It’s 2020 and Covid-19 is in full spate. The UK is under lockdown. Government policy is to prevent the spread of the disease, reduce the death rate and preserve the NHS. It’s a shambles.
Chris and Jack are in their early seventies.
Chris answers his phone. Hello. Who’s that?
I’m Jack. I was asked to give you a call. I’m an NHS volunteer.
I don’t do cold calls. Who asked you to call?
Your GP. She said you had a problem.
What’s her name? Chris asks.
What’s the problem? Jack asks.
I’ve got the plague.
Okay …. And you’re self-isolating because of that?
Why are you calling it the plague?
That’s what it is.
It’s killing people all over the world – it’s a paramedic.
You mean pandemic.
That’s it, a pandemic – plague.
Coronavirus? Jack asks.
One Christmas, I was fourteen, I sold Corona pop from a lorry; the bottles were in wooden crates. I loved it, and now it’s a fucking plague.
It’s not a plague. They stopped in the middle ages.
What about tombola?
Jack stifles a laugh. Ebola?
That’s the fella; if that wasn’t a plague what was it?
A viral disease. Are you ill?
Of course I’m ill.
I was told you needed help – come on, what help do you need?
You sound, irritated, stressed. What’s up? Chris asks.
What is it?
She died. I’m only doing this to talk, Jack sobs.
Don’t do that. You’ll have me at it in a minute … you’re alone?
Stifling his sobs, Jack replies, Yes. No, I have her moggies.
Do they talk to you?
They purr back.
What are their names?
Sonny and Cher.
Chris sings, ‘cause you got me, And baby I got you. Babe, I got you babe.
Stop! Please. Why are you singing?
Because you’re lonely, just like me.
I’m okay now, Jack says. Sorry. What help do you need?
Tell me why?
I don’t want to die on my own.
How do you know you’re dying?
I’ve been told. Chris sings, Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, Oh, I believe in yesterday.
Can’t go back, though, can we?
Why were you crying? Chris asks.
I loved her.
I’m sorry, mate.
No, no, no … Why do you call it the plague?
I liked selling Corona, I don’t want a bloody virus killing my memory.
Yeah, I get that. You sing.
Want to try a duet?
Yeah, why not? What shall we sing?
Sweet, sweet the memories …
Perfect. You start I’ll follow.
They sing. Take one fresh and tender kiss, Add one stolen night of bliss, One girl; One boy; some grief; some joy; Memories are made of this.
They are lost in laughter.
Sing again tomorrow? Same time, same place? Chris asks.
You betcha – you choose tomorrow.
I’m glad you called, Jack.
Me too. Jack laughs. Fuck the plague!
They sing. Sweet, sweet, the memories …
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I’m cheered up and have a song on my lips. You’re helping me through the day, and I can’t be on my own.
Thanks. “Try la la laa.”
Thank you. I’m really pleased to have cheered you up. I’m so sorry you’re lonely.
And it’s such a sad old feeling
All the fields are soft and green
It’s memories that I’m stealing
But you’re innocent when you dream
When you dream
You’re innocent when you dream, when you dream
You’re innocent when you dream
Thank you Chris. That’s really charming.