Lots: Episode 6

I lifted another character from the stage version of ‘Jean Pool’: Hugh, a young man who had lost his diary and engaged Jean and Max to find it. The metaphor for loss of identity was thoroughly and artlessly transparent, in the tradition of baldness that I was pleased to have evolved in my work. As soon as one premises a full length television play for the BBC on such advertent whimsy, all is lost. It will never be broadcast.

Hugh tells the detectives that he lost his diary in Greenland and suggests they go there. He can’t remember where in Greenland. They go there. The brief stage directions (as they are not called in television) read: ‘Scene 4. Greenland. Inside an igloo.’ I was wilfully concocting a non-starter. In my defence I should add that similarly unadorned passages were to be found in profusion in ‘Lots’. But the reader should remember (see Episode 1 of this series) that in that instance I had been told, by a member of the BBC, to ‘let my imagination go.’ By so doing I had simianised the powerful and had been cast, like a block of toilet cleanser, into a place of abjectness. On this occasion I had been advised, by my representative, to consolidate a state of ‘good standing ‘ with the pre-simian (the term is used to denote a potential for simianisation rather than to posit a Darwinian non sequitur) community. I struggled only feebly with my truculence, however, because I sensed that it might ease my passage through the writing chore.

Having composed a series of scenes that appeared to offer Hugh clues as to his identity, I commenced the denouement. First Max, then Jean – in the traditional country-house mystery manner – presented their analyses of the evidence, followed by their conclusions. Each conclusion is utterly different. Max demonstrates that Hugh used to be a baker. Jean establishes that he was an astronomer. The writer had devised scenes susceptible to both interpretations. As you would.

It goes vague then. I handed the script in. They turned it down. I stayed friends with Roger. I had made a few copies of both ‘Lots’ and ‘Jean Pool’. One or two went to other producers and never came back. I never saw them again. I had no more copies. Floppy disks had not been invented. 24 years passed.

Episode 7: The unearthing. The re-assessment.