Thursday, December 21, 2006

I have been approached to write five short plays highlighting the causes of poverty - lack of water, lack of education, conflict, lack of employment opportunities, HIV/AIDS. These will be used to show what the effect of these issues have on poverty, and how we can work to alleviate them. It's to lead up to A Day Of Poverty on June 10th.
It's a huge responsibility and one I take very seriously. First stop, prayer.

Americans spend more on cosmetics and Europeans more on ice cream than it would cost to provide schooling and sanitation to the 2 billion people who go without both.
The richest 358 people on the planet are collectively richer than half of the world's population.
4% of the wealth of the richest 225 individuals on the planet could provide elementary education, medical facilities and nutrition for the world's poor.
And yet, every day, 30,000 people die from the effects of extreme poverty. That's ten World Trade Centres EVERY DAY.
I don't find that acceptable. Do you?

You can find out more by watching this space, or by going to www.winint.org.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Merry Christmas everyone.

With a fortnight to go to the Big Day, I am a few thousand words off finishing my Nanowrimo novel, which is getting quite positive feedback over on critiquecircle. Also still looking for that composer. I've had some rather nice comments about the quality of the lyrics. Now if only one of those comments could turn into a composer...
I've still got my screenplay "The price of Firewood" to finish, and I've just been asked to write a play for Easter Saturday. Unpaid, of course, (when I get offered paid work, you will hear, without aid of a microphone, believe you me). I don't mind too much in this case. For one thing, it's part of my giving, and the Church is falling down, for another thing, it gets another work finished, and with each work I get better, and nearer to that great big breakthrough.
It has now reached the stage (no pun intended, honest!) where the am dram group puts my name on the posters because they say telling the public I wrote the play gets bums on seats. Apparently, people are saying "I saw Hilary wrote it, so I knew it would be good/my cup of tea/what I want to see" That's quite a nice compliment.

Monday, December 04, 2006

I'm looking for a composer. Anyone out there want to prove themselves on a major work? There are two versions - a libretto, completely in song, and a play with songs in.Some years ago, I wrote a libretto entitled "Foundations", which told the story of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Acts, specifically St Paul's conversion. I got a lot of good feedback from this, some of it from professional musicians and writers, but no composer. And without that, it was worthless.I thought I would ease the workload. I rewrote it as a play with songs in. That works too. But still no composer.Thing is, the part of the copyright that belongs to me has been assigned to St Richard's Church, a tiny little Church on a run down estate in South England. It's known as the little church with the big heart and it is vital to the community with its outreach. Alas, it is falling down and needs rebuilding and modest estimates put that at a cool million. When they rebuild, they are going to put a doctor's surgery in there, so the people have health facilities. There'll be health visitor facilities, places where Mums can go to learn to look after kids better (sadly, some Mums need the help), places for all the community. But we need to raise the money first.In an area where most people are on welfare, it's easy to say it's an impossible dream, but I know nothing is impossible with God. If he wants this place to be built, he will supply us with the means. And this afternoon, whilst doing my devotions, I had the strongest urge to try one more time for a composer. The feeling would not go away, so I'm trying.The composer would, of course, be entitled to keep their share of any money made by the project. But, as I say, my share belongs to St Richard's.Anybody wish to look at the work, under no obligation?

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wanted to share this with you. Go to the website for more information.

www.winint.org
WIN News - December 2006


This Month's "World In Need News"
Dear All,
Welcome to our first electronic edition of World In Need News. As the year draws to a close we wanted to briefly share with you some of the achievements that your generous donations have contributed towards, thank you. Along with these updates we also remember that at this festive season there are many who still need our prayers and support.

Malawi. Probably the poorest nation on earth and yet our leader there has been horribly attacked. Lloyd is the pioneer for over 300 churches and whilst he was away helping others, his wife was attacked. She lost most things in their home and was brutally manhandled. The gang have been caught and are before the judge.

Iraqi Kurdistan. Whilst the nation falls apart Ray is in Kurdistan helping the people there find ways of surviving. He has started a violin workshop and widows are learning to support themselves. (Note from Hilary, Ray has been there since before the first Gulf war.)

World In Need has produced a lovely informative 2007/8 calendar. Write to info@winint.org for your copy. If you can sell them in your organisation please let us know. They are ideal for those people you don't want to buy a gift for but you need to send more than a card this Christmas.
The building by a group of American 'Hard Hats' of the new WIN HQ accommodation bloc means that we can now run training courses on-site.

Afghanistan. The new team is doing well in the development of a widow's carpet training centre and day care for children. We now need people who can help sell these carpets in clubs, churches, etc. let us know if you can get involved.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

So much to do, so little time to do it in, so little chocolate in the world to sustain me!
I have to finish my fantasy novel and my screenplay, and I have a stage play needs a second draft as well. But I also want to write a romance novel. I've always wanted to write one of those. (or more) The thing that was holding me back was thinking I couldn't write a sex scene. I didn't know if I could manage that. Well, now I've done one. It wasn't a great big over the top one, it was over in a page, but it was sexy and I did it!
So now, anyone got any tips? And dos and don'ts? All information gratefully received.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

I am a Nano winner! It feels really good as well. I'm happy with the book and hope that a quick edit will see it at the submittable stage, so now I have to find a sympathetic publisher/agent who is willing to look at it unsolicited.
Now, I have the first of my fantasy novels to finish, and a screenplay about Africa. But one thing Nano has taught me - I can write a lot more than I have been. So watch for a great deal more productivity from me - at least till April, when I may have to actually get a job. But even then, I'm sure I'll be able to write, as I will no longer be caring for my son.
All this, plus producing a pantomime.... No wonder I never have time for the washing up!
Btw, I would like to officially thank all those who helped me through Nano, encouraging me, bullying me, chivvying me when I had bad days. The critique circle group were fun to be with, and we've made some lasting friendships. The Brighton group were also fun, and if I wasn't so damned shy and scared, I might have gone to one or more of the meets. Kaylesleigh was a great inspiration. And all those on critique circle, not taking part in Nano but cheering from the sidelines, and my friends in the real world....
And just in case I never get the chance to say it anywhere else, I'd like to dedicate this novel to my Dad, John Large, who was my first inspiration. I miss him.
Now, back to the novel....

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm looking for a composer. Anyone out there want to prove themselves on a major work? There are two versions - a libretto, completely in song, and a play with songs in.

Some years ago, I wrote a libretto entitled "Foundations", which told the story of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Acts, specifically St Paul's conversion. I got a lot of good feedback from this, some of it from professional musicians and writers, but no composer. And without that, it was worthless.

I thought I would ease the workload. I rewrote it as a play with songs in. That works too. But still no composer.

Thing is, the part of the copyright that belongs to me has been assigned to St Richard's Church, a tiny little Church on a run down estate in South England. It's known as the little church with the big heart and it is vital to the community with its outreach. Alas, it is falling down and needs rebuilding and modest estimates put that at a cool million. When they rebuild, they are going to put a doctor's surgery in there, so the people have health facilities. There'll be health visitor facilities, places where Mums can go to learn to look after kids better (sadly, some Mums need the help), places for all the community. But we need to raise the money first.

In an area where most people are on welfare, it's easy to say it's an impossible dream, but I know nothing is impossible with God. If he wants this place to be built, he will supply us with the means. And this afternoon, whilst doing my devotions, I had the strongest urge to try one more time for a composer. The feeling would not go away, so I'm trying.

The composer would, of course, be entitled to keep their share of any money made by the project. But, as I say, my share belongs to St Richard's.

Anybody wish to look at the work, under no obligation?
I'm looking for a composer. Anyone out there want to prove themselves on a major work? There are two versions - a libretto, completely in song, and a play with songs in.

Some years ago, I wrote a libretto entitled "Foundations", which told the story of the first eleven chapters of the Book of Acts, specifically St Paul's conversion. I got a lot of good feedback from this, some of it from professional musicians and writers, but no composer. And without that, it was worthless.

I thought I would ease the workload. I rewrote it as a play with songs in. That works too. But still no composer.

Thing is, the part of the copyright that belongs to me has been assigned to St Richard's Church, a tiny little Church on a run down estate in South England. It's known as the little church with the big heart and it is vital to the community with its outreach. Alas, it is falling down and needs rebuilding and modest estimates put that at a cool million. When they rebuild, they are going to put a doctor's surgery in there, so the people have health facilities. There'll be health visitor facilities, places where Mums can go to learn to look after kids better (sadly, some Mums need the help), places for all the community. But we need to raise the money first.

In an area where most people are on welfare, it's easy to say it's an impossible dream, but I know nothing is impossible with God. If he wants this place to be built, he will supply us with the means. And this afternoon, whilst doing my devotions, I had the strongest urge to try one more time for a composer. The feeling would not go away, so I'm trying.

The composer would, of course, be entitled to keep their share of any money made by the project. But, as I say, my share belongs to St Richard's.

Anybody wish to look at the work, under no obligation?
Would I say this weekend was productive? It depends on how you look at it. I didn't do much work to my Nano novel at all, (though that stands at 40k words so can stand a rest for two days.) However, I did write my treacle mine scene. I wasn't wonderfully happy with it, but it gives us a template with which to work.
And I am itching to get going on the screenplay again. I have so many ideas, and my research has yielded things I can incorporate. Plus, having had the break from my fantasy novel, I feel ready to tackle that again.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Yay! I passed the forty thousand word mark on my Nano novel. I think some of those words are not half bad either. There's a salvageable novel in there. PLus I have made friends and really been buoyed up by it. I would never have written so much if not for Nano.
Now I have to stop for a day, or half a day and write a scene for a panto. It involves all those people who would otherwise not have speaking parts. Doesn't have to have much to do with the plot, this being panto - what plot? - but must be funny.
We live on Ashdown Forest. Winnie the Pooh was created four miles down the road, Conan Doyle lived half a mile from my house, and oh, yes, we are famous for our treacle mine. The villain of the Panto is Fran Gipani, an Italian baker, who obviously would need the treacle from a treacle mine. She also owns a dog called Killer, who eats people.
So the outline I have is the miners at a treacle mine are asked for directions by an intrepid group of explorers looking for Pooh Bear. They hear the wolf howl (yes, there's a wolf) and the explorers think it's the Hound of the Baskervilles. The miners say, bored, no, it's the Hound of the Gipanis and we're all right because Fran Gipani needs our treacle, so the dog won't eat us. Don't know about you lot though. Cue some mayhem, panto fear, etc.
Not bad for starters.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

28000 words into the novel and people are beginning to get a bit cross with me. The director wants me to write an extra scene for the pantomime and I will, but he'll have to wait a few days. (To be honest, I'm toying with a few ideas before I settle on one and write it.) He said "If we can ever get Hilary to stop nanoing about, we might get some sense out of her." Bloomin' cheek!

Better than what my Mother said though. She and I met up with my Uncle, whom I haven't seen for a while. Years, in fact. He asked what I did for a living. Before I could say anything, Mum jumped in with "Oh she doesn't do anything. She just sits at her computer all day and writes."
I smiled sweetly and said "I'm a writer." He asked what I write.
"Oh" said Mum, "she writes little plays for her Church. They perform them and raise money."
I smiled through gritted teeth. "I've had a couple of plays published in America," I told him, "and yes, I've also written some for the group attached to my Church."
"Yes," said Mum. "They'd be stumped if she got a proper job."
I drank my mineral water and wished it was gin.

Excuse me a moment.

AAAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I feel better now.

I am pleased with the novel though. It falls into the category of women's lit. Called Cast Offs, it tells of mentally unstable Diane, who has lost custody of her daughter Ginny. She takes Ginny and runs away to France, where she meets holiday maker Jo. Jo reminds Diane of her ex husband's new wife. When Jo starts a holiday romance, reality and fantasy start to blur and Diane decides she must save men from the home wrecking man eater that is this woman....

Ah well, back to it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Just hit the twenty thousand mark in six days! If only I could write that much every day. I'm also pleased with the overall quality. It has its rough edges but it isn't complete rubbish. Yay for Nano!
I am looking into writing a romance. I obviously need to stick to the genre guidelines, but I want to write a story that is original as well, and a page turner. Watch this space.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

First day of NaNoWriMo. I cannot remember being so keyed up about taking part in something as I am about this. I went to bed at ten last night and couldn't sleep. I got up at midnight, when I was officially allowed to start and I wrote the first 1500 words of my novel. By 6pm tonight it had become 4175 words long. It probably would have been longer, but I owed a letter to my penfriend and wrote 3500 words of that. Plus I have been on the net, and also spent my customary two hours asleep this afternoon. So I am really pleased with myself.
If I could only keep up such a pace. That would be a novel (first draft) in a month!
Of course, if you're not a writer, it means nothing to you, as was ably demonstrated by my son. Seeing me wave my arms about and say "Yay! I did 4175 words today!" he smiled, in a pitying way, and said "You desperately need a social life."
Anyway, I'm on course to succeed. That's the main thing.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Extra hour. I seem to have done loads today, although sadly, no writing. I've cleaned my house from top to bottom, got to the early morning Church service, did all my washing (it was such a beautiful day, one of those days you get at the end of Autumn, when Summer has a last hurrah!) I did two critiques on the critique circle, and I am about to get my new DVD recorder installed. Yay!
Life is grand.
Course, I'll have to do a whole load of writing tomorrow to catch up.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Just spent the day at a dance workshop. I had so much fun! But I have discovered how unfit I am, so I'm going to have to do soemthign about that. Ideally, I'd just sit and do nothing tonioght, but I'm off to a barn dance, in aid of a children's charity. I'm a masochist.
Still, all this mixing with people is great for isnpiration, characters, dialogue, plots....Mwhahahaha!
Back to writing tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Little woman, you've had a busy day!
Today, I wrote 1500 words new to my story, and also rewrote a scene in the first chapter that all my critters found confusing. Hopefully it's sorted now.
Then I took home baked cookies into the newspaper office and bribed the reporters. If that doesn't get our stories in the paper, nothing will!
I bought the breast cancer calendar, "Beauty and the Breast". Brilliant calendar done by people I know. They've all had breast cancer, and they had artists paint their bodies and they made a calendar. Superb. All profits to Cancer Bacup.
Then I critted four stories on critique circle, signed up for tap dancing, signed up for a dance workshop tomorrow, agreed to go to a barn dance tomorrow night.
Oh and I posted my entry to the Literary Consultancy competition and wrote a letter. All in all, a productive day.
I'm off to bed now. When every muscle aches after tomorrow, I will remind myself I haven't danced for some years.....
Last night, I watched the first two episodes of the Dr Who spin off "Torchwood". Huh? How come I am not making money from writing and this dross is? Am I aiming too high and assuming my readers are more intelligent than they actually are?
What with this and the new Robin Hood, starring the usually reliable Keith Allen, I despair. At least Robin Hood has the saving grace of appealing to five year olds. And I like to think it's meant to be tongue in cheek... But the BBC seems to have decided that their audience don't have two brain cells to bounce together.
It isn't the actors. In both series, they are fairly reliable. It isn't the direction. Well, not totally. The directors can only work with what they have got. And the best director and actors in the world cannot save a poor script. Alien sex gases? Puleese! How old was that writer?
OK. Rant over. The world is not fair. Official. All I can do is go out and try and make it a little fairer. And the only way I can do that is by writing and selling. So, I'm off to write. One out of two ain't bad.
By the way, the coffee didn't completely get me yesterday. I wrote 2000 words. Eventually.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh boy! Why didn't anyone tell me there was coffee in tiramisu? I am very allergic to coffee. (I know, it is an unfair world). I spent all today really, really sick. Imagine the worst hang over you ever had, double it, add a tummy upset, a migraine headache and sleepiness, and you'll get the idea.
I belted out 1200 words when I finally rejoined the land of the living. But I will never touch that evil stuff again.
Oh well, off to see if I can add to my word count. Though I doubt it. I am so tired.

Also entered a play competition. The Literary Consultancy. I've entered Sammy. Fingers crossed.
And the auditions for Hansel and Gretel went well. I think our beloved director has more or less made his mind up now.......

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I am on a roll. Yesterday I did 2500 words to my novel. Today I did another 900 so far. Over the weekend (Friday to Sunday) I did an average 1500 words per day. And I am pleased with it as well. It isn't just a quantity of rubbish. It's working.
I've gone from no writing at all, to a fantastic amount. Just in time for Nano too.
Now all I have to do is make some money......

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ten days to NaNo, and I am like a kid at Christmas. I am so excited. Don't know why. Maybe it's because I haven't been writing as much as I sued to, so it will actually be a challenge to do 50,000 words in a month. Maybe it's because I'm doing it with friends instead of alone. Maybe it's because I am looking forward to a fresh story....
So, with ten days to go, I find a second wind for Tymerys, my fantasy story. Always the way! I had got a bit jaded with it, wondering whether I was wasting time and effort. Crisis of confidence, I suppose you'd call it.
Someone actually said they thought Tymerys was a real place the other day. Hadn't realised I had built the land in my head. I suppose that is a compliment.
I've also been working on The Price of Firewood. Got to speak to people just back from Darfur, and what they told me will really deepen the story. I got the impression they were holding back, so what they saw must have been horrendous. They are my heroes.
I've joined the 21st century as well. Bought a DVD recorder. Apparently, I can put all my videos onto to DVD now. Think of the space that'll save! And no stretched tapes. Just as soon as I can figure out how to programme the thing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

After due consideration, I have my NaNO story ready to begin. The synopsis is done, the characters are waiting in the wings (that is allowed). Roll on November 1st. Meantime, I am getting as much of my fantasy novel done as possible. Trouble is, I need to sell something and I wonder if the fantasy market is a bit flooded at present?
Being on the Critique Circle (a web site where writers crit each other's work) gave me an idea. What if, when someone has done an essay, they could get it critted by someone with fresh eyes, someone who would point out proofing mistakes, tell them where their sentences were not too clear, or didn't make sense, where they have contradicted themselves, that kind of thing. Do you reckon there would be a demand? What it would NOT do is correct content, do research for the student or that kind of thing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

AArgghh! Why is it life always gets in the way of plans? Just when I know what I want and need to do to get my writing career up and running, real life intervenes. I have never been so busy!
But every cloud has a silver lining. The increased activity has increased my energy, and led to an increae in productivity. Three short stories are written, a fourth is nearly done. The first three chapters of my fantasy novel are almost perfect, and the first chapter has been submitted to Novel a Year 2. Being registered with that should keep me writing. I need a deadline.
I'm also going to spend November doing NaNoWriMo. You ahve to start a novel froms cratch on November 1st and write as much of the first draft as possible by November 30th. Doesn't need to be perfect, or polished. Just down on paper (or disk, as the case may be.) The goal is 50,000 words in the month, and the idea is to get all those people who are "going to write a novel one day" to actually get their fingers out and get started. I ahve a new novel in mind, so I'm going to go for it. I reckon 2000 words a day is reasonable, and that will give me 60,000 words by November 30th. Watch this space.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Well, I did some proof reading, which didn't make me rich but I can now say I worked a little. And I have been writing short stories which, in my dreams, will set the women's magazine markets on absolutel fire. Yeah.
Seriously, if anyone knows a paying market for short stories, please let me know. Also paying markets for plays, sketches, poems, songs, magazine articles.... novels take a little longer, so are basically out.
Oh and I'll type up notes, check and edit work (which involves proof reading, plus making suggestions where wording or meaning could be made clearer - you decide whether to take or ignore the suggestions).
I don't do pornography - I don't think I'd be very good at that. Lack of practice/experience.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I want to get out there and do some work! Paid work, that is. LIke every other writer in history, I dream of making my money from my play/screenplay/novel. But I am also a realist and I understand that ain't gonna happen. Well, not yet anyway. So I'm looking for editing, proof reading, article writing, greetings cards verses, anything that will help pay the rent. Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

starving writer
I've been editing a book, and that has taken loads of time - it's quite a weighty tome, very academic. I've never seen half the words before. It's taking several hours a day, but hey, it puts food on the table.
Plus trying to rewrite my screenplay "The Price of Firewood". I'm a third of the way through this draft. Since it is based on events in Darfur, it is quite harrowing and exhausting at times.
I'm working on chapter three of Tymerys, and a second draft of Volunteers. That should keep me out of trouble for a while.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Well, things are very mixed for me at the moment. So much happening, I hardly have time to stop and think. I've done NO writing for about a fortnight, which will not help put food into the larder, will it? I owe letters, emails, phone calls to people and cannot bring myself to do any of them. I've got no motivation and a whole lot of angst and worry that I am not the writer I thought I was.
On the plus side, last night I was telling someone how a drama group I used to be involved with had let me know I was "surplus to requirements" as a writer. (This after ten years of being their only writer, but hey, things change. The old leadership left, a new leadership took over, I've moved to another group.) The person I was telling, who used to be in the first group themselves said "They're mad! They're nothing without you." Not true, of course, but immensely gratifying.
I had a crisis of confidence with my novel "Tymerys: Geoffrey's Freedom" which didn't help. I wondered whether I was wasting my time. I kept starting again and again and again. Now, I'm going to go through and do a complete draft, no rewrite till the end and see what happens.
The first page is up on the site. Let me know what you think.
Got to get on with the novel, because after it, I have two plays and a pantomime to write, and a pantomime to produce. So I'd better leave this and get on with the real work.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

starving writer
Page One of Tymerys: Book One: Geoffrey's Freedom. I'd lvoe comments from passing readers.

Broghan picked up the rat. It struggled and shrank back, but could not escape. She held it near her face, stared into its frightened eyes. Her tongue darted out, tasting the air. The rat squeaked and Broghan grinned.
“Stop tormenting that creature,” said Rowena, in her reed thin, old woman’s voice. She sucked loudly, and the globule of saliva on the corner of her lip disappeared back into her toothless mouth. “Don’t be cruel when there’s no real need for it.”
Broghan scowled and handed the rat to her mistress, who held it up and examined it. Light filtered through holes in the tattered curtains, dappling the packed earth floor and making the steam above the cauldron a grey-white. Rowena held the rat into the shaft of light. She stroked it for a few seconds, then flashed a knife and shaved hairs from its back. She dropped them into the cauldron and passed the rat back to Broghan.
“Have you finished with it now?” asked the younger woman.
“Not until I tell you.” Weary words. Overused. The old woman leaned over the cauldron. The steam painted her leathery cheeks and made droplets on her wispy, white hair.
“Are we going to see the battle?” asked Broghan. “I’ve never seen a battle.”
“There is not much worth the seeing. A lot of noise and tangled men.” Rowena cackled. “But yes, child, we will be there.” She picked up a small copper bowl, dipped it into the cauldron and collected a few swallows of the hot liquid, then reached inside the neck of her dress and pulled out her medallion, a heavy black ring with a five pointed star fixed into it. She lowered the medallion into the bowl and watched the liquid fizz.
Assignments for today (31st August 2006): I have gone back to basics and rewritten Tymerys, my novel from scratch. Chapter One done. Chapter Two hopefully will get done today. It's 3500 words long. I'll be happy with 2000 words, but I'd like to finish all.
starving writer
So, here I am, still starving, but I've put the plays on hold for a while so I can finish a novel (and prove I can do it.) It's on its 30,000th rewrite now (feels like it anyhow!) But things are looking as if they are going well with this write. I have figured out why I was unhappy with it.
When I've done about ten chapters (that is, enough to know it's working this time) I'll post it, chapter by chapter on critique.circle.com. I will post the first page here. Comments appreciated.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

This is Act One Scene One of "Sammy". The play won a National Playwriting Award in England. It was produced in July 2006 in Crowborough England, with Millie Simmons as Jenny, Ben Blair as Mark, Laura Holmwood as Christine and Ade Morris as Phil.



Act One
The scene remains the same throughout the play: a kitchen in an ordinary house. There are cupboards around the walls, a fridge, freezer, all have padlocks on them. There is a table and chairs, and on the wall is a phone. There are two doors, one leading out to the garden, the other leading to the hall and the rest of the house.

Scene one
Jenny enters from the garden, carrying shopping bags. She is in her twenties, somewhat frumpy. She unlocks a cupboard, puts food into it and locks it again. She unlocks the freezer, puts frozen food into it, locks it. She unlocks the fridge and starts to put food into it. Mark enters from the garden. Also in his twenties, Mark is good looking, with an easy charm. He walks across the kitchen, stops, turns slowly to see all the cupboards. Jenny looks guilty. Mark crosses to a cupboard and examines the padlock.

Mark: What’s all this?
Jenny: You knew we were going to do it. We said.
Mark: I know what we said. Who put ‘em up?
Jenny: Well, you know, you’re always so busy, and I don’t like to ask you to do
anymore, so I thought I’d save you the job.
Mark:(sneers) You didn’t do it. You wouldn’t even know how to hold the screw driver.

Jenny is irritated but says nothing.

So who put ‘em up? You didn’t pay someone?
Jenny: Phil did it. He offered. He was only trying to help. And like I said, you were so busy –
Mark: I wasn’t that busy. I could’ve done it.
Jenny: I asked you. You didn’t do it.
Mark: I was going to.
Jenny: Mark, you’re always going to. You just never do.
Mark: I would’ve. When it was time.
Jenny: Time? When -?
Mark: Poor little lamb’s only a month old.
Jenny: The doctor said –
Mark: I know what the doctor said. I’m sick of hearing what the doctor said. And, you know what? Doctors are not God. They get things wrong.
Jenny: Mark –
Mark: They don’t always know what they’re talking about. And this lot – huh!
Jenny: That isn’t fair. They’ve bent over backwards to help us –
Mark: To cover their own backs, more like. (mimics) “We think this, we believe that. Tests are inconclusive but –” which is doctor speak for we don’t know what we’re talking about.
Jenny: I hate when you get like this.
Mark: They don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s nothing wrong with Sammy.

Jenny folds her arms, waits for him to finish.

They don’t know him. Not like we do. You and me. We’re the only ones who really know him, and from what I’ve seen, I can tell you, there’s nothing wrong with my son. All this –(He rattles a padlock) – waste of time and effort. Ridiculous. I knew it was. That’s why I didn’t put ‘em up.

A knock at the garden door. Christine stands the other side of it. Jenny moves towards it.

And when I see Phil, I’ll tell him that.

Jenny opens the door and Christine enters. She is thirty, prettier and more glamorous than Jenny, but hard faced. She looks from Jenny to Mark.

Christine: Have I come at a bad time?
Jenny: Of course not. Mark was just saying what a good job Phil made of the padlocks. Weren’t you, darling?

Mark grins coldly.

Christine: He has his uses. That’s why I keep him around.
Jenny: Coffee?

She picks up the kettle.

Christine: How are you, Mark? Haven’t seen you for ages. (laughs) I was beginning to think Jenny had murdered you and buried you in the garden.
Mark: I’ve been busy.

Off stage, a baby cries. Jenny groans and checks her watch.

Jenny: I’ll be back soon.

She exits. Christine moves towards Mark. He is uncomfortable.

Christine: How are you? Really?
Mark: I’m fine.
Christine: It’s me you’re talking to now. You can be honest with me.
Mark: I said I’m/ fine –
Christine: I suppose you feel you have to be strong for Jen, supportive,/ but –
Mark: I said, I am fine!

She rummages in her bag.

Christine: I went to the library yesterday, looked up Prader Willi Syndrome. I found quite a lot.
Mark: The doctors have already told us what to expect. Witness the padlocks. They say he’ll eat us out of house and home. Literally. (snickers) Jenny’s got it all organised, how to stop him. She’s been on at me for the last fortnight about redecorating. She wants me to strip the wallpaper. He might eat it. Did your books tell you that?

Christine touches his arm, reassuring.

Poor little bugger. He’s not even on baby rice yet, and she’s making sure he can’t chew the anaglypta. And all the carpets’ll have to go. Laminate flooring’s safer, apparently.
Christine: She likes to get things done ahead of time, doesn’t she? (She pulls a sheaf of papers from her bag.)Not that that’s a bad thing. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. That’s why I brought these notes. I took ‘em in the library. I thought - it’s only fair if you know what’s in store.
Mark: Padlocked kitchens and glossed walls, by the looks of it.
Christine: Yes, but – did the doctors tell you the rest of it?
Mark:(anxious) Rest of it?
Christine: Hmm. Didn’t think so. I’ve had a few dealings with doctors, as you know. I find they never tell you everything.
Mark: What did they miss out?

Christine consults her notes.

Christine: For a start, you know he’s – I don’t know how they put it nowadays –
Mark: What?
Christine: He has – learning difficulties.
Mark: How bad?(Pause) How bad?
Christine: You might be lucky. He might just be a bit slow.
Mark:(frightened) And if we’re unlucky?
Christine: You won’t be unlucky. I know you won’t.

Mark stares, shocked, horrified, frightened. She looks at her notes.

Temper tantrums.
Mark: Temper tantrums?
Christine: Epics, apparently. People with Prader Willi could scream for England.
Mark: All kids have tantrums.
Christine: Not like these.

He is in despair. She looks at her notes again, reads from them.

The eating you know about, and it leads to obesity and susceptibility to various ailments – diabetes, liver complications, heart disease. To say nothing of his potential to poison himself by eating things he shouldn’t. There was a case in one of the books, boy ran away from home, found three days later having run up a restaurant bill of £600. £600! Imagine! Shortly after that, of course, he died. His heart couldn’t take/ the extra –
Mark: Shut up!

He towers over her, menacing her.

Christine: I was just saying –
Mark: You’ve said enough. Is this how you get your kicks? Out of other people’s misery?
Christine: No! I wouldn’t! For God’s sake, I wouldn’t do that to you. You know I wouldn’t. I knew how you’d feel when you found out. Because I felt the same. When I read all this, I cried. I cried, Mark. For you.

Mark looks at her with contempt.

I wondered whether to tell you. I knew you’d be upset. But I thought if it was me, I’d want to know. And I’d want to hear it from a friend, not some doctor who has no idea how I feel.

A pause. Mark sits down, calmer.

Mark: Is that all the books said?
Christine: Isn’t that enough for now?

He buries his face in his hands. She comforts him.

Christine: When I was reading this, it made me think. I wondered, if this was my baby, and I knew all this, what would I do? What’d be best for him? For me? For the family? And you know, there’s really only one solution I came up with.
Mark: Which was?
Christine: I’d put him in a home. It’d be the kindest thing. You and Jenny could get on with your lives. And he’d be better off, being with people like – well, his own kind.
Mark: A home?

She nods. He thinks for a moment.

It might be for the best, I suppose.
Christine:(relieved) That’s what I thought.
Mark: Course, me and Jenny don’t matter. It’d make life easier for us, I grant you, but that’s not what I’d be doing it for.
Christine: Of course not.
Mark: If it wasn’t right for Sammy, I wouldn’t even entertain it.
Christine: I know.
Mark: But it’s worth looking into it. For him.
Christine: For him.

They sit silently for a moment.

Mark: Don’t know what Jenny’ll say.
Christine: She’s not like us, is she? You and me, we see the big picture. Jenny, well, she’s much more – emotional.
Mark: She can be.

He starts to move in clsoe to her. She allows him to do so.

Christine: I couldn’t have had this conversation with her.
Mark: It’ll be all right. You leave Jenny to me.

They move in to kiss. At the last moment, Christine pulls away, leaving him frustrated. She puts her notes onto the table, walks quickly to the garden door.

Christine: I wasn’t interfering, or anything like that.
Mark: I know.
Christine: I was trying to help. It’s what friends are for.
Mark: Yeah.

Christine exits. Mark picks up her notes, begins to read.

Black-out.
Hi. My name is Hilary and I am a playwright. (That sounds like an opening sentence at one of those self help groups like Alcoholics anonymous, doesn't it?) Playwrights Anonymous.
Trouble is, that is exactly what I am. Anonymous. No-one's actually heard of me. So although I write for several hours a day, and my plays are produced by am-dram groups (seven have been produced in England, two in America), although I won a national Playwriting Award in England, and though two of my plays have been published by a fantastic firm in Florida, (Eldridge Publishing, check them out), I still sit in my little house in England, blowing on my fingers Bob Cratchitt style, while thinking how I can make last night's gruel stretch till next weekend for my dozens of kids (well, two still at home, but the amount they like to eat, they might as well be dozens... )
Aside from my great line in self pity, I like to talk to people. So please, come in, sit down, make yourself comfy and chat.