Chat # 2
Linda and Hilary
Linda is worried about Hilary’s absence from their over-60s women’s support group. But Hilary has worries of her own.
SCENE 2: BACK GARDENS IN PALLION (EXT. DAY)
Linda (female, 60+) and Hilary (female, 60+) are chatting over their shared back fence.
LINDA: Did you hear about Joan’s brother?
HILARY: How am I going to hear about Joan’s brother?
LINDA: (awkwardly) Right. Well… Joan said he had to see his doctor, but he could only speak to him on the phone. The doctor asked him what the matter was, and he says, “I’ve got a boil on me bum!” And the doctor says to him… “Can you take a photograph of it for us?”
HILARY: (shocked) No!
LINDA: So Joan’s brother says, “How am I supposed to do that? It’s in a bit of an awkward place.” And the doctor says, “Could you get your wife to do it?” Joan’s brother says, “She’s got enough on her plate with the pandemic and everything. I’m not putting her through that as well!” They laugh, but soon fall into an awkward silence.
HILARY: So how’s everyone else getting on? Is the bairn managing on her own?
LINDA: Aw, she’s fine. Running herself ragged, bless her. The whole group’s getting in now. Everyone’s asking after you. Wondering when you’re coming back. They’re worried about you being here on your own–
HILARY: I’m not on me own. I’ve got my Allan.
HILARY: And I’ve got you. Besides, it’s not like there’s much to gas on about just now, is there?
LINDA: You’d be surprised.
HILARY: Well? Come on then! What’s the latest gossip?
LINDA: Denise’s brother (beat) found that missing ten pence! To say the least!
HILARY: Eee! Where was it?
LINDA: Well, he was adamant it wasn’t in the tin. So he went through all the receipts for the last 6 months. In case someone had added something up wrong. You know what he’s like. (mimicking him) “This would never have happened in the Army. We had to account for every bean in every tin!”
HILARY: So where was it in the end?
LINDA: Well, the receipts were all in order, so now he reckons someone miscounted one of the penny bags. Not him. But someone. Betty thinks he just put an extra ten pence in when no-one was looking, just to save face. But Denise swears down he’d never do that. Wouldn’t be able to sleep straight if he covered up one accounting error with another. After all the fuss he made, we took a photograph of the ten pence piece. The bairn blew it up for us, and we put it in a frame for him. He took it in good spirits.
HILARY: What’ll you do with all that extra money, then?
LINDA: We were thinking of planning a trip. To the far end of the hall! Again, they laugh until it gets awkward.
LINDA: (slyly) You know… speaking of trips. We’ve started collecting subs again? A few of us were thinking about planning a lunch… or a trip out somewhere? Betty’s on about dance lessons at the Fire Station? You know, when things go back to how they were?
HILARY: (suspiciously) How are you going to do that? Johnson doesn’t know what he’s going to say next week, never mind when all this’ll be over.
LINDA: We can still make plans. Gives us all something to look forward to. Like, Susan’s always on about visiting her husband in Scotland. You know, she hasn’t seen him for six months? Now that’s true love–
HILARY: Or it’s why they’re still together.
LINDA: Oh, Hilary! Not everyone’s as tough as you. Some of us need a hug now and then. Or a cup of tea we didn’t have to make ourselves. Sarah’s desperate. She says the group is a life saver–
HILARY: (defensively) Aye, but her family’s all dead, aren’t they?
LINDA: They are…
HILARY: And mine’s not.
LINDA: Because you’ve got your Allan.
LINDA: Well, the thing is… the group doesn’t want to make any decisions about where we’ll go unless everyone’s there to have their say–
HILARY: (impatiently) Pfff! Just go with what the majority want to do. You’ll never make everyone happy.
LINDA: But you’re our longest serving member. We don’t want to impose something on you.
HILARY: (snapping) Well you’ve a funny way of showing it!
LINDA: (taken aback) What do you mean?
HILARY: I’ve told you I’m not coming to the group until everything’s sorted. And I’ve told you why.
LINDA: Because Allan won’t let you come.
HILARY: Because he’s worried!
LINDA: Well where is he then? Why isn’t he here, keeping you company, helping out with the shopping, with the garden?
HILARY: Listen, thanks for the ‘chat’, but if you’re tired of helping out, you only had to say. I can get the shopping delivered. And the garden’s not going anywhere.
LINDA: That’s not what I meant! We’re just worried about you, that’s all. In the house by yourself all the time. It’s not right.
HILARY: Have you thought maybe it’s not Allan stopping us from coming?
LINDA: What do you mean?
HILARY: Maybe I can make my own choices. Maybe I don’t feel safe at the group? Maybe I don’t want to risk it? I’m getting on, Linda. I’m scared. And maybe I am lonely. Maybe Allan doesn’t come round all that often. You think I want to be in the room when you’re all running him down? You think I need to hear that? He’s all I’ve got, and I can’t risk falling out with him. You can understand that, can’t you?
LINDA: (taken aback) I can.
HILARY: Then you’ll tell the group I’m fine?
HILARY: And you’ll stop trying to get us to come with you?
LINDA: (reluctantly) If that’s what you want.
HILARY: I’m sorry, Linda. I do miss everyone. But this is for the best. (Pause) So… did Joan’s brother take a photo of that boil on his bum?
LINDA: (relieved) Oh, Hilary!