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I'm really pleased that people seem to like the new collection of seasonal stories 'A Christmas Cracker ' .  This latest 5 sta...

Saturday, 15 February 2014

About Time

You can find the original post which explains how this sketch came about, here: You've got to laugh...haven't you?


SCENE:  A Headmaster's study in a lesser known public school.  The Headmaster is seen sitting behind a large old-fashioned wooden desk which is liberally strewn with textbooks and papers.  He is busily writing when a knock is heard at the door.

H: (without looking up from his writing) Who is it?

P: (voice off) Perkins Minor, sir.

H: (still writing) Oh yes, come.

A tall, thick-set, man enters, dressed in an ill fitting schoolboy's uniform complete with cap and short trousers.  He walks slowly toward the desk.  The Headmaster remains engrossed in his writing.

P:  You sent for me, sir?

H:  (still writing) Yes Perkins, just a moment.  (He continues writing for a short time and then, with a flourish, finishes and puts his pen down.  He looks up and sees the man's midriff, then slowly, and with increasing astonishment, his eyes rise to the man's face)  Perkins Minor?

P:  Yes sir.

H:  Good Lord!  (regaining his composure, he continues) Perkins, I want to talk to you about your timekeeping.

P:  Oh dear, sir.

H:  Yes, it is "Oh dear, sir", Perkins.  It's just not good enough.  I know every boy here has a hobby.  Some keep bees, some keep mice, but you, Perkins, you...

P:  (helpfully) Keep time, sir?

H:  I know you do, Perkins, I know you do!  Just how much time have you got?

P:  I don't really know, sir, but it's all neatly catalogued.  (enthusiastically) There's bags of assorted seconds, minutes carefully minuted, hours with and without glasses, days in, days out (sings) 'that same old voodoo follows me about...'

H:  Perkins! (P stops singing) Have you any idea of the chaos that you are causing?

P:  Well sir...

H:  For example, what day is it today, as far as you're concerned, Perkins?

P:  Tuesday, sir.

H:  Which Tuesday?

P:  Tuesday, August 4th, sir.

H:  Is it, Perkins, is it really?  Well, it may interest you to know that to me, it is still last Wednesday, to Mr. Hoskins, the Sports Master, it is the start of the cricket season and the reason for Matron's absence is that she is currently celebrating Christmas.  What have you got to say to that, Perkins?

P: (quietly) Merry Christmas, Matron? (subdued) I'm sorry, sir.

H:  Sorry!  Sorry?  I should think you are, 'sorry' Perkins.  Good heavens, lad, er man, I don't mind you keeping your own time, but you've started keeping everyone else's as well.

P:  I do seem to have rather a lot of time on my hands at the moment, sir.

H:  Of course you do, Perkins, whilst we've hardly got a minute to ourselves.  Tell me, how old are you now?

P:  Thirty seven, sir.

H:  (incredulously)  Thirty seven!  And how old were you when you joined the school last term, eh?

P:  (very quietly) Nine, sir.

H:  Nine!  Heavens man, doesn't that tell you something?

P:  Time flies when you're having fun, sir?

H:  Don't try and be smart with me, Perkins.  Look, you must give this hobby up, it's putting years on you.

P:  True sir, but I do get more birthday presents this way.

H:  But at this rate, you'll be drawing your pension before you leave school, and then what do you propose to do?

P:  I thought I might become a school crossing warden, sir.

H:  You think you've got an answer for everything, don't you Perkins?  What about your classmates, what do they think of you?

P:  Oh they're quite happy enough, sir, as long as I bring them a drink and some crisps back from the pub.

H:  Ah yes, the pub (from the top of one of the piles of paper, he picks up a piece of notepaper).  I have here, Perkins, a letter from one Mr. Jenkinson, Landlord of The Frog and Pullet, Little Pairing, Surrey.  A letter, I may say, in which he complains bitterly (if you will excuse the expression) regarding your behaviour, Perkins.

P:  (indignantly) But...I'm his best customer, sir.

H:  From the sound of this letter, you will soon be his only customer.  He states that, on each occasion that he shouts "Time, Gentlemen Please!", you give him some.

P:  It's my generous nature, sir.

H:  As a result of which, he has been unable to close his premises for a month, he is suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation, five of his regulars are in hospital with alcoholic poisoning, and his wife has run off with a brewery drayman.

P:  He was doing a good trade though, sir.

H:  The level of trading is immaterial, Perkins, the man's health and family life have been ruined by your insane desire to meddle with the laws of nature.

P:  Perhaps I should spend less time there, sir?

H:  It's not the spending of time that's the problem, so much as the wholesale giving it away.

P:  I'll see what I can do, sir.

H:  Do Perkins, do!

P:  Will that be all, sir?

H:  No, Perkins, not quite.  The teachers tell me you have been taking time off school?

P:  Just a few hours, sir.

H:  Just a few hours?  Not a few years, perhaps?

P:  Oh no, sir, not that much, I'm sure.

H:  Not, 948 years to be precise?

P:  (despondently) Oh, you've heard, sir?

H:  Heard Perkins?  Of course I've heard.  Mr. Crossett, your History teacher is a nervous wreck.  When he said "Let's go back to the Battle of Hastings", he was speaking figuratively.

P:  I got carried away in the moment, sir.

H:  I only wish you had been, Perkins.  How I'm going to explain those arrow wounds to the parents, I do not know.  And as for poor little Harold...

P:  We tried to keep an eye out for him, sir.

H:  If that is supposed to be a joke, Perkins, it is in very poor taste.

P:  Yes sir, sorry sir.

H:  Perkins, Perkins, this hobby of yours...it's got to stop.  Why can't you do something else?  Why not try something constructive?  A lot of the boys make things, you know.  Model aeroplanes, railway engines, boats, that sort of thing.

P:  (enthusiastically) You're quite right, sir.  I'll give up keeping time and start making something right away.

H:  (with relief) Excellent, Perkins!  Good man!  What do you propose to make?

P:  I thought I might try love, sir.

THE END

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