The Conversation

(A play in one act)


Act 1

(Music) Set opens on the comfortable sofas and lit up stage of Parkinson’s Chat show.

PARKINSON:          So, Jack. May I call you Jack? What made you want to come on ‘Parkinson’?

JAMES:                  Please, I prefer James. Well, you know Michael, I just wish to set the record straight on so many things. And it’s been such a long time…

PARKINSON:          Yes it has!

JAMES:                  And I really do feel that I’ve stayed silent long enough.

PARKINSON:          Well, it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome you onto the show tonight, Jack, and I hope we will be able to chat about a few things. The questions I have to ask, as I know many of our viewers tonight will be really quite interested in the answer, is, well, is it really you?! (Audience laughs)

JAMES:                  Oh, Michael! (Laughs) If I had a penny for every time someone asked me that!

PARKINSON:          You’d be a rich man, although I’m not sure how far a penny would get you these days.

JAMES:                  But yes, it is me.

PARKINSON:          What brought you back to England? Because I hear you have been living abroad?

JAMES:                  I’ve been away in America for a long while now, but it’s great to be back in London. And when I heard they had made a wax work of me, well I had to come back and see for myself!

PARKINSON:          Yes, I’ve seen that! It’s not a great likeness, is it?

JAMES:                  No, but then they had very little to go on.

PARKINSON:          No, quite. Well, it’s wonderful to see you in the flesh.

JAMES:                  I’m not so scary in person, am I?

PARKINSON:          No, not at all. Especially without the hat and cape. Do you still have it? The topper?

JAMES:                  My top hat, you mean?

PARKINSON:          Yes, that’s the one. Rather iconic, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Oh, no, I got rid of that years ago. Not exactly stylish these days.

PARKINSON:          Well, it’s a new look, new century, and I am told there is a new book too?

JAMES:                  Oh, yes, my book is coming out on Wednesday. ‘Confessions: The Truth’.

PARKINSON:          That really is a dramatic title, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Yes, the publishers picked that. (Amused chuckle)

PARKINSON:          And does it live up to the hype? That’s the million pound question, isn’t it?

JAMES:                  Well, I think so. It covers all the gristly details from 1888 to1891, with more details about what happened in the following years.

PARKINSON:          Yes, and those years were quite eventful, weren’t they?

JAMES:                  Well, after I turned myself in at Broadmoor, most reports you find talk about how I died there.

PARKINSON:          But that wasn’t the case, was it?

JAMES:                  Not quite, (smiles) I’d escaped once, it was child’s play to do it again.

PARKINSON:          And from there you went on to America?

JAMES:                  Yes. I met a nice girl by the name of Carrie Brown, and we carried on the tradition.

PARKINSON:          The tradition?

JAMES:                  Well, it wasn’t until I really started travelling that I found how to get away with it.

PARKINSON:          And you were never caught.

JAMES:                  No, that’s right.

PARKINSON:          Can I take you back for a moment to 1888, for the ones you are really famous for? Tell me, how did it all start?

JAMES:                  I suppose you would have to say it started with my then wife and escalated from there.

PARKINSON:          Is your wife the reason you had a type?

JAMES:                  I never had a type! I was always careful about that! (Getting irate)

PARKINSON:          Well, there was Kelly, of course, she didn’t fit the pattern. No relation?

JAMES:                  (Calming down) No. No relation, although some of my finest work. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you don’t have to work out on the street.

PARKINSON:          Did you pick her deliberately because of her name? I know you liked to send notes to Scotland Yard.

JAMES:                  No, but it’s a nice touch, isn’t it? I thought you’d want to ask me about my letters and…packages. (Smiles)

PARKINSON:          Yes, the ‘From Hell’ letter you wrote had a particularly gruesome accompaniment.

JAMES:                  Well, Cathy wasn’t going to miss it – and it was delicious. (Grins)

PARKINSON:          But that wasn’t the only time you left notes, was it?

JAMES:                  Well, there were my little love scrawls at Goulston Street. I always tried to throw them off a little. Spelling things a bit differently, exaggerating my hand, etcetera. It amused me.

PARKINSON:          Well, I think it amused us all. A real mystery.

JAMES:                  And now solved. After that DNA was released, I knew I had to come back and tell all with my new book. I couldn’t have that little toe rag taking the credit for my work.

PARKINSON:          Well, thank you James ‘Jack the Ripper’ Kelly for coming on the show today. Published by Whitechapel Press, and with a foreword by George Lusk, this is one not to miss. ‘Confessions: The Truth’ is available from all good book stores on Wednesday. I know I’ll be pre-ordering my copy. Next up on the show tonight is Bruce Jenner, who will be telling us all about his life with his American reality TV family The Kardashians and his upcoming gender re-assignment surgery…

(Fade to black)



The House’s Family

I saw them grow around me

The trees and flowers planted there

I saw them build their world

Ingrained in my memory

My walls held teenage tears

A thousand hopes and fears

And then they grew

My walls did too

Lovingly caressed with fresh clean plaster

Bright paint and woodchip paper

I saw them hide their secret treasures

Fluffy’s paw print etched in concrete

When they had outgrown bikes, clothes and childhood done

They left me alone, one by one

And all that remains

Is a glowing echo

Of lives well lived.