Parent Power

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen, a headmaster, is sitting behind a desk. Hugh enters with Michael, a small boy.

Stephen Ah good morning Michael, good morning Mr Smear.

Hugh Yes, we'll dispense with the good mornings if you don't mind. I haven't got time for good mornings.

Stephen As you wish. You wanted to discuss something, I believe?

Hugh I think you know why I'm here.

Stephen I don't think I do.

Hugh (To Michael) Tell him. Michael looks embarrassed.

Stephen Tell me what?

Hugh Tell him what you told your mother last night.

Michael Sexual intercourse can often bring about pregnancy in the adult female.

Stephen Yes?

Hugh You heard that, did you?

Stephen Yes?

Hugh Well I'd like an explanation, if it's not too much trouble.

Stephen An explanation of what?

Hugh An explanation of how my son came to be using language like that in front of his mother.

Stephen Well I imagine that this is something that Michael learnt in his biology class, isn't that right?

Michael Yes, sir.

Stephen Yes I thought so. With Mr Hent. Glad to see some of it's sinking in, Michael.

Michael Thank you sir.

Hugh Well I must say this is a turn-up and no mistake.

Stephen What is?

Hugh I didn't imagine that you'd be quite so barefaced about it.

Stephen About what?

Hugh I came here today to make a complaint about my son being exposed to gutter language in the playground. I am frankly staggered to find that this is something that he's actually been taught in a classroom. I mean what is going on here?

Stephen We're trying to teach your son ...

Hugh Oh are you? Are you indeed?

Stephen Yes.

Hugh What? How to embarrass his parents? How to smack himself with heroin?

Stephen I assure you Mr Smear, we have no intention ...

Hugh Call yourself a school?

Stephen I don't actually call myself a school, no.

Hugh You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Filling a young lad's head with filth like that. Well let me tell you something. About the real world. You're here to provide a service.

Stephen Quite right.

Hugh Quite right, yes, well I'm not happy with it. I'm not happy with the service you're providing.

Stephen Would you rather that Michael didn't attend the biology course?

Hugh Certainly I would, if those are the kind of lies I can expect to hear repeated at the dinner table.

Stephen They're not lies, Mr Smear.

Hugh Oh aren't they? Pregnancy is brought about by sexual intercourse?

Stephen Yes?

Hugh Oh Lord save us. So you agree with that?

Stephen Of course. It's true.

Hugh True my arse. It's nothing more than a disgusting rumour put about by trendy young people in the sixties.

Stephen Trendy young people in their sixties?

Hugh The sixties. In the sixties. That's when it all started. People like you.

Stephen Mr Smear, sexual reproduction has been part of the biology syllabus for many years.

Hugh I don't care about your blasted syllabus. What good is a blasted syllabus out there?

Stephen Out where?

Hugh There!

Stephen The Arkwright Road?

Hugh Arkwright Jungle, I call it.

Stephen Well, what would you rather we taught your son, Mr Smear?

Hugh I would rather ... I would rather you taught him values, Mr ...

Stephen Casilingua.

Hugh Casilingua. Values. Respect. Standards. That's what you're here for. You're not here to poison my son with a lot of randy sextalk.

Stephen So Michael is definitely your son, is he, Mr Smear?

Hugh Certainly he's my son.

Stephen Then it's safe to assume that at some stage you and your wife have had sexual intercourse?

Hugh (Pause) Right. (Hugh starts to take off his jacket) That's it. I'm going to knock some sense into you myself.

Stephen You're going to fight me now, are you?

Hugh Yes I bloody well am. I'm not going to stand for this.

Stephen Do you mind if I do? (Rises to his feet)

Hugh Talking like that in front of the boy. You're a bloody disgrace.

Stephen Mr Smear, let me ask you this. How could Michael be your son, if you haven't had sexual intercourse?

Hugh Michael ...

Stephen Yes?

Hugh Michael is my son in the normal way.

Stephen In the normal way?

Hugh Yes.

Stephen And what is the normal way to have a son, in your opinion?

Hugh If you're trying to trick me into sexy talk ...

Stephen I'm not.

Hugh The normal way to have a son is ... to get married.

Stephen Yes?

Hugh Buy a house and get properly settled in.

Stephen Yes.

Hugh Furniture and so on, and then ... wait for a bit.

Stephen Ah.

Hugh Make sure you eat properly. Three hot meals a day.

Stephen So Michael just sort of turned up, did he?

Hugh Er ... well of course it's a few years ago now, but yes I think one day he was just there.

Stephen And you and your wife have never enjoyed sexual intimacy of any kind?

Hugh Yes, it's very hard for you to believe isn't it, that there are still some people left who can bring a son into this world without recourse to cannabis and government handouts?

Stephen Well I really don't know what to say.

Hugh I bet you don't: It's not every day a consumer stands up to you and makes demands is it?

Stephen Not of this nature no.

Hugh Yes, well. Welcome to the harsh realities of the market-place, Mr Casilingua.

Stephen OK. Well, what would you like me to do?

Hugh It's obvious isn't it? If I go into Littlewoods and tell them I'm not satisfied with a cardigan, say, they'll change it for me. And gladly.

Stephen You want another son?

Hugh Certainly I do. Mine is soiled now.

Stephen Well I'm afraid we haven't got any spare sons here, just at the moment.

Hugh Well what have you got of equal value?

Stephen Um - there are some locusts in the biology lab.

Hugh Locusts, hmm. Do I have your assurance that one of these locusts will not embarrass Mrs Smear at table with foul language?

Stephen I think I can go that far.

Hugh Well that's something. How many of them are there?

Stephen Two ... at the moment.

Hugh What d'you mean, "at the moment"?

Stephen Well, it's just that these locusts are married, they've bought the cage, and some furniture, and they're having three meals a day.

Hugh Hot meals?

Stephen Warmish.

Hugh So Mrs Smear might be a grandmother one day?

Stephen Very possibly.

Hugh (Pleased) She'd like that.

Vox Pop

Stephen A good smack in the face. She deserves it.

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