Shoplifting

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen is sitting at a desk in a dingy office. Hugh and a woman enter. Hugh is a supermarket security guard, she is a housewife.

Hugh Come on, in you go.

Woman There's no need to push. I can walk.

Stephen Ah. Tango Four, is it?

Hugh Sorry to bother you, Mr Turner. It looks like we've got a ten twenty-three on our hands.

Woman Will you let go of my arm?

Stephen A ten twenty-three, oh dear.

Woman You have absolutely no right to keep me here.

Stephen Won't you have a seat, Mrs ... ?

Hugh Target responds to the name of King, sir.

Stephen All right, Tango Four, let's have your report.

Hugh Sir. As per your briefing instructions, I was positioned in aisle number three, between breakfast cereals and bread, operating a mobile figure of eight pattern around frozen vegetables.

Stephen Textbook stuff, Tango Four.

Hugh Thank you, sir. I then observed the target loitering opposite the Coco Pops.

Woman Look, I have to pick up my children at four o'clock, so if you ...

Stephen What's your name, son?

Hugh Lewis, sir. Oliver Lewis.

Stephen This your first taste of action?

Hugh Yes, sir.

Stephen Quite a feeling, isn't it?

Hugh Oh yes, sir. Quite a feeling.

Stephen I remember my first ten twenty-three. 1968. Still had me bum fluff.

Woman Look, I'm sorry to interrupt, but my children are waiting for me at school ...

Stephen My advice to you, Mrs King, is to pay a little more attention to your own problems just at the minute! (To Hugh) Doesn't hurt to shake 'em up a bit early on.

Hugh It's joy to watch you, sir.

Stephen Come come, my dear, dry those tears. Hanky?

Woman No thank you.

Stephen (To Hugh) Hard, then soft, you see?

Hugh Beautiful, sir.

Stephen Now then, Mrs King, I'm going to tell you a story.

Woman Oh God.

Stephen One day a woman goes into a supermarket and steals some Coco Pops. Do you like my story, Mrs King?

Woman Not really.

Stephen I'm pretty near the mark though, aren't I?

Woman No.

Hugh She's lying, sir!

Stephen All right, Lewis. I think Mrs King and I understand each other.

Woman I don't think we do.

Stephen After all, lifting a packet of Coco Pops isn't such a terrible thing, is it? Not when you look at what they get up to at football matches these days. No, I'd say that shoving a packet of Coco Pops down your cleavage and forgetting to pay for them is just being human, after all.

Woman Have you finished?

Stephen No, I haven't finished, you snotsucking ball of slime.

Woman Now look here ...

Stephen No, you look here. See that? Know what that means? He points to a medal ribbon on his chest.

Woman No.

Stephen Tell her, laddie.

Hugh I'm afraid I don't know either, sir.

Stephen This is a Distinguished Service Medal, from the Arndale Centre in Chippenham! He points to a photo on he wall. That's me! There! Shaking hands with the manager. Read out the citation, Lewis.

Hugh Right, sir. (Reads) "Harry Turner is congratulated on his alertness in apprehending a shoulder of lamb - New Zealand."

Stephen Stolen lamb, Mrs King. Stolen lamb, stolen Coco Pops. Comprendo?

Woman Are you accusing me of theft?

Stephen Affirmatory, Mrs King!

Woman Right. (She rootles in her handbag) What do you think this is? (Takes out piece of paper)

Hugh Careful sir, it could be a trap.

Woman It's a bloody receipt. (Reads) Coco P. 48 pence!

Stephen Have you got a receipt for that receipt?

Woman Of course I haven't.

Hugh Haha!

Stephen No, course you haven't. 'Cos you nicked it, didn't you?

Hugh Confess, confess! You're from a broken home!

Stephen Steady, Lewis.

Hugh Sorry, sir.

Woman Look, why don't we just call the police?

Stephen Police. Hear that, Lewis?

Hugh I did, sir. Very amusing.

Stephen I shouldn't worry too much about the police, Mrs King.

Hugh Police. Ha. (Spits)

Stephen A fine body of men, on the whole, but amateurs when it comes to analysing the mind of a ten twenty-three. I could have joined the police if I'd wanted, Mrs King. The money's better of course, what with the housing allowance, but in the end I said to myself ... "Harry, my boy, you belong with the elite."

Hugh Good on you, sir.

Stephen Thank you, Lewis. Or may I call you Oliver?

Hugh I'd be honoured, Harry.

Woman You pathetic pair of twerps.

Stephen I'm sorry?

Woman You sad, crappy, twerps. I'm leaving now.

Stephen Well I'm afraid we're a long way from finishing yet ... The woman gets to her feet. Stephen tries to stop her but she disables him with some fancy martial artwork and then throws Hugh across the desk. She exits looking cool. Stephen and Hugh pick themselves up off the floor. Yes, you're probably wondering why I let her walk out just like that?

Hugh Well she was obviously innocent, sir.

Stephen Exactly. Knew it from the start. You get a nose for it after a while.

Vox Pop

Stephen Oh yes. All of them. I've slept with every single one. Well every front-bencher, anyway.

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