“If only I could get down to Sidcup! I’ve been waiting for the weather to break. He’s got my papers, this man I left them with, it’s got it all down there, I could prove everything.”*

*from “The Caretaker” (1960), by Harold Pinter.

Posted on the BBC History Homepage on 15.10.14:

“My name is Leonard Ernest Scott. I was born on 12 November 1913. On 6 March 1940 I volunteered for Army service at Croydon Recruiting Depot. I was medically graded B1 (my defective eyesight), ‘fit for garrison duties’ was registered as 7667890 Private Scott, L.E., took the oath of allegiance to H.M. King George V1, was given the King’s Shilling and dispatched to the Royal Army Pay Corps, Foots Cray, Sidcup, Kent, as Clerk Grade 111. On 10 August 1941 (now Clerk Grade 1) I was posted to War Office (F.9) where a shortage of shorthand typists had resulted in my skills being needed (I was an ex-journalist).”

From: The Plays of Harold Pinter (2016), by Andrew Wyllie and Catherine Rees:

“It is incidentally worth noting that in his 1960 Encore piece, “There’s Music in That Room”, Irving Wardle asks, “Is it an accident…that Sidcup …happens to be the headquarters of the Army Pay Office?” Taking this arcane piece of knowledge a little further, Davies’s need for a refuge may result from an old soldier’s inability to cope with post-war expulsion from the familiar embrace of institutionalised life in the army.”

From: Rethinking the Theatre of the Absurd: Ecology, the Environment and the Greening of the Modern Stage (2015), by Carl Lavery and Clare Finburgh:

“References to places more distant, such as Luton or Sidcup, indicate an extended, confirmed, deracination, which is also attached to Davies’s very identity. His claims that the papers that would lend him an authentic identity are being kept at Sidcup (in the 1950s, the location of the Army Pay Office) suggest a recognition of the authority of the social narratives that he simultaneously resents and seeks to evade – in this context, the monastery near Luton and papers in Sidcup might even represent the poles of church and state. Davies operates on the boundary of social integration and social rejection…”

From: Noel Coward – a Biography (1995), by Philip Hoare:

“Coward’s romanticism was far removed from the trends of contemporary theatre but when, that May, he saw The Caretaker, he suddenly realised, ‘I’m on to Pinter’s wavelength. He is at least a genuine original…The Caretaker, on the face of it, is everything I hate most in the theatre – squalor, repetition, lack of actions, etc. – but somehow it seizes hold of you. Nothing happens except that somehow it does. The writing is at moments brilliant and quite unlike anyone else’s.’ So impressed was he that in 1963 he agreed to put up £1000 to help finance the film of The Caretaker. He described Pinter as ‘a sort of Cockney Ivy Compton-Burnett’; when they met, they discovered a surprising amount in common.”

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