#02) HUMOUR SPECIAL (I)   Alan Bennett/Beyond the Fringe (Religion)     [7:39]

                                                          THE SERMON or Take a Pew      X sound: The Sermon.mp3  
First verse of the 14th chapter of the Second  Book of Kings: “And he said, ‘But my brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man’. And he said, ...”

Perhaps, I might say the same thing in a different way by quoting you those words of that grand old English poet, W. E. Henley*), who said: “When that one great scorer comes, to mark against your name, it matters not who won or lost, but how you played the game, but how you ...” Words, very meaningful and significant for us here together tonight. Words, we might do very much worse than to consider. And I use this word “consider” advisedly, because I’m using it, you see, in its original Greek sense of con-sider of putting oneself in the way of thinking about something. I want us here together tonight to put ourselves in the way of thinking about ... to put ourselves in the way of thinking what we ought to be putting ourselves in the way of thinking about.

As I was on my way here tonight, I arrived at the station and by an oversight I happened to go out by the way one is supposed to come in and as I was going out, an employee of the railway company hailed me. “Hey, Jack!” he shouted, “where do you think you are going?” That, at any rate, was the gist of what he said. But, you know, I was grateful to him. Because, you see, he put me in mind of the kind of question I felt I ought to be asking you here tonight: “Where do you think you are going?”

Very many years ago, when I was about as old as some of you are now, I went mountain climbing in Scotland with a friend of mine and there was this mountain, you see, and we decided to climb it. And so, very early one morning, we arose and began to climb. All day we climbed. Up and up and up, higher and higher and higher. Until the valley lay very small below us and the mists of the evening began to come down and the sun to set. And when we reached the summit we sat down to watch this magnificent sight of the sun going down behind the mountains. And as we watched, my friend very suddenly and violently vomited! - Some of us think life’s a bit like that, don’t we? But it isn’t ! Life, you know, is rather like opening a tin of sardines: We are all of us looking for the key. And I wonder how many of you here tonight wasted years of your lives looking behind the kitchen dressers of this life for that key. I know, I have. Others think they have found that key, don’t they? They roll back the lid of the sardine tin of life, they reveal the sardines, the riches of life therein and they get them out, they enjoy them. But, you know, there’s always a little bit in the corner you can’t get out. I wonder, is there a little bit in the corner of your life? I know there is in mine! And so now, I draw to a close. I want you when you go out into the world, in times of trouble and sorrow and hopelessness and despair, amid the hurly-burly of modern life, if ever you are tempted to say, “stuff this for a lark”, I want you at such times to cast your minds back to the words of my first text to you tonight: “But my brother Esau is a hairy man, but I am a smooth man.”                                              
                                                                                 Alan Bennett, Beyond the Fringe (1961)  

A little note of warning: Alan Bennett doesn't seem to be so well versed in the Bible, after all. The quotation which serves as starting point for his “sermon”(“But my brother Esau…”) –which is an original quotation from the “Authorized Version”( 1611) – has NOT been taken from the 14th chapter of the Second Book of Kings, but from Genesis 27, 11.  

[several (different) versions to be found on youtube, e.g.: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOsYN---eGk ]

*) W. E. Henley was born on 23 August 1849 in Gloucester (England) and suffered from tuberculosis as a boy, eventually resulting in the amputation of a leg and twenty months' recuperation in Edinburgh Infirmary (1873-75), where he wrote a number of free-verse poems which established his reputation and were included in “A Book of Verses” (1888). His physical incapacitation left another literary legacy in the form of Long John Silver, the peg-legged character created by Henley's Edinburgh friend Robert Louis Stevenson in “Treasure Island”.

His other poetry collections include “The Song of the Sword” (1892), “London Voluntaries” (1893), “Collected Poems” (1898), “Hawthorn and Lavender” (1901) and “In Hospital” (1903). This last includes his best-known poem, “Invictus” (written 1875), which ends:

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

W. E. Henley: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ernest_Henley 

Annotations: smooth: glatt, sanft, weich // scorer (sport): der Mann, der (speziell beim Cricket) das Ergebnis festhält // consider: if anything, consider can only be used in its original Latin sense! // to hail: herbeiwinken // the gist: der rote Faden, der Hauptpunkt // to vomit: sich übergeben, kotzen (sorry!) // kitchen dresser: Anrichte // stuff this for a lark (expletive): ~ ihr könnt mich (alle) mal!