‘The Battle of Rowton Moor’ A monologue by Mark Prescott

The Rows in 1644

BATTLE NOISE.  ALEXANDER BAGSHAW, A SOLDIER, BARELY ABLE TO STAND, SURVEYS THE BATTLEFIELD AT ROWTON MOOR:

How can I make a choice with this icy chill daily assaulting me?  And that smell. 

HE LOOKS ACROSS AT THE KING STANDING ON THE PHOENIX TOWER.

HE doesn’t have to suffer the consequences of his choices.  HE watches, but then he can bugger off to a safer, better place.

HE LOOKS AROUND THE FIELD AT THE FALLEN AND DYING.  WE HEAR FAINT CRIES AND GROANS, AMONGST DISTANT BATTLE NOISE.

The cries are really getting to me now.  It was alright at first.  At first, I found it exciting seeing Parliament men fall, hoping for a brighter future here, but the smell is becoming unbearable now.  Why can’t the wind be at my back?  I’m trying to breathe through my mouth like when I have a cold.  But it doesn’t work.

The fight has swung the other way.  Now I can see my mates’ helmets being crushed underfoot. Those of us left standing have little energy to lift our shields in defence, let alone lift our swords in attack.

There is little hope, and all HE can do is to watch the slaughter, then turn and piss off to Wales without so much as a thank you or good luck.  HE doesn’t have to go and tell his mates’ wives that they won’t be returning home.  Ever.  HE won’t have to worry about where his next meal will come from when they murder the bakers, the butchers, the inn-keepers.  All for what?  Religion?  Politics? Or is it just plain greed? 

No future for us now.  I can’t bear to think of my family being…..tampered with….my children……my wife… abused… all because HE won’t negotiate.  HE won’t have to face a choice like mine.  Because – isn’t it too cruel to leave my family to the marauding hands of the opposition?   Wouldn’t a quick death at the hands of a loved one be better than being raped?

HE SNIFFS THE AIR

What’s that?  A wind-change?  Smoke… wood…..a meat… smell?  

HE TURNS TO LOOK AT HIS VILLAGE

I turn only to see my choice being taken away.  I see my village, my family home engulfed in flames.  The screams.  The smell.

At least I won’t any longer have to make that decision.  They’re safe from it all now.  

HE TAKES A LAST LOOK AT THE KING. 

And HE doesn’t have to suffer.  

I climb atop the wall.

HE CLIMBS.

Now, I won’t have to suffer.

HE JUMPS.