RRCPC Newsletter
Volume 47 Number 1 Article 8

February 2010

Al's Amazing Exit

Toby Speight

a play for ten cavers


AL COOK Ford Focus driver

KAYLEIGH GILKES intending railway passenger

TOBY SPEIGHT Prius (in chains) driver

IAN WALKER Land Rover driver


sundry speleologists



Scene 1

[Bullpot Farm, after breakfast. MARTIN and JESS are packing rope for

a Gavel and Short Drop exchange. KAYLEIGH is wearing a rucksack.

Other cavers are milling around aimlessly. Outside is cold, with ice

and snow.]

AL: Are you ready, Kayleigh? Can you other guys give us a push?

[ALL go into the yard. AL and KAYLEIGH get in the Focus, and the

rest push it up the snowy lane. At the summit, farewells are

exchanged and the 'pushing' team watch the travellers disappear

out of sight.]

JESS: Right, let's get back and go caving!

[ALL enter the farm and start changing.]

[Phone rings. IAN answers.]

IAN: Hello? Oh, hi Kayleigh. Yeah.... Right, I'll tell him. Bye.

IAN: Toby, Al says he needs to borrow your chains to get his car down

the hill.

TOBY: Right, I'd better take them off mine and leave them for him to


IAN: But Kayleigh will miss her train if he has to walk here and back

twice. Maybe you should drive them there for him?

TOBY: Good idea. Jess, we're going to give Al a hand. Don't wait for

us; we'll catch you up in the cave.

Scene 2

[Top of the hill. TOBY arrives with IAN and AL, who they met on the


TOBY: Right, let's get these chains off!

TOBY: Now let's get them onto Al's car!

AL: I'm struggling with this one.

TOBY: Hang on, what size are these tyres? Oh shit, they're much too big

for these chains!

AL: I'm stuck here then - I can't get down like this.

TOBY: Do you need a lift down and see if we can buy some?

IAN: If we do that, we'd best get Kayleigh to Oxenholme first, then sort

out Al.

[Chains are re-fitted to Toby's car, and they descend carefully]

Scene 3

[Oxenholme station. The car arrives, and KAYLEIGH gets out]

K: Good job I always allow lots of spare time - still ten minutes

before it leaves. Thanks for the lift, and goodbye everyone!

AL, TOBY, IAN: Goodbye Kayleigh!

IAN: I've never seen Oxenholme Station. Mind if I have a look around?

[ALL enter the station. K reads the departure board.]

K: My train's not there!

IAN: That's okay, it's showing Page 2. Wait for Page 1 again.

[ Departure board changes: "Complete signal failure Penrith to

Carlisle. All northbound services subject to severe delays and

cancellation at short notice."]

K: Oh bugger! I'm going to miss the Belfast ferry!

IAN: Have you asked the information desk what they know?

TOBY: Ask him if it's working properly beyond Carlisle.

[K goes to ticket counter.]

[K returns.]

K: Are you sure you don't mind going to Carlisle?

TOBY: Shut up and get in!

Scene 4

[Carlisle railway station. Several 'replacement service' coaches

block the car park. Toby's car arrives.]

K: Goodbye - again!

IAN: I'll go in with her and check the trains are running, while you

get parked.

TOBY: Okay.

[KAYLEIGH and IAN leave. Time passes. IAN reappears.]

IAN: Here's twenty quid for fuel from Kayleigh.

TOBY: That's too much. Can you find her again and give her this tenner as change?

[IAN leaves. Eventually, a parking space is freed, and they park

there. TOBY and AL go into the station, and meet IAN on his way


TOBY: I thought you'd done a runner with the money!

IAN: It took me ages to find her - she was on the train, but having to

stand where I couldn't see her. Still, she's on her way now.

TOBY: That's good. What about finding Al some chains?

IAN: I got directions to Halfords; it's just down the main road.

[ALL get into car and set off.]

Scene 5

[A1 Motor Spares shop in Carlisle. AL, IAN, and TOBY enter.]

TOBY: Good job you spotted this place - looks more likely than Halford's.

AL: Yeah. [to SHOP ASSISTANT] Do you have snow chains?

ASSISTANT: It depends on the size - we've got three sets left.

AL: Too small... too big... much too big.

IAN: Let's try Halford's first; we can always come back here if need be.

Scene 6

[Halford's car park. MOTORIST is fitting chains to his car. TOBY

and IAN approach.]

TOBY: Hello; did you buy those in Halfords?


TOBY: Great, they sell chains!

MOTORIST: But this was the last set.

[AL arrives from Halfords.]

AL: They don't have any, apparently.

IAN: They did - there's the last set.

[TOBY and IAN restrain AL from assaulting MOTORIST.]

AL: Okay, back to Plan A again - quick before it shuts.

[TOBY, IAN and AL run back towards A1 shop]

Scene 7

[A1 Motor Spares shop in Carlisle. AL, IAN, and TOBY enter, out of breath.]

AL: Have you still got those chains we looked at? Great, I'll have them, please.

AL: Bugger - My wallet's in the car! Somebody lend me enough to buy them!

TOBY: Here, put them on my card.

[TOBY pays for the chains. TOBY, IAN and AL walk out of the shop]

AL: Right, now we need some means of shortening them - something from a DIY shop?

Scene 8

[In Toby's car, driving through Carlisle. They turn into a retail

park with Focus listed on the signs, and drive around it until

convinced that the sign is wrong. A young kid looks about to throw

a snowball at them; TOBY glares at him. A U-turn is performed in a

random housing area. Eventually an orange B&Q sign is seen, and

they park outside.]

[A Police Community Support Officer is walking towards B&Q. He

eyes the cavers suspiciously as they walk across the car park. IAN

takes a run-up to kick a pile of slush. Just as the PCSO looks

away again, he discovers that it's not slush, but a lump of ice -

which just misses the PCSO. They enter the shop.]

Scene 8

[Inside B&Q.]

IAN: Find someone in an orange shirt, to tell us where to go.

AL: Just follow me; it's this way.

IAN: No, you've never been here; we need to ask an orange shirt.

AL: But I been to the Durham one so much I know it backwards. And this

is a mirror image of the Durham one. Follow me!

[Al leads the way to the ropes and chains aisle.]

AL: Mini-maillons, six quid for two - that's going to cost more than the chains...

IAN: Look at this - great pyjama cord!

AL: Maybe some thin nylon string...

IAN: I've made a noose!

AL: This string should be good enough - a fiver for more than we'll need.

IAN: Chain mail!

AL: Stop pissing about and let's get out of here.

Scene 9

[In the car on the way back to the Farm, just after Lupton. It is

now dark.]

AL: Good stuff avoiding the queues on the M6. We've had a really clear run.

[They round the corner, and the road is full of blue flashing

lights from all three emergency services.]

IAN and TOBY: Al! You jinxed us!

IAN: Toby, isn't this the 'pointless' 40 limit you were criticising this morning?

TOBY: Er, yes - maybe not so pointless after all.

Scene 10

[Bullpot Farm kitchen. AL is shortening his new chains, IAN

lighting the fire, and TOBY cooking dinner.]

[Six cavers return from their trip, just in time to be fed.]

Scene 11

[In the back of Ian's Land Rover, alongside Al's car on the Farm

lane. AL is shortening the chains further, whilst IAN and TOBY

shine their lamps on the work.]

TOBY: I told you you'd need to shorten them more!

AL: Yeah, alright - bloody know-it-all.

[They fit the chains, and AL sets off slithering down the hill.

IAN and TOBY follow in the Land Rover at a respectful distance. At

the bottom they remove the chains.]

AL: Safely down at last - only nine hours after setting off!

IAN: Well done, Al. See you next time.

[AL departs towards Durham; IAN and TOBY towards the Farm.]



in no particular order:

The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of this Place

Fleetwood Mac - The Chain

Four Non Blondes - Train

Buzzcocks - Oh Shit!

Donald Fagen - Snowbound

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