The Big (Issue) Idea

You were begging for it

By some standards I am not an overtly charitable person.

I don’t set fire to Oxfam shops or kick Labradors or anything like that but equally if a ‘charitable’ group deluges my post-box with empty envelopes hoping that they may be filled with silver and returned then they will be sadly disappointed.

And I’m not the first to dig deep in my pockets to give money to the needy on the streets.

It is not that I dislike charity I just believe that as a society we handle the situation wrongly.  The more that individuals give the less the need for society to contribute.

I do not object to my taxes being used to help those less in need but do think that it should be a government or council body deciding on distribution to meet genuine needs rather than rely on the success or otherwise of money raising campaigns.  Why should a charity with a cute mascot or one with a big budget get the healthiest return?

Inevitably, one set of losers from my stringent policy is street beggars.  And there must be quite a few like me as begging has developed to become high tech to compete.  Well, I mean high tech in the comparitive world of scruffy tramps.

Now, instead of asking for money in a menacing fashion homeless people can now sell a service, a magazine called The Big Issue.  It even has its own website – I told you it was high tech.

Now I have often passed these one product newsstands and seen the vendor struggle to sell their magazine, despite some high profile guests and modern looks.  The problem is image and the thought that it is cover to cover with dreary stories of despair, which it isn’t.

But being me, I had an answer.

Once, when a scruffy lad asked if I wanted to swap one of my hard earned pounds for his magazines I initially politely declined and started to pass by, when an idea dawned on me.

I stopped and suggested he could either take the price of one magazine in exchange for said article or I could give him an idea to sell hundreds more.

Being a thoughtful, considerate man he mused over the offer for a second or two then demanded his pound.

Then announced in a slur “You’re my best friend, you”.

Alas, he had missed the opportunity of his lifetime.

In a charitable manner I am now going to give out the advice I had to anyone reading this article.

You see, it occurs to me that the street magazine sellers are missing out on one of the most populous parts of city society – the tourists.  And my idea will make the magazine appealing to all of them.

Add a map of the city

Simple.

Now, when you have recovered from the shock of such a simple idea and wondered why you hadn’t thought of it you might start to consider the pitfalls.

Copyright is the major downside.  Some companies make quite a profit out of selling ‘disposable’ maps of cities to tourists so they are hardly likely to allow their map to be used.  And our national map supplier is not known for it’s charitable work.

But this is where the idea still holds ground.  Why not draw the city from scratch?

I know that would be a labour consuming process but hey, isn’t that what these people do?  Walk the streets all day?

The only other pitfall I can see is the image issue.

Do our town mayors want all the tourists approached by a scruffy urchin offering a rain sodden map and a promise that “You’re my best mate, you”?

But to deny the scheme for this reason alone would be uncharitable, wouldn’t it?

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 31 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here with minor editing
The Big Issue magazine scheme was launched in London in 1991 to help rough sleepers move from street begging to selling a service and now costs £2.50 per copy with 50% of that price going directly to the vendor. Their website is http://www.bigissue.com

Oniscus Asellus

The Baby Years from the draft autobiography of Vince Poynter

Black and white photograph of Mark stood next to Vince Poynter in a pram
Mark thinking: Now what do I do with this funny shaped thing

When I first envisaged writing my autobiography I imagined enjoying recounting all the strange and amusing things that have happened to me during my life so far.  However, moments in this chapter happened before my brain had actually developed.

So this first part, intriguingly entitled Oniscus Asellus, can only be a mish-mash of anecdote and fiction.

At least history has allowed me to set the scene. It was cold.

Allegedly, I was born around the witching hour on a Monday morning at the end of October 1961.  I can’t verify this as I wasn’t wearing a watch at the time and my eyes were full of afterbirth so I couldn’t read the bedroom clock.

For those that care about these things that makes my star-sign Scorpio and my birthstone Topaz, a rather mucky orange hue.  The Chinese would say I was born in the year of the skunk, or something like that and certain religious sects would swear I used to be a toad.  I’ve checked between my toes and I don’t think they could be accurately described as webbed.  I was certainly born Animalia, Chordata, Mamalia, Primates, Haplorhini, Simiiformes, Hominidae, Homo sapiens.  Not newt.

The unreasonable o’clock in the morning home delivery meant that Mum could have a bit of a rest afterwards but I do not expect Dad had much rest himself.  I had to be educated to ‘A’ level standard by breakfast after all.  Just kidding.  I doubt that it would have been even to ‘O’ level standard.  Come to think of it I doubt it was to ‘O’ level standard when I passed my ‘O’ levels.  But I might just be getting slightly ahead of myself here.

The location was in the South of England in a little known hamlet called Southampton, county of Hampshire within the United Kingdom, Europe, Northern Hemisphere, Earth, Solar System, Galaxy.  Although you could leave out the last parts of that locale if you are terra-bound.

Southampton is a city with a long history and a struggling Premiership team, although when the town was first formed the sport was probably hog-back riding.  Now it boasts a fine heritage of glistening shopping centres and poorly used docks.  It rose to it’s prominence by virtue of having two tides, a phenomenon caused by the adjacent Isle-of-Wight apparently, although I’ve never seen the island shifting about myself.

Southampton in the early sixties wasn’t like the romanticised view of London during the period.  For a start I wasn’t born in Carnaby Street.  It was a modest lane in the Maybush area.  Hardly the best start in life.

A modern estate agent may try to describe the building as a retro-style apartment block featuring balconies with views across the city. In truth it was and is a pretty grim ground floor flat featuring a tiny balcony with a view across the street.

Yes, a balcony on the ground floor with a drop all of three inches!  But it’s still standing now and someone out there in the world of non-virtual actual reality may well be in that room today.

My parents were working class when the word was literal.  My father had followed his own into the Post Office and I’m not talking about collecting a few stamps.

Grandad had started his career as a Post-boy at fourteen delivering telegrams by his company vehicle – the pushbike.  My laziness at genealogy prevents me telling you what his father did although there was some sort of dock’s policeman in the family once.

My father joined the Post Office and was a Telecommunications Engineer.  My mother, at the time, was flat on her back.  She was far too busy, along with most of the other good women of Britain re-stocking the nation after the war years had depleted the number.

I was the second born, having been beaten to the post by my older brother, Mark.  He was two years old at the time giving him a head-start I shall never regain.

Until my sister was born, I would be the cute baby of the family.  The blond hair helped, along with the dumbfounded expression shared with so many other babies.  And owls.

Black and white photograph of Vince Poynter in a pram chewing on a strap
Lovely chewy strap but not my favourite, apparently

Many people claim to recall things from their childhood.  Not me. I can hardly remember anything from before puberty and am, quite frankly, a bit hazy about things further back than last Wednesday.

However, a story has been told so many times that I now feel I remember it clearly.  Nothing exciting or comparable to what was going on at the time such as the commencement of space travel and the onward trips to the moon or Twiggy or the first skirts named after a car.

Personally, I was discovered, I am reliably informed, chewing on a woodlouse.

If it happened today my mum would be in front of social services before you could even say “Can I have ketchup with that Oniscus asellus please?”

So that’s it.  An entire childhood beginning summarised in a debatable woodlouse scoffing anecdote.

I guess if you want to know more you’ll have to ask my parents to write their stories.

For me I’m moving on to the next stage of my saga but you will have to wait until I write it.  Ho hum.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the autobiography section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 29 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here with minor editing
The images all taken by the author’s family

My 2005 Top Ten Vehicles

21st Century Travelling

Maybe you were transported here by a strange new time machine, or even from another computer.  Any how you came you are welcome to read why I have chosen the next ten vehicles as my favourite of all time.

It is an eclectic mix of transport that I have either used or lusted after with envy.

Cyclists will note that I have not included a bicycle in the list.  After all cycle technology is now futuristic and sexy so I could forgive a lack of motorised power.  However I refuse to forgive saddle technology until I can actually ride a bicycle further than ten metres.

Of course, when compiling a list like this the rejected ones are nearly as interesting.

For instance you may wonder how I could have a list like this and not include a Ferrari.  Easy really, there’s none there.  A few may qualify on the grounds of looking fantastic but underneath is just a lightweight Fiat.  I’m not fooled, nor are many of the owners.  Check out the Owner’s Documents on any used Ferrari and you will be surprised to see so many names.  The hype doesn’t live up to the reality.  Great red though but this isn’t a favourite list of colours.

Keeping on the subject of cars, in the past I’ve swooned over the fantastically brutish Aston Martin Vantage and may still get one yet but how could I include a car that if a generous benefactor offered me a swap for any Aston from any time I’d really have no second thoughts about choosing the brand new, phenomally quick and beautiful DB9.

Some of the DB9’s details are cheaper than a crate of canaries although I’ve never been one to turn down a beauty because of a few small imperfections.  Mole on Demi Moore?  So what.

Another plus would be: “Blonde, James Blonde”. What a great introduction.

As you will be able to tell generally I’m not into classic vehicles.  I’d rather own a modern Bentley Arnarge than a 4½ litre supercharged model from the 1920s.  Unless I can sell it of course.  Plus, impressive that the 4½ litre Bentley behemoth is the most attractive classic car has to be the Jaguar SS100.  But still not as good as a couple of dozen modern vehicles.

I love bikes, it’s in my genes, whether I currently have a bike or not.  It’s all to do with the lack of a cycle when I was young and the freedom that my first moped rides brought me.  So I need to include bikes in this ultimate vehicles list and the Ducati 900 Monster was one of the first that I thought of. The reason why this strange naked retro was considered is that it re-vitalised my interest in bikes in the nineteen nineties.

I hadn’t had a bike for a while and the squared-off eighties styling never persuaded me to renew my interest.  The Monster 900 was a breath of fresh air.  It seemed so stylish and raw with an exposed engine and trellis frame it made me want two wheels again.  Thinking back, I can’t think why I brought a Yamaha Diversion 900 instead.

Oh yes. Italian electrics, Ducati clutches and a saving of about two grand.  And when you are able to make a choice based on such trivial reasons the original option doesn’t really deserve to be in a top ten.

And second best is why I cannot include a First Class dining experience aboard a ferry.  As you can tell from other entries I do like being spoilt.  So many cannot handle an obsequious waiter or fawning Maitre-d but I’m willing to be waited on hand and foot.  It’s not a case of being better than those who serve but the fact that it makes a pleasant change.  I’ll happily have a beer with the waiter afterwards.

A First Class dining experience on board a ferry, such as the cross channel version is a thoroughly pleasant way of passing the time.  But two reasons keep it off the top ten.  Firstly, the QE2 is infinitely better and secondly the QE2 doesn’t end up in France!

My final rejection is an oxymoron.  No, not the Ford 2-litre Oxymoron, but a genuine oxymoron from an age where such a beast could exist.  A cute war-plane.

Nowadays war planes are stunning, agile weapons of mass destruction but back in the 1920s at the dawn of flight the planes were not overly effective.  However, one stands out above the others, including the Red Baron’s exciting Fokker Tri-plane.

The Sopwith Camel first came into my life as a child.  If you were born a male in the late fifties or early sixties you would be familiar with Airfix kits.  Plastic self-build models that filled many a wet weekday after school.  They are still available but this tactile hobby, along with most other hands-on experiences, have become side-lined by the ubiquitous electronic games.  This is a shame as building a model is a very satisfying skill and I still fondly remember the first one I built – a Sopwith Camel.

This little bi-plane had all the ingredients of a favoured vehicle.  The styling was right with the curved leading edge to the wings, dual forward gun synchronised with the propeller and rounded tail plane.  A cute war plane, such an oxymoron.

So, onto the actual vehicles making my top-ten.


1969 Cooper F1 car

Photograpgh of a slightly tatty yellow and white Cooper racing car with steering operated from a leaning driver and a high rear wing
My toy racing car.  The wing on this model was set too high in this version, based on a late season entry.  So it now looks rubbish

Formula 1 racing has always held a certain appeal.  The fast cars, obscene money and glamorous locations keep the sport in my mind even if the last few years Schmedious results have kept it off my TV.  So it is natural that I should include a car from this pinnacle of motor sports.

I suppose it is a symptom of age that despite the obvious appeal of modern cars there is an era of racing that seems more glorious and it dates around the time I first got an interest in the sport.  I have chosen the Cooper F1 from the 1969 season as it was this car that, to me, epitomises open wheel racing.

The rear tyres look properly wide, the engine is exposed and the newly added wings were just right.  I like the front spoiler jutting from the actual nose and the rear spoiler was better looking mounted low on the engine.

I’ve never driven one, nor am I likely to as the price of classic F1 racers nearly match their modern counterparts but I can dream.


Aerial Atom

A black Ariel Atom stood in front of a red Jaguar XJ8
An Ariel Atom with my Jaguar XJ8 in the background.  I might need to take a moment

My next choice is not so far away from the car above and is probably chosen because of the similarities.  But instead of a having to be Ray Parlour’s wife to afford a classic F1 motor this blatant facsimile costs a more reasonable £30-40k.  Still a lot of money for a weekend car with no panels but well comparable with its natural opposition.

I love the Atom’s Meccano build and raw energy and can personally testify to its ability to deliver the goods that the look promises.  Short on comfort but very long on desire, the Atom deserves its place in this illustrious crowd.


Bentley Arnarge

Nearly as quick as the Aston but with seats like a Business Class jet and the torque to match.  I have never experienced power like the Bentley Arnarge delivers and in back to back tests with its bigger brother the Continental it wins on every count, including saving £100k.  The Continental may have the classic looks but I’m sure I can find an Arnarge to beat it.

The best car in the world.  Full stop.

Note that a full appraisal of my time with a Bentley Arnage will eventually be posted on this website


Concorde

My first aeronautical choice is probably in the list of everyone who has ever seen the Concorde.  Breathtakingly beautiful, stunningly quick and well out of the reach of the hoi-poli.  Marvellous.

The only problems are it’s cramped interior and that it has disappeared from our skies.

Worth every bit of pollution.

In the top ten? No doubt at all.


Dakota

A Far Eastern Airlines branded metal polished Douglas DC-3 hanging in the Smithsonian Museum
A Douglas DC-3 hanging in the Smithsonian Museum

The second most beautiful plane in the world [see above] hails from the time just before the second world war but its lines are just so perfect.  I love the fat fuselage, strong wing arrangements, classic twin prop design and sturdy tail.

Still operating in many places around the world today the McDonnell Douglas DC-3, known as a Dakota in the UK, is living proof that if it looks right then it probably is right.

I’ve yet to catch a flight in one of these beauties but guess that the reality doesn’t quite live up to the glamour.  Particularly as I’ll probably be in South America when I get a go in one.


Eurostar Best Class

I’m not much of a train buff.  For many years I rarely travelled on one thinking they were too expensive and inconvenient.  Also, with 8 miles between my home and the nearest station, thanks to Beecham’s cuts in the 60s, I never had cause to use them.

Not that I had no contact, my wife spent most of her career with a railway company and we took advantage of the odd subsidised trip.

Things have changed recently though as I now work mainly in London and the train is the only viable option.  I estimate that I have travelled over one hundred and fifty thousand miles sat on a train.  This experience, in all its sordid glory is why a trip on the Eurostar in the best carriages is such a delight.

I have travelled three times in First Class and on every occasion I have thought it most pleasant.  The large seats, at seat service and quiet comfort is reminiscent of travel tales of old.

Just don’t think that the modern version of First Class is the same.  For some peculiar reason, probably to do with the French translation, Business Class is the new premier travelling style and ‘mere’ First Class is a poor relation.

Now, how do I say ‘contravenes the Trade’s Description Act’ in French?


Honda CBX Moto Martin

A brown Moto Martin CBX motorbike
A Moto Martin CBX.  In brown.  Brilliant

The first bike in my top ten list is a hybrid vehicle and I’m not talking dual fuel.

In the late seventies Honda produced the stunning CBX with its fantastic transverse six cylinder engine.  Wider than a Cockney car salesman with a penchant for iced buns this behemoth was a dream machine.

Except two problems.  One, was the name.  Now Honda is a make to be respected for its engineering excellence and reliability but much like my Miele washing machine I don’t exactly look at the product with love.  The other problem with the CBX was the handling – the stock Japanese flexi-frames could never harness the engine outputs at the time.

Moto Martin, a small French custom builder came to the rescue by taking the engine and putting it in a stylish trick frame mounted with swoopy body parts with twin-headlamps.  All par for the course today but 30 years ago this was enough to make me tear out the advert and hang it on my wall.  Praise indeed.


Jaguar XJ

I own one.

Need I say more?

Note that a full appraisal of my Jaguar XJ8 4.0 will eventually be posted on this website


QE2

Who wouldn’t be impressed with one of the traditional Queens of the sea?

I have travelled the Atlantic on the QE2 and can confirm it is all that you would expect, then more.  One trip and I’m a confirmed cruise fan.  A tall order for the QM2 replacement to beat.

For more details about my experience on this most magnificent of vehicles see my separate story.  And be prepared to be jealous.

Note that a full appraisal of my time onboard the QE2 has already been posted on this website [8 Dec 2017]


Vincent Black Shadow

The author squatting down next to an immaculate Vincent Black Shadow motorbike
The two Vincents.  Vince and a Vincent Rapide.  The rarer Black Shadow was similar but faster with a black enamelled engine casing

Last, but not least, this list would be incomplete without the vehicle I was actually named after.  My father told me this, whilst saying I should have been grateful that he didn’t like Francis Barnetts.

Although this bike now looks a little quirky I am actually quite proud to be named after such a phenomenal bike from the nineteen fiftes, with a great reputation amongst those that know such things.

If only I could afford one now.  Think multiple grands.  And then some.

Fantastic name though.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the petrolhead section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 23 Jan 2018
First Published: Version 1.03 in Feb 2005 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The images all taken by the author, except the one he is in.  Obvs

The Will

A Comic Stage Play by Vince Poynter

Concept

This is the first part of a stage play, a comedy set in a solicitor’s office.

A family is invited to the reading of the will of a deceased relative who died leaving a substantial income.

The will is read and certain requirements are requested to be made.

Firstly, a large chest is brought out which contains many fancy dress costumes which the potential beneficiaries must wear in order to lighten proceedings.

Secondly, a set of buzzers, lights and scoreboards are produced and a quiz is set up to award points on a pounds for points basis.

The intention is to find out just how far people will go for money?

Will they ultimately kill each other for greed?

Characters:

Solicitor: Randford, a pompous middle aged serious man. Thoughtful and calm.

Solicitor’s Assistant: Trisha, a lazy first year trainee, intelligent but without common sense. Excitable but clumsy.

Wife: Wendy White, a hypochondraic (with reason) in her late 30’s. Fussy and bitter.

Adopted Son: Griff White, a rebel without a cause. Just 20. Scruffy and greedy.

Secretary: Sonia Black, an attractive, mid-thirties woman. Single, principled and intelligent.

Dead man’s friend: Reg Franke, a mid-forties loudmouth who thinks he is funny. Conceals a secret past.

Strange Woman: Anna Daiken, a middle-aged, silent, poetic stranger. Dressed in black to match her character.

Sister: Caryl Sand, a practical and down to earth divorcee.

Dead man: Jack White, died at 40.


 

Act One

The scene is a Solicitor’s office in England, present day. It is a mid sized room of classic design, tastefully decorated and furnished. No wall area is left blank so where there are no full height bookshelves the imperial wallcovering is hardly noticed behind the original oil masters hanging from the wooden picture rail. The room is dominated by the Solicitor’s solid leather topped desk and overbearing leather chair. The desk is tidy, almost unused with an immaculate blotter. A telephone, brass lamp and brass calendar/pen holder are all deliberately laid out. In front of the desk are two simple low backed chairs. Behind this magnificent desk is a matching mahogany hat and coat stand, which with the ferociously posed full-sized stuffed upright brown bear frame the large bay area window cosseted with heavy velvet drawn curtains. The curtains conceal a generous padded matching seating area designed to discourage sitting on the low cast iron radiators behind the hat stand and bear.

A secondary desk is in the corner with a chair either side. This simple arrangement is for a secretary with computer, telephone, filing trays, pot plant and penholder. Many pens and pencils are stuffed into the holder. The filing tray is half full of papers. A jumper lays across the back of the chair. Opposite this desk is a grand leather well used two-seater Chesterfield in front of an ornate fireplace. Simple brass and porcelain ornaments adorn the mantelpiece. A small round, empty mahogany coffee table sits in front of the Chesterfield.

Entrance to the room is from one side behind the Chesterfield through imposing double sized solid wooden doors with chunky brass furniture and a heavy wood surround. On the opposite side is a simpler wooden single door with surround. Both doors are closed and the scene opens in darkness. It is silent.

Offstage a Grandfather clock strikes the Westminster Chimes followed by eight rings. On the eighth chime exactly the double doors swing open in unison and the Solicitor, Randford, enters. Backlit from the corridor behind he stands in the doorway and shakes off his wet umbrella. Without shutting the doors behind he strides over to his desk and fumbles to switch on the desk lamp.

The light reveals this balding, portly, pompous, routine man wearing an immaculate subtly pin-striped three piece suit and perfectly white shirt. His shoes are shiny black brogues and equally as in keeping as his matching tie and pocket handkerchief. Along with his umbrella he carries a neat copy of The Times, the classic sized, broadsheet version. He is finished in an open large brown overcoat and matching hat. This man is around 45 although his gravitas makes him seem older. He exudes experience, remaining calm in all situations and never hurried. He is both thoughtful and punctual with constant references to his Grandfather clock against the “fourth wall” which he compares to his own chained pocket watch whenever it chimes. He approaches the hat stand and places his umbrella carefully in the base. He removes his hat and hangs it on the hook after brushing it clean. He then removes his coat and brushes it off with one hand whilst holding it with the other, then hangs it carefully on the peg. A brush down of himself follows, a quick tie straightening and he crosses to close the door, with both halves being shut simultaneously. He brushes himself once more as if routine and turns to switch on the light.

Trisha enters hurriedly as the light comes on full. She is a clumsy teenager wearing under her sodden long opened sheepskin coat faded patched ripped jeans and a large baggy jumper bearing the words “Save Rhinos”. Underneath is a white blouse but this is as noticeable as the smart short black skirt she carries in the supermarket plastic bag. She is the epitome of modern youth, lazy but excitable, educated but lacking common sense and pretty but understated. The glossy magazine she carries and the personal headphones she wears round her wet hair are her only thoughts as she violently swings open the nearest door knocking Randford face down behind the Chesterfield.

Trisha (Out of breath, entering) “Sorry I’m late Mr. Randford but I…” (she thinks he may not be there) “Mr. Randford… Mr. Randford…” (no response) “Oh good.”

She hurries across the room and through the opposite door leaving both doors open wide. Randford appears from behind the Chesterfield and slowly rises to his feet. He brushes himself down and straightens his hair and tie. He moves to the double door and closes it, then walks over to the other door and looks through before shutting it. He turns and bends to get a brush from a low drawer in his desk which he uses to brush his suit down from top to bottom. As he strokes his trouser legs, bending to reach, Trisha enters suddenly and again knocks him over, this time behind his desk. Trisha has removed her coat, thrown on her skirt and is trying to do up the zip as she enters, throwing her magazine on her desk. Her stereo headphones hang limp round her neck, the player in her hands.

Trisha “Mr. Randford… Oh he’s late.”

She hasn’t noticed her employer and sits at her desk in the corner. She pulls the headphones into place and starts to read her magazine, placing the player on the desk. The door swings shut with a gentle clunk to reveal Randford looking angry but contained, now stood. He again meticulously brushes himself off.

Randford (Contained) “Good morning Trisha.”

There is no reply as Trisha is engrossed in her magazine and listening to her stereo.

Randford (Louder) “Good morning Trisha.”

There is still no response so Randford steps forward and coughs twice. This has no effect either so he reaches out to press the stop button on her machine. She reacts jumpily.

Trisha “Urgh… Oh, Mr. Randford.” (She pulls off her earphones and stuffs them and the magazine into her drawer) “You’re here.”

Randford “Yes. Funny that. I work here you see. Unlike some people I could mention. What are you saving them for?”

Trisha “Sorry Mr. Randford. What?”

Randford “The Rhinos. For what reason are you saving them.”

Trisha “Oh, my jumper. Oh, the black rhino…”

Randford (Interrupting) “Trisha.”

Trisha (Pulling off her jumper) “Sorry Mr. Randford. I’ll make the coffee.”

As she talks and removes the sweater she stands as if to leave. Randford steps back to avoid the flailing arms.

Randford “No time for coffee, not yet. Today is an important day. It is Wednesday the sixth and you know what that means don’t you.”

Trisha (Cheekily) “Thursday the seventh tomorrow Mr. Randford.”

Randford “Trisha, may I point out that you are here to assist me in these six heaven sent weeks which our Government has kindly sent us. To assist me. In work. Not as a Butlins Redcoat but as a Solicitor’s Assistant, with the general idea that you learn how adults conduct themselves whilst away from children. So please learn to keep control of your built in desire to attempt humour. I suggest that you file it untidily away with your glossy Beano magazine and Gutter Blaster in the drawer.”

Trisha “Ghetto Blaster, Mr. Randford.”

Randford “I know what I said dear.” (He sits down in his chair) “Wednesday the sixth. Five days since last Friday. A Friday in which you may recall that we had a visit from a pale looking woman dressed in black. This may have struck a chord with you because despite being dressed entirely in black she introduced herself as Mrs. White. She had had some bad news.”

Trisha “Was she the one who wanted a divorce on account of her husband’s week in Portugal with the Sailor from Portsmouth?” (She sits, her jumper on her lap)

Randford “No. No. If you can recall she came to notify me of her husband’s untimely death.”

Trisha “Why untimely?”

Randford (Rising) “Three reasons. Firstly, he was forty. Now that may seem like old to you but please take it from me that at forty a man is still in the prime of his youth. A sudden death we are advised, but painless.” (He moves around his desk) “Secondly, his business was on the brink of breaking into Europe and without him the deal was not likely to go through. And thirdly, I lent him fifty pence for the parking meter when he saw me three weeks ago.”

Trisha “So why is today so important?”

Randford (Sitting opposite Trisha) “Because today is exactly five days since his death. And his will, which he lodged with me, because people do that sort of thing with Solicitors, stated simply that exactly five days after his death, his wife, or whoever, should bring to this office his old oak chest which contains his last will and testament requests. To be unlocked by this key…” (He produces the key from his waistcoat pocket) “…in the presence of certain people he has named in a letter at precisely o-eight thirty hours.” (He checks his watch and the clock) “Which is why you made those telephone calls for me on Monday cancelling today’s appointments.”

Trisha “Oh yes that reminds me. I forgot to tell you that that man with the Greek accent, Mr. Davros, called back.”

Randford “Davis. Mr. Davis and he’s from Winchester.”

Trisha “Him, yes. He said he was a bit annoyed with the change and mentioned something about inserting a skewer in you from below and you being the biggest kebab in Hampshire.” (She is trying to find the message in her tray) “Well that’s what I think he meant”

The main door opens and a strange black clad woman enters. Anna is without expression and moves slowly. She wears a long black cape with the hood up. Under the cape is a simple long black dress. She carries nothing except the rain on her cape. Her accented voice is classy, deliberate and intense.

Anna (At door) “Mr. Randford?”

Randford (Rising to greet her) “Good morning. And you are?” (He extends a handshake)

Anna does not respond to his welcome handshake and proceeds straight to the Chesterfield where she sits.

Randford (Arriving at her side) “I am awfully sorry madam but I cannot take visitors today. I have an important meeting.”

Anna (With a steel cold look) “I am here for your meeting.”

Randford “I am so sorry but it is invited guests only today.”

Anna “I am Anna”

She turns away and stares distantly into nothing.

Randford “Ah. You are Anna.” (He is at a loss so looks at Trisha) “Anna.” (He points at Anna)

Trisha “Anna.”

Randford “Anna… Oh Anna. A. Daiken. The list. You must be Mrs. A. Daiken.”

Anna (Fizzing) “Ms.”

Randford “Sorry I was mistaken.”

Anna (Turning, annoyed) “No that is me. I am Ms. Daiken.”

Randford (Again holding out his hand) “Randford.” (No response, he withdraws his hand) “Could I offer you a coffee?” (Still no response) “I said would you like a coffee?”

Anna (Looking intently at Randford, she speaks poignantly) “A Brazilian dream, the coffee bean. The making of Empires and Land. For all that you see, I would rather have tea. Darjeeling, Ceylon or Assam.” (Randford is open mouthed, Anna turns to Trisha) “And make it two sugars young lady.”

Randford (Turning) “Trisha. And I’ll have a strong black coffee, please. I think I might need it.”

Trisha “Alright, Mr. Randford. Coming up.”

Trisha leaves the room. Randford pulls up one of the low backed chairs to sit near Anna.

Randford “I am awfully sorry about your loss, Ms. Daiken.”

Anna “Anna. Please call me Anna.”

Randford “Yes. Anna.”

Anna “Death. It affects us all. And each of us experiences a different response. Does the eagle miss his mate? Do the dolphins cry? Can a tiger mourn? When another dies?”

Randford “How poignant. You must have really cared for Jack.”

Anna “Jack?”

Randford “Jack White.”

Anna “Oh, yes. Jack. Jack White. No, not really we weren’t very close you see. We go back, that’s all.”

Randford “Are you local?”

Anna “Everyone is local to somewhere. To which point of reference do you mean?”

Randford “Well, I mean here I suppose. Are you from around here?”

Anna “Perception, scale and time, Randford. Perception is based on common points of reference. Local to you may not seem like local to a small child whose experiences only extend as far as his mother’s home. And if two small ants were both living in this room at either end, they may never meet and therefore not consider themselves local to each other. A matter of scale. And then there is time. If two people both lived in the same house they would be local unless they lived in different times.”

Randford “Time. Yes.” (He checks his watch and clock)

 

…To be continued…


 

Isn’t it just a pain when they end just like that!

No this isn’t the shortest play in the entire history of truncated stagings, it is just simply incomplete.

Has it given you a taste though? Do you want me to pen the next exciting installment? Then I shall, as soon as I get around to it. There are many draws on my time so if you want to get to the nub of this venture send me a message.

The more interest it receives the better chance of completion. It’s in your hands.

Vince

Author: Vince Poynter
From the comedy and stage plays section of vinceunlimited.co.uk dated 19 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004
The image was chosen far too quickly by the art department to illustrate a will.  It is of a Jaguar XJ8 wheel and was added on 19 Jan 2018. It frankly has no relevance whatever. Or does it? Nope, nothing at all, just decoration

Company Policy Sketch

Type: 3-4 minute sketch with 2 main actors, plus extras set in an office reception.

The sketch is set in an office reception area.  A receptionist sits behind the desk.  A visitor enters.

Receptionist: “Good morning and welcome.”  The visitor acknowledges politely and turns to enter the office area.

Receptionist: “Would you sign the book, sir.”  The visitor mutters an apology and signs in.  He then makes for the office again.

Receptionist: “And the other book, sir.”  The visitor looks bemused and enquires why there are two books.

Receptionist: “Fire regulations, sir.  It is company policy.”  The visitor accepts and signs the second book, then tries to leave.

Receptionist: “Your bag, sir?”  The visitor again looks confused and enquires why.

Receptionist: “Security risk, sir.  We have sensitive data and equipment.  We wouldn’t want it getting out.”

Visitor: “I’m not here to steal things.”

Receptionist: “It is company policy, sir.  I’ll look after it here if you like.”

Visitor, reluctantly handing over his case:  “Very well.”  He attempts to leave.

Receptionist: “Are we forgetting something, sir?”

Visitor, getting slightly annoyed: “What?”

Receptionist: “Your mobile ‘phone, sir.  It may have a camera attachment.”

Visitor, annoyed: “It hasn’t.”

Receptionist: “I’m not to know that, sir.  I can’t be an expert on all things so Company Policy says…”

Visitor, interrupting: “Very well.  Here it is.”

Receptionist, taking the phone: “Thank you.  And your jacket sir.”

Visitor, bemused: “My what?”

Receptionist: “Your jacket.  I must insist that you leave your jacket.”

Visitor, guessing: “My pockets.  Are you concerned that I might slip something into it.”

Receptionist: “It’s company policy.  I was only reading a paper the other day.  Jacket lapels can conceal recording microphones.  Best leave it here with me.”

The Visitor removes his jacket and hands it to the receptionist.

Receptionist: “And your trousers sir?”

Visitor: “My trousers!  Why do you need these?”

Receptionist: “I was only reading on the internet, the other day.  It appears that some manufacturers are incorporating modern technology in their fabrics that can sense heat and light.  You must have seen those tee shirts that change colour dependant on mood.  I’m afraid it is our…”

Visitor, resigned: “…Company Policy?”  He dutifully removes his trousers.

Receptionist: “Open wide, sir.”

Visitor: “I beg your pardon.”

Receptionist, producing a large torch: “I need to look in your mouth.  Just to check.  Open wide.”

The visitor opens his mouth and the receptionist peers in.

Receptionist: “And if I might?”  The receptionist beckons toward the visitor’s underwear.

Visitor, pulling his underwear forward: “Very well.”  The receptionist reluctantly peers down, grimaces, then gently reaches in to move things to the side.  The visitor winces.

Visitor, now quite exhausted by the humiliation:  “Is that all?”

They are suddenly interrupted by a film crew who crash in through the door.  One person holds a camera, another a boom mike.  There are assistants with clipboards and cases.  The director struts forward.

Director: “Film crew for the office documentary.  Alright to go in love?”

Receptionist: “Just straight through guys.  I’ll sign you in.”

The visitor looks aghast: “What about Company Policy?”

The receptionist is unperturbed.  She reaches down behind the desk and emerges with a pair of rubber gloves.  “Bend over, sir.”  She puts another smaller torch in her mouth and snaps the gloves on.

End

You are welcome to use this sketch, on stage or video but credit and royalties must be given to Vince Poynter as the author.  An invite to see it performed would also be welcomed, along with requests for more sketches, which can be scripted on any subject.  Contact me at any time of the day or night for more information.  Although, if you contact me at night I won’t guarantee that I’ll open my inbox until the next morning.  Mummy always told me not to open the door when it gets dark.  Mind you, I’m not sure that email inboxes were thought of when she said that.

Vince.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the comedy and sketches section of vinceunlimited.co.uk dated 15 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004

Parachute Sketch

Type: 6 minute sketch with 4 actors [one to be a voice off stage] set inside an aircraft fuselage [side view] with background inflight noise continuously.  Props include three seats, two packages and a newspaper.

This is a visual as well as aural sketch and no names are given.  For reference purposes the three actors are sat line astern and referenced as A, B and C below.  The action is as viewed by the audience from the actor’s side.  A sits ahead of B, who sits ahead of C.  They face left (stage right).

Aeroplane pilot (voice off) “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  This is your pilot speaking.  Welcome on board on this internal flight between London and Edinburgh.  Now that we have successfully taken off we will be maintaining our flight path at around ten thousand feet and expect to arrive at our destination in around thirty-six minutes time.  Visibility is good and the weather forecast is fair.  So relax and enjoy your flight.  I’ll keep you informed of future developments.”

B to A: “Isn’t this marvellous.  All this technology keeping us up.  Ten thousand feet and you can see all the land whistling by below.”

A: “Indeed, it is.  Orville Wright would be proud.  We’ve come so far from those pioneering days of aviation.”

B: “Yes.  But it’s reassuring to know that in spite of all this they provide the basics.”  He pats the package beneath his seat.

A (agreeing): “Yes.  The parachute.”  A pats the package beneath his seat.

A and B laugh and slump back into their chairs.  Up to now C has not been involved, merely reading his newspaper.  He did hear the parachute conversation.  He checks that the others are occupied and subtly reaches down to feel for his package.  There is nothing under his seat.  He checks again, in desperation swinging his hands wildly from side to side.  Nothing is found so his hands return to holding his newspaper, that starts to quiver.  Another check, but still no success.

Then C surreptitiously slides forward in his seat and hooks the package from beneath the seat of B, unbeknown to A or B.

B to A: “Wasn’t the meal nice?”

A: “Yes. Three courses and wine.  Very good.”

The pilot on the intercom interrupts the conversation.

Pilot: “Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  I’m sorry to disturb your peace but we’ve just received some weather reports.  A spot of bad weather appears to be in our path.  It’s only a patch of storm so don’t be too alarmed if our altitude and speed drops.”

All three passengers simultaneously swing to look ‘out of the window’ (away from the viewpoint).  They slump into their chairs and look concerned.  A reaches down and assuredly pats his package, whilst turning and smiling at B.  B also reaches down but now there is no package.  He frantically searches around with his hand, much like C did.  Finding nothing, he puts his head between his knees and looks under the seat.  He spots the package under the seat of C.  C has seen this and casually crosses his legs across in front of his package.

B looks concerned then spots the package beneath A.  He slides forward to take the package with his feet but it gets caught up in the seat legs of A’s seat.  The pilot’s voice is heard.

Pilot: “Ladies and gentlemen, please do not be alarmed.  A couple of passengers have reported seeing white smoke trailing from the starboard engine.”

A, B and C simultaneously look out of their ‘windows’ (away from the viewpoint).

Pilot: “But don’t worry.  This is just a vapour trail due to our descent to a lower altitude.”

A, B and C slump back into their seats.  B reaches forward to grab the package beneath A with his hands and starts to pull.  This attracts the attention of A, who turns round quickly.

B is embarrassed so he pretends he was looking out of the window.  B (explaining to A): “The vapour trail…”

A (suspiciously): “Yes?”

B: “Just routine.”

A (now satisfied): “Yes.  Still we’ve still got the parachutes.”

A reaches down and grabs the package from beneath his seat.  He holds it on his lap.  B is disappointed.  Then he has a brainwave.  He points toward the viewpoint.

B (to A): “My God. The port engine as well!”

A leaps up placing the package on his seat and rushes over to ‘look out’ of the viewpoint side.  At this point B snatches the package from the seat of A and sits back smugly in his own seat.

A, returning (to B): “It’s alright.  Just vapour.”

B (clutching the package): “Best to be certain though.”

A spots his package is missing.  B looks away ‘innocently’.  A looks all around and under his seat, then under the seat of B and finally under the seat of C, who is still reading the paper.  He notices the package under C and dives down to steal it.  He then strolls ‘nonchalantly’ back to sit in his seat, smiling and caressing the package.  He holds it on his lap.

Pilot: “Do not be alarmed ladies and gentleman but the suspected engine fire…”

All three simultaneously ‘look out’ (away from the viewpoint)

Pilot: “…on the port side…”

All three simultaneously turn to ‘look out’ the other side (toward the viewpoint)

Pilot: “…means that we have turned the engine off.  There is no need for panic as we are under full control and able to fly on one engine.”

All three slump back in their seats, satisfied that there is no need to worry.

C then folds up his newspaper and places it under his seat.  He notices that his package is missing.  He checks under the seat of B and looks angry.  He believes B has taken his package.

C to B (aggressively): “Where did you get that?”

B (defensively): “Nowhere.  Under my seat.”

C: “Under whose seat?”

C pokes at B towards the eye.  This makes B defend his face and drop the package.  C grabs the package and returns to his seat, holding the package tightly on his lap.  B rubs his eye and looks back over to C.  C menacingly grimaces.  B decides a novel approach and slides down between his seat and that of A.  He puts his hand out ahead as he tries to crawl beneath the seat of A.  Due to his positioning he doesn’t hear the next announcement.”

Pilot: “We have good news ladies and gentlemen.  We have restarted our failed engine and as a precaution will be landing at Birmingham airport in three minutes time.”

A and C look relieved and place their packages on the ground.  They place them to their left, rather than under their seats.  B is still struggling under the seat of A and eventually gets his hand between the legs of A.  B feels around for the package and reaches up into the lap of A.  Naturally A is shocked, but decides to grab the hand of B and give it a sharp tug before letting it go.  This hurts B who emits a barely concealed squeal and scrabbles back out to his own seat.

A angrily turning to B: “What on earth do you think you are playing at?”

B (defensively): “But you have got my parachute.”

A: “How dare you accuse me.”

B: “But it’s mine.”  He spots the package on the floor.  “There.  That one.  It’s mine.”

A (knowingly): “Alright then.  If it makes you happy.”  A picks up the package and tosses it to B, then slumps back in his seat.

B looks smug and looks about as if he needed a friend to gloat to.  He turns to see C.  C notices.

C: “As you are so keen.  Here, have mine.”  C tosses his package into the lap of B and sits back into his own seat.

B looks doubly smug and sets about peering at his two packages, trying to see how to use them both.

Pilot: “Ladies and gentlemen.  Please fasten your safety belts we are approaching the landing runway.  The crew is glad that the trip proved uneventful.  I suppose it is lucky we were not flying over the sea as you would all have been grabbing for the lifejackets under your seats.”

End

You are welcome to use this sketch, on stage or video but credit and royalties must be given to Vince Poynter as the author.  An invite to see it performed would also be welcomed, along with requests for more sketches, which can be scripted on any subject.  Contact me for more information.  You may be surprised how reasonable I am.  Or it may be a Wednesday, in which case I’ll be like a rampaging bull elephant with a nasty itch on the end of his trunk.  You have been warned.

Vince.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the comedy and sketches section of vinceunlimited.co.uk dated 11 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004
The photograph was taken by the author in May 2015 and shows a Virgin aeroplane circling over London and was added in Version 5.056 11 Jan 2018

Mobile Vending

Quick Ringing

Let’s face it they are here to say.

We moan about the silly annoying ringtones and poor reception, claiming that they are the curse of modern society but we all have one tucked away don’t we.

A mobile phone, of course.

The subject of where they are tucked is another matter completely and not for these pages right now.  But every now and then we get caught short.

Perhaps you forgot to take the little blighter with you.  Perhaps you are away from home, or on holiday where your current cheapskate reception doesn’t reach.  You may be on the beach, you lucky devil and didn’t bring the phone because you hate that telling bulge in your thong.

And then you forgot that you needed to call aunty, to cancel the milk.

It’s no good relying on BT.  They used to put a telephone on every corner but drunks got them confused with loos.

And it’s no good asking anyone to lend you their pride and joy.  They will only think you will run off with it and use the miserly 25p credit they have.

No, what we need is a 21st century version of the phone box.

So what about vending machines?

They are so ubiquitous that the chances are when you need a phone there will be one nearby.

And the costs?  Mobiles are getting cheaper all the time and I’m sure they could be mass-produced for a few quid.

They wouldn’t need memories, games, WAP connection and colour screens.

They may not need screens at all.  All they need is a keypad.  I’m sure I remember a design like this many years ago!

So how about it?  Who’s gonna be the first?

Oh, and by the way.  Remember this was my idea.  So use this new ‘phone to give me a call and discuss terms.

I may be an ideas man but that doesn’t mean I don’t want richies beyond my wildest dreams.

And a new thong.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the ideas section of vinceunlimited.co.uk dated 10 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004, four years before Apple released their smartphone
Mobile phone vending machines are now common in some parts of the world.  But was the idea of a simple, single or so use, throw away design ever offered?
Interesting fact: Vodaphone introduced the Quickphone kiosk, dispensing cheap mobile phones, allegedly the first of this kind in Britain in late 2005.  About 18 months after I posted this idea.  Coincidence?  [Source: The Telegraph website, article by David Derbyshire dated 27 Oct 2005]

Yamaha DT175

Road Test Note: It is my intention to break the mould of classic bike road test reports.  Instead of copying other testers and attempting to fit all the technical specifications and performance figures into a readable report I plan to tell stories about my rides describing how I interacted with them, what they meant to me, how I survived the crashes and how they made me feel at the time

Yamaha DT175

An Initial Trial

We all remember our first.

Our first girlfriend, first kiss, first single and first time stealing from the dairy.  Or was that just me?

Anyway, our vehicles are no exception and my little Yamaha DT175 trail bike was the first vehicle that I owned.

Mind you at the time it didn’t seem so little and in many ways it wasn’t the first.  But much like girlfriends you can’t include a quick shuftie with your neighbour as a prima facie conquest.  So the Yam formally remains my first.

My parents had purchased a new Gilera moped for my older brother when he turned sixteen.  They gave me the option of a new ‘ped at the same age or a second-hand motorbike at seventeen.

As I was able to use my brother’s wheels I chose the motorbike option and given the stringent restrictions on size (“not a 250 son, too big”) and considering cost, I chose the Yamaha.

The year was around 1978 and the bike had a P registration plate, it was only a few years old.  That’s a P at the end by the way.

Trail bikes back then were much different from today.  The styling still had suggestions of a fifties mount with it’s front mudguard set close to the wheel, although trail bikes were soon shipped with higher mudguards shortly afterwards.

The tyres were ‘knobblies’ so gave me a chance to use it on and off the blacktop.

Top speed was a quite miserable 65mph or so.  This meant that it never kept up with my mate Jeff’s Honda CB125.  Then again, nothing else could either.

The best bit of my new toy was the colour.

Although the bike was in sound mechanical condition with no damage to the bodywork, the bike had been repainted.  I can’t recall the probably implausible excuse the seller gave for the re-spray but I didn’t care.  It was a cream colour with brown stripes.

For some peculiar reason known only to myself, as a teenager my favourite colour was brown, plus at the time Kenny Roberts was putting Yamaha on the racing map and the distinctive blocky stripes were aped on my fuel tank.

Black and white photograph of a leather clad female motorcyclist stood behind her Yamaha DT175 motorcycle which is laden with touring accessories
Not mine. The bike, the photo nor the girl. In the absence of photo evidence of my own DT175 I found and used for years this scan of a similar model from an old Bike magazine featuring despatch rider Sue Fiddian. By old Bike, I mean the magazine not the girl. Sorry Sue. Credit: Bike Magazine

It was a unique bike at the time so if you recognise this pattern and now know the bike get in touch.  I would love to see it again.  Mind you it would be well past its sell by date by now and I guess pretty ropey.  So I’ll only give you a few quid for it, all right.

Another useful feature was the off-roading abilities.

Not so much the serious mudplugging but the ability to climb easily up the pavement kerb at the local disco.

Of the few times I ventured off the tarmac my inexperience kept me from performing fantastic tricks and my leg length prevented me from stopping.  In fact, I can’t recall ever pulling a proper, wheel in the air for more than a half-second type, wheelie.  And I call myself a biker!

Plus, in those days, stoppies were only carried out by riders with no control and grabby brakes.  The drums on the Yamaha certainly never grabbed anything to my knowledge.

However, I did find the thing ace at driving round town with its light weight and responsive two-stroke motor.

The wide bars, although sometimes a pain through dense traffic, enabled surefooted slow riding skills and great manoeuvrability.  This was coupled to a high vantage point from that seat that didn’t suit my legs, although it was comfy enough for one bum.

Add a second bum, whose owner had to make do with swing-arm mounted rear footpegs, and it didn’t do so well.  But for one up hooligan riding round town it was perfect.

I even considered fitting road tyres rather than the standard fitment off-road rubber.  I recall that despite my efforts I couldn’t match a front and rear so didn’t proceed with this mod.  If I had I would have beaten the modern super-motards to the idea by several years.  Despite not heralding this modern change I travelled many a happy mile.

Nevertheless, it was the unhappy mile that it will be best remembered for.

I recall a frustrating crawl up the outside lane of a dual carriageway, at it’s 65mph maximum.  Jeff, on his CeeBee had passed the car and decided on a different route into the New Forest.  He swung into a left-hand turn and disappeared.

I was still in hot [read: warm] pursuit and trying to pass the car.

Why people insist on travelling at one mile an hour less than my top speed, I’ll never know.

Anyway, I just made it and shot round the bend.  It was set at a right angle and Kenny himself would have been pleased with taking it at this speed.  On his race bike.

Mind you I did have one race bike advantage.  The footpegs on a trail bike are small and high set so don’t dig in when cornering.  A common problem on seventies machinery.  Provided the tyres held out the thing could corner like a demon.  And the road that day was perfectly dry and smooth.

I leaned over, to the point my boots were scraping the deck, but it wasn’t enough.  The corner was too sharp.  So I leaned a bit more and something eventually grounded out.  My handlebar ends!

I slid across the road.

Thankfully, it being the seventies meant that no traffic was on the other side.  Unfortunately, being summer and a carefree teenager meant that I wasn’t dressed properly.  The lightweight jacket I had on rode up my torso, followed by my tee shirt, then in turn, each layer of my skin.  Gravel rash par excellence.

Despite this mishap I enjoyed my time with the Yamaha.

Even now I wish it was sat in my garage so that I could play on it.  The engine may have been noisy and underpowered but the styling was just right.  The high exhaust and low front mudguard may date the thing to a certain period but that’s when I was learning the meaning of freedom and this bike helped me achieve that.  I’ll always remember it fondly.

Like all my other firsts, I guess.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the bikes section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 9 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004
The header image shows the front page of the official UK Yamaha DT175 sales brochure and was added in  Jan 2018.  Credit: Yamaha
The included image shows a photograph scanned from an old ‘Bike’ magazine and was used to illustrate a story about a female despatch rider called Sue Fiddian.  It was first added to my website in Version 3 in Mar 2010.  I liked this as it best represented the ‘look’ of my DT175.  Used and generally remembered in black and white.  Credit: Bike Magazine

Dictaphone Sketch

Sketch Type: 5 minute sketch with 4 to 6 actors set inside a six person train compartment (or could be set elsewhere, such as dentist waiting room) with moving train sound effects continuously (unless at the dentist).

The sketch starts with the non speaking roles already seated (or one or two may enter and leave as required).  One man in a mackintosh should be seated prominently, reading a newspaper.  Another man enters and also takes a prominent position.  A young lady is in the scene.

Pause.

The second man looks about, then brings out a Dictaphone.  The others take no notice.  He clears his throat, switches on the machine and speaks.

“Letter please …”

All the others look at him.  The man in the mackintosh glances over his paper.

The dictaphone man continues.  “Letter please.  To go to John Fredericks Limited …”

The others start to lose interest as he continues.  “At Watford branch. For the attention of Mister J. Fredericks.  Dear sirs, I have convened the meeting to discuss your proposals for the new block to be in my office on the twenty-first at ten thirty a.m.  New paragraph.  Please advise your budget costing to me beforehand by return.  Signed, yours faithfully etcetera … etcetera.”

The man smiles sheepishly at the few passengers who have bothered to look up at him as he finishes.  He puts the recorder away.

Pause.

The dictaphone man looks around.  He is clearly bored.

He again reaches for his machine.  “Memo. please …”

All passengers again look up.  He continues unabated.  “… to go to Sam Prendell, reference your planning application for the Woods Green Development.  Sam, please forward your outline proposals showing the extension to the Cricket Club.  Signed etcetera … etcetera.”

He again smiles sweetly as he puts the machine away.

Immediately he gets it out again and continues unashamedly.  “Letter!” He bellows.

They all look.  “To go to Richard Dickens in Shropshire.  Dick, I placed the device in the cloakroom on the fourth floor.  Stop.  It should go off at about four o’clock when the lobby is full.  Stop.  Expected casualties could run into the hundreds.  Signed etcetera … etcetera.”

The passengers start to get edgy.  The man in the mackintosh’s interest grows.

“Just kidding.”  He says.  The others are visibly relieved.

He continues.  “New letter.  No, memo.  To my wife Jane.  Darling, I have some business to attend to early this evening.  Won’t be home until at least ten o’clock.  Love.  Etcetera … etcetera.”

He continues almost immediately.  Letter to go to Mark Chalice.  Mark the agreed time for the Securicor hit is eight thirty.  Kevin estimates two hundred thousand but Peter thinks it could be more.  Stop.  New paragraph.  Don’t forget the cutting gear.  Signed etcetera … etcetera.  Oh, and Mandy.  Make sure this one’s not on our headed paper and remember to use a stamp like I said, not the franking machine.  See you later.”

The tension in the carriage returns.

“Finally.  Oh, what the hell.  Letter to go to Scotland Yard, London.  For the attention of Detective Inspector Robbins.  To read. Robbins.  You are useless.  As you read this letter another poor victim lies with a slit throat …”  The young woman passenger stifles a shriek.

“… Try searching the tracks near …”  He looks out of the window.  “Near Wolverton Station.  Signed.  The Slug.  Train murderer.”

He smiles at those who are now looking at him, incredulously.  “End of dictation.”  He puts his machine away.

The man in the mackintosh calmly folds his paper and puts it down.  He reaches inside his coat and pulls out his own dictaphone.

He says.  “Internal memorandum please.  To Chief Constable Maxwell.  From D.I. Robbins, C Division.  Sir, at last I think we have a break on that Slug character.  I am hot on his trail and I expect a result any time now.”

End

You are welcome to use this sketch, on stage or video but credit and royalties must be given to Vince Poynter as the author. An invite to see it performed would also be welcomed, along with requests for more sketches, which can be scripted on any subject. Contact me for more information. You may find yourself treated like a special friend or a Royal visitor. Unless you contact me after 10 p.m. in which case I’ll be asleep. Not that an email will actually wake me up. I have learnt to switch off that irritating bleep. So it’s safe to click away at your leisure.

Author: Vince Poynter
From the sketches part of the comedy section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 4 Jan 18 but first published on the website in Mar 2004
Interesting fact: Dictaphone is a trademark owned by Nuance Communications in Massachusetts, following purchase of the rights from a company called Dictaphone which was originally founded by Alexander Graham Bell, the dude from the telephone invention trade. However, the term is now widely used to describe all micro-cassette type hand-held voice dictation recorders

Public Announcements

“‘Hum’. ‘Crack’.  This is a public announcement.  Will all those ‘pop’ who are ‘crackle’ please ‘fizz’ so that ‘silence’, ‘pop’ and ‘fizz’ to ‘crackle’.  Thankyou.”

In these days of modern communication, where you can speak to your friend in Coventry or Kuala Lumpa without distortion (baring the midlands accent, that is) why can’t a local public speaker be understood?  They are only connected by wire. Hardly, cutting edge technology.

However, this article isn’t really about the poor quality of sound, but the poor quality of words.  All the quotes below are real world examples and the culprits are named and shamed.

Message on South West Trains on nearing Clapham Junction, that applies to most station platforms that are shorter than the actual train.  “Would customers alighting at Clapham Junction, please use the first five carriages…”  Doh! Should that be ‘…one of the first five’?

The British Government’s latest ‘Kill your speed’ campaign.  What on earth is that all about?  How on earth do you kill speed?  It doesn’t possess life so how can it be killed?  And the roadsign that accompanies the message.  It depicts a hand lowering onto a speed limit.  So how does that work then?  How does putting a hand down kill speed?  Lifting a foot would be more appropriate.  The only vehicles that have hand throttles are motorbikes.  And putting the hand down is more akin to the method of speeding up!  I suppose some cars adapted for disability use may have hand throttles.  Perhaps the Government is really targeting these arch criminals!

Finally, I recently noticed an advertising slogan proudly plastered in huge lettering in Marks and Spencer.  ‘Our bread is baked from authentic recipes from around the globe.’  As opposed to what?  Does a non-authentic recipe exist?  Is anything baked somewhere that isn’t around the globe?  The copywriters really earned their crust on this one!

Author: Vince Poynter
From the opinions sections of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 4 Jan 2018, but first published in version 1.02 in Jan 2004.

Site For Sore Eyes

A television situation comedy by Vince Poynter

This, the first Sitcom to emerge from the brainchild of vinceunlimited, is Site for Sore Eyes.

The concept is about the trials and trepidations of work on a building site. Without the colourful language and exposed butt cheeks.

Below is the beginning of the first, pilot, tv episode.

Note: This is a project commenced and ripe for development so if you want to help this see the light of pixels get in touch and we’ll talk.


Site For Sore Eyes

A Pilot Situation Comedy Script for Television by Vince Poynter

Photograph of a tipped construction lorry laying beside a tall crane on a building siteThe scene is set

Phase One – Pumped Up

Mess Hut – A site shed, with benches and table. Very untidy. Calendar and site safety notices on the walls. Tea making equipment, old tabloid newspapers and broken cups on the benches. Rubbish around on the floor.

Two pipe fitters are in the hut, drinking tea. One is reading a tabloid newspaper and eating his sandwiches, all that is seen are his hands grabbing the curled up sandwiches, his face hidden by the paper. The other is wearing a tatty Walkman listening to music with his eyes closed. His fingers drum out a beat on his thigh.

Bill Clark enters. He is a Pipe-fitting Foreman in his fifties. A know it all from the old school. He pushes past the reading fitter.

Bill: “Morning lads.”

The fitters grunt acknowledgement, without moving. Bill places his bag on the table, sits between the other two and starts to prepare tea. This is a well-rehearsed routine.

Bill: “Sugar.”

The fitter with the paper slides the sugar along the table without raising his head.

Bill: “Tea bag.”

The other fitter reaches down to the ground and flicks a tea bag in the air, straight into Bill’s cup.

Bill: “Milk.”

As he says this he extends his cup towards the reading fitter. The fitter’s hand appears with the milk bottle and pours straight into the cup.

Bill: “Kettle on?.”

The other fitter swings round, picks up the kettle from the floor and pours the hot water straight into the cup, all without looking. Bill stirs the tea and takes a sip.

Bill: “Ahh. Tea. Lifeblood. See the match last night lads?”

The fitters grunt.

Bill: “Did you see that second goal. I haven’t seen a ball hit as hard as that since my Aunt Deirdre swiped old uncle Bob with his own golf club. Nine iron I think. Painful.”

The fitters squeak.

Bill: “Our man was on top form yesterday. Still they need the points if they want to stay up this season. After all, top teams aren’t built in a day.”

The fitters grunt.

Bill: “I reckon if they stopped going for the classic four, four, two and used a sweeper, winger …”

Tim Peterson entering cuts Bill short. Tim is a sixteen-year-old first year pipefitting apprentice with natural fallibility. He is obviously late and knocks things about as he rushes to his seat.

Tim: “Morning Bill. Morning lads.”

The fitters and Bill grunt. Tim quickly looks about for a tea mug and can only find a chipped old one with a missing handle. Unlike Bill, he doesn’t receive the help in making his tea, in fact when he searches for the items they are moved away from his sight by the others. This slows down the process of preparing the drink and allows for some interplay and visual slapstick. When he finally pours out his drink, the others, in unison, stand up, clear their items away and leave the hut. Bill and Tim are the last to leave. Bill is sorting out a specification and Tim is trying hard to cool down his drink, by frantically waving an old newspaper over it, whilst sipping.

Bill: “Oh. Tim. Did you get that new bubble for my spirit level on your way home yesterday?”

Tim: “No, sorry Bill. They said the ones they had in stock were damaged. They said they were hoping for a delivery today and I was to go back.”

Bill: “Did they tell you that the new ones would come in bubble wrap?”

Tim: “Yeah. That’s just what they said.”

Bill: “I thought so.”

Tim: “So, what are we on today?”

Bill: “We’re in the plant room. We’ve got to modify those pumps Mike told us about before he went.”

Tim: “Mike eh. Who would believe it? Fourteen million quid. What would you do with your share of that, Bill?”

Bill: “Not waste time talking pumps with you. That’s for certain.”

Tim: “I reckon I’d buy this company and make the old man redundant. I can’t understand why Mike just disappeared like that. I mean, he didn’t even trash the computers in the office. How sad.”

Bill: “And get himself sued. With all that money you become a target and I bet the old man would’ve tried it on. No, Mike is best out of it. I would probably just leave too. Jobs like this always seem to go on forever. This one’s been going for ten months already and it will probably see out my retirement the way it’s going. The Colosseum wasn’t built in a day, you know. Come to think of it, if Mike was doing the Colosseum it would probably still be a pile of rubble now.”

Tim: “It is.”

Bill: “Don’t be facetious.”

Tim: “Will the new engineer be any good?”

Bill: “Probably not. Them suits are all the same. More interested in their company car and expense account than the job. And most couldn’t build a sand castle on Bournemouth Beach let alone a big job like this.”

Tim: “So you’ve known a few in your time then.”

Bill: “Just a few! I remember this suit once. Name of Rogers. Used to speak with a limp I recall. Drove a Cavalier. Didn’t know a thing. He thought six inch copper was what a policeman’s wife gets.”

They laugh.

Bill: “Anyway lad. Lets get a move on. These pipes won’t fit themselves and the new man will have enough to do without worrying about that.”

They leave the mess hut.

Click to continue reading the whole, completed script

Author: Vince Poynter
From the Situation Comedies section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 3 Jan 2018
First published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website version 1.01 in Jan 2004
The image depicts a crashed lorry on a building site in Canary Wharf

Loch Ness

Monster Storytelling – A Screenplay Treatment

Please note that this is an incomplete fiction about the discovery of the Loch Ness monster.  It was written circa. 1995 after seeing what effects could be achieved with the film Jurassic Park which was released in 1993.

However, continuation of the story was sadly abandoned when the big screen movie, starring Ted Danson, called Loch Ness appeared in 1996.

At the time of writing the author has never seen the aforementioned film so any coincidences are purely that.  Coincidental.


Loch Ness

By Vince Poynter

The story is about a man, who after a bad argument with a long standing lover, treks off to get some peace and quiet.  He travels to Scotland and ends up near Loch Ness.

Whilst looking across the Loch he notices something move.  It turns out to be nothing but driftwood, until he turns away…

He books into a local hotel, recounts his story and is amused by the stories of Nessie and of the local’s stories in the bar.  The stories grow more absurd as the evening wears on and the drink flows.

He begins to notice an attractive American woman staying for a few weeks in the same hotel, as a great niece to the landlord, but the drink and his memories of his recent lover cause him to be more embarrassing than attractive.

To seek solitude he spends some time near the Loch and again spots something.  This time he is certain and decides to investigate further.

He tells the woman but she is less than impressed, dismissing his sightings as drunkenness.  Only an old man seems to agree with his thoughts.

The men agree to search for the monster.  Next morning they hire a set of diving gear from a local watersports centre and despite never having dived before set off, on a hire boat, to search the depths.

After several hours, suffering from cold and with faulty dive equipment they decide to abandon the search.  A storm blows up and they set back only to have their boat blown to a remote part of the Loch near an unusual landmark and capsize.

In the dark and severe weather the two struggle to grab driftwood to survive.  A darkened shape comes from the depths and the man tries to take a photograph or two but the old man is suffering and attempts to rescue him become a priority.

The attempts are fruitless and the old man is lost.  The man tries in vain to keep himself afloat but starts to sink.  He is just losing consciousness when he is accelerated at high speed through the water.

The next morning the woman is strolling across the beach and finds the man washed up on the shore.  As he recovers in her bed he recounts the story.

Whilst his story is too far fetched for her to believe she begins to fall for his charm and as they console themselves about the fate of the old man they embrace and begin to fall for each other.  They are rudely interrupted by the landlord who on hearing the story decides the police should be called.

In the Police Station the man is given a hard time about the loss of the old man and responsibilities given the huge depths of the Loch and the dangers of weather.

Whilst he is at the inquest, giving evidence about the circumstances, the woman receives the post, which contain the man’s photographs.  She rushes them to the inquest and presents the evidence.

A local reporter, an evil man, awakened by the thought of fame, causes a disturbance and steals the photos.  The next day the papers and news are full of the story and the reporter is given top publicity.

Within days the area around the Loch is totally transformed.

Multi-million pound projects are commenced with the thought of huge publicity rewards.  Major sponsors advertising boards are put up everywhere and the character of the place is wrecked.

The man and woman are horrified by the invasion of the world’s publicity and are hounded by reporters whatever they do, particularly the evil reporter.  They hear that the monster will be hunted at any cost and see explosives being off loaded and used to cause sonic shock waves.  A submarine is airlifted into the area and flotillas of the locals boats are used to trawl the Loch.

The man and woman decide that they need to find the monster before anyone else.  The problem is that they realise that they wouldn’t stand a chance given the searching power of the rest of the teams.  They need a head start and the man recalls the landmark he noticed just before capsizing.  They set off to find the landmark.

The landmark is at a far end of the Loch and when they discover it they find some wreckage of the boat.

They look into the water and see the monster, which appears to look back at them.  By moonlight the sight is wonderful but is interrupted by a helicopter with big searchlights, carrying the evil reporter, plus many approaching boats.

The man and woman disguise the find by quickly removing their clothes and going for a swim to distract the hunters.  The hunters leave the two in peace and head away to search another part.  Inevitably, the man and woman make love on the shore, the monster diving around in the background.

Next morning, over breakfast, the two plan to disrupt the search by discrediting his original story.

They realise that this could jeopardise the original claim of an accident but they figure that the risk is worthwhile.  They decide that the first thing to do is move the boat debris to another place.

They drive to the place where the accident happened, collect some debris and take it to another part of the Loch.  They return to collect more but whilst doing this they are spotted by the evil reporter who follows them to the site of the accident.

As he steps from his car he gets a gun out of the glove compartment.  He follows them to the shore where he confronts them.

An argument ensues about the morals of discovery and financial gain against destruction of the local environment.  A struggle occurs and the woman is shot in the head.

The man is about to be shot by the reporter when he dives in the water.  As he struggles to hold his breath underwater and swim to a safe place the bullets fly through the water around him.

He suddenly notices the monster nearby which when startled by a bullet dives off toward the edge of the Loch and disappears.  He follows, parting the underwater plants and discovers a large hidden underwater shaft.  He realises it is his only hope and swims down it.

Meanwhile the reporter, realising what has happened, cleans off his gun and throws it down near to the woman and drives off.

You will have to commission this story to see how it ends…..

Author: Vince Poynter
From the screenplays section of the vinceunlimited.co.uk website dated 2 Jan 2018
Written around 1995 and first published in the vinceunlimited.co.uk website version 1.01 in Jan 2004 and reproduced here in full, unedited
The image depicts a monster at Loch Ness, the monster being the author’s large Jaguar XJ8 photographed at Loch Ness in 2000