An Angel


I thought I saw an angel.

An angel in disguise?

There was just something about her,

Something in her eyes.

 

The way she almost glided,

As she moved across the place.

A look of innocence and kindness

Was imprinted on her face.

 

Going about her business.

Breathing light into the air.

I wonder if she saw me,

Or sensed that I was there?

 

This being didn’t have wings,

At least I couldn’t see them.

Perhaps to blend in quietly

She could use them as and when.

 

I thought I saw an angel.

It’s difficult to explain.

If you had been there in the room,

Maybe you’d feel the same.

 

Sometimes between wake and sleep,

When lying in my bed,

I dream she visits me; a

Gentle kiss on my forehead.

 

I’ll never forget that angel.

The way she made me feel.

There’s no question about it –

I’m certain she was real!



© Marc Harris 2014



The Park Bench


SFX – Night time outdoors - wind, rustling leaves, creaking branches, running water from a brook, occasional distant horseshoes and carts throughout – until ‘It is Christmas day today’.

This is me, and here I must lie – for now. (Pause) I have made my bed for the night. I am stretched out on a park bench, with a thin blanket pulled over me for protection from the elements. (Pause) I am exposed, and yet I feel reassuringly safe, as I am partly sheltered by the low overhanging branches of a majestic oak tree. She must have been standing here for well over two hundred years. Imagine living through two centuries of seeing in a new year? (Pause) She creaks and yearns throughout the night – or perhaps that is me? (Pause) The soothing, hypnotic sound of a nearby brook keeps me company. (Pause) I am awoken in the early hours by distant horses and cart wheels, both tackling the uneven cobbles. In the stillness, I can see my breath. Then suddenly, a robin appears on the arm at the end of the bench. There is room for both of us my friend. (Pause) What can I give him, poor as I am? I have no food to offer. We stare at each other for about a minute, and I wonder if he is contemplating using my beard as a nest! It flutters away as quickly as it had arrived. (Pause) I try to get back to sleep. (Pause for new scene.)

SFX – Morning outdoors - running water from a brook, birdsong, distant church bells ringing.

It is Christmas day today, and a new year will be fast approaching. Nineteen twenty-one has an optimistic ring to it. I shall raise a toast later, with a small prayer to those whom I have known and loved. (Pause) I have complete faith that next year, will be a brighter, calmer one for us all.


                                                                           

© Marc Harris 2020



Brief Encounters 

 

I used to be a medium,

When purchasing my smalls.

But middle age spread's taken hold,

I can't wear them at all.

 

There seems no point in donning them,

If walking is a drain.

When constant repositioning

In public isn't game.

 

It's time to give in down below,

No pinching in the butt.

Or even worse a DVT,

These pants are out of luck.

 

When they were new in ‘92

I thought I was a hunk.

Perhaps it’s not my belly and

It’s just that they have shrunk?

 

No more excuses, now’s the time

To visit M&S.

Can’t think of anything that’s worse

Than shopping I confess.

 

I'll never look as trim as him,

That model on the pack.

Suppose it's too late in the day

To think I'll look like that?

 

They used to be far simpler times

But now we’re spoilt for choice.

It’s not just boxers or Y-fronts,

New things you have to hoist.  

  

“Would sir like hipsters, trunks or slips,

Or maybe classic briefs?

I recommend the microskin,

With stretch built in the weave.”

 

“Our thermal comfort’s all the rage

Or this soft cotton blend?”

All I want is a basic pant.

This drives me round the bend.

 

A thong feels wrong, and way too cold.

I could not look my best,

Unless I concealed it, so that

It’s covered with a vest.

 

I can’t help thinking if they’re clean,

Or been tried on before.

And should I buy two-dozen pairs,

Incase they’re made no more?

                                                            

I’ve had enough with all this lark,

I think it’s time to go.

There’s only one thing left to do,

That’s to go commando!



© Marc Harris 2020



The Funny (And True) Tale of Barry Cryer - Comedy Legend, Aged 85 and a Half.


July 2020

I had one of my occasional crazy ideas, wanting to send my writing to a well known person, and thought that Barry Cryer would be a good writer to contact, to see if he would be willing to read my play, Blast from the Past. Perhaps he would forward a few lines of ‘praise’ or comment, in order to help me with my promotion of it? I have always enjoyed his style of humour, had a good feeling that he would reply, and knew that his opinion would count. As his website was not connecting, I couldn't send an email, so after a little bit of investigative work (perhaps I should have accepted that private detective job 30 years ago? That's also true by the way!), I managed to find his address, and posted off my play to him with one of my distinct letters - sometimes one has to use a little chutzpah!


2 Days later...

Amazingly, just a couple of days later, I received an humorous small hand written note from my 'new friend', signed Baz!


'Dear Marc,

Remember these? - A letter!

You didn't enclose a stamped/addressed envelope or include your phone number. Nobody does anymore (why?) so I found it on directory enquiries. I rang - you didn't answer (nobody does anymore) and you didn't leave a message (NDAM) so here it is - a letter!

Ring me - if you remember how. (Phone number enclosed.) 

Yours,

Baz

(Barry Cryer)'


I couldn't believe how quickly he had replied, and it was very good of him to go to the trouble of finding my phone number, which I unusually hadn't included in my letter, as I really couldn't envisage him calling, and had in fact included a self addressed envelope. I was also surprised that he had given me his phone number - so I phoned him.

The answerphone message came on but half way through, Barry's distinctive voice answered. We had a very short chat (well, he didn't know me from Adam - even though he knew I was Marc.) I said that it was very rare for such a rapid response, and that usually, I either get a reply 6 months later or none at all. He apologised that he had indeed found the envelope, and would get back to me. It was a little surreal, talking with him. My letter had worked. Great!


Two weeks later...

A second short phone call. He was very sorry that he had not got around to reading it or sending me anything, as there was, "So much going on." That was fine. I wasn't expecting anything straight away - however long it takes.


The following week...

A third phone call, and this time, a longer chat. He was once again sorry for not replying, and said that he would like to be able to help me. I happened to mention that I had only recently noted that he had written material for my favourite stand up (or in this case, sit down) comedian, the superlative Dave Allen, and he went on to tell me a couple of interesting stories about him. This was now starting to become more surreal. Weekly updates from Barry, the man himself - with me chatting to this renowned comedy writer about Dave Allen etc! After all, he has written material for all the greats:- Les Dawson, Stanley Baxter, Jasper Carrott, Tommy Cooper, Dick Emery, Frankie Howerd, Spike Milligan, Kennie Everett, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe & Wise. I wondered how long this would go on for? Not that it mattered of course. As I said to him, there was no hurry (I didn't want him to feel pressurised.) He would obviously keep to his word, and I was just happy that he was going to be reading it.  


The following week...

I received a message on my answerphone, while I was lucky enough to be holidaying in Wales.


'You won't believe this. You must have given up on me. It's old Barry Cryer, Marc. Sorry mate, so much has been going on. And I read it, oh yes. And I'll send you something in the post. I'm an old luddite, I don't do email and all that stuff. Okay Marc, all the very best.'


How very kind of him. I returned his phone call, to thank him for reading it, and to explain that I had been away. "Oh no, don't be silly", he replied, "You're busy with other things." I asked him if he had enjoyed it. The answer was in the positive, and I looked forward to reading his thoughts on the script.


Nearly 2 Weeks Later...

I received another small hand written note with some delightful words.


'I found this fascinating from the start, dealing as it does, with the bleak subject of dementia, with an undercurrent of humour throughout. I find some other writers especially interesting, as their work is so different from mine and this represents the perfect formula. Read, absorb and enjoy.'


It was really generous of him to take the time to do this, and rather than calling him again, I sent a few lines in the post to thank him. It is now official - comedy legend Barry Cryer OBE, otherwise known as Baz, is an (not literally) all round good egg and gentleman!




The Farmer’s Name Is…


Years ago we didn't know

Who'd grown our fruit and veg.

Now proudly printed on the bag

Is 'Grown in Wales by Reg'.




© Marc Harris 2020


 

Old Age


When I'm old with trousers raised,

Way above my middle.

Please ensure they're not so high,

That they touch my nipples.

                 


© Marc Harris 2020



Celestial Body


My dear grandmother had always had an intense fascination with the moon from when she was young, passed down from her father. She respected the subtleties of nature and its rhythms. I remember the last time I saw her. I placed her hand in mine and gently kissed her; the softness of her skin belying her age. I still feel a sense of pride that she entrusted me with her lifetime’s knowledge of planting by the phases of the moon. As I look up at the beautiful, bright, living sphere hanging in the sky; I know she is with me.



© Marc Harris 2019



When I Grow Up?


I look at my watch again, as I hastily park the car on the gravel. Four minutes past one. I should have been here one-and-a-half hours ago. I pray that I won’t bash into the wooden post or run over the peacock, strutting around on the edge of the lawn. This looks a lovely old building. I grab my jacket off the back seat, and rush to the entrance. Wait. What if it’s the wrong place? I was in such a mad rush that I didn’t even look at the sign at the front of the driveway. I stop at the top step and try to calm down, pulling up my trousers, re-tying my shoelace and brushing what little hair I have left on the top of my head. I take a deep breath and whisper ‘relax’. I’m fed up with going to these do’s on my own. I try my best to forget about the spot, the kind I only get before a party. Hopefully no-one will notice. There are worse things. I open the door, where a smart receptionist greets me. Is this ‘The Firs Hotel’? ‘Yes’, she kindly says. A woman of few words it turns out but she still irritatingly manages to point out my spot. ‘Not contagious is it? It’s all over.’ What?! ‘You’ve missed the ceremony.’ Oh. ‘Just starting lunch.’ She walks out from behind the reception area. ‘Follow me please.’ We go down a corridor, over some creaking floorboards. ‘Here we are.’ The receptionist realises I’m a bit nervous and says, ‘Take it easy, it’s not your wedding!’ I thank her for her assistance. I scan the room and search for Brian and Rachel. I’ve only met her once. Thankfully, she’s the one in the wedding dress! Brian, Rachel. Congratulations. What a venue. You look stunning. ‘Her or me?’, says Brian. ‘I wasn’t expecting you but it’s great to see you. We didn’t get a reply.’ I definitely emailed it. Brian says, ‘I just assumed you couldn’t make it. Rachel, you remember Matt, my old school friend?’ ‘Yes’, she says. ‘How are you?’ I’m so sorry. I got lost, and then I hit this terrible traffic. ‘He never did have any sense of direction’, Brian chips in. ‘Don’t worry mate. You’re here now. I’m sure they’ll be able to squeeze you in somewhere. Sit down, enjoy yourself, and we’ll catch up later.’ Brian explains the situation to the head waiter, who guides me to the table. ‘Please, do take-er seat over hear-er.’ Obviously Italian. Or if not, he’s doing a pretty good impersonation of one. But it’s the children’s table, I point out, as if he doesn’t know. ‘Look-er, don’t-er fret. Nowhere else to sit-er, see?’ Ah, I see. I demonstrate with fake protest. Yes but I’m not a baby! I’m afraid my joke is totally lost on him. ‘Yes, I know-er. We’re all-er big boys here, yes? Come on-er now.’ He probably thinks I’m crazy. At this point he pulls the chair from under the table, I completely miss it, and fall flat on the floor. The entire table bursts into laughter. Some even clap. I sense I’m blushing, and try my best to make the whole thing look as natural as possible, then start laughing myself but he isn’t happy. ‘Don’t-er give me trouble. You’re worse-er than bambinos!’ I introduce myself to the table. It feels strange sitting here. I know I look young but this is ridiculous! Paul, the boy to my right, says, ‘That was well cool. I thought the entertainment had started early!’ He has a good sense of humour, considering he’s just eleven, and seems old and wise, beyond his years. They take turns to grill me with rapid-fire questions. Children are very direct, aren’t they? ‘Are you a big child?’ No. ‘Are you very old?’ I’m only 25. ‘Are your mummy and daddy here?’ No, they’re not. ‘Why are you here?’ I’m Brian’s friend, although we only meet up a few times a year. ‘Have you got any brothers or sisters?’ Yes, one sister. ‘What football team do you support?’ Derby. ‘Who?’ Derby. ‘Why is this soup cold?’ It’s meant to be. It’s called Gazpacho. ‘Have you got a girlfriend?’ Unfortunately not. Followed by the inevitable, ‘Why not?’ Now that’s a long story. And the last considered question from Paul is: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ And my reply? Wow. You’ve stumped me there kid, you really have but I’m working on it. I’m fascinated by their questions, and ask them a few of my own. Then I look across, and spot someone who I haven’t seen since I left school. Paul notices me looking over, and asks who it is. Someone I was very fond of. ‘Did you have a crush on her?’ You could say that. ‘Why don’t you ask her out?’ She’s probably with someone, I say. She possibly doesn’t even remember me. Plus she’s talking to somebody. ‘That doesn’t mean anything’, he confidently replies. ‘Go and ask her.’ Ah, I don’t know. I feel awkward. I don’t want to make a fool of myself. ‘Surely you’ve already done that?’ he replies. I have to hand it to him. Why would she want to talk to a spotty short arse like me? ‘Stop making excuses.’ I tell him that he’s beginning to sound like my mum. ‘You’ve got to go for it Matt. If you don’t, then I’ll go and ask her for you. I will you know.’ I’m certain of it. Alright then. Anything to stop him from carrying on. So, bolstered by this charming bright boy, with all the right patter, I walk over to her. Hi Connie. ‘Matt, how wonderful to see you.’ She’s as warm and radiant as I remember. ‘I didn’t know you were here’, she says. Yes, I’m on the err, the children’s table, over there. Her reply: ‘The children’s table? You always were young at heart!’ I smile. How’s life been treating you, Connie? ‘Very well thanks. And you?’ I can’t complain. Then she says this: ‘Are you seeing anyone at the moment Matt?’ No. Erm, how about you? ‘No-one at the moment.’ I then pluck up enough courage to ask her. Would you err, like to meet up next week? Her answer: ‘I’d really love that.’ And my enthusiastic response: You would? Can’t wait!

© Marc Harris 2020


Smile!


Did you find what you were searching for, Sarah asks? Yes, I did, I reply. You were a long time, she says, while brushing off a cobweb from my shoulder. I tell her it’s like a different world up there. You finally got round to it then, she remarks. I have a surprise for you, I announce. Don’t tell me it’s the missing box Alan? We both sit down, readying ourselves for this momentous occasion. You may have the honour, I say to her. (Pause) She lifts the lid from the large, musty, discoloured cardboard box. We count 374 photographs in total! It takes us several hours leafing through them; reminiscing over funny hairstyles, dodgy fashions, and big glasses. Wow, we all look so young! Most of them without any details on unfortunately. If you don’t write on the back straight away, you never get round to it. There are small black and white, square Polaroids, large glossy colour, formal, informal, perfectly composed and focused, heads chopped off and out of focus, babies, birthdays, pets, first day at school, portraits, weddings with ‘proof’ stamped in bold lettering, and long forgotten family from the late 19th Century. (Pause) We wonder who they were. It would be nice to be able to put a name to a face. (Pause) Many of them may have faded but we still have a lifetime of wonderful, happy memories. I imagine you’ll be popping them back up there, until next time, she says. Yes, I reply. I suppose I will.
   

© Marc Harris 2020

          

                       

Excerpt from A Fishy Tail


Cast


CONNIE: A nurturing mother, wearing a summer dress/trousers, aged early forties.

 

STEVE: A confident man, wearing a shirt/tee shirt and trousers/shorts, aged early

fifties. (Please note that for added realism, Steve’s back may face the audience while

acting out CPR, rather than facing the audience, which will appear more convincing

by creating extra cover).

 

FRED: An eccentric man, speaking with a Cornish dialect, wearing a long sleeved

shirt and trousers, aged early nineties.

 

ESTIE: A bright girl, wearing a swimming costume, aged nine.


Synopsis


The dramatic rescue of a girl on the Cornish coastline is linked by the account of an

elderly man, who has waited to tell a similar story most of his life. Can they both

convince those who doubt them, that the incredible events, connected by many

decades apart, did really happen?  


Setting


A summer’s day on a beach in Cornwall.

 

SFX - seagulls, waves, distant children playing. 


Lights

 

CONNIE      (Kneeling in the middle of the stage beside Estie, who is lying 

            on her side, motionless and silent. Distraught and shouting out) 

            Help, help, please somebody. Help me, help. (To herself) I can’t 

            believe it, I’ll never forgive myself. (To Estie) Oh, my darling Estie. 

            (Shouting out again) Help, help.

 

STEVE       (Running from downstage right to Connie) I heard you

            screaming. Who’s this?

 

CONNIE      (Panicking) She’s my girl, I only turned away for a moment, she

            was swimming in the sea.

 

STEVE       (Kneeling over Estie) Right, let’s take a look.

 

CONNIE      I was keeping watch and then I found her here.

 

STEVE       She’s obviously been washed up with the tide. I need to place

            her on her back. (Moving Estie) How long has she been lying here?

 

CONNIE      I don’t know, it can’t be long. (Distraught) Can you do something?

            Please.

 

STEVE       I’ll do everything I can, I promise. I’m Steve. What’s her name?

 

CONNIE      Esther. We call her Estie.

 

STEVE       Estie, can you hear me? Can you hear me Estie? (Pause) She’s

            stopped breathing.

 

CONNIE      (Distraught) Oh, my baby.

 

FRED        (Walking slowly from downstage left – and standing throughout 

            the sceneThought I’d see what the commotion was.

 

STEVE       I’m going to begin CPR. Okay, here we go. (Said a little quieter 

            ‘in the background’, lasting for 15 seconds while Connie and Fred

            speak over Steve1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15,

            16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

 

CONNIE      (Taking hold of Estie’s hand) Estie, please, I’m, I’m holding your

            hand. Can you hear me?

 

FRED        (In a matter of fact way) She can’t ’ear ya, ya know.

 

CONNIE      (Starting to cry a little) Oh no.

 

FRED        ‘Ow old’s she then?


CONNIE      Nine.


FRED        Thought she was. (Pause) Only nine, poor thing. Looks small

            for ‘er age. She could ‘ave swallowed a lot of water. Left ‘er on ‘er

            own did ya?

 

CONNIE      (Stops crying. Angrily) I did not! Estie, Estie.            

 

            (Two breaths given by Steve to Estie, after finishing counting

            to 30).

 

STEVE       (Said quickly) I don’t think you’re helping here much mate.

 

FRED        I’m not your mate.

 

STEVE       (As before, said quieter ‘in the background’, lasting for 15 seconds

            while Connie and Fred speak over Steve) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,

            9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 

            26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

 

FRED        Mind ya. Looks like ‘e knows what ‘e’s doin’.

 

CONNIE      (Frustrated and letting go of Estie’s hand) Of course he does. 

            (Fed up with listening to Fred) Please, can’t you just go away?

 

FRED        It’s a public place. Got as much right bein’ ‘ere as you folk ’ave. 

            Even more so as I’m born ‘n’ bred ‘ere, boy ‘n’ man.

 

CONNIE      Well don’t just stand there gawping.

 

FRED        Human nature init? But I’m not gawpin’.

                                  

            (Two breaths given again by Steve to Estie, after finishing 

            counting to 30).

 

STEVE       (Said quickly again) Do me a favour. Make yourself useful  

            and stand in the way of the sun (said deliberately and 

            overemphasised), mate. (As previously, said while Connie and

            Fred speak over Steve) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 

            15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

                                 

FRED        Told ya before. I’m not your/

 

CONNIE      (Assertively) Yeah, just make yourself useful.

 

FRED        I’ll oblige. (Moving over Estie) There. Shadow’s over the 

            poor thing now.

 

CONNIE      (Frustrated) Aaah, you’re so infuriating! She has got a name.

 

FRED        Betty, Etty, what’s ‘er name again?

 

CONNIE      (Frustrated) Aaah! It’s Estie.

 

FRED        You’re not a couple then?

                    

CONNIE      No. 

 

FRED        ‘Cause if ya were, you’d be the oddest couple I’d ever seen. 

            Well, stranger things ‘ave ‘appened.

 

            (Two breaths given again by Steve to Estie, after finishing 

            counting to 30).

 

STEVE       (As previously, said while Connie and Fred speak over 

            Steve) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17,

            18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

 

FRED        Yes, that may well be but I feel a friendship blossomin’ from

            today. (Pause) And not from round these parts, otherwise

            you’d know ‘bout those strong currents. From up north are 

            ya?

 

CONNIE      (Surprised) How did you know?

 

FRED        Just know these things.

 

CONNIE      I didn’t realise it was so obvious.

 

FRED        Only to some. (Pause) The north, where it never rains but 

            pours!

 

            (Two breaths given again by Steve to Estie after counting to 

            30, followed by Estie coughing and spluttering).

 

STEVE       Thank god for that, she’s breathing. (Sitting Estie up).

 

 

© Marc Harris 2018  

 




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