Old Sketch

Don’t laugh at this old thing – yes please do! I wrote this at college, while under the influence of Joe Orton.

SKETCH (written about 1996)

(desk, two women, one an official from the DSS, the other, the daughter of a dead woman whose body had been left to science and is now ready for burial)

DSS:     (shouts) Mrs Annmarie Walton. Mrs Walton? (looks unsmiling at the woman approaching) Mrs Walton….we don’t seem to have a record of you. Are you a real person? Do you belong here?

WOMAN:     I came from a family of workers….all our money was earned.

DSS:     You must appear on someone’s screen. It’s quite disconcerting that I’m unable to certify your existence.

WOMAN:     I was informed by letter to report here. I’m not a figment of my own imagination. Your machine wrote to me and I have duly arrived.

DSS:     (shuffling papers) These documents refer to a Mrs Gloria MacDuff nee MacDuff. There seems to have been a lot of inbreeding in your family. Have you been informed as to what your position is in the matter of burial?

WOMAN:     My brother was a gravedigger. I am completely familiar with the terms of interment.

DSS:   How many children did your mother produce?

WOMAN:     Twenty-three in all. Half died. The youngest is considered, ‘not all there’.

DSS:     I’m afraid that’s exactly the problem concerning the remains of the deceased. They’re not all there. Are they?

WOMAN:     My mother was proud of the name she bore. It was my father’s. She wouldn’t answer to ‘the deceased’.

DSS:     The issue here is missing body parts! I’ve spoken to my supervisor, and he assures me that no payment can be made until we have an inventory of your mother’s corpse, and the assurance that there will be no further claims for future burials as missing parts become available.

WOMAN:     You mean to search her body…like, like… an old handbag?

DSS:     Rest assured, we shall leave no bone unturned. It is our responsibility to keep abreast of fraudulent claims, and I’m afraid your case is borderline.

WOMAN:     Borderline! Are you telling me that my mother subjected her body to the sniggers and games of medical students for nothing? All these years she’s spent in universities and the best hospitals have been wasted?

DSS:     I’m afraid….

WOMAN:     You’d better be afraid….because if I find out that you’ve benefited from my mother’s body parts I’ll sue.

DSS:     You’d never be able to prove it.

WOMAN:     These things always leave a trail. I suggest you check your medical records….because I’ll be back. My mother must be wringing her hands in Heaven at the treatment she’s received from this department. You’ve betrayed her trust in authority. She never believed me when I returned home with my eyes awash with tears from DSS terrorism….she thought my husband had battered me – I married him against her wishes.

DSS:     This has nothing to do with the case….I’m afraid you’ve wandered from the point.

WOMAN:     I’m afraid you’ve wandered from humanity.

DSS:     This meeting is over. It’s time you left the building….(rings the alarm and a security officer appears)


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