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HASP AND STAPLE IN PERSON

(With apologies to Hinge & Bracket)

by BILL Stanton

HASP : Ladies and gentlemen - !

STAPLE : Good evening !

HASP : Lovely to be with you again !

STAPLE : Yes, lovely !

HASP : May I begin by introducing to you my old friend, Doctor Araminta Staple ?

STAPLE : Old, dear ? Colleague, I think.

HASP : It gives us - Eh ? Oh yes, of course. Colleague.

STAPLE : And this is, of course, my - er, colleague, Dame Hermione Hasp.

HASP : Hasp and Staple. Fast friends, one might say.

STAPLE : Fast, dear ?

HASP : Oh, metaphorically, of course. Now, my colleague and I - oh, I do think that's such a nice word, dear. Colleague . . . How clever of you ! One's never quite sure about that word 'friends' nowadays, is one ? Friends sharing, hmmm ?

STAPLE : Oh, quite. Colleague it is.

HASP : Such an understanding fr - er, colleague. Now where was I ? Oh, yes. This evening Doctor Staple and myself would like to offer you a small divertissement. Did you like that, dear ? Divertissement ?

STAPLE : Oh, quite !

HASP : Understood it, did you, dear ? French ? Hmm ?

STAPLE : We're not all morons, dear. I always say a soupçon of culture goes a long way.

HASP : Do you, dear ? Do you really ? Ah well, it takes all sorts . . . Well now, ladies and gentlemen, a song you will all know, I'm sure. (PAUSE) Especially at your age.

STAPLE : Yes, dear. But the words -

HASP : Words ?

STAPLE : A trifle risqué, perhaps ?

HASP : Oh, not those words, dear. Not here.

STAPLE : Most particularly not here. It isn't a smoking concert, you know.

HASP : Not even a concert, actually.

STAPLE : Ah well, we must remedy that.

HASP : Indeed we must. So, ladies and gentlemen (STOPS TO "FREEZE" ARAMINTA) our little offering.

STAPLE : But not those words.

HASP : Oh, I'm sure they won't know those words, dear. They look much too nice. (PAUSE) Some of them. And we have altered the words considerably, haven't we ?

STAPLE : To fit the occasion, one might say.

HASP : So if anyone should feel tempted to join in the refrain, please don't, will you ? I mean, please don't refrain. Do feel free.

STAPLE : Rather ! But not those words. Pas devant les enfants.

HASP : Just the refrain first then. Shall we try it ?

(MUSIC FROM ACCOMPANIST)

HASP : Actually, it's just the last line of the stanza, you know. Did you like that, dear ? Stanza ?

STAPLE : Oh, quite !

HASP : I always feel Radio Three is our true home, you know.

STAPLE : The song, dear.

HASP : Of course. Let's try the refrain, shall we ?

(SINGS) Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow. Just six words, that's all. Not really a strain. A child could do it. So it shouldm'n cause you too much difficulty, dear. Shall we try, then ? All together now. Loosen your corsets or whatever if you feel it would help.

(MUSIC FOR AUDIENCE TO SING REFRAIN)

HASP : There ! That didn't hurt a bit, did it ? I thought that was rather nice, didn't you, Araminta ?

STAPLE : Very nice, Hermione !

HASP : Just a touch - er, diffident, perhaps ?

STAPLE : Timid, I'd say.

HASP : Diffident, I think, dear. Were you conscious, would you say, of a shade of embarrassment ? The innuendo, perhaps ? Tit willow ? Don't be, ladies and gentlemen, will you ? After all, it is only a bird, isn't it ? A small, round, warm object that nestles in the hand, trembling with emotion ? (PAUSE) You know, Araminta, they might have a point. (PAUSE) Shall we try again ? And this time with a little more - er, rubato ?

(MUSIC FOR AUDIENCE TO SING REFRAIN)

And perhaps one more time before we do our bit. Let it all hang out, as they say. (PAUSE) On second thoughts, perhaps not.

(AUDIENCE AGAIN)

There ! That really was quite splendid ! Splendid ! Didn't you think it was splendid, Araminta ?

STAPLE : Oh, splendid.

HASP : To look at them, one wouldn't believe it, would one ?

STAPLE : No, indeed, dear. Quite astonishing !

HASP : Well now, shall we set orf ? Ladies and gentlemen ! (FIXES ARAMINTA AS SHE APPEARS ABOUT TO SPEAK) A small encomium to a splendid body of people. With a rousing chorus, please, at the end of each stanza ! Er one, er two, er three...

HASP : There are amateur actors right here in the town -

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : Who all have unfortunate things to live down;

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : They're remarkably earnest each in his own way -

STAPLE : Though some are quite young and some rather passé,

HASP : Still they all come on strong at the end of the day !

AUDIENCE : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : Oh, jolly good ! Didn't you think so, Araminta ?

STAPLE : I can honestly say I never heard anything like it !

HASP : Quite !

STAPLE : You've doubtless gathered from the subject-matter that this is what is commonly known as a ballad of low life. Right then, orf we go with Stanza Two !

STAPLE : We put on this show at the drop of a hat -

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

STAPLE : There's nothing of course to object to in that;

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

STAPLE : It's been drama for breakfast, for lunch and for tea -

HASP : But in spite of all that you can take it from me

BOTH : Our late-night performance was something to see !

AUDIENCE: Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : Oh, lovely ! Do feel free to loosen something if you think it will help, won't you ? Right, orf we go again !

HASP : So let's drink a toast to this fine Northern band -

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : In more ways than one let us give them a hand;

BOTH : Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

HASP : For you've got to admit, dears, when all's said and done -

STAPLE : They give lots of pleasure, they have lots of fun

BOTH : Long may they continue ! Good night, everyone !

AUDIENCE: Sing willow, tit willow, tit willow !

(CURTAIN TO THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE - WE HOPE)