Balls

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen enters a bookshop. Hugh is the assistant. Stephen stares at Hugh for a long time.

Hugh Help you?

Stephen (Holding up a book) Did you write this?

Hugh (Examining book) Jane Eyre. No, that was Charlotte Bronte as a matter of fact.

Stephen Right. Well I'd like to see her then please.

Hugh I'm afraid she's no longer with us.

Stephen Oh? Indeed? I can hardly say I'm surprised. Where can I get in touch with her?

Hugh No, no. I mean "no longer with us" in the sense of "dead".

Stephen Dead?

Hugh Quite dead.

Stephen When did she die exactly?

Hugh Um ... 1855 I believe I'm right in saying.

Stephen Let me see, 1855, that's five minutes to seven, isn't it?

Hugh I'm sorry. I mean "1855" in the sense of the year "1855". Was there some problem?

Stephen Well you'll have to do I suppose, since you sold me the book. I want my money back.

Hugh Do you mind me asking why?

Stephen I'll tell you why. Because this book is balls, that's why. It is complete balls.

Hugh I'm afraid I really can't agree with you there.

Stephen Oh can't you? Well listen to this then ... (riffles through book and selects a passage) "I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk." I mean???? It's just balls.

Hugh Balls in what sense?

Stephen Balls in the sense of balls. I mean "window-seat"? What window-seat? This is on the first page. Window seat. Where is this window seat, hm? What's it doing? And what Turk? I've never seen a Turk mount a window-seat. Simply balls. Nothing but balls.

Hugh Well I think you're supposed to imagine it.

Stephen Ho? All right, then, all right then: what about this ... um ... chapter thirty-eight ... "Reader, I married him." Now if that isn't balls, kindly fax me an explanation of what is. "Reader"? What reader? Or are you supposed to imagine this reader as well?

Hugh No, that's you. It's addressed to you, the reader of the book.

Stephen OH BALLS. How could she know me? You just told me the stupid tart died at five to seven.

Hugh Well not you specifically. I mean whoever is reading it at the time. Jane Eyre is telling you that she married Mr Rochester.

Stephen Jane Eyre is a made-up character! Kyor! She didn't exist.

Hugh No but she writes the story. She is the "I" of the story.

Stephen MAKE YOUR FRIGGING MIND UP. You just told me Charlotte Bronte wrote the story.

Hugh She did ... but ...

Stephen Well you're clearly as confused as I am. It's just balls and you know it. Complete balls. I want my money back. I want to read a book that doesn't go on about window-seats you've never even heard of and then has some mad bitch who's supposed to be dead calling you "reader" all the time.

Hugh What about this ... proving very popular. Hugh hands Stephen a book.

Stephen What's this?

Hugh The Invalid by Myra Penworthy Fennerweave.

Stephen Any good?

Hugh Excellent. Stephen starts to read.

Stephen "Talbot entered the room in a feverish haste, bearing his precious cargo before him like a votive offering. Elizabeth lay back on her bed, her face pale and pinched. "Richard is that you?" she moaned plaintively." Oh this is just complete BALLS! Balls, balls, balls.

Hugh It's not actually. It's true. It actually happened.

Stephen Oh double balls and bollocks.

Vox Pop

Hugh I just wish they hadn't called it the Common Market. Is that snobbish of me? I mean why not the Nice Market. It would be so much nicer.

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