow me.
GRAMS: MUSIC RESUMES
FX: TELEPHONE TINKLES
BUTLER: Budsbury 1212 Ill see, sir (SOTTO) Doctor Coins, Maam. Says he rang earlier but there was no reply.
VIRGINIA: I disconnected it. I was in the throes of literary creation, Nash. Torture enough without the clamour of that intolerable bell.
BUTLER: Of course, Maam. Doctor Coins says that he would be grateful if he could stay for a few days.
BUTLER: In connection with the forthcoming War, Maam, though he requests that this news goes no further.
VIRGINIA: Nonsense. What war? I dont know about any war.
NEWSBOY: (IN STREET) War declared! Late night extra, with all the results from Goodwood, read all about it!
VIRGINIA: Do you think thats the War he means?
NEWSBOY: Colossal social upheaval expected.
NEWSBOY: End to centuries of automatic deference.
FX: STAMPEDE OF FEET
VIRGINIA: Where are all the servants going? Nash? Whatever can it all mean?
BUTLER: I suspect it means an end to bowing and scraping to puffed-up nonentities such as yourself, Maam, but if not, perhaps you would keep my position open until after the War.
VIRGINIA: Nash, come .
FX: SLAM OF DOOR. RABBLE OF HAPPY SERVANTS ON STREET.
VIRGINIA: . back
COINS: (D) Hello, Ginny. Are you still there?
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 3
LYTTON: As I arrived at this juncture, my account of events is henceforth verbatim. Except where I have summarised for the sake of authenticity.
FX: FADE UP KNOCK ON DOOR
LYTTON: Ah, Virginia. Your butler being less than his customarily attentive self, I let myself in. Mmmmwa-mmmwa.
VIRGINIA: What? Lytton. Hmmm I suppose youd better come in.
LYTTON: I am . You sound somewhat distracted, Virginia.
VIRGINIA: I'm distracted Lytton. I keep hearing things.
COINS: (D) Ginny, hello! Is that Lytton there? Lytton, youre a naughty boy, avoiding me . Lytton? Lytton!
FX: FADE DOWN
LYTTON: Coins had summed up the situation with his usual perspicacity. I HAD been avoiding him.
FX: FADE UP
COINS: (D) Ginny! Lytton! (ETC.)
VIRGINIA: (OVER) Voices, Lytton. Im hearing voices. Help me!
LYTTON: My pleasure. (FUNNY VOICE) Velly solly, long number.
FX: REPLACES RECEIVER
VIRGINIA: Thats better. Theyve gone.
LYTTON: You should rest, Virginia. Doubtless you have been overtiring yourself with your novel.
VIRGINIA: I must have been overtiring myself with my novel, Lytton. One can endure only so much ecstasy and despair. One reacts by entering the cave.
LYTTON: Symbolically, no doubt? You mean creative block?
VIRGINIA: I mean creative block, Lytton. Do you suffer them?
LYTTON: Destructive blocks, which for the professional biographer are, if anything, worse. Fortunately, I have yoked Science into the service of Art in the shape of . May I?
LYTTON: I abhor Boccherini. He tried to poison his mother, you know.
VIRGINIA: Lytton, what is that device?
LYTTON: A phonograph. Allow me to demonstrate.
FX: CRACKLING OF RECORD
LYTTON: (D) Testing, testing, one-two-three. St. Francis of Assissi Chapter Five The Charnel-house Years
FX: OUT, AS RECORD LIFTED FROM GRAMOPHONE
LYTTON: I pour it all out in a great flood no, lets say stream of consciousness .
LYTTON: ....write it up later.
LYTTON: And edit it.
LYTTON: I edit it, Virginia. Cut it.
VIRGINIA: Oh! Hideous word! How can you BEAR to say it?
LYTTON: Excising words often yields improvement.
VIRGINIA: What? Then why include them in the first place?
LYTTON: In the elusive quest for perfection, the biographer may so easily be lured into dwelling on his subject in obsessive detail. When so ensnared, I cut.
VIRGINIA: You . (SOBBING)
LYTTON: There, Virginia. Only the heroic bits.
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 4
LYTTON: But as a Derby-winner may lose form when deprived of a beloved stablemate, be it a mere donkey, so did Virginia repine. If such an equine analogy may with justice be applied to Vita Sockville-Pest.
GRAMS: SOUNDTRACK FROM THE DRAGHTSMANS CONTRACT
LYTTON: Possibly the greatest, certainly the most ambitious Landscapist of her day, who was at that very moment surveying with God-like satisfaction her magnum opus the garden at her Sussex home, Charlattan.
FX: BIRDSONG. COUNTRY ATMOS. (UNDER)
VITA: A hillock a hundred yards West, a second hillock. One furlong due South, a ravine, forming ingress and egress of artificial grotto .
FX: WHISTLING OF APPROACHING POSTMAN ON BICYCLE. LETTERS THROUGH LETTERBOX.
VITA: Wretched man.
FX: OPENING DOOR. SOUND OF BICYCLE ON GRAVEL.
VITA: Postman! Must I tell you again? Do not ride that bicycle scattering gravel everywhere.
FX: POSTMAN CRASHING FROM BIKE, CALLING AAAARGH (UNDER)
VITA: Philistine. That length of wire was there for a purpose. Now Ill have to re-align my saplings. And stop bleeding on my drive or I shall tell the Postmaster-General and have you dismissed.
FX: SLAM OF DOOR
VITA: So much anguish for one paltry letter. Why does no-one write to me? Or only
FX: OPENING LETTER
VITA: Vanessa and her pah! Exhibition of daubings PS, Vee sends love, sorry hasnt written, suffering from block . Oh, I must rush to her
FX: FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 5
LYTTON: Vanessas exhibition at the Budsbury Gallery, Budsbury Square, Budsbury, was a sparkling occasion, invested with poignancy by the courageous resolve of all present to banish thoughts of the folly about to envelope a continent, and instead reaffirm those eternal values for which our group was renowned.
FX: PARTY ATMOS (UNDER), CHAMPAGNE CORKS AND CLINKED GLASSES.
VITA: Vanessa, darling!
VANESSA: Vita, darling!
VITA: Clive, darling!
CLIVE: Vita, darling!
LYTTON: Clive, darling!
CLIVE: Oh, hello Lytton
VITA: John, darling
COINS: Oh Rita . Vita .
OMNES: VIRGINIA, DARLING!
CLIVE: My pamphlet .
VIRGINIA: My novel .
LYTTON: My biography .
VITA: My landscapism.
LYTTON: Vita, have you seen Clive?
VITA: Clive, have you seen Virginia?
CLIVE: Anybody, have you seen Vanessa?
FX: PARTY ATMOS LOUDER, THEN NORMAL
COINS: Oh, there you are, Lytton. Mark my words .
FX: FADE DOWN.
LYTTON: Regrettably, I didnt.
FX: PARTY ATMOS RESUMES
COINS: Armoured tanks will be BIG. Any spare boodle, stick it in tanks. But not a dicky-bird to .
LYTTON: Forgive me John
COINS: (CAJOLINGLY) Johnny.
LYTTON: A tryst with Clive awaits (FADING) Oh Clive .
CLIVE: Quite magnificent grasp of form, darling.
VANESSA: Thank you darling. Whats Form?
CLIVE: Shhh, darling.
VANESSA: Ive always wanted to know. Everybody talks about it but no-one ever explains what it is. Youll know, wont you Lytton darling? Youre so clever.
LYTTON: What? Actually, I came to proposition your husband in a joint-venture. A biography of Turner
CLIVE: Do excuse me Lytton (FADING) Virginia, how are you?
VIRGINIA: (FAINTLY) Wrung to the withers ..
LYTTON: (SHOUTING) Or Constable. Or Sargent (NORMAL) Damn.
VANESSA: If they mean shape why not say shape?
VANESSA: Instead of form.
FX: BRICK CRASHING THROUGH WINDOW, SCREAMS.
MOB: (SINGING) When Britain first at Heaven's command....
FX: THE SINGERS DESCEND INTO CONFUSION
CLIVE: What on earth . This is a private viewing.
VANESSA: Its a brick, darling. With an envelope.
MOB: (FADING INTO DISTANCE, RAGGEDLY.) Rule Brittania, Britiannia rules the waves (ETC.)
VANESSA: (UNDER) Look everybody, white feathers. And a note.
CLIVE: Let me its the League of Patriots. (READING) Patriotic men of England. Your country needs you. So will you stiffen your sinews and imitate the action of the tiger?
LYTTON: Hmmm. Style somewhat derivative.
CLIVE: Or like cowardly gentlemen abed count yourselves base? What vulgar, mindless nationalism.
OMNES: SOUNDS OF AGREEMENT.
CLIVE: Then how can such people know of higher values? Fairness, justice
CLIVE: Er, yes. As E.M. Fluster puts it, if forced to choose between loyalty to friend or country, let us hope we have the courage to choose .
FX: BACKGROUND NOISE OF SINGLE MAN SINGING RULE BRITTANIA VERY BADLY WITH A GERMAN ACCENT
CLIVE: er, whatever courage dictates. Who the devils that? Not another of them?
FX: DOOR OPENS AND SONG BECOMES LOUDER
VANESSA: Leave him to me, darling. Thats an awfully nice song and youre singing it beautifully, but if youve come to give us any more feathers, we really dont need them ..
HANS: (GERMAN) Feathers? Please, wass am I with feathers wanting? I am an artist, and seeing this gallery, I am wondering if mein dear friend Cli
CLIVE: Hans! Hans Schwarzmeister!
HANS: Clive! Oh mein Gott in Himmel thanking .
VITA: Did you say Hans THE Hans Schwarzmeister?
CLIVE: The great Post-Depressionist, yes. Whose work one has championed to some effect in England.
LYTTON: In London, certainly. Hans, how do you do.
COINS: Yes, pleased to meet you, Hans.
HANS: Guten tag. I too am pleased, though I must tell you I am, what is the phrase, women preferring.
LYTTON/COINS: (TOGETHER) Oh.
VANESSA: (INTERESTED) Oh.
VIRGINIA: I have long admired your work, Herr Schwarzmeister. Depression is indeed the only worthwhile subject of Art. Other than ecstasy and death .
FX: FAINT SINGING RULE BRITTANIA
MOB: Hang the Kaiser! Down with the Bosch! Kill the German bastards!
HANS: (OVER)Ach, mein Gott. (SOBS)
VANESSA: The poor mans crying.
CLIVE: Overcome with emotion at our reunion. Curse this British reserve of ours, Hans let me kiss you there, dont weep .
HANS: Get off, dumkopf, YOU would weep in my position.
CLIVE: What? Artistic powers not waning are they ?
HANS: No! Nothing so worrying! I just find myself in your country on the very day it declares war on mine.
CLIVE: Hans, countries! We are of the international brotherhood of artists. Our allegiance Beauty. Our battle for Truth. Our sword Goodness.
HANS: Scheiss. Try telling them that.
FX: SOUND OF MOB
HANS: It is Beauty, Truth and Goodness getting me in this mess to start with. Come and lecture to us, Hans, ja, ja. Well see you catch your boat, ja, ja. Now I shall have my head chopped off in your Tower. If one of your bobbies catches me.
COINS: No. Just slip him half-a-quid, youll pass as an Englishman.
CLIVE: Besides, cant ill-treat YOU. Not civilised. Youre a PAINTER. A GREAT painter.
FX: SMASHING GLASS, SOUND OF MOB
VANESSA: Gosh. Theyre looting Herr Frankelbergers bagels.
HANS: Mein Gott, I am doomed.
CLIVE: No Hans, WELL protect you. You must stay .. (PAUSE)
VANESSA: With us. Its obvious
CLIVE: With me us in the public eye Vanessa? Alas, pure madness. No, Hans must hide at Virginias ?
VIRGINIA: Hiding. The yearning of the soul to immolate. And those who display most, by some fey paradox disguise most, like actors on a stage .
HANS: Perhaps I can be London leaving completely.
COINS: Cambridge is out of the question. Ill tell you why after the war. Dont embarrass me by asking now.
VANESSA: But where can the poor chap go?
OMNES: (AFTER A PAUSE) Charlattan!
VITA: With me?
CLIVE: Its ideal, Vita. Pretend hes one of your gardeners. Virginia, you invent a past for him.
VIRGINIA: Yes. He shall become a Crimean cossack, dancing a mazurka beneath the glittering chandeliers .
COINS: Thats the idea, Ginny. Someone respectable.
VANESSA: There IS one problem. Hans is a creative artist. Will he be stimulated in the COUNTRY?
VITA: He wont find whatever inspires your sophisticated creations, Vanessa dear. But perhaps the more orthodox charms of landscapism, to wit, proportion and perspective, may provide some consolation
CLIVE: Thats decided then. So, modus operandi Johnny takes the motor-car with Hans, plus all necessary easels, paint, pencils, papers, dictating-machines etc. We all follow by train.
VITA: All of you?
CLIVE: Yes, Vita. The world is going mad. The eternal values of Art and Civilisation all but dead. But be assured, at such a time, we shall not desert you.
FX: STREET MOB GETS NOISIER, FADE DOWN
END OF SCENE 6
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