The craddock 404 / it the first
The things you find in old folders. I was astonished (and depressed) to find that I wrote this piece 12 years ago – it still feels like something I wrote fairly recently and am thinking I should do something with.
That’s what they mean about life being the thing that happens while you’re making plans, I guess.
Anyway, I still rather like this. I had the idea of a series of radio plays each of which would revolve around a ‘something’, the nature of which is never properly revealed.
Typically, I wrote one script and never followed up. But reading that script again I find I still enjoy it. So this seems a good place to preserve it – and perhaps even shame myself into doing something with it.
THE DRIVEWAY OF A SUBURBAN HOME. WE HEAR AMBIENT OUTDOOR SOUNDS: BIRDS SINGING OCCASIONALLY. THE DISTANT SOUNDS OF TRAFFIC. BUT IT IS GENERALLY QUIET. WHEN THE CHARACTERS MOVE, WE HEAR THE CRUNCH OF GRAVEL UNDER THEIR FEET.
GALLOWAY: Hello there.
JACKSON: Hello there.
GALLOWAY: Come far?
JACKSON: Not very. Do you know the roundabout?
GALLOWAY: By the service station?
JACKSON: The carpark.
GALLOWAY: Oh yes.
JACKSON: That one.
GALLOWAY: Right. Not very far then.
JACKSON: Unless you’re walking.
GALLOWAY: Or crawling. (laughs)
JACKSON: Yes. Right. Well, this is it then.
GALLOWAY: Yep. This is it.
JACKSON: It’s bigger than I thought it’d be.
GALLOWAY: Is it? I always think it’s smaller than you expect. Perhaps I’ve just been living with it too long. Come around the back, you get a better view.
JACKSON: Oh yes, I see what you mean.
GALLOWAY: Nice the way it goes up to that point there, isn’t it?
JACKSON: It is. Although I have to say I’ve seen better.
GALLOWAY: Oh. I see. Well, of course, it’s getting on a bit.
JACKSON: Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you. It’s just I’m a bit of an anorak about these, to be honest. Always have been. I’ve been going to the annual conventions for thirty years now.
JACKSON: God no. The Nuneaton conference. It’s still the best, I think.
GALLOWAY: Oh, you should try Stowmarket. It’s not very big, but very interesting. Mainly local examples. They’ve been showing home-made versions recently.
GALLOWAY: Yes, they build them themselves.
JACKSON: You can’t build one of these yourself! It’d take years.
GALLOWAY: Oh, it does. Absolutely ages. That’s probably why they only have the conventions now and then. But when they do, they get so excited. It’s a big thing building one of these. To be honest, a lot of them are absolute crap, but all that effort, you know. You have to applaud the dedication.
JACKSON: Well, I suppose so. I mean that’s unbelievable. I’ve never heard of it before.
GALLOWAY: You wouldn’t believe what goes on in Stowmarket.
JACKSON: I’m sure. But I mean – well, look at this. This isn’t just knocked together. That’s galvanised steel that is. Tungsten in the later models. And the welding, I mean it’s a thing of beauty really. Craftsmanship. Look, you can see where he’s had to go back over that bit.
GALLOWAY: I know, I spotted that. I mean obviously they don’t use tungsten in Stowmarket. That’d be ridiculous. Where’d they get the facilities? The one I saw was mainly plastic, recycled Tupperware and that sort of thing.
JACKSON: Re – ! You can’t use plastic! That’s insane! Do they actually use these things?
GALLOWAY: Oh yes, there’s one that’s been in service ten years or more now. Quite famous in the area, really. Been in the local papers and all that.
JACKSON: But it can’t be safe. I mean, what if the insides were to fail? You could kill a child with that.
GALLOWAY: I think there was a bit of that went on.
JACKSON: A bit of what? Killing children?
GALLOWAY: (laughs) No, no, sorry. A bit of you know, argy-bargy about the health and safety. Bit of a petition from the neighbours.
JACKSON: I should think there was. What happened?
GALLOWAY: Oh I think it all blew over, they worked something out.
JACKSON: That’s extraordinary.
GALLOWAY: Well, you know.
JACKSON: Anyway. Let’s have a look at this. Do you mind if I open it up?
GALLOWAY: No, go ahead. Look, I need to make a quick call. Do you mind?
JACKSON: No, carry on.
GALLOWAY: Won’t be a tick.
(WALKING AWAY: GRAVEL CRUNCHES)
GALLOWAY (CONT): Maureen!
MAUREEN: (OFF) What?
GALLOWAY: (GOING OFF) What was the number of that gerbil bloke?
(GRAVEL CRUNCH. JACKSON IS HUMMING TUNELESSLY. SOUND OF SCRAPING METAL LIKE AN OLD CAR DOOR OPENING.)
(GALLOWAY RETURNS: CRUNCHING GRAVEL. VOICE GROWS AS HE GETS CLOSER.)
GALLOWAY: Sorry about that. Bit of an emergency.
JACKSON: Nothing bad, I hope?
GALLOWAY: No, no. Bloody caterers.
GALLOWAY: So, what do you think of her?
JACKSON: Well, it’s a big one. Not sure how well it’ll fit.
GALLOWAY: I know what you mean about that, and I worried about it at first. But look, if you unscrew the rear section, you can sit it back on these ends here. Loses a good couple of inches.
JACKSON: Yes, I’ve seen people doing that. Can’t say I think it’s a good idea.
GALLOWAY: Bit of a purist, are you?
JACKSON: Well, like I say. Bit of an anorak, you know. Don’t know what it is about these things. I suppose it’s like Clarkson and cars.
GALLOWAY: Or Thora Hird and doilies.
JACKSON: Mmm. I just think they were made a certain way, you know. To be used in a certain way. Just because we build our houses differently today –
GALLOWAY: Straighter, you mean.
JACKSON: Well, that and with less drama, you know.
GALLOWAY: Yes, I suppose.
JACKSON: I mean, your Tudor house, or a Gothic house. They had some angst about them, didn’t they? A bit of turbulence. It’s not just that you could fit one of these in, you’d actually want to have it there. It would fit in.
GALLOWAY: I’m not sure what Maureen would say about turbulence.
JACKSON: The same thing many modern women would say, I imagine. “Just because you want angles and personality, doesn’t mean I have to squeeze myself against the wall to get to the washing machine.”
GALLOWAY: Sounds like you know someone like that.
JACKSON: Don’t remind me.
GALLOWAY: I can’t, I don’t know who it is.
JACKSON: Listen, you’re asking quite a lot for it.
GALLOWAY: O.N.O., I said.
JACKSON: I know, but even so. The starting price. I mean, I’ve seen these for less than a hundred quid.
GALLOWAY: I haven’t shown you the best bit yet.
GALLOWAY: Have a look in here.
(SCRAPE OF METAL)
GALLOWAY (CONT): You need (VOICE BECOMES ECHOEY, AS IF IN A METAL BOX) to get your head right in. Squeeze in there beside me.
JACKSON: (VOICE SIMILARLY DISTORTED) I love the smell of these things. Makes you think of Summer.
GALLOWAY: Can you see? Down there, just under the piston shaft?
JACKSON: Is that – ? No, it can’t be...
GALLOWAY: You know what it is, don’t you?
JACKSON: Well, it looks like a Craddock Brothers boiler plate. I’ll be damned.
GALLOWAY: It’s got the sealer mark, too. Numbered.
(A HOLLOW BANG)
JACKSON: OW! Numbered? What number?
JACKSON: Bloody hell!
(GALLOWAY RELEASES HIMSELF WITH A GRUNT. HIS VOICE RETURNS TO NORMAL.)
GALLOWAY: Thought you’d be impressed. It’s a Craddock, all right.
JACKSON: (VOICE ALSO NORMAL) Well, it can’t be completely Craddock. This side panel’s pure Cartwright-Hercules.
GALLOWAY: Well, you’d know more about that. It’s been through the wars, I’m told. Had to be patched up with other parts. That’s why it’s only two hundred.
JACKSON: Listen, can you hold it for me?
GALLOWAY: Not for long, I’m afraid. My modern woman wants it off the driveway.
JACKSON: Don’t they all. But could I come round with the money tomorrow? I can give you 50 now, but it’s all I’ve got.
GALLOWAY: A deposit?
GALLOWAY: Thing is, I’ve got another bloke coming at three. He might be willing to pay more.
JACKSON: Oh, all right. I can drive round to the bank now. Look, if I get back before three, I can have it, right?
GALLOWAY: I suppose so. You were first here. But if the other chap gets here and he can take it away, I’ll let him.
JACKSON: All right, all right. I’ll be back.
GALLOWAY: Okay. See you later.
(GETS IN CAR AND DRIVES OFF.)
SAME LOCATION, A LITTLE LATER.
(A CAR PULLS UP. GRAVEL CRUNCHES AS GALLOWAY WALKS OVER TO GREET THE DRIVER.)
GALLOWAY: Hello there. Mr Trevelyn, is it?
TREVELYN: It is.
GALLOWAY: You’re quite early.
TREVELYN: I know, but I couldn’t wait. And here she is. Golly, she’s a big one.
GALLOWAY: That’s what the other fella said.
TREVELYN: Other fella?
GALLOWAY: Well, I have to be honest, Mr Trevelyn. There’s another fella interested. He’s just gone to the bank to get some money, actually.
TREVELYN: How much?
GALLOWAY: Three hundred quid.
TREVELYN: Mr Galloway, I will pay you three hundred and fifty pounds this instant, in cash. And I can have it towed away this afternoon.
GALLOWAY: Well ...
TREVELYN: This “other fella”. Did he look inside the carousel?
GALLOWAY: Oh, I see. Bit of a connoisseur are you?
TREVELYN: I beg your pardon?
GALLOWAY: Not many people would know about the carousel, apparently. This fella didn’t. Almost burst his brains when I showed him.
TREVELYN: You didn’t show him the boiler plate?
GALLOWAY: I did.
TREVELYN: Oh, hell’s bells.
GALLOWAY: I think I ought to give him a chance, you know. It’s not three o’clock yet. Not fair, really.
TREVELYN: I’ll give you four hundred pounds. Here and now.
GALLOWAY: Four hundred?
TREVELYN: Yes. If you’ll sign her over immediately.
GALLOWAY: Don’t you want to have a look properly?
TREVELYN: Mr Galloway. I can see from this very spot on which I stand the majesty of the article. It is as if the artist stood before me. His blood is in every rivet; his sweat forever entombed in the hammers.
GALLOWAY: The side panel’s not even Craddock. The other fella said it was –
TREVELYN: The other fella! The other fella! That lumpen troglodyte! Three hundred pounds he was willing to pay, Mr Galloway. A measly three hundred pounds! For this fire in the eye of God!
GALLOWAY: Well you only said three-fifty to start with.
TREVELYN: A man enjoys a bargain, Mr Galloway.
GALLOWAY: Well I think we should wait for him to come back. Would you like a cup of tea?
TREVELYN: Very well, Mr Galloway.
MAUREEN: (OFF) What?
GALLOWAY: Put the kettle on love. We’re going to be rich!
MAUREEN: (OFF) About bloody time.
THE SAME LOCATION, A LITTLE LATER STILL. WE FADE IN ON THE MIDDLE OF A HEATED ARGUMENT.
JACKSON: Now listen here!
TREVELYN: Five hundred, Mr Galloway! Five hundred pounds for the glorious item!
JACKSON: You can’t do this, Galloway! We had a deal!
TREVELYN: A deal! Wretched peasant! You insult the beauty before you!
JACKSON: I’ll deck the tosser before me if he doesn’t shut up!
GALLOWAY: Oi! All right! All right!
TREVELYN: Five hundred pounds, Mr Galloway!
JACKSON: Give me a couple of days, Galloway. I’ll pay you six!
TREVELYN: Six! Six! Mr Galloway, send this fool home!
MAUREEN: Shut up the lot of you!
(THEY FALL SILENT.)
MAUREEN (CONT): Good heavens, you’re like a pack of hyenas over a felled bison. Now look, what’s so special about this rusty old thing?
JACKSON: Mrs Galloway –
MAUREEN: I’m certainly not that.
JACKSON: Oh. Erm.
JACKSON: Maureen. Thank you. Look. This is, at least in its greater part, an authentic Craddock two-handled four-oh-four. You just don’t see them these days. It’s got the sealer mark, and it’s numbered. That makes it worth...
TREVELYN: Go on. Tell her.
TREVELYN: Madam. The boiler plate on the interior of this machine is in itself worth several hundred pounds.
JACKSON: A thousand, at least.
JACKSON: You know it is.
TREVELYN: Very well. A thousand.
MAUREEN: I get the feeling you’re trying to dupe me, Mr Trevelyn.
TREVELYN: Madam! Quite the opposite. I am attempting to save a glorious specimen from the clammy hands of this toilet-dwelling oik.
JACKSON: Listen to me, Mister –
MAUREEN: All right, Mr Jackson. Go on, Mr Trevelyn.
TREVELYN: Thank you Madam. As I say, the boiler plate alone is very valuable. But the complete piece. Well, even with the Crawford-Hercules additions, this is an exceptional example. I would imagine, in an auction...
JACKSON: Fifteen thousand.
TREVELYN: Well, I think that’s rather high.
JACKSON: It’s not, and you know it. It could reach twenty.
MAUREEN: Twenty thousand pounds? It doesn’t even work.
JACKSON: I could make it work. It’s just that the shaft’s corroded. Bit of TLC, it’ll be right as rain.
JACKSON: Cost you about two hundred pounds to get it sorted out professionally. You’d get more for it then. Maybe 25.
GALLOWAY: Twenty-five grand?
JACKSON: Should think so. (A WISTFUL SIGH) Well, I almost had it.
GALLOWAY: You’d have made a packet on it, too.
JACKSON: Good God, I wouldn’t sell it.
MAUREEN: Wouldn’t sell it?
TREVELYN: The man’s an imbecile. I can have him locked away. I have connections.
MAUREEN: Shut up, Mr Trevelyn.
TREVELYN: Well, really.
MAUREEN: What would you do with it?
JACKSON: Don’t torture me.
MAUREEN: Tell me.
JACKSON: I’d put it in my barn. I’ve got two others. Not Craddocks, of course. There’s a 1915 Oxley-Birmingham and a ’54 Merrington with Copsley interchanges. That’s worth a few bob as well. But the Craddock. It’s a miracle. Look at the way the crown section curves down to meet the positioner flap. That took eighteen men six years to develop. I’ve got some of their original drawings. Bought them in Hamburg in 82.
MAUREEN: How much did you pay for them?
JACKSON: Four thousand pounds. Got them framed.
TREVELYN: You were duped, you nitwit. I have several of those drawings. I paid no more than two hundred pounds each for them.
JACKSON: At the Buenos Aires Convention?
TREVELYN: Well, yes.
TREVELYN: Yes, it was as a matter of fact.
JACKSON: (STIFLED LAUGH)
TREVELYN: What’s so blasted amusing?
JACKSON: Nothing, nothing. The Buenos Aires drawings! Always wondered who ended up with them.
MAUREEN: So you’d put this thing in a barn?
JACKSON: Best place for it. Can’t afford the sort of house you need to install one for real. But I’d get it working. Let the kids come and have a go on it, you know –
MAUREEN: Go on, Mr Jackson.
JACKSON: That’s it, really. Keep it working, look after it. Then, when I get too old probably give it over to the museum in Harlow. They’ve been trying to get a Craddock for years.
TREVELYN: Ridiculous two-bit operation!
JACKSON: At least they care!
MAUREEN: Seems you do too, Mr Jackson.
JACKSON: My marriage broke up over these, Maureen. Poor Jenny. She couldn’t compete. I tried to leave them alone, stop thinking about them. Just couldn’t. I’m better off now. So’s Jenny. She’s in Las Vegas. Shows people round the pyramids or something. I just couldn’t ever get over these things. They mean the world to me.
MAUREEN: How much did you offer Stan for it?
JACKSON: (RUEFUL LAUGH) Three hundred pounds. Sorry. I knew what it was worth, but I don’t have that sort of money.
MAUREEN: Did he accept?
GALLOWAY: Maureen –
MAUREEN: Did he accept?
JACKSON: Well, he did, but –
MAUREEN: Have you got the cash?
JACKSON: Yes, but it’s worth so much more.
MAUREEN: That’s something Stan will have to live with. He’ll survive.
JACKSON: Are you serious?
MAUREEN: A deal’s a deal.
TREVELYN: Madam, I can’t allow it!
MAUREEN: Shut your face.
TREVELYN: I shall write to the Committee!
MAUREEN: Write to whoever you like. Mr Jackson, that’ll be three hundred pounds.
JACKSON: I don’t know what to say.
GALLOWAY: Nor do I.
MAUREEN: Say thank you Mr Galloway.
JACKSON: Thank you, Mr Galloway. Thank you Maureen.
MAUREEN: You’re welcome. You see, we modern women have our uses.
JACKSON: (LAUGH) I’ll bring a van round in the morning. This is fantastic!
MAUREEN: Make it early. I can’t see the water feature past this bally thing.
JACKSON: I will. Thank you. You don’t know what this means to me.
MAUREEN: I think I do. (PAUSE) My full name is Maureen Craddock.
JACKSON: Maureen –
TREVELYN: The Maur –
MAUREEN: (QUICKLY) Leave it at that. I’ve said all I ever will on this subject.
TREVELYN: But –
MAUREEN: No. Enough. See you in the morning, Mr Jackson.
JACKSON: I – I – thank you.
TREVELYN: Miss Craddock!
MAUREEN: That’s it. Go home, Mr Trevelyn. Go home and look at your Buenos Aires drawings. Look at them very, very carefully. Goodbye.
(GRAVEL CRUNCH. A FRONT DOOR CLOSES.)
JACKSON: Goodbye. Goodbye, Miss Maureen Craddock.