By George Ankers
ACT I, SCENE I. A mysterious heath.
Thunder and lightning. A sofa. A familiar theme tune. Enter three witches.
ALAN, THE FIRST WITCH: When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain?
GARY, THE SECOND WITCH: It'll be next Saturday at 22.35GMT, Alan, same as usual. You're contractually obliged.
ALAN, THE THIRD WITCH: A drum, a drum! Mancbini doth come. He's come right up to us and he'll be happy with that.
Enter ROBERTO MANCBINI and his loyal friend, PLATTQUO.
MANCBINI: So foul and fair a day I have not seen. Not since Lady Macbalo set off a firework in the dressing room, anyway...
PLATTQUO: Yes, boss. (GASPS.) What are these, so wither'd and so bland in their attire, that speak not like inhabitants o' the television and yet are on't?
MANCBINI: Speak, if you can: What are you?
SECOND WITCH: Hail, Mancbini! Hail to thee, Thane of Premis!
FIRST WITCH: Hail. Pace. Power. Commitment.
THIRD WITCH: Hail, Mancbini, thou shalt be king in Manchester hereafter! I can't see anyone beating you on this form.
PLATTQUO: Of what do you speak, ladies?
SECOND WITCH: Mancbini, thou hast glory'd thyself in bloody battle. Brave Mancbini, for well thee deserveth the name, thou hast led thy men to victory of six to one at thy enemy's castle.
THIRD WITCH: Thou couldst say that the key was how you scored more goals then they did.
SECOND WITCH: Yet now Ferguson, King of Manchester, bringeth his host to thy gates. Forsooth, the hour of thy crowning is come.
MANCBINI: No, no ... Ferguson, he is the King. The fates favour them.
FIRST WITCH: The King relieth too greatly on his young sons and retainers. Thou shalt not be victorious with babes.
MANCBINI: No. For us it is too difficult, I think.
THIRD WITCH: Etihad Castle is a hard place to go and get a result. I can't look past you.
MANCBINI: We have no chance.
PLATTQUO: Ladies, thine efforts are for naught. I hath cajol'd the boss for hours. He is stubborn.
SECOND WITCH: Brave Mancbini, witness our spell and be convinced.
The CAULDRON comes alight.
SECOND WITCH: Double, double, toil and trouble.
FIRST WITCH: Pace, power, leadership and commitment.
THIRD WITCH: Er ... suppose you've some kind of small amphibian. It's like a lizard, I guess, but ... not. I haven't really looked it up, to be honest. And there's this sort of circular ball in its face that it uses to see things...
The CAULDRON bubbles furiously, billowing smoke into the night sky.
SECOND WITCH: What dost thou see, brave Mancbini?
MANCBINI: Mine own visage in the smoke! Wherefore dost thou show me this?
FIRST WITCH: Look on.
MANCBINI: On mine head ... the crown of Manchester's King! It is taken from Ferguson to me! How canst this be? They art above us in the statisticians' reckonings.
SECOND WITCH: Forsooth, he shall not linger much longer over his domain.
MANCBINI: I must needs kill the King?
SECOND WITCH: Ay! Speaketh not in terms so literal. Don't go giving Lady Macbalo any ideas.
FIRST WITCH: Thy midfield is miles ahead, that's all.
The Witches vanish. MANISH, THE FOURTH WITCH tries to jump out from behind a tree with a Tupperware cauldron and CLARIDGE, THE BLACK CAT perched on his shoulder but MANCBINI and PLATTQUO exeunt with haste.
MANCBINI: King of Manchester! This I like...
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