Truancy

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

A bedroom. Hugh is playing a video game, sullen teenager-wise. Stephen enters.

Stephen Terry. Got a moment?

Hugh What?

Stephen Do you have a window in your packed schedule? If so, could you open the curtains and let me look through? Just for a moment.

Hugh Yeah.

Stephen Good. Now Terry. School. I've had Mr Stroke on the phone, asking where you've been. He says you didn't turn up today.

Hugh So?

Stephen So why not?

Hugh 'S boring.

Stephen How would you know that, Terry? According to Mr Stroke, you haven't been to school for nearly four years.

Hugh So?

Stephen So? So? So? So what have you been doing? What the hell have you been doing for the last four years?

Hugh I've got to level nine.

Stephen Level nine? What do you mean, level nine?

Hugh Level nine. Top level.

Stephen But school, Terry. Improvement. Learning. Discovery. Growth.

Hugh What's the point?

Stephen What's the point? What do you mean, what's the point?

Hugh There's no point.

Stephen There doesn't have to be a point, you blithering twerp. School is school. What's the point of ear lobes? What's the point of fabric conditioner, or tag wrestling, or butterfly-shaped pasta?

Hugh School's boring.

Stephen Yes? Your point being?

Hugh I don't want to go to school, cos it's boring.

Stephen You don't want? You don't want? And who, please be good enough to tell me, is supposed to give an electrically operated shag about what you want? Hmm? Hmmm? Hmmmmm?

Hugh Just leave me alone, can't you?

Stephen Leave you alone? Leave you alone? Why the hell should I leave you alone? Are you making a cheese sauce? Working on a cure for cancer? An oboe concerto is starting to take shape in your mind? What?

Hugh I'm on level nine.

Stephen Bugger level nine. Bugger up the arse of level nine with an anglepoise lamp. I'm talking about your life.

Hugh What about it?

Stephen Never mind what about it? What IS it, Terry? What the hell is your life? Tell me what your life is.

Hugh What's yours?

Stephen What do you mean, what's mine?

Hugh What's your life?

Stephen My life. My life. My life is about work, dedication, energy. Thirty-three bloody years with Russell and Bromley, that's what. My life is about having you. I had you, didn't I? That was supposed to be a good thing.

Hugh I didn't ask to be born.

Stephen You didn't ask to be born. Judas Priest on a two-stroke moped ... what is that supposed to mean? Hm? What does that mean, you didn't ask to be born? You'd rather be dead, would you?

Hugh Maybe.

Stephen Maybe? Maybe? Maybe? Maybe? I mean ... what?

Hugh I've thought about it.

Stephen About killing yourself?

Hugh Yeah.

Stephen Well, what's stopped you? Couldn't be bothered, I suppose. Couldn't be bothered to go down to the kitchen and get a knife out of the drawer.

Hugh I wanted to get to level nine.

Stephen You've got to level nine, for crying out loud from the bloody roof-tops. You're at level nine now.

Hugh Right.

Stephen Right.

Hugh So when I finish this game, I'm going to top myself.

Stephen Oh great. As long as I know. I'll go and book the bloody headstone now then. "Here lies Terry Gardner, he got to level bloody nine." Care for some singing cherubs round it, or do you want it plain?

Hugh Bingo. Done it.

Hugh throws down the video game.

Stephen So. Knife, or out the window?

Hugh Knife, I think.

Stephen Knife, good.

Hugh goes out. Stephen listens for a moment, then picks up the video game.

Stephen About bloody time.

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