CLIMBING THE NORTH FACE OF THE UXBRIDGE ROAD/ LIFEBOAT/ OLD LADY SNOOPERS    

       

Voice Over: (J.C.) Meanwhile not very far away.  

    

Cut to mountain climbers, with all the accoutrements: ropes, karabiners, helmets, pitons, hammers, etc. They are roped together, apparently climbing a mountain.   

    

Voice Over: (M.P.) Climbing. The world's loneliest sport, where hardship and philosophy go hand in glove. And here, another British expedition, attempting to be the first man to successfully climb the north face of the Uxbridge Road. (Pull out to reveal that they are climbing along a wide pavement; a shopper pushing a pram comes into shot) This four-man rope has been climbing tremendously. BBC cameras were there to film every inch.   

   

Cut to a BBC cameraman clinging to a lamppost, filming. He is wearing climbing gear too. Cut to papier mache model of the Uxbridge Road, with the route all neatly marked out in white, and various little pins for the camps.   

    

Chris: (E.I.) (voice over) The major assault on the Uxbridge Road has been going on for about three weeks, really ever since they established base camp here at the junction of Willesden Road, and from there they climbed steadily to establish camp two, outside Lewis's, and it's taken them another three days to establish camp three, here outside the post office. (cut to a pup tent being firmly planted on the side of a large post-box; it has a little Union Jack on it.) Well they've spent a good night in there last night in preparation for the final assault today. The leader of the expedition is twenty-nine-year-old Bert Tagg - a local headmaster and mother of three.   

   

Cut to Bert crawling along the pavement. The interviewer is crouching down beside him.   

    

Interviewer: (J.C.) Bert. How's it going?   

    

Bert: (G.C.) Well, it's a bit gripping is this, Chris. (heavy breathing interspersed) I've got to try and reach that bus stop in an hour or so and I'm doing it by... (rearranging rope) damn ... I'm doing it, er, by laying back on this gutter so I'm kind of guttering and laying back at the same time, and philosophising.   

    

Interviewer: Bert, some people say this is crazy.   

    

Bert: Aye, well but they said Crippen was crazy didn't they?  

    

Interviewer: Crippen was crazy.   

    

Bert: Oh, well there you are then. (shouts) John, I'm sending you down this karabiner on white. (there is a white rope between Bert and John)   

   

Quick cut to Viking.   

    

Viking: (M.P.) Lemon curry?  

    

Cut back to the street.   

    

Bert: Now you see he's putting a peg down there because I'm quite a way up now, and if I come unstuck here I go down quite a long way.   

    

Interviewer: (leaving him) Such quiet courage is typical of the way these brave chaps shrug off danger. Like it or not, you've got to admire the skill that goes into it.  

    

By the miracle of stop action, they all fall off the road, back down the pavement. Passers-by, also in stop action, walk by normally, ignoring the fall.   

Cut to an ordinary kitchen. A Mrs. Pinnet type lady with long apron and headscarf is stuffing a chicken with various unlikely objects. The door opens. Sound of rain, wind and storm outside. A lifeboat man enters, soaked to the skin. He shuts the door.   

    

First Lifeboat man: (M.P.) (taking off his sou'wester and shaking the water off it) Oh it's terrible up on deck.   

    

Mrs. Neves: (T.J.) Up on deck?   

    

First Lifeboat man: Yes on deck. It's diabolical weather.   

    

Mrs. Neves: What deck, dear?   

    

First Lifeboat man: The deck, The deck of the lifeboat.   

    

Mrs. Neves: This isn't a lifeboat, dear. This is 24, Parker Street.   

    

First Lifeboat man: This is the Newhaven Lifeboat.   

    

Mrs. Neves: No it's not, dear.   

   

The First Lifeboat man puts on his sou'wester, goes over to the back door and opens it, He peers out. Sound of wind and lashing rain. Cut to the back door at the side of a suburban home, the lifeboat man looking out over the lawns, flowers and windless, rainless calm across to similar neat suburban houses. The noise cuts. The lifeboat man withdraws his head from the door. Sound of wind and rain again which cease abruptly as he withdraws his head and shuts the door.   

    

First Lifeboat man: You're right. This isn't a lifeboat at all.   

    

Mrs. Neves: No, I wouldn't live here if it was.   

    

First Lifeboat man: Do you mind if I sit down for a minute and collect my wits?   

    

Mrs. Neves: No, you do that, I'll make you a nice cup of tea.   

    

First Lifeboat man: Thanks very much.   

   

The door flies open. More sound of wind and rain. Two other rain-soaked lifeboatmen appear.   

    

Second Lifeboat man: (G.C.) Oooh, it's a wild night up top.   

    

Third Lifeboat man: (T.G.) Your turn on deck soon, Charlie.   

    

First Lifeboat man: It's not a lifeboat, Frank.   

    

Third Lifeboat man: What?   

    

Second Lifeboat man: What do you mean?   

    

First Lifeboat man: It's not a lifeboat. It's this lady's house.   

   

The two lifeboat men look at each other, then turn and open the door. Sound of wind and rain as usual. They peer out. Cut to the back door - the two lifeboat men are peering out. They shout.   

    

Second and Third Lifeboat men: Captain! Captain! Ahoy there! Ahoy there! Captain!!   

   

Their voices carry over the following shot or two. Cut to reverse angle of window across the road. A net curtain moves and an eye peers out. We still hear the shouts. Close up on an elderly spinster (Gladys) holding the net curtain discreetly ajar.   

    

Enid: (E.I.) Who's that shouting?   

   

We pull out to reveal a sitting room full of high-powered eavesdropping equipment, i.e. an enormous telescope on wheels with a controller's chair attached to it, several subsidiary telescopes pointing out of the window, radar scanners going round and round, two computers with flashing lights, large and complex tape and video recorders, several TV monitors, oscilloscopes, aerials, etc. All these have been squeezed in amongst the furniture of two retired middle-class old ladies. Enid, a dear old lady with a bun, sits at the control seat of an impressive-looking console, pressing buttons. She also has some knitting.   

    

Gladys: (J.C.) It's a man outside Number 24.   

    

Enid: Try it on the five inch, Gladys.   

    

Gladys: (looking at the array of telescopes) I can't. I've got that fixed on the Baileys at Number 13. Their new lodger moves in today.   

    

Enid: All right, hold 13 on the five-inch and transfer the Cartwrights to the digital scanner.   

   

Gladys leaps over to the tape deck, presses levers and switches. Sound of tape reversing. There is a hum and lights flash on and off. A blurred image of a lady in the street comes up on one of the monitors.   

    

Enid: Hold on, Mrs. Pettigrew's coming back from the doctors.   

    

Gladys: All right, bring her up on two. What's the duration reading on the oscillator?   

    

Enid: 48.47.   

    

Gladys: Well that's a long time for someone who's just had a routine checkup.   

    

Enid: (reading a graph on a computer) Yes, her pulse rate's 146!   

    

Gladys: Zoom in on the 16mm and hold her, Enid.   

    

Enid: Roger, Gladys.   

    

Gladys: I'll try and get her on the twelve-inch. (she dips into the control seat of the huge mobile telescope; we cut to the view through Gladys's telescope - out of focus at first, but then sharper as she zooms in towards the side door of Number 24) Move the curtain, Enid. (the curtain is opened a little) Thank you, love.   

   

Cut to the interior of Mrs. Neves's kitchen once again. It is absolutely full of lifeboat men. They are all talking happily and drinking cups of tea. We pick up the conversation between two them.   

    

First Lifeboat man: Yes, it's one of those new self-righting models. Newhaven was about the first place in the country to get one.   

    

Second Lifeboat man: What's the displacement on one of them jobs then?   

    

First Lifeboat man: Oh it's about 140-150 per square inch.   

    

Mrs. Neves: Who's for fruit cake?   

    

All: Oh yes, please, please.   

    

Mrs. Neves: Yes, right, macaroons, that's two dozen fruit cakes, half a dozen macaroons. Right ho. Won't be a jiffy then.   

   

She puts a scarf on, picks up a basket and goes out of the front door. As she opens door, we hear the sound of a storm which carries us into the next shot. Cut to the deck of a lifeboat; rain-lashed, heaving, wind-tossed Mrs. Neves struggles against the gale force winds along the deck. She hammers on a hatch in the forward part of the lifeboat.   

    

Mrs. Neves: Yoo hoo! Mrs. Edwards!   

   

The hatch opens and a cosy shop-keeping pepperpot sticks her head out.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: (G.C.) Hello.   

    

Mrs. Neves: Hello, two dozen fruit cakes and half a dozen macaroons.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: Sorry love, no macaroons. How about a nice vanilla sponge?   

    

Mrs. Neves: Yes, that'll be lovely.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: Right ho. (sound of a ship's horn; they both look) There's that nice herring trawler come for their cup cakes. Excuse me. (she produces a loudhailer) Hello, Captain Smith?   

    

Voice: Hallooooo!   

   

Mrs. Edwards hurls a box of cup cakes off deck.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: Cup cakes to starboard.   

    

Voice: Coming.   

    

Mrs. Neves: I'll pay you at the end of the week, all right?   

    

Mrs. Edwards: OK, right ho.   

   

Mrs. Neves struggles back along the deck. Cut to stock film of Ark Royal in a storm.   

    

Mrs. Neves: Here; it's the Ark Royal, Doris. Have you got their rock buns ready?   

   

Sound of a ship's horn.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: Hang on!   

   

Doris appears at the hatch, and hands over two cake boxes.   

    

Doris: (J.C.) Here we are, five for them and five for HMS Eagle.  

    

Mrs. Edwards: Right ho. (takes them and throws them both overboard; an officer climbs up the side of the boat) Yes?   

    

Officer: (M.P.) HMS Defiant? Two set teas please.   

    

Mrs. Edwards: Two set teas, Doris. Forty-eight pence. There we are, thank you.   

   

Money is handed over. The teas emerge on two little trays with delicate crockery, little teapots, milk jugs, etc.   

    

Officer: By the way, do you do lunches?   

    

Mrs. Edwards: No, morning coffee and teas only.   

    

Officer: Right ho. (holding the teas he goes up to edge and jumps overboard)  

    

     
         

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