The Tea Towel Rota


This is a monologue I wrote in 2002. It hasn’t been performed yet. It tells the story of a quiet library assistant, Monica, who falls in with a young anti-abortion campaigner who makes use of her gullibility to plan a shocking act of protest.

Here’s a brief extract:

Mary said it’s not the sort of behaviour she expects from a council employee. She said I’m surprised at you Monica, I always thought you were sensible. It brings us into disrepute, she said, after all Monica, you’re well known in the community. We’re public servants, she said, and public servants do not throw eggs at the local doctor, and as for what you called him…

I didn’t say anything. She wouldn’t understand. I’m not sure I understand. I said to Brian over breakfast, I’m not a violent person as a rule. He said Monica, everyone has their breaking point, everyone has a point of no return. Sometimes you have to make a choice and your conscience tells you how to choose. You just have to listen to your conscience Monica, he said. I said would you like another egg? He said yes, and another slice of bacon if you have it.

This morning I was putting books back on the shelves when I found myself in the medical section. We have a rack of self-help leaflets, you know the sort of thing, how to give up smoking, what drugs do to you, why jogging can kill you and so on. I’ve never really noticed them before. Today, for some reason, one particular leaflet jumped right out at me. It had bold red letters on the cover. It said ‘Pregnant? Afraid?’ and it laid out the options. All the options. It gave a list of phone numbers to call. For advice.

I didn’t think I had any choice. I took all of them out of the rack. I took them out the back and put them into our little metal wastepaper basket. Mary’s cigarette lighter was in her coat. They burned so quickly. I hadn’t anticipated so much smoke, though. Our fire alarm is very sensitive. Mrs Bracegirdle was vocal in her objections to being turfed out of the doctor-nurse romance section. The fire brigade were vocal in their objections to dashing out to a non-event. Mary says I can expect disciplinary action. I met Brian for lunch in the leisure centre. He said I’ll have the grateful thanks of all the unborn children and that disciplinary action is a small price to pay, and he gave me some more leaflets to photocopy.