The Coachman (Play)

It is March 1940 and Britain is at war with Germany. William Carsell-Brown has received his call-up papers and will enlist as an officer with a local regiment heading for France. He is an accountant who lives with his pretty young wife of two years in a rural Scottish village, situated on picturesque Loch Fyne. However, he is not a man to engage in conflict and with his father-in-law a World War 1 hero, William feels that he will not fulfil his family’s expectations. Depressed, he heads for a public house in the village to drown his sorrows. Two hours later, a stranger appears in the small quaint outlet and spots dejected William slumped in a corner. The stranger approaches and attempts to befriend him. After a chat, an inconsolable and intoxicated William stands and then staggers out of the public house. The stranger follows him to a sports car parked in a nearby lane. As William is about to get into his car, the stranger insists on being the driver. Eventually, William listens to reason and hands over the car keys.

The following day, William’s wife Olivia waits anxiously for him to arrive home. Whilst preparing dinner, Olivia ponders over what happened yesterday evening and her subsequent chat with a man called James Carlisle. By driving William home, he prevented a serious accident. Olivia hears the front door open and then close.

“Is that you, William?” Olivia stirs a pot of stew on the stove.

William hangs his charcoal double-breasted jacket on the hall coatstand, then enters the kitchen.

Olivia stops stirring and looks at her husband. “How do you feel?”

He gives her a kiss. “Still a tad fragile.” William sniffs the air. “But have an appetite.”

“I did what you asked and met with James Carlisle to thank him.”

“Splendid.” William gives a faint smile. “And I will curtail my drinking.”

“Promise?”

“Promise.” William walks to the white ceramic sink, fills a tumbler with water, then takes a swig. “That’s better!”

Olivia resumes stirring the pot. “William?”

“Yes?” He places the tumbler on the sink.

“Do you recall your parents telling us about Aunt Lydia’s accident?”

“It happened not long after our wedding.” William loosens his necktie. “She was staying in Glasgow and had a fall in her hotel room. Why?”

“Did they mention James Carlisle being in the vicinity?”

“Yes, they did.” William picks up a newspaper from the wooden kitchen table, then sits down on a nearby chair.

“Why was he in Glasgow?”

“Not sure.” William unfolds the newspaper. “Whilst there, he visited Lydia, found her lying injured and then alerted the hotel staff.”

Olivia sprinkles salt into the pot. “Before moving to America, which lady member of the family lived at your parent’s property?” Olivia glances at William. “She sailed on the Titanic.”

“Elizabeth?” William opens the broadsheet newspaper. “Yes, Elizabeth.”

“Was she involved in an accident?”

“I’m not sure.” William reads the front-page.

“Did the housekeeper not tell Geoffrey and yourself about the coachman who prevented her from being trampled on by a runaway horse?”

William pauses. “Yes, I remember now.” He turns the page. “I believe the coachman pushed her out of its path, but was injured in the process.”

“What happened to him?”

“He ended up in the hospital at Lochgilphead.” William turns another page.

“After that, what became of him?”

“He left.” William coughs. “However, Nancy believed that he would return one day.”

“Can you recall his name?”

“John, I think.”

“James?” Olivia glances at William.

“It may have been.” William sneezes.

“Bless you.”

“He also worked for a short time as a coachman for the first residents of the property, Charles and Mary.”

“When?”

“Before the new century.” William looks at Olivia. “Why all the questions?”

Olivia stops stirring. “I would speculate an accident was also averted there.”

“What are you eluding to?”

“Did Nancy discuss the first family?” Olivia adjusts her white patterned apron.

“Only on one occasion, a problem which related to the coach.”

“The coach?”

“Something to do with one of the wheels.” William turns another page. “The coachman took it to a firm for repair.”

“Why would Nancy tell you?”

“I overheard her conversation with my mother.” William lays down the newspaper and looks at Olivia. “When Mary Carsell-Brown received the bill for mending the coach, she was not pleased.”

“Why?”

“Too expensive.”

“Really?”

“Nancy thought how ungrateful. If the coach had not been repaired then someone could have received a nasty injury.”

“I agree.”

“Mother concluded that Mary blamed the coachman and that was why he left.”

Olivia pauses. “William, I feel this could be the same person who brought you home last night.” She stares at William. “He is at the scene of a potential accident concerning our family, intervenes and prevents serious injury. Also, he has the same name.”

“Lydia only had a slight fall.”

“And taken to hospital where she remained for three weeks! If James Carlisle had not discovered her, the consequences could have been drastic.”

“It can’t be the same person.” William puts the newspaper aside. “The coachman would now be about eighty years old, whereas James Carlisle is in his late thirties.”

“What if the coachman is someone who can travel through time and does not age?”

“Similar to the tale Geoffrey and I made up when we were children.” William grins.

Olivia raises her thin dark eyebrows. “Oh?”

“We found a book in the old coach house titled The Time Machine and then

told all our friends that the former coachman was a time traveller.”

“But have there not been sightings of him throughout the ages?”

“Olivia, they are just rumours. Besides, James Carlisle was not wearing a coachman’s outfit last night!”

“When I discussed my grandmother and father with him, he appeared to know them.” Olivia stares. “Why the curious expression?”

“I have remembered something from last night.” William pauses. “James spoke of your father being posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross in 1916, but I didn’t reveal that to him.”

“Are you sure?”

“I had a skinful, but would have recalled telling him.”

“How could he have known?”

William shrugs his shoulders. “Perhaps someone in the village told him.”

“You have that expression again.”

“Before Nancy retired in 1926, she made Geoffrey and I promise not to enter the upstairs coachman’s quarters in the coach house.”

“Why?”

“She told us part of the floor was unsafe, therefore, we

could only play downstairs.”

“And did you?”

William shakes his head. “The access door to upstairs was locked, however, we managed to find a key.”

Olivia sits down opposite William.

“We crept up the creaky staircase and then looked around.”

“And?”

“The solitary interest being a closet.” William twirls his brown moustache. “The door wouldn’t budge, but Geoffrey used his strength to open it.”

“Was anything in the closet?”

“A package, cash box and a letter.”

“Whose name was on it?”

William pauses. “James.”

Olivia leans forward. “What did you do next?”

“We went back downstairs and when father found out where we had been, he gave us a ticking off.”

“Could the letter still be there?”

“Fourteen years have passed and although the coach house has not been in use, father would have gone upstairs within that time and removed the items.”

“There is no reason for him to enter the closet.”

“If the letter is not there, are you suggesting James has taken it?”

“The letter did state his name, perhaps Nancy left it for him?”

“You are only speculating, Olivia.”

Olivia remains silent.

“Besides, the door which leads upstairs is kept locked, therefore, how would he gain access?”

“Maybe he appears and disappears from the coachman’s quarters. It could be a gateway through time. The sightings of him throughout the decades have been near the coach house.”

“Since there is no time machine, how could he travel?” William grins. “Olivia, your theory is far-fetched.”

“When your parents return from Edinburgh, we will visit them and take a look around the coach house.” Olivia sits back on the chair. “There is another way to find out if James Carlisle and the coachman are the same person.”

“How?”

“An eye-witness. My grandmother met the coachman, however, she is unwell at present.”

“When?”

“1896. According to her, he arrived in a shiny black coach with two white horses and had come to collect a parcel for his employer.”

“No Royal Mail in those days. A coachman’s duties would include being a courier.”

“My grandmother found him charming.”

William gives a faint smile.

“I also recall her telling me that he wore a black hat, red coat, black trousers and dark leather boots up to his knees. Very smart, she added.”

“What about her friends?”

“They have either passed away, or being cared for.”

“The problem is finding someone in the village who met the coachman.”

“What about employee records? Past owners must have kept details of those who worked at the property.”

“They would be classed as casual labour and paid cash out of the owner’s pocket.”

“Are you sure?”

William nods his head.

“Wait a minute! What about Angus, the original gardener?”

“Mother spoke to him at Nancy’s funeral two years ago and mentioned he was frail.”

“He will be at least seventy.”

“I heard from a colleague that his son now runs the family business.”

“I shall locate the premises and pay his son a visit tomorrow.” Olivia smiles. “Perhaps Angus will be there but if not, I’ll find out where he stays.” Olivia stands. “As James Carlisle is at present in the village, Angus can confirm my suspicion.”

“Do not get your hopes up, Olivia.”

Olivia departs the kitchen.

William pulls out a silver coin from his trouser pocket, which he had discovered this morning under the driver’s seat. Examining the seven-sided coin, it does not have a King’s image, but that of a Queen. The date on the coin is 2021.

 

 

1929 New York

J Logan NY Actress

‘Roaring Twenties’ lifestyle – jazz, speakeasy’s, loud music and prohibition.

Fast way of life – male expectancy 53, female 54.

Cinema – ‘talkies’ beginning to appear.

Broadway – theatres are popular with affluent New Yorkers.

Radio – a must for households. (live baseball games)

Average Ford automobile – $290.

Consumer growth has fallen since 1925.

Wall Street Crash – October.

For an authentic 1929 New York drama, read The Time Jigsaw Deliverance!

Merry Christmas

Image

Tuesday 25th December 1945

 

William Carsell-Brown came downstairs and gazed at the eight-foot tall Christmas tree which stood proudly in the hall.  He spotted a red bauble on the brown lino floor, picked it up and put it back onto the decorated tree.  William then walked into the warm living room towards a large rectangular brass rimmed mirror surrounded by green holly and white tinsel.  The mirror was above the grey stone fireplace whose mantelpiece displayed a selection of Christmas greeting cards.  William stood a safe distance from the open fireplace, looked downwards at the roaring coal fire then upwards whilst straightening his deep red necktie.  He stood back from the mirror and stared into it.  As Olivia entered the room, William smiled.

    “It is appropriate for Christmas Day William, the necktie matches your white shirt and dark attire.”

    “If I don’t wear it today, mother will carry out an inquisition!”

    “I would presume so.”

     William turned to face Olivia.  “You look delightful darling.”

      She walked over to her husband and kissed him on the cheek.  “Thank you.”

      “The mistletoe is in the hall Olivia.”  William laughed whilst admiring her elegant black dress.

     Olivia adjusted her gold bracelet and stared at the clock on the dark wooden sideboard.  “Gosh, is that the time?  Your parents will soon be here!” 

      “Don’t worry darling, as usual you have everything under control.”

      “Perhaps this Christmas I will be able to relax.”     

      “Darling, can I taste a piece of turkey?”

      “No, you will have to wait until the meal is served.”

      William smiled, “okay.” 

      Olivia walked over to the living room bay window.  “We certainly got our white Christmas.”  

      William followed and stood beside her.  “Later this evening, you can play the Bing Crosby recording of the song on the radiogram.  The song is appropriate for this time of year, it also revives memories.” 

      “Yes, it does.”  I wonder where James Carsell-Brown is at this festive time?  Is he with his loved ones? 

      “A penny for them Olivia.”

      She smiled, “just thinking of the past William.”

      William hugged his pretty wife.  “War is now over Olivia.”

      I wasn’t thinking of the war. 

      “People can return to a happier way of life – however austere.  Mind you, Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour Government will have their work cut out to improve the economy.”

      “Given what happened during the war, we are fortunate to have our family together.”

      William smiled, “and I still drive with caution.”

      “Thanks to a certain individual.”

      “I am grateful to him.  Wherever James may be, I hope he is having a joyful Christmas.”

      Olivia kissed William and then looked out of the frosty bay window.  Thank you Mr Time Traveller for saving my husband’s life five years ago.  Will we ever see you again?  Merry Christmas wherever you are.

     

 

1967 The Summer of Love

1967 The Summer of Love

A term renowned for ‘hanging out’ in San Francisco plus other major American cities and used for the title of the penultimate chapter. A time synonymous for free love and taking drugs. In Britain, women’s contraception in the form of a birth control pill was introduced. For men, fashionable attire revolved around London’s Carnaby Street. The hot summer and culture of this year encouraged the birth of a permissive society. Shackles were discarded and a ‘wind of change’ in Britain had begun.

After twenty-seven years, Abigail Anderson is reunited with the time traveller. When they last met, Abigail was a young girl. Now in her mid-thirties, she is an attractive fun-loving lady. The summer of 1967 would turn out to be a special time for both of them.