Duel

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh and Stephen in period dress on a misty heath, about to duel. There is a referee, and possibly some seconds.

Referee Gentlemen, I believe you both know the purpose of this meeting.

Stephen Thank you Mr Tollerby, but we have no need of explanation. The circumstances are well known to us.

Hugh Quite right. Let us be about the business.

Referee Very well, gentlemen. Sir David, I understand the choice is yours - sword or pistol?

Hugh Sword.

Referee As you wish. Hugh takes the sword and swishes it expertly.

Hugh Ha. The only weapon for a gentleman.

Referee Quite so. That means, Mr Van Hoyle, that you have the pistol.

Stephen Thank you, Tollerby.

Referee When I give the command, I shall expect ...

Hugh Wait a minute.

Referee Is there something wrong, Sir David?

Hugh Well ...

Stephen Quick man, the hour grows late ...

Hugh Well it's just that when you said sword or pistol, I sort of assumed that we would both have the same one, if you know what I mean ...

Referee Ah.

Stephen I'm not with you.

Hugh Well I said sword, assuming that meant we would both have a sword ...

Stephen Oh I see.

Referee Mmm. Thing is, I've only brought one of each, unfortunately.

Stephen Oh damn and blast.

Hugh Sorry to make a fuss, but it seems a bit unfair otherwise.

Referee No, I take your point, Sir David.

Stephen Well is there somewhere we could get a sword?

Hugh I doubt there'd be anything open at this time ... Excuse me! Hugh dashes off and stops a pair of joggers in dayglo strip. You wouldn't happen to have a sword on you, would you?

Jogger (Not stopping) Twenty past seven.

Hugh Damn.

Stephen Well ... we're a bit stuck, really, aren't we?

Referee Gentlemen, I realise that this is a bit of an improvisation, but needs must when the devil ...

Stephen Get on with it.

Referee Right, how would it be if Mr Van Hoyle were to take the pistol but promise not to fire it?

Hugh You mean, use the pistol as if it were a sword?

Referee Exactly.

Hugh Well, suits me.

Stephen Wait a minute, wait a minute. That's hopeless. Wouldn't cut anything, look. Stephen prods referee with the pistol. See?

Hugh Perhaps you're right.

Referee Well it was just an idea.

Stephen You could try shooting with your ... no, that won't work. Forget I spoke.

Hugh Mm. How about fists?

Referee You mean boxing?

Stephen Oh Lord no. I'm no good at that at all. It hurts your knuckles.

Hugh Well, I can't think of anything else ... hang on I've got some matches here I think.

Stephen What, you mean set fire to each other?

Hugh Better than nothing. Oh no, actually look, there's only one match left in fact.

Stephen We could nip across to that cafe and see if they have any forks ...

Referee Gentlemen, if you'll bear with me - I have one last idea up my sleeve.

Stephen Well? Referee reaches up his sleeve and pulls out a handkerchief.

Hugh A handkerchief?

Referee No, Sir David. Two handkerchiefs.

Stephen You're suggesting that we duel to the death with a pair of handkerchiefs?

Referee I realise it's not ideal, Mr Van Hoyle, but it would at least be fair ...

Stephen It would take for ever. I've got to be in town by eight.

Hugh Well we haven't got anything else. Stephen sighs.

Stephen Oh all right then. Better be clean, that's all.

Referee Perfectly clean, I assure you. They each take a handkerchief. Gentlemen, I believe you both know the purpose of this meeting? Stephen and Hugh start hitting each other with handkerchiefs.

Vox Pop

Stephen You see it's a slippery slope. It starts by reading the Daily Mail. Within a few weeks that's it. You're a witless, heartless lump of shit.

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