A Frank Talk

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen is getting out a couple of glasses and a bottle of whisky in the kitchen of his house. Hugh is sitting at the table looking faintly embarrassed.

Stephen We'll wait for the ladies to get back from the theatre shall we?

Hugh Yes, yes - good idea.

Stephen I don't know what they see in it myself. Sitting there in the dark watching a lot of old nonsense.

Hugh Oh well, they seem to enjoy it.

Stephen I don't know about you, but I go to the theatre to be entertained.

Hugh Well, I think they do too.

Stephen If I want to see a lot of swearing and pretentious drivel I can stay at home.

Hugh Still, anyway. They've been looking forward to it for a long time.

Stephen (Pouring out the drinks) Right. Right.

Hugh I've been looking forward to this, as a matter of fact, Matthew: this opportunity for a frank talk.

Stephen Yes. Good. It's always nice to have a good - water?

Hugh Thanks.

Stephen (Adding water to Hugh's drink) - chat, isn't it?

Hugh Mm. How long have I known you and Sarah now?

Stephen Hoo, ch. What, must be nigh on.

Hugh More I should think.

Stephen Right. Possibly even more.

Hugh You and Sarah are quite a couple.

Stephen Well, I'll tell you this, Dominic. I don't know where I'd be without Sarah.

Hugh Ah.

Stephen Amazing woman. I think I love her more now than when I first met her. Be nothing without her. Lost. A shadow. Nothing. A blank. A zero.

Hugh Mm.

Stephen God I love her.

Hugh Right. Thing is. Mm. Well. You know Mary and I have been going through a sticky patch lately?

Stephen (Surprised) No. No, I didn't know that. A sticky patch.

Hugh Yes.

Stephen What sort of sticky patch?

Hugh Well, just a general sort of, you know, sticky patch really.

Stephen Oh dear. Nasty things sticky patches.

Hugh They can be, certainly. You and Sarah have never ... ?

Stephen What? No. Not us. We're a team. Never had a sticky patch between us. Do you know in the fifteen years we've been married, I've never so much as looked at another woman.

Hugh Really?

Stephen Well, except my mother of course.

Hugh Um ...

Stephen But then you have to look at your own mother, don't you. Rude not to. And I know Sarah's the same.

Hugh She's never ... ?

Stephen No. She'd never betray me.

Hugh She'd never, for instance, have a ten year love affair with, say, your best friend, for the sake of, say, argument, say?

Stephen Sarah? No. She'd rather cut the legs off her favourite table. Faithful as the day is long.

Hugh Right.

Stephen Anyway. This frank talk.

Hugh Ah.

Stephen You had something you wanted to say?

Hugh Right. Yes.

Stephen Fire away then.

Hugh This isn't easy. It's just that - well, that ten year- old love affair I mentioned -

Stephen Mary.

Hugh What?

Stephen Oh no. Don't tell me. You've discovered that your wife Mary has been having an affair. Dominic, I don't know what to say.

Hugh No, no. Mary wouldn't betray me, I know that - that's what makes it all so difficult.

Stephen I was going to say. I was pretty sure Mary and I have kept it pretty discreet.

Hugh It's the other way round, I - what?

Stephen What?

Hugh What did you say just now?

Stephen Oh nothing. Just that I was sure Mary and I had been far too discreet for you to notice that we've been having a wild affair under your very nose for the last - twelve years I should say. At the very least.

Hugh You and Mary have been ...

Stephen Oh God yes.

Hugh But you said you would never look at another woman apart from Sarah and your mother.

Stephen And Mary, obviously. That goes without saying.

Hugh Well, that makes what I was going to say a lot easier then.

Stephen Oh yes?

Hugh It may interest you to know that your beloved Sarah and I have also been having an affair for ... well for eleven years anyway.

Stephen I beg your pardon? You and Sarah?

Hugh Yes, I thought that might shake you up a bit.

Stephen You pair of deceitful, two-timing - Enter Sarah and Mary.

Mary Hello, you two.

Sarah Look at them both, up with the whisky bottle. I don't know.

Hugh Mary. Darling, is it true that you and, that the pair of you have been ...

Stephen Sarah, tell me. It isn't true that the two of you have ... is it? Tell me it isn't. Sarah and Mary look at each other and sigh.

Sarah We were going to tell you anyway, weren't we darling?

Mary Yes, we were. Tonight in fact.

Sarah Mary and I have been having an affair for the last fourteen years.

Mary A very passionate affair.

Sarah Strikingly passionate.

Hugh You what?

Mary I don't know how you found out.

Sarah (To Mary) You didn't leave the thingy lying around did you?

Stephen No, I meant you and Dominic. You and Dominic have been having an affair for the last eleven years at least.

Hugh And you and Matthew, Mary.

Sarah Oh that. Well that was just a diversion really.

Stephen Oh was it? Well, Dominic, it makes it a lot easier for us to tell them, doesn't it?

Hugh It certainly does. It may interest you to know that Matthew and I have been - how shall I phrase it?

Stephen Bed-mates?

Sarah Lovers?

Mary Sex-friends?

Stephen Joy-partners?

Sarah Bliss buddies?

Hugh Yes, well, any one of those for the past - what?

Stephen Hoo, it's got to be at least eighteen or twenty hasn't it?

Hugh Yes, for the last eighteen or twenty years.

Sarah Well.

Mary Frankly.

Sarah So. you're saying that we have all been to bed with each other.

Stephen That seems to be about the size of it, yes.

Mary Though seperately.

Hugh Yes, seperately, obviously.

Stephen In every possible combination.

Sarah Well. What a kerfuffle. What a business.

Mary I don't know what to say.

Stephen It is something of a how-do-you-do, isn't it?

Hugh Well. So. What do we do?

Stephen I should have thought it was obvious.

Mary You mean ... ?

Sarah Only thing to do?

Hugh What?

Sarah Let's all go to bed.

Hugh Oh. Right. They all trot off to bed.

Vox Pop

Stephen (Smelling a bottle of something and handing it back) I don't know. Kenneth Baker perhaps. Nicholas Wychell?

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