The Short & Curlies (1988) - full transcript

A short comedy by Mike Leigh about the romance between a young woman and a man who communicates only through jokes and humor. The story is told as a series of very short vignettes between her and the man and her and her doting mother, a hairdresser.

Have you got anything
for a sore throat?

- Do you wanna gargle?
- I beg your pardon?

I'm joking. Just something to suck.

- Pastilles?
- Got any crayons? No, no, no, no.

Seriously, what have you got?

Mac's, Vic's, Tunes, Bradosol,
Merocaine, TCP.

- Whatever.
- What about a Fisherman's Friend?

- What about a Fisherman's Friend?
- 52.

Right, Joy, we'll take six inches.

Let's go the whole hog, shall we?

Oh, that's it.

See, that's looking better already.

- I hope it won't be too severe.
- Oh, no, that's lovely.

That's gonna be gorgeous. You see,
that's making your face look wider.


You all right?

You've had your hair cut,
haven't you?

Can I help you?

Er, yeah, do you have any shampoo
for greasy hair?

- Is it for you?
- No, it's for a friend.

Yeah, it's for me.

- How often do you wash your hair?
- About two or three times

a year - no, a week.

- You want a frequency wash.
- Do I?

- That's what I use.
- You ain't got greasy hair.

- I have, actually.
- Yeah?

I got dry ends
but it is greasy at the roots.

- You're having me on, aren't you?
- You could try that.

I like your hair like that.
It's quite pretty.

Oh. Thank you.

- Do you want this, then?
- Yeah, I'll take it.

- All right? Hello.
- Hello.

Eh! Oh...

Hang about.

I hate my name.

- What's your name, then?
- Clive.

- That's unusual.
- But you can call me sir.

Joy, did you know that there's as
many molecules in a teaspoon of water

as there are teaspoons of water
in the Atlantic Ocean?

- This is my house.
- Oh, right.

- I'll see you tomorrow, then.
- Yeah, all right.

You go easy up them steps.

I'll see you, then.

Ta-ta, then, Clive.

Two hands, please, Joy. That's it.

- Got it?
- Yeah.

It's got to be a snug fit, you see.

- Can I let go, Betty?
- Yeah.

I'll tuck the back in for you.

- How's your mum, Joy? All right?
- She's not too bad.

Only she's not been in to see me,
lately, you know.

- This isn't gonna hurt, is it?
- No, it'll be all right.

And if it does pain, Joy,

just shout out, you know,
like when you're in labour.

'Cause my Charlene had
a very big head, you see.

- I can't stand pain.
- Can't you, Joy? No?

- Ow!
- That's it, Joy.

Ooh-ooh! Did you forget your key
again, Charlene?

- Yeah.
- Oh, that's typical.

Oh, I'm queasy.
I've just seen a gorgeous cat

lying dead in the road
outside the church, there.

And I don't like cats, do I?

All its insides were out.

- Did you get that boiled ham?
- Yeah.

And I've been itching down below
and I don't know why.

Oh, I'm dry.
Put the kettle on, Charlene.

And of course, she wanted me just to
walk out, leave my two ladies.

I said, "Oh, no, Cynthia,
I can't do that."

I said, "Jerry said you was ill
and I was expecting a full day's wages."

"Oh, all right," she says,
"I'll come back at two o'clock."

At two o'clock I'm sitting there
in my coat and she doesn't show up.

There's your tea, Charlene.

And the next thing is that
at half past five, Jerry walks in.

"Oh, she's bad again," he says.
And I said, "What is it this time?"

"Oh, it's her thyroid." I said,
"Well, Jerry, I'm not surprised."

You see, she takes tablets
for her thyroid, Charlene,

but with that diarrhoea being bad,
they'd gone right through her.

And then he checked
the takings again.

Course, you see,
they don't trust me, Charlene.

Oh, that itch is bad.

I don't know whether it's a tight bra
or whether I've been bitten.

I was on the telly last night.

I'll sleep anywhere
when I've had a few drinks.

- I think I'm getting a mouth ulcer.
- Oh, yeah?

- It's the salt.
- Two peanuts walking down the road.

One was a salted.

- Do you ever get constipated?
- No, no, no. My mum does.

Why, do you?

I've decided. I'm gonna try Senokot.

Then the world will drop out
of your bottom.

I don't think that's very funny.

You've been decorating, then?

Don't you like them?

- I've just had them done.
- No, I do, actually.

It's beautiful.

Oh. I'm quite pleased
with them myself.

What's round and really violent?

A vicious circle.

That's better. You see?
You can smile. That's nice.

Lightens up your face.

It's good.

- Knock, knock.
- Who's there?

Oh, you've heard it.

- I've got a blister on my heel.
- Yeah?

- You got a hole in your stocking?
- No.

How do you get your feet in, then?

Don't you get embarrassed,
selling these?

- Not particularly, no.
- I would, I would.

- You get used to it.
- I'd laugh.

Do you want some, then?

Yeah, all right, yeah. Extra large,
that's the one, that's me.

- Don't be so stupid.
- No, no, no, I mean it. Go on.

You're wondering now,
ain't you? Look at you.

- No. No.
- You're thinking, "Hello..."

- It's nothing to do with me.
- We'll see about that.

- So I'll pick you up about seven?
- Yeah, all right.

My feet are really aching.

- You got any clothes pegs?
- I use a foot deodorant.

I like it, I like it, honestly.

It's 'cause of
standing on them all day.

What else have you got to stand on?

I hope I'm not gonna get
varicose veins.

- 'Cause my mum's got a varicose vein.
- Has she?

Are they, like, hereditary?

Runs in families, yeah.

Noses run in my family.

You want to try a decongestant.

Hell hath no fury
like a woman's horn.

The trouble with wearing tights is
your skin can't breathe.

I know a funny joke about stockings.

- Go on, then.
- No, it's dirty.

- I don't like dirty jokes.
- This is filthy.

- You're gonna tell it though.
- No, I wouldn't.

I wouldn't embarrass you.
Not in front of the fish.

What time's your mum and dad
getting back?


They're nice, your legs.

I like 'em. I do.

Didn't you meet nobody nice tonight,
Charlene? No?

- You should have a boyfriend.
- I don't want a boyfriend.

Course you do.

I know I do.

A man about the house.

- Didn't you talk to no boys tonight?
- No.

Well, you're shy, like your father.

Didn't nobody ask you to dance?

'Cause you were a gorgeous little girl,

You were a gorgeous baby
and you're gorgeous now.

I can't understand
how they're not queuing up for you.

- 'Cause I know they were for me.
- And look what happened to you.

Your father was a gorgeous man,
Charlene Flack.

That was his mother turned him
against me.

- D'you like that, Joy?
- It's unusual.

Oh, I think it's very modern. You'll
be the belle of the ball, tonight.

- Are you courting, Joy?
- I have been seeing somebody.

Oh, have you? Is he lovely?

- He's quite tall.
- Is he?

- He's got blond hair and blue eyes.
- Lovely.

- Is he well built?
- He is actually, yeah.

- Manly?
- He's a very quiet type.

Don't say much.

He's serious.

Oh, he's gorgeous.

- I could go for a man like that.
- Which one now?

The dark one.
Do you like him, Charlene?

- He's all right.
- He's so clean, isn't he?

- Which one do you like the best?
- Neither of them.

- What about that blond one?
- He's too fat.

Oh, no, that's not fat, Charlene,
that's muscle.

You've got to have something
to grab hold of.

Ooh, I'd have him
any day of the week.

- Mind you, I don't like a thin man.
- Well, he's thin.

Ooh, look, she loves him.

- What time are we having dinner?
- Five o'clock.

I think I might have had my cap
in upside down.

Don't matter, does it?

What do you mean?

I had the Durex on
the right way up.

- The Durex was for AIDS.
- I know.

- Was it all right?
- Yeah.

Yeah. It was good.

Only, I did feel
a little bit of discomfort.

Are you hot?

Better go soon.

Yeah, I'll have to get up.
Mum and Dad'll be back.

Here you are.

Well, she was gorgeous.

She was a platinum blonde
and wasn't she lovely?

- She was quite overweight, though.
- Was she?

She photographed about two stone
lighter than she actually was.

She had a lovely bust, though. Didn't she?
Oh, I wouldn't say no to a bust like that.

And she could make you laugh.

That was tragic, though. Wasn't it?
The way she died.

- Overdose, wasn't it?
- Was it?

She'd be about sixty now,
wouldn't she?

- Mind you, Joy, I liked the red.
- It didn't suit my personality.

But then again, it's not my hair,
you see.

Do you have trouble
with your periods, Joy?

I do, yes.

But it's particularly bad this time.
I don't know why.

Is it? A couple of aspirins and
a hot-water bottle normally helps.

- I can't take analgesics.
- Can't you?

- I've got a very sensitive stomach.
- Have you?

I've been feeling very depressed
all round.

- That's right.
- Listless.

- Definitely not 100 per cent.
- No?

Oh, hang on a minute, Joy.
Oh, here's a nice young man.

- Are those for me?
- I just come to see Joy actually.

- Oh, did you? Look, Joy.
- All right?

- What do you want?
- Knock, knock.

Who's there?

- Isobel.
- Isobel who?

Is the bell not working?
I've been ringing it for ages.

That makes me laugh. Oh, I want
to take him home with me, Joy.

And he's brought you
gorgeous flowers, look.

Oh, no, I'm doing a favour
for my boss.

Oh, are you?

My dad said he didn't know what
happiness was until he married my mum.

Then it was too late.

You've always got a joke, ain't you?

I wouldn't be joking
if I wasn't being serious.

- I'm not forcing you.
- Oh, look.

I'm going to marry
the most beautiful girl in the world.

I'll bring her round later,
you'd like her.

Why do you have to spoil everything?

Take no notice.

I don't know what to do now.
I should give you a ring or something.

So I'll phone you later.

Now listen.
Listen to this, this is good.

I'll sing you a song, it isn't very
long, in fact it ends right here

That's it. It just finishes.

I'll bring that front bit back,
that'll give you a bit of height

and I'll sweep the sides round

and put that Fergie bow in the back.

- Won't she look gorgeous, Charlene?
- Yeah.

Are you having a professional

Oh, yes, yes. At the church

and at the reception afterwards,
when we cut the cake.

Oh, lovely.

I was so nervous.
I couldn't sleep at all last night.

Then I woke up and I couldn't eat anything
'cause I thought I was gonna be sick.

I vomited the morning I got married.
I was carrying Charlene at the time.

Don't perch, Charlene,
sit properly in the seat.

- I keep telling her, Joy.
- I'm all right.

I'll put some conditioner on that for you,
make it nice and shiny.

I'm gonna go home.

I'll see you later then.
- Do you want the back washed, Joy?

- Yes.
- I'll put plenty of mousse on.

That'll hold it nice and firm.

Shall I leave this bow here then, Betty?

Yes, that'll be safer.


That's right, sit down.

I'll put the towel round you.
That's it, lovely.

- I'm getting a spot coming up.
- Oh, are you?

You want to get
Hide and Heal on that.

I'll cover it up with make-up.
You can't see it, can you?

No, you can't see that, Joy. You
won't see it on the photographs.