The Corner Shop
By Donal Horgan (Copyright Donal Horgan 1996)


Set in small-town Ireland in the Thatcherite 80's, The Corner Shop is the epic tale of one man's efforts at modernising his corner shop into a fully-fledged supermarket.

From the sanctuary of his corner shop, Boss Murphy views his fellow townspeople with a mixture of distrust and contempt. Boss sees himself as the essence of the modern man and fired by the latest management manual from America, embarks on the Herculean task of transforming his humble corner shop into a fully-fledged supermarket.

In doing so, Boss likes to think that he has the backing of his wife Mam and J.J., his faithful sidekick and conduit for town news and gossip. There is also his reluctant counterhand, Noelie, who seems to feel more at home in the local bookies than in the increasingly high-powered world of commerce of Boss' corner shop. Completing the scene is Mrs. Connor, the town wag, whose appetite for gossip is matched only by her insatiable appetite for fat bacon.

All appears to be going well for Boss until rumours spread that a supermarket group is about to buy a derelict building across the street. Other problems unfold for Boss and Mam when it transpires that their only daughter, Mary Theresa, far from taking the "call to training" to teaching is harbouring secret ambitions of her own.

The events of the story unfold against the backdrop of a sweltering summer in which economic theory meets the machinations of small-town Ireland in a head-on collision.


Boss Murphy:

Suspicious and distrustful of the townspeople. Isolated from the mainstream of town life. Relies on his sidekick, J.J., for town news and gossip. Dresses in a white shopkeepers coat. Likes to think of himself as modern and progressive.

Very conscious of her social standing. Fails to understand a lot of the intrigue.

Mary Theresa:
The precocious if somewhat naive only child of Boss and Mam.

The hard drinking, chain-smoking devotee of the turf who also passes as Boss' counterhand. His lowly station is denoted by his brown shop coat.

Portrays himself as a simple old-timer. Events of the story show him otherwise.

Mrs. Connor:
The town wag barely tolerated by Boss as a customer. Rather uncouth. Continues to dress in heavy overcoat and scarf despite the sweltering summer heat.









Scene 1:

Interior of a small corner shop. Renovations have seen the removal of old counters etc and their replacement by a system of self-service. There is a decidedly modern feel to the interior with clashing bright colours much in evidence. Venetian blinds look out on to the street. It is a bright summer's morning. Boss is sweeping the floor in upbeat mood.

Boss: (sweating from the work of demolition and clearing)
Good riddance to bad rubbish! That's what I say.

J.J. (surveying the scene as he enters)
Well Boss, I wouldn't recognise the place. You've done the devil in changing the shop this time.

Boss: (pausing from the work)
It's like this J.J., either you move with the times or the times move without you.

J.J. You never said a truer word.
(lighting pipe and surveying the scene further)
Let me see, wasn't this where the old counter was?

Boss: Yes, but that's all gone now J.J.. SELF-SERVICE , that's what we're going to have from now on.
(pausing again)
And by the way, it's no longer a corner shop - it's now a SUPERMARKET.

J.J. Self-Service! You mean you're going to let the crowd in this town run amok in your shop. My God man, you'll be in the Poor House in a week!

Boss: Don't you worry. I've studied it well. Do you see this book - STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman. It's all in here. No fellow from this town will put Boss Murphy in any Poor House, mark my words.

J.J. No truer word Boss.

Boss: (putting brush to one side)
Now J.J., this may be a supermarket but I want to assure you that somethings never change. You've been a valued friend for the last 20 years and I'm glad to say your stool is here just as it always was.

J.J. (sitting on high stool with quiet satisfaction)
Spoken like a true gentleman Boss. You know, I was half afraid with this new self- service thing that you wouldn't have a need for my company anymore.

Boss: Nothing could be further from the truth.

J.J. STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT ......By God you've got to hand it to the yanks. ...take-away-meals. Is it any wonder they're all huge fat. And now self- service if you don't mind!




Boss: (leafing through book)
Wait till you hear this J.J....Chuck's thought for the day:
Brilliant. I tell you the man is a genius. No one ever thought of switching off the oven before, they all just got out of the kitchen.
(looking out venetian blinds)
Oh yes the crowd around here will have to shape up all right. They'll have to get up off their arses and move with the times.

J.J. Well seeing that that's where most of them keep their brains I'd say they'll be slow enough standing up.

Boss: (going to door and shouting)
Noelie! will you come in here please.

J.J. I see the auction for Sullivan's is on at 3 o clock on Thursday.

Boss: (Looking out venetian blinds)
Tis indeed. I know they were related to you J.J., but wasn't it a pity all the same they left that shop go to wreck and ruin. If those sons minded the business they could have a shop as good as mine. But no, 'twas nothing but the bright lights of London for those two buckos.

J.J. That's the young people for you.

Boss: No man, you have to move with the times. No offence J.J., but old Sullivan was fierce backward when all is said and done. And look at it now and every cat in the country pissing in the windows. Was it any wonder the sons upped and left?

J.J. No offence Boss, but who could make a living out of a small little corner shop
like that?

Boss: No offence taken J.J., but you have to move with the times. I mean, I could never see those Sullivan boys knuckling down to STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman.
Sure I remember poor old Sullivan and he doing sums on the back of a cigarette packet and anything else he could lay his hands on. The poor old eejit! No offence J.J..

J.J. As you say yourself Boss, you have to move with the times.

Boss: No truer word.
Where's that fellow Noelie gone?
(goes to door and shouts)
Noelie! Will you come in here.
You'd think I was paying that fellow to be idle. I sent him up the yard an hour ago to stack boxes and there's no trace of him since.
(calls in an agitated voice)
Mam, will you come in here and mind the shop. I want to go up the yard to see where that fellow has gone to.
(exits in search of Noelie)

Mam: (enters)
Well J.J., I see you've found your old perch.

J.J. And a lucky man I am too seeing all the changes Boss has made. You'd want to be electric to be kept around here now.

Mam: 'Tis that book. Boss hasn't stopped since he got it - product diversification, market research, customer satisfaction and the devil knows what. It'll drive him mad if he's not careful.

J.J. I see Noelie is on the missing list again. Boss seems to think he's somewhere up the yard.

Mam: A likely chance. I'd say try the bookies and if he's not there he's sure to be in some seibin up the street.

J.J. That sounds more like Noelie alright.
(Mary Theresa enters)
Well if it isn't the brainbox herself. What's this I hear - 7 honours in her Leaving? They'll have to hold her back from the books.

Mary T:Mam, would you ever give me a few pounds - I'm going across the street to James Michael's Hair Salon. He said he'd restyle my hair.

Mam: You know how your father feels about James Michael.
Go on, I suppose you deserve a treat. But don't let your father know.
(Mary Theresa exits)

J.J. So what's the young brain box going to be? Another shopkeeper?

Mam: No indeed. She's waiting for the call to training. They should be out any day soon. And then it's off to Mary I. for herself.

Boss: (enters with Noelie in tow)
You'd never believe where I found him - in Shanahans bookies shop of all places.

Noelie:Well Boss it's like this. I've a certain for the 2.05 in Kempton.

Boss: The only thing that's certain about you Noelie is that you won't ever do a days work. Now get up there, you're doing the 12 o clock customer announcements.

Noelie:Customer announcements - but sure the shop is empty Boss.

Boss: So you know more than Chuck Freeman, do you? None of your lip boy. The book says it and that's good enough for me.
Now up you go.

Noelie: (sheepishly)
Customers - have we got bargains for you today.

Boss: (interrupting from behind)
More feeling man, more feeling.

Noelie:(clears throat and looks around nervously)
Customers - have we got bargains for you today.
Best quality jelly 79 p.
Best quality firelighters - 99 p.
Best quality fat bacon £1.49
Best quality beans - 49 p.
And this week's special bargain - best quality dripping only 99 pence.
Now that's real value.

Boss: That's more like it. I have a rota prepared. Mary Theresa will be doing the 3 o clock announcement and I've pencilled in Mam for the 7 o clock one.
Now Noelie, you've had your 3 minutes of fame. Get a bucket and brush and wash down the front of the shop like a good boy.

Noelie:Yes Boss.

Boss: And Noelie...

Noelie:Yes Boss...

Boss: Don't let me catch you inside Shanahans on my time again or I swear those horses in Kempton won't be able to keep up with you if I lay my hands on you.

Noelie:Yes Boss.
(exits with bucket and brush)

Boss: That man puts so much work into idling he'll break out in a sweat some day.

J.J. Boss, there's one thing I don't understand about the self-service. If the customers will be filling their own baskets and you'll be taking their money. What will Noelie be doing?

Boss: Well J.J., let's put it this way - my loss will be Shanahans gain. Do you get my drift? (hearty laugh)
(holding up book)

STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT, Oh yes, the crowd around here will have to shape up alright.
Tell me, was Mrs Connor in yet?

Mam: Mrs Connor has come in here every day for the last 20 years at quarter past two so I'd say there's a good chance we'll see her at that time again today.

Boss: That woman and her fat bacon. You wouldn't feed it to greyhounds.
Still, as Chuck Freeman says "the customer is always right". Although you wouldn't think it around here most of the time.

Mam: Mary Theresa went out to get her hair cut. She'll need the bit of style for the interview.

Boss: (Looking out through venetian blinds)
Good. Good. As long as she didn't go to that good-for-nothing up the street
- what's he calling himself this week - James Michael?

J.J. :No Boss, I think he's still Michael James.

Boss: (reading sign across street)
Unisex Hair Saloon... easy know what's on that fellow's mind alright.

J.J. Well whatever about yee, I must be heading off for the nosebag.
(pausing just before leaving)
Oh Boss, I don't know if I mentioned it but I seen three men with good overcoats outside Sullivans the other day. They were measuring it from every end.

Boss: (immediately going to venetian blinds and looking out)
Is that so now.

J.J. I just thought I'd tell you Boss with the auction coming up and all that.

Boss: (continuing to look out)
...three men with good that so now...













Act 1: Scene 2

Overhead, a new sign has been erected in the shop reading:
A table and chair have been placed in the centre of the shop. It is a sweltering summer's afternoon. With the upcoming auction, Boss has become uptight constantly peering through the venetian blinds in order to satisfy his curiosity regarding the auction and the three strangers. Oblivious to all talk of the auction, Noelie sits alone in the shop furtively pulling on a cigarette and purusing the racing pages of a newspaper.

Noelie:(on seeing J.J. entering)
God J.J. you frightened the wits out of me. I was sure twas Boss.

J.J. (On seeing the new sign and table and chair.)
What's this? More changes?
(reading sign aloud)
A SQUARE MEAL ON A ROUND PLATE - is it an ating house Boss is going to start next?

Noelie:It's that book. It'll be the cause of driving him mad. That bloody yank with his strat-eejit manners or whatever he calls it. And I wouldn't mind but I'm not feeling at all well today....something I ate....

J.J. How many pints did you have last night Noelie?

Noelie: (doing quick mental calculations on his fingers)
Twelve...or let me see...I owed the Gouger Casey a double round...fourteen...
yes fourteen pints I think it was...those curries are lethal all the same...I don't know how those Indian lads ever manage to do a day's work after them....

J.J. (sitting on stool)
Tell me, did Mary Theresa get the call yet?

Noelie:Not a word. And I wouldn't mind but there was war the other day when she came back from James Michael. She had some new fangled hairstyle called headlights or highlights. When Boss saw her he nearly had to be tied. You'd cut the atmosphere around here these days.
(sounds of Boss approaching in the background, Noelie struggles to put out cigarette and hide paper)
Here he comes! Here he comes!

Boss: (Looking back as if talking to Mary Theresa)
A beautician is it! So you want to be a beautician now! Over my dead body.
And besides that beauty thing never caught on around here.
And the place has all the signs of it too.
(turning to J.J. and Noelie)
God that one will break my heart. It must be the heat that's affecting her. First she goes and gets her hair cut by that good-for-nothing up the street and now she wants to be a beautician of all things.

J.J. That's the young people for you Boss. Tell me did she get the call yet?


Boss: (defensively)
Any day now, J.J.. Any day.
Was Mrs. Connor in yet Noelie?

Noelie:(looking at watch)
Any minute now Boss. Any minute.

Boss: Noelie, don't be standing there with a pair of hands on you. Would you go out and wash down the front like a good boy.

Noelie:(Getting bucket and brush and exiting)
Yes Boss.

J.J. (Looking at sign and table)
I see you've been reading the book again Boss.

Boss: (proudly looking at sign and table and taking out book)
Yes J.J., it's called product diversification and it's about time this town had a little more of it.
(looking impatiently at watch)
Where's Mrs Connor? She doesn't know it but I need her for one of my exercises in market research.

J.J. (in amazement)
Market research - what'll that Freeman boy think of next?

Boss: (looking out window)
I see the auction is on at 3 today. Any sign of those three fellows with the good overcoats J.J.?

J.J. Well Boss, they're the kind of fellows who don't advertise their presence around town very much, if you know what I mean.
(Mrs. Connor enters with heavy coat, scarf and shopping bags and obviously feeling the heat)

Boss: Ah Mrs Connor, tis yourself and I see you're taking no chances with the weather on a day like this.

Mrs C. Lovely day Boss, J.J.. You wouldn't know there might be a shower later on. Have you got my bacon Boss?

Boss: Indeed I have.
(handing over bacon)
You can't beat the bit of fat bacon, that's what I say?
Now Mrs. Connor - you'll have a cup of tea and a sticky bun.

Mrs C. (looking bewildered)
Tea and a sticky bun in a shop - what's the world coming to?

Boss: I insist Mrs Connor and I won't take a penny for it either. Not this time anyway.
(showing Mrs Connor to her seat)

Mrs C. (under protest)
But I'm just after my sweet.

Boss: Never you mind.
(going to door and calling)
Noelie, will come in here and take Mrs Connor's order.

Noelie:(running with notebook in hand)
Yes Boss.
Now Mrs Connor, what can I get you?

Mrs C.(Looking bewildered)
I'll have a cup of tea and a sticky bun I suppose.

Boss: Excellent choice Mrs Connor!
Noelie, look lively!
(Noelie runs back and forth setting table, Boss again peers through blinds)

J.J.: (picking up copy of STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT and reading blurb in a laboured tone)
God Boss there must be great things in this book altogether.
Do you hear this - "After a hectic career on the New York Stock Exchange, Chuck Freeman retired at the age of 23."
You know there are fellows around here and they're only getting out of bed at that age. "Chuck Freeman has swopped the hectic life of the New York Stock Exchange for the quieter life of his remote mountain retreat in South America where he farms a herd of goats and practises transendental meditation."
All the same, you have to admire any fellow who can make a living from the goats these days.

Boss: (turning from looking out venetian blinds)
Ah yes, that's strategic management for you.

J.J. - Did you ever notice the way I've all my specials strategically positioned to the back of the shop? You see that way, when the customers come in they lose all reason and end up buying things they don't even want. Chuck Freeman says it's called psychology.

Mam: (enters wearing cardigan and with arms folded)
Boss, will you ever give us a rest from that Chuck fellow. You'll drive us all mad.

Boss: Mam, did you know that Chuck says there are fellows in America working full- time watching rats trying to find their way around the inside of boxes?

Mam: (bored)
Did they ever hear of poison over there?

J.J. Imagine that.

Mam: (smiling maliciously in the direction of Mrs Connor)
Lovely day, Mrs Connor. I see you're taking no chances with the weather as usual. Still, the coat is practical if nothing else even though you have been wearing it for the last 7 years.
Noelie, when you get a chance maybe you'd polish the silver in the front room like a good boy.

Noelie:(suddenly startled)
Yes mam, no problem mam.

Mam: (looking poisonously in the direction of Mrs Connor)
Well, I'd better be going. I've an expensive roast in the oven.

Boss: Well Mrs Connor, will there be a big crowd at the auction today?

Mrs C. Not too many Boss. Sure who'd be interested in buying old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: (continuing to peer through blinds)
A good question indeed.
Well would you look at the pair up at the corner - young Keeffe and the Gouger Casey, two layabouts if there ever were layabouts. But sure what would you expect - their fathers held up that same piece of wall for a full five years in the 50's before they went to England. But no, they'd have to do a days work if they stayed in England so what do they do - come back here looking for a council house if you don't mind. Like father, like son.

J.J.: Do you know Boss, I'm sure the Gouger Casey was up in court this week.
(Looking through newspaper)

Noelie:(looking decidedly uncomfortable at the mention of the Gouger Casey)
Boss, I'll go and polish the silver in the front room for mam.

Boss: (engrossed in thoughts of the auction)
Yes do that...

J.J. Here it is - Court Briefs - "Mr. Gerard Casey of no. 14 Kevin Barry Villas was fined £2 for urinating in a public place." I'm sure that's the Gouger.

Boss: I'm sure it is. Who else would urinate in the street like a dog but the Gouger Casey. This town would be better off without his likes. A corner boy like his father before him.

Mrs C.God Boss, that cup of tea was lovely. Now I'd better be off. And you mean you're not going to charge me for the tea and the sticky bun?

Boss: I wouldn't hear of it Mrs Connor. Not this time anyway.

Mrs C. (moving to exit)
What's the world coming to at all.
Oh by the way Boss, did Mary Theresa get the call?

Boss: Any day now Mrs Connor, any day.

Mrs C Well that's strange because I heard the young Keeffe girl up the street got the call this morning.

Boss: (trying to hide disappointment)
Is that so now. Well I'm delighted for her. And isn't a pity now her brother couldn't find something better to do than warm his arse all day long off the same piece of wall as the Gouger Casey.
(Mrs Connor exits)

J.J. (after a pause)
Boss I know I'm just a simple man but how in God's name can Chuck Freeman justify feeding Mrs Connor tea and sticky buns? I mean that would put any man in the Poor House.

Boss: (increasingly distracted and on edge)
Well it's like this J.J. - all you have to do is give the woman the taste for sticky buns and believe you me she won't be able to pass the door without coming in. Mark my words, once she gets into the habit of it we won't be able to draw tea and buns to her half fast enough.

J.J. Well fancy that. And to think that the lad who thought up that is minding goats in the back of beyonds.....

Noelie:(sudden interruption)
Boss! Boss! It's 5 to 3. I just thought I'd tell you it's Mary Theresa's turn to do the customer announcement.

Boss: (suddenly losing composure)
Forget that nonsense man!

Noelie:But it says it in the book Boss.

Boss: Here we are and some fellows about to buy Sullivan's Shop and all you can talk about is some shaggin book. Do you realise you could well be out of a job this time next week. And what would you do then?
(regaining composure)
Oh no. Our grandfathers didn't go out in 1916 so that some foreigners in good overcoats could buy old Sullivan's shop. Oh no they didn't.
(with renewed determination)
Do you know what you'll do Noelie. I just happened to make out a few placards last night.
(produces two placards reading:
Here now. I want you to take these and stand outside Sullivan's shop. Do you understand now Noelie.

Noelie:(moving to exit)
Yes Boss. You want me just to stand outside Sullivan's like. Just to stand there.

Boss: With the placards. Make sure they all see the placards.
(looks out venetian blinds and follows Noelie's progress across the street)
That'll show those buckos.
(turning to J.J)
You know, Noelie might have his faults but when the chips are down he's one man you can rely on.
J.J. No truer word.

Boss: I couldn't have it on my conscience - throwing that poor unfortunate out of a job and onto the street. How could anyone do that to our Noelie?

J.J. You said it Boss.

Boss: (as if suddenly inspired)
Do you know what you'll do J.J.
Ramble down to the auction just to see who is there. Wouldn't it be gas all the same if those three fellows with the good overcoats turned up? Hah.
(nervous laugh)

J.J. (moving to exit)
No problem at all Boss. The walk will do me good. I'll report back as soon as I have news.

Boss: (urgently)
Mary Theresa! Would you come in here quick!
(Mary Theresa enters looking aggrieved)
Now we all know your hair is a show but we'll forget about that for the time being, bad and all as it is.
Did you hear what Mrs Connor said - the young Keeffe girl got the call to training this morning.

Mary T.Why should I care - I'm going to be a beautician.

Boss: Now you give over that foolishness my young lady and do what you're told for a change. You'll take that call if you're lucky enough to get it.

Mary T.Michael James says I could be a model if I wanted to.

Boss: Did he now. And tell me what other foolishness did he fill your head with?
Oh, he's an exotic bird for these parts alright but mark my words, my little girleen, that fellow has only one thing on his mind and it isn't drink either. And to think you'd listen to any grown man who spends his day washing womens' hair.
(J.J. re-enters breathless)

J.J. God Boss, tis wicked hot outside. Has there ever been a summer like it?

Boss: (eagerly)
Forget the weather man. Any news J.J.?

J.J. Give me a chance to catch my breath Boss.

Boss: Mary Theresa get J.J. a glass of water like a good girl.
(Mary Theresa exits to get water)

J.J. Do you know Boss, you were right - aren't those three bucks with the good overcoats sitting up in the front row of the auction as bold as you like.

Boss: I knew it. By God I knew it.
(Mary Theresa re-enters with water, Boss peers desperately through blinds in panic)

J.J. Mary Theresa - you're a saviour. You'll make a fine teacher so you will.

Boss: (regaining composure and attempting to project air of confidence)
Do you know what - I reckon there isn't enough business in this town for two supermarkets. What would you think J.J.?

J.J. If it says so in the book, I suppose.

Boss: Not a hope, sure it must be plain to those fellows that there isn't the makings of a living in old Sullivan's shop.

J.J. I suppose.

Boss: Do you know what you'll do J.J. - go down to the auction and put in a bid. Make sure now they don't know who you're bidding for. What is it they're looking for Sullivan's - £25,000. Well trump them and bid £30,000 straight up.

J.J. (making for door)
As you say Boss.

Boss: Sure you'd hate to see those poor fools getting their tails burnt around here.
(J.J. exits, Boss again scans the scene through the blinds)
That'll teach them to take on Boss Murphy in his own patch.
Mary Theresa did the late post come yet?

Mary T.If it's about that call to training I've already told you I'm going to be a beautician.

Boss: You'll give over that foolishness right here and now. Do you hear.
Do you realise that if those fellows buy Sullivan's they could well close us down. And where will you be then with your beautician? I'll tell you where - you'll be scrubbing floors alongside your mother and myself over in that new supermarket. Is that what you want to be - a skivvy? You forget all about that hairdresser now my young lady and knuckle down to what we know is best. Do you hear?
(in desperation)
Is it that you have a notion of that hairdresser?

Mary T.(sudden reticence)
It's not him.

Boss: What do you mean it's not him. You mean there's some other fellow filling your young head with foolish thoughts?

J.J. (suddenly re-enters)
God Boss but tis wicked hot outside.

Boss: Well J.J. did you see to that?

J.J. I did. I bid the £30,000 as you said Boss and what did the three sour pusses do only bid £35,000.

Boss: Jesus Christ, they'll ruin me.
(looking out blinds in panic)
£35,000 for that pile of stones - they must be mad. And where's that shagger Noelie after going to - I only see the placards propped up against Sullivan's. If that fellow was with Our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane he'd sneak off to the bookies!
Go £40,000 J.J. Quick, before they close the sale. And if you see Noelie tell him I'll swing for him!

J.J. That'll put the run on them Boss.
(J.J. exits at speed)

Boss: (mopping brow)
My God, I don't think I can take much more of this.
Now Mary Theresa where were we - you were saying you had a notion of some fellow.

Mary T.(short pause)
I'm in love with Gerard Casey.

Boss: (explodes)
You mean the Gouger Casey. Are you out of your mind girl? We've the baliffs nearly at the door and you tell me you're in love with the Gouger Casey. Do you know the tramp you're dealing with?

Mary T.Gerard has told me he loves me.

Boss: Love? What does the Gouger Casey know about love?
(going to venetian blinds)
Look at him - that fellow is happiest when he's peeing in the street like a common dog. What does he know about love?

Mary T.If you mean the court case - Gerard has promised me he'll turn over a new leaf.

Boss: Turn over a new poor little girleen. All his seed, breed and generation were corner boys. Don't you see -even if he wanted to, the Gouger Casey couldn't improve himself.

J.J. (re-enters out of breath)
Boss! You won't believe it, haven't they bid £42,000. Oh I can tell you they're bold alright.

Boss: (goes to venetian blinds and looks out pensively)
Sullivan's Shop......and I'm sure Old Sullivan is enjoying seeing the agony he's putting me through.
Bid £45,000 J.J. and that's my final throw.....

J.J. (retreating to door)
Oh that'll knock the wind out of them Boss.

Boss: (in desperation)
Mary Theresa, as your father I'm begging you to give up all this foolishness about beauticians and that fellow Casey. I know it's a hot summer.....

Mary T.You don't understand...........

Boss: But Mary Theresa, you're our only one, our little treasure. We didn't blow on your porridge so that you'd squander your life on all this foolishness.
(Mary Theresa starts to sob)
Just think, if you played your cards right you could get a job up in the convent from the nuns teaching the little ones. You could be fine and independent for yourself with your own car. And you wouldn't have to bother with the crowd around here to make a living either......You know your mother and myself only want what's best for you.....
(Mary Theresa runs off sobbing uncontrollably)

J.J. (re-enters out of breath to see Mary Theresa exiting)
Tis the heat Boss, it has the country driven mad.

Boss: (subdued)
Indeed. Well J.J. what news have you this time?

J.J. (extending hand)
I want to shake the hand of the new owner of Sullivan's Shop. Put it there Boss.
You're the clever one alright! Sure you had it all worked out from the start!

Boss: (relief)
Strategic Management, J.J., that's all.

J.J. Whatever you say Boss. I'm sure tis all in the book anyway.

Boss: (basking in glory)
Ah yes J.J., That's Strategic Management for you now.

J.J. When I bid £45,000 - you should have seen their faces. And what did they do then only turn on their heels and run like scalded cats. Well I never saw the likes of it before...

Boss: (Looking out venetian blinds)
I'm glad those buckos realised they were out of their depth. No one messes with Boss Murphy in his own backyard.



Act 1: Scene 3

A late summer's evening. Two large suitcases stand ready for collection. Boss is in upbeat mood as he turns from looking out through the venetian blinds and looks impatiently at his watch.

Mam: (putting on coat and hurriedly applying garish red lipstick)
Tell Mary Theresa to hurry up or she'll miss the bus. I'll be outside.
(moving to exit)
Oh, and by the way Boss, your dinner is in the oven.

Boss: (Going to side and calls out urgently)
Mary Theresa will you hurry up girl. It's 20 past 7. You'll miss that bus if you're not careful.

(Mary Theresa enters buttoning coat)

Hurry up girl. Mam is waiting outside.
Where's that fellow hiding?
(goes to door and calls)
Noelie will you come in here and take Mary Theresa's cases to the bus station like a good boy.
(turning to Mary Theresa)
Now when you get off the bus, get a taxi straight to the college. Do you hear me?

Mary T.I hear you.

Boss: And whatever you do, don't talk to any strange men. They're never worth it.

Noelie:(enters at speed after hurriedly extinguishing a cigarette)
Now Boss, oh yes Mary Theresa's suitcases.
(picking up suitcases and making for the door)
And isn't it fine for her going off to the city for herself.

Boss: None of your lip Noelie.

Noelie:Yes Boss.(exits with cases)

Boss: (awkwardly)
Now Mary Theresa, my little petal - are you sure you have everything? And do what the nuns tell you now, won't you?

Mary T.Don't worry, I will.
(turns to leave)

Boss: Mary Theresa - you can hold your head up high walking down that street. You needn't look at any of them a second time now.

(walks back to cash register)
Ah yes, the crowd around here will have to shape up alright.
(Mrs. Connors enters with usual heavy coat and scarf)
Ah Mrs. Connors, lovely evening again thank God.

Mrs C.They say there could be rain later on mind you.

Boss: (dismissively)
Indeed. Sure anything is possible around here.

Mrs C.And Mary Theresa got the call.

Boss: Indeed she did. Mam has just brought her to the bus this very minute.
We always knew she had it in her.
(handing over bacon)
You can't beat the bit of fat bacon, can you?

Mrs C.And what's this I hear about you buying old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: (filling up with pride)
Did I ever show you this book Mrs Connor? STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT by Chuck Freeman. It's all in here. Everything you ever wanted to know about running a business.
I'll tell, those three fellows with the good overcoats didn't put up much of a fight when it came to it.


Mrs C.What three fellows with good overcoats were they?

Boss: The three fellows at the auction, of course.

Mrs C.But sure there was no one bidding at the auction but J.J. and we all thought he had a problem with the water the way he kept running in and out all the time.

Boss: (sudden note of alarm)
You mean there was no one bidding against J.J.?

Mrs C. Of course not. Sure who'd want to buy old Sullivan's shop?

Boss: The dirty little schemer. Is it any wonder he hasn't been near the place in days.

Mrs C. (making for door)
Well I'll be off. And they say you paid £45,000 for old Sullivans shop. They were thinking around town that was a bit much but then of course they haven't been studying that book like you have so they wouldn't know much about these things. (exits)

Boss: (resentfully)
How could he do it? The only man in this town I thought I could trust and what does he do - knife me in the back when he gets half a chance. And to think he sat on that stool for the last 20 years. The weasel. I should have known that blood is always thicker than water with those Sullivans.

Mam: (enters in upbeat mood)
Well who did I meet at the Bus Station but the bank manager's wife......

Boss: Would you give over your foolish talk woman. Don't you see we could all be in the Poor House this time next week.

Mam: What do you mean Boss?

Boss: Did you see J.J. anywhere on your travels?

Mam: Now that you mention it, I saw him dragging a suitcase after him up the street. He said he was going to London for a holiday. And do you know, I thought it was a bit queer to be going to the strand in London.

Boss: Ah yes, Judas Iascariott with his thirty pieces of silver. There never was anyone bidding against us at the auction just J.J. making a laughing stock of us before the rest of the town.
(going to venetian blinds)
£45,000 for a pile of old Sullivan's rubble. And I bet old Sullivan is doing a four- handed reel in hell this very moment at the thought of extracting that kind of money out of me. The man never did a days work to equal it while he was alive.

Mam: Look Boss, don't take it to heart. Wouldn't it be worse if we still had Mary Theresa on our hands. Do you know what you'll do - sit down there and I'll bring out your dinner. It'll be a little treat for you. (exits)

Boss: (going to venetian blinds)
The mainest street in the mainest town in Ireland. I bet they're laughing up their sleeves at me tonight. Oh yes, they always despised any bit of thrift and hard work, so they did. There was never anything for them only big talk and big plans especially when they were full of drink. And that's as far as their plans will ever go. Just like their horses - still running.

Mam: (re-enters with plate)
Now Boss, sit down there for yourself and eat that. And don't let that crowd get to you. Tis only jealous of you they are.

Boss: (sits down and begins eating)
Was Mary Theresa lonely getting on the bus?

Mam: Not at all. Perky out. She'll make out alright. She said she'll be home Friday night.

Boss: (obviously enjoying the food)
Good. Good. Do you know - I don't care what Mrs Connor says but you can't beat a good feed of steak.
(pausing from eating as if suddenly inspired)
Do you know what I'm going to do - I'm going to let Sullivan's Shop go to wreck and ruin. It'll be like a monument to idleness in this town. You'll have yanks in big flowery shirts pulling up in cars taking photos of the dock weeds growing out through the windows. You'll even have people around town rubbing their hands and saying what a terrible shame it is and why can't something be done about it. But I'll show them that Boss Murphy means business. They won't be sniggering and laughing then.



Mam: (moving to exit)
I'll go up along Boss. Turn out the lights when you're coming.

Boss: (gets up from table and looks out through venetian blinds)
£45,000 for that heap of rubble....and by God will I get the value of every penny of it.
(looks at watch)
Ten past nine and old Mahony the butcher excavating his nose like he has done at this time every night for the last 20 years. And still he hasn't found anything of interest - how could he in that nose of his? happy as a pig in shite.....
(turning from venetian blinds and surveying empty shop)
Oh yes, they're birds of a feather round here alright - Noelie, the Gouger Casey and J.J. - codgers every last one of them.
(picking up copy of STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT)
STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT my arse, the crowd around here would teach that yank a trick or two any day of the week.
(Tosses book into waste bin and pauses before exiting)
Coming Mam!