Stephen Well, Hugh.
Hugh Well, Stephen.
Stephen Here we are again.
Hugh More or less.
Stephen More or less?
Hugh Last time, if you remember, we were between MAPS and BIOGRAPHIES on the other side, but now they've changed the whole bookshop round.
Stephen I think I prefer it here.
Hugh Oh so do I.
Stephen You get a nice view of the till and the fire exit, and we're only a short stroll away from the Leisure Interest section.
Hugh I wouldn't want to go back, certainly.
Stephen But anyway, Hugh, here we are again, with another collection of comedic ensketchments to thrill, tease and sexually arouse our reading public.
Hugh More or less.
Stephen More or less, yes. Wasn't it Big Ron Atkinson who said "you can sexually arouse some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but if you want to sexually arouse all of the people all of the time, you've got your work cut out to a certain extent"?
Stephen Tsk. I'm thinking of Abba.
Hugh Not wishing to interrupt or anything of that sort, but isn't it about time we rolled up our sleeves and got down to the job of introducing the ladies and gentlemen to this book?
Stephen Haven't they met?
Hugh Don't think so.
Stephen I'm so sorry. I could have sworn they were both at the Hendersons' last New Year's Eve.
Hugh What a night that was.
Stephen Well, early evening.
Hugh Yes. What an early evening that was.
Stephen Well anyway, ladies and gentlemen, this is the book. Book, say hello to the ladies and gentlemen. Slight Pause.
Hugh They seem to have hit it off remarkably well.
Stephen Oh, I think it's going swimmingly.
Hugh Well if you'll excuse me, I think I'll just nip to the lavatory.
Stephen We're in the lavatory.
Hugh Of course we are. Tsk.
Stephen You were thinking of Abba.
Hugh Must have been.
Stephen Hugh, my old china, I've a question for you.
Hugh Off you go.
Stephen Have I gone mad, or were we supposed to use this introduction as a way of issuing a warning?
Hugh You've gone mad.
Stephen If I have indeed gone mad, it's the sort of madness in which I have moments of achingly lucid sanity. Here's one now.
Hugh Steady. Don't waste it.
Stephen I seem to remember being given some advice by our solicitors.
Hugh You're quite right. We were advised, by our solicitors, to write out a cheque to our solicitors.
Stephen Made payable to bearer, if memory serves.
Hugh Memory has served an ace in this instance, Stephen. We were asked to write out a cheque and advised that it was our duty to warn the potential purchaser of this book, this book with which they are already making such fast friends ...
Stephen Fast, but within the speed limit.
Hugh It was our duty, I think I was saying ...
Stephen ... before you were so attractively interrupted.
Hugh ... to warn the reader that these sketches are for external application only.
Stephen On no account are they to be swallowed.
Hugh Or performed in public without written permission from the publishers, unless and until you are the only human being left alive on the planet Earth.
Stephen Which, in case you're starting to get alarmed, is an unlikely set of circumstances, and not one you would expect to come across every day of the week.
Hugh But that's what you pay these legal johnnies for - covering angles that the rest of us wouldn't think of.
Stephen A humbling thought, Hugh. A humbling thought.
Hugh Any other duties we have to discharge, before the ladies and gentlemen ask this book back to their place for a cup of Horlicks and a snog?
Stephen Not really, except for heaven's sake make sure you've actually got some Horlicks.
Hugh Oh. That can be embarrassing, can't it?
Stephen Always have the wherewithal to back up your story. There's nothing worse than an idle boast.
Hugh Wasn't it the Swedish pop group Abba who said "a man who claims to have Horlicks when he hasn't, is no man at all - and certainly wouldn't be welcome at Sheffield Wednesday"?
Stephen It was G.K. Chesterton.
Stephen I think they should call it industrial inaction, hahaha, if you ask me, hahaha.
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