5) The Argument Sketch

C: customer    A: arguer    I: insulter   R: receptionist

C: (customer to receptionist) Iíd like to have an argument, please.

R: Certainly, sir. Have you been here before?

C: No, I havenít. This is my first time.

R: I see. Well, do you want to have just one argument, or or were you thinking of taking a course?

C: Well, what is the cost?

R: Well, itís one pound for a five-minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.

C: Well, I think it would be best if I perhaps started off with just the one and then see how it goes.

R: Fine, fine. Well, Iíll see who is free at the moment. Hmm, Mr Bakey is free, but heís a little bit too friendly. Ah yes, try

     Mr Barnard, room 12.

C: (goes to room of Insulter instead of the room of the Arguer)

I: (extremely unfriendly) What do you want?

C: Well, I was told outside that Ö

I: Ö(interrupts him) Donít give me that, you snotty-faced heap of parrot droppings!!!

C: (shocked and unbelieving) What?!?!

I: Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, toffee-nosed, stinking pervert!!!

C: Look, I came here for an argument. Iím not going to just Ö

I: (completely changed) Oh, oh! Iím sorry, but this is ABUSE.

C: Oh, I see Ė well, that explains it.

I: Ah, yes, you want room 12A, just along the corridor.

C: Oh, thank you very much. Sorry.

I: Not at all.

C: Thank you. (leaves ABUSER and goes to ARGUER)

I: (aside) Stupid git!

C: (knocks)

A: Come in.

C: Is this the right room for an argument?

A: Iíve told you once.

C: No, you havenít.

A: Yes, I have.

C: When?

A: Just now.

C: No, you didnít.

A: I did.

C: Didnít.

A: Did.

C: You didnít.

A: Iím telling you I did.

C: You did not.

A: Oh, Iím sorry Ė just a moment. Is this a five-minute argument or the full half-hour?

C: Oh, just the five minutes.

A: Thank you. Ė Anyway, I did.

C: You most certainly did not.

A: Look, letís get this thing clear. I quite definitely told you.

C: No, you did not.

A: Yes, I did.

C: No, you didnít

A: Yes, I did.

C: No, you didnít.

A: Yes, I did.

C: No, you didnít.

A: Yes, I did.

C: You didnít!

A: Did!

C: Oh look, this isnít an argument.

A: Yes, it is.

C: No, it isnít! Itís just contradiction.

A: No, it isnít.

C: It is.

A: It is not.

C: Look, you just contradicted me.

A: I did not.

C: Oh, you did!

A: No, no, no!

C: You did, just then!

A: Nonsense.

C: Oh look, this is completely pointless.

A: No, it isnít

C: I came here for a good argument.

A: No, you didnít. No, you came here for an argument.

C: Well, an argument isnít just contradiction.

A: C a n  be.

C: No, it canít. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

A: No, it isnít.

C: Yes, it is. Itís not just contradiction.

A: Look, if I argue with you I must take up a contrary position.

C: Yes, but thatís not just saying No, it isnít!

A: Yes, it is!

C: No, it isnít. Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

A: No, it isnít

C: Yes, it is!

A: Not at all.

C: Now, look here Ö

A: (strikes bell on his desk, smiles brightly) Good morning!

C: What?

A: Thatís it. Good morning.

C: But I was just getting interested.

A: Sorry, but the five minutes are up.

C: That was never five minutes.

A: Iím afraid it was.

C: It wasnít!

A: Iím sorry, but Iím not allowed to argue any more.

C: What?

A: If you want me to go on arguing you have to pay for another 5 minutes.

C: Yes, but that was never five  minutes just now. Oh, come on!

A: (hums, twiddles his thumbs etc.)

C: Look, this is ridiculous.

A: Iím sorry, but Iím not allowed to argue unless youíve paid.

C: Oh, all right. (hands over banknote)

A: Thank you.

C: Well?

A: Well what?

C: That wasnít really five minutes just now.

A: I told you, Iím not allowed to argue unless youíve paid.

C: But I just paid.

A: No, you didnít.

C: Look, I donít want to argue about Ö

A: But you didnít pay.

C: Aha!!! If I didnít pay, why are you arguing? Iíve got you now!

A: (pauses briefly) No, you havenít.

C: Yes, I have. If youíre arguing, I must have paid.

A: Not necessarily. I  c o u l d  be arguing in my spare time!

                                                           [ET CETERA AD INFINITUM!]

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