A Lil Smook

Characters:

Phil Qualtrough
Mrs Qualtrough
Mrs Quinney
Captain Quirk
A Policeman

Scenes:

Scene 1. A Manx Kitchen
Scene 2. A Week Later
Scene 3. Two Weeks Later

Scene 1. A Manx Kitchen

MRS QUINNEY: As I was tellin’ thee our Jem was a dreadful smooker… nawthin’ but smook, smook, smook, from mornin’ till night, an’ I do believe he’d a smooked all thro’ the night if I’d a lerrim. But I put a stop on his smookin’ tho’.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Deed on theeself.

MRS QUINNEY: An’ the tabacca our Jem was usin’; an ounce a day, Mistress Colcharagh, an’ norra scorrickeen less, an’ the thorccan theer was arrim.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw, an’ isn’ it meself that knows yah.

MRS QUINNEY: But I couldn’ stan’ it any longer, Mistress Colcheragh, so I coaxed an’ I joed; an’ I joed an’ I coaxed, but do thou think he’d stop his smookin’; norra bit of him; but he’d sit theer in front of me, an’ puff, puff, puff, an’ look as imprant as the divil himself.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw our Phil is the same.

MRS QUINNEY: But as oul Cotcher from Ronnag would say, “Even a wurrum ‘ll turn at the las, Mistress Colcheragh”.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw I don’t wondher at thee turnin’ again it, norra bit, yah. Iss fit to make a wurrum turn.

MRS QUINNEY: But I put a stop on his smookin’ forrim tho’, deed I did, Mistress Colcheragh, it’d take a middlin’ cute man to get the batther of me, I can tell thee.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ what in the worl’ did thou do then, Mistress Cunyah?

MRS QUINNEY: What did I do? Well, I’ll tell thee what I did. I betended the smook was makin’ me bad, vedn, an’ at las I did it so well, that Jem thought it mus’ be puttin’ terrible hard on me for all, so he give it up.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Did he now?

MRS QUINNEY: That he did, Mistress Colcheragh; but I’ll be bound to say that since he stopped smookin’ the pipe he’s a been as cross as two sticks.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Horgh, yah, horgh.

MRS QUINNEY: These men are such dreadful boghs of things, Mistress Colcherage, if they canna gerra smook, they’re goin’ to die straight off the rale; an’ if their food is just a few minutes late then aw graig bannaght, ya can’t on them at all.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Thou’re reight yah, thou’re reight.

MRS QUINNEY: Now there’s life with us women, Mistress Colcheragh, if we only gerra lil cup of tay now an’ again we’re as happy an’ contented as childher.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Deed yes, vedn, an’ our Phil is jus’ the same as thy Jem was, the tabacca he’s usin’ in the week is scandalous altogether – I can tell thee woman I can smell it comin’ ourov his skin. I wish to goodness as I could break our Phil off it though.

MRS QUINNEY: Aisy enough woman, betend thou’re bad like I did… or I’ll tell thee what’ll be batther still… I min oul Dr Harrison tellin’ one time that smookin’ was bad for the memory.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Bad for the memory? What do thou mane at all cree?

MRS QUINNEY: Bad for makin’ ones lose their memories.

MRS QUALTROUGH: That’d be no use at all, vedn. It’d take a lot more nor that to friken our Phil. Why, woman, I don’t think he’d give up smookin’ of he los’ fifty memories.

MRS QUINNEY: Chut woman, can’t thou wait until I’m done spakin… betend thou’re losin’ thy memory… that’s what I’m manin’ for you to do an don’ thou forget to lerrim know tha’s it’s his smookin’ thas doin’ on thee, too, an’ I’ll warrant thou’ll soon purra stop on his smookin’ forrim.

MRS QUALTROUGH: May’ve, yah, may’ve. But how would his smookin’ make me lose my memory, Mistress Cunyah?

MRS QUINNEY: Such a toot of a woman, wouldn’ thou be brathin’ the smook in?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well, well may’ve, yah, may’ve. But I mus’ be gerrim his tay ready forrim, Satherday everin’ an’ all… he’ll be comin’ home arly today… an’ he’ll be as hungry as a gallapern.

She rises and gets tea ready.

MRS QUINNEY: Well I’ll not be hinderin’ thee, Mistress Colceragh, but jus thou thry it on him now.

She rises and goes towards the door.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Won’t thou stay an’ have a cup of tay? I won’t be a crack wettin’ a cup, howl on, Mistress Cunyah, I won’t keep thee a minute, yah.

MRS QUINNEY: No, no, don’t wet any tay for me Mistress Colcheragh, I mus’ be goin’ yah.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’ve got to wet the tay, an’ it’s no trouble. There’s a terrible driss on thee for all, vedn. Howl on I’ll give the firs a lil puff. Bless me sowl theer mus’ be a hole in the bellosses. I could blow the fire nearly as hard with me mouth. I believe they puts paper in the bellisses these days instead of leather.

Exit Mrs Quinney unnoticed.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’ll have the kettle boilin’ in no time. A cup of the tay’ll do thee no harm, vedn, an’ I know thou’re mortal fon’ of a cup… theer’s nawthin’ like a cup of tay for freshenin’ thee up, yah… an good tay it is too… our Phil gets it in Doolish when he’s down with the cart… the tay they’re sellin’ round here is clane trouse… as ole Thom the waiver used to say before now, the Peel tay is no batther than – (Turns around) Lawk save us, if the woman hasn’ gone, she’s the mos’ unpatiences of craythers I aver did see. (Rises from fire). Now I wonder if theer’s anything in what she says? I’ve half a min’ to do it… it’ll be middlin’ hard to desave him, I’m thinkin’. (Looking at the clock) Jus’ on the borders of four… he’ll be in any minute… I’ll do it. (Puts the furniture all awry) Well I’ve done awful jeel on the furniture. (Step heard outside) An’ here’s Phil comin’ so I mus’ keep it up now.

Enter Phil smoking clay pipe.

PHIL: What on earth have thou been doin’, Margit? Is it Spring clanin’ thou’re doin’ or what?

MRS QUALTROUGH (looking helpless): I’dn know for sure.

PHIL: Thou don’t know. An’ is the tay ready at thee?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What tay, Phil?

PHIL (in amazement): What tay? What’s doin’ on thee at all, woman. Have thou been takin’ a lil drop?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What lil drop?

PHIL: What lil drop. Why a lil drop out of the bottle, to be sure.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What bottle, Phil?

PHIL: What bottle. Why the whisky bottle, to be sure.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Thou knows I never took whisky in me life, Phil.

PHIL: An’ what’s doin’ on thee then?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’dn know.

PHIL: Are’n thou goin’ to get tay ready for a fella? Don’t thou know I want to go down to the village to pay me club.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What club, Phil?

PHIL: What club? (Tramps sulkily around the room). What tay? What this? an’ what that? (Turning to her) The Oddfellas club to be sure. (Aside) The woman is gone clane keigh. Whass to be done with her, at all? I’d batther go an’ fetch the Docther.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What Docther?

PHIL (annoyed): Bless me sowl. An’ how many docthers are there in the place, I’d like to know… can thou tell me that?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’dn know for sure.

PHIL: Hiarn bannee mee. She doesn’ know… gone clane clicky… an’ she’ll be puttin’ me clicky nex. What in the name of thee seven sensesis comin’ over thee, Margit. Thou’re young to be doting already.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’dn know, Phil. But I believe I’m losin’ me memory.

PHIL (in amazement): Losin’ thy memory, Margit?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Yiss, I believe I am, Phil.

PHIL: An’ what on earth is makin’ thee lose thy memory?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I believe iss the tabacca, Phil.

PHIL (incredulously): The tabacca. The tabacca? An’ thou don’t mane to tell me thou’re takin’ a lil smook behind me back?

MRS QUALTROUGH (indignantly): I never had a pipe in me mouth, Phil.

PHIL: Well, thou mus’ have been chawin’, Margit… surely, surely, thou’re not chawin’. Thass a dreadful dirty habit… a mos’ filthy thing to do. (in disgust) Phyt. I don’t chaw myself.

MRS QUALTROUGH (angrily): Don’t be makin’ a bleb of theeself, Phil. I naver smooked or chawed in me life.

PHIL: Well, whass the matther with thee then… thou havn’ been takin’ a nip; thou havn’ been smookin’ or chawin’; thou havn’ been doin’ this, an’ thou havn’ been doin’ that; so I’m thinkin’ its high time that thou were doin’ something… an’ thou’d batther get the tay ready for a start.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Iss thy smookin’ thass doin on me, Phil.

PHIL (in amazement): My smookin’ doin’ on thee?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Yiss Phil, I’ve been feelin’ it comin’ on me for a long time, but today I’m feelin’ wuss nor ornary.

PHIL: I naver heard the like before.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Yiss, I heard owl Dr Harrison tellin’ one time that smookin’ was bad for makin’ ones lose their memories.

PHIL: An’ how is it I’m not losin’ my memory?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I suppose it doesn’ often affec’ every one the same, Phil.

PHIL: But still, I can’t see how my smookin’ is makin’ thee lose thy memory for all.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An arn’t I brathin’ it in all the time?

PHIL: H’m… brathin’ it in… thass it, is it?

MRS QUALTROUGH: That mus’ be it, Phil.

PHIL: Well theer’s only one thing for it, we’ll have to divide the house between us… thou live in the parlour, Margit, an’ I’ll live in the kitchen.

MRS QUALTROUGH (in consternation): That would naver do at all, Phil. Don’t thou think it would be bather if thou gave up smookin’?

PHIL: Give up smookin’? I’d jus as soon give up aittin’. But do get a cup of tay forrus. I’ll be late for the club, an theer’s a meetin’ of importance tonight… we’re arrangin a tay party for the childher.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well thou hav’n answered me yet.

PHIL (angrily): Answered thee what?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What are thou goin’ to do about the smookin’?

PHIL: Oh, get the tay ready an’ not so much blather.

MRS QUALTROUGH (putting on hat): If thou’re not goin’ to answer me, thou can get the tay ready for theeself.

PHIL (anxiously): Where are thou goin’?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’m goin’ to lave thee an’ go home to me mother’s.

PHIL (coaxingly): Oh come on, yah, whass the good of fallin’ out about it? Let’s get tay.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Theer’s nawthin’ in for tay. I forgot thou were coming home. I clane forgot to get anything.

PHIL: Forgot? I naver heard the like. Thy memory mus’ be clane gone for all, cree.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’m afraid it is, Phil. Thou’d bather go an’ get a few things for theeself. Slip down to the shop, lah.

PHIL: An’ what am I to get?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’dn know, Phil, whatever thou likes bes’ for thyself.

PHIL (coaxingly): Run out theeself, cree… an’ I’ll do the cartaghs, an’ get the kettle on the boil… an’ if iss the smookin’ thass makin’ thee so bad, I mus’ stop it, thass all.

MRS QUALTROUGH: All right, lah. I’ll run down to the shop… I’ll be back in a jiffy.

She exits.

PHIL (siding up, blowing fire etc.): Well this is a terrible affair… the wus case yet… herself’s memory clane gone. I naver heard that bacca was doin’ such jeel before… naver in me life. Well I’m thinkin’ mighty hard of givin’ up the pipe, bur I suppose it’ll have to be done… I’m thinkin’ hard of it tho’… but this’ll naver do at all… no naver… no mate in the house, no nawthin’. Shee bannee mee… an’ I feel as empty as a fiddle.

Enter Mrs Qualtrough.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I declare them shops havn’ anythin’ worth aitin’; thry hadn’ a bun or bonnag or nawthin’; so I got a couple of nice biscakes for thee.

She puts a couple of dog biscuits on the table.

PHIL: Bless me sowl, woman, them are dog biscuits, an’ not fit for paple to ate. Thou’re gone clane barmy, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw, an’ the nice they were lookin’ in the window… jus’ like oatmeal bonnags. Naver min’, lah, they’ll do for the pigs. I’ll see qhuat’s in the cubbart. (Goes to the cupboard). Aw, graih vannagh. Theer’s plenty of mate here for a club dinner… an’ I clane forgot it was in the house… aw dear, aw dear, the jerruid is on me, sure enough.

PHIL: Jerruid boght on thee. Let’s have me tay, an’ not so much of the drollane about thee.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well what are we goin’ to do, Phil?

PHIL: What are we goin’ to do? Why we’re goin’ to get tay, of coorse, an’ make a musther an’ las’ be havin’ it… or I’ll have to go to the club without it.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I don’t mane that.

PHIL (with rising anger): Thou don’t mane qhuat?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I was talkin’ about the smookin’.

PHIL: An’ I was talkin’ about the aitin’.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well, qhuat are thou goin’ to do about the smookin’?

PHIL: An qhuat are thou goin to do about the aitin?

MRS QUALTROUGH: I’ll let thee know when thou lets me know qhuat thou’re goin to do about the smookin’.

PHIL: Oh, get the tay ready woman.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well give up the smookin’ then.

PHIL: Oh goy heng, yis, anything at all, so long as we get something to ate.

MRS QUALTROUGH (aside): He’s comin’ toe… I’m thinkin’ he’ll give in yet… if he doesn’ he can look for squalls. (To Phil) All right, lah. (Busy getting tea ready) I daresay I’ll come toe quick enough if I’m not smellin’ the smook of the tabacca. (They sit down). Did thou get the pigs sowl?

PHIL (eating ravenously): Yis, cree, yis.

MRS QUALTROUGH: How much did thou get for them?

PHIL: A middlin’ good price, yah.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well how much I axed.

PHIL: Norra bad price for the pigs, yah… for the time of the year.

MRS QUALTROUGH: But tha’s not tellin’ me how much.

PHIL (coughs and splutters, then recovers his breath): Plague take thee, woman, can’t thou let a fella have his tay in peace?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well surely thou can give a civil answer to a civil question.

PHIL: Let me see… (continues eating) I got… I got… for the owl sow I got… yis I got… aye tha’s qhuat I got.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Qhuat did thou get?

PHIL: Qhuat did I get at all? Upon me sowl I mus’ be losin’ my memory too Margit, for iss clane forgot at me.

MRS QUALTROUGH (hastily): Well, well, no mather, lah, so be as thou gorra good price… oul Mollacreesh ‘ll be plased, he’s as hard as flint.

PHIL: Aw he’s shlute for the money, Margit. These soda cakes is tough, yah. Iss like chawin’ an’ ole lather brat.

MRS QUALTROUGH: The butther milk mus’ have been a lil bit fresh.

PHIL: An’ thou got some of this cussed foreign butther again too, iss so gort iss comin’ out of me ears. How often have I told thee that these foreigners are no use at makin’ anything. An’ as for makin’ butther, they know as much about it as a pig knows about side pockets. I tell thee its cart-grase at them, an’ some of them have the imprance to come over here an thry to tache us how to make butther, but… we could give them a wrinkle or two, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Deed yis, lah. (They finish tea, Phil pulls out pipe, charges it and lights it). Oh dear. (Holding her hands to her head). Where am I? Iss comin’ on me again.

PHIL (hastily puts pipe away. Aside): Drat the woman. Gerrin’ a stew over a lil smook. (To his wife) Naver min’, villish, I’ll put the oul pipe away. (Handing her the pipe and tobacco). Here, take them and do anything thou like with them. (Rises). Well, I mus’ be off to the club, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Arn’ thou goin’ to clane thyself first?

PHIL: I’ll jus’ put me other coat on tonight.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Howl on, I’ll give thee boots a lil rub for thee. (She brushes boots; he puts on hat and coat and embraces her).

PHIL: So long, yah, I’ll be home as soon as I can. (Exit).

MRS QUALTROUGH (exultantly): Well as oul Jemmie Callister used to say before now, I’ve played my card well. But I wonder what’ll be the end of it. (Looking at the pipe etc. in her hand). What am I goin’ to do with them? Iss a pity to burn them. Aw I’ll lave them on the chimlee piece. He might be wantin’ them again, iss hard to tell.

Scene 2. A Manx Kitchen. A Week Later.

Mrs Qualtrough is cleaning the kitchen and singing. Enter Mrs Quinney.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw it’s Cunyah’s wife tha’s in.

MRS QUINNEY: Can I have the len’ of thy big pot, Colcheragh’s wife? I’m wantin’ to strull a few things, an’ theer’s a lake in ours an’ the wather running out like a spoot.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Yis of coorse, an’ welcome. Howl on till I get it for thee. (Goes and gets it). There thou are, vedn. I’ll put it here until thou’re ready to go.

MRS QUINNEY: Thank thee, Misthress Colcheragh. Well did thou do what I was tellin’ thee to?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Yis, yah. Sit down an’ I’ll tell thee all about it.

MRS QUINNEY (seating herself): I musn’ stay tho’. I mus’ get a bit of washin’ done before our Jem gets home… he hates the smell of soap suds, he’s gorra wake stomach.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Our Phil too. He hates to see me washin’. Washin’, washin’, all the time, he says, thou’ll be found dead washin’.

MRS QUINNEY: The men are quare craythers, Misthress Colcheragh, there’s nayther rick nor raison on them… but thou were goin’ to tell me how thou got on with thy man.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Aw well, Cunyah’s wife, but he’s stopped smookin’, but I’m sorry in a kin’ of way, for it’s made an awful temper arrim… I can’t on1 him at all now.

MRS QUINNEY: Well now, I declare, an’ it had the same affect on our Jem. Our Jem’ll be in an awful teer if he smells the soap suds, he says it gets into the mate an’ everything.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well, well, yah, I won’t hider thee.

MRS QUINNEY: Goodmornin’ to thee, Colcheragh’s wife.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Goodmornin’ to theeself, Cunyah’s wife.

Exit Mrs Quinney.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Wharra tongue there’s at the woman. She’d talk the leg urrov a pot, as the man said before now. (Steps heard outside). Here’s Phil, an’ I do believe he’s got some one with him. Who aver can it be?

Enter Phil and Capt. Quirk.

PHIL: This is an old friend of mine, Captain Quirk of the Bedn Varra.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Pleased to meet you Captain Quirk.

Shakes hands.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: An’ I’m mighty plased to meet you. I’ve known Phil for many a long year. In fact we went to school together when stuggas before now.

PHIL: Is the dinner ready, Margit?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Sit down, I’ll have it ready in a crack. Ya’ll have to take pot luck Masther Quirk, as I wasn’ expectin’ a gues’ to dinner.

Mrs Qualtrough puts out plates and ladles out the broth.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Don’t worry about me, Misthress Colcheragh, I’m used to roughin’ it.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Now come on quile it’s hot. There’s nawthin’ like a lil drop of hot broth in this cowl weather.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Thou’re right, Misthress Colcheragh.

Captain Quirk pulls up chair and gets dinner.

PHIL (smelling the broth and turning it over with his spoon): Didn’ thou put any salary in it Margit?

MRS QUALTROUGH: No Phil, couldn’ get any.

PHIL: Goy heigh, an’ a whole dollop of it out in the garden.

MRS QUALTROUGH: There isn’ a scrap in the garden, iss all used.

PHIL: An’ there’s not a bit of turmit init even.

MRS QUALTROUGH: The turmits are getting’ scarce now.

PHIL: Thee gran’mother is getting’ scarce. (Tasting it) Qhuat have thou put in it at all? There’s no taste of salt, mate, or anything else of it; iss jus’ useless like.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Thou’re always grumblin’ at something.

PHIL (throwing down his spoon): An’ it’s singed, woman. Thou’re gone to the divil altogether for cookin’, woman.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What do thou think of the broth, Masther Quirk?

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Iss hot, Misthress Colcheragh, iss hot. Have thou seen Jemmy Clugish lately, Phil?

PHIL: I seen him about a fortnight ago. I was up on the perks with him thryin to put a hoostag on a bullock he’s got up yaonder, but the beggar is as crafty an’ cussed as owl Nick.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Some of them bullocks is hard to manage, lah.

PHIL: Well man, we couldn’ on this fella at all. I’m blest if he didn’ lift Jemmy in the sate and send him flying over the hedge like a kite.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Horgh, horgh, man. Thou don’t mane to say. An’ was he hurted bad?

PHIL: Aw not a grate dale. When I got over the hedge there was Jemmy bogh sittin’ in a clew of gorse an’ shoutin’ that his two legs were broke under him.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Bless me.

PHIL: Well I heisted him out of the gorse an’ gorrim home, an’ the poor feela couldn’ sit down for nearly a week. An’ I b’lieve there’s some of the thorns in him yet.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: That was mighty hard on him too.

PHIL: Aw, he soon got over it; there’s a hide on him like a tup.

Dinner finished, Captain Quirk pulls out his pipe, lights it and smokes hard.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Arn’ thou havin’ a lil draw, Phil? Put fire in thee pipe, lah… thou used to like a lil smook.

PHIL: No, Captain, I’ve given up smookin’.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Horhgh! Given it up… What for, lah?

PHIL: It warn’ doin’ herself… (she looks at him) meself any good.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Well thou’re jus’ as well without it if it warn’ doin’ thee any good. I likes a good smook after dinner, meself. It puts a cap on it like. (Relights)

PHIL (sighing deeply): I’ve often felt that meself, Captain.

MRS QUALTROUGH (rising): I’m wantin’ to go down the village, Phil. I won’t be very long. Good mornin’, Masther Quirk; excuse me for havin’ to lave thee so soon. (Shaking hands) I may be back before you’re gone.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Goodmorning, Misthress Colcheragh, an’ thank you very much.

Exit Mrs Qualtrough.

PHIL (shouting after her): Don’t forget the Indian male for the hens. (To Captain Quirk) Tha’s quare now.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: What’s quare, Phil?

PHIL: I give up smookin’ for it was makin’ herself bad, an’ as soon as ever I’d be goin’ to have a lil draw, it’d be comin’ on her at once, an’ she’s be in a clane comawther – an’ theer’s smook comin’ ourrov thee like a brewery chimlee, an’ not makin’ a spark of difference to her.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Phil. Phil. Thou should be oul enough to understand the women be this time… they’re terrible crafty things, man. I bet thee a pint of ale she’s only shammin’.

PHIL: I was beginnin’ to think that meself. What would thou do, Captain, if thou were in my place?

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Why not thry the same trick on her?

PHIL: How Captain?

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Why, betend thou’re losin’ thy memory.

PHIL: How could I do that at all?

CAPTAIN QUIRK: How could thou manage it? Why, how did herself manage it? If she can do it, surely thou can. Spin a yarn to her… tell her thou heard a Dr sayin’ if a man gives up smookin’ all of a sudden like, it’s bad for makin’ a man losin’ his memory.

PHIL: I’ve a good min’ to thry it on, Captain.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Thou do, Phil. An’ see if it doesn’ work out alright.

PHIL: Well I’ll lave it till nex Satherday, so that she won’ be getting’ suspicious.

CAPTAIN QUIRK: Let’s go for a lil strowl. I’ve got a pipe here I can len’ thee if thou havn’ one. (Both go to the door) I min’ a man once meself whose wife was playin’ gamman on him, just the same as thy wife is doin’ on thee, an’ what did he do, but go an’… (Exeunt still talking)

After a short lapse, enter Mrs Qualtrough.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Ho-o-o, so they’ve gone. I don’t like that Captain Quirk – these sailor man that sail foreign places are never to be trusted. I believe some of them have got as many wives as there’s fingers an’ toes at them. (Goes to the cupboard). Bless me sowl an’ body… if I didn’ forget to put the mate in the broth – no wonder for Captain Quirk to say it was hot.

Scene 3. A fortnight later.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Phil is dreadful late today. (Looks at clock) Nearly five o’clock, an’ him always home on the dot of four on a Satherday – wherever can he be? Here’s the tay stewin’ away on the hob… it won’t be fit to drink. (Smelling it) Phut. It smells like senna. I’m sorry I took any notice of Cunyah’s wife now. There’s been no rest in the house since he gave up smookin’… an’ thass the troose – an’ anyway I’m so used to the pipe, because Daa was such a big smooker – I believe I’m missin’ the smell of the smook, there now – but I suppose I mus’ go on betendin’ iss makin’ me mad. Drat Cunyah’s wife, I say. Where ever has Phil got to at all – after five o’clock – I mus’ go an’ see if he is comin’. (Footsteps heard outside) Here he is at las’.

Enter Phil accompanied by the village constable.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Where have tha been? An’ what have thou been doin’, Phil? What’s the pliceman doin’ with thee at all? (Phil looks deadly at her) Qhuat are thou lookin’ at me like that for… – stannin’ theer like a big stahl, are thou drunk or qhuat?

CONSTABLE: I found him down the road talkin’ to a tree an’ puttin’ a preer of cusses on it for not getting’ out of his road, so I thought I’d better bring him home for fear he’d be getting into trouble. Thou’ll have to keep a batther eye on him, Misthress Colcheragh. I’m afraid he’s been takin a nip too much.

Exit winking at Phil, and nodding to Mrs Qualtrough – laugh heard outside.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Was that pliceman laughin’ at us – he’s the mos’ iggerant man I’ve ever seen. This is a nice state for thee to get into – I’ll be the talk of the parish. Phil Colcheragh getting’ drunk. How dare thou desave me like this Phil. I aver thought thou was total.

PHIL: I was never soberer in me life, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Don’t tell me that, Phil Colcheragh. Can’t I see it with me own eyes? It’s puttin’ dooie on me lookin’ at thee.

PHIL: Iss the truth I’m tellin’ thee, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: How can thou tell me such a bare faced lie, Phil Colcheragh? Thou’ll ruin thyself body and soul, tha’s what thou’ll do. Thou that was reared tander, an’ never one of the robusses nayther. Thou wicked desateful man, thou.

PHIL: Well if thou won’t belave me, Margit, I can’t help it.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well, wha’s the matter with thee2 , if iss not drunk thou are.

PHIL (sitting down despondently): An awful thing has happened to me, Margit. Whatever ‘ll do I do at all?

MRS QUALTROUGH (anxiously): An’ what’s come on thee then?

PHIL (sitting down): Aw something terrible, Margit, something terrible. (rising, and striding to and fro) This is goin’ to drive me to the ‘sylum.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What ever has come over thee, cree?

PHIL: I’m afraid to tell thee, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Has some of the sheep been falling over the brooghs again?

PHIL: Aw, wuss nor that cree, wuss nor that.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Wuss nor that? Is some of the cattle hurted or kilt?

PHIL: Wuss nor that, Margit – far wuss nor that.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Wuss nor that, Phil? (Wringing her hands) Oh I hope thou hav’n gone an’ spent oul Mallcreesh’s money?

PHIL (in deep despair): Aw no, Margit, it’s far wuss nor that.

MRS QUALTROUGH (with great anguish): Wuss nor that, Phil? Surely thou havn’ gone and broke thee arm or thee leg, or done some jeel to theeself of that sort.

PHIL: An’ how could I be walkin’ an’ me legs broke, Margit? Do have a lil bit of common sense. It’s wuss nor that itself.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Wuss nor that? Surely thou hav’n gone an’ kilt oul Mollacreesh. Whatever will we do at all?

PHIL: Wuss nor that, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Wuss nor that? What could be wuss nor that? (Putting her arms round him) Oh, do tell me qhuat’s doin’ on thee. (coaxingly) Tell me own Margit.

PHIL (sitting down): I’ve los’ me memory, Margit, an’ thass the clane troose.

MRS QUALTROUGH (suspiciously): Loss thee memory have thou? An’ where have thou los’ it at all?

PHIL: I don’t know where I’ve been since I left work.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ wha’s made thee lose thy memory at all?

PHIL: Faith an’ I don’t know, Margit. (Looking vacant) I don’t know what’s come over me at all – I’m in a clane comawther – I don’t know where the divil I’ve been since I knocked off work.

MRS QUALTROUGH (anxiously): Phil bogh, what’ll we do at all?

PHIL: This’ll drive me to the Strang, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ what’s made thee lose thy memory at all?

PHIL: I believe its givin’ up the tabacca.

MRS QUALTROUGH (suspiciously): Indeed now.

PHIL: Tha’s the only way I can account for it Margit. I heard oul Dr Harrison tellin’ one time, that if a man gives up smookin’ sudden like, he’s ap to lose his memory.

MRS QUALTROUGH (very suspiciously): Did thou raylly now?

PHIL: Yiss cree. Iss the solemn troose.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ do thou think that givin’ up smookin’ is doin’ on thee?

PHIL: I believe it mus’ be – for I naver los’ me memory before. I ever had a good memory.

Phil rises and walks to and fro.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well come an’ get tay, lah. May’ve thou’ll feel batther after that.

PHIL: What tay?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What tay? Don’t be actin the gor.

PHIL: What gor?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Oh the bock-gor. (She pushes him into his chair). Sit down an’ fill thee gob.

PHIL (faintly): What gob?

MRS QUALTROUGH: How many gobs have thou got? (Pushing him a piece of soda cake) Stuff this in thee an’ less of thy blather. (They get tea, talking all the time, when tea is finished she says) I spose thou’d better be thryin’ the bacca again. I can hardly think iss that thass doin’ on thee, meself. Thou’d bather be givin’ me some money – I’ll have to be gettin’ in a few things for Sunday.

PHIL: What money?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What money? Why thy wages of coorse. What money do thou think?

PHIL: What wages?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What wages? Are thou gone clicky or what?

PHIL: I havn’ got any wages.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Havn’ got any?

PHIL: Norra ha’penny.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I ‘spected as much. Thou’ve gone an’ drunk thee money. I’ll go an’ lave thee this very minute. (Gets ready to go) Iss that dirty Captain Quirk tha’s led thee astray – I naver thought very much of him. A nice thing indeed for the neighbours to talk about in Chapel on Sunday. Qhuat do thou think of Phil Colcheragh – got drunk an’ spent all his wages. Thou ought to be ashamed of thyself.

PHIL: Howl on, howl on, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Howl on indeed. A nice state of things, Phil Colcheragh. Everybody’ll be staring at me when I go down to the village – there’s Colcheragh’s wife, the poor crayther mus’ have had a hard time of it. Oh havn’ you heard? Colcheragh has taken to drink. I hope thou’re ashamed of thyself – but theer’s norra but of shame in thee – or thou wouldn’ go an bring this disgrace on meself an’ the childher.

Mrs Qualtrough breaks down crying.

PHIL (goes and pats her on the back): Don’t take on like this Margit – there now – there now – be quiet.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Little thou cares what becomes of us – likely we’ll finish up on the parish.

Mrs Qualtrough sobs, wipes her eyes with the tablecloth.

PHIL: There, yah – there, yah – hush, cree. I’m as sober as thou are thyself, Margit. I havn’ spent a penny.

MRS QUALTROUGH (drying her tears): What have thou done with thee wages then? Didn Molacreesh give thee any?

PHIL: Who Mollacreesh?

MRS QUALTROUGH (with rising anger): Who Mollacreesh? Why thee Masther, of coorse.

PHIL: What Masther?

MRS QUALTROUGH: What Masther. How many Masthers have thou got? He’s gone clane barmy. What’ll I do with him at all?

PHIL: Do with who?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Shee bannee mee. The man ‘ll have the sowl case worried out of me.

PHIL (agonisingly): What sowl-case, Margit?

MRS QUALTROUGH: For goodness sake shut thee gob, an’ turn thee pockets out. Thou’ll have me drove as clicky as thyself.

PHIL: What poggads?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Thee jaggad poggads, an’ thee britches poggads, an’ all thee poggads.

PHIL (turns out his pockets): Theer’s nawthin’ theer, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ what on earth have thee done with thy money at all – thou’ve gone as stupid as a sheep – thy memory is clane altogether – I’d batther run down to oul Mollacreesh to see he gave thee any wages. (Aside) P’raps I’d batther lerrim have a lil smook. (Gets his pipe and charges it for him). Here, cree, have a lil smook. (Strikes a match and holds it to his pipe) Smook hard, lah. (A little pause) Are thou comin’ toe at all?

PHIL (smoking hard and smiling contentedly): Aw yis, I’m comin’ on nice.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Can thou remember where thee wages is put at thee yet?

PHIL: Not yet, cree. Fuirree, yah – fuirree – it’ll come to me soon. (Puffing away).

MRS QUALTROUGH: Will I put a lil but more tabacca in thee pipe for thee?

PHIL: Howl on, yah, howl on. I believe in me sowl I put a pound note in me hat.

MRS QUALTROUGH: In thee hat? An’ whatever made thee put it in such a quare place as that?

PHIL: I dunno in me senses – have a look, yah.

MRS QUALTROUGH (examines hat): Norra sign of a poun’ note here, Phil. I’ve examined the linin’ an’ everywhere.

PHIL: Not inside the linin’? Wherever can it be then?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Go on smookin’, lah, to see if thou can remember where thou put it.

Mrs Qualtrough takes pipe, refills it etc.

PHIL: I mus’ have put it in me stockin’, cree. Howl on a minute, yah. (Takes off boot and stocking). I believe in me sowl it’s here. (Pulls a piece of paper out of his stocking) here it is, yah.

Phil hands paper to his wife.

MRS QUALTROUGH: This isn’ a poun’ note at all, Phil. It’s one of oul Mollachressh’s bills.

PHIL: Bless me, so it is. Whatever have I done with it at all?

MRS QUALTROUGH: Think hard. Think hard, lah. Have another lil smook?

Mrs Qualtrough holds match to pipe.

PHIL: It mus’ have been the wrong boot I took off – may’ve it’s in the other stockin’.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Whatever are thou doin’ stickin’ things in stockin’s for?

PHIL: Because theer’s holes in me pockets. I los’ three or four coppers and some matches las week.

MRS QUALTROUGH: An’ it’s not long since I put new pockerts in thee britches for thee. I don’t know how thou are gettin’ holes in them.

PHIL (takes off the other boot and stocking): Have a look in theer, Margit.

MRS QUALTROUGH (examining them): There’s nawthin’ in them nayther. I hopes thou havn’ gone an’ los’ them.

PHIL: Iss not los’ at all, cree, but I’m blest if I can remember where I put it – I mus’ a put it somewhere.

MRS QUALTROUGH: What’ll we do at all. No money in the house to buy a few things for Sunday. An’ Bobbie bogh wants a new pair of boots too. – The feet of the lil millish is nearly on the groun’. An’ the Sunday School Aniversary too – an’ the lil bogh lookin’ to it for weeks – the crayther’s heart ‘ll be clane broke. Aw, aw dear. Whatever ‘ll we do at all at all – an’ to think its meself that’s done the jeel. Have another lil smook, Phil.

PHIL: I remember where it is now. I pushed it in a hole in a tree on the road home. I thought it was me pocket I was puttin’ it in – an’ then the pliceman came and took me home. I’ll go an’ get it. (Puts boots and stockings on). I won’t be five minutes, Margit. Bless me sowl, Margit, Bless me sowl, but the jerruid was on me right.

Exit Phil.

MRS QUALTROUGH: I declare if the tabacca isn’ smellin’ quite sweet to me – I don’t know what I went an’ took any notice of Cunyah’s wife’s boghnid for all.

Enter Phil.

PHIL (handing note to her): Here it is cree.

MRS QUALTROUGH (clasping it to her bosom): Thank goodness, have another lil smook’ villish.

PHIL (contentedly smookin’ his pipe): Theer’s nawthin’ like a lil smook for the memory, lah.

MRS QUALTROUGH: Well. (Embracing him). I’m goin’ down the village, Phil, an’ I’ll bring thee home two ounces of the bes’ Manx Twiss.

FINISH

Notes

  1. This is “oh” in the original manuscript. This is assumed to have been a mistake.
  2. The original manuscript has “then” here. This is assumed to have been a mistake.

J. J. Kneen’s comic play in three scenes follows the outcome of Mrs Qualtrough’s attempt to trick her husband into giving up smoking.

A Lil Smook was submitted to the 1913 Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh play competition organised by Sophia Morrison. Although A Lil Smook received fewer marks than Christopher Shimmin’s Luss ny Graih, it received first prize in virtue of keeping to the word-count. Unfortunately timed with the start of World War I and the death of Sophia Morrison, Kneen’s play had to wait until April 1920 for its first performance, when it was staged by Mona Douglas’ company, The Ballasalla Players, alongside Cushag’s play, Eunys. It has remained a central work of Manx dialect theatre ever since.

The greatest Manx linguist of his generation and one of the most important scholars of Manx subjects, J. J. Kneen was also the most prolific playwright that the Isle of Man has ever known.