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Timeshare By Laureen Johnson

Laureen Johnson's 'Timeshare' (1990s) depicts a Lerwick woman skilfully two-timing a couple of offshore workers. However, disaster is looming.

Characters:  MARLENE, who works in a Lerwick shop; ELMA, her ageing aunt, who has come to stay temporarily; ALASTAIR; an AMBULANCEMAN


Elma has just arrived to stay with her niece as an emergency measure while her own house is repaired. She is horrified to learn that Marlene lives a complicated life, two-timing a couple of offshore workers on opposite shifts: Alastair, from the Westside, and Bob, from Yell.

ELMA : Marlene, dat’s terrible!

MARLENE : Whit’s terrible aboot it? Du’s ey heard aboot da sailin men at hed a girl in every port? Weel, I juist hae a man on every shift.

ELMA : But how can du get aff wi dat?

MARLENE : It’s no hard to do. Dey’re never aff at da sam time. Dey pass een anidder every twa weeks.

ELMA : (gesturing vaguely towards window) Does dee neebors no say onything?

MARLENE : My neebors! We’re no ida country here, Elma. My neebors, baith up an doon, is sooth fokk. Dey nedder ken me or dem.

ELMA : But you geng oot. Fokk kens you. Whit wye does naebody say onything?

MARLENE : Weel, dere I’m been lucky. (looks at each photo in turn) Alastair laeks ta geng oot, an we go ta pubs an dances wi rock music. We do dat for a fortnight. Dan Bob comes hom, an aa he wants ta do is sit at da fire an watch films an listen ta Country an Western. So it wirks oot fine!

ELMA : (as if dazed) Hit wirks oot fine!…… Country an Western – I see, dis’ll be his buits.

(Cowboy boots under settee. She holds them up)

MARLENE : Yes, an noo we’ll hae ta pit dem awey. Dem an a few idder things. Du can help, and dan du’ll laern whit ta do.

ELMA : Laern whit ta do – I don’t know if I want onything ta dö wi it. I tink it’s awful.

MARLENE : Elma, I’m doin none o dem any faat. Dey’re perfectly happy, da pair o dem. I laek dem both, an eventually I will mak up me mind atween dem. Now come on, du’ll have ta co-operate – or dan go ta Auntie Lily in Sandness!

ELMA : I’ll co-operate. I’ll never say a wird. But I still tink it’s awful.

MARLENE : (produces two boxes from cupboard or kist. Large letter ‘B’ on one box) Now, tak a hadd o dat box an set him on da settee. I’ll tak dis een. (This box is labelled ‘A’)

They set the boxes on the settee and coffee table.

MARLENE : Now dis is da routine. We’ll do it every fortnight. An it’s important no ta forget onything. Der a list inside da lid o every box. Du can read oot da list for Box B, and I’ll gadder da things.

ELMA : (reads while Marlene moves around and hands her items to store in the box)    Shetland rug ….. Tapes of Dolly Parton ….. Woodworker magazines ….. ‘Country Music People’…. Cowboy boots ….. Photograph ….. Teddy bear. Whaar did he come fae?

MARLENE : Bob wan him in a raffle in Cullivoe. His midder wisna wantin it so I hed ta tak da bloomin thing. ( Packs it into box)

ELMA : So now we do Box A for Alastair?

MARLENE : Dat’s right. (Gives Elma items from box A to place as instructed) Da photo – set him back whaar Bob wis. Dire Straits, Status Quo, Bruce Springsteen (or others) – dey go in da unit. Souvenir ashtray fae London.

ELMA : He smoks, dan?

MARLENE : Yes, dat’s da worst. I hae ta fumigate da hoose at da end o his shift. Sailin trophy. Pool trophy. Darts trophy. Dey go at da back o da unit yonder.

ELMA : Du’ll better arrange dem deesel.

MARLENE : Reindeer sken fae Norway – on da back o da settee. Last but not laest – dis eyesore. (Large horribly-coloured vase) Set him whaar da teddy-bear wis.

ELMA : Anidder raffle prize?

MARLENE : No, he bowt it, wid du believe? An he’s ey buyin flooers ta pit itae it. Weel, dat’s da lot. We’ll pit awey da boxes. (They do so)

ELMA : So yon’s yon for anidder fortnight?

MARLENE : Dat’s it. Dan we do exactly da sam in reverse, an lowse wi da air freshener ta tak awa da fag reek. It’s really braaly simple. Du’ll get used tae it. (Looks out window) An we’re juist in time, for here’s Alastair noo.

ELMA : Lat me win oot o here! I’ll geng an unpack.

MARLENE : (taking her arm) Du will not! Du’ll wait an spaek tae him. He’s very blydely. He kens du’s comin.

Knock, and enter Alastair. He grabs Marlene in a bear hug.

ALASTAIR : Marlene! It’s lovely ta see dee! Du’s lookin great! Is du ready ta go?

MARLENE : (pulling away from him) Yes, yes, I’m ready. Alastair, dis is me aunt Elma. Da nurse, du kens. I telled dee she wis comin.

ALASTAIR: (noticeably unenthusiastic) Oh yes, of coorse. Plaised ta meet dee, Elma. Du’ll laekly no be bidin ower lang.

ELMA : Weel, I hoop no. I’m no wantin ta be a nuisance.

Marlene goes to get her coat from bedroom.

ALASTAIR : Oh du’ll no be a nuisance, I’m sure. (Brightly) An du’ll be fine company for Marlene when I’m awey. (Marlene returns to his side, he puts an arm round her shoulder) She gets braaly lonly, I tink. Never ootside da door.

ELMA : No – er – so she says.

MARLENE : Well, are we goin, dan? Whaar is it da night? Posers?

ALASTAIR: (breezily) Why not? Why not? I pat me tie on specially. Cheerio, Elma. Dunna wait up for wis.

ELMA and MARLENE : Cheerio.

Elma watches them leave.

ELMA : How can she do it? How can she have da neck? Thank da Loard I dunna raelly need ta get involved wi it. Na Elma, juist du bide oot o da wye, mind dee own business, an get o here as shön as da Cooncil can get dee röf back ower dee head!

As she goes to bedroom, there is a knock at the door. It is repeated before she opens door.

AMBULANCEMAN : Excuse me, are you Marlene White?

ELMA : No – I’m Elma White, her aunt. Shö’s oot eenoo. Whit’s happened? Whit’s an ambulance döin here?

AMBULANCEMAN : (shouting offstage) Shö’s oot! But her aunt is here! (Pause) Aa right, we’ll tak him up! Hing on fir I gie dee a haand!

ELMA : Whit is dis? Wha are you takkin up?

AMBULANCEMAN : (grinning) Hit’s dee niece’s boyfreend. He wan affshore an he brook his ankle an he’s in plester ta da knee. Dey fled him back wi a helicopter. He wisna carin aboot gyaain awa ta Yell wi a brokken leg, so he towt he could come ta hers. I hoop shö wants ta see him. He’s in a braaly bad mood!

ELMA : Bob!

AMBULANCEMAN : Dat’s him. I’ll better geng an help ta get him up da stair.

Elma panics. She rushes to find boxes, runs around collecting all the Box A items, and replaces them with the contents of Box B. She has just got this done, and the boxes out of sight, when the ambulancemen manoeuvre Bob into the room.


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