A FableThe following was condensed from a dream I had last night, which I've turned into something resembling a short play...
Scene: An upper middle class gathering in an upper floor function suite in an upmarket hotel. Guests mingling making polite conversation, when our hero turns up at the room entrance...
F: "Ah, Monsieur Urquart! [pronouncing it Ur-karr] So glad you decided to join us after all..."
U: "Yeah? Well it's pronounced Ur-kutt [deliberately stressing the last consonant] and I wanted to get my money's worth didn't I. What sort of party is it when the guests have to pay anyway?" [whilst saying this he's been removing his camel hair coat and hands it to one of the serving staff without any acknowledgement.]
F: "Well monsieur, all we ask is a contribution to help pay for the occasion. Everybody chips in..."
U: [butts in] "You mean fries in! ... You know: French fries? chips?" [laughs at his own joke]
F: "We have to pay for the room and for the staff's wages for instance."
U: [butts in again] "Yeah, but I didn't have any say in choosing them, did I?"
F: "No monsieur, but all the same..."
U: "Just as long as I get my 35 quid's worth."
F: [this time F interrupts] "35?! But does monsieur not remember [lowering his voice] I gave you a special discount? You only paid half..."
U: "Yeah but you asked for 35." [Urquart glares challenglingly]
F: [sighs] "Very well..." [notices U is empty handed] "we also did ask if maybe guests might bring along some offering to share... Monsieur?"
[Scanning round the room there are tables with ham, sausage, fish, cheese, bread, and bottles of wine and beer, and a few exotic looking desserts. ]
U: "Well I've bought me financial wizardry... and me use of perfect gramma'ical English." [mutters] "That must be worth at least 35 quid..."
[F puzzled by the nonsensical last statement, opens his mouth to speak, but...]
U: "Anyway, wine o'clock!" [U brushes past F and heads straight over and pours himself a glass of an Italian red] "And you can't have wine without a bit of cheese!" [picks up a small plate and helps himself to selection of French cheeses] "And you can't do worst than a bit of wurst..." [both words pronounced identically, of course.]
[U starts to wander through the room with his booty; the guests are all in small groups chatting politely. As he approaches one group, he realises they're speaking in a language he doesn't recognise. He pulls a look of disgust, mutters "rude" under his breath and wanders on. He stands alone at the side of the room polishing off his food before going to grab a bottle of Belgian beer. A man is at the adjacent table quietly cutting himself a slice of bread.]
U: "Bread's a bit of a boring thing to bring to a party, isn't it?"
R: [turning around startled] "I baked this myself specially this afternoon. We don't all have the money for more lavish..."
U: "Ah MONEY! You want to talk about money... you're talking to the right man! Just between you and me... [initially in a hushed voice, then suddenly talking loud over everyone else] I'VE GOT THE FIFTH BIGGEST HOUSE IN THE CITY!"
[The room has gone suddenly quiet. U turns to the gathering and holds his arms out as if calling for applause. One lady evidently confused by the sudden interjection starts to clap, but the man she's been talking with shakes his head and she stops.]
U: [turning back to R] "Oh yeah - I've got a bob or two." [takes a few swigs of beer. R looks uncomfortable]
U: "You know that big house on the other side of the river?"
R: "The one with the high wall around it?"
U: "Yeah that's right. That's mine."
R: "Very nice, I'm sure."
U: "It is! It's very nice. And very expensive. And what about you - whereabouts do you live?"
R: "Oh on the east side of..."
U: "Ooh it's a bit rough round there isn't it?"
R: "It's OK really; people are friendly and always happy to help if you have a problem."
U: "Well when you have as much money as me you don't have problems. You just build a big wall to keep all your problems out."
R: "Or in." [R jokes]
U: "What's that?!"
[At this point F who's made his way over to the pair interrupts.]
F: "So nice to see you fellows getting along so well. I just wondered if you were ready to get on with the night's proceedings?"
U: [grabbing another bottle of beer] "Err... what's that then?"
F: "Well the plan is that when everyone's had enough to eat and drink, we are going to discuss the problems in the neighbourhood and try to find the best solutions that suit everybody."
U: "Well that's easy! I've got the fifth biggest house in the city. You should just do what I say"
[another man starts to interrupt]
G: "Well actually, as a matter of fact..." [but he sees F shaking his head and stops.]
F: "That's not really the way we do things."
U: "Why not?"
F: "We like to be more... democratic."
U: [shrugs] "Sounds boring. I've got other parties I could be at, you know?"
F: "Even so, we would genuinely value your input. Do you not think it's important that we discuss matters that affect all of us? Our environment? Security?"
U: "Of course, but not if you're not going to listen to me."
F: "We're going to listen to everyone, but we need to find a balance."
U: [guzzling back his beer] "Yeah... well sorry, that's just not the way I roll."
F: "We really would like to try to find a way..."
U: "Whatever." [U. pulls open the door and turns to face everyone] "Bon soir [pronouncing it soya], tout de suite! Au jour d'hui!"
[he backs out of the door muttering "35 quid! what a rip off". Only when he turns does he realise he's backed out onto a balcony overlooking the road. There's the sound of a bolt sliding across behind him.]
[it starts to rain...]