Ride-on Prejudice By Holly Ashcroft-Austen

What with the recent, modern slanted film version of Jane Austen’s comedy ‘Love and Friendship’ causing a stir in multiplexes the length and breadth of my local area, not to mention the cult event that is ‘Pride And Prejudice and Zombies’, I thought I would have a go myself. So here is Draft 1 of my script for…(fanfare)

Ride-On Prejudice

Music (something classical and jolly bouncy)

Voiceover: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife and a large ride-on mower’.

Barnet House, Chunderly. Kitty Barnett is sitting in the drawing room looking anxious, pensive and a little bilious. Enter her elder sister, Jane Barnett, with one of the servants, Filbert, who is carrying a very small parcel of shopping. Jane approaches Kitty, slips off her white gloves and smiles. Kitty rises to embrace her. Filbert stays where he is.

Kitty: Jane, my dearest Jane. Where have you been this half hour. Father has been worried lest you should have encountered brigands, footpads or worse still… poor people.

Jane: You must not worry so dear Kitty. I have walked into Chunderly to buy some baubles, some geegaws and half a pound of frippery. Filbert, put my purchases in the parlour if you please.

Filbert: Yes’m (He bows slightly and exits)

Kitty:  Walked? You must be exhausted. You might have caught a chill of the kidneys.

Jane: Sweet Kitty. Do not fret so.

Kitty: Walking and buying frippery is exhausting. And as for Geegaws… (a beat) what are they exactly?

Jane: It is of no consequence. There is great excitement in the town. What do you think Kitty?’

Kitty: Is there a new sewing shop to open? Are the soldiers de-camping? Has the parson done something inappropriate with his horse?’

Jane: No. Kitty, Dear Kitty. Far more wondrous than that. Mr Bingley has taken Blotsworth House for the season, Mr Bradford has travelled with him and Mr Bingley and his sisters are to hold a garden ball in his honour. The whole of Chunderly is to be invited.

Kitty: The whole town?

Jane: Not the poor of course. Only those of consequence. But we shall visit the poor afterwards and describe it to them.

Kitty: You have such a good heart my dearest Jane.

Jane: Charity is our only way of offering some succour to those unfortunates.

Kitty: The poor will love to hear of it. How the dirty children will sing and dance and pull their funny faces.

Jane: They do make one laugh so.

Kitty: A garden ball. How delicious. Mr Bingley’s balls are the talk of London.

Jane: Indeed. Lady Farnsworth has said Mr Bingley’s balls are the finest she has ever known. He is generous with them, held them countless times and they have been the delight of many of the best people.

Kitty: But what of the great lawns?

Jane: They are indeed great. Sweeping and vast and green.

Kitty: Ah yes. So very green. But I hear from Mrs Trollop that the lawns of Blotsworth are in need of care and are as wild and untamed as a certain young lady of our acquaintance. I speak of course of Miss Fairfox

Jane: That will do Kitty. Miss Fairfox has not your advantages of birth. She can neither sing in tune, sketch, paint or sew a fine seam and she plays the pianoforte like cook pounding her morning frumenty. We must pity her, not mock her failings.

Kitty: But what of the lawns? What of the ball? If the great lawns are not cut the ball shall not go ahead and I shall not drink punch and dance with an officer of the hussars and die of excitement. Oh to dance with an officer. Or maybe even (she giggles) an unlisted solder.

Jane: You shall not do any such thing. To dance with an unlisted man on a lawn, cut or uncut, will bring disgrace on your family. Shame on you Kitty for even countenancing such a thought. And as to the lawns. I am not sure I know.

Mr Comely, a family friend and Jane’s particular companion enters, he bows and stands decorously against the fireplace. 

Mr Comely: Know what dearest Jane? What are you not sure you know? You are always sure of everything in my experience.

Jane: Even a gentleman can be wrong.

Mr Comely: Indeed. And he is not a gentlemen if he does not admit to it. However. You were saying?

Jane: Mr Bingley is to come to Chunderly. He is to hold one of his lavish balls in the garden. What of the Lawns?

Mr Comely: Dearest Jane. A gentleman of Mr Bingley’s standing knows what to do. It seems to me that Mr Bingley needs must buy a ride-on mower. Something powerful, smooth and ready to take all in its path. Perhaps a German Lawn Tractor.

Jane:  I’ve heard they are quite the thing. However, I cannot but find the idea somewhat vulgar. Should a gentleman not sit astride a horse and leave the metal beasts of burden to the staff?

Mr Comely: Dearest Jane. You are young and inexperienced in such matters. Let us not squabble over your Ride-on prejudice. A gentleman knows when he must take the bull by its horns. A ride-on is a great beast, equal to any horse.

Kitty: That such beasts exist. And shall be unleashed here in Chunderly? I am become so excited I shall faint quite away.

Jane: My poor Kitty. Your nature is so sweet and delicate. Will you take a turn around the room with me? Mr Comely, take Kitty’s arm please.

They walk slowly around the room, Jane and Mr Comely on either side of Kitty

Jane: Your faintness will fade I assure you and in the meantime I shall divert you with tales of my plans for Mr Bingleys Garden Ball. (She calls to a servant) Filbert. A glass of sherry wine for my sister. Now Kitty. I shall write to Mr Bingley and suggest he visit MowDirect, a vast online emporium of gardening wonders that will transform his wild and windswept lawns into a paradise of smartness and landscaped fashion.

Mr Comely: A capital plan dearest Jane. For what is more, they offer a free bespoke premium delivery service for all Ride-ons and Lawn Tractors,

Kitty faints between them, leaving them looking at each other. Mr Comely lifts Kitty and carries her to the chaise longue

Jane: Kitty? Kitty? Filbert, another glass if you please. Miss Kitty has fainted clean away.

CUT

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So. There you go. Garman Tractors are, indeed the very thing so take a look at Dick’s blog from yesterday or look at our whole lawn and garden tractor range here or call our lovely sales people on O845 4588 905 for free expert advice and have a jolly weekend.  See ya.  Holly

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