On

The Origin of Modesty

By Means of Common Practice

Or

The Preservation of Pubic Hair in the Evolution of Humanity

By

Charlie Darkwind [I used a pseudonym for the purposes of a playwriting competition]

Cast

Vic:   Bearded Vicar         45-55

He:   Hunky Young Man   18-20

She:  Beautiful Girl          18-20

Eve:  African Woman       45-50

Gor:  Puny Young Man     18-20

Set

The Play is set in three grassy outdoor locations, with minor variations, together with a pulpit away from the main stage.

Costumes

Though the Play is intended to be performed with full nudity, it could equally be done in ‘nude’ body stockings which exaggerate the characters’ physical attributes.

~

A CONGREGATION SINGS THE FINAL CHORUS OF “ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL” FOLLOWED BY SOUNDS OF COUGHING AND FOOT SHUFFLING AS THE CONGREGATION SITS. SPOTLIGHT COMES UP ON A MIDDLE-AGED, BEARDED VICAR IN THE PULPIT.

Vic:     The text this morning is from Genesis, Chapter Two.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat:

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept; and he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from the man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

SPOTLIGHT GOES DOWN ON THE PULPIT AND LIGHTS COME UP ON THE GARDEN, IN WHICH A YOUNG MAN IS LYING ASLEEP, NAKED, UNDER A TREE ON WHICH HANGS AN APPLE. THERE IS THE SOUND OF BIRDSONG THROUGHOUT THE SCENE. A NAKED YOUNG WOMAN, WITH NO PUBIC HAIR, ENTERS AND STANDS NEAR HIM. THEY BOTH HAVE VERY IMPRESSIVE BODIES WITH INSTANT SEX APPEAL. THE MAN WAKES.

She:    Hello.

He:      Hello.

She:    Sorry. Am I disturbing you?

He:      No. Not at all. I’m delighted to see you.

She:    That’s good. You see, I’ve only just got here and I’m finding my way around.

He:      I’ve never seen you here before. Where have you come from? (HE RUBS HIS RIBCAGE)

She:    Not far away. You’ve obviously been here long enough to have got tired of it.

He:      No. I’ve only been here a few hours but I had to attend to all the animals, which was quite an exhausting business, so I was just having a little nap.

She:    Sleeping on the job, were you?

He:      No. I’d finished my work for the day.

She:    Are all the animals yours, then?

He:      Not exactly, but I am responsible for looking after them.

She:    I’ve seen quite a few of them. Actually, some of them are a bit scary.

He:      Don’t worry. They’re all perfectly harmless.

She:    Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s a wonderful idea to have them all here. It’s like a paradise on earth, and it’s not the bigger ones I mind. It’s all the insects I don’t like.

He:      Yes, they are a bit irritating but they’re not harmful.

She:    Do you know the manager of this place?

He:      Sort of. Though he prefers to be called the overseer. He’s – like – my father.

She:    Your father!

He:      Sort of. He’s been like a father to me. He made me what I am today. He picked me up off the ground and turned me into a human being.

She:    You must know him really well.

He:      Not really. He’s very difficult to know well. He’s so busy wrapped up in his grand plans. Hopefully, now he’s got this place off the ground, he may have a bit of time to rest. It really has been a monumental effort, as I’m sure you can imagine. And such a tight deadline.

She:    You mean, he created this place single-handedly?

He:      Yes. It was his planning that got it started.

She:    You must have had a hand in it.

He:      No. I had nothing to do with it until it was practically finished. Now it’s our land.

She:    Our land? I thought this was Lord God’s land.

He:      It is. Or rather, it was. He’s left it to us now.

She:    Us?

He:      You and me and everyone else who comes here. It’s the people’s land. You have heard of Lord God then?

She:    Oh, yes. He brought me here. (PAUSE) Did you ever meet him?

He:      I’ve heard him speaking, but I never actually met him.

She:    What was your impression of him?

He:      He sounded like a very benevolent old man.

She:    Yes. That was what I thought too. (PAUSE) So, we can just do whatever we like here.

He:      As long as you abide by the rules.

She:    What rules?

He:      Well, for instance, you mustn’t eat the fruit on this tree.

She:    You’re kidding.

He:      No. It’s forbidden fruit.

She:    Why?

He:      Because. For all you know, it may be poisonous or something.

She:    Then why has it been put here, putting temptation in our way, if it’s poisonous?

He:      I don’t know.

She:    I want to try it.

He:      No, you mustn’t.

She:    Come on. Who’s going to know, apart from you and me? (SHE PICKS THE APPLE) There, now I’ve picked it, I may as well eat it. (SHE TAKES A BITE) It’s gorgeous. Here, try some. (HE TAKES A BITE AND SHE CONTINUES EATING IT, SOMEWHAT SUGGESTIVELY) What’s the matter? Why are you doing that?

He:      (CLUTCHING HIS GENITALS IN HIS HANDS) I’m ashamed.

She:    Why?

He:      I’ve got an embarrassing condition.

She:    Why?

He:      Because you’re naked.

She:    So are you.

He:      I know. I’m suffering from lust.

She:    What’s wrong with that? I’m quite flattered.

He:      It’s not allowed.

She:    Why not?

He:      (QUOTING, PIOUSLY) A woman’s body should be a thing of beauty, not an object of lust.

She:    Why can’t it be both?

He:      Don’t you understand? If my father finds out, he won’t be pleased. We’ll both get thrown out of here. We can’t be seen like this. We must go and hide. (HE GOES OFF INTO THE BUSHES)

She:    Hey, what’s the rush? Wait for me. (SHE FOLLOWS HIM)

LIGHTS FADE ON GARDEN AND SPOTLIGHT COMES UP ON THE PULPIT. IN ORDER TO PROVIDE VISUAL DISTRACTION FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT, THE SET SHOULD BE CHANGED DURING THIS SPEECH AND THE VICAR’S SUBSEQUENT SPEECHES.

Vic:     Until about two hundred years ago, that seemingly preposterous story and similar creation myths were widely accepted as the only ways to account for the existence of the universe and life and all living species. Then, in the nineteenth century, speculation began to grow about the possibility that all species had evolved from simpler species. Due to his social standing, a man called Charles Darwin gained much attention for his theory of evolution by natural selection, as explained in his book, The Origin of Species, which caused a furore when it was published in 1859. According to Darwin and his followers, life originated on this planet millions of years ago in the form of simple bacteria cells and all the species in existence now have evolved from those bacteria cells. Minor inheritable variations, which have been called mutations, have regularly been occurring to all living organisms throughout that time and natural selection has ensured that the variations that prosper are the ones that enable their possessors to survive and reproduce more effectively than their competitors. The inheritors of those beneficial variations are better adapted to the environments they inhabit than their competitors, so they survive to have more descendants who may also inherit the same variations. A failsafe mechanism for ensuring constant improvement. Our own species has supposedly evolved from an ape-like ancestor who was also the ancestor of our cousins, the gorillas and chimpanzees. While the ancestors of gorillas and chimpanzees remained in the forests, our own ancestors came out of the forests to live on the plains or by the seaside, or by the shores of the lakes in the East African Great Rift Valley. In doing so, they changed. Most crucially, they walked upright, lost most of their body hair, and developed bigger brains. According to some scientists, from different disciplines, the reason our ancestors developed bigger brains was because of an enriched diet, most notably through eating fish. (JOVIALLY) So it seems the old adage about fish being good for the brain is true after all. Furthermore, biochemical evidence suggests that all human beings alive today are descended from one woman, who has been called Supereve, who lived in Africa about 150,000 years ago. She would have been one of the many early members of the species homo sapiens to have evolved from the parent species homo erectus. The only thing that was special about her is that her descendants travelled all over the world.

SPOTLIGHT GOES DOWN ON THE PULPIT AND LIGHTS COME UP ON THE GARDEN WHICH SHOULD BE LESS IDYLLIC AND MORE RUGGED THAN BEFORE. THERE SHOULD BE EVIDENCE OF DEATH AROUND IN THE FORM OF AN ANIMAL SKIN RUG ON A LARGE FALLEN TREE TRUNK, ON WHICH A NAKED, MIDDLE-AGED BLACK WOMAN (EVE) IS SITTING. THOUGH NOT UNATTRACTIVE, SHE SHOULD HAVE AN UNGLAMOUROUS `EARTH MOTHER’ QUALITY. SHE IS ALMOST ALWAYS VERY CHARMING. A MAN IN A GORILLA-SUIT (COMPLETE WITH HEAD) WANDERS ON RATHER TENTATIVELY, NOT INITIALLY NOTICING EVE. HE SHOULD IDEALLY BE SMALLER THAN EVE. HE IS BOTH NERVOUS AND FASCINATED.

Gor:     Hello. Is there anyone here?

Eve:    Yes.

Gor:     Hello. Oh! I’m sorry.

Eve:    Why?

Gor:     I didn’t expect that you would be….

Eve:    Naked?

Gor:     Yes.

Eve:    I didn’t expect to meet a hairy ape. But it doesn’t bother me. Why are you sorry?

Gor:     I didn’t mean to intrude on your privacy.

Eve:    Are you sorry for me or for yourself?

Gor:     For you, I guess.

Eve:    Well, I don’t mind. I’m glad I’m naked. It’s not a disease, you know.

Gor:     No.

Eve:    As a matter of fact, I was born like this. You may think me strange if you want but please don’t feel sorry for me.

Gor:     I’m sorry. You just took me by surprise.

Eve:    Haven’t you ever come across a naked person before?

Gor:     Not in the flesh. I’ve never met one. But I have heard about you people.

Eve:    Not all bad, I trust.

Gor:     Well, in my neck of the woods, everyone thinks you’re all freaks. My dad’s dead set against you. He thinks naked flesh is disgusting and should never be seen in public, and that you should all be kept well hidden away.

Eve:    What about your mum?

Gor:     She never expresses her opinion about anything like that. She wouldn’t want to risk contradicting my dad.

Eve:    What about you?

Gor:     Well, I wouldn’t want to risk contradicting my dad either.

Eve:    But he’s not here, so what do you think?

Gor:     I think the world is a big enough place for all sorts. Live and let live is my motto.

Eve:    Good. I like you already.

Gor:     Isn’t there a place not far from here where you’ve all recently started to get together?

Eve:    Yes. There’s a lot of us about. We may still be a tiny minority but our numbers are growing all the time. At the rate we’re growing, someday we may take over the country. Who knows, maybe the world.

Gor:     You really think so?

Eve:    In my dreams, I do.

Gor:     Do you go there?

Eve:    I used to go there a lot, when I had the place to myself, but not now that all the others go there. I’m too much of a loner. You sound interested. I could tell you how to get there if you like.

Gor:     No, I couldn’t.

Eve:    Why not?

Gor:     I’d be too scared.

Eve:    They’re not threatening you know. We may be different but we’re only human beings. In fact, I’d say we’re generally more humane than the population as a whole. You could even go for a swim. There’s a large pool there. Wouldn’t you like a swim on a day like today?

Gor:     No. I’m afraid I can’t swim.

Eve:    How unfortunate for you. I used to love swimming. But you don’t have to actually swim. Just cool off. You must be awfully hot in that thick fur.

Gor:     Yes, but I couldn’t take it off. I wouldn’t even want to.

Eve:    You’d prefer to be too hot than naked? Just like most of the people I was brought up with. They were like you. But I was inherently different.

Gor:     You mean your parents were like you?

Eve:    My mother was. When I was a child, she used to wax lyrical about her youth when she was brought up in a small, isolated, naked tribe. She was happy there. But then she was sold down the river into my father’s tribe where everyone was made to associate nakedness with savagery. They made her feel like a freak. I was her first child – big-headed and flaunting my naked body everywhere I went, much to the disgust of all the elders.

Gor:     You were brought up in a primitive tribe?

Eve:    Less of the primitive, if you don’t mind. The social networks were much more complex than anything you have in your isolated family units.

Gor:     Sorry. Point taken. I’m just intrigued by the idea of tribal living. Did you catch animals for your own food and that?

Eve:    Oh, yes. And fish. As a child, I used to spend most of my life in the water catching fish. There’s nothing tastes as good as freshly-caught fish, don’t you think?

Gor:     I wouldn’t know. I’m vegetarian. I couldn’t kill an animal – not even a fish.

Eve:    Hard luck. I’m sure it was the fish that made me brainy, since my parents weren’t particularly bright. I was far and away the brightest child in the tribe. And I was always naked. I never grew out of it.

Gor:     Did that cause problems?

Eve:    Oh, yes. People told me I should be ashamed. When I got a little older, I used to think that there was something wrong with me, because I was so different from everyone else, but later, when I discovered that there were others like me, I learned to be proud of my naked body again. I realised there was nothing to be ashamed of.

Gor:     Don’t you feel at all…embarrassed?

Eve:    No. People just have to accept me as I am. Would you feel embarrassed?

Gor:     Yes.

Eve:    Most of my children did too. Mainly because they were made to feel ashamed to be naked.

Gor:     How many have you got?

Eve:    I’ve got seven children and heaven knows how many grandchildren by now, but (WISTFULLY) they all live far away, all except my youngest daughter. She’s the one who lives here with me, though I’m afraid she’s not here at the moment. I assume it’s her you’re here to see.

Gor:     I don’t know.

Eve:    She was always different to the rest – not bashful or ashamed. But then, she wasn’t brought up by her father. She went through a self-conscious phase about being naked, just like I did, but she quickly became comfortable with it again and relished the advantages. She loves being naked. And she wants everyone to know that.

Gor:     You mean…………..her friends?

Eve:    Yes. Some of her friends never felt at ease with it, and she used to get teased, but that proved to be a good way to sort out who her real friends were. (PAUSE) Why would you feel uneasy?

Gor:     I’d feel as though everyone was laughing at me.

Eve:    Are you secretly laughing at me?

Gor:     No. But most of the people I know would.

Eve:    People like you, you mean?

Gor:     Yes. My family and my mates.

Eve:    Do you tell them that you don’t?

Gor:     No.

Eve:    So they all assume that you do.

Gor:     Yes. I suppose so.

Eve:    No doubt you and your mates all enjoy looking at images of naked young women.

Gor:     (HESITANTLY) Yes.

Eve:    Because it turns you on. You get a kick out of watching naked women, being sexually provocative or having sex, because it makes you imagine doing that yourselves, but when it comes to naked people doing normal everyday things, you think it’s laughable.

Gor:     (OBVIOUSLY ASHAMED AND EMBARRASSED) I suppose so.

Eve:    Don’t be embarrassed. Sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of. You do have sex, I take it?

Gor:     Yes, of course, whenever I get the chance.

Eve:    Whenever you get the chance? So you believe in having sex with anyone who’s willing.

Gor:     As long as they’re attractive, yeah.

Eve:    Just like most males. You’re into one-night-stands then?

Gor:     No. I didn’t mean it to sound like that. If I ever found someone who was prepared to stick with me, I’d stick with her.

Eve:    Whatever she was like? You must be desperate.

Gor:     What do you mean?

Eve:    I bet you’re a virgin, aren’t you?

Gor:     No. I’ve done it loads of times.

Eve:    Come on, you can be honest with me. What difference does it make?

Gor:     Alright, I’ve only done it once.

Eve:    (GENUINELY SORRY) So, you’ve never had a regular partner.

Gor:     No.

Eve:    Why do you think that is?

Gor:     The females in my neck of the woods hardly ever seem to be interested in sex, especially not with a puny youngster like me. They just want to be friends. Even when I meet someone different – someone who does seem interested – just when I think I’m getting somewhere with her, some hulking great brute usually comes along and claims her, and she just accepts it. I spend so much time trying to impress them but they only seem to be impressed by muscles and aggression.

Eve:    It’s not the muscles and aggression they’re impressed with. It’s self-confidence. (PAUSE) So you’ve never felt comfortable or confident with your own sexuality.

Gor:     I’ve certainly never been to an orgy.

Eve:    So that’s what you think we do? I assure you it’s not like that at all. Just like you presumably don’t always think about sex whenever you see your female friends, I don’t necessarily think about sex when I see naked men.

Gor:     But that’s different. You’re…..

Eve:    …..An old woman? You think age makes any difference? How can I prove it to you? Are you doing anything this evening?

Gor:     No. Why?

Eve:    It’s my daughter’s birthday today and we’re having a celebration.

Gor:     A party?

Eve:    Yes. We’re going to have a feast, decorate our bodies with paint and dance round a bonfire. It’s a ritual that we often do on birthdays.

Gor:     Paint your bodies? You mean, you’ll all be naked?

Eve:    Yes, of course. As I said, there’s a lot of us about.

Gor:     Doesn’t it get rather cold for you in the evening?

Eve:    What do you think the bonfire is for?

Gor:     I’ve never been to a bonfire. I don’t think my folks would even know how to light one.

Eve:    What I was going to say is, why don’t you come along this evening and see for yourself how we behave? You can deliver your message then. I presume that’s why you’re here.

Gor:     What? Oh, yes. I’d forgotten about that. I got carried away.

Eve:    I’m inviting you to my daughter’s birthday party.

Gor:     Why?

Eve:    I think you’d enjoy it. Besides, she hasn’t got a partner at the moment and she’s got plenty of female friends coming this evening. You never know your luck. She’s very forward.

Gor:     No. I couldn’t.

Eve:    Why not?

Gor:     I’d feel out of place.

Eve:    How do you know?

Gor:     I’m not like you people.

Eve:    That’s no reason why we shouldn’t socialise. Come as you are. Nobody will mind that you’re a hairy ape as long as you don’t mind that we’re naked. (PAUSE) Will you at least come and deliver your message to Sheila? You can decide then if you want to stay or not.

Gor:     Did you say Sheila?

Eve:    Yes. That’s her name. Why?

Gor:     It’s just that the message doesn’t seem to be a birthday greeting and it isn’t for a Sheila. It’s for someone called Eve, I think.

Eve:    That’s me. Who could be sending me a message? What is it?

Gor:     (READING FROM A PIECE OF PAPER TAKEN FROM HIS COSTUME)

Thank you for the egg and the well-selected honey,

The cosy little room you provided without money,

The milk that gave me succour and the nurture I believe

Has made me what I am today. You’re really super, Eve.

Eve:    Isn’t that nice?

Gor:     I couldn’t make out what it was about. Do you put guests up here or something?

Eve:    No. That was from Sheila.

Gor:     Your daughter?

LIGHTS FADE ON GARDEN AND THE SPOTLIGHT COMES UP ON PULPIT.

Vic:     At first glance, these two different accounts of human origins seem to be completely incompatible and most people have found it necessary to choose between them. However, I would like to suggest to you that, with a more open-minded interpretation of God and a metaphorical interpretation of the Genesis story, the two versions are compatible. We should not imagine that the Genesis story is a verbatim account of the literal word of God. It is a metaphorical, symbolic representation of a process which would not be scientifically understood for over three millennia. The number of things that Moses got right is far more striking than the things he misrepresented. The order of events during the six days of creation is in general accord with the evidence of science, and a proper interpretation of the Hebrew word for ‘day’ to mean a period of time, rather than literally 24 hours, allows evolution to be the mechanism by which those events occurred. The account of Adam being made out of the dust and having life breathed into him is in accord with the scientific knowledge that living organisms are made from non-living inorganic matter. The formation of Eve from the rib of Adam is a symbolic representation of the known fact that all the chemical information that is needed to make an organism of any species is contained in every cell of any male of that species. It has always been a logical necessity that there must theoretically be a couple who were our most recent common ancestors. The Adam and Eve story can be seen as a symbolic depiction of that couple. Adam and Eve should not be seen as literally the first man and woman but rather as symbolic representatives of a newly-evolved sub-species, whose inquisitive minds caused them to seek to understand the workings of the universe through scientific study. The fruit of the tree of knowledge is the sometimes disillusioning truth about life that we alone have sampled. According to most biologists, we are no more and no less than just another animal species. The only purpose any of us have here is to reproduce – to have as many surviving children as possible in order to maximise the chance that their descendants may be the ones to evolve for eternity. That is the only form of immortality that modern science can offer us. The alternative is to be an evolutionary dead-end. (PAUSE) Survive and Reproduce. That is the maxim of evolutionary biologists, which sounds very similar to the Biblical instruction, “Be Fruitful and Multiply”. So strong is the imperative that nature has provided powerful inheritable urges, instincts and behaviour patterns to propagate that process. For the females of many species who can only have a limited number of offspring, the need for those few to be fit, in order that they stand a better chance of surviving to have their own offspring, impels a system of criteria, which are sometimes arbitrary or symbolic, for selecting the best mates. Males must do whatever is necessary to be selected.

SPOTLIGHT FADES ON PULPIT AND THE LIGHTS COME UP ON THE GARDEN OF EDEN, AS BEFORE BUT WITHOUT THE APPLE TREE. THERE IS BIRDSONG. THE YOUNG MAN AND WOMAN ARE SITTING ON THE GROUND AMONGST SOME BUSHES. THROUGHOUT THIS SCENE, THE WOMAN IS MATTER OF FACT RATHER THAN ANNOYED.

She:    So, let’s get this straight. You just want to put your penis into my vagina and oscillate it until it explodes.

He:      No…..

She:    So you don’t want to put your penis into my vagina……..

He:      Yes, I do, but….that’s not all. There are other things too.

She:    You mean, you also want to shove your tongue down my throat and massage my breasts.

He:      Must you be so….clinical? What I actually want is to have a relationship with you and, naturally, I hope that will involve having sex.

She:    Bullshit. You just want to have sex, as you put it, now, and, if I turn out to be good…….company too, you might then decide you want a relationship. You can’t know already that you will want to have a relationship with me. We’ve only known each other for ten minutes.

He:      Don’t you believe in love at first sight?

She:    I believe in lust at first sight, and I accept that many people delude themselves into thinking that it’s love, but for me love is a more gradual process. You may be able to decide that you want to have sex with someone purely on the basis of how she looks, but us girls have to be a bit more selective. We like to know something about the person’s reproductive suitability before we surrender our vaginas. I’ve been programmed to make sure you’ve got good sperm.

He:      That’ll do for starters. Be my guest.

She:    I didn’t mean literally. You and I are only here because all our maternal ancestors were fussy about who they had sex with.

He:      O.K. O.K. I’m sorry. You sounded earlier as though you were into the idea, but if you’re not, that’s fine by me. I’ll leave you in peace. (HE GETS UP)

She:    I am into the idea. Look, I want to have sex with you every bit as much as you do with me. I’m not criticising you. (HE RETURNS) Let’s face it, sex is the only thing that men are for. Sex and child-rearing are the only things that women are for. But virtually every man I ever meet would take little or no persuading to have sex with me. What makes you different? What special quality have you got to offer?

He:      When you put it like that, nothing……..except my body.

She:    That’s more like it. You’ve stopped playing seduction games and you’re being honest.

He:      I’ve never been dishonest with you.

She:    What about that routine back there?

He:      What routine?

She:    Hanging an apple on a tree as a symbolic come-on and playing the innocent. You’ve got the whole routine worked out so that you can’t cause sufficient offence to get reported to your father. Do many women fall for it?

He:      It’s caused a few jokes and comments before now but no-one’s ever fallen for it as well as you did.

She:    I didn’t fall for it. I chose to go along with it. And what I meant was, have you ever got a screw out of it?

He:      Once, the very first time, when I wasn’t even trying. I’d hung my lunch bag on the tree and….

She:    Spare me the details. You’ve already said the important part. It only worked when you weren’t trying. Stop planning your goals and let them come naturally. Trust your instincts. Just be honest about exactly what it is you want at each moment in time.

He:      (LOOKING DOWN) Well, as you can see, at this moment in time I’m not up to much but, you do have a very beautiful body and it does fill me with an overwhelming desire to touch it.

She:    And you’ve got a very desirable body too, but, before I can allow you to get your hands on mine, I need to make sure you’re fit..….to be my partner. What are you prepared to do to prove it?

He:      I’ll do a hundred press-ups.

She:    I wasn’t looking for a demonstration of physical fitness. I was looking for indications of your character and sincerity.

He:      What do I have to do in order to start a relationship with you?

She:    You have to pass three simple tests.

He:      What are they?

She:    First of all, you have to come and meet my mum.

LIGHTS FADE ON GARDEN AND SPOTLIGHT COMES UP ON PULPIT.

Vic:     So, the Genesis story tells us why all the living organisms exist – it was the will of God – but offers only symbolic evidence of how that was achieved, since the state of human knowledge was so sparse at the time it was written. Science and natural selection provide the means and guiding system of evolution, but can offer no explanation for why life evolved or what life is. So, surely we still need God to be the driving force of evolution. Not necessarily so, say the scientists. They claim to have discovered the driving force – the propeller – of evolution. In the first half of the 20th century, they discovered that what gets combined in reproduction are long strands of a chemical called DNA, which contains coded segments known as genes. Geneticists believe that genes are responsible for all the characteristics, both physical and behavioural, of all species. According to the most famous evolutionist in Britain, Richard Dawkins, organisms are only survival machines for their genes. As such, organisms are merely obedient victims of the dictates of their genes. And the picture looks bleak, presenting no evidence for divine justice. Survival, once seen as merely a matter of physical fitness and luck, has been discovered to be just as much about behaviour, which is often ruthless, cruel and exploitative. Even apparent altruism is seen as just a useful strategy. Geneticists also discovered that genes can become modified as a consequence of random copying errors during replication. Mistakes get made which usually turn out to be destructive but, occasionally, they theoretically could be beneficial. Just what we were looking for, said Darwin’s disciples – a random way of introducing variations for natural selection to work on. A union was formed between Darwin’s theory and the science of genetics, producing the doctrine of neo-Darwinism.

SPOTLIGHT FADES ON PULPIT AND LIGHTS COME UP ON THE ROUGH GARDEN, AS BEFORE, IN WHICH EVE IS SITTING NAKED ON THE TREE TRUNK DOING SOME MENIAL CULINARY JOB. THERE ARE THREE ENTRANCES:- ON ONE SIDE FROM THE FIRE, ON THE OTHER SIDE FROM SOME BUSHES AND AT THE BACK FROM THE ROAD (FROM WHENCE CAME THE GORILLA) AND THE HOUSE. THE YOUNG MAN AND WOMAN ENTER FROM THE ROAD, DRESSED IN 21st CENTURY SUMMER CLOTHES.

She:    Hi, mum. This is Henry. Henry, my mum.

He:      (SURPRISED) Hello, Mrs….

Eve:    Call me Eve. Pleased to meet you.

She:    I’ve just met him at that new naturist place. (SHE UNDRESSES) He works there, clearing up after the animals.

Eve:    Do you mean litter or excrement?

He:      Both. It’s just a summer job while I work out what I’m going to do with my life. But at least it’s a good way of making some pin money whilst getting a good tan.

She:    And there are other fringe benefits.

Eve:    What would you like to do?

He:      I don’t know really. Take life as it comes, I guess. (HE LOOKS FOR APPROVAL FROM SHEILA) I’m waiting for opportunity to knock.

Eve:    What are your interests?

He:      I’m into personal fitness. I’ve done a lot of work on my body. I’d like to be able to make good use of it.

Eve:    Oh. (TO SHEILA) What’s it like, now that it’s finished?

She:    Physically, it’s still a beautiful location – completely natural. Even the perimeter fence is unobtrusive. Otherwise, it’s just what you would expect – pure and wholesome. Oh, I should have told you – Henry’s father is the overseer.

Eve:    Really?

He:      Sort of. He’s not really my father – I just call him that. He was the one who started it up and created all the publicity. And he got me the job there.

Eve:    Yes, I heard about the controversy he’s caused. I’ve been following it in the local papers. It all sounds a bit elitist, but I’d really like to meet him.

She:    I think you’re going to, mum. Henry hasn’t got any transport so we left a message for his father to come and collect him.

Eve:    I see. Good. On the subject of messages, I got your gorillagram.

She:    Already?

Eve:    Yes. It was ever so thoughtful of you. Thank you.

She:    When did it come?

Eve:    Just after 11 o’clock, I think. (SHEILA BECOMES ANGRY)

She:    Damn. I arranged for it to be delivered at 11 pm, when everyone was going to be here at the party, not 11 am.

Eve:    (DISAPPOINTED) Oh! Well, never mind, I’m sure it’ll work out for the best.

She:    How can it work out for the best? It was going to be my big coup of the evening.

Eve:    (TURNING HER ATTENTION) You’re staying for the party, then, Henry?

He:      Yes, if that’s alright with you.

Eve:    Of course. You’re very welcome. (TO SHEILA) So, it’s mission accomplished, then? (SHEILA LOOKS ALARMED)

He:      (SUSPICIOUSY) Mission accomplished?

Eve:    Yes. Sheila said she was going to your naturist place to find some young men to make up the numbers at the party. We’ve got more girls than boys coming as it is. (AWKWARD PAUSE WITH SHEILA LOOKING ANGRILY AT EVE AND HENRY LOOKING DEFLATED)

She:    If you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’ve just got to go to the loo.

Eve:    Why don’t you go in the bushes? That’s what you usually do.

She:    Very funny, mum. (SHE EXITS TO HOUSE, CARRYING HER DRESS)

Eve:    If you want to take your clothes off, Henry, don’t mind me.

He:      I’m alright, thank you. (PAUSE) It’s a delightful spot you’ve got here. How long have you lived here?

Eve:    About nineteen years.

He:      Does Sheila’s father live here too?

Eve:    No, no. It’s been just me and Sheila, all along.

He:      How come she didn’t go to the local secondary school, then?

Eve:    She went to a private school. (PAUSE) I know what you must be thinking. We must be loaded.

He:      No.

Eve:    You obviously did go the local school.

He:      Only till I was 16.

Eve:    What have you been doing since then?

He:      Living off my wits, mainly.

Eve:    But now you’ve got a job at this naturist place?

He:      Yes, but it’s not a full-time job. I’m just helping out and getting some pocket money.

Eve:    I’ve heard that you don’t allow people who shave their pubic hair. Is that true?

He:      Yes. That’s the official policy. But it’s nothing to do with me.

Eve:    Why is that?

He:      My father thinks that they are too sexually provocative.

Eve:    What’s wrong with that?

He:      He thinks that there should be no connection between nudity and sex.

Eve:    There doesn’t have to be, but surely there can be. It’s not something you can dictate, from on high. What does he imagine these people without pubic hair are going to do?

He:      He thinks they’re more likely to engage in openly sexual behaviour.

Eve:    Whereas people with pubic hair don’t?

He:      Not generally. Though the main problems we’ve had so far have been with people who keep their clothes on – the ones who’ve only come to ogle.

Eve:    I see. And you can’t know if they’ve got pubic hair.

He:      No. I shouldn’t really be telling you this, but the issue of smoothies is proving impossible……

Eve:    Smoothies?

He:      That’s what people who shave are called in naturist circles. And it’s proving impossible to keep them out.

Eve:    Why?

He:      Well, people are admitted with their clothes on and after that they just disperse. I mean, there’s ten acres, so we can’t keep tabs on everybody.

Eve:    Yes. And you can’t exactly hold inspections at the entrance.

He:      (AMUSED) No. It’s only if an official happens to come across a smoothy that anything can happen, and most of them don’t do anything. So it’s only if an incident is brought to the attention of an official by a member of the public that anything does happen.

Eve:    So, there have been quite a lot of………..smoothies gone through.

He:      Yes. I’ve seen loads. Including Sheila today.

Eve:    And have any of them ever caused you any trouble?

He:      Only when we’ve tried to evict them.

Eve:    So, why doesn’t your father change the policy?

He:      I don’t know, really. I think he just wants to discourage them.

Eve:    Because he thinks they’re too sexual.

He:      Yes.

Eve:    It sounds as if he thinks pubic hair is a sexual inhibitor. Perhaps he’s right. I mean, Sheila doesn’t have any. She’s very uninhibited.

He:      She is?

Eve:    Oh, yes. She likes to take her time about choosing, but when she sets her heart on someone, there’s nothing stopping her. She always gets what she wants. And she’s obviously taken quite a fancy to you.

He:      You think so?

Eve:    I’m sure of it.

He:      Are you sure that, as her mother, you should be telling me this?

Eve:    Why not? I didn’t bring her up to be a shrinking violet. (SHEILA RETURNS) Ah, here she is. Anyway, I’m sure you two are dying to be alone together before the others come, so I’ll leave you to it.

She:    That’s just what I was thinking. Do you need any help with anything?

Eve:    You could get some more firewood. (EVE EXITS TO HOUSE)

She:    Alright. Come along, Henry. Get undressed. (HE DOESN’T)

He:      Is what your mother said true?

She:    I don’t know. What did she say?

He:      That the only reason you brought me here was to make up the numbers at your party.

She:    (VERY REASSURINGLY) Of course not. You’re here because I want you to be. But I couldn’t tell her I was going out to find a prospective boyfriend, could I? So I told her I was going for a swim and I jokingly suggested I might find some people to come to the party. I really didn’t expect her to be so insensitive as to say that to you.

He:      Perhaps she was giving you a dose of your own medicine.

She:    What do you mean?

He:      She had obviously thought your gorillagram was a message for her, not something to impress your friends with.

She:    Of course. You’re right. That’s why she was so disappointed. You’re quite a psychologist, aren’t you?

He:      Not through study. I don’t go in for all that theoretical stuff. I just use my imagination – put myself in other people’s shoes. I’ve learned from experience what works.

She:    What works?

He:      Yes. I used to be a real tearaway – always getting into trouble with adults and upsetting them – and I never got what I wanted. But, living with my father, I’ve learned by experience how to avoid upsetting him, by working out what he wants me to say and do when I’m with him.

She:    So you pretend to be what he wants you to be.

He:      Yes. I’ve found that it usually gets me what I want. I get free board and lodging with him, a taxi service and pocket money. And it works with other people too.

She:    Don’t you think that’s a bit dishonest?

He:      No. If it works, don’t knock it. I’m only following my father’s advice. He always says you should think about the effect you’re having on others. Or, as he likes to put it…(QUOTING, PIOUSLY) Non sibi sed omnibus. Not…..

She:    …yourself, but others. I did Latin too. I think you’ve deliberately got the wrong end of the stick. He means it as a moral value, for the good of others, not as a pragmatic way of getting the most out of others.

He:      You don’t go in for all that moralistic stuff, do you?

She:    Not really. Most so-called moral values are just inherited instincts which proved very advantageous to our ancestors. I don’t believe in self denial. When people aren’t being selfish, they aren’t being honest. But I do draw the line at deception and exploitation.

He:      So you do believe in selfishness.

She:    Yes, but not at the expense of others, because you may have to suffer the repercussions, as I have just done in a very minor way. What if your father were to find out? Where would you be then?

He:      (SUSPICIOUSLY) You’re not going to tell him, are you?

She:    Hey, don’t get paranoid.

He:      I knew I shouldn’t have let you persuade me to get him to collect me tonight.

She:    Why? I’m not going to say anything.

He:      Maybe not intentionally, but I don’t like him meeting my friends, in case they let something slip.

She:    About what you get up to when you’re not at home? It must be awful for you having to spend your life worrying about being found out.

He:      I’m just looking after number one. It’s only natural, you must agree.

She:    I do believe you should put number one first, but not foremost. It’s only through enlightened self-interest that human beings can ever transcend the misunderstandings and deceptions that plague our lives.

He:      Don’t you ever please other people for your own benefit?

She:    Of course I do, but not as a Machiavellian policy. I know that if I please other people, they are more likely to do things to please me. The mutual pleasure grows. That has to be the basis of any successful relationship.

He:      Exactly. It’s just tit for tat. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

She:    I agree. I love my mum because she loves me. But what you do relies upon the gullibility and selflessness of others. It’s hawks and doves. If you lived in a society where everyone was like you, you wouldn’t gain any advantage. Neither would anyone else.

He:      I know. I’ve been there. But I don’t see any difference between what you say you do and what I do.

She:    I took my clothes off because I wanted to and because I wanted you to do likewise. You’ve been sitting there ogling me without letting me ogle you.

He:      I was just enjoying looking at you without having to worry about getting a hard-on.

She:    I don’t mind if you get a hard-on.

He:      But, what if your mother comes back?

She:    She won’t mind either. She’s seen it all before. She’s even caught me making love in this garden before now.

He:      Really? (HE STARTS TO UNDRESS, ENTHUSIASTICALLY) You never told me that your mother is black.

She:    Does that make any difference?

He:      No. Of course not. Most of my friends have been from ethnic minorities. It just came as rather a surprise.

She:    That was part of the test – to see if it made a difference.

He:      I take it your father was white.

She:    No. My father was black. I was a genetic mistake – just like the ones that first produced Caucasians. Of course, my father and everyone in my mother’s home village, in Africa, assumed exactly what you did when I was born. The Christian missionaries were blamed. She was thrown out of the village with only the clothes she stood up in and a two day old baby.

He:      How did she survive?

She:    By a stroke of very good fortune, which she never really understood, she got a job as a housekeeper to an eccentric Englishman who was living in Africa at the time. When he came back to England to take up his title on his father’s death, he brought us with him.

He:      Lord Graham Owen Douglas.

She:    The very same. Lord God.

He:      So you weren’t kidding when you said earlier that he brought you here.

She:    No. That was when you thought I was into playing the game, wasn’t it?

He:      Yes. It’s quite uncanny how our stories matched so well. It begins to seem like we were destined for each other.

She:    You mean you think God planned it?

He:      Something like that.

She:    How could he? He couldn’t have known it would come in handy for me to be able to truthfully say he brought me here when I was a baby.

He:      I didn’t mean Lord Douglas.

She:    You mean an omniscient, omnipotent omnipresence.

He:      I suppose so.

She:    Would you like to feel you were being manipulated by something other than your genes?

He:      I don’t know. (PAUSE) So, God turned out to be your saviour?

She:    Yes. He set us up here on his estate, paid for my private education and allowed my mum to live a life of leisure.

He:      As his mistress?

She:    Wrong again. Apparently he never laid a finger on her.

He:      You’ve only got her word for that.

She:    What are you suggesting? That my mother has lied to me?

He:      It can’t be out of the question. And the evidence does look incriminating.

She:    It’s out of the question as far as I’m concerned. God just never fancied her.

He:      Why not?

She:    You must have heard the rumours about him.

He:      Yes, but my father said I shouldn’t believe them.

She:    No smoke without fire, I always say.

He:      Why do you think he went to so much trouble over you?

She:    He was just a benign old man who took a liking to us. It was no skin off his nose. He wasn’t short of a bob or two, as I’m sure you know. If you must find selfish motives, he probably wanted to bring human mementos of Africa back to England with him, like hunting trophies. Besides, he liked African cuisine and he couldn’t cook for toffee.

He:      So you’re sure you’re not his daughter?

She:    Quite sure. Mum never even met him till after I was born.

He:      That’s a relief.

She:    Why?

He:      I’ve got a slight suspicion that I might be his son.

She:    What on earth gives you that idea?

He:      I was a mistake, too. My mother was a single parent. Whenever I asked her about my father, she used to tell me that God was my father. Like everyone else, I used to think she was off her rocker. But there was something about her that made me think she believed it literally. It was only when I first heard about Lord Douglas and his nickname, when he gave a talk at my school a few years ago, that I began to wonder.

She:    And you think that’s sufficient grounds for suspicion?

He:      I know it sounds ridiculous, but it has to be a possibility.

She:    There’s a simple way to resolve it. Ask her.

He:      She died three years ago. So now I can never find out.

She:    Unless you can find another close living relative of his.

He:      How would that help?

She:    Genetic testing. You could prove he was your father and then you could contest his will.

He:      Do you think I hadn’t thought of it myself? There aren’t any living relatives. And if there were, they would be contesting the will themselves.

She:    Not necessarily. Maybe they’re in exactly the same position you’re in. In that case, you should have been disappointed that I’m not his daughter, not relieved.

He:      I wasn’t thinking along those lines.

She:    I know. You were worrying about incest.

He:      You bet I was. (HE MAKES A PASS AT HER WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY NOT INTENDED TO BE MERELY INTRODUCING PHYSICAL CONTACT INTO THE PROCEEDINGS. SHE STRUGGLES FREE AND SLAPS HIM)

She:    Don’t try that again. You may have passed the first test but there are still two more.

He:      Sorreee. I thought, when you asked me to take my clothes off, that you were trying to encourage me.

She:    You were wrong. And I’m sorry if I misled you. I thought you were a naturist.

He:      Not really. I like being able to get an all-over tan, but I think naturism is a bit silly, really.

She:    Why?

He:      Naked bodies are either hideous, in which case I don’t want to see them, or they make me feel like sex.

She:    Isn’t that a pleasant feeling?

He:      Not if you can’t satisfy it.

She:    I feel sorry for you. I love being naked and I like thinking about sex. I’ve been having a great time today. I don’t need to do anything about it, though, and I want to get to know you better before I do.

He:      Look, are we going to have sex today or am I just wasting my time?

She:    What a bastard.

He:      (GETTING UP TO GO) I take it that means No. I’m going.

She:    No. Stay.

He:      Why? You don’t even like me, let alone fancy me. You’re so clinical. So cold. You never seem to want to touch me. I’m beginning to think your mother was telling the truth.

She:    Even if she was, doesn’t the idea of a nude party with a surfeit of girls appeal to you?

He:      A nude party?

She:    Yes. I’m happy to say that most of my friends are into nudity. If you want to get off with any of them, feel free, but you won’t get me if you do.

He:      Why do you want me to stay if you think I’m a bastard?

She:    I do fancy you. You must know that most girls only ever really fancy bastards. It’s a legacy of the days when women who had bastard sons had far more descendants than women who didn’t. I’m glad you’re a bastard. It’s better than being a wimp. (REASSURINGLY) And I do want to touch you but I fear you’ll misinterpret it. And there’s no reason why we shouldn’t have sex this evening, if you pass the remaining tests.

He:      What are they?

She:    The second one is that you have to meet my friends. This evening.

He:      That sounds easy enough. What’s the third?

She:    I can’t tell you yet. All I can say is that it only takes a few minutes and it requires no skill or effort on your part.

He:      And you promise that, if I pass them, we’ll have sex.

She:    If you still want to.

He:      You bet I will. I’ve never wanted anyone as much in my life. I’m sorry I got stroppy before, but I don’t like prickteasers.

She:    I don’t blame you. Now, tell me more about yourself. It must have been tough for you after your mother died.

He:      Not as tough as before. She’d been ill for several years. But, I’m a survivor. I’ve spent my whole life adapting to changing circumstances.

She:    By comparison, my life has been really cushy, doing exactly what I was programmed to do.

He:      Yes. It all worked out rather well for you and your mother.

She:    In terms of our physical well-being, yes. But she hides a lot of sorrow. She’s never been back to Africa. She hasn’t seen her other children for 20 years and she’s never seen any of her grandchildren. And all because I was a genetic freak – a mutant.

He:      You mustn’t blame yourself.

She:    I don’t. But ever since I realised there was something strange about me, I’ve wanted to understand it. That’s why I did sciences at school and I’m doing genetics at University now. The only way to beat prejudice is through knowledge and education.

He:      You’re at University?

She:    Yes. I’m just home for the summer vac now.

He:      How old are you?

She:    20, today. How old are you?

He:      18. I thought you were younger than that.

She:    I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or not. Does that present a problem for you?

He:      No. What’s two years between consenting adults?

She:    How are we going to get your mind off sex? (RISING) Come on. Let’s go and get some firewood. And you can tell me more about your mother.

THEY EXIT TOWARDS FIRE AS LIGHTS FADE ON GARDEN.

SPOTLIGHT  COMES UP ON PULPIT. THIS SPEECH CAN BE EITHER THE LAST SCENE IN THE FIRST HALF OR THE FIRST IN THE SECOND.

Vic:     So, where does God come into all this? The main aspect of this merger between evolution theory and genetics that doesn’t seem to fit with enlightened creationism is the notion that evolution proceeds through random copying errors. God would surely not rely on random mistakes to achieve His purpose. Indeed, the main thing that has divided evolutionists since the 19th century has been the issue of whether evolution just happens, by accident, or whether it is part of some grand plan. Many of you will have heard of the school of intelligent design which has been growing in America and is starting to have some impact here in Britain. Its followers have been commonly misrepresented as creationists. Though many creationists have undoubtedly jumped on the intelligent design bandwagon, most of the leading lights of the intelligent design school are in fact evolutionists. They also believe, as I do, that God has had a hand in that evolutionary process. Many of them are saying that life itself cannot be dismissed as being merely a product of chemical interactions, but rather that the chemical interactions are regulated by life, which is independent. An increasing number of dissident biologists and philosophers are even saying that genes do not determine characteristics; they are merely the tools that life utilises in order to propagate and evolve. Genes no more determine the course of evolution than the shape of a brick determines the shape of a house. And if genes don’t determine characteristics, then the whole accepted mechanism of evolution is open to question. Far from being proof of God’s non-existence, evolution is evidence that God is alive and well and working through His creations to fulfil His purpose – the triumph of mind over matter and of good over evil. God is the instigator of life and the propeller of evolution, and the church does have a role in the evolution debate.

SPOTLIGHT GOES DOWN ON PULPIT. LIGHTS COME UP – AND DIMINISH THROUGHOUT THE SCENE – ON THE ROUGH GARDEN, WHERE THERE IS THE SOUND OF TEENAGE DANCE MUSIC AND RAUCOUS MERRY-MAKING, AND THE INCREASING GLOW OF A BONFIRE, OFFSTAGE. HENRY AND SHEILA ENTER FROM THE FIRESIDE. THEY BOTH CARRY DRINKS. SHEILA’S BODY IS DECORATED WITH PAINT. HENRY IS ANGRY.

He:      Did you know?

She:    Know what?

He:      That your friend Susie was the girl I….

She:    ….had sex with the other day? Of course I did. She told me all about it. That’s how I was able to play your little game so well when I came to find you this morning.

He:      On her behalf or your own?

She:    It was my idea. She didn’t ask me to. She didn’t even know I was going to.

He:      So you set me up.

She:    No. I wanted to meet you. She gave me such a good report of your ……interaction. I wanted you to come to my party. I had no intentions with regard to you and Susie.

He:      You must have known it would put me on the spot, meeting her here.

She:    It only puts you on the spot if your feelings about her are ambivalent. She doesn’t bear you any grudges. She never expected you to have a relationship with her. (SHE TOUCHES HIM) If we’re going to have a relationship, Susie had to find out sooner or later and I think sooner is better. You’ll be meeting her quite often since she’s my only local friend.

He:      Are we going to have a relationship?

She:    That depends.

He:      On what?

She:    On whether you still fancy Susie. Do you?

He:      No, of course not.

She:    In that case, talk to her instead of avoiding her like the plague. I need you two to get on with each other.

He:      Is that the real part of the second test?

She:    Yes.

He:      What’s the third test?

She:    You have to let me shave you.

He:      But I’ve already had a shave today.

She:    Not your face, silly. I only make love to truly naked men. If you want to make love to me, you have to make a small sacrifice by letting me shave off your….(SHE TOUCHES HIM)….pubic hair with a cut-throat razor.

He:      What?

She:    You heard. Don’t worry. I’m an expert. I shave myself with it. But most men fail the test. So much for trust and sincerity. Am I worth that sacrifice?

He:      I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.

She:    I thought you might.

He:      It’s not that I don’t trust you. (EVE ENTERS FROM HOUSE, WEARING DECORATIVE PAINT AND ETHNIC JEWELLERY)

She:    Now, you go and get Susie to decorate your body. You’ll both enjoy that. (SHE KISSES HIM) I just want to have a quick word with my mum. (HENRY EXITS TO FIRE) How are you feeling, mum?

Eve:    A bit nervous, I suppose, but I’m alright.

She:    I’m sorry I got a bit annoyed earlier, about the gorillagram. It was intended to be a message for you.

Eve:    Don’t let it worry you. I’m sure it was all for the best.

She:    It might have been if I hadn’t said anything about the mistake.

Eve:    You realised why I was upset. That’s a sign of maturity. (PAUSE) You and Henry seem to be progressing according to plan.

She:    No thanks to you. I thought you’d really blown it when you said “mission accomplished”.

Eve:    I’m not as stupid as you think. I got you out of it.

She:    Dumped me in it, more like. And my excuse only worked because his mind was still between his legs. He doesn’t really like me, mum. He’s just out for a conquest. And it’s tough work keeping him on a string.

Eve:    Do you like him?

She:    Only physically. He’s a complete and utter bastard. He’s so selfish.

Eve:    You will be able keep him on a string beyond this evening, though?

She:    I’m not sure about that. I’ve a horrible feeling he doesn’t care about losing his job. He finds nudity really boring if he can’t use it to play sexual games with people, and it is literally a shit job. He’d rather be a male stripper, but his ‘father’ wouldn’t approve. That’s his big weakness: he doesn’t like to incur the disapproval of his father, for entirely selfish reasons of course. He only gets privileges when he’s been good. So, he’s currently weighing up whether I am better than the privileges. I’m expecting he’ll cut the string himseIf by succumbing to Susie’s ample…..charms. As ever, she’s desperate to get laid this evening, and he’s her best opportunity. If he doesn’t, I may have to find some drastic way of putting him off.

Eve:    Such as?

She:    Flirting with someone else.

Eve:    But there aren’t any unattached males here……yet.

She:    That’s a point. And I’m not going to get into competition with you.

Eve:    I’ll just have to work quickly, then.

She:    And if all else fails, don’t forget the escape plan. I’m afraid I haven’t managed to discover his mother’s name but his surname is Evans.

Eve:    (SARCASTICALLY) That’s a great help.

She:    Apparently she was racially prejudiced, which is helpful.

Eve:    Helpful?

She:    Appropriate to the role you would have played in God’s mistress’ life. (THE GORILLA ENTERS FROM ROAD)

Eve:    Sorry. I’m not with you.

She:    (SEEING GORILLA) It doesn’t matter.

Gor:     Hello.

Eve:    Ah, hello. Glad you could make it. This is my daughter, Sheila. Sheila – this is the deliverer of this morning’s gorillagram.

She:    Hi. (TO EVE) I see what you mean by ‘yet’ now, mum.

Gor:     You’re white.

She:    And you’re hairy.

Eve:    Is that what made you so reluctant to come here this evening? You thought we’d all be black people.

She:    Don’t give the poor man a hard time, mum.

Gor:     I’m not prejudiced. I just thought I’d feel out of place.

Eve:    It’s alright. I’m only teasing. I know just how you feel. I’ve spent my whole life feeling out of place – as a naturist in Christian Africa and as a black woman in rural England. Come and join us by the fire.

Gor:     No, I couldn’t. I’ve just come to deliver the message, like you said.

She:    Oh, mum, how thoughtful of you.

Eve:    But you must stay, now you’ve got here. Sheila, perhaps you can persuade him to stay. (TO SHEILA) He’s unattached.

Gor:     Shall I deliver it now?

She:    No. You must come nearer the fire so my friends can hear too.

Gor:     Very well. (THEY ALL EXIT TOWARDS FIRE. THE MUSIC STOPS)

She:    (OFF) Quiet, everyone. O.K. You can deliver it now.

Gor:     (SINGING) Happy Birthday to you, I’ve come from the zoo, I’m your multifold cousin, many times removed from you. (LOUD APPLAUSE.  THE MUSIC RESUMES. THE GORILLA  RETURNS, FOLLOWED BY SHEILA)

She:    You’re not going already?

Gor:     Yes. I’ve done what I came to do.

She:    Don’t you fancy a screw?

Gor:     What?

She:    I said, don’t you fancy a screw?

Gor:     With you?

She:    Yes, or with anyone else that you can see?

Gor:     Your mother said you were forward but I didn’t expect…

She:    Total Honesty? You should try it. What’s your answer?

Gor:     Yes. I never say No to a freebie. Never look a gift horse in the mouth. That’s my motto.

She:    O.K. Get your things off then.

Gor:     What? Here?

She:    We can go behind those bushes if you like.

Gor:     Yes. (THEY GO OFF IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION FROM THE FIRE)

She:    (OFF) That won’t do. You’ll have to take the lot off. I only screw naked men. (PAUSE) That’s better. You look ready to come and join us.

Gor:     (ALARMED) Where are you going?

She:    (ENTERING, CARRYING THE GORILLA COSTUME) You’ve been screwed. I only asked you if you wanted to. I never said I was offering to. If you want your costume, you’ll have to come and get it. (SHE EXITS TOWARDS FIRE TO THE SOUND OF MUCH CHEERING)

Gor:     (ENTERING NAKED, CLUTCHING HIS GENITALS. THOUGH NOT ESSENTIAL, HE SHOULD PREFERABLY BE OF AN ETHNIC ORIGIN WHICH MAKES IT LIKELY THAT HE HAS STRICT MUSLIM PARENTS) Hey, come back. This is unfair. (HE MOVES TOWARDS FIRESIDE)

He:      (OFF) Gordon Bennett!

Gor:     (LOOKING UP) Henry?

He:      (OFF) I’ll be back in a minute, Susie. I’ve just got to say hello to my old mate, Gordon. (HENRY ENTERS FROM FIRESIDE, HIS CHEST AND STOMACH BEING DECORATED IN SUCH A MANNER AS TO DRAW ATTENTION TO HIS GENITALS) Long time, no see. How are you?

Gor:     I’ve just been tricked.

He:      Never mind that. They’re only having fun. You’ll get your costume back. So, you’re doing gorillagrams now?

Gor:     Yeah. It’s my own business.

He:      What? How did that come about?

Gor:     You know my mum makes clothes. She made me the costume for a school musical I was in and one of the teachers asked me if I’d do a gorillagram for his wife. He also suggested that, if I put an ad in the local paper, I might pick up some business. He was right. It’s a real moneyspinner. I used to do it on a bike, but now I’ve got a motor bike, so I can go further afield. And it only takes up a few hours a week, so I’ve had plenty of time for study. The trouble is, I’m going to have to give it all up in the autumn, when I go to university. Well, ‘A’ levels permitting.

He:      Knowing you, they will. I wish I’d worked at school. I could really fancy going to university. The social life and all that. Most of the people here are at university. It’s got to beat working anyday.

Gor:     It’s not too late. You can always do your `A’ levels at college. What are you doing now?

He:      I’m working at that new naturist place down the road. You must have heard about it.

Gor:     Yeah. My dad never stops ranting about it. Are you a naturist then?

He:      No, but you know that vicar who took me in when my mum died. He is, and he has been very involved in setting that place up, so he was able to get me a job there.

Gor:     Do you work naked then?

He:      Of course.

Gor:     But, don’t you find it embarrassing?

He:      Embarrassing? No. You know me. I always wanted to be a porn star. I think it’s great being able to show off my body. You should try it, instead of being hunched up clutching your cock like it was something to be ashamed of. (GORDON STARTS TO RELEASE HIS HOLD)

Gor:     You’ve got more to show off than I have.

He:      So? That doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you enjoy yourself. Let yourself go. I take it you don’t do strippergrams too?

Gor:     (FINALLY RELEASING) No, but I often get asked if I do. Or rather….

He:      I’ll do them for you.

Gor:     ….I get asked if I have a female accomplice who does?

He:      (NOT NOTICING) In fact, if you like, I’ll take over your business for you, whilst you’re away. Keep it running for you to return to in the vacations. I could do with finding a way of making money in the autumn.

Gor:     I’ve been hoping to find someone to fill that role. Well, both roles really.

He:      Great. I’ll come and see you tomorrow to discuss it. Now come and join the others.

Gor:     No, I couldn’t. I’m not a naturist.

He:      Neither am I. Neither are any of them. They’re all hedonists. They’re into having fun. Don’t tell me you haven’t fantasised about being naked with some naked girls who are all into sex. Well, you’ve just walked into your fantasy.

Gor:     But none of them would fancy me.

He:      Don’t you believe it. You see that girl Susie, the one who was decorating me when you first saw me.

Gor:     (SMILING) You mean the one with the enormous………………

He:      Yes. She’s desperate for it. One sight of a hard-on and she can’t keep her hands off you.

Gor:     Isn’t she your girlfriend?

He:      God, no. She’s just a slag. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. I’m chasing the birthday girl. She’s got far and away the best body.

Gor:     Sheila? But she tricked me out of my costume.

He:      Yes, she can be quite devious, but she was only trying to get you to stay.

Gor:     I can see why you fancy her. How are you doing?

He:      She’s proving quite a challenge. She’s just told me that I’ve got to shave my pubic hair off if I want to have sex with her, but she must know that I’ll lose my job if I do. Her mother certainly does.

Gor:     Why would you lose your job?

He:      Because of my father’s policy on pubic hair.

Gor:     His what?

He:      My father doesn’t allow people who shave their pubic hair into the place. (REALISATION) And they disapprove. They want the policy changed. What they don’t know is that many of the committee think it’s unworkable.

Gor:     Do many people shave their pubic hair off?

He:      Oh, yes. There’s a lot of them about.

Gor:     Oh! Well, it sounds to me as if she wants you to lose your job.

He:      No, there’s more to it than that. She’s expecting me not to agree. She’s just been stringing me along. A few minutes ago, I thought it was an elaborate ploy to get me with Susie, which would have succeeded. But now I see. It’s not me they’re after. It’s my father.

Gor:     What makes you think that?

He:      Sheila was ever so keen that I should arrange for him to come and pick me up. But everyone else here is staying overnight, in tents or on floors. It seems that she and her mother have used me to set my father up for a trap. They want to persuade him to change his policy.

Gor:     Do you think you should warn him?

He:      Warn him! God, no. I want them to succeed.

Gor:     Why?

He:      Because then I’ll be able to claim my prize.

Gor:     Like you used to claim mine.

He:      Sorry about that. Opportunity, and all that. But I’ll make it up to you.

Gor:     Aren’t you going to dump Sheila, for stringing you along?

He:      No. That’s what she wants me to do. She wants me to get off with Susie. And she can’t dump me without seeming like a manipulative bitch. So, it’s time to keep her on a string. I’ve got the bit between my teeth now. I just need to create some time delay.

Gor:     You’re quite a psychologist, aren’t you?

He:      You’re the second person to say that to me today. Come on, I’ll introduce you to Susie. You’ll like her. (SHEILA ENTERS FROM FIRESIDE, DRESSED IN THE GORILLA COSTUME BUT CARRYING THE HEAD)

She:    Aren’t you going to come and get your costume?

He:      Ah, Sheila, this is an old mate of mine, Gordon.

She:    Good to meet you, Gordon. (SHE PROFFERS HER HAND BUT HE DOESN’T MOVE HIS FROM BACK ON HIS GENITALS) You didn’t mind my seeing you when we were on our own.

Gor:     That’s different. Can I have my costume back, please?

She:    You can only have it back after you’ve shaken hands with all the guys and hugged all the girls – with both arms. They’re all dying to meet you. I’m going to the house to see what I look like in the mirror.

He:      Just the same as anyone else in that costume. (TO GORDON, AS SHEILA WANDERS OFF TOWARDS THE HOUSE, PUTTING THE HEAD ON) Women! Come on, Gordon. Aren’t you the lucky boy? I didn’t get to hug all the girls. (HE GRABS GORDON’S ARM AND DRAGS HIM OFF TO FIRESIDE TO THE SOUND OF APPLAUSE. JUST AS SHEILA GETS TO THE BACK CORNER, THE VICAR ENTERS FROM ROAD)

Vic:     Hello. So it’s a fancy dress party, is it? I do beg your pardon for barging in like this but there was no answer at the house.

She:    Hello. That’s O.K. You must be Henry’s father. I’m Sheila.

Vic:     Pleased to meet you.

She:    And I, you. I was at your new theme park this morning but you weren’t there.

Vic:     No. I was delivering a sermon. It is Sunday.

She:    So Henry told me.

Vic:     And I’d prefer it if you didn’t call it my theme park. It’s a Christian naturist nature reserve.

She:    I hope you don’t mind my whisking him off to my party.

Vic:     Not at all. I hope you don’t mind if I whisk him away now.

She:    Oh, must you? The party’s only just got really started. You’re much earlier than we expected. Besides, Henry just met up with one of his mates, who he hadn’t seen for a while.

Vic:     (WITH ALARM) What?

She:    And he’s only just got round to having his body decorated.

Vic:     His body decorated! (FOR THE FIRST TIME HE SEES THE FIRESIDE PROCEEDINGS AND LOOKS RATHER SHOCKED) Would you mind asking Henry to come and see me, please? (EVE ENTERS HURRIEDLY)

She:    All right. I’ll come and see you again when I’m out of this costume. This is my mum, Eve. This is Henry’s father.

Eve:    Hello. (SHE PROFFERS HER HAND TO BE SHAKEN. HE HESITANTLY OBLIGES, AS SHEILA EXITS TO THE FIRE. THROUGHOUT THE FOLLOWING SCENES, THE VICAR REGULARLY STROKES THE BEARD ON HIS CHIN. IT SHOULD BE EVIDENT THAT THE VICAR AND EVE SPARK EACH OTHER OFF. EVE SHOULD BE TEASINGLY PROVOCATIVE RATHER THAN BELLIGERENT OR COARSE, AND THE VICAR SHOULD BE FASCINATED RATHER THAN OUTRAGED. HE INITIALLY AVOIDS LOOKING AT HER.)

Vic:     Hello. Are you in charge here?

Eve:    I guess so, but they’re all over 18.

Vic:     What’s going on here?

Eve:    You look shocked. I understood you were one of us.

Vic:     I’m a bona fide naturist, not a pagan.

Eve:    We’re not pagans either. I just like to see people enjoying themselves.

Vic:     By painting your bodies and dancing round a fire?

Eve:    Yes. Why not?

Vic:     What are they doing?

Eve:    They’re just welcoming a newcomer. Young people are very into hugging these days.

Vic:     That boy. He’s got….

Eve:    An erection? Yes. As you can see, nobody minds. It’s only natural. Most of them do every now and then. It’s a sure sign that they’re enjoying themselves – feeling uninhibited.

Vic:     Doesn’t that lead them into temptation?

Eve:    No more so than any normal nightclub. Occasionally a couple will disappear for a while, but it’s all very discreet.

Vic:     And you permit that?

Eve:    Yes, of course. Young people are going to have sex, whether you approve of it or not. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as they don’t feel it’s wrong.

Vic:     But you must draw the line somewhere.

Eve:    In theory, maybe, but I’ve never had to in practice. We’ve been having parties here for years and there’s never been an incident of rape or public masturbation. Public masturbators are just sexually repressed people, who’ve been made to feel uncomfortable about their sexuality. Most boys can learn to enjoy erections for their own sake without feeling ashamed or any overwhelming need to do anything about them. I pity men at naturist clubs like yours. They must have to make a special point of not thinking about sex all the time they’re there. Whereas women can think about whatever they like. We can let our imaginations run riot. Why do you think women are interested in naturism?

Vic:     Because it makes them feel at one with nature.

Eve:    Exactly. And what could be more natural than thinking about sex? (PAUSE) Would you like a drink? There’s some excellent punch.

Vic:     No, thank you. I’m here to collect Henry.

Eve:    But it’ll take a little while for him to get ready to go, and (SEEING HENRY ENTERING) my going to get it will give you a chance to be alone with him.

Vic:     Very well. Just a small glass. (HENRY ARRIVES, HIS DECORATIONS HAVING BEEN SMEARED SO THEY DON’T DRAW AS MUCH ATTENTION TO HIS GENITALS)

Eve:    Do sit down – on the log. (HE DOES) Take your clothes off, if you want. (HE DOESN’T)

Vic:     Ah, Henry. (EVE EXITS TO THE FIRE, LEADING TO A CHANGE OF TONE) What on earth do you think you’re doing, taking off like that, and what in God’s name have you got that paint all over your body for?

He:      Relax, father. It’s just a bit of fun. What’s wrong with that?

Vic:     Fun! This is the sort of thing that savages do, or ritualistic cults. You have no idea who these people are. You can’t just take up invitations from complete strangers. I’m very disappointed by your behaviour. The only reason I’ve come to collect you is to make sure you’re safe.

He:      That’s what I feared might happen. I didn’t really expect you to come.

Vic:     And what was I supposed to do? Leave you out all night?

He:      I wish you had. I’m a grown man, father. I can decide for myself what’s safe and what’s not, and I decided that Sheila was not just harmless but really quite exciting. She’s at university. Isn’t that something you approve of? I’m hoping she’ll become my girlfriend. So this evening will provide a good opportunity for you to get to know her – and her mother. I believe she’s got something she wants to talk to you about.

Vic:     Aren’t you being a bit hasty? In my day, we took our time about deciding who we wanted to get involved with.

He:      And look where it got you.

Vic:     That’s enough of that. And who’s this mate you’ve just met up with? Is he one of your old drugs crowd?

He:      No, father. He’s someone I was at school with. You’d approve of him. He’s a wimp.

Vic:     And what do you mean by that?

He:      He always does what he’s told. What’s more, he’s an enterprising chap. He’s got his own business. I’m hoping to persuade him to take me on.

Vic:     And what do you think your mother would have thought about all this?

He:      What do you mean?

Vic:     For all her…..difficulties, your mother was a devout Christian. These are not our type of people.

He:      You think that just because Sheila’s mum is black….

Vic:     Of course not.

He:      I want to show you something. (HE CALLS TOWARDS FIRE) Sheila.

Vic:     I mean, they’re obviously pagans.

He:      Rubbish. They’re just into having fun. Something you could do with trying. Lighten up, father. Let your hair down for once.

Vic:     You don’t realise how much it pains me to hear you say that. (HE LOOKS DOWN AS EVE RETURNS WITH FULL GLASS AND JUG, TOGETHER WITH SHEILA. HENRY MOVES TOWARDS THEM AND INTERCEPTS SHEILA, WHISPERING IN HER EAR. EVE ARRIVES NEAR VICAR) Now, I want you to go and get your clothes and come back home with me.

Eve:    But we’ve only just met.

Vic:     (LOOKING UP TO SEE EVE SMILING) I’m sorry. I was talking to Henry.

He:      (RETURNING) Father, I want you to meet Sheila.

Vic:     But I’ve already met her.

He:      Not properly. You haven’t seen her in all her naked glory. (SHEILA ARRIVES AND STANDS IN FRONT OF THE VICAR SO HE CAN’T AVOID LOOKING AT HER) My father wants to take me away now.

She:    Can’t he stay a little longer?

Vic:     And what am I supposed to do in the meantime?

Eve:    You can keep an old woman company. I feel a little out of place with all these youngsters and I would be only too pleased to talk to you.

He:      There you go. You can be of service.

Vic:     Oh, very well. Just for a short while.

He:      Great. See you later. (HENRY AND SHEILA EXIT TO FIRE)

Eve:    Your son’s a delightful young man – so cheerfully obliging. You must be really proud of him. (EVE HANDS THE VICAR HIS GLASS)

Vic:     I am, but he’s not my son. He just calls me his father for some reason. His late mother was a single parent, and a schizophrenic. I’ve just been fulfilling a promise I made to her on her death-bed to look after him.

Eve:    In his presence?

Vic:     Yes, but that didn’t make any difference.

Eve:    Maybe not to you.

Vic:     At the time, he was in a desperate state, living a life of crime and drugs on the street. Truanting from school, no money, no home. So it was only natural that he should come to live at my house. I’m not even officially his guardian.

Eve:    But you are his moral guardian.

Vic:     Yes, I suppose so. It’s been a long, hard slog converting him to the straight and narrow.

Eve:    It doesn’t show. He seems so at ease. You must have done a good job.

Vic:     Up to a point. I’m never sure how much he is putting on an act whenever he is with me.

Eve:    Isn’t that how most parents feel? And if they don’t, they should do.

Vic:     And already, your daughter seems to have had a significant effect on him.

Eve:    In what way?

Vic:     Impulsively taking off with her this morning, and leaving a message asking me to collect him this evening. I’ve never known him to take me so much for granted.

Eve:    You don’t sound too pleased about that.

Vic:     I’m sorry. I just don’t want him to get hurt.

Eve:    What are you suggesting? That Sheila is going to use him and drop him?

Vic:     No. But I fear she may lead him astray.

Eve:    From the straight and narrow path you’ve set for him?

Vic:     If that’s the way you want to put it.

Eve:    He’s got to learn about life for himself and make up his own mind about things. He can’t remain a pooper-scooper in your Garden of Eden forever.

Vic:     You think I’m exploiting him.

Eve:    No. I think it’s wonderful what you’ve done for him and it’s wonderful that he feels such gratitude and loyalty to you that he’s prepared to do such a job for peanuts. But there’s more to life than duty.

Vic:     Is there?

Eve:    Yes, of course. You didn’t decide to create your Garden of Eden out of duty. You did it because you wanted to. You believe that the human body is nothing to be ashamed of and that innocent people should show that they have nothing to hide from God.

Vic:     You’ve obviously been reading the local papers.

Eve:    I’m not sure why you think that God can see you there but can’t see you here, though. (THE VICAR REGISTERS HER INTENT BUT IGNORES IT)

Vic:     Actually, it isn’t true that I decided to create my Garden of Eden, as you call it. The land was left to the church in Lord Douglas’ will with the expressed condition that it be used to create a naturist nature reserve. I was merely the executor. So, you see, it was a duty after all.

Eve:    But, when I read about it in the papers, it said you were fulfilling a long-term ambition.

Vic:     The press got it all wrong, with their headlines like, “Vicar plays God by creating Garden of Eden”, when I was only the symbolic figurehead – the frontman. I didn’t plan it and I neither own it nor run it. All the actual organisation and work involved was done by other people. All that Lord Douglas’ will forced me to do was to come out about being a naturist.

Eve:    Was that difficult?

Vic:     Yes. I thought it would ruin my reputation. Instead, I got hundreds of letters of support.

Eve:    Including one from me.

Vic:     I see. I apologise for not replying individually, but there were far too many. I did put a blanket “Thank You” in the papers.

Eve:    I know. I forgive you.

Vic:     So, you see, my only real involvement with the place now is as a visitor.

Eve:    But Henry said you gave him a job there?

Vic:     Not really. After all the initial fuss had died down, I managed to pull some strings and get him a temporary job there and he started up the rumours again that it was all my idea and that I created the place. I don’t know why he keeps telling people that – some misplaced sense of loyalty, I guess – but I wish he wouldn’t. It was Lord Douglas’ long-term ambition, not mine. He was the one who was playing God. He must have got an awful lot of amusement out of writing his will.

Eve:    He did. Especially since he knew everyone called him God. And he would be turning in his grave over some of your policies.

Vic:     You knew him?

Eve:    I was his cook and housekeeper for many years, though he never expected me to do much work. Didn’t you realise that this property used to be part of his estate?

Vic:     If you were his cook and housekeeper, how come I’ve never met you before? I used to visit him quite often and I never saw any staff.

Eve:    I know. But I was often there, in another room, or indoors when you were outside. You’ve eaten many a meal cooked by me before. He allowed you to think it was his African cuisine you were eating.

Vic:     So….did you know who I was going to be, before I came this evening?

Eve:    Yes. It’s been a strange afternoon knowing that I was going to meet you at last. There’s something I’ve been wanting to discuss with you.

Vic:     Why did he keep you hidden away?

Eve:    He was always very careful to make sure we were never seen together. He didn’t want to start any rumours.

Vic:     Rumours?

Eve:    That I was his mistress.

Vic:     That might have enhanced his reputation. As it was, the chief rumour about him used to be that he wasn’t interested in….women, if you take my meaning. Though I never saw any evidence for it.

Eve:    You mean, he never tried to seduce you.

Vic:     No.

Eve:    He preferred the rumours about him to have no evidence rather than tangible evidence. Having an African woman with a white child as a housekeeper would have looked rather suspicious, especially after he had returned from a long stint in Africa.

Vic:     (JUMPING TO A CONCLUSION) You knew him in Africa, then?

Eve:    Yes. I was his housekeeper there, too. But only for six months.

Vic:     How strange that he never mentioned you. He used to talk at great length about his African experiences but the only woman he ever mentioned was the first real love of his life, when he was living with some primitive tribe as a young man. But she was married against her will into another tribe. (EVE LOOKS STUNNED) I’m sorry. I’m being rather insensitive.

Eve:    Not at all. I never knew………..that he’d told you about her. You’ve just reminded me of something – about the first day I met him.

Vic:     When was that?

Eve:    20 years ago on Wednesday.

Vic:     You’ve obviously got the day indelibly printed in your memory.

Eve:    Yes. It was the day that saved and changed my life.

Vic:     If you don’t mind my asking……how did you meet him?

Eve:    I was homeless, wandering around, miles from anywhere, in a state of near exhaustion, when he drove past in his Land Rover. He stopped, jumped out, stark naked as always, and asked me if I wanted a lift anywhere. I said, Yes, but I had no idea where I was trying to go. Just somewhere safe. He took me to his home.

Vic:     And took you in…..as his housekeeper?

Eve:    Yes. At least, that’s what he told me I should say I was. He just let me do what I wanted. I thought he just felt sorry for me, after I’d told him my life story on the journey. He was a revelation. He never wore a stitch, day in, day out. So, naturally, I did the same. And I loved it.

Vic:     So you became…..his mistress?

Eve:    No. He was always the perfect gentleman. In all the years I knew him, he never once made an improper suggestion. (AFTERTHOUGHT) He did have a mistress though, in the early days after we came here.

Vic:     (PERPLEXED) So, Sheila isn’t his daughter then.

Eve:    No. She was born before I even met him.

Vic:     How old is Sheila, then?

Eve:    She’s twenty.

Vic:     Oh! I thought she must be younger than that.

Eve:    (POINTEDLY) Because she doesn’t have pubic hair? (VICAR LOOKS MORE PERPLEXED) She shaves. So do I, sometimes.

Vic:     (EMBARRASSED) Really? (FOR THE FIRST TIME, HE GLANCES)

Eve:    You sound as if you disapprove.

Vic:     It’s none of my business, as long as neither of you try to persuade Henry to do likewise.

Eve:    Why shouldn’t we? He’s a grown man. He can make up his own mind.

Vic:     Maybe, but, if he did, I’m afraid he would probably lose his job.

Eve:    Why?

Vic:     Because it’s the committee’s policy not to allow people who shave their ….

Eve:    Pubic hair? Why?

Vic:     Because it’s unnatural.

Eve:    So, do you ban men who shave their faces or women who shave their legs and armpits, or people who have their hair cut?

Vic:     No.

Eve:    So, why discriminate against people who shave their pubic hair?

Vic:     The committee believes that they are exhibitionists who are deliberately drawing attention to their…..

Eve:    Genitals? And you think that bona fide naturists aren’t? The only thing that differentiates naturists from other holidaymakers and sportspeople is that they draw attention to their genitals by choosing to expose them.

Vic:     That’s a very relativist view. I would say we choose not to hide them. You would surely agree with that, personally.

Eve:    Personally, I don’t understand how human beings ever came to attach so much significance to covering their genitals in the first place. I wish they hadn’t, but they did. On the basis of my experiences in Africa, I suspect that religion had a lot to do with it. Consequently, by actively seeking the company of like-minded people, naturists are all partly voyeur and partly exhibitionist. It’s only ‘bona fide’ naturists who refuse to admit it. The reason I don’t go to your kind of naturist club is because you all seem so Stoical about it – so determined to make a religious virtue out of it. I just long to hear you admit that you like to see other people naked and that you get pleasure out of being naked. (PAUSE) Besides, if naturists are showing they have nothing to hide, then surely shavers are only taking that to its logical conclusion.

Vic:     Perhaps, but I still feel it is excessive exhibitionism. And, just for the record, I do get pleasure out of being naked, but it isn’t sexual pleasure.

Eve:    Then, why won’t you do so here?

Vic:     You seem determined that I should undress. Very well. I shall show you that I have nothing to hide. (HE STARTS TO UNDRESS)

Eve:    What makes you so sure that people shave for exhibitionist reasons? My mother used to cut her pubic hair in order to prevent the hairs getting caught up during intercourse, which can be very painful. She recommended that I should do the same. She was right. When I let it grow, I found that it got in the way, especially when it was wet, so I started to cut it regularly, but I found that it grew so quickly that it was best to cut it all off. Sheila found just the same, and took the issue to its logical conclusion by shaving regularly. I guess that’s progressive inheritance for you. Something I believe you are particularly interested in.

Vic:     (GENUINELY INTERESTED) You mean, you both find that it would grow very long if you didn’t cut it?

Eve:    Yes. I reckon it would grow down to my knees.

Vic:     And your mother did too?

Eve:    Yes. For all I know, that may have been going on for generations. For all I know, that’s what everyone does. It’s not exactly something that people discuss.

Vic:     My God. I’ve just realised something. (FROM NOW ON, THE VICAR SHOULD SEEM EXCITED AND ANIMATED, AND CONTINUES UNDRESSING ALMOST UNCONSCIOUSLY)

Eve:    Really. Tell me more.

Vic:     I’ve often noticed that my beard grows fastest on the chin, where I pull the hair when I’m thinking.

Eve:    Yes. So?

Vic:     Men who shave regularly or pull their beards or preen their moustaches can grow them to enormous lengths. You say that, by shaving, your…………pubic hairs grow very long. (HE REMOVES HIS KNICKERS)

Eve:    Yes. That wasn’t so difficult, was it?

Vic:     Don’t you see that shaving must promote hair growth?

Eve:    Actually, I’ve always understood that hair is dead matter and cutting it has no effect at all.

Vic:     I’m not talking about cutting. I’m talking about pulling. Haven’t you seen the TV adverts for razors which show how the hair is pulled as part of the process of shaving? All men experience the process whereby facial hair grows thicker and longer as a consequence of shaving.

Eve:    Yes, I’ll go along with that. I recall having read somewhere that regular vigorous brushing prevents baldness. It’s all to do with stimulating the follicles, I believe. That’s why men are more prone to baldness, because they don’t spend as much time as women brushing their hair.

Vic:     And that has been going on for generations. So it’s not so much that we shave because we grow beards as that we grow beards because our ancestors shaved. Men go bald because their male ancestors didn’t stimulate their hair to grow by vigorous brushing and women generally have longer hair because their female ancestors did. You have experienced the same with your pubic hair.

Eve:    Yes. I don’t understand why that’s a revelation.

Vic:     I take it you’re not a believer?

Eve:    I was educated by Christian missionaries. They may have taught us well but they robbed us of our natural culture and imposed your Christian values and beliefs upon us. I never agreed with them so I don’t believe in your God.

Vic:     I can see that you and Lord Douglas were of one mind.

Eve:    But I do worship an old man with a long white beard.

Vic:     Charles Darwin, you mean.

Eve:    You guessed. I’m a devout evolutionist. At least you’re not offended.

Vic:     Not at all. As Christians, we worship a young man with long hair. Both men believed they had discovered the truth and inspired followers with their beliefs. You ask us to question our blind faith but do you ever ask yourself whether Darwin’s followers may be wrong?

Eve:    I thought you believed in evolution.

Vic:     I do believe in evolution and I see no contradiction between that and belief in God. The only contradiction is between the modern neo-Darwinist theory and a purposeful God. I believe that evolution is a responsive, progressive process of adaption to a changing environment.

Eve:    So do I.

Vic:     Then you’re not a neo-Darwinist. You’re an unwitting Lamarckist.

Eve:    Is that bad?

Vic:     Not as far as I’m concerned. But as far as the scientific establishment is concerned, it makes you a heretic.

Eve:    Oh, good.

Vic:     You see, neo-Darwinists dismiss all the evidence in favour of Lamarckism on the grounds that Lamarckism cannot be explained scientifically. They say it is impossible. I think that the very fact that it is scientifically impossible is evidence for the hand of God in evolution.

Eve:    I see. Where does hair growth come into this?

Vic:     Have you heard of the aquatic ape theory?

Eve:    Elaine Morgan – “The Descent of Woman”. I certainly have. It was one of the first books I read after I came to live in England. My first encounter with feminism.

Vic:     Do you agree with it?

Eve:    Yes. Mainly because I was such a water-baby myself. I’ve never understood why it isn’t widely accepted.

Vic:     Because it’s a Lamarckist theory. Every aspect of it relies on features being adapted by the environment responsively in a fairly short period of time. The assumption is that, because we have a lot of characteristics that suit us to an aquatic environment rather than a terrestrial one, that means we must once have lived in the sea. In other words, a former environment influenced our development. That doesn’t fit in with neo-Darwinist theory and the scientific establishment regards Lamarckism as heresy.

Eve:    I’m afraid you’ve lost me.

Vic:     Neo-Darwinists claim that any adaptations that suit the environment are favoured by natural selection.

Eve:    Yes, I understand about natural selection. That’s why I thought I was a Darwinist. I thought that was what Darwinism was all about.

Vic:     It is. But what neo-Darwinists have done is to claim they know what causes the random adaptations.

Eve:    What’s that?

Vic:     Copying mistakes during gene replications.

Eve:    You really should be talking to Sheila. She’s doing genetics at University.

Vic:     To neo-Darwinists, the environment is only the backdrop against which change occurs rather than the cause of the change. But, why should so many extremely unlikely random adaptations have happened to us in so short a space of time? Why do we have so many features that would have been useless to us if we didn’t live in the sea? Why did we lose our body hair when all terrestrial mammals found it advantageous to keep theirs? And why did we retain our pubic hair?

Eve:    I don’t know. (EVE STARTS SHOWING SIGNS OF FEELING COLD)

Vic:     You’ve just given me the answer – because our ancestors cut it. At a time when the rest of our ancestors’ body hair was being lost as a direct consequence of being in an aquatic environment in which it was of no use, their pubic hair continued to grow because our ancestors stimulated its growth by cutting it. (THERE IS A LOUD CHEER AND A ROUND OF APPLAUSE FROM THE FIRESIDE. EVE LOOKS UP. THE VICAR DOESN’T)

Eve:    The Gorillagram-boy has just got his costume back.

Vic:     Sorry?

Eve:    Never mind. Just a trivial observation. (PAUSE) So, what you’re saying is that shaving pubic hair is perfectly natural because there is a long-term precedent for it.

Vic:     I guess so, though I’m more interested in the fact that it provides evidence for the progressive, responsive way in which evolution works. It shows purposive intelligence. Everything happens for a reason. I used to think that pubic hair was inexplicable and hence evidence of God’s idiosyncratic design.

Eve:    Does that mean you saw shaving as being a snub to God?

Vic:     Yes, but I never told anyone that because it seemed rather a weak argument to say that God was idiosyncratic. I think God intended me to come here this evening and have this conversation with you.

Eve:    So, would you be prepared to change your policy on pubic hair?

Vic:     (ABSENTLY) What? Oh, yes, if you like. It is up to the committee, but I’ll certainly recommend it, and I’ve no doubt they’ll approve.

Eve:    (LOOKING PLEASED WITH HERSELF) I never dreamed I would get to see you – a man of the cloth – waxing lyrical about evolution and pubic hair, at first meeting. You’ve obviously made quite a study of it.

Vic:     Evolution has been a pet hobby horse of mine for a long time. I used to be a scientist before I became a vicar, but I discovered that science knows far less than it pretends to. (PAUSE) I’m sorry if I’ve been boring you with it.

Eve:    No. I’m fascinated. But, why don’t we move closer to the fire? It’s starting to get a bit chilly. Then you can talk to Sheila about it.

Vic:     I’d prefer to stay here. It’s quieter.

Eve:    Would you like me to go and get Sheila, then?

Vic:     (UNENTHUSIASTICALLY) By all means, if you wish.

Eve:    (MOVING TOWARDS FIRE, CALLING) Sheila. Could you come here for a minute. (EVE RETURNS) She’ll be able to give you her slant. She’s very interested in evolution. (SHEILA ENTERS)

She:    You wanted me. (SEEING VICAR NAKED) Nice work, mum.

Eve:    Yes. Henry’s father is trying to find out why we’re all naked.

She:    Because it feels good. And it’s fun.

Eve:    No. I mean hairless. He’s interested in evolution.

She:    Oh! Well, I believe in neoteny theory.

Eve:    What’s that?

She:    A genetic accident caused our original ancestor not to mature properly into an ape but become an overgrown ape foetus instead. Ape foetuses are naked until quite late on in their gestation.

Eve:    So, we’re all overgrown children then.

She:    Yes. That’s what makes us so big-headed and curious.

Vic:     That’s all very well, but why do we have sub-cutaneous fat, shed salty tears and have a diving reflex? Apes and ape foetuses don’t.

She:    Just other aspects of the neoteny package which did us no harm. Though, if you’re going to lose your hair, sub-cutaneous fat is the necessary alternative. Each precludes the other. The dormant genes which determine sub-cutaneous fat would have come into operation when the hair-determining genes didn’t.

Eve:    Why is sub-cutaneous fat necessary?

She:    To insulate the body against heat loss.

Eve:    Mine doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job at the moment.

She:    It’s not as efficient as hair and, if we hadn’t harnessed fire and started using bedclothes, we would probably never have survived as a species. Our overgrown brains compensated for the hair loss.

Vic:     Isn’t it more likely that sub-cutaneous fat was the cause of our hairlessness rather than the effect?

She:    In philosophical terms, maybe, but, in genetic terms, not necessarily. We are less likely to have been genetically caused to develop sub-cutaneous fat than to have lost all our body hair, which, in turn, caused the sub-cutaneous fat.

Vic:     What I meant was, the intelligent response to finding oneself in an environment in which hair is no use is to develop sub-cutaneous fat.

She:    What’s intelligence got to do with it?

Eve:    (RETURNING TO THE SUBJECT) So, why did we retain our pubic hair?

She:    I don’t know. I don’t. Because it’s totally useless.

Eve:    Henry’s father thinks he’s found the answer.

She:    So, you’ve been talking about pubic hair. That was quick, mum.

Eve:    Yes. It’s been quite a triumph. He thinks that our ancestors must have cut it, so there’s no reason why we shouldn’t do the same.

She:    That’s good. Or is it? What does this mean, in practical terms?

Eve:    He’s going to recommend a change of policy.

She:    I see. That was a bit too quick. (WHISPERING) You could have told me this was what you were planning.

Eve:    (ALSO WHISPERING) I didn’t plan it. It just happened.

She:    (TO THE VICAR) But cutting isn’t what causes hair to grow.

Vic:     (WHO HAS BEEN THINKING) What does cause hair to grow, then?

She:    Heat, produced in the skin cells, physical stimulation of the follicles and genetic instructions, of course.

Vic:     But that’s only your assumption. There is no positive evidence that genes determine characteristics.

She:    What else is there that passes from generation to generation?

Vic:     Intelligence, Memory, Life Itself.

She:    Which must all be functions of the genetic programming.

Vic:     Not necessarily. A television set contains thousands of components, which together enable the set to work, but the actual programmes have nothing whatsoever to do with the components.

She:    You’re just evoking magic.

Vic:     I’m evoking a force which science has not discovered yet, and which I choose to call God.

She:    Look, this is all very interesting, but it’s getting rather chilly. Couldn’t we go nearer the fire? (DRAWING EVE AWAY AND WHISPERING TO HER) I’ve got to bring things to a head with Henry before he goes. He’s spurned Susie. If he learns about your bombshell tonight, he’ll be round here tomorrow expecting his reward. Keep his father occupied.

Eve:    (LOUDLY) Yes. I could do with feeling a little warmer too. Activity would help. (TO VICAR) Would you like to dance, perhaps?

Vic:     I’m afraid this kind of dancing is not my scene.

Eve:    What kind of dancing do you like?

Vic:     I used to be fairly good at the waltz.

Eve:    Sheila, have you got any waltzes?

She:    I can get one from the house.

Vic:     No. I really should be going. Could you tell Henry that we’ll be leaving as soon as he can be ready. (SHEILA EXITS TO HOUSE, UN-NOTICED BY THE VICAR, WHO IS THINKING)

Eve:    Are you still thinking about the origins of pubic hair?

Vic:     Yes. Sheila just said that heat produced in the skin cells causes hair to grow.

Eve:    I wish my skin cells would produce more heat at the moment.

Vic:     In water, the skin cells would never reach body temperature because they would always lose heat straight to the water.

Eve:    They can lose it to the air as well.

Vic:     But not through a hairy coat. A hairy coat allows skin cells to be at body temperature.

Eve:    I can see the advantages of a hairy coat sometimes.

Vic:     But even a hairy coat is no use in the water unless it’s well-oiled like an otter’s. So we developed sub-cutaneous fat, which meant that the skin cells no longer needed to bother to produce heat.

Eve:    Mine certainly seem to have given up.

Vic:     So we lost our hair because our skin cells didn’t produce enough heat, except on our heads, which were rarely underwater, and our armpits, which are the only places where skin is always in contact with skin.

Eve:    How does that help?

Vic:     Because skin contact helps both pieces of skin to keep each other warm.

Eve:    Well, I’m all for skin contact, then.

Vic:     And we retained our pubic hair because we cut it. Unless (HE PAUSES TO THINK UNTIL HE HAS A BRAINWAVE)……our ancestors used shells, like cricket boxes, or primitive leather G-strings.

Eve:    How would that help?

Vic:     It would prevent heat loss. The water inside the shell would not be exchanging with the water outside, so it could reach body temperature.

Eve:    And so?

Vic:     So the skin cells covered by the shell would still produce heat and hence grow hair.

Eve:    But, why do you think our ancestors did that? Wore shells, I mean.

Vic:     The only thing I can think of is modesty.

Eve:    What about…to protect them from the feeding and nesting habits of other aquatic creatures. In Africa, as kids, we were always told to keep our knickers on in the water, for that reason. I used to think it was yet another excuse.

Vic:     In which case, the modesty came later. Modesty came about because, during our aquatic phase, people always covered their genitals for practical reasons. People got used to not normally seeing them, so they acquired a secretiveness which has continued ever since. (SHEILA ENTERS WITH A CD IN ONE HAND AND A LONG HAIRY COAT OR SHAWL WHICH SHE DRAPES OVER EVE’S SHOULDERS)

Eve:    So, it’s not so much that we cover ourselves because we’re modest as that we’re modest because our ancestors covered themselves. Thank you, Sheila. That’s much better.

She:    What’s this about?

Eve:    We’re still talking about pubic hair. He now thinks our ancestors must have covered their genitals with shells.

Vic:     (TRIUMPHANTLY) Yes. I think that’s it. The final piece of evidence that I needed.

She:    For what?

Vic:     For Lamarckism. And hence, though this is more personal, for the belief that God has a role in evolution.

She:    You don’t need to bring God into it any more. Don’t you know that Lamarckism is now becoming accepted, as it becomes scientifically explained? (EVE TAKES THE CD FROM SHEILA AND EXITS TO FIRE)

Vic:     Really? No, I didn’t know.

She:    Apparently, genes have volume controls on them which get adjusted, either up or down according to use or disuse, over the generations. So all the interactions that occur between genes and their products are to some degree dependent on the past experiences of the possessors of those genes. They don’t call it Lamarckism though. It’s called epigenetics.

Vic:     That’s wonderful news. But why don’t they call it Lamarckism, if that’s what it is?

She:    According to my tutor, it’s because epigeneticists want to be taken seriously by the scientific establishment, so they don’t want to be hampered by a hitherto ridiculed name.

Vic:     That figures.

THE PREVIOUS MUSIC HAS STOPPED AND A WALTZ COMES ON. EVE RETURNS. DURING THE FOLLOWING DANCE, THE VICAR SHOULD TRY TO KEEP HIS DISTANCE FROM EVE, WHILE SHE TRIES TO MAKE REGULAR BODY CONTACT, UNTIL HE STARTS TO HOLD HER TIGHTLY.

Eve:    Shall we dance? (SHEILA EXITS TO FIRE)

Vic:     Very well. I’m afraid I may be a bit rusty.

Eve:    Nobody’s going to be judging us. You don’t dance very often then?

Vic:     No, not since my wife left me. She was the keen dancer.

Eve:    When did she leave you?

Vic:     Many years ago, before I came to this parish. She eloped with another man – a dance instructor.

Eve:    Were you very hurt by that?

Vic:     Yes, but I was more angry with myself for not having seen it coming. She was always saying that I was too good, too predictable, too staid and that I never let my hair down. I didn’t realise I’d have to change in order to keep her.

Eve:    But you obviously did change, based on my observations. Becoming a naturist.

Vic:     Yes, but by then it was too late. (PAUSE) She used to sunbathe naked in our back garden but I never joined her. I didn’t approve. I would sit by my study window with one eye on her and the other on the driveway, in case of unexpected visitors, though she never cared about being caught. She always hated being expected to conform to the archetypal vicar’s wife. I didn’t become a naturist myself until I came to this parish.

Eve:    Because you missed seeing her naked body?

Vic:     Partly, I guess, but I also wanted to do something unpredictable – outlandish even. I didn’t realise then that the proportion of clergy and Christians is higher in naturist clubs than it is in the outside world. I discovered that several of my parishioners were members of the nearest club.

Eve:    Including Lord Douglas?

Vic:     Yes. He was the one that got me started. When I first came to this parish, he summoned me to his house. When I got there, he answered the front door stark naked. He asked me to come and join him in the back garden, and I did.

Eve:    I know. I saw. (THE VICAR DOESN’T NOTICE, DUE TO HIS PERCEIVED NEED TO KEEP TALKING TO DISTRACT HIMSELF)

Vic:     He told me he ran a private naturist club, based on his swimming pool, at weekends. Would I be interested in joining? I thought, Why not? So I did. Most of the other members turned out to be pillars of the local community. I think they only joined in order to get chummy with Lord Douglas and then discovered it was a useful social avenue. Many of them now constitute the committee.

Eve:    I know. (VICAR DOESN’T NOTICE)

Vic:     He also told me he’d been dreaming for years of turning the site into a larger public naturist amenity. As time went on, I became convinced that he’d only built the pool, and started the club, in the pursuit of his dreams. I mean, he never swam himself, and I could never understand why the club was only at weekends.

Eve:    Because I was using the pool during the week. And Sheila, when she was home. I always knew that, when he died, we’d have to lose that privilege. (THE VICAR DOESN’T NOTICE)

Vic:     We spent many hours discussing his plans but I thought they were all just a pipedream that would never materialise. Even when he asked me to be the executor of his will, I didn’t see the connection. He was a mischievous monkey if ever there was one. He certainly changed my life forever.

Eve:    I get the impression there’s another mischievous monkey in our midst.

Vic:     I’m sorry. Please forgive me. It’s been so long since I felt a woman’s body close to mine.

Eve:    Forgive you? I’m flattered. Can I have a look?

Vic:     (AS EVE TRIES TO PUSH HIM AWAY WHILST LOOKING DOWN, BUT HE CLINGS TIGHT) No. I can’t let Henry see me like this. We must get out of sight.

Eve:    Very well. (THEY WALTZ OFF BEHIND THE BUSHES ON THE OTHER SIDE FROM THE FIRE. AFTER A PAUSE, HENRY AND SHEILA WALTZ ON, RATHER BADLY, GIGGLING)

She:    Your friend Gordon hasn’t gone without saying Goodbye, has he?

He:      No. He and Susie disappeared together soon after he got his costume back. While you were talking to my father.

She:    Ah. I was wondering where Susie had gone. (PAUSE) He’ll be having a good time then.

He:      I’m sure he will. That’s what I asked her to give him.

She:    What? That was very selfless of you. I’m sure you could have had her yourself if you’d wanted to.

He:      I know. But I don’t want her. I want you. Look, I’ve had a really great time tonight too, apart from when Susie arrived, and I’ve decided that, even though I may lose my job, I do want you to shave off my pubic hair before we have sex. Because I want us to have a relationship. But I don’t feel the need to have sex with you immediately any more. We’ll wait until you’re ready.

She:    What did you just say?

He:      I said, I want us to be boyfriend and girlfriend, but we won’t have sex until you tell me you want to.

She:    What did you mean, you might lose your job?

He:      Didn’t you know?

She     Know what?

He:      They don’t allow smoothies at my place of work.

She:    They don’t?

He:      Didn’t you read the rules?

She:    Rules?

He:      At the entrance.

She:    Of course I didn’t read the rules. What do you take me for?

He:      Well, your mother certainly knew.

She:    She makes it her business to know everything that’s going on in your father’s life. She never said anything to me about pubic hair.

He:      So, what was that third test about?

She:    It was a genuine test of your sincerity. Men don’t generally agree to such conditions for the sake of a one-night-stand.

He:      You mean, you really do want to have a relationship with me? You didn’t just say it thinking I would refuse?

She:    Why would I do that?

He:      I thought you had just got me over here in order that your mother could meet my father, to talk about pubic hair.

She:    You really are a psychologist, aren’t you. And you’re partially right. I admit it. One of the reasons I got you over here was so my mother could meet your father. As far as I was aware, pubic hair didn’t come into it. But I also wanted to get to know you, and, now that I have, things have changed.

He:      In what way?

She:    By your saying you’re seriously prepared to lose your job in order to have a sexual relationship with me? Do you really mean that?

He:      Yes. Though I’d much rather not. Lose my job, I mean.

She:    Wow! What’s brought on this change of heart? I thought you didn’t even like me – that you just wanted to make a conquest. People don’t lose their jobs for the sake of a conquest.

He:      I realised earlier this evening that I’ve never felt so happy. And it’s all because of you. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me. You’ve been so affectionate ever since your friends arrived. I know why you weren’t before – when we were alone together – and you were right. I would have misinterpreted it. Your touches have been electric, and being naked with you, believing you are my girlfriend, that’s enough for me for the time being. I know I was a real bastard earlier, and I admit I was out to make a conquest, but that isn’t the real me. That’s just the act that’s worked for me up to press – though not all that often.

She:    In that case, I want you tonight.

He:      You mean, now?

She:    No. When the party’s over. You must tell your father you’re going to stay the night.

He:      I can’t. You don’t know him. But I’ll come and see you tomorrow. I promise.

She:    (TEASINGLY) Coward. What’s the point of going back home if you’re going to come back here tomorrow? You’re just worried about what your father will say, aren’t you? Well, it’s not as if he’s not going to find out that we’re having sex. So you might as well tell him now. Besides, if you pass me up tonight, I may not want to have sex with you tomorrow, and you did say we’d only have sex when I wanted to.

He:      I can wait. But, where have they gone? They were here a minute ago.

She:    They’ve probably gone to the house. It is rather chilly away from the fire.

He:      We’d better go and find them. If I know him, he’ll be getting impatient.

She:    No, wait. They may not want to be interrupted.

He:      What are you suggesting?

She:    They may be getting better acquainted.

He:      You don’t know my father.

She:    No, but I know my mother and I know what men are like.

He:      Nonetheless, I bet they’re not up to anything.

She:    O.K. you’re on. What are the stakes?

He:      O.K. If you lose, you abandon your third test, and if I lose, I’ll fulfill it.

She:    That’s not fair. I don’t gain any advantage by winning.

He:      Advantage? We both want the same thing, don’t we?

She:    Yes. But a bet is a bet, so both parties have to be able to win or lose.

He:      What would you like to win?

She:    Your father’s blessing for the consummation of our relationship, tonight.

He:      That’s a bit steep. You don’t realise how morally upright he is.

She:    We’re talking about your losing the bet, which would mean we had caught him in flagrante delicto. What kind of moral ground would he be standing on then? You don’t have to succeed in getting his blessing, but you have to ask for it.

He:      Why do you want his blessing?

She:    As a further demonstration of your sincerity.

He:      You’re right. I should let fate decide what I should do.

She:    Fate? Don’t you believe in God, then?

He:      Not really. I pretend to for my father’s sake.

She:    As an insurance policy, you mean?

He:      Sorry?

She:    Come on. Let’s go to the house and find out who’s right. And keep quiet. (THEY EXIT TOWARDS HOUSE. AFTER A PAUSE, DURING WHICH THE WALTZ STOPS AND TEENAGE DANCE MUSIC RESUMES, THE VICAR HURRIES ON AND STARTS TO DRESS, FOLLOWED BY EVE)

Vic:     I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

Eve:    I do. It’s called lust.

Vic:     Completely inexcusable. Can you ever forgive me?

Eve:    There’s nothing to forgive.

Vic:     You’re only saying that. You tried to stop me and I ignored you. I behaved despicably.

Eve:    I only wanted to check about protection.

Vic:     You’re not protected? Lord, what have I done?

Eve:    Don’t worry. I had the menopause years ago. I was thinking about AIDS.

Vic:     You think I’ve got AIDS?

Eve:    No, but you have no idea whether I have. Especially coming from Africa.

Vic:     Have you?

Eve:    No, but that’s not the point. How can we expect young people to act responsibly to prevent the spread of STD’S if we don’t?

Vic:     It would be a fitting punishment if I had caught something.

Eve:    You mustn’t talk like that. You’ve done nothing wrong.

Vic:     I took advantage of you.

Eve:    So? I took advantage of you too. I wanted you to do it.

Vic:     You gave in to temptation. You didn’t know what you were doing.

Eve:    Yes I did. I let my body do what it wanted to do. So did you.

Vic:     Then you should be ashamed of yourself, as I am.

Eve:    Please don’t lay any of your guilt on me. I’ve done nothing to be ashamed of.

Vic:     That’s your business. Please don’t tell me how I should feel. That is between me and God.

Eve:    What has your shame ever done for people? It’s made them feel guilty about having sexual desires, causing generation after generation of repressed women and frustrated men. That has led to prostitution, pornography, rape, misogyny and countless other crimes against women. What makes you so sure that your God intends you to repress your animal instincts?

Vic:     We have tasted the fruit of knowledge. We are not like other animals. We know what sex is for.

Eve:    We know what eating is for – it’s to supply our cells with energy. That shouldn’t make us feel guilty about eating, or cause us to eat the minimum amount of gruel necessary to satisfy our cells.

Vic:     We can be selective about what we eat and who we sleep with.

Eve:    I don’t know about you but I was being selective. I went into the bushes with an open-minded, compassionate idealist and I came out with a blinkered, callous hypocrite.

Vic:     Callous?

Eve:    Yes. You don’t give a damn about my feelings. I was enjoying your company this evening. I was looking forward to meeting you again and, with Henry and Sheila getting on so well, that seemed very likely. What’s going to happen now? Are you going to let Henry think that nothing happened or are you going to admit to him that you’re the sort of person who loves ’em and leaves ’em? Are we going to avoid each other and not acknowledge each other if we do meet, just because we rushed things in a moment of impetuosity? Are you going to rule me out as a potential partner because you feel ashamed about your true feelings towards me?

Vic:     I’m sorry. I didn’t realise you were looking for a long-term partner. (HAVING DRESSED, HE SITS ON THE LOG, DEEP IN THOUGHT)

Eve:    Isn’t everyone looking for someone they can share their lives with? (THE GORILLAGRAM ENTERS, IN COSTUME, CARRYING THE HEAD)

Gor:     I’m afraid I’ve got to go now. My folks will be wondering where I am. If my dad ever found out where I’d been, he’d have a fit.

Eve:    I see you’ve got your costume back.

Gor:     Yes, eventually. I had to climb up that tree to get it.

Eve:    I saw. I hope you enjoyed yourself.

Gor:     Yes. I’ve had a great time. I didn’t think so at first, but everyone was so friendly, and, when they all cheered when I climbed the tree, I realised that it was all good fun. And it was good to meet up with Henry again. (WHISPERING) Could I have a quiet word with you. (DRAWING EVE AWAY AND WHISPERING SO VICAR CAN’T HEAR) I shouldn’t really be saying this about a former mate but, I thought I’d better tell you that, if I were a mother, I wouldn’t want my daughter messing with Henry.

Eve:    It’s alright. Sheila’s very aware of what he’s like. He’s met his match. But, thanks for telling me. By the way, did you know Henry while his mother was still alive?

Gor:     Yes, I’m afraid I did. She never liked me.

Eve:    It’s obviously rather a difficult subject for him to talk about, but I think I might have known her. Do you know what her name was?

Gor:     Yes. It was Gladys.

Eve:    Gladys….Evans?

Gor:     Yes. Did you know her?

Eve:    Yes, I’m afraid I did. Thank you. (LOUDER) You must come again then.

Gor:     I’d love to. In fact, I’d like to come and talk to you about your experiences in Africa. I’m going to be reading anthropology at University.

Eve:    By all means. That’s a very interesting choice. What made you decide to read anthropology?

Gor:     It was Lord Douglas. He came and gave a talk to our school about anthropology and his life in Africa. And I thought, that’s the kind of life I want to lead.

Eve:    Ah, yes, I remember now. It was his last public engagement before he died. I’m sure we’ll find a lot to talk about. And I would be delighted. What’s your name and phone number? (EVE SEARCHES FOR PAPER AND PENCIL IN HER COAT POCKET)

Gor:     Gordon. It’s not my real name but that’s what all my mates call me.

Eve:    Same here. My real name’s completely unpronounceable to English speakers. It was Lord Douglas who called me Eve.

Gor:     My number’s 647846. But you don’t have to write it down. Susie’s got it painted across her….chest. She’s going to be my….partner.

Eve:    Business or pleasure?

Gor:     Both.

Eve:    Good. If the two of you want to come here, to be alone together, feel free.

Gor:     Thanks. I’ll probably see you soon, then. Goodbye. (HE EXITS TO ROAD)

Eve:    Goodbye. (PAUSE) You seem very deep in thought.

Vic:     I’m confused.

Eve:    Welcome to the human race.

Vic:     Earlier this evening, I thought that God had intended me to meet you. It seemed like a sign. But, if He did, He must have intended everything that’s happened this evening. I was happy. For a while spent in your company, I let my hair down and I was happy. Not….satisfied that I was doing my duty, not comfortable with my own peace of mind, but happy to be alive. Was that a sign too?

Eve:    Probably, but I wouldn’t credit it to a purposive intelligence. Just a learning experience. Maybe there’s something in the air tonight – like a love virus. Henry and Sheila seem to have caught it too.

Vic:     I don’t know how you’ve sprung up so suddenly, but you and Sheila have certainly made a dramatic impact on our lives.

Eve:    And you, upon ours. Sheila and I have a tradition that we give presents on our birthdays, so I’ve been used to receiving presents on hers. I thought my present today was a gorillagram this morning. Maybe that was only the token.

Vic:     What do you mean?

Eve:    I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long. But God obviously never wanted me to during his lifetime. Since he died, I’ve been wondering how we could ever meet. If I’d come to your church, I’d have been a hypocrite and you would probably never have noticed me. If I’d come to your naturist camp, you would never have come and talked to a woman on her own. And if I’d approached you, you’d have run a mile. Today, it seems that providence stepped in and came to my rescue. And all because Sheila and Henry happened to meet this morning.

Vic:     You think we were destined to get together?

Eve:    Yes. Tell me, honestly, do you want us to get together?

Vic:     Yes, of course I do. The feel of a naked woman’s body close to mine is the closest I’ve ever come to ecstasy. And you are the most fascinating woman I’ve ever met.

Eve:    What’s stopping you, then?

Vic:     My faith, my beliefs, my God.

Eve:    They’re just figments of your imagination. I’m real.

Vic:     Are you? You seem like a fantasy to me. (HENRY AND SHEILA ENTER, HAND IN HAND. HENRY IS DRESSED IN HIS FORMER CLOTHES, AND SHEILA CAN BE WEARING A ROBE)

She:    Where were you, just now? We’ve been looking for you.

Eve:    We….(UNSEEN BY THE MEN, BUT NOTICED BY SHEILA, EVE GETS A TISSUE OUT OF HER COAT POCKET AND PUTS IT BETWEEN HER LEGS. EVE SMILES AT SHEILA)

Vic:     We just went for a little walk.

He:      (TRIUMPHANTLY) I win.

She:    Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence.

Vic:     What are you talking about?

He:      We just had a little bet on, as to whether you had gone for a walk or gone to the house.

Vic:     Really? What a trivial matter to take a bet on. I take it there weren’t any stakes.

He:      No, father. I don’t gamble with money any more.

Vic:     Good. Are you ready to go home now, Henry?

He:      Do we have to, father?

Vic:     What’s the alternative?

She:    I’ve invited Henry to stay the night. I’m sure you could stay for the night too, if you wanted. Couldn’t he, mum?

Eve:    (PUZZLED) Yes, of course.

Vic:     No. Thank you for the offer but we only live a few miles away, so it really isn’t necessary.

She:    What does necessity matter? Would you like to?

Vic:     (AFTER A VERY LONG PAUSE) Yes. I think you should know, Henry, and Sheila, that Eve and I have become lovers. (THE VICAR TAKES EVE’S HAND) I sincerely hope that someday she will do me the honour of marrying me. (LONG PAUSE DURING WHICH SHEILA WHISPERS IN HENRY’S EAR AND EVE REALISES THAT AN ANSWER IS CALLED FOR)

Eve:    (SMILING AT THE VICAR) We’ll…….talk about it.

He:      Then I think you should know, father, that Sheila and I are about to become lovers. And I….would like your blessing for it.

Vic:     Henry, you’re a grown man. You make your own decisions. I am not going to make them for you. You must do whatever you think is right. You don’t need my blessing.

He:      But…..I would like it.

Vic:     Are you sure you’re not rushing things?

He:      No, father. It feels right. I feel happy with Sheila.

Vic:     How about you, Sheila?

She:    (RATHER POINTEDLY TO EVE) I am committed to this relationship.

Vic:     Then…..I give you my blessing.

He:      Thank you, father.

She:    Isn’t there something else you wanted to tell your father?

He:      Is there?

She:    About your pubic hair. You may as well get it over with.

He:      Father, Sheila would like me to shave my pubic hair off….

Vic:     If you want to please her, then do it. I have to warn you that you may have trouble keeping your job if you do, but I intend to recommend a change of policy to the committee. It was never very practicable anyway.

He:      Thanks father, but I don’t think I want to stay in that job much longer anyway. I’ve decided I want to be a psychologist.

Vic:     Good, a very wise choice. I’m sure you’ll be very good at it. But it will require a lot of study.

He:      I know that, father.

Eve:    We should be getting some drinks and celebrating – a double celebration. Four people who’ve got together as a result of God’s will. It’s a pity he couldn’t be here. With Gladys Evans of course, to make it a sixsome.

Vic:     Gladys Evans? How did you know Gladys Evans?

Eve:    Oh dear. Me and my big mouth. I probably shouldn’t be telling tales out of school but…..she was God’s mistress.

Vic:     When?

Eve:    When I first came here. About 19 years ago.

He:      Then it’s true. He was my father. God was my father.

Vic:     Could have been, Henry, only could have been. But it does seem very likely.

Eve:    (GRAVELY) In that case, I have something very important to tell you all.

She:    Oh, mum. Can’t it wait? Haven’t we had enough confessions and revelations for one evening?

Eve:    No. This is very important. It’s something I’ve never told anyone – not even Sheila – because I swore to God that I wouldn’t. But he would understand the necessity now. The simple fact is that….God was my father too.

The End

If you enjoyed that, you might like my radio play, “A Conversation with God“.