INT.COMMUNITY CENTRE OFFICE.MORNING
It is a small, well-lit office at the back of the community centre hall. The walls are covered with brightly coloured leaflets, posters, children’s artwork and postcards all of different shapes and sizes. LILY, MIKE, VAL, SI and NAN are sat tightly packed in a circle of chairs. LILY stands.
LILY: I don’t want to cry, but…
MIKE: It’s OK, Lily. Let it out.
SI: Let her talk.
LILY: I don’t want to cry, but…
NAN: Hush, darlin’, don’t cry.
LILY: I won’t, Nan, but…
SI: She won’t cry if we let her speak, will she. Go on, Lily.
LILY: ..but I just want to say how proud I am of how far we’ve come in the last year.
VAL: Especially me – Manchester to London. Took me ages.
LILY: I mean, in terms of getting the community centre on its feet. Yes. Mike and I started with a simple idea – community integration. Now here we are, realising that dream off the back of hard work and hope.
SI: I wouldn’t go that far.
MIKE: We are certainly making steps in the right direction. The principles of permaculture teach us that we should start small in the pursuit of the bigger goals.
LILY: Thanks, Mike. That’s not quite where I was going, but, er, I’ll just go back to what I… So anyway… We, patrons of the community centre, stand alone as a beacon of hope in the baron wasteland of burnt out cars and betting shops. The inner sanctum of the inner city. A haven, if you will, for the disenfranchised youth in our society…
VAL: We haven’t had a person under 60 in here in the last six months.
LILY: Six months? It hasn’t been that long, has it?
LILY: We’ve had some kids in the after school programme, haven’t we?
LILY: That can’t be right, can it?
SI: Focus, woman!
LILY: Right, sorry. Yes. I wasn’t doing it again, was I?
VAL: I’ve been online dating Aslan for exactly four months tomorrow and that started exactly two months after we stopped getting young meat in the centre.
MIKE: Can you not say “meat” like that, please, Val.
VAL: What, meat? Meeeat. Meat. How am I saying it? Is that not how you say meat?
MIKE: The context with which you’re using the word, as a vegan and a humanist it’s offensive on multiple levels.
NAN: What kind of man doesn’t enjoy a bit of red meat?
VAL: A gay one?
MIKE: (Aggitated) I’m not…
SI: Hmm? What were you going to say, Mike? That you’re actually straight and in love with a woman?
MIKE: (lowering his voice) I’m not…comfortable with the direction of this conversation.
LILY: OK, alright, you two. Of course Mike is gay. He’s my gay bestie!
SI: You both offend me. And don’t ever say “bestie”.
LILY: Alright, fine! Let’s get back to Val’s observation then, shall we? As Val mentioned, it has been some time since we’ve had any young people in the centre and…
VAL: Six months.
LILY: It’s been six months since we’ve had any young people in…
VAL: People under 60.
LILY: (Sighs) It’s been six months since we’ve had anyone under the age of 60 engaged in community centre activities and, while I’m hugely proud of the obstacles we’ve overcome to get the centre open and keep it afloat for our first year, I think we may have lost sight of the some of our initial objectives.
Anyone got a problem with that?
SI: No, please continue.
LILY: Thanks. So, ahead of our anniversary party this weekend, what I had in mind for today was a thought-cloud session on past, present and future objectives.
VAL: Ooh, it’s not PC to say thought-cloud, Lily, babes. You have to say brainstorm – like the epileptics.
NAN: (Kisses her teeth) Well, while you all make it rain with your storm clouds, I’m going in the kitchen to bake some cookies for this afternoon’s Pilate Pensioners.
MIKE: Another good one, Mrs Lee.
NAN: I might be half blind, Mitchel, but I can still slap your backside with wit.
MIKE: (Quietly) It’s Michael, by the way, not Mitchel.
NAN gets up and awkwardly tries to squeeze round, behind the chairs, to the doorway.
LILY: No, Nan. Your input is just as important as everyone else’s.
NAN: I know a lot of nice young under 40’s from Bible studies I could invite. Montgomery Belgravious has always had a soft spot for you, Lily pad.
LILY: Alright, Nan, you go and make your cookies, there’s a love. Call me if you need a hand. I’ll send Mike. Thanks, Nanny, off you go.
In fact, why don’t we all take a quick tea break, pull focus and reconvene in the hall for thought clouding?
Everyone, but MIKE, gets up from their chairs and potters toward the doorway. MIKE takes his iPad from his bag.
VAL: Oh, Mrs Lee, maybe we could try some of that mushroom tea I got from the Russian guy with dreadlocks.
NAN: Oh, yes. Lovely.
LILY: Oh-ho, no, I do not think so!
NAN, VAL and LILY exit into hall. SI heads towards the door and closes it behind the others, leaving himself and MIKE in the office. MIKE is preoccupied with his iPad and doesn’t notice. SI goes over to the office window and closes the blinds.
MIKE: (Synical tone) What are you doing, Simon?
SI opens a gap in the blinds and directs a beam of sunlight onto MIKE’S face.
SI: I’m on to you, Michael, so why not just give it up here and now?
MIKE: Not this again. For the last time, I am not pretending to be gay and I have no repressed feelings for Lily.
SI: What was the name of Madonna’s first album?
MIKE: You are ridiculous.
SI: Name two films in which Barbara Streisand had a starring role.
MIKE: You’re an embarrassment to yourself and I find you offensive.
SI: Are you a top or a bottom?
MIKE: I’m leaving.
MIKE gets up and exits into the hall.
SI: (sinister tone)
I’ll get you next time, Michael. Oh, yes, I will expose you.
SI exits into the hall.
-End of Extract-
© 2016 Celia Morgan.
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