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Lulu's Lament

or Cathy's Not Come Home

Story Line in Brief

1. (20")

Lulu with her two children arrives at a big city semi derelict hospital which has been squatted (8"). She is homeless. Ferocious characters protecting the doorway let them in.

At the local authority housing assessment centre (2") asking for help. She explains she is not able to return home, but we probably don't hear why. The council offers her a place in their emergency accommodation.

This is a series of wooden ex Army Diphtheria Isolation Huts (10") on the side of a hill. Various adventures here. A row with the warden. Lulu's former husband arrives and threatens her with physical violence. He is chased off by inmates. Later she hears the council have investigated her case and arranged for her to return to emergency accommodation in the town where she was living. She is appalled. She ran away in the first place to escape his violence.

She accepts the offer of Jeff (2"), the husband of another woman here, to drive her and the kids to another town.

2. (3-7")


How she came to be homeless. Courting. Marriage. Her husband's job on the oil rig. The decision to buy their council flat.

Inability to keep up with the mortgage payments. Visit from Homeless Hippy who says he long since turned his back on bricks and mortar housing and lives in a vehicle. His predicament may suggest what lies ahead.

Repossession of the flat, her husband blames it on her and becomes violent. She escapes.

3. (20")

(Time present. Follows 1)

Arriving with Jeff in the new town. Lulu uses a small amount of money she's come by to book into a private hotel (2"), and sets out to solve her own problem of somewhere to live.

Unable to find anything she can afford, she also locates empty properties and seeks to find the owners. This brings home to her the scandal of so many properties lying empty when so many are homeless.

In the course of this she meets a group who are doing a recce prior to squatting and Paul, a young man (or woman?) who has dropped out and is living in a converted vehicle. Both advise her to 'drop out' like them but she recoils.

She does for a while succeed in renting a private flat (3") but conditions are appalling, and she is evicted.

She seeks help from the council in this new town in Housing Assessment Centre II (1") and is allotted space in their emergency accommodation while her case is being investigated.

The emergency accommodation in the Leisure Fayre Hostelrie (7") at first sight seems extremely plush but the cosmetic facade hides overcrowding and misery.

After having a row to do with joining a pressure group trying to achieve better conditions, Lulu is sent to the Punishment Hotel (7"), a gaunt inner city building. She is worried that the children are showing signs of being disturbed and, since the hotel has no kitchen, are not getting enough to eat from take aways.

A weeks visit to a seaside hotel (2"), arranged by a charity, underlines the unhappiness of their condition.

She asks her Mother in Law to take the children for a while since she cannot bear to see them suffer in the hotel.

She returns to the Punishment Hotel (1") on her own and is reminded that, alone, she cannot stay.

4. (8")

Lulu returns to the Urban Hospital Squat (1") which has deteriorated and the people have deteriorated too.

She wanders out to a dossers open air squat where many people are sleeping, and realises that she is not alone.

She nearly gets rented accommodation.

She goes to get the children from her Mother in Law's Flat (2") but this woman, with collusion of the local authority, has had a care order placed on them.

While this is being sorted out she loses the accommodation and, realising that it may be harder than she thinks to get the kids back, she becomes depressed (1").

Lulu meets Paul again (1"), the young man living in the horsebox, who urges her again to join him on the road and says that if she does he will come with her to get the children.

5. (25")

The children want to escape from care to be with her, and they are eventually successful (3").

Life on the road is difficult for her in Paul's converted horsebox (7"), but better than the inactivity of the emergency accommodation in council hotels. She's delighted to be back with the children and have 'her own front door' again.

With many others living in vehicles, they have been herded into woodlands and there is a Securicor or Police charge, and in the confusion the kids get lost.

This disintegrated family have become ejected into a homeless limbo in which, without access to fixed addresses or telephones, it will be hard to find each other again. The children are adopted by other homeless people living in vehicles.

Lulu's search for the children (7"). Many incidents and near misses as she seeks to find them. Possible visit to Tipi Valley, and various other locations.

She finds a home in a condemned prefab chalet (5") in the woods.

When, after various vicissitudes, it is bulldozed, she joins a squatting group and they locate an empty army camp (5").

Planning and execution of the army camp squat. It succeeds and she takes possession of an officers bungalow. But they have been threatened with eviction. Various attempts to prevent it.

It is her dream that when she finally finds the children they can live here anonymously under assumed names so the care order will not be activated.

6. (6")

The squat has obtained media publicity. Now the eviction from the empty army camp (3") is in progress. Standing amidst the debris of the squat she's asked to say a few words for television.

Interviewer: 'But don't you agree this is all a bit of a mess? You've made it all quite ugly.'

Lulu: 'You're beautiful aren't you?'

'Interviewer: 'The smells are not very savoury.'

She pushes the interviewer into the mud.

Director (to Cameraman): 'Are you still running?'

Cameraman: 'You bet! Wouldn't miss this.'

The interviewer is struggling out of the mud and she is thrilled yet appalled at what she's done.

Suddenly, in the light from the television spotlights, there is a cry of "Mum!" and her children run up to her, jumping into her arms. A friend has located them and brought them here.

Lulu is weeping joyfully. Securicor tell them to "Hurry along please", and Mother and two children head for the exit of the camp.

The television spotlights go off and when we last see them, walking towards and past us, they seem like a typical family group of Mother and two children on an outing.

The children are wildly over-excited and joyful at being back with their Mum.

The Mother registers a number of emotions. She's also overjoyed that she's back with the children.

But she's also sobbing because she knows there's no longer anywhere to go. They're on the road to nowhere.

Alternative Ending

Back on the road, Lulu is being given a lift along a major highway in a decrepit vehicle (3"). A long distance bus passes and is travelling in front of them. In the back window of the bus the children, who have recognised her, are waving ecstatically.

Lulu can scarcely believe her eyes, she's making joyful signs at them, urging her driver to keep up with the bus, shouting to the children to tell the bus driver to stop.

The vehicle she's in develops a mechanical fault. The bus is accelerating away from her.

She's yelling at her driver to drive faster. Her vehicle shakes to a halt.

On the busy road she's gesticulating for the receding bus to stop.

(Probably have credits here)

7. (2")

By the roadside, Lulu vents her fury on her driver and the row is so intense that she doesn't at once notice that, in the distance, the bus has stopped and the children are running back towards her.

In a car (3"). She and Paul and the children are travelling with the keys of a council house that they have been allotted.

They are quietly joyful. Viewers are shown something that they don't yet know about - the council house is at this very moment being squatted.

We see them get closer to the house and our final moments before we go to black could be the front door from their point of view, or we zoom in to look through the letter box at the squatters having their first cup of tea.

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