Nelson’s Column

Throughout February I had the honour of being Shetland’s Writer In Residence. Part of my duties was to deliver script writing workshops, so for this column I present a short play. I thank you:

Future Fuels by Sandy Nelson.

Scene: The ante-room of a corporate office. Two figures sit waiting. POWELL is grey haired in late middle age with a large waistline and a stoic expression. WINNIE is flouncy in a white gown with airy fairy hair.

WINNIE          Nerve wracking isn’t it?

POWELL        Aye.


WINNIE          Have you heard anything yet?

POWELL        Nope.

WINNIE          Ah.


WINNIE          It’s weird having a bunch of strangers deciding your future.

POWELL        It’s weird to have to apply for your own job.

WINNIE          Oh, are you Powell Powerstation?

POWELL        Yes.

WINNIE          Ah, right. I’m Winnie Windfarm.

POWELL        Oh. I see.

WINNIE          Well, this is rather awkward.

POWELL        Oh, I don’t know. I think it’s quite straight forward. You are here to steal my job.

WINNIE          Well, excuse me but I was invited here. I am a professional, you know.

POWELL        Well it would seem the definition of “professional” has changed over the years.

WINNIE          What, you think I do this part time?

POWELL        Listen, pal, I am literally a powerhouse. I work hard. You just stand there with your arms in the air waiting for the wind.

WINNIE          I’m sure you will agree that in Shetland I don’t have to wait too long. It’s the busiest shift in the British Isles.

POWELL        Even so, what do you produce? Enough power to run a few heaters on a chicken farm?

WINNIE          You know I produce far more than that.

POWELL        I don’t mind people having their wee turbines in their garden and their solar panels on the roof.

WINNIE          Oh, do you know Sonny Solar? That guy’s a riot . . .

POWELL        . . . that’s all very well for a wee small holding, but when it comes to powering an entire community, I’m your man. I get the job done.

WINNIE          I’m not suggesting you can’t get the job done.

POWELL        Well there you are.

WINNIE          But if you don’t mind me saying you’re not that clean are you?

POWELL        That’s a bit fresh.

WINNIE          Unlike yourself. You pile all sorts of rubbish into the atmosphere.

POWELL        Don’t you fool yourself, sunshine.

WINNIE          I’m not sunshine, I’m wind.

POWELL        You do a bit of damage yourself. Some poor wee birdie flying along then BAM! A turbine blade right in the neck. Or if they are really unlucky they fly too close to a swish and the drop in pressure collapses their lungs.

WINNIE          Better that than choking to death on your fumes, just like any man or beast who lives within breathing distance of you.

POWELL        I am within the regulated and accepted emissions bracket.

WINNIE          Have you SEEN what’s legal? It’s ridiculous. And do you know that your owner can pay to offset your extra emissions? Sure the treasury gets more money but the emissions are still the same.

POWELL        If you are so green then why does it take tons of landscape dug up and fleets of lorries emitting gas fumes to build you? You’re not so innocent. And you’re an eyesore.

WINNIE          That’s just a matter of opinion, NOT a reasoned argument. Some people find me majestic. And look at you. You’re no oil painting yourself. (pause) And speaking of oil, and other fossil fuels . . .

POWELL        Don’t.

WINNIE          Come on. We both know what’s coming.

POWELL        Technology will find more.

WINNIE          Until the hollowed out world collapses in on itself. And then what?

POWELL        But you don’t have the strength! You and solar and wave. Even together you can’t match me.

WINNIE          But we will always be there. I’ve never said I was your replacement. I’m just here, along with solar and wave and don’t forget tide, to lend a hand. So we are all in place when, well, you know . . .

POWELL        You think you are so wonderful, don’t you?

WINNIE          Yes I do. And you have been wonderful too. You’ve done an amazing job. But we have to face the future. And until then we can work together. At least we can talk about it.

POWELL        That’s all them in that office have blooming done is talk. If they just stopped talking and made a decision we’d all save a bob or two.

WINNIE          True. (pause) I won’t let you down.


POWELL        Make sure of it.

Enter a trendy science nerd in purple shades and combat trousers and iPod .

NERD              Hi. I’m Colin Coldfusion. Is this where the Future Fuels auditions are?

Both share a glance then both turn to the audience saying in unison.

P&W               Ah, well. It was fun while it lasted.



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