“I know trees that are shaped like diamonds.”

The following is an extract from the script of Dennis Potter’s 1978 television drama Pennies from Heaven:

Headmaster: These children. Look – there’s a tree one of them has drawn, and it’s like a diamond. With different sorts of fruit on the same branch.

Eileen: A greengrocer’s tree. (Her laugh is tight and forced.)

Headmaster: No. no. A tree out of The Garden. And that’s how they see things, you know. I think they really do see things in a way that – in a way that they eventually lose. Not only lose, but forget they ever had.

Eileen: Yes, so why – (Again, she stops abruptly.)

Headmaster: No – do go on. Please say it.

Eileen: This is really not the time or the place, and it sounds  unkind – but – oh, excuse me – but if you understand all that about a child’s mind – why – (Again, she stops.)

Headmaster: (Dully) Why do I hit them so often?

(Fractional pause.)

Eileen: (Quietly) Yes.

Headmaster: So that they can learn enough to keep a job in the pits, Miss Everson. What do they want with visions, or trees shaped like diamonds? Or any memory at all of the Garden of Eden? Cheap music will do, cheap music. And beer. And skittles.

Eileen: Oh but that’s – that’s –

Headmaster: (Bleakly) Dreadful. Yes.

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