The Bookshop

The door bell tinkles. “Good morning”

Good morning, Sir. Can I help you?”

Yes. Do you have a copy of “30 Days in the Samarkand Dessert with the Duchess of Kent” by A. E. J. Elliot, OBE?”

Well, I don’t know the book, Sir”

Never mind, never mind. How about “101 Ways To Start A Fight”?”


An Irish gentleman whose name eludes me for the moment”

No….. well we haven’t got any in stock, Sir”

Not to worry, not to worry. Can you help me with “David Coperfield“?”

Aahhh, yes…. Dickens!”


I beg your pardon?

No, Edmund Wells”

I think you’ll find Charles Dickens wrote “David Copperfield

No, no Charles Dickens wrote “David Copperfield” with two ‘Ps’. This is “David Coperfield” with one ‘P’ by Edmund Wells”

David Coperfield” with one ‘P’?”

I should have said”

Well in that case, we don’t have it”

Funny, you have lots of books here”

Yes, we do but we don’t have any “David Coperfield” with one ‘P’ by Edmund Wells”

Are you quite sure?”


Not worth just looking?”

Definitely not”

How about “Grate Expectations”?”

Yes, well we have that”

That’s G-R-A-T-E Expectations also by Edmund Wells”

In that case, we don’t have it. We don’t have anything by Edmund Wells, actually. He’s not very popular”

Knickless Nickleby“?. That’s K-N-I-C-K-L-E-S-S”


Christmas Karol” with a ‘K’?”


How about “A Cale of Two Titties”?”

Definitely not!”

Sorry to trouble you”

Good morning”

Good morning. Ohh, I wonder you might have a copy of “Rarnaby Budge”?”

As I said we are right out of Edmund Wells”

No, not Edmund Wells. Charles Dikkens”

Charles Dickens?”


You mean “Barnaby Rudge”?”

No, “Rarnaby Budge” by Charles Dikkens, with two ‘Ks’, the well known Dutch author?”

No, we don’t have “Rarnaby Budge” by Charles Dikkens, with two ‘Ks’, the well known Dutch author. Perhaps to save time we don’t have I should add “Carnaby Fudge” by Dyles Chickens or “Farnborough Sludge” by Myles Pickens or even “Stidwick Stapples” Fyles Wickens with four ‘Ms’ and a silent ‘Q’! Why don’t you try W H Smith’s?”

I did, they sent me here”

Did they?”

I wonder…….”

Ohh, do go on, please!”

I wonder you might have “The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoke-Pamphlet & Her Intrepid Spaniels Steed Amongst The Giant Pygmies of Beckhalls, Volume VIII”?”

No, we don’t have that. Funny, we have a lot of books here. Well, I mustn’t keep you standing here”

Do you have….”

Sorry, no, its one o’clock now!”

I saw it over there!”

What? What?”

I saw it over there. “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds

Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds”?”






Yes, well we do have that’s, a matter of fact…..”

The expurgated version!”

Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that….”

The expurgated version”

The expurgated version of “Olsen’s Standard Book of British Birds”?”

The one without the Gannet”

The one without the Gannet? They all got the Gannet! It’s a standard British bird. Gannet is in all the books”

Well I don’t like them. They wet their nest”

Alright, I remove it!” Rippppppppppppp “Any other birds you don’t like?”

I don’t like the Robin”

The Robin? Right” Rippppppppppppppp “There you are. Any others you don’t like?”

The Nut Hedge” Rippppppppppppppp “There you are. No Gannets! No Robin! No Nut Hedges!There’s you book!”

I cant buy that! Its torn. I wonder if you have……”

Go on. Ask me anything! We got lots of books here, you know. It’s a book shop”

How about “Biggles Combs His Hair”?”

No, we don’t have that one”

The Gospel According Charlie Drake”?”

No, no, try me again”

Ohhh….I know, “Ethel The Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying

No, no……what, what???”

Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying

Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying”?” Hysterical laughter “I’ve seen it somewhere!” Further hysterical laughter “Yes, yes, here we are. “Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying”. There’s your book. Now, buy it!”

I don’t have enough money”

I’ll take a deposit”

I don’t have any money!”

I’ll take a checque”

I don’t have a checque book”

I’ll take a blank one!”

I don’t have a bank account”

Right! I’ll buy it for you!” The till rings. “There you are. There’s the change. There’s some money for the taxi home. There’s the book!”


What? What? What????”

I can’t read!”

You can’t read? Right! Sit down! Sit, sit. Are you sitting comfortably? Right. Ethel the Aardvark was hoping down the river valley…….



This is the funniest sketch I ever heard, on the radio. It stars John Cleese as the Bookshop Keeper and Michael Palin as the Resiliently Irritating Customer. This was first aired during their magnificent “Monty Python Flying Circus” comedy stints, very popular in the UK in the 70s and early 80s.

I share this with my darling daughter since she was eight (the Missus is always too preoccupied with her work preparations). This hilarious sketch got her interested into the classics’ reading habit (she already started the reading habit on Enid Blyton when she was five-ish and at eight, Nancy Drew mysteries). It’s a great manner to start a school going child into reading some of the things I read 30 years ago.

This is where it shows the Brits really can show you their politeness, that it becomes an insult! They are so cultured that they patiently play along by being a gentleman, just to get back at you, after you are worn down.

I first heard this sketch whilst on Malaysia Airlines (my trusted inter-continental carrier), in one of my trips home from London (the comedy channel is a favourite on the London-Australian sector). It was a great entertainment on the dreadful 13 hour non-stop flight home (the aircraft had to avoid certain sector in West Asia because of pre-“Dessert Storm” days). I really enjoyed this, a lot! 🙂

A recommended listening pleasure.


This is the one where John Cleese did the sketch with his wife, Connie Booth.


Published in: on March 9, 2007 at 00:04  Comments (3)