Religianto

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Hugh is supervising the gathering of thirty or so six-year-olds.

Stephen (voice-over) Tony Racklin is headmaster of Lannark Primary School in Thurlow. The school has eighty-four pupils, of mixed race, religion, gender and shoe size. So how does he deal with religious instruction at the school's morning assembly? Hugh sits at the piano and plays. The children vaguely join in.

Hugh We worship you oh God or Gods,
Whoever you may be,
We realise that you operate
Supernaturally,
We thank you for the birds and bees,
For creatures live or dead,
But if you actually don't exist,
Please ignore what we've just said,
Aaaaaaaaaa Cut to Hugh in interview. What I've tried to do, what we've tried to do, I should say, is develop a religious agenda that serves the needs of the kids in a real sense. You must understand that we have here Muslim kids, Hindu kids, Christian kids, Jewish kids, atheistic kids, agnostic kids. What they've all got in common is that they're all ...

Stephen Kids?

Hugh Exactly. That's very important. And therefore, the religious package we offer must take account of all those different elements under the over-arching umbrella of basic caring. Stephen, listening to this, turns out of shot and vomits quite noisily.

Stephen Sorry ... don't know what happened there ... so how have you done that? How have you accommodated these different ...

Hugh What I've done, what WE'VE done, I should say, is sweep away all the old divisions and invent a new religion.

Stephen A new religion?

Hugh That's right. It's a kind of religious Esperanto, if you like.

Stephen Nope. Don't think I do ...

Hugh We've called this religion Lip Wip Wip Wip.

Stephen Lip Wip Wip Wip. Now is that the name of the God ...?

Hugh There is no one, single God in Lip Wip Wip Wip.

Stephen It's a pantheon, is it?

Hugh I call it a committee of Gods. There are eight voting members and a non-executive chair who rotates every four years.

Stephen So what form does the worship take? What do you actually worship?

Hugh We worship air ...

Stephen Air, right ...

Hugh And flexible work-share schemes ...

Stephen Aha ...

Hugh And anything that has a rounded corner on it.

Stephen Why rounded corners?

Hugh Well, they're a very important symbol in Lip Wip Wip Wip. The kids here worship the one on the edge of the activity table in our art room ... Close-up of worktop. Pull out to see kids chanting at it.

Stephen And what do rounded corners symbolise in Lip Wip Wip?

Hugh Er ... the roundedness of things generally. The fact that you're much less likely to hurt yourself on round things or get things snagged on them. We prefer them to have a stain- resistant wipe-free surface, ideally. Every Farkling we place large potato prints ...

Stephen Sorry, every Farkling?

Hugh Yes. Farkling is our equivalent of, oh, Christmas, Ramadan, Passover ... what you will. It's our major festival. We have it at the beginning of January so that parents can take advantage of the January sales when buying presents. It's traditional on Farkling Eve to place potato-printed pictures on a rounded- cornered surface overnight. We see kids doing so - looking frankly pissed off. Then, when the kids come down they find they've been marked out of ten by Parent Farkling.

Stephen Parent Farkling?

Hugh Yes ... a sort of Father Christmas figure, but eitherly gendered.

Stephen And instead of leaving filled stockings or something similar, they mark a potato-print picture out of ten?

Hugh Yes - but of course, traditionally, every kid always gets ten.

Stephen Bloody hell. You say "traditionally", how long in fact has Lip Wip Wip Wip been a religion?

Hugh Well, the religion arose out of some very exciting discussions we had during a level two resource allocation module steering committee meeting that the trust held last week ...

Stephen It's alright, I'm controlling myself. So, would you say the religion has been a success so far?

Hugh Well, I'll be as frank as I can. There have been problems, I'm afraid.

Stephen Oh?

Hugh Mm. Just yesterday one of the kids in Mrs Tremloe's 2acvaw.xp5 class, Tristram, formed a sect that decided to worship oblong surfaces.

Stephen Oh dear.

Cut to Hugh, sitting on the desk in the class-room with a small child stretched out on a torturer's rack. Hugh gives a turn of the wheel.

Hugh Now, come on Tris. I'm very disappointed. What are you?

Tris wails. Hugh turns the wheel again.

Tristram I'm a heretic.

Hugh That's better. So, kids. What do you reckon we should do about that? Any thoughts?

Kids Burn him! Burn the heretic! Torch him!

Hugh OK. That's agreed then. We'll burn you at the stake in the playground during break, Tris. Now. Anna. What's this about you being a witch?

Cut back to Hugh and Stephen.

Hugh Early days yet, but we're hoping to iron out some of these teething snags pretty soon and get a permanent dungeon in the old chapel.

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