Sunday, August 24, 2008

Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying

Here is some Sunday afternoon entertainment.

There was a "cheese shop sketch" before the famous Cheese Shop Sketch that we all remember. I was reminded about it whilst browsing the Wikipedia entry for Marty Feldman.

Here it is (text copied from here). The customer is played by Marty Feldman and the shop assistant by John Cleese.

Assistant: Good morning, sir.
Customer: Good morning. Can you help me? Do you have a copy of 'Thirty Days In the Samarkand Desert with a Spoon' by A.E.J. Elliott?
Assistant: Um ... well, we haven't got it in stock, sir.
Customer: Never mind. How about 'A Hundred and One Ways to Start a Monsoon'?
Assistant: ... By ... ?
Customer: An Indian gentleman whose name eludes me for the moment.
Assistant: I'm sorry, I don't know the book, sir.
Customer: Not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with 'David Copperfield'?
Assistant: Ah, yes. Dickens ...
Customer: No.
Assistant: ... I beg your pardon?
Customer: No, Edmund Wells.
Assistant: ... I think you'll find Charles Dickens wrote 'David Copperfield', sir.
Customer: No, Charles Dickens wrote 'David Copperfield' with two 'p's. This is 'David Coperfield' with one 'p' by Edmund Wells.
Assistant: (a little sharply) Well in that case we don't have it.
Customer: Funny, you've got a lot of books here.
Assistant: We do have quite a lot of books here, yes, but we don't have David Coperfield' with one 'p' by Edmund Wells. We only have 'David Copperfield' with two 'p's by Charles Dickens.
Customer: Pity - it's more thorough than the Dickens.
Assistant: More thorough?
Customer: Yes ... I wonder if it's worth having a look through all your 'David Copperfields'...
Assistant: I'm quite sure all our 'David Copperfields' have two 'p's.
Customer: Probably, but the first edition by Edmund Wells also had two 'p's. It was after that they ran into copyright difficulties.
Assistant: No, I can assure you that all our 'David Copperfields' with two 'p's are by Charles Dickens.
Customer: How about 'Grate Expectations?
Assistant: Ah yes, we have that ...
He goes to fetch it and returns to the counter.
Customer: ... That's 'G-r-a-t-e Expectations', also by Edmund Wells.
Assistant: I see. In that case, we don't have it. We don't have anything by Edmund Wells, actually - he's not very popular.
Customer: Not 'Knickerless Nickleby'? That's K-n-i-c-k-e-r
Assistant: No!
Customer: Or 'Quristmas Quarol 'with a Q?
Assistant: No, definitely ... not.
Customer: Sorry to trouble you.
Assistant: Not at all.
Customer: I wonder if you have a copy of 'Rarnaby Budge'?
Assistant: (rather loudly) No, as I say, we're right out of Edmund Wells.
Customer: No, not Edmund Wells - Charles Dikkens.
Assistant: Charles Dickens?
Customer: Yes.
Assistant: You mean 'Barnaby Rudge'.
Customer: No, 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens ... that's Dikkens with two 'k's, the well-known Dutch author.
Assistant: No, no - we don't have 'Rarnaby Budge' by Charles Dikkens with two 'k's the well-known Dutch author, and perhaps to save time I should add right away that we don't have 'Carnaby Fudge' by Daries Tikkens, nor 'Stickwick Stapers' by Miles Pikkens with four Ms and a silent Q, why don't you try the chemist?
Customer: I did. They sent me here.
Assistant: (making a mental note) ... Did they?
Customer: I wonder if you have ... 'The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoat-Pamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig among the Giant Pygmies of Corsica', Volume Two.
Assistant: No, we don't have that one. Well, I mustn't keep you standing around all day ..
Customer: I wonder if ...
Assistant: No, no, we haven't got it. I'm closing for lunch now anyway.
The assistant moves rapidly away from the counter.
Customer: ... But I thought I saw it over there.
The assistant checks and turns slowly.
Assistant: ... What?
Customer: Over there.
He indicates a bookshelf.
Customer: 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'.
Assistant: (very suspiciously) 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'?
Customer: Yes.
Assistant: ... 0-l-s-e-n?
Customer: Yes!
Assistant: B-i-r-d-s?
Customer: Yes!
Assistant: Well, we do have that one, yes.
He goes and takes the book off a shelf.
Customer: ... The expurgated version, of course.
Assistant: ... I'm sorry, I didn't quite catch that.
Customer: The expurgated version.
Assistant: The expurgated version of 'Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds'?
Customer: Yes. The one without the gannet.
Assistant: The one without the gannet?! They've all got the gannet it's a standard bird, the gannet, it's in all the books.
Customer: Well I don't like them. They've got long nasty beaks! And they wet their nests.
Assistant: But ... but you can't expect them to produce a special edition for gannet-haters!
Customer: I'm sorry, I specially want the one without the gannet.
The assistant is speechless.
Assistant: All right!
He suddenly tears out the relevant page.
Assistant: Anything else?
Customer: Well, I'm not too keen on robins.
Assistant: Right! Robins, robins ...
He tears that one out too and slams the book on the counter.
Assistant: No gannets, no robins - there's your book!
Customer: I can't buy that. It's torn.
Assistant: ... So it is! He tosses it into the bin.
Customer: I wonder if you've got ...
Assistant: Go on! Ask me another.
Customer: How about 'Biggles Combs his Hair'?
Assistant: No, no, we haven't got that one, funny. Try me again.
Customer: 'The Gospel According to Charlie Drake'?
Assistant: No ...
Customer: Have you got 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity-Surveying'?
Assistant: No, no, we haven't ... which one?
Customer: 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity-Surveying'.
Assistant: 'Ethel the Aardvark'?! I've seen it! We've got it!!
He dashes to a bookshelf, finds it, and holds it up triumphantly.
Assistant: Here! Here!!! 'Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying'. Now - buy it!
He slams it on the desk. The customer stares in horror!
Customer: ... I haven't got enough money on me.
Assistant: (quickly) I'll take a deposit!
Customer: I haven't got any money on me.
Assistant: I'll take a cheque!
Customer: I haven't got a cheque book!
Assistant: It's all right, I've got a blank one!
Customer: I don't have a bank account!!
Assistant: ... All right!! I'll buy it for You!
He rings the purchase up and pays for it himself. He gives the change to the customer.
Assistant: There we are, there's your change - that's for the taxi home ...
Customer: Wait! Wait! Wait!
Assistant: What? What? What?!!!
Customer: ... I can't read ...
Assistant: Right! Sit!! ...
He sits the customer down on his knees and starts to read aloud.
Assistant: 'Ethel the Aardvark was trotting down the lane one lovely summer day, trottety-trottety-trot, when she saw a nice Quantity-Surveyor ...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had to do this for a play in my drama class in High school. It was so much fun!

Stephen Luttrell said...

I seem to recall watching the original transmission of this sketch on a faulty old B/W TV back in the late 1960's.

Anonymous said...

remember hearing a version of this on a radio programme with Connie Booth playing Marty's part. I always thought that was the original version. Now that I know better, that explains the voice that Michael adopts on the "Contractual Obligation" version.