Cocktail Ending: A Modern Britain

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen addresses the camera while Hugh lets his fingers lightly dance on the keys of the old pianner.

Stephen M'colleague, m'colleague ... what a melancholy occasion is this.

Hugh It is that, m'colleague. It is that. And yet ...

Stephen And yet?

Hugh And yet for millions it is a time of simple rejoicing and quiet explosions of merriment.

Stephen I hate you.

Hugh I know what you're trying to say.

Stephen But how, m'colleague, how shall I find fit words with which to bid an eternal farewell to our viewing several?

Hugh Let go, Luke. Feel the force. Be in touch with your feelings.

Stephen Yes ... yes. O viewing several. Time ... time, like a thief in the night has sneaked quietly up, smashed our near side window and ripped the stereo from our dashboard. Time, the fell predator, has stopped us in the underlit alleyway of circumstance, forced us to drop our trousers and had us up against the wall of eternity, grunting and sweating with degenerate, maniac pleasure. For the very last time I turn, wiping a sad soft salt tear from my crimsoning cheek as I request and require our disastrously lovely guest units to tell me what is and will be their choice of farewell cocktails, asking them only to tell me in words what their hearts cannot speak.

The guests confer.

Robert (to Jeanine: sotto) I like the sound of a London Felch.

Jeanine What about a Golden Shower?

Robert Mm ... good idea. We should be concentrating on choosing a cocktail first, though.

Jeanine Yes ... They whisper.

Robert There's the Martini Navratilova ...

Jeanine (to Stephen) What's a Sodding Mary?

Stephen Like a Bloody Mary, but a little bit ruder. Have to hurry you ... They have decided.

Robert Yes ... you're right ...

Jeanine That's the one.

Both We'd like a Modern Britain.

Stephen A Modern Britain. Ha! M'colleague, what did you say to me only this morning?

Hugh (shaking his head) What indeed.

Robert starts to play "The Last Post" on a nearby trumpet, while Hugh and Jeanine lower a Union Jack with lashings of dignity.

Stephen The cocktail you have chosen is Modern Britain. A Modern Britain is like the classical Old Fashioned, but with a new twist. For a Modern Britain, you'll need finely made English hand-blown crystal glasses, the very best Islay malt whiskey, bred and lovingly blended by craftsmen who care: you'll need freshly squeezed apple juice from pleasant Somerset orchards, a quarter gill of London gin, a pint of rich Jersey cream, a half quart of soft, still Welsh mountain water, and to garnish, a shamrock, a daffoldil, a thistle and a rose. To complete the Modern Britain we add to this kindly, noble, honourable and civilised mixture a centilitre of flat cola-style syrup, a hectare of low-cal brand sweetener, a pot of non-dairy whitener, a leisure-sachet of instant heritage, a two-parent family size pack of diluted good values, free-market vegetables, a greedy helping of self-governing trusts and a plastic ice-cube for cosmetic purposes only. The product should be half-baked at an immoderate temperature of the lowest common denominator in an atmosphere of greasy cant and corrupt sleaze, until richly dishonoured and seared with shame. Your Modern Britain will ideally have lost all colour, flavour and fizz by now and should then be divided against itself and left in shoddy disrepair for a number of years until it rots before being sold off to the highest bidder. An ideal self-serving suggestion would be to accompany the whole botched cocktail with a raft of unappetising sound-bites and a package of feeble initiatives stuffed with tasteless media slime. But perhaps, somewhere, you might be inspired to add one small, tender, caring cherry of hope. I wonder. While you decide, I will entreat for the very finalest of last, last times, this entreaty of m'colleague, Britain's own Melody Man as I say, "Please, oh please, for all our sakes, please Mr Music, will you play?"

Hugh plays. Stephen mixes the cocktail.

Tutti Soupy, soupy, soupy, soupy-soupytwist.

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