WE ARE NOW LOOKING AT

A farmhouse at dusk. Long shadows from the last of the day’s sun stretch trees, tractors and barns across the quiet farmyard. A yellow car enters from the lane and parks up by the farmhouse. A short middle-aged woman gets out the passenger side. A tall older man gets out the driver’s side. They both look up at the house. We are now looking in at the front room of that farmhouse. Jean and Chris are drinking tea. The television is on, and the newsreader is talking about Thatcher and the Falklands. Chris looks up from his Derbyshire Times and cocks an ear.

CHRIS: Did you hear that?

JEAN: No. What?

A knock at the door. We see Jean followed by Chris come through into the kitchen and head towards the backdoor. Through the patterned glass we see the wobbly outline of two people. Jean opens the door. The short woman smiles at Jean then Chris. The tall man does likewise.

SHORT WOMAN (still smiling): Sorry to intrude. We’re Jake’s mum and dad. We were just passing through and thought we’d pop by and say hello.

Jean frowns for a moment, and then a smile lights across her face.

JEAN (touching the short woman on the arm): Oh! You mean Jake Jake! Billy’s friend Jake! Come in! Come in!

The short woman and the tall man enter, and they all shake hands. The tall man introduces himself as Derek and the short woman introduces herself as Daphne. After a little small-talk, Jean nervously makes a pot of tea before they all move into the front room, Daphne and Derek sitting on the settee, Jean and Chris taking a chair each. They chat about the weather, the Hawkwind concert that Billy and Jake have gone to see in Sheffield tonight, and then, a pregnant pause.

DAPHNE (clearing her throat): Derek and I wondered if we could have a little chat with you about your Billy?

Jean and Chris look at each other for a second. Jean puts a hand to her forehead.

JEAN (closing her eyes): God. What’s he done now?

DEREK (light-heartedly): Nothing Jean, it’s just that, well, don’t get us wrong, we think your Billy is a lovely lad, lovely, and honestly, we have absolutely no problem at all with him hanging around with our Jake, but...

DAPHNE (cutting in): But me and Derek are a little, well, worried about your Billy.

JEAN (anxiously): What’s he...

DEREK (cutting in):  Nothing, Jean, honestly. We’re just a little worried about his... it’s when he stops over at our house, he...

DAPHNE (cutting in): We’re worried about your Billy’s drinking, Jean.

A pause. Jean blinks. Chris reaches over and pats her arm.

CHRIS (softly): It’s okay, Jean. (to Derek and Daphne) Yes, we’re concerned too.

JEAN (shakily): What’s he done?

DAPHNE (softly): Nothing, Jean. It’s just when he gets back to ours, he...

DEREK (cutting in): He’s always really pissed. Pardon the French. I mean, our Jake’s no angel, but Billy always seems totally hammered, and, well...

DAPHNE (cutting in): Last weekend he threw up all down the landing.

JEAN (putting her hands over her face): Jesus.

DEREK: The week before that, all over the spare room.

DAPHNE (sighing): All over the pots in the kitchen sink.

A pause. Jean still has her hands over her face. Chris sighs, rubs the top of his head.

DEREK (light-heartedly): To his credit he always says sorry. It’s quite funny really. We all laugh about it, pull his leg and that.

Derek laughs, but no one joins in. Daphne frowns at him for a moment.

DAPHNE (shaking her head): It’s not just the being sick though. It’s some of the things he says when him and Jake get back. I mean, our Jake’s no angel, but...

DEREK (cutting in): Your Billy just seems really depressed when he’s...

DAPHNE (cutting in): And angry, and his language is sometimes quite...

JEAN (taking her hands from her face): Nasty?

DEREK (chuckling): Well, no, not really. He’s just a lad, isn’t he, and his language is sometimes a bit...

DAPHNE (cutting in): Rich.

A pause. Jean reaches beside her chair to a box of tissues. She blows her nose. Derek smiles.

DEREK: He’s a lovely lad when he’s not had a drink. Always laughing and joking around.

A pause.

CHRIS (clearing his throat): We’ve been thinking of taking him to a doctor. Or someone we could talk to. To try and sort his head out.

JEAN (wiping her nose with the tissue): He worries us so much. He doesn’t seem to be able to find in-between. He’s always way up, or else he’s way down. And his mouth, his mouth can be so bloody hurtful.

DAPHNE (sympathetically): We’re sorry, Jean. But we felt we had to come and...

JEAN (cutting in): It’s as though he hates us sometimes. We don’t understand. We’ve done everything we can to make him happy.

DEREK (sympathetically): It’s a difficult age, Jean. God knows the problems we’ve had with our eldest.

Unseen by Derek, Daphne shoots him a stern glance.

DEREK (shaking his head): He’s twenty-four now, but he went through a right old phase around your Billy’s age where he...

DAPHNE (cutting in): Exactly. A phase. It’ll soon pass. These things do.

Chris shakes his head, scratches at an oil stain on his sleeve. Jean blows her nose again, saying she’s sorry, she’s so very sorry.

We are now looking at Derek and Daphne driving home. Daphne says they were right not to tell Chris and Jean about their other suspicions. Of who stole the peach schnapps that Aunt Teresa brought them back from Tenerife. Or of who drank from Derek’s expensive single malt whisky then watered the bottle down to make it look untouched. Yes, they had said more than enough to Jean and Chris tonight. There was, after all, only so much a parent could take. And next time he comes, they will lock the drinks cabinet and drop the key into the teapot, and to make sure, above all things, they slow-turn their son away from that no good little drunken bastard called Billy, because he’s bad, and is certain to do something terrible one day, end of story.

 

23. Proper mester’s beer this

21. You're at the bottom of Castle Lane

 
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