Charity Begins at Home – Let’s Move

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME -LET’S MOVE (5187)

Most high streets in in the UK have charity shops. They vary from Cancer Funds, Oxfam, NSPCC, Save the Children and Unicef, as well as, the Hedgehog Protection League of Noss Mayo. Whilst their high street presence, may appear to be quite minimal, in a given year charities such as those above achieve millions in sales.

Characters

Sonia – Mid 40’s. Regional Manager with some 20 shops under her overall control. Cambridge University educated (History & Religion). Spent 2 weeks at Harrods in a temporary agency job and despite minimal experience of retail, believes that the same values, commitment and “customer experience of the ambience of Harrods” should prevail in her charity shops. Her uncle is one of the trustees of the Charity.

Amanda mid 30’s.Local Manager of several shops in the area. Former “friend/clerk” to the Regional Manager. Totally disagrees with Sonia’s analysis and approach, and determined to increase sales by stopping wastage, staff thefts, and irresponsible customers exploiting the charity scene. Lacking confidence and often panics. Hates dependant people, and believes they should all “learn to stand on their own feet”.

Colin Mid 40’s. Local supervisor in a store managed by Amanda. Been searching for a “proper” job for several years, and following a placement through the Job Centre, has now been offered a temporary, zero hours+ contract. Has far more skills and retail experience than either Sonia or Amanda, however is currently trying to curry favour with the charity, and in particular with Sonia, whom he has begun to fancy in terms of her assertive “no nonsense” approach to life, and also that she likes to have a drink after work.

Ellie May A 17-year old, on an apprenticeship with the charity. Spends lots of time checking her make- up and hair. Needs constant and consistent advice in terms of how to deal with difficult customers. Has a fundamental belief that all who enter the door are “in need” and cannot contemplate they might be possible rogues.

Doreen Early 90’s, slightly deaf, and a long-standing 20-year volunteer at the charity. Is fiercely independent, hates new technology, will not use IT, and supports most of Amanda’s views on dependant people, although disagrees on dependant elderly. However, also has some weaknesses and is particularly prone to mature ex-service personnel seeking help, advice and support. Constantly reminisces about what happened on VE Day in 1945 when she danced with a Yank in the Trafalgar Square fountains.

Lee Working volunteer. Late 50’s, a former naval officer, and Chief Executive of several companies, that have gone bankrupt. Despite his failures, believes that his commercial expertise is invaluable to charities. Has ambitions to find a place as an Executive on a charitable board, and that experience from a shop floor perspective will offer him an advantage. Has ambitions in terms of the post currently occupied by the uncle of Sonia.

Others (a) Page 4 Woman who brings egg cup back in Act 1, Scene 2. (b) Page 5 Woman in Cubicle 1, Act 1, Scene 2.

Settings

All action takes place in a charity shop located in a city centre. There are another 5 charities in the same vicinity. The action begins with a small group of staff and volunteers assembling outside their shop awaiting their local Manager (Amanda). It is a Monday morning, and whilst the shop closed on Saturday evening, over the weekend a pile of black bin bags has been stacked in the doorway of the shop. Amanda comes rushing down the street with the shop keys in her hand. As she approaches, she spots Colin, the only paid employee and her Supervisor, stood in the queue.

ACT 1, SCENE 1.

AMANDA Why haven’t you opened up Colin? Why is everybody waiting on me? (Pauses) Had bad morning already. My cat was sick, my partner and I have a pregnancy problem, and last night we had the most savage row about nothing. (Turns to shop front) Oh my God. Look at this lot.

COLIN In answer to your question, you took my keys off me/

AMANDA When? (Pause) Why would I do that? You’re my best supervisor/

COLIN Friday morning? Day you found out about the pregnancy. We had a heated discussion about whether we should seek out clothing suitable for single parents and their babies. Niche market in terms of charities? Pushing the boundaries! No?

AMANDA You’re worrying me now Colin. If you’d said it was Friday afternoon, I might have had a reason, but mornings?

COLIN Working lunch at the wine bar with the Regional Manager? It’s caused some problems in the past/

AMANDA OK Colin, well whatever happened, as of this moment, your keys will be restored to you, as soon as I can surmount this mountain of generosity. (Points at bags piled up) Much of this, will undoubtedly contain the contents of various kitchens. Council decide to implement bin collections every 2 weeks, and we suffer, cos residents know we’ve got skips round the back of the shop for stuff we can’t use.

COLIN They’re full already

AMANDA Oh dear. OK. Right Colin, give it some welly and pull the bags away from the door. Can we not ask our beloved volunteers to help with such menial tasks? Especially Doreen and Lee?

COLIN Amanda, Doreen is nearly 90 and Lee was a former Chief Executive of major companies. You can’t expect him to lug black bin liners full of/

AMANDA He told me he wanted hands on experience, in the charity field, in pursuit of his ambitions to become a Board Member. Colin don’t interfere with his ambitions, and make sure he gets the smelly ones.

COLIN They’re all smelly/

AMANDA Good!/

COLIN (Triumphantly) Except this one. (Singles out a bag) This is quality. I can tell. My instinct says to me, this bag could provide our total shop income for the next week/

AMANDA Well open it carefully. Remember what happened last week. Besides, our weekly target has been reduced by the Regional Manager in recognition/

COLIN Of what?

AMANDA That we appear to be a target for those dumping rubbish. Rubbish that can’t be re- sold. Do you know that last week Oxfam in Watford received a collection of fur coats that fetched nearly £10,000. One bag, one deal, one salvation. What did we get that was outstanding?

COLIN We did get those Rolling Stone T shirts from a concert in 1964.

AMANDA Fake! Made in Turkey 2 years ago. Shrunk, and twisted.

COLIN Like the Stones really……..what about the watches?

AMANDA Designer brilliant. Wonderful, nearly wet myself until I turned them over and realised/

COLIN Xmas Turkey again?

AMANDA Yup. Right let’s get this misplaced delivery for the Royal Albert & Victoria Museum shifted, and open the shop. I can hear the phone ringing, so it’s probably the Regional Manager trying to confirm what she did, or did not agree, at our last working lunch on Friday.

END OF SCENE 1

SCENE 2.

Same day, interior of shop, just before opening. Amanda has brought all the staff together prior to opening the doors. Potential customers are already banging the outside of the door in anticipation that a weekend of closure could result in new, quality, cheap donations. Amongst them are a couple of well- known dealers who normally put items straight online or take them to local auctions.

COLIN Shall I let them in?

AMANDA Not yet Colin. I want to have a brief word with the team – (Addresses Doreen, Lee and Ellie May) Just wanted to show my appreciation once again for your efforts, help and support. Our charity couldn’t survive without you. Now, we’ve been warned there’s a team of conmen visiting charity shops, they haggle on everything, will try and claim refunds on goods they have just stolen, and when they pay, sometimes use a trick to confuse the staff on tills.

COLIN (To Lee) Well that shouldn’t be too difficult with Doreen.

LEE Well if they try it on with me, they’ll get short shrift.

ELLIE MAY (Emotionally) I just can’t believe people could be so horrible, stealing from the most vulnerable

DOREEN What did you say Amanda, sorry, forgot to put my hearing aids on full/

AMANDA I’ll tell you later Doreen. Right Colin open up and let us embrace our new customers.

LEE Not literally, I hope. A couple of them look as if they could do with a car wash.

AMANDA Thank you Lee. I’m sure you didn’t mean it that way.

(DOORS ARE OPENED BY COLIN AND CUSTOMERS ENTER. COLIN MOVES TO TILL AS MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN APPROACHES)

COLIN Good morning. How can I help?

WOMAN Want a refund. (Puts hands into shopping bag and hands item to Colin).

COLIN On these 2 egg cups? You want a refund on 2 egg cups (Woman nods) Why? What’s wrong with them? (Pause) I only sold them to you last week. 50p wasn’t it (Woman nods)

WOMAN Don’t suit…

COLIN Don’t suit what?

WOMAN Me.

COLIN Me what?

WOMAN Me dinner service, that I bought here. don’t go with it/

COLIN Well it’s not meant to (Amanda approaches)

AMANDA Problem’s Colin?

COLIN Lady wants a refund on these 2 egg cups. She bought them here last week for 50p

AMANDA Of course Madam. Can’t lose such a valuable and regular customer such as you…….can we Colin?

COLIN (Quietly to Amanda) Are you serious………50p?

AMANDA (Quietly to Colin). Give it to her out of petty cash. I’m sure she’s one of these secret shoppers, sent out by Head Office to test our customer service. Ask for her receipt, but if the dogs eaten it, or it blew away in the wind, don’t argue. Just get her to sign a till-slip. OK​?/ (Amanda moves away from till).

COLIN Well, if you say so. (Asks for receipt, not available, so gets till receipt and hands over 50p. Woman leaves shop).

AMANDA (Amanda returns to till) Well-handled Colin. Very diplomatic. Should get a good report from Head Office.

COLIN Show’s how much time you spend on the shop floor. She’s been coming here for years. Lives in a sheltered housing scheme round the corner.

AMANDA (Indignantly) Why didn’t you tell me!

COLIN Well you’d already jumped in with both feet, telling her she could have it. ((Lee approaches)

LEE We have a problem. Serious. Changing room No.2

AMANDA What’s wrong?

LEE There’s a young man in there completely naked. Elderly customer pulled the curtain open and there he was. (Amanda starts to walk towards the changing area)

COLIN Amanda!Think I should deal with this with Lee’s assistance……….Oh Oh…..too late….Doreen’s onto it. (Shouting from changing room area – voice-over of Doreen)

DOREEN Get out of there you dirty bugger. You’ve got 60 seconds to get dressed or else(Schwarzenegger style) I’ll be back(Waves broomstick then pokes it at changing room curtain, which results in a female scream).

LEE Changing room No.2 Doreen. No. 2!!

COLIN Doreen! Put that broom down. Now!

DOREEN What? Didn’t hear you…..(Pauses)…are you talking to me Colin? Just dealing with a perv/ (Colin strides over and takes broom off Doreen, ushers her away, then stands next to No.2 changing room and addresses occupant).

COLIN Like Arnold’s mother just said. Sixty seconds and out! (Turns to No.1 changing room addresses occupant) I do apologise for what just happened (Pause – curtain opens and middle-aged woman emerges)

WOMAN I should think so too. Never been so insulted in all my life. I shall never visit this shop again, and will consult my Solicitors immediately.

AMANDA Oh please don’t do that. It was a mistake. I do sincerely apologise./

WOMAN Out of my way. You’ll be hearing from me/

COLIN No we won’t. It’s Pat isn’t it. Pat Pringle. Remember me? I did relief work at the Saltash shop. You’ve forgotten something Pat, haven’t you? (Reaches into cubicle and emerges with pile of clothing which he holds at arms-length) Now Pat, if you want to keep those clothes you’ve just put on, you must pay for them. As for these (moves towards a bin)

WOMAN Wait!! I’m skint. Needed something decent for a job interview. Thought I’d try it on. Never done it before/

COLIN What about Saltash?

WOMAN Oh that was different. Made a mistake, was just going to pay when you stopped me.

ELLIE MAY (Emotionally) Oh the poor woman. Come on Colin give her a chance…..please….

COLIN Poor? If you go in the car park, you’ll find her Jag. She lets out properties to students. She’s not poor she’s Pat!Pat Pringle.

AMANDA (Assertively) I’m going to ban her/

COLIN (Quietly to Amanda) Secret shopper?

AMANDA (Anxiously) She couldn’t be, could she? (Pause) What shall I do?

COLIN Amanda. Leave it to me. I’ll sort it. Now go and balance the books or something in another branch (Points to Ellie May) and take Miss Bleeding Heart with you. Give her a lesson in real life.

(Amanda and Ellie May go to office. Colin turns to Lee)

COLIN Right Lee. Can you manage our exhibitionist in No.2? Any problems, tell him we’ll call the police. I’ll deal with Pat.

LEE Am I allowed to manhandle him?

COLIN Only if he’s dressed, and only in self-defence…….unless/

LEE Unless what….?

COLIN Unless you fancy him! Now let me deal with Pat.

END OF SCENE 2

SCENE 3

(Having just come back from lunch, Colin is on his own in the office when Lee comes to see him.)

LEE (Excitedly) Bingo, bingo, bingo.

COLIN Can’t stand the game/

LEE No. We’ve hit the jackpot!!

COLIN What are you talking about Lee? What jackpot?

LEE First Edition. Harry Potter. Signed by J K Rowling herself. Must be worth quids.!

COLIN Quids. (Pause) If you’re right,it’ll be thousands!! Where is it? Need to get it in the safe. Amanda will be gob-smacked. (Excitedly) I knew it would happen one day.

LEE Well as you were at lunch, I hid it.

COLIN Where?

LEE On the small shelf under the till.

COLIN Who’s manning the till at the moment?

LEE Doreen. She insisted that she take her turn, despite the fact she hates anything technical. Said she likes to barter with the customers, and get more money in/

COLIN Lee, I have this awful feeling developing deep in the pit of my stomach/

LEE Why? What’s wrong? Thought you be delighted?

COLIN Come with me, and you’ll see why (Walks out of office towards till)

DOREEN (At till) Hello, Colin. See. I am taking my turn at the till. You were horrible to me the other day, suggesting I wasn’t pulling my weight. Something about team work. Whatever that means.

COLIN I might have to be horrible again Doreen. Can you stand back from the till for a moment (Doreen moves aside as Colin looks under the counter) Where is it?

DOREEN What? Where’s what?

COLIN The book, Doreen. Where’s the blooming book that was on the shelf!

DOREEN (Triumphantly) I sold it. Bloke offered 50p. I said not on your life, it’s worth a pound (Pauses) and he paid up, but demanded a receipt in case he had to bring it back.

COLIN Who was it Doreen? Who did you sell it to?

DOREEN One of those dealer blokes. You know, they’re always on the doorstep first thing in the morning – looking for a bargain. Mind you he looked a bit ill today/

COLIN What do you mean ill?

DOREEN Well his hands were all trembling, as he lifted the book and paid for it. Had a funny look on his face, like it was Xmas day. My husband used to have the same look when I wore my special nightie. Did I tell you about that? We met in the fountains at Trafalgar Square on VE day 1945 and he/

COLIN Later Doreen. Please. Later. (Turns to Lee) Still Bingo? Eyes down, line and house. Wait till Amanda hears. She’ll go daft.

LEE Sorry Colin. Thought I was doing the right thing hiding it away till you got back.

COLIN (Resignedly) I know that. But it’s happened before. Found an original Beano comic, first published in 1938, still had the free gift inside. Worth £20,000.

LEE What happened?

COLIN Turned my back and one of the volunteers had screwed it up, so that a Dingles’ second-hand dinner set, worth £10, could have packing within the cardboard box (Pauses, then sighs) so it didn’t rattle.

(Ellie May enters shop)

COLIN Where’s Amanda? I need to give her some good news.

ELLIE MAY She’s gone home. Said to tell you she’s got a headache. Gave me these set of keys for you. Said can you lock up. (Pauses) What’s that smell?

COLIN/LEE (Jointly) What smell?

DOREEN What’d she say? (Pause) Cor – what’s that pong? (Points) It’s coming from No.2 changing room.

COLIN Ellie May, go and have a look. See what’s up.

ELLIE MAY Why me?

COLIN ‘Cos you noticed it first. Now go and have a look. (Ellie May moves towards No.2 and pulls curtain back, before screaming) (Pause) Ellie May, are you doing a Kate Bush impersonation? What’s the problem?

ELLIE MAY (Agitatedly) It’s a number 2 in number 2.

DOREEN (Interrupting) Why are you asking me what two 2’s are? Even I know it’s 4, and I’m 90. Ish!

COLIN Oh dear. We haven’t had this for a long time. He’s back.

LEE Who?

COLIN The Phantom Pooper. Somehow manages to disguise himself. Gets into the changing room, and to use your earlier parlance – Bingo. One No.2. Even used to leave a note saying thank you for providing a Portaloo!

LEE What now?

COLIN Well Lee, in line with the directions I’ve had from Amanda, this is where I must ask you to step up to the line, face the challenge, confront the common enemy/

LEE What do you mean Colin, stop talking in riddles…..

COLIN Rubber gloves, paper towels, hot soapy water, various cloths, and a burst of aerosol sprays? Does that make sense? (Lee nods, then grimaces, appearing to puke)

END OF SCENE 3

SCENE 4

(Next day. Shop is open and Colin is supervising the volunteers when Amanda enters, looking slightly hungover.)

COLIN Good lunch yesterday? How was the Regional Manager, our mysterious, delightful, delicious Sonia? When are we going to meet her?

AMANDA In due course Colin. Anyway, that was not the reason I went home with a headache. (Pauses) Colin, what’s that awful smell?

COLIN Well we had an incident involving our Phantom visitor. He’s back.

AMANDA Oh how awful. Who dealt with it?

COLIN Lee. In line with your desire for him to get his hands dirty/

AMANDA (Waves fist/smiles) Good. (Pauses)Where is he? I need to thank him.

COLIN Gone sick. Like that song, he went “a whiter shade of pale”. Did the job, but then succumbed. I’ve rung a professional cleaning company. They’ll give it a blitz when we close.

AMANDA Has Lee spoken to you about some of his ideas – for improving the way we do things?

COLIN No he hasn’t. What do you mean? Lee doesn’t have any retail experience.

AMANDA Well I’ve looked on his application form. He’s run several big companies/

COLIN Yeah into the ground. Gone bankrupt. Be very careful Amanda. We’ve got enough problems with Doreen and losing money. Lee was convinced he’d come across a valuable Harry Potter book. By the time I found out, she’d sold it for a quid.

AMANDA Not again. She’s been here for years Colin, we can’t…………we simply can’t………….can we? Could we? Think of the publicity.

COLIN Funny ain’t it. Been trying to get her on the tills for months, and the day she does, we lose thousands. Think of the sales figures.

AMANDA I never stop. It’s a nightmare at times. Anyway, why was she so reluctant?

COLIN It was when you had that long holiday. Till drawer wasn’t working properly, so she slammed it shut.

AMANDA And?

COLIN Still had her fingers in the till – literally. Wouldn’t touch it after that. Customer said he hadn’t heard language like that since he was in the Navy. Air was blue.

AMANDA How’s Ellie May doing?

COLIN Hasn’t spoke to me since yesterday. Got a sensitive soul. Oh, and a sensitive nose.

END OF SCENE 4

SCENE 5 –

(Interior of shop. Colin is manning till, and the volunteers are adjusting the stock on the racks and rails. A lady – mid-40’s enters and starts to browse the store.)

ELLIE M AY Colin, there’s something wrong here. I definitely priced some special clothing, put them on the rack, and have been watching sales in this area.

COLIN And?

ELLIE MAY They’ve gone.

COLIN Well they’ve been sold, obviously/

ELLIE MAY No Colin you don’t understand. These were designer clothes, that my friends gave me, especially for the shop, because I worked here. Almost new, upmarket, and gone. I’ve checked the sales till – they haven’t been paid for/

COLIN Nicked! They’ve been nicked. Were the coat hangers in the same position?

ELLIE MAY No they’ve all been turned round/

COLIN Nicked! Classic. One person comes in and selects the items they want to steal. Turns the hangers around. Shortly afterwards, another one of the gang comes in, and waits near the stock. Someone distracts the staff or volunteers with a dubious enquiry/

ELLIE MAY Like the woman with the egg cups wanting her 50p back?

COLIN Exactly. As we were dealing with her spurious refund, her mates were probably stuffing their bags full of designer gear, and by now, it will be on E Bay, in a Car Boot Sale, or already sold as a result of an advert in the local press.

ELLIE MAY Oh how dreadful. (Emotionally) How can people steal from those who need it most. My friends will be hacked off.

COLIN Get them to go online, and see if they can track down their clothing that was nicked. If they find it, we might be able to do something/

ELLIE MAY What do you mean?

COLIN Wait and see. I’ve got friends.

(Mid 40’s woman that entered the store earlier and has been browsing, approaches the till)

COLIN Can I help you?

WOMAN Couldn’t help overhearing your conversation about missing stock. Are you in charge?

COLIN I wish! No, I’m the store supervisor. My manager is Amanda, and she’ll be here shortly. Anyway, can I help you?

WOMAN I’m sure you can. But can I just clarify something/

COLIN Fire away!

WOMAN Well you’ve clearly been hit by a gang of conmen. That young lady was obviously upset at losing special clothing donated by her friends/

COLIN And? I do apologise, but this is an internal issue. We will deal with it/

WOMAN How?

COLIN (Exasperatedly) Look, I’m very sorry Madam, or Miss, or Mrs, but regrettably you overheard a conversation, between a very young and inexperienced employee and her supervisor. I am dealing with it, in line with my own Charity’s policies. Now can I ask you – do you want to buy anything, or are you simply browsing?

WOMAN I’m Sonia, your Regional Manager/

COLIN Oh dear/

SONIA You are?

COLIN I’m Colin. The supervisor in the store. Amanda, won’t be long. Now as for you, can I see some form of identification – please?

SONIA (Holds out ID Card looped around neck) My name is Sonia Amis. Regional Manager for the South West. Thank you Colin, but, shouldn’t you also have identified yourself ? Para 235 of the staff manual? No?

COLIN (Meekly) Yes, but I was up to my armpits in alligators and organised gangs, and trying to help a very young, and quite vulnerable, member of staff. Besides/

SONIA Besides what?

COLIN (Laughs) I haven’t played that game, you show me yours, and I’ll show you mine since I was a kid.

SONIA (Laughs) Colin that’s not what I meant. Let us both be clear I am not in any waycriticising your approach to the incident. Indeed, your response, was far beyond any other Supervisor, that I have come across in my time as the Regional Manager. It was reminiscent of my time at Harrods.

COLIN You worked at Harrods? Wow! Impressed.

SONIA Well it was only a short-term contract, but invaluable experience in terms of standards.

COLIN How long?

SONIA 2 weeks, but at the height of their Autumn sale……./

COLIN When I read Retail News, they said Harrods was such a classy company they never had sales. It was beneath them.

SONIA Of course they did, however, we called it Customer Incentive Awareness. CIA

COLIN That’s the American Secret Service, isn’t it?

SONIA Good try Colin. (Doreen approaches till area)

COLIN Sonia, can I introduce you to Doreen. She’s our longest serving volunteer, well over 20 years at the last count (Turns to Doreen) Doreen, this is Sonia. She’s our Regional Manager, and has come to visit the store and meet the team.

DOREEN About time too. Never met one before. Mind you, I’ve met the Queen twice, (Pauses) Oh and her mother once. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. (Pauses) Lovely lady. Lived through the war like me. Do you know, I met my husband on VE Day 1945 in the fountains at Trafalgar Square, then we went down the Mall to the Palace/

COLIN Doreen, I don’t want to interrupt, but could we do this later?/

DOREEN (Continues) He was a lovely bloke. In the US Navy – strong, handsome, virile/

COLIN Doreen! Please (Turns to Sonia) Sorry Sonia, Doreen has a hearing impairment.

DOREEN Occasional! Occasionally deaf/

COLIN Occasionally, when it suits, eh Doreen?

DOREEN (Smiles) Don’t know what you mean. Anyway, I’m off. (Turns to Sonia) Got to have my legs waxed. Going to the Age Concern tea dance later. Might trap. (Walks away)

COLIN (To Sonia) Good luck to the chosen man. (Pause) Sonia, we’re just about to close. Wondered if you fancied a drink before you shoot back to Head Office?

SONIA Well I’ve actually booked into a local hotel for the night. Why don’t you join me there Colin? My treat. A little thank you for all your hard work.

END OF SCENE 5

SCENE 6.

(Next day. Amanda is waiting impatiently in the office, when Colin arrives looking quite hungover.)

AMANDA Colin where have you been? You’re an hour late, the shop is looking quite disorganised, and I’ve had a rather garbled Ansafone message from the Regional Manager saying she’s visiting today.

COLIN Yesterday.

AMANDA Yesterday what?

COLIN Yesterday. She came whilst you were out. We were closing the shop, and I offered to buy her drink before she went back, but she didn’t/

AMANDA Didn’t what Colin? Never known Sonia not to accept a drink. What exactly happened.

COLIN She didn’t go back. Stayed the night in a hotel. (Sheepishly) Invited me over.

AMANDA Oh No……..Colin you haven’t………….you didn’t………..did you?

COLIN Can’t remember. So whatever, it was that I shouldnthave, didnthave, couldnthave even mighthaveliked. I can’t remember. Woke up this morning in the hotel. Room was empty, so was the mini-bar and fridge, and Sonia was gone. Bang goes my chance of promotion.

AMANDA Promotion? What are you talking about? (Anxiously) We don’t have any vacancies impending……do we? What did she say? Did she talk about me?

COLIN It was a bit of a blur. No, she was full of praise for you. Talking about reorganising the boundaries, relocations that sort of thing, opportunities for bright young things/

AMANDA Me?

COLIN No me. She saw me deal with an incident in the shop…….before she revealed who she was, and liked the way I dealt with it.

AMANDA Incident? What incident?

COLIN Well Ellie May’s friends had all chipped in with some modern designer clothes to improve the image of the shop.

AMANDA And?

COLIN They’ve been nicked. Somehow we’ve been shoplifted…..again!

AMANDA Oh Dear. There’s been a mistake, Colin. I actually fancied them myself. So I took them home to try them on. Couldn’t use the changing rooms because of the……the smell. Was going to pay full price for them – (emphatically) minus the staff discount of course, but they didn’t fit. So they’re in the boot of my car. (Sheepishly) Could you get them for me Colin (Holds out keys) and perhaps let’s tell Ellie May they were found abandoned around the corner. Eh? Colin? (Colin nods and leaves the office).

END OF SCENE 6

SCENE 7

(One week later, on a Monday morning, the team (Amanda, Colin, Doreen, Ellie May and Lee) have assembled in the shop, prior to opening.)

AMANDA Welcome team. Especially pleased to welcome back Lee from his short period of sickness. Hope all is well, and can I say publicly (to Lee – Pauses) you were splendid, a couple of weeks ago, in respect of Cubicle 2, and all that ensued. Well done Lee. (Team clap Lee)

DOREEN (To Colin) What’s happened? Why are we clapping?

COLIN (Quietly) Doreen are your hearing aids on?

DOREEN Not yet. Anyway, why are we clapping? You know it hurts my ears!

COLIN (Quietly) Amanda has just been thanking Lee for his efforts, when he dealt with the problem in Cubicle 2, a little while back.

DOREEN (Indignantly) But he went off sick and left us to it. The shop smelt awful, until you got that cleaning company in. I’d have done it for nothing. During the war, we had to face problems like that every day. Mains burst, water down, no heating, no cookers, no toilets. (Pauses) Colin, did I ever tell you about how I met my husband on VE Day in 1945, Trafalgar Square?/

COLIN (Quietly) Yes. You have. Regularly. Doreen look, let’s leave it. OK? Come on, be reasonable, Lee did what he could on the day…../

AMANDA (Approaches) Problems Colin?

COLIN Nothing I can’t deal with. Anyway, we need to get the shop opened. The locusts are gathering. Look at them (points to customers queueing outside shop). Still waiting for that sod who took the Harry Potter book. Hasn’t been back since.

AMANDA Probably slumming it in Rio or Dubai. Anyway, I need to make an important announcement to the staff team before we open/

ELLIE MAY So do I.

DOREEN So do I.

LEE So do I

COLIN So do I.

AMANDA (Shocked) What? Oh hell. (Pauses) Well, who wants to go first? Important announcements all round – clearly. (Pauses) Lee?

LEE My recent experience, indicates that I am not cut out for more intimate, perhaps mundane work, and I need to concentrate on my global expertise and organisational management, at a higher level.

DOREEN You only had to pick up some poo in No.2/

AMANDA Thank you Doreen. Lee has given his explanation, which needs to be respected. (Pauses) Lee we will miss you/

ELLIE MAY I’m going back to hairdressing, or perhaps, (emphatically) I may join a monastery. (Pauses) I often have silent urges during the night, about my future, and religion in general. Don’t know yet! But whatever happens, I now realise, that the needs of the underprivileged, can be met in a variety of ways, not just through a charity shop.

AMANDA (Patronisingly) Well I’d certainly be interested in your hairdressing option. My ends need regular attention. Someone I can trust. Well done you!

COLIN Me too. Only my ends are long gone!

AMANDA Doreen?

DOREEN What?

COLIN Doreen, a few minutes ago, you told us all that you had an announcement to make about yourself/

DOREEN Did I? What are you talking about Colin? (Pauses) I wasn’t talking about an “announcement”. I’m not bloody British Rail. (Mimics) The train on platform 2 is now leaving….

No. As the vicar said to the showgirl “It’s much bigger than that” It’s myengagement!! The bloke I met at the Age Concern Tea Dance, has asked me to marry him. He’s a bit younger than me, and is on a daily dose of testosterone to help him, with his whatsit. So, I need to be available, as and when/

ELLIE MAY What do you mean…”his whatsit and testosterone”..and “as and whenwhat?”.

DOREEN Ellie May, forget hairdressing love. If you don’t know the answer to that, I’d definitely find a monastery.

ELLIE MAY Oh!!

AMANDA Well, there is another very important person, who hasn’t yet advised us of his special announcement. (Pauses) Colin?

COLIN No – there are two people. You and me!However, quite happy to go first. (Pauses)

The Regional Manager, Sonia, has offered me a key job at the Head Office. The pay, conditions and extras have convinced me that in career terms, it is the best move to make, in terms of my future.

AMANDA (Quietly to Lee) Extras? What extras?

LEE (Quietly) He’ll be sleeping with her. My years in corporate management are finally paying off. I recognise the language being used……..extras/

AMANDA Oh dear. (Pauses) Well that puts my personal announcement in a different category.

LEE Amanda, please take my advice. Get on with it!!

AMANDA (Speaks to whole group) Colin, Lee, Ellie May, Doreen…….I don’t know what to say/

DOREEN What’d you say Amanda, about not knowing what to say? Speak up my headlights are on full blast/

COLIN Hearing aids, Doreen? Are the hearing aids on full blast? Yes? (Doreen nods)

AMANDA Thank you Colin. Right. I’ll be brief. Two things have happened in my life. Firstly, it may have not been clear, but my partner and I have been trying to have a baby for months. (Triumphantly) And now we have managed it……….only/

COLIN Only what?

AMANDA Well, we’re both pregnant. Donor arrangement. Delivered by Amazon. Two for the price of one. I need to go on maternity leave (Pause) as well as Sarah.

LEE (Cynically) Brilliant. Well done. (To Colin quietly) Two more companies needing temporary staff.

COLIN (Interrupting) Amanda. You said two important things. Not just about babies./

AMANDA Well if I hadn’t just heard, what the rest of you have said, I would be totally devastated. But………

DOREEN What?With, or without my hearing aids, what is going on Amanda?

AMANDA The shop is closing. We are merging with another charity, who already have shops in our locality. (Dramatically) It’s the end of an era. All our friendships………working together………. the challenges/

DOREEN What friendships? What challenges? What did she say Colin?

COLIN Don’t worry about it. Just clap when I do!! (Engages audience and begins to clap)

END OF SCENE 7 AND PLAY

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