“We wish only, to intrigue you, with our strange and fantastical tale.
And to honour the original pig whose head has inspired it.
May it rest in peace.”
Ayesha is headstrong and determined to earn money outside school hours by doing a cleaning job even though her parents disapprove. One Friday morning she sets off very early and is shocked to find that her local mosque has been daubed with offensive slogans and a pig’s head pinned to the door. Then the pig starts to squeal, begging her to help it. Ayesha follows its call and finds herself at a Jewish cemetery which has also been defiled using the the pig’s trotters. Here Ayesha meets a rabbi called Judith.
And so begins a bizarre journey, lasting the course of the weekend, spanning the Muslim, Jewish and Christian Sabbaths, during which Ayesha and Judith travel the length and breadth of England gathering the remains of the pig, pursued by a policeman called Peter.
When they end up on Salisbury Plain on Sunday evening at last they can bury the pig’s gathered remains. And then this odd threesome together witness an astonishing vision of Jerusalem in England’s Green and Pleasant Land.
“The approaching climax, as they headed for Salisbury Plain,…sent shivers down the spine.”
Anne Karpf, The Guardian
".....combines visionary zeal with taut wise-cracking dialogue..."
Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph
Adapted for stage from script for BBC Radio 4 Monday Play.
EXTRACT FROM SWINE (STAGE VERSION)
SCENE 2 - BEFORE DAWN, FRIDAY
Chorus: Before Dawn.
A family kitchen.
A girl prepares
as quietly as she can
to make away
a sleeping soul.
Ayesha is getting her school bag together and putting some basic cleaning supplies into a bucket.
Hazera enters, bleary-eyed, wearing her dressing gown and slippers.
Ayesha: Oh sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you.
Hazera: Why are you dressed already?
Ayesha: Just getting some things together. Don’t worry. Please go
back to bed.
Hazera: What is the bucket for?
Ayesha is silent.
Ayesha: I promised I’d help clear up.
Hazera: You’re not planning to go out now?
Ayesha: The café. After the flood.
Ayesha: They’ve lost enough business…..
Hazera: It’s still dark. It’s not safe.
Ayesha: They’re paying me extra.
Hazera: Whatever they’re paying, this is enough. You shouldn’t be doing a job at all, never mind this kind of shameful, stupid thing.
Ayesha: A job’s what students have to do.
Hazera: Not when they’re still at school. Not at this crazy hour.
Ayesha: Please mummy, I need to go.
Hazera: You’re not going.
Ayesha: You let Mohammed go training early.
Hazera: That’s different.
Ayesha: I’m older than he is!
Ayesha picks up her keys.
Hazera sighs the deep groaning sigh of generations of mothers.
Hazera: Have you had any breakfast, my girl?
Hazera heads for the bread bin and extracts some slices of bread.
Ayesha: There’s no time.
Hazera: Two pieces of toast. Five minutes.
Hazera puts the bread into the toaster.
Hazera: What are you having on it?
Hazera: Give your stomach some respect.
Hazera: Behave yourself!
Ayesha puts down her keys and her bucket.
Hazera: What on the toast?
Hazera: Something sweet? For energy? Honey?
Ayesha: Honey then…….Please.
Hazera butters the toast and spreads honey on it.
Hazera: Breakfast, Ayesha. Eat breakfast or you’ll wear yourself to nothing.
Ayesha: I’ll grab a sandwich after work, before school.
Hazera: I’m warning you.
Ayesha: I’m fine. I’m getting all set up for uni.
Hazera: You’re not in yet.
Ayesha: I will be.
Hazera: We’ll see.
Ayesha: You know I will be.
Hazera presents the toast.
Hazera: Only a fool starts the day on an empty stomach.
Ayesha rolls her eyes.
Hazera: You’re worse than Asif and Mohammed put together.
Hazera forces the toast into Ayesha’s hand.
Ayesha makes a show of eating it very quickly, tearing it off between her teeth in ragged chunks.
Hazera: And what? Tell me what makes you such a danger to yourself?
Ayesha: It’s only three streets away! It’s well-lit. It’s….
Hazera: It’s always another excuse to get away from your family.
Ayesha: Can you blame me?
Ayesha chomps and glares.
Hazera: Stop behaving like an animal.
Ayesha: Can I go now?
Hazera: This is not wise…
Ayesha: Please, Ammah. And thank you for breakfast. You’re right about eating.
Hazera: Of course I’m right. And I’m also right about not going out….My Ammah would never ever even for one second have considered allowing me….
Somewhere in the distance a squeal.
Hazera seems to forget herself.
Hazera: Never ever….never before….
Ayesha: But this is now….This is NOW….
Ayesha seizes the moment and swiftly gathers her stuff together.
Ayesha: Just one single early morning.
Hazera picks up Ayesha’s forgotten keys.
Another squeal in the distance.
Hazera: And on this one one single morning, not even your own mother can talk sense into you? And what about all the other mornings after ?
Ayesha takes the keys.
Hazera suddenly kisses Ayesha hard on the head.
Ayesha goes. -EndFragment-->