Ann

Characters:

Ann: A woman with a tongue and a mind.
Jem Kermode (Kaymad): Her man, merely a cipher.
Esther: A similar type to Ann.
Ned Kennaugh: Esther’s man. Another cipher when at home, but not when abroad.
Mrs Christian: A farmer’s wife. Good at a bargain.
Minister: An English praycher.

Period:

The present.

Place:

A country district.

Scenes:

Scene 1. Kermode’s kitchen on a summer evening.
Scene 2. A road near Christian’s farm, the same evening.
Scene 3. Kermode’s kitchen, later same evening.
Scene 4. Kennaugh’s kitchen, the following evening.

Scene 1. Kermode’s kitchen.

Usual country kitchen. Old fashioned cradle on the floor. Street door on the left, parlour door on the right, entrance to the left at back of kitchen. This can be arranged with a short pair of steps, say about three or four steps on either side, and a curtain arrangement. In the cradle there is supposed to be a fretful child, which requires rocking all the time. The cradle may contain a large doll, pillow or anything. The crying is imitated by someone behind the stage, which is not very difficult. The scene opens with Mrs Kermode singing and rocking the cradle with her foot; the child gives a squawk now and again. It is raining heavily outside. This may be imitated by rustling or crumpling crisp parchment like paper.

MRS KERMODE: Now I wonder what has become of Jem. It’s time he was comin’ in to his tay. Talk about women gossiping, the men is aiqual to them any time. Its doin’ a terble everin’ for all. (Goes to look out) Rainin’ cats and dogs I declare. (Squawk). Oh go to sleep. The chile mus’ be teethin’ or something. It’s as cross as two sticks. (Squawk). Dear me. I can’t get a chance to get tay ready. (Goes to cradle and begins to rock and sing again. Steps heard outside). Sounds as if there is someone with him. Who can it be at all?

Enter Kermode and Minister.

KERMODE: Ann, I’ve brought the Minister home with me, he’s wet through, an’ it’s not fit for him to travel home to Douglas this evening. So we’ll have to put him up for the night.

Mrs. Kermode does not look pleased and scowls at the Minister.

MINISTER: How d’ye do, Mrs Kermode? Shocking evening, isn’t it?

MRS KERMODE (sharply): Shockin’ enough.

MINISTER: It’s so good of you to offer hospitality.

MRS KERMODE: H’mph.

MINISTER: I sincerely hope I won’t inconvenience you.

MRS KERMODE: Not at all, Minister, the childe is cross, it’s makin’ herself short-tempered. You’ll be alright.

MINISTER: It’s very good of you, I’m sure.

KERMODE: Come onto the parlour Minister, an’ I’ll get ya an’ oul suit of mine to put on.

Exit Minister and Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: Now what the mischief did he want to bring the Minister here for, as if I hadn’ enough work to do already. What with the chile an’ one thing and another I’ll be druv clicky. Our Jem is the thoughtlessest craythur you’d meet in a day’s walk. I can’t manage all the housework alone at all. I’ll have to be gettin’ a sarvent an’ that’ll cost something too. It’s lek I’ll have to go up on the laff an’ look for the Bible. For he’s sure to be wantin’ to say a few words. An’ the Bible hasn’ been down off the laff since the anniverstary services, when the praycher was up to tay. I suppose there’ll be an inch thick of dust on it.

She gets up from the cradle and goes towards the left. Mr Kermode looks out, and he slips across the floor and out through the front door. Mrs Kermode just gets a glimpse of his back and thinks it is the Minister.

MRS KERMODE: There’s the Minister gon out; an’ I wish he’d stay out. Useless craythurs like all the res’ of the men. Now if they had women praychurs they’d have something sensible.

Exit. Noises of Bible searching going on, interspersed with forcible remarks about ministers in general and husbands in particular.

MRS KERMODE (coming in): I’ve found it. An’ it’s the searching I had for it. Jem had it under the candlestick to lift it up so that he could see to read the Examiner in bed. I naver saw such a man in me life, as stupid as a motherless lamb.

Just as she is passing the parlour door the Minister comes out dressed in old suit of Kermode’s. She takes him for her husband, and she hits him on the head with the Bible.

MRS KERMODE: There now. That’ll larn thee to be bringin’ praychers to the house. (Squawk). Go an’ rock the cradle.

MINISTER: Madam I protest –

MRS KERMODE: Aw bless me sowl if it’s not the Minister that’s in. An’ me thinkin’ it was that blieh of a man of mine. I’m hopin’ I didn’ hurt ya, Minister.

MINISTER (gallantly): Not at all, Mrs Kermode. Thank goodness nature has endowed me with a fairly hard skull.

MRS KERMODE: It’s lookin’ middlin’ thick anyway.

MINISTER: I think I had better try and get home. I’m very much afraid you don’t like my company. (Squawk).

MRS KERMODE: Ya can’t go home now. The weather is too shockin’ bad. (Child cries). Go an’ rock the cradle while I’m gettin’ a cup of tay ready.

MINISTER: My dear Mrs Kermode, I never did such a thing in my life. Really, I – I – I couldn’t think of it.

MRS KERMODE: It’s about time you got your hand in, Minister. I suppose you’ll be thinkin’ of getting married some day, and the fuss thing you’ll have to learn is to rock the cradle. It’s not natural for a man to be livin’ alone, an’ anyway a man is a bogh of a thing by himself. Can’t get a male ready or even stich a button on his trousers. Boghs. (Squawk). Now go your ways to the cradle an’ rock the bogh millish.

MINISTER: But really, Mrs Kermode, I should prefer not to do so. It is so degrading to one of my profession.

MRS KERMODE: Degrading. H’mph. (Squawk). Come over here an’ I’ll show ya how to do it.

She goes over to the cradle, sits down, and rocks it with her foot.

MRS KERMODE: Now that’s the way, nice and gentle like. (Gets up). Now come an’ sit down an’ let me see how ya can do it.

MINISTER: But – ah – really – ah –

MRS KERMODE: Not so much of your raelly’s an’ fal-tha-lahs. Come an’ sit down an’ show that you can work as well as praych.

Minister sits down and sighs, and very reluctantly commences to rock the cradle with his foot.

MRS KERMODE: Deed an’ it’s yourself that’s shaping well. Nice an’ gentle now. (Keeping time with the rocking). Rick rock, rick rock, rick rock. You’re doin’ splendidly. When you get a wife she’ll be delighted that you’re so claver. (Minister in disgust). You’re so sloped to it I’m gettin’ ‘spicious. It’s not the first time you’ve had your foot on a cradle. ‘Strorndery sloped to it you are. (Baby cries loudly, the minister rocks furiously, Mrs Kermode rushes to cradle and rocks gently). Steady on now, that’s not the way to rock a cradle, you’ll have the chile flung out on the floor. Keep your foot nice an’ steady now, an’ don’t be impatient, a minister should have plenty of patience. (Minister rocks gently and the crying stops). Fit to give the chile water on the brain rockin’ like yandher. (She brings him the Bible). Here, you’d bes’ be readin’ the good Book while you’re rockin’, it’ll keep your mind subdued. (She begins to get tea ready. Kermode comes in). Where have thou been gallivantin’ toe?

KERMODE: Jus’ doin’ the kartaghs outside woman.

MRS KERMODE: It took thee a mighty long time. (Hands him the tea pot). Here go an’ empty the taypot, an’ not so much of thee jabber. Thou’d talk the bark of a tree. Hurry up now, I’m waitin’ for it.

KERMODE: Right thou are. (Chuckling). I see you’re at a good job, Minister. Ya can take “PATIENCE” as a tex’ for Sunday. An’ ya can give your expayriences to the congregation. Won’t they be delighted now?

MRS KERMODE: Are thou goin’ to keep me all night waiting for tha’ taypot. Hurry up, the water will be boilt away.

KERMODE: I’m goin’ now.

Exit.

MRS KERMODE: Is the chile asleep?

MINISTER (peering anxiously at child): It’s eyes are shut.

MRS KERMODE: Aw, that’s nawthin’ to go by. Stop rockin’ for a minute. (Minister stops rocking, the child is not asleep, rocks again. Kermode returns an’ wets the tea. While he is doing it hums one of the latest songs). Don’t be singin’ them worldly songs before the minister. He’ll be shocked at thee. Sing “A few more years will roul” or something that the minister will appreciate. Bless me, he’s so taken up with his new job he’s not taken notice of nawthin’. He can rock the cradle far batther than thee, Kaymad, far batther. He’s as quate and gentle as if it were his own chile. Now, Minister, come an’ pull your chair up, and get a cup of tay. I suppose you can do with a cup.

MINISTER (rising from cradle and coming to the table): I think I should rather enjoy a cup of tea, now.

KERMODE: Well, you’ve arn’t it anyway.

MRS KERMODE: I never knew a man yet who wasn’ fonder of sitting down to a male than rockin’ a cradle. Toots of things for mindin’ childher the men are. No patience at all at them. Sit down now.

All sit.

MRS KERMODE: Now, Jem, power out the tay, an’ don’t be sitting theer gapin’ with thee mouth open like a gallapern. (Jem pours out tea and they begin). You’re very quate, Minister, thinkin’ over your sermon for Sunday, may’ve.

MINISTER: I was thinkin’ about the frailty of human nature, Mrs Kermode. You have given me a great deal of food for thought.

MRS KERMODE: There now, I knew there was something heavy on your mind. I could tell by the empty look in your eyes. (Handing a plate). Here, have a piece of bonnag, you want food for the stummack as well as the brain. An’ keep your mind on your male and you’ll enjoy it batther. (To Kermode). Had a good meetin’ this afternoon?

KERMODE (with his mouth full): Good mighty.

MRS KERMODE: The bonnag or the meeting?

KERMODE: Aw, the meetin’ yah, the meetin’.

MRS KERMODE: Did all the trustees turn up?

KERMODE: All except Billy Faragher.

MRS KERMODE: That oul sleech would be too busy makin’ money.

MINISTER: What’s a sleech?

MRS KERMODE: A sleech is a – a – a – what’s a sleech Jem?

KERMODE: A sleech is a – a – a – snake.

MINISTER: How remarkable. The cunning of the serpent.

MRS KERMODE: Masther Kermode doesn’t mane a snake, a sarpint, at all, but a sneak.

MINISTER (mystified): H’mph. Remarkable.

MRS KERMODE: How many would there be at the meetin’?

KERMODE: Well we did count them, but it’s forgot at me now. Do you know how many there would be Minister?

MINISTER: Ah – a – a – I haven’t the faintest recollection.

MRS KERMODE Bless me sowl, what men. (Pause). Anything new in Doolish, Masther?

MINISTER: We are makin’ a great effort to raise a fund for a new hall, ah – a – a – and we are holding a bazaar in November. It will be quite the event of the winter in Douglas.

MRS KERMODE: We’ll have to go down to see that, Jem.

KERMODE (with his mouth full): Yiss.

MRS KERMODE: They can get money in Douglas for anything; an’ our hall is nearly fallin’ down about our ears.

MINISTER: Can you not raise money here?

KERMODE: What can we poor country folk afford?

MINISTER: I always thought country people were a fairly well-to-do class.

MRS KERMODE: Well, you’re thinking wrong. We can’t afford a hapenny. Can we Jem, what are thou saying?

KERMODE: I’m sayin’ nawthin’.

MRS KERMODE: Naw, but stuffin’ theeself like a pig. Why don’t thou larn to ate proper. The Minister will be disgusted at thee.

MINISTER: Not at all, Mrs Kermode, I like to see a man enjoying his food. A good digestion is a blessing one ought to be thankful for.

MRS KERMODE: You seem to be doin’ pretty middlin’ yourself, Minister.

MINISTER: Thank God, I have a fairly good appetite.

MRS KERMODE: Are you married?

MINISTER (sharply): No, I’m not.

MRS KERMODE: Then you should be, you’re young, and not bad lookin’ either. Can’t you get a woman?

MINISTER: I am married to my profession, Mrs Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: Your profession won’t darn your socks, Minister.

All finish tea and leave the table.1

KERMODE: Are you goin’ out, Minister?

MINISTER: No, I’m afraid I’ll have to wait for my clothes to dry, I cannot go out in these.

MRS KERMODE: The murn and pride at some people, who’s goin’ to notice you?

MINISTER: Well, I feel rather tired, and if you have no objection, I should prefer to stay in the house.

MRS KERMODE: Aw, no objection whatsomever. If you want to stay, stay, you’re as welcome out as you are here. Plaze yourself, Masther, an’ when you plaze yourself you’ll not be plazin’ anybody else.

MINISTER: What an’ extraordinary thing to say, Mrs Kermde.

MRS KERMODE: I’m a strornary woman, Masther, at least that’s what my man tells me. But the both of you can stay in an’ mind the chile; an’ mind the lil craythur don’t throw the clothes of himself an’ catch coul. An’ if the Minister is rockin’ the cradle, keep an eye on him Jem, an’ don’t let him think it’s a swing in Laxa Glen he’s got. He’s comon’ on nice at the rockin, he’s taken to it like a fish to water.

KERMODE: But I want to go out, Ann.

MRS KERMODE: Thou’re doin’ nawthin’ of the surt, thou’re stayin’ here, so that’s settled. A man’s place is in his own home, not in other people’s. I want to go and see Bella.

KERMODE (with resignation): Well, that’s as good as lost.

MRS KERMODE: What are thou talkin’ about?

KERMODE: Bill Kinley promised to pay me sartain for the haffer this everin’, an’ he’s owed it for a long time, an’ goodness knows when I’ll get it if I don’t get it this everin’.

MRS KERMODE: I know thee too well, Jem Kaymad, it’s only ‘scuses at thee, – just wantin’ to get out. Thou’ll be comin’ home and sayin’ – Bill wasn’ in – or he hadn’ the money – or – bah – I can read thee like a book.

KERMODE: It’s all right, ya, but if I don’t get the money thou’ll not be able to buy that new hat thou were talkin’ about.

MRS KERMODE: I’ve been hearin’ stories like that before too.

KERMODE (crossly): All right, I won’t go.

MRS KERMODE: Thou’ll go, if I tell thee to go.

KERMODE: I won’t go, so there. I’ll not stir a blessed foot out of the house this everin’.

MRS KERMODE: Won’t thou, I’ll see to that. Get thee hat an’ coat on an’ go thee ways. I don’t know if thou’re tellin’ me the truth or not. As likely as not it’s all lies.

KERMODE (with injured air): I don’t want to go now.

MRS KERMODE (hands him his hat an’ coat): Here, get them on thee before I give thee what for. It’s a bathaging thou want. An’ if thou come home without that money, look out for squalls. I’m wantin’ to go that way meself, so I can keep an’ eye on thee, an’ see where thou’re goin’.

KERMODE: Thou can’t come with me, Ann. Bill Kinley hates the women like poison. I’ll not get a blessed farthing if thou come with me – not a farthin’.

MRS KERMODE: Bill Kinley and thee too ought to have your heads banged together. A pair of useless bleihs. Be off with ya. The Minister can mind the chile while I’m out.

MINISTER (in horror): But Mrs Kermode, I absolutely –

MRS KERMODE: Oh you’re full of ‘scuses now. But you needn’ be. You can manage alright. So there that’s settled.

Total collapse of Minister, sits down and fans himself.

MRS KERMODE: Now be off with thee, Jem. An’ if thou come home without that money thou’ll get the length of me tongue.

KERMODE: I’ll see thee later, Minister. Thou’ll have to put a bed in the parlour for him, Ann.

MRS KERMODE: Mind thee own business an’ be off with thee.

Exit Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: Now I won’t be long away, Minister, an’ I hope I can thrus’ thee to look after the chile. An’ if he wakes up again he may be wantin’ a drop of milk. The bottle is here clane an’ ready. (Produces bottle). An’ the milk is ready too, in that lil pot on the hob. Jus’ give it a lil warm. An’ for goodness sake don’t make it too hot, or else you’ll scald the child’s throat, an’ you’ll never get it pacified. It’ll be blue murther.

MINISTER: My dear Mrs Kermode, don’t leave me alone, for goodness sake.

MRS KERMODE: Now don’t be thrying to get familiar because the Masther is out.

MINISTER: This is intolerable. I’ll not remain another moment in the house. I’m going home if I have to walk every inch of the way.

Baby cries.

MRS KERMODE: Now then get your foot on the cradle.

MINISTER: Madam, I absolutely refuse. I will not be subjected to these indignities.

MRS KERMODE: Don’t be puttin’ on airs, an’ pretendin’ to be something high an’ mighty. Act like a man an’ get your foot on the cradle. And if you want to observe humility the Bible is theer, but if you feel more worldly minded you’ll find last night’s Daily Mail on the dhresser. A powerful lot of newses in it too; braches of promise, divorces an’ things. England mus’ be a morthal sinful place to live in, Minister, an’ you can thank your lucky stars that thay’ve sent you to such a quiet law-abiding place as the Isle of Man.

She proceeds to put on her outdoor clothes, talking all the time.

MINISTER: But, Mrs Kermode –

MRS KERMODE (breaking in): Downright wicked they are in England, that’s what I says. As full of sin as an egg is full of mate. I’m wondherin’ they are not destroyed like Sodom an’ Gommorah. As I said before, Minister, you can thank God and think yourself lucky to get away from such a sinful place. (Baby cries). Now get to the cradle.

MINISTER: Madam, I –

MRS KERMODE: Or else he’ll have the house cried down in a few minutes.

Minister goes reluctantly to the cradle and rocks.

MRS KERMODE: As I was sayin’, England is a shockin’ bad place, an’ it’s a pity you weren’t born here, and you’ve been a good Manxman – not that any men are much good as a matter of fact. – Boghs of things. An’ even the English newspapers are full of sin and wickedness, not nice homely papers like our Manx ones – full of tay parties an’ revivals an’ interestin’ newses like that.

MINISTER: Mrs Kermode, I object –

MRS KERMODE: As I was sayin’, don’t forget what I tol’ you about the milk. Not too hot an’ not too coul, jus’ middlin’, for if it’s too coul you’ll gripe the lil craythur, an’ he’ll kick up such a row you won’t know whether you’re standin’ on your head or your heels.

Minister looks startled, begins to rock cradle vigorously.

MRS KERMODE: Not too hard now, nice and gentle like. As I was saying, it’s a good job you’ve found yourself in such a small quiet place, if you’d have been in England it’s like you’d have been taken up for brache-of-promise before this. And if you’ll take my advice you’ll marry a nice quiet Manx country girl like myself.

MINISTER (holding up his arms in horror): Heaven forbid.

MRS KERMODE: Because as I was sayin’, you’ll save yourself a hape of trouble in the future if you’ll take my advice. Remember all I’ve toul ya now, an’ don’t forget Patience is a vartue. (Impressively). And vartue has its own reward, Masther. So-long, Minister.

Exit Mrs Kermode. Child begins to cry, minister rocks furiously. Child cries louder and minister leaves the cradle and rushes to warm the milk. Puts it hurriedly into bottle, and rushes to the cradle, and gives the milk to the child who becomes quieter again. Minister sits down and fans himself with the Daily Mail.

MINISTER: Patience is a virtue, yes, I believe she’s right there. But that patience has its own reward, now I wonder. Dear, dear what a woman.

Curtain. End of Scene 1.

Scene 2. A Road

Ned Kennaugh coming along the road on his bike, runs over a duck and kills it. Mrs Christian, a farmer’s wife, comes on the scene.

KENNAUGH: I’m powerful sorry, Misthress Christian, after all the care I took in passing thy flock of ducks. One of them ran under the wheel and kilt itself; clane suicide, I’m thinkin’. It mus’ have been tired of its life, poor thing. It might have been murdher as well, for a duck is a nasty grazy thing to run over; and only I held on to the handlebars like a flitter to a rock it’s kilt I might have been meself.

MRS CHRISTIAN: What rubbish thou are talking – boghnid. The craythur kilt itself indeed. Our ducks know batther than to kill themselves, Masther Kennaugh. They’re the most intelligent birds I ever did see. They’ll run straight in front of a bicycle for miles without gettin’ in your road, an’ it’s a terble speed thou mus’ have been travelling to kill the poor craythur. And I wouldn’t mind so much but it’s Betsy voght thou’ve run over and kilt. Murdhered the poor crayther – the lil fat one with the black on its tail. (Putting her coarse apron to her eyes and wiping away an imaginary tear). An’ the childher was that fond of her too. Their lil hearts will be broke that they will. That’ll be a nice penny thou’ll have for to pay, Masther Kennaugh; for I rathered thee to murdher all the flock til Betsy voght.

KENNAUGH: Ducks is only chape now, Misthress.

MRS CHRISTIAN: What chape, one and flippence a pound in Douglas market las’ Sathaday, I’m toul.

KENNAUGH: I’ll sell thee as many as thou want at one and two pence a pound.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Who’d take your skinny things – half starved – that’s what they are. No proper mate at them. It would take a dozen of them to taste a pot of broth.

KENNAUGH: They’re fed far better than yours.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Deed they’re not. (Holding up Betsy) Look at the layers of fat on her.

KENNAUGH: I’ll bring thee one of mine instead of it.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Thou’ll do nawthin’ of the surt. Thou’ll have to pay me for it, or I’ll bring thee before the High Bailiff.

KENNAUGH: Well, it can’t be helped now, the deed is done an’ there’s no use of cryin’ about it. I’ll give thee three shillings and call it square. An’ that’s more than the duck is worth.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Three shillings. H’mph. The omprance of the man. If it had been one of the others I wouldn’ have minded now – but three shillin’s is no pay for Betsy. I want six shillin’s at least an’ not a penny less will I take.

KENNAUGH: Thou’re mad woman, the whole flock is hardly worth that.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Six shillin’s an’ not a penny less.

KENNAUGH: Three shillin’s an’ not a penny more.

MRS CHRISTIAN: All right, I’ll summons thee, an’ it’s as like it’ll cos’ thee six times more.

KENNAUGH (handing her 3/-): Here’s three shillin’s for thee.

MRS CHRISTIAN: I won’t take it. I’ll summons thee for it.

KENNAUGH: Well let’s split the difference. I’ll give thee 4/6.

MRS CHRISTIAN (standing with her arms akimbo): Not a penny less then 6/- will I take, Masther Kennaugh.

KENNAUGH: Thou’re a hard woman. If thou’re Christian by name thou’re not by nature.

MRS CHRISTIAN (clapping her hands to emphasise her words): Six shillin’s, Masther Kennaugh, and not a penny less. An’ it’ll larn thee to go runnin’ about the road an’ killin’ people’s ducks like them mad motor fellas from Douglas. Thou ought to be ashamed of theeself, but there’s no shame in thee. An’ then to offer a person 3/- for a beautiful duck like Betsy. Phut. I’ve no patience with thee. (Turns back and starts to walk away). Thou’ll be hearin’ from Athol Street in a day or two.

KENNAUGH: Well here thou are. I’ll give thee 6/-; an’ I’ll bet thou never got such a price for a skinny duck before; not even when the war was on.

She takes the 6/- and walks off with it, also the duck.

KENNAUGH: Hi, Misthress Christian. What about the duck?

Mrs Christian turns round.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Well. What about it?

KENNAUGH: The duck is mine. I’ve paid for it.

MRS CHRISTIAN: Deed, thou’ve done nawthin’ of the surt. Thou’ve paid 6/- damages for killin’ it. That’s what thou’ve done. The imprance of the man is shockin’. What’s 6/- for Betsy, gool wouldn’ buy her. I’ll take the lil crayther. (Wipes her eyes with her apron). Poor Betsy. There’ll be no comfortin’ the childher when they get to know. An’ there’s the imparant murdherer stannin’ theer not satisfied with killin’ thee, but wantin’ to make a pot of broth out of thee. Shame on thee, Masther Kennaugh. Betsy Voght (wiping her eyrs). We’ll have to make a pot of broth out of thee ourselves. Good everin’ to thee, Masther Kennaugh.

Exit.

KENNAUGH: Well, if that’s not the limit. She’s collared the duck an’ the money as well.

Enter Kermode.

KERMODE: Thou’re lookin’ a bit put out, Ned.

KENNAUGH: Thou’d look put out theeself.

KERMODE: What’s the matter?

KENNAUGH: I ran over one of Christian’s ducks, an’ I give her 6/- for it; an’ I’m blest if she didn’ collar the money an’ duck as well.

KERMODE: Aw it’s jus’ like the Christian ones, Ned. Cribbajagh an’ as hard as nails.

KENNAUGH: They’re all that.

KERMODE: It’s been a shockin’ evenin’.

KENNAUGH: Yes, thunder about, I’m thinkin’.

KERMODE: I wouldn’ thrust now. This mornin’s milk has turned anyway.

KENNAUGH: Thou’re lookin’ a bit provitchagh theeself, Jem. What’s the matter with thee?

KERMODE: A woman’s tongue, Ned.

KENNAUGH: A woman’s tongue, eh? It’s too long, I suppose. Thou’ll have to get it clipped.

KERMODE: Easier said than done.

KENNAUGH: Not at all, the question is, who’s the masther of the house?

KERMODE: Aw, Ann’s the boss, Ned, an’ I’m not denyin’ it either.

KENNAUGH: I’ll let no woman boss me.

KERMODE: I’m not mindin’ the bossin’ so much, it’s the treble tongue at her. From the time she gets up in the mornin’ until she’s asleep in the bed again it’s goin’ ray reglar like the clapper mill.

KENNAUGH: What are thou lissenin’ to it for?

KERMODE: Lissenin’? An’ how can I help lissenin’ when I’ve got a pair of ears at me.

KENNAUGH: Pretend you’re getting’ dafe.

KERMODE: Thou don’ know Ann; she’d twig in a minute that it was all mayin’.

KENNAUGH: It’s aisy to dupe the boss woman in the worl’.

KERMODE: May’ve, but thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: It’s a wondher thou married such a woman.

KERMODE: She’s a good woman, an’ I won’t have a word said agin her either.

KENNAUGH: Well, what are thou talkin’ ‘bout then?

KERMODE: It’s not the woman I was talkin’ about at all, it’s her tongue.

KENNAUGH: Well thou can’t have a woman without a tongue, it isn’ natural.

KERMODE: Ah, but thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: I’d let no woman wear the britches in my house.

KERMODE: Indeed now.

KENNAUGH: Indeed I wouldn’t.

KERMODE (sighing): But thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: It’s aisy enough to manage a woman if thou know the right way to go about it. Make her knuckle under to thee every time. Jus thou say to her – “There’s only room for one boss in this house, an’ that’s me.”

KERMODE (sadly shaking his head): Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: She must be a terror.

KERMODE (sharply): Indeed she’s not now. She’s the bes’ woman in the parish.

KENNAUGH (sarcastically): Oh, she’s an angel.

KERMODE: All except her tongue.

KENNAUGH: Well I suppose even angels have tongues.

KERMODE: May’ve. But thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: But thou’re allowin’ she’s the boss.

KERMODE: Yiss, I’m allowin’ that.

KENNAUGH: Wouldn’ thou like to be the boss theeself?

KERMODE: Well, it’s natural I suppose.

KENNAUGH: Well it’s as simple as pie; all thou’ve got to do is say, “I’m the boss”.

KERMODE: H’m. I fancy meself sayin’ it. She’s fling the pot or the kettle at me. Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Thou’ve let her have her own way so much that she can pull thee in an’ out an’ squeeze thee flat like a piece of chewin’ gum. Goy Hi. A nice specimen of a man thou are to be sure, to let a woman domineer over thee like that. Put thee foot down, man.

KERMODE (sadly): Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Hah. Thou make me sick.

KERMODE: I suppose thou’re no bather off theeself.

KENNAUGH: Deed, an’ I’d let no woman domineer over me.

KERMODE: What can I do?

KENNAUGH: Why, boss her about for a change.

KERMODE: She’d raise oul Harry.

KENNAUGH: Well, raise oul Harry theeself. Two can play at the same game.

KERMODE: Thou don’t know Ann. I’m, afraid Bhoy, I’m afraid. There’s a tongue arrer that would peel spuds. Once that tongue of hers gets well grased, only the hitchin’ of a schooner’s anchor to it would stop it. – An’ even then, as likely as not, the achor would have to the smiddy for repairs.

KENNAUGH: If thou’re goin’ to be afraid of her she’ll lead thee a dog’s life for the rest of thee days.

KERMODE: She’s not a bad surt at all though. She’s got a heart as tender as a chicken.

KENNAUGH: It’s a mercy it’s not too close to her tongue, or else it would be cut in ribbons.

KERMODE: Are thou the boss in thy house?

KENNAUGH: No woman would boss me.

KERMODE: How would thou go about it, if thou were me?

KENNAUGH: As soon as thou go in the house take off thee boots an’ fling them in the middle of the floor an’ tell her to get them claynt as quick as possible. That’ll make her blink for a start.

KERMODE: She’d make me blink. Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: It’s afraid of her thou are.

KERMODE: I’m not afraid of her at all. It’s her tongue. Thou don’t know Ann. Once her tongue started thou’d hear nothin’ else. Even the clatter of the boots fallin’ on the floor would be drowned.

KENNAUGH: Get away with thee. No woman has a tongue arrar like that.

KERMODE: Thou don’t know Ann. I brought the Minister home with me this everin’ an’ she set him to rock the cradle before he knew what he was doing. An’ I wouldn’t thrust but what she’s gone out an’ lef’ him to mind the baby.

KENNAUGH (laughing): That’ll do him good.

KERMODE: If it had been thee that was in thou’d have had to rock the cradle jus’ the same.

KENNAUGH: Thou wouldn’ catch me rockin’ the cradle for any woman.

KERMODE: Thou don’t know Ann. She’d twiss thee roun’ her lil finger an’ tie thee in a knot before thou knew where thou were. She have a way of her own have Ann.

KENNAUGH: She mus’ be a clane scutcher.

KERMODE: She is Ned, but a good wife for all.

KENNAUGH: What for are thou grumblin’ then?

KERMODE: It’s her tongue, man.

KENNAUGH (in disgust): Bah. Tongue.

KERMODE: Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Fiddlesticks.

KERMODE: Well thou come home with me.

KENNAUGH: What for?

KERMODE: Jus’ to give me a lil bit of courage, like.

KENNAUGH: Aw no. Thou can manage bather by theeself.

KERMODE: Thou’re afraid.

KENNAUGH: No fear, I’m afraid of no woman.

KERMODE: What would thou advise me to do?

KENNAUGH: I’ve already towl thee.

KERMODE: Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Do what I towl thee, go home an’ be the boss.

KERMODE: It’s her tongue, man.

KENNAUGH: If thou’re goin’ to let a tongue friken thee, there’s an’ end to it.

KERMODE: I’ve a mind to take thy advice, Ned.

KENNAUGH: Thou do.

KERMODE: But the minister is in the house, an’ I don’t want to appear disrespectful like.

KENNAUGH: Never mind the Minister. He’ll be delighted.

KERMODE: I’m not so sure of that, if he sticks up for her, there’ll be a nice oul mess.

KENNAUGH: He won’t stick up her her, he’ll be glad to get a bit of his own back.

KERMODE: She’ll collage him. Thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Well I’d come with thee an’ give thee a drillin’ only I promised the boys I’d be down at the smiddy. Neddy Ballalonna is goin’ to stan’ for the Kays an’ were goin’ to pick a committee.

KERMODE: So long then. I may take thy advice. I’ll see how the lan’ lies when I gets home.

KENNAUGH: That’s right. Put her in her place.

KERMODE: Aw, thou don’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: She’s the boss.

KERMODE: Aye, at present. (Squaring his shoulders) But we’ll see,

Curtain. End of Scene 2.

Scene 3. Kermode’s Kitchen

Scene opens with Minister rocking cradle, he keeps falling asleep and waking up suddenly, and starts rocking again. Mrs Kermode is getting supper ready.

MRS KERMODE: As I was saying, Minister, it’s like you’ll be thinking about taking a wife soon, and if you want a dacent hard working woman you’ll have to come to the country, because there’s no rick on the Douglas ones. Going about with their hair bobbed and shingled. Phyt. They’re not looking dacent, I can tell you. Now in my young days – not to say that I’m very oul yet – we’d be goin’ about nice and sedate as you like an’ lovely hair hangin’ down our backs like a grapevine in a hothouse; an’ nice long dresses at us, not like the skimpy things they’re wearing these days. Phyt. I’ve no patience with the hussies. (The minister fast asleep). And if you settle down here Minister, we’ll be puttin’ a sight on ya now an’ again, and you can put a sight on us too. An’ if the wife is not able to manage you proper, she can send ya to me an’ I’ll give you a few lessons on the dooties an’ privileges of a husband. Not to say that you’ll require a great dale of trainin’, for it’s shapin’ well you are for a man who hasn’t had any prayvious experience. But it’s like you’ll want a bit of trainin’ for all. Because most men are boghs when they first get married. Can’t wash a cup or plate or do anything useful. An’ if ya give them a plate to wipe, bang it goes on the flure. – Useless craythurs they are, that don’t want to do nawthin’ but sittin’ in an armchair smookin’ an’ spittin’ in the fire. (She turns and finds the Minister asleep). Fancy now, the craythur has rocked himself off to sleep. I wonder what’s become of that bleih of mine, it’s time he was home. (Looking at the clock). In the borders of eleven. He takes a lot of trainin’ our Jem does. (steps heard outside). Here he is at last.

Enter Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: How are thou so late, Jem Kaymad?

Kermode takes no notice of her, pulls up a chair and sits down, takes off his boots and throws them on to the middle of the floor.

KERMODE: Clane them.

MRS KERMODE: The man is gone keiy.

KERMODE: Did thou hear what I said, woman?

MRS KERMODE (with her arms akimbo, ready for the fray): I did. What about it?

KERMODE (wavering): Well, what about it?

MRS KERMODE: That’s what I axed thee.

KERMODE: Well, are tha goin’ to do it?

MRS KERMODE: Are thou mad or drunk or clicky, Jem Kaymad?

KERMODE: I’m nither, I’m jus’ beginnin’ to take sense.

MRS KERMODE: I’m glad to hear that, because thou never had any before.

KERMODE: Get them boots claynt.

MRS KERMODE (walks towards him threateningly): Clane thy boots indade, Kaymad. I’ll give thee clanin’ boots. (She marches up to him and he gets up and backs away from her. She gets hold of him by the scruff of the neck and rushes him towards the boots). Now pick up them dirty boots off the flure an’ put them away. What evil company have thou been in tonight, Kaymad, answer me that.

KERMODE (sulkily): No evil company at all.

MRS KERMODE: Thou’ve never been so shockin’ imprant before, never since we were married. An’ I thought I had thee trained middlin’ too. Look at the Minister sittin’ there as quite as a lamb. Not a word ourov his head, the crayther. A model for thee to folla if thou had any sense.

The minister wakes up, rubs his eyes, yawns, stretches and stares in amazement.

MINISTER: A-hem.

MRS KERMODE (continuing, does not hear the minister): I’m ashamed of thee, Jem Kermad actin’ like yondher before the minister. Now pick them boots up an’ don’t be gapin’ about thee like a big billy goat.

With an injured air he picks up the boots and puts them away.

MINISTER: A-hem. (No notice taken, louder). A-hem.

MRS KERMODE (observing him): Thou’ve had a good sleep, Minister, and I’m hopin’ thou’re feelin’ nice an’ fresh.

MINISTER: I must apologise, Mrs Kermode, for falling asleep. How silly of me.

MRS KERMODE: Not at all, Minister. Men, the craythers, want a lot of sleep. They’re slow at sleepin’ like everything else. A woman can sleep as much in two hours as a man can in six. (Child cries). Get up from the cradle an’ let Masther Kaymad have a turn at it, you’ve had a middlin’ good spell. (Minister gets up, he is so stiff he can hardly stand and has a kink in his neck. Walks about the floor. Kermode sits down at the cradle). Now, Minister, come an’ sit down an’ get some supper, you’ve arnt it middlin’. An’ thou, Kaymad, if the chile is asleep, come an’ sit down too; not that thou deserve any.

Kermode comes to table.

MRS KERMODE (sitting down): Did thou get that money?

KERMODE: Yiss.

MRS KERMODE: Where is it?

KERMODE: In me pockad.

MRS KERMODE: Let’s see it.

KERMODE: Wait till I’m done supper, woman.

MRS KERMODE: Let me see it now.

KERMODE: Well I won’t though.

MRS KERMODE: I don’t believe thou’ve got it. (Kermode does not answer, goes on eating). I can tell by the guilty look in thy eyes. I knew it was all excuses that was at thee. What have thou got to say for theeself. (Turning to minister). What do you think of him, Minister?

MINISTER: Really, Mrs Kermode, I don’t know what to say.

MRS KERMODE: Naw. I didn’t expect you would. (Turns to her husband). Now look here, Jem Kaymad, if thou’re tellin’ lies to me thou can look out for a hape of trouble.

KERMODE: Have you been busy, Minister?

MINISTER: Well, yes, I’ve been assisting Mrs Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: Cum tha hengya, an’ none of thee imprance, Kaymad. The minister will make a good model husband if he gets houl of the right surt of woman. An’ I hope one of them English hussies with their hair bobbed and using powder and puffs an’ things won’t collogue him into getting married, not to say but that they are just as bad in Douglas. The worl’ is gettin’ to be a very sinful place, minister.

MINISTER: Oh, I don’t know. You mustn’t judge the ladies too harshly, Mrs Kermode.

KERMODE: Hear, hear.

MRS KERMODE: Houl thee tongue, Jem, an’ don’t have so much to say. I didn’t think thou’d understand, Minister. Men haven’t got as much intelligence as woman, but the craythurs can’t help it, I suppose. Did thou ever kiss a woman, Minister?

Minister nearly chokes himself drinking tea.

MINISTER (in horror): Oh no.

MRS KERMODE: I’ve hard me father say that he had kissed behind every bush on Ballakilley. What do thou think of that, Minister?

MINISTER (in disgust): Shocking. Horrible.

MRS KERMODE: The airs of the man. H’mph. My Jem was never much good at coortin’. I had to do it nearly all meself.

MINISTER: I can quite understand that.

MRS KERMODE (sharply): Thou can understand more than I can then.

KERMODE: Aisy with thee tongue, woman. Thou’ll have the minister offended.

MRS KERMODE: Shut thee gob, Kaymad. The Minister is a thoot like theeself. Fancy comin’ to his age an’ never kissin’ a woman.

MINISTER (trying to turn the conversation): Has the weather cleared up, Mr Kermode?

KERMODE: Yiss, it’s fine out now.

MRS KERMODE: An’ although me father allowed that he had kissed behind every bush on the farm, he was a good Christian man, Masther, mind that now.

MINISTER: Oh I don’t doubt it in the least. Not at all.

MRS KERMODE: Deed, and thou needn’t either. He was on the plan beg an’ could take his place in the pulpit with any minister. He had wonderful brains had Daa, considerin’ that he was a man. But Ma was a mighty good trainer, an’ Daa was worn as smooth as glass arrer. Well, I think I’ll be off to bed. (Takes baby out of cradle). Good night, Minister. I hope you’ll be comfortable. Goodnight, Mrs Kermode, and thank you.

Exit Mrs. Kermode. The men heave a sigh of relief and regard each other sympathetically.

KERMODE: How would thou like a wife like that now?

MINISTER: With all respect due to yourself, I think I should prefer to remain single all my days. How on earth did you get hold of such a woman?

KERMODE (sighs): I didn’t. She got hold of me.

MINISTER: But you don’t mean to say that you walked into a trap with your eyes shut.

KERMODE: There was good bait on the hook, man.

MINISTER: What do you mean?

KERMODE: Well, you see, there was a croff an’ a slyagh of money at her.

MINISTER (mystified): I beg your pardon.

KERMODE: She had a lil farm and money as well.

MINISTER: Ah, I see, you were a worshipper at the shrine of Mammon rather than that of love.

KERMODE: You’ll get lave, Minister, that’s the way you’re took sometimes. Jus’ like a poor lil fish, nibblin’ at a hook, an’ before you know where you are, you’ve swallowed the bait, hook an’ all.

MINISTER: You evidently didn’t show much discrimination in examining the bait.

KERMODE: Houl on. You’ll find yourself landed one of these fine days. Take my advice and steer clear of them altogether.

MINISTER: The experience I have gained this evening does not encourage me to form a closer relationship with one of the fair sex. Of course there are women and women.

KERMODE: You see, I came home this evening with the intention of being Masther in me own home, but as soon as that tongue of hers started business I collapsed in a heap. Flesh and blood can’t stand up again’ that.

MINISTER: If I were in your place I should consider the situation seriously. With such a woman one requires a great deal of tact and diplomacy.

KERMODE: It’s aisy to talk Masther, but when you come to act it’s another thing.

MINISTER: You have my sympathy, Mr Kermode. Speaking for myself I say that I was never so degraded and humbled in all my life.

KERMODE: In spite of all your tact and diplomacy, eh?

MINISTER: Your wife would make one do anything. I do not mind doin’ anything in reason, but such menial work as rocking a cradle – Dear me, dear me. I do sincerely hope, Mr Kermode, that you will remain silent about this matter, for should any of my friends get to know I shall be twitted unmercifully.

KERMODE: Don’t be afraid. Mum’s the word. She’s not really a bad surt at heart at all, Minister. If it wasn’t for that terrible mouth rattler she’s got. I’ll galantee thou naver hard anything to bate it.

MRS KERMODE (from upstairs): Now Jem, don’t be keepin’ the Minister out of bed when he’s sleepy.

KERMODE: Hello, there’s she’s off again. (shouts) All right.

Lights candle, leave each other goodnight. Retire.

Curtain. End of Scene 3.

Scene 4. Kennaugh’s Kitchen

Kennaugh is washing the dishes and wearing his wife’s apron. Mrs Kennaugh is going out and giving his final instructions.

MRS KENNAUGH: And don’t lave a scoothin’ of dirt around the handles like you usually do.

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: And don’t forget to wather the plants in the parlour. Thou forgot them yesterday.

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: And don’t forget to take the clothes in before the dew falls.

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: And don’t forget to – to – dear me, what was I going to say?

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: I hope thou can be trusted not to forget anything.

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: And don’t be standing so stabyagh and awkward washing the dishes. Theer’s a hump on thee back like a fighting boar.

KENNAUGH (trying to straighten himself): Right thou are, Aisther.

MRS KENNAUGH: I may not be very long.

Exit Mrs Kennaugh.

KENNAUGH: Right thou are, Aisther. (Aside) The longer the bather. (Kennaugh leaves the dishes, sits in armchair, pulls out his pipe and smokes with a sigh of contentment). It’s nice to have the house to yerself for a quile. If I knew herself was going to be very long I’d have a run out myself. But I don’t know the minute she’ll be back. (Footsteps outside, he hastily begins on the dishes. Knock at the door). Come in.

Enter Kermode.

KERMODE: Gough bless me, Ned, what are thou doin’? That’s worse than meself. Ann won’t let me wash the dishes at all. She says I lave a high water mark round the top of the cup and a crust of dirt round the handle. Have thou often got this job, Ned?

KENNAUGH: No, lah.

KERMODE: How are thou doin’ it now?

KENNAUGH: Well, herself – is – is bad.

KERMODE: Indeed though.

KENNAUGH: Yiss.

KERMODE: Laid up?

KENNAUGH: Yiss.

KERMODE: In bed?

KENNAUGH: Yiss, where else?

KERMODE: What’s the matter with her?

KENNAUGH: Likely is a bit of a coul’ on the chiss.

KERMODE: She’ll have to be careful, there’s a lot of flu about. there’s a murrain’ goin’.

KENNAUGH: Yiss.

KERMODE: Well, I took thee advice and tried to act as masther.

KENNAUGH: And well?

KERMODE: Naw, it wasn’t well.

KENNAUGH: What happened?

KERMODE: It didn’t come off.

KENNAUGH: I thought it wouldn’t.

KERMODE: What made thee think so?

KENNAUGH: I’ve tried it myself, but I was wantin’ to see how thou got on.

KERMODE: Ho. So thou’re in the same boat as meself?

KENNAUGH: Well, not as bad as thee perhaps.

KERMODE: Well, I toul thee thou didn’t know Ann.

KENNAUGH: Aw, Aisther would give her a good run I’m thinking.

KERMODE: They’re saying a Manxman’s home is his castle, too.

KENNAUGH: H’m yes. But he’s not always king, not by a long chalk.

KERMODE: How would it be to form a man’s league, for husbands only.

KENNAUGH: No earthly use.

KERMODE: How is that? They’re saying that “Union is Strength.”

KENNAUGH: The women would form a league too, and we’d be worse off than ever. And there’s far more women in than men. No good, bhoy, think of something else.

KERMODE: I’m tired of thinking.

KENNAUGH (fed-up): So am I. (Someone is coming). Is that thy wife coming?

KERMODE: Bless me, she’ll be coming here to look for me. What will I do at all? Thou’ll have to hide me.

Knock at door.

KENNAUGH: Get undher the table quick. (Kermode gets under the table and is hidden by the long tablecloth. Kennaugh is busy wiping dishes). Come in.

Enter Mrs Kermode.

MRS KERMODE: Have thou seen Jem anywhere, Ned?

KENNAUGH: No I haven’t though. Have thou los’ him?

MRS KERMODE: He’s offen gerrin’ loss. I’ll have to get a nuss for him.

KENNAUGH: Can’t he take care of himself?

MRS KERMODE: No, the bogh. No man can take care of himself. I’m glad to see Aisther has got thee traint middlin’ too.

KENNAUGH: Yiss. Aisther is good at trainin’. She ought to be training lions at the Zoo.

MRS KERMODE: Don’t be spakin’ disrespectful of thee wife.

KENNAUGH: Aw… I’m not. Aisther could train anything on land or sea. She could train thee too.

MRS KERMODE: I require no training, thanks. Where’s Aisther?

KENNAUGH: Out.

MRS KERMODE: Out?

KENNAUGH: Er–r–r in.

MRS KERMODE: In?

KENNAUGH: Er–r–r. No, that is Yes.

MRS KERMODE: What’s the matter with thee? Yis, no. Yis, no. She can’t be in an’ out at the same time.

KENNAUGH: Haw, haw. Lave Aisther alone. Thou don’t know Aisther. (Holding his hand to his mouth and speaking mysteriously) I’ve offen seen her out, an’ all the time she’d be in the house.

MRS KERMODE: What boghnid is there at thee? I declare all the men is clicky.

KENNAUGH: Yiss.

MRS KERMODE (imitating him): Yiss.

A sneeze heard from under the table. Kennaugh in a splutter drops a plate and he sneezes.

MRS KERMODE: Was that thee that sneezed the first time?

KENNAUGH: To be sure it was. Who else?

MRS KERMODE: The sound didn’t seem to come from thee.

KENNAUGH: Thou’ll get lave. (Another sneeze from under the table). A–choo…oo.

MRS KERMODE: That wasn’t thee the first time nither.

KENNAUGH: I see where thou went astray. That was the echo.

Several sneezes from under the table which Kennaugh imitates.

MRS KERMODE (suspiciously): This is a quare house, I’m thinking. I navar heard an’ echo coming first before.

KENNAUGH: That’s the wonderful thing about this house. Professor Tweedle-punch – a big man from the Liverpool University – came down to listen to it last week, and he allowed it was the most wonderful thing he had ever heard.

MRS KERMODE: P’sh. What rubbidge thou’re tellin’ me. I don’t believe no echo ever came first. It isn’t natural.

KENNAUGH: Thou’ll get lave. The professor allowed there was only one other spot in the world like it.

MRS KERMODE: In America, likely.

KENNAUGH: Thou’ve guessed right fus time, Mistress Kaymad. Listen now, Misthress, I’ll give thee a demonstration, as the big fallas say. I’ll shout but thou’ll hear the echo fus.

Gives Kermode a kick under the table.

KERMODE (under the table): What the –

KENNAUGH: What the –

MRS KERMODE (severely): Were thou goin’ to swear that time?

KENNAUGH: Bless me sowl, no.

MRS KERMODE: Where was the echo that time?

KENNAUGH: Oh, it doesn’t come all the time. The air has to be a certain er–r–r–

MRS KERMODE: A certain what?

KENNAUGH: A certain thickness.

MRS KERMODE (sarcastically): A certain thickness. Who aver heard of air being thick? Unless it was full of smook.

KENNAUGH: Listen now and thou’ll hear the echo fust.

Kennaugh gives Kermode a kick.

KERMODE (under the table, in pain): Ouh–h–h.

KENNAUGH: Ouh–h–h.

KERMODE (in an undertone): Be careful, that was my bloomin’ shin thou kicked.

KENNAUGH (in a sepulchred tone): Be careful, that was my bloomin’ shin thou kicked.

KERMODE: Silly goat.

KENNAUGH: Silly goat.

MRS KERMODE: What rubbidge are thou talking?

KENNAUGH: Would thou like another demonstration, Mrs Kermode?

MRS KERMODE: No, Masther Kennaugh, I’m goin’. This house is hanted. That’s no echo at all, it’s evil sperrits that’s in. (Rises hastily and makes for the door). Goodnight.

Just as she is going out Kennaugh kicks again, and Kermode emits a blood-curdling yell. Mr Kermode looks back in alarm, runs out shutting the door.

KENNAUGH: Thou can come out now, she’s gone.

KERMODE (angrily): Thou needn’t have been so savage, Kennaugh. Thou’ve nearly bruk me legs.

Kermode rubs his legs.

KENNAUGH: What did thou go to sleep for?

KERMODE: Oh yes, a lovely place to sleep wasn’t it?

KENNAUGH (clapping Kermode on the back): Never mind, old man, We’ve had the laugh on one of them anyway. (They both laugh heartily). We’ve found a way to skeer them now, Jem.

KERMODE: Yis we have, but it takes two to play it.

KENNAUGH: Ay, that’s the worst of it. But I think it could be managed though. It just wants a lil bit of consideration.

Steps heard outside. Enter Medames Kennaugh and Kermode, before Kermode has time to hide himself again.

MRS KERMODE: So this is where thou’re wastin’ thy time, Jem Kaymad. What are thou doin’ here?

KERMODE: Just popped in to see Ned.

MRS KERMODE (suspiciously): Are thou long here?

KERMODE: Naw, I’ve jus’ come. Haven’t I, Ned?

KENNAUGH: Yis.

MRS KENNAUGH: Haven’t thou got them dishes done yet, Ned? Bless me, what a drollane of a man. And I do believe thou’ve been smashing. How did thou do that?

KENNAUGH: Just slipped out of me fingers.

MRS KENNAUGH: Thy fingers is all thumbs.

MRS KERMODE: I don’t allow my man to wash the dishes. He leaves a scoothin’ of dirt all round the edges.

MRS KENNAUGH: Thou can’t have him properly trained.

MRS KERMODE: He’s traint middlin’ too.

MRS KENNAUGH: Thou’re not sharp enough for him. They’re fit enough to lave the scoothin’ on so that you won’t ax them to do the job again.

MRS KERMODE: There might be something in that too.

MRS KENNAUGH: Deed and there is something in that too. It’s meself that knows. They’re as crafty as foxes the men are.

The men look at each other commiseratingly.

MRS KERMODE: Did thou know, Misthress Kennaugh, that there was sperrits in thy house?

MRS KENNAUGH: Sperrits? Logh save us. No, woman. And we’re both total.

MRS KERMODE: I don’t mane sperrits in a bottle. Rale sperrits.

MRS KENNAUGH: What? Ghoses?

MRS KERMODE: Yis, ghoses. The house is haunted.

MRS KENNAUGH: What nonsense thou’ve got, woman. Boghnid.

MRS KERMODE: It’s as true as I’m stannin’ here. Masther Kennaugh tried to persuade me it was echoes that was in. But I’ve hard echoes befire. And I know the difference between an echo and a sperrit. Ugh. It puts me all in a shiver when I’m thinkin’ about it.

MRS KENNAUGH: Did thou see the ghose?

MRS KERMODE: No. But I hard it, an’ that’s enough for me. I don’t want to see ghoses an’ sperrits, Mrs Kennaugh.

MRS KENNAUGH: What did thou hear?

MRS KERMODE: Sthrange voices coming from somewhere, an’ thy man was answerin’ them as onconcerned as you plaze. Phyt. It gives me the creeps. Thy husband is a brave man to stay in the house alone with them. And thou ought to be proud urrov him.

The men wink at each other.

MRS KENNAUGH: An’ who said I wasn’ proud urrov him? What’s this I’m hearin’ about sperrits an’ things, Ned?

KENNAUGH: Well, they might be sperrits, Aishter.

MRS KENNAUGH: Did thou hear them?

KENNAUGH: To be sure I did.

MRS KENNAUGH: Jee bannee mee. Did thou hear them, Masther Kaymad?

KERMODE: No, I wasn’ in.

MRS KENNAUGH: It’s a good job we’ve got men in the house after all, Mistress Kaymad, because they’re not freckened of sperrits an’ things.

MRS KERMODE: I always allowed that they were of some use in cases of that kind. They’re not much use most of the time, but the craythurs can’t help it, they’re built that way.

MRS KENNAUGH (with heat): I hope it’s thy own man thou’re talkin’ about, Kaymad’s wife.

MRS KERMODE (with sincerity): I’m spakin’ about all men, Kennaugh’s wife.

MRS KENNAUGH (clapping hands): I’d have thee know that my man is of use Mistress Kaymad, – not a useless bleih of a man like thine.

MRS KERMODE (clapping): Don’t thou dare say a word again my man, or I’ll give thee something thou won’t forget in a hurry.

MRS KENNAUGH (shaking her fist in Mrs Kermode’s face): Jus’ thou thry it on, an’ thou’ll sup sorra middlin’ quick I’m thinkin’.

MRS KERMODE: Thou’re thinking thou can say anything thou likes because thy man is here. (Clapping) But let me tell thee this, Kennaugh’s wife, I’ve got a batther man here than thine.

MRS KENNAUGH: P’ah. Look at it. (Pointing at Kermode). Call that thing a man?

MRS KERMODE: He’s batther than thine. When I came in here thy craythur was washing the dishes – too lazy to wash them thyself. I’d let no man wash my dishes.

MRS KENNAUGH: Ay because he can’t wash dishes, nor nawthin’ else.

MRS KERMODE: Washing dishes is a woman’s job.

MRS KENNAUGH: Thou’re not a scrap batther theeself. As lekly as not Kaymad bogh has to make the beds. (Mrs Kermode is speechless with rage and indignation). Thou goes out an’ laves him to min’ the chile. If he was half a man he wouldn’ do it.

MRS KERMODE: Bah. Thou’re jealous because thou haven’ got one.

MRS KENNAUGH: Get thee out of my house an’ don’t aver set foot in it again.

MRS KERMODE: I will go, and wipe the dust off me boots. Come on Jem, let’s go.

KERMODE: What’s the use of fallin’ out. Be friends before we go.

MRS KERMODE: Friends indeed. With that woman.

KENNAUGH: Ay, life is too short to squabble.

MRS KERMODE: Well, thy wife started it.

MRS KENNAUGH: It was thee.

MRS KERMODE (keeps reiterating): It wasn’t.

MRS KENNAUGH (does the same): It was.

KENNAUGH: Come, come. That’ll do.

KERMODE: Come on, Ann. Thou’d batther get thome.

KENNAUGH: Shake hands and be friends.

MRS KENNAUGH: O it wasn’t my fault.

MRS KERMODE: It was.

KERMODE: It doesn’t matther a rap whose fault it was. Shake hands.

KENNAUGH: Ay, shake hands over it. (They reluctantly shake hands when pressed by their husbands to do so, but glare at each other). After all we couldn’t do without the women, Jem.

KERMODE: No, lah, thou’re right.

KENNAUGH: I wouldn’t part with Aisther for all the gool in Australia. She’s the best lil woman in the whole world.

KERMODE: Aw, no she’s not. Thou don’t know Ann.

Curtain.

Finis.

Notes

  1. Handwritten addition, not in Kneen’s hand.

KERMODE: They’re saying a Manxman’s home is his castle, too.
KENNAUGH: H’m yes. But he’s not always king, not by a long chalk.

Some of the best scenes of any of J. J. Kneen’s plays are contained in this comic 1926 play about one woman’s unshakable control over the household and her husband.

This brilliant four-scene comedy concerns Jem Kermode’s struggling to come to terms with the power of the household lying completely with his wife, Ann. Even the hopeful advice of a friend gets him nowhere and it seems that Ann is untouchable, until she meets someone who has her own husband even better trained…

With scenes such as the enslavement of the priest and the bartering over the “murdered” duck, Ann shows what comic brilliance Kneen is capable of when at his best.

The play was first performed, alongside Cushag’s Mylecharaine, in December 1926 in London by the London Manx Society. It was first performed in the Isle of Man by the Purt Iern Cushags in December 1932, as a part of Yn Cruinnaught.

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.