The Reliant Robin Workshop Manual


The last play of mine to be performed, in 2003, before I took a break from writing to spend many happy hours on a train between Glasgow and Edinburgh. This play was inspired by a line in a Mike Harding play that said no-one would ever turn the Reliant Robin Workshop Manual into a play…

Isla: A blonde in a red convertible pulls up outside the house.

Ted: It’s always a blonde. It’s always a red convertible.

Isla: She’s not as young as she looks. Look closer. The neck’s going a bit. The crow’s feet are getting deeper. The mascara’s a bit too thick.

Ted: The door of the house opens.

Isla: A man comes out and walks quickly to her car. Gets in.

Ted: She’s kept the engine running, kept the clutch in, kept it in gear.

Isla: The tyres squeal. Smoke. She pulls away.

Ted: He doesn’t look back.

Isla: In the house, a curtain twitches.

Ted: Her blonde hair streams in the wind.

Isla: The car turns a corner.


Ju: He didn’t say goodbye.


Ju: Have you ever stood next to someone on a station platform with a train coming in and thought how easy it would be, just one push and they’d be gone? One split second. One push. That’s all it would take.

That’s the opening, and from later in the play:

Ju: It’s dark outside the school. No-one here. No lights on. I’m lying on the pavement. There’s a car engine in the distance. Going away from me. There’s nothing in my mouth any more, nothing over my eyes. It’s a clear night. I can see the stars. They’re so bright. I can’t feel anything. There’s nothing to feel. I get up. It’s cold. There’s a white frost on the street. I start to walk home. My legs are moving but I don’t notice them. I don’t notice anything. I start to wonder what happened. I know what happened. And I wonder how I’m going to explain it to them. And I know I won’t need to. OK, they think I’m silly, surly, moody but they’ll understand. They have to understand. They’ll find him. They’ll stop him. They’ll kill him. And I can keep walking, because I know this is true.


Ted: I don’t take photographs. I’ll just keep your image in my head. In the memory. My mind’s eye. I can rely on that. You’ll always be there. You see, Ju, I know your name. I know you. You don’t know my name. Everyone wants to do it. The random act of violence, Ju. But most people reject it. They’re afraid of the consequences. Of what will happen to their lives. But not me. That’s our secret. You don’t know where you are, you don’t know who I am, but you’ll remember me. This has all been in your mind. A product of your imagination. Fertile brains you children have, don’t you? I’ll take you back now, Ju. Right back to the beginning. Right back.

Ju: I wake up on the street, looking at the stars. There’s a car driving away, fast. I get up. I’m outside the school. It’s very dark. My watch has stopped. Better walk home. Need to get home. What’s the quickest way? The park. Go through the park. It’s very dark. Mind the grass, the slope. Don’t slip, don’t… Fall, the concrete path, my head… Nothing. I don’t remember anything. It’s light. I’m getting up. The grass is wet. My clothes are wet. Got to get home.