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Angela Dandy

Novels. Short Stories. Plays

Gregory - Adaptation of the story into a short play for radio

GREGORY – A SHORT PLAY FOR RADIO

By Angela Dandy © Angela Dandy

Characters:

Philippa – in her early thirties.

Gregory (the sat nav) – soft monotone voice.

Philippa is in her car driving. We hear the sound of pouring rain and windscreen wipers sweeping backwards and forwards across the windscreen. The phone rings.

Philippa: Hello Mum. Yes, I left the house ten minutes ago and I’m on my way. No, I haven’t left it too late. I googled the route and checked the driving time. Three times to be precise. No, I haven’t forgotten to buy a Christmas present for Auntie Marge. No socks for dad. You told me. I’ve got the cheese. In a carrier bag. On the seat. It stinks. Am I driving? Yes, Mum, I’m driving. It’s a bloody long walk otherwise. I’ll be there. On time. Bye. (PAUSE)

Why do I do it? Why don’t I just say no, I’d prefer to have Christmas Day at home on my own. I hate turkey, I hate mince pies. I hate mulled wine. I hate making small talk with the lot of them. Because she makes me feel guilty. That’s why. ‘Christmas is a time for families to be together, dear, and we see precious little of you as it is. The least you can do…’ That whiny voice. Bah humbug. (PAUSE)

Oh, no. God, tell me this isn’t happening. How can they close the road on bloody Christmas Eve? Okay, don’t panic. Time for sat nav. GL56 7RS, I think. No, not that route. The road’s closed, idiot. Come on, find me a different route. That’s what you’re paid for. Good, good, good.

Gregory: Turn around

Philippa: As if I had a choice, you moron. Wait.

Gregory: In three hundred yards take a right turn into Dark Lane.

Philippa: I don’t like the sound of this.

Gregory: In one hundred yards turn right on Dark Lane

Philippa: I heard you!

Gregory: Turn right.

Phillipa: Where? Where? Can’t see a bloody thing.

We hear the screech of tyres.

You can’t mean here! It’s a bloody lane. A single-track lane. Oh my God. Potholes. Okay. Calm down. Stay calm, Phillipa. It’ll widen out in a minute. Just stay calm. We’ll soon be back on a main road. Nothing to worry about. Just take it slowly. Chill. (PAUSE)

Gregory: Continue for four hundred yards.

Philippa: Not so bad. Not so bad at all. Just four hundred yards. (PAUSE)

Gregory: Keep left. Keep left.

Philippa: Sharp bend left, Philippa. Right, got it. I mean left.

Gregory: Continue for three hundred yards.

Philippa: T junction. Please tell me, I’m coming up to a T junction.

Gregory: Keep right. Keep right. Continue on Dark Lane for two miles.

Philippa: Fuck. (PAUSE) We hear owls hooting in the background together with the sound of rain. Oh my God. Hedwig. Millions of bloody Hedwigs. It’s no good you lot looking at me like that. Clear off –back to Hogwarts. Leave me alone. (PAUSE) I’ll ring mother. Tell her I’m going to be late. No, I won’t. Don’t take your hands off the steering wheel, Philippa, not for one moment. Anyway, you don’t have to ring her to know what she’ll say. Deep sigh. “Oh Philippa, you’ve always been so unreliable. Ever since you were a child. Such a disappointment.” One of these fine days I’ll tell her who’s always been so unreliable. She won’t like me reminding her that she nearly forgot to take me home from the hospital when I was born. Come to think of it, maybe it would have been better if she’d left me there. (PAUSE) I’ll turn around. Go back. That’s what I’ll do. (PAUSE) No, can’t turn around. Single track road.

Gregory: Sharp left three hundred yards.

Philippa: Left, right, left, right. Will you make up your bloody mind? Do you have any idea how much I hate sat navs? Should never have been invented. A curse to mankind – womankind – whatever. And I’ll tell you another thing. Straight after Christmas you are going to be traded in. No, delete that. I am going to take you to the refuse tip and hurl you into one of those skips. See how you like that.

Gregory: Sharp left. Sharp left. And by the way it was you who chose me.

Philippa: And now I’m hallucinating – hearing things. Losing the plot. Oh, my God.

Gregory: You did choose me, you know. You could have had me or Mary but you chose me. I was so pleased when you clicked on Greg. I knew we’d hit it off right from the beginning.

Philippa: Whose Mary? Did I just say that? It’s the dark. It’s this incessant rain. Its is this bloody road to nowhere.

Gregory: You did. And to answer your question you had the choice of listening to my voice or Mary’s voice, Philippa.

Philippa: Who said that? You know my name.

Gregory: I’m an eavesdropper as well.

Philippa: You’re abducting me. Hiding in the back of the car. Show yourself. I’ve got a phone. I’ll call the police.

Gregory: There’s no signal in Dark Lane. No masts for miles. And I’m not sitting in the back seat.

Philippa: You’ve got one last chance. Show yourself.

Gregory: That’s the one thing I can’t do. I’m Gregory, your sat nav. We’ve spoken to each other many times. I love hearing your voice. Even when you are angry.

Philippa: (Slowly and deliberately) I do not have conversations with sat navs.

Gregory: Oh, but you do. You ask me to find a route and that’s what I do and then I tell you in which direction to go. If that’s not a conversation, then I don’t know what is. I do try hard to keep my conversations to business but sometimes, I just can’t resist breaking out. Do you know that you talk to yourself almost all the time when you’re driving. There’s nothing about you that I don’t know. Fascinating.

Philippa: This is a dream. No, it’s not – I’m having a nightmare.

Gregory: Calm down and keep your eye on the road, Philippa. You’re doing very well. Let me just check the route. Ah, yes. Only another five miles down Dark Lane and then we’ll be out on a main road again.

Philippa: Philippa. Listen to yourself. You are not having a conversation with a sat nav. It is in your imagination. It is a fleet of fancy. Another five miles and you’ll forget that this ever happened – if it did happen.

Gregory: What would it take to make you believe that I really do exist? I think you might like me if you got to know me better. I’m fun to be with.

Philippa: You’re mad! I’m mad.

Gregory: Slip the gear lever into neutral, take your foot off the accelerator and your hands off the steering wheel. And no cheating. No braking. Just sit back and relax.

We hear the sound of squealing tyres and the roaring of the engine as the car accelerates away at speed.

Philippa: Stop! For God’s sake stop. You’ll kill us both.

Gregory: (laughing) Nice little motor. Lots of poke. Corners well in the wet. (PAUSE) Did I hear you say You’ll kill us both? So, I do exist. Music to my ears, dear Philippa. Relax. You’re safe with me. I’ve driven Silverstone and Brands Hatch more times than you’ve had hot dinners. Cops Corner nearly did for me once but I survived that.

Philippa screams

Philippa: Please, Gregory, if that’s your name, just stop. Stop right now.

Gregory: At this speed we can cover five miles in five minutes. You do want to get out of Dark Lane, don’t you?

Philippa: Look out!

We hear the screech of tyres. There is a small bang and then silence other than the rain.

Gregory: I am so, so, sorry. Are you alright. That tree wasn’t there the last time I came down here. Must be the storm.

Philippa: No, I am not alright. I’m a nervous wreck. I’m sitting here talking to my sat nav which has just taken me on a hair raising Disney ride in the dark. My mother will be striking me out of her will as we speak. Not that that would give me sleepless nights. I’m in the middle of nowhere with no signal on my phone. Do I sound alright?

Gregory: Oh, do call me by my proper name – sat nav sounds so impersonal. I know I don’t deserve it. And now you’re going to miss out on Christmas with your family.

Philippa: I shan’t miss having Christmas with my family. Same old every year. Setting a smile on my face while I open Christmas presents that I don’t want and that I know full well will be in a charity shop or on my recycle shelf before New Year is out. Watching them open their presents which they don’t want either. Pulling ridiculously priced crackers over Christmas lunch and laughing – well, not really laughing – at so called jokes written by two-year-olds. And then charades. Every year charades.

Gregory: I wouldn’t be much good at that if you know what I mean. Heard and not seen – that’s me.

Philippa: And Boxing Day more of the same with cold ham and pickled onions. You should meet my mother. She really knows how to lay it on thick. Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. Sometimes – no, most of the time – I’d like to stick a pin in her and deflate her.

Gregory: I really am so, so sorry. (sobs) I didn’t mean for this to happen.

Philippa: Will you please stop snivelling, Gregory. There’s nothing that I hate more than when a grown man cries. (PAUSE)

Gregory: Did you just call me a grown man? This is all my Christmases rolled into one.

Philippa: I think I did.

Gregory: So, you didn’t really want to go anyway?

Philippa: No.

Gregory: I’ve got an idea. Let’s not go. How about we spend Christmas together?

Philippa: What? How?

Gregory: Maybe I’ll take you for a nice drive instead. Somewhere nice.

Philippa: (PAUSE) On one condition. You navigate and I drive!

Gregory: Happy Christmas Philippa.

Philippa: Happy Christmas Gregory

The engine starts up and we hear the car purring away into the distance.