'Twas the Night Before New Year

Helen Boyle


The following script was drafted to fit into Series Two or Three of BallyK. The assumption has been made that Assumpta 1) didn't die, and 2) didn't marry Leo. For the purpose of this script, Peter and Assumpta have not revealed their affection for one another. I make no pretence about following correct script writing procedure, nor about the contents of this script being particularly plausible or true to prior characterisation (I tried my best, however). Please do not attempt to discover a plot in this tale, as there is unfortunately none. I also make no claim to originality, and freely confess that I have stolen ideas both directly and indirectly from film, television, novels, real life, and the demented visions within my mind. I do, however, claim copyright over the way I have pieced together that which I have stolen. Above all, please enjoy, or at least tolerate.

SCENE: Interior Fitzgeralds. Day.

Assumpta is busily pulling down Christmas decorations.

Brendan, Siobhan and Padraig are sitting at the end of the bar.

They become aware of what Assumpta is doing.

Brendan: You're taking them down already?

Assumpta: Well Christmas is over after all.

Brendan: Sure, but the turkey's not even cold.

Padraig: We don't want to be having too much fun now, do we Assumpta?!

Assumpta: Not on my time we don't.

Siobhan: We have to start thinking about ringing in the New Year now I suppose.

Assumpta: (without stopping) A bottle of red and a nice long sleep I say.

Brendan: (overly Irish) Ah, your community spirit warms the very cockles of me heart Assumpta.

Assumpta: That's nice for ya.

Peter enters Fitzgeralds. There is a chorus of welcome.

Peter: You're taking them down already?

Assumpta: (spins around to face him) Oh for the love of God, you'd think I'd committed a crime! How many days of Christmas are there anyway!

Siobhan: I believe that's twelve Assumpta.

Assumpta: About eleven too many if you ask me.

Brendan looks to Padraig.

Brendan: Did we ask her?

Padraig: No, I don't believe we did.

Brendan: (to Assumpta) We didn't ask you!

Assumpta: (sardonically) Cute!

They all chuckle. Assumpta isn't amused.

Ambrose and Niamh enter Fitzgeralds.

Niamh: You're taking them down already?

Assumpta: Argh!

Assumpta storms into the kitchen.

The others laugh heartily.

Niamh is confused.

Niamh: What did I say!?


SCENE: Interior Fitzgeralds. Day cont.

Ambrose, Niamh, Peter, Brendan, Siobhan, and Padraig are all at the bar. Assumpta is returning from the kitchen.

Ambrose: How was the trip home Peter?

Peter: Full of the usual joys and tribulations associated with a full family Christmas. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Assumpta looks at him and scoffs. Peter decides to ignore it.

Peter: (looking at Assumpta but addressing Ambrose) And how was Christmas here?

Assumpta: Challenging as always.

Brendan: Don't worry Peter, we didn't let anything exciting happen without you.

Siobhan: We were just about to hatch schemes for New Years Eve. Any ideas?

Assumpta: (acidicly) A round of the Rosary perhaps?!

Peter: (glares at Assumpta then turns to Siobhan) Well...we used to have a tradition in Manchester...

Assumpta: This should be good.

Peter: (casting a raised eyebrow of disapproval in Assumpta's direction)...as I was saying, we used to have a tradition in Manchester that each New Years Eve we'd have a formal sit down dinner. (Impressed with himself) Not quite black tie, but cutlery and everything.

Assumpta: Nice change from having the feed bag strapped around your neck, then drinking till you throw up I'll bet.

Siobhan: (Ignoring Assumpta) Looks like we have our plan then...

Assumpta: Yeah, but where are we going to find that many feed bags?

Siobhan: That'll be great thanks Father.

Assumpta: I guess Eamonn might have a few.

Peter: (Anxiously) Oh no, I couldn't do it!

Siobhan: Why not then?!

Peter: I don't have the room for starters.

Niamh: Sure you could host it here.

Assumpta: (with a laugh) You'd be hopeful!

Padraig: Aw come on Assumpta.

Brendan: What do you think Peter?

Assumpta: Hang on a second!

Peter: (hesitant given Assumpta's objections) I don't know.

Ambrose: Sure it'd be perfect!

Assumpta: (looking for an out, to Peter) Don't you have to say mass that night, or something?!

Peter: We do get the occasional reprieve Assumpta.

Niamh: We'd all pitch in, make some fancy dishes.

Siobhan: Absolutely. Peter can be our co-ordinator and Assumpta can act as host, lending us this fine establishment.

Assumpta: Me? Host?

Siobhan: Yeah, why not?!

Peter: (mock thoughfulness) You're intelligent...presentable...responsible...of course, you realise you will have to make a sincere effort to mitigate some of the more off-putting, not to mention obnoxious, aspects of your personality.

Assumpta: (unable to help smiling) Well if you sweet talk me like that how could I possibly refuse.

Brendan: That's settled then. Decorum and sophistication shall be the order of the day.

Assumpta: Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it!

Peter: Oh ye of little faith!

Assumpta: You know me.

SCENE: Exterior. Evening falls over Ballykissangel.

Peter is in St Joseph's blowing out candles.

Ambrose and Niamh are clearing up in their kitchen.

Assumpta is shutting up Fitzgeralds.

Liam and Donal are in a shed looking intently into a cardboard box.

Darkness falls.

SCENE: Exterior. Morning has broken over Ballykissangel.

Peter is walking from the church towards Fitzgeralds. He suddenly stops as a group of cockroaches run across his path. He dashes out of their ways and pulls a disgusted face.

SCENE: Inside Hendley's, Kathleen is scurrying about with a broom, swiping at the floor, mumbling "Get out, dirty vermin!" She lifts the broom to reveal a squished cockroach.

SCENE: Interior Fitzgeralds. Assumpta has a rolled up magazine. She whacks it down on the bar and glances around to see if anyone has noticed.

She raises the magazine to reveal a squished cockroach.

Siobhan, Brendan, Padraig, Liam and Donal are all at the bar.

Siobhan: Another one?

Assumpta: Yeah. They're out of control. I'm just waiting for the health inspector to pay a surprise visit, and just top this whole festive season off!

Donal: Mr Quigley says it's one of the seven signs of the second coming.

Brendan: (amused) Of the Lord?

Liam: The man himself! So it can't be that bad.

Liam and Donal nod enthusiastically.

Assumpta: Are you both mental!?

Donal: Not at all. (Seriously) It's the plague.

Padraig: I think you'll find a plague of locust would be more likely Donal.

Donal: Mr Quigley said he was going to get some reporters to come and cover the event. Says it'll do wonders for the tourist trade.

Brian appears at the door of Fitzgeralds unbeknown to the others.

Assumpta: Well that's just typical of his type isn't it?!

Brian: My type?

Assumpta looks around, obviously surprised by Brian's presence.

Brian: My type? What does that mean, my type?

Assumpta: (shrugs) Narcissistic pseudo intellectual entrepreneurs who believe everyone else in the world is merely there to act as extras in their star vehicle.

Peter arrives and listens in interestedly. He catches Brendan's eye and raises a questioning eyebrow. Brendon smiles and shrugs. They all look on with curious amusement.

Brian: How long have you been practising that little speech?

Assumpta: The Lord himself has merely a guest role in the self-promotional life and times of Brian Quigley.

Brian: Let's hear you complain like that when this place is on the international map and you're so busy you have to turn people away.

Assumpta: You're too right I'd turn them away. Hoards of religious phoneys is the last thing I'd want. I'd sooner have Kathleen to tea.

Padraig: What do you think Father? Is there a chance Jesus will be coming to BallyK?

Peter: I think there's a greater chance of seeing Assumpta at church on Sunday!

Brendan: We wont expect him anytime soon then hey Peter?!

Assumpta: The chance would be a fine thing.

Brian: Well now that I've been well and truly insulted, might I straighten out a few facts?

Assumpta: (sarcastically) Oh please, indulge us.

Brian: Firstly, I did not say that I would get the press here (glares at Donal), I said I'd get a professional exterminator. And secondly, I said this plague could kill off our already dead tourist trade.

Donal: (obviously caught out) Oh right. My mistake.

The others exchange amused glances.

SCENE: Dusk in Ballykissangel.

Eamonn is at a trough of pig swill, waving his arms frantically. It is swarming with cockroaches

Eamonn: Get outta here, the lotta ya.

SCENE: Liam and Donal are in the same shed staring into the same box.

Donal: Do you think it's worth it.

Liam: Winners aren't just born overnight.

SCENE: Late evening. Fitzgeralds.

Assumpta is clearing up. Everyone is leaving except Peter. The gentle rumble of thunder can be heard in the distance. Assumpta notices Peter is making no move to leave.

Assumpta: I'm closing. Do I have to throw you out?

Peter: I'd like to see you try.

Assumpta: Alright then.

Assumpta moves to the front of the bar. She smiles at Peter and sits at the bar with him. They are alone.

Peter: I just thought we should go over the arrangements for Friday night

Assumpta: Friday night?

Peter: New Years Eve! Our dinner party!

Assumpta: Oh right - the screaming farce.

Peter: Nice!

Assumpta: What's it got to do with me? I thought I was just supplying the venue?

Peter: Well yeah, I just thought...

Assumpta: Thought what?

Peter: (obviously a bit shy about asking) thought you might like to help me out a little.

Assumpta: Help you?

Peter gets up to leave.

Peter: Forget it! Sorry I asked.

Assumpta: No, no. Come back. I was only joking. I'll help you.

Peter: (relieved) Thanks.

Assumpta: I can't think of anything I'd rather be doing at midnight than trying to figure out how to entertain the deity, and I use the term *very* loosely, of Ballykissangel for hours on end on one of the most over-rated evenings of the year.

Peter: (deliberately misunderstanding her) Yeah I'm looking forward to it too

Assumpta grabs a notebook and pen.

Assumpta: So who's coming?

Peter: Well, obviously me and you.

Assumpta: Obviously.

Peter: (counting on his fingers) Brendan, Siobhan, Padraig, Ambrose and Niamh. I guess Liam and Donal.

Assumpta: Dumb and dumber.

Peter: Michael hopes to make it, and if Brian's managed to successfully drive every cockroach out of Ireland he should be here.

Assumpta: That's it?

Peter: And Father Mac said he'd be delighted to attend.

Assumpta: (horrified) No way! Not in my pub he isn't. Deals off. Find yourself another party place. You must be dreaming.

Peter: Assumpta! Assumpta I was kidding.

Assumpta: Oh. (Regaining her composure) I knew that.

Peter: Ah huh!

Assumpta: (with a relieved laugh) Thank God! I mean how much fun could New Years Eve be with a priest around.

Peter: Ah hem?

Assumpta: Oh, sorry!

SCENE: Exterior. Night. Fitzgeralds

Pan out to a shot including the night sky and moon. It begins to rain. Lightening brightens the sky. Slowly zoom back to the lighted windows of Fitzgeralds.

SCENE: Interior. Fitzgeralds. Same evening but later.

Both Peter and Assumpta look worn out. They are surrounded by bits of paper and empty glasses.

Peter: There sure is a lot to organise.

Assumpta: You're not wrong.

Peter: I hope we haven't overcommitted.

Assumpta: (cheekily) Perhaps we could conjure up some divine help with your religious abilities and get some poor soul stuck in purgatory to work their way into heaven by giving us a hand here. I'll set up a little seance shall I?

Peter: (jovially) That's not religion you heathen, that's voodoo! I'm sure we can manage.

Assumpta is visibly tired. She yawns and rubs her eyes.

Assumpta: Yeah, well, you're welcome to work your heart out, but I'm not the one who took some vow based on some parochial idea of selfless servitude. I'm going to bed. You should go before this storm gets any worse.

Assumpta gets up.

Peter: (tentatively) Assumpta?

Assumpta: (she flops back down in her chair) Yes.

Peter: (knowing he's treading on thin ice) Why do you hate the church so much?

Assumpta: (with a shocked gasp) What?

Peter: Why do you hate the church so much? I mean you've been pretty acidic lately, even for you.

Assumpta: (taken aback) Why do you love it so much?

Peter: I asked you first.

Assumpta: I asked you second.

Peter: I'm serious.

Assumpta: So am I.

Peter is thoughtful for a moment, then continues in a slightly dismissive tone so as not to make the conversation too heavy.

Peter: I guess, because it gives my life meaning and reason; shows there's something bigger than just me. Don't you ever wonder just what it is that gives your life meaning?

Assumpta: I get plenty of meaning right here. What greater reason could there be in life than to serve copious amounts of alcohol to those who arrive at my door. I don't need the church telling me how to live my life to get meaning and reason.

Peter: No one's saying you do.

Assumpta: Oh really?!

Peter: Yes really!

Assumpta: I'd like to see what your boss has to say about that.

Peter: The church is there to merely act as a facilitator.

Assumpta: Oh here we go! So what? You're like some sort of spiritual conduit? Is that it? What makes your religion more powerful than any other religion? More powerful than Buddism, or music, poetry, science, or mysticism? Or voodoo for that matter?

Peter: (shrugs) My faith.

Assumpta suddenly becomes irritable and deadly serious.

Assumpta: Yeah well it's easy to have faith when life's just peachy keen isn't it.

She gets up annoyed.

Peter: What does that mean?

Assumpta: Nothing.

Peter: No. I want to know.

Assumpta: (she stops and comes back to him) Fine! It just means that maybe if you spent a little less time blindly following your faith you'd realise that the world isn't all sweetness and light. Things don't always work out the way you planned. Life's hard Peter. You can't.just go to church on Sunday and expect all your problems to go.away. People spend their lives running into one obstacle after.another. And just as soon as things start going your way you can.bet there's something waiting around the corner to kick you in the.guts. When everything you care about...

Assumpta stops herself, obviously changing her mind about what she's saying, then continues.

Assumpta: ...I've spent my life picking myself up and I don't need you, or your church, telling me how to live. I've coped up till now by myself and I'll continue to cope without your help.

Peter: (caringly) Assumpta.

Assumpta shrugs off his concern.

Assumpta: Oh open your eyes Peter.

Peter: My eyes are wide open, but what is faith if not blind. A belief in something that can't be proven. I can't just opt out at the first thing that goes wrong.

Assumpta: What do you know about things going wrong? Your life's mapped out for you. The biggest trauma you face each day is what to eat for breakfast.

Peter: You know that's not true.

Assumpta: (tiredly) Yeah well.

Peter: You want a guarantee. You can't get that.

Assumpta: I don't want anything.

Peter: No I didn't mean...

Assumpta: ...especially from you. (She shakes her head disappointedly) I thought you were different Peter, but I guess it was only a matter of time before we got around to the old conversion lecture.

Peter: That's ridiculous.

Assumpta: Is it.

Peter: So I can't even ask you a question.

Assumpta: Apparently not.

There is silence for a moment as they look at each other, realising they've both said too much.

Assumpta: Go on, clear off!

Peter: What?

Assumpta: Leave!

Peter: No!

Assumpta: No?

Peter: That's right, no. I won't leave you like this.

Assumpta: (losing patience) Get out of here...now!

Peter: Assumpta, please don't do this.

Assumpta: I'm not doing anything. You're trespassing, so unless you want me to call Ambrose you'd better get out of my pub.

Assumpta glares at Peter but he remains motionless.

Assumpta: Right. Then I'll leave.

She gets up and heads to the door.

Peter: Huh? What are you doing? Where are you going?

She opens the door and steps out into the pouring rain and calls over her shoulder.

Assumpta: Away from you!

Peter gets up, chasing after her out into the rain.

Peter: (calls to her back) Are you going to spend your whole life doing this? Constantly shutting people out? Maintaining this bravado - strong, independent, and alone?

Assumpta stops in her tracks, spins around and gives a disbelieving laugh.

Assumpta: Oh that's rich coming from you!

Peter: Maybe if you spent a little less time being bitter and angry, you'd realise just how many people there are who care about you Assumpta.

She takes a menacing step towards him.

Assumpta: Who gave you the right...

Peter: (more gently) You're not alone.

Assumpta: (seething) Do not presume to think that I am not acutely aware of what is happening to me.

She pushes back past Peter and runs into the pub, slamming the door behind her. She turns and collapses against it, sopping wet, drawing in a deep breath.

Outside Fitzgeralds Peter stands staring up into the night sky. Suddenly the door to Fitzgeralds opens again and Assumpta flings Peter's coat to him. It lands on the wet ground at his feet. A momentary look of regret flashes across Assumpta's face. However, she again slams the door. Peter stands for a moment then picks up his coat and puts it on, pulling it tight around himself and heads of towards St Josephs, kicking the ground as he goes.

SCENE: Morning. Ambrose and Niamh's kitchen. Ambrose is clearing dishes and Niamh is feeding Kieran.

Niamh: You've got to do something Ambrose. They're out of control.

Ambrose: What can I do?!

Niamh: Well you're the Guard aren't you?!

Ambrose: I can't order them out of town Niamh, they're cockroaches. Or perhaps you'd like me to shoot them all, is that it?

Niamh: I don't know! But something has to be done. Where did they all come from anyway?!

SCENE: Liam and Donal are in the same shed as previously. They are looking into the same box. Liam pulls a piece of paper from his pocket and reads it while Donal picks up a stick and starts poking around in the box.

SCENE: Exterior. Fitzgeralds. Same morning. Assumpta is cleaning the outside windows. Niamh is walking across the road toward her.

Niamh: Getting all spic and span for tonight then hey?

Assumpta: (slightly startled) Huh? Oh, yeah.

Niamh: So is it all ready then?

Assumpta: What?

Niamh: Everything for tonight.

Assumpta: How should I know.

Niamh: (confused) Aren't you organising things?

Assumpta: No. Not me. That's Peter's little brain-child.

Niamh: (concerned) Aren't you helping?

Assumpta: (pleading) Niamh.

Niamh: Ok then, so is Peter all organised?

Assumpta: I'm not his keeper Niamh. Why not ask him.

Niamh: I just thought since it was being held here, you'd...

Assumpta: Well you thought wrong then.

Niamh: But...

Assumpta: Niamh! I haven't seen Peter, alright. I assume he's got everything under control. Didn't he ask you to make a dish?

Niamh: (catching on to the fact that they had a fight) Oh I see. Yeah he did. (Soothingly) I'm sure it'll all be fine.

Assumpta: I'm glad you're sure.

Niamh: I'll see you tonight then.

Assumpta: See ya.

Niamh heads off up the road and passes Peter on his way towards Fitzgeralds.

Niamh smiles reassuringly.

Niamh: Morning Father.

Peter: Niamh.

Niamh: How are you?

Peter: All the better for seeing you Niamh.

Niamh smiles and walks on. Peter reaches Fitzgeralds. Assumpta is still busily cleaning. She doesn't stop and doesn't look up.

Peter: Hey!

Assumpta: (without looking at him) Hey.

Peter: (deciding to cut to the chase) Look I know you hate me right now, but no more than I hate myself. I had no right to say the things I said. If I could take it all back I would...

Assumpta: (she finally stops and looks at him) I don't hate you Peter.

Peter: Loath? Despise? Intensely dislike?

Assumpta: There are just certain things (she takes an exhausted breath)...things that I'm not ready to deal with, that I don't have the strength to deal with, and you seem to have a unique talent of making me think about them.

Assumpta pauses and looks at Peter to see if he understands. He is listening intently.

Assumpta: And possibly I over-reacted, just a little, the other night.

Peter: I'm sorry I upset you.

Assumpta: Yeah, well you're forgiven I guess.

Peter: (meaning more than the fight) I *am* sorry.

Assumpta: (to break the slightly uncomfortable intensity of the moment) You can drop the pure-of-heart act, I don't buy it for a minute.

Peter: Let us be friends and quarrel no more.

Assumpta smiles at Peter and he smiles back with relief. Suddenly Peter looks down at his feet, jumps and lets out a girly scream.

Assumpta: (concerned) What?

Peter: (ashamed) Cockroach.

Assumpta: (rolls her eyes) Real scary!

Peter: Well, I guess I've got a dish to make before tonight.

Assumpta: Do I need to do anything?

Peter: Just show up.

Assumpta: I live here.

Peter: Indeed you do. Easy then! I'll see you around six so we can add some festive touches?

Assumpta: I'll be waiting.

Peter: Bye.

Assumpta: See ya.

Peter starts walking back towards St Josephs, but then turns back and calls out.

Peter: You could arrange pens and paper for everyone.

Assumpta: What?

Peter: You know - pens and paper. Pre the information technology revolution.

Assumpta: What did your last slave die of?!

Peter: Insolence!

Assumpta laughs and Peter once again heads off up the road. She watches him go.

SCENE: New Years Eve. Interior Fitzgeralds. The pub is completely empty.

There is no sound or movement anywhere. The outside door opens.slowly and Peter pops his head in. He looks around and calls out.

Peter: Assumpta?

There is no response. He walks inside and shuts the door, then calls again.

Peter: Assumpta?

Again no response. So he looks in the kitchen and calls again.

Peter: Assumpta?

From upstairs Assumpta calls down.

Assumpta: Yeah yeah, I'm coming.

Assumpta appears at the top of the stairs making final adjustments to her outfit. She walks down the stairs without looking up. She stops short of the bottom of the stairs as she looks up at Peter. They both stand stunned with mouths agape for a moment. Assumpta is in a black evening dress and Peter is dressed in suit and tie. Assumpta lets out a nervous laugh.

Assumpta: Are you allowed to wear that Peter?

Peter: No, no I'm not. Breaking the slightly less-known 11th Commandment actually.

Assumpta: Ha ha.

Peter: (looking at Assumpta with admiration) Are you allowed to wear that?!

Assumpta: What's wrong with it?

Peter: (smiling) Nothing. It's just you could lead many a man to a sinful thought in an outfit like that.

Assumpta: Oh bog off Peter. Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. (With a grin) I should know!

They both look at each other, trying to conceal their mutual admiration.

SCENE: Donal's house. Early Evening. Donal is in the kitchen. Liam enters from the living room carrying a plastic bag. They are both in suits.

Liam: Come on Donal, we'll be late.

Donal: Right. I'm just getting my dish.

Liam: What did you make?

Donal: Lasangna.

Liam: Beef or vegetable?

Donal: I'm not sure.

Liam: You're not sure?

Donal: I'll check.

Donal goes to the freezer and removes a frozen instant dinner packet.

Donal: Beef.

Liam: Oh for pities sake Donal!

Donal: What!?

Liam pulls the exact same packet out of his plastic bag. It's dripping.

Liam: You could have at least defrosted it first!

SCENE: Fitzgeralds. Interior. Peter and Assumpta are setting a long table.

Peter takes some chips from the middle of the table.

Assumpta: Drop it!

Peter hurriedly stuffs the chips in his mouth and then speaks with it full.

Peter: Ooops! Too late.

The door to Fitzgeralds opens and Niamh and Ambrose enter. Ambrose is carrying a dish.

Niamh: Happy almost New Year.

Peter: Welcome, welcome.

Ambrose: We come bearing food.

Assumpta: Great! What have you got there then?

Ambrose: Beef lasagna.

Assumpta: Mmm, perfect!

Peter: So where's little Kieran?

Niamh: Who?

Ambrose: Our son.

Niamh: Oh right! Ambrose's mother decided to stay on till after the New Year - she's got him.

Assumpta: Oh, (dubiously) how nice.

Niamh: (with little enthusiasm) Yes, isn't it swell.

The door to Fitzgeralds bursts open and Brendan, Siobhan and Padraig enter full of cheer.

Brendan: Happy New Year all!

They all respond in kind. Siobhan offers her dish to Assumpta.

Siobhan: Beef lasagna

Brendan: Mines the same, but we figured two wouldn't go astray.

Padraig: And I've made vegetable lasagna.

Assumpta spins to look at Peter who is cowering at the end of the table.

Assumpta: Did you not *tell* them what to make Peter?!

Peter: I didn't know they'd all come up with the same thing!

Assumpta: (to the others) We'd have been better to have a baboon in charge.

Peter smiles back sarcastically.

Niamh: Sure it'll be fine. Liam and Donal are bound to bring something to add a bit of variety

Assumpta: We'll be lucky if they bring anything. Do us a favour Brendan, walk across to Hendleys and see if you can't rustle up
something to spice things up a little.

Brendan: For you Assumpta, I would walk 500 miles.

Padraig: And I would walk 500 more.

Peter: Just to be the man that walked 1000 miles...

Assumpta: Oh pull your head in!

They all cackle.

(Link to Part 2)