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gut feels

THE MANAGED DECLINE

A PLAY FOR WORDS

CHARACTER TYPES

JEM

TESS

LIZ

CHORUS OF REGULARS

SOLITARY BARPERSON

The Managed Decline is the last pub in the neighbourhood.

It is shabby and dark and hasn’t been attended too aesthetically in years. The dim yellow lights on the faded red flock wallpaper give off a fly set in amber kind of feel and the few regulars at the bar and dotted around the table look frozen in time, like wax statues past their sell by date. Magic radio is playing songs from way back. Moths flutter at the windows, mice run along the floor. It’s a Friday night.

JEM

Prince Andrew weird teddy bear addiction?

TESS

What do you mean?

JEM

Something that just flashed up on my phone here…

Says it again, with emphasis this time.

Prince Andrew weird teddy bear addiction!

TESS

Good man badly misunderstood sadly misrepresented.

JEM

Bad fucker cosseted by rank birth and elitist privilege.

TESS

If something utterly disgusting like that can happen to someone like him, well, what hope for the rest of us?

JEM

I hope that one day we will do something positive for change, throw all these parasites out of power…

TESS

Not the kind of change I would ever have in mind.

JEM

I see that in your eyes, right enough.

TESS

What could you possibly see in these eyes?

JEM

You haven’t smiled at a neighbour in weeks.

TESS

I keep myself to myself, isn’t that a virtue in these times?

JEM

The old lady who has lived in this street all her life…?

TESS

What old lady who has lived, in this street, all her life?

JEM

Your mother.

TESS

My mother?

JEM

You pass her by in the street every day like she does not exist.

TESS

What has my mum’s life in this street pertaining to myself got to do with you or your life?

JEM

She’s a neighbour.

TESS

Yes, she does the quite neighbourly thing and keeps herself nicely to herself, as should you.

JEM

What about the young hipster couple trying to get their well-being café off the ground?

TESS

Have you experienced the prices they charge for the service on offer!

JEM

The rent and the rates on their lease have just gone up, food and other stock prices rising.

TESS

Mate, like everywhere in the capital, like everywhere in the country.

JEM

And they’ve just had a baby…

TESS

They procreate ably, so?

JEM

You complained about the price of their coffee and I watched you walk out in disgust.

TESS

Things need saying, consumer actions taken, maybe they should do a course in how to run a business properly. There are plenty around. Going forward you have to understand we will only absolutely appreciate good hard-working people on this street.

JEM

Like the Turkish man who runs eternal hours of auto repair out of his garage?

TESS

I’ve put a complaint in to the council about the pure mess he makes of the pretty pavement.

JEM

A complaint?

TESS

I aim to take things much further.

JEM

What more about our street could possibly offend you?

TESS

The so-called artists in the crumbling warehouse that they claim to be slowly reconditioning upset me for a start…

JEM

They are lovely people a really friendly positive crew.

TESS

I absolutely hate them and would like to see them deleted from my current lived experience.

JEM

They are community minded and bring a lot of colour to the area.

TESS

I am actively petitioning against them, it is not the kind of colour we need.

JEM

That is quite an unnerving singular view that will not be shared by anyone here.

TESS

Wrong.

JEM

Wrong?

TESS

I know I’m not alone, there are others like me, and we must do our bit for our compact but expanding congregation of like-minded souls.

JEM

You’ve only been back here for six-month.

TESS

That’s six month too long of intolerable living.

JEM

Oh fuck… no, please…

Another character enters the bar…

LIZ

Wow!

JEM

What?

LIZ

It feels like I’ve wandered on to the set of deadenders.

JEM

You are in The Managed Decline.

LIZ

Heritage venue right?

TESS

Something like that…

LIZ

Or just another tired theme pub?

TESS

Something like that too…

LIZ

I wonder how much this is worth.

JEM

Not much, it’s falling to bits.

LIZ

But the land, I wonder what the actual ground is worth. Can I buy you people drinks?

Barperson, whatever my new friends want.

What exactly are we talking about here anyway?

JEM

The life and death of great cities.

LIZ

And you want to do what with great cities?

JEM

Preserve the old neighbourhoods…

LIZ

To what end though I wonder?

JEM

A continuation of community values, a growing cultural wealth, the preservation of good decent stock.

LIZ

Why would anyone remotely sensible want to do that?

JEM

Reconcile and assimilate all that can be great about good communities and what connection might mean in the 21st century.

LIZ

Gate off all valuable private land for profitable interest of those who would preserve best more like.

JEM

You’re winding me up.

LIZ

I’ve never been more truthfully intent; your teachers and your nurses… the firemen, post office workers, train drivers…

JEM

Good people, necessary people.

LIZ

They don’t matter now.

TESS

Did they ever matter at all?

LIZ

No, I’m sure they didn’t.

TESS

So, let’s get rid.

LIZ

And once we are rid, we can start to drive thems out…

JEM

Who?

TESS

Thems!

LIZ

Theys!

TESS

The unbinarables.

LIZ

The unbearables.

TESS

The undesirables.

LIZ

The non-understandables.

TESS

The not me’s.

LIZ

And never will be’s.

TESS

Forget them.

LIZ

Put them on boats.

TESS

Leave them in camps.

LIZ

Shoot them.

TESS

Burn them.

LIZ

Hang them.

TESS

Eliminate them.

LIZ

Delete them all.

TESS

Progress must not die.

LIZ

Meanwhile…

TESS

The idiot mantra.

LIZ

Keep accessing work.

TESS

Keep thinking church.

LIZ

Keep dreaming royals.

TESS

Keep chasing online girls.

LIZ

Fill in your tax returns.

TESS

And keep your head in dappy clouds.

LIZ

Dippy shrouds.

TESS

Deeply cowed.

LIZ

Drinks on me for everyone.

What do you all think?

CHORUS OF REGULARS

Bring in the others

Drive out the others

Bring in another set of others

Keep serving the invisible machine

This is how it is now

That is how it has always been

This is how it is set to be.

JEM

Where are we now?

REGULARS

Aaaaaaaaaaaah!

JEM

Who are we now?

CHORUS OF REGULARS

You are dust and disease

You are concrete and unease

You are nerve shaken,

But you’re not map reading

You should be trying to find the right path away from here.

JEM

Attend to our spirituality?

TESS

Build a decent portfolio of securities.

JEM

Search within for the hidden mysteries?

LIZ

Property is so key, take my absolute advice.

JEM

The sacred geometries?

TESS

An insured body is a healthy body.

JEM

The power lines that may save us?

TESS

Join a decent club, surround yourself with right thinking people.

JEM

Is it any wonder I actively despair?

TESS

Prince Andrew weird teddy bear addiction!

LIZ

Oh fucking hell, look outside everyone, some utter scum bag has torched my new vehicle.

CHORUS OF REGULARS

A large teddy bear lays on a burned vehicle

An alienated humanist cries.

The fifteen-minute warning sounds

Dust and disease

Illness and unease

This is what we are made of

Screams…

And then a loud explosion and a flash of light illuminates the room.

CHORUS OF REGULARS

A bomb goes off in the station doorway

An incomers ride is torched

Madness is back and no mistake

Watch it head straight this way

Pulling a live seagull along the pavement

With a rope around its neck

Machine rides humans into the ground

Screaming all the while

Step off my door.

Get away from my turf.

You’re not from my postcode

We’ll stab you, you cunt

Between heaven and hell

We’ll wet you back side and front

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Time Please!!!

Outside the pub Liz is stood on her burning vehicle with a megaphone.

LIZ

I’m going to build a shopping mall over the park where you all played when you grew up.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Time!!!

Jem pulls seed packets out and begins scattering seeds around the pub.

JEM

Let’s plant seeds for new trees on inner city streets.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

This is it!

JEM

Where you imagined your own children would play.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

You’ve had your fun.

JEM

Let’s create new co-operatives, share the burden around.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

And done your thing!

TESS

You all love shopping still.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

And now the game is up.

TESS

We need our dividends more than ever.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Time is up!

LIZ

Our shareholders demand your absolute despair and subjugation.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Everything is finished.

JEM

New start make time to create

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Drink up!

LIZ

Work the low pay until the day you die you fuck wit slaves.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Drink up!

JEM

I feel positive the mend is nigh we can fix this age of broke

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Drink up the dregs of the end of the world!

LIZ

The world is ticking along nicely let’s have another smile for socials.

Liz self-immolates, it’s a beautiful sight.

SOLITARY BARPERSON

Time everybody please!

Jem punches Tess clean out, turns and smiles.

RANDOM OLD REGULAR

Good punch love. It’s almost like the old days in here all of a sudden.

CHORUS OF REGULARS

Protest kiddie with point to prove

Found guilty of threatening behaviour

After throwing “at least five” eggs at the king

Prince Andrew weird teddy bear addiction!

Prince Andrew weird teddy bear addiction!

Three horses die at the Grand National 

Night volunteers arrested in Soho

For possession of rape alarms that might scare the horses

Everything good is going down

The Managed Decline sails on

It’s the end of the world this time.

Who believes in heaven?

Who believes in hell?

Here in between

Is the land where idiots dwell