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(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 ?


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.


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 ?


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


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 !