The Cheeky Charmer sits down with Anne Lister and offers up their take on the affair with Mariana Lawton



[Sound: “Jack-the-lass, Jack-the-lass. No one likes a Jack-the lass”]

Anne Lister is slumped at the bar, staring wistfully into a drink. It’s pink with an umbrella. Several empties are lined up. 

Enter the Cheeky Charmer.

CC: Ok, what’s with the wistful lesbian staring? Are you auditioning for a role in Ammonite 2 or something?

Anne: Ah, Charmer, there you are. Would you like a pink whatsit?

CC: Oh, so you’re on the pink flamingos now?!

Anne: They’re really rather good. There’s something about the sickly sweetness that reminds me of Miss Walker.

Anne starts to cry.

CC: Ok, what’s happened? Have you been an “Icarus” again?

Anne: Worse than an Icarus.

CC: Is this about you fucking your ex?

Anne: How did you know about that?

CC: I watched episode four on the iPlayer.

Anne: I wish you wouldn’t do that; it doesn’t add to the ratings… we’ll never get a series three at this rate… Charmer, I need your advice. Since I got back from Mariana’s I can’t sleep, I stare out of windows like some kind of sapphic trope, there’s a burning in my chest…

CC: That’s guilt, Anne. I know it’s an alien concept for a player like yourself…

Anne: Actually, I think it’s Cordingly’s pies. She never could get the hang of pastry… Charmer, I’m bereft! I only went to give Mariana some comfort….

CC: You gave her a damn sight more than comfort!

Anne: I know but my intentions were perfectly innocent.

CC: Lister, what part of “visiting your ex” did you think was a good idea? The one who waited until you’re happy before giving it the “I can’t live without you” crap?

Anne: When you put it like that…

CC: You have the sweetest woman warming your bed at Shibden and what do you do? Give yourself piles travelling across the country in a rickety old carriage, to see a woman who only wants you because she can’t have you.

Anne: I don’t have piles… 

CC: It’s classic lesbian drama. Anne! You’re like an episode of the L Word with too much crinoline!

Anne: The L what?

CC: You’re a self-saboteur! You finally had everything you wanted and then do this! If I wasn’t dating Rose (and living in another century) I’d have cosied up to Ann while you were away. I’ve told you before: delete the texts, block Mariana’s number.

Anne: Delete the what?

CC: It’s the 21st century of letter burning Anne! I’m sure you’ve got enough to heat the whole of Halifax!  If the coal business goes tits up, you can start burning those! And that’s another thing, no one’s interested in the coal! We’ve sat through three episodes of coal talk now and no one can make head nor tail of it!

Anne: How can people not be interested in coal? It’s fascinating!

CC: No one cares about the damn coal, Anne! The queers are only tuning in for the Lister on Walker action!

Anne: Charmer, I’ve had my head too far in the proverbial coal mine. That’s why I didn’t see the Mariana situation coming.

CC: Your head’s been in more than the coal mine, Lister! You’re happily “ensconced” in your boudoir at Chez Lawton when who knocks on your door? Mariana, in what can only be described as the 19th century of a see-through nighty!

Anne: There is nothing see-through about that much crinoline…

CC: Stop splitting hairs! She knocks on your door all seductive like, whispers: “Will you welcome a visitor, or will the door be closed against me?” And what do you do? YOU LET HER IN!!!!!!! What part of you thought that was a good idea? Stopped thinking with the upstairs brain and let the breaches take over, didn’t we Anne?

Anne gestures angrily to the bar staff.

Anne: (Hisses) What have I told you about not talking to me like this in front of the servants? I just thought the three of us could be friends.

CC: Are you seriously telling me you saw the three of you sitting together, doing a cross-stitch, and talking about cats? Wait a minute, this is where staying friends with our exes comes from isn’t it? We’ve got you to thank for the endless conversations about feelings, haven’t we?!

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