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The Housewife's Prayer

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The SALESMAN in this piece is a smooth-talking (but likeable) character.  He is smartly dressed and carries a clipboard.  A small suitcase is conveniently out of sight but near to hand.

 

When planning this sketch, it was my original intention to cast two characters; the other being the housewife.  However, she said so little that I eventually wrote her out, leaving her lines to the imagination.  However, if “feed lines” are thought appropriate, she could easily be “written in” again.

 

A SALESMAN knocks at a door.  As it opens, he begins his well-rehearsed patter ….

 

  SALESMAN

Good afternoon, Miss.  May I speak to the lady of the house?

 

Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realise … it’s just that you look so young …

 

Let me say first of all that I’m not trying to sell you anything.  No double-glazing, cavity wall insulation or imitation-stone exterior wall-covering.  No make-up, lemonade, encyclopaedias or miracle mops and brushes.

 

I’m simply conducting a brief survey about household appliances and I’d be extremely grateful if you wouldn’t mind answering a few brief questions.  It will only take a few moments.

 

 
 

(reassures the housewife)

 

(ticking questionnaire)

Just a survey.

Thank you.

Tell me, do you own more than one television?

I see.

Do you own a video?

DVD?

Washing machine?

Tumble drier?

Dishwasher?

Housewife’s prayer?

 

 
 

(supposedly taken aback)

No?  I thought a lovely home like this would be sure to have one.  Never mind.  Let’s move on.  Do you have any …?

 

The Housewife’s Prayer?  Of course.  I suppose if you haven’t heard of it that would explain why you haven’t got one yet.

 

 
 

(almost aside)

I thought everybody knew about it – what with it being in all the papers and on the telly …

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” is, in a nutshell, the latest technological breakthrough to help improve the quality of every busy woman’s life.  It helps to ease the stresses and tensions of twentieth century home management.  As they say in the adverts – “There’s never a care with the Housewife’s Prayer.”

 

What does it do??  It does everything!  For starters, it does the housework, makes the beds, irons shirts, scrubs the bath and scours the loo.  It collects cobwebs, eradicates dust and picks the fluffy bits out of belly-buttons.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” ensures that you stay eternally attractive to men; keeps complexions wrinkle-free; removes unsightly flab from bums, tums, hips and thighs; and has a built-in depilatory system that uses neither waxes, creams, tweezers or messy razor-blades.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” has the capacity to create an endless variety of imaginative menus to satisfy the fussiest of families.  It dices vegetables, grates cheese, slices meat and fruit, removes bacon-rind, knobbly-bobs and gristly bits.  It mixes, blends, purees, simmers, boils and bakes.  The “Housewife’s Prayer” filters out E-numbers, artificial flavourings and colourings; injects additional vitamins, calcium and bran-fibre; before serving your meal on a pleasantly decorated tray complete with fresh flowers.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” strips paint and wallpaper, decorates bedrooms, tidies the garden shed, mends leaky gutters and sticking garage doors.  It detects clunking, thumping, pinking, hissing and whirring noises in mechanical implements; repairing them immediately with fibre-glass, plastic filler, elastic bands and double-sided sticky-tape as appropriate.  It changes plugs and fuses; re-wires broken table-lamps; mends kettles, toasters and hair-driers; sharpens knives, scissors, shears and mowers; cuts the grass, removes weeds, mends fences and feeds the birds.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” reminds you when your library books need renewing; remembers to turn on your electric blanket in time for bedtime; and turns on the alarm last thing at night.  It makes sure that husbands never come home drunk, that teenager children show respect, that neighbours never criticise and that the window-cleaner doesn’t leave smeary bits in the corners.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” ensures that you use money-off coupons before they go out of date, always knows where your house-keys are and is capable of reading those complicated dials on the gas meter.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” will not only protect your children from head-lice and your dog from worms, it scares off next-door’s cat and keeps at bay the ginger kids from across the road.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” will select, record, review, edit, play back and watch with you a selection of your favourite TV programmes.  It will walk the dog, clean out the rabbit, feed the goldfish and teach the budgie to speak politely.  It listens attentively to conversation and answers intelligibly, even during breakfast.  It discusses politics, art, fashion and design, the price of tomatoes and what happened last night on Coronation Street, Eastenders and Who wants to be a millionaire?  It can explain the meaning of The Times crossword clues, predict the winning lottery numbers and provide you with words for cheating at Scrabble.

 

The “Housewife’s Prayer” speedily despatches Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and door-to-door salesmen – present company excepted.  It detects the imminent knock of the charity-envelope collector and automatically closes the curtains and dims the lights.  It picks up the potato peelings dropped by the dustmen and the empty crisp packets of the kids from the local comprehensive.

 

It can sing, dance, juggle, unicycle, perform the triple salko and walk the high-wire.

 

It acts as a lie-detector, toe-protector, fuel-injector and emergency stand-by heart and lung machine.

 

What does it look like??

 

Of course, had we been offering the “Housewife’s Prayer” for sale a decade ago, it might well have occupied the best part of a three-bedroomed semi.  But, due to the wonders of the silicon chip, coupled with the latest fibre-optic technology and self-carbonating reprographics techniques, we have been able to condense the “Housewife’s Prayer” into little more than an average-sized suitcase.  By chance, I just happen to have one here, which you may care to examine.

 

 
 

(SALESMAN opens case and points out various features whilst continuing with his sales patter.)

One might expect such a sophisticated machine to cost a little more than an arm and a leg – but, due to a preferential agreement with a reputable finance company, we are able to offer special terms for those customers who fulfil certain criteria.  Especially with you in mind, the “Housewife’s Prayer” need cost no more than a very reasonable down-payment supplemented by modest monthly payments from now until Christmas – (lowering voice) – or until Doomsday, whichever should last the longer.

 

In short, the “Housewife’s Prayer” is an offer not to be missed.  Not only is it guaranteed against fire, flood, hell and high water, but also against friction-induced electrostatic interference, falling meteorites, axe-wielding madmen and the typical two-year-old child.  It will unquestionably improve your quality of life and will make you the envy of all your friends – and, more especially, your enemies.

 

Indeed, Madam, it does sound heavenly.

 

 
 

(a little hesitant)

No … I’m afraid it can’t.

 

 
 

(jocular)

There are, after all, limitations to what modern technology can do.

 

Yes, I know it does just about everything else.  It can, after all, book you a holiday to Costa Rica, the Costa del Sol and the Costa Packet Hotel, Skegness.  It will check your plane reservations, pack your cases, keeping the keys in a safe place, order a …

 

 
 

(as if interrupted)

Perhaps not, but it can climb mountains, abseil down again, shoot the rapids, traverse Arctic snowdrifts …

 

 
 

(as if interrupted again – but carrying on regardless, almost in a state of panic)

At the touch of a button it readily transforms into a hang-glider, micro-light airplane, hot-air balloon or a Boeing 727 - but no, Madam (exasperated) you are right, it cannot actually give you peace of mind or a place in heaven.

 

You want to tell me about what?

 

The “salesman’s prayer”?

 

 
 

(exhausted and bemused)

Full steam ahead!  I’m listening.  
- END -