In the summer, we ran an online course for our members on How to Write a Monologue. We then invited participants to submit their monologues to us and promised to publish our favourite ones on the blog!
We received some fantastic entries which encapsulated some vibrant characters with unique voices, so it was a difficult task to choose the ones we wanted to showcase. However, we managed to make our selection and we’ll be publishing them over the next few weeks…
This week’s selection: The Wrong Leg by Rupert Mallin
Rupert has variously worked in community arts and as a teacher. He has had much poetry published from1970s to 1990s. Two plays on BBC Radio 4 1990s and various small theatre projects since then. From around 2005 he turned to visual arts and have my own city centre studio. Rupert is involved with ‘Creative Working Lives,’ a group of older people who have been squeezed out of working in public services. They put on exhibitions, small shows and make short films.
‘The Wrong Leg’ is a monologue based off of something similar which happened to my best friend’s 89 year old mum in May. Unfortunately, her mum is still in hospital and is among the bravest, warmest people I’ve ever met.
The Wrong Leg
By Rupert Mallin
HOSPITAL WARD. MAUREEN SITS IN AN ARMCHAIR WITH HER LEGS UP, COVERED IN BLANKETS.
Aren’t the flowers lovely? Put them out of the way, Dear. That’s it. And thank you for the jigsaw…
I shouldn’t be here. Pops found me on the floor – middle of the night. I sleep on a chair at home – a fancy expanding chair. Press the button and you’re lying down, press the button again and you’re sitting up! Trouble was, I kept my finger on the button and I just kept going up! Was ejected without a parachute – crash I went on the floor.
We waited three hours for an ambulance. If it had been daylight though, I might have got a ride in a helicopter. Well, there you are. Took me to hospital along the A47. Very busy. Road. Hospital.
Pain in my leg. A rotten pain. They took me for an x-ray and, guess what? No fracture at all! Just bruising, they said.
Pops got up with a terrible start – steam coming out of his ears: “That’s an x-ray of her left leg. What about her right leg?”
“What about her right leg? She only complained about pain in her left!” said the nurse in charge.
Pops went apoplectic: “She’s paralysed in her right leg! Been paralysed in that leg for thirty-three years! She only feels pain in her left leg!”
Thought he was going to explode. Well, there you are. Apologies all round and then they took an x-ray of my right leg: clean break high across my thigh bone! And I didn’t feel a thing – in that leg!
Six more weeks in here before I get out. Could be more. Got a thigh to toe plaster and they’ve put some kind of bolt in my leg – some sort of hinge. Of course, I won’t be able to use the leg but I need to stand on it, so Pops can hoist me up properly. On his own. And swing me about in the harness.
But with a lump of metal in my leg, will I be magnetised? I don’t want to find myself stuck to the fridge door. Or worse, Pops can’t get me out of the wheel chair because of me magnetisation.
“If you can’t say something nice, don’t speak at all.” We were brought up on that round here. If you can’t say nice, zip it. Well, there you are.
It’s a bit quiet on this ward though. We don’t say a lot to each other. Just “You’re awake now then?” And “It’s raining again.” And things like that to pass the time. Mostly we dose. And if we’re not dosing we’re asleep. Sometimes, I have a funny old dream…
LIGHTS FADE TO BLACKOUT. SPOTLIGHT UP ON MAUREEN WHO THROWS OFF BLANKETS AND FAST UP ON HER FEET – DANCING
All washing’s been done and dried in the drum
I’ve polished and dusted and cleaned out the bin
Kids have been fed and are tucked up in bed
Dinner’s been eaten and Pop’s in the shed
Finally it’s my time to let go and relax
Away from the chores and polishing wax
Me and my radio, volume on max
Oh no, not this one – it’s Jumpin Jack Flash!
SPOT TO BLACKOUT. LIGHTS UP ON MAUREEN SLUMPED IN THE ARMCHAIR WITH HER FEET UP COVERED IN BLANKETS AS BEFORE
Glad Pops noticed it was the wrong leg. You hear all sorts about people coming in to hospital and having the wrong limb taken off. Doesn’t happen all the time, does it? Take jockeys, they’re breaking bones all the time. If they took the wrong limbs off, well. You can’t have legless little men riding horses at the races, can you?
But if you’re able I suppose you can do anything, even if you can’t hang on properly. Wind surfing, wing walking. I wouldn’t want to. I prefer jigsaws. Slowly, piece by piece, you put the picture together – and what a picture it is – country scenes, Winter, penguins, dogs, people, boats, The Broads – five hundred, a thousand piece jigsaws – all in living colour. Magic how you can put it all together… Well, there you are.
If reading this gets you in the monologue writing mood, you can still access the course on our members’ site here. If you’re not a member yet, sign up here!
Catch last week’s featured monologue here.