Save the Planet

A play by

Bill Andrews


Two gays, Bamber and Tristan, arrive at Tristan’s sister, Marge’s, house for Christmas.  They are upset there is no Christmas tree.  The sister and husband, Frank, are vegan, climate change activists and are providing a spartan welcome. Marge is very pregnant.  As there is no tree Tristan goes to find one and returns with lots of decorations, too.  He also returns with a turkey, pigs in blankets, wine and other groceries. Frank and Marge are a bit snooty about it but Frank can’t resist joining in.  Marge’s parents, Brenda and Tom, arrive a bit later and next day they all have their Christmas meal together.   Tom takes Bamber into his confidence and tells him about his sexual fantasies.  They play a type of charades with global warming as the topic.  Later that evening they discuss Frank’s electric car and whether self drive cars are the future.  They also learn about why Bamber can’t visit his family in Kampala.


Bamber – gay Ugandan late 20s

Tristan – Bamber’s partner, gay late 20s

Marge – Tristan’s sister, pregnant early 30s

Frank – Marge’s husband, late 30s

Brenda – Tristan and Marge’s mother, 60s

Tom – Brenda’s husband, 60sScene 1

Bamber: So what sort of pad does your sister, it’s Marge isn’t it?, live in?  Oh and what’s her partner’s name again?

Tristan: It’s a sort of shack surrounded by trees.  And his name is Frank and they are married.

Bamber: A shack?  You’re bringing me to spend our first Christmas together in a shack in the middle of nowhere?

Tristan: Stop it.  It’s a very cosy shack and Marge is lovely.  You’ll love her.

Bamber: Lets hope so.  Do they know?

Tristan: Know what?

Bamber: Know we’re together, an item?  Know we’re fucking gay?

Tristan: Of course.  I came out to the family when I was 15 or 16.  When I had my first boyfriend.   Oh here’s their village, Little Bogarse, not far to go now.

Bamber:  Little Bog Arse?  Is that the name of this place?

Tristan:  Great, the shops are still open.  It’s a nice old-fashioned place with a butcher, a greengrocer and a general store.  We may have to do business with them yet.

Bamber:  Why’s that?  Our SUV is full to bursting. 

Tristan:  Oh here’s the turning.  It’s that place on the right through those trees.  See it?

Bamber:  That?  I thought you said it was a shack.  It looks like a discarded shed to me.

Tristan:  That’s his workshop, my lovely.  The house is over there.

Bamber:  That’s more like it.  Although, are the walls made of polystyrene?  That’s what it looks like from here.

Tristan:  Yes.  Frank wanted to insulate the place and apparently 2 inch polystyrene was cheap and effective.  So he stuck it on the outside of all the walls.  It looks awful but it keeps the house warm in winter and I don’t think they’re worried about appearance.

Right.  Try to be polite.  No swearing and not too much lovey dovey  stuff.  I’m sure they’re fine with us being gay but….

Bamber:  Abso-fucking-lootly.  Wow! That’s a cool car.  What is it?

Tristan: Frank said he was buying an electric car.  I guess that’s it.

Bamber: I’ll have to have a ride in it.  

Tristan: I don’t want you getting any ideas about changing our car yet.

Bamber: But it’d be fun to go electric.  All the neighbours’d be jealous.  And it’d be another contribution to saving the planet.  Let’s have a kiss out here before we go in, tongues and all.  Oh shit the door’s opening, too late.

Sound of car doors opening and shutting.  

Scene 2

Tristan and Bamber at the front door Marge comes out followed by Frank wearing a Santa hat and Christmas jumper.

Tristan:  Hi sis.  You look lovely as ever.  Oh hi Frank, love the outfit darling, very Christmassy.  I’d like to introduce my partner and lover, Bamber.  He’s a real queen.

Bamber:  Hello and compliments of the season. 

Frank and Marge together:  Welcome and Happy Christmas.

Frank: Can I help you get your things in?

Marge:  I’ve put you both in the loft room.  I hope you’ll be comfortable there.

Bamber:  So we’re sleeping together my duck.  Great.  Let’s bring our stuff in.  The presents are on top so I’d like to unload them first. Where’s the tree?

Marge:  We decided against a tree this year.

Tristan:  What? You can’t be serious.  Christmas isn’t Christmas without a tree.  

Marge:  We don’t think it right to cut down millions of trees just to decorate people’s living rooms for a few days.  So we decided to do without this year.  We didn’t send out Christmas cards either as it seems a terrible waste of resources.  You know, trees to make the card, petrol for delivering it and all the glittery stuff stuck on that can’t be recycled.  We feel we’ve got to make a real effort now, change our life style after what we’ve learnt about the state of the planet.

Tristan:  Yah, boo, humbug.  Since when have you started caring about this sort of thing?

Frank:  You can blame me if anyone is to blame.  I’ve become very concerned about global warming ever since David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg drew my attention to it.

Tristan:  I don’t want to be rude, but do you honestly think not having a Christmas tree and not sending cards is going to stop global warming?  Actually, can we get our stuff in before we get into a philosophical discourse on the state of the planet?  I’m dying for a pee and I know Bamber is desperate for a cup of tea.

Marge:  Sorry darling, of course.  Stick the presents behind the door in the lounge and your cases upstairs.  Frank, give them a hand.  Bamber, what sort of tea would you like?  We’ve lemon and ginger, peppermint or rooibos.

Bamber:  Just builders tea, milky with 2 sugars please.  Not keen on funny teas.

Marge:  Oh I am sorry;  we don’t have any drinks with caffeine in, nor do we have milk.  We’re concerned about the heath effects of caffeine and we don’t have dairy because of the methane cows burp out.  Sorry.

Tristan:  I don’t want to be rude but when we’ve unloaded I’ll just nip down to the shops and get some as I don’t want Bamber sulking all Christmas. He’d be awful without his cups of tea.

Marge:  Get some sugar while you’re there then as that’s something else we don’t have for health reasons.

Tristan:  Okay Marge no problem.  Bamber can you manage the cases?

Bamber nods and carries them off stage.  Tristan also goes off.

Marge:  Frank darling, don’t judge Tristan too harshly.  He has always refused to join in any kind of social change.  He’s a lovely person but he’s very conservative and very stubborn.

Frank:  Well Tristan is not on his own.  This is what we’re up against.  People just don’t take climate change seriously and even when they do become aware of it they’re not prepared to change their way of life, except in very minor ways.  I don’t even think we’re doing nearly enough.  I wish we hadn’t made that cruise booking, flying to San Francisco and then cruising all the way across the Pacific.  I wouldn’t book it now but we didn’t think like this two years ago.

Marge: Well it’s booked now and we’d loose our deposit if we cancelled.  So let’s enjoy it.  It might be even more pleasurable knowing we can never do anything like it again.

Bamber (appearing):  Sorry where’s the restroom

Frank:  Sorry?

Bamber:  The restroom, the loo, the bog.

Frank:  Oh sorry, didn’t hear you properly.  There’s one under the stairs just here and your bathroom is next to your bedroom.

Bamber:  Thanks.  Erm Frank, there’s bubble wrap stuck on the window in our bedroom and I wasn’t sure if that was intentional?

Frank:  Yes it’s intentional – it’s cheap additional insulation.  We like to keep the place warm but with a minimum of fuel.  It’s all part of our global warming strategy. We’re very concerned for the future of the child Marge is about to produce.  You may think this is a bit cranky but many experts, even the United Nations, think we are in a global emergency.   So we’re trying to do our bit.  If every person tries, the carbon output will fall and our future will be brighter.

Bamber: Very admirable.  We’ve got to start thinking like that ourselves.  We are doing our bit in our own way.  Since we’re obviously not going to have children we’re doing our bit towards the most important problem facing the planet – overpopulation. 

Frank: Touché.  We’re only planning to have 2 offspring.  If everyone restricted their families to just 2 children the world population would gradually shrink because of people like you and other heterosexuals who either can’t or don’t want children.  The average births would be 1.85 per couple and even with advances in medical science extending the life expectancy that would be enough.

Tristan arrives back with a Christmas tree and several boxes of decorations.

Tristan:  Sorry Frank, I know you’ll probably disapprove but the tree looked lonely and it was heavily reduced as the shop was just about to close, and he threw in the decorations.   It would all have gone to waste if I hadn’t taken it.

Oh and the butcher was selling his last items off as well, so I bought his last turkey.  I know you’re both vegans but Bamber and I are carnivores and I think Mum and Dad will enjoy some meat, too.   Also, I couldn’t resist buying half a dozen nice bottles of plonk even though I know neither of you drink.  All very naughty but hopefully very nice.  Bamber, love, would you be kind enough to bring the shopping in while I sort out the tree?

Scene 3

Marge:  Come in, come in.  Happy Christmas, mum, happy Christmas, dad. 

Brenda:  Happy Christmas, darling.

Tom: Happy Christmas.   What’s that wonderful smell?

Marge:  Tristan bought a turkey so you’ve a choice for dinner – my nut roast or Tristan’s turkey.

Brenda:  Oh my poor baby.  Has Tristan been bullying you?  I hope he didn’t make you cook it.

Marge:  No, Mum. Bamber, Tristan’s partner, cooked it.  It seems he does the domestics in their household.  Tristan just tells him what to do!

Brenda:  Like he tells everybody!  Is he nice this Bamber?  I hope so.  It’s all a bit much for your Dad, Tristan living with another man.  And Tristan said they’re thinking of getting married.  I didn’t know two men could do that.  It doesn’t seem right.

Marge:  Shush, Mum.  Just be glad Tristan’s happy.  Bamber’s lovely.  He’s very effeminate but also very funny.  You’ll like him I’m sure.  Oh, I’ve put you in the back bedroom.  I’ll just get Frank to help Dad with his bags.  Frank,  Frank.  Can you help Dad please?

Bamber enters with Santa hat and tinsel round his red jacket.

Bamber:  Hello, Marge’s mum.  I’m Bamber.  I’ll help with the bags.  Frank’s busy.

Marge:  Mum, this is Bamber.  Bamber, this is Brenda.  Oh thanks.  Dad’s outside unloading the car if you don’t mind helping him.

Bamber exits.

Brenda:  Oh I didn’t know he was black.  Dad’ll get a shock when this black bear of a man suddenly appears next to him and offers to help.  Oh it gets worse.  First my son says he’s gay,  then he says he’s living with another gay man, then they’re talking of getting married and now his partner is black.  Still at least he doesn’t want to change sex like some do.  We’re lucky about that.

Marge:  Shush, Mum.  You’re sounding racist and homophobic. 

Brenda:  No, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not racist or homo whatever.  People can do what they like, have sex with whoever.  It’s just a shock when it’s so close to home, but I must say he’s very handsome and very polite.

Tom enters with suitcases, followed by Bamber. 

Tom:  Where’ve you put us, love?  This nice young fella’s carrying most of the weight.  I don’t know what your mother’s packed, but the bags are really heavy and we’re only stopping one night.

Brenda:  No, dear.  We’re staying until after the New Year. I told you several times already.

Tom:  Oh that’s right. I keep forgetting. Must be my age.  This way, young man.

Marge:  Dad, this is Bamber, Tristan’s partner.  Bamber, this is my Dad, Tom.  You’re in the back bedroom. 

Bamber: putting the bags down.  Pleased to meet you, Tom. Shakes hands.  Didn’t say a proper hello to you, Brenda.  Gives her a hug and a kiss on both cheeks – she looks thrilled.  Right, to the back bedroom.  Exits with Tom.

Brenda:  What a gentleman.  I can see why Tristan likes him.

Marge:  That’s better, Mum.  Forget he’s a black gay.  Think of him as a lovely man.

Frank appearing with apron on: Sorry, Marge.  Did you want me?

Marge:  No it was to help Dad with the bags but Bamber stepped in.

Frank:  Oh hi, Brenda.  Hugs and kisses her but she looks bored.  How are you?  How was your trip down?

Brenda:  It was fine until Tom switched off the satnav. We went miles out of our way and I kept telling him and he kept ignoring me.  Eventually I persuaded him to let me drive and I followed the satnav straight here.  He’s such a stubborn old man these days.

Tom appears.

Tom: Who is?

Brenda: You are and you know it.

Tom: Well you might have a point but I wish you wouldn’t tell everyone else about it.

Brenda: It just makes it easier for them if they know. 

Tom: Well I don’t want anyone’s pity. And anyway Frank’s known me for years.  I’d have been fine with a map.  It’s just you insisted on using that dreadful, what’s it called?

Brenda:  Satnav, short for satellite navigation.

Scene 4

The 6 of them are seated round the table eating Christmas lunch.

Bamber:  Red or white Brenda?

Brenda: Just a small glass of white please.

Bamber:  Frank?

Frank: Red please.

Marge: Frank!  I thought you’d given up alcohol.

Frank:  I have, but I’m having a day off to celebrate Christmas.

Bamber: Marge?

Marge:  I can’t drink. I’m pregnant.

Bamber: Of course, silly me.  It must be hard not to have a glass of this lovely grape juice at Christmas. Tom?

Tom:  ‘Ave you any beer?  I’m not too partial to wine, foreign muck.

Brenda:  Foreign muck!  I don’t know how you can say that.  I’ve seen you totally gobsmacked on sangria in Spain.  Isn’t that foreign?

Bamber:  Sorry, love, no can do.  Unless, Marge, you’ve got some hidden away?

Marge:  Sorry, Dad.  I’ve ginger beer if you’d like that? We’ve gone teetotal so there’s nothing in the house.

Tom: I’ll try the red then, if it comes recommended. 

Bamber:  It does.  Tristan, darling?

Tristan:  I think I’ll have some of the red please.

Frank:  I’d like to propose a toast.  

Marge: I would like a drink please.  A nice glass of tap water please.

Bamber gets up and comes back with a glass of water

Marge: Thanks.  Sorry, Frank.

Frank: No, I’m sorry.  I should have noticed.  Anyway, I’d like to propose a toast.  Welcome and Happy Christmas. It’s good of you all to come.  Thanks, Tristan, for the turkey and all the other goodies and thanks, Bamber, for doing the cooking.  The smell of the turkey is so good I’m going to break my vegan diet and partake of a slice or two. 

Marge:  Frank!  Have you no self control?

Frank: It’s not easy suddenly giving up alcohol, coffee, meat and dairy and eggs after a lifetime of enjoying them and I’ve kept it up for 6 months so I feel I’m entitled to a break.

Tom:  So, if it’s not a silly question, why have you gone vegan?

Frank:  Lots of reasons really.  Firstly, I don’t like the idea of killing animals to eat.  Then there are huge environmental downsides to keeping and feeding animals.  Eating vegetables and fruit is far more sustainable for the planet.

Tom: But why give up dairy and eggs?

Frank:  Well, mainly because of the damage to the environment, but also I don’t like the way dairy herds or chickens are treated.  Can you imagine if instead of having fields full of sheep or cattle we allowed those areas to re-wild back to how things were before we arrived? The wildlife would recover, the insects, the bees, the hedgehogs and so on.  

Tom:  How long have you been vegan?

Frank:  Almost six months now.

Tom Well I think you’re very lucky.  You have so much choice.  You can eat whatever you like.  I grew up with rationing.   It was years before I saw my first banana and butter was a complete luxury.  Usually we had a thin layer of margarine made from whale oil on our bread.  We had to use powdered egg for cooking as eggs were few and far between.  And meat was a rare treat.  So I think going vegan is insane.  You should think of the sacrifices of our boys and girls in the war that made what you’ve got now possible.  They did what they did so we could have peace and prosperity. And so we could eat what we like.

Marge:  Dad, times have changed.  Then the problem was that we were trying to destroy fascism. Now the problem is we’re destroying the planet.  If we all keep on eating what we want I dread to think what will happen.  Certainly our children will suffer and I don’t know if our grandchildren, when we have any, will survive.  We do appreciate our brave soldiers, sailors and airmen but we’re facing different problems now.

Tristan:  Marge, would you like a slice of turkey with your nut roast?  It won’t do any harm as the damage has already been done and I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

Marge: No thank you.  I’m sticking to my principles.  Mum, you’re drinking fast.

Brenda:  Jusht getting into the Chrishtmas shprit. How hi is a Chinaman.

Frank:  Well said, Brenda.  Marge, I know you’re stronger than me but it’s my Christmas treat.  I won’t go back on my promises after today.  I don’t know how high a Chinaman is.  I suppose it depends on how much he’s had to drink.  Ha, ha.

Brenda:  No How Hi is a Chinaman.  That’s his name.  Is Ha Ha a Chinaman too?

Marge:  Frank – meat with two glasses of wine already.  I suppose it’ll be coffee and brandy after dinner.

Tristan:  Leave him, sis.  He must do what he wants to do.  Anyway, it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black, I think. You’ve only recently given up smoking.  Or have you?

Marge: Of course I have. No self-respecting woman smokes when they’re pregnant.

Bamber:  The turkey is perfect, if I say so myself, and the whole meal is a triumph.  I must say it’s my first ever taste of nut roast and that’s delicious, too.   Thank you so much for allowing me to share your Christmas Day. 

Tristan: So Frank I suppose this is a busy time for you.

Frank: Yes it’s always busier in the cold weather.  And I’ve just finished a training course on heat pumps.  The government is planning to phase out gas boilers in 5 or 6 years so as an electrician I could really do well.  But I need to know what I’m doing.

Bamber:  Excuse my ignorance but what is a heat pump?

Frank:  A heat pump is a device that transfers thermal energy from one point to another.

Bamber:  Sorry Frank that doesn’t make any sense to me.

Frank: The pump takes the heat from the air or the ground and pumps it into the house.  A fridge works the same way but in reverse.  It sucks the heat out of the fridge and puts it into the room.  The heat pump sucks the heat out of the outside air pumps warm air into the house and expels the cold air back out.  They use far less energy than a conventional boiler which is why they are being phased out.

Bamber: Well the whole world’s changing.

Brenda:  Why did the chicken cross the road?

Bamber: Cause it wanted to get to the other side?

Brenda: Because the higher the fewer.

Bamber:  I don’t understand.  That makes no sense.

Brenda: No.  That’s the point.

Marge: Mum!  How much wine have you had?

Scene 5

Washing up Tom and Bamber

Tom:  It’s very good of you to offer to wash up when you’ve done all the cooking.

Bamber:  Well, I thought I’d get out of the way for a bit.  You know, let the family have a get together without me there.  Give them a chance to talk about me.  You should go and join them.  I’m fine here on my own.

Tom: No, I’m quite happy just letting them get on with it.  Anyway, now it’s just the two of us I’d like to get to know you better.  I don’t want to pry and I know what I’m going to ask you is personal, but I have a good reason for asking it, so I hope you’ll bear with me and not take offence. 

Bamber:  Really, ask away.  I can always refuse to answer if I don’t like to.

Tom:  Okay.  What I wanted to know was, what age were you when you, you know, knew you were gay?

Bamber:  I can’t give you a definite answer to that I’m afraid.  From the age of, I suppose 14, I started exploring my sexuality.  I had my moments trying to get inside girls bras and also enjoying joint masturbating sessions with various mates.  The girls usually slapped my face so my mates won out.

Tom:  Oh, we never did anything like that.  I’ve never touched another boy’s… you know.  How did you know, how did you decide?

Bamber:  Well it wasn’t a eureka moment, as it was for Tristan, it was a gradual realisation that I fancied boys and I didn’t really fancy girls.

Tom:  Thanks for sharing that with me.  I find it really interesting and I didn’t know it was a eureka moment for Tristan.

Bamber:  Why’s it interesting?

Tom:  Well, what I’m going to say mustn’t go any further, okay?  Especially to Tristan.

Bamber:  On my mother’s life.

Tom:  Well, I’ve never been completely sure about myself.  I did what was expected of me, what all my contemporaries were doing, found myself a woman, got married etc, etc.  But I have always had fantasies about going with another man and that’s disturbed me.  I’ve never done anything about it but there again I keep having these thoughts.

Bamber:  Everyone has fantasies, but that’s all they are, fantasies. I have fantasies about having sex with a very fat woman, but I think, in reality, I’d hate it and anyway, I don’t intend to find out.

Tom: Yes, I’m sure you’re right.

Marge:  Hello, you two.  Right about what?

Bamber:  Oh nothing.  We’ve just been setting the world to rights, haven’t we, Tom?

Marge:  How fascinating, any conclusions?  I’ll take over if you like.  Oh, I hope you’re not throwing any food away.  We’re very particular about that.  Nothing must go to waste.  We’ll make soup out of the left-over vegetables if you could scrape the stuff into this pan.  Thanks.  Even the leftovers on the plates.  It all gets cooked thoroughly.  You lot can have turkey and stuffing baps later and we can have soup for lunch tomorrow.

Bamber: I bet that’ll be delicious.  I love a hearty soup.

Marge:  While you two have been doing all the hard work we’ve been debating what to do this evening, apart from eat and drink that is.  Brenda wants to play bridge.

Bamber exits as Marge takes over.

Tom: Well, that’s a surprise!  She’s completely hooked on bridge.

Marge:  But, I think that’s not ideal as it means two people would get left out.  Anyway, I’m not sure that enough of us can play bridge to form a, what do you call it?  A quartet?  Then Frank suggested Monopoly but that also went down like a lead balloon.  So the upshot is, we’ve decided that we are all playing charades – two teams, men against girls only Bamber has offered to be a girl to even up the numbers.  

Tom:  Yeh, there are four men and two women so Bamber being a girl makes sense.

Marge:  You’re right, Dad. He wanted to be a girl, anyway – he’s changing into women’s clothes as we speak!

Tom:  He’s what?  Oh well I cant wait to see him!  Charades, you say.  That’s a bit boring isn’t it?

Marge: Well, to make it topical and more interesting, instead of films, books and so on, the theme is climate change.   We have to mime something to do with climate change to the other members of our team.

Tom: Very challenging!

Brenda enters and Marge leaves

Brenda:  Hello.  Good to shee at leasht one of the boys doing their bit.  Tom you should be wearing rubber gloves or you’ll spoil your lovely hands.

Tom:  Don’t be stupid.  My hands are rough from gardening.  A bit of hot water won’t do them any harm and I resent that about doing our bit.  It’s a sexist remark.  It implies that we, I, don’t pull our, my, weight domestically and I don’t think that’s fair.  And anyway, Bamber has done all the washing up as well as the cooking and you’re pissed.

Brenda:  Only a little and don’t get on your high horse, Tom.  I was jusht making convershashion. No offence intended.   Do you think Bamber’s got AIDS?  His skin’s a bit off.

Tom:  I hadn’t noticed anything wrong with his skin.  I certainly hope he hasn’t or Frank might catch it.

Marge enters.

Marge: Catch what?  We’re starting charades in ten minutes in the lounge.

Tom exits

Brenda: AIDS, catch AIDS.

Marge: Oh Mum!  I don’t know what’s got into you these days.

Brenda:  I want to have fun.  I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and it’s not easy being married to Tom who’s stuck somewhere in the 50’s.  And you don’t help with all your ‘save the planet stuff’.

Scene 6

All the family sitting round. Bamber enters in a dress with false breasts prominent 

Tristan:  Lovely, Bamber.  Come and sit on my knee.

Marge: None of that, you two.  Right, it’s time for our game.  We need two teams.  We were going to have the men against the girls but instead I thought in my team would be Tom and Bamber which means Frank has Brenda and Tristan in his team.  So, each team has one female and two males and each team has one oldie in it.

Tom: What’s that implying, Marge?  That Brenda and I are somehow substandard because we’re going grey and wrinkled?  You’ve got that wrong.  Our age has given us more time to hone our brains so we’re the tops.

Marge: (ignoring Tom)  Each team has to draw up 3 items for the other team to mime and write them on these pieces of paper.  The items have to be directly connected to climate change.  One member of the opposite team then has to try to get the other members of their team to guess what’s on the piece of paper by miming.  No speaking allowed.  And it’ll be against the clock.  The team who guesses all 3 items in the shortest time wins.  We’ll toss to see which team goes first.

Tristan:  What is the prize?  What does the winning team get?

Marge: (ignoring Tristan) Heads or tails, Frank.

Frank: I’m not the captain.  Tristan, will you be captain, or you, Brenda?

Brenda: Tailsh.

Marge:  Tails it is.

Brenda: Ok.  Our team will go firsht.  Where are your three items?

Marge: Hang on, give us a minute to write them down.  Everyone, here’s a piece of paper each.

Brenda: I’ve a great item.  Here, Frank, look.

Frank:  Sorry, Brenda, you don’t show me.  You mime it and Tristan and I have to guess what’s on the paper.  Anyway, I don’t think cigarette smoking is responsible for global warming.

Brenda:  It’s a dishgushting habit and it doesh pollute the atmosphere.

Frank:  Yes, you’re right.

Marge:  Hang on, it doesn’t matter if you see what Brenda’s written.  You give your clues to us.  One of our team has to mime them and the others have to try to work out what the answers are.  But you’ll have to choose another clue now we’ve all heard that one.

Frank:  How about Brenda and I decide together on an item, eh Brenda?

Brenda:  No, I’ve a better idea.

Frank:  OK

Tristan: (choosing an item).  Christ!  I can’t do this.

Marge: The clock starts…!

Frank: How many words?  Okay, 2.  How many syllables in the first word?  You indicate with fingers on your forearm.

Bamber:  Isn’t this help you’re giving counted as cheating? 

Tristan: I don’t know how many.

Frank: Well you count like this: Constantinople is con, that’s 1, stan, that’s 2, tin, 3 and ople,4.  Now how many in the first word?

Okay, 3.  Can you mime it?

Tristan makes an x with his fingers

Tom: First syllable – ex

Tristan nods

Marge: Dad, you’re on our team.  We don’t help them.

Frank: Exam, external, extra, example, ex wife, ex husband.  Try to show us another syllable or the whole word.  This sign means the whole word.

Frank shows the sign and Tristan shows it back.  Then tries to draw a volcano in the air.

Frank: Not any of those.  Okay the whole word: hill, mountain, oh it’s exploding, volcano.  Ex volcano.  Active volcano?  No not active. Um extinct.  Tristan nods his head and gives the thumbs up. Longer than extinct. Extinction

Tristan nods

Frank: Extinction Rebellion. Stop the clock.

Tom: What’s that?  What’s Extinction Rebellion?  Oh, I know, it’s that group of hooligans that brought London to a standstill.   We should have kept National Service.  Two years in the forces would sort that lot out.

Marge:  Dad, they’re not hooligans. You’ve been reading the Sun or the Daily Mail.  Climate change is at a tipping point and Extinction Rebellion thinks not enough is being done to address the issue, so they’re trying to bring it to everyone’s attention.  I’m a supporter.  They’re trying to stop HR2 as well.

Tristan: Well done, Frank.  I never thought anyone would be able to get that.  Right, it’s your turn now.  Ho, ho.  Are you going first, Bamber?

Bamber: Stop gloating.  I don’t see why not.  Is that okay, captain?

Marge:  I vote for you as captain. You start anyway.

Bamber:  This item has nothing to do with the subject.

Tristan:  I think that’s my item and if you think about it, it’s everything to do with global warming. 

Bamber:  Okay, I get your drift, but I’m not sure my team mates will.

Frank: Start the clock.

Marge: Right ho, Bamber, one word, how many syllables? 3.  Bamber mimes.  Is it raining?  You’re putting on a coat?  A raincoat?  A mac.  So that’s the first syllable – mac.

Tom:  Are you on my team?  You’re taking off your hat.  Right. Lifting it, erm, removing it, donning it.  Right it’s donning.

Marge: Mac Donning.  Not mac Donald’s surely?

Bamber: Stop the clock.  I get it, Tristan, you think they’re responsible for global warming?

Tristan:  Well yes, certainly.  The Amazon is being cut down and turned into grazing for cattle to turn into burgers for their customers.   And cattle burp out vast quantities of methane which is a worse greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.  Every American puts out more than three times as much global warming gas as one Britisher and a lot of that is because they eat so many burgers.

Marge: I like it. I wasn’t thinking so laterally.  I was thinking of glaciers, ice bergs, that sort of thing.  Right who’s next?

Frank:  I think I’d better go next as Brenda’s gone to sleep.

Tristan:  I think I’d better wake her as she’s on our team and her job’s to help me figure out what you’re trying to mime.

Brenda:  I’m not ashleep.  I was dreaming of  big Mac with skinny French fries.  Not really as I’m still very full.  You go firsht, Frank.

Frank:  Right, here goes.

Tristan:  Does that mean two words?  

Frank nods indicates the second word then mimes a car – brm, brm

Tristan: Second word, car, bus, lorry, truck, tractor, erm, vehicle.

Frank nods then indicates the first word, second syllable, then gets down on all fours and starts squeaking and twitching his nose.  Bamber roars with laughter.

Tristan:  Shut up, Bamber darling, you’re putting me off.  Frank was that supposed to be a mouse?  Right, something mouse vehicle.  What do you think, Brenda?  Oh dear, she’s gone back to the land of nod.  What’s the first syllable Frank?

Frank does his car impression again.

Tristan:  Let’s see.  Car mouse vehicle, bus mouse vehicle erm, oh I’ve got it auto mouse vehicle… autonomous vehicle!

Frank: Stop the clock.  Well done.

Tristan:  Well done, you.  I’m not sure quite what they have to do with global warming?

Frank: Well, they predict that in the near future we’ll be able to summon an electric autonomous vehicle from an app on our phones rather than owning a car.  At the moment our cars only get used for 10% of the time if that and just sit around doing nothing the rest of the time, whereas an AV, that’s what they’re know as, will be in almost constant use.  So far fewer vehicles will be needed to do the same amount of journeys and, as each vehicle takes a lot of energy and resources to manufacture, fewer vehicles mean less global warming.  Have you noticed how many cars there are on garage forecourts all over the country?

Tom:  You won’t get me in one of them AV things.  I like to be in control.  No bloody computer will be driving me around.

Frank:  We’ll see.  If you don’t trust computers I wouldn’t go flying again.

Tom:  Why’s that?

Frank: Because computers fly modern aircraft these days.

Brenda: Then what do pilots do?

Frank:  I’m not sure exactly.  Things like talk to the control tower and of course the passengers.  Just be in overall charge, I suppose.

Tom:  Well, the world is changing so fast I can’t keep up with it.  I only had my first mobile phone last Christmas and I still don’t know what an app is.   I don’t like seeing the person I’m talking to nor do I want them to see me.

Scene 7

Tristan:  Coffee anyone?

Marge:  Sorry, we don’t have any.  Our ban on caffeine.  I think I already mentioned it?

Tristan:  I bought some when I went to the shops.  Have you a cafetière?

Marge:  Sorry, Frank took all our teapots and coffee making items to the charity shop weeks ago, when we went vegan.

Frank:  Erm, sorry Marge. I put everything in the garage ready to go, but, at the time, I wasn’t sure how serious we were about it all….  so it’s all still there.  Anyway, I’ll go and fetch a cafetière from the box.

Marge:  Frank!  You’re hopeless.  You say you’ll do things for the planet but you backtrack all the time.

Frank:  Anything else from the box?

Brenda:  Did I hear mention of a teapot?

Bamber:  Yes, I’d like that, too.

Frank exits.

Tom: To get back to our little competition, I thought our team won because Brenda cheated.  There’s no way plastic bag, her charade item, is anything to do with global warming.   So I couldn’t be expected to get it.

Marge:  I agree.  Plastic is a major problem, one that we’re all trying to address, but it’s nothing to do with global warming. 

Bamber:  You made a good attempt at it, though.  We guessed elastic.

Brenda:  I thought it was all part of the whole problem.  It’s all I read about in the paper.  Plastic, plastic, plastic.  That and what Trump’s been doing.  He doesn’t believe in global warming, does he?

Frank enters with teapot and cafetière. 

Frank: Here you are, Tristan, here you are, Bamber.  If you’re making, could I have a coffee, too, please?

Marge: Frank!

Frank: With soya milk please.  Actually, I think that’s all we’ve got.

Tristan:  No, that’s something else I bought as I knew Bamber wanted it in his tea.

Frank: Oh, yes.  I think you told us earlier.  But I will stick with soya.

Tom: So, do you concede, now we’ve established Brenda cheated?  Oh, Frank, you weren’t here, it’s been agreed that plastic bag is nothing to do with global warming. 

Tristan:  Well, if you like your team won.  But you have to acknowledge we guessed all three items in record time.

Tom:  So, Bamber, Tristan tells me that you and he plan to get married.  How does that work?

Bamber:  Well, we haven’t planned anything, but it’s going to be a civil ceremony as I don’t fancy wearing a white dress.  No seriously, neither of us is religious and I’m not sure whether churches would have us.  We’re not thinking of honeymooning in Uganda in case they hang us for being gay, in fact there’s quite a number of countries that we’ve had to strike off our list.

Tristan: We’ll get married in the UK and you’ll all be invited.

Brenda: Have you a family, Bamber?

Bamber: Yes, my mum and dad are still alive and I’ve three sisters, all older than me, all married and all with children.  They all still live in Kampala but I had to leave before they found I was gay.

Brenda: How awful for you.  I bet you miss them?

Bamber:  Of course, and it’s terrible that I can’t go back to see them in case they catch up with me.  I’m so grateful to this wonderful country for letting me live here.

Brenda:  Did you have trouble getting, what do you call it? Residency, citizenship?

Tristan:  The authorities were awful.  Put poor Bamber through hell, but we’re just grateful that it’s all over now and we can live freely.

Marge:  We take so much for granted in this country.  All we read about is Brexit, terrorism and knifings in the big cities and yet most of us live safely in relative luxury.  Which is why we’ve made an effort to reduce our global footprint and why we want to crusade to convert the rest of the country to do the same.  We want our kind of life to be available for our offspring. 

Bamber:  I applaud your sentiment and I shall be working on Tristan to reduce ours, starting with cutting out meat.

Tristan:  I don’t believe this!  Bamber is the most carnivorous person I know.

Bamber:  Well, I’ve been convinced by Marge and we will cut our meat consumption. Shall we say to twice a week? Then once we’re used to that, to once a week.

Tristan:  Nice idea.  Let’s give it a try.  I’m not going down the no alcohol or caffeine route though and I don’t think I’d like to cut butter and cheese from my diet.

Marge:  Well, if you just use soya in place of cows’ milk that’s a start and you’d soon get used to the taste.

Bamber: And I like the idea of an electric car.  Could you give me a ride in it tomorrow, please, Frank?

Frank:  I’d love to.  We’re very pleased with it.  It does over 175 miles on one charge and if we’re going further we just stop off at a service station and have a coffee or lunch and charge it up.  The running costs are very low and, of course, it doesn’t pollute the environment.

Marge: I read recently that at an investors conference an expert predicted that within 10 years most cars would be electric.

Tom: That sounds too soon to be realistic. 

Marge: Well, he started off his presentation with two pictures taken in New York 10 years apart, one with the street full of horse drawn carriages and the other full of cars and he explained that changes can happen that fast – from horse drawn carriages to cars in just 10 years. Another example, just think of the iPhone.  Apple wasn’t a phone manufacturer 15 years ago, and now it dominates the market.

Frank: He went further in this presentation. He thinks self drive cars will be on the market very soon and using them will be so cheap, private car ownership will become an unaffordable luxury.

Tom: The world is changing so fast ….although that sounds incredible I can see it happening. Personally, I will be glad to see the back of the motor car.  It’s had its day.  Now all our streets are clogged with cars and people have places to store their cars rather than front gardens.

Frank: Yes, all you’d have to do is order a vehicle from an App on your phone and it’d be there in minutes, like you do with an Uber.  But because there would be no driver to pay, it would be very cheap.  The streets would be freed up.  There’d be fewer accidents as most accidents are caused by human error and huge areas of our towns which are currently just used for storing stationary cars would be freed up for low cost housing or parks.

Tristan: Car manufacturers and oil companies must be shitting themselves.  What will the Arabs do when no one wants their oil anymore?

Brenda:  I’m afraid all this talk is doing my head in.  I don’t like to think about all this change.  I’m off to bed, if you don’t think I’m rude.  Just before I go could I ask you Bamber ‘ what’s the difference between an elephant’s bottom and a post box?

Bamber:  Sorry I don’t know.

Brenda:  You don’t know!  Well I won’t be giving you any of my letters to post.

Tristan:  The old one’s are the best – jokes I mean.  I liked the world better before the internet.  Self drive cars.  Makes my head spin.  I’m going up, too. Are you coming Bamber?

Bamber:  Me?  No, I’m going to stay with the men drinking.

Brenda:  I thought you were a girl?

Bamber:  That was earlier.  I’m a man now.  But a man who knows when he’s had enough to drink and when it’s bedtime.  So goodnight everyone. Thanks for a lovely Christmas Day and for letting my team win the competition and for such interesting conversations.   Frank, darling, are you all right?  You look awfully pale.

Frank rushes offstage desperately trying to reach the toilet before he’s violently sick.  Vomiting noises off.

Marge:  I knew this would happen.  It’s the meat, the alcohol, the caffein his body isn’t used to it.  I’d better see if he’s all right.

Everyone:  Goodnight