Conkers! – or 1066 and All That Jazz

CONKERS! is a children’s musical I wrote back in 1986 (though it was first drafted even earlier). It tells the story of the Norman Conquest, but in this version the Normans are Bugsy Malone-style gangsters while the Saxons are English gentlemen in Jeeves and Wooster style. The songs are catchy and fun, with music by Mark Warman.  The show was performed at the Netherhall School, Cambridge, in 1986, with orchestration by Tim Brooks.

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This is a big show for a large cast of young people.  This extract will give a flavour of the script:

Scene Taster

(WILLIAM and MATILDA arrive in England to visit KING EDWARD.)

 

WILLIAM:      Wow!

MATILDA:      Gee! Take a picture, William, sugar.

WILLIAM:      Sure, honey. How long till cameras get invented?

MATILDA:      Aw, shucks, I forgot.

WILLIAM:      As usual.

MATILDA:      What did you say?

WILLIAM:      Nothing.

MATILDA:      You did too!

ATTILA:       (Coughs politely.)

WILLIAM:      Oh.

MATILDA:      Sorry.

KING EDWARD:  Duke William and - er -

WILLIAM:      King Edward, this is the Duchess Matila. My wife.

KING EDWARD:  Ah. Splendid. Splendid. Welcome to England.

WILLIAM:      Well, er, coz, I guess I'm not all that used 
to public speaking, but I must say that, speaking as a person, 
and you know, all that, and I know I speak for Mat here too, 
'cos we both feel the same way on this one, don't we, honey? 
And all I can say is, we sure are glad to be here and, I guess, 
what can I say? Gee, swell!

KING EDWARD:   (Consults with HAROLD and SIWARD.) We are pleased 
with your answer, although we comprehend it not.

WILLIAM:       Well, thanks, cousin.

MATILDA:       Honey, ask him what's for lunch.

WILLIAM:       Sugar, will you shut up?

MATILDA:       I will not.

KING EDWARD:   Splendid. And now, to show our royal appreciation 
of your visit, we are most graciously pleased to offer you these 
small tokens of welcome.

(PAGES bring in a set of highly impressive presents.)

WILLIAM:        Gee!

MATILDA:        Oh, Edward, honey, they're gorgeous. You shouldn't have.

KING EDWARD:    Well, maybe you're right.

WILLIAM:        It just so happens, your Edwardship, that we 
have something for you.

MATILDA:        Oh, sure. You'll like this, Edward, honey. It's 
from Normandy.

WILLIAM:        Accept, O King, this gift from Normandy, in 
humble appreciation of your royal hospitality.

(Applause. He hands over a small parcel in cheap wrapping paper.)

KING EDWARD:    How kind. May I open it?

WILLIAM:        Sure. Go ahead.

(KING EDWARD opens it. It is a small seaside souvenir with "A 
Present from Normandy" on it.)

KING EDWARD:    Splendid. How delightful. Just what we have 
always wanted.

ALL:             How delightful. How charming. etc.

(PAGE surreptitiously produces a bin and KING EDWARD drops the 
present in it.)

KING EDWARD:      Now, Duke William, let me introduce Harold. 
Harold is the Earl of Wessex.

WILLIAM:          Hi, Harold, how're you doing?

HAROLD:           Your Grace.

KING EDWARD:      Harold will be looking to your needs during 
your stay.

WILLIAM:          You don't say?

HAROLD:           My pleasure, your Grace.

WILLIAM:          You a sportsman, Harold?

HAROLD:           I indulge, your Grace.

WILLIAM:          Amateur, eh? Hey, you hear that? I said 
amateur. I spoke a bit of French.

HAROLD:           Congratulations, your Grace.

WILLIAM:          Not so dumb, eh?

HAROLD:           Certainement pas, mon seigneur.

WILLIAM:          What?

MATILDA:          Of course, King Edward, honey, William has 
always been artistically inclined.

KING EDWARD:      Really? You do surprise me.

WILLIAM:          Oh, sure. I've always been interested in 
literature.

KING EDWARD:      Indeed? Are you acquainted with Beowulf?

WILLIAM:          I've read everything she wrote.

KING EDWARD:      Of course, Harold is something of a writer 
too.

WILLIAM:          No kidding? What do you write?

HAROLD:           I'm part of a new school of literature, 
your Grace, which rejects the formalised structures of the 
saga in favour of a bold, revisionist use of language and 
forms. We call it Anglo-Saxon with Attitudes.

WILLIAM:          You should come to Normandy. We can show 
you some real attitude.

HAROLD:           Oh, I think England can match anything in 
Normandy, your Grace.

WILLIAM:           I don't think we'll see eye to eye on 
that one, Harold.

SONG: NO.4     I'M THE BEST

WILLIAM:     BET YOU CAN'T BEAT ME AT A RUNNING RACE.
HAROLD:      BET YOU I KEEP GOING AT A MUCH FASTER PACE.
BOTH:        I CAN PIN YOU AGAINST THE WALL,
             I CAN BEAT YOU HANDS DOWN AT JUST ANYTHING AT ALL.
             'COS I'M THE BEST, I'M THE GREATEST,
             I'M THE HOT NEWS, I'M THE LATEST,
             I'M THE BEST THING TO HIT TOWN.
             I'M A BOXER, I'M A FIGHTER,
             I'M A POET, I'M A WRITER,
             AND I'LL BEAT YOU, BOY, HANDS DOWN.

WILLIAM:     YOU COULDN'T SWIM ACROSS THE CHANNEL, BOY,
             SO DON'T GIVE ME ANY OF YOUR FLANNEL, BOY.
HAROLD:      I'LL ADMIT YOU'RE GREATER THAN I, BOY,
             WHEN I SEE YOU TAKE OFF AND FLY, BOY.
BOTH:        I CAN PIN YOU AGAINST THE WALL,
             I CAN BEAT YOU HANDS DOWN AT JUST ANYTHING AT ALL.
             'COS I'M THE BEST, I'M THE GREATEST,
             I'M THE HOT NEWS, I'M THE LATEST,
             I'M THE BEST THING TO HIT TOWN.
             I'M A BOXER, I'M A FIGHTER,
             I'M A POET, I'M A WRITER,
             AND I'LL BEAT YOU, BOY, HANDS DOWN.

                      (DANCE.)

WILLIAM:      BET YOU CAN'T BEAT ME AT A RUNNING RACE.
HAROLD:       BET YOU I KEEP GOING AT A MUCH FASTER PACE.
BOTH:         I CAN PIN YOU AGAINST THE WALL,
              I CAN BEAT YOU HANDS DOWN AT JUST ANYTHING AT ALL.
              'COS I'M THE BEST, I'M THE GREATEST,
              I'M THE HOT NEWS, I'M THE LATEST,
              I'M THE BEST THING TO HIT TOWN.
              I'M A BOXER, I'M A FIGHTER,
              I'M A POET, I'M A WRITER,
              AND I'LL BEAT YOU, BOY, HANDS DOWN.

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