The New Cause

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

A garden shed: Hugh is in a cardigan trying to mend a lawnmower. Stephen appears in abrupt sort of blazer and stands behind him. Eventually Hugh notices him and jumps.

Hugh Good heavens Jack, you gave me such a fright. Good Lord. There I was trying to mend the old lawnmower, bloody old thing, well of course it's not old, it's quite a new lawnmower.

Stephen Hello Neddy.

Hugh Well hello, Jack. Sorry. I was wittering rather just now. It's just that, well, you know ... lawnmower's bust, and ... How are you Jack?

Stephen Well, thank you Neddy.

Hugh Well? Oh that is good news. That's quite made my day. There I was thinking that the world was a pretty bloody sort of a place, where you can pay good money for a lawnmower that doesn't even work ... but then you tell me that you're well, and suddenly things seem to be not so bad after all. Sort of puts everything into perspective ...

Stephen Neddy?

Hugh Jack.

Stephen I've a question for you.

Hugh Oh good.

Stephen I'd be grateful if you could furnish me with an honest answer.

Hugh Furnish you, Jack? 'Course I'll furnish you. You ask away, and leave the furnishing to me.

Stephen Good.

Stephen has picked up a Stanley knife. He works the blade in and out.

Hugh Ha. Clever little toy that, isn't it. Stanley knife. It's a sort of knife made by a feller called Stanley. First name or second name, I'm not sure. I could find out for you, Jack, if you're interested. Make some inquiries, as it were ...

Stephen Ingenious.

Hugh D'you like it, Jack? Well for heaven's sake you keep it, old sport. Present from me.

Stephen That's very kind of you Neddy.

Stephen puts the knife into his pocket.

Hugh Not at all, Jack. Plenty more where that came from.

Stephen Neddy ...

Hugh Still here, Jack.

Stephen How would you like to be Prime Minister?

Hugh Ha.

Stephen Well?

Hugh Sort of a trick question, is it Jack?

Stephen Not at all.

Hugh Not at all. I see. How would I like to be Prime Minister? Hm. Fancy a cup of tea, Jack?

Stephen When you've furnished me with an answer, Neddy, a cup of tea would be most agreeable, thank you.

Hugh Prime Minister. Lord. Well, I suppose it would be rather fun to be Prime Minister, Jack, yes. Riding around in big motor cars. Policemen saluting you, and all that. Yes, I expect it would be very interesting work.

Stephen You'd like to be Prime Minister?

Hugh Well, yes, Jack. I expect there are worse jobs hahahahaha.

Stephen What about your wife?

Hugh Oh. I wouldn't like to be my wife, Jack, no. I mean ...

Stephen How would your wife take to your being Prime Minister?

Hugh Oh I see. Er, well. I'll pop in and ask her, if you like. Won't be a sec.

Stephen I want your opinion, Neddy. As you know, I represent a group of people.

Hugh Yes, I know that, Jack. Yes, jolly fine people too, I've no doubt.

Stephen People who are, shall we say, concerned about the direction in which this country is headed.

Hugh Right.

Stephen We feel, as a group of concerned people, that the current Prime Minister won't do.

Hugh Won't do.

Stephen Won't do.

Hugh Won't do what, Jack?

Stephen Won't do, Neddy.

Hugh Oh I get you.

Stephen Do you?

Hugh No.

Stephen We feel that a change is needed, if disaster is to be averted, and we would like you to be the next Prime Minister.

Hugh Crikey.

Stephen Will you do it, Neddy? For England?

Hugh Jack. Jack, old sport. Let me say first of all, that I really am deeply touched by the offer. Deeply touched. Thing is ... Jack, can I tell you something?

Stephen By all means, Neddy.

Hugh Jack, when I was at school, I used to play cricket for the third eleven. No bloody good, of course, went in number eight. I was number seven once, when Proby had his appendix out, but otherwise well down the order ...

Stephen Is this relevant, Neddy?

Hugh Well I think so, Jack, yes. You see, there was this one match, we played them every year, a match against Trenton House. Bit of a needle match, to be honest, Jack, you know what boys are like. Well anyway, this one year, they turned up without an umpire, and the captain told me to get out there and call the shots as it were. And the thing is, Jack ...

Stephen Yes?

Hugh I couldn't do it.

Stephen What do you mean couldn't do it?

Hugh I mean I just couldn't do it. Responsibility, you see, Jack. I couldn't cope with the decisions. "Howzat" they would scream in my face, and I just went into a sort of dreadful funk ... gave one chap out before he'd even left the pavillion. What I'm saying, Jack, is that I'm a follower, if you know what I mean. Not a leader.

Stephen Precisely, Neddy.

Hugh Precisely, yes, Jack.

Stephen You are precisely the man we need.

Hugh Oh lor.

Stephen Well, Neddy? Will you do it?

Hugh Will I do it? Good heavens, Jack, of course I'll do it. Yes. Anything for my old pal Jack. I just ...

Stephen Excellent. Congratulations Neddy. The country is in safe hands, I know it.

Hugh Oh good. Right, so I'll start being Prime Min- ister ...

Stephen Whenever you're ready, Neddy.

Hugh Ready, Neddy, very good. Ha. One thing?

Stephen Yes?

Hugh All right with you if I just get this lawnmower up and running before I start? Won't take a moment.

Cut to Neddy PM

Vox Pop

Stephen Secret vices? I don't know. Rather too fond of chocolate Hob Nobs. My wife tells me I overdo the heroin. Otherwise, not really.

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