Transcript #5: The Belles of St Trinians
A racehorse, and the teenage criminals of a girls's school
The Belles of St. Trinian's, Les belles de St-Trinian, Die Schönen von St. Trinians, Ballade i pigepensionen, Kauhukakarat
The film, an essential part of English culture, was inspired by the comic drawings of Ronald Searle.
It stars Alastair Sim (as headmistress Millicent Fritton and her brother, bookmaker Clarence Fritton), Joyce Grenfell (as Sgt Ruby Gates), George Cole (as Flash Harry).
Levels: Upper Intermediate to Mastery (B2 to C2)
Welcome to the transcript!
SCENE - A CASTLE IN THE DESERT, HOME OF THE SULTAN OF MAKYAD. AN AMERICAN MILITARY JEEP WITH FOUR SOLDIERS DRIVES PAST. THEY WAVE AND SHOUT AT THE WOMEN IN THE CASTLE, WHO WAVE BACK
SCENE - INSIDE THE CASTLE. THE SULTAN IS IN HIS OFFICE, WHICH IS NEXT TO THE WOMEN
SULTAN (to his secretary). Tell Ishad to have the windows facing the street boarded up.
SECRETARY. Yes, your Highness.
SULTAN. “... the favour of an early reply.” [THE DOOR OPENS AND THE SULTAN’S YOUNG DAUGHTER COMES IN WITH HER GOVERNESS.]
SULTAN. “... my felicitations”, etc
GOVERNESS. I was told you wished to see me with Fatima, sir.
SULTAN. Yes, I do. Will you sit down, please, both of you. Miss Anderson, first let me say that I’ve always been delighted with the way that you’ve brought up my children. However, in a few years time Fatima will reach an age when ... well ... as you know, I’ve had to let the Americans build airbases here, and in the circumstances I thought it advisable for her to finish her schooling abroad.
GOVERNESS. I take it it’s England you wish to send her to, sir?
SULTAN. It is. Since my racehorses are there, I shall be able to visit them and Fatima at the same time.
GOVERNESS. Have you any particular school in mind?
SULTAN. Well, I thought you might be able to advise me about that, Miss Anderson.
GOVERNESS. Well, of course, there are many excellent schools where I’ve no doubt Fatima would be ... (A SEXY WOMAN WALKS THROUGH THE ROOM WEARING ONLY A TOWEL)
SULTAN (to his secretary). Tell Ishad I wish to see him on a domestic matter.
SECRETARY. I’m awfully sorry, your Highness, but that girl, she isn’t your wife, sir.
SULTAN. I beg your pardon?
SECRETARY. No, sir, she’s not on the strength, she’s an American lady writing a series of articles called “The Lure of the Harem” for the Saturday Evening Post.
SULTAN. Ishad has no right to do these things without my permission! You were saying, Miss Anderson?
GOVERNESS. Well, I’ve been thinking. An old schoolfriend of mine is headmistress at a school in Barchester called St Trinian’s.
SULTAN. Barchester? But what could be more convenient! My horses are trained in the same county!
GOVERNESS. Would you like me to write to my friend, then, sir?
SULTAN. Will you, please, Miss Anderson. (To secretary) Inform her mother what I’m proposing, will you?
SECRETARY. Her mother?
SULTAN. Look, my dear girl, look in the files!
SCENE - A LONDON RAILWAY STATION. THE SULTAN’S AIDE IS WALKING ALONG THE PLATFORM WITH FATIMA, WHO IS NOW IN SCHOOL UNIFORM.
TANNOY. The train now standing at Platform 1 is the school special calling at Reading, Hungerford ... (NOISE OF LOTS OF GIRLS SCREAMING AND BLOWING WHISTLES)
BUCKLAND. Now girls, put away those whistles at once, and get into the train. Good morning! I’m Prudence Buckland, physics mistress, St Trinian’s. Princess Fatima, I presume. Miss Fritton, our head, told me to keep a special eye on little Fatima. Now come along, my dear, the train’s just off. Thank you so much.
THE GUARD BLOWS HIS WHISTLE, THE TRAIN STARTS, THE GUARD FALLS OVER AND IS DRAGGED AWAY BY A ROPE TIED FROM HIS ANKLE TO A LUGGAGE TROLLEY.
SCENE - LITTLE TWINING RAILWAY STATION. AS THE ST TRINIAN’S TRAIN ARRIVES, MEN RUN AWAY AND ALARM BELLS SOUND.
SCENE - LITTLE TWINING VILLAGE, WHERE EVERYBODY IS CLOSING SHOPS, PUTTING UP SHUTTERS, LOCKING THE BANK AND RUNNING AWAY TO SAFETY. EVEN THE CHICKENS ARE RUNNING FOR SAFETY.
THE POLICE SERGEANT RUNS INTO THE POLICE STATION, LOCKS THE DOOR AND HIDES IN A CELL BEFORE HE MAKES A TELEPHONE CALL TO HIS SUPERIOR OFFICER AT HEADQUARTERS, SUPERINTENDENT KEMP-BIRD
KEMP-BIRD. Yeah ...
SERGEANT. That you, Superintendent? This is Sergeant Gobbold of Little Twining speaking. They’re back!! KEMP-BIRD SILENTLY HANGS UP THE TELEPHONE, POURS A LARGE WHISKY AND DRINKS IT DOWN IN ONE GULP.
SCENE - THE SCHOOL BUS, FULL OF SCREAMING GIRLS, ARRIVES AT ST TRINIAN’S. THEY CLIMB OUT OF ALL THE DOORS AND WINDOWS. THE DRIVER CLIMBS OUT WITH HIS HAT PULLED DOWN OVER HIS EYES AND NO TROUSERS. THE GIRLS RUN INTO THE SCHOOL PAST MISS WATERS, A SILENT TEACHER WHO LOOKS LIKE MORTICIA FROM THE ADDAMS FAMILY
SCENE - CLARENCE FRITTON’S CAR ARRIVES AT THE SCHOOL WITH HIS DAUGHTER, WHO IS WEARING SCHOOL UNIFORM BUT LOOKS ABOUT 20 YEARS OLD
CLARENCE. I shouldn’t be more than five minutes, Sam. Come along now, Bella, hurry up.
CLARENCE [TO MISS WATERS]. Good morning, um, er, you’ll excuse me, my name is Fritton, Clarence Fritton, I’m Bella’s father.
BELLA. She knows. How do, Rose
CLARENCE. How do you do. Actually I’ve come to see my sister, Miss Fritton, she’s .. er ... she’s ... er ... [SHE CONTINUES TO IGNORE THEM, SO THEY GO INTO THE SCHOOL]
CLARENCE. What a very odd woman, what does she teach?
BELLA. Scripture and needlework.
CLARENCE. Oh, really?
BELLA. I told you I’d be back!
CLARENCE. We have that hurdle yet to cross, my girl. Now you just behave yourself and let me do the talking.
HE KNOCKS ON A LARGE WOODEN DOOR
MILLICENT. Come in!
CLARENCE. Morning, Milly.
BELLA. Hallo, aunty.
MILLICENT. Clarence. Clarence, I thought I made it abundantly clear from my letter that I had expelled Arabella.
CLARENCE. Yes, I know, I know, Milly, I know.
MILLICENT. Goodness knows, I have been lenient with her to the point of imbecility, Clarence!
BELLA. Monica Drew wasn’t expelled when she burned down the gymnasium.
MILLICENT. The gymnasium was insured, the sports pavilion was not.
CLARENCE. I appreciate the distinction, Milly.
MILLICENT. I can no longer afford to have... to have continual arson about in my school, I had to make an example.
CLARENCE. But why pick on Arabella?
MILLICENT. Clarence. When poor Frieda and I started this school during the General Strike of 1926 we vowed to make it the happiest carefree establishment in the whole of Britain. And what a gay Arcadia of happy girls it was then, until the war broke out, and such things as good manners and good taste were replaced by your “black market” values. What are you doing in that dreadful get-up?
CLARENCE. I’m going to Newbury races
MILLICENT. Still following those pernicious animals. Really, Clarence, you’re a disgrace to the family.
CLARENCE. I’d hardly call you a credit to it, Milly.
MILLICENT. Then why are you so anxious for me to take Arabella back?
CLARENCE. Business. I hear that the Sultan of Makyad is sending his daughter to school here.
MILLICENT. And what, pray, has that to do with you or Arabella?
CLARENCE. The Sultan of Makyad has a string of first-class racehorses, Milly.
MILLICENT. Do you ... do you mean to say that you’re sending Arabella back here simply to get you ... er ... racing information?
CLARENCE. But in my world we live by information.
MILLICENT. Really, Clarence, this is a school, not ... not Newmarket Heath! Now ... now ... now ... nothing on Earth will persuade me to take Arabella back. Oh! Oh!!
CLARENCE. Milly. [HE WALKS OVER TO A LARGE PORTRAIT OF A STRONG OLD LADY]. You wouldn’t like it if I went to mother and told her that you had mortgaged the family home up to the hilt, would you.
MILLICENT. Mummy would never believe you.
CLARENCE. She’d cut you out of her will in a trice, and you know it.
MILLICENT. But Clarence! You come here with a request like that, without ... without even having the grace to offer to pay Arabella’s back school fees.
CLARENCE. Oh, I’ll ... I’ll give you something on account.
MILLICENT. And supposing, just supposing I was insane enough to accept, how long do you expect this evil child to remain here.
CLARENCE. Only for this term.
MILLICENT. Yes, and I should think so too. She’s well over school age as it is.
BELLA. Jane Andrews is older than me and so’s "Purgo" Williams, and what’s more, Purgo’s married.
CLARENCE. I’m sorry, Milly, a tenner’s the top.
MILLICENT. Clarence, I said £20 in cash, not a penny less.
CLARENCE. I only wish I could spare it, Milly. Of course, if you don’t want it ...
MILLICENT. No, I suppose I’m just a foolish, weak woman, and you’re an unscrupulous rogue, Clarence. [SOMEBODY KNOCKS AT THE DOOR] Come in!
BUCKLAND. Oh, I’m sorry, Miss Fritton, I didn’t know you were engaged.
CLARENCE. It’s all right, it’s all right, we’re just going.
BUCKLAND. I brought the new girls.
CLARENCE. How do you do. Is this the little Princess?
BUCKLAND. Yes, this is her little Highness, bless her.
CLARENCE. Oh, my dear, I know your father very well. He and I are both great animal lovers.
MILLICENT. Miss Buckland, bring the children over here, will you please.
CLARENCE. This is my daughter, Arabella. She’s going to be a good friend to you, aren’t you Arabella?
BELLA. You bet.
BUCKLAND. Come along, girls.
CLARENCE. Goodbye, Millicent. I’ll tell Mummy you’re doing splendidly.
MILLICENT. How do you do, my dears.
BUCKLAND. This is Daphne Potter and Celeste West.
MILLICENT. Daphne ... Celeste ...
BUCKLAND. And this is the Princess Fatima.
MILLICENT. Ah, yes, and welcome to St Trinian’s. You’ll find us all one big, happy family here, perhaps just a teeny-weeny bit unorthodox, but there, that’s better than being old-fashioned, isn’t it, hmmm? You see, in other schools, girls are sent out quite unprepared into a merciless world, but when our girls leave here, it’s the merciless world which has to be prepared. That’s why we set great store here on physical fitness, lots of games, lots of exercise, a certain amount of food, and above all lots and lots of fresh air ... particularly fresh air.
SCENE - CLARENCE GOES BACK TO HIS CAR. HE GETS INTO THE BACK, WHERE THERE ARE TWO OTHER MEN HOLDING SIGNS THAT SAY “CLARRY FRITTON”.
MAN #1. We’re going to be late if we don’t hurry, guv.
MAN #2. [INAUDIBLE] first race, you know, it’s gone 1.00 now.
CLARENCE. Oh, there’s plenty of time. It’s only half an hour to the course ... hold that a minute, will you ... but carry on, Sam, and don’t dawdle.
SAM. OK, guv.
SCENE - IN MISS FRITTON’S OFFICE
MILLICENT. ... and you’ll show the girls around the school, won’t you, Miss Buckland.
BUCKLAND. I will, Miss Fritton.
MILLICENT. Goodbye! Ah, Miss Holland, come right in. Oh, the post!
HOLLAND. It is.
MILLICENT. Oh, quite a collection.
HOLLAND. Miss Fritton, there still isn’t an ounce of food in the school, and unless the tradespeople are paid something at once, there won’t be.
MILLICENT. There may be some cheques there.
HOLLAND. Cheques are no good.
MILLICENT. Some of them might be.
HOLLAND. We need cash. Do you want me to draw it on the blackboard for you? Unless we get food today you might as well close the dump.
MILLICENT. Miss Holland, please do not refer to my school as a dump.
HOLLAND. Your school! You mean the bank’s school, the pawnbroker’s school. And while I think of it, I suppose that’s where the school challenge cups have gone again.
MILLICENT. I needed a holiday.
HOLLAND. You’ll have a long one soon. How on Earth do you think you can carry on with nothing but an overdraft and bouncing cheques?
MILLICENT. Some of them have not bounced, Miss Holland, they’re merely post-dated.
HOLLAND. What is the use of cheques dated 1956, -7, -8 and -9?
MILLICENT. Well, I was ... I was taking the long-term view.
HOLLAND. It’s this term you want to think about, milady. I can’t make you out. You live in a sort of dream world, queen over this heathen rabble. Why don’t you enquire what sort of families they come from before you accept them?
MILLICENT. You know, Miss Holland, I sometimes think that you haven’t one ounce of humanity in you. I suppose the truth is that I have too much. Yes, I sometimes think it’s just the frustrated mother instinct in me that urges me on. This, er ... this must be a letter from the Sultan. Oh, yes, Holland, look, a cheque ... a cheque for two terms in advance.
HOLLAND. Miss Fritton, must I keep repeating : we need cash!
MILLICENT. Oh, but I dare say we shall have it, we shall have it. Oh, just listen to this, he wants Fatima to take piano, horse-riding, Greek dancing, verse speaking and all kinds of extras.
HOLLAND. We need cash! And now!
MILLICENT. “I have given Fatima £100 pocket money”. One hundred pounds ... pocket money. Holland, not only do I think that this is a silver lining, but I fancy it will be ... muffins for tea.
SCENE - MISS BUCK LAND’S GUIDED TOUR OF THE SCHOOL HAS REACHED THE STAFF ROOM.
BUCKLAND. This is where we mistresses relax in our free time. Hello everybody! I said, “Hello everybody”. I’ve brought the new girls to meet you. This is Fatima, the Princess of Makyad, you know, Daphne and Celeste. This is Miss Brimmer. She’ll be taking you in art and handicrafts.
BRIMMER [POURING A GLASS OF GIN]. Like a tot, Aggie?
BUCKLAND. No, thank you. This is Miss Wilson. She teaches maths.
WILSON. I say, would you mind getting the kids off the eyeline, old sport.
BUCKLAND. Really, Sybil! Mademoiselle de St Emilion, your French mistress.
BUCKLAND. This is Miss Drownder.
DROWNDER [HICCUPS DRUNKENLY]
BUCKLAND. Miss Drownder will be taking you in geography, some of the time. Come along, girls. And this is Miss Gale, who will be taking you in English literature.
GALE. ‘allo ducks. ‘ow are you? I ‘ope you like it ‘ere.
BUCKLAND. Come along, girls, come along.
BRIMMER. Like it here ... like it here? That’s a funny one!
BUCKLAND. Really, Brimmer, you might at least wait until they’re out of earshot.
GALE. If old Fritton’d only pay me what she owes me, I’d ‘ave been out of this dump like a shot.
MISS DAWN. You wouldn’t see me for dust.
WATERS. Oh, if only I had the courage to give myself up.
BRIMMER. Why don’t you, dear, the food would be better, and the company.
WILSON. I’m not complaining, I haven’t got a single jolly qualification!
GALE. Still, if we’ve got to stick ‘ere I think we ought to make an effort to prise some dough out of the old witch.
MILLICENT. Good morning, all! I hope you enjoyed your holidays. Oh, this place! It always reminds me of a ladies’ powder room in Port Said. But if I may interrupt you just for one moment, to tell you that I’ve had the usual communication from the Ministry, only this time, this time they’re threatening to close the school.
WATERS. Thank Heavens someone’s seen the light.
MILLICENT. May I remind you, Miss Waters, that if the school closes it’ll be at least five years before you “see the light”. But seriously, ladies, I really we think we ought to attempt to effect at least an appearance of improvement this term. I’m sure that if we all pull together we can manage the odd School Certificate.
BRIMMER. You realise we’ve none of us been paid since Easter!
MILLICENT. I know that, I know that, and believe me, it’s on my conscience.
BRIMMER. Well, get it off your conscience!
MILLICENT. I have the greatest hopes of doing so ... shortly. We have several affluent new pupils this term, including the Sultan of Makyad’s daughter.
BRIMMER. He must be crazy to send her here.
MILLICENT. Well, doubtless, doubtless, but the point is that we’ve got her, and it’s not merely what he’s prepared to spend, although goodness knows money appears to be no object, he’s ... he’s given her £100 pocket money.
STAFF. How much?
MILLICENT. One hundred pounds. But it’s what it may lead to that is important. I am told that the Sultan has at least seventeen other daughters. Of course I ... I don’t want to be too optimistic, ladies, but I really think the tide has ceased to ebb, and is about to ... [SHE TURNS ROUND AND FINDS THAT ALL THE STAFF HAVE QUIETLY LEFT THE ROOM]
SCENE - THE TEACHERS RACE EACH OTHER TO BE FIRST TO GET TO FATIMA. MISS BRIMMER TAKES A SHORT CUT BY CLIMBING UP THE FIRE ESCAPE.
SCENE - MISS BRIMMER FINDS FATIMA IN HER DORMITORY.
BRIMMER. I understand your father gave you £100 pocket money, my dear. That’s a lot of cash to carry around with you here. Most unwise, almost fatal in fact. Now if you’ll give it to me, I’ll look after it for you. Hurry, come on, cough up, where is it? [THE OTHER TEACHERS ARRIVE AS FATIMA SILENTLY GIVES MISS BRIMMER A NOTE]
GALE. What’s it say? [IT SAYS “To Princess Fatima. Received for safe keeping, £100. Millicent Fritton”.]
MISS DAWN. Well, what do you know, the old so-and-so!
SCENE - MISS FRITTON PUTS THE MONEY INTO HER SAFE, AND LOCKS IT
SCENE - AN OLDER GIRL IS RINGING A GONG, AND ALL THE OTHER GIRLS RUN UPSTAIRS
WILSON. Come on, girls, off you go to bed, no messing about.
BUCKLAND. Another bedtime, another term! Oh, it’s good to be back in harness again.
MILLICENT. Oh yes, for some, just routine, but for us, my dear Prudence, the breath of life!
SCENE - A RIOT STARTS IN THE DORMITORY, WITH SCREAMING, HOCKEY STICKS, TENNIS RACKETS, FLOUR BOMBS AND EXPLODING PILLOWS
MILLICENT. Listen ... term has begun!
SCENE - THE MINISTRY OF EDUCATION, IN LONDON. A CLERK KNOCKS ON MR MANTON BASSETT’S DOOR
BASSETT. Come in!
CLERK. Superintendent Kemp-Bird of the Barchester Constabulary, sir.
BASSETT. Ah, sit down, Superintendent. It isn’t often we have the pleasure of entertaining the police here. Cigarette?
KEMP-BIRD. Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t more explicit in my letter. It’s not the sort of thing one can discuss on paper.
BASSETT. Hmm, you intrigue me.
KEMP-BIRD. Well, it’s about girl’s school called ... St Trinian’s.
BASSETT [SILENTLY TAKING A BOTTLE OF TABLETS FROM A DRAWER AND SWALLOWING SOME OF THEM]. Oh ... pardon me.
KEMP-BIRD. Not at all. You ... er ... know all about it, I see.
BASSETT [POINTING TO A SHELF OF FILES]. You observe the abnormal size of the “T” file.
KEMP-BIRD. What sort of line have you taken?
BASSETT. Well, in the first place I sent down one of my best men to inspect it.
KEMP-BIRD. And what did he report?
BASSETT. He never came back.
KEMP-BIRD. I beg your pardon?
BASSETT. Disappeared. Completely.
KEMP-BIRD. Well, what did you do then!?
BASSETT. Sent another man after him.
KEMP-BIRD. Oh. And he brought him back.
BASSETT. No, he disappeared too.
KEMP-BIRD. Do you mean to tell me that you sent two inspectors and never heard of either of them again?
BASSETT. Not a word.
KEMP-BIRD. But ... but why didn’t you inform the police?
BASSETT. Well, it’s hardly the sort of thing the Ministry wants to draw attention to. Besides, I knew they were alright, they kept drawing their pay. Of course I put a stop to that in the end.
KEMP-BIRD. Do you mean to tell me that you simply accepted the situation?
BASSETT. Superintendent, bear with me, please. This school has practically reduced me to a nervous wreck. A year ago I went to a psychiatrist and he told me to put it right out of my mind, and I’m afraid that’s what I’ve done, and my secretary just sends them routine letters and I sign them.
KEMP-BIRD. My dear fellow, I wouldn’t trouble you now but there’s been a positive crime wave in the area. Arson, forged fivers, poison pen letters.
BASSETT. I’m surprised to hear the girls can write.
KEMP-BIRD. The trouble is we’ve no direct evidence, and that’s where I really need your help. I want to get someone to work for me on the inside.
BASSETT. What makes you think he’ll come back?
KEMP-BIRD. I thought we might get a woman police officer on the teaching staff for a few months, if there are any vacancies.
BASSETT. There are always vacancies at St Trinian’s. [HE STARTS LOOKING THROUGH A TEACHER’S NEWSPAPER]
KEMP-BIRD. The significant thing is that nothing ever happens during the school holidays.
BASSETT. Ah, the school holidays, happy days! I long for them.
KEMP-BIRD. Me too. I ... um ... I suppose you wouldn’t care to give me the name of your psychiatrist?
BASSETT. I’d be delighted, old man.
KEMP-BIRD. Oh, thanks very much.
BASSETT [FINDING SOMETHING IN THE NEWSPAPER]. Ah, just as I thought, there we are: [HE SHOWS KEMP-BIRD AN ADVERT WHICH SAYS “St Trinian’s School for Young Ladies. Assistant teachers always wanted. No previous experience necessary. Reply box 124”] That’s what you’re after, I fancy.
SCENE - SUPERINTENDENT KEMP-BIRD’S OFFICE
INTERCOM. Sergeant Gates to see you, sir.
KEMP-BIRD. Send her in.
GATES. You sent for me?
KEMP-BIRD. Yes. I’ve a most important assignment for you, sergeant.
GATES. Oh, good-oh, Sammy!
KEMP-BIRD. How many times must I tell you not to call me Sammy in the office!
GATES. Sorry, Sammy ... sorry.
KEMP-BIRD. Before you joined the police, you taught in a girls’ school.
GATES. Yes, I was a games mistress.
KEMP-BIRD. Quite, and that’s the reason I’ve chosen you for this job. I want you to go into a girls’ school, incognito of course, and see what’s going on there.
GATES. It’s not ... St Trinian’s.
KEMP-BIRD. St Trinian’s.
GATES. No, Sammy, no ... you of all people to send me there. There are limits. I won’t do it.
KEMP-BIRD. I shall regard a refusal as a dereliction of duty.
GATES. I can’t help it. It’s not fair. You’re taking advantage of me.
KEMP-BIRD. Don’t be ridiculous.
GATES. Yes you are. After all we’ve meant to each other. It’s ... it’s rotten.
GATES. I know, I know.
KEMP-BIRD. Then surely you can do this one little thing in return.
GATES. But it’s not a little thing! It’s ... horrible!
KEMP-BIRD. Ruby, dear, please don’t be so ... so ... un-policewomanly.
GATES. I can’t help it. It’s a terrible place.
KEMP-BIRD. Why do you suppose I want you to go there? Don’t you see that we must work together to stamp out this ... this canker?
GATES. But we shan’t be together. You’ll be here and I’ll be there. We shan’t even get to the pictures together.
KEMP-BIRD. It won’t be forever. I wrote to the school on your behalf, applying for the post of games mistress.
GATES. You didn’t!
KEMP-BIRD. They’ve accepted you.
GATES. Who’s Chloe Crawley?
KEMP-BIRD. That’s ... you, dear. I couldn’t use your real name.
GATES. But ... Chloe! That’s a terrible name! And Crawley. They’ll call me Creepy Crawley. Why couldn’t you have thought of something like Mavis?
KEMP-BIRD. You don’t look like a Mavis to me, dear.
GATES. Well, I hope I don’t look like a Chloe, either!
KEMP-BIRD. No, of course you don’t. To me, you’ll always be just plain Ruby. Don’t you see, dear, how much this means to us? And you will do it, for both our sakes?
GATES. Alright. I’ll have to polish up my hockey before I “bully off”.
SCENE - SERGEANT GATES IS AT ST TRINIAN’S
GATES. What sort of record have you got at hockey?
MILLICENT. Oh, my dear Miss Crawley, the trouble has been to get a fixture list, owing to the spirit of defeatism that even our littlest girls seem to have instilled into their opponents. We have won practically every cup in the county ...
GATES. Well done!
MILLICENT. ... with the exception of the Markham Trophy, and we’re playing Bilston Lane for that very shortly. But ... not quite the same class of school, Miss Crawley, but we’ll never lay the spectre of juvenile delinquency by cold-shouldering it, shall we, Miss C ... oh, careful!
SHE SEES A TRIPWIRE AND CAREFULLY AVOIDS IT. SERGEANT GATES SEES THAT IT IS ATTACHED TO A MEDIEVAL BATTLE-AXE. SHE POINTS TO AN EMPTY TROPHY SHELF WITH THE SCHOOL MOTTO “In flagrante delicto”
GATES. School cups, I suppose.
MILLICENT. Oh, yes, yes, that’s right. They’ve gone to be pawnished ... polished. Quite a collection, Miss Crawley, isn’t it. Quite a collection. I’m sorry I can’t show you the gym; we’re temporarily out of action. [A LITTLE GIRL GIVES A LOUD WHISTLE OUT OF THE WINDOW]. What on earth are you doing, Euphemia?
EUPHEMIA. Nothing, Miss Fritton!
GATES [SEEING A VERY SUSPICIOUS MAN IN THE GARDEN AS HE COMES OUT OF A HUT IN SOME BUSHES]. Who is that man?
MILLICENT. You know, I’m not absolutely sure. It could be Harry, a boot boy I engaged in 1940. Of course he was only 12 and didn’t have any moustache then, but apart from that I see no reason why it shouldn’t be Harry. [OUTSIDE THE SCIENCE LABORATORY] The 4th form are really quite amazingly advanced in their chemistry. Shall we see what they’re up to? [SHE PUTS HER HANDKERCHIEF OVER HER NOSE AND MOUTH BEFORE SHE OPENS THE DOOR. SMOKE POURS OUT OF THE LAB. A LITTLE GIRL IS USING A MORTAR AND PESTLE VERY VIOLENTLY] Bessie, you will be careful with that nitro-glycerine, won’t you, pet.
BESSIE. Yes, Miss Fritton
MILLICENT. I told you, they’re frightfully advanced! Aah, there you are, Miss Wilson. [INAUDIBLE] activity as usual.
WILSON. Oh, rather. I haven’t a clue what they’re making.
MILLICENT. Really? Well, let’s see, shall we? [SHE PICKS UP A BOTTLE]
LITTLE GIRL. Gangway! Would you mind? [WHILE MISS FRITTON POURS OUT A GLASS OF THE CLEAR LIQUID IN THE BOTTLE, THE LITTLE GIRL PICKS UP A WOODEN BOX OF BOTTLES, TAKES IT TO THE WINDOW AND ATTACHES IT TO A ROPE] Hold it steady, Molly! Lower away! Here it comes, Flash! [HARRY IS SITTING AT A TABLE BELOW THE WINDOW. HE STICKS A LABEL ONTO A BOTTLE. IT SAYS “St Trinian’s Finest Dry Gin”]
MILLICENT [GIVING THE GLASS BACK TO MISS WILSON]. Yes, it’s got something, I don’t quite know what but send a few bottles up to my room. Whatever it is, it’ll do for the Old Girls Reunion.
WILSON. Right ho.
MILLICENT. Come along now, Miss Crawley, you must tear yourself away, we’ve lots more to see, you know. [THEY LEAVE THE LAB, COUGHING]. Well, practical things like chemistry prove such a natural outlet, I always think. [THERE IS A LOUD EXPLOSION FROM THE LAB] Oh dear, poor little Bessie. I warned her to be careful of that nitro-glycerine.
THEY STOP OUTSIDE A DOOR MARKED “Life Class”.
MILLICENT. Hmm, I think perhaps we’ll leave that until you’re more used to our ways, Miss Crawley. Geography.
SHE OPENS THE DOOR OF A CLASSROOM WHERE MISS DROWNDER IS TEACHING. A GIRL IS POINTING TO REGIONS OF FRANCE ON A MAP
GIRL. Bordeaux, Rhone, Burgundy, Pouilly, and Chablis.
DROWNDER. Quite right, dear. And now I want you to write down the six best vintage years of Champagne since 1928.
SMALL GIRL. Hi, Bella, your dad wants you on the phone.
BELLA. OK [SHE PUTS DOWN THE MAGAZINE SHE IS READING AND WALKS OUT. AS SHE GOES, SHE SAYS TO MISS FRITTON] Oh, I’ll give your love to the old man.
MILLICENT. Well, Miss Crawley, I think that gives you a fair picture of the school.
SCENE - BELLA IS TALKING TO HER FATHER ON THE TELEPHONE
BELLA. Hello pop!
CLARENCE. Hello, kid. How are you getting on with the little Princess?
BELLA. OK, why?
CLARENCE. Just that ... well, it looks as if we might need the little lady sooner than expected. You know the horse “Blue Prince” that Benny and I have entered for the Gold Cup? Well, we’ve backed it to win a fortune.
BELLA. Oh. Now let me tell you. The Sultan’s got a horse he bought from France, called “Arab Boy”, entered in the same race, and you want the Princess to take me over to the stables to find out the form. Is that it?
CLARENCE. Yes, yes, that’s it, but not so loud, Bella. Arab Boy doesn’t stand an earthly in the book, but, well, we’d like to be on an absolute certainty, and they’re running it in a trial tomorrow morning.
BELLA. What time?
CLARENCE. Nine o’clock, I’m told.
CLARENCE. Now you know what we want - the time, the distance and the weight he carries.
BELLA. You leave that to me. I’ll take a few of the gang along. OK ... [FLORRIE, A SMALL GIRL WITH PIGTAILS, IS SECRETLY LISTENING FROM A FEW FEET AWAY] ... OK ... [FLORRIE RUNS OFF AS SGT GATES ARRIVES AND STARTS LISTENING] ... OK, don’t worry, pop, we’ll get the dope.
SCENE - FLORRIE RUNS INTO THE 4TH FORM COMMON ROOM
FLORRIE. Jackie! What’ll you give me if I tell you what I’ve just heard?
JACKIE. What have you heard?
FLORRIE. Something you’d like to know. [JACKIE GRABS HER]
JACKIE. Come on then, kids
FLORRIE. Let me go! Stop it! Let go of my arms!
JACKIE. What is it, Mel?
FLORRIE. Stop twisting my arm first, you pigs. It’s not fair, I make ...
JACKIE. Come on, spill it!
FLORRIE. Oh ... well, you know Bella’s dad’s got a horse in the Gold Cup.
GIRLS. We know.
FLORRIE. Well, he’s just rung her up to tell her to find out the form of a horse the Sultan’s got in the same race.
GIRLS. Arab Boy!
FLORRIE. They’re running it in a trial tomorrow.
GIRL. What’s that mean?
JACKIE. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I think we ought to know about it. Yes, there may be a chance for us to make some money!
SCENE - NEWMARKET DOWNS. THERE ARE FOUR HORSES AND THEIR RIDERS, SOME MEN FROM THE STABLES, PRINCESS FATIMA, BELLA AND THREE OF HER FRIENDS. ONE OF THE MEN HAS A STOPWATCH.
MAN #1. Ready, John? [BELLA LOOKS AT LUCRETIA, WHO TAKES A STOPWATCH OUT OF HER POCKET]
MAN #2. Yes, sir.
MAN #1. Right ho, then.
THE MAN SIGNALS AND THE TRIAL STARTS.
AS THE HORSES GO PAST, THE 4TH FORM STAND UP FROM THE BUSHES WHERE THEY ARE HIDING WITH BINOCULARS AND A STOPWATCH. AFTER THE HORSES DO A MEASURED DISTANCE, EVERYBODY LOOKS AT THE STOPWATCH TIME
SCENE - THE 4TH FORM IN THE BUSHES
JACKIE. Well, it looks OK on paper but it doesn’t mean much unless we know the weights.
LITTLE GIRL. Where do they put the weights?
JACKIE. In the saddle, of course. Lumps of lead.
GIRL. How are we going to find that out?
SCENE - BELLA’S FRIENDS
LUCRETIA. OK. What about the weight?
BELLA. Leave that to Amanda. That baby’s giving him the full treatment.
THE TALL BLONDE GIRL SMILES AT ARAB BOY’S RIDER, STABLE LAD ALBERT FANING, AND FLUTTERS HER EYELIDS AT HIM
SCENE - BACK AT THE STABLES. AMANDA WALKS OUT OF A “LOOSE BOX”.
AMANDA. Corn Exchange, then, 9 o’clock, Thursday. [ALBERT THE STABLE LAD STUMBLES OUT OF THE SAME BOX, COVERED IN LIPSTICK AND LOOKING SURPRISED BUT PLEASED]
SCENE - IN ANOTHER PART OF THE STABLES, THE 4TH FORM ARE CHECKING THE WEIGHTS FROM ARAB BOY’S SADDLE.
GIRL#1. Hurry up, Jackie, as quick as you can!
JACKIE. I am hurrying!
GIRL #2. What does it say?
SCENE - BACK AT THE SCHOOL, IN THE 4TH FORM COMMON ROOM
MAUDIE. Listen, rabble! Making allowance for the weight, according to my reckoning, Arab Boy ran that trial 10 seconds faster than the horse that won the Gold Cup last year!
GIRL #3 That’s why we’ve got to get our money on before the news leaks out.
LITTLE GIRL. Why?
JACKIE. Because the price will drop like a stone when it does. Don’t you know anything about racing?
LITTLE GIRL. No, not much.
JACKIE. Well, it’s time you did, at your age. Come on, kids, get your lolly together and we’ll shove it onto Arab Boy. OK?
GIRL #4. I’ll whistle up Flash Harry! [SHE WHISTLES OUT OF THE WINDOW]
SCENE - MISS FRITTON IS JUST OUTSIDE THE FRONT DOOR. SHE HEARS THE WHISTLING, LOOKS UP, AND THEN SEES THE SUSPICIOUS MAN APPROACHING. AS HE GOES PAST HER, HE PULLS HIS HAT DOWN OVER HIS EYES.
FLASH HARRY. ‘ow do, lady.
MILLICENT. How do you do?
SCENE - INSIDE THE SCHOOL, HARRY GOES UP TO THE 4TH FORM COMMON ROOM. SGT GATES FOLLOWS HIM.
EUPHEMIA. Here he comes! Come on, Flash! [THEY GO INTO THE COMMON ROOM AND CLOSE THE DOOR. FLORRIE RUNS UP TO LISTEN AT THE DOOR, AND SGT GATES ARRIVES]
GATES. What on earth are you doing there?
GATES. Well, go away at once, you disgusting child!
FLORRIE. You don’t know what goes on here if you don’t keep your ear to the ground.
GATES. Now hurry up, or I’ll give you a hundred lines.
FLORRIE. A hundred lines ... we’ve got a machine for doing them.
SCENE - INSIDE THE 4TH FORM COMMON ROOM
GIRL #6. It’s all we have.
FLASH. Three nicker? Well, you ain’t going to make a fortune on that, are you?
GIRL #7. How about our gin money, Harry?
FLASH ‘ow ‘bout yer ... oh, no, no, I ‘aven’t flogged it yet. I mean, it ain’t everyone ‘oo likes ‘ome-made gin. Besides, there’s a lot of good stuff on the market nowadays ...
MAUDIE. I’ve just thought of something. What about that hundred quid Fatima’s got?
FATIMA. I haven’t got it, Miss Fritton has.
MAUDIE. Well, supposing that we could get it off her, would you lend it to us?
JACKIE. It’s in a good cause, Fati!
FATIMA. She’d never part with it.
FLASH. Well why not? It’s your lard, innit? Why don’t you gang up and go and put the screws on the old custard?
SCENE - MISS FRITTON GOES INTO HER OFFICE, WHERE SHE FINDS MISS HOLLAND WAITING FOR HER
HOLLAND. So there you are at last! Just because I was able to ward off the tradespeople with something on account, you think you can forget all about it.
MILLICENT. Miss Holland, I pay you to attend to my accounts. Would you kindly get up out of my chair. One really can’t call anything one’s own in this place.
HOLLAND. You’re right there. You’ve got £400 in the bank and we owe £4,000.
MILLICENT. What? £4,000? Oh dear. Oh, are you quite sure?
HOLLAND. Of course I’m sure. Look for yourself.
MILLICENT. I ... I don’t want to look. Figures mean nothing to me.
HOLLAND. They will when the bailiffs arrive. And while I’m here, I should like to take this opportunity of giving you my fortnight’s notice. I’m taking a job with the Pools. It will be heaven to be “in the money” again. [SHE LEAVES THE ROOM. MILLICENT LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW AND SEES FLASH HARRY GOING BACK TO HIS HUT. THERE IS A KNOCK AT THE DOOR]
MILLICENT. Come in! [FIVE GIRLS FROM THE 4TH FORM COME IN]
JACKIE. Can we see you a minute, Miss Fritton, please?
MILLICENT. Oh, yes, yes, yes, I suppose so, if you ... if you must.
MILLICENT. Why, whatever for, Fatima?
LITTLE GIRL. Because it’s hers!
MILLICENT. Do you have to bring your friends with you to ... to ask for your pocket money?
FATIMA. But they want to borrow some ... don’t you.
MILLICENT. But borrowing is against the rules.
LITTLE GIRL. But we’ll pay it back on Thursday when the gee wins! [JACKIE ELBOWS HER]
MILLICENT. The gee! You mean that you want to borrow Fatima’s money to put upon a horse?
MAUDIE. It’s her dad’s horse!
MILLICENT. The very idea! of asking me for money to gamble upon racehorses!
JACKIE. It isn’t gambling! Arab Boy’s a stone cold certainty! It can’t lose.
GIRL #5. We watched the trial this morning!
MAUDIE. It did the Gold Cup distance in 6 minutes 12 seconds!
LITTLE GIRL. Carrying 12 and something. That’s a record!
JACKIE. And the price is ten to one if we get on now.
MAUDIE. If we can make up fifty quid, we’ll get five hundred back on Thursday!
MILLICENT. Girls, girls, girls! You’re making me blench! Off to your rooms at once!
GIRL #5. But Miss Fritton, it’s an investment!
MILLICENT. At once! At once, do you hear! [THE GIRLS LEAVE, GRUMBLING, BUT MISS FRITTON LOOKS VERY THOUGHTFUL]
MILLICENT. Ten to one ... £400 at ten to one ... it must be about £4,000 ...
SHE LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW AT FLASH HARRY’S HUT IN THE BUSHES. SHE WHISTLES. HE COMES OUT TO LOOK, AND SHE BECKONS HIM.
SGT GATES FOLLOWS HIM AS HE GOES INTO MISS FRITTON’S OFFICE, BUT MISS FRITTON LOOKS OUT OF THE DOOR
MILLICENT. Miss Crawley, if you are practising for your Tenderfoot badge, do you mind doing it elsewhere.
SGT GATES. Yes, Miss Fritton.
MILLICENT. Thank you, Miss Crawley.
SCENE - IN MISS FRITTON’S OFFICE. FLASH LOOKS VERY UNCOMFORTABLE.
MILLICENT. My name is Fritton, Millicent Fritton. I’m headmistress here.
FLASH. I know, lady.
MILLICENT. Oh, you do ... well, I’m afraid I don’t know you. Do you mind telling me your name?
MILLICENT. Harry? Harry was the name of a boot boy I engaged in 1940.
FLASH. That’s me.
MILLICENT. Oh, I was right. Then tell me, are you ... are you still ... polishing?
MILLICENT. Well, of course I don’t wish to pry, but do you mind telling me what you do do?
FLASH. I trade. Gin, nylons, anyfink.
MILLICENT. Really ... well, in that case I suppose you know something about the ... about the workings of the racing world.
FLASH. Racing? Brought up on it! My dad sold race cards. Funny, innit, beginning like that and ending up in a public school.
MILLICENT. Yes, quite, but what I want from you now is some racing information.
MILLICENT. No, no, I already have the winner, what I want to know is how to ... to invest money on it.
FLASH. ‘ere, it’s not this stone ginger that’s been floating about, is it? You know, the Sultan’s ‘orse?
MILLICENT. It is the Sultan’s horse.
FLASH. Ah, no trouble at all. You slip me the mazuma, I’ll nip down to Alf, same as I do for the girls.
MILLICENT. Girls? Are you telling me that you take betting money from my girls?
FLASH. What? If it wasn’t for this place, lady, ‘ow do you think old Alf’d go nipping off with his wife and kids to the Riviera every year? Eh? Eh? ‘ow much d’you want on?
MILLICENT. I’m not sure that I want anything on, but if I ... if I were to put something on it would be £400.
FLASH. Come again?
MILLICENT. £400, and I should want ten to one.
FLASH. Cor! Cor! What a dame, eh! What a dame! It just shows ‘ow you can be wrong about people, dunnit, eh! It just shows you! Coo, four ‘undred smackers, eh. Four ‘undred smackers. Ante post, I suppose.
MILLICENT. Ante who?
FLASH. Ante post. Backing the nag before the day of the race. Ooh, a load of dough like that’s going to take a lot of placing, especially if you want callover odds.
MILLICENT. Must you keep pacing about like this?
FLASH. Ooh, yes, I must pace, ooh, I must pace. If I don’t pace I can’t concentrate. If I can’t concentrate I can’t think. Now, if you want ten to one you’ve gotter get on quick. And in a folding money job this size they want to know the stuff’s good. You’ll have to come along wi’ me, now.
MILLICENT. What? Me ... go with you?
MILLICENT. Oh, dear. Well, I suppose this is one occasion in life when one must sacrifice one’s finer instincts.
FLASH [LOOKING AT THE PORTRAIT ON THE WALL]. ‘ere, that your mum?
MILLICENT. I beg your pardon?
FLASH. Cor, yeah, there couldn’t be no mistake there, could there, eh? Cor, what a couple of dames, eh!
MILLICENT. Look, I’ll call a taxi, and meet you outside the school gates in ten minutes.
FLASH. Okey-doke. ‘ere, cor, you know, funny, you and me meeting like this after all these years, eh.
MILLICENT. Extraordinarily amusing, but never mind about that now.
FLASH. Right. Right. We’ll chew it over in the taxi, eh. Outside the gates, ten minutes?
MILLICENT. Yes, and try not to be too conspicuous.
FLASH. Me? Conspicuous? Lady, I’m the invisible man! [HE PULLS HIS HAT DOWN OVER HIS EYES AND GOES OUT]