Judge Not

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh is a judge in a full-bottomed wig. Stephen is counsel with a full bottom. He is cross-examining a female witness, Deborah.

Stephen So, Miss Talliot, you expect the court to believe that on the evening of the fourteenth of November last year, the very year, I would remind the court, on which the crime that my client is accused of committing took place, you just happened to be walking in the park?

Deborah That is correct.

Stephen That is what?

Deborah Correct.

Stephen Oh it's correct, is it? I see. Am I right in understanding, Miss Talliot, that the American writer Gertrude Stein was a self-confessed Lesbian?

Deborah I believe so.

Stephen You believe so? Gertrude Stein remains one of the most celebrated American female novelists of the century, Miss Talliot. Her lesbotic tendencies are a matter of public record.

Deborah Yes.

Stephen But you only "believe" that she was a Lesbian?

Deborah Well, I've never really thought of it much. I haven't read any of her works.

Stephen Miss Talliot, there is a bookshop not two streets away from your "flat" where the works of Gertrude Stein are openly on display.

Deborah Oh.

Stephen Yes; "oh". And yet you would have us believe that somehow, on the many occasions on which you must, in the course of your duties as a woman, have passed this shop while shopping, failed entirely to enter and buy any book published by this openly Sapphic authoress?

Hugh Mr Foley, I'm afraid I really fail to see where this line of questioning is leading us.

Stephen With your permission m'lud, I am trying to establish that this witness has been guilty of weaving a tissue of litanies, that far from being the respectable president of a children's charity and ambassador's daughter that my learned friend the counsel for the prosecution would have us believe, she is in fact an active, promiscuous and voracious Lesbite.

Hugh I see. Carry on. But I must warn you, Mr Foley, that if you attempt to ballyrag or bulldoze the witness I shall take a very dim view of it.

Stephen Your lordship is most pretty.

Hugh Very well then, you may proceed.

Stephen Are you aware Miss Talliot -

Deborah It's Mrs in fact.

Stephen Oh. Oh, I do beg your pardon. If you wish to make so much of it, then I will certainly not stand in your way, "Mrs" Talliot, if that is how you prefer to be known.

Deborah It is how my husband prefers me to be known.

Stephen Your husband the well-known Bishop?

Deborah Yes.

Stephen A bishop in a religion, the Church of - ah - England, I believe it calls itself, which owns land on which houses have been built, houses in which it is statistically probable that private acts of Lesbian love have been committed?

Hugh Mr Foley, I fear I must interrupt you again. I myself am a member of this same church. Are we to imply from the tenor of your thrust that I am a Lesbian?

Stephen Your lordship misunderstands me.

Hugh I hope so. I hope the day is far distant on which I could be accused of making love to a woman! Ha, ha, ha.

Stephen Certainly, m'love. I never meant to imply ...

Hugh Attraction to women, however, repellent as it may be to persons of sensibility, is not in itself a crime.

Stephen I love your lordship.

Hugh We must therefore remember, Mr Foley, in our enthusiasm to get to the bottom, that Mrs Talliot is not on trial, she is a witness. However depraved and wicked her acts of lust, they - in all their degenerate and disgusting perversion - are not the subject of this assize, bestial as they may be.

Stephen I am yours for ever, m'dear.

Hugh Please continue.

Stephen I do not wish, "Mrs Talliot" to submit the court to any more details of your sordid and disreputable erotic career than is necessary. I merely wish to enquire how it might be that you expect a jury to believe the testimony of a monstrous bull-dyke of your stamp against the word of a respectable businessman?

Deborah I am merely reporting what I saw.

Stephen What you saw? What you saw through eyes dimmed with lust? What you saw maddened by the noxious juices of your notorious practices?

Deborah What I saw on my way back from the parish council meeting.

Stephen Is it not a fact that the words "parish council" are an anagram of "lispian crouch"?

Deborah Er ...

Stephen You hesitate, Miss Toilet!

Deborah I was ...

Stephen You stand condemned out of your own soiled and contaminated mouth.

Deborah I -

Stephen No further questions.

Deborah Well ...

Stephen You may stand down, Miss Lesbian.

Deborah Oh. And will you be in for tea tonight, Jeremy?

Stephen Certainly, mother. (Louder) Call Sir Anthony Known-Bender.

Vox Pop

Stephen Of course crime is bound to be on the increase. If you're the kind of person who wants to start a satellite broadcasting channel, but you can't get a licence, crime is the obvious alternative.

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