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Court-martial (Basingstoke in Westphalia) / 'Anything Goes In' (Song)

The cast:

Terry Jones
Eric Idle
Michael Palin
Terry Gilliam

The sketch:

Cut to a courtroom in the 1940s. A court-martial is in progress. An elderly general presides, with two others on either side of him. There is a defense counsel, a prosecutor, a clerk of court, and two men guarding the prisoner.

Presiding General: Sapper Walters, you stand before this court accused of carrying out the war by other than warlike means -- to wit, that you did on April 16th, 1942, dress up as a bag of dainties, flick wet towels at the enemy during an important offensive ...

Walters: Well, sir ...

Presiding General: Shut up! Colonel Fawcett for the prosecution ...

Fawcett: Sir, we all know ...

Presiding General: Shut up!

Fawcett: I'm sorry?

Presiding General: Carry on.

Fawcett: Sir, we all know the facts of this case; that Sapper Walters, being in possession of expensive military equipment, to wit one Lee Enfield .303 rifle and 72 round of ammunition, valued at a hundred and forty pounds three shillings and sixpence, chose instead to use wet towels to take an enemy command post in the area of Basingstoke ...

Presiding General: Basingstoke? Basingstoke in Hampshire?

Fawcett: No, no, no, sir, no.

Presiding General: I see, carry on.

Fawcett: The result of his action was that the enemy ...

Presiding General: Basingstoke where?

Fawcett: Basingstoke Westphalia, sir.

Presiding General: Oh I see. Carry on.

Fawcett: The result of Sapper Walters's action was that the enemy received wet patches upon their trousers and in some cases small red strawberry marks upon their thighs ...

Presiding General: I didn't know there was a Basingstoke in Westphalia.

Fawcett: (slightly irritated) It's on the map, sir.

Presiding General: What map?

Fawcett: (more irritably) The map of Westphalia as used by the army, sir.

Presiding General: Well, I've certainly never heard of Basingstoke in Westphalia.

Fawcett: (patiently) It's a municipal borough sir, twenty-seven miles north north east of Southhampton. Its chief manufactures ...

Presiding General: What ... Southhampton in Westphalia?

Fawcett: Yes sir ... bricks ... clothing. Nearby are remains of Basing House, burned down by Cromwell's cavalry in 1645 ...

Presiding General: Who compiled this map?

Fawcett: Cole Porter, sir.

Presiding General: (incredulously) Cole Porter ... who wrote `Kiss Me Kate'?

Fawcett: No, alas not, sir ... this was Cole Porter who wrote `Anything Goes'. Sir, I shall seek to prove that the man before this court ...

Presiding General: That's the same one! (he sings) `In olden days a glimpse of stocking ...'

Fawcett: I beg your pardon, sir?

Presiding General: (singing) `In olden days a glimpse of stocking, was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows, anything goes ...'

Fawcett: No, this one's different, sir.

Presiding General: How does it go?

Fawcett: What, sir?

Presiding General: How does your `Anything Goes' go?

Walters: Can I go home now?

Presiding General: Shut up! (to Fawcett) Come on!

Fawcett: Sir, really, this is rather ...

Presiding General: Come on, how does your `Anything Goes' go?

Fawcett: (clearing his throat and going into an extraordinary tuneless and very loud song)

Anything goes in.
Anything goes out!
Fish, bananas, old pajamas,
Mutton! Beef! and Trout!
Anything goes in ...

Presiding General: No, that's not it ... carry on.

Fawcett: With respect sir, I shall seek to prove that the man before you in the dock being in the possession of the following: one pair of army boots, value three pounds seven and six, one pair of serge trousers, value two pounds three and six, one pair of gaiters value sixty-eight pounds ten shillings, one ...

Presiding General: Sixty-eight pounds ten shillings for a pair of gaiters?

Fawcett: (dismissively) They were special gaiters, sir.

Presiding General: Special gaiters?

Fawcett: Yes, sir, they were made in France. One beret costing fourteen shillings, one pair of ...

Presiding General: What was special about them?

Fawcett: Oh ... (as if he can hardly be bothered to reply) they were made of a special fabric, sir. The buckles were made of empire silver instead of brass. The total value of the uniform was there ...

Presiding General: Why was the accused wearing special gaiters?

Fawcett: (irritably) They were a presentation pair, from the regiment. The total value of the uniform ...

Presiding General: Why did they present him with a special pair of gaiters?

Fawcett: Sir, it seems to me totally irrelevant to the case whether the gaiters were presented to him or not, sir.

Presiding General: I think the court will be able to judge that for themselves. I want to know why the regiment presented the accused with a special pair of gaiters.

Fawcett: (stifling his impatience) He ... used to do things for them. The total value ...

Presiding General: What things?

Fawcett: (exasperated) He .. he used to oblige them, sir. The total value...

Presiding General: Oblige them?

Fawcett: Yes, sir. The total value of the uniform ...

Presiding General: How did he oblige them?

Fawcett: What sir?

Presiding General: How did he oblige them?

Fawcett: (more and more irritated) He ... um ... used to make them happy in little ways, sir. The total value of the uniform could therefore not have been less than ...

Presiding General: Did he touch them at all?

Fawcett: Sir! I submit that this is totally irrelevant.

Presiding General: I want to know how he made them happy.

Fawcett: (losing his temper) He used to ram things up their ...

Presiding General: (quickly) All right! All right! No need to spell it out! What er ... what has the accused to say?

Walters: (taken off guard) What, me?

Presiding General: Yes. What have you got to say?

Walters: What can I say? I mean, how can I encapsulate in mere words my scorn for any military solution? The futility of modern warfare? And the hypocrisy by which contemporary government applies one standard to violence within the community and another to violence perpetrated by one community upon another?

Defense Counsel: I'm sorry, but my client has become pretentious. I will say in his defense that he has suffered ...

Fawcett: Sir! We haven't finished the prosecution!

Presiding General: Shut up! I'm in charge of this court. (to the court) Stand up! (everyone stands up) Sit down! (everyone sits down) Go moo! (everyone goes moo; the presiding general turns to Fawcett) See? Right, now, on with the pixie hats! (everyone puts on pixie hats with large pointed ears) And order in the skating vicar. (a skating vicar and everyone bursts into song)

Everyone: Anything goes in. Anything goes out!
Fish, bananas, old bananas,
Mutton! Beef! and Trout!
Anything goes in. Anything goes out. etc.

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