A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Bank Loan

Bank manager's office. Stephen sitting behind the desk. Hugh enters, looking quite needlessly repellent, folders and things tucked under his arm.

Stephen (Rising) Mr Lully?

Hugh That's right. Glad you could see me at such short notice.

Stephen Not at all, come in, sit down. Coffee?

Hugh Thank you.

Stephen How do you like it?

Hugh Decaffeinated, jug method, low mineral content filtered spring water, not quite brought to the boil with semi-skimmed milk and one Nutrasweet. Unstirred.

Stephen Right. (Intercom) Mark?

Voice (Intercom distort) Yes.

Stephen Do we still have that chemistry set in the office?

Voice (Intercom distort) 'Fraid not.

Stephen Right, one coffee then please.

Voice (Intercom distort) K.

Stephen So, Mr Lully, you'd like a loan?

Hugh That's pretty much the size of it.

Stephen You mention in your letter that you're starting up a business and that you're interested in taking advantage of our new "Gredo" start-up package.

Hugh That's correct.

Stephen Yes, now first things first. What exactly is the product you're hoping to market.

Hugh Ah, yes. Brought some samples along as a matter of fact. Hugh gets out two small sachets. Haven't actually settled on brand names yet. But there's basically two products. The blue sachet is cocaine and the red is heroin.

Stephen I'm sorry?

Hugh My own market research and some work undertaken by the packaging and graphics team has revealed that cocaine is thought of as a fresher, brighter product, hence the blue, and heroin is warmer and more passionate, therefore red. You disagree? I'd value your input.

Stephen You're planning to distribute and sell drugs?

Hugh On the button. The market's there, I'm ready to go, and let's face it - Europe's open for business.

Stephen Ye-e-es.

Hugh Problem?

Stephen Possibly. Possibly.

Hugh I know what you're going to say. It's a market that up until now has been hedged about with a lot of rules and regulations, and let me tell you this. When I first began to look at this market, I thought to myself, "hey, I'd be better off manufacturing red tape". Hahaha!

Stephen Red tape, yes.

Hugh But thank God, times are changing. Whole new markets are opening up, and I'm ready to play them.

Stephen Right.

Hugh The demand is there, no question.

Stephen Uh huh.

Hugh The most exciting thing for me is that it's such a young market.

Stephen Really?

Hugh Immensely young. Consumer profiling indicates the twelve to fifteen-year-old segment. And if we can instil in them product loyalty, that's got to be good news.

Stephen Aha. But ... but ...

Hugh I know what you're going to say. "Do they have the income?" right? Well, what I always say is, "if the product's right, they'll find the income." Their mother's handbags, car stereos, old age pensioners, wherever.

Stephen Mmm. I meant, well ... I hesitate to use a word like this. I know it's old-fashioned. But do you think it's strictly moral?

Hugh I beg your pardon?

Stephen Is it moral?

Hugh Moral?

Stephen Yes.

Hugh I'm not sure if I've actually got any precise figures on that ...

Stephen Yes, I actually mean ... is it moral to do this at all? You know ... children and so on.

Hugh Well. Let me turn the question round and ask you this. Would you rather we stood by and watched the Germans, the Dutch, the South Americans take our market share? Where's your precious morality then?

Stephen Well ...

Hugh Up a gum tree without a paddle, that's where it is. The question is this. Either you believe in market forces or you don't.

Stephen Well actually, I'm afraid to say I don't.

Hugh You don't?

Stephen No. I used to of course, when I was a child, but like everyone else, I discovered as I grew older that it was all made up.

Hugh Made up?

Stephen Yes. I can still remember the exact moment. It was Christmas Eve. I can't have been more than about thirty years old. I couldn't sleep, so I crept downstairs and heard my parents laughing about market forces, and saying that they'd have to break it to me sooner or later. Bit of a blow, I can tell you. And then two years after that, I discovered there was no such thing as Father Christmas either.

Hugh You're kidding?

Stephen Oh sorry, did you ... ?

Hugh Yes I did. Tscch.

Stephen Oh dear.

Hugh Growing up, eh?

Vox Pop

Stephen Well, you haven't paid me yet.

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