A.I.

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Clive and Imelda are sitting in a waiting-room. Clive is reading a New Yorker. He looks puzzled, and passes the mag across to Imelda.

Clive See that cartoon?

Imelda Yes?

Clive What does it mean?

Imelda looks at it for a while.

Imelda Beats me.

The door opens and Hugh pops his head out.

Hugh Mr and Mrs Dont?

Clive That's right.

Hugh Do come in. They all move through into Hugh's surgery. Now then. In vitro fertilisation was your thing, I believe.

Clive That's right.

Imelda We found your name pasted up in a phone box on the Finchley Road, and we thought, well, why not?

Hugh Why not indeed? Free country. You've tried getting pregnant in the normal way, I assume?

Imelda Well ...

Clive Oh yes. We both eat bananas first thing in the morning, and we've drunk out of the same tea-cup more than once, I can tell you.

Hugh Really?

Clive Did it in the back of a car, once.

Imelda (embarrassed) Phil ...

Clive Well ... he's a doctor, isn't he?

Hugh Right. Good. OK, so what would you like?

Imelda Well, ideally, we'd like a baby.

Clive Ideally ...

Hugh A baby what?

Clive I'm sorry?

Hugh Dog, cat, parrot, giraffe, what?

Imelda Well ...

Clive Human, we thought ...

Hugh Human, yes, fine, if you like. I've got some brochures here. Basically we can do anything you want. We can take foetuses from surrogate mothers, we can take them from dead mothers, we can take dead foetuses, we can take sperm from just about anywhere, it's up to you. You know. Black babies, white babies, short babies, tall babies. Musical babies, athletic babies, menthol-flavoured babies, you name it ...

Imelda Well I think we'd like just ... a baby, really.

Hugh Bog standard baby.

Imelda Please.

Hugh Right. No distinguishing characteristics at all?

Clive Well, we would like it to be born in the sign of Gemini.

Hugh Yeah?

Clive Yes, that way we reckon he or she is less likely to grow up believing in astrology.

Hugh Fair enough. And you're sure you want a human baby, are you? Only it's a bit of a growth sector, animals.

Clive Really?

Hugh Definitely. Mrs Willis will be having a kangaroo in a couple of months.

Imelda Good heavens.

Hugh Seems strange to us, but believe me, to our children it will be the most natural thing in the world. Well, everything seems natural to my children, because they're actually otters. And otters, as you know, take things pretty much in their stride. But you understand my point.

Imelda We didn't realise there was such a range available.

Clive It's amazing.

Hugh Animals make wonderful children, as a matter of fact. What sort of house do you live in? Large? Small?

Clive Large-ish ...

Hugh A bungalow?

Imelda No.

Hugh Well, I wouldn't advise your giving birth to badgers then. Badgers hate stairs. How wet is this house of yours?

Clive Wet?

Hugh Wet. How wet?

Imelda Well ...

Clive Averagely wet, I'd say.

Hugh You'd say averagely wet. Averagely wet. I'd probably decide against sea-lions. Wonderful offspring, but they do like a more than averagely wet house. Your best bet is mammal, furry and reasonably friendly. I have a wonderful strain of weasel at the moment.

Clive Weasel.

Hugh Weasel. Shiny whiskers, only two weeks in the womb and they wash themselves ... more than you can say for human children, eh?

Clive Suppose ...

Hugh Mm?

Clive Suppose we had a human child and a weasel child.

Hugh Well, it's up to you, but to be honest with you, Mr Dont, human children take a long time to gestate in the womb and cause the mother a lot of pain, unlike a weasel which pops out quick as anything.

Imelda Hence "pop goes the weasel".

Hugh Right. No, the easiest thing if you want a human child, is to buy one, ready-born, from a pet shop.

Imelda I'll do it then. I'll give birth to a weasel and we'll buy a human child to keep it company.

Hugh Fine. Any other questions?

Clive Just one.

Hugh Fire away.

Clive holds up the New Yorker.

Clive Can you explain that cartoon?

Hugh looks at it for a while, puzzled.

Vox Pop

Stephen Road-widening scheme, I said. Road-widening scheme? Country- narrowing scheme more like. Yeah. Think about it. Country- narrowing scheme. Hm? Hmm?

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