As I was helping my friend Kathy get rid of books she no longer wanted, she gave me several books of British comedy. Two of these included excerpts from scripts for such legendary radio/TV shows as Monthy Python’s Flying Circus, Beyond the Fringe, The Goon Show, etc.
Reading through them I came across this gem that both felt appropriate in terms of the current President’s phony effort to bring back the coal industry and provided an example of the sort of humor exemplified in Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling.
It is taken from a compilation by Roger Wilmut entitled No More Curried Eggs for Me and is a monologue performed by Peter Cook as a character called E. L. Wisty on ITV’s 1965 series, On the Braden Beat. Wilmut entitled it simply, Miner; enjoy:
Yes, I could have been a judge, but I never had the Latin, never had the Latin for the judging, I just never had sufficient of it to get through the rigorous judging exams. They’re noted for their rigour. People come staggering out saying, ‘My God, what a rigorous exam –‘. And so I became a miner instead. A coal miner. I managed to get through the mining exams – they’re not very rigorous, they only ask you one question, they say ‘Who are you?’ and I got seventy-five per cent on that —
Of course, it’s quite interesting work, getting hold of lumps of coal all day, it’s quite interesting. Because the coal was made in a very unusual way. You see, God blew all the trees down. He didn’t just say let’s have some coal. As He could have done, He had all the right contacts. No, He got this great wind going, you see, and blew down all the trees, then, over a period of three million years so it wasn’t noticeable to the average passer-by. It was all part of the scheme, but people at the time did not see it that way. People under the trees did not say ‘Hurrah – coal in three million years’, no they said ‘Oh dear, oh dear, trees falling on us – that’s the last thing we want’, and of course their wish was granted.
I am very interested in the universe – I am specializing in the universe and all that surrounds it. I am studying Nesbitt’s book – The Universe and All That Surrounds It, An Introduction. He tackles the subject boldly, goes from the beginning of time right through to the present day, which according to Nesbitt is 31 October 1940. And he says the earth is spinning into the sun and we will all be burnt to death. But he ends the book on a note of hope, he says, ‘ I hope this will not happen’. But there’s a lot of interest in this down the mine.
The trouble with it is the people. I am not saying you get a load of riffraff down the mine, I am not saying that, I am just saying we had a load of riffraff down my mine. Very boring conversationalists, extremely boring, all they talk about is what goes on in the mine. Extremely boring. If you were searching for a word to describe the conversations that go on down the mine, boring would spring to your lips. — Oh God! They’re very boring. If you ever want to hear things like: ‘Hello, I’ve found a bit of coal. Have you really? Yes, no doubt about it, this black substance is coal all right. Jolly good, the very thing we’re looking for.’ It is not enough to keep the mind alive, is it?
Whoops. Did you notice I suddenly went whoops? It’s an impediment I got from being down the mine. ‘Cause one day I was walking along in the dark when I came across the body of a dead pit pony. Whoops, I went in surprise, and ever since then I’ve been going whoops and that’s another reason I couldn’t be a judge, because I might have been up there all regal, sentencing away, ‘I sentence you to whoops’, and you see, the trouble is under English law that would have to stand. So all in all I’d rather have been a judge than a miner.
And what is more, being a miner, as soon as you are too old and tired and sick and stupid to do the job properly you have to go. Well, the very opposite applies with the judges. So all in all I would have rather been a judge than a miner —
Because I’ve always been after the trappings of great luxury you see, I really, really have. But all I’ve got hold of are the trappings of great poverty. I’ve got hold of the wrong load of trappings, and a rotten load of trappings they are too, ones I could’ve very well done without.