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Michelle’s Story

Film Treatment; Eleventh Draft (JS)

Michelle’s Story” is a modern story based on fact. A powerful tale told with humour and pathos, portraying in depth the complex reality of one girl’s life, and what happened when bad times hit her.

Like “Raging Bull”, “Christiana F” and “Goodfellas”, “Michelle’s Story” uses documentary techniques to create a realistic modern urban landscape and to show the complex internal life of characters developing, reacting, and struggling within that landscape.


Shot on film in grainy black and white, in cinema verite style, the film paints a Chaucerian portrait of contemporary urban living. It unmasks the garrulous and the feckless, the hypocrite and the hard hearted. As a tool, the film uses voice over (for counterpoint, not story telling), and investigating the private as well as the public world of our main character Michelle. Its dialogue is the pithy, witty street talk of the Cardiff ghetto. A language laced with the bitterness of poverty and the humour of the scam.

The Background

Michelle is the smiling two year old, the cheerful fourteen year old at the school party, the attractive sixteen year old who dreams of when she’ll be allowed to go out clubbing.

But Michelle’s home is the tough docklands area of urban Cardiff, an area largely unknown to strangers, yet it is as seedy, dangerous, and compelling as Harlem, Chinatown, Little Italy, places a thousand times more notorious. You could find people living lives in this area that are fulfilled and happy, but there are also many of whom this could not be said and whom this community has not so much failed as betrayed. Michelle is the attractive heart whole sixteen year old, a family girl who loves her Da’, but she is to become a dupe and a victim, sucked remorselessly towards a horrible fate.

Her story unfolds in the flipside of Cardiff, typical of the blight at the heart of so many inner cities, the poverty, the day to day impact of current welfare and educational philosophies, the alarming reality of urban crime and especially we’ll highlight the world of prostitution and drug cartels.

As in “An Inspector Calls”, we will scrutinise the many people who failed Michelle or helped her.

The City

Inner city Cardiff is in a state of breakdown. Ships no longer call at the docks, the night time coal trains no longer rumble down from the valleys. The energy has gone from the heart and it begins to consume itself.

Part of the problem in modern cities is that the visible values are all cash values. So we’ll have shots of bargains, soundbites telling of bargains, etc. Human flesh is for sale too in these cities. An unsophisticated person can come to evaluate their own worth by how much people will pay to ‘have’ them.

The city as hero / anti-hero. Here is the capital city of Wales. A post industrial society trying to emerge from the buildings and structure of industrialism. The workers are freed from their treadmill. The manual class citizens of Cardiff have leisure such as their grandparents never dreamed, or only dreamed. For what?

Many contributors to Michelle’s downfall could be identified; perhaps the school she left having acquired very little learning and no skills;

perhaps the Youth Training Scheme which provided no training;

perhaps the Income Support that provided no support;

perhaps the father and mother who (at different times) betrayed her;

or the young men who lured her with apparent love and affection and who later used violence to subjugate her and turn her into a human fucking / earning machine;

perhaps all those who chose to have sex with her at £10 a time, dehumanising her and themselves, perpetuating the jungle cycle of the prey and the preyed upon.

... and finally, three particular people, one who Michelle believed loved her, who butchered her and left her to die alone on St Valentine’s day.

Occasional flash-forwards, never more than a second or two and some almost subliminal, will show Michelle fight for life, in - as yet - indecipherable moments of the terrible final scene.

Principal Characters


(16), blonde, sensitive face reflecting a sweet nature. Her background, urban, manual labour, down to giro, criminal classes with a moral code and the rigidity of patriarchy.

Fifi Le Mar

An outrageous drag queen (52) who runs “The Club”, a Berlin type cabaret drinking club, up the top of St Mary’s Street. Used to be a friend of Michelle’s Mum.


Michelle’s boyfriend and pimp (23), (although he insists manager). A Rasta from Glasgow. Small town hustler with big dreams. A looker, no brains, he dreams of being a comic - not like that wanker Lenny Henry, someone like Billy Connolly.


Michelle’s friend (18), fellow prostitute and confidante. New age hippie, thinks she is a medium.


A disabled solicitor from Pembroke. One of Michelle’s clients. Huge sexual appetite.

Archie’s Mother

Strong for her age (72). A widow for over 40 years when her husband died in a boating accident. Welsh, welsh. Hates germs.

Jack the Taxi

Kind, straight, ex steel worker (42). Fond of Michelle. Alcoholic.


Michelle’s father (38). Ex boxer, house burglar, joker, drinker, better on horses. Going to seed.


Michelle’s stepmother. Irish. Dennis’s common law wife (25). Dark, pretty, tough.


Michelle’s sister (8). Academic, political, sensible, same sweet face. Same thick Cardiff accent.

Elspeth Hughes

Michelle’s Y.T.S. placement officer (29). Ugly but dramatic looking. Fond of wearing capes and having sex. Speaks Welsh at work to annoy. Snob.


Filofax, business suit. Looks like 80s yuppie but really Brixton council-estate born and bred. A drugs dealer, expanding his business to be No.1 in Cardiff.

Michelle’s Mother

Maybe what our film is really about is Michelle’s search for her long lost mother (36) who used once, long ago, to sing in ‘The Club’.


A single parent from the Ely (tough as fuck) estate (19). Mother of three kids with different dads, on probation for using, whinger, and betrayer.


Pimps, Prostitutes, Donkeys, Dealers, Rastas, Housewives, Ravers, Retired Detectives, Echo Sellers and Bent Coppers.

Treatment; 20 March 1996 (JS)

Michelle’s Story

1. Montage Sequence

Cardiff, a great city makes itself ready for the night.

We see a train arrive at Cardiff station; a bouncer opens the door of a nightclub; a striptease dancer, in negligée, putting on false eyelashes; five burly men from one of the former valley coal-towns climb out heavily from a taxi; a prostitute buys 100 durex; a police meat wagon leaves a police station precinct; a cocaine dealer and client in a back alley.

(We may also see other characters who will be important in the film: Michelle ‘at her Dad’s place’, Gish and Fisher, Roxanne and Fat Mick, Michelle’s mother.)

And we meanwhile hear, in voice over:

The voice of Roxanne is describing how to push, pull, tease, firm-up. (Most of our audience will not initially understand what she’s talking about since it’s done in a very matter-of-fact way. In fact, she’s talking about how to give a ‘John’ a ‘hand job’.)

At one point, Michelle, to whom she is talking, asks (V.O.) a naive question and Roxanne asks, ‘Well, surely you must have done it yourself some time?’ Michelle, slightly embarrassed, replies that she hasn’t. The lesson continues in V.O.

2. Under the Railway Bridge; Dusk or Night

The ground is littered with used condoms, each the slightly shoddy and only memento of some man’s moment of coming.

We may look up at the roof of the tunnel, resting on its stout pillars, to get a sense of where we are.

Echoing the pillars and girders that support the tunnel top, we are now climbing what seem to be more pillars but are in fact a man’s legs encased in shoddy trousers. At the top of the legs expert hands are pulling at a tumescent dong.

Meanwhile, the voice of Roxanne continues. Roxanne’s instructions may have been drowned by a passing train, but now they continue in their matter-of-fact way, almost like in a documentary.

As the sound of the passing train dies away, we hear the panting of the John and now it is Gish’s voice (V.O.) that carries on the instruction.

As the John approaches and reaches his moment of coming, a much larger train, InterCity or goods, passes overhead, shaking the environment. We may see the John’s hand grasping for the woman’s breasts and the woman pushing it away.

We catch a glimpse of the woman’s face, lit up in the flickering refraction of the passing train. It is Roxanne.

Gish’s commentary continues. We may see the woman’s face, pretty, heavily made-up, bored. We may pull back to show that the woman and her John are one pair out of some half dozen on this location, all similarly occupied.

The camera could linger on the face of each John in turn.

Meanwhile the Voice of Gish continues its quite dispassionate matter-of-fact account of how to give a hand-job, but towards the end of the above, as in turn the various Johns reach orgasm, we can hear, although he is trying to cool it, that Gish is also getting close to orgasm.

3. Gish’s Place at Fat Mick’s

Michelle is using Gish for practice. We see his face as the last of a half dozen of gasping men or possibly his penis in close-up with Michelle’s obedient hand around it and, as sperm froths out, this could stand for all the other orgasms of Johns of whom we’ve only seen the faces.

Out of the frothing sperm, which could also be frothing beer being poured, comes our title:


4. Michelle, Lounge Bar, the Cottage Pub

We see Michelle’s angelic face as she pulls a Bitter Top.

Gish and Michelle heard in V.O. as she serves a line of male customers.

Michelle: Was that alright?

Gish: Wicked. Can’t suss how you never done it before ...

Michelle: Can’t I do it just for you?

Gish: Get real. I can’t pay you. Other guys pay you.

You got the equipment. Use it.

Michelle: What about my Da’?

Gish: What about him? Would he squeak if you was working in a fucking factory? Getting a piss-poor pittance? What’s the difference? Work’s shite, whatever it is.

A male customer leans on the bar and watches Michelle lustfully as she pulls a pint.

Male customer: Look at the jugs on that.

Older barmaid: Yeah, and look at the gut on you!

5. Training Centre, Metal Workshop

Michelle is operating a metal drill. And we may hear Gish’s voice again:

Gish (V.O.): I mean, what’s the difference? Just money ...

Maureen: Tell you what, with your looks, Michelle, you should try modelling. Look at Rachel Hunter. She was an ordinary girl but she got to marry Rod Stewart.



8. Under the Bridge

Michelle’s anxious face. She is giving one of her first clients a hand job. Roxanne covertly watching to check Michelle is alright. Michelle is bored and fearful, but the man comes and Michelle is disgusted but pleased. Michelle goes over to join Roxanne and they are walking off when just down the street there’s another John waiting with money in his hand. He points the money at Michelle. She takes it, tucks it in her shoe and, while Roxanne walks on a little, begins to unzip his flies.

9. Cardiff Streets (a little later)

Michelle and Roxanne, arm in arm, go down the street. Michelle and Roxanne ‘flash the cash’ as they flambouyantly pay their entrance fee and enter ...

10. The Club

Fifi the drag queen who runs the pub is just finishing pulling a couple of pints for Roxanne. Fifi’s quips are camp and amusing. Roxanne is coming back from the bar with drinks.

From her p.o.v. we see Michelle, sat down and enjoying the cabaret. She’s watching Gish, an Afro-Caribbean from Glasgow, doing his tryout as a comedian.

Roxanne: There’s a tidy number of the London boys in tonight. Look at him, he’s gorgeous ...

Roxanne looks over at a table of 5 blokes who sit down together. But Michelle is gazing over at Gish. Two overdressed Cardiff dregs block her view. They hover, trying to come in for the pull.

Gish, self-satisfied, towelling his sweating face, accepts a pint off Fat Mick as he passes the bar. They approach Michelle and Roxanne.

The dregs clock them and move on.

Michelle’s angelic face breaks into a smile as soon as she sees Gish approaching.

Fifi, the drag queen, up on the stage, announces the debut of Poppy, a new star, very young, very pretty ...

Shop assistants, ‘bohemians’, taxi drivers, dancers, and off-duty squaddies, are all here tonight. And mixed in with them, petty criminals, bent coppers, massage parlour maids, rent boys, drug barons, Brixton Yardie bosses down from London, seedy private eyes and bug eyed criminal lawyers trying to do a John Grisham ...

Meanwhile Poppy is performing ‘Goldfinger’ very well.

Gish: D’you get any?

Michelle: No, I went down with her but I couldn’t do it.

Gish: (Puts his arms round her and speaks gently) God, what am I going to do with you, eh?

Michelle smiles misehievously and hands him the cash and then downs her eyes provocatively.

Michelle: Buy me a double rum and black.

Gish is absolutely delighted and kisses her.

11a. Living Room of House on Coast of West Wales

Supper time on a Mediterranean ‘look’ veranda. Michelle and Gish eating from a varnished pine table with an apparently wealthy hippy couple overlooking a seascape. Three children. Lots of ‘toys’ stacked against the wall, such as motorised collapsible rubber dinghy, diving gear, etc. The view is of a remote bay.

11b. Down by the Sea, later

Gish and Michelle stand together looking at the turbulent sea.

To Michelle it is further proof that Gish is a totally amazing bloke and that she already thinks she loves him. She’s oblivious to the signs, which our audience will pick up, that there’s more going on than at first meets the eye. Amongst others, Gish is already ‘chasing the dragon’ (using heroin), unknown to Michelle. The drug makes him feel perfectly in control.

11c. Bedroom of West Wales House, next morning

Gish leaves Michelle asleep.

11d. By the Sea

In fact, there has been a drugs drop in the bay, attached to a heavy anchor so that it floats just below the surface. Cutting through the misty morning. Gish takes a dinghy out. A lone figure on the horizon, possibly with one of those £1,000 GPSs (Global Positioning Satellites), he fishes a package out of the water.

11e. Back on Shore

Gish is stowing the fat, white, cellophane packages behind the dashboard of the car and twenty bags of ‘Tate and Lyle’ sugar in the boot.

11f. Cliff Walk, later

Gish is impressed that Michelle knows the names of all the flowers, the Latin and the English. Michelle seduces Gish on the cliff top and, unlike the sex scenes we have seen so far which have been joyless, this is hilarious and exciting. The sex then continues as if it had never stopped in ...

12. Gish’s Room at Fat Mick’s

Amid this shabby, shoddy environment, Michelle and Gish exploring and enjoying each other’s bodies.

Roxanne: (Banging on the door) Michelle, Fifi wants you down at the Club.

Fat Mick’s is a two-up, two-down, terraced house. A sleazy, 70s brown and stained interior filled with young dossers, runaways, spent take-away cartons and exercise equipment. Fat Mick keeps the place packed, he can nick their giros easier.

13. Club Toilets, Gents

Michelle with a John who has been procured for her by Gish. Possibly his penis is already out of his flies and Michelle is at work on a hand job that is not working (we need not necessarily see the penis).

John: Tell you what, ten more for you if you go down on me?

Michelle: Sorry, I only do hand jobs.

Michelle gets back to work but after a short time the John breaks away and says;

John: I really wanted a blow job. Sorry, darling, I’m not in the mood for this rub-a-dub-dub.

14. Michelle’s Dad’s Council House, Ely Estate

Michelle draws the curtains and glances over her shoulder at her Da’ curled up on the sofa. He stirs.

Dennis: Christ, I was on one last night.

Her school uniform which makes her appear much younger.

Michelle: Yeah, well it’s my turn tonight ... last day ...

He begins to sit up.

Dennis: Well, you know what I always say. Waste of bloody time, love, they don’t teach you nothing at school, nothing worth knowing.

Michelle: Yeah, I have heard you say that once or twice.

He burps. She smiles at him and he grins back.

Michelle: Cup of tea?

There are two cups which she must have earlier placed on the sideboard. She hands him one and as he takes his first gulp, says;

Dennis: Ah, with a special mystery ingredient.

As he tastes the whisky, it burns in his throat and his lips smack with pleasure.

Dennis: (Sharply) You taking one up to Trina, then?

Michelle: (Sighs) If you want me to.

Dennis: (Soft soaping) She thinks you’re great, ‘chelle, you and Karen.

Michelle: (Dubious) Yeah ...

15. Under the Bridge (later)

Michelle is masturbating a John.

We can hear Trina (her step-mother)’s shrill voice over:

Trina (V.O.): Where did you get the money for the whisky? Have you given him the same downstairs? Oh, bloody hell ...

We experience the job from Michelle’s point of view, i.e. not sexy but something to be got through and boring, plus disgusting.

16. At The Club

Michelle hands money to Gish under the table, but Gish refuses it. Gish speaks of the wonderful times they’re going to have together. He’ll put down a deposit on a maisonette. They’ll have babies. He’ll be a nightclub owner ... Fifi’ll retire one day. They’ll run the club.

He suggests a drink and then finds he is a bit short. Michelle presses the money on him. Of course she wants to give it all to him.

Michelle: Yeah, when we’ve got enough let’s look at the new flats down the Bay.

17. Club Toilets, Ladies

Michelle explains how Gish has helped her suss out that earning cash this way is not wrong. You’ve got to get ahead whilst you’re young. Michelle is putting on make-up with Weedy, a grubby-looking skinny girl chatting to her.

Michelle: Use your assets to build capital!

18. Y.T.S. Office

Elspeth, Michelle’s placement officer, is late 20s, ugly but dramatic looking, fond of wearing capes and having sex. She speaks in Welsh at work to annoy. She talks about Dylan Thomas, Richard Burton, the poems of R S Thomas.

As Michelle waits, Elspeth is telling a male colleague that she is thinking of standing as a Plaid Cymru Councillor. Michelle waits for her to finish, not understanding a word of this foreign North Wales tongue.

The male colleague leaves and Elspeth finally addresses Michelle. She regrets she has no placement for Michelle in metalwork. She only has Promotions or Hotel and Catering. Michelle takes Hotel and Catering. £26.60 a week (not live in). Start in ten days. Ten days? Yeah. Borrow off your Mam or Daddy to tide you over, says Elspeth helpfully. Michelle smiles to herself a little resignedly.

19. Bute Street

Roxanne is goading the respectable commuter cars by flashing her tits to mothers taking their little ones to Marks and Spencers or Ballet. Other girls, including Michelle, laughing, watching, chatting.

There is Sheila from Port Talbot, a mum who only does Thursdays for extra cash; Clare, she’s got a little boy, is very pretty and lives with her girlfriend Vicki; Angie, who is older, into smack, a bit of a mess, but a right laugh.

20a. Bute Street Pub, a fag break

Angie tells Michelle that she should start doing blow jobs. She swigs from her lemonade bottle and takes Michelle through the whole procedure of doing a blowie and using the lemonade to rinse out your mouth. Michelle creases up laughing. She’s not so sure, but maybe she should offer it as part of her services to Gish.

20b. Bute Street, later

It is much later and much colder. Freezing cold. A bleaker feeling. An unmarked police car draws up. Some CID ferrying the Community Beat Copper around. They lean out the old Rover, heater on full blast, chatting to the girls. They love a really suggestive conversation, the cops. They never run the girls in but they don’t help them neither. But couldn’t they give the girls a hand sometimes dealing with the violent punters, the perverts, the non-payers? The cops just laugh. ‘That’s an occupational hazard, girls. What are your pimps for? No money is that easy. You ought to try coppering.’

21. Montage Sequence; The City

The camera meanders round the city on a Saturday night. Pubs, heaving and sweaty, girls, arm in arm, singing and telling filthy jokes at the top of their shrill voices. Club-goers, standing in Caroline Street, devouring curry and chips, watching a posse of valleys women do a runner from an Indian restaurant. The Club, Roxanne being sick outside of it. Too much rum and coke. Jack is passing. Michelle is relieved to see him.

Michelle: Jack, can you take her back to Fat Mick’s? She’s legless.

21b. The City, back of Multi-storey Car Park, and other locations

Gish is dealing on the street. He passes some tabs and receives money at the foot of a multi-storey car park.

He sacchays up the street and sidles into a rave club. He knows the bouncers and they nod him through. He neither waits in the queue or pays the £8.50 entrance.

He does some business: college kids, middle-class kids, tabs of E, speed.

He calls in at a Blues Club and hangs out in the back. Maybe he does some business with a supplier.

22. The Club

Fifi is holding court in The Club. ‘I remember your mother,’ says Fifi and Michelle is instantly all ears. ‘She had the voice of an angel, a real big black sounding voice. Nobody could believe that a white woman could sound so good. She ran off with a wrestler, a real contortionist.’

For some reason Fifi thinks its hysterical. She also thinks that Michelle is the spitting image of her mother. Did you know, says Fifi, there’s a picture of her out in the passage? Michelle didn’t. She’s surprised and excited. It is under her stage name Dezeeray. Fifi’s stories continue in V.O. as Michelle, in romantic mood, wanders out into a ...

23. Granite Passage at the back of the Club

Michelle lingers in the granite hallway, remembering being young and being happy there. She finds a signed picture of her mother, which is hanging there amongst other minor celebrities. She takes it down, brushing the cold frame against her lips.

24. Bute Street

Michelle stands waiting for business. A car approaches. It is Gish. The car is new to him, a second-hand BMW. Quite flash. Gish is with Fisher, a heavy-looking white dude. Michelle comments on the car. She’s impressed. She hands over the money so far to him and he drives off, self-consciously burning rubber.

25. British Rail Buffet on Cardiff Station

Flo, an old lag, fat, one toothed, is explaining something to Michelle.

Flo: You’ll have to do it. Do your fair share of knocking.

Michelle: What kind of knocking?

Michelle is evidently working here. This is the Catering placement. Flo tells her how they improve their wages by knocking off booze and fags. It is the end of the shift and as Michelle changes out of her ‘Great Western Trains’ overall, Flo makes it clear that Michelle will have to do her fair share of knocking, even if she doesn’t want to.

26. Bute Street

Michelle heads down Bute Street. She can see the girls crowded round someone or something. It’s a rather unattractive man in a wheelchair pushed by a rather respectable looking woman

The other girls are ragging them both. Obviously enjoying their discomfort. Michelle offers herself and the older woman accepts her offer gratefully.

Archie is a solicitor, a sweaty, beady-eyed man with a voracious sexual appetite. Michelle pushes Archie off to the railway bridge area known as the Johnnie Run and then kneels down beside him.

27. Buffet

Next day, Mr Bender the manager is working in the back of the buffet. He seems pleased with her and Flo. But as they close for the night, he asks to look in their bags.

Mr Bender: How d’you come by this, pet?

He asks, producing a knocked off bottle of Bells from Michelle’s bag. Michelle admits everything. Flo lies. Flo is let off with a warning whilst Mr Bender rings the police to deal with Michelle.

28. The Club

Fifi is reading out the newspaper report of Michelle’s appearance in court. It seems that Flo was the main prosecution witness.

Everyone seems impressed with the £200 fine and suspended sentence. Fifi says she’ll let Michelle paint a new collage for the stage to help her pay off the fine.

She wants them all depicted, the infamous ‘Hole in the Wall’ gang, Diamond Kate who is convinced she is Joan Crawford, the Bird man, hoods Karl Marx and the Senator, and the singers Tom Jones and Bonny Tyler. They started off here. (We may use this mural elsewhere in the film. As it becomes more complete it will mark the passing of time. It could contain visual comment on the characters from Michelle’s point of view.)

(Note: She may alternatively be commissioned to do an effigy for the club, based on her metalwork skills.)

29. Michelle’s Dad’s Council Flat

A family tea, beans on toast, is being cooked by a very pissed and happy Dennis for Michelle and her younger sister Karen. Dennis has won on a ‘yankie’ down the bookies. He tells the girls that he’s going to put the money away for their weddings. They know he’s lying because he’s such an old piss-head, but it’s a nice thought.

Trina, Dennis’s common-law wife, arrives back. She is steaming. She has read about Michelle’s court case down the chip shop. She really stirs it up. Dennis doesn’t believe that Michelle is a thief. But when Trina spits out that Michelle has been seen out with a black guy ... Dennis confronts her and she admits it. Dennis gets really upset and quite hurtful. Trina joins in, haranging Michelle about how she uses her father. Michelle, stung by her father’s nasty comments, tells them both to ‘stuff it’ and she’s going to live with her mother.

29b. A Gay Pub up the Valleys

Now homeless, Michelle, accompanied by Roxanne, calls because she’s heard her mother sings here. No luck. Michelle tells Roxanne more about her mother, who left when she was eight. Her mother seems to be a bit of a fantasy figure for her.

30(a). DHSS

Michelle waits in a shabby, plastic bucket seat clutching a number. A lady dosser sleeps across two seats next to her. In front, two kids who have been abandoned wait for the social worker. All of them half listen to a man dressed up like Santa Claus berate the staff behind the desk.

Michelle is called. The clerk says that she isn’t entitled to benefit for two years. She is sixteen, she won’t qualify until she’s eighteen. She can have one emergency payment.

Hard-faced Clerk: Are you still living at home?

Michelle explains that she has been kicked out by her father and stepmother and is trying to trace her real mother. Would there be any records in the DHSS?

Hard-faced Clerk: Even if there was, it’s confidential.

31. The Club

Gish is thrilled that Michelle is homeless. They can live together at Fat Mick’s.

32. In Jack’s Taxi, (next evening)

Michelle has serviced enough guys to satisfy Gish and has jumped into Jack the Taxi’s cab. Jack has picked her up from the Custom House on Bute Street to take her down to ‘The Club’. She likes being with old men like Jack, and Tom the Echo seller, they remind her of her father.

Gish is going to marry her, Michelle confides to Jack. When they’ve got enough money, they’ll have a nice house and babies. Gish likes to be in control of the money. He’s opened a building society account. So they can get a house sooner, she has to work the harder.

Jack tries to warn her and almost thinks he’s getting through. But, says Michelle, she’s talked to Gish about this. Gish did run another girl once before but that was just a business arrangement. This time it’s different. Gish loves her, they are going to be together for life ... ‘not as dregs, like my father - like proper people with a house, a car ...’

They arrive at ...

33. The Club

... and Michelle goes happily over to Gish. He’s sitting with Fisher, one of the London boys. The one Roxanne thought was gorgeous.

34. Gish’s Room at Fat Mick’s

Jamaican food is simmering. Gish waiting. Michelle comes in, returning from an errand for Gish’s ‘business’.

Michelle: The things I do for you!

With no curiosity, she hands a parcel to him.

Michelle: Look, you’ve let it burn!

She rushes to tend the food, consulting a dog-eared cookery book from a second-hand shop.

Gish leaves the room and ...

35. In the Corridor at Fat Mick’s

Gish talks on the pay phone as he opens the package. From his end of the conversation, we learn that he’s going for the big one tonight. The boys from the coast are coming over and he’s been cut in by Fisher.

Inside the package is a mobile phone. He dials a number on the mobile.

Gish: Can you hear me on this one as well?

Afterwards, he steps back into the loo for a solitary snort.

36. Housing Estate

Fisher, turning to look all round him and holding a ghetto-blaster shoulder-high, talking into his mobile phone. He is giving the okay to someone to join him. That someone is still talking to him on a mobile as he draws up in his BMW. It is Skelly, another dealer. Fisher and Skelly shake hands.

Fisher climbs into Skelly’s car and they are discussing the deal. Skelly shows Fisher a large wad of money. Fisher checks it carefully as he dials a number on his phone.

36b. Another Part of the Housing Estate; concrete walkway

Gish receives the call. He hears Fisher’s muffled voice.

Fisher (V.O.): We yuppies are having the party.

Gish: Wha’?

Fisher: The party. Do I have to spell it?

Gish takes a moment to get the message, then he presses the end button on his mobile with a flourish but he is actually shit scared and he disappears into a ...

37. Squatted Flat

A punk girl with a young punk baby stands at the door, guarding it.

Gish: Fisher -

Punk Girl: Oh, so the London twat got himself a lackey?

Gish: (big time) Yeah, he don’t actually handle the stuff. I do.

Punk Girl: Yeah and I do ... Come in ...

Gish legs it up to the bathroom and starts dismantling the side panel of the bath.

38. Housing Estate Car Park

Gish approaches Skelly’s car and, on a nod from Fisher, hands over a parcel.

39. Gish & Michelle’s Room at Fat Mick’s

Gish comes in, very pleased with himself.

He hands Michelle a letter as she doshes some more Jamaican food that she’s cooked on the single ring bunsen burner.

Gish: Sorry, babe.

It is a letter she has sent to her mother which has been returned, ‘not known’. Gish pretends to show regret but he is secretly pleased. He warms some coke on a spoon on the bunsen burner flame.

Gish: Go on, have some of this, it’ll cheer you up.

40. The Club, a few days later

The Club is heaving with bodies. It is Cabaret night. Fifi and the other bartenders are in a frenzy.

It’s not the best moment for Michelle to ask Fifi if she knows where her mother may be living now. Fifi is too distracted to think about it. ‘Ask me again tomorrow.’

Fifi takes the stage, dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, and does a stunningly camp rendition of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’.

Hiding her feelings, Michelle is sitting with Jack and Tom, telling them a joke.

Out of the corner of her eye, she sees Gish enter the club. She is concerned to see that he looks rattled. Almost at once he’s accosted and seems to be in an argument with one of them from London. Gish leaves by the back entrance, swiftly. Some of the London mob go out fast soon after. Michelle, on her feet, doesn’t know what to do. Whilst she’s standing irresolute, someone approaches and is talking to her. It is Fifi, down off the stage, apologising for being off-hand earlier.

Fifi: I do get the jitters just before I go on. C’mon, let’s talk.

Fifi guides Michelle to the bar and begins to tell her things about her mother. Fifi seems fond of Michelle. But Michelle can only half listen. She’s much too worried about Gish.

41. Outside the Club (a little later)

Fat Mick helping someone up. It is Gish who appears to have been badly beaten up. We pull back to reveal that we’re watching from the p.o.v. of a drug squad car. In the car, the drugs squad continue to watch them. Michelle comes out and cradles Gish’s head in her lap. As others come out to help, or see what is happening, the camera clicks. They photograph the hippies from the coast who deal in hash, the Brixton mob who are into coke and the Cardiff middle-men who act as ‘runners’ or ‘donkeys’.

‘There’s been some sort of disagreement,’ says a young CID cop into his radio, the understatement of the evening. ‘Stay back, don’t blow your cover,’ comes the reply.

42. Gish’s Room at Fat Mick’s

Gish, lying on the bed, is in a foul temper. Cursing and wrathful. From above, we see Michelle tending to his wounded and battered body.

43. The YTS Office Exterior

Michelle is shouting outside Elspeth’s office, cursing ‘Get me a fucking job!’

44. YTS Office Interior, a little later

Elspeth: (lisps) The Court conviction is the main glitch. Most placements won’t take kids with a record. Try me in two weeks, when I get back from Tenerife. I’ll get you what I can but I can’t work miracles.

45. The Club

Michelle tells Roxanne her worries about Gish. Since he’s been beaten up, he’s become rude and angry. Says he can’t work. Wants her to earn. To do ‘blowies’.

She says Gish’s ‘business’ seems to have become more stressful and occasional. He’s hanging around in all day drinking clubs getting blitzed. But she doesn’t just want to do ‘the beat’, she wants a proper job.

45b. YTS Office

Elspeth: I have got you a job.

46. The Happy Bunny Burger Café

Crying children. Michelle, dressed as a rabbit with buck teeth, is meant to be a promotions mascot, but has frightened the children.

The P.R. people talk amongst themselves. ‘They said this was the most depressed area in Britain?’ ‘Yes. The research showed there’s nowhere more depressed. Traditional industry closures, massive redundancies, high unemployment.’

They puzzle, trying to understand why nobody is buying the Bunny Burgers which, being made with rabbit, are the cheapest in town. £1 a meal, with chips and a drink. Maybe the bunny is the problem?

47. All day drinking club

Gish is snorting coke and flirting. Michelle’s voice-over continues. She mentioned getting married to him and he laughed.

48. Gish & Michelle’s Room at Fat Mick’s

Michelle’s V.O. continues into an actual conversation in which she tells Gish that she’s found a wedding dress, lovely and for hire cheap. He evades her. Won’t talk about houses, children, nothing. At last his face brightens. He’s seen a way to turn the conversation to earning.

49. The Happy Bunny Burger Café

The P.R. men have lined Michelle up. All three of them criticise the costume, scrutinising how she looks in it. Are her teeth the right shape? Is her smile welcoming enough? Michelle tells them to ‘Fuck Off’ and is sacked on the spot.

50. Pregnancy Advice Centre

Michelle and Roxanne have come here because Roxanne is pregnant. The advice centre woman implies that she should have the baby. She asks questions in a concerned middle class voice. Roxanne and Michelle smirk at each other.

51. Outside the Advice Centre

Gish, who has been waiting, hits Michelle for hanging around with Roxanne and not going out to make money. People watch him hitting her viciously. They stop and gawp. Nobody helps.

52. The Club; women’s toilet

Michelle at the mirror trying to put make-up over her black eye. The process has already taken her ages.

53. Outside Llanrumney High School

Michelle waits for her younger sister Karen. She chopses back to the comments thrown at her by other pupils. Karen appears.

Michelle: Hiya, Ka!

Karen at first at a loss to see her sister, then smiles and takes her hand.

53b. Photo Booth, Cardiff Station

Karen and Michelle are having booth pictures taken. Michelle asks Karen if Trina will have her back home? Karen doesn’t know what to say. It emerges that the family have ‘heard things’ about Michelle’s lifestyle.

It’s their Dad’s 40th next week. She’s not invited. To cheer her up, Karen pays for them to have another set of the photos taken.

54. Bute Street, Night

Michelle tells one of the girls:

Michelle: It’s too cold. It’s freezing my tits off. I’m going down the Club.

Girl: It’s very early. Gish won’t like that.

Michelle: Fuck Gish!

55. The Club

Michelle enters the Club and sees Gish. She feels less confident as she approaches Gish as he stands by the bar. She notices Poppy is on the other side of him. Surreptitiously Michelle gives him what she has earned, taking it out of her left shoe.

Gish is furious because she has earned so little.

Gish tells her to get back outside and seeing Jack the Taxi, asks him to take Michelle back to Fat Mick’s.

56. Outside the Club

Several men are waiting outside, trying to intercept her for sex. Despite her misery, she deals with them easily. Jokey banter with one about being off-duty, abuse to a second and a time for tomorrow for a third.

56b. Jack’s Taxi, Interior

Warm in the cab with the heater full blast, she tells Jack that she has been secretly paying into a wedding club.

57. The Club

Gish orders a treble whisky and coke (or something exotic) for Poppy. They go out the back for some ‘dragon chasing’. Evidently Poppy is a full addict and the dragon seems to have got hold of Gish.

58. At Fat Mick’s

Michelle avoids the door to Gish’s room and wanders into Fat Mick’s room. It is full of exercise equipment and spent cartons from takeaway food. Climbing on an exercise bicycle, she peddles faster and faster, scrutinising her features in the gym mirror in front.

There is puffing and panting. She looks round to see that Fat Mick is riding an exercise bike behind her.

Relaxing on a sofa, she tells him about the wedding plans. But who does she think she’s kidding? Maybe herself, asks Fat Mick. He tries to get her to have sex with him.

Michelle retires to the safety of Gish’s room and cries herself to sleep.

59. Housing Estate Car Park

Fisher and another dealer. The action is very similar to the previous time we’ve viewed a deal. Fisher dials a number on his mobile ...

59a. Housing Estate Walkway

Gish receives the call. He’s already carrying a package and is on his way to the ...

60. Housing Estate Car Park

From Gish’s p.o.v. we see Jeff’s car and that there are plain clothes policemen everywhere. Uniformed officers join them. Fisher is pinned to the floor. Fisher looks across for a moment and sees Gish watching, hiding, not helping. Fisher escapes, runs, avoids detection by hanging on to the underneath of a transit van.

61. Fat Mick’s; Gish’s Room

Gish is kicking Michelle viciously as she lies in bed. There’s a job he needs her to do for him. She is trying to ignore him, pretending still to be asleep. Suddenly she grabs his foot and he falls over. Gish stops kicking and starts to talk to her sweetly. She sits up in bed, taking notice. Gish’s disorientation and panic have given way to lust.

Michelle: Why didn’t you come back last night?

Gish: I was sorting something for us. Now, you going to help me or not?

Michelle: Anything you care to mention?

He kisses her. He is all loving again and they’re back in the ‘innocent’ days of their first passion. Once again, Michelle feels there’s hope.

She makes love to him quickly and urgently.

62. Housing Estate, Squatted Flat

Gish and Michelle are going through the first and second barriers. The place has been trashed.

Michelle: Why do I have to do it? Why can’t you?

Gish explains that his face is too well known. In fact he has lost his bottle. He hands Michelle the mobile and explains the punters will ring at intervals asking whether she has any stuff. Her job is to tell them where to come, take the money, and do the deal. She must guard the money with her life and stuff it in this plastic bag and not look at it; and give it to him in the morning.

62b. Squatted Flat, 2.00 a.m.

Quite a few punters have come and been serviced through the wire mesh. Michelle is tense and exhausted but still the doorbell goes. Now there is Weedy who has bought a punter, Nelson. He is arguing about the quality of the stuff. So, she gives him a bit more to shut him up. Weedy eyes her as she sticks the money into Gish’s plastic bag. It is getting quite bulky. As Weedy and Nelson are leaving, two guys and a dog have arrived. They are saying that Gish promised them a free hit. Michelle says she knows nothing about this. They hover around the steel barricade, refusing to leave. Hands shaking, she tries to ring Gish. No reply.

62c. Squatted Flat, 8.00 a.m.

At last, some hours later, she leaves the squatted flat and runs with the carrier bag stuffed full of money. She may forget to lock up properly in her hurry.

62d. City Streets

Michelle threads her way through Cardiff streets as typical workers are on their way to jobs. Michelle, seeming in a different world, is on her way back to ...

63. Fat Mick’s

Michelle bursts into the bedroom, exhausted and seeking Gish’s approbation. But Gish has completely vanished. She looks in the wardrobe. Some of his best clothes are missing.

She hides the plastic bag of money.

Fat Mick reckons that he might have gone back to Glasgow. He says that Gish had mentioned a girl up there that he was missing.

Michelle: (snaps) Oh come off it, Fat Mick!

64. The Club

Michelle arrives with Fat Mick up The Club. Michelle is desperate to find Gish. She’s been giving everything she earns to Gish and hasn’t even got enough to get herself breakfast tomorrow.

She’s fed up that she can’t get a present for her Da’s birthday. She searches the Club for Gish, but she can’t find him.

Fat Mick is flush. He buys her a drink with a £20 note from an envelope addressed to Michelle. Roxanne and Fat Mick are getting pissed.

Earlier Fat Mick stole the money from the envelope addressed to Michelle. In the envelope there was also a letter from Michelle’s Mum which Fat Mick surreptitiously kicks under the bar when Michelle isn’t looking. We see what he’s done, but Michelle doesn’t cotton on.

Now Fat Mick encourages Michelle to make use of the money in the plastic bag.

Michelle: Oh, shove off. It’s Gish’s.

Fat Mick: It’s not very important to him though, is it now?

Roxanne: Yeah, but what else is in the plastic bag? There might be a note in there for you to meet him and you’re ignoring it, you dozy cow.

They continue to put pressure on her.

65. At Fat Mick’s

Michelle empties the plastic bag of money on to the bed. She’s amazed at how much there is. Roxanne is helping her put it in piles of hundreds.

Fat Mick: At least half that is yours, you earned it.

Michelle: Bollocks ...

But Michelle and Roxanne exchange glances that Fat Mick doesn’t notice.

66. Hyper Value, Mr Pound and a Sports Shop

Michelle and Roxanne are on a shopping spree to the city centre, at Hyper Value and Mr Pound. They visit discount shops with knock-down prices, searching through piles of reject fashion-wear for the best bargains they can find amongst the cheap suits.

They look at cheap rings and tiaras, which they call wedding outfits.

In a sports shop, Michelle is landing some fairly professional punches at an expensive punch ball. She says she’ll buy it.

66b. The City

Michelle and Roxanne struggle through the twilight with the punch ball. A heavy burden in brown packaging.

67. At Michelle’s Dad’s Place

Dennis’s birthday party. The punch ball just unwrapped. Michelle is excited because she’s been able to splash out on her Da’. When he finishes unwrapping it, there is an awkward silence. Why? How did she get the money? Now he knows she must be a slag or a thief.

Michelle goes out to hide her humiliation and sorrow and get a breath of fresh air. Trina is over the moon. She always hated Michelle.

68. Outside Michelle’s Dad’s Place

Just outside the door, Roxanne has been waiting for Michelle. Gish is back, he wants the money. It’s a primer for a big deal. Michelle is horrified.

At that moment Trina comes out and shouts at Michelle. Roxanne and Trina have a go at each other. Michelle joins in.

A fight ensues. It is broken up by Dennis, helped by Karen.

69. City Centre and Outside the Club

As Michelle and Roxanne walk back to find Gish and face the music, a car draws up alongside them. It is Fisher who wants to know where Gish is. There is menace in his voice.

Now we see the scene from a car parked further down the road. Click. The drugs squad are vigilant. Four pairs of eyes watching.

D.S. Flynn: Roger One to Tango Two, Roger One to Tango Two. Suspect has stopped two cows and appears to be threatening them, over.

Michelle says she doesn’t know where Gish is. At length Fisher seems to believe her. With a threat, he drives on.

Michelle, a close-up held in a telephoto lens. Her voice audible via a bugging device. Michelle is uneasy.

Michelle: Get to the Club and tell Gish I’ll have the money by tomorrow morning. I’ll go back to my Da’s. He’ll have to get me the balance from someone, somehow.

70. A Derelict Space

Slap. Gish’s head is slammed against a concrete wall. We cannot see who is doing it to him, but it looks like two of the boys from London. Fisher joins them.

Fisher: You’ve messed up twice. You better get things sorted.

71. Bute Street

As Gish stumbles along Bute Street, he is engaged in conversation by some cops in an unmarked car. To add to his troubles, Fifi is passing by and sees him in conversation with them.

72. Bute Street, a little further up

Fretful, Michelle is walking back under the railway bridge. She passes Angie and Clare and, desperate in her need to make up the money, stops to find out if it’s a good night. It isn’t.

A car slows down to proposition them. She’s desperate, can she do this one? The girls agree. Michelle looks up. Her face changes. From her point of view, the world seems to go into slow motion.

Michelle: Fuck, it’s me Da’!

As in a nightmare, Michelle sees him smile at his mate, he says something crude. He hasn’t realised that this is his daughter. Michelle is caught in the glare of headlights.

As he looks back from his mate, Dennis’s face changes as he recognises her. Then he shouts, climbing out of the car.

Angie urges: ‘Go on ‘Chelle, leg it!’ As she runs along the pavement, Michelle can hear her father shouting: ‘Fucking Scrubber!’

72b. Montage: the City

The camera weaves around the restless city as night dark velvet black.

72c. The Club

Roxanne is wandering round The Club looking for Gish. Almost everyone she asks is looking for him too. Fifi, self-satisfied, is able to tell them that Gish is in police custody.

73. At Fat Mick’s

Gish and Mick are having an argument. Fat Mick wants him out.

Fat Mick: I want you out. Too many hoods have been calling round looking for you and the word is out that the cops have fingered you. The word is: ‘Gish will roll over and turn Queen’s evidence’.

Gish is rattled and swears it’s not true. Fat Mick digs at him further and suggests that he’s had intercourse with Michelle. Fat Mick’s voice drones on and on in V.O. as ...

74. In Gish/Michelle’s Bedroom

Gish punches the pillow over and over again. Then he rips and scatters Michelle’s clothes all over the floor, not in rage but in desperation to find the money. With shaking hands, he gets out a bit of tin foil. Soon he is in the thrall of the dragon.

75. Inside Archie’s Mum’s Place

Michelle is face pale and contemplative, looking at an art book. We pull back to show that Archie is fondling her breasts as he watches ‘Baywatch’ on TV. Archie looks contented. Michelle restless.

Michelle: Archie, I came here to ask you a favour.

Suddenly the door opens and a very grim faced mother lets Roxanne in. Roxanne waits until Archie’s Mum leaves.

Roxanne: Gish is up the spout. He’s got to have the cash, or he’s dead.

Michelle: (appalled) Oh shit.

76. Inside Archie’s Mum’s Place

Archie’s Mum offers her the money to go to London and a lift to the station. Michelle looks at Roxanne. They both know it’s unrealistic. Archie’s Mum tries to argue the opposite point of view. But they know they can’t leave Cardiff. Michelle can’t leave Gish.

Michelle asks Archie’s Mum whether she can borrow £500.

Archie’s Mum: No. I’ll buy you a ticket to London. But money, no. I don’t think that’s what you need.

77. On Bute Street

Gish ingratiates himself with Weedy (now on the beat) and the girls. Suddenly he pulls a knife. Where’s Michelle? Gish says they’d better find out or he’ll slit them open.

78. The City

The camera weaves around the city as dusk turns into darkness.

Roxanne sets up Michelle and Gish to meet at the Johnny Run He has to pretend to be a client. Too many people are looking for him. The death threat on Gish has scared both of them and bonded them again. They revisit the old dreams, getting a house, some kids ...

Michelle tells him to meet her at three tomorrow morning. She hands him the address, written on a scrap of paper.

78b. Somewhere

Roxanne suggests to Michelle that there is one way she could get the money to pay back Gish. If she can bring herself to offer full sex. She knows for a fact of three blokes who’ve always fancied Michelle. They’d pay £150 each.

79. At the Club

It is St Valentine’s night. Fifi has put on a special show. There are several new acts booked. A woman, chain smoking, waits to go on stage.

80. The Docklands Flat

Michelle is being led into a dark damp flat by Roxanne. There is no electricity and no curtains. Roxanne has got a saucer and ten candles.

Roxanne: Alright, I’ll leave you to get ready. Jim’s on his way over.

81. In the Club; Ladies Toilets

Fisher is snorting coke in the ladies toilets. Weedy comes in desperate for a fix and cold from being on the beat. Fisher tells her to Fuck Off. Dozy Slag.

Weedy hints that she might know where Gish is.

82. Main Area of ‘The Club’

Fisher scans The Club for a posse of the London boys. The next act is the chain smoking woman. She sings ‘Summertime’ and although white, she has a deep throaty voice.

83. The Docklands Flat

Michelle is having sex with Jim. We keep the music over.

84. In the Club

Fisher is snaking the club with a few mates.

85. Outside the Club

The drugs squad is mobilising for a raid.

86. The Club

Fisher is being hassled by a number of hoods, we can’t hear what they are saying over the music, but presumably they want their money back from him.

Fisher seems to be soft soaping them, but he is sweating.

87. The Docklands Flat

Maldie, a man in his 50s, has just been serviced by Michelle. As he goes out we see two more clients. Two we’ve seen ‘on the beat’ Roxanne had forgotten to tell Michelle about.

88. The Dockland Flat (later)

The last man has left. Michelle is shivering and alone but pleased as she squats and tries to flush a used condom down a seatless lavatory.

Roxanne, keeping the money, tells her that one more night and she’ll be sorted.

V.O. The woman’s voice from the Club, ‘Hush little baby, don’t you cry.’

A man who Michelle takes to be another punter calls. A strapping man with a pony-tail, slightly seedy and reminiscent of an ex-bouncer.

He is in fact Vaughan, her mother’s boyfriend. He tells Michelle that her mother wants to see her. Michelle is overjoyed.

89. The Club, Backstage

Now we see it is Michelle’s mother singing ‘Hush little baby, don’t you cry’. She finishes to a lame applause and disappears backstage.

Michelle has been smuggled backstage and is keeping a low profile for fear of being seen by Fisher.

Michelle: Mum!

90. In Vaughan’s Car

They are driving. A long, long story from Michelle’s Mum. Michelle and her mother are happy. Desirée smokes like a chimney.

91. Back at The Club

The cabaret finale. Fifi sings ‘Delilah’ flanked by six dancing Tom Jones look-alikes.

91b. The Club Toilets

Crack. Roxanne’s head is jerked back by Fisher. Fisher says that he’s heard about the punch ball and what happened to his money.

Fisher: Where’s Michelle?

Roxanne says nothing.

Fisher: There’s a hundred quid in it for you if you tell me.

92. Derelict Theme Park

Michelle and her mum are wandering round. She and Vaughan are caretakers here. Easy job, it closed down 4 years ago.

Just as Michelle is about to ask for help, Desirée asks first. She wants a policy that Dennis has got that’s coming up for maturity. She paid a lot of it and she wants her share. She wants Michelle to get it for her. Her mother adds that she knows that there’s no love lost between them.

Michelle protests. But her mother continues with a long list of hurtful things that Dennis and Trina have been saying about Michelle which she’s heard through the grapevine.

Her mother encourages her. ‘ Go on, get the policy for us and then you could come and live with us. You and your bloke ...’

Michelle: Can we come straight away?

Mum: Yeah, okay, if you want. I’ll make up your bed for tonight.

Michelle: No, not tonight. I’ve got to sort something out. Tomorrow. I’ll come up with my boyfriend.

A beat.

Michelle: You couldn’t lend me £100 ...?

93. The Club

Fisher and two men hustle Roxanne across the stage, behind or among Fifi and the six Tom Jones look-alikes, ironic applause from the audience.

94. Night Bus coming down the Valley

Once a heaving work bus for the docks, the night bus is almost empty. Now used by docks security guards, not dockers.

Michelle sits on her own at the back. Three o’clock. She counts the two hundred quid in her pocket.

95. Backstage Corridors

Fisher and another man and Roxanne snake along a warren of passages that lead to the back car park.

96. Gish at Weedy’s Place

Gish is pouring his heart out. His dad is in jail in the States, his mother died when he was 14 ... He’s confused, but he knows he loves Michelle.

Weedy listens, bored.

97. The Club

A wall of police officers in riot gear comes flooding into the Club from various entrances. They advance on each other, forcing the clubbers like drowning sardines into the centre of the club room. Fifi flees the stage. A copper punches a Tom Jones look-alike in the face.

98. Docklands, Night

Michelle lies back on the rusting hulk of the ship and eyes the moon steadily. She imagines living at her mother’s with Gish. Having their own caravan. She imagines what colour it will be. She imagines being pregnant there and Gish coming in after a hard day on the rides. He kisses her tenderly.

99. The Docklands Flat; Ext. & Staircase

Michelle makes sure she isn’t seen as she enters and then shuts the door firmly, bolting it behind her. She mounts the stairs.

100. The Dockland Flat, Upstairs

Michelle enters. Gish is already in there.

Michelle: Gish!

They embrace.

There is a pounding on the staircase as Fisher, Fifi, and two other guys, propelling Roxanne, pile up the staircase.

Gish moves in front of Michelle as if to protect her.

Roxanne: I’m sorry, Michelle.

(She’s apologising for having led them here.)

The two guys go and hold Gish.

Fisher: Gish, you fucked up three times.

Michelle: Let him go!

She hits one of the two guys with the plastic bag in which she’s been stowing the money.

Fisher: (to Gish) Where’s the money?

Gish pauses. A moment of truth as he wonders whether to betray Michelle or not. Meanwhile, not noticed by Gish, Michelle is beginning to open the plastic bag to show that she’s got the money. But Gish does not notice this and decides to distance himself from Michelle.

Moving away from her, he says:

Gish: Ask her. She’s the one that spent it!

Fisher: I know that. I know about her Daddy’s dumbell. But it was you allowed her to have it!

One of the two guys is moving his arm to reach for a machete. Michelle moves to get between him and Gish and get him to drop the machete. She’s not really noticed yet that Gish has betrayed her.

The machete accidentally cuts Michelle.

Roxanne: Don’t do that!

Roxanne moves to help Michelle. Meanwhile, Fifi is tearing off her blouse, revealing herself as a wiry man, preparatory to taking part in the action. Gish tries to sneak out of the door but Fifi steps back against it, preventing Gish’s exit.

Gish: She spent the money.

Fisher takes in the situation that Michelle is wounded.

Fisher: Okay, she can take the message.

(and then to Michelle) Didn’t you know that you don’t fuck up with Fisher?

He takes the machete and wounds Michelle, hands it to the two guys who do the same, followed by Fifi.

The machete is handed to Roxanne who has to be helped to make a wound. The machete is handed to Gish who looks round at the menacing four men and into Michelle’s dying eyes before delivering the killing wound.

101. At the Club

Various regulars are watching a Crimewatch reconstruction of the murder on the TV. The various other theories that the police put forward are met by gales of laughter by Fifi and party. Gish is amongst those openly laughing.

V.O.: ‘So why do you think the £200 she had got that night wasn’t taken?’ asks Nick Ross of a particularly pasty faced Detective Sergeant.

102. In the Toilet

Gish is retching down the toilet.

103. Outside the Club

Roxanne is waiting for him and gives him her evening’s earnings.

104. The City Streets

Roxanne walks away from The Club, back towards the Custom House. Down the neon lit streets, the concrete pavements echoing and wet from the rain, as she goes on into the darkness, she passes a police ‘murder’ poster with a request for information and picture of Michelle.

We close in on the picture and it dissolves into:

Pictures of Michelle from woman to babe in arms. A fourteen year old, all flick fringes and lipstick, an eight year old, pushing sister Karen on the swing, a five year old on the beach with her mother, a three year old, green eyed and smiling on Santa’s knee and a little babe in arms, wrapped so tightly and lovingly by her proud Mam and Da’.

The Style

Recalling films like ‘Harlem Story’, ‘Cathy Come Home’ and ‘Boys from the Blackstuff’, ‘Michelle’s Story’ will depict an underworld which is hard, witty and brutal. Shot documentary style and using voice over as well as dialogue, the film will have a realistic edge and will feature the distinctive Cardiff regional sense of wit. The powerful story, set in a highly realistic urban context, where conversation is couched in the distinctive, colourful, allusive and highly witty local vernacular, will make Michelle’s Story resonate long after the final frame.

Global Relevance

Michelle’s Story’ portrays a small, unique urban culture but its twilight jungle theme is relevant to any city in Europe. It is also of intense relevance in a world where more and more people proportionally are moving into cities. Cities are growing huger and huger ... and at the heart of all this springs up the atrophy known as inner city blight. The core becomes rotten, so the twilight jungle, urban bedlam, that is created in the heart of all great cities have certain qualities in common and others that are their own, uniquely.


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