English Comedy: a celebration

 

Narrator: The English are often said to have a unique sense of humour, especially when it comes to laughing at themselves. Humour comes into every English conversation. The English can’t say ‘hello’ without making a joke of it. In a word, humour is the norm in English – it is the default position when two English people meet.

The humour helps them to cover their embarrassment at not knowing what to say – this is why they talk about the weather. Greetings and small talk are a challenge: people don’t know whether to shake hands, hug or kiss – or do nothing. They don’t want to be too formal and they don’t want to be too friendly. Formality is embarrassing, informality is embarrassing, everything is embarrassing. The weather is the only topic which is entirely safe: work, friends, family, money, they’re all dangerous. So, on first meeting, the English say ‘how do you do?’ to which the answer is…’how do you do’?

And ‘how are you?’ is a non-question: the correct response is ‘I’m very well’ – whatever your state of health. If you are terminally ill it’s alright to say ‘not bad, considering’ or ‘mustn’t grumble’…

But let’s see what happens when two Englishmen meet and try to make small talk.

 

A: Hello

B: Hello

A: How are you?

B: I’m very well, and you?

A: Well, I’m very well as well.

B: I must say, you’re looking very fit.

A: Well, I’m feeling pretty fit, actually.

B: Yeah.

A: Isn’t it amazing, us bumping into each other like this.

B: Yes, here of all places.

A: Here of all places. I mean, I haven’t seen you since…erm…

B: Hang on a bit…

A: When was it?

B: Well, we haven’t seen each other…erm…erm…

A: …erm

B: Well, it’s amazing, we haven’t seen each other….before!

A: That’s right. We’ve never ever seen each other before, have we?

B: No, we haven’t.

A: You’ve never seen me.

B: And I’ve never seen you. What a small world.

A: What a small world.

B: It’s the last thing I expected.

A: It must be about a million to one chance.

B: More than that.

A: You think so?

B: A couple of billion to one.

A: A couple of billion and a half.

B: Probably three billion to one, the way the world’s going.

A: Yes. They breed like rabbits, don’t they?

B: Yes.

A: Yes,

B: Well, it’s great to see you.

A: It’s great to see you.

B: Yes. Tell me, are you still doing…whatever you HAVE been doing?

A: Oh, yes, I’m still doing the same old thing, you know.

B: The same old thing?

A: Yeah. Carrying on, you know. Just been made a director, in fact.

B: Well, congratulations. That’s fantastic.

A: Well, it was in sad circumstances, I’m afraid. I stepped into poor old Bender’s shoes. You know, Bender.

B: Bender, Bender…the name certainly doesn’t ring a bell. Bender who?

A: Bender Harrison.

B: Oh, Bender Harrison.

A and B: Bender Harrison, yeah.

(pause)

B: No, I’ve never heard of him.

A: You never will now, poor bloke, he died last week.

B: So poor old Bender’s dead!

A: Completely dead, yes.

B: Really sorry, I had no idea.

A: Nor did Bender, really. He was 106. Anyway, tell me about yourself, are you still doing…whatever you were doing say 2 years ago?

B: No, I gave it up 2 years ago.

A: Gave it up 2 years ago? Well, well, I admire your courage.

B: Thank you.

A: How’s you’re…you’re …er…that is if you have a …er…

B: Oh, my wife, Lesley?

A: Yes, how is she?

B: She’s very well.

A: Oh, I’m very pleased to hear it.

B: Oh, yes, she’s very well is Lesley. And of course young Michael’s going to school now.

A: Good God, Michael’s going to school and I had no idea. Well, well, how time flies.

B: Yes, one moment they’re that high and the next moment…

A: They‘re that high!

A and B: Yes.

B: Tell me, how’s erm…erm…erm

A: Anyway, really nice to see you. I really ought to be getting back to the office, you know, time waits for no man…

B: Yes, time waits for no man. Well, I must be going, too.

A: And do give my regards to erm…erm…erm

B: Lesley.

A: erm…sorry, sorry…, I’m really bad at names; I keep forgetting them…do give my regards to …erm..erm..

B: Lesley.

A: That’s the chap. And good luck with…erm…it…it…

B: And the same to you; and, look, we must keep in touch

A:Yes, we must. I’ll give you call.

B: Or I’ll give you a call. Are you on Facebook?

A: No.

B: Oh. Neither am I. Do you have a twitter account?

A: No.

B: Oh. Neither do I. Are you …linked-in?

A: No.

B: Oh. Nor me. Do you skype?

A: Certainly not.

B: Sorry, sorry I don’t either. Are you a blogger?

A: How dare you?

B: Awfully sorry. Well, I don’t either.

A: Well, we must do this again.

B: Yes, we must. Well, goodbye

A: Goodbye.

 

Narrator: Now, imagine two old friends who meet again. They look back to the good old days and become very nostalgic about their humble beginnings: the bad old times. They have a good moan but of course however bad things were then they are always better than they are today: ‘we was happy in them days’!

In the original Monty Python sketch, four Yorkshiremen talk about their difficult childhood, and as the conversation progresses, their description of the poor living conditions in which they grew up become more and more ridiculous. Dave’n’Luke couldn’t afford four Yorkshireman so you’ll have to make do with just one Yorkshireman and a …Brummie. That’s someone from Birmingham, once a great industrial city. Ah, the good old days…

 

(Dave and Luke drink throughout getting increasingly tipsy)

 

David Aye, very nice, that, very nice bit of risotto.

Luke There’s nothing like a good glass of Château de Chasselas, eh, David?

David You’re right there, Luke…you’re not wrong.

Luke: Who’d have thought thirty years ago, Dave, when I was in Birmingham and you were, you know, up north, we’d both be sittin’ here drinking Château de Chasselas, eh?

David In them days we was glad just to have the price of a cup o’ tea.

Luke A cup o’ cold tea..

David Without milk or sugar.

Luke And sometimes without tea!

David Aye, and in a cracked cup!

Luke And sometimes we never had a cup.

David Not even a cup!

Luke I remember the time when we used to have to drink out of an old rolled up newspaper.

David A newspaper? Luxury. There were times, you know, when the best we could do was to suck on a piece of damp cloth.

Luke But you know, Dave, we were happy in those days, though we were poor.

David Because we were poor. My old Dad used to say to me, “Money doesn’t buy you happiness, son”.

Luke Yeah. ‘e was right, your dad.

David Aye, ‘e was. He weren’t wrong.

Luke Yeah, we was happier then and we had nothink.

David Yes, we had nothin’ but we was happy.

Luke I mean, I remember when we used to live in this tiny old house in Birmingham with great big holes in the roof.

David House! You were lucky to live in a house! We used to live in one room, all twenty-six of us, no furniture, ‘alf the floor was missing.

Luke: Well, you were lucky to have a room! I remember when we used to have to live in the corridor!

David A corridor? We used to dream of livin’ in a corridor! Would ha’ been a palace to us. House? Huh.

Luke Well, when I say ‘house’ it was only a hole in the ground, but it was a house to us.

David Well, there were really hard times when we lived in a hole in the ground, full of mud!

Luke and Dave: (nostalgically) A hole in the ground!

David And we were kicked out of our hole and then we ‘ad to go and live in a lake.

Luke: Luxury! You were lucky to have a lake! Well, I remember, in really hard times, all nine of us had to live in a shoebox.

David A cardboard box?

Luke Oh, yeah. In the middle of the road

David Luxury! You were lucky. I remember the time when we lived for three months in a paper bag.

Luke A paper bag?

David And we used to have to get up at six in the morning, clean the paper bag, eat a slice of stale bread, go to work down the coal mine, fourteen hours a day, week-in week-out, for sixpence a week, and when we got home our Dad would thrash us to sleep wi’ his belt.

Luke Luxury. When we were living in our shoebox – all nineteen of us – we used to have to get up out of the box at six o’clock in the morning, clean the box, eat half a slice of stale bread then work for twenty hours a day at the factory for tuppence a month, come home, and our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt and his walking stick, if we were lucky!

David We had it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of our paper bag at twelve o’clock at night and lick road clean wit’ tongue. We had a glass of freezing sour milk, and then worked twenty-four hours a day down the coal mine for sixpence every four years.

Luke (pause) Luxury. We had to get up in the morning (pause) at ten o’clock (pause) at night (pause) half an hour before we went to bed, (pause) drink a cup of sulphuric acid, work twenty-nine hours a day at the factory (pause) and pay the factory owner for permission to come to work.

David And you try and tell the young people of today that …do they believe you?

Both No they don’t!

 

Narrator: Next we turn to English humour about two great English passions. The first is pets. The English love their pets. Some people say the English care more for their pets than they do for people. The English may avoid talking to fellow humans and become embarrassed when obliged to talk to them but they will have no difficulty having a friendly conversation with a dog. You see, the English are quite capable of behaving with Latin-Mediterranean enthusiasm, passsion and hospitality – but it’s just that these qualities are shown to animals not to people. Dogs are the most popular pets – more popular than cats – horses are ‘posh’ – they’re for rich people – but many ordinary people keep mice and hamsters, goldfish and…parrots.

 

A (David): ‘Ello, I wish to make a complaint.

B (Luke): Sorry, sir, we’re closin’ for lunch.

A: Never mind that, sunny Jim. I want to complain about this parrot that I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.

B: Oh yes, the, er.. the Patagonian Red…What’s …erm…What’s wrong with it?

A: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!

B: No, no, ‘e’s erm…he’s just resting.

A: Look, matey, I know a dead parrot when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.

B: No, no, he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable bird, the Patagonian Red, isn’t it, eh? Beautiful feathers!

A: The feathers have got nothing to do with it. It’s stone dead. Completely dead.

B: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!

A: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Mister Polly Parrot! Wakey wakey I’ve got some nice breakfast for you if you wake up, Mr Polly!…

 

(owner hits the cage)

 

B: There, he moved!

A: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage! You jogged my arm!

B: I never!!

A: Yes, you did!

B: I never, I never did anything…

A: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!

(Takes parrot out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.) Now that’s what I call a dead parrot.

B: No, no…..No, he fainted!

A: Fainted?!?

B: Yeah! He fainted just as he was wakin’ up! The Patagonian Red faints easily, sir.

A: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve just about ‘ad enough of this. That parrot is definitely deceased, dead. Fainted? Fainted? What kind of talk is that? Look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?

B: The Patagonian Red prefers to sleep on its back! Remarkable bird, innit, sir? Lovely feathers.

A: He wasn’t sleeping! He was dead. Passed on! Passed away. Departed. Bereft of life Deceased. He rests in peace. This parrot has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! E’s kicked the bucket, he’s given up the ghost. ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, pulled down the curtain. He has joined the choir invisible. He’s in a better place. Pushing up daisies!! ‘He is good for worms. he’s kaput and is dead as a door nail!! This parrot is no more! THIS IS AN EX-PARROT!!

(pause)

B: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry sir, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and …erm… we seem to have run out of parrots.

A: I see. I see, I get the picture.

B: (pause) I’ve got a hamster.

A: Does this hamster talk?

B: Nnnnot really.

A: WELL IT’S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?

B: N-no, I suppose not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet) But I have got a goldfish.

A: A goldfish? Does it talk?

B: Well, it tries.

A: What do you mean it tries?

B: Well, it opens its mouth like this, but nothing comes out.

A: So what do I have to do? Read its lips?

 

Narrator Stop, stop, enough of the parrot sketch; it’s getting silly. Now, the other great English passion – not quite as popular as pets–is William Shakespeare, poet, playwright and man of mystery.The funny thing about Shakespeare is that his comedies are not very funny and most people don’t understand a word of what he’s saying most of the time. They know a couple of words from his plays and those words are usually ‘to be or not to be…’ – but do they know who really wrote Hamlet’s famous speech and so many others? This next sketch will help solve the mystery of …who wrote Shakespeare’s plays!

 

(Door knocks; WS enters with skull in hand)

 

DIRECTOR: Come. Bill!  Bill, good to see you.

WS: Sorry I was late – the traffic was terrible!

DIRECTOR: Good to see you.  Well, the play’s going well, isn’t it?  Looks like we’ve got a bit of a smash on our hands.

WS: Well, it, er, seems to be OK, yeah.

DIRECTOR: They always seem to go for the ones with the snappy titles: ‘Hamlet’.  Perfect!  Perfect.

WS: Act Three may be a bit long, I don’t know…

DIRECTOR: Act Three may be a bit long… in fact, generally, I think we’ve got a bit of a length problem. (holds up big thick manuscript)

WS: A length problem? What length problem?

DIRECTOR: It’s five hours, Bill (indicating manuscript) With the audience standing up.

WS Standing up? But there are seats for tuppence.

DIRECTOR Yes, Bill, wooden seats, for those who can afford it – and no toilets.

WS And so?

DIRECTOR So that’s why I think we should get rid of some of the dead wood.

WS: Dead wood? What do you mean ‘dead wood’?

DIRECTOR: You know, cut some of the weak lines.

WS: ‘The weak lines’?

DIRECTOR: Yeah, you know: some of that standup stuff in the middle of the action.

WS: Stand up?

DIRECTOR: Yeah.

WS: You mean the soliloquies? My monologues?

DIRECTOR: Yeah, the monologues – or whatever you want to call them! And I think we both know which is the problematic one.

WS[getting upset] Do we?  Which is ‘the problematic one’?

DIRECTOR: Erm… ‘To be … nobler in the mind … mortal coil …’; that one. the ‘to be ‘ one. It’s boring, Bill.  The crowd hates it. Boring.

WS: Well, I don’t know about that.  It happens to be my favorite, actually. Look, you cut one word of the ‘to be’ speech, and I’m not doing the play.

DIRECTOR: Bill, Bill… Hamlet’s out there going on about God-knows-what in that soliloquy of yours, and Claudius the King is already in the wings waiting to come on with that very funny costume…waiting!

WS[very upset; stands] All right, all right, you can just cut the whole speech; all of it!

DIRECTOR: Bill, Bill, Bill… Why do we have to fight?  It’s long, Bill, long. We could make it so snappy…

WS: ‘Snappy’?

DIRECTOR: Yeah, you know: give it some woomph! Punch!  How’s it begin, that speech?

WS[sits] ‘To be’.

DIRECTOR: Come on, come on, Bill. And then?

WS: ‘To be a victim of all life’s troubles on this earth, or not to be a coward and take death by the hand’

DIRECTOR: There, now; I’m sure we can cut that down!

WS: No!  Absolutely not!  It’s perfect.

DIRECTOR[preparing to write] How about ‘To be a victim, or not to be a coward’?

WS: To be a victim? It doesn’t make sense!  To be a victim of what?  To be a coward about what?

DIRECTOR: OK, OK.  Take out ‘victim’; take out ‘coward’.  Just start ‘To be, or not to be.’

WS: To be, or not to be? You can’t say that!  It’s rubbish!

DIRECTOR: But it’s short, William, it’s short!  Listen, it flows: ‘To be, or not to be; that is the question.’ D’de, d’de de de, d’ded’de de de!  OK?

WS: You’re damn right that’s the question – they won’t have any bloody idea what he’s talking about!

DIRECTOR: Well, let’s leave that and go on.  ‘Blah blahblahblahblah, slings and arrows – good!  Action; the crowds love it – ‘take up arms’ – brilliant!

WS (with false modesty) Well, you know…I do my best. I have my moments.

DIRECTOR Now, let’s see, ‘against those cursed doubts that do plague on man’ – ugh… Getting a bit risky there, Bill. Risky. Risque.

WS Risque?

DIRECTOR Plague’s a bit tasteless at the moment – a lot of people dying out there of the plague, Bill. – we’ve had letters, actually.

WS Well, I do get lots of fan mail…

DIRECTOR Complaining, Bill. Complaining. ‘…and set sail on a sea of troubles’ …this is good – travel; travel’s very popular.

WS Travel? It’s not about travel. It’s… poetry.

DIRECTOR Poetry? Boring, Bill, boring. So let’s just take out the weak bits and see what we’ve got.  ‘To suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take up arms against a sea of troubles’  Good!

WS: I resign.  [stands]

DIRECTOR: Bill, it’s brilliant!

WS: It’s absolute crap!  What is he talking about?  He’s going to put on a bow and arrow and go down to the seaside?  This is Prince Hamlet! Look,  if that’s the best Hamlet can come up with,

he might as well kill himself

DIRECTOR: Creative thinking, Bill!  Hamlet; perhaps he should kill himself!

WS: What? In Act One? At the beginning of the play? But, he’s the hero!

DIRECTOR: Well, yeah, well, we must think about bums on seats, Bill.  We have to sell tickets! Let’s face it: It’s the ghost that’s selling this show at the moment.  The public love the ghost; they love the swordfights. But no-one likes Hamlet – no-one.

WS: [disgusted] All right, then, I’ll kill him off for you.  [picks up paper and quill]  Erm…[reads] ‘To die, to sleep…to sleep… perchance to dream, ay, there’s the rub.  ’ [writes] ‘Whoops!’ Hamlet stabs himself.  [puts down paper and quill] Dead. Finished. Gone.

DIRECTOR: Bill, Bill, Bill; I can see you’re annoyed.  I’m sorry.  Hamlet has his moments.  The mad stuff is very funny.  It really is hysterical.  But all I’m saying, Shakey, is let’s just shorten this one terribly long speech.

WS: …and all I’m saying is no.  You cut one word, and you can… take my name off the poster.

DIRECTOR: All right.  I’ll tell you what I’ll do: You let me cut the ‘to be or not to be’ speech, and you can keep in those awful cockney gravediggers.

WS: The gravediggers? Keep them? Both of them?

DIRECTOR: Yeah. You can keep both of them in.

WS: And all the stuff with the skull?

DIRECTOR: Yep – the whole sketch.

WS: (thinks) Mmmm…All right then; you’ve got a deal!

Director: Brilliant!

WS: …and we’ll see which one history remembers.  [turns to leave]

DIRECTOR: Bill, I love you!(to audience) Ah, that boy, he’s never gonna make it. What a pity. He could have had a great future.

 

 

Narrator:

The English, said Napoleon, are a nation of shopkeepers. London’s shops are world famous –

Harrods, Selfridges, Do It Yourself, pet shops, you name it! And bookshops. The English love books,

old ones, new ones, hardbacks, paperbacks ;second hand bookshops are a speciality in many English

cities. London had some great bookshops – before Amazon made them extinct – where you could find

books on every subject under the sun – including of course books by famous authors, like Charles

Dickens. That’s DICKENS D-I-C-K-E-N-S.

But remember: there are rules of correct behavior when shopping in England: standing in queues, not pushing in, being polite – and the customer is always right. Well, almost always. As we shall see in the last sketch.

 

Customer (David) :Good morning.

Proprietor (Luke): Good morning, sir. Can I help you?

Cust: Er, yes. Do you have a copy of ‘A Hundred and One Ways to Start a Fight’?

Prop: … By?

Cust: A gentleman whose name I can’t remember now.

Prop: Ah, no, well – I’m sorry, sir, I don’t think we’ve got it in stock, at the moment …

Cust: Oh, well, not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with ‘David Coperfield’?

Prop: (pleased) Ah, yes, Dickens.

Cust: No …

Prop: (pause) I beg your pardon?

Cust: No, Edmund Wells.

Prop: I think you’ll find Charles Dickens wrote ‘David Copperfield’, sir …

Cust: No, no, Dickens wrote ‘David Copperfield’ with two Ps. This is ‘David Coperfield’ with one P. By Edmund Wells.

Prop: ‘David Coperfield’ with one P?

Cust: Yes, I should have said.

Prop: Yes, well in that case, I’m sorry, I’m afraid we don’t have it.

Cust: (looking around shop) Funny, you’ve got a lot of books here …

Prop: (slightly perturbed) Yes, we do, but we don’t have ‘David Coperfield’ with one P by Edmund Wells.

Cust: Pity, it’s more exciting than the Dickens.

Prop: More EXCITING?

Cust: Yes, I think so … I wonder if it might be worth having a quick look through all your ‘David Cop-perfields’?

Prop: No, sir, all our ‘David Cop-perfields’ have two Ps.

Cust: Are you quite sure?

Prop: Quite.

Cust: Not worth just a quick look?

Prop: Definitely not.

Cust: Oh … how about ‘Grate Expectations’?

Prop: (pleased) Great Expectations? Yes, well we do have that …

Cust: That’s ‘G-R-A-T-E Expectations’. Also by Edmund Wells.

Prop: (pause) G-R-A-T-E?Ah, great,

Cust: Yes. That’s right. GRATE.

Prop: Yes, well, in that case, we don’t have it. We don’t actually have anything by Edmund Wells. He’s not very popular around here.

Cust: Not ‘Knickerless Knickleby’? That’s K-N-I-C-K-E-R-L-E-S-S.

Prop: (taciturn) K-N-…Knicker-less? No.

Cust: ‘Christmas Karol’ (Prop perks up) with a K? (Prop crestfallen)

Prop: (perturbed) No …

Cust: (moving towards door) Oh well, I’m sorry to have troubled you …

Prop: Not at all …

Cust: Good morning.

Prop: Good morning.

Cust: (turning around) Oh! …

Prop: (deep breath) Yes?

Cust: I wonder if you might have a copy of ‘Gulliver Twist’?

Prop: Gulliver Twist? No, as I say, we don’t have any books by Edmund Wells.

Cust: No, not Edmund Wells – Charles Dikkens.

Prop: (pause – eagerly) Charles Dickens?

Cust: Yes.

Prop: (excitedly) You mean ‘Oliver Twist’!

Cust: No, ‘Gulliver Twist’ by Charles Dikkens. That’s Dik-kens with two Ks – the well- known Dutch author.

Prop: (slight pause) No. We don’t have ‘Gulliver Twist’ by Charles Dik-kens with two Ks – the well-known Dutch author.

Cust: Well then, how about An Argument?

Prop: An argument? By…? Edmund Wells?

Cust: I mean, do you think we could have an argument?

Prop: (pause) I’ve already told you once.

Cust: No you haven’t.

Prop: Yes I have.

Cust: When?

Prop: Just now!

Cust: No you didn’t.

Prop: Yes I did!

Cust: Didn’t.

Prop: Did.

Cust: Didn’t.

Prop: I’m telling you I did!

Cust: You did not!

Prop: (parenthetically) I’m sorry is this a five-minute argument, or the full half-hour?

Cust: Oh … just a five-minute one.

Prop: Fine. That will be 7 euros please. Thank you. (Customer pays) Anyway, I did.

Cust: You most certainly did not.

Prop: Now, let’s get one thing quite clear. I most definitely told you!

Cust: You did not.

Prop: Yes I did.

Cust: You did not.

Prop: Yes I did.

Cust: Didn’t.

Prop: Yes I did.

Cust: Didn’t.

Prop: Yes I did!!!

Cust: Look – this isn’t an argument.

Prop: Yes it is.

Cust: No it isn’t. It’s just contradiction.

Prop: No it isn’t.

Cust: Yes it is.

Prop: It is not.

Cust: It is! You just contradicted me.

Prop: No I didn’t.

Cust: Ooh, you did!

Prop: No, no, no, no, no.

Cust: Oh, look, this is stupid.

Prop: No it isn’t.

Cust: I thought we were going to have a good argument.

Prop: No you didn’t. You thought we were going to have An Argument.

Cust: Well, an argument’s not the same as contradiction.

Prop: It can be.

Cust: No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements to establish a definite proposition.

Prop: No it isn’t.

Cust: Yes it is. It’s not just contradiction.

Prop: Look, if I argue with you I have to take up a contrary position.

Cust: But it isn’t just saying ‘No it isn’t’.

Prop: Yes it is.

Cust: No it isn’t.

Prop: Yes it is.

Cust: Not at all. Now look!

Prop: (rings bell on his desk) Thank you, good morning.

Cust: What?

Prop: That’s it. Good morning.

Cust: But I was just getting interested.

Prop: Sorry, the five minutes is up.

Cust: That was never five minutes just now.

Prop: I’m afraid it was.

Cust: No it wasn’t.

Prop: I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to argue anymore.

Cust: What!?

Prop: If you want to go on arguing you’ll have to pay for another five minutes.

Cust: But that was never five minutes just now. (Proprietor hums and looks around as though Customer is not there) Oh come on – this is ridiculous!

Prop: I’m very sorry, but I told you I’m not allowed to argue unless you’ve paid.

Cust: Oh. All right.(pays) There you are.

Prop: Thank you.

Cust: Well?

Prop: Well what?

Cust: That was never five minutes just now.

Prop: I told you I’m not allowed to argue unless you’ve paid.

Cust: I just paid you.

Prop: No you didn’t.

Cust: I did! I did! I did!

Prop: No you didn’t.

Cust: Look, I don’t want to argue about that.

Prop: Well, I’m very sorry but you did not pay.

Cust: Aha! Well, if I didn’t pay, why are you arguing … got you!

Prop: No you haven’t.

Cust: Yes I have … if you’re arguing I must have paid.

Prop: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.

Cust: I’ve had enough of this.

Prop: No you haven’t.

Cust: Oh shut up!

 

 

 

.