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16/11/2016

St Cuthbert’s

Keith Bradley

FADE IN:

 

EXT. ST CUTHBERT’S GRAMMAR SCHOOL – DAY

SUPERIMPOSE: St Cuthbert’s Grammar School, Manchester 1974

Old red brick buildings, a sports field, a small car park adjoins the school playground. The school flag is flying.

In the playground boys, long haircuts, flared, trousers play football, chat, smoke, bully each other.

Pick out MICHAEL BRADSHAW, 12, gangly, alone and nervous – a fish out of water. An older boy snatches his pristine cap and he and two others play frisbee with it. Bradshaw offers no resistance.

INT. HEADMASTER’S OFFICE – DAY

Clean and orderly. Papers and files aligned – the office of someone with OCD. Two large windows overlook the playground. A wall adorned with portraits of former headmasters. Pick out one: “James Joseph Fanning 1964 – “.

JAMES FANNING, 60s, seated at his desk in a swivel chair, gazes through the windows at the playground and the school flag. His secretary, EVELYN HENDERSON, early 40s, matronly is standing opposite him, attentive.

Fanning swings around in his chair to face Henderson.

FANNING

I love the first day of term Mrs Henderson. Nothing quite like it. All those boys, full of potential. And do you know we all have a duty, more so than ever this year, to carry the school forward.

Henderson has heard this preamble a hundred times before. She looks at the wall. We scan along the portraits as Fanning continues speaking.

FANNING (CONT’D)

You, me, the teachers. We must not be old fossils. This is nineteen seventy-four not nineteen forty-seven.

INT. UPPER 3RD S CLASSROOM – DAY

Austere, 3 tall windows. A blackboard on one wall.

JEREMY TAYLOR, 60s tall, gaunt is taking the register.

Thirty-five boys wait in silence to hear their names called. Pick out AUBERON BLOOMFIELD, 11, confident and Bradshaw on the back row. His cap, filthy, lies on his desk.

TAYLOR

Bloomfield.

BLOOMFIELD

Present sir.

Taylor looks up from his register.

TAYLOR

Ah! So you are young Auberon, are you not?

BLOOMFIELD

(chirpy, confident)

Yes sir.

TAYLOR

And how fares young Virginia Bloomfield these days? I heard via despatches that he thrives in the dark, noisome sewers of our beloved Civil Service.

 BLOOMFIELD

No sir. I’m afraid you out of date. Father made him resign after the last election.

TAYLOR

(laughing)

Did he really?

BLOOMFIELD

Insisted upon it Sir.

TAYLOR

Good for pater. Tell him I shall keep him abreast of your progress at the next governors’ meeting.

BLOOMFIELD

Be delighted to sir.

TAYLOR

(scanning the classroom)

Bradshaw.

BRADSHAW

Yes sir.

TAYLOR

Never taught a Bradshaw before. Three generations of Bloomfields. God help me.

Bloomfield laughs.

     TAYLOR (CONT’D)

But never a Bradshaw. Would you be one of the Chorlton-cum-Hardy Bradshaws?

BRADSHAW

(nervous)

No sir.

TAYLOR

(to himself)

Not one of the Chorlton-cum-Hardy Bradshaws.

BRADSHAW

No sir.

Taylor writes in his diary, raises his spectacles, fixes Bradshaw. He smells fear.

TAYLOR

Well then do enlighten us boy.

Bloomfield and several boys turn to look at Bradshaw.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

(quiet, menacing)

Where is chez vous?

Still no response. Bradshaw is a rabbit in headlights

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

Where do you live?

BRADSHAW

Whalley Range sir.

TAYLOR

Ah, Whalley Range.

He looks up and sniffs the air theatrically.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

I can smell the burning tyres from here. Prep school?

This is vintage Taylor.

BRADSHAW

(nervous)

Saint Ambrose.

TAYLOR

Saint Ambrose prep school. Really? Saint Ambrose has been awarded preparatory status. Well I never.

Bloomfield sniggers. Several boys turn around to look at Bradshaw.

Bradshaw is on the edge.

INT. HEADMASTER’S OFFICE – DAY

FANNING

I am particularly keen that our scholarship boys do well this year.

HENDERSON

Of course headmaster.

FANNING

(tentative)

I was thinking of placing their stewardship into young Mr Cooper’s hands.

Henderson is impassive.

FANNING (CONT’D)

Mrs Henderson I’ve seen that face before. What are you thinking? Is it that you find Mr Cooper a touch (he searches for the right word) unconventional?

HENDERSON

Disrespectful, headmaster.

FANNING

Disrespectful? Disrespectful to whom, of what?

HENDERSON

That would not be for me to say, headmaster.

INT. STAFFROOM – DAY

Unlike the headmaster’s office, in need of a lick of paint. A notice board dominates one wall. A large window with a view of the playground. Newspapers rest on a coffee table.

PHIL COOPER, 30’s, long hair, reads The Guardian. We see the headline ‘Labour Comprehensive plan will not work claims minister’.

DON JONES, 60, nondescript reads a copy of the Daily Telegraph.

INT. UPPER 3RD S CLASSROOM – DAY

As before but now with a simple Venn diagram on the blackboard. Two ovals overlap each other. The names Barker, Bloomfield, Bradshaw are written in both ovals. Other names are in just one of the ovals.

TAYLOR

So then the first set is surnames beginning with ‘B’ and the second set is the boys of Upper Third S. Everyone understand?

Mumbles of ‘yes’.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

Now I will add a further set. He turns to the board, draws a further oval so that‘Bradshaw’ is the only name in all three sets.

He smiles at Bradshaw.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

Can anybody tell me what this third set represents?

Mumbles. Bradshaw, curious, half smiles.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

Anybody? BEAT. No? Why of course it is the ‘boys who live in Whalley Range’ set.

Bloomfield laughs.

A bell rings. Boys begin to rise from their chairs and put their books in their bags. Bradshaw, ashen-faced, confused, sits motionless.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

Boys!

Instant silence.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

It is your first day but do not be late this afternoon.

ALL BOYS

No sir.

TAYLOR

Do not get lost. Do you understand?

ALL BOYS

Yes sir.

Brouhaha.

TAYLOR

Two o’clock, room four in the Renshawe Building. If you look out of the window you’ll see it.

Through the window we see an old building with a large sign set in the stone: ‘Thomas Renshawe Building”.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

It is clearly labelled.

Laughter. The boys start to leave the classroom.

TAYLOR (CONT’D)

(shouts)

Bradshaw, you will get not lost will you? BEAT. You will not go wandering into Chorlton-cum-Hardy where you do not belong?

Laughter. Bloomfield as if it is the funniest thing his ever heard. Bradshaw is close to tears. Taylor, whistling The March of the Toreadors, exits the classroom.

 


Keith Bradley was published in this year’s UEA Creative Writing MA Anthology: Scriptwriting

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