Thursday, January 10, 2013


...continued on from THURSDAY'S CHILD # 2


It is late at night now; the streets are deserted.  BEA and NEIL stand on the verandah of the pub, illuminated by light spilling through the open front doors.
NEIL (awkward)   Listen, I don’t want you to get me wrong, but...would you like to come and see me tin mine?
BEA (excited)   I’d love to, but …
NEIL   What?
BEA   I want to get to Thursday before 'the Wet'.
NEIL   Fair enough. Well, maybe on y’way back.
BEA   Yes, in a few weeks.
NEIL   Good, Well, I guess...(I’d better be off)
BEA   Thanks Neil.  It’s...

There is a moment’s awkward silence between them as they try and work out how they are going to say goodbye.
NEIL   Can I kiss you, Beatrice?
BEA   Please.

NEIL kisses her.  It is BEA's first kiss and she finds the experience quite delightful. They look at each other for a moment.
NEIL   Well...I’ll see you in a few weeks then?
BEA   I promise.
NEIL   'Night Beatrice.
BEA   'Night Neil.

NEIL walks off.  BEA watches him go, excited by the encounter.


BEA, FOUR ITINERANTS and an ABORIGINAL MAN, in a goods carriage filled with crates of chickens, her travel journal on her lap, looks through the slats at the country passing by - the pre-dawn sky filled with wispy pink and orange clouds. The ABORIGINAL MAN plays a harmonica.  The other three are asleep - on the floor and propped up against crates.  There is a look of peace and contentment on BEA’s face as she takes the cap off her fountain pen and writes JUMPING THE RATTLER in perfect italics at the top of the page.


The train is stationary now, at a railway siding.  BEA and the others sit in fearful expectation; listening to voices and the sound of approaching feet on the gravel outside.  The doors are flung open to reveal a uniformed STATION MASTER and TWO POLICEMEN.
STATION MASTER   Alright!  Everyone out.


BEA, in good spirits, talks animatedly at the dinner table. MR. MILES' amusement is muted by parental concern. MRS. MILES is upset.  Younger sister CONNIE is resentful that BEA is the centre of attention and the other children obviously think BEA is a little odd. GRANDMA ELLIE is concerned about both BEA and MRS. MILES.
BEA   ...And Police Constable O’Dougherty says (thick Irish brogue) "But apart from not being in possession of a ticket, Miss Miles, y'uv no visible means of support and I’m afraid I’m going to have t’charge you with vagrancy." Did you know it’s against the law to be broke? You can be thrown in jail for being poor!?

MRS. MILES puts her head in her hand as if about to cry.  GRANDMA ELLIE touches her arm soothingly: 'Come on, it’s not that bad.'
MRS. MILES   She’s throwing her life away.
BEA   I’m not mother, honest. I know what I’m doing. And anyhow I wasn’t broke. I had a couple of quid in the bottom of my sock that Neil had given me but...
MR MILES (shocked)   Neil!?
BEA   Neil Jenkins...a bosker chap I met in a pub. And I was broke so he...
MRS MILES   O my god!  And he gave you money?
MR MILES  (exerting his authority)   I don’t think this is the time or the place...

A deathly silence falls over the table for the moment it takes for BEA to understand the origin of her parents' fears. 

BEA (laughs)   Don’t worry dad. I’m still a virgin, if that’s what you’re worried about.

MR MILES (angry)   Beatrice!

MRS. MILES starts to cry. The Miles children look daggers at BEA.
BEA (exasperated)   Oh, Jesus!


BEA, in exceptionally good spirits, dressed flamboyantly and a little eccentrically, stands on the running board of a chauffer driven car as it makes its way down a tree-lined North Shore street; oblivious to the shocked reactions of its occupants.  When the car slows at a corner, BEA waves her ‘thanks’ through the window and leaps off.


Bea rushes through the gates of an old mansion that has been converted into a kindergarten  and in through the front door.


MRS HENDERSON, looking every bit the headmistress, with FOUR TRAINEE TEACHERS in tow, stands in front of a classroom full of noisy SCHOOLCHILDREN, clapping her hands.


No sooner has the class quietened down than BEA flies through the doorway, apologizing breathlessly to Mrs. Henderson.
BEA   Sorry. Caught the wrong tram.  

MRS. HENDERSON   Punctuality, Miss Miles! Punctuality!

BEA nods, catches her breath.
MRS. HENDERSON   Children, I want to introduce our new trainees.

A YOUNG BOY smiles toothlessly at Bea and she makes a funny face in response.
MRS. HENDERSON   Miss Emily Mathison...

En masse, the class erupts in laughter at the funny face BEA has pulled. MRS. HENDERSON is surprised, flustered and finally angry.


BEA, alone in a vast blue expanse of sea, swims breaststroke one hundred yards out from the shore, humming happily to herself.  Her peace and quiet is short-lived.  A wooden surf boat with FOUR SURF LIFE-SAVERS aboard approaches quietly; at first unnoticed by Bea.
1ST LIFE-SAVER (polite)  Excuse me sir...
BEA (startled)   What!
2ND LIFE-SAVER (exclaims)   It’s a bloody sheila!

The LIFE SAVERS exchange amused looks.

1ST. LIFE-SAVER   What do you think you’re doing, Miss?
BEA   Knitting a sweater for my mother.

The life-savers exchanged looks.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER  You're swimming, miss.
BEA   That's very observant of you, mister.

1ST. LIFE-SAVER   Yes, well you can’t do it this far out.
BEA   Why's that?
1ST. LIFE-SAVER   Y'just can't...       
BEA (startled)   Yes I can and I am.  I’m a strong swimmer. I don’t need to be saved, thank you very much. Goodbye.

BEA swims off. She is alone again for a few moments before the boat reappears.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER   I’m only going to ask you one more time, Miss.
BEA   Why can’t you just leave me alone?
1ST. LIFE-SAVER   It’s my job to see that no-one drowns.
BEA (angry)   I’m not drowning.
1ST. LIFE-SAVER   We’ve seen sharks out here three time this summer.
BEA   In the event of a shark attack I am fully prepared.

BEA stops swimming, reaches down and extracts a large sheath-knife from a belt around her waist.  The life-savers are astonished.
2ND. LIFE-SAVER  She’s barmy!
1ST LIFE-SAVER (angry)   Miss, give me that knife and get in the boat. This minute.

BEA   No.

The 1st LIFE-SAVER dives into the water and surfaces close to BEA.  He reaches for the hand holding the knife.
BEA (upset)  I’m not hurting anyone.

Holding BEA’s right hand with his left, he hits her hard with a right hook.


BEA, hands on hips, confronts the 1st LIFE-SAVER - close to the water’s edge.  She is furious.  Around her waist is a leather belt with a sheath attached.  The 1st LIFE-SAVER is holding Bea’s knife.  A small crowd of curious and amused bathers has gathered - one of them a handsome young man of athletic build - JOHNNO.

BEA (rubbing her chin)   Bully.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER   If you were taken by a shark I’d be in big trouble.
BEA   If I want to risk being eaten by a shark it’s none of your business. I’m going to charge you with assault and theft. Interfering cretin.

The crowd laughs.  JOHNNO is impressed.  The 1st LIFE-SAVER does not like to be laughed at.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER   And I’m going to have you charged with threatening me with a dangerous weapon.
BEA   Liar.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER   Ratbag.

BEA takes a swing at the 1st LIFE-SAVER, hitting him fair and square on the chin. The blow has no power in it, however and he barely flinches. The crowd laughs. BEA turns on her heels and storms off. The 1st LIFE-SAVER shouts after her.
1 ST LIFE-SAVER   You can pick this up at Manly police station.

BEA turns and shouts back.
BEA   You can keep it. It’s a present. And you know what you can do with it?
The crowd laughs.  BEA turns and strides off down the beach.  JOHNNO runs after her, catching up and walking alongside her. He has an English accent.
JOHNNO   You should have led with your left.

BEA  What!
JOHNNO  (demonstrating as he talks)   It’s all a question of balance, you see. Weight on the ball of the left foot, a few quick jabs with your left and then come in swinging with your right.

BEA stops walking, looks at JOHNNO for a moment, them imitates him.
JOHNNO  That’s better, but don’t swivel your hips...

He places his hands firmly on her hips.
JOHNNO   Alright. Left, left, left; right.

BEA’s 'right' almost hits JOHNNO's chin; he has to pull his head back to avoid contact.
JOHNNO   That’s it. John...John Sinclair. Johnno to my friends...

He holds out his hand.  BEA takes it.

BEA   Beatrice...Bea to my friends.
JOHNNO (smiles)  "To be or not to be."

BEA laughs. They continue walking.

JOHNNO To be decided by the sharks, eh?
BEA   Cripes, I hope not. I’d go for my life if I saw one.
JOHNNO   Be a bit late by then, don’t you think?
BEA   Not necessarily, because a shark, you see, before it can attack, has to turn on its back and...

BEA looks at JOHNNO, who is grinning: obviously not taking her seriously.
JOHNNO   Mmmm...
BEA   Anyhow, what would you know!? You’re a Pom. Probably can’t even swim!
JOHNNO   Don’t care for Poms?
BEA  Not much. With rare exceptions.
JOHNNO   Ah! Well, that’s me.
BEA   A rare exception?
JOHNNO (nods)   And I can swim.

BEA   Oh!  How long’ve you been here?
JOHNNO   Six months.
BEA  Like it?
JOHNNO (deadpan)   Bit backward.
BEA (deadpan)   When’re you leaving?
JOHNNO (laughs)  God knows! Was only going to stay six months...but you know how it is.
BEA  No.

JOHNNO   You plan to do one thing but something else always happens, doesn’t it?
BEA  What happened?
JOHNNO   Chap offered me a job.
BEA  Boxing?
JOHNNO   Journalist.

BEA rolls her eyes and groans.
BEA   Oh dear!
JOHNNO   Journalist of necessity; writer by inclination.

BEA looks directly at JOHNNO for a moment: she likes him.
JOHNNO   I could do an article on you...(WITH DRAMATIC FLAIR) "Has Nature Girl Got Sharks Scared?"

BEA bursts out laughing.
JOHNNO   I’m serious.
BEA (thinks for a moment)   Only if you tell the truth.
JOHNNO   Always.
BEA   And if you buy me a milkshake.
JOHNNO   It’s a deal.


BEA, clad in her white bathing costume, her hair dripping wet, rides her bicycle down the driveway of the Miles’ cottage and around to the side of the house.  MR.MILES is supervising two men who are in the process of erecting a large red and white marquee in the backyard.  Another man is unloading trestle tables and chairs from the back of a truck.  BEA is in good spirits as she rushes past her father, into the house.
MR. MILES   How’s the water?

BEA   Wonderful.


BEA stands in front of a full length mirror in her bedroom, looking at her reflection; appraising the line of her body.  She  slides the straps of her bathing suit off her shoulders and begins to peel it off.

MR. MILES walks down the hall, past BEA’s bedroom.  Through the part-open door he catches a glimpse of BEA - the upper part of her body naked now.  He stops and watches unobserved as BEA steps out of the bathing costume and looks at her naked body.

She watches the reflected image of her hand caressing her neck; her shoulder, her breast.  She sees her father reflected in the mirror and they look at each other.  BEA makes no attempt to cover her nakedness and MR. MILES remains frozen, for a moment, before continuing on down the hall.


It is a little after sunset on a warm summer’s evening.  A FEW DOZEN GUESTS have arrived for the Miles’ Christmas party.  They sit and stand in small groups, talking as a uniformed WAITER moves amongst them serving drinks.  A band has set up under the red and white marquee - tuning their instruments; preparing to play.

MR and MRS. MILES greet newly arrived guests in the driveway that runs alongside the house and in which are parked several shiny expensive cars.  As MR and MRS. MILES - stylishly dressed - greet their equally stylishly dressed guests, their attention is diverted by the arrival of a mud bespattered motor-bike, on which sits a man in an old worn leather coat, leather helmet and dirty goggles.  He pulls up, dismounts, removes his goggles and helmet.  It is JOHNNO.  He looks at his insect bespattered goggles, holds them up and as if by explanation calls out:
JOHNNO (grins)   Insects!

MR and MRS MILES have no idea who this man is and are lost for words.  JOHNNO walks up to them, his hand outstretched: a perfect gentleman.
JOHNNO   John Sinclair!
MR MILES    (polite but distant)   William Miles.  My wife, Mrs. Miles.

JOHNNO shakes MR. MILES' hand and nods to MRS MILES.
JOHNNO (charming)   Yes, you’re obviously Bea’s mother.

A moment of awkward silence.
JOHNNO   I’m a friend of Bea’s.
MR MILES (cool)   Ahh...Yes.
MRS MILES (polite)   Can I take your coat?
JOHNNO   Thank you.

JOHNNO removes his leather coat.  Underneath he is dressed neatly, if somewhat eccentrically.


The band plays under the marquee in the garden.  It is almost dark now.  A few couples dance but most stand in small groups, talking and drinking.  MRS. MILES in engaged in conversation with two women.  MR. MILES, hands clenched tightly behind his back, is engaged in a battle of wills with JOHNNO; attempting, at the one time, to be both polite and to assert his age and authority.  MR. MILES does not like JOHNNO.

MR. MILES   Anti-social?
JOHNNO   No. Merely anti the existing social order.
MR. MILES   Only the young and the foolish believe that the world can be changed overnight.
JOHNNO   What do the old and wise believe?
MR. MILES   That society changes slowly. That life is short.  That it is better to achieve what is possible than to merely dream of achieving the impossible.
JOHNNO   Nothing less than the impossible interests me.

MR. MILES   Romantic nonsense.
Along with several other people, MR. MILES and JOHNNO turn to see BEA, dressed in a stunning and quite revealing white dress, walk from the verandah down onto the lawn.  MR. MILES is shocked, caught between looking at BEA as a man and looking at her as a father.  JOHNNO smiles in appreciation of BEA’s daring beauty.  MRS. MILES is quite upset - not just by BEA’s dress, but by her husband’s response.  BEA walks up to JOHNNO and MR. MILES.  She shakes JOHNNO’s hand and kisses her father.
BEA   John.  Dad.

MR. MILES stands back a pace to look at BEA, smiling approvingly.
BEA   Do you really like it?
MR. MILES   You look beautiful.
JOHNNO  (nodding in agreement)   Yes. Very.

BEA is flattered.
MR. MILES   Did it cost me an arm and a leg?
BEA (grimaces)   Yes.
MR MILES (smiling)   You can repay me on the dance floor.

As BEA and MR. MILES move onto the dance floor, JOHNNO can be seen approaching MRS. MILES and asking her for a dance.  She accepts graciously, succumbing to JOHNNO’s charm but her attention on BEA and her husband dancing.  BEA looks directly at her father.
MR. MILES   You’re leading.

BEA   Mmmm.
MR. MILES   That’s my job.
BEA   Why?
MR MILES (smiles)   Because the man always leads. And the woman always...follows...

He twirls her. She resists. They both enjoy this sparring.
BEA   Except among the Tchambuli in New Guinea. Where the men wear rouge and the women dig in the fields.

MR. MILES   But an ordered society, nevertheless. You’d be bored very quickly. Not enough conflict. Not enough chaos.

BEA smiles at her father warmly; decides not to continue the sparring any more. She relaxes in his arms now and allows MR. MILES to lead her in the dance.  JOHNNO and MRS. MILES dance close by.
MR. MILES   I had lunch with the Chancellor last week. He agreed with me that you should finish your course...
BEA   Dad!
MR. MILES (reluctantly)   Alright! But I reserve the right to continue to pester you.

JOHNNO cuts him off in mid-sentence.
JOHNNO (mischievous)   Change partners.
BEA   Righto.

JOHNNO releases MRS. MILES at the same moment BEA moves away from her father and into JOHNNO’s arms.  MR. MILES is angry that the initiative has been taken away from him in this way but tries to hide it. He has no choice but to dance with MRS. MILES now.

He watches BEA and JOHNNO dance - reacting negatively to their obvious infatuation with each other.  MRS. MILES is hurt - well aware that his attention is with BEA and not with her.


Through the windows of a classroom, MRS. HENDERSON - hands behind her back - can be seen as one of her students conducts a class for a room full of attentive children, all sitting with their hands on their small desks.  When she holds up a card on which is drawn a yellow lion, several of the children put their hands up.  The teacher points to one small child who stands at attention and we see her lips mouthing the word 'lion'.  As the windows are closed we do not hear anything from inside this class-room but we do hear, from the classroom next door, a loud roar followed by the slightly muffled sounds of uproarious children's laughter.

MRS. HENDERSON hears it but does not pay too much attention until the roar is followed by a wolf-like howl and more laughter.  As she strides angrily out of the room the children all rush to the window to see what is going on.  As they do so the camera tracks along the outside of the building to the next classroom, on the windowsill of which BEA - her hair and clothes in total disarray - is crouched, scratching her armpit and behaving like an ape.  The children are all crouched on top of their desks playing at being apes also.

The door to the classroom opens and in strides MRS. HENDERSON, a look of outraged horror freezing on her face at what she is seeing.  It is not necessary for MRS. HENDERSON to say anything for the terrified children to stop laughing instantaneously and to climb quietly down from their desks.

BEA is initially at a bit of a loss to understand what is going on but it soon  registers on her that she has done something wrong.  MRS. HENDERSON stands back from the door, opens it wider, points through it with her outstretched trembling arm.
MRS. HENDERSON   Go! At once!

The expression on Bea's face is one of pain and confusion.


BEA, angry and upset, stands in the open doorway of a moving tram, her face streaked with tears.  She leans out a little way, placing one foot on the running board, closing her eyes and savouring the rush of wind on her face.  Her spirits begin to improve.  A loud and angry voice intrudes from off screen:


BEA ignores the voice.  A fat TRAM CONDUCTOR appears.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   What do you think you’re doing?

BEA looks around, takes in his large blue-uniformed body and scowling face and turns away - studiously ignoring him.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   Did you hear me?
BEA   (without looking around)   Yes.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   Get in here.
BEA Why?
TRAM CONDUCTOR   Because I’m telling you.
BEA   Not a good enough reason.

The fat TRAM CONDUCTOR pulls the cord.  Ding.  The tram grinds to a noisy halt.  With his hands on his hips the tram conductor glares at BEA.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   This tram will not move another inch until you get inside.

BEA glares back at him for a moment, then reaches in and pulls the cord.  The tram jolts forward.  The passengers laugh.  The red-faced TRAM CONDUCTOR pulls the cord and the tram stops again.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   Get in or get off!
BEA   Well, if that’s the way you feel!

She takes the tram conductor’s hat off, puts it on her own head, smiles wickedly and dashes out into the traffic.


The fat TRAM CONDUCTOR is in the witness box at the Court of Petty Sessions.  BEA and her solicitor are seated in the front of the Court.  A few rows back, amongst the others waiting for their cases to be heard, sits Mr. Miles.
TRAM CONDUCTOR   ...And I had to chase her two blocks before she’d give me hat back.

Some chuckling in court.  MR. MILES' face is expressionless.  The magistrate looks at Bea.

MAGISTRATE   Why did you do this Miss Miles?
BEA   A public service your honor. The man needed exercise.

Laughter in court.  MR. MILES smiles.
BEA   I was just having a bit of fun.
The magistrate looks at BEA and then up to MR. MILES.
MAGISTRATE   I suggest, Mr. Miles, that you take your daughter in hand and discourage...

MR. MILES leaps to his feet.

MR. MILES   In my considered opinion my daughter has broken no law save that of common sense...

MAGISTRATE   I will remind you Mr. Miles that this is a court of law. Your daughter has in fact broken several traffic regulations and may be guilty of theft.
BEA   I was hurting no-one.
MAGISTRATE   Had you fallen off, Miss Miles, you could have been severely hurt.
BEA   That’s my concern, not yours.

MAGISTRATE   Perhaps, Miss Miles, perhaps. But you have broken the law and that is my concern. You are fined one pound. In default, five days hard labour.


MR. MILES and BEA in the office of the Court of Petty Sessions.  MR. MILES taps his fingers on the counter as the clerk finishes writing out the receipt. BEA looks on a little apprehensively - well aware of her father’s annoyance. MR. MILES hands the clerk a one pound note and he and BEA walk to the door.
BEA   Thanks dad.

MR. MILES does not reply. be continued...

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