Sunday, 19 July 2015

Visiting Time 

‘LIFT CALL’ pressed, an arrow tings.
A patient on a trolley is manoeuvred out.
I step in. Doors slice me off from outside
as if they want to give me secret news.

Going up, but I’m weighed down.
Floors flash past the tiny window and ask:
How much of this might we find in you?
How much of this best not to know?

Is this my visiting time, or is time
visiting me? Perhaps the answer’s here
where the lift aligns the chosen floor,
and gravity slips off me like a coat.

Arrows lead me to your bed.
From some deeper level you stir.
Eyelids flicker, then fall back asleep:
Like a lift coming, but going past.

Stuart Larner

this poem first appeared in the anthology "A Pocketful of Windows" edited by Felix Hodcroft, Valley Press 2014.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

GUEST BLOG PAGE: featuring Elaine Brookes, playwright.

In addition to mine and Rosie's play for World Book Night "Waiting for Witch One?" scripted below I am pleased to post a guest playwright, Elaine Brookes, whose play:   "The Fagin Fanatics Party", was also performed that night in the Scarborough Library by Outreach Actors from Stephen Joseph Theatre.

The Fagin Fanatics Party

By Elaine Brookes

An Election TV programme interviewing political party leaders. Reporter a smartly dressed man in his thirties is sitting in one chair with an empty chair by his side.

Reporter   Welcome back to this exciting political debate. If you have just joined us we are talking tonight to all the leaders of the main parties. We have already heard from Labour and The Liberal Democrats .Next we are going to hear form a party leader whose party seems to have come from nowhere and proving very popular with the younger voters, a group that normally don’t get involved in elections . So please put your hands together for Mr Fagin the leader of the Fagin Fanatics Party. (pointing to the side of the stage Fagin comes on stage a man in his sixties stooped in posture with long lanky hair wearing a bright purple velvet suite) Welcome Mr Fagin thank you for joining us tonight

Fagin  My pleasure, my dear, very happy to be here.

Reporter  As I have just said Mr Fagin your  party seems to have come from nowhere and proving very popular with the younger voters a group  as we know don’t normally  get involved in elections . So Mr Fagin what’s your secret?

Fagin Jobs that’s what we are about, get them on the streets and working.

Reporter Where are you going to find all these jobs?

Fagin Nice suite you are wearing tonight my dear. (stroking the Reporter’s sleeve)

Reporter Oh thank you, but back to the jobs.

Fagin I started my life’s work in London and I am planning to expand into other cities and maybe even further.

Reporter That sounds like a very good plan, what kind of jobs are they?

Fagin Redistribution of property you could say, removing things from one person and giving it to another person.

Reporter Sort of a recycling type business.

Fagin Yes you could say that. (chuckling under his breath)

Reporter  But will there be enough work for all the youths .You have given the impression that there will be huge numbers of jobs available.

Fagin Nice silk handkerchief you have there. (pointing at the reporter handkerchief)

Reporter Oh thank you, so jobs?

Fagin  As I said my dear moving into other cities and maybe international our jobs  can work anywhere in the world .That’s what Sikes tells me anyway.

Reporter  Ah yes, Mr Bill Sikes he is your main backer ,but he has a bit of a reputation of being a wheeler dealer ,fast money ,fast cars and beautiful women.

Fagin Oh the lovely Nancy .

Reporter Yes. Nancy. she is his current girlfriend as seen in Hello magazine.

Fagin Beautiful inside as well as outside.

Reporter Yes, I am sure she is. Is Mr Skies involved in the party?

Fagin Only as an advisory and backer my dear.

Reporter Also you have had a major party member leave in the last few weeks a Mr Oliver Twist? And there is a rumour he has gone and joined the Conservative party.Is that true?

Fagin Ah Oliver! My Oliver. A knife through my heart that’s what that boy is, a knife through my heart.

Reporter So it’s true then he has left you?

Fagin Yes my dear he has left us, very ungrateful very ungrateful. Opened my home to him I did.

Reporter Will this set your election plans back at all?

Fagin Oh no I still have my Dodger and Charles they are good boys they will bring in the goods as you say. (chuckling under his breath)
Reporter So you are all set to start canvassing the nation.

Fagin We are my dear we will be out and about knocking on your doors or coming in through your  backdoors, even. (chuckling under his breath)

Reporter Your party’s Manifesto seems to have come from the lyrics of a song it’s rather an interesting one, it’s from a musical I think rather catchy if you ask me.

Fagin Ah yes “You’ve got to pick a pocket or two!”

Reporter Yes that’s the one why did you choose it?

Fagin As you said it’s catchy and people will remember what we stand for my dear.

Reporter And that seems to be pay no tax, take money from the rich and not give any to the poor or charities .

Fagin Tax is nothing but robbery if you ask me. That’s why  all these rich don’t pay it Keeping the money for myself is only fair, I have got people working hard to get  it for me so it would be rude not to keep it, won’t it ? All these “do-gooders” giving money to charities - what’s that all about. It only encourages people to expect handouts. Give it to Fagin’s Fanatics instead, I say.

Reporter That is a very strange way of looking at things I must say not many people will agree with you.

Fagin That’s my manifesto they can take it or leave it. That’s what democracy is all about my dear.

Reporter That may be a good point to finish this interview, Mr Fagin, as we have a few more party leaders to talk to. Thank you for being with us tonight.

Fagin My pleasure my dear, my pleasure. (starts singing pick a pocket or two leans over to shake the reporter’s hand gets the handkerchief from the reporter and runs off the stage )
Reporter My handkerchief, where has it gone? Fagin. Fagin, get back here, now! Excuse me, I have got to get it back!  (Runs off the stage)


Friday, 24 April 2015

Here's our short play for the World Book Night , characters from books at Scarborough Library UK, performed by Stephen Joseph Theatre Outreach Actors.

Waiting for Witch One?
By Rosie and Stuart Larner

WITCH 2, 17 yrs old, rather posh.

WITCH 3, 17 yrs old, her mate, rough and angry.

Scene: Scarborough South Beach early evening, Halloween.


WITCH 2 So where is she? We’ve been waiting here half the night already. Ideas please.

WITCH 3 Well I don't flamin’ know, do I?

WITCH 2 You were there when she said, weren't you?

WITCH 3 In Hull Primark? Yes, but I was trying on these shoes for this toadin’ meet tonight.

WITCH 2 It was definitely on Scarborough South beach with Mac something to meet someone.

WITCH 3 (opening a bag) I’ve got McDippers, McFlurry, and a Big Mac to be on the safe side. (looks up, then notices two lads in the distance and whispers to Witch 2). Hey! Look down the beach! There’s a couple of lads. Is that who we are supposed to meet up with?

WITCH 2 They're surfers and they look fit.

WITCH 3 Can't be sure with this sharkin’ Sea Fret.

WITCH 2 I’m sick of Witch One. She’s such a first class witch.

WITCH 3 She’s that snakin’ bossy we never get a word in edge ways. She's a mewin’ stirrer too...

WITCH 2 .....and getting us to buy all her crazy gear.

WITCH 3 I tried for an eye of newt but they've clamped down on legal eyes now.

WITCH 2 I had to go to the supermarket to get a pilots thumb they were two for one.

WITCH 3 Enough with the almost rhyming couplets.

WITCH 2 Now you’re doing it. You’re starting to talk in rhyme like her now. People’ll be starting to call us the weirdo sisters round here.

WITCH 3 Hey! They’re coming closer. I know who they are! They’re the froggin’ Thane twins from Cayton.

WITCH 2 I’ll give them a shout. (shouts across the beach)   Hi, we’ve been waiting for you!

WITCH 3 Are you Wayne and Shane?

WITCH 2 What did they say? I couldn’t hear. It's that windy.

WITCH 3 Oh, what a birth-stranglin’ cheek! They said: ‘Are you the drag act at the Spa?’

WITCH 2 (shouting) We’re not skinny witches like the girls you go out with!

WITCH 3 You couldn’t handle us two! We’re high fliers.

WITCH 2 (to Witch 3) Us two? Don’t you mean us three?

WITCH 3 Oh, I forgot her. She’d want to get her own back on us if we went snailin’ out with them.

WITCH 2 Yes, she’s a crazy Witch. She got it in for a girl just because she wouldn’t give her a packet of nuts.

WITCH 3 She reckons no one’s going to sleep at night if they whinin’ well cross her.

WITCH 2 Well that’s no problem for us is it? We like to be out all night any way.

WITCH 3 Here they come. I can see them now.  They are so boilin’ fit. Magic.

WITCH 2 Hi guys, we were waiting for our friend but she hasn’t shown up. It's freezing. Let's go in the arcades.

WITCH 3 And how about the Burger King here ... after?

The end.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

When a Snowman Melts

You might think that when a snowman melts
someone has died.
But they haven’t.
Instead, someone has warmed and begun to flow,
said sorry for being such a frozen lump,
realised they are part of everything,
and started to cry.

 Stuart Larner.

(first published in anthology "A Pocketful of Windows" ed Felix Hodcroft, Valley press 2014.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Twelfth Night - Decorations down

Here's a love poem about taking down the Christmas decorations. It was published by the Huddersfield Examiner 06/01/2007.


The season’s passed; the trimmings come to floor
From where I’d fixed them at your well-judged mark.
But your bright beauty won’t go back to store
Along with lights that flashed once in the dark.
Your beauty needs no extra signs for me;
No festive letters shouting out ‘Rejoice!’.
In each ball’s shining surface I still see
Your perfect face by any painter’s choice.
Unlike full-fruited Nature, bought and pinned
Through its stem to wall at trophy height,
Your beauty’s free – not bauble to be binned
Or boxed away in cupboards out of sight.
Now I will see in place of those things there
Not emptiness, but beauty all this year.

Stuart Larner

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

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.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

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.

by Stuart Larner
(Eight minutes reading time.)
4 male voices, namely:
 Banker son
 Farmer son
 Philosopher son

KING:  Six 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 six months.
First 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.
Six months later, the medallions’ value has risen tenfold in the market place.
 Look, father. My money is wealth.
KING  :Ah 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.
Tell 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.”
Over 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.
But 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 investment portfolios.
FARMER SON: Your scheme is too basic. Although you 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 contact.
But, 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.
You 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 real money.

the end