A Comedy Monologue
Part 1: The Case of the Cryptic Cat
Enter Marcus, an eccentric, upper class gentleman. He reads from a book.
Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and might I say what a special delight it is to see so many of you all gathered here tonight, just to listen to me. My name is Marcus D’Invilliers-Strawley, and I’m here tonight to tell you about my pet dog. I’m rather lucky to be the owner of a certain Jack Russell terrier who goes by the name of Howard. Here’s a photo of him, if you could just pass that around –
(Produces photo of Howard the Dog and hands it to the audience).
Now, if you will allow me, I’d like to tell you a little bit about the relationship Howard and I have, and some of the adventures that we’ve been on over the years.
It was not long after first adopting Howard into my humble abode of Strawley Manor that I began to realise he was not your average pootling pup. I should have expected this, as he came from the Harrods Pup Parlour, and was a hound of the finest vintage. On the very first evening of our acquaintance I left the newly acquired hound in his newly acquired hound chamber of the finest vintage, so that I could go to the drinks parlour to fetch myself a newly acquired gin and tonic (of the finest vintage). With the aforementioned drink newly acquired, I returned to the hound chamber expecting to find my canine companion tucked up asleep in his bed of the finest vintage, but he was nowhere to be found. With nothing but my G and T to accompany me, I searched all over the manor wondering where on earth my devious dog had got to. I searched in all the rooms, including the kitchens, the smoking parlour, the non-smoking parlour, the dining parlour, the non-dining parlour, the polo parlour, the summer sports parlour, the Jacuzzi-and-a-frappucino parlour, the Dungeon – but he was nowhere to be found.
Defeated and alcoholic, I returned to the drinks parlour, only to stop, baffled at the sight before me. For there was Howard the Dog, dressed in a velvet smoking jacket of the finest vintage, sitting at the bar partaking in a White Russian.
‘What’s he doing here?’ I exclaimed.
‘Chert, sozhaleyu!’ said the White Russian. He exited quickly.
‘Howard, what is the meaning of this?’ I demanded.
The mischievous mutt began mixing himself a vodka tonic, then eyed me carefully. Then he looked at my face.
‘I see you didn’t know what variety of pet you were purchasing, old boy,’ he simpered, gnawing tentatively at his tail. ‘I’m related to the Westley Jack Russell terriers. My father was the master of Dog College, Oxbridge. A higher class of canine you couldn’t hope to find at a Crufts winner’s convention. Care for another gin and tonic, or shall we move onto the Armand de Brignac?’
Surprised though I was to find my newly acquired hound wearing such fine garments and sipping such fine beverages (of the finest vintage), I couldn’t disguise my need for another drink. So we sat and chewed the cud for a few hours, and once the cud had been chewed I called the butler to take it away in a bin, and decided that this portentous pooch might not be such a bad addition to Strawley Manor.
‘By the way,’ he added, consulting his canine-issue Rolex. ‘I’d rather if I could move out of the hound chamber and sleep in the 16th Century four-poster bed upstairs. Personal taste, you understand.’
It was then that I realised I was dealing with a dog of the most exquisite taste.
And thus it was that Howard and I began our acquaintance. We made quite the couple. Every morning Howard would come down and eat a breakfast fit for a dog: fresh caviar from the Strawley fresh water lake, with fine spices imported from Pup-a-New Guinea and served with a lightly-buttered bone of the finest vintage. ‘Good for the teeth, you understand,’ he’d always say. For my part I could always help him finish the bone if he was full, but I was never one for shellfish because I’m a vegetarian.
Mornings were spent reading the classics of literature: ‘Gulliver’s Poodle’ by Dogathan Swift, ‘The Picture of Doberman Gray’ by Pointer Wilde, ‘The Collar Around Your Neck’ by Chihuahua Ngozi Adichie, and, his personal favourite, ‘Pride and Border Collies’ by Great Dane Austen. Lunch was biscuits over a copy of the Canine Institute Magazine, and then in the afternoon we would wander about the Strawley Estate, discussing the principles of contemporary metaphysical philosophy and playing fetch with his favourite tennis ball, a family heirloom handed down from his great-great-grand-dog, Colonel St. Bernard Westley (of the finest vintage). Sometimes he would indulge in a chewy toy, but only ever on Chews-days.
One afternoon, however, rather a funny thing happened.
Howard and I were out on the Strawley Lake in our rowing boat, and it was roughly Pimms O’Clock. I was in my usual gentleman’s get up, while Howard was wearing his favourite corduroy jacket, cream chinos, maroon cravat, silk shirt, Belgian brogues, pipe and fine moustache, gently humming the national anthem to himself as he rowed. I was just about to tuck into my third clotted cream scone of the finest vintage, when all of a sudden the butler sailed over to us on his surfboard.
‘Sir,’ he chirped to us from across the waves, ‘a gentleman has just arrived at the manor, and he requested you read this letter.’
He handed an envelope to me, and I carried out my generous tradition of tipping him (turns page) – into the lake, along with the scone.
‘Whatever could this be?’ I wondered aloud as the butler began his front crawl back to shore.
‘Dear Mr D’Invilliers-Sprawley,’ began the letter. ‘It has come to my attention that you have recently adopted a rather remarkable personage of the canine complexion into your manor. To boldly ask no small favour, I request that you come and meet me immediately to discuss an urgent matter with regard to this problematic pooch. You are to bring no dogs, no mice, no large bodies of water, and by the wayside a saucer of milk and a fish or two wouldn’t go amiss.’
It seemed innocent enough.
‘Don’t you think there’s something a bit strange about it?’ said Howard.
‘Oh, you noticed the split infinitive in the second line as well?’ said I.
But all of a sudden Howard had started playing a game of chess, and was too engrossed to reply.
With haste I returned to the manor to meet my mysterious visitor. The butler showed me through to the guest parlour, where I found the most shocking sight: a live electric wire coming out of the ancestral television! As soon as it was off, I turned around to greet my guest. To my surprise, he was a cat, dressed in a double-breasted pinstripe suit of the finest vintage. It was one of the most hideous spectacles I had ever seen – the ones perched on the end of his nose. I supposed that cats did not have good taste for eye-wear.
‘Mr D’Invilliers-Sprawley, I presume,’ said the cat, reaching out a furry paw for me to stroke. ‘My name is Purrs Meow. I have come here to discuss the matter of Howard the dog. If you do not listen carefully to what I say, you could end up behind bars.’
‘Well, that’s alright,’ I replied. ‘I pull a perfect pint.’
‘That’s not what I mean,’ barked the moochy moggy in a strange inversion of traditional dog/feline roles. ‘I have come because that dog has something that belongs to me: a gold tooth in the back of his mouth, made of precious metal that belongs to my family. It was stolen by his great-great-grand-dog Dame Husky Rottweiler in the Second Pet War of 1929, and I want it back.’
‘Outrageous!’ I said. ‘The Second Pet War occurred in 1928!’
‘Whatever!’ snarled the cat in a further strange inversion of dog/feline roles. ‘If my property is not returned to me, I shall call the Tabby lawyer and have you meowsted!’
I admitted that this sounded unpleasant, before realising that the television had come back on and was playing Coldplay on MTV. I quickly deactivated the electronic distraction and returned to the matter at hand.
But before I could argue any more with this parsimonious puss, none other than Howard the Dog burst into the guest parlour.
‘Well if it isn’t Purrs Meow,’ growled my canine companion in a return to traditional dog/feline roles. ‘Don’t listen to a thing he says, Marcus. He’s nothing but a con-cat!’
‘I am not con-cat, I am pro-cat!’ pronounced the felonious feline. ‘And you have a tooth that belongs to me!’
I wasn’t going to take this lying down, so I got up off the floor.
‘Gentlemen, please,’ I cried, pouring myself a glass of shandy and beginning to sip it through a curly straw of the finest vintage. ‘Isn’t there some way we can work this out?’
I knew this would be difficult for Howard, as he voted to leave the EU because he believed there were too many cats coming over here and claiming milk benefits.
However, my feline-sceptic friend surprised me.
‘Why don’t you join us for a drink?’ said the dog, mixing a G and T whilst lighting his pipe insouciantly. ‘I’m sure we can talk this out.’
‘Alright, just the one,’ said Purrs Meow, lapping at the drink Howard handed him. After a minute, however, Purrs suddenly seemed rather more demure.
‘What’s happening? Why do I feel so strange?’ All of a sudden he stared furiously at Howard. ‘You’ve put cat-nip in this drink!’
‘Well,’ said Howard, ‘I thought it was about time that you got catatonic.’
‘Terrific show,’ said I, and we clinked our glasses together in celebration.
‘This isn’t the last you’ve heard of Purrs Meow!’ vowed the tiger relative as he made for the door. ‘I’ll be back, and that tooth shall be mine!’
Unfortunately he didn’t get too far, as he passed out in the golfing parlour and the butler had to caddy him away.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s all we have time for tonight. I hope you enjoyed hearing a bit about my life with Howard, and if there are any further adventures, I’ll be sure to let you know.