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Recorded Sound Effects

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Many of the better writers firmly believe that sound effects should be kept to a minimum to be 'effective'.  In Arthur Halfshaft - the Man by Alick Rowe little eplanation is given of what is going on in the background, yet the sound effects provide an amusing counterpoint to the foreground story.  Note the effect on the cuckoo in this opening scene.  I wonder what will happen to the sheep.

MUSIC SCENE 1.  OUTDOOR ACOUSTIC.  COUNTRYSIDE.  CLOSER A CUCKOO SINGS.  LOSE MUSIC. KEEP CUCKOO.
PEREGRINE: Arthur Halfshaft, musician and bon viveur, was born one hundred years ago.  The past, as Arthur was himself fond of observing is another country.  You have to shout damn loud for the menu. How true that is of the era now bobbing majestically round the S-bend of history.  Beyond recall save to those of us who have danced to its carefree measures.  Gloria Mundy Arthur's long time neighbour and confidante, authoress of the monograph: "Arthur Halfshaft - A Hit or a Myth".
GLORIA: In this centenary year we who knew Arthur well, we shall seize the opportunity to flesh out the bare bones of this unusual man's life, contemporary with so many slightly-better-known-perhaps names, Elgar, Vaughan-Williams, Holst, Walton, Bliss, Rubbra, Finzi and Percy Grainger
PEREGRINE: To name but a few
GLORIA: Peregrine Henbane, Arthur's life long friend - best known perhaps for his 1922 collection of verse 'A Sybarite In Bromyard.'
PEREGRINE Dear Gloria.  So.  Our friend, modest Herefordian though he presently be, deserves a wider fame.  We must stand up and shout for Arthur.

THERE IS A DISTANT SHOT.  SILENCE.  THEN THE COUNTRYSIDE FX BEGIN AGAIN BUT WITHOUT THE BENEFIT OF CUCKOO. MUSIC>
ANNOUNCER: We present "Arthur Halfshaft - The Man, a Centennial tribute by Alick Rowe with Frederick Treves as Peregrine Henbane and Renee Asherson as Gloria Mundy.

LOSE MUSIC
GRISTLE: Yes, I remember Halfshaft... he was in a very real sense in a class of his own
DENZIL: Arthur was a C Major man.  (EXAMPLE)  Not a popular chord but say what you will, Arthur was damn loyal to it.
AGNES: He talked with Elgar.  His cathedral position gives us annually a service devoted to his music and only to his.  Listen to this:

A SNATCH OF THE ORGAN INTRODUCTION TO ARTHUR'S 'TOTAL EXTINCTION'
FLOSS: Oh Harder Arfchaff, munt grubble, hit yudder be yer pyfor der Grud War thuss a cumma Twaldorntur kuck en back fir mhaster Arfchaff, cubby wuss.  Ham my nunc.
NUNCLEDIMMITTY: (DOLEFUL FOLKSONG) "Hoh unkine death Yuttocks me breath....."
GRISTLE: GRISTLE: He was in a class of his own....

EVERY NOW AND THEN A SHEEP SHOULD BLEAT.  A STREAM RIPPLES NEARBY.
PEREGRINE: Arthur's father, the Reverend Simeon Halfshaft, was Rector here at Lower Dripple, situated just one mile downstream of Much Dripple. GLORIA:
GLORIA: In the fair county of Herefordshire.

And the sheep? We do not have long to wait, Peregrine is describing the untimely death of Arthur's father, when .....

PEREGRINE:
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Inventor of the Halfshaft All-Purpose Folding Mechanical Pulpit, Simeon was preaching at an outdoor service at Greater Dripple, a mile or so further upstream from Much Dripple, when, warming to his text of Job's warhorse the glory of whose nostrils is terrible and who saith among the trumpets ha-ha, he was suddenly so beset with giggles that he accidentally struck the retraction lever, causing the contraption immediately to fold itself to its carrying size.
GLORIA: Two feet by three feet by six inches deep.
PEREGRINE: Since Simeon was a robust man of some sixteen stone, the outcome can be all too-easily imagined. Or perhaps not.

A DISTANT SHOT STILLS THE COUNTRYSIDE FX WHICH ALMOST IMMEDIATELY RESUME, EXCEPT FOR THE SHEEP
GLORIA: Letitia was at last a widow and by all accounts brightened up considerably.

Arthur's one time variation headmaster, Mr. Gristlehas an unusual variation on the cuckoo clock.

GRISTLE:

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Here you see-flogged for speaking in class.

And again here for not speaking in class.

Next day flogged for dumb insolence; thrashed the day after for mute insult and so it went on.
PEREGRINE: And on and on.
GLORIA: And oń
GRISTLE: (LAUGHING HEARTILY IN AGREEMENT) And on and on and on and on. Yes.

SILENCE. THE CLOCK STOPS AND THEN THE DOG BEGINS BARKING OUTSIDE. THERE IS A SHOT. THE CLOCK LURCHES INTO LIFE AGAIN BUT THE SAME CANNOT BE SAID FOR THE DOG. THE CLOCK BUILDS UP TO STRIKING THE HOUR OF FOUR. FOUR OF THE SWISH-SWACK LEADING TO FOUR VERY DEFINITIVE THWACKS.
GRISTLE: (JOVIALLY) Jolly good. Four o'thwack. Time for a wadge and a beaker of milk, will you?

PEREGRINE AND GLORIA BEGIN TO MAKE FERVENT BUT TENTATIVE EXCUSES, AD LIB considerably.

It is not only animals that are shot at in the English countryside

PEREGRINE:
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Anyway, home came the scholar to the meandering banks of the Dripple - much diminished due to drought-
GLORIA: And to the rural serenity of the delicious county of Herefordshire.
PEREGRINE: GLORIA: He had but one regret. He had been the only man of his year not to be recruited to the Russian Secret Service by a homosexual Don. This hurt him a great deal.

A TRACTOR HAS BEEN HEARD APPROACHING DURING THE LAST FEW SPEECHES.
GLORIA: I rather think the star of our little lecture is approaching.

THE TRACTOR STOPS AND MOVES INTO NEUTRAL AS DIMMITTY JOINS GLORIA AND PERRY. AD LIB GREETINGS AND THANKS TO THE SILENT DRIVE. THE TRACTOR CLANKS INTO GEAR AND BEGINS TO MOVE AWAY.
GLORIA: (ABOVE THE ENGINE NOISE) There can be no-one in our splendid county who has not heard of our famous folk-singer, Dimmitty.

A SHOT RINGS OUT AND THE TRACTOR IS SILENT.
DIMMITTY: Arpy?
PEREGRINE: (ASIDE) He's asking Gloria how she is.
GLORIA: (SELF-CONSCIOUSLY) Munt grubble, cubby wuss.
PEREGRINE: (ASIDE) To which Gloria has just replied that she has nothing to complain about and in fact matters could be much worse.

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We also recommend the following radio scripts: Polaris by Fay Weldon in Best Radio Plays of 1978, I Never Killed My German and Of the Levitation at St Michael's by Carey Harrison in A Suffolk Trilogy, The Village Fete by Peter Tinniswood in Best Radio Plays of 1987, Cigarettes and Chocolate by Anthony Minghella in Best Radio Plays of 1988, Death and the Tango by John Fletcher and Song of the Forest by Tina Pepler in Best Radio Plays of 1990 and In the Native State by Tom Stoppard in Best Radio Plays of 1991.  Sadly some of these scripts are out of print.  However you should be able to order them from your local library

We also recommend the recording of Lee Hall's wonderful first radio play, I Luv U Jimmy Spud.  Lee went on to write the screenplay of Billy Elliot.