Colluding with Coffee

A sketch (skit?)exploring the nature of “honesty” in friendships. Premiered in 2006 at the Sussex Arts Club, UK, as part of “Empowering the Cheese”.



(Sara is sitting front stage centre as Linda enters carrying two Starbucks coffees. Linda hands over one of the coffees)


Linda: Ta da!


Sara: Hi Linda.


(Linda parades a new outfit)


Linda: Well what do you think of the new me?


(Sara looks at her and is about to speak)


Linda: On second thoughts, don’t tell me. One tall skinny soyachino – sugar’s already in.


Sara: Thanks.


Linda: No problem.


Sara: What did you get?


Linda: Hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows.


Sara: I see. Followed by a trip to the gym.


Linda: Very funny.


Sara: Not that you ever go.


Linda: I do.


Sara: When was the last time you graced the gym with your presence?


(Linda takes the lid off her hot chocolate and sips it getting a moustache of cream)


Linda: Oh, that’s really nice.


Sara: Gross. Last summer?


Linda: Eh?


Sara: I think I remember you telling me you went at the beginning of last summer.


Linda: I’ve been since then.


Sara: So twice a year. Twice a year at £70 a month; that’s £940 per year. Two visits – that’s £470 per visit to the David Lloyd Sports Centre.


Linda: I went more than twice. I’m sure I did…


Sara: And who’s David Lloyd anyway. Why a sports centre be named after an early twentieth century politician?


Linda: Eh? David’s Lloyd’s a…er. A golfer I think. Or maybe a footballer.


Sara: Still, £940 per year is still less than…let me see,   £1,274.


Linda: What’s £1,274?


(Linda is drinking her hot chocolate enjoying  it. Sara hasn’t touched her coffee yet)


Sara: £350 times 364 days per year comes to £1,274. That’s how much you spend on your hot chocolate with whipped cream and all the trimmings. I took one day off for Christmas.


(Linda loses her appetite for the hot chocolate, looks at it and puts it down as Sara takes the lid off her coffee and takes a sip)


Sara: Cheers. So, that’s the diet taken care of, isn’t it?


Linda: What do you mean?


Sara: Over two grand a year trying to get fatter and paying to avoid getting slimmer. It’s genius.


Linda: Oh, fuck off!


Sara: Drink your hot choc. That’s over three quid in Starbucks isn’t it? The marshmallows probably work out at 30p each.


Linda: Don’t be such a Victor Meldrew.


Sara: Victor Meldrew was a complainer. I’m just honest. I don’t mind if you’re fat. You can be as fat as you want. But you’ve said you want to lose a stone. What kind of friend would I really be if I sat by as you got fatter and didn’t say anything? (indicates the hot chocolate): £3.50.


Linda: Eh?


Sara: £.3.50. You bought it because you want it. So drink it.


(Linda looks at the hot chocolate and drinks it. Pause)


Linda: Don’t you ever stop?


Sara: Stop what?


Linda: I mean. Don’t you ever give yourself a break?


Sara: A Break? What do I need a break from?


Linda: Honesty. All this “collusion breaking” you do. I mean, isn’t it good to just be…I dunno… fake sometimes?


Sara: Why is it ever good to be fake? Aren’t there enough lies in the world already?


Linda: I know, but, sometimes… shouldn’t be just relax and just be… nice to each other?


Sara: The answer is 25,000 – now, what’s the question?


Linda: How many men have you slept with when you’re running your workshop?


Sara: Very funny. Nope. That’s 17.  25,000 is the answer, what is the question?


Linda: How much you have calculated I spend on food?


Sara: Nope.


Linda: Your daily rate for “collusion breaking” in organisation?


Sara: Er…not quite.


Linda: Well, I don’t know! What question IS 25,000 the answer to?


Sara: At my 30th last week I was doing some thinking.


Linda: I know, people noticed. You were really quiet. Cant you ever just chill out?


Sara: Of course I can chill out. It’s just… you know, 30. I worked out that over the last seven years since I started doing the facilitation work, I’ve workshopped with about 25,000 people.


Linda: Really? You’ve fucked up enough people to fill up Stamford Bridge?


(Sara looks daggers at Linda)


Linda: Joking!


(During the next speech Linda retreats into her own thoughts and then seems to have a sudden realisation and shows she has made an inner decision)


Sara: 25,000 people. From different places. Different countries. Different ages. Some married, some single or separated or divorced. Different jobs, different states of health. All kinds of people. You know it’s strange; as I’m telling you this, I can’t actually picture one of them. Not one single soul. 


Linda: Really?


Sara: 25,000 people. Might even be more. And the vast majority of them are either unhappy or unfulfilled, at work or at home because they don’t want to risk the discomfort of being honest either with themselves or with other people.


Linda; Your infamous Collusion of Mediocrity.


Sara: That’s just a piece of jargon. But they sit their, like beached whales, unable to move, fearful of the consequences of what might actually happen if they actually faced reality instead of treating life like some insipid tea party where the main priority it to choke on the burned cake, and please the waiter.


Linda: You’re like a cracked record, do you know that?


Sara: What?


Linda: You’re like a fucking cracked record. We’re supposed to be meeting for an after-work coffee and all you’re banging on about AGAIN is your bloody crusade against collusion.


Sara: Sorry.


Linda: It’s alright.


Sara: No it isn’t alright! Don’t say it’s alright when it isn’t. I can’t stand that!

Linda: look there you go again! Just lay off with your bloody collusion breaking. If I want to say it’s alright I bloody well will. OK?




Sara: That wasn’t like you.


Linda: What?


Sara: That. That wasn’t like you at all.


Linda: What wasn’t like me at all?


Sara: Just then. You shut me up. You never do that.


Linda: No. I suppose I don’t.


Sara: How did it feel?


(Linda gives Sara and angry look. Silence)


Sara: Thank you.


Linda: Thank you for what.


Sara: For shutting me up.


Linda: Look…


Sara: I mean it, Linda. You should do it more often. Thank you for shutting me up.


Linda: Just fuck off.


(Sara laughs, Linda scowls. Silence)


Sara: I can’t help it, Linda. It’s what I do. You teach Movement and Yoga. I’m a facilitator. Most of the problems in my sessions are about people hiding the uncomfortable truth.


Linda:…the uncomfortable truth.


Sara: .. I can’t walk away from a workshop knowing that people have had a nice day, a god lunch, and all the same problems and issues are still there, untouched. It’s the sickness of the age you know.


Linda: What is.


Sara: Mediocrity.


Linda: Jesus Christ. Everyone has a right not to be perfect like you, you know.


Sara: I am not perfect…


Linda: So you charge people  nine hundred a day and what they get to take home are uncomfortable truths? Doesn’t sound like a bargain to me…


Sara: You’re being really unfair. If this is the ”new” you, I like it.


(Silence – they drink)


Sara: This is disgusting. Three bloody quid.




Linda: Do you really want this to be the new me?


Sara: Why?


Linda: Do you really want this to be the new me?


Sara: You could do with being more honest, yes. You let people shit on you. Take advantage. It would do you a lot of good.


Linda: Ok.


Sara: Ok.


Linda: And you think you could handle this new me could you?


Sara (laughing): I get paid to handle “new yous” all the time.


Linda (looking hard a Sara): Well, this one is going to be a freebie.


Sara: What do you mean?


Linda: I don’t like you Sara.


Sara: Excellent.


Linda: No. I am serious. You irritate me.


Sara: I irritate a lot of people. I get paid to irritate people.


Linda: How long have we known each other. Ten years?


Sara: Eleven.


Linda: I have often looked to you as a strong person in my life. You are so self-confident. I suppose I always feel grateful to you in one way or another.


Sara: Grateful? I’ve never asked you to be grateful.


Linda: Grateful. For your “gift” of honesty. How many times do our conversations end with me saying “thank you”?


Sara: I have never asked you to say thank you.


Linda: There was this Hammer House of Horror on UK Gold last night. Count Dracula – it wasn’t Christopher Lee – right at the end is standing there over this woman in the usual white dress and the camera shows he’s just taken a drink of her blood, its all dripping down his lower lip and chin and then the scene cuts to her, lying back looking all drained and  lovingly into his eyes and then she says these two words: thank you. (Turning to Sara): You’re a vampire. You’re a fucking vampire.


Sara: I’m not taking that…


Linda: Aha! Has one of your uncomfortable truths just boomeranged back into your face?


Sara: You’re just being horrible all of a sudden.


Linda: Only because I care. I do care you know. You’re right. If you aren’t honest with people you care about then it’s a fake kind of care in the first place. And you are a fucking leech on my emotions. You’re not a real friend and to tell you the truth, I have wanted to end this friendship months… No, years ago.


Sara: So why didn’t you?


Linda(shouting): Because I am weak okay? I am too bloody weak! I am a weak-willed human being and the reason I collude is because I don’t have your strength to go around fucking people up with your so-called gift of truth!


Sara: Is that how you really see what I do?


Linda: Actually yes! That is “exactly” how I see it. It isn’t a gift at all. It’s your life-blood fix for the day!


(Slight pause)


Sara: You’re the best friend I have got, Linda. I have a lot of love for you.


Linda: I am the only friend you have got. I wonder why that is? I think it is because you have diagnosed, browbeaten or irritated them to make a swift exit. It’s just the weaker ones that get addicted to your vampirism.


(Sara looks away and begins to cry)


Linda: How many times have I ended up crying at the end of one of your “lovingly honest” conversations? You talk the same crap, you analyse everything to the last detail, you love to complain at just about every opportunity and you haven’t even said one nice thing about my new clothes or my hair. And you know what? I look good. I look and feel bloody good! I am not your friend. I don’t want to be your friend and I’d be grateful if you took my number off your mobile and deleted me from messenger ok?


(Linda makes to leave and then returns, snatching Sara’s coffee out of her hand which she holds up).


Linda: Crap, disgusting coffee. £3. That’s …er….£1,092 per year.


(She dumps the coffee and the bin, leaving crying Sara looking on)


Linda: I took one day of for Christmas.


(Linda leaves)


Sara: Linda. Linda !!!


(Lights fade on a dejected Linda who stares at her mobile phone and then after Linda)

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