After his late morning meeting with Jim, Les sits down on a cold metal seat at the Euston bus station,
nervously waiting for his bus.
His downfilled blue anorak is so warm that he has to open it. He takes a folded copy of The Stage from the
inside pocket and impatiently flicks through the pages. Having read a review on the latest Young Vic
production of A Streetcar named Desire, he suddenly drops the magazine and glances at a young man sitting
a few empty seats away, checking his phone. Who is this tall youth with spiky hair? He looks vaguely familiar
but Les can’t place him. His bus, the 390 arrives. Clutching his paper, Les hurries to the driver’s door, his pass
ready. He stumbles to the upper deck and lets himself fall onto a seat at the back from where he can see the
passengers without being seen. The young man hasn’t got on the bus. Les wipes the window with his tartan
scarf and spots him. Down there he’s still in the same place, now speaking on his mobile. Les bites his lip and
remembers. He is one of his new A level students who should be in school. Since September Les has been
teaching drama at the local Comprehensive in Camden. Today is his day off but it’s certainly not the
student’s, whose name is on the tip of his tongue … Sam, yes, Sam Fleming, 17 years old. Les will have to
report him to his form teacher, but before that he’s going to check out the pupil’s explanation for his
Next day, back at school, Les looks through the files and learns that Sam lives with his aunt after a family
Sam has given a bad cold as his excuse for staying home.
In the next drama class with Sam, Les gets the group of seven students to stage a scene on the theme “The
importance of truth”. He puts Sam in charge of the production with the instruction that during the
performance no word must be spoken.
After half an hour of lively discussions, improvisation and rehearsals, the students build the set of a court
hearing, using five chairs and three desks. Two girls on the right form the jury. Two boys acting as Public
Prosecutor and Defending Counsel take their seats behind desks facing the judge Justitia, acted by Julia,
Les’s favourite student. She is blindfolded, stretching her arms out like the beams of a scale. In her right hand
she holds a white plastic tablet on which is written ‘TRUE’, in her left another one with the word ‘UNTRUE’.
Enter Sam as a guard, leading in the defendant, a pale looking boy, whose wrists are tied together with a
handkerchief, to one corner of the court room. The Prosecutor heaves himself up, and with grand gestures
does his best to ingratiate himself with the jury and the judge Justitia. Next, he repeatedly stabs his finger in
the direction of the defendant, accusing him of much more than a single offence. After his silent speech he
wipes some imaginary sweat from his forehead and takes a welldeserved seat. Now it’s the Defending
Counsel’s turn. He gets up modestly, approaches the defendant and introduces him to the jury and the
judge. Justitia’s arms go up and down, unsure about whose arguments weigh more. The defendant,
answering his Counsel’s questions, is getting more and more confident. The Defending Counsel returns to
his desk. Addressing the jury, he pleads for the defendant’s innocence, nods gratefully and sits down. Now
the two jury members enter into a mute discussion and come to a conclusion. One of them walks to the
judge and whispers their verdict in her ear. Justitia’s right hand, holding the ‘TRUE’ tablet sinks, while her left
hand goes up. Clearly, truth weighs more than untruth. Justitia takes off her blindfold, addresses the
defendant with reassuring voiceless words and ends the hearing. The Defending Counsel, overjoyed, jumps
up and shakes the defendant’s hand as soon as the guard Sam has untied his cuffs. Chatting, all leave the
court and classroom for a minute before they return, applauded by their drama teacher.
After the lesson, Les asks Sam to stay behind for a word.
‘Well done Sam, that was a fine performance in which you demonstrated that truth always outweighs
Sam, while enjoying the praise, pulls up his shoulders awaiting some critique.
Les, who is just five years older than Sam, takes a breath. ‘But why is it that you yourself lied to the school
about why you were away yesterday?’
Sam blushes slightly but seems determined not to be put off his guard.
‘Maybe I should have said that I met some mates in the park to have a few drinks.’
Les is taken aback but Sam carries on. ‘You weren’t in school either. I saw you at the bus station.’
‘Now come on, Sam, it was my day off.’
Sam smiles charmingly. ‘It was mine too.’
In an instant Sam’s charm falls away. ‘You might disagree. But what were you up to? I saw you buying some
dope from a geezer.’
Les feels the blood leave his head, struggling to find an answer, so Sam carries on.
‘I’m considering reporting you to the Head.’
Now Les feels the blood returning to his cheeks. He folds his arms.
Sam flashes a smile. ‘Unless … you’ve got any to spare of that stuff.’