Operational Criteria

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Kevin is in a patient's bed in a hospital room. Fiona, his devoted wife, sits at his side. Stephen is examining him, be-white coated. He has a stethoscope to Kevin's chest. Hugh suddenly enters, dressed as a nurse, and speaks with unaccustomed ferocity to the camera.

Hugh Yes, alright, it's a sketch in a hospital ward. I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry that we're not breaking moulds and deconstructing forms and pushing envelopes and drinking strange new types of lager in underground bars with tight hipster jeans hanging from our earlobes. I'm sorry we haven't "raised interesting questions" about the nature of gender assignment, or peeled back the veneer of cultural denial. I am so nose-blowingly sorry.

Stephen You're not at all.

Hugh You're damn bloody right I'm not. It's a hospital room, he's a doctor, he's a patient. Oh dear. Oh arsing dear, what a disappointment. Where are the challenged perceptions there, I don't wonder for a single hair-gelled bloody minute? Hugh goes.

Stephen Say "ah".

Kevin Ah.

Stephen Say "twim".

Kevin Twim.

Stephen Twim.

Kevin Twim.

Stephen Fadabberhaweeeeee.

Kevin Fadabberhaweeeeee.

Stephen Twim.

Kevin Twim.

Hugh comes back in, really angry.

Hugh They do still exist, you know. Hospitals. Just because a lot of twats in leather waistcoats and black polo-necks fart their way through the Late Show talking about "tapping into the dark underbelly of British social repression", doesn't mean that hospitals don't exist, or that people don't go to them when they're ill.

Stephen Hugh?

Hugh What?

Stephen Get out.

Hugh goes.

Fiona Well, Doctor?

Stephen Well, Doctor, yes. Hmm. Alright, situation is this. We have a heart, standing by, ready to go. Nice little heart, too. Red, which is the only colour, really, for hearts, I always think. Pump pump pump. That side of things is all fine.

Fiona Oh thank God ...

Stephen But, and this is a pretty fat but, you ... are a smoker, are you not, Mr Spiers?

Kevin I occasionally ...

Stephen You occasionally smoke cigarettes, yes, I thought so.

Fiona Is that a problem?

Stephen It is, rather, I'm afraid. Puts us in a hell of a position. Mr Twovey doesn't smoke, you see?

Kevin Who's Mr Twovey?

Stephen Nice chap, two rooms down. Came in just after you, also hoping for a heart. Never smoked in his life. Or smoked once, rather, but didn't inhale. So he says.

Fiona You mean ... you're going to give it to him? The one heart you've got, you're going to give it to Mr Twovey?

Stephen Not necessarily. As I say, he's a nice enough chap, but by God, you should see him eating soup.

Kevin Soup?

Stephen Revolting sight. Slurping and sucking, spilling it all over the place ... quite revolting.

Kevin Yes?

Stephen Now I've watched you eating soup, Mr Spiers, and it's rather an attractive sight. You hold the spoon properly, tilt the bowl away from you, suck out of the side of the spoon rather than the end, and you're very neat about it. Very neat indeed.

Fiona So ...

Stephen So, you're more or less level on that score. You don't dress as well as he does ...

Kevin Don't I?

Stephen opens the cupboard next to the bed.

Stephen Look at this. Ghastly Viyella check shirt, simply doesn't go with this jacket ... whereas Mr Twovey came in in a very elegant two-button dark grey flannel suit.

Fiona I told you to wear the blue shirt. I said, wear the blue shirt ...

Stephen But at least you don't bite your finger nails, that's something.

Kevin No, that's right. I don't. Or I may have done once, but I didn't inhale ...

Stephen Twovey's a real chewer. Revolting, stumpy little fingernails. Makes me sick to look at them. No, this really is a tricky one ... Stephen deliberates. Kevin and Fiona look at each other in desperation.

Fiona He does a lot of work in the community ...

Stephen I'm sorry?

Fiona Gerald is very active within the community ...

Stephen Hmm. I've never quite understood what that means ... I mean, burglars are very active within the community ...

Fiona But Gerald does a lot of good work ... and his family are very fond of him ...

Stephen Mr Twovey's family are devoted to him ...

Fiona Does ever such as lot for Children in Need and Comic Relief.

Stephen Mr Twovey once spent a whole day in women's clothes for the ITV Telethon.

Fiona Gerald once met Esther Rantzen.

Stephen Did you indeed?

Kevin Yes, but I didn't inhale.

Stephen Mm. Eeny, meeny, miney ... yes, Nurse, what is it? Hugh has entered. He whispers into Stephen's ear. On his way out he flicks a V at the camera. Well, there's a relief. We do now have another heart in, so we can service you both.

Kevin Never!

Fiona Oh, Doctor that's ... can I kiss you?

Stephen If I can punch you violently in the throat, yes. Now. Since I'm here I might as well give you first choice. The first heart comes from a young squash-player, twenty-five, from Aberdeen, and this new one's from a sixty-five-year-old Tory Cabinet Minister.

Kevin Oh I'll take the Cabinet Minister's, definitely.

Stephen Why?

Kevin Because it's never been used.

Stephen, Kevin and Fiona all turn to the camera and smile winningly. Hugh comes on and glares.

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