By Bren Gosling
a nice cup of tea
Monologue for theatre. Contemporary time period. Narrator is Doris Fletcher, late seventies. The action takes place in the spartan living room of her tower block flat. She is wearing dressing gown, slippers and a turban hat. She has a London accent.
To people my age, the way youngsters speak these days, well - it's a like a foreign language. And there's no respect, is there? I often wonder what they teach them. When we was young we had to speak proper, else we'd get a clip round the ear. Take my gran'son Terry. He speaks fast as an express train. But he's a good boy really. Comes and visits his ol' Gran every Wednesday after college. I do 'is tea. Well, gives 'is Mum a break, and it's something for me to think about other than my arthritis and 'Bluey', my pet cockatiel. Bluey keeps me company since my husband passed, 'specially as I'm stuck up here on the thirteenth floor. Don't get out much. Lovely views though...
I'm always telling Terry he's got to slow down if he wants me to catch what he's sayin', and I try to teach him to pronounce his words right. Mind you, it was 'im who educated me in street speak, 'im who taught me wicked don't mean nothing evil and that buff aint got anything to do with a polishing rag. It was Terry who brought me the leaflet about the Silver Surfers down Bethnal Green library. Two afternoons a week I go. This volunteer chappie takes me and brings me back in the community transport minibus. He's not much older than Terry with a tattooed neck and a ring through 'is nose; 'ave to call 'im 'Rizzla', (I ask you)!
When I first went to Silver Surfers, didn't know my cursor from my dongle but the tea and company helped me stick with it. Terry gave me his old laptop when he upgraded. Set me up on Skype. Marvellous, hundreds and thousands of people online at the same time. You ought to see what I can do now! Yesterday I looked up this old map of the street where we was brought up. All back-to-back. Pulled down years ago...
The other surfers are older but I enjoy going and we have a laugh. Except recently I've had this bit of bother. One of the new gentlemen. Silver Surfers don't get many men so he was popular from the beginning. Dressed real smart and quite a ladies' man. A distinguished moustache, waxed and turned up at the ends. If I was my grandson’s age I'd probably say he was fit. Anyway, Mr. Fit is what I called him (not to his face, mind). His actual name no one could get the hang of. Something Ukrainian. I didn't get much of a look in. Gladys Peach and that Elsie from Bow who always pitches up looking like she's about to go on stage, they bee-lined him from the start. That's why I can't work out why he chose me. I never gave him any hint of encouragement.
Just before half term, we had a session on webcams and something must have clicked for Mr Fit because over the week we were off he started sending me all these pictures. To begin with it was just his face. In fact, until he got the hang of the camera the pics were more wall clock than face. I showed Terry when he came round and he laughed and said, ‘Gran, you’ll ‘ave to send him a few ‘selfies’ too.’ He had to explain that one to me. See what I mean about a foreign language? Even then I hesitated. I don’t like having my picture taken. When I was in my prime that was different. Had plenty of admirers back then; I was never camera shy. But who wants to see mug shots of a shrivelled up old bird like me? Mr Fit, apparently.
He said I had a nice bone structure. Lovely eyes. Could he see a full head and shoulders? Next day when I got back from the hairdressers I gave him what he asked for, didn’t I? My laptop’s got a built in camera so it was easy. Well, the compliments pinged up on my computer screen like confetti. True, I was flattered. I thought, Doris Fletcher, maybe this will lead somewhere special. You never know, do you? And it did lead somewhere, although special wouldn’t be the right word.
We agreed to ‘check in’ at eight the next evening. He was keen to do it earlier but I didn’t want to miss Coronation Street on the telly. By day three he’d obviously become more handy with adjusting the camera because I got shots of him sitting down, standing up, and then close-ups of that wonderful moustache. Oh, he did look handsome. By day five, I almost couldn’t wait ’til it was time to go online. I was anticipating he was going to ask me to dinner.
He did say he wanted to see more of me. Would I mind standing up, give him a twirl. That sort of thing. Eat your heart out, Gladys Peach, I thought! On day six when it was time, I switched on, and was shocked to see him bare-chested. I mean, it was the middle of winter. There was snow on the ground. When he said I should remove my top as well, I switched him off.
On the seventh day, I didn’t want to but I couldn’t resist logging on at our usual time. He was there, waiting. And very direct. Said he wanted to show me something. That’s when the camera pointed down into his lap. Mr. Fit had turned into Mr. Filthy!
Next time I did Terry’s tea he brought a mate along. I asked him if Terry kept up with a girl; he’d never mentioned anyone. The cheeky lad winked and said Terry had no time for girls – too busy watching porn on the net. Terry jumped on him: ‘Mind your manners in front of my Gran!’ If only! Didn’t know the half of it, did they?
And Mr. Fit? We haven’t seen him since at Silver Surfers – online or off.