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Queen of tarts - by James Archer

Kath, a shopkeeper at a corner store; Babs, her customer.  The action takes place at the counter.


This wants to be performed by two people without plummy middle-class accents.  The words below are a guide to give a feel, but they need to be adjusted so that they reflect what the speakers would actually say in those circumstances in their own culture.


Kath   Mornin’, Babs.  ’ow are we today?

Babs  Mornin’, Kath.  OK.  ’n you?

Kath   Been a bit quiet in ’ere.  Everyone’s been following that Jesus geezer.  Usual ticket, eh?

Babs  Please, ’n a packet of 20.  I’d never forgive meself if me numbers came up and I hadn’t got a ticket, would I?

Kath   Course not.  I was wonderin’ where you were.

Babs  I thought I’d have a bit of fun.  Went with the crowds to see Jesus stand up for us against them nit-pickers.  And you’ll never          guess ’oo else was there.

Kath   ’oo was that then?

Babs  Mary!

Kath   Mary?  Mary??!!  Queen of Tarts?

Babs  That’s ’er!

Kath   What was she a-doin’ there then?  ’as she got religion all of a sudden?  ’bout time too, after all she’s been up to.

Babs  She couldn’t keep ’er eyes off that Jesus.  She was standin’ there, starin’ at ’im across the room as ’e argued with the                  vicar.  ’n then she ran out.

Kath   Ran out?  Late for ’er next appointment, I bet.

Babs  That’s what we all thought.  ’n then, a few minutes later, she was back.

Kath   She came back?

Babs  Yeah.  I didn’t see ’er come in, but then there’s a crack, ’n she’s pouring perfume all over Jesus’s ’ead. ’n the smell filled the          'ole room – lovely, it was.

Kath   What’d she wanna do that for?  It must’ve cost ’er a fortune.

Babs  ’n then she’s down on the floor, bawlin’ ’er eyes out ’n kissin’ ’is feet ’n wipin’ ’em dry with ’er ’air.

Kath   Bet the vicar didn’t think much of that, did ’e?

Babs  Too right ’e didn’t.  ’n Jesus says to ’im, “Simon,” ’e says, “let me tell you a story.  There’s two men borrowed more than              they didn’t oughta, ’n the bailiff’s on ’is way round. ’n ’e gets to the first’n ’n ’e says, ‘Where’s my tenner you owe me?’ ’n          the man tells a sob story ’n begs for another week, ’n the bailiff says, ‘Tell, you what mate – call it quits!’”

Kath   Cor blimey! Why’d ’e do that then? Wish I knew a bailiff ’oo said that to me.

Babs  ’n ’e goes on to the next’n ’n ’e says, ‘You owe me five grand.’

Kath   Five grand!?

Babs  ‘Give us a chance, guvnor,’ the guy replies, ‘’n I’ll pay you back every penny, a pound a week.’

Kath   Fat chance.  ’e didn’t fall for that one, did ’e?

Babs  ‘Tell, you what mate,’ ’e says – ‘call it quits!’”

Kath   Never!

Babs  “Simon,” says Jesus, “which of the two guys d’you think will love ’im more?”

Kath   Silly question, mate.  The one ’oo got let off more, of course.

Babs  Exactly.  “Well,” says Jesus, “when I got to your 'ouse, you didn’t welcome me, you didn’t offer me a drink, you didn’t take          my coat.  But this woman, she’s not taken ’er eyes off me since I arrived ’n treated me as special.  So I tell you, all the                many things she’s done wrong’ve been forgiven, wiped clean, because she loves me.  But those ’oo are forgiven little love          little.”

Kath   ’ang on a minute!  God’s the only one ’oo can forgive sins!

Babs  That’s what we all thought.  But I’ll tell you what – there’s somethin’ special about this Jesus.  When you see Mary, you’ll              ’ardly recognise ’er – she’s changed.

Kath   Well I never!  Good luck with the numbers, Babs.  See ya tomorra.

Babs  Tara, Kath, Tara.

Printable and editable Word version

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