Have we not been over this ground before? Immediately after the French and Dutch No votes, everyone started to debate whether the European Constitution was dead or not. Then the Brits came along with their Presidency and put the lid on all talk. Now with the Austrian Presidency, the farce is breaking forth once more – see this debate between the Dutch and the Austrians in EUObserver.
All of this – a few months ago, as now – leads me to think of the Dead Parrot Sketch in Monty Python with John Clees and Michael Palin. OK, Dutch Foreign Minster Ben Bot and Austrian Bundeskanzler Wolfgang Schüssel (edited into the picture) might not be the same comedy geniuses, but I hope this, and the sketch, gives you a little chuckle at least…
So is this constitution dead?
Dead Constitution Sketch
(with my apologies to Monty Python)
Mr. Bot, Dutch Foreign Minister (Mr. Praline in the original sketch)
Presidency Owner, played by Wolfgang Schüssel (Shop Owner in original text)
A customer enters a pet shop.
Mr. Bot: ‘Ello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The owner does not respond.)
Mr. Bot: ‘Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean “miss”?
Mr. Bot: I’m sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
Owner: We’re closin’ for lunch.
Mr. Bot: Never mind that, my lad. I wish to complain about this constitution what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.
Owner: Oh yes, the, uh, the Giscardian Blue…What’s,uh…What’s wrong with it?
Mr. Bot: I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it, my lad. ‘E’s dead, that’s what’s wrong with it!
Owner: No, no, ‘e’s uh,…he’s resting.
Mr. Bot: Look, matey, I know a dead constitution when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now.
Owner: No no he’s not dead, he’s, he’s restin’! Remarkable text, the Giscardian Blue, idn’it, ay? Beautiful waffly wording!
Mr. Bot: The waffly wording don’t enter into it. It’s stone dead.
Owner: Nononono, no, no! ‘E’s resting!
Mr. Bot: All right then, if he’s restin’, I’ll wake him up! (shouting at the cage) ‘Ello, Mister Polly constitution! I’ve got a lovely fresh cuttle fish for you if you
(owner hits the cage)
Owner: There, he moved!
Mr. Bot: No, he didn’t, that was you hitting the cage!
Owner: I never!!
Mr. Bot: Yes, you did!
Owner: I never, never did anything…
Mr. Bot: (yelling and hitting the cage repeatedly) ‘ELLO POLLY!!!!! Testing! Testing! Testing! Testing! This is your nine o’clock alarm call!
(Takes constitution out of the cage and thumps its head on the counter. Throws it up in the air and watches it plummet to the floor.)
Mr. Bot: Now that’s what I call a dead constitution.
Owner: No, no…..No, ‘e’s stunned!
Mr. Bot: STUNNED?!?
Owner: Yeah! You stunned him, just as he was wakin’ up! Giscardian Blues stun easily, major.
Mr. Bot: Um…now look…now look, mate, I’ve definitely ‘ad enough of this. That constitution is definitely deceased, and when I purchased it not ‘alf an hour
ago, you assured me that its total lack of movement was due to it bein’ tired and shagged out following a prolonged squawk.
Owner: Well, he’s…he’s, ah…probably pining for the fjords.
Mr. Bot: PININ’ for the FJORDS?!?!?!? What kind of talk is that?, look, why did he fall flat on his back the moment I got ‘im home?
Owner: The Giscardian Blue prefers keepin’ on it’s back! Remarkable text, id’nit, squire? Lovely waffly wording!
Mr. Bot: Look, I took the liberty of examining that constitution when I got it home, and I discovered the only reason that it had been sitting on its perch in the
first place was that it had been NAILED there.
Owner: Well, o’course it was nailed there! If I hadn’t nailed that text down, it would have nuzzled up to those bars, bent ’em apart with its beak, and
Mr. Bot: “VOOM”?!? Mate, this text wouldn’t “voom” if you put four million volts through it! ‘E’s bleedin’ demised!
Owner: No no! ‘E’s pining!
Mr. Bot: ‘E’s not pinin’! ‘E’s passed on! This constitution is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s expired and gone to meet ‘is maker! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of life, ‘e
rests in peace! If you hadn’t nailed ‘im to the perch ‘e’d be pushing up the daisies! ‘Is metabolic processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s kicked the
bucket, ‘e’s shuffled off ‘is mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-constitution!!
Owner: Well, I’d better replace it, then. (he takes a quick peek behind the counter) Sorry squire, I’ve had a look ’round the back of the shop, and uh,
we’re right out of constitutions.
Mr. Bot: I see. I see, I get the picture.
Owner: I got a slug.
Mr. Bot: Pray, does it talk?
Owner: Nnnnot really.
Mr. Bot: WELL IT’S HARDLY A BLOODY REPLACEMENT, IS IT?!!???!!?
Owner: N-no, I guess not. (gets ashamed, looks at his feet)
Mr. Bot: Well.
Owner: (quietly) D’you…. d’you want to come back to my place?
Mr. Bot: (looks around) Yeah, all right, sure.