A Journey by Bicycle through
Europe, Siberia, Mongolia & China
By bicycle from England to China through France, Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Russia, Siberia, Mongolia
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Sketches

Here are the transcripts of some of the sketches from the Therfield Autumn Review.

Peche a la Frog | Knight School | Spiggot | Gospel Truth


Peche a la Frog
This script is adapted from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's sketch of the same name.

Interviewer: Good evening. I'm talking tonight to Sir Arthur Grieb-Striebling
Strieb-Griebling: Actually, that's not quite true.
I: Not true?
SG: Totally incorrect, in fact. The person to whom you're talking is Sir Arthur Strieb-Griebling. You're confusing me with Sir Arthur Grieb-Striebling.
I: I'm so sorry.
SG: Quite all right. My name is Strieb-Griebling. The 'Z' is silent - as in fox.
I: I'm so sorry. Um, I would like to ask you, Sir Arthur, something about your rather unusual restaurant, the Frog and Peach.
SG: Well, this seems like an ideal opportunity really. What with my being here and, er, your being here also.
I: Well yes, yes.
SG: It's a wonderful opportunity! Seize it!
I: I certainly will. Well perhaps you could tell us something about your restaurant, the Frog and Peach, Sir Arthur? How in fact did the idea come to you for this rather unusual eatery?
SG: Ah ha! I see. Now you're asking me to tell you how in fact the idea came to me.
I: Well, yes, actually I am.
SG: The idea for the Frog and Peach came to me in the bath. My bath is in the garden, so a lot of things come to me in the bath - mainly mosquitoes, newts, frogs of course - and a wide variety of water fowl. But on this occasion what came to me was a unique and rather stunning idea. I suddenly thought to myself - where could a young couple go you know, not-too-much money to spend, feeling a bit hungry, a bit peckish, wanting something to eat - where can they go and get stuck into a really big frog? Yes, a really big frog, and a damn fine peach? Where could they go?
I: Where indeed, Sir Arthur?
SG: Where could they go? Of course, the answer was "nowhere". So on that premise I founded this restaurant.
I: On that premise and on those premises in fact. Haw! Haw! Haw!
SG: On those precise premises, yes, I founded the Frog and Peach.
I: And how long ago did you strat this venture?
SG: I think I can honestly say, with my hand on my heart, or on any other part of my anatomy, that I have never strated this venture. Indeed, I have never knowingly strated anything in my life. I think what you meant to ask me was when did I start this venture.
I: My mistake entirely. Silly misprint! So when did you start this venture?
SG: Ah ha! I see. Now you're asking me to tell you when did I start this venture.
I: Yes, indeed.
SG: Ooh, well, that's a tricky one. Er…. Certainly within living memory.
I: Good.
SG: I believe it was shortly after World War Two. Do you remember that, the Second World War?
I: Certainly, yes.
SG: Ghastly business.
I: Oh yes.
SG: Absolutely ghastly business.
I: Yes, indeed…
SG: I was completely against it.
I: Well, I think we all were.
SG: Ah yes, but I wrote a letter.
I: Well, getting back to the Frog and Peach - How has business been?
SG: Ah ha! I see. Now you're asking me to tell you how has business been.
I: Yes. How has business been?
SG: Let me answer that question in three parts. First, business hasn't been. Second, there hasn't been any business. Third, what business there might have been has been and gone. These last 50 years have been rather a lean time for us up at the old F&P.
I: But you have had at least some customers, surely?
SG: Only once, about twenty years ago. Bamber Gascoigne - remember him, Bamber Gascoigne? - Bamber Gascoigne came to the Frog & Peach with nine other people, for dinner. I showed him the menu, asked him what he wanted for the main course. And he said, "We don't want a main course. We just want a starter for ten". Damned cheek. I soon showed him the door. As it turned out, he was very interested in doors. Remarkably knowledgeable. Said ours was made from prehistoric bog oak.
I: Well, don't you feel that you're at a slight disadvantage, being stuck out here, in the middle of a bog in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors?
SG: Do you know, I think the word 'disadvantage' is awfully well chosen here, yes. This is precisely what we're at - a disadvantage. Stuck out here, in the middle of a bog, in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors, we suffer an overwhelming ….. disadvantage. But I thought, at the time - rightly or wrongly - possibly both - you know, the impetuous idealism of youth - that people in this country were crying out for a restaurant without a parking problem. And here, in the middle of a bog, in the heart of the Yorkshire Moors, there is absolutely no problem parking the car.
I: No.
SG: A little difficulty extricating the car from the bog, but the parking itself is magnificent.
I: Yes.
SG: It is magnificent parking.
I: Yes indeed.
SG: Wonderful parking.
I: Yes, yes, but don't you feel you're also at a disadvantage with regard to your menu?
SG: Oh yes. Yes, we are at a tremendous disadvantage with regard to the menu.
I: Why should that be, I wonder?
SG: Have you seen the menu?
I: Very briefly -
SG: That's the only way to see it. I mean, the choice is so limited. We have such a limited choice. There are only two main dishes to choose from. So there is significant - how should I put this? - limitation of choice.
I: What are the two dishes of which you speak?
SG: Blast, I knew you would ask that question. Oh dear, I should know this by heart after 50 years. Oh yes. First of all, there is Frog a la Peche. Frog a la Peche is basically a large frog, covered in boiling cointreau, with a peach stuck in its mouth. It's one of the most disgusting things I've ever seen. The only alternative to Frog a la Peche is even worse. It's Peche a la Frog. For Peche a la Frog, a peach is brought to your table by the waiter, again covered in boiling cointreau -
I: The waiter?
SG: Very often, yes. Very often the waiter is, alas, covered in boiling cointreau. But the policy here, the policy, is to aim the cointreau unerringly at the peach. That is the policy.
I: So that is the policy?
SG: Oh yes, that is very much the policy. Anyway, the peach is then sliced open down the middle to reveal… oh my god… about three hundred squiggling black tadpoles. Blblblblblbluuurrrgh. It is the most nauseating sight I have ever seen. It's enough to put you off your food.
I: Quite.
SG: Which is a damn good thing considering what the food is like.
I: Has it never occurred to you to try to enlarge the menu, to broaden its appeal by offering a wider choice of dishes?
SG: Oh, I wouldn't want you to think we've been idle in the menu development department. The menu development department has seen a flurry of innovative thinking over the last fifteen years. And now, after a lot of painstaking research, we are on the cusp, on the very cusp, of introducing a new dish to our menu.
I: And to what new delicacies can the gourmets of the Yorkshire Moors now look forward?
SG: Well, it's still a bit hush-hush - but I can tell you tonight that we shall soon be offering - Frog a la Apricot.
I: Frog a la Apricot? Won't that engender a certain sense of déjà vu all over again?
SG: I had a premonition you might say that. But just think of the attractions - to the younger generation of diners - of Frog a la Apricot! Smaller fruit - so smaller frogs, younger frogs, more succulent frogs. Smaller portions, quality not quantity. Right up there on the leading edge of nouvelle cuisine.
I: Quite so, I'm sure. But nevertheless I must say that it would seem, at least superficially, that your restaurant lacks what many would regard as the essential conditions for success.
SG: You can say that again.
I: I must say that it would seem, at least superficially, that your restaurant lacks what many would regard as the essential conditions for success.
SG: Well that's as may be. It's easy for an outsider like you to sit there and say that. But from my perspective, my perspective, what's crystal clear is that this restaurant lacks what many would regard as the essential conditions for success. In fact I would go further and say that this restaurant lacks … everything. You name it, it lacks it.
I: But I assume you don't lack a chef, at least. Who does actually do the cooking?
SG: My wife, Lady Strieb-Griebling, actually does all the cooking. Luckily she does all the eating as well. You know, she's not a well woman.
I: She's not a well woman?
SG: She is not a well woman, no. She is not a well woman at all. And she very much resents having to go down the well every morning - to feed the frogs. She dislikes it intensely. We have to lower her, screaming, on a rope. "Get me out of here!" she cries. The frogs don't like it either. Puts them off their food. Dreadful business. Absolute nightmare for all parties.
I: Well this is fascinating stuff. But if you don't mind my saying so, it does seem to me as if the whole venture of the Frog and Peach has been a little disastrous.
SG: Oh. I don't think I'd use the word 'disastrous' here.
I: No?
SG: I think "catastrophic' would be nearer the mark. The whole thing has been a total failure, and a huge catastrophe.
I: But do you feel you've learnt from your mistakes?
SG: Oh certainly. Certainly, I have learned from my mistakes. If I had to start all over again, I'm sure I could repeat them exactly.
I: Thank you Sir Arthur Strieb-Griebling.
SG: Er, Grieb-Striebling, actually.

 


Knight School
This sketch uses one or two Pete & Dud gags, and is based on the Pete & Dud characters created by Cook and Moore. However, the script itself is written by my father and is 99% original.

The lights come up to reveal two shabbily-dressed characters in caps eating chips at a cafe table adorned with a bottle of HP Sauce.

Dud: Did you ever go to Grammar School, Pete?
Pete: No, Dud, I never went to Grammar School, Dud.
D: Nor me neither, Pete. I never went to Grammar School. Tell the truth, I was a bit of a dud at school.
P: Dud by name and dud by nature, eh? Only joking, Dudley. Since you never went to Grammar School & I never went to Grammar School neither, that makes two of us, don't it, Dud?
D: With arithmetic like that, I'm surprised you didn't take the eleven plus by storm.
P: The eleven plus is a more rigorous exam than that. The eleven plus is a very rigorous exam. It's noted for its rigour. Children come staggering out saying, "Oh mummy, what a rigorous exam".
D: That's as may be, Pete. But what I really wanted to know was ... er
P: Well, out with it, Dud, what did you really want to know, Dud?
D: Er ... what's grammar, Pete?
P: What's grammar? Grammar is what they teach you at Grammar School, Dud.
D: So you don't know what it is, either, seeing as you never went to Grammar School?
P: I learnt what grammar is later on, Dud. I learnt it at night school.
D: Knight School? I thought knight school was for people who wanted to be knights. You know, jousting, chivalry, courtly love and stuff. Like, before you go up to Buckingham Palace to be dubbed a knight, you have to show the Queen your diploma from knight school, or the people in charge would chuck you out. No diploma, no knighthood. Fair dos, I'd have thought.
P: Oh, get real, Dud. That was all very well in medieval times. But you can't expect the modern knight to spend his time tilting at the quintain, singing roundelays and wearing ladies' favours, can you? They're very busy people, modern knights. They sit on committees. They join boards of companies.
D: Really? But surely they'd only become directors of companies what had a round table in the boardroom?
P: In these modern times, Dud, the shape of the table is immaterial. Any old table will do, provided the fee covers the expenses of a knightly lifestyle.
D: Oh dear, things have certainly changed a bit since medieval times. But I suppose our modern knights have to be properly trained if they're to remain on top in the increasingly competitive world of global chivalry. The thought of a lot of unqualified knights-errant wandering around looking for dragons to slay - well it doesn't bear thinking about, does it?
P: Nah, doesn't bear thinking about. The ruddy dragons would run rings round them.
D: My thoughts exactly. The ruddy dragons would run rings round them. And then where would we all be?
P: Precisely. ‘Course, nowadays, the Common Dragon is a protected species. It needs preservation from knights, not persecution by knights
D: Or by day.
P: Very droll, Dudley.
D: It's all very well having "Save the Whale" campaigns - what about a "Save the Dragon" campaign?
P: Quite right, Dud. By the way, did you know that the whale is not actually a fish?
D: Not actually a fish?
P: No. It's an insect.
D: An insect? Are you sure?
P: My little joke, Dud. ‘Course the whale's a fish. Everyone knows that the whale's a fish. As we were saying, about knights and such ....
D: .... Yes. What we need is not just quantity of chivalry but quality of chivalry.
P: Now you're talking! Yes! Sustainable chivalry.
D: A minimalist approach to knighthood.
P: Less courtly love is more courtly love.
D: A white knight is the new Black Prince.....
P: Appropriate technology for jousting.
D: The Crusades to be covered by a UN Resolution.
P: E-mail, not chain mail.
D: The right to roam over feudal domain names.
P: Recyclable broadswords
D: Environmentally friendly thumb screws.
P: Biodegradable chastity belts! Renewable virginity!
D: Now you're talking, Pete!
P: .....Hang on, Dud, we're getting carried away. You wanted to know about grammar, not about knights!
D: But before we quit jousting, Pete, I got to tell you this joke. You'll love it. There was this knight, see, all dressed up in armour, right? Stop me if you've heard this before.
P: I will, Dud, I will.
D: So this knight, he goes up to the reception desk of this hotel, OK? And he says to the geezer behind the desk "Have you a room"?
P: This isn't that Pink Panther joke is it, Inspector Clouseau asking "Have you got a room"? - ho, ho, ho?
D: No, no. Listen. He says "Have you got a room"? And the bloke says, "For how long, sir"? So the knight says, "Just for one night". Then the geezer behind the desk asks "And for how many people"? And the knight says "Just for one knight" And the bloke behind the desk says "You just told me that - but that wasn't what I asked you." And they got in right muddle (Dud begins to convulse with mirth) - took ages to sort out. Geddit? "Just for one night". "Just for one knight". Yes? I thought you'd like it.
P: The grammar, Dud, the grammar.
D: Quite right, Pete. Tell me about grammar, then.
P: OK. For example, this is a pronoun.
D: What is? I can't see a ruddy thing.
P: ‘Course you can't see a ruddy thing, Dud. If you could see a ruddy thing, it would be a ruddy concrete noun.
D: What's concrete got to do with it?
P: Listen. The word "this" is a pronoun. A demonstrative pronoun.
D: A boring little word like "this"? Demonstrative? You're joking! I mean if it was a word like "hysterical" or "heebie jeebies" - well, OK, that would be demonstrative. But "this" - demonstrative? Do me a favour!
P: Keep your shirt on. No need to come over all demonstrative with me, Dudley. Forget pronouns. We'll do prepositions.
D: Oh, I know about prepositions. One time at Southend, a bloke made an indecent preposition to my Aunt Dolly.
P: Let's keep your Aunt Dolly out of it, shall we? She always lowers the tone.
D: Not only the tone, what my Aunt Dolly lowers - know what I mean?
P: May I suggest we dispense with these somewhat lubricious ambiguities?
D: Do what? Anyway, what's a preposition, Pete?
P: They're all them little words what tell you the relationship between a verb and a noun, or a noun and a noun. These little words can determine the entire meaning of a sentence.
D: You've lost me already, Pete.
P: Here's an example. Listen. "We are having beans for dinner".
D: No, we aren't, Pete. We've been eating fish and chips. You want to go easy on beans, Pete. They can talk back to you something terrible.
P: No, no! Listen carefully. "We had beans for dinner". Compare that with "We had beans to dinner".
D: Now you're getting silly, Pete. You can't go around inviting beans to dinner. You'd be off your rocker. It would get out. People would talk, if you started asking beans round to dinner.
P: I beg to differ, Dud. I distinctly overheard a bloke the other day saying "You must come round for a spot of tiffin, old bean". I rest my case.
D: (looking around & under the table) You didn't bring a case in with you. But on this bean business, you must admit that it would be very awkward, turning to your neighbour at the dining table and finding yourself looking at a bean.
P: Well, yes, the prospects for conversation with a bean would be limited. The opportunities for wit and repartee, with a bean, would be severely constrained.
D: Worse than that, Pete. Specially if it was a French Bean. The language barrier, apart from anything else, would significantly inhibit effective two-way communication.
P: Or a Runner Bean. Might dash off half way through dinner. Very embarrassing for the host. And you'd have no-one to talk to at all on one side, for the rest of the evening.
D: Or a Chilli Bean. A really chilly bean could be a very frosty dining companion. You'd end up acting all chivalrous and offering to wrap your jacket round it. And who knows where that might lead?
P: Or a Broad Bean. I've nothing against fat people, but I wouldn't want to sit next to a really broad bean. Very cramped it would be, when you're trying to eat.
D: Or a Butter Bean. Potentially disastrous. Imagine how you'd feel if you absent-mindedly spread one of your fellow diners over a piece of bread.
P: Doesn't bear thinking about. Don't take me there, Dudley.
D: I won't, Pete, Doesn't near thinking about, does it? Same goes for grammar, in my opinion. If grammar is what gets you talking to vegetables at meal times, I'm against it. And I'm sure these chips agree, don't you, chips?
P: Er, Dud - jolly good chaps, those chips - but they can't talk you know.
 

 

BLACKOUT

 


Spiggot
Another sketch from Messrs Moore & Cook

Cecil Couch, proprietor of the Couch Casting Agency, is on the telephone to his secretary, offstage.
Couch: Stella my love, would you send in the next auditioner please? Thank you darling, very much.
Spiggot: [hopping in towards Couch] Er, hello!
C: Hello indeed! How do you do?
S: Not so bad, ta muchly
C: Nice of you to come along. Sit you down, do.
S: [sits] Don't mind if I do.
C: Er, now, let's see, Mr. Spiggot, is it not?
S: That's right. Spiggot by name and Spiggot by nature.
C: So, Mr. er ... Spiggot, you are auditioning, are you not, for the role of Tarzan?
S: Yes, that's right.
C: Well, Mr. Spiggot, I couldn't help noticing, pretty well immediately .... that you are a one-legged man.
S: Oh, you noticed that?
C: When you've been in the business as long as I have, Mr. Spiggot, you get to notice these little details, almost instinctively.
S: Yes, yes, of course ....
C: Now, Mr. Spiggot, you - a one-legged man - are applying for the role of Tarzan ....
S: Yes, quite right.
C: ..... a role traditionally associated with a two-legged .... artiste.
S: Yes, I suppose so.
C: And yet you, a unidexter, are applying for the role ...
S: Yes, right
C:

...a role for which two legs would seem to be the minimum requirement.

Well, Mr. Spiggot, need I point out with too much emphasis where your deficiency lies, as regards landing the role?

S: Yes. Yes, I think you ought to.
C: Perhaps I ought. Perhaps I ought. Need I say with too much stress that you are deficient in the .... er ....leg division ?
S: The leg division?
C:

The leg division, Mr. Spiggot. You are deficient in the leg division - to the tune of one.

Now, your right leg I like.

S: Ah!
C: It's a lovely leg for the role! As soon as I saw it come in, I said to myself "Hello, what a lovely leg for the role." I got nothing against your right leg. The trouble is, neither have you. It is on the left leg that you fall down.
S: You mean it's inadequate?
C: Your left leg is, at the least, inadequate, Mr. Spiggot. And in my view, the public is not yet ready ...
S: Oh?
C: ... the public is not yet ready for a one-legged interpretation of this historic role. They are not yet ready for a one-legged Tarzan swingin' through the jungly tendrils shouting "Hello, Jane" ....
S: Yes, well ...
C: .... however great the charm of the performance may be.
S: Oh well ....
C: But do not despair, Mr. Spiggot! You know you score heavily over an artiste with no legs at all.
S: Really?
C: Yes. By about 100%.
S: Really?
C: Oh yes. If a legless man come in here demanding the role, I'd have no hesitation in saying Go away! Hop off!
S: So there's still hope?
C: There is always hope, Mr. Spiggot. I mean, if we get no two legged artistes in here in, say, the next 18 months, there is every chance that you, a unidexter, will be the very type of person this agency will be attempting to contact.
S: Oh, that's marvellous.
C: I just sorry we can't be more definite at this stage. You must understand, the producer and director are very demandin' people ..
S: Yes, yes, of course
C: ..... and the economy isn't looking too good.
S: [Spiggot begins to leave] I know, I know.
C: And what with the war we've been laden with - bums on seats are just much harder to find.
S: Quite so, Quite so.
C: That's the spirit, Mr. Spiggot. Don't call us, we'll call you. And don't give up your day job, Mr. Spiggot
  [Exit Spiggot]
C:

And - don't break a leg.

[A crashing sound off-stage. Couch moves back towards his desk, mopping his brow. He lifts the receiver and speaks to receptionist.]

Stella darling, now I've seen everything! Be a dear and send in the next auditioner. What's his name? What's that? Schwarzenegger? Schwarzenegger? Never heard of him. Send him in anyway, Stella, there's a love.

 

BLACKOUT

 

 


Gospel Truth
We didn't actually perform this Cook & Moore sketch, but here is the transcript in any case.

  […We hear bleating sheep]
Shepherd: Here, stop that will you, get off her, she's only a young one. Get off!
Matthew: (singing) Oh when the saints, come marching in… (speaking) How's that then?
S: Hallo….
M: I believe you are Mr Arthur Shepherd.
S: That's right - shepherd by name, shepherd by nature. Lo! My flock are lowing.
M: Allo allo.
S: Ha ha ha ha. That's rather good that one, I never heard that one before.
M:

Yeah, it's a new one on me.

[…We hear a bleating sheep]

S:

That's a new one on her.

[bleating]

Will you get off!

M: Let me introduce myself Arthur. My name is Matthew.
S: Allo Matthew.
M: You may have heard of my colleagues, Mark, Luke and John.
S: I know you lot, you're celebrities, let me shake you by the hand.
M: Certainly.
S: Could I, err, touch your raiment?
M: By all means.
S: Thank you.
M: All right.
S: Best raiment I ever touched.
M: Jolly good. Let me explain, Arthur, we are doing an in-depth profile of Jesus.
S: Oh yeah?
M: You may know him as the Messiah.
S: No I don't, no.
M: What, you don't know him?
S: Yeah, I know him as Jesus -
M: Oh, fine…
S: Not that other thing.
M: Oh, I see, right….
S: Er, which newspaper do you work for?
M: I work for The Bethlehem Star.
S: Ah. The wife and I take the Star actually.
M: Oh, jolly good.
S: Don't think much of your racing tipster.
M: Oh?
S: I had three shekels on that camel in the 3:15 at Galilee, it's still bloody running that one is.
M: Well, I don't work on that side of the paper myself. You know, I work on the more serious side, reportage.
S: Oh, reportage, yeah, very serious work.
M: Yes indeed. Um, as I was saying, Arthur, we are doing this in-depth profile of Jesus, and I gather that you were actually in on the very first moments surrounding the birth of the holy child.
S: Yeah I was, yeah.
M: That is marvellous.
S: Oh good.
M: Now what I'd like you to do, if you're willing of course, is tell me what happened, in your own words.
S: Well, it's quite simple really.
M: Oh, marvellous.
S: Basically what happened was that me and the lads were abiding in the fields.
M: Abiding in the fields.
S: Mind you, personally I can't abide these fields.
M: No?
S: No. I mean, look around you, they are unabidable fields.
M: Yes.
S: I say these are the most unabidable bleeding fields I've ever had to abide in.
M: Yeah. I'll abide by that. Oho, o-ho, oho….. Umm, you were abiding in the fields, Arthur?
S: Yeah, and we were watching our flocks by night.
M: Watching our flocks by night, yeah…
S: Yeah, 'cos that's when you've got to watch 'em.
M: Oh yeah?
S: Yeah. That's when they get up to all their rubbish.
M: Oh right, yeah.
S: Hot summer nights, the rams go mad.
M: Yeah?
S: Specially that one over there, he's a filthy little bugger. [We hear bleating.] Will you cut that out?! Doing that in front of you, a holy man!
M: Yeah, well, it's only human.
S: I may be a bit old-fashioned, but I don't like to see one ram doing it to another.
M: Oh yeah!... Cor blimey, he's an enthusiast, isn't he?
S: Oh yeah, top marks for enthusiasm, zero for accuracy.
M: It's a bit distracting, isn't it?
S: Yeah, I'm sorry about all those ramifications going on down there. I've got no control over them.
M: No, well, they're only young once, aren't they?
S: Yeah, I think I'll get my next lot from Gomorra.
M:

Oofh! [uproarious audience laughter.]

Arthur, you were abiding in the fields -

S: Yeah -
M: …and you were watching your flocks by night.
S: Yeah.
M: Then what happened?
S: Well much to our surprise, the angel of the lord flew down.
M: That must have been a fantastic experience!
S: Well it made a break, you know… a bit of a change just from abiding, him suddenly flashing down like that.
M: How did you know it was the angel of the lord?
S: Tell you what the give-away was, Matthew: it was this ethereal glow he was emanating.
M: Oh.
S: He was emanating this ethereal glow.
M: Right.
S: And as soon as I saw him emanating, I said Hello, Angel of the Lord.
M: Yeah. Halo?
S: Halo certainly, yeah.
M: Yeah.
S: Halo and goodbye, we said afterwards. He wasn't there for long - he just delivered his little message, and he was off like a bat out of hell.
M: Wings, I s'pose?
S: Oh wings, I have never seen such a gorgeous pair on a man.
M: Really?
S: They were outstanding wings. All gossamer, shimmering there in the starlight.
M: Oh, it must have been remarkable.
S: It was - I noticed it.
M: Yeah. What did he say to you, Arthur?
S: Well, he sort of singled me out from the other lowly shepherd-folk like -
M: How marvellous.
S: - and he said: Unto ye a child is born -
M: Yes.
S: Unto ye a son is given.
M: Yeah, what was your reaction?
S: Total shock. I mean I wasn't even married at the time. I thought, blimey, what was I doing this time last year, you know?
M: Yeah, yeah.
S: Could have been that little bird I met down the Shepherd's Delight.
M: Oh yeah.
S: Yeah. But the angel of the lord, the angel of the lord went on to explain that when he said Ye, he didn't mean me personal like, he meant Ye in the sense of the Whole World. Unto the Whole World a child is born, unto the Whole World a son is given.
M: Yeah, he was using the Universal Ye.
S: Was he?
M: Yeah.
S: Oh, I wouldn't know that, cos I'm not educated.
M: No, that's what he was using though, the Universal Ye.
S: Oh, good for him.
M: Yeah, lovely use of it too.
S: I'm sure.
M: Yeah.
S: And he went on to say, Ye shall find the child, lying in a manger, all meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes.
M: Ooh, lovely language.
S: He was very effluent.
M: Yeah. I suppose your first reaction was to whip over there and have a peep.
S: Naturally. We all dashed down the stable. But when I arrived I was in for a bit of a shock.
M: Go on.
S: I will. Cos when he said Ye shall find the child all meanly wrapped in swaddling clothes, I thought to myself, fair enough, it will be fairly meanly wrapped, you know, nothing flash, nothing gaudy -
M: Yeah, right.
S: But when I got there, it was diabolical. The meanest bit of wrapping I have ever seen. And what's more, that kid was barely swaddled.
M: Good lord.
S: I say it's the worst job of wrappin' and swaddlin' I've ever seen in me life. Terrible wrappin', atrocious swaddlin'.
M: Oh, how very distressing.
S: It was alarming to behold.
M: I'm sure it was Arthur. Now, Arthur, I want you to think back in time -
S: I'll do it now if you like.
M: No, no, no. What I meant was think back now, to then.
S: That's what I meant. Think back to then, now.
M: Right. Now then - What was the atmosphere like in the stable, on this joyous, historic occasion?
S: The atmosphere in the stable was very, very smelly.
M: Oh, -
S: There were all these cows and goats and sheep and camel about -
M: Yeah, no -
S: …and they had no sense of occasion.
M: No, no no…
S: They were -
M: Right, no, that's a fascinating side-light, but what I was really after was, what was the atmosphere like amongst the members of the holy family?
S: Oh, the personal atmosphere?
M: Yeah.
S: In one word - tense.
M: Tense - you surprise me.
S: Joseph, in particular. He was sitting in the corner of the stable, looking very gloomy indeed.
M: : He might have been feeling a bit disgruntled, not being the real father.
S: I think that was it.
M: Yeah.
S: I think he felt left out of the whole thing.
M: Yeah right, right.
S: Personally, I think this is why he done such a rotten job on the swaddling.
M: Yes, yes.
S: You know, he just couldn't be bothered to swaddle.
M: No, yeah.
S: And, let's face it, there had been a lot of tittle-tattle about his wife and the holy ghost.
M: Oh, yes.
S: I mean, rumours had been flying round Bethlehem.
M: Yeah, right -
S: As indeed the holy ghost must have been.
M: Yeah. Was the holy ghost there?
S: Hard to say.
M: Yeah.
S: He's, er, he's an elusive little bugger at the best of times.
M: Yeah.
S: And I didn't see him, and I was very disappointed, because I felt very strongly at the time that he should have been there,
M: Yeah, mmm
S: You know, in his capacity as the god father.
M: Yeah? Well, especially after his treatment of the Virgin Mary, making her an offer she couldn't refuse.
S: Yeah, making her an offer she didn't even notice.
M: Yeah.
S: Hu-choo!
M: Yeah! Anyway, Arthur, I gather later on in the evening, three wise men came by, am I right there?
S: Three wise men arrived, yeah.
M: Yeah?
S: Three bloody idiots if ever I saw any.
M: Yeah?
S: In they come, call themselves Maggie.
M: Three blokes come in and call themselves Maggie?
S: Yeah, they peered round the stable door, said Hallo, we're Maggie.
M: How very embarrassing.
S: We didn't know where to look.
M: No.
S: And, er, they were bearing these gifts, you see.
M: Yeah.
S: Gold, frankincense, and [nasally] mhhhhhhhyr.
M: That's M, [nasally] hhhhhhhyr, H, isn't it?
S: I think so, yes.
M:

[nasally]: Very nice of them to have brought those along.

[normally]: Very nice of them to have brought those along, eh?

S: Well, I think the gold was probably welcome. But what's a little kid going to do with frankincense and [nasally] mhhhhhhhyr? I ask you.
M: I suppose you're right actually.
S: I mean, mhhhhhhhyr is that stuff what poofs put behind their ears, isn't it?
M: Yeah
S: Over-perfumed, ointment muck.
M: Yeah, right.
S: But Jesus! He was so polite about it. I'll never forget: he sat up in the manger, he adjusted his swaddling -
M: Mmm
S: He said Thank you gentlemen for these lovely prezzies. I hope you have a safe trip back, Merry Christmas!

 

 

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