The Red Hat of Patferrick

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Violent violins. Organ music. Stephen in a deep leather burgundy hide wing chair with dimpled buttons. He is reading. He looks up.

Stephen Hello, I'm Gelliant Gutfright, your host on The Seventh Dimension. Tonight's story is called "The Red Hat of Patferrick". I must add a warning. The BBC do not advise that you watch the unfolding of this dark tale if you are in any way of an erotic disposition. He walks towards an office set. Office life. Ha! It seems so ordinary, doesn't it? So mundane. What is the worst that can happen in an ordinary publisher's office? Susie loses the Tippex. Carol forgets to fax that contract to Stuttgart. The wrong manuscript is DHL-ed to San Francisco. Nothing sinister about a modern office. Is there? Is there? Or is there? Jonathan Hadey. A nice guy. One of the world's good scouts. Governor of his local primary school. Rotarian. Chief High Coven Priest of the Amersham and District Satanic Abuse Club. An ordinary, decent British guy. Every day is much like the day before for publisher Jonathan Hadey. Except today. Except April the twenty-ninth of October. Oh yes, except for today ... Camera has been zooming in on Hugh, and Stephen's last few words are over. The telephone on Hugh's desk rings.

Stephen (Over) Louise is out of the office, flirting with Ted from marketing while she makes Jonathan's mid-morning coffee. He might as well answer the telephone himself for once.

Hugh Hello?

Voice (Telephone distort) I want to speak to Jonathan Hadey.

Hugh This is him ... he ... him. I mean ...

Voice You have the Red Hat of Patferrick.

Hugh The what?

Voice Don't play games, Mr Hadey. You have just seven hours to return it to it's rightful owner.

Hugh Shall I put you through to marketing?

Phone click. Dialling tone.Hugh stares into the phone. Puts it down slowly.Louise enters with a coffee.

Louise Sorry I took my time, Mr Hadey, but Ted from marketing was licking my breasts. Who was that?

Hugh I don't know. A wrong number probably ... except they asked for me. Something about a hat.

Louise (Slightly guilty, suspicious) A hat?

Hugh Yes, a hat from Portmerrick or something.

Louise Not ... Patferrick?

Hugh Yes! That's it! The hat of Patferrick.

Louise (Terrified, but trying to hide it) Did they say what ... what ... colour?

Hugh The red hat I think they said.

Louise (Screams) No! Not red! Please God not red. No, no, no, no! She runs to the open window behind Hugh's desk and throws herself out. Hugh rushes to the window and looks down.

Hugh My God, Louise ... oh sweet Jesus heaven, Louise why ...

Louise (Off) I can't explain Mr Hadey.

Hugh But for the Lord's sake girl. Whatever it is, you can't stay down there.

Louise If you don't mind Mr Hadey I will. For the time being.

Hugh But ... Hugh is interrupted by a voice off behind him. It is the voice of Gerald Dandridge, his boss.

Dandridge Hadey!

Hugh (Spinning round) Mr Dandridge!

Dandridge Can't have my editorial directors staring out of the window all day. Not got enough work to do?

Hugh No, sir it's not that ... it's ...

Dandridge Well, man ... speak up.

Hugh I'm afraid Louise is ... behaving rather oddly.

Dandridge Probably her time of the curse or whatever they call it. Give her the day off.

Hugh Yes, that's probably it. Got rather upset about some sort of Hat. The Pink Hat of ...

Dandridge (Gasping in fright and astonishment) Pink hat? Did you say pink hat?

Hugh (Surprised) Well ...

Dandridge The hat of ... the Pink Hat of where, man?

Hugh Well it was some phone call ...

Dandridge (Grasping Hugh's collar) In the name of mercy, Jonathan! THE PINK HAT OF WHERE?

Hugh Well, I think he said Patferrick ... does that sound right?

Dandridge (Instantly relieved and relaxed) Patferrick? Oh that's all right. The Pink Hat of Patferrick. Fine, my boy. Fine.

Hugh Well come to think of it, it was red, the Red Hat of Patferrick, he said.

Dandridge (Hugely loud scream) No! Oh suffering hell, NO!!!! The Red Hat of Patferrick!! Dandridge runs to the window and jumps out.

Hugh Sir! Mr Dandridge? Pause. Mr Dandridge? Sir?

Dandridge (After a pause. Hissed whisper) Go away!

Hugh But what are you ...

Louise Please, Mr Hadey. Just leave us alone.

Dandridge Buzz off.

Hugh Oh. Right. Hugh backs away from the window, scratching his chin and very puzzled. The telephone rings very loudly in his ear. (Answering it) Hello? ... Police? ... Yes, what is it? My wife ... what kind of accident? Oh my God ... squashed! In heaven's name, what by? A hat? A hat? What kind of hat? Sort of maroony, burgundy-ish crimson. Damn it man, you mean red. If it's red say so. A red hat ... from the dust on the brim it could only come from one place, you say? Don't tell me, I already know. Patferrick. My God, it was the Red Hat of Patferrick. He drops the telephone and buries his head in his arms. Louise enters with a coffee and shakes him on the shoulder.

Louise Wake up, Mr Hadey. It's your coffee.

Hugh What ... I ... the pat ... the hat ... the redferrick of hatpat ... I ... oh.

Louise Dreaming again, Mr Hadey. I don't know.

Hugh But it was so ... so real. (Laughing) What's the matter with me? I think I need a holiday.

Louise Oh there's a man on his way up to see you. Says he's bringing "The Red Hat of ..." somewhere or other.

Hugh NO!!! Oh my Christing hell-god no! The red hat of where? Speak, girl.

Louise Well Pat-something, I think he said.

Hugh Oh God, no. The Red Hat of Patferrick! No. Hugh runs and jumps out of the window. Louise clutches her cheeks and screams. Enter Stephen as Gelliant Gutfright. A bundle of papers under his arm.

Stephen Something wrong, my dear?

Louise It's Mr Hadey, he just ... twenty-three floors up and he just ... oh! (She shudders)

Stephen Ah. Well. I had better take The Red Hat of Patferrick somewhere else, hadn't I?

Louise The Red Hat ... that's why Mr Hadey jumped. What is it?

Stephen Oh just a manuscript of a story my dear. A wholly improbable tale. It concerns a young publisher who has a dream about a hat, and when he awakes ... but it is (turns and stares into the camera) nothing but fancy. It could never really happen. Could it? Could it? Or could it? Perhaps it could. Or could it? Goodnight.

Vox Pop

Stephen I've found that young people are no longer enticed into church simply on the promise of guitars and a little folk music. We have to move with the times. We've started showing leather and bondage films in St Barnabas's and the results have been very good. We were packed last Sunday. Mostly Young Conservatives, but it's a start.

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