(The hall of the Memorial Baths, Swansea, done up for a gala
occasion. There is a stage with flags, bunting and flowers. Echoing
noise of audience anticipation. Muffled tannoy announcements in
Voice Over: Good evening, and welcome to the Arthur Ludlow
Memorial Baths, Newport, for this year's finals of the All-England
Summarize Proust Competition. (pull back slightly to reveal big
banner across the top of the stage: 'All-England Summarize Proust
Competition') As you may remember, each contestant has to give a
brief summary of Proust's 'A La Recherche du Temps Perdu', once in a
swimsuit and once in evening dress. The field has now narrowed to
three finalists and your judges tonight are... (cut to panel of
judges at long desk; they are all cut-outs of smiling photos of the
following) Alec and Eric Bedser, ex-Surrey cricketers, Stewart
Surridge, ex-captain of Surrey, Omar Sharif, Laurie Fishlock,
ex-Surrey opening batsman, Peter May, the former Surrey and England
Captain, and Yehudi Menuhin, the world-famous violinist and the
President of the Surrey Cricket Club. And right now it's time to
meet your host for tonight - Arthur Mee!
(Showbiz music, applause, and Arthur Mee appears from the back
of the stage; he wears the now traditional spangly jacket. He comes
forward and speaks into the mike ; the sound is rather hollow and
strident as in big halls with a hastily rigged PA.)
Mee: (TERRY J) Good evening and welcome, whereas Proust
would say, 'la malade imaginaire de recondition et de toute
surveillance est bientôt la même chose'. (roars of applause;
quick shot of grinning faces of the jury) Remember each
contestant this evening has a maximum of fifteen seconds to sum up
'A La Recherche du Temps Perdu' and on the Proustometer over here...
(curtain pulls back at back of stage to reveal a true, enormous,
but cheap, audience appreciation gauge; it lists the seven books of
Proust's masterwork in the firm of a thermometer) you can see
exactly how far he gets. So let's crack straight on with our first
contestant tonight. He's last year's semi-finalist from Luton - Mr.
Harry Bagot. (Harry Bagot, in evening dress, comes forward from
back of stage, he has a number three on his back; Mee leads the
applause for him) Hello Harry. Now there's the summarizing spoh
you're on the summarizing spot, fifteen seconds from now.
(Music starts, continuity-type music. The needle of the
Proustometer creeps up almost imperceptibly to a tiny level.)
Harry: Proust's novel ostensibly tells of the
irrevocability of time lost, the forfeiture of innocence through
experience, the reinstatement of extra-temporal values of time
regained, ultimately the novel is both optimistic and set within the
context of a humane religious experience, re-stating as it does the
concept of intemporality. in the first volume, Swarm, the family
(Gong goes, chord of music, applause. The meter has hardly
risen at all.)
Mee: Well tried, Harry.
Voice Over: A good attempt there but unfortunately he
chose a general appraisal of the work, before getting on to the
story and as you can see (close up of Proustometer) he only
got as far as page one of 'Swarm'sWay', the first of the seven
volumes. A good try though and very nice posture,
(Cut back to the stage.)
Mee: Harry: Bagot, you're from Luton?
Harry: Yes, Arthur, yeah.
Mee: Now Harry what made you first want to try and start
Harry: Well I first entered a seaside Summarizing Proust
Competition when I was on holiday in Bournemouth, and my doctor
encouraged me with it.
Mee: And Harry, what are your hobbies outside summarizing?
Harry: Well, strangling animals, golf and masturbating.
Mee: Well, thank you Harry Bagot.
Harry: walks off-stage. Music and applause.
Voice Over: Well there he goes. Harry Bagot. He must have
let himself down a bit on the hobbies, golf's not very popular
around here, but never mind, a good try.
Mee: Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Rutherford from
Leicester, are you ready Ronald? (Ronald is a very eager man in
tails) Right. On the summarizing spot. You have got fifteen
seconds from now.
Ronald: Er, well, Swann, Swann, there's this house,
there's this house, and er, it's in the morning, it's in the morning
- no, it's the evening, in the evening and er, there's a garden and
er, this bloke comes in - bloke comes in - what's his name - what's
his name, er just said it - big bloke - Swarm, Swarm
(The gong sounds. Mee pushes Ronald out.)
Mee: And now ladies and gentlemen, I'd like you to welcome
the last of our all-England finalists this evening, from Bingley,
the Bolton Choral Society and their leader Superintendent McGough,
(a big choir comes on, immaculately drilled, each holding a score,
with Fred Tomlinson as superintendent McGough) All right Bingley,
remember you've got fifteen seconds to summarize Proust in his
entirety starting from now.
First Soloist: Proust, in his first book wrote about... fa
Second Soloist: Proust in his first book wrote about...
Tenors: He wrote about...
(They continue contrapuntally, in madrigal, never getting
beyond these words until they rallentando to say...)
All: Proust in his first book wrote about the... (gong
Voice Over: Very ambitious try there, but in fact the
least successful of the evening, they didn't even get as far as the
first volume. (the singers leave the stage)
Mee: Well ladies and gentlemen, I don't think any of our
contestants this evening have succeeded in encapsulating the
intricacies of Proust's masterwork, so I'm going to award the first
prize this evening to the girl with the biggest tits.
(Applause and music. A lady with enormous knockers comes on to
the side of the stage. Roll credits:)
THE ALL-ENGLAND SUMMARIZE PROUST COMPETITION A BBG PRODUCTION
WITH MR I. T. BRIDDOCK, 2379, THE TERRACE, HODDESDON. IT WAS
CONCEIVED, WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY...
(Roll usual Monty Python credits and music. Behind them the
lady accepts the cup and the singers come back on stage and admire
her. Fade out.)