Thursday, September 26, 2013

365 Poems in 365 Days: Another Visit to the Rascals Club

More about the Rascals club
I rewrote the story as a play
Wore the speech down to a nub
That’s all I really have to say

For completeness sake number 237 refers to the one act play version of the Rascals Club piece detailed here. It's very similar.

A one act play by Neil Willcox
Dramatis Personae
Beaufort:                    A member of the Rascals Club; a gentleman in his 40s, with strong standards that he sometimes manages to maintain.
Carstairs:                   A member of the Rascals Club; a gentleman in his late 20s who is almost as clever as he thinks he is.
Smithie:                      A member of the Rascals Club; an amiable young gentleman with more money than sense, at least for the moment.
The Circumspect Room, which has a fine view of Green Park, The Rascals Club, Piccadilly, London. Circa 1910, about 9:30 on a weekday morning.

Act I
(Carstairs is sitting in a chair, reading The Times. A table and another chair are next to him. Beaufort enters.)
Beaufort:        I say Carstairs. You don’t mind if I have a word, do you?
Carstairs:       Not at all. The Circumspect Room is for conversation.
            (Carstairs folds his newspaper and puts it down. Beaufort sits down.)
Beaufort:        Thank you. What do you think of this Schneemann fellow?
Carstairs:       An interesting man. His tales, while outrageous, have at least a whiff of truth about them. He has money, although not as much as is generally suspected. The most unexpected people introduce him about society, but are glad to pass him on, as though they only associate with him from necessity. He has a wide knowledge of many topics, including metallurgy, the liquor trade, crypto-zoology and, unless I mistake his stance, fencing. He is popular with the ladies, both the inexperienced and the more mature. He uses too much hair oil, but would be good looking if it weren’t for the scar and that dagger of a nose.
                        (A brief pause)
Carstairs:       In all I suspect him of being a rogue, an upstart, a blackmailer and a thief.
Beaufort:        Much as I thought. He is applying for membership of the club. I will be blackballing his application.
Carstairs:       Good lord. Why ever would you do that?
Beaufort:        Quite apart from the details you’ve just informed me of, he is a greasy Hun with an obsession for women’s shoes
Carstairs:       Just so. But, Beaufort, this is the Rascal’s Club. Money and style are all we insist on for members, so almost everyone here has a whiff of the outrĂ© about them.  Reverend Blake hasn’t been sober since the Boer War. Sir Belvedere holds race meetings where the mounts are yaks and llamas. Duff-Wilson has been known to enter the boxing ring, dressed only in a corset and bloomers.
Beaufort:        Not forgetting you and I.
Carstairs:       Indeed. Your promising military career was cut short by charges of conduct unbecoming an officer with the general’s wife.
Beaufort:        Also his sister. Of course, your escapades as an enquiry agent for certain scandal ridden parties have made you quite notorious – although that’s nothing compared to the fact it’s known that you have actually charged money for your services like a common lawyer or accountant.
Carstairs:       Mmm. All of us are men of the world, so to speak. Our peccadilloes are common knowledge. In a club of ne’er-do-wells Schneemann can hardly do any harm, and you and I can keep an eye on his activities.
                        (A brief pause)
Carstairs:       Now imagine if he inveigled his way into another, more conventional institution. He would run roughshod over the dullards and naifs, driving them to ruin or worse, depending on his inclinations. Much better by far to let him join us here, where any damage can be limited and we can entertain ourselves undoing his schemes.
Beaufort:        So you contend that Rascals is where Schneemann would be most appropriately placed, and where he will do least mischief.
Carstairs:       Certainly.
Beaufort:        Smithie! Come, join us.”
                        (Smithie enters)
Beaufort:        We were just talking about Schneemann. You were with him in the card room last night. Do you think he should be elected to the club?
Smithie:          Of course, of course. He is the most fascinating raconteur and a dab hand at Russian Whist. I would encourage you all to join in electing him as he will undoubtedly be an ornament to Rascals
Beaufort:        I see. You make an excellent case. I do have one question however. After last night’s wagers, exactly how much money do you owe him?
The End

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