(OUTSIDE STREET. JAMIE is walking away from the house towards the end of the street. Walking beside him is his close friend ARNIE. He is wearing a t-shirt with ‘WASP MAN’ written on the front. He has outlandish ginger hair and freckles and walks with a slouch.)
ARNIE – To be honest mate, you were blocking the door and firing questions at him. You’d kind of expect him to be hacked off with you.
JAMIE – I tried asking him about it again later, but he just said ‘Gordon Bennett, can’t a man get five minutes’ peace is his own house?!’
ARNIE – Were you blocking the TV?
JAMIE – He’d already-
ARNIE – Were you blocking the TV?
JAMIE – I was just trying to talk to him.
ARNIE – Mate, your father is married to the television now. You have to accept it and move on.
JAMIE – I hate it. I know he’s a teacher and has to work hard and everything... but it’s like he doesn’t want to think, outside the classroom at least.
ARNIE – Maybe you could reach him through a self-made documentary on channel four.
JAMIE – That could work. (thinks) No, he never watches documentaries. Gran’s the only one who watches those sorts of things, and they’re mostly about World War Two.
ARNIE – Worth a try.
JAMIE – I just need someone to talk to about my concerns about the human race, you know? Someone intelligent, patient, open-minded-
ARNIE – I’m your man.
JAMIE – What, you? Seriously?
ARNIE – Yeah, try me. Hit me with some conceptual thought, man.
JAMIE – Alright. Here’s one I was thinking about last night. Can we help our nature?
ARNIE – Er, what nature?
JAMIE – The way humans behave, you know. I presume we must have one – inventive, lazy, hostile...
ARNIE – Actually, I think it’s more of an animal thing.
JAMIE – Well, we did evolve from animals – according to Darwinian Theory, anyway. First it was apes, then some kind of prehistoric squid...
ARNIE – Uh-huh.
JAMIE – So we must have our own nature, like the animals.
ARNIE – No, not really. I mean, we’re people, aren’t we? We don’t have instincts. Animals do.
JAMIE – Example?
ARNIE – OK. Er... cats and dogs. They fight; they’re natural enemies, apparently. So that’s their nature.
JAMIE – But what if our nature is to, say, keep cats and dogs as pets?
ARNIE – What? No... Not everyone keeps pets, do they? We have a choice.
JAMIE – Maybe the choice to keep pets was made by one man, years ago, when his instincts told him that he could train a dog to hunt with him...
ARNIE – No, that’s to do with the dog’s nature, to be a pet.
JAMIE – Arnold, the first dog probably didn’t choose to be a dog. All dogs were wild once.
ARNIE – You’ve lost me somewhere. Look. You see a dog, you think ‘pet’. You don’t see a human bean and think ‘pet-owner’. Therefore, it can’t be in a person’s nature to keep pets.
JAMIE – True, but it’s still a habit. (pause) So perhaps that means that human nature is to look down on animals. What do you think of that?
ARNIE – Well, alright, maybe you’re right there. Most people I know think humans are more important than animals – thought maybe they’re a bit biased, being humans themselves.
JAMIE – True.
ARNIE – Anyway... OK, you said something about evolution earlier. So maybe we’ve evolved out of our primitive instincts. The first person made the choice to either tame or eat animals, so it’s not about nature at all...
JAMIE – I think it is! You’re talking about evolutionary necessity, but is it at all necessary to cage animals up in zoos? That’s an example of humans looking down on animals.
ARNIE – Well, no-
JAMIE – Maybe human nature is making us superior. And it’s not just animals, as well, it’s other humans. We’re well known for imprisoning animals, but also discriminating racially, being sexist, ageist, bullying people...
ARNIE – That’s not how it works, we have a choice! There are lots of people who are... who are vegetarians, who don’t keep pets, who treat everyone equally... nice people!
JAMIE – So can we help our nature?
ARNIE – Who says we have a nature? We’re free! We’re better than the animals because we don’t have to stick to our instincts. We have complete freedom and choice over what we do.
JAMIE – You just said ‘we are better than the animals’.
ARNIE – Yeah, but-
JAMIE – You’ve just proven man’s natural feeling of total superiority.
ARNIE – Oh, shut up!
JAMIE – There’s no need to shout; we’re just having a discussion!
ARNIE – If you keep talking like that, my head will explode. Jesus Christ...
JAMIE – I just want people to use their brains. Don’t you think these questions are important?
ARNIE – No! And I’ll tell you why – they don’t have a proper answer. We could be talking about this for days.
JAMIE – Exactly. But people don’t talk for days about important matters. People like you are happy just to sit around and watch the telly and live a NORMAL life.
ARNIE – Well, excuse me for avoiding getting into conversations that make my brain hurt.
JAMIE – You said a moment ago that you wanted to have a philosophical discussion with me.
ARNIE - To tell the truth, mate, I think you're confused. What I thought we were talking about was more of a scientific debate.
JAMIE - Philosophy, scientific analysis... why can't I use both in my study into the nature of mankind?
ARNIE - Because one, they don't mix, and two, any more talking like this will make my head explode.
JAMIE - We're just having a discussion!
ARNIE – (trying a different tack) Ah! But what is the NATURE of a discussion?
JAMIE – Sorry?
ARNIE – AH! But what IS sorry?
JAMIE – Arnie, what are you doing?
ARNIE – I’m trying to be philosophical, alright?
JAMIE – You’re being silly.
ARNIE – Why are you so serious about this? Let’s forget this for now. It’s the weekend, let’s have some fun. I know. We’ll call Rhoda and go to the park, hang out. It’s a long time since we’ve been.
JAMIE – Yeah. Should be fun, I guess.