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Scene 1: a waiting room at the quayside of Southampton docks. Posters on the wall exhort everybody to mind their luggage, their personal safety and boarding papers. The launch day of the Titanic has arrived. Whilst full of noise and bustle outside – porters shouting, announcements on the p.a. Etc., the room is quiet until Dick, and his wife, Ros, enter. They’ve arrived late for embarkation. Dick is nervous, excited at the thought of his wife’s imminent departure and the thought of being able to leave her: but he’s trying to translate his excitement into something resembling concern over his wife’s journey. Ros is subdued, uneasy about something but unable to identify the cause of her unease. She doesn’t want to leave Dick but desperately wants to see her parents again – they haven’t met since the marriage 10 years previously.

DICK
You’ve got the ticket haven’t you?

ROS
I thought you did.

DICK
Oh.

ROS
Calm down. You’re making me nervous.

DICK
Just imagine, setting off on the greatest voyage in the history of mankind within seconds.

ROS
I can’t fathom why you had to go and buy such an expensive ticket.

DICK
Don’t you want to see your mother?

ROS
Of course I do.

DICK
You haven’t seen her since the marriage. Now you’re going and you’ve not stopped complaining.

ROS
I know. I’m sorry.

DICK
She might be dead next week. Then how would you feel? Guilty, that’s how.

ROS
I wanted us both to go, not just me. They’d get to meet you at long last.

DICK
Well, I can’t can I? Someone’s got to earn the money to afford these holidays. Let’s have a look in that shoulder bag. (HE STARTS TO LOOK THROUGH IT).

ROS
Dick, I’m sorry, really I am. I didn’t mean it to be like this.

DICK
It must be here somewhere. Make-up case. Perhaps it’s in your make-up case.

ROS
I thought you wanted to come, I thought you’d meet them, I thought you could do with a break, I don’t want you slaving away at work, no-one to come home to of a night, it’ll be awful for you being on your own, I know how you hate it.

DICK
Why haven’t you got a decent makeup case?

ROS
(INCENSED THAT HE’S NOT BEEN LISTENING)
Look at that bag. I had it all neatly packed and you’ve ruined it.

DICK
I’ll put it all back.

HE STARTS STUFFING THINGS INTO THE BAG BUT IT DOESN’T FIT.

ROS
I spent an hour on that.

DICK
Let me try again.

ROS
All that fuss and you’ve forgotten the ticket.

DICK
I don’t understand it.

ROS
I won’t be able to go now.

DICK
You bloody well will, after all that palava. I’ll fix it.

ROS
D’you know, it’s as if you’re trying to get rid of me?

DICK
Don’t be daft.

A STEWARD ENTERS THE WAITING ROOM.

STEWARD
Morning everyone, bright as buttons are we? Ready for the big adventure?

DICK
You could say that.

ROS
You are, aren’t you?

DICK
Ros, please, not now.

STEWARD
Jolly good, jolly good. That’s what I like to hear. Got your ticket sir?

DICK
No.

ROS
I’ve hit on something here, haven’t I?

DICK
No.

STEWARD
Don’t go thinking you’re boarding the Titanic without a ticket.

ROS
What have you got planned up that sleeve of yours?

DICK
Nothing at all. Steward, I’ve come to wave off my wife. I shall be straight off your premises afterwards, fear not.

ROS
I bet you will.

DICK
But we have a problem, we can’t find our ticket. But we must be on your passenger list… look, there we are… Stubbs… Rosalyn Stubbs.

ROS
And who’s on your passenger list then Dick? Who are you sailing off with after you get shot of me?

DICK
Nobody. Rosalyn my dear, you really do talk the most indisputable garbage.
STEWARD
Are you sure? She might be anybody.

DICK
Well she’s not anybody. They’re nobody.

STEWARD
Pardon? No-one said anything about this sort of incident. I’d better report back.

DICK
But what about her, she’s got to get on the boat.

STEWARD
She’ll be allowed to board when it’s clear her papers are in order. If you’ll excuse me, I need to see my chief.

ROS
You’re panicking aren’t you?

DICK
I am not panicking.

ROS
Just suppose I miss the boat, then what? We go home and try again, but we can’t do that can we, because do you know why?

DICK
I haven’t wasted three thousand quid for all this…

ROS
No, because you’ve got a nice little tugboat sunning herself back home haven’t you?

DICK
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

(THE SHIPS STEWARD RETURNS WITH THE CHIEF STEWARD)

CHIEF
My steward says there’s a problem with your tickets.

ROS
I think you do and I think you’re lying through your pulled back grin and your newly capped teeth. Who is she then?

DICK
Ros, you’re making a scene.

CHIEF
Do you have any receipt of payment about your person?

ROS
You bet I am, you’re about to go screw some piece of fluff the moment we’re out of sight and you expect me not to make a scene. Is it Maud?

DICK
Excited, she’s just getting excited. Don’t be silly.

CHIEF
Hmm… Difficult situation. But in the circumstances…

DICK
The receipt, I’ve got the receipt!

ROS
It’s Jane, isn’t it? Jane with the bob?

CHIEF
Jones, take Mr. Stubbs here across to HQ, get hold of Temple, tell him there’s an emergency…

DICK
Jane and Bob? Honestly, Rosalyn, what do you take me for?

CHIEF
Tell him I’m requesting a D3 embarkation, and that he has to sort it out.

DICK
Thank you, thank you. I’ll be straight back.

CHIEF
Hurry up Mr. Stubbs. There’s no time to waste.

DICK LEAVES THE WAITING ROOM RAPIDLY.

ROS
It’s Jane you conniving piece of low life isn’t it? And you expect to pack me off to the States to have some sordid affair with some half baked haddock from accounts.

CHIEF
A memorable day, madam, the Titanic, the biggest ship in history. 46,000 tons. Certain to be quite a splash when it sets sail.

THE STEWARD RE-ENTERS

STEWARD
Mrs. Stubbs? What are you doing here? I thought you were on board..

ROS
Dick… where is he?

THEY ALL RUSH TO THE WINDOW AS THE BOAT LEAVES THE HARBOUR AMIDST HORNS BLOWING AND MUCH SHOUTING AND CHEERING.

ROS
Will you look at that. He’s on the boat, waving at us all. The nerve…

STEWARD
How on earth?

CHIEF
(SPOTTING SOMETHING ON THE FLOOR UNDER THE BAGGAGE) Madam… is this yours?

ROS
The ticket, it was there all along… what’s this… a letter… Dear Ros, by the time you read this… can’t cope any more with your jealousy… need to escape… new life on my own… will write soon. Dick.

STEWARD
So he wasn’t packing you off to the States to have an affair with a haddock.

CHIEF
Steward. Know your place.

STEWARD
Sorry Chief.

ROS
He’s gone. I don’t believe it.

CHIEF
Don’t despair madam. He won’t get far. He’ll be on the next fishing boat back to Southampton before he knows it. Taking advantage of the system like that.

ROS
Jealous? I’ll give him jealous. Just wait until he gets back. He’ll regret the day he bought that ticket, I can tell you.

CHIEF
A small drink perhaps to calm the nerves? Scotch on the rocks perhaps?

ROS
Thank you captain. I don’t mind if I do. And make sure there’s plenty of ice.

THEY LEAVE THE WAITING ROOM WITH THE SOUND OF SHIPS HORNS, SHOUTING CROWDS AND BRASS BANDS DROWN THEIR CONVERSATION.

FADE TO BLACK END