Anal Retention

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh is on a couch. Stephen sits beside him

Stephen So, Mr Sedelmayer, you believe yourself to be anally retentive?

Hugh Not half.

Stephen Not half. No, I imagine not half. Now anal retentiveness is a complex condition, Mr Sedelmayer. What gave you the idea that you were suffering from this problem?

Hugh A book.

Stephen A book? Well, well, well, well, well. A book on psychiatry?

Hugh First World War Biplanes.

Stephen First World War Biplanes. It was a book on First World War Biplanes that led you to believe that you were anally retentive?

Hugh That's right.

Stephen Mm. I must say I can't pretend to understand you - not without going to Drama School and taking an expensive course of lessons in how to pretend to understand someone.

Hugh Well it's like this. I'd just come in from the garden for a cup of tea and ...

Stephen Please, Mr Sedelmayer, I'm not a machine.

Hugh I beg your pardon?

Stephen A little slower, if you please.

Hugh Oh right. I sat down on this chair ...

Stephen Well, get on with it.

Hugh Right. I sat down on this chair.

Stephen This chair?

Hugh No, no. The chair in my kitchen. And as I sat down I noticed that on the chair was this book all about First World War Biplanes and I sat down and had a cup of tea, nice cup of tea, very nice, the tea wasn't the problem, no sir, the problem was that when I got up I noticed that the book wasn't there.

Stephen Yes?

Hugh It wasn't anywhere, you see. It had vanished. That's when I realised that I'd retained it.

Stephen You'd retained it.

Hugh Correct.

Stephen Anally?

Hugh Of course anally. Of course. What other explanation could there be?

Stephen You tell me, Mr Sedelmayer.

Hugh No.

Stephen All right. Now this chair. Describe it to me.

Hugh Oh you know, a chair. A kitchen chair. Made in Hungary.

Stephen A Hungarian kitchen chair. My oh my. And where is this chair now? Pause. Where is this chair now?

Hugh Isn't it obvious? I sat down again, you see, because I was shocked by the disappearance of the book on First World War Biplanes, and when I got up ...

Stephen No chair?

Hugh Vanished. Gone.

Stephen Retained ... by you ...

Hugh Anally.

Stephen Anally. Yes. I see. So the disappearance of a book on First World War Biplanes and a Hungarian kitchen chair have forced you to the conclusion ...

Hugh Oh they're not all.

Stephen Oh lordy Belgrano. You mean there's more?

Hugh Much more. Look out of the window.

Stephen Mr Sedelmayer, I am a man of science, I haven't time to look out of windows.

Hugh Please.

Stephen Very well.

Hugh I came here today by car.

Stephen Yes?

Hugh I've never been one for public transport. Too many germs. I came here today in a blue Vauxhall Carlton, purchased from Howden, the Used Car Dealers, for a pretty sum ...

Stephen On the Bardon Road?

Hugh That's it. Big place, with a lot of cars. They're dear, mind, but they give you peace of mind.

Stephen And you can't put a price on that.

Hugh Well, 6,299 was the price they managed to put on it.

Stephen Right, yes. Good, excellent. So you came in your Carlton, parked ...

Hugh Exactly. I parked, got out of the vehicle, turned round to effect the security procedure ...

Stephen To wit ... ?

Hugh To wit, locking the door ... and what do you think met my gaze?

Stephen Nothing?

Hugh You've got it in one. The blue Vauxhall Carlton had, in effect, been retained by me.

Stephen I see.

Hugh So I suppose what I'm asking in my stumbling, hopeless fashion is, what can I do?

Stephen Well it wouldn't hurt to take the bus just once ...

Hugh No, no, no. You misunderstand me for comic effect. I mean what am I to do about my anal retentiveness?

Stephen Well now, Mr Sedelmayer, I could lie to you. It would be ridiculously easy just to tell you a lot of lies ... in fact that's what I think I'll do. You're fine, Mr Sedelmayer, you've got absolutely nothing to worry about.

Hugh Goodness me, that's a relief.

Stephen And if you're worried about your car -

Hugh Not particularly, it was insured.

Stephen Oh that's all right then. I was going to suggest a couple of pints of kaolin and morphine and a bowl of prunes, but if it's insured ...

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