Blame

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Jane gets back home. She comes into the sitting-room, and screams. Pan across to find Hugh with a blood-soaked knife, standing over the bodies of an elderly couple.

Jane Oh my God ... what's happened? Victor ...?

Hugh I am bloody furious, Jennifer, I don't mind telling you.

Jane The blood ... what's happened?

Hugh What's happened? I've killed your parents, that's basically what's happened.

Jane What?

Hugh Stabbed them both to death.

Jane What ...?

Hugh I could not be more furious.

Jane Stabbed ... but why?

Hugh Exactly. Why? It was so unnecessary. That's why I'm so bloody annoyed.

Jane What?

Hugh Your father was being a bit ratty, complained that the tonic water was a bit flat, and suddenly I was stabbing him in the neck with a knife. I mean, what is going on here?

Jane You killed him?

Hugh Yeah, alright, don't go on about it. I mean how do you think I feel?

Jane I don't know, Victor ...

Hugh Bloody annoyed, that's how.

Jane Annoyed?

Hugh Somebody should have stopped this ...

Jane But I had to go out ...

Hugh No, no, I'm not blaming you, darling. Somebody. Police, social services. Somebody should have seen that this was a tragedy waiting to happen and done something about it. I really am livid.

Jane What about mother?

Hugh Well, she got in the way, tried to defend him, and suddenly she was lying there, dead, the victim of bureaucratic inefficiency. It just won't do.

Jane Have you called the police?

Hugh Well, no. I thought I'd write, actually. I think it would have more weight.

Jane No, I mean, have you told them what you've done?

Hugh What I've done?

Jane Yes ...

Hugh What I've done. Oh that's nice. That's really charming. I stab your parents to death with a bread knife, and suddenly it's my fault, is it?

Jane But Victor, darling, you did it. You said so yourself ...

Hugh My hand did it, Jennifer. My hand and the knife did it, yes. But what made my hand do it? That's what you should be asking yourself.

Jane Well, you...

Hugh No. Absolutely not. It's the system. I loved your parents, Jennifer. You know that. Your father sometimes smelt a bit, but they were lovely people, and now they're dead. All because the system failed. Again.

Jane You're right. I shouldn't have left you alone. It's all my fault.

Hugh Well, that was my first reaction, I must admit. Bloody Jennifer, I thought, left me in a right pickle, but it's not you, darling. There are people paid to make sure this doesn't happen, and those people simply didn't do their job.

Jane But if I'd been here ...

Hugh But you weren't, my angel. The system failed you, just like it failed me.

Jane What are we going to do now?

Hugh Well, I've got a good mind to kill you, to be honest.

Jane Me?

Hugh Teach the bloody social services a lesson. See if they can talk their way out of three dead bodies. I'd like to see them try...

Jane Well, I'd rather you didn't.

Hugh Well, of course I'd rather I didn't. But my hand, Jennifer. What is making my hand do these things?

Jane The system.

The doorbell goes. Jane goes to answer it.

Hugh Thank you. The bloody system. These people, with their fat bloody salaries, sitting in their cosy little office while your parents, Jennifer, good people, honest, decent people, are being slaughtered. What is this country coming to?

Jane comes back in with John.

John Mr Hammond?

Hugh Yes?

John Derek Broome, Social Services.

Hugh Oh, well, there you go. Hurrah for the bloody cavalry. I hope you're satisfied ...

John I'm sorry?

Jane Victor's killed my parents. Stabbed them with a knife.

John Oh damn.

Hugh Oh damn, yes, well, that's not a lot of use, is it? What have you got to say for yourself?

John Well you were down on my list, Mr Hammond, of tragedies waiting to happen, but I got held up.

Hugh You hear that, Jennifer? Mr Broome "got held up". Jesus.

John If you'd accept my department's apologies, Mr Hammond, for the inconvenience this has caused you and your wife, and I'll see if I can't arrange a complimentary food hamper to be delivered here without delay.

Hugh Well, that's something.

Jane It's not much good to my parents, though, is it?

Hugh Well said, Jennifer. Bloody well said.

John Well, how about this? These vouchers (hands over some slips of paper) entitle you to dinner for two at the Laudanum Hotel, plus five years' bereavement counselling absolutely free.

Jane Hmm.

Hugh Well. That's more like it.

Vox Pop

Stephen Memory can play the wierdest tricks on you. It really can. I remembered something the other day, just as I was leaving the house, I turned round to lock the back door, and I remembered that I'd been violently abused as a child for nearly twelve years. Just came from nowhere. Amazing. I'm suing my parents for five million quid, as it happens. Course they died some years back, so I've got to sue myself as next of kin, but I think the principle's important.

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