Sunday, 16 December 2012

My take on a Royal Proclamation which has been circulated...

Proclamation to the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdoms of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
In light of the following three factors:
1                  your insistence on winning the majority of the Olympic medals even though the recent games took place in Great Britain and not in some backwater American State,

2                your failure to control your urges to acquire all the oil resources on the planet and

3                 your proclivity (despite having two elected governing houses when it should be obvious that one is too many) for usually electing incompetent politicians who are only in it for the money and are in all cases incapable of believing that there is a world beyond the US borders (i.e. the Olympics have not just been superbly produced in London, England, but in London. Full Stop.);
The Tower of London.

you have proved incapable of governing yourselves; we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, this revocation to take immediate effect (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary, all other dictionaries are inaccurate and will be abolished).
Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and territories within the borders of the former United States (except for Alaska, which she does not want and will be returned to the natives).
 Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will consult Her Majesty the Queen on the appointment of a Governor for Northern America (excluding Alaska [see above]) without the need for further elections. The current U.S. president may apply for the position provided he drops the idea of being a ‘democrat’. No ‘republican’ may apply, Great Britain is a Monarchy not a ‘republic’.
Congress and the Senate will be dis-established. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you have noticed. Each former state will become a County and may elect a County Council. Former ‘counties’ will, depending on their size, become either Parishes or Rural Districts, with the sole exception of Hazzard County, which is amusing.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Do you enter Writing Competitions? Don't dismiss the small ones!

I do enter writing competitions, I've had a go at dozens over past years. Mostly I never even know if my manuscript or email has reached the correct location and not exceeded the deadline. Those who run competitions obviously can't notify all who enter and don't win, but it is frustrating never knowing.

However I'm not saying there's no point in entering competitions. I have been told I was on a long list years ago and once I was even on a shortlist and very close, but my short story didn't quite fit with the others which were all to be published together in a magazine. So that was that.

And once I was joint winner! It was a local playwriting competition for scripts of up to one hour, and there were not hundreds of entries. However there were two winners and the prize wasn't cash, but much more valuable than a couple of hundred quid. My play was joint winner with Andrew Crowther's Funny Men. We both got to see and participate in full productions of our plays as part of the Snowgoose New Writing Festival in Bradford in 2008.

The Single Utamaro at the Carriageworks Theatre,
Leeds & Bradford Playhouse in June 2011
cast: l-r Richard Houghton-Evans as Chas,
Steph Lodge as Martha and Harry Venet as Benedict
My play was called 'The Single Utamaro'. The whole process was extremely rewarding. I helped with the set and props but the directing was done by an expert, Audrey Caldron. I learnt a huge amount and after two re-writes the play was revived three years later with a largely new cast and I directed. I've written other plays since but the Utamaro* is still a piece of writing which I'm very close to.

So forget the Mann Booker prize, entries for that have to be submitted by a publisher anyhow! Get involved with smaller competitions run by groups and organisations nearby. The fact that there will be less competition for the prizes doesn't imply that it's not worth entering. There's more chance that you will get valuable experience and recognition. This doesn't mean you don't have to be a really good, conscientious writer. It does mean there's more chance of your good writing being noticed.

*Utamaro was an eighteenth century Japanese painter and printmaker who was famous for creating exquisite images of beautiful women.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Articles for magazines.

I've been asked to write another article for QS Eye magazine.

This magazine is aimed at quantity surveyors, a branch of professionals in the building industry whose work is concerned with figures. The content of their magazine is quite dry and my job is to liven it up slightly, although the subject must be broadly related to the construction indistry.

I've had articles published there about, amongst other things, seaside piers, pylons and most recently about the listed structures at London Zoo (which I've previously published a version of on my other blog - to read it go to my blogger profile and click on Expertslife blog).

Now I have to decide a subject for the next article, and I've only got five days to submit - so I'd better get on with it!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Shell Beach - (part of the Aden Collection)

In Aden we had a good car.
Opel Olympia Estate
which took a family of 5,
friends, fishing tackle,
beach gear and picnic to
the place we called shell beach. 

Near naked under the sun
we gathered the shells,
limpets cowries,winkles,
fished from the reef,
bathed in the clear shallows,
shrieked at reef sharks.

We returned with shorts full
of white sand, pockets full
of light shells, buckets full
of bright fish and once, a box
of big, khaki crabs still alive,
claws tied together with raffia.
Amazing what we could fit
in a car without restraint,
without shoes and no one
cared for the upholstery.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

These are the 31 Women. How many have you heard of?

When I first began looking at the Exhibition by 31 Women, which was the first art exhibition dedicated to the women artists of the avant-garde, I found I'd only heard of three. I'll list those three at the bottom of the list. Who have you heard of ? At least two of them are better known for having a different career!

The 31 Women

1          Djuna Barnes
2          Xenia Cage
3          Leonora Carrington
4          Maria Elena Vieira da Silva
5          Elisabeth Eyre de Lanux
6          Leonor Fini
7          Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven 
8          Suzy Frelinghysen
9          Meraud Guevara
10        Annie Harvey
11        Valentine Hugo
12        Buffie Johnson           
13        Frida Kahlo
14        Jacqueline Lamba
15        Gypsy Rose Lee
16        Aline Meyer Liebman
17        Hazel McKinley
18        Milena Barilli
19        Louise Nevelson
20        Meret Oppenheim
21        Barbara Reis
22        Irene Rice Pereira
23        Kay Sage
24        Sonja Sekula
25        Gretchen Schoeninger
26        Esphyr Slobodkina
27        Hedda Sterne
28        Dorothea Tanning
29        Sophie Taeuber
30        Julia Thecla
31        Pegeen Vail
The only three I'd heard of at the start were Louise Nevelson, Frida Kahlo and Gipsy Rose Lee - And yet I thought of myself as an art scholar and a feminist! Pretty feeble I'd say. I now know a fair amount about the careers and lives of almost all of them.
Those better known for a different career are Gypsy Rose Lee and Djuna Barnes.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Flash Fiction - Just Fish

           Westway is never deserted, even at three-fifteen in the morning. I’ve driven up from the coast, two hours on empty motorways, but London roads are never empty. The squad cars are bored, one has decided to tail me.

           The ice is melting.

            I’m travelling at a steady thirty-eight, the limit is forty. My lights work, other things don’t, including the refrigeration. That shouldn’t interest the police. But the blue light flashes in my wing mirrors.

Weeeooooooow, weeeeoooow.

The ice is melting.

The Atlantic Ocean surrendered their lithe, goggle eyed grace to the net, the gaff, the ice packed hold. Trawlers gathered around the jetty like remora around a welcoming shark, unloaded their cargo. Trays of dead and dying fish surged along the rollers, a mechanical death rattle to agonised gills fighting for water in the cold, arid air.

Weeeooooooow, weeeeoooow.

They are so beautiful, these fish. Mackerel glisten, shimmer in a hundred shades of green and gold between gloss black stripes. Herring pour from tray to tray, a priceless cascade of silver, tainted gut red, some crushed by the weight of tons of their companions in the bowels of the ship. The majestic cod flicks its huge head feebly, in death its silvery sheen and snow white belly will bland to grey.

‘Is this your van, sir?’ Menacing tone, a torch deliberately shone in my eyes.

            ‘Yes, officer.’

The ice is melting.

            ‘Going somewhere nice are we, sir, at three o’clock in the morning?’


            If the ice melts too fast, these exquisitely streamlined creatures will not be fresh. They’ll be rejected by fishmongers, restaurateurs and go for cat food; all that beauty and death for the delectation of the city’s pampered moggies.

            ‘So your van is full of fish fingers, is it?’

            ‘Just fresh fish.’

            ‘Yeah right! Have you got sole, or are you floundering?’ He’s a joker, this cop.

            The ice is melting.

            ‘Would you like to take a look, officer?’

            I open the back of the van. Semi-frozen water slops onto the policeman’s feet as he stands too close to the rubber seal when it sucks free of the door. He steps back, swears. The second policeman shines a torch in. A thousand golden, alien eyes glint, a million perfect scales glimmer.

            Striped Mackerel, they have clouds named after them, the mackerel sky you see at the end of a long, clear day. The humble herring, destined for kippers, rollmops and fertiliser, swirl in the water like smoke, the seals and whales make no impression on their numbers. Codfish were the kings of the northern oceans, once.

            ‘Just fucking fish,’ says the cop with cold, wet feet.

‘Yes, officer. Just fish.’

            The other cop likes fish. He gets three glossy mackerel, wrapped in yesterday’s Express.  I get on to Billingsgate. The cats will go hungry tonight.

What is Flash Fiction?

This is a question which writers seem not to have agreed to agree on. The name Flash Fiction first emerged in the early 1990's, according to Wikipedia, so who knows when it actually emerged. As for what flash fiction is, short certainly. How short is up for grabs. I've seen competitions which ask for one sentence and other places which say 750 or even up to 1,000 words, so anywhere in between could work, depending on context. However for me, over 500 words seems too long, flash fiction should certainly fit on one page.

I suppose the generally accepted idea of Flash Fiction is that it should be sparing with words. A flash fiction story should be pared down until it says exactly what it must to form a perfect story and nothing more. Flash fiction is not a prose poem, there's little room for lyricism and it's more than anecdote, because anecdote lacks a sense of journey and completeness. Flash fiction's different to the traditional short story, because by definition flash lacks the rounding out of place and the minutiae of personality which can be so pleasing in a good short story.

I've tried consciously writing flash fiction, but more often than not I've been displeased with my results. I do better if I just write and let the short story find its own length. However writer David Gaffney has suggested taking existing stories and paring them down to the bare essentials, he should know, he's had a book of flash fiction stories published. So I will give that a go. I'll post some efforts here later.

Flash fiction can be sharp and devastating. I've read some very short ones - micro fiction - tweet length or less, which can make me draw a short breath. But I don't remember them. The memorable ones are a bit longer, with a bit more substance, a character I can empathise with. 

Some interesting pages/sites about flash fiction : - article by David Gaffney - good site with lots of flash science fiction. The genre seems to appeal to a lot of sci-fi writers. This page has a great comment by Kathy Kachelries about how to create good flash fiction. - a university based magazine which publishes flash fiction, essays and articles all up to 350 words.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Leonora Carrington's not Forgotten!

It's very interesting that my (fictional) Monologue for Leonora Carrington has more pageviews than anything else I've posted here and it's only been up for six days!

Great to see that Leonora definitely isn't a forgotten artist. She was successful and admired in Mexico and even in the US for many years until she died in 2011. She's one of too few women artists whose work can sell for over $1 million. Sadly, most people in England, where she was born, grew up, came out as a debutante, attended art school and ran away with surrealist genius Max Ernst, have never heard of her; this is their loss.

If you are one of those who have never heard of Leonora Carrington, you may be in for a treat -though there's no accounting for taste! Google her paintings - she seldom explained her art so don't expect an explanation of her extraordinary imagery and don't believe any that you find, it probably wasn't written by her or even with her approval.

I've written about Leonora before, she was a feminist and a review of a programme about her was published at:-

I won't post any pictures of Leonora's here. They're copyright and I respect this, unlike some. A website by her son gives a decent biography, links and some other details, although not so many pictures as you might like:-

After her death in 2011, a good obituary appeared at:-

Sunday, 11 November 2012

There were avant-garde WOMEN artists before 1950: The 31 WomenProject

For anybody who sometimes wonders what I do when I'm not engaged in playwrighting or fiction (which I haven't done much of this year), here's an explanation.
For several years I've been working on an art-history project which I've kept more or less under wraps, for not very fathomable reasons. It's about time I talked about it! My aim at the outset was to accomplish the completion and publishing of a book on this subject. Most research is now complete. A number of chapters are already written, so here's an introduction to the project. 

The 31 Women Project – early days

This was the first exhibition dedicated exclusively to the women who had participated, largely unacknowledged, in the progress of avant-garde art movements over the earlier decades of the twentieth century.

The exhibition was titled simply An Exhibition by 31 Women. If you read any large book that purports to give an overall view of art history, it is often difficult to find mention of three women artists, let alone thirty-one.  Yet when this exhibition opened on the fifth of January 1943 at 'Art of This Century', which was the name Peggy Guggenheim gave to her new art gallery in New York, there had been no difficulty in finding 31 artists to exhibit. The art on display may not have all been truly ground breaking, but much was and also diverse, extraordinary and colourful.  So were the artists.
I first discovered the Exhibition by 31 Women while studying at the University of Leeds. A module involved researching an art exhibition which I considered ground-breaking.  I found mention of the 31 Women and managed to acquire a checklist for it from MOMA in New York. I was horrified to find that I had only heard of three of these women. I’ve since asked more scholarly people and even they can only recognise a dozen or so. I decided something had to be done to recover this exhibition from obscurity and, more importantly to rescue the artists who had disappeared from view. Project 31 Women was born.

It took me four years to identify all the 31 artists, because some names on the checklist were spelled inaccurately and one was simply wrong. There was never an exhibition catalogue, but I now know who they all were and which media they worked in. I have looked at illustrations of works by them all and seen actual works by thirteen.  I have listed many of their exhibitions and obtained biographical information on all of them, some more complete than others. I have researched the context, style and progress of their work and know that although some of these 31 women have been dismissed as dilettantes, all were hugely creative and very serious about art and most were innovative and highly talented.

There are half a dozen star names here, artists who are not likely to vanish any time soon; Frida Kahlo, Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington, Louise Nevelson, Sophie Taeuber and Meret Oppenheim are all well respected in the USA and/or Europe. Others were and are almost totally unheard of; the hardest to pin down included Barbara Reis, Anne Harvey, Milena, Gretchen Schoeninger and Aline Meyer-Liebman.  And then there was Gipsy Rose Lee. Artiste yes, but artist? Well, Gipsy was an art collector and exhibited her own artwork at least twice at the gallery started by her friend, Peggy Guggenheim.
I’ve been working on the 31 Women project since 2004. It continues…, more later.



Thursday, 8 November 2012

Monolgue for Leonora Carrington, 1917-2011

Leonora Carrington, artist and writer who died in 2011

Monologue/ Interview
(following a comment, I must point out that this is a fictional interview, based on some known facts and my huge admiration for Leonora Carrington's rebellious spirit and her remarkable art)

I do vaguely remember her, that journalist.  What was her name..?  Joyce… something. Whatever it was, she would insist on asking me the silliest of questions:

“Leonora, how does it feel, to be your age?” 

I mean really!  What does she expect me to say to that?  ‘I’m eighty-nine, you know.’

Of course I didn’t say that.  In any case I may not have been eighty nine, I can’t remember exactly.  If anyone asked me now, I’d have to adapt the stupid cliché.

“I’m actually dead, you know!”

She said my life, in those days, would make a great a movie script.  Absolute tosh of course! Mind you, I haven’t been to the cinema for years.  That Hollywood stuff was so unreal and I don’t suppose it’s changed.  All those unconvincingly goodly heroes and unfeasibly villainous villains and the women relegated to be either grieving mothers or simply useless and fainting in coils all over the shop.

I was always determined to be much more useful than that.

Not that father saw it.  I was destined to be beautiful, rich, make a good marriage; that was all I was expected to achieve.  A girl, you see, was not expected to do anything for herself.  Daddy was rich, a clever, self-made man and so desperate to become acceptable in ‘proper English society’.  He wanted to be a Toff and decided that he could buy his way in.

What Daddy decided, was so.

So. I was expected to stop being a little heathen and become a lady. I went to Saint Bride’s, an exclusive convent school.  The nuns failed to comprehend my difficulties; they were quite incapable of recognising any process which was not theirs.  I made up nonsense rhymes.  I painted a picture of Jesus carrying the ass, which apparently was blasphemous. I was expelled.  And another convent, expelled again, for smoking cigarettes.  Also, I wrote with either hand and composed mirror writing, which was obviously the Devil’s work.  I could draw with both hands too, and paint… but that came later.

I told her, that Joyce… what’s her name.  Told her that I was born into a one-hundred-per-cent Philistine family!  My brothers were hunting and shooting types, Father believed a female couldn’t be an artist, it was improper.  Although mother painted quaint little scenes which she would donate to her latest cause, but even she wasn’t so certain it was proper to be an actual artist.  Girls were supposed to be quiet and do what they were told, but of course I was a rebel of the most committed and superior variety.  

Eventually I was sent Florence for the summer to study classical painting.  This was in 1923 you realise, I mean who studied classical painting?  On the streets of Europe were Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Max Ernst.  Classical painting my eye!  And even this was dependant on my compliance.  I was to wear a silken gown, bow to the King and attend a coming out ball.  What a ludicrous malarkey! 

Well I’m a writer, you know, so I had to write a nasty story about that!  I called it The Debutante.  I made friends with a beautiful hyena at London Zoo, and I took her home with me.  She agreed to take my place at that ludicrous ball, and I dressed her in my gown, but her face was a slight problem.  She took matters into her own hands, or rather her own teeth and she ate the poor maid who had come in to help do my hair.  Ate the maid all up except for the face which she wore to the ball!  And of course everybody was far too ‘polite’ to comment, until the hyena grew hungry again and ate the face too, before leaping through an open window and escaping.

I even had to attend ladies day at Royal Ascot, wearing the most ghastly hat.  I managed to lose that to a convenient gust of wind, so I was hidden in a corner, which suited me.  I sat and read Evelyn Waugh.  That wasn’t the thing at all, there was so much whispering and tutting! Quite hilarious!

When I was nineteen I fell for Max, almost before I met him.  It was mother’s fault, she gave me a book with a marvellous painting of his on the cover; “Two Children, frightened by a nightingale.”  Of course I was at Chelsea Art School at the time, mother probably thought I’d find the book useful.  It was certainly that!

The book pointed me straight towards the exhibition and there was Max, blond and graceful and intense with that marvellous beaklike nose.  Max, the bird superior and I became his bride of the wind, it was almost immediate.  We escaped to Cornwall for the summer.  Eileen was there, and Lee and Roland.  Lee photographed us all, I think Paul and Nush came over from Paris.

Was Breton there? I don’t believe so. And Dali?  Of course not!  Why on earth would you ask about that little pervert?  In any case Dali and Breton were seldom on the same continent if they could avoid it!  Thus a surreal meltdown was usually avoided.

Father interfered of course, once he tracked us down.  Max went back to Paris rather rapidly before father could have him arrested for abduction of a minor or some such rubbish, as if I was one of his horses!  I borrowed ten guineas and went to Paris and that’s where I began painting seriously.

I never saw father again.  He actually made that “Never darken my door again” speech!  Can you believe that?  I hardly ever saw mother again either, which was the worst of all that.  But I did write to her sometimes and I spoke to her on the telephone years later, when I was in Mexico.

Why did I never return to England?  What would I want to return for?  What had England, ever done for me, with all its petty class lunacy and snobbery?  In any case I was born Irish, hence those wretched convents, all those nuns, vapid and fluttering nuns or vicious and screeching nuns.  My childhood was miserable.  The smallness of all that wretched nonsense!  That’s all I could write about for years, you know.

My painting was freer.  I owe that to Max, I suppose and to Mexico.  I had two husbands in Mexico, neither of them were Max.  I’m glad I lived and died the best part of my life in Mexico.

I beg your pardon? Was that the exciting, film script part of my life?  The Mexican part?  Of course it was not! I’m an artist not a film star.  The so called ‘movie script’ part, that’s the story that people always ask about.  My love affair with Max Ernst.  You think that’s the only excitement I ever had?  Certain forms of excitement are over-rated, I can assure  you of that.  I’m too old to care for it.

 I’m not talking about any of that, not to you.  Why should I?

I need a cigarette, do you have one?


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

'Whatever Happened to Xenia Cage?' Scene from my play

(In copying this from Word, some of the script formatting has slipped slightly, apologies.)

Scene Seven– Mrs Cage’s Art & Crafts store, Los Angeles, 1933

        Enter Xenia, wearing a fashionable hat. She looks around the store.

Xenia             I hope this store has what I need for my course. Let me think. (ticks things off on her fingers) Soft pencils, turpentine, good brushes…
    Enter John Cage, shop assistant (played by one of the sisters)

 John              Good afternoon miss. Can I be of any assistance?

Xenia             John! What are you doing here? Sasha said there should be no famous people in this play!

John              But it’s only 1933. I’m not at all famous, not yet.

Xenia             Neither should there be any men.

John              Well, what am I meant to do about that? Cut me a bit of slack Xenia, please.
Xenia             I suppose I might, for now. Just out of curiosity.

John              You do remember this scene?

Xenia             Unfortunately, I remember it very well.

John              Shall we begin again?

Xenia             If you insist.

John              Would you care to go off and re-enter?

Xenia             Not particularly. Just get on with it.

John turns away, then back to face her.

John              Good afternoon miss. Can I be of any assistance?

Xenia             Thank you, but I require no assistance whatever.

John             That’s such a shame, we have so much to offer. We stock absolutely everything a talented artist like yourself could possibly need, from stretched canvas to hog-hair artists’ brushes.

Xenia           I want sable, not hog-hair.

John              Ok. We’ve got those somewhere, but they will cost you. Folk can’t afford much in these recessionary times, there’s no demand for sable brushes.

Xenia             I need three. I’m studying art at Reed College.

John              That’s marvellous. I’m a student too, I study music. I just work in the store to help out as I’m between tutors right now.

Xenia             A musician. Any particular variety of music?

John              Modern, absolutely modern, but not jazz. I’m working on a bunch of my own compositions right now, some piano pieces.

Xenia             I play piano.

John              I’m sure you’re absolutely excellent.

Xenia             I would be if I could only practice more.

John              Absolutely, you must practice. It’s essential for a musician to know what they’re doing, even if they then want to break the rules.

Xenia             I see. So you like breaking rules?

John              The classical stuff has been absolutely done to death, I need to be original. I want to break down barriers between musical performance and everyday sounds.

Xenia             Experimental music. I see.


John              But I don’t mean to denigrate your tastes. And you must practice, it’s so important.

Xenia             It’s difficult to practice. Right now I don’t have my own piano, my cottage is too small. Sometimes I visit my friend Gretchen’s house. They’re very wealthy, they have a good Steinway grand which I play.

John (slowly) You play on Gretchen’s Steinway?

Xenia             I believe that’s what I said.

John              Absolutely! How many Gretchens are there in LA, do you think?

Xenia             Oh, quite a few I should imagine, only she doesn’t live in LA. We were at Monterey High together and they have a marvellous house above Carmel Bay.

John              Not so many Gretchens in Carmel.

Xenia             I wouldn’t know. But I’ll bet you she’s the only one with a Steinway.

John              I’m certain she is. I’ve played on that Steinway too.

Xenia             I beg your pardon?

John              When I’m in Carmel, I play on Gretchen’s Steinway, just like you do.

Xenia             Well that’s a new chat up line. I certainly don’t believe a word of it!

John              I’m not actually… er… (pause) Listen, perhaps an introduction is in order. My name is John Cage, this is my mother’s store, she set this up to help impoverished artists. I help out when I’m in town.

Xenia             I am Xenia Kashevaroff. Pleased to meet you, John Cage.

They shake hands.

John              And I’m delighted to meet you, Miss Kashevaroff. You are absolutely the loveliest young woman who has ever walked into this store.

Xenia             Now that’s a much better line. Please do continue.

John              And plenty of beautiful people do come in here. Artists bring their models, and models bring their artists. Teachers bring their students and students bring their lovers. I’m not saying which might be the woman in any case. And, Xenia Kashevaroff, you outshine them all! If I were to be the marrying kind, you would absolutely be the kind woman I would want to marry.

Xenia (with an exaggerated Southern US accent) Why Mister Cage, without that kinda noticeable little word, ‘if’, I’d say you were being kinda hasty.

John              But how much less fun conversation would be without a few ‘ifs’! Don’t you agree?

Xenia             I might need some convincing of that. Ifs can be confusing, though I do have more of a problem with buts.

John              Okay. (pause) Returning to ifs, if your friend Gretchen, with the Steinway piano, turned out to be the very same Gretchen as my friend Gretchen, with the Steinway piano, would that be kind of convincing?

Xenia             That would be very amusing. But how could we possibly prove it, without going all the way to Carmel?

John              We can absolutely resolve the whole thing. If you care to tell me your friend Gretchen’s surname, I can then tell you if it’s the same as my friend Gretchen’s surname.

Xenia             Oh no you don’t John Cage! I’m absolutely not caught out so easily!
John           Xenia, beautiful Xenia, I’m absolutely not trying to catch you out. No ifs, no buts!
                    My friend’s name is Gretchen Schoeninger, which I think is unique. So, what is
                    your friend’s name?                
Xenia          So? I don’t believe we’ve come to so’s, but I can reply with a positive and. And
                    my friend’s name is also Gretchen Schoeninger.
John              And Gretchen’s little white dog howls when I play her piano.
Xenia             Ands are certainly doing well. What is your opinion of howevers? I need to
                      use one just about now.
John              I’m broadly in favour. I believe I actually used a ‘however’ a bit earlier in this very conversation, when I paid you a compliment.
Xenia             I can’t say I noticed.
John              And you are absolutely free to use however or whatever takes your fancy
Xenia             I wouldn’t call it a fancy. However, Gretchen’s little white dog certainly does not howl when I play the piano.
John              And you probably play far more beautifully than I do.
Xenia             If I confess to Schubert, would that tempt you to confess to the sort of
                      music which you play, on Gretchen’s piano?
John              That is definitely a confession! I play my own experimental compositions.
Xenia             I kind of thought you might. What does that sound like, to make the poor 
                      puppy howl?
John              It’s modern atonal stuff, less Schubert, more Schoenberg.
Xenia             I don’t exactly know who that is.
John              Miss Kashevaroff, would you care to be enlightened?
Xenia             Well I do declare, Mister Cage, I never heard it called that before.
John              I never meant… oh what the heck! (offering his arm) Miss Kashevaroff, would
                      you care to find someplace really nice to sit and partake of a soda?  I could
                     then enlighten you.
Xenia (taking his arm) Why Mister Cage, that sounds most enlightening.
          They walk towards the exit arm in arm, then they stop. 
 John            So, my darling. Was that as terrible as you remembered it?
Xenia            Oh Bunny, of course it wasn’t terrible.
John             And will you ever forgive me?
Xenia            I don’t suppose so. Not for one single moment.
      They exit together.