typical Olde Englishe pub. Low beams and a smoke-darkened plaster
ceiling are hung with horse-brasses and decorated with old pewter
tankards and rusty horse-shoes.
The pub is filled with yeomen in their traditional garb of flannel
shirts and knotted red-spotted handkerchiefs, while their moleskin
trousers are held up above their yeoman boots with knotted string.
One or two of the local yeomen are holding ten foot poles, gaily
painted with stripes. Behind the bar is a purple-nosed, bloated
landlord and a cheerful, buxom barmaid, giggling away and slapping
the odd rustic whose questing hands stray over the contours
of her fulsome figure.
The chatter is incoherently `Mummerset , with the lilting burr
of the south-western counties of 'Olde Englande'. It is loudly
animated and only interrupted by the heavy slurps of `rough'
cider that is being consumed by the gallon. The bar is decorated
with bunting, and a large sign which reads `Annual Drats Match'
hangs prominently in one corner. Into the bar comes a stranger
and the buzz of cheerful banter ceases as though cut off with
a knife. The newcomer is obviously a 'Townee'.
STRANGER: Good evening! (He walks up to the bar and addresses
the waistcoated bulky figure in shirt-sleeves behind the beer
pumps) Are you the landlord?
LANDLORD: Ah! And what if I am?
STRANGER: I'm Charles Berkeley, from the BBC. (He looks
(A reverent murmur of appropriate awe comes from the customers)
LANDLORD: (Thawing slightly) Oh! Be you now! And what brings
'ee to these 'ere parts of ourn?
BERKELEY: I'm surveying the local country pubs for a
programme we're doing on pub-games and sports, and I see by
the local paper that your pub, 'The Ruptured Pig', specializes
in the game of drats.
LANDLORD: (Amid proud cries and murmurs of assent) Ah,
drats! The Game of Games! Greatest pub-game in Olde Englande!
(Cries of Ah! Ooh! Ee! 'Er be that! Drats - 'mazin' game, noble,
aah 'tis, etc.)
BERKELEY: Have you been playing drats for long?
(This convulses the landlord who chortles happily amid general
guffaws of cidery laughter)
LANDLORD: Aah! Oh! Ho! Ho! Ho! Oh! Ah! (He goes on laughing
heartily till his eyes water and he is forced to wipe them on
his spotted handkerchief. He makes up for the liquid tears with
a hearty swig of cider) Ho! Ho! Ho! (Pause) ... or even longer!
(General cries of hearty rural laughter and rustic mirth ending
with massed swigs of cider and the concerted response:)
ALL IN BAR: Or even longer! Ah!
(The BBC man is a bit confused but presses on regardless)
BERKELEY: I wonder if you could explain the game of drats
to me? So I can get some idea of how it's played. I'll record
(The landlord has now come out from behind the bar and stands
revealed in high-braced and massively-belted corduroys and heavy
boots, just like his customers'. Obviously he enjoys great respect
from his patrons as an authority on drats)
LANDLORD: Oh! Ah, drats! 'Er be a noble sport! Sport of
kings, dukes, earls and the loike, 'er be.
VARIOUS VOICES: Ah, you tell 'em, Tom! Drats! Cor bless
my bedsocks! You tell 'em, Tom!
LANDLORD: Now drats! That is to say, the Great Game ...
(His eyes are raised reverently and the yeomen take off their
hats) has been goin' on 'ere at the Ruptured Pig for yearn!
And yearn! And yearn! And yearn! And yearn! And yearn!
(Suddenly they all stop yearning' and together take a long pull
at their cider, emptying their glasses)
ALL: Ah! Yearn!
LANDLORD: (Pointedly) They're dry! (Pronounced `droi')
BERKELEY: (A bit more confused) Eh?
LANDLORD: Droi! Now you was sayin', sir! (He breathes
meaningfully into the BBC man's face)
BERKELEY: (Getting the point) First, I insist on drinks
(In a swirl of activity, they refill their glasses and the atmosphere
LANDLORD: Now, Sir. You was askin' about drats and I
was about to show 'ee a drattin' pole. Obadiah!
(He calls over one of the besmocked yeomen carrying a pole)
This is Obadiah Smothergoose, our local champion dratter.
OBADIAH: How do?
BERKELEY: Delighted! Is that a drattin' pole?
CRIES OF: Ooh! Aah! Drattin' pole! Best made! Petrified
English bog-oak. Show 'im, Obadiah! Bog-oak 'er be.
LANDLORD: Obadiah is a tack hand - keeps his left hand
low. Show the Lunnon gentleman your drattin' pole.
(Obadiah hefts the long, gaily-coloured pole about in a professional
manner - half crouching as he does so)
LANDLORD: Now that's drattin' for you, sir! Lovely loose
knees and plenty of flexibility in his lumbar region.
(Obadiah flexes his lumbar)
ALL: Bootiful! Real drattin'!
LANDLORD: Note the drattin' pole - all lovely matured
petrified English bog-oak.
CRIES OF: Ah, lovely! Bootiful! Petrified! 'Tis!
LANDLORD: This is the foresight for alignin' the pole.
(He indicates a spring-shaped object on the end of the pole)
This is the hand-guard or Waffle-Banger.
BERKELEY: Waffle ...? (Enquiringly)
LANDLORD: (Completes it) ... Banger! Waffle-Banger. Protects
the leadin' drattin' hand at high speed. This is the Nurdle
Grip. . .
CRIES OF: Aah! The Nurdle Grip!
BERKELEY: What is it for?
LANDLORD: 'Case of nurdlin'! Naturally! 'Mazin' you didn't
CRIES OF: 'Mazin'! It's for nurdlin', naturally!
LANDLORD: And finally, (Proudly) note his Threep Danglers.
BERKELEY: (Bristling) Threep Danglers? Where?
LANDLORD: These. Danglin' down as plain as a pikestaff.
(He indicates three brightly-coloured balls dangling on woven
OBADIAH: (Filled with pride) The wife made them. She's
got a marvellous touch with my Threep Danglers.
BERKELEY: Charming! What happens now?
LANDLORD: The runnin'!
BERKELEY: The running?
LANDLORD: Exactly! You're catchin' on fast. But afore
the runnin' comes the wettin'.
CRIES OF: Afore the runnin' comes the wettin'.
LANDLORD: In water. Obadiah first wets his boots in spring
LANDLORD: For the grip. He must have a good wet grip
with his boots or he might nurdle.
CRIES OF: Ah! Obadiah might nurdle? Never! Not Obadiah,
too much lumbar! Not nurdle - never! (Some of them are quite
LANDLORD: Every dratter has to face facts. There is always
the danger of nurdlin'. If you be afraid you might nurdle, then
I say - don't drat.
CHORUS: Aah! Don't drat! Not if you be nurdle-shy.
BERKELEY: Sounds dangerous.
LANDLORD: Oh! Terrible perilous, drattin' be.
BERKELEY: Well, now Obadiah has wetted himself, can we
see a running?
LANDLORD: So you shall, sir! So you shall! Ted Mossop
will be Lurker.
BERKELEY: Did you say Lurker?
LANDLORD: Aah, Lurker! See! The dratter has to 'ave a
Lurker to lurk by the door, ready to open it and let him out
for the drat run.
BERKELEY: I see! (He doesn't but he feels he must say
LANDLORD: Now, Obadiah gives his signals to the Lurker,
who replies in the time-honoured manner of his lurkin' forefathers.
All right, Obadiah! Let's drat!
OBADIAH: (Shouting to the Lurker) Queen Anne's bloomers.
LURKER: (Tensely at the door) Henry the Eighth's kneecaps.
OBADIAH: (Loudly) Disraeli's bedpan.
LURKER: (Throwing open the door) Gladstone's big brown
(With the pub door open Obadiah runs out, holding his dratting
pole like a lance. Thunderous applause from all and then deathly
silence as the Lurker slams the pub door. Everyone is frozen
like statues now listening intently to the sound of the dratting
BERKELEY: I say! What?
LANDLORD: (Fiercely) Quiet, Sir! 'Tis a drat.
(As the tableau of rigid, listening yeomen seems locked into
immobility, we hear Obadiah's running footsteps disappearing
into the distance. He runs over gravel, then tarmac and pavement,
on to sand and finally his footsteps fade into silence. During
the running he crashes into and through various obstacles that
crunch and disintegrate - loudly culminating in the distant
sound of a huge pane of glass shattering)
LANDLORD: (Relaxing visibly) Twenty-two! (He turns and
marks the score on a large blackboard next to Obadiah's name)
BERKELEY: Was that good?
LANDLORD: Not bad. But at one moment I thought he'd nearly
VOICE: Never! Not Obadiah. Too much lumbar, he'm got.
Don't 'ee say that 'bout Obadiah!
LANDLORD: (Placatingly) I said nearly nurdled. Could
happen. Even to Obadiah.
(Another drafter has taken Obadiah's place, hefting his slightly
different drat pole, but standing reversed with his back to
LANDLORD: This 'n be Hezekiah Trumbleweed. 'E's a southpaw.
That's a left-hander.
BERKELEY: How unusual.
LANDLORD: Unique. That's what Hezekiah is - unique. Only
left-handed dratter in the county.
BERKELEY: How many dratters are there in all?
LANDLORD: Countin' Obadiah Smothergoose? (Counts carefully)
Two. Hezekiah's the other one.
(Hezekiah has had a wooden tub filled with a white liquid placed
BERKELEY: (Pointing) That's not water.
LANDLORD: Pig's milk. Hezekiah is an international.
(All remove hats. Hezekiah wets his boots in pig's milk and
signals the Lurker)
HEZEKIAH: (Shouting) Old Mother Reilly's incontinence knickers.
LURKER: Richard the Third's hump.
HEZEKIAH: King William's rupture appliance.
LURKER: King George's codpiece!
(At this last piece of historical information Hezekiah starts
his dratting run, with the Lurker whipping the door smartly
open and then slamming it shut. Everyone, including Berkeley,
freezes into intense listening poses. The sound of Hezekiah's
run is subtly different from Obadiah's - a blend of splintering
sounds, a ricochet and accompanying breaking glass and as the
footsteps die away, a rending crunch of impacted metal - with
a sharp cry. Groans from the assembled drat fans)
LANDLORD: I hate sayin' it 'bout Hezekiah, but that were
a very near nurdle.
CRIES OF: Aah! Nearly nurdled did Hezekiah. Never thought
oid live to see the day. Bloody careless! Man could do himself
a mischief like that, aah! Nearly nurdled at the third hazard.
Nasty. Very nasty.
LANDLORD: Still, he didn't.
BERKELEY: Didn't what?
LANDLORD: Nurdle. That's what he didn't. There's an old
saying in these 'ere parts. So long as 'ee doesn't nurdle, 'ee
be on the straight and narrow, loike.
ALL: Aah! (Hats off) Keep to the straight and narrow
and the Lord protect us from nurdlin'.
LANDLORD et al.: Amen.
BERKELEY: Amen, I say. Do you think I could have a go?
LANDLORD: What, Sir?
BERKELEY: I'd like to try a running.
CRIES OF: (In amused amazement) Ooh! Aah! Well, I'll
be nurdled. And 'im nobbut a lad.
LANDLORD: I admire your pluck, sir. Well, boys. (He addresses
the yeomen) What do 'ee think?
YEOMEN: Aah! Admirable. Very plucky. Spunky lad. Aah,
why not 'ave a go, lad?
LANDLORD: 'Ere's a spare pole. (Berkeley grabs it) Now,
sir, nice loose knees ...
(Berkeley crouches, bouncing up and down)
LANDLORD: Little more lumbar. (Berkeley gives a bit more
LANDLORD: That's good.
BERKELEY: Shall I use the pig's milk?
LANDLORD: (Reluctantly) No, sir!
BERKELEY: (Already putting one foot towards the water
bucket) The water, then?
LANDLORD: (Horrified) Not in Obadiah Smothergoose's water,
BERKELEY: (Confused) Sorry.
LANDLORD: You try a nice dry run, sir. Less chance of
you nurdlin' on your first drat run. Now I'll give your signals
to the Lurker.
(He tenses for the run, a look of do-or-die determination on
LANDLORD: (Shouting) Teddy Roosevelt's spectacles.
LURKER: Queen Mary's toenails.
LANDLORD: Lloyd George's bunions.
LURKER: Kitchener needs you. (Points to Berkeley)
LANDLORD: That's you, sir. Away you go!
(With great concentration, the BBC spokesman runs, clumsily,
past the Lurker and through the open door, which slams shut
behind him with an ominous clang. Everyone listens in rapt silence
as we hear Berkeley's stumbling run over gravel, pavement, grass
and muddy terrain, crashing through and past various deadly
obstacles, which crunch and disentegrate. Then suddenly there
is a cry of despair, the sound of an approaching express train,
a tearing skid and a car-crash, followed by a dying scream as
Berkeley falls over a cliff into the sea far below. This ends
abruptly in a distant splash. In mute horror the yeomanry remove
their hats and stand with bowed heads)
LANDLORD: (In subdued shock) Drat me! He nurdled!
CHORUS: Aah! Poor bugger.