Opening Scene - part six
Father Why do they pick on you Ned?
Ned I don't know dad. They can't find anyone else I suppose!
Father You should try to stand up to 'em a bit more son. Show them what you're made of.
Ned (He looks ruefully at his handkerchief.) I think that they're trying to find that out for themselves!
Father But do you give as good as you get?
Ned He hurt his hand when he hit me this time!
Father It's no good lad. We really will have to try and do something about you. If you're going to get yourself into these scrapes then you've got to learn how to look after yourself. We could start by building up your muscles a bit - and that's where this present I've bought you comes in.
Ned (Interested) A present! What have you got me dad?
Father (Impressively) This! (He produces the barbell.)
Ned Oh ... oh? (Genuinely confused) What is it?
Father It's a barbell son.
Ned Mmmmmm ... . What does it do dad?
Father Oh dear ... it doesn't do anything Ned. It's what you do with it!
Ned Oh ...what do you ...?
Father Don't bother - I'll show you. You use it to strengthen your muscles. Half an hour's exercise with this every day and you'll soon notice the difference. Here's what you do: (he proceeds to demonstrate the 'perfect lift') you stand over it like this; bend down; grab hold of it - remember to keep your back nice and straight - and then heave! (He lifts the weight easily) See - that's all there is to it!
Ned I don't think that I'm going to be very good at this.
Father Nonsense. Come on, you have a go now. (Reluctantly Ned approaches the barbell) Of course this one is only light but you can build up to heavier ones later. Now, take hold of the bar, bend your knees, (Ned does so) and lift!
Ned I already am lifting! (The barbell remains firmly on the ground.)
Father Well ... don't try to lift it over your head; up to your shoulders will do.
Ned (Breaking off his attempt) You don't think that we're being^ a bit ambitious do you dad?
Father Come on son, you've got to put some effort into it if you want to be big and strong like me. I mean, what could I have done the day the dragon came if I had been all thin and weedy? (What follows is an obviously well rehearsed routine, which Ned imitates in the background) Oooh, I remember it just like yesterday: the fiery breath, the monstrous roar and the reek and stench of its foul body as it pounced on top of me! Any man would be frightened by such a sight, and I was - but not so frightened that I didn't know what to do! A kind of icy calm came over me then as quick as a flash - so fast that even I was surprised! - I got my pitchfork and thrust it into the beast's belly. The scream of that creature as it crashed to the ground beside me will live in my memory forever. It was horrible - all sort of angry and sad at the same time... (He ponders this point) horrible. Anyway, if I hadn't had the strength to kill it, it would have burnt the village to the ground and most likely slaughtered all of us. Do you see my point?
Ned Yes dad.
Father So come on; another go. (Ned prepares himself) Ready? Right’ now heave!
Ned (Straining with the effort) Eeee urghh! (The weight does not move)
Ned I'm heaving! I'm heaving! Eeurghh!
(Mother enters holding a tray with assorted dishes etc. As soon as she sees what is happening she rushes over to just behind Ned)
Mother Edmund, Edmund! What are you doing? Stop it at once!