I won first prize in the Scarborough Writers' Circle competition for the Grace Bingham trophy for my story "On the Hook of Unforgiveness."
There will be a link to reading it soon when I have overcome some technical problems.
Today I read my play "Real Money" in Scarborough Library for the Beach Hut production of the Oxjam Music Festival to raise money for Oxfam charity.
minutes reading time.)
4 male voices, namely:
months ago the Royal Doctor told me that I had only a year to live.So I, the King
of this small modern Middle Eastern State, had to decide who would manage the
Royal Finances when I was gone. I called my three sons: the banker son, the
farmer son, and the philosopher son, and gave them each a test of ten thousand
dollars. They should invest the money
wisely, giving and receiving to the benefit of the ten thousand people in each
of their own princedoms. Today I will judge how they have done over the past
of all, my banker son.
BANKER SON : Father, I converted the money into five thousand gold
medallions. I announced in the media that these medallions would be given out
freely at midnight on a first-come first-served basis, and all people should
attend my palace to show their loyalty. But, as there was not enough for
everyone, then those who wanted to
succeed in the world would have to be first in the queue. I wanted to challenge
the people to compete, to aspire, to
achieve. On the TV they saw the
goldsmith at his engraving bench in the
Royal Mint and the sergeant of security
with his smart cap supervising the transporting of the gold medallions into armoured trucks. Market stallholders
spoke of how they looked forward to this great boost to commerce, and how the
price of medallions on the market would double within hours.
months later, the medallions’ value has risen tenfold in the market place.
Look, father. My money is wealth.
yes, you have indeed raised the wealth of a few people, but on the eve of the
distribution long queues formed around your palace, and the shortage of medallions
caused rioting and deaths in the streets. You have caused much hardship and
made many worse off than before.
me, now, my farmer son, what did you do?
FARMER SON: With
my ten thousand dollars I bought ten thousand laying hens. I made sure to give
one to each person in my princedom, saying “Look after this. It is one of the
king’s creatures, for with this you show your loyalty to the king. It shall
reward you with eggs, health and happiness. All people have a chance to produce
eggs for the economy, to give health to everyone in the princedom.”
the following six months people grew happy because they were well-fed and
pleased at being entrusted with something important. Some said that the egg’s
flavour was delicate and buttery, and its yolk was like the golden majesty of a
king carried in the clear protection of God.
Look, father. My money is health and happiness.
KING : Yes,
indeed, you have made a lot of people healthier and happier by providing good
food and a purpose in life. But there was a report one day of a hen that had
died. This was not unusual, but the
owner made light of it when interviewed by saying “No bird lives forever.”
However the newspapers, aware of their dying king, much dramatised this line.
The hen owner was made to feel that he had shown disloyalty to the crown in
allowing his hen to die. The man was victimised, and eventually took his own
life. Far from bringing things to a close, this spread the fear that hens must
be kept in perfect condition otherwise misfortune and death would result. News
stories abounded of the unusual deaths of hens and the depressive reactions of
their owners. Because of this your people are surely no better off.
now, my philosopher son, you have done nothing but meditate for the whole six
months. It makes me so sad that at the end of my life when my other sons have
tried yet failed me, that you have not even made any effort.
PHILOSOPHER SON: Father, it is true that I have spent a lot of
time thinking, but a week before your visit I sprang up and converted my ten
thousand dollars into a hundred thousand
base metal tokens. I began to
personally distribute these amongst the people, ten to each person, saying
“These are the king’s tokens. If you see someone in need then give them one of
your tokens in recognition of their situation. Similarly, if you see someone
who is helping others then give them a token to mark their good works. Always
be ready to accept a token in return for acknowledging or helping others. Your
aim is to have the same number of tokens at the end of a day as you started
with, giving and receiving equally. If
you end up with more tokens, then you
have not complimented others enough. If you find you have less, then you have
not physically done enough to help others. "
KING : My son, I am alarmed. This is
a chaotically managed fancy.
BANKER SON: Indeed! You are incompetent
! My financial observers report that you can have a situation where someone
makes one thousand percent profit in the morning, only to give it all away in
the afternoon. It is surely bad planning and you would benefit from the advice
of my accountants. They can set up a proper personal financial management
scheme for your people.
PHILOSOPHER SON: No, brother. My money is not about financial
FARMER SON: Your scheme is too basic.
Althoughyou have made some people
happy and thus improved their health, it could be much improved upon. I know
some health management consultants who can convert this into a low-cost global
private health initiative.
PHILOSOPHER SON: No, brother. My money is not
about private healthcare provision.
KING : My
son,I am so dismayed at your
resistance and I beg you to reconsider. I am almost on my knees to you
now. At least think about how much
better it would be if your message were
promoted more efficiently . With the help of other nations we can now reach almost
two billion people via the internet at a transmission rate of over forty
gigabits per second. We have infinite
zillobytes of free storage space, and a galaxy of satellites hosting forty four thousand radio and fifteen hundred High Definition TV channels which can
broadcast to everywhere on the planet in a split-second. There are two hundred
and forty five million listeners on the
US Clear Channel alone. Just give me
your message and I’ll have the whole thing transmitted instantly. My son, just tell me what you want and you
shall have it.
PHILOSOPHER SON: No, father. My money is not
about electronic packaging and multi-media technology. It has to be by personal
there is one thing you can do for me. I
have here ten tokens. I shall give each of you three tokens, keeping just one
for myself. I want you to go out disguised into the streets and talk to people,
and when you see someone who is in distress I want you to console them and give
them a token to show that you acknowledge their situation. And if you see
someone who is doing a good turn to another I want you to give them a token to
mark their virtue.
see, my money is love.
Philosopher son addresses
audience: Hesitating with disbelief the
king and his two sons slowly took the tokens and started to distribute them.
The king gave a token to a cripple who was being helped by another across the
road to drink from a fountain. People saw them giving tokens out of compassion
and came up to them, saying that they thought it was a wonderful gesture, and
asked if they would accept a token of acknowledgement in return. As the king
received these tokens from his people he wept.
KING : I
weep from sorrow and from joy. I weep from sorrow because I see I have been
foolish all my life with my illusion of money. And I weep for joy now that one
of my sons has shown me the value of giving and receiving, and what truly is