The Queen’s Pyjama’s

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If you would like a look at the script for the Wishaw Area Schools Film Project here it is.

It is rather long and it has lots of dialogue in Scots, but it will give you an idea of what we hope to produce when shooting starts in August.

The Queen’s Pyjama’s 

A dramatized account of Willie Angus V.C.

 

Wishaw Schools World War One Heritage Project

 

Gerry O’Brien, June 2018

 

This screenplay is the product of collaboration between students, teachers and Community Learning staff from the Wishaw and Shotts area.

After a series of development meetings and discussions the life of Willie Angus was settled upon as the focus for the project and this script was written.

It should be noted that whilst the script does its best to use the known facts about Willie Angus and the events leading to is award of the Victoria Cross, that it is a dramatization of his life. As such, dialogue, characters and places are intended to catch the spirit of the times. 

 

 

Page Break

 

 

Prologue

Scene 1: The Football Field

Scene 2: Post-match analysis

Scene 3: The Changing Room

Scene 4: Hearth and Heart

Scene 5: The Fitba Strip

Scene 6: The Parade: the HLI leave Carluke

Scene 6.1: On the Tram

Scene 7: In the trenches- the raid goes wrong

Scene 8: The Aftermath

Scene 9: Have a drink of this Tommy!

Scene 10: “Ah cannae listen tae this”

Scene 11: Generals and Corporals

Scene 12: Going Over the top

Scene 13: The Rescue

Scene 14: In the Hospital- The Queen’s Pyjamas

Scene 15: At the Palace

Scene 16: Homecoming

Epilogue

 

Page Break

Prologue

Exterior, daytime, brightly lit by sunshine

Old Willie Angus

Peter Angus, Willie’s grandson

Margaret Angus-  in voice over

 

Long shot frames the scene from behind.

An old man and a young boy are seen walking through a field of wildflowers.

Cut to medium shot of the man and boy from the front

Peter: (Eager, energetic jumping around his grandfather) Grandad, my mammie said you were a brave soldier in the war. Is that true?

Old Willie: (terse, tight-lipped, does not want to talk about this) Aye son, there’s some out there wid say that.

Peter: So, did you kill hunners o’ Jerry’s then- (Peter mimes holding a gun and makes a machine gun noise)

Old Willie: (Smiling but pretending to be grumpy- holds his ears and then points at the boy)  Peter, if ye have a wheesht, now wid be a grand time tae haud it!

Cut to close up of Peter looking disappointed. Willie relents and softens his expression. He puts his hands on Peter’s shoulders and creakingly eases himself down to eye level with his grandson. He speaks soothingly and wistfully.

Old Willie: Aye, ah wis supposed tae be a hero and they gave me a medal. Ah wis really only trying tae help a young lad oot though… 

Willie pauses and looks around the field although there is the sense that his gaze is going beyond what he sees in front of him.

Old Willie: Here! D’ye know wits better than medals? (Cut to Peter’s face- he shakes his head, bewildered).

Cut back to Willie and Peter- their faces are in the same frame. Willie is pointing out across the field as he identifies the flowers. Peter’s eyes follow his grandfather at first but turns to face him when he speaks about the waves of grass

 Flooers, fields full o’ flooers like buttercups and daisy’s and clover and grass that rolls in big waves for ye tae run through.

Willie picks up a buttercup, he holds it under Peter’s chin. We see the soft golden glow of light there. Willie ruffles Peter’s hair and the child smiles again

Old Willie: Ah knew it! A wee lad that likes butter. Time we were heading hame for a piece and a wee cuppa eh?

Willie struggles to stand up again and holds out his hand for Peter and they hold hands. Cut to long shot of Peter and Old Willie walking through the field. Willie will occasionally stop to look at a flower, pointing it out to Peter.

Voice Over

Margaret: He never liked talking about this story.

Lots of boys went to war in 1914 with a smile on their lips. My brother, Willie Angus, was one of them. 

He was a great footballer, full of life, loved weans. 

He went out of his way to help folk, wouldn’t do you a wrong turn. 

I watched him grow into a fine young man and march off to war. I was proud of him that day, but I was frightened for him too. 

I don’t think he realised how terrible the trenches would be, how many of the lads around him would die. 

But he stayed the same boy who would help you out. 

When another young lad from Carluke got himself stranded in no-man’s land, it was Willie who tried to save him. 

He brought that lad back. 

The King gave him a medal and Willie’s life was changed forever. 

My brother is a hero, but he paid for that medal. 

This is his story.

Cut to opening titles

 

 

 

 

 

Page Break

 

Scene 1

Exterior

Day light

 

The Football Field- Wishaw Thistle Game

 

 

Characters

 

Willie Angus- dark haired, composed, wiry but strong, open friendly expression

Andra Souter- Wishaw Thistle Player- slight, mercurial, intelligent, passionate in expressing ideas

Two football Teams

Referee

Linesman

Mr McKenna- Team Manager. Middle aged and respectable. Proud and dignified but also affable and warm

Caption: Wishaw 1914

Opening long shot of game in progress.

Willie makes a run from midfield and is fouled outside the penalty box.

There is a nasty stud scar on Willie’s shin.

Willie gets up, dust himself down and shakes hands with the opponent who fouled him.

Willie: Oof! That wis a hefty dig big man! Nae hard feelings though, eh?

Cut to Willie Organising his team for a free kick. Medium Close Up

Willie: Right lads. Were inside the last five minutes here, ah want ye aw pushin’ hard.  Just wan big last push! 

Andra, you take the free kick. Remember the training boys!

Long shot of free kick being taken.  Andra Souter takes the free kick. Willie loses his marker and makes a run through the defence, knocking the cross in at the back post.

Willie is politely mobbed by his team. Shoulders are clapped and hands are shaken.

The players line up for the restart and the game recommences

After the ball is knocked about for a two or three passes the referee looks at his watch and blows the final whistle.

Andra and Willie walk off together- shoulder-to-shoulder. Andra puts his arm around Willie’s shoulders and pat his back

Page Break

 

Scene 2 Post-Match Analysis

 

Exterior, daylight, at the football field

Medium shot from the back of the two players as they walk towards Mr McKenna- team manager.

 

Andra: Whit a goal Willie! That clinched this one for us.

Willie: Cheers Andra, it was your cross that made it but!

Mr McKenna: Well done lads, a magnificent performance and what a goal from my Captain. It was one of my best moves, getting you in the side Willie…

I’ll tell you though… I’ll be sad to lose you to the army, but King and country come first son. When are the territorials taking you away?

Willie: Ah’ve another week before ah’m mobilised sir, so this is ma last match.

Mr McKenna: Aye son, well if you fight the war the way ye play the game you’ll have the Hun on the run in jig time.

Willie: Ach, I’ll just aim tae dae ma bit sir. Ah’m no up for ony heroics. A bit o’ excitement is fine but ah might no even make it oot tae France. They’re sayin’ it will be aw finished for Christmas. So, ah might just get tae swagger aboot in a fine uniform for a while and impress the lassies.

Mr McKenna: I would take what “they” say with a wee pinch of salt son. The army has a way of haudin’ on to men once it gets them. I remember my brothers wee jaunt to South Africa to fight the Boers…

But enough o’ that you lads get away and get changed.

 

Scene 3 – The Changing Room

 

Fade to interior of the changing room. There is singing and chanting from the team in the baths.

Andra and Willie are sitting on bench.

They are drinking from a stone flagon of ginger beer.

Willie rolls his sock down and looks at the stud scar. It is bleeding openly on his leg.

Medium shot of both players gradually pulling into tighter frame on their faces.

 

Andra: Will ye look at that Willie! That wis some clout that big centre-half gave ye. Ah don’t know how ye kept yer cool. Ah wanted tae lay him flat.

Willie: Och Andra. Whit good wid that hae done? Ah’d ah been aff, they’d would’ve got a free kick and walked away wi’ a draw they didnae deserve. Ye have tae keep yer cool. 

Andra: Yer right, when ye shook the big louts haun he knew he’d done wrong. The donkey might hae been six inches taller than you, but who walked away the bigger man?

Willie laughs and shakes his head- takes another drink from the bottle and passes it to Andra

Andra: Well, ye’ve thought that wan through, that’s for sure. But what’s this auld McKenna wis talkin’ aboot. You being mustered by the army? Ah thought ye were just playin’ at sojers when ye started wi’ the Territorials

Willie: Ah’ve taken the King’s Shilling. Ah’m away wi’ the HLI for sure. Mibbe it’s time for a wee adventure, bit o’ foreign travel… Like ah wis saying, its probably no gonnae amount tae much….

Andra takes a deep drink from the flagon and passes it to Willie who also takes a deep drink. He does not wipe the top of the bottle before drinking.

Andra: And dae ye ken whit aw this is aboot? Have ye thought through the fact that ye might be going oot tae kill Germans? Mibbe working men like you? Whit have they ever done tae you?

Willie- (laughing) : Is this another wan ae they lectures about socialism yer gonnae gie me Andra? Ah’ve heard them aw before fae ye.

 The simple fact is ah’ve signed on the line and ah’ll honour ma word. It’s no a contract ye can walk away fae once ye’ve signed it.

And anyway, less o’ this workin’ man nonsense. Ah play fitba  for a livin’. Better than bein’ doon the pit and that’s a fact. 

Andra: (slightly huffy): Aye, well, remember that this is a bosses war- it isnae your fight Willie! 

Willie: (serious) Andra, ah’ve nae choice, an’ like ah said tae McKenna, ah’ll be back by Christmas…

Willie takes another drink from the flagon

Andra: Well speaking o’ McKenna, dae ye know whit he was talking about South Africa for?

Willie: Naw, ah didnae catch the drift o’ that

Andra: His young brother joined the army during the Boer War. Wis wan hundreds massacred at Sion Kop. Led into a useless position by some daft toff of a general and shot tae pieces by the Boers who surrounded them in the night. Ah’m surprised ye hadnae remembered it. It wis aw ower the papers back when we were at school. They even named fitba grounds efter the place. That big new stand they built in Liverpool is called the Kopp ye know.

Willie: The paper and the news and public meetings are your business. Andra. Ah like a bit o’ action!

Andra: Oh, ah know that ye dafty. Just remember the action might take a bit mair oot ae ye than the chunk of flesh that big centre-half helped himself tae the day.

Willie: Onyways, time for a wash! Race ye tae the baths!

The two friends run through the changing rooms and jump into the bath still in their strips. There is much shouting, commotion and barracking from the other players.

 

The scene fades to black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 4 – The Conversation – Hearth and Heart

Characters

 

Willie Angus

Mr Angus- Willie’s father

Margaret – Willie’s sister

Frederick- Fred – Willie’s six year old nephew

Interior of small working class house- kitchen range.

 

Medium Shot: Willie’s sister is sitting at the kitchen table. She is wearing spectacles and reading a casualty list from the local newspaper.

Close up of the local paper headline on casualties at the battle on Mons, August 23rd.

Cut to close up of Margaret’s face. She half stifles a sob and wipes a tear from her eye. 

Fred looks up at his mother, he has a full size leather football under one arm. His eyes are wide and his mouth is open. She realises that he has seen her crying, and composes herself

Margaret- Away you oot and play Fred, ah think that’s yer grandad and uncle back.

Fred: But ah want tae see them mammy!

Margaret: Away oot the noo, ye’ll see them later!

There is banging and shouting – the voices of men entering the small house

Medium shot of Margaret- she pushes the handkerchief into her sleeve and hides the newspaper. 

Willie and his father are in shirt sleeves and waistcoats. Willie’s sister is in a long dress covered with an apron. She turns at the stove and brings food and tea to the men. 

She stands tersely behind but between the men at the table. Her eyes follow the conversation intently.

Mr Angus: So, yer away the morra son.

Willie: Aye dad, the Carluke Highland Light Infantry wid fa’ tae pieces if I wisnae there tae march oot wi’ them in the morn. 

Mr Angus: Still the joker ah see. Ye’ll be needin that sense o’humour when ye get tae the front. Ah wish ah could join ye though, but I think ma fightin days are ower!

Margaret (Very audibly annoyed) Tut!

Mr Angus: (responding to his daughter’s irritation) There was a day when a wis a pretty useful sojer!

Margaret: Is it no enough that he’s away the morra without you comin’ oot wi yer nonsense.

Willie: Its fine Margaret, ma faither’s only trying tae make us aw feel a wee bit better here… Besides it’ll be a wee jaunt tae France. I’ll only have time tae drink a glass o’ wine, kiss a lassie and catch the train hame.

Mr Angus: There ye go hen! See it’ll be a dawdle for our lad! 

Margaret clears plates away and puts tea cups and cake on the table. Mr Angus winks at Willie and slyly draws a half bottle of whisky from his hip pocket and tips a fair measure of spirit into each cup of tea.

Mr Angus (In a stage whisper): Don’t tell yer sister son. This’ll warm ye oan yer way.

Margaret’s  tense expression changes and breaks into a small smile and rolls her eyes and crosses her arms across the front of her apron

Casualty Figures

The scene fades out and fades back into the kitchen setting. 

The men have gone and Margaret is sitting alone at the kitchen table. The newspaper with the casualty lists is back in view on the table. Margaret pours tea into a fine bone china cup. Her hands begin to shake. She tries to drink the tea but her hand trembles and the cup clatters against a saucer.

Cut to a close up of the newspaper headline “1600 British Casualties as Line Held at Mons”

Margaret (barely audible, medium close up): Aw they boys. Their poor mithers… ma poor wee brother.

Willie’s sister slowly and deliberately crumples the newspaper and throws it on the fire.

Close up of newspaper burning- possible digital effect here?

Scene 5 – The Fitba Strip

Scene cuts to Willies bedroom

Willie’s nephew, Fred a young boy of about six, enters as Willie is packing some personal things into his kit bag.

Cut to image of Willie in photograph wearing football strip, then to Willie holding a football strip.

Fred: Is that yer Celtic Strip Uncle Willie?

Willie: Aye it is Fred. D’ye like it?

Fred: Aye Uncle Willie, it’s smashin’. Celtic are the best team next tae Wishaw Thistle! Are you gonnae be a sojer noo Uncle Willie?

Willie: That’s right wee man. I’ll be a sojer for a wee while anyway.

Fred: See if ye don’t come back fae the war can ah get yer strip then?

Willie (roaring with laughter): See you, ye wee toerag. Ye’ve got me deid and buried before ah get through the front door!

Fred realises what he has said and looks shocked.

Willie (playfully miming, he throws the strip over his shoulder and pretends he is holding a rifle) Right wee man ye better surrender right away. C’moan, get yer hauns in the air!

Fred catches onto the game and his hands shoot up like little rockets.

Willie: Don’t move an inch sojer or yer a deid man!

Fred freezes like a statue. Willie drops to his knees

Willie: Keep those hands in the air wee man! (Willie tenderly pulls the strip over the young boys arms and over his head. It reaches almost to the floor.) You can look efter this for me while ahm away right?

Slow fade to black 

 

 

 

 

Page Break

 

Scene 6

The Parade: The HLI Leave Carluke.

Fade in

Exterior and Bright daylight

Long shot of street. There is red white and blue bunting on house. There is a band playing or pipes and drums. Maybe even both

A company of soldiers are assembling. The Carluke detachment of the Highland Light Infantry.

There is mild chaos- small children are running around. Proud parents and relatives have gathered. Any nervous misgivings have evaporated in the party mood.

Cut to interior of Willie’s house.

Mr Angus: Here son, let me take yer pack for ye. Ah’m no that auld that ah cannae be of some use to ye this morning.

Willie: That’d be fine faither. Ye’ve always been a great man for helpin’ me oot.

They step together and move as if to embrace each other, but step back awkwardly and shake hands. Both men laugh and smile. Jump cut to from Willie’s face to his father’s at this point. Both men are smiling. Both have eyes bright with tears that they refuse to acknowledge.

Mr Angus: Right! Ah’ll away wi this then, see ye in the road outside.

Mr Angus grabs the webbing of knapsack that is sitting on the kitchen table. He bangs the door open and almost stumbles through the opening.

Margaret enters the room. She walks towards Willie and embraces him. He stoops to return her embrace.

Willie: Well that’s me Margaret, ready for the off.

Margaret: Aye Wullie, so you be sure tae look after yourself. Ah’m wanting ma brither back, no a hero wi’ his story in the paper.

Willie: Margaret! Whit dae a keep tellin’ ye- maist likely this isnae gonnae become a big war. They’ll aw see sense and I’ll be back afore ye realise.

Margaret: Aye, ye might be right Wullie…  Mibbe ye’ll be right. 

She stand back from him with her hands on his hips. She fusses with the buttons on his uniform, pushing her lace handkerchief into his breast pocket.

She takes a step back

Anyway, Private Angus lets get ye out there. Attention!

Willie comes to attention smartly and delivers a crisp salute. Margaret steps in towards him and cups his cheek tenderly in her hand. Her fingers trail off his cheek and go under his chin. He had dipped his head towards her. She gently and firmly raises his chin straight and level again.

 Ah want tae see my brother marching tall and proud doon that road. It isnae everybody in Carluke that is giving up a brother the day. Just remember, ah want ye back hame again…

Jump cut to the street scene

Willie goes out into the babble and noise of the parade. Soldiers emerge from the clusters of their family and friends. A sergeant shouts orders and the detachment forms up.

Cut to Mr McKenna, finely dressed. He is speaking to an elegant, well-dressed and refined woman who is accompanied by her equally dapper son. It is Mrs Martin and her son James Martin. They are watching the bustle of the parade from a discrete distance.

Mr McKenna: That is a fine body of young men our town sending off to war Mrs Martin.

Mrs Martin: Indeed they are Mr McKenna. I believe some of the young men are acquainted with you?

Mr McKenna: Aye madam. A good number of those boys have played in my teams. In point of fact I am losing my team captain to this wee enterprise.

Mrs Martin: Well, in this time of crisis for the empire we must all make some sacrifice.

Mr McKenna: True madam, very true…(he turns to speak to Mrs Martin’s son, James) and what of you sir? D’ye think ye may be joining them yourself.

James starts to mouth a response but only manages to stammer “I..I..I”

Mrs Martin: James will be presenting himself to the officer selection board in the very near future. (with stiff formality)  Good day to you Mr McKenna.

Mr McKenna: (Not intimidated) And a good day to you Mrs Martin. It is good to know that all of our young men will be in this fight together.

Jump cut back to parade

The streets are lined with a cheering crowd.

The detachment are marching briskly down the street

Andra Souter is in the crowd he has his team jersey on under a blazer.

Andra: Are ye sure about this Willie? You’re leaving your team in the lurch here!

Willie: The King’s shilling is already spent. Huv tae go mate. Be seeing you at training again soon though!

Sergeant: Quiet in the ranks there, you’re a real sojer noo Angus.

Willie falls into step and his hand moves to his breast pocket. He sees his sister’s lace handkerchief and pushes it securely into his pocket. Close up of Willie marching and smiling.

Page Break

Scene 6.1 On the Tram

Interior of Tram, daylight, in Coatbridge

Margaret

Fred

Annie- A young woman who is also from Carluke. Attractive and lively. Very keen on Willie and worried about what is happening to him

Annie is sitting on the tram. There are seats around her. She sees Margaret who is laden with brown paper parcels and a shopping bag. Margaret is struggling a little and trying to keep an eye on Fred who is holding her hand and straining away from her.

Annie’s eyes wident and she smiles when she sees Margaret. She stands up and offers to help Margaret, taking the parcels from her. They sit down together and hustle Fred  into the seat in front of them.

Margaret: Right you sit there nice and play wi yer sojers Fred.

Fred takes two painted lead soldiers from his pocket and marches them along the back of the seat in front of him.

Cut to head and shoulders of Margaret and Annie in the same frame.

Margaret: Phew! Whit a day this has been Annie. It’s nice tae see ye. Thanks for helping me out there.

Annie: Its nice to see you tae Margaret. Whit brings ye intae the toon?

Margaret: Ah’ve new things for wee Fred, some things for ma daddy. Been running aroon the streets aw day! How about you hen? Didnae expect tae see your wee face away fae Carluke.

Annie:  Ahm up looking at the chance o’ workin in wan ae they factories. They’re takin’ oan a lot o’ wimmin,  wi’ the war taking the men away.

Margaret: (smiling, affectionate) An there’s me thinking you’re a wee homebody!

Annie: Well, we’ll see. Ah might need to dae ma bit as well. How’s that brother o’yours, Willie getting’ oan?

Margaret: Funny ye should ask. He’s fine, just got a letter in fact. He’d been oan coastal defence duty, which ah wis aw in favour of as it kept him well oot ae harms way but… (She pauses and turns away from Annie)

Well the letter told us he was being shipped out to France. None o’ the lads look like being back any time soon, never mind Christmas.

Annie: Aye, but Willie’s such a strong boy. He knows how tae look efter himself. He’ll be fine Margaret.

Margaret: Ah hope so Annie, but have ye seen the lists o’casualties in the papers? They get longer every week…(Her voice trails off, both sad and anxious)

Annie: (Gentle and encouraging) Ah know, but Willie’s so strong and quick, any German daft enough to tackle him’ll regret it!

Margaret: (brighter but still anxious)Aye, mibbe ye’ll be right.

Cut to Fred playing with the toy soldiers. He swivels quickly point the soldiers at the women and says

Fred: Bang! Bang! Yer both deid!

Cut to reaction shot on the faces of the two women then the bell rings on the tram and it begins to move off

 

 

Cut to external view of tram, from low angle the tram looks big and menacing. It moves off with as much grinding, clanging and banging as can be recorded. The scene fades down.

 

 

Page Break

 

Scene 7 – In the trenches- The Raid goes wrong

Characters

Willie Angus

Johnny Souter- private soldier, friend of Willie, somewhat cynical and anti-authoritarian

Lieutenant James Martin: Officer in command of Willie’s platoon. Idealistic and enthusiastic. Maybe a little gauche and awkward too.

Captain Callum Nairn- platoon commander. Solid and stoic but has the best interests of the men he commands at heart

Brigadier General Robert Menzies: Older, served in Sudan, tough and brave enough to be in the front line.

 

Johnny’s Return

Cut straight to the front line

Night in the trenches

There is huge explosion and the cries of men in agony.

Willie is in the front-line trench. Close up of his face- he flinches slightly as the explosion and screams continue.

There is the staccato bark of machine guns and the more muffled crack of grenades.

Cut to long shot of a private soldier running and stumbling back to his trenches.

The soldier throws himself down just before the sandbagged parapet of the front line.

Machine gun bullets whine over his head

Cut to close up of Johnny Souter. He is coaching himself to try and make it back over to his trench

Johnny Souter: (whispered, desperate, enraged)  For the love o’ God, this isnae the game o’ sojers ah signed up for! Three yerds, that’s aw it is- just three yerds. Get yer backside up and get intae that trench!

There is a voice from the Scottish trench line.

Willie: Ye’ll keep yer daft heid doon Private Souter if ye huv ony sense about ye.

Johnny: Corporal Angus! 

Cut to close up of Johnny’s face as he hears this. A white smile streaks across his muddied face.

Willie: Right. Listen Johnny, if ye jump up the Huns will cut ye right back doon again. Keep yer belly on the deck and slither yer stupid self ower the lip o’ the trench.

Johnny: Aye Willie right!

He starts to move and the whine of machine gun bullets zip overhead.

Willie: Will ye haud yer damned horses ye daftie! Ah’ll gie ye a count of three. We’ll open up wi’ everything we’ve got at this end tae keep that Boche machine gunner busy … then ye can wriggle yer way hame.

Johnny: (readjusting his helmet and looking shocked- he is hyperventilating) Aye Willie, right, right, right… oan three it is.

Willie: Wan, Two, Three…(there is the crackle of rapid rifle fire)

Cut to view from inside trench- the squad of soldiers are viewed from a low angle coming from the rear quarter. They are firing and ramming home the bolts of rifles with blurring speed.

Cut to to POV from Scottish trench. Johnny slithers over the lip of the trench and lands as an inelegant bundle of khaki, sprawling limbs and dropped rifle.

Medium shot-Johnny is still hyperventilating as he draws his limbs together and squats at the bottom of the trench. His chest and shoulders heave. His breath is raw and rasping.

Willie squats down next to him and casually drapes his arm over Johnny’s shoulder.

Willie: Yer fine, yer fine Johnny. Yer awright pal. Take a breath. That’s it, good lad, take a breath. Yer fine.

Scene fades to black

Scene 8

The View of the Aftermath

Fade to white and fade up to view of no man’s land. The camera pans across barbed wire. There are corpses in the open. Random shots and machine gun bursts are heard.

Close up of dead soldier’s face- obviously dead

Close up of second dead soldier’s face- again, obviously dead

Cut to close up of Lieutenant Martin’s face. He is barely conscious. He could be a corpse. His lips part and he inhales a rough and rasping breath. He is alive, but only just.

Cut back to Scottish Trench-line

Captain Nairn: Right Corporal Angus, I am correct in stating that Mr. Martin did not make it back into your section of the line?

Willie: Yes sir. The only man from the raiding party who got back here was Private Souter.

Captain Nairn: Indeed. Let’s have the lad here to find out what he knows about the whereabouts of Mr Martin then.

Cut to Johnny Souter. Still squatting on the trench floor, calmer but nervously smoking a cigarette.

Willie: Private Souter! Mr Nairn wid like a word wi ye.

Johnny throws the cigarette away and reluctantly hauls himself to his feet.

Willie throw him a look and he stands more briskly to attention.

Willie: Tell Mr Nairn what ye saw Johnny.

Johnny: We were just making our way through the German wire Sir. Right quiet like. Mr Martin wis daein his usual- in amongst everythin. He wis helpin the lads wi’ the wire cutters. Then there’s this bloody explosion in front ae us. The grun seems tae lift right up Sir, an ahm blown backwards. There’s shoutin and screamin an the Huns are opening up wi machine guns an grenades. There’s an order tae retreat and and our sojers are running back…(Johnny’s voice is starting to tremble and to rise in pitch)

Captain Nairn cuts him off.

Captain Nairn: Thank you Souter, you are dismissed.

Johnny salutes briskly and turns away. Out of sight he slumps down the side of the trench and gropes in his pocket for another cigarette.

Captain Nairn and Willie. Medium Close up with Willie in the frame

Captain Nairn: Not a good night… not a good nightCorporal Angus but we have what we need. Make sure that Private Souter gets a wee rest, his information confirms our fears.  Mr Martin did not come back from the raid last night. The Boche sappers had mined their front line- God only knows how much explosive they used- they probably heard the bloody bang back home. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him today, or any time soon…

Cut back to the close up of Lieutenant Martin’s face. Although deathly, he inhales a sudden rasping breath and his body jerks as if waking from a nightmare. He groans and gasps.

Willie: Sir! Wan ae our deid has moved. There! Up by the Hun line. Just under the lip o’ the crater. Mr Martin mibbe?

Captain Nairn: (takes a pair of binoculars from a case at his waist. Peering through a narrow sandbagged viewing slit in the trenches he whispers to himself) Oh, Dear God. What’s worse? Martin dead or Martin alive?

(Now audible to Willie) Well-spotted Angus. Look after your section and no heroics. I am returning to the command post. Send a runner if there are any developments.

Willie: Sir, are we tae leave Mr Martin oot there?

Captain Nairn: That is the case Angus. I will lose no more good men today if it can be avoided.

Willie: Aye Sir.

Scene fades to white

 

Scene 9 Have a drink of this Tommy!

Fade up to high angle shot of Lieutenant Martin. He is lying sprawled on the ground. His hand moves to an obvious wound in his thigh. Blood is pooling in the mud next to him

Cut to high angle medium close up of his face and chest. He brings his bloodstained hand to his face and groans. He drops his hand onto his chest. It lies limp, like the hand of a sleeping child.

Lieutenant Martin: (Delirious, feverish) Water! For the love of God! Give me some water!

Cut back to high angle shot of Lieutenant Martin’s body and the ground surrounding him.

Cut to shot of German front line. A trench periscope rotates and has quite clearly seen Lt Martin.

There is a shout from the German trenches- get translation

Water? You want Water? Have a drink of this Tommy. It will end your thirst. (laughter)

Two German stick grenades are lobbed from the German trench line. They lie smoking for a second then detonate.

Lieutenant Martin Screams.

 

Scene 10 “Ah Cannae Listen Tae This”

Willie whips away from the firing slit in the trenches and sits on his haunches. He puts his hand over his eyes very briefly and stands up.

Willie: Johnny, ah want ye tae be ma runner. Get tae the command post and let Captain Nairn know that Mr Martin is definitely alive and that the Huns are chucking stick grenades at him. Ask if ah huv permission to get oot there and bring him back?

Johnny: Whit? Have ye loast company wi’ yer senses Corporal Angus. Ah mean, ah liked Mr Martin n’ that, but whit’s he tae you? He’s a toff who thought that this wis just a big game… aw just a bit ae a laugh. An ah’ll tell ye something else- he widnae be runnin tae save your life if you were oot there.

Willie: (Quietly, resigned) Ye know Johnny, ah cannae disagree wi ye. But ah cannae sit here an listen tae that. Ah’ll tell you something as well. Ye remind me o’ ma pal Andra back hame. He’s the rebel type. Mouthy- like you. So, aye, Martin is a toff, but he’s frae Carluke. How dae ah walk through the toon efter this? Whit dae ah say when his mither or faither asks, “Did you see him die? Did you try to help him” an’ ah answer. “Oh aye, ah saw yer son but ah let the Huns use him for target practice until he was bled dry”.

Johnny: So yer gonnae throw yer life doon the pan just tae look good in front the toffs up the road? Whit’s the point? Whit is he tae you?

Willie: (wearily) Wid ye just dae whit a asked ye and take the message tae Captain Nairn.

Johnny: (Reluctant and with an edge in his voice) Aye right then… Corporal.

Willie: Johnny, haud yer wheesht for a minute and sit doon. Ah’m away maself.

Scene 11 Generals and Corporals.

Cut to the interior of a command post dugout.

Captain Nairn: (He jumps from a camp stool as the General stoops and enters the dugout) General Menzies Sir! A pleasure to see you.

General Menzies: Thank you Captain Nairn. Your report about the beastly business with the mine and the raiding party made me want to take a look at things for meself. I understand that we lost young James Martin in the raid too.

Captain Nairn: Well, not quite Sir. Reliable reports have placed Martin in no-mans land. The lad is seriously wounded and pinned down by Boche crossfire. They are taunting us by lobbing the odd grenade near him.

General Menzies: Poor chap. Nothing we can do for him?

Captain Nairn: I have denied permission for any rescue attempt sir. The Hun have the area covered with machine guns and he is only yards from their front line…( He is struggling to retain the composure of a professional soldier) They are watching him through their trench periscopes and can’t take their eyes off the poor lad.

If it were feasible I would lead a party myself Sir, but the casualties from last night have decimated us. If we lose more men we would not be an effective fighting unit. Besides Sir, it would not be right to ask…

There is a voice outside the dugout.

Willie: Corporal Angus requesting permission to speak to Captain Nairn Sir.

Captain Nairn: Enter.

Willie enters comes to attention and salutes. He does a double-take when he sees the General sitting in the dugout.

Captain Nairn: At ease Corporal Angus. I suspect you may be picking up the thread of our earlier conversation. You will have seen General Menzies before I take it?

Willie: Aye Sir. Ah would like yer permission to bring back Mr Martin. 

Captain Nairn: I am reluctant to allow this Angus. We have lost too many good men in the last day.

Willie: With the greatest respect sir, ah’m no leavin a fellow Carluke man out there. Ah’d be bringing a good man back.

General Menzies: You are aware my boy that you are going to certain death.

Willie: Sir, we’re aw deid in the long run, ah’m no fussed about the time, might as well get it done the day. There’s ayeways a chance.

General Menzies: So be it Corporal. Captain Nairn, arrange to do what you can in the way of covering fire. You are a brave man- this could be a sore loss to us… (he pauses and slips a hand inside his uniform jacket, taking out a metal flask). Anyway, take this my boy, Best Brandy I could lay my hands on. Have a snifter yourself and make sure Lieutenant Martin gets a good drink too…

All the best my boy.

 

Scene 12 – Going Over the Top

Cut to Captain Nairn, Willie and Johnny in front line trench.

Captain Nairn: Souter, do you have the rope. (Johnny nods and hands a coiled rope to Willie who drapes it diagonally across his chest)

We could organise some covering fire Corporal Angus, make the Boche keep his head down, eh?

Willie: Aye sir, if ye could direct the fire onto them ah could slip aboot fifty yerds doon the trench-line and make ma way in fae the flank. Might get tae Mr Martin unseen

Captain Nairn: A risky tactic Angus, but I see your point. We’ll get them to keep their heads down and give you at least half a chance of getting back.

Captain Nairn looks Willie squarely in the eye and shakes his hand firmly.

Right Corporal, I am off to organise the men, get them ready to lay down that covering fire.

Nairn walks off shouting orders

Sergeant, get your men in position.

He takes a position on the firing step and takes out a pair of binoculars which he rest on a sandbagged viewing slit before settling himself to watch the events unfold.

 

Cut to medium close up of Johnny and Willie.

Johnny: (Whispered, shocked but somewhat contemptuous of Willie’s behaviour) So this is it, eh Willie? Yer gonnae throw yer life away for King and Country? 

Willie: (soothing, calm, resigned, slight sighing) King and country disnae come intae it much. There’s a boy fae Carluke oot there and that’s ma country the day. (firmer of voice) Ah told ye before, ahm no leavin’ him.

Johnny: So that’s it then?

Willie: Aye that’s it. Ah’ll see ye later.

Johnny: Aye right, so ye will.(bitter and sad in tone) Aw the best Willie, ye’ll need it.

Willie: Right wee ray o’sunshine you are! He smiles an playfully punches Johnny on the arm. Johnny relents and smiles back. Willie takes off his steel helmet and hands it to Johnny. Carefully and quietly he starts to climb out of the trench.

 

Page Break

 

Scene 13 The Rescue

Intense volleys of rifle and machine gun fire are heard. 

We see muzzle flashes and smoke from the Scottish trench line.

The soldiers, commanded by Nairn in the Scottish trench are delivering rapid fire towards the German line

Cut to view of Willie crawling and dodging between shell holes and dead ground. He moves quickly but quietly, taking cover and checking carefully before making each rapid sprint. The line of rope trails behind him.

The sound of rifle fire crackles in the background but this fades from Willie’s consciousness, the only sound we hear is his breathing and footfall on the ground

When Willie takes cover he lies on his back and his chest heaves.

 

He makes a final dash from cover and reaches the inert figure of Lt Martin and throws himself down beside him.

Lieutenant Martin jerks awake and half rises, groaning.

Willie: (gently, whispering) Shhh, hush yerself Mr Martin, the Boche will hear ye. Hush, shhh, ye’ll be fine, ah’ll get ye back hame.

Lieutenant Martin:(in a cracked whisper) Corporal Angus, what a sight you are to see. So glad, so very glad… Do you have water? I need water…

Willie: Ah’ve nae water Sir, but ye could try this. 

Willie takes the silver flask from inside his uniform jacket. He swiftly swigs a measure himself and then passes it to Lt Martin who has propped himself up on one elbow now. Martin takes a deep draught from the flask and immediately breaks into a harsh coughing fit. He drops the flask and it clatters against barbed wire, a shell case, a discarded bayonet or gun- anything metallic.

Cut to view of German front line. The trench periscope rotates to observe Willie and Lt Martin.

Willie rolls onto his belly and realises that they have been spotted. He gets to his knees and hauls at Lt. Martin’s shoulders

Willie: Right sir, time tae go ah think! We’ll need tae get ye runnin’

Possible use of slow motion effect here

 

Willie helps Lt Martin to his feet and steadies him as he wobbles

Willie takes the loop of rope from across his chest and drapes it around Lt Martin. He points to the British line and mouths the word RUN as the first of the German grenades explodes close by.

They both begin to run, and Lt Martin immediately stumbles down on his knees. Willie stoops to help him up and rotates Lt Martin’s body back in the direction of the Scottish line.

They both begin running again.

A grenade blast knocks Willie to the ground. He get up and runs, dragging his leg now

A second grenade blast explodes in front of him. Willie drop to his knees now.

Blood is streaming over the left side of his face

Lt Martin looks back and makes to turn around. Willie points to the Scottish trench line and screams,

Willie: Keep going Mr Martin!

Willie wipes his face and stumbles on through another grenade blast behind him.

Willie falls down again. He looks up and sees Lt Martin fall into the Scottish trench line.

Cut to Willie’s face

He pushes himself up and speaks to himself

Willie: Just wan last push!

He runs, stumbling over the broken ground

Willie: Just wan last push!

Willie falls before the sandbags of the Scottish Line and pulls himself half over the parapet.

Johnny Souter pulls Willie down into the trench

Johnny: Willie! Willie! Can ye hear me?

Willie is lying on his back we see him from Johnny’s POV

Willie: (slurring his words, dreamy and sleepy due to blood loss) Aye Johnny, aye ah can hear ye. Yer a pure wee ray o’ sunshine, that’s what ye are!

Willie’s eyes close and he loses consciousness.

Johnny: Stretcher bearers! Stretcher Bearers!

Willie is lifted onto the stretcher and evacuated. The screen fades to black

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scene 14- The Queen’s Pyjama’s

Matron McKenna Chief nurse formidable and stern but infused with matriarchal tenderness

Nurse Rose Blake- young, passionate and caring. At odds with Matron McKenna. Efficient but very tender.

Major Doctor Henry Blunt – as name, so nature. He is very direct

Willie Angus

Queen Mary

Lieutenant James Martin

Fade up

Willie is in hospital bed. He begins to stir and take in his surroundings

Matron McKenna hears him and walks from her desk, calling on Major Blunt, the doctor in charge.

Matron McKenna: Major Blunt! Major Blake! Corporal Angus is regaining consciousness.

Major Blunt bustles in. He is powerful and somewhat pompous but this is balanced by a direct, earthy sense of humour that the matron pretends to disapprove of. Willie follows their comments with his eyes, like a spectator at a tennis match and looks generally befuddled by what they are saying.

They station themselves on either side of Willie’s bed

Major Blunt: Ah! At last! I thought we might lose our hero! If he hadn’t come round it would have been a considerable waste of bandages and bedpans. Still, all’s well that end well, eh Matron?

Willie: (sleepy and slow) Where am…

Major Blunt: “Where am I?” Corporal. They all ask that don’t they Matron. Would you like to tell our hero where we are?

Matron McKenna: Corporal Angus, you are in our Casualty Clearing station, and have been unconscious for quite a while. You have been very brave and very strong, I am delighted to see you start to recover.

Major Blunt: Delighted indeed Angus. The bloody Boche shot you to bits you know. I think they got you everywhere except your bollocks. You’re fully functional in the family department,

Major Blunt whacks the bed cover in the general direction of Willie’s midsection with a swagger stick.

Willie winces and looks under the covers then looks visibly more relaxed

Major Blunt:  But as for elsewhere, oh dear.

Matron McKenna: What the major is trying to tell you young man is that you have over forty separate wounds and thirteen of them are serious. 

Major Blunt: Yes Corporal you had more German steel in you than I’ve ever seen. Spent an absolute age picking it out of you on the operating table. Never thought you would make it. Fully expected you to be Corporal Willie Angus VC, posthumous.

Matron McKenna: Must you be so morbid and so flippant Major.

Major Blunt: Yes I must matron. A little dark humour lightens the day for everyone.

Matron McKenna: Oh, it’s humour is it? 

Major Blunt: (somewhat stung and huffy) Well, one does one’s best.

Willie: (still bewildered) VC? Posthumous?

Matron McKenna: We didn’t think you would live Corporal Angus. We didn’t think you’d live long enough to be presented with the Victoria Cross.

Willie is more alert now and understands what has happened to him and where he is. He looks between them again with more of a sense of understanding on his face

Now, Major Blunt, I think you have rounds to complete.

Major Blunt: “For Valour” young man. Highest award for bravery one can be given. We’re all actually quite proud of you…(his voice trails off, there is a sense of genuine emotion in his reaction)

Matron McKenna: Your rounds Major Blunt? I’ll have nurse Blake take a look at some of these dressings and make him more comfortable.

Cut to interior of Buckingham Palace

King George: Have you seen the latest batch of medal citations my dear?

Queen Mary: I trust you are referring to the latest citation for the Victoria Cross.

King George: Indeed my dear, indeed. This young corporal, the Scotsman, what was his name again…

Queen Mary: William Angus darling. 

King George: Brought his wounded officer back through no man’s land and got himself shot to pieces in the process. Remarkable young man.

Queen Mary: Indeed darling, it will be a delight to see him at the palace of course but a little comfort in the meantime may be appropriate. Even if it is only a small token.

King George: Beg pardon dear?

Queen Mary: Oh, I’ve arranged to send him a small gift

Queen Mary: (Quietly, really to herself but just about audible) The poor boy, forty wounds in his flesh. So much pain for him and an equal agony for his family I imagine.

King George: Beg pardon dear?

Queen Mary: Oh, nothing really dear, just me musing aloud.

Cut to Nurse Rose Blake treating Willie.

Rose: Good morning Willie. Did you sleep any better last night?

Willie: Managed a wee bit o’ sleep hen. Thanks for askin’. Are ye here tae set aboot they bandages again?

Rose: it has to be done Willie. If we keep the dressings clean we can stop infection. No point in you going through all you did to throw it away because we didn’t change a bandage.

Willie: It’s no that it’s that sore, ah just don’t like looking at it.

Rose: I know Willie, I know, but we can make you better. You must try to keep your spirits up. You were so brave on the frontline, use some of that strength now- for yourself! Try to put those terrible sights behind you.

Willie: Aye, what a sight it was that day. The frontline is something between a pit-bing and a slaughterhouse. Ah see the faces o’ some of the lads ye know. I see their faces when I’m dreaming…

His voice trails away and he becomes still. Rose holds his hand.

Rose: You need to look to yourself Willie, it’s hard to say it, and I mean no disrespect but you need to leave the dead behind. Hold onto your life! (Her voice changes, becomes jovial and bright as she tries to change the subject)

Anyway, what’s a pit bing?

Willie: (animated, but still on edge) Well seeing your no a lassie from Lanarkshire! Its where aw the slag and waste fae the coal mines and steel plants get dumped. Great heaps o’rubble, some of it still smokin’ away. No very nice and no much different fae the earth in no-man’s land.

Rose: (somewhat surprised by the edge in Willie’s voice) Oh! I see. I’d wondered what those heaps were when I saw them from the train.

Willie: (lightening his voice and opening up to Rose more) Aye, it’s a differerent world hen, and no always pretty… wouldnae mind getting back hame to it though.

He turns away and Rose tenderly changes dressing on his left arm. Blood has weeped through and the wounds are still raw.

She winces a little herself when she sees the extent of his wounds but composes herself and works with care – she is professional but also tender and humane.

Major Blunt enters. He stands at the end of Willie’s bed and fiddles with a chart. Looking uncomfortable

Major Blunt: Well Angus, I have some bad news for you I’m afraid. We had another look at your injured eye when we changed the dressings last night. Unfortunately we won’t be able to save it. It’s unlikely that you will regain sight in it.

Willie: (stoic and unmoved. He hardens his face and nods) Right Sir, thank you for trying onyways. Ah’ll just need to make do wi the wan.

Major Blunt: That’s the spirit Angus! 

He quickly puts the chart on the end of the bed and leaves hurriedly.

Willie sighs and Rose takes his hand. Willie covers his eyes with his other hand and turns slightly away from her.

Rose: Willie, don’t give up. You’ve done so well. Look there are some letters and parcels from home. Why don’t you have a look at them.

Willie: (slightly embarrassed) Ah wis wonderin’ Rose if ye could dae me a wee favour. Ah saw the  letters and parcels there, but wi’ the bandage oan ma eye and wi’ me feelin’ a bit tired…

Rose: Would you like me to read them for you Willie? I’d be delighted to help out. 

Willie: Aye, if ye wouldnae mind hen.

Rose: (opening an envelope and smoothing out a letter) This is from, lets see- Margaret.

Willie: That’s ma big sister. Go oan, whit’s she sayin’

This dialogue begins with Rose speaking. Her voice fades down and is replaced by Margaret’s voice. Split screen or fade to image of Margaret sitting at the kitchen table in her father’s house writing the letter. 

Rose: My Dear Brother, I hope this letter finds you as well as can be expected. We thought the worst when the telegram came. Your father wouldn’t open it and it sat next to the big clock on the mantelpiece until I came round with Fred to help with the dinner. When we opened it and saw that you were wounded it was a relief to know you were alive. There were more and more telegraphs and officers from the army and men from the press. They were so proud of you being a VC. Everybody in Carluke stops us and asks how you are and tells us that what you did made the whole place proud.

The whole family are glad you saved the Martin boy and we all just want you home safe and well. Wee Fred says that he is still looking after your football strips but thinks that being a soldier is better than being a footballer now. I told him to ask you what you thought about that when you got home.

Best regards,

Your big sister, Margaret

Willie: (smiling with delight) Aye, she’s some lassie is ma big sister! That wee lad Fred is a wee cracker as well- ah’ll need tae pit him aff this idea o’ being a sojer mind you!

Rose: There’s another letter and a parcel Willie. Would you like me to read it?

Willie nods and smiles

Rose: Oh my goodness! This looks official. Lovely paper and an embossed crest on the envelope. 

She opens the letter carefully and draws out a thick sheet of paper. Her eyes scan the page and her mouth opens in astonishment. Her hand slowly moves up to cover her mouth and she slowly lowers the letter.

Rose: Gracious! Willie, this is a personal note from the Queen!

Willie: Whit? Yer kiddin’ me oan Rose!

Rose:(more composed and sitting up straight) I’ll read it out to you. “My Dear Corporal Angus, My husband and I have been reading about the heroic steps you took to save the life of a fellow soldier. Your brave deed filled us both with admiration. The sacrifice you made and the suffering you continue to endure fill us both with a sense of pride and humbles us when we think of the great pain our soldiers suffer in this war. You will of course be attending Buckingham Palace to receive your Victoria Cross, but in the meantime please accept this small gift which may go some way to making your recovery more comfortable.

Yours Sincerely

Mary Windsor.” 

A personal note from the Queen Willie! What an honour.

Willie: Aye yer right there hen. Go an’ open that parcel then.

Rose tears open the brown paper parcel. The brown paper reveals sumptuous purple and gold tissue paper. She delicately unfolds this and lifts up a blue and white striped pyjama jacket.

Willie (bellowing with laughter): There ye go, I’m gonnae get tae wear the Queen’s Pyjama’s. 

The matron and Major Blunt appear. They are helping a young officer who is limping badly- it is Lieutenant Martin

Major Blunt: Visitor for you Angus, the young chap you went to so much trouble for.

Lieutenant Martin frees himself from the matron’s arm and steps forward.

They are both so overcome with emotion that neither can speak.

Close ups on their faces reveal that their eyes are bright with tears.

Cut to Close of Lieutenant Martin’s face.

He is smiling and shaking slightly.

He mouths the word “thankyou” but no sound emerges.

Cut to Close up of Willie. He smiles and nods his head.

The scene fades out.

 

Scene 15 – At the Palace.

King George

Queen Mary

Equerry- a young officer

Willie Angus

Mr Angus- Willie’s father

Buckingham Palace – interior of drawing room. The king is pacing about and Queen Mary sits at a desk.

King George: Medal presentations this morning darling

(He peers through a window)

Large crowd today dear. This young Scotsman, Corporal Angus has certainly caught the public attention.

Queen Mary: Indeed he has. Your equerry informed me that the young man’s father is in the crowd outside the gates.

King George: What? How preposterous! He must be found immediately and brought in for the presentation.

Queen Mary: I have already sent the equerry to locate Corporal Angus’s father my dear.

King George: What? Oh! I can always rely on you my dear.

Queen Mary: Yes George, you can.

Cut to corridor in the palace

Willie is sitting alone, waiting. He leans forward and clasps his hands together around a walking stick between his knees. He then looks around to take in his grand surroundings. He is feeling somewhat lonely. A door opens and a uniformed officer walks along accompanying Mr Angus senior.

The officer gestures, pointing Mr Angus gently towards Willie.

Willie stands up and his worried face splits into a broad smile

This is matched by the expression on Mr Angus’s face.

They take a step towards each other and vigorously shake hands. They take a step closer and embrace clasping each other around the shoulder as they continue to shake hands. Willie is holding the stick awkwardly behind his father’s back as they embrace.

Mr Angus: It’s good tae see ye son. Ah thought that ye’d win a big medal wan ae these days but ah thought it wid be for the fitba! Now look at ye!

Willie: Aye faither, its some place here right enough..

His words trail off, he does not know what to say

Equerry: Mr Angus, the presentation begins shortly. May I accompany you to your seat in the hall?

Willie and Mr Angus disentangle themselves from the embrace.

The equerry immediately begins to usher Mr Angus away. He half turns around to deliver his next lines over his shoulder as he is led away reluctantly.

Mr Angus: Aye sir, lead on. Ah’ll see ye in there Willie. Ah’m right proud o’ ye son.

Cut to the grand presentation room.

The King and Queen stand together. The equerry is standing to the side of them with the Victoria Cross on a velvet cushion in one hand and the medal citation card in the other

Equerry: For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty at Givenchy on the 12 June 1915, in voluntarily leaving his trench, under very heavy bomb fire, and rescuing a wounded officer who was lying within a few yard’s of the enemy’s position.

Lance Corporal Angus had no chance whatever of escaping the enemy’s fire when undertaking this very gallant action and in affecting the rescue he sustained about 40 wounds from bombs, some of them being very serious.

The equerry steps towards the King and bows. The King lifts the VC from the cushion and steps towards Willie who is standing to attention across from them.

The King: Lance Corporal Angus. For your act of valour, I present you with the Victoria Cross.

The King pins the medal to Willie’s chest. He then steps back half a pace and shakes Willie’s hand.

The King: Well done my boy what a service for your country you undertook on that day. Forty wounds I hear? The pain must have been intolerable.

 

Willie: Aye Sir, but only thirteen o’ them were serious.

The King laughs loudly and Willie smiles.

The King sees Mr Angus standing behind Willie.

The King: Mr Angus your son is a brave man sir, a truly brave man. We are glad to note that his sense of humour is clearly intact.

There is polite applause and an ripple of decorous laughter in the room

Cut to a shot of Willie from behind, he is alone and limps slowly down a grand hallway.

The scene fades

 

Page Break

Scene 16- Homecoming

 

Getting off the train.

Willie Angus

Lord Newlands- Generals Uniform, Commanding Officer of Lanarkshire Territorial Divisions

Lieutenant Martin

Journalist

Photographer

Soldiers

Margaret

Mr Angus

Fred

 

Willie steps down from the train. He is still using a walking stick. He is flanked by a Lord Newlands and Lieutenant Martin.

The crowd are rapturous. There is much cheering and confetti and streamers are thrown. Union Jacks and Saltire flags are being waved

A piper is playing.

The crowd are ecstatic

Newlands and Martin stand on either side of Willie

Each of them shake his hands.

Willie waves to the crowd

The crowd press in and the soldiers make room for Willie and the officers who go inside a waiting room next to the platform.

 

Lord Newlands: Well Angus, quite a reception eh? The whole country is delighted to have you back. (He looks at Lieutenant Martin) To have you both back.

Journalist: May we have a few words sir and a photograph sir?

Lord Newlands: Of course miss! Wonderful to see you young ladies helping the war effort.

The three men stand together and are photographed.

Journalist: Have you anything to say to Corporal Angus Mr Martin?

Lieutenant Martin: In my view It was an act of bravery second to none in the annals of the British Army.

He turns to Willie and shakes his hand and speaks more softly

I owe you my life Willie, I will never forget that day.

Willie: Anything for a boy fae Carluke sir!

A door opens and Willie’s father, his sister and his nephew Fred enter.

Lord Newlands: Lieutenant Martin, let us adjourn to my motorcar. I fell that Willie has some family business to attend to.

The two men bow slightly in the direction of Willie’s family members and leave the room.

The family cross to Willie. There are handshakes and hugs.

Mr Angus: Ach, son yer lookin’ better every time ah see ye. Looks like yer keepin’s some fine company tae!

He nods towards the retreating officers and winks at Willie

Willie: Aye faither, Kings and Lordship and aw sorts, but ah’ll never lose the common touch.

Margaret: You’re right there wee brother. We’ll make sure of that

Willie turns to embrace Margaret. She pulls back slightly and her hands slide down his arms. She looks him up and down and her eyes are drawn to the stick he is using. She then lifts her left and gently caresses his temple and cheek next to the eyepatch over his left eye. Margaret is full of emotion but will not break down and cry. She has a bright but brittle tone in her voice

Margaret: There was me believing you when you told me that you would only have time to kiss a French lassie and have a wee glass of wine before ye were hame. (She has a brittle smile and a catch in her voice as she says this) What a mess they’ve made of my wee brother. Still, yer back and very nearly in one piece as well! 

Willie: (Laughing, but slightly bitter. His smile has a sardonic twist) Aye! Very nearly indeed Margaret

Here, ah thought ah wid see big Andra the day. Is he oot there?

Margaret: He joined up Willie, said he couldnae let you be oot there on yer ain. (Margaret pauses and steps towards Willie) There wis a telegram sent tae his house last night. He isnae coming hame.

Willie and Margaret embrace again. We see Willie shake his head.

Margaret and Willie step apart and we see little Fred. Looking down on him from a high angle POV he looks even smaller than her actually is. When he knows his uncle is looking at him he salutes.

Fred: Uncle Willie can ah get tae see yer medal?

Willie: (Forcing himseld to be cheerful) Aye wee man, once were hame.

The scene cuts to Willie’s bedroom at home.

Fred is sitting on the edge of Willie’s bed

Fred: Ah’m gonnae be sojer just like you Uncle Willie.

Willie has removed his uniform jacket and glengarry and is standing in his shirt sleeves.

Willie: Well Fred being a sojer is good but d’ye know what’s better?

Fred: Being a captain or a general or a king mibbe?

Willie: Naw, nane ae them wee man.

Fred: Ah don’t know then Uncle Willie.

Willie: Did ah ask ye tae look efter something for me?

Fred: Aye Uncle Wilie, yer fitba jerseys. Ma mammy made me put them in that drawer there. (He points to a chest of drawers)

Willie: Right ye are, you go and get it for me then.

Fred scurries quickly over to the chest of drawers and rummages through the contents, eventually finding the jersey. Willie stands up and opens a cupboard door, removing a football.

Willie sits on the edge of the bed, his elbow rests on the football and he is holding a velvet case that contains the medal. Willie glances at Fred, indicating that he should sit next to him. Fred heaves himself onto the high bed with a little help from Willie.

Willie opens the medal case and shows it to Fred

Willie: There ye are Fred, a wee look at a Victoria Cross for ye.

Fred: It’s no very shiny. Ah thought it wid be gold

Willie: (Slightly darker tone in his voice) Well, there ye go Fred, that’s yer medals for ye. (Brighter, more cheerful) Have ye worked oot whit’s better than a sojer yet?

Fred: (sounding slightly worried or confused) Naw Uncle Willie, ah don’t know.

Willie: It easy, playin’ fitba is better than bein a sojer.

Willie takes off the uniform cap that Fred is wearing and gives him the ball.

Willie: Right away you oot and play wi’ that wee man.

Fred takes the ball and bursts out of the room, heading outside to play.

Shouts of children playing are heard. Willie smiles and shakes his head. He picks up the football jersey that has been left on the bed. Very slowly, very painfully he gets up from the edge of the bed and walks stiffly to the drawer that Fred has left open. Clearly in pain, which he has been concealing until now, he slowly bends over and places the strip gently in the drawer. He then casually, dismissively drops the medal case into the drawer and pushes it shut with his foot. He leans on the edge of the chest of drawers and we see him from behind. The photograph of him in his football strip is staring back at him. Slowly, he reaches across to it and places it face down on the top of the chest of drawers.

 

Page Break

 

Epilogue

Montage of football shots from film and period to accompany the voice over.

Alternatively, cut back to the shot of Willie with his grandson Peter to accompany the voice over.

Margaret: Voice over. 

So, my brother made it back and we were proud of him

Plenty other lads didnae come hame though.

Tens o’ thousands ae them, left lying in the cauld, cauld earth o’ France and Flanders and wherever else they shipped those boys tae fight and die.

 Willie lost so much that day. Half his foot shot away, blinded in one eye. No much mair ftiba for him

He did get to appear before huge crowds though.

 The army paraded him in front o’ the fans at Ibrox and Parkhead- they thought it would be good for recruiting. 

He hated those days.

 But he did make a friend. 

Lieutenant Martin, the Carluke lad he saved never forget what Willie had done.  Every year, on Willie’s birthday a telegram of thanks arrived. Willie appreciated that wee thing. The VC stayed in the drawer.

Fade out

Music

Credits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page Break

 

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Are Ye Bound for France my Dear?

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Are you Bound for France?  Margaret’s Song

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will you stand sae tall and proud

Hear the pipes blow sae loud

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

 

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will ye put your toys away?

Nae boys’ games left tae play.

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

 

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will ye pour your life away

Stain deep the mud and clay

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

 

 

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are ye fighting for a king

Or something closer to yer kin?

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

 

 

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will ye let the fallen bleed

Or of yer life, tak nae heed?

Bringin’ hame the one in need, my dear brother oh!

 

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Will you stand so tall and proud

Hear the pipes blow sae loud

Are you bound for France my dear, my dear brother oh!

Adapted from “Will Ye Go Tae Flanders” traditional ballad from the 18th Century

Here is Karine Polwart’s version of “Will Ye Go to Flanders” to give you an idea of the melody

 

If you want to know more about Willie Angus try this link

Willie Angus VC – wikipedia entry

Willie Angus- WW1 Film Project

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Young people in the four high schools around Wishaw have been collaborating on a major film project that will be launched to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1.

Students from Saint Aidan’s, Coltness High, Clyde Valley High and Calderhead High have been working hard for the past year and the fruits of their labour will be on display in November this year.

The film will tell the story of Willie Angus, a Lanarkshire man who won a Victoria Cross in 1915. Willie saved the life of his officer, who wounded and stranded in no man’s land just yards from the German trenches. Willie brought the wounded man back to his own lines but suffered multiple injuries doing so.

The students been rehearsing a script that they will film in August. The recreation of Willie’s life is an exciting project and has been made possible by the award of a substantial lottery grant of £10000.

The trailer will give you an idea of the creativity and commitment that the young people of Wishaw. Click below to view the trailer…

World War 1 Film Project Trailer

The art work that a small team of students produced to help create the trailer is worth a look in its own rightP1040511P1040513P1040516P1040517P1040518P1040520P1040521

 

 

 

Running Remembered

I haven’t been running much lately and I haven’t been to Kintyre for nearly two years now. Then I stumbled across this old blog post from my days on the running site Fetcheveryone and thought I would share it with you.

 

Every so often I take the crooked road to Kintyre, driving North and West from Glasgow to skirt the edges of Loch Fyne, before putting the same distance into descending southward into the drooping peninsula. Over the last years I have come to love the long curve of beach from Westport into Macrahannish. An unprepossessing car park, oddly municipal in this wild place, sits next to an anonymous hunch of sand dune- it could be a mere hillock of bleached grass- but walk through the gate and the world, at its last margin between land and sea, opens up for you.

The beach, secret and tacit behind the sheltering line of dunes, curves away with a suction that seems to insist upon your presence. A sandy and grassy path meets your step with a springing, tuned thud. The first sand is dry and golden, fine and giving- too giving to hold a runner’s step. On your shoulder the dunes reveal a hollow amphitheatre: there could be children playing there, perched in the high dress circle but the bowl of sand traps their voices in its stillness.
Distances stretch, the beach is far wider than your first perceptions of it. The dry golden sand gives way to a tide-washed darker edge. Here the Atlantic waves imperturbably steamroller a hard and flat way for you on the edge of the land. This is where you can dance between waves and shingle and sand. This is where the sand gives just enough. This is where you can run.

Look over your shoulder at that straight line of footprints you think that your dedication is driving into the beach you see it is a woozy undulation. The flat and hard sand starts to arrange itself into a pattern of short rises and falls, wavelike in itself. The sea has not made a highway for you, but left its swell in the land. Expeditionary sorties of waves rush towards you, chattering foam, muttering viciousness, forcing you to prance onto soft gold sand and deceitful shingle. You don’t conquer this beach, you become- for the briefest of times- part of the flow here.
And then there is the wind pushing in off the sea- setting you off on mighty and tireless legs only to traduce you. It may feel like a gentle breeze at your back on the outward leg but it will insist squeezing you close – holding on to each of your steps, each of your ragged breaths on the return. You run where the wind and the sea and the sand allow you to run. Your footfall, that act of volition, ignited between mind and muscle, was chosen and shaped as much by the Atlantic growling at your side as by the thing that you call yourself.
But there’s always the sky, this evening bright and blue, Islay and Jura serrated against the horizon, and the sun laying a trembling column of white and silver across the waves. The flight of Oyster-catchers scramble in alarm, flicking to the left to show their black and white plumage and the long needle of their beaks. High-pitched outrage from the birds registers sharply, startled peeps above the gruff rumble of the sea, and fills the mind for a moment.
My dog comes with me on these runs. Four legs make a better fist of this job. He loops crazy orbits around me, eccentric perihelions influenced by the pull of his nose towards the mystery of invisible odours and his somewhat marginal attachment to me. He will pick up hefty pieces of driftwood and run with them for miles. I envy and delight in his easy grace and simple strength. If the distance between us becomes too great I stretch my arms wide and call him. He manages a straighter line than I can as he gallops back, ears flapping, body straight with all the intent of a falling arrow.
The detritus of the beach is his business: the bloated seal carcasses; the dying gannet- hard beak and stern eye still formidable enough to make the dog wary; the smoking phosphorous flare, resurfaced from some sunken arms cache of the second world war and regurgitated like an irritant from the lining of the ocean’s stomach; the bright orange buoys, like hard plastic footballs, broken free from lobster pots they once marked. The strange and familiar traffic of this beach.

And on this run, the porpoise, a metre long- the pectoral fins and the flesh around the jaw already torn away. My dog dropped his shoulder into the body to rub his flank along its slate grey side. I roared and he backed away. Stopping to take in the eerie incongruity of the remnants of the creature, I see its tail has twisted from the horizontal plane. For a moment I contemplate that it is some huge fish; it is as mysterious as an image in a medieval bestiary but the teeth, the blowhole and the ventral slit tell me that it is a mammal. And yet, giving it a name, placing it in a taxonomy cannot strip it of its strangeness. I think of it quick and lithe in the waves, arcing between air and water for breath and think about its death. Then I start to run again.

 

Higher Writing Folio Model

This was put together as a model of the monologue form with inflections towards Scots dialect for Higher English students. The title was borrowed- stolen to be honest-  from a popular piece of young adult fiction by Anthony McGowan that was very popular with students in the school I teach in.

 

The Knife That Killed Me

The knife? It was right there on the table but it wasn’t my fault. I took years to make the cut.

It was my mum you see. She wanted us to be that wee bit better than everybody else. We had the end block in the terrace, nice garden, dad always in work. Decent hard-working family in a nice wee council scheme in the country: idyllic you’d think- nestled below the Campsie hills, the cattle from the farmer’s fields would sometimes find their way into the streets and gardens. I remember my dad digging freshly deposited cow dung into the roses a few times.

You just need to be that wee bit different- a wee bit too posh, a wee bit too clever, a wee bit too Catholic a wee bit too… Take your pick mate, any excuse’ll do in these parts. Not much to do in the country you see, so recreational violence becomes the primary occupation of the weans. Fine if you’re in the right gang with plenty of mates. I spoke correctly, stuck in at school. No doubt about it, I was in the “rang gang”. Christ! When I was seven or eight I got hammered in the face by an older kid by telling him that the earth moved round the sun! I know, Galileo becomes famous for that argument, I just get a burst lip and mental trauma.

I liked the kid that did that to me; I was scared of him but I liked him. He took three of us on a patrol through the reed-beds near the old mill. I was scared of the scratchy needles that the reeds rasped on my bare arms, by the way that the ground would loop down into sudden black puddles. My hands would fly up to reassure themselves by touching the back of this boy. Half to balance myself and half for comfort. He whirled on me, told me to keep my hands to myself. He was furious with my fear, contemptuous of the softness, the weakness in the gesture.

He spoke of his plans about killing the boy with red hair: one of the kids who was that bit different. He would get the wee weirdo and hold him under one these deep puddles until he had blown his last bubble. He was like some kind of scent-hound who tracked and savaged the weak, the unfit and the broken.

No, don’t worry, the three of us came back- the red haired kid wasn’t there. As far as I know the big lad never lived out his murderous fantasy.  I was amazed at his power though. I repeated his words to my parents later: “Blow his last bubble!”. I was beguiled by their blunt force. Their faces white and hanging- transfixed by the words from their son: seven years old in shorts and hair still blonde. They told me I was wrong. Where had I heard this? Don’t play with people who say things like that. Where did that boy learn to speak like that?

So there’s me in the “rang gang”. A gang of two by now. I was friends with the posh kid from the new houses that they built on the farmer’s fields. Very posh wee guy indeed, his dad was an art teacher and his mum was a social worker. Total victim material for the local young team. I remember coming off the school bus in the mist of a December evening. Everything black and grey and jaggy shadows. The line of them waiting at the top of the hill. A sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, like standing at the top of a cliff and feeling gravity trying to suck me over the edge. I saw them- the young team- split from my mate and dodged the confrontation. But they got him. I could hear the punches and cries through the grey mist. Thank God they were doing it to him and not me.

“That’s your mate they’re hittin’.” The voice of an older boy said.

The young team didn’t let up. They never got a hold of me but they broke limbs of kids from “bought hooses”, took the streets for themselves. Checkpoints and choke points on every walk to the shops. I mean boys fight, but this… to take one wee guy because he had a bit of a mouth on him and set about him in the park: a closed circle of fists and feet. To actually put him in hospital. The thought of it made me shudder.

Their interests matured into drink, glue, drugs. And then it happened- my brother started to run with them- he was young team. Run isn’t the right word because they didn’t do much of that. A distinct presence on the streets was more their thing, a kind of slouching arrogant little militia.

We shared a room and loathed breathing the same air as each other.

So, it’s the night of my graduation. My mum does this big production at the dinner table. You know fine linen table cloth, crystal wine glasses, candelabra, the best china dinner service. She’s put this together over years. The knife? Yeah, that was a wedding present you know. It must be twenty five years old, couple of years older than me. Only out the mahogany box at big events.

Anyway, the brother turns up, in slurred and smiley mood. He sees the graduation picture on top of the telly, the black gown deflated on the couch. He makes a joke about batman, but the mood soon sours. There’s a bad taste in the air. He talks, rants is more like it- he’s fluent with the crazy eloquence of the chemically enhanced. When will he get his picture on the telly? When will we bow to him like a Buddha? He passed his driving test and nobody even shook his hand. I mutter that he is tripping.  He kicks the table and the clatter of china and crystal roars in my mind. All I can hear is things breaking. The knife is in my hand and its swinging…

I’m watching things now but I’m miles away. I’ve stepped off that cliff and I’m falling but I’m standing still.

Then I’m running.

Fast.

Easy.

Free and flowing through the night.

Away from the scatter of blood drops that sprayed the textured wallpaper. Away from the white faces and the dark circles of open mouths. I don’t remember stopping…

The brother? He’s okay, he recovered. It was just a scratch really. Defensive wound on the arm I heard.

But the knife killed me. Killed my hope, ended my dreams left me here…

I’ve never minded the smell of disinfectant, it’s sort of comforting: like the way my mum used to put a drop of it with water into a basin next to the bed if you were going to throw up. Being sick can be safe and warm sometimes.

I Would Be…

I Would Be…

  1. Sleeping Lion

I would be your lion,

With a forehead broad and blunt and strong,

Eyes wide and wise and fierce.

You would sleep safe

Held in my heavy bones and soft padded paw

The rumble of my easy growl your lullaby.

Your hands clenched

In the deep softness of my mane

Uncoil in easy sleep.

But I am a man.

Not iron in fang and paw-

Eyes veiled darting and tight.

Your racing heart flees sleep

The lumpen shadow of my sleeping ridge

Is a quilted horizon on the edge of things.

Your hands clenched

Around themselves

Try to grip the spate of thought

In the dark river of your mind.

2. Northern Whale

I would be your whale

A strong back, black and supple

Cutting through grey northern water

Circling the frail boat

Rocking the deck,

Rolling to hold you in my still, dark eye.

Indifferent and proud in your gaze-

Your amazed gaze- the heavy pleats of my throat

My garland of bubbled breath

Making the dark water clear

For a moment

And then gone.

But I am a man

A summer swimmer

In the shallows of warmer seas

A pallid ribbon of flesh

Curving through the blue Cypriot bay

In a forgotten photograph.

A smile hauled back from Aphrodite’s sea,

That glitters, twitches and lies still.

A poor fish, drowning in air.

3. Plough Horse

I would be your plough horse

Fit and willing and true.

Ready- standing at your gate.

“The willing horse gets the work”

And waits for the old embrace,

The apple slice, soft white and red

Taken in lips delicate and strong

From nervous fingers

Is crushed to sweet froth

Filling my mouth

My whole head, with taste

That shudders through the slabs of my flanks.

But I am a man.

I kneel and cut and hammer.

I lay a floor in the old cottage.

A hunched creature

Who thinks and frets and

Swallows thoughts not sweet.

Who walks the Western beach,

Tide and step softly grinding

the murmuring shingle.

To find some rest-

To find some rest he never reaches.

Except in you

I do beg your pardon baby.

Well, I did promise you poetry but this does’t quite fit the bill. It’s a song lyric that I managed to fit a blues chord sequence to after drinking some wine. The chords are now forgotten but here’s the lyric anyway.

 

I Do Beg Your Pardon Baby

I do beg your pardon baby

But things are a little crazy in my head.

Can’t hear my voice and I’ve lost my words,

Now everything can’t be said.

 

I’m just rolling in self-loathing

Sweat soaking the sheets on my bed

Your right next to me but its plain to see

My song is not here to be heard.

 

Yeah I do beg your pardon baby

I’m winding myself in this sheet.

I’ve got nothing to offer but silence

For everything broken or left incomplete.

 

I’d like to pour out the memory,

Erase the space for the files.

No flashbacks or panic attacks and give me the cash back

As my new profile compiles.

 

Oh, I do beg your pardon baby

That I am not the man you can see.

Because the words are there and the voice is true

But the song can’t be sung by me

 

Yes, I really beg your pardon baby

This song won’t be reaching for you

It can stay unsung, stopped up and dumb

Who needs a tune you already knew?

 

Vimy Ridge- One hundred years on

Vimy Ridge – One Hundred Years On

CALDWELL_JAMES

 

 

James Caldwell is my great grandfather, he died in the attack on Vimy Ridge on the 10th April 1917. He was born to Annie Caldwell a domestic servant in Colmonnel, Ayrshire on the 21st July 1892. At the start of the first world war he was employed an asylum attendant in Hawkhead Hospital in Glasgow. His wife to be, Annie McMaster, was a laundress. They married  on the 21st March 1916 after James enlisted in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders: a volunteer, not a conscript. The ceremony was probably quiet, taking place in the manse house rather than the Kirk.  Annie already had one child, James, and another, Hugh, was expected soon. A marriage in the front room of the kirk in  Mingavnie, Annie’s home town, would be society’s tight-lipped shake of the head; their relationship was sanctioned but hardly celebrated.

James’s address on the marriage certificate is given as South Camp, Ripon. This was a huge training camp in North Yorkshire. James made out his informal soldier’s will on 15 July 1916 bequeathing everything to Annie. Looking at the handwritten soldier’s will which is now available online is poignant.

On the Western Front James served with the 1/7 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. He died of wounds of wounds inflicted during the offensive on Vimy Ridge on the 10th April 1917. I had these basic details from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but I was to find a fuller picture elsewhere.

A small miracle occurred when I started to look into his life by searching for any documentation  that may have survived. Many army service records from the first world war have been lost. They were destroyed during the blitz on London during the second world war. However, some were saved and are know as the burnt records. Finding my great grandfather’s documentation among these was as close to time travel as I am likely to experience.

These documentary fragments showed that he had been ill in France and that he had been punished with a fine of a week’s wages for losing equipment. I wondered what the infringement had been, but the detail was sparse. I found his battalion’s war diary and discovered that on the run up to the Vimy Ridge assault there had been a big football match. I wondered whether he played or spectated?

However, among of the most poignant things was the letter accompanying the personal effects sent back to Annie: two kilt pins, some photographs and letters. This was probably what prompted one of the saddest letters I have ever seen. Annie wrote to James’ regiment. She explained that her husband’s watch had not been returned with his effects. She requested that the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders send her a kilt in the regimental tartan, so that her boys would have something to remember their father by. Annie’s letter is beautifully written in an elegant cursive hand, but awkwardly expressed. Here was a young woman, who’s occupation was given as laundress when she married, using the resources she had to overcome her grief and find a fitting memorial to her husband. There is no record of any reply from the regiment

It is thought within the family that Annie struggled to cope with the loss of her young husband. The couple’s  two boys were raised by their aunt Flora, Annie’s sister. Annie passed away in 1935, succumbing to TB at the age of 41.

James’s son is my grandfather, also James Caldwell. He served in the second world war on HMS Ramillies as a Petty Officer. He was a good man, well-respected and loving.  Keeping the memory of his father alive is something I think he would have appreciated.

Searching through the documents that mark the simple milestones of James and Annie’s brief time together- births, marriages, deaths, has allowed me to tell this story and, in a small way, to understand their sacrifice.

Higher English Model Essay: A Streetcar Named Desire

 

This is a model essay written for fifth and sixth year students of SQA Higher English

Choose from a play a scene which you find amusing or moving or disturbing. Explain how the scene provokes this response and discuss how this aspect of the scene contributes to your understanding of the play as a whole.

http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47904.html

 

In “A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams” we are confronted by the disturbing decline of the main character, Blanche Dubois, at the beginning of scene ten. She had attempted to maintain the façade of being a genteel and restrained Southern Belle, all fine manners, elegant dresses and good education for much of the play. However, her attempts to sustain this illusion have been confronted with the stark reality of her past and this has led to a marked deterioration in her mental state.

At the beginning of the scene we see the once poised and refined Blanche dressed in a “soiled evening gown”, a cheap rhinestone tiara and “slightly scuffed silver slippers”. Her attempts to create what she had previously called “temporary magic- the illusion of glamour and sophistication- have failed.

At this stage of the play Stanley Kowalkski, her brother in law and nemesis has uncovered the somewhat sordid details behind Blanche’s departure from her position as a high school teacher in the town of Laurel: she had been involved in an affair with a seventeen year old student and been discovered. Moreover, she had been staying at the hotel Flamingo where her behaviour could be described as morally dubious, with hints that she veered close to prostitution. As noted earlier, her attempts to glamorize her predicament and use the illusion of class that her clothing once gave her have failed. She seems to be unravelling before our eyes. The tiara is tilted, the clothing is grubby and out of place in the far from grand setting of a one room apartment in a run-down part of New Orleans and, most worryingly of all, Blanche is muttering excitedly to a group of “spectral admirers”. All in all, this is a disturbing portrait of a women going through mental collapse.

These are ghost figures from her past that have been evoked from Blanche’s troubled mind. Previously in the play Blanche has been in control of the illusions that she created, particularly in the combination of the prim maiden coupled with enticing seductress that she has created for her admirer Mitch. Now she appears to be in the grip of an illusion that is controlling her. The moment when Blanche slams a hand mirror onto the table in front of her is shocking in its violence, but also in the manner in which it symbolizes Blanche’s self-loathing and, perhaps, the flicker of self-realization that the ability to manipulate illusion and “Put on butterfly wings” has been lost.

We need to realise that Stanley Kowalski has taken definite and methodical steps to destroy Blanche’s mind. The play has been a struggle between the blue collar, working class Stanley- clearly a character who represents the power and the crassness of modern America- and the middle-class ethics, values and “Southern Belle” behaviour of Blanche: a remnant of the older American South. Stanley has been utterly triumphant in this struggle. Stella has refused to leave Stanley despite Blanche’s protests that Stella is too good for this “Vulgar” and “ape-like” man.  In a moment of telling dramatic irony, Stanley hears these insults from Blanche, but rather than exploding in rage, which would only reinforce the accusations he bides his time and probes into Blanche’s past. Timing his retaliation precisely, he reveals Blanche’s past at her birthday supper and presents her with ticket home. More cuttingly, he has also informed Mitch of the accusations of promiscuity. Mitch is the man whom Blanche sees as a saviour, “a cleft in the hard rock of the world” in which she can shelter by marrying. Therefore the state in which we see Blanche descend to at the beginning of scene ten is the consequence of deliberate and cruel behaviour on the part of Stanley. Tellingly, it is Blanche herself who makes the point that “Only deliberate cruelty is unforgivable”. This condemns Stanley, but unwittingly Blanche also condemns herself. Her life has hinged around the moment when she told her first husband, Alan, “You disgust me”, prompting him to commit suicide following the implied revelation of his homosexuality. Blanche herself has deliberately and cruelly destroyed the one man she truly loved and has never recovered from this moment

Mitch, acting on Stanley’s information, has also belatedly arrived at the apartment to deliver the blow that he will not marry Blanche as “You ain’t clean enough to bring home to my mother”

Moreover, Blanche has been “drinking steadily” since the blow of the birthday party revelations. The anxiety and near alcoholism that have accompanied her character since the opening of the play are combining to loosen her grip on reality. Tennessee Williams makes extensive use of lighting and sound in scene ten to evoke the mental deterioration that Blanche is undergoing. Ominous shadows loom outside and the shadow play of a prostitute brawling with man seems to foreshadow the terrifying future that Blanche sees for herself. The negative aspects of Blanche’s character that have been hinted at or just about controlled up until this point in the play- her mingling of illusion and reality  now seem to be combining for a disastrous climax to the play as she appears increasingly detached from reality and intensely vulnerable.

She has been totally defeated by Stanley and now finds herself alone in the small apartment with the euphoric Stanley. He has just returned from the hospital- the trauma of the revelations at the birthday party had forced his wife Stella into labour. He appears conciliatory and jovial towards Blanche at first, but hints of a predatory sexual nature establish themselves as he “licks his lips” and makes clumsy comments about ripping off his silk pyjamas to celebrate the imminent arrival of first child. It should be remembered that Blanche has in the past few hours undergone public humiliation from Stanley and the subsequent physical degradation at the hands of Mitch who drags her face into the light and attempts to force himself on her now that he has crudely categorised her as promiscuous and sexually available.

As the scene continues Blanche resorts to her old ways and desperately tries to weave another illusion about preparing to go off on a Caribbean cruise with the millionaire Shep Huntleigh. However, her inconsistencies in the story provoke an explosion of rage from Stanley who, once again, shreds Blanche’s illusion by telling her that he knows exactly where Mitch is.  He then derides her clothes and taunts her about the absence of Shep Huntleigh. He has humiliated her, destroyed her hopes of marriage and security and is preparing to render her destitute by sending her back to Laurel. When he looks at her, it is with the “crudely categorising” gaze described in scene one. When he says, “Maybe you wouldn’t be so bad to interfere with.” this is the language of predatory sexual abuse. Stanley has identified Blanche as a woman totally within his power with whom he can do as he likes. Broken and humiliated, Blanche has become an object to be taken and disposed of: Stanley rapes her.

His self-justifying, “We’ve had this date from the beginning” suggesting that this is in some way a consensual act is chilling. It reveals that the way in which Stanley “crudely categorises women” seems natural and acceptable to him and perhaps to men more generally.

The scene is powerful and disturbing Blanche’s life of illusion is shattered by Stanley in a series of events culminating in the chilling rape. They represent they collision of different views of America, with Stanley’s powerful yet crude view of the world ultimately winning the day by crushing the illusion that Blanche has used to survive.