The studios of a modest local TV franchise were recently the scene of much dismay and consternation when businessman Mr Martin Gracefollicle was invited onto their current affairs programme to plug his latest venture, a shop specialising in the sale of a variety of different 'shapes'. In order to provide both balance and local colour, two other guests were invited to join the discussion - though it retrospect many people have questioned the wisdom of this decision.
Good evening. Well for tonight's edition of Thrust we're joined by three very interesting characters indeed. Allow me to first introduce you to Martin Gracefollicle.
Mr Gracefollicle is a local entrepreneur and businessman who has just set up a shop selling a variety of interesting shapes. We are also pleased to have his grace, the Bishop of Liverpool with us.
The Bishop was recently in the news after voicing his concerns over the matter of Sunday trading. And we are also delighted to be joined my Muriel Damping-Frogtrotter, whom many of you will know as the outspoken president of the organisation Ladies Against Rodent Abuse.
Mr Gracefollicle, if I might first turn to you. I'm sure I can say without fear of contradiction that your shop is unique in being the first in the country, if not in the whole world, that specialises in the sale of shapes. How exactly does it work?
Well, thank you, yes. Well basically, the idea behind Gush, is to-
Yes, Gush - that's the name of the store. It's basically an abbreviation of my original name for the store: Gracefollicle's Unlimited Discount Shape Emporium. Anyway, the idea behind the business was to-
I beg your pardon?
Gudse: Gracefollicle's Unlimited Discount Shape Emporium spells out the word 'Gudse'.
The lady's quite right, you know. Gudse - not a bit like Gush, at all.
Yes, well, the problem is-
I mean, Gush, I suppose that's all right insofar as it goes; but Gudse, now that's not anything at all, really, is it?
Well, quite. You've hit the nail bang on the head, there. You see-
What is a Gudse? Where is this Gudse? Would I know one if I saw one? It means nothing to nobody.
I knew a young chap by the name of Gudse when I was a school. And a beastly fellow he was too.
Really, my dear. How awful.
Oh it was, it was. He used to sit behind me during geography, and when the teacher wasn't looking, he would put beans in my hair.
The insolent swine! And you with such a beautiful head of curls.
Oh, why thank you, your grace.
Not at all! Not at all! Tell me, what sort of beans did he use?
Excuse me, but is this at all relevant? My sympathies to Miss Damping-Frogtrotter, of course, but does the particular species of vegetable with which she was assaulted really warrant such a lengthy diversion from the topic of our conversation?
Are beans classed as vegetables?
Steady on there, Gracefollicle! As a matter of fact, the subject is of great concern, both to those who are keen gardeners, and to a great many of the general public who have followed Miss Damping-Frogtrotter's career with such frank admiration. I am happy to point out that I fall into both categories.
Oh, that really is most sweet of you, your grace.
What's more, the nature of the beans in question is of paramount importance. If they were runner beans, then we are concerning ourselves with an annoying and relatively harmless prank. If, on the other hand, this despicable bully had used baked beans, then we would obviously be dealing with something a good deal more serious.
He used broad beans, and sometimes as many as five.
Oh really! This is intolerable!
I quite agree. In fact, this is possibly the most harrowing tale of intimidation that I have heard in many a long year. That a simple bean can become such a devastating weapon when it falls into the wrong hands-
No! No! No! No! What is intolerable is that you invite me on your programme to talk about my new store, Gudse, and-
You mean Gush?
Yes, yes, I mean Gush! Well you invite me here to talk about it, and then won't allow me to get a word in edgewise. Is there really any point in my being here at all? Perhaps you'd like me to leave now so that your viewers can enjoy a frank and uninterrupted conversation on the subject of vegetables between Miss Damping-Frogtrotter and the Bishop here?
I am most terribly sorry. Yes, we do seem to have strayed from the point somewhat. Please, continue.
Well, as I was saying, the idea behind Gush was to-
Do you think he's going to explain where the name comes from?
Oh yes, I expect he's going to do that any minute now.
At this point Martin Gracefollicle was heard to mutter a string of expletives, then he removed his radio mic and left the studio.
On the other hand, I fear he may keep us in suspense.
There followed a brief recording break, in which His Grace the Bishop of Liverpool and Miss Damping-Frogtrotter were treated to a small selection of fish paste sandwiches. The programme's producer, meanwhile, took the opportunity of this lull in the proceedings to persuade Mr Martin Gracefollicle to return. His efforts at diplomacy having succeeded, Mr Gracefollicle once again took his place in the studio, and the host did his best to pick up somewhere near where they had left off.
So, Mr Gracefollicle, please tell us about this exciting new venture of yours. Gush, I believe is the name of the store?
That's right, yes. It started out as an abbreviation of my original name for the store...
...although, for the sake of clarity, and to save us all from further conversational meanderings, I should point out that I took certain liberties with this acronym, in the interests of coming up with a, memorable, trendy and exciting name for the store.
Quite right too. Won't get very far calling a shop 'Gudse'. It gives quite the wrong impression. I knew, a fellow once who-
Bishop, if we could...?
What? Oh yes, of course. Not another word from me. Do carry on.
Thank you. Well, the basic idea behind this venture was to sell a variety of different items of specific shapes. So, for example, on the ground floor of the shop you will find a large number of round things. The first floor is our rectangle department, whereas the top floor is where you'll find our triangle selection, plus a small sample of hexagonal merchandise.
Personally, I don't think you can beat a rhombus.
Is that one of the ones with eight sides?
No, no, no. You're thinking of an octopus. A rhombus is like a square, but sort of leaning over to one side.
Oh, I don't like the sound of that. It's not natural, is it? Is it continental? It certainly sounds foreign.
As a matter of fact, we haven't ventured into rhombuses yes, but it's something we may be looking into once the store has become established.
Well, I don't think it's on at all. You shouldn't be selling rhombuses in a good, middle class town like this.
We aren't. Not yet, anyway.
You're a cruel and unusual man, and it's a wonder that the council ever granted you a licence. I'm going to write to someone to get it stopped.
Now, if you ask me, what we all really need is a good parabola. Can't get a decent parabola anywhere.
To get what stopped? What is all this?
All of it! Whatever it is you're doing! It's a disgrace!
I should say so - to think that in this day an age it's still impossible for a gentleman to walk down his local street and buy a parabola. I had to send to Taiwan for one last year. And when it arrived, it was bent.
Oh this is ridiculous. Must I be made to suffer this absurd pantomime?
At this point a woman in the fifth row of the audience suddenly stood up and, much to the concern of the host, announced herself to be Mrs Harriet Feast. She then pointed at Mr Gracefollicle and, with a face red with fury, she declared him to be a charlatan.
That man has done me an injustice!
Hello, what's this?
Madam, please - we are in the middle of a recording.
No, no, no - I shall not desist. Not until the whole world knows what a foul and deceitful villain your guest really is.
Please, Mrs Feast, whatever feud you have with Mr Gracefollicle-
Ha! He may be 'Mr Gracefollicle' to you, but I knew him when he was a greengrocer in Hendon, and went by the name of Archie Cod.
I have never been a greengrocer in my life! And the only occasion I visited Hendon was when I stopped off at a corner shop to buy some travel sweets, and later found much to my dismay, that I had been given the incorrect change.
A likely story! Mr Gracefollicle, as he now wishes to be known, is no doubt eager to convince us all that he is the kind of respectable, upstanding pillar of the community who is in the habit of buying travel sweets. But, let me tell you, he wasn't so respectable when he left me standing at the altar!
Oh, you poor dear!
Gracefollicle, you unprincipled swine!
But I have never seen this woman before in my entire life!
Well, you would say that.
Of course he would, the utter cad.
Oh, he would! He would! To think how I would long to visit him in his little greengrocer's. How he wooed me beside the carrots and the yams. Oh, how we gazed lovingly into each other's eyes across the turnips. To think that he should turn out to be such a foul abuser.
Enough! Enough! I don't know what tomfoolery this is, but I'm not putting up with it any longer.
Once again Mr Gracefollicle abandoned his microphone and walked off set, this time accompanied by the boos and catcalls of the disapproving audience.
A disappointed producer eventually caught up with the furious Mr Gracefollicle in a local hostelry several streets from the studio, and did his best to persuade him to return. After Mr Gracefollicle's temper had been mellowed by two pints of the best German lager that the producer's money could buy, it was agreed that they would reconvene for one more go at getting something usable in the can. With the proviso, of course, that Mrs Harriet Feast be ejected from the premises. Nevertheless, Mr Gracefollicle remained a trifle reticent.
Mr Gracefollicle, I believe the grand opening of your new store is set for this Saturday?
Yes, good. And I'm also led to believe that you have a celebrity guest to perform the honours.
Yes... Wouldn't you like to tell us a little more?
Is it going to be worth my while? I mean, am I going to be able to get to the end of a sentence without being interrupted by some harpy in the audience, or by these two clowns here?
I say, that's a bit strong. Ladies present, and all that.
I'm sorry, but after the shambolic way I've been treated so far, I think I have every reason to be a little churlish.
No, please, do go on. We are all anxious to hear what plans you have for the great unveiling.
Well, yes, it should be quite an eventful day. There are going to be competitions and games. We've got a grand prize draw to win a car. There will also be lots of give-aways, and we'll have clowns and street performers. There's going to be a real carnival atmosphere. There will be hats and streamers and balloons. And as you say, there will be a special celebrity guest. We've been lucky enough to persuade the popular film actor Mr_____, and he will personally-
My aunt once fell off a steamer. It was a terrible business.
I think he said 'streamers'?
Oh no, there were no streamers. If there had been, it might have been something for her to cling onto as she went over. There were a few balloons around, I think, but you can't really get enough purchase on a balloon. Not to prevent yourself falling off a boat, anyhow.
Excuse me, I was talking about-
No, she went whoosh! Straight over the side. Didn't stand a chance, poor thing. She got swept underneath and caught up the paddle. It folded her right up.
For the third and final time, Mr Gracefollicle rose from his seat, removed his microphone, and left the studio with as much dignity as he could muster, never to return.
That must have been horrible for you - to lose a relative in such tragic circumstances.
We didn't lose her. They managed to drag her out, but she was horribly creased and crumpled. She lived to be eighty, but she never did manage to get the kinks out.
Oh terrible, terrible!
Oh, that's nothing - you should have seen the state of her wheelchair.
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