Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Rise of the Big N (iii)


[It is later, and students are milling around, moving into groups where teachers are organizing them into classes. Nigel looks bored. Those not talking about Andrew are gossiping about him.]

Principal: [vo] Well, after that false start I’d like to welcome students and faculty back for another school year. You future benefactors better make this year more financially rewarding than last one, all right?

[Cut to a long line of students passing through the front office, buying Book Packs (plastic bundles containing work books, a basic pencil set, ruler and calculator). Nigel looks even more bored.]

Principal: [vo] I mean, do you people realize how costly education is, especially with teachers wanting paychecks as well?

[A floor area between classrooms. The students are milling around, filling out timetables and forms. Nigel is reading a newspaper while Jason and Maurice fill out his form. The back page has a photo of Nigel and the headline THEY FEAR MY BEAUTY.]

Principal: [vo] You lot should be counting your blessings, not drinking my whisky supplies dry and then making a scene in public! I HATE YOU ALL!

[There is a loud crashing sound and then the PA cuts out.]

Nigel: Blue Group 2. More classifications. I wonder if I’m Hunter or Phillip this time round? [to Jason] You finished filling in my time-table, Jason?

Jason: Yes, my liege.

Nigel: Get them wrong and you will get an endoscopy and an enema simultaneously.

Maurice: I’m helping him, Big N. Classes start after recess.

Nigel: I know that! What do we have first?

Jason: English, then History/Geography, then Sport.

Nigel: Bhudda in a blender. We didn’t need different teachers to do all that back in primary school, did we? [looks through time table] English, Maths, Science, HG... HG? As in Roy and HG? Oh, History and Geography. Shame. Chinese, Art, PE, PD, TAS... what’s TAS?

Jason: I dunno.

Nigel: Well, consider THAT a class to jig. Perhaps Sasquatch the Younger out there had the right idea about getting thrown out of this place...

Maurice: I’m sure it won’t be so bad.

Nigel: Maurice, you’re “sure” that the Port Arthur Massacre was a simple misunderstanding.

Maurice: It was. He obviously thought the gun wasn’t loaded.

Nigel: So he kept firing it to make sure then?

Maurice: Could be. [mysteriously] Could be.

Nigel: Jason.

[Jason shoves Maurice off his chair. Maurice rolls down some stairs and lands in a heap in front of some girls, who laugh at his misfortune.]

Nigel: Ah, giving lots of young girls pleasure simultaneously – my one vice.

[English class. A spinsterish woman in horn-rimmed spectacles speaks in a complete monotone as she reads out a poem.]

English Teacher: I can see you now, your prow before my knees
Sunk in these waves of dichotomy.
The drop falls again and we are over the fall
Once more resting in the swaying trough.
Somewhere a piano plays middle C, the sustain held right down
And then again I hear it resounding in my breastbone.

[She sings a note for a very long time.]

English Teacher: It seems to trail off forever as my cells absorb your salt.
Rain pelting us as we codify events and buoyed aloft by your oxygen
I swim in you far below the silence of your depth taking all the air.

[A long pause.]

English Teacher: [speaking normal] All right. What can anyone say about that poem [glances at page] “Morse Blood In The Oceans”? Anyone?

[She looks around. The classroom is empty. A timid knock on the door and a student we will one day know as Betty pokes her head around the door.]

Betty: Um, can we come in NOW, Miss?

English Teacher: [sighs] No, stay outside. I want to savor the silence as long as possible.

[Betty shrugs meekly and leaves. Outside the classroom, everyone is sitting around bored.]

Betty: She said to stay outside.

[Long pause.]

Nigel: Anyone want to know what Rove REALLY said to me when I called him a complete tool and undeserving of his praise?

All: YEAH!

Jason: He cut to an add break?

Nigel: Mouth closed, Jase. Now, Rove was clearly ignorant that I was an avid viewer of “Something Hot Before Bedtime” the late-night stand-up comedy show where he was mute stooge whose only talent was to crush toothpicks through his cheeks...

Betty: How does that work?

Nigel: Jason! Demonstrate!

[Jason gulps miserably.]

[History class. A big Greek guy awkwardly stuffed into a suit stands in front of a blackboard. He speaks in a complete monotone ALL THE TIME. The class sit at desks, clearly not sure how to react. Jason has some crude and bloody bandages on his cheeks.]

History Teacher: For those of you struggling to understand why this period is called History, I shall explain. I will be attempting to pump your pathetic excuses for brains full of dates and information to do with history. In the unlikely event any of you actually retain any of this information in a miracle that will prove beyond all doubt that god exists, you may find solace in the fact you don’t actually need to know any of this once you finish the HSC. Here is a question so simply I personally consider it obnoxious. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?

[A long pause.]

Maurice: Edmund Barton?

History Teacher: You answered correctly. Now how did you know that answer?

Maurice: It was on that TV add where the kid asks the dad that exact same question and he doesn’t know, but the mum does and it’s all about how we’re better than America and... stuff.

History Teacher: I could have been a doctor, you know. All right. Who was the second Prime Minister of Australia?

[A long pause. One kid starts to snore. Nigel, annoyed, shoves a pencil up the kid’s nose (eraser end first), muffling the noise. Silence returns.]

History Teacher: Or a fire-fighter. I could be playing croquet professionally right now.

[He sighs, sits at his desk and rests his face in his hands.]

Nigel: [breaking the ice] I summoned the ghost of Mary Walker once.

[Lots of “cool!”s and other enthusiasm. Everyone’s much more interested in Nigel.]

Nigel: It was a deliberate attempt to shake up Australian educational preconceptions...

[Jason starts to speak.]

Nigel: Jason. Shut. The Hell. Up. [to class] So there I was, using the ancient magical rites involving drawing a skull on the ground with strawberry milk...

[Playground. The bell rings. Nigel and Jason are sitting on a bench, having their little lunch – Nigel’s wolfing down some sushi while Jason unenthusiastically looks at a processed cheese sandwich.]

Nigel: [while eating] Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong with that teacher. I actually try to educate people about things that actually happened in their lifetime and he starts complaining! Like HE wasn’t the one huddled in the corner crying. Our so-called educator, Jason.

Jason: What was that thing he kept shouting at you?

Nigel: Oh, some random string of syllables. “Sic Transit Gloria Mundis” or something. Sounds Latin.

Jason: Latin? What’s Latin, my liege?

Nigel: Like Italian but less fashionable. [finishes sushi] Are you going to finish that?

[Jason sighs and hands over the sandwich to Nigel, who eats it.]

Jason: What does “Sic Transit Gloria Mundis” mean, you think?

Nigel: Jase! I am on my break. Education time stopped with the bell! [finishes sandwich] But for a keen mind like the one I possess, it’s not too difficult to translate. “Transit” obviously means “transportation” and “movement”. “Gloria”, obviously some woman or other. “Mundis” is clearly, er... Mondas? Mundane? Oh, of course, Monday. Mundane Monday. Monday Morning.

Jason: And “sic”?

Nigel: Means [retching noise]! Honestly, Jason, how do you live on junk food like this? You’re lucky I’m nice enough to eat it for you and save your lower intestine from this mass of cardboard and razor blades.

Jason: [thinking] Sic Transit Gloria Mundis. “Gloria Threw Up Over My Car On Monday Morning”.

Nigel: Very good, Jase.

Jason: Why did he say that to you?

Nigel: How should I know? He’s an epic failure of human misery. Obviously this Gloria woman vomiting over his Porsche was enough to trigger a nervous breakdown. Woman trouble... yeah...

[We pull out slightly to see Phoebe is sitting next to them.]

Phoebe: It means “All Glory Is Fleeting”.

Nigel: Mmm?

Phoebe: He was saying that you might be an internationally famous super-star right now, but it won’t last.

Nigel: And what would he know?

[We now see Maurice is sitting at their feet, munching a chocolate bar.]

Maurice: My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings, look upon my works ye mighty and despair...

Nigel: Oi! Take your medication, you irritating mosquito bite! [blinks] Hello, red, you got dumped at this home for the terminally ill-educated as well, are you?

Phoebe: [patiently] Yes. I’ve been in all your classes today, remember?

Nigel: Not particularly. Any sign of your two under-endowed boy-toys?

[Pull out slightly further. Dave and Jadi are sitting right next to Nigel. Jadi looks annoyed.]

Jadi: Maybe you should take those shades off for a change.

Nigel: And risk the paparazzi catching up with me? Never! Remember what happened to Princess Di!

Maurice: She faked that, no way is she dead.


Nigel: For the love of Bad Religion, I’m just an ordinary member of the public. I deserve my privacy.

[We pull out. There are hundreds of other school kids hanging around the spot Nigel is sitting, including the whole class. They are hanging on his every word and gossiping quietly.]

Phoebe: Don’t worry, Nigel. You’ll fall off the radar soon enough.

Nigel: Phe, if you want to keep those false teeth in your head, stop being so negative.

Dave: Don’t be mean, Nige.

Nigel: Mean? When I got attacked by a psychopath I knocked him down. When Phoebe got attacked by a psychopath, what did she do? Bleed on him, pretty much!

[Awkward silence.]

Nigel: Speaking of which, is anyone else grossed out by them calling classes “periods”? I know I am.

[No one says anything. Nigel doesn’t seem to notice.]

Nigel: I mean, I thought Akiro was bad before, but now I’m seriously considering emigration for a few days every month. WHY do they keep letting her play with knives, anyway?

[Playground. Nigel is pacing along a path parallel to a football field. Jason follows him, hastily scribbling something on a piece of paper. A crowd of school kids follow onwards. Jason hands the paper to one of the kids – it has a forged signature from ‘the Big N’. Jason gets handed more and more pieces of paper. Nigel is oblivious, lost in his thought.]

Nigel: The redhead’s right of course, Jase. It’s a curse, really. She burns easily, those freckles are permanent and she’s almost always right. Freak of nature. But she’s right.

[Nigel pauses, considers changing direction, then keeps walking. The mob follows his every move.]

Nigel: I mean, I had the best part of six months to get the media eating out of my hand. Now I’m at school. That’s, what?, six hours stuck here. Add another for going to and from. That’s the best part of the day stolen. A day I can’t use to maximize and intensify my publicity drive! And do you know what that means?

Jason: Not really.

Nigel: It was a rhetorical question, Jase.

Jason: [clueless] Oh.

Nigel: My career has stalled! Other people will be climbing that slippery ziggurat-shaped ladder as we speak. How long before I am dethroned! I can’t live forever on old reviews and that restraining order from McManus, can I? No... and even if I do, the next winner of the Jekka Tatvi will wipe me off the headlines! I’ll be old news! What can I do?

Jason: Is that another rhetorical question, my liege?

Nigel: I can’t retake the Jekka Tatvi. I’m in no hurry to get myself killed. You know who’s becoming the biggest celebrity of the moment, Jason? No, don’t answer. It’s Sarah bloody Marie from Big bloody Brother. An overweight Anglo dole bludger on a holiday at the taxpayer’s expense is becoming as famous as me! Did she defeat an insane Sumo wrestler? Burn down a school? Tear down the veil between life and death? Is that what “fame” means now? Appearing in cheap TV shows based on George Orwell book! Honestly, what has SHE done to earn the status she now has?

Jason: She wears those bunny-ears and talks openly about her genitalia to the public?

Nigel: Exactly. I could do that! And in rather more accuracy than she can! I told you that medical dictionary would come in handy, didn’t I? No. There’s no way I can manipulate my profile on the airwaves AND deal with school at once. Come on. Think laterally. What would Jonathon Creek do?

Jason: Get pushed around by an annoying redhead and fold like a house of cards?

Nigel: Hmmm. Good point. Bad example. [blinks] EUREKA!

Jason: [embarrassed] Oh, no, not now! These underpants are new!

Nigel: No, not your irritable bowel syndrome, Jason. I’ve just had an epiphany [quickly] and this is no time for toilet humor, people! If I cannot remain a legend on TV, radio and print, I shall have to become a legend at this school! Six years of incredibly good press, a tidal wave of anecdotes that will sweep me all the way to stardom after the HSC! Fame! Lights! Spaghetti Denim! Anorexia Nervosa! LEOTARDS!

[Nigel starts looking around wildly.]

Nigel: Now... how best to begin my reign of awesomeness?

[He spots Betty sitting alone on a bench atop a hill, eating an apple.]

Nigel: Perfect. [to the mob of kids] Huddle, huddle!

[The crowd huddles towards Nigel, who whispers at them for a long time. The kids make out various impressed noises of disbelief. Nigel nods and then skips girlishly up to where Betty is sitting.]

Nigel: Hey.

Betty: [surprised] Oh, hello, Big N. [beat] Do you want this seat vacated or something?

Nigel: No, no, no. I just wanted to sit next to someone prettier than me.

Betty: [glumly] I dunno. There aren’t many of them around.

Nigel: [sighs] Cute. No, that was my way of saying...

[He sits down next to her. Her eyes widen in shock.]

Nigel:’re prettier than me.

Betty: [stunned] Uh... uh... th-thanks.

Nigel: You know much about me?

Betty: A bit. I kind of needed an emergency toilet trip when I heard you were coming to this school.

Nigel: A fan. Neat. But, seriously, girl, I’m just a normal human being like yourself. You could have been as famous and spectacular as I am given the same chance. Probably better.

Betty: [blushing furiously] I... uh... you... thanks.

Nigel: No worries. [beat] So... are you wearing a bra under there?

Betty: [taken aback] What? Why?

Nigel: Medical curiosity.

Betty: [confused] What are you talking about?

Nigel: It’s a scientifically-proven fact that if your bra is too tight it restricts breathing, leading to dizziness, nausea, fainting, bad posture and possible cancer.

Betty: What?!

Nigel: Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re wearing exactly the right size. It’s not like you might hit some kind of puberty hormone landmine and suddenly go up a few cup sizes and suffocate yourself to death, is it?

Betty: [doubtful] No...

[A significant pause.]

Nigel: Of course, you can NEVER be too careful.

Betty: [nods] No, you can’t.

[A long pause. Betty suddenly lets out a hysterical noise and starts flapping her arms around her, trying to take off her bra through her shirt.]


[Nigel breathes on his hands to warm them up.]

Nigel: Allow me. I’ve had experience with these things. Simple hook, squeeze and release...


[Nigel blinks in surprise at how scared she is. He wasn’t expecting that.]

Nigel: [impressively] Not on my watch, beautiful!

[He grabs her shirt lapels and then rips the shirt off her shoulders, leaving Betty in her skirt and a perfectly-fitting sports bra. Briskly Nigel lifts Betty’s arms and effortlessly pulls the not-actually-that-lethal support cloth over her head. The crowd of school kids, including Jason, watch in complete awe.]

Maurice: [deadpan] I’ve never seen a girl with no clothes on before.

Jason: She’s still wearing a skirt.

Maurice: Details. Where was I? Oh yes.

[He faints, one arm pressed to his forehead.]

Nigel: [idly examining sports bra] There you go, you’re safe now.

[He stuffs the bra in a trouser pocket as the topless Betty starts to calm down.]

Betty: Oh God... Oh god... that was so close... [looks at Nigel] You saved my life!

[Nigel stares at her breasts as she pants, trying to control her breathing.]

Nigel: [distracted] So I did. Nice areola by the way.

[Overcome with relief, Betty hugs Nigel tightly. He grins.]

Nigel: [sotto] Place in history assured. Today’s motivational goal has been achieved. And then some.

[The teacher that busted Andrew walks into view and sees Nigel apparently groping naked-from-the-waist-up Betty. His eyes bug out. Nigel realizes he’s been busted.]

Nigel: Oh, I am going to have SO much fun explaining this one...

[Dave, Phoebe and Jadi are loitering at a stairwell.]

Jadi: Well, I’m going to say it if no one else does. This place sucks.

Phoebe: It could be worse. At least we all got to go to the same school.

Jadi: But did it have to be this one?

Dave: Yeah, Jadi’s right. It’s all brick and glass and nautical themes. It’s pretentious. Even the school motto is annoying and up itself!

[Dave points at the School logo, a typical shield design with a banner saying THERE IS NO FAILURE ONLY FEEDBACK.]

Dave: And worst of all, this place is boring!

Jadi: [nods] It is the dullest place on God’s Golden Brown Land!

Phoebe: Nothing interesting happens here and it probably never will.

[Just then the teacher marches by, escorting the grinning Nigel and Betty (the latter hugging herself to protect what’s left of her modesty. The teacher clutches Betty’s abandoned bra. The trio watch them pass.]

Phoebe: appears I stand corrected.

[Jadi and Dave are too stunned to speak.]

[The school library. One wall is a window overlooking the school, playground and lake, with some study rooms to one side, an office on the other and books at all points in between. The school bell rings for lunch. Nigel strolls into the library like he owns the place. He is now wearing Betty’s ruined shirt, which hangs open exposing his chest like some crappy 80s rock star. Idly, Nigel searches the shelves. Suddenly Jason runs in, breathless and exhausted. He spots Nigel and runs to him, only for the grouchy Librarian to growl. Sighing, Jason runs back to the door, dumps his backpack and then runs over to Nigel.]

Nigel: Ah, Jase, there you are. Smart move, huh? The library, peace and quiet away from the adoring fanbase who can discuss my incredible seduction skills with wild, spurious exaggeration! Familiarity makes the nose grow longer and all that...

Jason: Nigel! I’ve just heard...

Nigel: Yes, it IS lunchtime.

Jason: No, what happened with Betty...

Nigel: Meh, it’s all cool. Betty backed me up, so to speak. Plus I called my agent. He’s spinning this into PR goldmine. Let’s see Sarah Marie manage that!

Jason: But while you were in the front office...

Nigel: I missed double Chinese? Jason, 私はなぜ中国語を学ぶ必要があるか。 私はいつ中国に行く行っているか。

[Translation: “Why do I need to learn Chinese? When am I ever going to go to China?”]

Nigel: Now...

[He takes a book from a shelf. It has a cover showing an Aztec temple and a waterfall – “DOCTOR WHO: THE CROSSING” by Duncan Johnson.]

Nigel: This meager collection of novelizations has this, the one copy I don’t have.

Jason: [lost] So?

Nigel: So I want it.

Jason: [horrified] You can’t buy library books!

Nigel: I know that. I want a copy though. So go get your notepad and copy every word for me to peruse.

Jason: But I can’t...

Nigel: Course you can. You just need some peace and quiet. Use the Year 12 study rooms.

[Nigel casually guides Jason towards the rooms.]

Jason: But they’re for Year 12s only!

Nigel: Do you SEE any Year 12s in there?

[The study rooms are dusty and unused. Jason sighs, grabs the novelization and a notepad and hurries into it. Nigel pulls out a heavy tome and crosses to a couch and sits down to read. It is “UneXplained”, a hardback guide to weird shit in the world.]

Nigel: [idly] Real. Real. Fake. Real. What the? Isn’t that one of the teachers? Fake. Fake. Redneck misunderstanding. Fake. Fake. Real. Hmmm. Mad Gasser of Mattoon... I’m honestly not sure...

[Dave and Jadi enter, having followed Jason. They spot Nigel and cross over to him. The librarian growls and they hastily dump their bags and then return to him.]

Jadi: Oi! Nigel! What’s all this about you getting that Betty girl to show you her tits?

Nigel: [still reading] You summed it up pretty well.

Dave: You have any idea what you’ve done?

Nigel: It’s not my fault you weren’t there. Biology section’s over there, [nods] if you want a guide to know what her girl-parts look like.

Jadi: [annoyed] We’ve seen girls naked in real life before, Nigel.

Nigel: Jadi, you know as well as I do that Phoebe doesn’t count as she was five years old at the time and only then because of the heat wave. You and Dave were just as nude, and on the same trampoline.

Jadi: Knew we shouldn’t have invited you to that party.

Dave: [nods] You were a real killjoy back then.

Nigel: And neither does Dave’s sister count, nor does your mum because of that so-called Swimsuit calendar she was in.

Jadi: Look, we don’t care you managed to get a girl to show you her boobs on the first day of school!

Dave: No. [uncertain] We aren’t?

Jadi: No. Nor are we interested in if any of those blue veins were visible.

Dave: But feel free to mention them as and when necessary.

Jadi: The point we’re complaining about is that your stupid stunt means they’ve decided that sports should be gender segregated!

[Jason sticks his head around the door.]

Jason: That’s what I was trying to tell you...

Nigel: [angry] Hey, less yacking, more transcribing!

[Meekly, Jason returns to the study room.]

Nigel: I’m flattered you two think I’m so important I influence major decisions at this school, but why the hell would they change sport classes because of ME?

Dave: No girls and boys in the same groups because they’re worried YOU are going to get them all naked!

Nigel: [turns page] Ooh, a challenge.

Jadi: Is that all you’re going to say?!

Nigel: Well, no. I’m not sure about the Dover Demon. Seems small scale enough to be true...

Jadi: I mean about the sport!

Nigel: What? Oh. I see the problem. [to Dave] Don’t worry, it’s only for a week. Bring in your birth certificate next Wednesday and they’ll let you join the boy’s team.

Dave: I don’t look like a girl!

Nigel: Whatever you say, Bishonen. You two aren’t upset you’re going to have to go an hour and a half without Phe to hold your hands, are you?

[The briefest of brief pauses. Nigel is right and they damn well know it.]

Jadi: We signed up for kayaking and Phe’s the only one that knows how to do it!

Nigel: [incredulous] Kayaking? For sport? [shakes head] What is WRONG with you two?

Jadi: Oh, well, what are YOU doing for sport then? Softball?

Dave: Rock-climbing?

Jadi: Walking for fitness?

[Nigel returns to his book.]

Nigel: Table-tennis.

[Dave and Jadi snigger.]

Nigel: And it’s what you two would have chosen if your immature minds could function for five minutes without a certain redhead.

Jadi: [cruelly] Hey, at least Phe wouldn’t dump us in the middle of a vacation and mysteriously vanish off the face of the Earth.

[Nigel repeats the statement in mocking baby talk.]

Nigel: Whatever stops you crying to sleep at night, Jadi. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m trying to judge the merits of chupacubras and Mongolian death worms. Giant acid spitting worms that are so electric they can kill a man... let’s see Darwin explain that, shall we?

[With a growl of frustration, Jadi turns and leaves. Dave follows. A moment later, Dave creeps back.]

Dave: [sotto] What did they feel like?

Nigel: [bored] Soft, warm, pillows of beautifully smooth shiny skin peaked with traditionally-placed rubbery protrusions that hardened in daylight.

[Dave’s eyes glaze over.]

Dave: ...awesome.

Nigel: [still reading] Yes. Yes they are. Get a girlfriend already.

[Dave, subdued, wanders off.]

Nigel: Or cut to the chase and tell Phoebe you’re crazy about her, maybe?

[Dave runs off, blushing. Nigel rolls his eyes.]

Nigel: Hah. You’d never find ME obsessed about some sister-figure I secretly fantasize about. [beat] Well, not often. Not what anyone would CALL often...

[Later. The bell rings, ending lunch. The few inhabitants of the library prepare to leave. Nigel crosses to the study room and opens the door. Jason is slaving over several small piles of notepaper, looking very tired.]

Nigel: Well?

Jason: I’ve nearly finished copying the first page.

Nigel: What?! You could photocopy it in less time!

Jason: Maybe we should do that?

Nigel: Nah, I’ve obeyed library rules long enough. Nick it.

[Jason gulps.]

[Nigel and Jason are walking through the school. Jason is gripped with paranoia and sweating profusely. They pass some students and a teacher going the other way. Jason looks incredibly unwell. He runs into a handy toilet and there is the sound of vomiting. Nigel realizes Jason isn’t following, frowns and heads back when there are screams from the toilet. Jason is flung out by a couple of angry girls.]

Girl: Get out of here, you perv!

Nigel: Don’t worry, ladies, I’ve got this reprobate.

[He roughly drags Jason to his feet and hauls him away, blowing the girls a kiss. They ‘catch’ them.]

Nigel: Jason, why are you flaking out on me?

Jason: [weeping] We’re criminals! This will go on our permanent records! Six years of hell!

Nigel: You never got like this before!

Jason: I wasn’t carrying stolen goods before!

Nigel: And you’re not now, remember? I’VE got the damn book.

Jason: [crestfallen] Oh yeah.

[They head down a stairwell.]

[The lowest level of the tower, the same layout as the others with classrooms on one side and an office on the other. Kids are milling around. A tough, mean-looking American PE teacher with a shaved head, sunglasses and whistle is arranging them. Nigel and Jason enter from the other end of the floor, away from everyone else and sneak to join the others.]

Jason: Are you sure this is a good idea? I mean, I’m crap at ping-pong...

Nigel: Jason, has my superior intellect ever let you down?

Jason: Well...

Nigel: By accident?

Jason: No, my liege.

Nigel: Good. Shut up and do what I do when I do it.

PE Teacher: All right, soldiers. Into positions! At ease! Now, you probably came here because you think that table-tennis is some weak-ass pastime that will allow you maximum opportunity to lie around, goof off and waste your precious bodily fluids! You wastrels have another thing coming, because this noble art of table-tennis is the best way to prepare yourself to defend your country in the increasing states of geopolitical VIOLENCE! The day is coming my friends, and you will be found wanting – all because you wanted to sit round in the dark not exercising! Let your muscles rot and your spirit sapped by the evils of international anti-consumerism? WELL, NOT ON MY WATCH!

Nigel: YES!

[Everyone is slightly taken aback.]

Nigel: Oh, sir, sorry about the interruption, but I’m feeling... GROTESQUELY... emotional to find that there is one teacher whose opinions coincide so completely with my own! I have DREAMED of this day! All those rumors and stuff about you being chucked out of the US military for being certifiably insane, I know commitment and character when I see it, and I see it in you sir! These table-tennis games won’t just be a useful lesson to fill up Wednesday afternoons, but probably the most important experience this school offers – has EVER offered and ever WILL offer!

[Nigel elbows Jason.]

Jason: Yeah! What he said!

[A single tear trickles down from behind the PE teacher’s shades.]

PE Teacher: It is true. It is the next generation that can achieve so much more. You boys give me hope for the future!

Nigel: Thank you, sir. Can we put out the table tennis tables and show these bone-idle wastrels the true benefits of hard work?

PE Teacher: You may, boy, you may.

[Nigel frowns.]

Nigel: “Boy”? Don’t you know who I am?

PE Teacher: [slightly taken aback] Course I do, son, you’re Neil...

Nigel: Nigel.

PE Teacher: Sorry. I thought it was Neil.

Nigel: What? You thought the G was silent and the other letters were in a different order! Come on! What kind of attention to detail is that? Those kind of mistakes could get you KILLED in a combat situation! You disappoint me, sir. You’re exactly the kind of overconfident fool who is undermining the Western World with strong arm tactics and incoherent psychobabble. Am I right or am I right?

PE Teacher: Why you...

Nigel: [furious] I SAID, “AM I RIGHT OR AM I RIGHT?!”

[The teacher snaps to attention.]

PE Teacher: Sir! Yes, sir!

Nigel: It’s a basic fact of life, that rash action is worse than no action at all, understood! And since you can’t tell one from the other, you’re off duty as of now! [PE teacher begins to speak] I DID NOT GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO SPEAK! The chances are the disenfranchised youth of Australia will muddle through on their own much better than being sent in entirely the wrong direction by you! [PE teacher tries to speak again] ARE WE HAVING A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE HERE, SON? THE ARMY IS NO PLACE FOR BACK-TALK AND INSUBORDINATION!

PE Teacher: Sir!

Nigel: Go to that office and do not return until the very spirit of Washington himself compels you to do so. AND I KNOW WHAT THE SPIRIT SOUNDS LIKE, SO DON’T TRY ANYTHING FUNNY!

[Stunned silence.]

Nigel: NOW!!

[The weeping teacher is suddenly being frogmarched to the office.]


[The teacher enters the office, Nigel slams the door shut and breathes a sigh of relief.]

Boy: How in the name of God’s arse did you do that?

Nigel: [sighs] He got chucked out from the Cult of Kanbo-Ala a few years ago, kept bugging my Uncle Miko to let him rejoin. I was actually just going to manipulate him into giving me and Jason the afternoon off, but frankly, he just bugged me. Right, the rest of you stay quiet and out of trouble till bell time. I don’t want to be disturbed. Jase? With me!

[Empty classroom. Nigel enters, takes off his backpack and throws it in the teacher’s chair, before lying down on the desk as if to have a nap. Jason follows, closing the door to the rest of the floor.]

Jason: Shouldn’t we just leave now?

Nigel: Nah, Togi’s picking me up at 2:30.

[Jason looks at the clock on the wall: 1:50.]

Jason: What do we do until then?

[Without looking, Nigel shoves the stolen paperback into Jason’s hands.]

Nigel: I am going to relax after that intense bit of psycho-strategy. YOU are going to read the book to entertain me, pass the time and improve your vocabulary.

Jason: [anxious] B-but...

Nigel: It’s very simple, Jason, left to right, top to bottom, speak words aloud and in order.

[Nervously, Jason flips through the pages.]

Jason: Um... [clears throat] Chapter One. “Rea screamed, so they stuffed a gag into her mouth. Her wrists were bound together and tethered to her husband’s cairn on the funeral barge. The setting sun turned the waters of the river the colour of spilled blood. She strained against the ropes, but the priests had crafted the knots well. Inwardly, she cursed her husband, whose death had condemned her as well. The acolytes stepped forward and cut the ropes securing the barge to the bank. Rea stumbled as the boat lurched, propelled forward by the current. She looked back at the high priest who, eyes closed, was intoning the last rites for her husband. Rea could feel the spray on her bare shoulders and turned to face ahead once again. Already the barge had reached the waterfall...

[The clock now reads 2:29.]

Jason: [sounding thirty and dry]‘What happened?’ she asked. The Doctor looked down beyond the waterfall. Lor’s body was nowhere to be seen. ‘Poetic justice,’ he said. There was something cold in the Doctor’s voice. ‘He fell, right?’ she said. ‘He tripped and fell over the edge?’ The Doctor turned to look at her. His eyes were cold and grey, like the edge of an approaching storm. Kate decided not to press the point. ‘Come along, my dear,’ he said at last. ‘It’s time we went back to the TARDIS. I think we’ve outstayed our welcome, hmm?’ He took one final look back towards Hal, Rea and Kara. ‘All that’s left now is to pick up the pieces.’

[Jason closes the book and coughs a rasping cough. Nigel speaks, eyes still closed.]

Nigel: [calm] Is that the end?

Jason: [croaks] Yeah.

[Nigel opens his eyes and leaps off the table.]

Nigel: What utter crap! We don’t get a big confrontation, we get told second hand in some cheap attempt to create dark characterization! No wonder it got cancelled... [glares] Gimme strength, Jason! I’m giving you an intense literary critique and you’re too busy being dehydrated!

[The bell rings. Nigel slings on his backpack, takes the book and heads for the door leading to the playground. Jason coughs, splutters and follows.]

Nigel: You need to get over dry mouth if you want to get a job in talking books, Jase. Did Steven Fry get a frog in his throat when reading every single volume of Harry Potter? A clue: NO!

[Nigel and Jason, having left on the dot rather than hanging around, bolt for the exit gates, soon ahead of a crowd of children. They slow down as they see that, between parking school busses, are news crews and vans. Reporters and cameramen are rushing towards the gates. Nigel reacts like a vampire in a blood bank for virgins only.]

Nigel: [lustful] Ahhhh... THE MEDIA!!

[News footage of Nigel and Jason are running (well, strolling) the gauntlet of reporters. The other students are acting like boneheads, as they should be.]

Nigel: ...I’d simply say that everything occurred was completely consensual and totally legal. There is no law in this country a thirteen year old can’t cuddle a boy topless in gratitude for saving her life, and any complaints are by deeply repressed people who either didn’t get enough sex when they were my age or a little too much, if you get my drift. I’d also like to state that my high school is of the highest standards of discipline, education and care for students, hence the speedy response to this entirely misunderstood incident. I have plenty of witnesses to support my story including... [sotto] gimme the list, Jase... [louder] including Mitchell Webb, Damian Satan, Mohammed Stevenson, Rebecca Levinson, Maurice de Lacey...

[We pull out from a TV in the upper corner of a restaurant. Nigel and Jason are sitting at a table making their way through an impressive meal. Jason uses child-safe plastic cutlery, Nigel chop-sticks. As Jason struggles to cut up a dim sum and dunk it in source, Nigel helps himself to satay pork from a metal dish that has a flame burning in the middle of it for no other reason than it looks cool.]

Nigel: See? The Big N keeps his word, Jase. And all the money I got for autographed and betting people I couldn’t get that Elizabeth girl to bare her breasts in the playground mean I could pay for this meal ten times over – IF it wasn’t on the house in return for some publicity.

Jason: More honey citrus tea, my liege?

Nigel: Thank you, Jase.

[Jason scoops out a spoonful of orange blubber into a cup and then pours boiling water into it. Nigel takes it, drains the cup and then spits out a mouthful of lemon rind and bits into a spittoon.]

Nigel: Ahhh. You know, Jase, beginning High School was far better than starts kindergarten! A brilliant first day. I’m the talk of the town, I got to see 50% of a pretty girl au naturelle, and I’m still in the media spotlight. Just think, in some weird alternate timeline, some strange dream of history, that stupid lodger of mine getting drunk in assembly was the most memorable thing of the day.

Jason: I wonder what he’s doing now.

[Nigel cups his chin in a thoughtful pose. Dissolve to...]

[Toto’s “Africa” plays. Andrew blinks awake slumped in a padded cell, wearing a straightjacket and hospital pajama pants. He looks and sees a mirror reflecting him. He smiles sleepily and tries to wave through his straightjacket. A man in a white coat runs in and injects a hypo into Andrew’s leg. His eyes roll up and he slumps forward onto the padded floor. The doctor turns and leaves. Andrew opens one eye, clearly not as drugged as he should be. He grins scarily at the mirror. On the other side of it, a couple of psychiatric nurses flinch, as if scared.]

[Andrew is being dragged by two rough-looking orderlies down a corridor and then thrown into a chair before another man in a white coat. This one is much more cheerful. Andrew smiles charmingly and they chat. The man in the white coat starts to look worried, then scared, then looks around in panic, as if worried people are watching him. Andrew continues to speak thoughtfully. The man in the white coat is now clearly terrified and paranoid. Andrew whispers something to the man, who immediately starts screaming and tries to run for it. The orderlies struggle to restrain him. While distracted, Andrew hops to his feet and towards the exit, but more orderlies are waiting. Andrew smiles hopefully, then sighs.]

[A cafeteria. Andrew is being hand fed a bland stew and allow to sip water from a paper cup. The orderly has heavy industrial headphones on, to stop him hearing Andrew talk. Andrew glances furtively behind the orderly and nods. The orderly spins around. No one there. He turns back. Andrew’s gone. The orderly runs off, not realizing Andrew is under the table. Unfortunately, he’s stuck and with the straightjacket on, can’t actually try to get out. Andrew looks annoyed, then shrugs and goes to sleep.]

[Andrew awakes. The table is surrounded by orderlies. Some of them armed. A man in riot armor jabs a syringe into Andrew’s backside. It hurts, unsurprisingly, but Andrew doesn’t blanks out. Unimpressed, he laughs mockingly at them. Some orderlies back away scared. The riot guy tries three more hypodermics, and Andrew’s cruel laughter stops. He looks confused, starts to say something, then blacks out. The orderlies drag his boneless body out, suddenly for him to come to life and shout “BOO!” – the orderlies are terrified, but manage to keep hold of him. As he is dragged out, many other drugged patients in pajamas applaud politely.]

[...fade back to Nigel, deep in thought.]

Jason: Nigel? Nigel?

Nigel: Hmm? Sorry, I was thinking about Betty Boobs. What were you saying?

Jason: I was wondering what was happening to the weird hairy guy who got drunk.

Nigel: [shrugs] Dunno, don’t care. Come on, let’s go to the desert course.

[They summon the waiter over...]


NIGEL: Turn the tables with our unity! They’re neither moral nor majority! Wake up and smell the coffee – or just say “no” to individuality!

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