The Train Ticket Sketch

I bought some train tickets the other day, and it was such a distressing process that it set my mind a-wanderin’.

How better, I thought, to capture the essential ridiculosity of the train ticket purchasing system in this country than to immortalise it in deferentially plagiaristic fashion, taking as my inspiration the succulent comedy stylings of Messrs Stephen ‘Small’ Fry and Hugh ‘Red-lorry-yellow’ Laurie.

Ladies and gentlepeeps, I give you The Train Ticket Sketch.


Stephen Fry (for it is he): Good minute to you, sir. And how may I be of usefulness in providing aidification to sir on this disastrously, if irrelevantly, rainy afternoon?

Hugh Laurie (for it is also he, if a little younger than nowadays and not limping so much or making jazz albums): Huh?

SF: How can I help you?

HL: Ah yes, well. I’d like to buy a train ticket please.

SF: (looks shifty and speaks out of the corner of his mouth) Er…Hugh.

HL: (bewildered in a Laurie-esque fashion) What?

SF: We don’t mention the train tickets.

HL: What?

SF: We don’t mention the train tickets.

HL: How d’yer mean?

SF: Remember? We let the audience infer from the rest of the sketch that it’s about train tickets, but we don’t actually mention them. It’s a sort of parable.

HL (slaps forehead. His, not SF’s.) Crikey! Yes, sorry, I forgot. (Pause) Hold on, though, didn’t we add a bit where I mentioned train tickets by mistake and then you told me off about it, just in case the audience didn’t get the inference? And didn’t we put in a bit where I also mention that train tickets are actually in the title of the sketch?

(Awkward pause)

SF (eventually): Yes…that’s this bit.

(Another awkward, nay excruciating, pause)

HL: Right. Ok. (Gets himself back on track) Well. In that case, can I have a creme egg, please?

SF: Certainly sir. When will you be eating it?

HL: What?

SF: Different prices apply, sir, depending on when the eating of said confection will be taking place. Other variables to take into consideration when purchasing bonbons of any type include how you will be unwrapping the candy,  the number of bites you will be using to consume it, and whether you will be changing at Crewe.

HL (thoroughly confused): Right. Ok, so…errm…

SF (interrupting, as is his wont): So, for example, sir, if you are to be procuring said sweetmeat for consumption at a date not greater than twelve, nor less than ten, weeks in the future, and moreover if you are stating your intention to divest it of its outer foil wrapper with one continuous gesture; and, further, if you are to limit yourself to consuming it in one gluttonous, albeit understandable, given the deliciousness of the sugar-feast, gulp or swipe; and, supplementarily, if you are undertaking to avoid alightment at the fine and underrated urban agglomeration that goes under the sobriquet ‘Crewe’;  then, sir, and only then, will the cost of the creme egg in question, as surely as I stand here in this self-consciously tweedy suit, amount to no more than forty-five of your incontrovertibly great and English pennies.

HL (after a long pause): Ok. Look, do you mind frightfully if I hit you?

SF: Sir?

HL: Oh, never mind. Right then, so: I’ll be eating it immediately, I’ll be unwrapping it with one extravagant movement followed by several picky ones to get rid of the foil that’s stuck to the leaking yolk, I’ll be eating it by nibbling at it until the last third, which I’ll swallow down whole because it’s melting onto my fingers, and I’ll be interrupting my journey at Crewe to visit my great-aunt Ethel, who is eighty-six.

SF: Thank you, sir. That comes to…(pretends to do calculation on imaginary calculator)…one thousand, three hundred and eighty-six pounds, forty-seven pence.

HL (incredulous): One thousand and what? (He hits SF and turns to the camera). Creme eggs – they’re the only way to travel.


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