Sketch – Crispen The Credulous
For Crispen the Credulous, April was the cruellest month. All months were cruel, but April was cruellest – for this was the month even normal folk would play pranks on him. He didn't know whether his credulousness stemmed from some genetic cause, or was a result of inadequate education. He was a D.Phil., son of Oxford University philosophers, but had never attended the University Of The Street.
At office he was likely to see a circular offering him an impromptu bonus, or an offer to be the manager of the new Pitcairn Island branch. Today, for example, was a notice asking employees to be at the coffee-machine at 11:00 AM for an important announcement. Was this real one, or a fake? Best to not attend. But what if there really was one and he missed the announcement? Sequestered in his cubicle, he would never know.
He was a nine-year old in 1957, when he saw a BBC broadcast about Spaghetti trees in Switzerland. He had set up a huge fuss on having one at home, till his mother gave him a sprig of spaghetti to grow in a tin with a little tomato sauce. He proudly boasted about to his school-mates, only to be ridiculed and humiliated, the first in a series of events that would define his life.
The clock inched towards 11:00 AM, and he panicked. Was there a meeting, was theren't? The coffee-machine was not working today, so no fig-leaf of getting himself a mugful. Risk getting laughed at? No. Risk getting shouted at by boss? Bigger no.
He had eagerly telephoned his travel agent to book a holiday to San Seriffe in 1977, when he saw an article about it in the Guardian. His wife had talked about his being taken in for days to the whole neighbourhood. That was a particularly cruel April, he remembered – treated like a 9-year old at 29.
It was 11:00. He had to decide. He would risk the laughs. One couldn't rub the boss the wrong way. He remembered when he had been asked to make a report on the number of farmers who cultivated turnips, and he didn't do it. It turned the company really planned to market a new Cameroonian turnip to farmers, and he had set them back by a month.
But then he remembered Operation Parallax of 1979, when Capital Radio announced a cancellation of April 5 & 12 to bring the British Calendar in line with the world. It had apparently lost 48 hours over the centuries. He'd asked his boss whether salaries for those two days would be paid or withheld. The whole office laughed at him for days.
No, he wasn't going to risk the pain. What a headache - Think, think, think. Yes, that was it – a headache. He called the reception for a headache pill and a glass of water. Meeting or none, a headache permitted him not to leave his cabin. Finally, he had tricked the tricksters.