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SH E LAGH DE

LAN E Y

AThste of Honey
Witb a Commentary and No tes by
G

LENDA LEEMING

Debreceni Eggetem

Angol-Amerikai Intzet K6ngvt6ra

Methuen Snrdent Editions

METHUEN.LONDON

This Methuen Student Edition first published in 1982 by Methuen


London Ltd,11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE.
A Taste of Honey first published in January 1959 by Methuen
& Co. Ltd. New edition April 1959.
A Taste of Honey copyright @ 1959 by Theatre Workshop

Contents

(Pioneer Theatres Ltd.)


Commentary and Notes copyright @ 1.982 by Methuen London Ltd.
Printed in Great Britain by Richard Clay (The Chaucer Press) Ltd,
Bungay, Suffolk

Page

Shelagh Delaney

rsBN 0 4r3 49250

Plot and structure

CAUTION
This play is fully protected by copyright. All enquiries concerning
performing rights, professional or amateur should be directed to
Tessa Sayle, 11 Jubilee Place, Chelsea, London SW3 3TE.

vii

Commentary

Characters
Themes

xv

Comedy
How the play came to be written
Dramatic effectiveness
Social background: the fifties
Suggestions for further reading

xvii

xix

xxiii
xxiv

xxvlll

A TASTE OF HONEY

Notes
Four pages of illustrations appear at the end of the commentary

Tbanks are due to Tessa Sayle and Non Worrall


adaice in the preparation of this edition.

for tbeir belp and

88

This play was first presented by Theatre Workshop at the


Theaue Royal, Stradord, London Er5, on z7 May 1958.

Act One

On ro February 1959 the play was presented by Donald


Albery and Oscar Lewenstein Ltd, at Wyndham's Theatre,
London, with the following cast:

SCENE ONE

Ayi5 lrrnnsge

HELEN

JosEPHINn,
PETER, her

ha daughtn

Frances Cuka

Nigel Davenport
Clifton Jones
Murray Melvin

fiend

THE BOY
GEOFFREY

THE APEX JAZZ TRIO

Johnny Vallbank (cornet)


Barry Wright (guitar)
Christopher Capon (double bass)
John Bury

SETTING BY

Una Collins

COSTUMES BY

I'\rc stage relresents

cornfortless

flat in

Manchestn and

tlv

street outide, Jazz nusic. Enter HELEN, a semi-whore, and


hn daughter, Jo. Thq are loadpd with baggage.
rriLEN: \[ell! This is the place.

yo: And I don't like it.


uriLEN: \[hen I find somewhere for us to live I have to consider something far more important than your feelings . ..
the rent. It's all I can afford.
yo: You can afford something better than this old ruin.
ilriLEN: When you start &rning you can start moaning.
yo: Can't be soon enough for me. I'm cold and my shoes let
water . .. what a place . . . and we're supposed to be

living off her immoral earnings.

I'm careful. Anyway, what's wrong with this place?


in it's falling apart, it's true, and we've no
heating - but there's a lovely view of the gasworks, we share

nriI.EN:

Everything

The

play is set in Salford, Lancashire, ttxlqy

a bathroom with the community and this wallpaper's con-

temporary. Vhat more do you want? Any*ay


Directed by Joan Littlewood

it'll do for

us. Pass me a glass, Jo.


J<l: Where are they?
uriLEN: I don't know.
Jo: You packed 'em. She'd lose her head if it was loose.
nI,LEN: Here they are. I put 'em in my bag for safety. Pass me
that bottle - it's in the carrier.
ytr: Why should I run round after you? lTahcs whisky bottle
from bag.l

[ecr

TASTE OF EONBY

HELEN: Children owe their parene these little atteotions.

1o:

don't owe you x thing.

HELEN: Except respect, and I don't seem to get any of that.


yo: Drink, drink, drink, that's all you're fit for. You make me
sick.
HELEN: Others may pray for thEir daily bread,

;o: Is that the bedroom?


HELEN: It is. Your health, Jo.
;o: 'IVe're sharing a bed agah, I
HELEN: Of course, you know
you.

I pray for . . .

see.

can't bear to be parted from

I wouldn't give for a room of my own! God! It's


freezing! Isn't there any sort of fire anywherg Helen?

1o: What

HELEN: Yes, there's a gas-propelled thing somewhere.

;o: Where?
HELEN: Vhere? What were you given eyes for? Do you want
me to carry you about? Don't stand there shivering; have
some of this if you're so cold.

1o: You know

don't like it"

HELEN: Have you tried it?

yo: No.

it down you! [Sfte wanders around tlu room


for fire.l "\Xrhere!" she says. She can never see
anything till she falls over it. Now, where's it got to? I
know I saw it here somewhere . . . one of those shilling
in the slot affairs; the landlady pointed it out to me as

HELEN: Then get


searching

part of the furniture and fittiogp. I don't know. Oh!


turn up. What's up with you now?
yo: I don't like the smell of it.
HELEN: You don't smell it, you drink it! It consoles you.

It'll

1o: What do you need consoling about?


HELEN: Life! C-ome on, give it to me if you've done with it.

I'll

it in a safe place. [Drinks.]


it back worse than ever.
HELEN: Oh! Well, it's one way of passing time while I'm
soon put

yo: You're knocking

scENE

rl

A TASTE OF IIONEY

waiting for something to nun up. And it usudly does if I


ddnk hard enough. Oh my God! I've caught a shocking
cold from somebody. Have you got a clean hanky, Jo?
Mine's wringing wet with dabbing at my nose all day.
;o: Have this, i1's nearly clean. Isn't that light awful? I do hate
to see an unshaded electric light bulb dangling from the
ssiting like that.
urjLEN: Well, don't look at it then.
Jo: C,an I have that chair, Helen? I'll put my scarf round it.
l1o takes chair from HELEN, stands on it and zwaps lur
scarf round light fulb - burning herself in tlu process.l
ilt:LEN: Wouldn't she get on your nerves? Just when I was
going to take the weight of my feet for five minutes. Oh!
my poor old nose.

lo: Christ! It's hot.


Why can't you leave things alone? Oh! she gets me
down. I'll buy a proper shade tomorrow. It's running like
a tap. This is the third hanky today.
yo: Tomorrow? What makes you think we're going to live
that long? The roof's leaking!
TTELEN: Is it? No, it's not, it's just condensation.
Jo: Was it raining when you took the place?
I(ELEN: It is a bit of a mess, isn't it.
yo:You always have to rush offinto things. You never think.
TIELEN: Oh well, we can always find something else.
yo: But what are you looking for? Every place we find is the
TTELEN:

same.

Oh! Every time I turn my head my eyeballs hurt.


Can't we have a bit of peace for five minutes?

HELEN:

I'll make some coffee.


I{ELEN: Do what you like.
out of bed.

yo:

feel rotten. I've no business being

;o: Where's the kitchen?


IELEN: Where's the

bdore

through there.

can go to bed, though.

I have to be really bad

It's the only

redeeming

ro

a rAsrE oF

HoNEY

[ecr

feature in this entire lodging house. I've got it in my throat


now too. I hope you're going to make full use of it.
yo: There's a gas stove in here.
HELEN: It hurts when I swallow. Of course there is!
yo: It looks a bit ancient. How do I light it?
HELEN: How do I - with a match. Wouldn't she drive you
mad?

yo:

know that, but which knob do I trrrn?


Turn 'em all, you're bound to find the right one in
the end. She can't de s thing for henelf, that girl. Mind
you don't gas yoruself, Every time I comb my hair it goes
right through me. I think it's more than a cold, you know more likely it's 'flu! Did you find it?
lLoud borg.l

HELEN:

yo: Yes.
HELEN: The way she bangs about!

I tell you, my

head's coming

off.

;o: 'lVon't be long now. Who


Any young people?
HELEN: Eh? Oh! Yes,
when

lives here besides us, Helen?

did

see a lad hanging around here

I called last week. Handsome, long-legged creanrre

have you?
;o: No. I used to like one of your fancy men though.

Oh! Which one?


thought I was in love with him.

HELEN:

HELEN: Which one does she mean?


I thought he was the only -an I'd ever love in my life and

1o:

then he ran off with that landlady's daughtcr.


HELEN: Oh! Him.

1o: And

yo:

rl

cried myself to sleep for wccks.


if evcr thcrc wln onc. Yorr should
have seen her. Honcst to Godl Shc wiur r siglrt litr sore
eyes. I'll have to tcll you ubout ltt'r ltxr ritttttt'lllttc.

HELEN: She was a silly cat

a TASTE OF HONEY

saw him

TTELEN:

rr

spii one day, on the street.

Did you?

I couidn't believe my eyes. He was thin, weak-chinnsd,


with a funny turned-up nose.
TTELEN: It wasn't his nose I was interested iu.

yo:

lTugboat heard.l

yo: C,an you smell that river?


IIELEN: I can't smell a thing! I've got such a cold.
;o: What's that big place over there?
IIELEN: The slaughterhouse. Vhere all the cows, sheep and
pigs go in and all the beef, pork and mutton comes out.
yo: I wonder what it'll be like here in the summer. I bet it'll
smell.
TIELEN: This whole clty smells. Eee, there's a terrible draught

in here. Where's it coming from? Look at that! What


damn silly place to put

window. This place is cold enough,


isn't it, without grving shelter to the four winds.
;o: Helen, stop sniffing. It sounds awful.
IIELEN:

iust the way I like 'em. Perhaps he's one of the fixtures.
He'd iust do for you, Jol you've never had a boy friend,

;o: I

scENB

I can't

help it. You'd sniffif you had a cold like this.


in her. It's self all the

She's not got a bit of consideration

time.
Jo: I'm going to unpack my bulbs.

wonder where

can put

them.
TTELEN:

could tell you.

;o: They're supposed to be left in a cool, dark place.


That's where we all end up sooner or later. Still, it's
no use worrying, is it?
yo: I hope they bloom. Always before when I've tried to fix
up a window box nothin's ever grown in it.
I{ELEN: Vhy do you bother?
;o: It's nice to see a few flowers, isn't it?
TTELEN: Where did you get those bulbs?
;o: The Park. The gardener had just planted about two hundred. I didn't think he'd miss half a dozen.
TIELEN:

TIELEN:

That's the way to do things.

If

you see something

t2

A TASTE OF HONBY

[ecr

you want, take it. That's my daughter for you.

scENE

rl

that kenle's boiling.


See yourself. I've got to find somewhere for my bulbs.
HELEN: See yourself! Do everything yourself. That's what
happens. You bring 'em up and they turn round and talk
to you like that. I would never have dared talk to my
mother like that when I was her age. She'd have knocked
me into the middle of next week. Oh! my head. Whenever

I walk, you know how it is! What a iourney! I never


realized this city was so big. Have we got any aspirins left,
Jo?

;o: No. I

dreamt about you last night, Helen.


HELEN: You're going to have a shocking journey to school
each day, aren't you? It must be milqs and miles.
1o: Not for much longer.
HELEN: Why, are you still set on leaving school at Chrisunas?

yo: Yes.
HELEN: vhat are you going to do?
yo: Get out of your sight as soon as I can get a bit of money

io -y pocket.
HELEN: Very wise too. But how are you going to get your
money in the first place? After all, you'rc uot very fond of
work, are you?
yo: No. I take after you.
HELEN llooking at thc aspidistral: That's nice, isn't it? Puts me

in mind of my first job, in a utty little pub down Whit

Lane. I thought it was wonderful ... You know, playing


the piano and all that; a real get-together at weekends.
Everybod! standing up and grving a song. I used to bring
the house down with this one. [Sr4gs.]

I'd give the song birds to the wild


I'd give the sr:nset to the blind

wood

r3

And to the old folks I'd give the memory


of the baby upon their knee.

If you spent

half as much ti e on me as you do on them fiddling bits


of greenery I'd be a damn sight better off. Go and see if
yo:

A TASTE OF HONEY

[To orclrcsrra]: Come on, vamp it in with me.


yo: You can't play to that. It's got no rhythmHELEN:

Oh! They'd tear

it up, wouldn't they? lSIu ings

anoths oerse.l It's nice though isn't it?


yo: What would you say if I did something like that?
HELEN: I should have taken up singing - everybody used to
tell me. What did you say?
yo: I said what would you say if I got a iob in a pub?
HELEN: You can't sing, can you? Anyway, it's your life, ruin
it your own way. It's a waste of time interfering with other
people, don't you think so? It takes me all my time to
look after myself, I know that.
;o: That's what you said, but really you think you could make
a better job of it, don't you?
HELEN: What?

yo: Ruining my life. After all, you've had plenty of practice.


HELEN: Yes, give praise where praise is due, I always say' I
ceftainly supervised my own downfall. oh! This chair's a
bit low, isn't it? Could do with a cushion.
;o: Anyway I'm not getting married like you did.
nnrrN: Oh!
1o: I'm too young and beautiful for that.
HELEN: Listen to it! Still, we all have funny ideas at that age,
don't we - makes no difference though, we all end up same
way sooner or later. Aoywuy, tell me about this dream you
had.

1o: What dream?


HELEN: You said you had a dream about me.
Jo: oh that! It was nothing much. r was standing in a garden
and there were some policemen diggrng and guess what
they found planted under a rosebush?
nBtnN: You.

r4

A TAsrE oF

;o: No -

HoNBy

[ecr

you.

always said we should be used for manure when we're


gone. Go and see to that cofee. I'm dyrng for a hot drink.
This bloody cold! It's all over me. I,m sure it's 'flu - I
suppose I'd better clear some of this snrff away. She
wouldn't think. Well, they don't at that age, do they? Oh!
It gets me right here when I try to do anything when I
bend, you know. Have you ever had it? I was thinking of
washing my hair tonight, but I don't think it's wise to . ..
Christ! what the hell's she got in here . .. sooner her
than me . . . what's this? [.lea4g drawirrys.) Hey, Jo, Jo,
what's this?
;o: What's what?
HELEN: Did you do this?

;o: Put it dowu.


HELEN: I thought you said you weren't good at anything.
1o: It's only a drawing.
HELEN: It's very good. Did you show them this at school?
;o: I'm never at one school long enough to show them anything.
HELEN: That's my fault, I suppose.
yo: You will wander about the country.
HELEN: It's the grpsy in me. I didn't rcalize I had such a
talented daughter. Look at rhat. It's good, isn't it?
;o: I'm not just talented, I'm geniused.
HELEN: I think I'll hang this on the wall somewhcrc. Now,
where will it be least noticeable? Don't snatch. Havc you
no manners? What's these?
yo: Self-poftraits. Give'em here.
HELEN: Self-portraits? Oh! Well, I suppose you'vc got to
draw picttres of yor:rself, nobody else would. IIcyl Is that

supposed to be me?
Yes.

HELEN: Don't

A TASTE OF IIONEY

r5

say. Have you ever thought of going to a proPer art


school and getting a proper training?
1o: It's too late.

I must

HELEN: Why, had we run short of cemetery space? Well, I,ve

;o:

sr:nxr r]

look a misery? They're very trristic rhough,

I'll

pay, You're not stuPid. You'll soon learn.


;o: I've had enough of school. Too many different schools and
too many different places.
rrrLEN: You're wasting yourself.
;o: So long as I don't waste anybody else. Why are you so
suddenly interested in me, anyway? You've never cared
much before about what I was doing or what I was trying
to do or the difference benpeen them.
r{ELEN: I know, I'm a olrel, wicked woman.
yo: Why did we have to come here anyway? \Ve were all right
nllr,EN:

at the other place.


I was fed up with the other place.
mean you're running away from somebody.
You
;o:
r{ELEN: You're asking for a bloody good hiding, lady. Just be
careful. Oh! She'd drive you out of yoru mind. And my
HELEN:

head's splining. Splitting in two.


;o: What about me? Don't you think

get fed up with all this

flitting about? Where's the bathroom? I'm going to

have

a bath.
HELEN: You're always bathing.

;o: I'm not like you. I don't wait until it becomes necessary
before I have a good wash.
HELEN: You'll find the coutmunal latrine and wash-house at
the end of the passage. And don't throw you things about,
this place is untidy enough as it is.
1o: That's all we do, live out of a travelling-bag.
HELEN: Don't wony' you'll soon be an independent working
woman and free to go where you please.
yo: The sooner the better. I'm sick of you. You've made my
life a misery. And stop sneezing your'flu bugs all over me.
I don't want to catch Your cold.
HELEN: Oh! Get out of my sight. Go and have your bath.

I6

A TASTB OF HONEY

yo: You qrn get your own cpfee too. Vhy should
thing for you? You never do anything for me.

[ecr

do any-

lMusic. Enter IETER, a brash car salesman, cigar in mouth.l


HELEN: Oh!

My God! Look what the wind's blown in. What

do you want?
pErER: Just passing by, you know. Thought I'd take a look at
your new headquarters.
HELEN: Just passing . . . How did you find my address?
IETER: I found it. Did you think you could escape me, dear?

1o: So that's what she was running away from.


PETER: Who's this?
HELEN:

Itly daughter.

IETER: Oh! Hello there. That puts another ten years on her.
'What's this one called?

1o:

HELEN: Smith.

;o: You told me not to tnrst men calling themselves Smith.


HELEN: Oh go and have your bath.

yo:

don't know where the bathroom is.


HELEN: It's in a little hole in the corridor.
1o: Is he staying?
PETER: Yes,

I'm staying.

1o: Then I'll


HELEN: What did you want to follow me here for?
pErER ffumblingl: You know what I want.
HELEN: Give over! Jo, go and see to that coffee! He would
show up iust when I've got her hanging round my ncck.
nETER: Do what your mother tells you.
;o: Ordering me about like a servant! [Shc goes. PErl:R makzs
another pass at nrrrN.] The kettle's not boiling. I suppose
she hasn't told you about me.
PETER: Christ!
HELEN: Go and lay the table.
;o: No.
HELEN: Vell, do something. Trrrn yourself itrlo it blotldy
go for my bath later.

r7

A TASTE OF HONEY

\(:ENE I]

termite and crawl into the wall or something, but make


yowself scarce.
lrl'tER: Get rid of her.
rnlt,EN: I can't. Anyway, nobody asked you to come here'
town
r,rl rER: why did you come here? I had to chase all over
dump'
finish
this
in
up
looking for you, only to
rriLEN: Oh shut uP! I've got a cold.
r'r: l'ER: What on earth made you choose such a gbastty distria?
nuLEN: I can't afford to be so classy.
ru tER: Tenements, cemetery, slaughterhouse'
uljLEN: Oh we've got the lot here.
r't,'rER: Nobody could live in a place like this'
1o: Only about fifty thousand people.
l'rj'rER: And a snotty-nosed daughter.
Iu,LEN: I said nobody asked you to come' Oh my God! I'll
have to have a dose of something. My head's swimming.

Why did you?


lrirER: Vhy did I what?
rniLEN: Follow me here?

ltiTER: Now you know you're glad to see me, kid'


TIELEN:

No I'm not. The only consolation

I can find in your

immediate prcsence is your ultimate absence'


v'1;'rER!

rrtLEN:

In that case, I'll

warned you.

staY.

I told you I was throwing

my hand in'

Now drdn't I?
pETER:

You did.

oh! Throw that cigar away. It looks bloody ridiculous


stuck in your mouth like a horizontal chimney'

TTELEN:

eETER:

Your nose is damp. Here, have this'

HELEN: Oh go awaY!
Give it a good blow.
HELEN: Leave it alone.
while you're
PETER: Blow yoru nose, woman' lSlrc doesl' And

PETER:

atitblowafewofthosecobwebsoutofyourhead.You
can't afford to lose a man like me'

I8

A TASTE OF HONEY

[rcr

HELEN: Can't I?

This is the old firm. you can't renege on the old firm.
HELEN: I'm a free lance. Besides, I'm thinking of giving it up.
PETER:

PETER: What?

HELEN: Sex! Men!


pETER: What have we done
to deserve this?
HELEN: It's not what you've done. It's what f've done.
PErER: But lapproaching lurl, dafling, you do it so well.

it? You don'r fancy anything.


Well, put your hat on, let's go for a drink. Come on

PETER:

down to the church and I'll make an honest woman of you.


HELEN fshe goes to put her coat on, then changes her mincll: No,
I don't fancy it.

I'm offering to marry you,

dear.

PETER: Come

on, Iet's go for a drink.


I don'r fancy it.
rETER: You won'r find anything better.
HELEN: Listenr, love, I'm old enough to be your mother.
PErER fpetting zar]: Now you know I like this mother and son

toid you

relationship.
HELEN: Stop

it!

Aren't you rvearing your girdle?


HELEN: Now, Peter.
PErER: Vhoops!
HELEN: Well, you certainly liberare something in me. And
don'r think it's maternal instincts either.
PETER lsingsl: "Walter, Valter, lead me to the altar!',
PETER:

HELEN: Some hopes.

II

A TASTB OF HONEY

r9

rrj'rlR: Helen, you don't seem to reatze what an oppornrnity


I'm giving you. The world is littered with women I've
rejected, women still anxious to indulge my linle vices and
excuse my less seemly virtues. Marry me, Helen. I'm
youg, good-looking and well set up. I may never ask you
ur,LEN: You're drunk.
r'I:TER: I'm as sober as a iudge.
uI:LEN: If you ask me again I might accept.
lnrER [singsl: "I see a quiet place, a fireplace' a cosy room."
uriLEN: Yes, the tap room at the Red Lion. What are you
after?
r'rirER: You know what

like.

1o lcouglu, entersl: Here's your coffee. Excuse me if I interrupted something. I'm sorry the crockery isn't very elegant,

but it's all we've got.


lrjrER: Dontt run away.
1o: I'm not running. [Stts.]
lrirER: Is she always like this?
She's jealous . . .
IErER: That's something I didn't bargain for.
tTELEN: Can't bear to see me being affectionate with anybody.
1o: You've certainly never been affectionate with me.
IETER: Still, she's old enough to take care of herself. What
sort of coffee is this anyway? It can hardly squeeze itself
through the spout.
r{ELEN: She always does that. Makes it as weak as she can because she knows I like it strong. Don't drink that, it isn't
TTELEN:

HELEN: You what?


HELEN:

(:liNE

again.

HELEN: Now give over, peter. I've got all these things to
unpack.
PETER: Send her to the pictures.
HELEN: I don't feel like it.
PETER: What's wrong?
HELEN: I'm tired. It's terrible when you've got a cold, isn,t

PETER:

..

worth drinking. Leave it.


yo: She should be in bed.

I know she should.


Jo: You look very pale and sickly, Helen.

PETER:

HELEN: Thank you.

Jo: Is he going?

HELEN: Yes, come on, you'd better go before you catch my cold'

A TAsrE oF

HoNEy

[acr

scENE

lHe pulk fur to him as she passes.l


PETER: Come outside then.

Il

2l

get going. We've ail this to clear away before we go to


bed.
t't:'rDR: Well,

HELEN: No.

A TASTE OF HONEY

I won't

be round tomorrowl the cat's been on the

IETER: What does the little lady want? An engagement ring?


1o: I should have thought their courtship had passed the stage
of symbolism.
HELEN: I always accept the odd diamond ring with pleasure.
eETER: I know it's my money you're after.

strawberries.
til1r.EN: Get going.
r'r,rER: Don't forget me.

HELEN: Are you kidding?


yo: Hey!

will be good night.


lrl't'ER: Well, take care of your mother while she's ailinB' Io.
You know how fragile these old ladies are.
lr 11r.EN: Go on, get!lExit pETER.l Well, I'm going to bed. Ve'll
shift this lot tomorrow. There's always another day.
;o: It's dark out there now. I think I'll have my bath in the

lHe embraces HELEN at the door and begins to tell hn a dirty


story.f

Did I ever tell vou about the bookie who married the
prostitute?
HELEN: No. Go on.
yo: Hey! What sort of a cigar is that?
rETER: Why don't you go home to your father?
;o: He's dead.
IETER: Too bad. Anyway, this bookie . ..
1o: Is it a Havana?
pETER:

HELEN: Yes.
rETER: A rich, dark Havana, rolled on the thigh of a coal black

mafirmy.

;o: You want to be careful. You never know where a coal black
mammy's thigh's been.
HELEN: Take no notice of her. She think's she's funnv.
;o: So does he! I bet he's married.

[unrrN

bursts out laughing at his

jokt.]

You're not really going to marry her, are you? Shc's a devil
with the men.
PETER: Are you Helen?

I don't consider nryself a slouch. Now come on


you've finished what you slme fbr you'd better

HELEN: Well,

then,

if

I withdraw while you kiss her good night?


lr:t.t1N: I'll kiss you good night in a minute, lady, and it really
ro: Shall

morning.
IrrlLEN: Are you afraid of the dark?
1o: You know I am.
rr.r.EN: You should try not to be.
1o: tr do.
nr:t.EN: And you're still afraid?
l, r: Yes.
rrrlr.EN: Then you'll have to try a

bit harder, won't you?


do that. What's the bed like?
r u,t-EN: Like a coffin only not half as comfortable.
tr': Have you ever tried a coffin?
urlt.EN: I dare say I will one day. I do wish we had a hot water
1,

r: Thanks.

I'll

bottle.

t,r: You should have asked him to stay. It wouldn't be the first
time I've been thrown out of my bed to make room for one

ofyour...
Iu:I.EN: For God's sake shut up! Close your mouth for five
minutes. And you can ttrrn the light offand come to bed.
Io: Aren't we going to clear this lot up?
rrrlLEN: No, it'll look all right in the dark.
yo: Yes, it's seen at its best, this room, in the dark.

A TASTE OP HONEY
HELEN: Everything is seen at its best

in the dark

[acr I

including

love it. Can't understand why you're so scared of it.


yo: I'm not frightened of the darkness outside. It's the darkness
inside houses I don't like.
HELEN: Come on! Hey, Jo, what would you do if I told you I
me.

was thinking of gening married again?

1o:

I'd

have you locked up in an institution right away!

sceNr

rr]

A TAsrE oF HoNEY

23

rrov: Say that again.


;cl: I don't care.
rrov: You mean it too. You're the first girl I've met who really
didn't care. Listen, I'm going to ask you something. I'm
a man of few words. Will you marry me?
yo: Well, I'm a girl of few words. I won't marry you but you've
talked me into it.
are you?

noy: How old

HELEN: C,ome on.

llttu;ic. Fade out.l

SCENE TIVO

yo: Nearly eighteen.


rroy: And you really will marry me?
yo: I said so, didn't I? You shouldn't have asked me if you
were only kidding me up. fSIu starts to go.l
rrov: Hey! I wasn't kidding. I thought you were. Do you
really mean it? You will marry me?

;o: I love you.


rrov: How do you know?
yo and hq sov FRIEND, a coloured naoal rating, walking on tlu
street. They stop by thc door.
;o: I'd better go in now. Thanks for carrying my books.
gov: Were you surprised to see me waiting outside school?
;o: Not really.

soy: Glad I

came?
1o: You know I am.

soy: So am I.
;o: Well, I'd better go in.
sov: Not yet! Stay a bit longer.
yo: All right! Doesn't it go dark early? I like winter. I like it
bener than all the other seasons.

sov: I like it too. When it goes dark early it gives me more time
for - fHe hisses her.l
1o: Don't do that. You're always doing it.
soy: You like it.
yo: I kno% but I don't want to do it dl the time.

soy: Afraid someone'll


yo:

don't care.

see us?

;o: I don't know why I love you but I

do.

adore you.lSwinging her thrwgh the air.l


Jo: So do I. I can't resist myself.
rroY: I've got something for you.
yo: What is it? A ring!

rrov:

I couldn't remember what


small hands or what. I
you
long
hands,
sort of hands
had,
stood there like a damn fool trying to remember what they
felt like. [He puts the ing on and hisses hn hand.f What will
your mother say?
yo: She'll probably laugh.
rrov: Doesn't she care who her daughter marries?
;o: She's not marrying you, I am. It's got nothing to do with
rrov: This morning in the shop

her.

noy:

She hasn't seen me.

lo: And when she does?


nov: She'll see a coloured boy.
yo: No, whatever else she might be, she isn't preiudiced against
colour. You're not worried about it, are you?

A TASTE OF HONEY

24

[ecr

BoY: So long as you like it.


;o: You know I do.
nov: Well, that's all that matrers.
;o: When shall we get married?
oov: My next leave? It's a long time, six months.
;o: It'll give us a chance to save a bit of money. Here, see . . .
this ring . . . it's too big; look, it slides about . . . And I
couldn't wear it for school anyway. I might lose it. Let's
go all romantic. Have you got a bit of suing?
soy: What for?
1o: I'm going to tie it round my neck. Come on, turn your
pockets out. Three handkerchiefs, a safety pin, a screw!
Did that drop out of your head? Elastic bands! Don't linle
boys carry some trash. And what's this?
BoY: Nothing.
yo: A toy car! Does it go?

sov: Hm hm!
yo: Can I try it? [Slu does.l
sov: She doesn't even know how it worls. Look, not like that.
lHe nnhes it

go

fast.l

like that. Can I keep it?


noy: Yes, take it, my soul and all, everything.
yo: Thanks. I know, I can use my hair ribbon for my ring. Do
it up for me.
nov: Pretty neck you've got.
yo: Glad you like it. It's my schoolgirl complexion. I'd better
nrck this out of sight. I don't want my mother to see it.
She'd only laugh. Did I tell you, when I leave school this
week I start a paft-time job in a bar? Then as soon as I get
a full-time iob, I'm leaving Helen and starting up in a room

yo:

somewhere.

nov: I wish I wasn't in the Navy.


1o: Why?

sov: Ve won't have much time together.

III

Ir

A TASTE OF HONEY

25

Wcll, we can't be together all the time and all the time
lrt'rc is wouldn't be enough.
It's a sad story, Jo. Once, I was a happy young man, not
carc in the world. Now! I'm trapped into a barbaric
What's that? Mau-Mau?

rror': Mztrimony.
'l'rapped!

Ir

t(

): Who found the football pitch? I didn't

I like that! You almost begged me to marry you.


.Who
took me down
rror': You led me on. I'm a trusting soul.
to that deserted football pitch?

even know it
just
you
have been
must
how
often
it
shows
thcre, too . . . you certainly know where all the best spots

cxisted. And

I'm not going there again . . . It's too quiet. Anythtng


might happen to a girl.
rroy: It almost did. You shameless woman!
t,r: That's you taking advantage of my innocence.
:rre.

rroy:

didn't take advantage. I had scruples.

t,,: You would have done. You'd have gone as far as I would
have let you and no scruples would have stood in your way.
rroy:You enjoyed it as much as I did.
1o: Shut up ! This is the sort of conversation that can colour
a young girl's mind.
rroy: 'Women never have young minds. They are born three
thousand years old.

Jo: Sometimes you look three thousand years old. Did your
ancestors come from Africa?
rroy: No. Cardiff. Disappointed? Were you hoping to marry
a man whose father beat the tom-tom ali night?

I don't care where you were born. There's still a bit of


jungle in you somewhere. lA siren is luardl.I'm going in
now, I'm hungry. A young girl's got to eat, you know.
rrov: Honef5 ]ou've got to stop eating. No more food, no more
make-up, no more fancy clothes; we're saving up to get
1o:

married.

A TASTE OF HONEY

26

yo:

[ecr I

I iust need some new clothes too. f've only got this one
coat. I have to use it for school and when I go out with you.
I do feel a mess.

noy: You look all right to me.


yo: Shall I see you tonight?
noY: No, I got work to do.
1o: What sort of work?
soy: Hard work, it invoives a lot of walking.
;o: And a lot of walking makes you thirsty. I know, you're
going drinking.
sov: That's right. It's one of the lads'birthdays. I'll see you
tomorrow.
yo: All right. I'll tell you what, I won't bother going to school
and we can spend the whole day together. I'll meet you
down by that ladies' hairdressing place.
soy: The place that smells of cooking hair?
;o: Yes, about ten o'clock.
soy: Okay, you're the boss.
1o: Good night.
soy: Aren't you going to kiss me good night?
1o: You know I am. [Kzsses hin.ll like kissing you. Good
night.
BoY: Good night.
;o: Dream of me.
sov: I dreamt about you last night. Fell out of bed nrice.

;o: You're in a bad way.

nov: You bet I am. Be seeing you!


Jo [as she goesl: I love you.
nov: Vhy?
Because you're daft.
fHe waztes good-bye, turns and sings to tlu audienurand goes.
HELEN dances on to the tmrsicr lies dwn and reads an evening
poper. lo dances on dreamily.f
HELEN: You're a bit late coming home from school, aren't
you?

;o:

r(:lNr rr]

A TAsrB oF

HoNEy

27

1o:Imetafriend.
urir.rN: Well, he certainly knows how to put stars in your eyes.
1o: What makes you think it's a he?
rlr.riN: Well, I ss6ainly hope it isn't a she who makes you
walk round in this state.

to: IIe's
utl.riN:

a sailor.

hope you exercised proper control over his nautical


:rrdour. I've met a few sailors myself.

;o: IIe's lovely.


lll:l.liN: IS he?
Jo: I{e's got beautiful brown eyes and gorgeous curly hair.
rrir.riN: Has he got long legs?
1o: 'fhey're all right.

How old is he?


He's doing his national service, but before

'n1r-EN:
'Iwenty-two.

to:

that he was a male nurse.


rn.t.EN: A mde nurse, eh? That's interesting. Where did he
do his nursing?
to: In a hospital, of course! 'Where else do they have nurses?
lr,r.tN: Does he ever get any free samples? We could do with
a few contacts 1i11 hings like that.

t,r: Oh shut up, Helen. Have a look in that paper and see
rf

what's on at the picnrres tomorrow night.


I,I-EN: Where is it? Oh yes ... I a)as a Teenage . . . what?
You can't go there anyway, it's a proper little flea pit. Thc
Ten Commandmcnts, here that'd do you good. Desire
Undq the ... oh! What a funny place to have desire!

You might as well have it at home as anywhere

else,

mightn't you? No, there's nothing here that I fancy.


1o: You never go to the picnrres.
nriLEN: I used to but the cinema has become more and more
like the theatre, it's all mauling and muttering, can't hear
what they're saying half the time and when you do it's not
worth listening to. Look at that advertisement. It's pornographic. In my opinion such a frank and open display of

A TASTE OF HONEY

28

[acr

the female form can only induce little boys of all ages to
add vulgar comments in pencil. I ask you, what sort of an
inflated woman is that? She's got bosom, bosom and still
more bosom. I bet every inch of her chest is worth it's
weight in gold. Let's have a look at you. I wonder if I
could turn you into a mountain of votuptuous temptation?
yo: Why?
HELEN: I'd put you on films.

yo: I'd sooner be put on't streets. It's more honest.


HELEN: You might have to do that yet.
;o: Where did this magazine come from?
HELEN: Woman downstairs give

1o:

I didn't think you'd

HELEN: W"hy buy when

yo: IThat day was

it

buy it.
it's cheaper to borrow?

born on?

;o: You

should remember such an important event.

don't know.

yo: How old was I when your husband threw you out?
HELEN: Change the subiect. Vhen I think of her father and
my husband it makes me wonder why f ever bothered, it
does really.
1o: He was rich, wasn't he . . .
HELEN: He was a rat!
yo: He was yoru husband. Why did you marry him?
HELEN: At the time I had nothing better to do. Then he divorced me; that was your fault.
yo: I agree with him. If I was a man and my wife had a baby

that wasn't mine

would. Still, why worry?


yo lreading from mngazincf: It

don't think

sa5n here that Sheik Ahmed an Arabian mystic - will, free of all charge, draw up for
you a complete analysis of your charactcr and destiny.

HELEN: Let's have a look.

A TASTE OF

HONEY

29

tr' :'l-here's his photograph.


rn r rjN: Oh! He looks like a dirty linle spiv. Listen Jo, don't
bother your head about Arabian mystics. There's two w's
rn your future. Work or want, and no Arabian Knight can
tcll you different. Ve're all at the steering wheel of our own
destiny. Careering along like drunken drivers. I'm going to
gct married. lThe news is receioed in silence.l I said I'm
going to get married.
rrt: Yes, I heard you the first time. What do you want me to do,
laugh and throw pennies? Is it that Peter Smith?

head.

HELEN: I've always done my best to forget that.

I'd sling her out.


HELEN: Vould you? It's a funny thing but

ltl

ilr:r.riN: He's the unlucky man.


t,r: You're cennrries older than him.
nr,r.EN: Only ten years.
1o: What use can a woman of that age be to anybody?
In,t.ENr I wish you wouldn't talk about me as if I'm an impotent, shrivelled old woman without a clue ldt in her

me.

HELEN:

.,(:t{NE

a child bride.
have been one once, or near enough.

lo: You're not exactly


rrjLEN:

yo: Just imagine it, you're forty years old. I hope to be dead
and buried before I reach that age. You've been living for

forry years.

it must be a biological phenomena.


1o: You don't look forty. You look a sort of well-preserved

ntiLEN: Yes,
sixty.

lMusic. Entq pErER carrying a large bouquet and a bor of


cho colate

s and looking uncomfortable.l

Oh look, and it's all mine!


yo: Hello, Daddy.
rErER: Oh! So you told her.
TIELEN: Of course. Come in and sit down. On second thoughts
lie down, you look marvellous.

TTELEN:

lHe gioes hcr

tlu bouquet.)

Oh! redlS you shouldn't have bothered yourself.

I know

A TASTE OF HONEY

[ecr I

r, t.Ntt III

the thought was there, but . .. here, Jo, have we got a


vase, put these in some water.
;o: How did she talk you into it? You must be out of your

tlrink?

3o

mind.
PETER: That's possible, I suppose.
1o: Flowers and all the trimmings. Helen can't eat anything

sweet and delicious. She's got ro watch her figure.


HELEN: Nonsense! My figure hasn't altered since

was

eighteen.

;o:

Really?

HELEN:

Not an inch.

I hope I'm luckier with mine.


HELEN: Do you see anyrhing objectionable about my figure,

yo:

Peter?

rETER: I find the whole thing most agreeable.


yo: You've got to say that, you're marrying it!
IETER: The chocolates are for you, Jo.

yo: Buying my silence, hey! It's a good idea. I like chocolates.


HELEN: Ilelp yourself to a drink, Peter, and I'll go and put my
glad rags on.lExit.l
rETER: Don't let's be long, huh? I've booked a table. Dammit,
I thought you'd be ready.
;o: She's gor no sense of time.
PETER: Don't sit there gtzzling all those chocolates at once.

fShe throzas rle lid at him.l


I7hat the hell are you playing at . . . sit down and behave

yourself, you little snip.


1o: Hey! Don't start bossing me about. you're not my father.
pErER. Christ Almighty! Will you sit down and eat your
chocolates. Do what you like but leave me alone.
lSuddenly slrc attacks him, halfJaughing, half-tying.l
;o: You leave me alone. And leave my mother alone too.

[nrrrx

enters.]

nETER: Get away! F'or God's sake go and . . .


HELEN: Leave him alone, Jo. He docsn'L wrnt to bc bothered

A TASTB OF HONEY

3r

with you. Got a cigarette, Peter? Did you get yourself


r,r

lr,rt:No,

I...

t,': l)o I bother you, Mister Smith, or must I wait till we're
rrlone for an answer?
r'r'r r1R: Can't you keep her under control?
I r r, r. r: N : I'll knock her head rorrnd if she isn't careful. Be quiet,

Io. And don't


r'r, r'rjR:

tease

him.

Tonight's supposed to be a celebration.

to: What of?


rr,r.r.rN: He's found a house. fsn't he marvellous? Show her
the photo of it, Peter. I shan't be a tick!
t,r: You've sqtainly fixed everything up behind my back.
ur,r.uN: Don't you think it's nice? One of his pals had to sell,
moving into something smaller. fGoesl.

[r,nrnn throws sflap orr to tlre table.l

Io: It's not bad. White walls, tennis courts. Has it got

swimming pool?
lrjrER: It has twelve swimming pools.
yo: Can I see the other photos?
r'rrER: Which photos?
yo: In your wallet. I suppose you thought

I didn't notice.
r'rrER: Oh! These. Yes, well, that's a photograph of my

hy sister, my brother and


. . . ITo himself.l all the rest of the little bastards.
yo: Is this a wedding group?
PErER: My brother's wedding.
yo: They only just made it, too, from the look of his wife. You
can tell she's going to have a baby.
PErER: Oh? Thank you.
;o: You can have it back if I can see the others.
pErER; Which others? What iue you talking about?
;o: Do you want me to tell my mother?
nETER: I don't give a damn what you tell your mother.
family, my mother, my fatherr

A TASTE OF HONEY

32

[ecr

yo: They're all women, aren't they? I bet you've had thousands of girl friends. Vhat was this one with the long legs
pErER: Ah! Yes, number thirry-eight. A charming little thing.
yo: Why do you wear that black patch?

lost an eye.

yo: Vhere?

During the war.


you in the Navy?
Vere
;o:

t,r:

l.rR:

Could

have my photographs back, please?

There...

You don't like your mother much do you?


1o: She doesn't much care for me either.
r,rirER: I can understand that.
p llooking oaer his shoulder at photographsl: I like that one with
the shaggy hair cut. She's got oice legs too. Nearly as nice
as mine.
lrl.rER: Would you care for a smoke?
1o: Thanks.
r'tl u1R:

I thought you would have been somebody very impoftant.


rETER: A private is far more important than you think. After

yo:

all, who does all the dirry work?

;o: Yes, a general without any army wouldn't be much use,


would he? Can I see your eye? I mean can I see the hole?
There's nothing to

see.

;o: Do you wear that

patch when you go to bed?


IETER: That's something about which I don't care to make
public statement.

[nnrtN

is lrcard singing off stagef:

rnrLEN: Jo! Where's my hat?

;o: I don't know. Where you left it. It's no use gening im-

me.

is one highly recommended way for

young girl to find out.


1o [glancing through photos in wallet]:

I don't like this one.

She's got too much stuff on her eyes.


IETER: That's the sort of thing your sex goes in for.
1o: I don't. I let my natural beauty shine througbPETER: Is there no alternative?

yo: Don't you like shiny faces?


IETER: I suppose they're all right on sweet young things but
I just don't go for sweet young things 1o: Do you fancy me?
PETER:

yo:

PETER: Private.

pErER: Well, there

will be.
Ah well, that's love. [Slzgs.] "That wild, destructive

She soon

rhing called love."


are you marrying Helen?
rr'r'riR: Why shouldn't I marry Helen?
t.r: Your generation has some very peculiar ideas, that's all
lr,

Army.

;o: Tell

33

can say.

1o: Offficer?

PETER:

HoNEY

t,': Why

PETER:

PETER:

A TASrE OF

rr,r'riR: She isn't old.


r'r,r'r1R:

called?

PETER:

'.r llNE III

Not yet.

Jo: You prefer old women.

patient, Peter. The art work takes a long time. Are you
sure you lost your eye during the war? What happened?
rrjrER: Go and tell your mother I'll wait for her in the pub.
;o: Are you married?
IErER lgoingl: No, I'm still available.
TTELEN [enteing): But only just.
IETER: Helen, you look utterly fantastic.
HELEN: Thanks. Put that cigarette out, Jo, you've got enough
bad habits without adding to your repertoire. Do you like
my hat, Peter?
PErER: Bang-on darling !
HEI.EN: What are all these books doing all over the place? Are
you planning a moonlight flit, Jo? Stop it, Peter.

34
PETER:

A TAsrE oF

HoNEy

[ecr

Got your blue garters on?

HELEN: Now, Peter. Come on, Jo, shift these books.

1o: f'm sorting them.


pErER
ltaking HELEN's hatl: How do

look?

Have you forgotten I'm leaving school this week?


it here. stop foering about. It took me ages
to get this hat on right. Jo, do as you're told.

HELEN: Peter, give

yo: All right.


HELEN: Peter! Don't do that. Give it to me. It's my best one.
Put it down.
pErER
lto himselfl: No bloody sense of humour.
HELEN: s7hat has she got there? Lnok

at'em. selected Nursery

Rhymes, Hans fuidersen's Fairy Tales, pinocchio. Well,


you certainly go in for the more advanced types of literature. And what,s this? The Holy Bible!
;o: You ought to read it. I think it's good.
HELEN: The extent of my credulity always depends on the
extent of my alcoholic intake. Eat, drink and be merry _
yo: And live to regret it.
PETER: God! we've got a founder member of
the Lord's Day
Observance Society here.

yo: What are you marrying him for?


HELEN: He's got a wallet

full of reasons.

;o:

Yes. I've iust seen 'em too.


HELEN: Can you give us a quid, peter?

some money.

Ir

lt]

A TASTE OF HONEY

I r riN: We can't take her

('Kception

35

with us. We will be, if you'll not take

to the phrase, on oru honeymoon. Ilnless

we

our minds.
r'r,u,R: I'm not having her with us.
rn r,r'N: She can stay here then. Come on. I'm hungry.
t hange

HELEN: Peter!

;o:

1, ltN u

I,d better leave her


!7e might decide to have a weekend at

Blackpool and she can't five on grass and fresh air.


1o: I won't set eyes on her for a week now. I know her when
she's in the mood. What are you going to do abour
me,
Peter? The snotty-nosed daughter? Don,r you think I'm

a bit young to be left rike this sa my own while you flit


off with my old woman?
PETER: She'll be all right, won,t shc? At hcr :rgc.

to: .So am I.
ru r riN: There's plenty of food in the kitchen.
1o: You should prepare my meals like a proper mother.
ru r.r:N: Have I ever laid claim to being a proper mother? If
you're too idle to cook your own meals you'll iust have to
cut food out of your diet altogether. That should help you
lose a bit of weight, if nothing else.
rr: r'rR: She already looks like a bad case of malnutrition.

1o: I{ave you got your key, Helen? I might not be here when
you decide to come back. I'm starting work on Saturday.
nriLEN: Oh yes, she's been called to the bar.
r'r:'rER: What sort of a bar?
yo: The sort you're always propping up. I'm carrying on the
family traditions. Will you give me some money for a new
dress, Helen?
rn,LEN: If you really want to make a good investment, you'll
buy a needle and some cofton. Every article of clothing on
her back is held together by a safety pin or a knot. If she
had an accident in the street I'd be ashamed to claim her.
lurER: Are we going?
.;o: Can't I come with you?

IIELEN: Shut

up! You're going to have him upset.

You

jealous little cat ! Come on, Peter.


prirER: All right, all right, don't pull. Don't get excited. And

don't get impatient. Those bloody little street kids have


probably pulled the car to pieces by now but we needn't
worry about that, need we .. .
I told you you'd upset him.

TIELEN:

Upset? I'm not upset. I just want to get to hell out of


this black hole of Calcutta.

PETER:

A TASTE OF HONEY

36

vlrey
to bed

[ecr I

leazte flat.1o loohs aftt them.f- o moment ilun


turns
- sfu lies across it, ryitg. Music. BLAcK sov mtas.l

sov lcallingJ: Jo !
lSlu doesn't mwe.f
nov: Joee!

vhey mone towards each otltq as if dancing to trrc nasic.


Tlu music goes, the lishtt change.l
1o: oh! It's you! come in. Just when I'm feeling and looking
a mess.

soy: What's wrong? You been crying'/


yo: No.

noy: You have. Your eyes are red.

don't cry. I've got a cold.

nov: I think you

have, roo. Yes, you've got a bit of a temperature. Have you been eating?
;o: No.
soy: You're a fine sight. Where's the kitchen?
;o: Through there. What are you going to do?
soy: Fix you a cold cure. Where do you keep the milk?
1o: Under the sink. I hate milk.
sov: I hate dirt. And this is just the dirtiest place I've ever
seen. The children round here are filthy.
;o: It's their parents'fault. What are you puning in that milk?

nov: A pill.
;o: I bet it's an opium pellet. I've heard about men like you.

sov: There isn't another man like me anywhere. I'm one on


his own.
yo: So am I.

noy: Vho

was that f"o.y bit


minutes ago?

A TASTE OF HONBY

37

make a pretty bridesmaid.


1o: llridesmaid! I'd sooner go to my own funeral.

' You'd better drink this first.


1,r: I don't like it.
It( | Y ' Get it down You.
t.: llut look, it's got skin on the top.
r()y: Don't whine. I'm not spending the evening with
n(l

yo: Coming.

yo:

rl]
rrrl'; fsg'll

'.( rtNe

\'

running-nosed wreck. Finish your milk.


1o: Did you treat your patients in hospital like this?
rrov: Not unless they were difficult. Your mother looks very
yougr Jo, to have a daughter as old as you.
yo: She can still have children.
rrov: Well, that's an interesting bit of news. Vlry should I
worry if she can have children or not?
Jo: Do you fancy her?
rrov: That isn't the sort of question you ask your fianc.
to: It doesn't really matter if you do fancy her, anlmay'
because she's gone. You're too late. You've had your chips.
rrov: I'll be gone soon, too. What then?
1o: My heart's broke.

rrov: You can lie in bed at night and hear my ship passing
down the old canal. It's cold in here. No fire?
1o: It doesn't work.
rr<lv: Come and sit down here. You can keep me warm.
Jo: Is it warm where you're going?
rroY: I guess so.
;o: We could do with a bit of sunshine. In this country there

are only two seasons, winter and winter. Do you think


Helen's beautiful?

rroy: Who's Helen?

saw stepping out of here a few

;o: If she was dressed up like Hope Gardens it was my mother.


noy: And who is the Pirate King?
1o: She's marrying him. Pqel dcvil!

yo: My mother. Honestly, you are slow sometimes. Well, do


you think she's beautiful.?

noy: Yes.
yo: Am I like her?
rroY: No, you're not at all like her.

A TASTB OF HONEY

38

[acr

;o: Good. I'm glad nobody can see a resemblance between us.
Boy: My ring's still round your neck. wear it. your mother
isn't here to laugh.
;o:

Unfasten ir, then.


Boy: Pretty neck you,ve got.

yo: Glad you like it.


BoY: No! Let me put it on.
yo: Did it cost very much?
gov: You shouldn't ask questions like that.
Woolworths

A TASTB OF HONEY

now, it's enough, it's all


l'll still be here.

3e

f want, and if you do come back

' You think I'm only after one thing, don't you?
t, ' I know you're only after sag thing.
rrr,1'; {porre so right. lHe hisses lw.l But I will come back, I
nr | \'

Iove you.

got

it from

't care. I'm not proud. It,s the


wonder what thought

it was in

de you buy it.

soy: f've got dishonourable intentions.


;o: f'm so glad.
BoY: Are you? lHe embraces her.l

;o:

Stop it.
Boy: \Phy? Do you object to the "gross clasps of the lascivious
Moor"?
yo: Who said that?

BoY: Shakespearc in Othello.


yo: Oh! Him. He said everything, didn't he?
Boy: Let me be your Othello and you my Desdemona.
yo: All right.
BoY: "Oh ill-starred wench.',
yo: Will you stay here for Christmas?
BoY: If that's what you want.
;o: ft's what you want.
BoY: That's righr.

;o: Then stay.


soy: You naughty girl!

;o: I

lrJ

t,': Ilow

Jo:

..r l,Nu

may as well be naughty whilc I'vc gor the chance. I'll


probably never see you again. I know it.
noy: What makes you say that?
1o: I just know it. That's all. Ilut I tkrn'r crrc. stay with me

can you say that?


rrov; \pfuy or how I say these rhings I don't knoq but whatcvcr it means it's true.
r, I Anyway, after this you might not want to come back. After
rrll, I'm not very experienced in these little maners.
rroy: I am.
1o: Anyway, it's a bit daft for us to be talking about you
coming back before you've gone. Can I leave that hot
milk?
rrov; f1 would have done you good. Never mind. lEmbraces

her.l

to: Don't do that.


rrov: Why not?
1o:

I like it.
[Fade sut. Music. lYedding bells. r.ntsN's music. Slrc dances
on with an assortment of fanry boxes, containing her wedding
clothes.l

rI:LEN: Jo! Jo! Come on. Be sharp now.


f1o comes on in her pyjamas, SIrc hat a luaoy cold.l

For God's sake give me a hand. I'll never be ready. What


time is it? Have a look at the church clock.

;o: A quarter past eleven, and tle sun's coming out.


rn,LEN: Oh! Vell, h"ppy the bride the sun shines on.
;o: Yeah, and happy the corpse the rain rains on. You're not
getting married in a church, are you?

urtLEN:

Vhy, are you coming to throw bricks at us? Of

course not. Do

I look all right? Pass me my fur. Oh! My

fur! Do you like it?

A TASTE OF HONEY

40

[ecr

bet somebody's missing their cat.


HELEN: It's a wedding present from that young man of mine.
He spends his money like water, you know, pemy wise,
pound foolish. Oh! I am excited. I feel rwenty-one all over
again. Oh! You would have to catch a cold on my wedding
&y, I was going to ask you to be my bridesmaid too.

Jo:

;o: Don't talk daft.


HELEN: Where did you put my shoes? Did you clean ,em?
Oh! They're on my feet. Don't stand there sniffing, Jo.
Ifse a handkerchief.

1o:

haven't got one.

HELEN: Use this, then. What's the matter


are you trying to hide?

with vou? What

yo: Nothing.
HELEN: Don't try to kid me. What is it? Come on, let,s
yo: It's nothing. Let go of me. You're hurting.

see.

HELEN: What's this?

can see

it's a ring. Who give it to you?

yo: A friend of mine.


HELEN: Who? Come on.

Tell

me.

yo: You're hurting me.


[HnrEN breaks the cord and gets the ring.l
HELEN: You should have sewn some buttons on your pyjamas

if you didn't wanr me to see. Who give it you?


yo: My boy friend. He asked me to marry him.
HELEN: ![ell, you silly linle bitch. you mean that lad vou,ve
been knocking about with while we,ve been away?
1o: Yes.
HELEN:

Yes"

l(

4r

r,N: Well, thank God for the divorce courts! I suppose


lrrst because I'm gening married you think you should.
I lave you got the monopoly?

rrr,rlN: You stupid little devil! Vhat sort of a wife do you


rhink you'd make? You're useless. It takes you all your
time to look after yourself. I suppose you think you're in
love. Anybody can fall in love, do you know that? But
what do you know about the rest of it?
t,' : Ask yourself.
rn r.EN: You know where that ring should be? In the ashcan
with everything else. Oh! I could kill her, I could really.

1.: You don't half knock me about.

hope you suffer for it.


if I never do any more.

Oh Jo, you're only a kid. Why don't you learn from my


mistakes? It takes half your life to learn from your own.
Jo: You leave me alone. Can I have my ring back, please?
utjLEN: What a thing to happen iust when I'm going to enioy
myself for a change.
Jo: Nobody's stopping you.
urLEN: Yes, end as soon as my back's turned you'll be offwith
this sailor boy and ruin yourself for good.
Jo: I'm already ruined.
uILEN: Yes, it's just the sort of thing you'd do. You make me
sick.

Jo: You've no need to worry, Helen. He's gone away. He may


be back in six months, but there again, he may . . .
nELEN: Look, you're only young. Enioy your life. Don't get
trapped. Marriage can be hell for a kidIo: Can I have your hanky back?

Where did you put it?


is your fault too.
This
,Jo:
TIELEN: Everything's my fault. Show me your tongue'
Io: Breathing your'flu bugs all over me.
HELEN: YeS, and yOUr neCk'S red where I pullcd that strttrg.
lo: Vill you get me a drink of water, Helen?
TTELEN:

could choke you.


yo: You've already had a damn good try.
HELEN: You haven't known him five minutcs. Has he really
asked you to marry him?

Io:

rrr

A TASTE OF HONEY

ur:r-EN: I've done my share of suffering

yo: A ring.
HELEN:

',, r rutr II]

A TASTE OF HONEY

42

[acr r
HELEN: No, have a dose of this
lOffering whiskyl.It,ll do you
more good. I might as well have one myserf
while I'm at it,

'.1:ttttll ttl

to:

1, r

mightn't I?

rt'[ never come to that. The devil looks after his own,
they say.
1o: He certainly takes good care of you. you look marveilous,

considering.
: Considering what?
yo: The wear and tear on yoru soul.
HELEN

;o:

\Vhere's your husband?

yo: What was my father like?

[nerrN turns awajt.l


HELEN: Who?

: Wcll, was he so horrible that you can't even tell me about


him?

HELEN:

oh well, that'll have increased


won't it?
yo: Old Nck,ll get you in the end.

43

t,r: You hcard! My father! Vhat was he like?


urrr riN: Oh! Him.

HELEN:

A TASTE OF HONEY

its market

value,

Hc wasn't horrible. He was iust a bit stupid, you know.


Nor very bright.
I.r . lle serious, Helen.
rrr:r.[Nl I am serious.
Jo: Are you trying to tell me he was an idiot?
rt,r.riN: He wasn't an idiot, he was just a bit - retarded.
yo : You liar !
r.r riN:

ru,r.rN: All right, I'm a liar.


yo: Look at me.
tltrl.llN: Well, am I?

Io: No.
ilrlr-EN: Well, now you know.
t,r: How could you give me a father like that?
rr:r.rN: I didn't do it on purpose. How was I to know you'd
materialize out of a little love affair that lasted five minutes?
to: You never think. That's your trouble.
nr:r-EN: I know.
r,r. Was he like a . . . a real idiot?
rI:I-EN: I've told you once. He was nice though, you know, a
nice little feller!
yo: Where is he now, locked up?
rriLEN: No, he's dead.
lo: Why?
urjLEN: Why? Well, I mean, death's something that comes to
us all, and when it does come you haven't usually got time
to ask wtry.
;o: It's hereditary, isn't it?
rrrLEN: What?

;o: Madness.
TTELEN: Sometimes.

Jo: Am

mad?

[ecr

A TASTE OF HONEY

HELEN: Decide for yourself. Oh, Jo, don't be silly. Of course


you're not daft. Not more so than anybody else.
1o: Vhy did you have to tell me that story? Couldn't you have

made something up?


HELEN: You asked for the
be satisfied?

truth and you got it for once. Now

HELEN: Mind my scent!


;o: Please tell me. I want to understand.

HELEN: Do you think I understand? For one night, acnrally


it was the afternoon, I loved him. It was the first time I'd
ever really been with a man . . .
1o: You were married.
HELEN: I was married to a Puritan - do you know what I mean?

I think

so.

HELEN: And when I met your father I was as pure and unsullied as I fondlyr and perhaps mistakenly, imagine you
to be. It was the fust time and though you can enjoy the
second, the third, even the fourth time, there's no time
like the first, it's always there. I'm off now. I've got to go
and find my husband. Now don't sit here sulking all day.

I was thinking.
HELEN: Well, don't think.

yo:

doesn't do you any good. I'll see


you when the honeymoon's over. Come on, give us a kiss.
You may as well" It's a long time since you kissed me-

It

1o: Keep it for him.


HELEN:

I don't suppose

you're sorry to see me go.

1o: I'm not sorry and I'm not glad.


HELEN: You don't know what you do want.

Yes. I do. I've always known what


HELEN: And when it comes your way
yo: Good luck, Helen.

;o:

t r:NE II]

| r.r1N:

I'll

want.

will you recognize it?

45

A TASTE OF HONEY
be seeing you' Hey !

If

he doesn't show up

back.

r.,: Good luck, Helen.

lExit :nntsN. "Here

comes the

Bride" on the cornct')

Curtain

yo: How could you go with a half-wit?


HELEN: He had strange eyes. You've got'em. Everybody used
to laugh at him. Go on, I'll tell you some other time.
yo: Tell me now!

yo:

'.

I'll

be

.,r:ltNr

Act Two

nancy is quite obaious.

,itt,

o bunch

of

is summa now and yo,s preg_

Jo las

s]te falls on a couch in trrc darhpned


rooml: Let me lie
here and don't wake me up for a month.

cEoF: Shall I put the light on?


;o: No. Don't you dare put that light

on.

a chair or table and cries or wsears.l


Put a match on, you da1ft thing.
[caor strihcs a nntch.l
r,rioFl Ee, this place is enormous, isn't it?
1o: I know. f've got to work all day in a shoe shop and all night
in a bar to pay for it. But it's ming. All mine.
r,r oFi I can tell it's yours from the state it,s in. No wonder
you won't put the light on. Where do you keep the ctrps?
Io: In the sink.
r,r:oFl fsn't this place a bit big for one, Jo?
1o: Why? Are you thinking of moving in?
r,rioFl Not likely.
1o: You are, you know. Put 'em down here. Don't you want
hangs into

As tlte anrtain goes up fairground music can be ruard


in the distance. yo and a boy can be luard playtng
together. When

It

47

t,r .

SCENE ONE

theg enter the flat_ trrcy hazte been ptayingabiut

A TASTE OF HONEY

put the light on.


you
No,
won't! I like this romantic half-light, it iust goes
t,'.
with this Manchester maisonette!
r,r,,oFr Take four paces forward, nrrn right, turn left, once
round the gasworks and straight on up the creek. [He
r , r, ( ) f?

brightly coloured balloons.

tl
: I'll

cEoF: Did you enjoy the fair?


;o: Loved it. I haven't been to a fair since Christmas.
cEop: Those roundabouts are still going. Can you
hear ,em?
1o: I should be up at harf past seven tomoffow morning. I'll
never make it. I'll just have to be late. Anyway,
why should
f slave away fo_r anybody but me? Hav.dt you got a
home to go to, Geof?
cEoF: Of course.
1o: Vell, why are you lurking about? Come in if you want to.
cEoF: Thanks.
;o: There's some biscuits and a flask of coffee in the kitchen
only I'm too tired to get 'em. Aren't you hungry?
cEoF: No, but you are.
;o: That's right. Go and ger ,em for me, Geof.
cEoF: Where's the kitchen?
;o: Straight on.

any?

r,r'Op: NO.

r,: Well, hand'em over to me because I'm stanred. Has your


landlady thrown you out?
(;loF: Don't be silly.
1o: I've been wondering why you were so anxious to see me
home. You didn't fancy sleeping under the arches, did you?
Why did your landlady throw you out, Geoffrey? I'll let
you stay here if you tell me.
(;rloF: f was behind with the rent.
;o: That's a lie for a start.
f

I don't tell lies.


1o: Come ou, let's have some truth. Why did she throw you
out?
(,r;oF: I've told you why.
(;r:oF:

lightl: C-ome on, the truth. Vho did she find


you with? Your gid friend? ft wasn't a man, was it?

1o fsuritclrcs on

A TASTE OF HONEY

48

[ecr

cEoF: Don't be daft.

;o: Look, I've got a nice comfortable

couch, I,ve even got

some sheets. You can stay here if you'll tell me what you
do.

Go on, I've always wanted to know about people like you.


cEoF: Go to hell.

yo: I won't snigger, honest f won,t. Tell me some


of it, go on.
I bet you never told a woman before.
cEoF: f don't go in for sensationr I confessions.

;o: I want to know what you do. I want to know why you do it.
Tell me or get out.
cEoF: Right! fHe goes to thc dom.l
yo: Geof, don't go. Don't go. Geof! f'm sorry. please
stay.
cEoF: Don't touch me.
yo: I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

cEoF: f can't stand women at times. Let go of me.


1o: Come on, Geof. I don,t care what you do.
cEoF: Thank you. May I go now, please?

lur

book of drawings on

tlu

table and glances through

tlum,l
cEoF: Are these yours?
;o: No, why? Put them down, Geof.
cEoF: Obviously they are. They're exactly like you.
;o: How do you mean?
cEoF: Well, there's no design, rhythm or purpose.

yo: Hey?
cEoF: Where's the design
Charcoal. I don't like it.
yo: I do.

in that? It,s all

messy,

cEoF: What made you choose that for a subjcct?

yo:Ilike...

cEoF: They're all sentimental.

r r.rri

r]

A TAsrE oF

HoNEY

49

t,, Me? Sentimental?


,,r()r;: No. No. I don't like'em.
t,) l)o you really think they're sentimental?
r.torjt Well, look. I mean . . .
;,r: I'm sorry you don't like them.
r,r'or'-t Why don't you go to a decent school?
l,r: I've never been to any school.
,,r.()[:: You want taking in hand.
l,r: No, thanks.
r,r,,oFt Has anybody ever tried?
1,r: What?
r,r:oFr Taking you in hand.
1o: Yes.

r;r,oF: What happened to him?


yo: He came in with Christmas and went out with the New
Year.

;o: Please stay here Geof. I'll get those sheets and blankets.
cEoF: r can't stand people who laugh at other people. They'd
get a bigger laugh if they laughed at themselves.
yo: Please stay, Geof. lshe goes off
fo, the sheets and blankets.
He finds

:r

(;uoF: Did you like him?


Jo: He was all right . . .
(;rioF: Did you love him?
yo: I don't know much about love. f've never been too familiar
with it. I suppose I must have loved him. They say love
creates. And I'm certainly creating at the moment. I'm
going to have a baby.
cEoF: I thought so. You're in a bit of a mess, aren't you?

1o:

I don't care.

cEoF: You can get rid of babies before they're born, you know'

isn't it?

;o: I know, but I think that's terrible.


cEoF: W'hen's it due?
1o: Reckon it up from Christmas.
cEoF: About September.

;o:

Yes.

cEoF: What are you going to do? You can't be on yoru own'
;o: There's plenty of time.
cEoF: Got any money?
1o: Only my wages and they don't last long. By the time I've

50

A TAsrE oF

HoNEy

[ecr rl

bought all I need, stockings and make-up and things, I,ve


got nothing left.
cEoF: You can do without make-uo.
yo: I can't, I look fike a ghost without it.
cEoF: At your age?
;o: What's age got to do with it? Anyway, I,m not working
for much longer. I'm not having everybody staring ar me.
cEoF: How are you going to nunage then?
;o: There's no need for you to worry about it.
cEoF: Somebody's got to. Anyway, I like you.
yo: I like you too.
cEoF: Your mother should know.
yo: Why?
cEoF: well, she's your mother. Do you know her address?
1o: No. She was supposed to be marrying some man. They
live in a big, white house somewhere.
cEoF: Vhat sort of a woman is she?
;o: She's all sorts of woman. But she,s got plenty of money.
cEoF: That's all you need to be interested in. you've gor to
buy all sorts of things for the baby. clothes, a cor and a
pram. Here, that teddy bear we won tonight'll come in
handy, won't it? I can make things too. I,ll help . . .
yo: Shut up! I'm not planning big plans for this baty or
dreaming big dreams. you know what happens when you
do things like that. The baby'll be born dead or daft!
cEoF: You're feeling a bit depressed, Jo.
1o: I'm feeling nothing.
cEoF: You'll be your usual self soon.
yo: And what is my usual self? My usual self is a very unusual
self, Geoffrey Ingram, and don,t you forget it. I'm an
qrtraordinary person. There's only one of me
like there's
only one of you.
cEoF: We're unique!

'., r Nu

t,,
r,

()

I]

A TASTE OF HONEY

Smashing!
[;] We're bloody marvellous

r,'. [[ey! Do you like


r,t()l;:

5r

beer?

YeS.

1,'. Whisky?
',1,()l:: YeS.
1,

': Gin?

)r;t Yes. Have you got some?


t.,: No, but if I had I'd give it all to you. I'd give everghing
I had to you. Here, have a biscuit. You'll like these. They
Laste like dog food.
r,tolri Spratts!
t,': You look tike a spratt. Jack Spratt, who'd eat no fat, his
wife would eat no lean and so between them both, you see,
they licked the platter clean. Did you enioy that dramatic

r,

recitation?
r;r:oFl very moving.
1o: You say one.
r:oF: There was a young man of Thessaly,
And he was wondrous wise.
He iumped into a quickset hedge

(,

And scratched out both his eYes.


And when he saw his eYes were out'
With all his might and main
He iumped into another hedge
And scratched them in again.
;o: I like that. Do you know anY more?
(;DoF: As I was going up Pippin Hill,
Pippin Hill was dirrY.
And there a I met a PretrY miss
And she dropped me a curtsy.

Little miss, pretty

miss,

;o: Young.

Blessings light upon You.


If I had half a crown a daY

cEoF: Unrivalled!

I'd gladly spend it

on Yur.

a rASTE oF

52

HoNEy

[ncr

rr

1o: Would you?


cEoF: I would.
;o: Silly things nursery rhymes when you weigh them up.
cEoF: I like them. Do you want a cigarette?
;o: How many have you gor left?
cEoF: I've got enough for one each.
;o: No, you keep 'em. They don't bother me really. I used to
smoke just to annoy my mother. What's that?
cEoF: A free gift coupon.
yo: Everything you buy lately has a free gift coupon in it. It's
coming to somerhing when they have to bribe the public
to buy tl.:ir sruff. '$?har's this one for?
cEoF: There's a whole list of things to send for if you have
enough coupons. Hee, there's even a car, smoke forty
thousand cigarettes a day for the next ten thousand years
and you'll get a Lagonda.
that?

;o: What's

cEoF: A car.
1o: A nice car?
cEoF: A wonderful car.
1o: tr'll buy you one for Christmas.
you two.
cEoF: Thanks.

;o: Oh! I'm tired. This

If

you ask me nice

I'll

buy

couch isn't going to be very comfort-

able, is it?

cEoF: It'll do.


1o: What are you going to sleep in?
cEoF: My shirt!
1o: I'm that tired! I haven't the energy to get myseH to bed.
You won't sleep very well on this couch, Geof.
cEoF: It's all right. Beggars can't be choosers.
yo: We're both beggars. A couple of degenerates.
cEoF: The devil's own!
1o lslrc goes to bed. cnon starts to undressf: Hey! You'd better
turn that light out, or I might be after you. lHe nnns the

r;r;uNE

I]

A TASTE OF HONEY

53

light out and then gets into bed. She begins to sing the song
" Black Boy" as shc lies on hn bed.l
Black boy, black boy, don't you lie to me.
Where did you stay last night?
In the pines, in the pines where the sun never shines,
I shivered the whole night through.

,;rior: Jo!
1o: Yes.
(;r1oF:

What was that boy like?

yo: Which boy?


(;rioF: You know,

yo: Oh! Him. He wasn't a

bit like you. He could sing

and

dance and he was as black as coal.

(;rjoF: A black boy?


;o: From darkest Africa ! A Prince.
(;uoF: A what?
Jo: A Prince, son of a chieftain.
(;DoF: I'll bet he was too.
1o: Prince Ossini!
(;uoF: What was he doing here?
yo: He was a male nurse in the Navy.
(;EoF: Do you wish he was still here?
yo: Not really. I think I've had enough. I'm sick of love. That's
why I'm lening you stay here. You won't start anything.
(;DoF: No, I don't suppose I will.
I o: You'd better not. I hate love.
(;EoF: Do you, Jo?

.;o: Yes, I do.


(;EoF: Good night.
;o: Good night.
cEoF: You needn't lock the bedroom door.
;o: I'm in bed. Geoffrey! Geoffrey!
cEoF: What do you want?
lo: What time have you got to be up in the morning?
(;EoF: I don't go to school tomorrow. I'll stay here and clear

A TAsrE oF

54

HoNEy

[.rcr tt

this place up a bit. And make you a proper meal. Now go

to sleep, hey?

;o:

Geoffrey!

cEoF: What's wrong now?


1o llaughingl: You're just like a big sister to me.
lMusic to black out. Then quick as lights go up. Waking,cEoF
dances and goes off utith bedclothes. 1o danczs off. enor
dances in with ?rops for the ncxt scene, which in reality

would be a month or tuo latn. cEoF is anting out a ba.bj/s


gown. 1o wa.nders about the room.l

yo: God! ft's hot.


cEoF: I know it's hot.

ztoices die

away.

A tugboat lwo*.|

cEoF: Who?
;o: His mother. Think of all the harm she does, ha*'iog children.

cEoF: Sit down and read a book, Jo.

A TASTE OF HONEY

kicked me.

belly.l
(;rioF: Vill

it do it

[cror

55

rans to lpr and puts his

hcad.

lpr

again?

;o: It shows it's alive anyway.

Come on, baby, let's see what


big sister's making for us.
(;EoF: Put it down.
1o: What a pretty little dress.
(;EoF: It's got to wear something. You can't just wrap it up
in a bundle of newspaper.
to: And dump it on a doorstep. How did Geoffrey find out the
measurements?

His mother ought not to be allowed.

yo:

ft

yo:

rI

(;EoF: Babies are born to the same size more or less.

1o: I'm so restless.


cEoF: Oh, stop prowling about.
1o: This place stinks. lGoes oner to the dom. children are hcard
singing in tfu street.f That river, it's the colour of lead. Look
at that washing, it's dirty, and look at those filthy children.
cEoF: ft's not their fault.
1o: It's their parents'fault. There's a linle boy over there and
his hair, honestly, it's walking away. And his ears. Oh!
He's a real mess ! He never goes to school. He iust sits on
that front doorstep all day. I think he's a bit deficient.
[The children's

scENE

can't.

cEoF: Be quiet then. You're getting on my nerves. lsud.denly


she yelk and whirls atross tlu room.l
;o: Whee! Come on rain. Come on storm. It kicked me,
Geof. It kicked me!
cEoF: What?

lo: Oh, no, they're not.

Some are thin scrappy things and

others are huge and covered in rolls offat.


(;EoF: Shut up, Jo, it sounds revolting.
yo: They are revolting. I hate babies.
(';EoF: I thought you'd change. Motherhood

is supposed to

come natural to women.

It comes natural to you, Geoftey Ingram. You'd make


somebody a wonderful wife. What were you talking about
to that old mare downstairs?
cEoF: I was grving her the rent. I got my grant yesterday.
;o: You're as thick as thieves, you two.
(;EoF: She's going to make the baby a cradle.

1o:

yo: What?
cEoF: You know, she makes wicker baskets.
yo: A wicker basket!
cEoF: It's the best we can do, unless you want to go down to
the river plaiting reeds.
;o: I don't want her poking her nose into my affairs.
cEoF: You're glad enough to have me dancing attendance on
you.

yo: Only because I thought you'd leave me alone. Why don't


you leave me alone? lshe des and flings herself down on
the couch.l I feel like throwing myself in the river.

56

A rASrE oF

HoNEy

[acr rr

f wouldn't

do that. It's full of rubbish.


yo: Well that's all I am, isn't it?
cEoF: Stop pitying yourself.

cEoF:

yo: Don't iurnp down my throat.


cEoF: How much longer is this going on?
1o: Vhat?
cEoF: Your present performance.
1o: Nobody asked you to stay here. You moved in on me,
remember, remember? If you don't like it you can get out,
can't you? But you wouldn't do that, would you, Geoftey?
You've no confidence in yourself, have you? You're afraid
the girls might laugh . . .
cEoF: Read that book and shut up. When the baby comes, if
it ever does, you won't know one end of it from the other.
1o: Looking After Baby.Isn't that nice? Three months, exercises, constipation. Four months, relaxation. It even tells
you how to wash nappies. How lovely. There's a little job
for you, Geofrey.
cEoF: Drink that.lHe hanils lur a glass of milk.l
1o lflirting with himl: Does it tell you how to feed babies,

scENE

mean

57

do you? You like babies, don't You, Geof?


cEoF: Yes, I do.

lcoquettes

with himl: Geoffrey, have you got any of that

toothache cure?

lHe mwes away.l


Geoffrey, have you got any of that toothache cure?
cEoF: The only cure for the toothache is a visit to the dentist.

Drink your milk.


yo: I hate milk [Sftl looks out of ilre window.l I never thought I'd
still be here in the summer. [Slr puts lur arms round cEoF
pl"yf"lly.l lVould you like to be the father of my baby,
Geoffrey?

cEoF: Yes,

l1o stands

would.

in tlu dooru;ay. TIrc children

ccrn be

heard n rsing

again.l

What time is it?


yo: Half-past four by the church clock. Why do you stay here,
Geof?

cEoF: Someone's got to look after you. You can't look after
yourself.

being eaten alive.

yo:

A TASTE OF HONEY

;o: After all, you don't show much sign of coming fatherhood,

Geoffrey?

cEoF: Even you know that.


;o: I know about that way, breast feeding, but I'm not having
a little animal nibbling away at me, it's cannibalstic. Like
cEoF: Stop trying to be inhuman.

rl

It

yo:

there's going to be a storrn. Look at that sky. It's


nearly black. And you can hear the kids playing, right over
there on the croft.

I think

lA silnce in tlu roorn:


doesn't suit you.

it. I hate motherhood.

cEoF: Well, whether you hate it or not you've got it coming


to you so you might as well make a good job of it.
;o: I've got toothache.
cEoF: I've got bloody heartache!
yo: I think you'd like everybody to think this baby's yours,
WOuldr,'t you, Geoffrey?
cEoF: Not likely.

we hear the children singing.l

cEoF: What would you say if I started something?


1o: Eh !
cEoF: I said what would you say if I started something?
yo: In my condition I'd probably faint.
cEoF: No, I mean after.
;o: I don't want you.
cEoF: Am I repulsive to you?
yo: You're nothing to me. f'm everything to myself.
cEoF: No, you're not. You're going to need me after.

A TAsrE oF

58

Jo:

HoNEy

[ecr rl

won't be here after.

lSlu turns toanrds hintr lu to lta.l


cEoF: You do need me, Jo, don't you?
;o: Let go of me. You're squeezing my arm.
cEoF: I've never kissed a girl.
;o: That's your fault.
cEoF: Let me kiss you.
;o: Let go of me. Leave me alone.

lu

kisses

59

I said no.
1o: You like strawberry cream.
(;EoF: I don't want any, Jo. I've made my mind gp.
;o: Don't be daft, have some chocolate.
cEoF: No .. . lslre giaes a ptece of chocolate to him
yo:

her.l

do.
;o: Yes, you would.

I don't mind that you're having somebody else's


baby. What you've done, you've done. What I've done,

cEoF: Jo,

f've

A TASTE OF HONEY

just ilu

samc.)

cEoF: How was that for first time?


1o: Practise on somebody else.
cEoF: I didn't mean to hurt you.
yo: Look Geof, I like you, I like you very much, but I don't
enioy all this panting and grunting . . .
cEoF: Marry me, Jo.
;o: Don't breathe all over me like that, you sound like a horse.
f'm not marrying anybody.
cEoF: I wouldn't ask you to do anything you didn't want to

done.

like you, Geof, but I don't want to marry you.


cEoF: Oh, all right. fuiyway, I don't suppose I could live up to

yo:

I]

(;EoF:

cEoF: Do you still think he might come back?


yo: I've forgotten him.

lShe smtggles but

SCENE

I think it would be best if you left this place, Geof. I don't


think it's doing you any good being here with me all the

time.
cEoF: I know that, but I couldn't go away now.
;o: You'll have to go some time. Ve can't stay together like
this for ever.
cEoF: I'd sooner be dead than away from you.
1o: You say that as if you mean it.
cEoF: I do mean it.
yo: Why?
cEoF: Before I met you I didn't qlre one way or the other - I
didn't care whether I lived or died. But now . . .
1o: I think I'll go and lie down. lshc goes to bed and li^es ctaoss

it.l
cEoF: There's no need for me to go, Jo. You said yourself
you didn't want anybody else here and I'm only interested
in you. We needn't split up need we, Jo?
yo: I don't suppose so.
f,Music. Enter nnreN.]
HELEN: Jo! Your beloved old lady's arrived. Well, where is
she, Romeo?

cEoF llu gioes her a bar of chocolatef: Have some chocolate.

cEoF: Don't tell her f came for You.


HELEN: What? Don't mumble.
cEoF: I said don't tell her f came for you.
HELEN: All right, all right. This place hasn't changed much'
has it? Still the same old miserable hole. wcll, whcrc's

yo: Tbanks. Do you want some?


cror: No.
;o: Go on.

the lady in question?


cEoF: In there.
HELEN: What, Lazrngin bod'

that black beast of a prince of yours.

bet you didn't

stnrggle when he made love to you.

yo:

It might have

been better

if I

had.

as usual? Come

on' gct up; plclty

6o

A TASTE oF

HoNEy

[ecr rr

scENE rI

nothing to do with

of girls in your condition have to go out to work and take


care of a family. Come on, get up.
yo: What blew you in?
HELEN: Let's have a look at you.
Jo: Who told you about me?
HELEN: Nobody.
;o: How did you get to know then?
HELEN: Come on, aren't you going to introduce me to your
boy friend? Who is he?
yo: My boy friend. Oh, it's all right, we're so decent we're
almost dead. I said who told you about me?

it matter?
you to keep out of my affairs, Geoffrey. I'm not hav-

HELEN: Does

1o:

I told

ing anybody running my life for me. What do you think


you're running? A "Back to Mother" movement?
cEoF: Your mother has a right to know.
She's got no rights where I'm concerned.
HELEN: Oh, leave him alone. You're living off him,

;o:

by all

accounts.

;o: Who've you


HELEN:

I didn't

been talking to? That old hag downstairs?


need to talk to her. The whole district knows

what's been going on here.


yo: And what has been going on?

I suppose you think you can hide yourself away in this


chicken run, don't you? Well, you can't. Everybody knows.
cEoF: She won't go out anywhere, not even for a walk and a
bit of fresh air. That's why I came to you.
HELEN: And what do you think I can do about it? In any case,
bearing a child doesn't place one under an obligation to it.
cEoF: I should have thought it did.
HELEN: Well, you've got another think coming. If she won't
take care of herself that's her lookout. And don't stand
HELEN:

there looking as if it's my fault.


cEoF: It's your grandchild.
HELEN: Oh, shut up, you put years on me. Anyway, I'm having

6r

A TASTE OF HONEY

it.

She's more than

can cope with,

always has been.

cEoF: That's obvious.


HELEN: And what's your part
drama? Nursemaid?

in this linle Victorian melo-

Serves you right for bringing her here, Geof.


HELEN: It's a funny-looking set-up to me.

;o:

yo: It's our business.


HELEN: Then

don't bring me into it. Where's the loving

father? Distinguished by his absence,


Jo: That's right.

suppose.

HELEN [ro cnor]: Did she hear any more of him?


;o: No, she didn't.
HELEN: When f'm talking to the organ grinder I don't expect

the monkey to answer.


I could get him back tomorrow if I wanted to.
HELEN: Well, that's nice to know. He certainly left you a nice
Christmas box. It did happen at Christmas' I suppose?
When the cat's away.
cEoF: You've been away a long time.
HELEN: Oh, you shut up. Sling your hook!
yo: Will you keep out of this, Geoffrey?
HELEN': Well, come on, let's have a look at you. [1o turns away.l
What's up? We're all made the same, aren't we?

yo:

;o: Yes we are.


it yet? l1o turns-l
Yes, you're carrying it a bit Hgh, aren't you? Are you
going to the clinic regularly? Is she working?
cEoF: No, I told you, she doesn't like people looking at her.
HELEN: Do you think people have got nothing better to do
than look at you?

HELEN: Well then. Can you cut the bread on

;o: Leave

me alone.
HELEN: She'd be better off working than living off you like
a little bloodsucker.
cEoF: She doesn't live off me.

6z

A TASTE oF

HoNEy

;o: No, we share everything, see! We're


HELEN: That's his influence

[acr rl

communists too.

suppose.

1o: Get out of here. I won't go out if I don't want to. It,s
nothing to do with you. Get back to your fancy man or

scrNn rl

out of your sight?


I'll give you such a bloody good hiding in a minute,
if you're not careful. That's what you,ve gone short of!
yo: Don't show yourself up for what you are!
HELEN: You couldn't wait, could you? Now look at the mess
you've landed yourself in.
;o: I'll get our of it, without your help.
HELEN: You had to throw yourself at the first man you mer,
HELEN:

didn't you?

did, that's right.

HELEN: You're man mad.

yo: I'm like you.


HELEN: You know what they're calling you round here? A silly

little whore!
yo: Well, they all know where I get it from too.
HELEN: Let me get hold of her! I'll knock her bloody head
round !
1o: You should have been locked up years ago, with my father.
HELEN: Let me get hold of her!

cEoF: Please, Jo, Helen, Jo, please!


HELEN: I should have got rid of you before you were born.

yo:

wish you had done. You did with plenry of others,

know.
HELEN: I'll

kill her. I'll knock the living daylights out of her.


cEoF: Helen, stop it, you will kill her!
Jo:

If

you don't get out of here I,U

window.

fTfure is a sudden lull.l

...

63

cEoF: Helen!
HELEN: Now you're going to listen to a few home truths, my

girl.

begins to chase her.l

Aren't you afraid he'll run otr and leave you if you let him

yo: Yes,

HONEY

cEoF bellingl: Vill you stop shouting, you two?


HELEN: We enjoy it.

your husband, or whatever you like to call him.

[nnrrN

A TASTE OF

iump out of the

;o: We've had enough home tnrths!


HELEN: All right, you thought you knew it all bdore, didn't
you? But you came a cropper. Now it's "poor little
Josephine, the tragedy queen, hasn't life been hard on
her". Well, you fell down, you get up . . . nobody else
is going to carry you about. Oh, I know you've got this
pansified little freak to lean on, but what good will that do
you?
Leave Geof out of it!
HELEN: Have you got your breath back? Because there's some
more I've got to get off my chest first.
;o: You don't half like the sound of your own voice.
cEoF: If I'd known you were going to bully her [ke this I'd
never have asked you to come here.
HELEN: You can clear off! Take your simpering little face out

;o:

of it!

;o: Yes, buzz off, Geof! Well, who brought her here? I told
you what sort of a woman she was. Go and . . . go and
make a cup of tea.

lHe

goes.'l

HELEN: Look at your arrns. They're like a couple of stalks!


You look like a ghost warmed up. And who gave you tbat
haircut, him? Don't sit there sulking.
1o: I thought it was the tea break.
HELEN: I didn't come here to quarrel.

yo: No?

I brought you some money.


yo: You know what you can do with that.
HELEN: All right! You've said your piece. Money doesn't
HELEN:

64

A TASTE OF HONEY
grow on trees. I',ll leave

yo:

[acr rr

it

on the table. Have you been


collecting your materniry benefit or . . .

or are you too idle to walk down to the post office? Don,t
be daft ! I'm not enritled to it. r haven,t Leen
earning long

enough.
HELEN: You've no need to go short of anphing.

yo: It's taken you a rong time to come round


to this, hasn,t
it?

HELEN: What?

yo: The famous mother-love act.


HELEN:

haven't been abre to sleep for thinking about you

since he came round to our house.


;o: And your sleep mustn't be disturbed at anv cost.
HELEN: There'll be money in the post for yor
.u..y week from
now on.

yo: Until you forget.


HELEN: I don't forget things; It's
iust that

I can't remember
anything. I,m going to see you through this
whether you
like it or nor. After all I am . . .

;o:

Afte
that,

remembering

door with that

man
HELEN:

;o: You should have known. you,re nothing to me.


[rnrrn appears.f
what the hell's going on? Do you expect me to wait
'ETER:
in the fi.lthy str.eet all night?
HELEN: I told you to stay outside.
rETER: Don't point your bloody finger ar
me.
HELEN: I said I'd only be a few minutes
and I've only been a
few minutes. Now come on, outside!

pErER:

Ah! The erring

"Little

Josephiner
keep the whisky?

daughter. There she is. tsrrgr.l


lou're a big girl now.,, Where d,you

HELEN: They haven't got any. Now, come


on.

sceNr rl

A TASTE OIJ HONEY

nETER lseeing

cror]: $fhat's this, the

65

father? Oh Christ,

no!
cEoF: Who's he?
HELEN: President of the local Temperance Society!

fsingingl: "'Who's got a bun in the oven? Who's got a


cake in the stove?"
HELEN: Leave her alone.
PErER: Oh, go to hell!
;o: I've got nothing to say . . .
rETER: Go on, have your blasted family reunion, don't mind
me! [Nolrces cror again.l Who's this? Oh, of course!
Where are the drinks, Lana? lHe falls into the kitchen,
singing.l "Gening to know you, getting to know all about
nETER

you..."

HELEN: Jo, come on

.. .

lThere is a loud aash in the kitchen.l

And the light of the world shone upon him.

[rrrrn

enters.l

pErER: Cheer up, everybody. I am back. Who's the lily? Look


at Helen, well, if she doesn't look like a bloody unrestored
oil painting. What's the matter everybody? Look at the
sour-faced old bitch! Well, are you coming for a few drinks
or aren't you?
HELEN: The pubs aren't open yet.

;o: Do you mind genihg out of here?

rETER: Shut your mouth, bubble belly! Before I shut it for


you. Hey! [To cror.] M"ry, come here. Did I ever tell you
about the chappie who married his mother by mistake?
;o: I said get him out of here, Helen. His breath smells.
HELEN: f can't carry him out, can I?
rETER: His name was Oedipus, he was a Greek I think. Well,
the old bag turned out to be his mother . . .
HELEN: Shut up, Peter, for God's sake!
pETER: So he scratched out both his eves.

66

A TASTE oF

HoNEY

HELEN: Cut the dirty stories!


nETER: But I only scratched out one

[ecr lt

of mine. Well, are

you

coming or not?
HELEN: f'm not.

for a few drinks? You staying with the ladies, Jezebel?


cEoF: Listen, mister, this is my friend's flat...
rETER: And what do you do, Cuddles? Don't worrlr I know
this district. Look at Helen, isn't she a game old bird?
Worn out on the bear but she's still got a few good strokes
left.
IIELEN: Get out of here, you drunken sot.

nETER: Well, is anybody coming

rETER: Now

I told you to moderate

your language. What's

this? Giving my money away again?


HELEN: Take your bloody money and get out!
PETER: Thank you.
HELEN: You dirry bastard!
pErER: You should have heard her the other night. You know
what happened? Her wandering boy returned. He hadn't
been home for t'wo weeks and do you know why? He
picked up a couple of grapefruit on a thirty-two bust,

rich, young and juicy

hey

Where's the smallest

room?

cEoF: This way.


PETER: And she went off the dcep end. [Strgs as he goes.
Anotlrcr oash offstage.l
HELEN [ro caor]: You'd better go with him or Lord knows
where he'll end up.
cEoF: I hope the landlady hasn't heard him.
TIELEN: Cigarerte?
yo: No. Yes, I will. I'll keep it for Geof.
HELEN: You'd better have the whole bloody packet
in such a state.
1o: Well, he couldn't hold it any more, could he?
HELEN: No one could hold that much.

if you're

67

A TASTE OF HONEY

scrNr t]

this?
Jo: How long has he been like
of yours do for a living?
friend
boy
that
HELEN: What does
that's what's been keeping
suppose
I
stuclent.
;o: He's an art
you occuPied?
Does he live here?
HELEN: An art student. I might have known'
never answer
You
yo: Why should I answer yotlr questions?
any of mine.
a
HELEN: Look at you ! Why don't you take
yourself? Grow Your hair ProPcrlY?

bit of pride in

your pride in yourself has done


Jo: Look at you. Look what
for you.

a nice room and


HELEN: Come and stay with me, Jol there's
plenty of food.

;o: No, thanks.


HELEN.yo,,prefertostayirrthisholewiththatpansifiedlittle
freak?

I go?
knorv You'd come'
didn't
I
HELEN:
go
and live rvith her if you were me'
you
Would
;o:
cEoF: No, I don't think I would'

cEoF: Shall

Geof?

their right mind'


Jo: Neither would anybody in

cEoF:Shealwayssaidyouwercaprettyrottensortofwoman'

I thought she was exaggeratrng'


stupid head that
HELEN: Look' can't you get it into your
home?
offering You a decent
[r'rren

I'm

en[ers' more sober' more unpleasant'l

in there'
rETER: Bloody cockroaches are playing leapfrog
my home is
him'
of
front
in
again,
you
tell
I'll
HELEN: Look'
yours.
PErER: Ah! Shut uP!
it'
HELEN: I'll take care of you and see you through
when I
ago'
years
was
me
Jo: The time to have taken care of
couldu't take care of mYself'

HELEN:Allright,butwe'retalkingabouthereandnow'When

A TASTE OF HONIY

68

I really ser out ro take care of somebody


job properly.

[ncr
r

usually do the

;o: So I see.
PETER: I'm not having that bloody slut ar our place. I'll

you that for nothing.


HELEN: Take no norice. The house is half mine.
rETER: Like hell it is. I could throw you our romorrow.

yo:

rr

tell

can't stand the sight of him. Can'r stand ,em

at any price.
HELEN: Oh, keep out of it. Jo, I can't bear to think of vou
sitting here in this dump!
IETER: Neither can I. Now let's get going.
HELEN: The whole district's rotren, it's not fit to live in.
nETER: Let's go before we grow old sining here.
HELEN: Shut up, the pubs will be open in ren minures.
pETER: You're wrong there.
lLooking at his watch.f They're

open now. What time do you make it?


cEoF: There's one thing about this district, the people in it
aren't rotten. Anyway, I think she's happier here with me

than in that dazzling white house you're supposed to

so...

6g

A TASTE OF HONEY

mel it's your own bloody level. Well, are you coming or
not?

And don't bring that little fruitcake parcel either!

[Mumbles.l

Il

HELEN:

I don't think . ..

pETER:

scENn

be

pErER: Dazzling bunch of bul . . . lot of


bloody outsiders,
no class at all. What's the time anyway?
HELEN [ro cror]: You shut up ! I know what she necds if
she's
not going to finish up in a box.
IETER: Whar's the time by your watch, sonny?
cEoF: ft's never been right since it last went wrong.
pETER: Neither have I. How long are
we going to sit around
in this room? I don't like the smell of unwashed bodies,
woman. I dragged you out of the gufter once. If you want
to go back there it's all the same to me. r'm not having this
shower at any price. I'm telling you for the last time because
I'm getting out of it. Stay if you lvant, it's all rhe same to

I'm not.

said are you coming?


HELEN: And I said I'm not.
pErER: Well, you n iust go and take a flying flip out of the
PETER:

window. lHe goes.l


I'll . " . would you sooner
HELEN: I'il

with you?
yo: No, thanks.
rETER: Helen
HELEN:

I'll

...fCalling].

...

stayed here

come on!

send you some moneY.

yo: Keep it. You might need it.


PETER:

Helen!

HELEN: Go to . .

Are you coming?


HELEN lydlt"sl: Yes. [To cror.] See that she goes to the clinic
regularly and be sure she gets enough to eat.
cEoF: She has been doing that.
HELEN: I'll see you around. [Sfte goes.l
yo: Vell, here endeth the third lesson.
cEoF: At least she left you some money. We can get some ' ' '
;o: He took it back. I got you a cigarette though, lovc'
PETER:

cEoF: Oh, smashing!

was out.

lMusic. They dance together-

Fa"de

out.l

SCENE TV/O
cEOFFREv dances in aith a moP and bucket and begirts to clean
the place. 1o dances bach ard liits ott tlu table reading. she
is weaing a long white housecoat and againrintealityrmonths
have passed between this ard the preoiotts scenc. Muic ottt.

A TASTE Ot' IIONEY

7o

[ecr

rr

;o: "Ninth month,

everyrhing should now be in readiness for


the little srranger." where did you fincl this book, Geoffrey?
It reads hke Little Women.
cEoF: I got ir for fourpence off a book barrow.
;o: You've got terrible tendencies, haven't you?

cEoF: How do you mean?


;o: You like everything to be just that littre bit out of date,
don't you? Clothes, books, women.
cEoF: You've got no choice, have you? I mean you
all start
by living in the past. Well look, it's all around you, isn,t
it?
;o: I wonder if we ever catch up with ourselves?
cEoF: I don't know.
1o: Now you're a real Edwardian, aren't you?
cEoF: What's that?
yo: A proper Ted! And me, I'm conremporary.
cEoF: God help us!
;o: I really am, aren'r I? I realry do live at the same time as
myself, don't I?

cEoF: Do you mind? I've just done all that. Oh come


on!
Get off!

fHe pushes her with the mop.l

1o: Hey, hey!


cEoF: Women!
;o: You haven't noticed my home dressmaking.
cEoF: No. I've been trying to ignore it. !7hat is it?
yo: A house-coat.
cEoF: It looks more like a badly tailored shroud.

1o: what the well-dressed expectant mother is wearing this

year. I feel wonderful. Aren't I enormous?


cEoF: You're clever, aren't you?
yo: What's in the oven, Geoffrey?
cEoF: You what?
1o: Vhat's cooking?
cEoF: A cake.

scrNn r r]

A TASTE OF HONEY

;o: Mm, you're wonderful, aren't

you?

cEoF: Pretty good.


1o: I know, you make everything work. The stove goes, now
we eat. You've reformed me, some of the time at any rate.

[crorrnrv

shifts the sofa. There is old rubbish and dirt under

it.l
cEoF: Oh, Jo!

I wondered where that had got to.


cEoF: Now you know. It's disgusting, it really is.
1o: Oh Geof, the bulbs I brought with me!
cEoF: Haven't you shifted the sofa since then?

yo:

;o: They never grerv.


cEoF: No, I'm not surprised.
;o: They're dead. It makes you think,

doesn't it?

cEoF: Vhat does?


1o: You know, some people like to take out an insurance policy,
don't they?
cEoF: f'm a bit young for you to take out one on me.

;o: No. You know, they like to pray to the Almighty fust in
case he turns out to exist when they snuff it.
cEoF [brushing under the sofal: Well, I never think about it.
You come, you go, it's simple.
;o: It's not, it's chaotic-a bit of love, a bit of lust and there
you are. We don't ask for life, we have it thrust upon us.
croF: What's frightened you? Have you been reading the

newspapers?

yo: No, I never do. Hold my hand, Geof.


cEoF: Do you mind? Halfway through this?
yo: Hold my hand.
lHe does.l
cEoF: Hey, Jo. Come on, silly thing, it's all right. Come on
there.
hands, hard. You know I used to try and
hold my mother's hands, but she ahvays used to pull them

;o: You've got nice

A TASTE OF HONEY

72

Incr

rr

away from me. So silry really. She had so much love for
everyone else, but none for me.

If you don'r watch it, you'll turn our exactly like her.
I'm
not like her at all.
;o:
cEoF: In some ways you are already, you know.
cEoF:

lShe pushes his hand azaay.l

I go now?
;o: Yes.
Can

cEoP: Thank you very much I


[He is pushing the couch back into
position.)

;o: "And he took up his bed and walked." you can stay here
if you tell me rvhat you do. Do you remember, Geoffrey?
I used to think you were such an interesting, immoral
character before I knew you. I thought you *.-.. like
that
. . . for one thing.

[cnon'nrv

chases

her uith the mop ail through this speech.]

You're just like an old woman really. you just unford your
bed, kiss me good night and sing me to sleep. FIey,
what,s
the matter? Don't you like living here with me? '
cEoF: It has its lighter momenrs, but on the whole

it's a pretty
trying prospecr.
yo: Why do you wear black shirts? They make you
look like
a spiv.

cEoF: They do, Jo, but

;o:

I can't be too particular. Good clothes


cost money.
well' I weigh in with my share, don't I? That's a nice rittle

job you got me, retouching those bloody photographs.


SThat was it supposed to do, prove I was the artistic
type?

Of course we can't all be art students, going to our expcn_


sive art schools, nursing our little creative genius.
cEoF: Must you shout?
yo: f'm Irish.
cEoF: Never mind, it's not your fault.
1o llaughingl:

like you.

scnNn

rt]

A TASTE OF HONEY

73

cEoF: Do you like me more than you don't like me or don't


you like me more than you do?
1o: Now you're being Irish.
cEoF: Fine Irishwoman you are. Where did your ancestors
fall, in the Battle of Salford Town Hall?
yo: My mother's father was Irish.
cEoF: You'll find any excuse.
yo: And she had me by an Irishman-the village idiot, from
what I can make out.
cEoF: What do you mean?
yo: A frolic in a hay loft one afternoon. You see her husband
thought sex was dirty, and only used the bed for sleeping
in. So she took to herself an idiot. She said he'd got eyes
like me.
cEoF: Are you making it up?
yo: He lived in a twilight land, my daddy. The land of the daft.
cEoF: Did she tell you all this?

;o:

Yes.

cEoF: I'm not surpnsed. It sounds like Ibsen's Ghosts.I don't


know where Helen gets them from, I don't really.
yo: I had to drag it out of her. She didn't want to tell me.
cEoF: That doesn't mean to say it's the truth. Do people ever
tell the truth about themselves?
yo: Vrhy should she want to spin me a yarn like that?
cEoF: She likes to make an effect.

;o: Like

me?

cEoF: You said it. You only have to let your hair grow for
week for Helen to think you're a cretin.

yo: What?

I said you've only got to let your hair grow for a week

cEoF:

for Helen to think you're a cretin.


as

though

1o: Yes.

She always looks at me


should be put away for ueatment, doesn't she?

I know, you don't have to tell me! Have you been


worrying about that all these months?

cEoF:

A TASTE OF HONEY

7l

[ecr rr

1o: No.
cEoF: You have.

yo:

haven't.

cEoF: Well, I didn't rhink you could be so daft. Can you see
Helen going out with a real loony!
1o: \Vell, now you put it like that, no, I can't!
cEoF: No, neither can-I don't know. Anryay, who knows
who aie the fools and the wise men in this world?
tro: I wouldn't be surprised if all the sane ones weren't in the
bin.
cEoF: You're probably right. Anymy everyone knows you're
as craeked as an old bedbug.
1o llaughing]: Thanks, Geof. You know, you're a cure.
cEoF: I used to be a patrol leader in the Boy Scouts.
yo: So long as you weren't Scoutmaster! You know, I wish she
was here all the same.
GEoF: Why? You'd only quarrel. You know you always say
you hate the sight of her.

yo:

I do.

cEoF: Well then.


yo: She must know my time has almost come. When do your
exams finish?
cEoF: On Thursday.
yo: I wonder which day it'll be? Put your arms round me,
Geof. I don't want you to be worried while your exams are
on.

cEoF: Then you shouldn't have asked me to put my arms


round you, should you?
1o: Ah well, it doesn't matter if you fail. In this country the
more you know the less you earn.
cEoF: Yes, you're probably right. I've got something for you.
Oh Jo, I'm daft at times.
yo: I know that. I was wondering what it was.
cEoF Wo* his pack Iu takcs a life-sized doltl: There-isn't it
nice? I thought you could practise a few holds on it over

scnNn

ul

A TASTE OF HONEY

75

the weekend. You've got to be able to establish your


superiority over the little devils. I don't know where that
goes. There, look, isn't it good?
yo lseeing t\rc dollf: The colour's wrong.

cror:

Jo.

1o: The colour's wrong. lsuddenly and aiolently flinging tlu


doll to thc ground.l I'll bash its brains out. I'll kiil it. I don't

want his baby, Geof. I don't want to be a mother' I don't


want to be a woman.
cEoF: Don't say that, Jo.
;o: I'11 kill it when it comes, Geoff, I'11 kill it'
cEoF: Do you want me to go out and find that chap and bring
him back? Is that what You want?
yo: I don't want that. I don't want any man.
cEoF: well, if you're going to feel like that about it you might
as well have it adopted. I thought you'd feel differently as
time went on.
yo: I won't.
cEoF: Perhaps you will when you see the baby'
;o: No, I won't.
cEoF: L-\o you still love him?
yo: I don't know. He was only a dream I had' You know, he
could sing and he was so tender. Every christmas Helen
used to go off with some boy friend or other and leave me
all on my own in some sordid digs, but last christmas I
had him.
cEoF: Your black prince.
;o: What was his name?
cEoF: Prince Ossini.
yo: No, it was Jimmie!
cEoF: oh well, the dream's gone, but the baby's real enough.
the first time
1O: My mother always used to say you remember
all your life, but until this moment I'd forgotten it'
cEoF: Do you remember when I asked you to marry me?
1o: Yes.

A TASTE OF HONEY

76

[ecr rl

cEoF: Do you?
;o: No. What did I say?
cEoF: You just went and lay on the bed.
;o: And you didn't go and follow me, did you?
cror: No.
yo: You see, it's not marrying love between
us, thank God.
cEoF: You mean you just like having me around till your
next
prince comes along?
;o: No.
cEoF: oh welr, you need somebody to love you while
you,re
looking for someone to love.
yo: oh Geof, you'd make a f,nny father. you are
a funny
little man. f mean that. you're unique.
cEoF: Am I?
1o: I always want to have you with me because I know you,[
never ask anything from me. Where :ue you going?

[crorrnrv

goes

b tlu bitchen.l

set the cups and

we'[ have a celebration, then you,ll


rt's a bit daft tarking about
gening married, isn't it? v'e're arready married.
w'e,ve

been married for a thousand years.

ITl,'ey march in togetrer from thc kitchen, he


slu with the tea things.l
cEoF [putting it dountl: Here, rook at that. what

aith tru

cakc,

are you going


to call it?
;o: What, the cake?
cEoF llaugltingl: No, Jo, the baby.
1o: I think I'll give it to you, Geof. you like babies, don't you?
I might call it Number one. It'n always be number one ro
itself.

[nnrnN enttrs, toadcd with

&p.l

baggage as

in Act One, Scme

77

barrows are smothered in them. Oh! How I carried that


lot from the bus stop I'll never know. The old place looks

bit more cheerful, doesn't it? I say, there's

a nice homely

smell. Have you been doing a bit of baking? I'll tell you
e1s thing, it's a lovely day for flining.
yo: Would you like a cup of tea, Helen?
HELEN: Have you got anything stronger? Oh no, course you
haven't! Go on, I'll have a cup with you. Let's have a look
at you, love. I arrived iust in time, by the look of things,
didn't I? How are you, love? Everything straightforward?
Been having your regular check-up and doing all them
exercises and all d1g things they go in for nowadays?
That's a good girl. Have you got everything packed?
yo: Packed?
Yes.

;o: But f'm not

have to study for your exams.

A TASTE OF HONEY

HELEN: Anybody at home? Well, I'm back. You see, I couldn't


stay away, could I? There's some flowers for you, Jo. The

nntnN:

cEoF: To see the cake.


fio folloa;s him.l

;o: I'll

scnNn rr]

going into hospital.

HELEN: You're not having it here, are you?


cEoF: Yes, she didn't want to go away.

HELEN: Oh my God,

is he still here?

thought he would

be.

cEoF: Do you want a piece of cake, Jo?


1o: Yes, please.
HELEN: You can't have a baby in this dump. Why don't you
use a bit of sense for once and go into hospital? They've got
everything to hand there. f mean, sometimes the first one
can be a bit tricky.
cEoF: There's going to be nothing tricky about it; it's going
to be perfectly all right, isn't it, Jo?
HELEN: Who do you think you are, the Flying Doctor?
1o: Look, f've made up my mind I want to have it here" I
don't like hospitals.
I{ELEN: Have you ever been in a hospital?
1o: No.

T8

A TAsrE oF

HoNEy

[ecr ll

Vell, how do you know what it's like? Oo! Give


a cup oftea quick.

HELEN:

me

scrNr rrJ

A TASTE OF HONEY

HELEN: Come here. How long is he going to stick around here.

Bloody little pansy . . .

cEoF: Oh well, we've got a district nurse coming in.


HELEN: Oh my God, my feet are killing me. How I got that
lot from the bus stop I'll never know.
yo: Well what are you lugging all the cases about for?
HELEN: I've come to look after you. It's iust as well, by the
look of things. [Whispers ro 1o.]
;o: Well, it's going to be a bit crowded, you know. Is your
husband coming and all? Is he moving in too?
HELEN: There wouldn't be much room for two of us on that
couch, would there?

;o: Look, if you're going to insult Geof . . .


HELEN: f'm not insulting him.

yo: That's Geoffrey's bed.


cEoF: It's all right, Jo, I don't mind moving out.
yo: For Heaven's sake, you don't have to staft wilting away

cEoF: Jo, I've got to gc, I'll only be a couple of minutes.


1o: There's plenty of stuff in the kitchen. Now look . . .
as

soon as she barges in.

cEoF:

I don't.

HELEN:

yo: Yes you are.


HELEN: I'm not. I just don't like his style, that's all.
cEoF: It's all right, Mrs. Smith .. .
HELEN: Look, love, I iust want five minutes alone with her.
Do you mind? Is it too much to ask?
i,iioF: I)o you want any cotton wool?
HELEN: Good God, does he
yo: You don't have to go.

[cEorrnev

knit an' all?

goes.l

HELEN: You don't mean to tell me he's really gone?

could do with a drink.


yo: Start barging around just like a bull in x shinx shop.
HELEN: f've got some lovely things for the baby, Jo. Where
did I put them? Where's that other case, Jo? Oh!
cEoF: Jo, will you sit down. I'll get it.
HELEN: Look, love. I've come here to talk to my daughter.
Can you make yourself scarce for a bit?
cEoF: I've got to go, we need some things for the weekend.
;o: You don't have to let her push you around.
cEoF: f don't.
HELEN: Oh I do wish he wouldn't mumble. It does get on my
nerves. What's he saying?
cEoF: Where's my pack?
1o: What a couple of old women.
cEoF: Look here, Jo!

;o: Look, iust a minute will you. I...


nothing. ..
cEoF: Hor.v can I stav .. .

79

took

I...

there,s

;o: Now that you've been rude to my friend . . .


HELEN: What an arty little freak! I wasn't rude to him. I
never said a word. I never opened my mouth.
;o: Look, he's the only friend I've got, as a matter of fact.
HELEN: Jo! I thought you could find yourself something more
like a man.
yo: Why were you so nasty to him?
HELEN: f wasn't nasty to him. Besides, I couldn't talk to you
in front him, could I? He5 wait till you see these things
for the baby.
;o: You hurt peopls'5 feslings and you don't even notice.
HELEN: Jo, I iust wanted to get rid of him, that's all. Look at
those, ]o. Look, isn't that pretry, eh? The baby's going to
be dressed like a prince, isn't he?
;o: !?e're all princes in ou own little kingdom. You're not
to insult Geoffrey. Vill you leave him alone?
HELEN: Hen look at this Jo, isn't it pretty? Oh, I love babiesaren't they lovely?

8o

A TASTE oF

HoNEy

[ecr lr

1o: Has your husband thrown you out?


HELEN: Oh come off it, Jo. I had to be with you at a time like
this, hadn't I? And what about this sailor lad of yours, have
you rnade any attempt to trace him? He's entitled to keep
his child, you know.
yo; I wouldn't do that, it's degrading.
HELEN: What do you call this set-up?
;o:'It's all right. There's no need for you to worry about me.
I can work for the baby myself.
HELEN: Who's going to look after it when you're out at work?
Have you thought about that?
;o: Yes, I have.
HELEN: Well, you can't do two jobs at once, you know. Who's
going to nurse it? Him?
;o: That's my business, f can do anything when I set my mind
to it.
HELEN: Very clever, aren't you?

yo: There's no need to be so superior. Look where all your


swanking's landed you. What does the little lady wantan engagement ring? And now he's thrown you out, hasn't
he, and you have to come crawling back here.
HELEN: Well, it was good while it lasted.
yo: Making a fool of yourself over that throw-back.
HELEN: He threw his money about like a man with no anns.
yo: This is my flat now, Helen.
HELEN: It's all right, love, f've got a bit of money put by.
;o: You're a real fool, aren't you?
HELEN: Oh, Jo, look. I'm back aren,t I? Forget it. Don't keep
on about it.

yo: Do you know what I think?


HELEN:!ilhat?
yo: I think you're still in love with him.
HELEN: In love? Me?

yo: Yes.
HELEN: You must be mad.

scnNr rrl

A TASTE OF HONEY

8t

yo: What happened?

offwith his bit of cnrmpet. Still, it was good


lasted. Anyw"y. I'll shift some of this, Jo.
;o: So we're back where we started. And all those months you
stayed away from me because of him! Just like when I was
small.
HELEN: I never thought about you ! It's a funny ffrg, I never
have done when I've been hrppy. But these last few weeks
I've known I should be with you.
HELEN: He's gone

while

it

;o: So you stayed awayHELEN: Yes. I can't stand trouble.


;o: Oh, there's no trouble. I've been performing

a perfectly
normal, healthy function. We're wonderful! Do you know,
for the first time io -y life I feel really important. I feel
as though I could take care of the whole world. I even
feel as though I could take care of you, too!
HELEN: Here, I forgot to tell you, I've ordered a lovely cot for
you.

;o: We've got one.


HELEN: It's lovely. It's got pink curtains, you know, and frills.
l1o gets wicker basket from under bed.l

Oh, I don't like that. What is it?


yo: It's wicker work. Geof got it.
HELEN: It's a bit old-fashioned, isn't it?
;o: We like it.
HELEN: Look love, why don't you go and lie down? You look
as though you've got a bit of a headache.
1o: Do you wonder?
HELEN: Vell, go and have a rest, there's a good girl. I'm going
to tidy this place up for you. I'm going to make it just the

it. Go on.
Oh
no!
1o:
HELEN: Go on, Jo. Go on. It looks more like a laundry basket,
doesn't it! Oh! The state of this place! We'll never have it
right. Living like pigs in a pigstyway you like

[ecr u

A TASTE OF HONEY

8z

[cuorrnnv

enters.l

Oh, you're back are you? Well, come in


cEoF: Where's Jo?

if you're

coming.

HELEN: She's in bed. Where do you think she is? She's having
a little sleep, so don't you dare wake her up.
cEoF: wouldn't do that. fHe places pack filled with food on

tlrc table.l
HEi.EN: Don't put that bag on there,

up.
cEoF: You know

I'm

cleaning this place

just did it bdore you came.


HELEN: It doesn't look like it. Look, son, we're going to have
the midwife running in and out of here bdore long. We
want this place all clean and tidy, all hygienic-looking if
that's possible.
cEoF: Well, it's clean.
1o: Is that Geof?
HELEN; Now look what you've done!
cEoF: Yes, Jo.
;o: Have you got any of those headache pills, love?
cEoF: Yes, I'll get you some.
HELEN: If you're going in there take these flowers with you
and put them in water. You might as well make yourself
useful. They look as though they're withering away. fSIu
peers into thc pack.l Vhat the devil's he got here? What's
that? Spagheni! I don't know how people can eat it. And
that's a fimny looking lettuce. What the hell's tbat? H.y,
what's this here?
cEoF: What?
HELEN: All this muck in here?
cEoF: Vell, Jo likes that type of food.
HELEN: Since when? She needs proper food down her at a
time like this.

cpor: Oh!
[unrnN points to wicker basket.l

scrNn rr]

A TASTE OF HONEY

83

HELEN: Hey, you can throw that bloody thing out for a staft.
cEoF: What thing?
HELEN: That thing there. You're not putting rny grandchild in
a thing like that. Oh, this place! It's filthy! f don't know
what you've been doing between the two of you. you might
have kept it a bit cleaner than this. lust look at it! Don,t
stand there looking silly holding that thio& throw it away,
or do something with it! I've ordered a proper cot of the
latest design, it's got all the etceteras and everything. 'fhis
place! You're living like pigs iu a pigsty. Ob for God.'s
sake give it here, I'll do something with it.
cEoF: Yes, but Jo likes it.
HELEN: $7ell, I suppose it will come in handy for something
fShe enters thp kitchenl Oh my God, it's the same in here!
Nowhere ro put anything . . . Are you off now?

crop: Yes.
HELEN: Vell, take that muck with you as you're going.
cEoF:

don't want it.

f'm sure f don't.


cEoF: Mrs. Smith, I . . . I . ..
HELEN:

HrLEN: Are you talking to me?


cEoF: Yes, f wanted to ask you something.
HELEN: Vell, get it said. Don't mumble.
crioF: I don't want you to take offence.
rrrjr.DN: Do I look the rype that takes offence?
(;11oF: Would you not frighten Jo?
nrir.uN: I thought you said you were going.
(;r:or,: I said would you not frighten Jo.
rrir.uN: What :ue you talking about, frightening her?
(;r1()r,: You know, telling her that it might be tricky or that
shc might have trouble, because she's going to be all right.
rr:r r,N: Are you trying to tell me what to do with my oum
d:rughter?

(,t;()lr: Oh no.
urir.rtN: Well, are you going?

84

A TAsrE oF

HoNEY

[ecr rr

cEoF: Yes, although she said she didn't want a woman with
her when she had it.
HELEN: She said what?

cEoF: She said she wanted me with her when she had it
because she said she wouldn't be frightened if I was with
her.
HELEN: How disgusting!

HELEN: Well, get.

cEoF: I'm going. She can't cope with the two of us. Only just
don't frighten her, that's all.
HELEN: I've told you we don't want that.
cEoF: Yes I knoq but she likes it.
HELEN: You can bloody well take it with you, we don't want it.
empties food

from his pack on to tlu table while

HELEN thrusts it back. nutnN finally throws tlu whole thing,


pack and all, on to tlu fu*.\

cEoF: Yes, the one thing civilisation couldn't do anything


about-women. Good-bye Jo, and good luck. lHe goes.'l

[o

srrrs on

HELEN:

tlu bed.l

yo: Did you yell?


HELEN: No, I ran.
;o: Do you know, I had such a funny dream just now.
HELEN: Oh Jo, you're always dreaming, aren't you. Well,
don't let's talk about your dreams or we'll get morbid.
yo: Where would you like those flowers puning?
HELEN: Over . .. over there . .. Come on, you come and
yo: Hasn't Geof come back yet?
HELEN: No, he hasn't.
;o: Well, where iue you going to sleep, Helen?
HELEN: It's all right, love" Don't fall over, now.
1o: You know, I've got so used to old Geof lying there on that
couch like-like an old watchdog. You aren't . . .
HELEN: It's all tight, love, don't you worry about me, I'll find
somewhere.

I wonder where he is . . . Oh!


HELEN: Oh Jo, careful ... Hold on, love, hold
yo:

on! It'll

be

all right. The first one doesn't last long. Oh my God,

could do with a drink now. Hold on.


[1o kneels on bed, HELEN strokps hn hair.l

;o: That's better.


HELEN: fue you all right now? There we are. lChildren

sing

the croft, Jo?

It's all dght, love, I'm here and everything's all right.

1o: Is there much pain?

No! It's not so much pain

as hard work, love.

I was

putting my Chrismas pudding op on a shelf when you

was standing on a chair singtng

away merry as the day is long .

;o: Yes, you can always hear them on still days.


HELEN: You know when I was young we used to play all day
long at this time of the year; in the sunmer we had singing

HELEN: Wrat?

started on me. There

85

outside.l Can you hear those children singing over there on

Are you awake now?


1o: Hello. Yes . . . Vhat's it like?

HELEN:

A TASTE OF HONEY

do it, love.

cEoF: There's nothing disgusting about it.


A man in the room at a time like this!
cEoF: Husbands stay with their wives.
HELEN: Are you her husband?
cnor: No.

HELEN:

[crorrnnv

scrNn rrl

..

games and in the spring we played with tops and hoops,


and then in the autumn there was the Fifth of November,
then we used to have bonfires in the street, and gingerbread
and all that. Have I ever told you about the time when we
went to a place called Shining Clough? Ob I must have
done. I used to climb up there every day and sit on the top

86

A TASTE OF HONEY

[acr rl

ul

A TASTE OF

of the hill, and you could see the mills in the d.istance, but
the clough itself was covered in moss. rsn't it ftrnny how

HELEN: Where's mY hat?


;o: On your head.

[nrrnN

;o: Are you going?


nrtnN: Yes.

you remember these rhings? Do you know, Ird sit


there all
day long and nobody ever knew where r was. sha[ r go
and make us a cup of tea?
enters hitclun and fiddtes with stmte.l

Oh Jo, f've forgonen how we used to light ftis thing.


;o: Turn on all the knobs. Mind you don,fgas yo'rself.
HELEN:

I still can't do it.

Yes.

nrt.sN:

Yes.

looks round. tlp riom, sftiw

oh' don't be sillp Jo. you'll be giving yo'rself

nightmares.

was going uP PiPPin

Hill'

Pippin Hill was dirtY.


And there I met a Pretty miss,

Jo: Jimmig.

to say that ... that sailor was a black


Oh my God! Nothing else can happen to me

HELEN: You mean

man? ...
now. Can you see me wheeling a pram with a . . . Oh my
God. I'll have to have a drink.
1o: Vhat are you going to do?
HELEN: f don't know. Drown it. Vho knows about it?

yo: Geoffrey.

HELEN: And what about the n'rse? she's going


a shock, isn't she?

ntslus

to get a bit of

she's black too.


HELEN: Good, perhaps she'll adopt it. Dear God in heaven!
1o: rf you don't like it you can get out. I didn't ask you to
ctme here.

tln iloorpost' TlPn

slrc

a little to herself-she rcnumbas

cror.l
;o: As I

was black.

HELEN: Who?

;o: Vell,

yo: fue you iust going for a drink?

against
lyo watclus her go, Ieaning

HBLEN: You what, love?


yo: My baby will be black.

;o: But it's tnre. He

you do?

out.i

yo: My baby may be black.

HELEN:

87

you,
nrrsN:-oh yes . . . I don't know what's to be done with
would
you'
what
I
ask
I don't t."ffy. lTo ttu aadimce]

nsnN: Yes.
;o: \[ell, what are You goiug to do?
,ir. stage and call it Blackbird. lsfte
HELEN: put it
"o

Helen.

nrlrN:

HONEY

1o: fu'e you coming back?

yo: Geof'll fix it.


HELEN: No, ir's all right.

;o:

scrNr

And she droPPed me a curtsY'

Linle miss, Pretty miss,


Blcssings light uPon You.
If I had hdf a crown a daY,
I'd gladlY sPend it on You.

Cwtain.

NOTES
Itl
lll

89

old firm - colloquial term for a reliable, familiar enterprise.


make an bonest woman of you - marry you, make a
rclationship legal by marriage.
Itl girdle - corset, tight underwear.
Itl 'Walter, Walter,lead me to the altar!'- line from a song of that

Notes

t:l.te

title.

19 'l see a quiet place, a fireplace,

(Tbese notes are intended


En glis h -b

orn

re ad ers.

for

use

by ooerseas students as zuell as by

Act I

Mancbester - very large industrial city in the North of England


(according to a note under the cast list on page 6 the play takes
place in Salford, a smaller industrial town adjoining Manchester).
7 liaing off her immoral eamings - it is a criminal offence for a
man to live off a woman's immoral earnings, i.e. her earnings as a
Prostltute.
7 gasworks - where gas is generated and stored for piping to

it

houses that use

as a

fuel; gasworks can smell unpleasant.

contemporary - a decorative style of the fifties, usually


involving very bright colours, sharp contrasts, and spiky designs.
7 sbe'd lose ber bead - a common saying, indicating carelessness.
8 get it dousn - drink it.
8 shilling in tbe slot - a coin placed in the slot of a gas meter
buys a certain quantity of gas to burn in fire or cooker.
8 furniture and fittings - what is supplied by the landlady of a
furnished flat.
8 knocking it back - drinking.
9 take the weight off my feet - sit down.
lo one of the fixtures - part of the equipment supplied with a flat.

lO fancy rnen - lovers.

lO

sight for sare eyes - usually means a pleasant, welcome sight'


here Helen is being sarcastic.
12 knocked me into tbe middle of next zpeek - hit me very hard.
12 aspirins - painkilling tablets.
12 set on - determined to.
13 aamp it - add a simple musical improvisation or

accompanlment.

14 geniused

(made up word) endowed with genius, as talented

with talent.
77 classy - insisting on only the best.
17 kid - used as an endearment.

means endowed

a cos)l

room'-

line from the

song'My Blue Heaven'.

2O a rich, dark Haaana etc.


advcrtising slogans.

the sort of description found in

22 institution - institution or hospital for the insane.


22 coloured - a common euphemism in the fifties for someone of
non-whitc race.

22 naaal rating - ordinary sailor.


23 I don't knou wby I loae you but I do - title line of a popular
s()ng.

25 Mau-Mau - nztionalist movement

based on the

Kikuyu tribe in

Kcnya. in the fifties during the struggle for independence.


2(> daft silly , crazy.
27 nut.ional seraice - compulsory two years in the armed forces,
Io whiclr all young men were conscripted at this time.
27 I uas a Teenage - several films, usually horror films, had titles
lrcginning like this, e.g.I usas a Teenage Frankensteiz (released in

1957).llclcn leaves the title incomplete for comic effect.


'l'en Commandments
- epic film by Cecil B. De Mille

27 'l'bc

lr:rsctl on the Bible (released

in 1958).

27 I)asire Under - film version (released in 1958) of Eugene

O'Ncill's intense drama, Desire under tbe Elms. Again Helen gets
l'rrrr out of leaving the title incomplete.
2tl sling her out - throw her out.
21) spia flashily dressed person living on his wits.

3ll glad rqgs - smart clothes.


3l tt.ick -amoment.

.1.1 "l'hot
s()nll.

wild, destructiae thing called looe'

- line from

a popular

33 lttrtlqtt'n absolutely right.

34 Lrtrtl's Day Obseraance Society - a group who believe that


Srrrrtl:ry, the Christian Sabbath, should be kept holy. Peter means
tlr:rt .f o is being unusually moral and righteous.
34 t quid - (popular slang) a pound (money).
34 llluckpool - a very popular, not very genteel seaside resort in
llrt' north of England within easy reach of Manchester.

90

NOTES

A TASTE OF HONEY

35 called to the bar - usually said of barristers when they first

59 Rorneo -

name of a typical lover, from Shakespeare's Romeo

begin their profession.

and

35 black bole of Calcutta - used of any dark or confined space;


originally the completely dark, cramped dungeon into which the

6O you'ae got another

sultan who captured Calcutta in 17S6 crowded his enemies.


36 opium pellet - drug traditionally given to victims in romantic
novelettes.

36 Pirate King - the boy is referring to perer: pirate kings and


fiction were often portrayed with a black eye-patch like

captains in
Peter's.

37 You'ae bad your cbips - you are too late, you

your chance.

38 Woolwortbs -

have missed

a cheap chain store.

39 sbarp - quick.

4O spends his rnoney like anter - spends lavishly (cf. p. g0).


4O knocking about witb - going around with.
42 boozer - (slang) drinker, alcoholic.
42 metbs - methylated spirits, a form of cheap alcohol used as
fuel, and as intoxicating drink by down-and-outs.
42 Old Nick - the devil.
44 balf<tit - menrally deficient person.
44 Puritan - originally a member of an extreme Engrish protestant
part!, strict in religion and morals; used of someone who
disapproves of sex.

tbink coming - you'll have ro think again.


- situation or arrangement.
organ grinder . . . monkey - street musicians playing a portable

set'up

organ traditionally had pet monkeys to attract amenrion and


money from passers-by. Helen is rudely implying that the
relationship between Geof and Jo is like that between an organ
grinder and his monkey.

6l

Cbristmas box

present traditionally given

to tradesmen etc.

at Christmas. Here used sarcastically.


6l When tbe cat's auay - a proverb, meaning that people do what
they are usually not allowed when unsupervised. The full saying is:
When the cat's awly, the mice do play.

6l
6l

sling your hook


can

(slang) go away.

you cut tbe bread on it yet? - at an advanced

stage

of

pregnancy the belly sticks out high and shelf{ike.


62 bloody good hiding - a severe beating.
62 knock tbe liaing dayligbts out of her - hit her very hard.
(>3 came a cropper
- fell down, failed.
(t3 pansified like a homosexual ('pansy' is a slang word for
homosexual).
(>3 get off my cbest
- reveal.
(>3 buzz off go zway.

rnothers by the government.

47 maisonette - flat (normally a flat on two floors).


47 up tbe creek - (slang) all wrong, mistaken.
47 under tbe arches - arches under railway bridges or viaducts

give some shelter to the homeless and the down-and-out.


48 people like you - Jo thinks Geof is homosexual.
49 taking in band - looking after and organising.
5l Spratts - a well-known make of dog biscuit.

5l

Jack Spratt etc.

52

Beggars

a nursery rhyme.

can't be cboosers

those who have

well-known proverb meaning that


choose what they are given.

little cannot expecr to

54 walking auay - i.e. with lice.


54 deficienr - mentally deficient.

other.

Juliet.

(t4 maternity benefit weekly payments made to expectant


-

Act II

55 tbick

6l
6l

9I

as thieaes

very friendly and in confidence with each

57 croft - (dialect) patch of

waste land.

(t5 bun in tbe oaen (slang) pregnant.


715'Getting to kruou you' etc. - title line of a song from the
rrrusical Tbe King and I, the film version of which had been released
rn 1956.

66 utent off tbe deep end - was extremely angry.


67 leapfrog - a, children's game, in which they jump

over the
lr:rt'ks of several others.
6tI lruitcake - (slang) homosexual.
(tlJ qt any price at all.
irtl box - i.e. a coffin.
6tl shower - (slang) useless crowd of people , presumably referring
r, .f o and Geof (and Helen if she stays with them).

$ llip - j,r-p.
(tt) ltcre endeth

- said after a reading from the Bible in the Church


,,1 l,.ngland service.
'ltt Little Women a nineteenthrenrury book for girls by Louisa
-

92

May Alcott; its tone is very moral.


7o ba*oas - carts or barrows are used as stalls in outdoor markets;
a book barrow would sell second-hand books.

8O tbreu bis money about like a man with no arms


me
81

(slang) die

'And he took up bis bed and warked'- a reference


to rhe New
Testament miracle where Jesus cures a lame cripple.
72 retoucbirg - improving photographs by bruihwork after they
are printed.
73 lrish - often used of something comicalry conrradictory.
73 spin me a yarn - tell me a story.
73 put auay - i.e. in a hospital for the insane.
74 loony - lunatic.
74 bin - short for 'loony bin', a slang phrase for an institution or
hospital for the insane.
74 cracked - crazy,mad,.
74 you're a cure - you make me feel better.
e Boy Scouts
- the Boy Scouts is a world
boys; patrol leader is a boy who leads a small
7 4 scoutmaster _ r.rrX1iion"t newspapers
sometimes fearure
stories about Scoutmasters using their position as leaders of
a scout
company to make homosexual advances to the boys. It has become

journalistic clich6.

74 a feu bolds - grips used in wrestling.


75 digs -lodgings.

77 flitting

(dialect) moving house.

77 cbecktp - examination by the doctor.

7
o

-,
7
p

8o entitled to keep bis cbild -

sbased on the advenrures


cases by aeroplane.
ple in their homes.
por a destructive. clumsv

.cy

Heren rnay mean that the father has


obligation to pay for the upbringing.f his chircr, or she may
simply mean that Jo should pass rhc clril,l ,,vcr ro hinr.
8A sasanking - conceited behaviour.
8O tbroas-back - primitive crcarrrr(..
a legal

was very

childbirth'

83

) meantng gorge or

narrow ravlne.

7l snuff it -

82
85

72

93

NOTES

A TASTE OF HONEY