Sarah: Good reading, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to our show. We nearly didn’t make it this issue, did we Dick? Missed the first edition completely.
Dick: Sure did. But they’re like Moorland Rover buses, miss one and there’ll be another two along any minute. Anyhows, I always told you that photo of the editor and them….er..you know..
Sarah: From Bentilee High?
Dick: Them are the six!
Sarah: Six? I thought it was three.
Dick: I’ve had duplicates made.
Dick: But enough of the libellous drivel! What have we in store for our avid readers (Sarah: All one of him!)…this time, and why-O-why are you almost wearing that Santa’s helpers costume (short skirt, stockings, silly hat and fur-topped boots) yet again?!
Sarah: The author’s written a mini-panto for us to do.
Yes, she’s an handsome prince.
Dick: Oh no she’s not!
Sarah: Oh yes I am!
See, you’re getting the hang of it already.
Dick: What am I then?
You’re her loyal servant and confidante, Velcro the Valet.
And I’m playing her mother, the Queen.
Sarah: I wondered why he was wearing that dress, but I didn’t like to pry.
Well, let’s get on with it then. Here are your scripts,
just follow me, it’s my line first:-
Queen: Oh, woe, woe is me. It’s been an awful twelve months. First half my children separate, then my house catches fire, I’ve got to start paying tax, and now I’m appearing in this drivel. Oh, it’s a right annus horriblis.
Dick/Velcro: I can see it from here, but it’s your own fault for marrying a Greek!
Queen: Oh, Velcro, can’t you do your Jeeves bit and at least find out what’s the problem between the Prince and Princess?
Velcro: If you’ve seen the way he’s dressed you wouldn’t have to ask what the problem is.
Queen: Oh that’s just pantomime tradition. The leading men are all women, the leading women are all men, they sing songs to each other, fall in love and live happily ever after. It’s all perfectly normal.
Velcro: Maybe in London… Alright, your Royal Tax Payerness, I’ll see what I can do. I’ll spy on her prince-ness while she’s chatting to her harricots, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try bribing them with a bottle of Baby Bio until they spill the beans.
(Velcro finds the Prince in his conservatory, watering and talking to his Welsh leeks.)
Sarah/Prince: Oh, boyo, look you, Neil baby, the press doesn’t understand me, my wife doesn’t love me, and one, one has been taught everything except what love is. Let me explain in song, why don’t you….
I know about the kings and queens
that have ruled over one’s country
I know about the mating habits of the rhesus monkey
I know about the concept they called ‘Relativity’
I even know a politician who’s noted for his brevity!
I know all about the birds that have an annual migration
I know all the ins and outs of one’s nation’s taxation
I know about the sides triangular
And all their complex relations
And I can recognise all our Northern constellations.
But though one’s total sum of knowledge is indeed quite staggering
(And I can say this most humbly, without the slightest hint of swaggering)
Ranging as it does from law
to those continental dances…
Still, I haven’t the foggiest idea
what this thing they call ‘Romance’ is!!
Velcro (from the undergrowth): So that’s it! I must report back to Her Horriblis-ness at once.
(Back at the palace.)
Your Royal Transvestite-ness, I’ve discovered the Prince’s problem: he’s an idiot. I overheard him singing to a leek called Neil that he hasn’t the foggiest idea what love is. Don’t they have bikesheds at Harrow.
But don’t worry, I know just the very person to sort him out.
Queen: You mean, a fairy godmother?
Velcro: Close. My fan, Gladys.
Yes, he promised me a small part.
Queen: And you won’t be disappointed. But tell me, what can you do?
Velcro: What can she do?! What can she do?!!! You’re only looking at “The Bentilean”‘s answer to Majorie Proops, that’s all.
Yes, I’m always giving advice to the lovelorn.
Velcro: The editor wrote to her once. I have the letter right here, it went:-
Dear Auntie Glad,
I have lustful thoughts about young girls wearing school uniform, what should I do?
The Bent’ Ed’
JS B.A. M.Sc. Ph.D.
HGV double-0 3 and a half.
Queen: And what exactly did she reply?
Velcro: Take off the uniform!
Velcro: Yes, now if only we could get him out of the stockings and suspenders, he’ll be as normal as you or I. Well, I anyway.
Queen: Oh, well, see what she can do. We’ll try anything once.
Twice if she likes it!
Velcro: Larry Grayson, 1975, and every year thereafter. (Gladys exits) Well, what do we do now, while we wait for her to get back?
Queen: Ah, well, this is where we run out of script actually. The editor didn’t give me enough time to finish it, you see.
Velcro: Well, don’t you have your “Best of Morecambe & Wise” book with you, that you could nick a joke or three from like you usually do?
Queen: No, left it on the bus.
Velcro: A Moorland Rover?
Queen: Of course.
Velcro: We’ll get sponsored if we carry on like this.
I’m back! I’ve spoken to the Prince and I think I’ve sorted out his problem.
Velcro: I told you she would do it. She could persuade Terry Wogan not to appear on the telly. Which takes some doing.
And is a service to the licence payer.
Velcro: Never say “The Bentilean” doesn’t help minorities.
Queen: So what has she done?
Well, I told the Prince all about the bees and flowers and love and all that…
He’s divorcing the Princess and marrying his leek, Neil, next week.
Queen: Oh! Annus Worsus!!
Editor: I’m sorry, readers, we were to have winner of the Comedy Awards 1992, Mr Paul Merton, in this script but due to circumstances beyond our control he’s only just arrived. Sorry, Paul, you’ve had a wasted journey.
Paul: Aint it marvellous?
Copyright John Steele, 1991, 2011
The plot of this panto was inspired by an unfinished work, “Penny and the Prince”, from which the Prince’s song is borrowed. Moorland Rovers were a small independent bus company that all too briefly ran a bus service from Bentilee into Hanley, in rivalry to the main bus operator, First PMT (or whatever the heck they were called back then).