Saucy and feckless - that's Nettie Flinders, mother of two, and part time cheap skate prostitute.
Alternately tragic and comic, the play concerns her efforts to get her children, who have been taken into care, back to live with her.
First we see her ten year old son, Jim, as he writes a letter from a children's home:
Its quite NIce here MUM but Really I WOULD LIKE to BEE Back with YOU.
JIM X X X X X
In her sleazy flat we now see Nettie, in her daily activities, hanging out the washing, washing up.
We see her with: the exploitive worm; the kindly lonely guy who takes her out for a chat sometimes; the one who wants to marry her; the one who talks to her intelligently as an equal, and tries to help her.
A visit to June, her probation officer. The usual sort of probation type questions, and the interview seems to be coming to an end. But Nettie asks whether they may discuss again getting her children back out of care of the Local Authority, to live with her.
The probation officer says, of course the Local Authority always wants children to be living with their natural parents, where this is possible. But in this case, as she knows, subsequent to the children being taken away from her during a period that she spent in prison for soliciting, the Local Authority was finally forced with regret to the conclusion that the children should be taken into care. So, what factors could now be put forward as a reason for asking them to change their view?
'Well,' says Nettie. 'It's obvious! The children aren't happy in Child Care and I feel myself to be very much more in control of my own life.'
The probation officer replies that she doesn't feel that the Local Authority will take seriously her request until she gives up working as a prostitute.
We see a few cameos of the life of the children in the Home.
And we continue to see events in the life of Nettie, in the course of which she discusses with various punters what she should do.
If she were to give up prostitution there would be a huge drop in her income, which would mean that she was unable to keep the two children in the style she'd like to.
And really a whore's job is more suitable for bringing up young children, since she need only be at work after they are in bed.
We see her with a client who is abusing her.
The probation officer and Nettie are becoming closer, and the probation officer asks Nettie how she came to be on the game. Was she forced by a ponce, or by economic circumstances or what?
Nettie visits the children in the Home. She feels that the situation is making their relationship difficult. In a caf she buys them a cup of tea. The girl Eileen (14) drinks, but Jim (10) refuses, because he says he doesn't like tea.
This upsets her; 'You won't let me do anything for you now, that Home is trying to stop you loving me,' she shouts.
A former ponce who abandoned her many years ago visits. He offers her a job. But she is humiliated to discover that it's not a job as a prostitute but as a prostitute's maid.
When we next see Nettie she has made her decision to give up the game, and go through the necessary steps to get the children back with her.
She asks a neighbour to speak for her at the Juvenile Court hearing. The neighbour politely declines.
She's got a job in a factory making rubber monsters and sacred effigies.
Nettie jumps another hurdle when she hears that the Juvenile Court is prepared to hear her case.
We see her in a club where prostitutes go after work. We see ponces who frequent the club. Fights between girls over territory, ditching, supportive, etc.
The Court hearing of her claim to have the children back. She speaks of her new job and new intentions. Various people speak for her. The children are asked to state their views.
The Court decides in her favour.
That night she goes to the club to celebrate, and after some persuasion takes a punter back home for 'one last time' for free.
Next morning, trying to persuade the punter to go. He won't.
Later. The living room is empty. The door opens and Nettie and the children come in. She's making them a cup of tea.
The client from last night clumps into the room and Nettie, inwardly furious, includes him in the scene.
He's subtly eyeing up Eileen and she's responding.
Nettie, furious, tells him to go.
The kettle boils. The punter hangs around and Nettie pours out three cups.
Jim refuses and states quite adamantly, 'I just don't like tea.'
The punter takes the spare cup.
But, Jim says, 'I do like you, Mum.'
They embrace. Maybe this really is the happy ending we've been hoping for. Nettie chases the punter out of the flat.
Some days later Jim is writing a letter, mouthing the words as he writes;
'It's quite NICE here MATron But Really I would like to BEE Back with YOU.
JIM X X X X X
And, behind the final credits, we see Eileen eyeing her own shapely legs.
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