Please May I Come in to Have a Baby?
Outline for a Script by Jeremy Sandford
© Jeremy Sandford
All rights asserted
The precarious world of a pregnant girl, living with her mother and stepfather, Hippy Travellers and Romany Gypsies ... forms the background for this new play by Jeremy Sandford, based on real incidents he has encountered as a member of the Gypsy Council, the Herefordshire Traveller Support Group, the Safe Childbirth for Travellers Campaign, and through having all types of Travellers camped on his land.
It concerns one young woman’s quest to find somewhere safe to have her baby.
‘All I know is, you can’t have it here,’ her mother tells her when she goes to ask. ‘Your stepfather wouldn’t like it and this flat’s small enough as it is. Your brother is staying here most nights too. Sleep a few nights on the sofa, but longer, no.’
Leila is 15 and she’s four months pregnant.
‘What about Linda’s place?’
‘Sorry. No way. She’s got a boyfriend and four kids there already.’
‘And my real Dad? What about him?’
‘Him? Don’t think about him. He’s gone for good. Last seen in Benidorm.’
Hidden in a bottom drawer, Leila has found a faded photograph of a good looking Spanish type man in flamenco dancer position. She hears voices approach and hastily puts it back. The voices continue past the door and down into the living room. She creeps after them to listen.
It is her mother and her stepfather. He shouts; ‘I took in your little bastard!’
Leila creeps back to her room filled with sorrow and looks again at the picture of the Spanish Gypsy.
As she grows up, Leila has come to feel uneasy in the suburban setup of her home. She is bullied and hassled by her stepfather.
She finds herself attracted to fairs and circuses. Her mother tells her she’ll have no more to do with her if she ever tries to contact her real Dad. She’s never met him.
Leila and her friend go giggling over to see the hippies who have moved onto an edge of town site, and are setting up a festival. Leila is entranced by it. She finds there a new world that has everything she felt she was lacking in small town humdrum suburbia.
She returns home and engineers a row with her Mum and stepfather. ‘I’ve had fun tonight. Those people are worth thousands of people like you.’
‘You like them because they’re Gypsies. Taking after your father. He was a bloody Gypsy!’
Leila is astonished. She asks her Mum if the photograph of the Spanish dancer she found was her father. Her Mum declines to answer but repeats that she’ll never speak to her again if she ever tries to contact her real father.
Leila arrives at a Welsh Romany Gypsy council caravan site. The prosperous horse dealing Gypsy she meets there tells her he has no contacts with Spanish Gypsies, nor does he know anyone who does. The Romany’s son says he may be able to help but it is an old Romany tradition that any non-Gypsy woman making enquiries has to go to bed with a Romany first before she can be answered.
Reluctantly, Leila does the necessary. ‘Who’d have thought it of my Mum?’ she reflects. ‘Oh well, I suppose even she was young once. And she was on holiday. Though you wouldn’t think it to look at her now. Who’d have thought it?’
It turns out that the Romany’s son has even less information about Spanish Gypsies than did his father.
The Romany Gypsies lose interest in her. On her way home, Leila is picked up by a young Hippy Traveller to whom she tells her predicament. He suggests that she joins him and his girlfriend in his converted bus in the Hippy encampment.
She’s charmed by this couple and the New Age Traveller life to which they introduce her. Every now and again, however, the Hippy and his girlfriend have rows.
She runs through ‘straight’ society’s options for young single women to have their babies; She’s offered a place in a homeless hostel, and also a place in a mother and baby unit. In both cases she freaks and declines. She pays a visit to a midwife who tells her that at all costs she must avoid stress.
Now Leila’s life becomes an increasingly stressful search to find somewhere safe to have her baby.
She’s staying in a caravan with a Hippy Dealer. But the Drug Squad raids his caravan. He’s remanded in custody. As he’s led off into captivity, he urges her to borrow the caravan, pulled by a Ford Cortina, while he’s away.
Leila lives on her own in the caravan. The Cortina breaks down. There’s an eviction. The caravan is towed with her, eight months pregnant, in it. It’s dumped by the roadside.
Leila meets two girls, Cleodi (6) and Plum (4) who have got separated from their Mum in the course of a police charge.
A series of evictions follows. They’re driven from pillar to post. At length she finds the children’s Mum in a tipi far into the country. She peers in. ‘Excuse me, is anyone here the mother of Plum and Cleodi?’
‘Well, I’ve got them here.’ The children are reunited with their jubilant Mum. Amid the general joy, her pains begin and she adds, ‘What I really wanted to ask was, please may I come in to have a baby?’
‘Yes, of course!’ Immediately she’s helped into the tipi and everyone is busy.
Behind the credits we hear the first cries of a new born baby.
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