Mortimer & Mears #6a: The Panto

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… know..

Sarah: From Bentilee High?

Dick: Them are the six!

Sarah: Six? I thought it was three.

Dick: I’ve had duplicates made.

Sarah: Oh.

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.

Queen: 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!

It worked!

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…

Queen: And?

He’s divorcing the Princess and marrying his leek, Neil, next week.

Queen: Oh! Annus Worsus!!

Editor’s Apology

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).

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Diary of a Bent’ Vol’: A Humourous Short Story

Anyone who’s ever read The Advertiser, or listened to Radio Stoke, will have heard of the Bentilee Volunteers {or “Bent’ Vol’s”, as one wag has nick-named them}, but who are they? “The Bentilean” sent their ace reporter, Ivor Story, to find out {but he’s totally useless so we’ve made it all up —Ed.}…..

10th June, ’88

Saw Joe for the first time in ages today. Said he’d been busy with a local voluntary group he’d joined. “Voluntary group!” I said. “Become a bleeding social worker have yer?”

“Nah!” he said. “I were just bored, fed up, and had nowt to do when I got this leaflet pushed through me door all about them. “Bored, fed up, nowt to do?” it said, “Then read this!” so I did.

“Anyways, it say they were always on the lookout for new volunteer van drivers, and it sounded just like my cup of tea, so I thought I’d give them a ring to find out more. Next thing I know I’ve got half my week filled up with all sorts of activities, and no ruddy time to be bored, great stuff!”

“You should look into them yourself. They have a meeting each Wednesday, you should go along to one.”

Well, when you’ve had a life as filled and exciting as mine {Hell’s Angel, 3 years in the army, 2 in the marines, 5 in the S.A.S., and 1 in the ******* {censored under the Official Secrets Act –Ed}, you can’t just sit around the house all day doing nowt, so I gave ’em a ring to check out their meeting time.

Wed 16th June

The Bentilee Volunteers?!! huh! “The Hanley Volunteers” would be more like it. Completely off the estate, and a compass job through Bucknall. Just as well me Harley was out of dock or I’d needed to hire a team of Sherpas to find them! And the people too!

‘Just ordinary residents’ they’d described themselves as, but what do I find? Feminists, old biddies, precious few men, a skeleton with a beard, a councillor’s wife, a pedal cyclist, several ‘practising Christians’, and a fella who votes Conservative!!!

Fri 18th June

Went along to a course they’re doing, today. “Work Skills” they called it. So far, apparently, they’ve covered compiling CVs {whatever they are}, writing off for jobs, interview techniques, and body language! I’m just waiting ’til they cover shorthand so I can apply to be Desmond Morris’s secretary.

Still, met a few more of the Vol’s {there’s about 30 of ’em, they say}. Including one old chap {thin white hair, bent back, and moon map for a face}, who they respectfully introduced to me as a “Veteran amongst the Vol’s”. He told me he’d been with them now for five years, and he was only 27.

But the oddest chap was the one teaching us: Welsh, straw hair and beard as full as Santa’s, and one of the most long-winded geezers I’ve ever met. Took me over to one side, at one stage, and told me the entire story of his life. How he’d been born the illegitamate son of a sheep ducker {I think he said ‘ducker’}, and a Russian Ballet Queen; of how he’d spent his school days travelling the gay capitals of Europe, and the Eastern Block; of how at the age of fourteen he’d lost his virginity to another Russian Ballet Queen, called Ivan, and how he’d been rescued by a tall, kind man from Staffordshire Social Services {who then stripped him, locked him in a room, and deprived him of all the normal comforts of home under their Pindown Policy}, until he was rescued again by a bunch of Satanists from Rochdale — and I’d only asked him the time!

Tue 29th June

Got roped into helping out at their old biddies Lunch Club today. {That’s ‘pensioners’ not ‘biddies’ –Ed}

Anyhows, had to crawl under the bleeding stage to haul out these tressle tables, then had to put ’em up singlehanded! {My friend Joe being off with the beginnings of a nervous breakdown, apparently, the other bloke has a bad back, and the feminists were having a day off from being equal.}

That done, it was rush roung the entire estate to pick he old ‘dears’ up in their ‘minibus’. ‘Minibus!?’ It was so clapped out I had to spend ten minute trying to pushstart the thing, fifteen under the bonnet trying to find out what was wrong, and then nip next door to the primary school to borrow theirs’. Jeez! last time I saw anything so kn*!kered it was painted green and had just been hit by a grenade!

Never mind, when I got back they were serving the soup, and it seems we’d been joined by some late-comers as there was a luscious new ‘Vol’ in the kitchen. Long copper red hair, catlike eyes, and just the roundest, gropable {censored by Ed} I’ve ever seen!

Instantly, my army, marines, S.A.S. & {shhhh!! you know what} training came to the fore, and I lost no time going over to offer her a ride on my Harley. “Hello, darling!” I said. “How’d you like to feel something Big and Powerful between your legs?”

Well, she just turned round, half-smiled, and kneed me in the groin. I can still remember thinking, as my face fell into her chest, what a bleeding shame it is when such a gorgeous, f***able woman turns out to be a raving lesbian.

Mon 16th August

Got dragged into their summer playscheme now {can’t stand kids, but the red head asked me, and I still have hopes}. Come up for a bit she said {sounded promising}; just half a day will do. So I went.

Wish I hadn’t. They were all trainee Ninja Mutant Turtle; karate chopping each other to death; burying one another in the sand pit — head first! — and using the ballooons for unnatural purposes.

And you just can’t ake your eyes off ’em. One minute I was helping some ‘golden haired angel’ to my paint my picture {and my face, my jacket, my hair}, and the next chasing some spotty young herbert round and round the school yard trying to get my helmet back, only to catch up with him when he stops behind a coal bunker to have a sh*t in it.

The last straw though came when I went back round to the front entrance and found another group of herberts riding my Harley like an horse, while their friends were dismantling the engine for spares! Panic stricken, I chased them off, reassembled my poor engine, and sped off vowing never to return.

I tell yer, that twenty minutes was the longest day of my life.

Sat 21st August

Decided to give this volunteering lark one more chance so I volunteered to get an early start on this Winter Warmers visiting scheme they run. They handed me three names and said, ‘Here, visit these, they live near you.’

Well, I wanted to make a good impression so I put on my best leather jacket, polished me Doc Marten’s and went to visit the nearest one to me.

She looked a miserable old sod, but I was determined to give it my best shot. “Hello, love,” I says, “I’ve come to help keep yer warm this winter.” And the silly old sod started screaming “ sex maniac! sex maniac! and beating me over the head with her walking stick! I tell yer, if it hadn’t been for my helmet I could’ve ended up brain damaged and a fan of Neighbours.

Next old biddy was hardly any better. Just kept waving at me through her window and shouting “Not interested, not interested, I’ve already got double-glazing.”! And the third one thought I was a Jehovah’s Witness!!

I think I’ll let the silly old buggers freeze to death, and go back to the good old days of being ‘bored, fed up’, and having nowt to do.


Copyright John Steele, 1990, 2011
Yes, the Bentilee Volunteers are a real group (in fact, now a registered charity and still going strong!). Yes, I based my characters on real people, or sort of. The Hell’s Angel, ex-army, ex-S.A.S., ex-everything narrator was a mixture of several non-Bent’ Vol’s I’d met and whilst I describe the make up of the group accurately enough (at least, when I was one of them back in 1988-89), the two I involve in the storyline (the Welsh man with straw hair and the red headed Vol’) were entirely fictitious. Needlesstosay, the events described were also a figment of my deranged imagination.

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Mortimer & Mears #4: The New Designer Woman

Dick: Good reading, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the mag. Have we got a show for you this issue. There’s…..ermmmmm? And……?

{To Sarah}: Have we got a show for them this issue?

Sarah: I don’t know. I thought you had the script.

Dick: I haven’t got it. Well, we can’t do anything without a script, so after 3:


Both: Editor!!!

Editor: You screamed?

Dick: He gets worse! He’s given himself an even fancier box now.

Editor: It was the new designer’s idea, nothing to do with me.

Sarah: You mean….

Editor: Yes, I’ve been framed!

Dick {To Sarah}: No need to ask where our script’s got to. {To the editor}:

You… you… thief you!

Editor: I haven’t got your script. Fact is, there isn’t one yet.

Dick: We are professional entertainers, we can’t perform without a script.

Editor: Clive James does.

Sarah: Who?

Dick: Ignore him, he’s just trying to sidetrack us. Where’s our script?

Editor: I’ve just told you, there isn’t one. The author’s suffering a crisis of creativity, he’s sitting at his typewriter, staring at a blank sheet of paper still. You’ll just have to ad lib.

Dick: Ad lib? This isn’t “Whose line is it anyway?”.

Sarah: I don’t know. You’re about the size of Mike McShane.

Dick: But you’re no Josie Lawrence. We just can’t do it.

Editor: What if I gave you a couple of items and you made a comedy sketch out of them? Here, have this banana and these two peaches.

Sarah: You’ll get us banned.

Editor: You could always gibber on meaninglessly for the next one or two pages, interspersed with the odd sexist, sizist comment, and end with a cheap double entendre and the first line of Morecambe & Wise’s greatest hit, “Bring me sunshine”.

Dick: We couldn’t do that!

Editor: Why not? You usually do.

Dick: I tell you, he’s nicked our script.

Both: We demand to see the author! Author! Author!

Author:  You chanted?

Sarah: What kind of typeface does he call that?

Author:  "Avante Garde".  The new designer's idea.  
Very appropriate for an artist like me, I thought.

Dick: He’s worse than the editor! But onward!! What’s happened to our script?

Author:  I don't know.  I gave it to the editor weeks ago.

Dick: I knew it! The thief! Well, what’s the meaning of all this then?

Editor: Errr……I’m the editor, I edited it.

Author:  Edited it?!  Edited it!!  The room's spinning....

Editor: I can’t help that, it was an awful script, full of secondhand jokes, cheap laughs, and satirical digs at Bent’….

Dick: Say no more!

Dick: Anyways, that’s as maybe, but I demand you give it to us.

{Dick thrusts out his hand to receive it, in a forceful manner.}

Editor: Okay, okay.

{He reaches down the front of his trousers and takes out the script.

It’s rolled up and limp looking.}

Sarah: Oh. And I thought he was pleased to see me.

Dick: {Rapidly withdrawing his hand in horror}: Sarah, get the script! {She does} Now read it to me.

Sarah: Oh, I see I got to speak first.

Dick: That’d have to go.

Sarah: Followed by you making a libellous slur about my mother, a camel, a cucumber, and the band of the Black Watch; going into a blasphemous sketch about the Virgin Mary and the three wise men; all rounded off by an obscene version of “Ding Dong Merrily On High”!

Dick: Nowt to edit there then. Let’s have a look.

{Dick scans the script, a slight smile forming on his face.}

Ah! I see! He’s not in it! The editor’s not in it.

Editor: That’s nothing to do with it.

Sarah: But why? He’s been in every one since we first started.

Author:  He refuses to pay me.

Dick: When did he wake up?

Author:  You don't know what it's like
to be a writer.  There's no double act
for me, writing is a one man job.  Just
me, a room, a soulless lump of type-
writer, and a piece of blank paper
staring back at me, mocking me,
defying me to defile it with words;
words that have to be ripped from my
innermost recesses, pulled and
wrenched out with all my strength,
until I'm left impotent, bleeding from
my very soul

Dick: I thought he nicked all his stuff from the worst of Morecambe & Wise.

Author:  What do you know about it?  You two 
dimensional characterisation of a jester -- a pale 
shade of such Greats as Eric Morecambe, Tony Hancock, 
and the one and only Grocho Marx.

Dick: That’d be fighting talk if I knew what he was on about.

Sarah {To the author}: Anyhow, it’s nothing personal, he doesn’t pay anybody.

He pays me!

Dick: Who said that?

{Enter a woman with long chesnut hair,
brown eyes, and a voluptuous figure.}

I did! I’m the new designer.

Sarah: It’s a woman!

Dick: A gorgeous woman!

Editor: We try not to be sexist.

Author:  Never mind all that.  {To designer}:  He pays you?

Editor: Not with money.

Dick: You dirty little devil!!!

Editor: She wants to be a journalist, I give her advice.

Yes, he’s been showing me how to take things down
when I interview people.

Dick: Would you like to interview me?

Author:  This just makes it worse.  She'd have nothing to design 
if it wasn't for me,  and without my words you two would 
get no laughs.

Editor: They never do.

Dick: Right! We don’t have to take this, we’re stars! Sarah, come with me and you, designer woman, whatever your name is….


….Molly, you bring that banana and them there peaches.

Author:  What on earth are you going to do with them?

Dick: Improvise!

Bring us sunshine…..


Copyright John Steele, 1991, 1999, 2011
I think from this episode on, I have to take all the writing blame myself. And this was the first one in which I started to use fonts to differentiate the various characters to make it easier to see at a glance who was speaking (and because I figured if I was writing for radio I’d use sound effects, so why not make use of visual cues when writing for print media). Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to recreate the original fonts above.

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Mortimer & Mears 7: The Case of the Drivelling Detective

Sarah bowed her head against the pelting rain, and pulled the collar of her coat over her long hair, as she and Dick made a dash for the vaulted doorway of the grey, stone manor house.

“Sure glad to get out of that,” she said, shaking the loose rain from her coat collar. “Well, don’t just stand there, ring the knocker or bang on the bell or something.”

Peering through the shadows, Dick sees a tarnished brass bellpull protruding from the ivy-clad wall. He pulls it. A hollow ringing, as if from the very soul of the house, sounds within. Looking into Sarah’s dewed eyes, a nervous smile passes Dick’s lips and he whispers through the gloom….

What the blummin’ heck’s going on here?!

Sarah: Hey? That’s not in the script.

Dick: What script? One minute I was chatting up a nice, red-haired mermaid, in some sleazy, smokey bar, in some sleazy, smog-ridden backwater, of the sleaziest (not to mention, weirdest) ghetto of the author’s subconscious mind, and the next minute I’m dashing though the rain toward some gloomy, gothic horror, manor house with you. So, I repeat, what the blummin’ heck’s going on here?

Sarah was about to answer him when the door of the manor slowly creaked open, bathing them in an eerie yellow light, and revealing the tall, dark and handsome form of the butler, who, even through the gloom managed to emanate a mysterious, yet unmistakeable, air of intelligence.

Dick & Sarah: What the heck are you doing here?

I am the butler sirs, I buttle.

Dick: Come off it! You’re the editor of  “The Bentilean” magazine. We’d recognise your vast bulk and unmistakable air of stupidity anywhere.

I don’t know what you mean, sirs. I am the butler, and
you are Mr. Richard Mortimer and Miss. Sarah Mears,
if I am not even more mistaken than you are, sirs. Now, if
you would walk this way, the murder will take place during dinner.

Dick: If I could walk that way I wouldn’t need the talcum powder!


The diningroom was big affair, with a high baronial ceiling and a table that stretched forever, laid with a white tablecloth, sprays of flowers and glittering silver candlesticks. Dick and Sarah were seated opposite each other, at the only corner of the long table that was occupied.

“They’re a peculiar lot, aren’t they?” hissed Sarah, through a spray of pink carnations.

Dick: And so familiar. See that woman in the red dress, between the so-called major and the portly vicar. Only saw her in the Blue Whippet Nightclub & Winebar, stripping on stage. Sure was an eye-opener. They were playing bingo at the time.

Sarah: And the other two?

Dick: The major was the bingo caller, and the vicar….well, let’s just say it’s no surprise his choirboys can reach them high notes, and leave it at that.

Sarah: I hope it’s him who gets murdered.

Dick: It won’t be. It’ll be some nondescript type. An innocent waitress, perhaps, who knows some deadly secret and can’t be allowed to tell it. Anyways, I thought you had seen the script.

Sarah: Ah, yes, but it’s part of the script that I don’t know what’s going to happen next, you see..

Dick: Pity. Or we could’ve told the murderer to get on with, arrest him (Sarah: Or her!), or her, and I could have gotten back to my mermaid before she goes off — cause they don’t keep so well out of water, you knows.

Could I get you a drink?

Dick: It’s Gladys! Me fan! What are you doing here?

Just got this part as a nondescript waitress.
Now can I get you a drink, it’s part of the script.

Sarah: In that case, I’ll have a screwdriver, please.

Dick: And I’ll have a Black & Decker Martini, with umbrella attachments.

Thank you. I’ll just exit page-right and get myself murdered.

Dick: What a trooper! They don’t make fans like that any more.

Offpage, Gladys had left the diningroom to cross the hall into the bar, to fetch Dick and Sarah’s drinks. But she wasn’t alone. In the shadows an arm was raised, a stray ray of light glinted off polished steel, and quietly, ever so quietly, it moved forward until it was so close it cast a gloom over Gladys, and she turned as if in slow motion. Too late. In one swift movement the steel blade of the knife swept down, burying itself in Gladys’s warm, soft flesh.

Falling backwards, a look of surprise etched into her face as she glimpsed the identity of her killer, who, smiling, bent over her and slipped something into her right hand….

{Dick: Bravo!! A scene worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.

Sarah: Hitchcock?!

Dick: I’m sorry to hear that!}

The murder has been commited, sirs. Would you like to
detect before or after dessert, sirs?

Dick: Well, the mag’s already three months late, I think we should start now. What do you say, Sarah?

Sarah: Lead the way, and don’t spare the talcum powder!

The major, vicar, woman in the red dress, and several extras followed them out into the hall where Gladys’s body still lay.

What’s that in her right hand?“, asked the woman in the red dress.

The Vicar: It’s a magazine!

Sarah: The Bentilee Bulletin!!

Dick: Suicide!

The Major: Suicide?!

Dick: Obviously saw it lying on the doormat over there, picked it up, started to read it and lost the will to live.

The Major: But she’s been stabbed through the heart, man!

Dick: A mercy killing then — have you never read the Bulletin?

{By the way, Gladys, great acting! A more realistic corpse never walkedthe page outside of Eldorado. Keep it up, or rather down.

{Sarah: You mean she isn’t really dead?

{Dick: Of course not! Who else could we get to read this rubbish, and at such reasonable rates?

{Sarah: True. She is cheap.

{Dick: There’s no answer to that!

{Sarah: Moving right along now, I think we should retire to the library and get this thing tied up before we run out of space.}

In the library, Dick starts the interrogation:

Woman in Red, what are you doing here?

“I don’t know. One second I was in a song on the radio, the next
I was in this rubbish, I don’t know how I got here.”

Sarah: It’s the author, he’s nothing if not unoriginal.

Dick: He’s nothing. (To Woman in Red): Alright, you’re free to go, but see me later: author’s mind, third brain cell on the right, behind the left ventricle.

Sarah: Now you’re being silly.

Dick: You’re right, he hasn’t got three brain cells, best make it the second.

Now, Major, walk this way, and don’t do the talcum powder joke.

Major: If I walked like that I wouldn’t need the joke!

Sarah: They’re all at it tonight!

Dick & Sarah: Nothing if not unoriginal… (Dick only: Now, Major,did you kill Gladys?).

Major: No.

Dick: Good enough for me.

Alright, I confess, it was me.

Sarah: It’s the butler!

Dick: Not just the butler, but also, as was suspected, the editor of “The Bentilean” magazine….am I right?

Yes, yes.

Sarah: But why?

Isn’t it obvious? Issue 7 we’re upto now, and every issue
I have to edit this rubbish, and whenever the author’s stuck
for an idea he drags me into it. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

Sarah: But why kill Gladys?

No reader, no script.

Dick: That’s never stopped the Bentilee Bulletin. But you overlooked one thing, didn’t you?

Nothing that ever happens in these scripts is real, Gladys isn’t really dead…

Sarah: So he couldn’t have murdered her.

Dick: That’s right. And even if he had, he couldn’t have got away with it.


Sarah: Because the author’s nothing if not unoriginal…

Dick: …and in unoriginal murders the butler’s always the one who did it.

Sarah: He’s right, you know.

Oh, no, no ,no….

Sarah: Sad, isn’t it? Not much of a whodunnit though.

Dick: I dunno, not much of a mystery perhaps, but it sure was murder.

Both: Nothing if not unoriginal.


Copyright John Steele, 1992, 2011
This appeared in the last issue of my self-published community magazine, The Bentilean (Issue 7), and is perhaps my favourite one to date (I don’t rule out writing more!).

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Why/How did the…..cross the road? Jokes

Why did the cow cross the road?
A: Because the farmer drove her.

How did the German U-boat captain cross the road?
A: He used the subway, of course!

Why did the ravenous lion cross the road?
A: Because he saw the zebra crossing.

Why did the hedgehog cross the road?
A: Because the chicken was fowl company.

Why did the mountaineer cross the road?
A: Because it was there.

How did the snail cross the road?
A: Very, very slowly.

Why did’t the dolphin cross the road?
A: He couldn’t see any porpoise in it.

Why did the Roman Catholic priest cross the road?
A: To exorcise the demon drivers.

Why did Bobby Ewing cross the road?
A: He didn’t, it was all a dream.

Why did the refrigerator salesman cross the road?
A: Smeg knows.

Why did the frog cross the road?
A: He was toad to.

Why did the medium cross the road?
A: To reach the other side.

Why did the illiterate road painter cross the road?
A: Because he couldn’t sign his name.


Copyright John Steele, 1990, 2011
Two or so of these were used as fillers in my self-published community magazine, The Bentilean, Issue 2, December 1990, which is why I can vaguely remember when I wrote them. I have updated a couple of them here as the originals were a bit un-PC. The “illiterate road painter” was, I admit, originally “Irish” (sorry about that), and the “refrigerator salesman” one was originally “Why did the woman cross the road? A: Who knows”, which I thought was a bit un-PC but also thought that the punchline would be stronger if it was “A: Fuck knows”. And then I thought that some might find that offensive and so changed it to “A: Smeg knows” and that led me to think ‘I could replace “woman” with “refrigerator salesman” — voila! a politically correct version that’s not noticeably less funny that the original version.
I also wrote another one, “Why did the marijuana addict cross the road? A: Because someone told him it was a short cut”, but as someone’s who’s too boring to have ever taken drugs, I have no idea if that joke even makes sense, so didn’t include it above.

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Mortimer & Mears Extra

(Mears is onstage and Mortimer enters gyrating
his body and singing silently to himself.)

Mears: What are you doing?

Mortimer: What do you mean?

Mears: Gyrating your body like that. You could bend something vital doing that.

Mortimer: Ah, well, you see, I’ve just been to see this marvellous new play at the Old “I’ve been round here fourteen times and I still can’t find my way out!” Theatre, called “Good Golly, They’re Going to Knock My House Down!” by Rob’s Aten.

Mears: Rob Eaton!

Mortimer: That’s what I said, he’s aten.

Mears: Good was it?

Mortimer: I just told you that, “Good Golly, They’re Going to Knock My House Down!”. I just told you that! I do wish you’d pay attention, you know.

Mears: No, I mean you enjoyed it?

Mortimer: We both did.

Mears: Both?

Mortimer: Me and Gladys.

Mears: Gladys? The Gladys? Your fan?

Mortimer: That’s the one! I took her for services rendered.

Mears: Please! This is a family mag.

Mortimer: Hey? I don’t understand that remark.

Mears: Oh.

Mortimer: No, I took her for all those letters she’s written — in various handwritings — saying how good we are. Well, mainly how good I am, cause she doesn’t like to lie, you see.

Mears: I see.

Mortimer: Good seats we had an’ all. None of you balcony rubbish. No, front row, central to the band, and an entire table to ourselves.

Mears: A table?! In a theatre?

Mortimer: Ah! Theatre in the round. More intimate. They like to involve the audience, and, as it was mainly set in this Working Person’s Club — we’re not sexist..

Mears: Aren’t we?!

Mortimer: No. Only when there’s a cheap laugh to be had. Anyways, as I was saying, they like to involve the audience (cheaper than extras) and they had replaced all the front row seats with bar-room tables.

Mears: But what has all this to do with your coming on dancing?

Mortimer: Rock n Roll.

Mears: Rock n Roll?!

Mortimer: Don’t mind if I do. (He gyrates again)

Mears: I’m warning you, you’ll ruin your girdle!

Mortimer: I’m not wearing it…one…ever. (You’re going to ruin my macho image you are. Hundreds of women out there think of me as their pocket Hercules. You’re going to disillusion them and ruin their thinggy lives.)

Mears: Thinggy lives?

Mortimer: Ah, well, as you said this is a family mag.

Mears: And what’s all this about ‘hundreds’?

Mortimer: Well, dozens then.

Mears: Dozens?

Mortimer: Dozen?

Mears: Try ‘Gladys’.

Mortimer: There’s no answer to that!

Mears: And you got up and danced at this show, did you?

Mortimer: Both of us. Cleared the floor we did.

Mears: Good were you?

Mortimer: Ah, well, truth to tell it had more to do with Gladys than me.

Mears: She was good?

Mortimer: No, but she makes you look like Twiggy! A double-hunchfront!! Turned quickly, doing the Twist, and half the front row lost their programmes! Went flying they did. One even hit the show’s producer, none other than Brian Sugarpuff!!

Mears: Sugar-man

Mortimer: Then why-O-why does he spend all his time in the wardrobe department, trying on all those ladies’ dresses. Tell me that, if you can.

Mears: Moving right along now, you haven’t explained yet why you came on dancing like that. It’s alright saying you were dancing last night, but why are you dancing now?

Mortimer: Well, as I was sitting there with my free plastic glass of cold tea (Mears: Cold tea? — Theatrical beer — pretend!) — and I thought to myself what this show needs is some modern music.

Mears: Modern music?! In a magazine?!!

Mortimer: That’s right: Rock n Scroll! Because every issue we end our show either by being chucked off by the editor — despite the photo of him and that…erm….

Mears: From Berryhill High?

Mortimer: That’s the one! — or by singing Morecambe & Wise’s greatest hit, “Bring Me Sunshine”, and I thought it was about time we updated our approach for a younger, more with-it audience.

Mears: You mean Gladys’s daughter, Beryl?

Mortimer: Double our audience figures in one stroke.

Editor: You’d better hurry up then, you’re running out of space.

Mears: He’s given himself a box now!!

Mortimer: Editors! Power mad, the lot of them.

Mears: Well, you heard him, get gyrating again.

…..and a one, two, three, four…


Bring me sunshine, babe
In your smile, yeah


(He stops singing)

Mears: Is that it?

Mortimer: Well, I’ve never had to sing it all the way through before, and I don’t know the words.

Mears: Hopeless, you are. Say goodnight to everybody.

Mortimer: Goodnight, Gladys.

Mears: And Beryl.

Mortimer: I’ll do that later!


Copyright John Steele, 1990, 1999, 2011
This was the second Mortimer & Mears script, I self-published in The Bentilean, Issue 2. This one was my own tribute to the musical, “Good Golly, Miss Molly“, by Bob Eaton, that I seen at the New Victoria Theatre the previous year.
Once again the author wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Daryl John Farrington in the writing of various bits of this script.

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POEM: Oh, why don’t girls fall over me?

Oh, why don’t girls fall over me?
I asked meself today
I’m almost-strong, almost-charming, almost-handsome
Indeed, almost-perfect in every way
So why don’t girls fall over me
Left ‘n’ right ‘n’ every-which-way?

It can’t possibly be my personality
For that’s bubbly, bright and gay
So why don’t girls fall over me
And run their fingers through my toupee?

Could it, perchance, be the hairy wart I have upon me nose?
Or maybe it’s my armpits, that smell (unlike a rose)?
Or maybe it’s the way I walk: all hunched up and with a limp?
Or the way I eat bananas: with my feet (just like a chimp)?

Ah, but could such things be putting them off
Such a precious – nay, priceless – pearl?
Ah, but maybe (just maybe), the reason could be
The fact that I’m also a girl!


Copyright John Steele 2011
Another typewritten ‘poem’ I’d forgotten about, so probably also written in the ’80s. Why though, I have no idea (well, actually, I used to written humourous stuff to cheer myself up during periods of mild depression, so that’s probably the why). Meanwhile, I can only apologise.

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