Marjorie’s Fall

[An English Victorian sitting room. Thomas (Stephen Fry) is fiddling with a clock on the mantelpiece. John (Hugh Laurie) enters, agitated.]

John: Thomas! I’m afraid I have some bad news.
Thomas: Just a moment, John. I promised Marjorie I’d mend this clock for her. I wonder if you could give me a hand.
John: Big hand?
Thomas: Little hand.

John: Anyway Thomas, listen to me. I have some bad news.
Thomas: Bad news?
John: It’s Marjorie.
Thomas: Marjorie?
John: She’s had a fall.
Thomas: Marjorie’s had a fall?
John: I’m afraid so. She was out riding this morning on Thunderbolt, and she hadn’t returned by the time Mrs Mempwaster arrived. It turns out she’d had a fall.

Thomas: Calm yourself John. Marjorie has had a fall?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Off a horse?
John: Well of course off a horse.
Thomas: I don’t see that there’s any “of course off a horse” about it, John. Girls nowadays are likely to fall off anything. Doesn’t have to be a horse.
John: No, alright. But in this case it was.
Thomas: She could have fallen off a chair, a table, a pianoforte, anything.
John: Yes, except that, in this case, she was riding a horse when it happened.
Thomas: When she fell off?
John: Yes.
Thomas: So, you reasoned to yourself, Marjorie has fallen from a horse?
John: That’s right. Thunderbolt.
Thomas: Thunderbolt, you say?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Well, Thunderbolt’s a horse, alright.
John: Exactly.

Thomas: Any damage?
John: Too soon to say. Cavendish is examining her now.
Thomas: That old fool. What does he know about horses?
John: Cavendish is examining Marjorie.
Thomas: Marjorie? Is she ill?
John: No. She fell off a horse.
Thomas: Fell off a horse? Then you’d better fetch Cavendish.
John: I have, Thomas. He’s in the drawing room.

Thomas: Horses are very big, John.
John: I know they are, Thomas.
Thomas: You fall off one of them, and anything can happen.
John: Quite.
Thomas: Well not “anything”.
John: No. Not “anything”.
Thomas: I mean this clock isn’t going to become Prime Minister, just because someone has fallen off a horse. I didn’t mean “anything” is that sense.

John: Of course not, Thomas. Anyway, Cavendish is examining her now.
Thomas: You said he was in the drawing room.
John: He is. Examining Marjorie.
Thomas: And where is she?
John: She’s also in the drawing room.
Thomas: So they’re both in the drawing room?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Perhaps he’s not such a fool after all. How is she?
John: Too soon to say. Sounds like a hell of a fall.
Thomas: From the horse?
John: Yes.
Thomas: Thunderbolt?
John: Yes.

Thomas: Now what the devil is Marjorie doing, falling off Thunderbolt?
John: You know how Marjorie loves to ride, Thomas.
Thomas: She was riding Thomas?
John: No no.
Thomas: I’m Thomas, John.
John: I know.
Thomas: She wasn’t riding me. Your story’s a bit twisted there, old fellow. It doesn’t add up. You said she was riding Thunderbolt.
John: She was.
Thomas: She was?
John: Yes.
Thomas: But she’s not any longer?
John: No. She fell off.
Thomas: Good God.
John: I know.
Thomas: Where is she?
John: In the drawing room.
Thomas: Marjorie was riding Thunderbolt in the drawing room!?
John: No. She fell off at Stratton Brook, where the path separates. That young fellow Cottrell found her and carried her to the drawing room.

Thomas: Stables would have been better I should have thought.
John: What?
Thomas: Drawing room’s no place for Thunderbolt.
John: Marjorie.
Thomas: What do you mean?
John: Marjorie’s in the drawing room.
Thomas: With Thunderbolt?
John: No. Thunderbolt’s in the stables.
Thomas: Oh. Well that’s alright, then.

John: It’s not alright, Thomas. She’s had a bad fall.
Thomas: Is she hurt?
John: Too soon to say. Cavendish is with her now.
Thomas: Cavendish? He’s a doctor, isn’t he?
John: Yes.

Thomas: I wonder if he knows anything about clocks.

– Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)

3 thoughts on “Marjorie’s Fall

  1. Somewhat reminiscent of “Who’s on First,</em," but a bit more droll. I like Stephen Fry in anything he does, Laurie too, for that matter, but after all of those years as "House,” (a revamp of Sherlock Holmes), it’s difficult to see him as anything else.

    I have a great deal of personal respect for Fry, having come out as he did with a full documentary of his own lifelong struggle with BiPolar Disorder.

  2. Interesting angle! I have always regarded this sketch as a fine example of English absurdity with language. But it is a funny example of bad communication as well.

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