The following is a script extract from the book that started it all, The Armchair Detective (Act One):
(We hear an inner door creak open.)
TRENCH:I’m sorry to disturb you Mr… err? There’s no need to get up from your armchair.
OLD MAN:You have not disturbed me – and I have no intention of ‘getting up’ as you put it. You may call me ‘Old Tom’ young man. Be seated.
TRENCH:Thank-you Old Tom, I’m a …
OLD TOM:… journalist, I know – and you are master?
TRENCH:Trench, I thought I was too old to be addressed as a master though.
OLD TOM:Compared to me, Trenchy you are not too old.
(TRENCH audibly winces at ‘Trenchy’.)
TRENCH:Wait a minute, how did you know I am a journalist?
OLD TOM:There is a tell-tale notepad and pencil peeping out of your top pocket, you’re manner is as condescending as I would expect from a member of your profession – and besides we were all informed by letter that members of the local Press would be here to poke their noses in.
TRENCH:Which brings me to the point of my visit, Mr. Thomas…
OLD TOM:My name is ‘Old’ followed by ‘Tom’, Trench.
TRENCH:Sorry, Old Tom, then. Are you adequately looked-after? Is the warden attentive? Do Social Services visit? Do friends and relatives regularly come to see you? Are you lonely? Is the heating satisfactory? Hang-on, it’s awfully cold in here – why isn’t your gas fire on? Can’t you afford it? Do you need more..?
OLD TOM:(Who talks sternly with authority, instantly silencing TRENCH:) Enough. I can afford heating – but I choose not to use it. Heating breeds bugs. I never see the warden – again by choice. I have no visitors – and I am not lonely.
TRENCH:You must be cold. Here, let me adjust your blanket.
(We hear an audible ‘slap’. TRENCH quickly withdraws his hand.)
OLD TOM:Stop fussing, I am fine. You can do something for me though, if you’d be so kind, young Trench.
TRENCH:Name it Old Thomas, I mean Old Tom.
OLD TOM:My tea is on the table next to my armchair. Would you pass it to me?
TRENCH:But you can reach that, oh never mind. Here…
(We hear the slight rattle of a cup and saucer as TRENCH passes the tea to OLD TOM.)
OLD TOM:I am indebted.
TRENCH:But that tea feels stone cold.
OLD TOM:I know, just how I like it.
TRENCH:Well thank-you err… Old Tom for a most interesting conversation. I’ll leave you in peace now.
OLD TOM:Wait. Have you not, at least, wondered why you’ve been given such an ‘exciting’ assignment?
TRENCH:It’s simply routine. Elderly people complaining about their standard of care, sells local papers, would you believe?
OLD TOM:Yes, but why here? Your editor plays golf with Councillor Stonebridge, does he not?
TRENCH:How on earth do you know that?
OLD TOM:Why does Stonebridge want to stir up trouble in these humble block of flats?
TRENCH:I didn’t know he did, but I suppose it’s a possibility.
OLD TOM:There are a lot of questions to ask in this matter. You are a journalist, Trench, so start asking…
TRENCH:I’ll… I’ll look into it.
OLD TOM:And when you have, my boy – you may report back to me.
Script extract Copyright Ian Shimwell 2010.
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