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Wilkes for Mayor: Script Excerpt

When John Wilkes returns from exile in France after his scurrilous assault on King George III and his favourite ministers, few people believe the radical maverick will go far - that's assuming he can get out of prison. Associate John Horne does his best to help him manipulate the London Aldermen who control the City, and together they renew the radical assault on the King. But is Wilkes grateful? Nah. The scrap between 'The 'Two Johns' is almost as fierce as that with His Highness.

Wilkes for Mayor by Steve Gooch

(Horne has seen an envelope on top of a huge pile of gifts to Wilkes)

Horne: What's this? I don't remember seeing this before.

Wilkes: Give me that.

Horne: What is it?

Wilkes: None of your damn business.

Horne: It's been opened.

Wilkes: They open all my blasted mail, follow me everywhere ...

Horne: It's got money in. - This isn't that bribe, is it?

Wilkes: It's not a bribe, it's a reward for my services to His Majesty's Opposition.

Horne: Did they ever actually call it that?

Wilkes: I have been wronged!

Horne: (When the echo's died down) Just tell me what was said.

Wilkes: (Paces, agitated) I had aristocrats backing me! I dared to say what everyone thought about the King and his corrupt ministers. Without 'Wilkes and Liberty' they'd all still be stuck clueless in opposition!

Horne: And now they've gone over, you can't help sucking up to them.

Wilkes: (Ignoring this) Then when His Majesty 'Farmer' George fights back, all you see of 'em is a small puff of dust on the horizon ...

Horne: Why bother with them? You're back, an MP in your own right, you're immune.

Wilkes: Not for long, if His Agricultural Highness gets his way. As long as he can handpick his Cabinet, I can't see them defending my constitutional rights. I stick my neck out for them, and as soon as they're in power, they dump me! (Prods the envelope) This is my compensation!

Horne: (Cool) Really ... (Leafs back in a notebook) Last week you were saying only a total pardon would suffice. A total pardon and, as I recall, a nice little mission away from it all in Jamaica ...

Wilkes: They wouldn't even give me sodding Canada. I ask you! Instead, would I accept a personal gift from the ministers concerned of 500 pounds.

Horne: (Pen poised) And you said?

Wilkes: (Grins, gap-toothed) A thousand and I'd think about it.

Horne: (Snaps the book shut) We talked about this!

Wilkes: You're not my keeper yet, John Horne!

Horne: That money is to keep you quiet, out of it.

Wilkes: Keep me in whores and claret, maybe ...

Horne: And therefore harmless. (Wilkes looks at him sharply) Tell me I'm wrong ...

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