Giles Cole

South East

No agent, but two plays published by Oberon Books and two by Samuel French

Seven radio plays (BBC R4)

Stage plays:

When Love Grows Old (double bill of The Romance of the Century and The Weatherman, Brighton Fringe 2017); The Heart of Things (2015); The Art of Concealment (2011-12); Frail Blood (2003); Suspects (1989); Going Astray (Edinburgh Fringe 1989); Secrets (1984/1988)


Poetry, Radio, Television, Theatre


Extract from The Romance of the Century (one act play)

A tasteful drawing room with a sofa and a chaise-longue. On the sofa sits DAVID.  He is dressed in a navy blue blazer, an open-necked shirt and flannel trousers. There is a colourful handkerchief in his breast pocket.  He has a table with a tea service in front of him.  On the chaise-longue sits BESSIE.  She has a selection of magazines by her side, and looks through them in turn during the scene. She also has a table with a tea service within reach. She is wearing a simple but very smart frock and a lot of rings and bracelets. One can detect a vestige of an American accent in her voice. The music fades.  DAVID looks straight ahead, expressionless.


DAVID:         It’s like a living death.


BESSIE:         What is?


DAVID:         This.  Us.  Sitting here.


BESSIE:         Really, the things you come out with.


DAVID:         Endless afternoons.  Followed by endless evenings.


BESSIE:         Drink your tea, dear.


He drinks, without enthusiasm, taking care to hold the cup securely in a slightly shaky hand.


DAVID:         What time is it?


BESSIE:         Ten past three.  She’ll be coming soon.


DAVID:         Who?


BESSIE:         The Queen, who do you think?


DAVID:         There’s no need to snap, woman.


BESSIE:         I’m not snapping.  And I don’t care for your tone.  ‘Woman’ indeed…


DAVID:         I’ve seldom cared for your tone these last few years.  Bessie.


BESSIE:         Please don’t call me that.


DAVID:         It’s your name.


BESSIE:         It hasn’t been my name for a very long time.  You only do it to annoy me.


DAVID gives a wheezy little laugh.  This turns into a cough.


Drink your tea.


He drinks.  Splutters a bit.


You’d better not do that when she gets here.


DAVID:         What time is she coming?


BESSIE:         Half past four.


DAVID:         What was it you used to call her?


BESSIE:         ‘Shirley’.


DAVID:         Yes, why did you call her that?  I can’t remember.


BESSIE:         After Shirley Temple.  The movie star.


DAVID:         Ah, yes.


BESSIE:         Pretty, dark-haired and too darned cute.


DAVID:         Ah, yes.  That was her all right.  Little Miss Goody-Two-Shoes.   Hasn’t changed a bit in all these years.  (pause)   I met Shirley Temple.


BESSIE:         No, you didn’t, dear.


DAVID:         I met her in the Bahamas.


BESSIE:         That was someone else.  Who looked a little like her.  Married to that awful man who played golf.  Kept talking about his bogeys and whatnot.


DAVID:         It was her.


BESSIE:         No, dear.


DAVID:         I do wish you wouldn’t keep contradicting me.


BESSIE:         You forget things.


DAVID:         I do not.


BESSIE:         All right. You remember things wrongly then.


A beat. For the moment he has no answer.


DAVID:         When she comes we’ll have more tea, shall we?


BESSIE:         Yes.  I told them it had to be tea.  You’re not up to lunch or dinner.  We’ll have a few sandwiches, that’s all.


DAVID:         What’s that cake I like?


BESSIE:         Battenberg.


DAVID:         Ah, yes.  Battenberg.  Shall we have some of that?


BESSIE:         Just sandwiches, I think.


DAVID:         Who was that German chap you had an affair with?


BESSIE:         Oh, really…


DAVID:         The cake reminded me.  Some bloody German chappie you took a shine to.  I wonder what happened to him…


She looks at him, over her magazine.


BESSIE:         He died.


DAVID:         Oh dear.  You must have been a ‘femme fatale’ then.


He wheezes with laughter. Coughs.


BESSIE:         Handkerchief, please.


He extracts his handkerchief from his breast pocket with some difficulty. He painstakingly unfolds it, coughing the while, and then holds it up to his mouth with his slightly shaky hand.  His coughing immediately stops. 


You’ll have to put a tie on.  (No response)  I think you should wear your yellow tie.


DAVID:         (under his breath, still amused)  Femme fatale…


Pause.  He carefully refolds the handkerchief.


BESSIE:         Did you hear me?  David?


DAVID:         Yes, I heard you.  I have a hundred and forty-six ties, of which at least twenty are yellow.  Or have yellow in them.


BESSIE:         You know the one I mean.


DAVID:         The tie decision is made.  Bessie.  The colour of the tie – indeed the tie itself – has been decided.  And it’s blue.


BESSIE:         I hope you’re not going to be in this mood when she gets here.


DAVID:         I’m not yet sure what mood I shall be in.  The mood decision is yet to be taken…


Pause.  He smiles, sweetly.


BESSIE:         You’re trying to upset me, aren’t you?


DAVID:         Not in the least.


BESSIE:         I think it’s important to give an uplifting impression.  I think a tie with a certain ‘swagger’ is appropriate.


DAVID:         I really haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about.  Did you say such things to your German chappie?  Von Whatshisname?


BESSIE:         (puts her magazine down, crossly)  Oh, you’re impossible!


DAVID:         No, I’m interested.  I’m interested in how you spoke to the other men in your life.  Your other husbands and other… amours.  After all, we’re so old now it can hardly matter, can it?  No room now for petty jealousy.  Hm?  No room now for… all that sort of thing.  So, tell me, what did you talk about with your German chap?  Von Dribbledrawers?


BESSIE:         For heaven’s sake, David, will you stop raking all that up!


DAVID:         Why?  What else is there to do?