The Cheese Shoppe

[A cus­tomer walks in the door. A bouzou­ki plays in the back­ground.]

Cus­tomer. Good Morn­ing.

Own­er. Good morn­ing, sir. Wel­come to the Na­tion­al Cheese Em­po­ri­um!

Cus­tomer. Ah, thank you, my good man.

Own­er. What can I do for you, sir?

C. Well, I was, uh, sit­ting in the pub­lic li­brary on Thur­mon Street just now, skim­ming through “Rogue Her­rys” by Hugh Wal­pole, and I sud­den­ly came over all peck­ish.

O. Peck­ish, sir?

C. Es­uri­ant.

O. Eh?

C. ’Ee, ah wer ’un­gry‐​loik!

O. Ah, hun­gry!

C. In a nut­shell. And I thought to my­self, “a lit­tle fer­ment­ed curd will do the trick,” so, I cur­tailed my Walpol­ing ac­tivites, sal­lied forth, and in­fil­trat­ed your place of pur­veyance to ne­go­ti­ate the vend­ing of some cheesy co­mestibles!

O. Come again?

C. I want to buy some cheese.

O. Oh, I thought you were com­plain­ing about the bouzou­ki play­er!

C. Oh, heav­en for­bid. I am one who de­lights in all man­i­fes­ta­tions of the Terp­si­chore­an muse!

O. Sor­ry?

C. ’Ooo, ah lahk a nice tu­une, ’yer forced to!

O. So he can go on play­ing, can he?

C. Most cer­tain­ly! Now then, some cheese please, my good man.

O. [lusti­ly] Cer­tain­ly, sir. What would you like?

C. Well, eh, how about a lit­tle Red Leices­ter?

O. I’m afraid we’re fresh out of Red Leices­ter, sir.

C. Oh, nev­er mind, how are you on Tilsit?

O. I’m afraid we nev­er have that at the end of the week, sir. We get it fresh on Mon­day.

C. Tish tish. No mat­ter. Well, stout yeo­man, four ounces of Caer­philly, if you please.

O. Ah! It’s been on or­der, sir, for two weeks. I was ex­pect­ing it this morn­ing.

C. ’T’s Not my lucky day, is it? Er, Bel Paese?

O. Sor­ry, sir.

C. Red Wind­sor?

O. Nor­mal­ly, sir, yes. To­day the van broke down.

C. Ah. Stil­ton?

O. Sor­ry.

C. Em­men­tal? Gruyère?

O. No.

C. Any Nor­we­gian Jarls­berg, per chance?

O. No.

C. Lip­tauer?

O. No.

C. Lan­cashire?

O. No.

C. White Stil­ton?

O. No.

C. Dan­ish Blue?

O. No.

C. Dou­ble Glouces­ter?

O. [pause] No.

C. Cheshire?

O. No.

C. Dorset Blue Vin­ny?

O. No.

C. Brie, Roque­fort, Pont l’Evêque, Port Salut, Savo­yard, Saint‐​Paulin, Carre de l’Est, Bresse Bleu, Boursin?

O. No.

C. Camem­bert, per­haps?

O. Ah! We have Camem­bert, yes sir.

C. [sur­prised] You do! Ex­cel­lent.

O. Yes sir. It’s, ah . . . it’s a bit run­ny . . .

C. Oh, I like it run­ny.

O. Well . . . It’s very run­ny, ac­tu­al­ly, sir.

C. No mat­ter. Fetch hith­er the fro­mage de la Belle France! Mmmwah!

O. I think it’s a bit run­nier than you’ll like it, sir.

C. I don’t care how fuck­ing run­ny it is. Hand it over with all speed.

O. Oooooooooohhh . . . [pause]

C. What now?

O. The cat’s eat­en it.

C. [pause] Has he.

O. She, sir.

[pause]

C. Gou­da?

O. No.

C. Edam?

O. No.

C. Caith­ness?

O. No.

C. Smoked Aus­tri­an?

O. No.

C. Japan­ese Sage Der­by?

O. No, sir.

C. You . . . do have some cheese, don’t you?

O. [bright­ly] Of course, sir. It’s a cheese shop, sir. We’ve got⁠—​

C. No no . . . don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess.

O. Fair enough.

C. Er, Wens­ley­dale?

O. Yes?

C. Ah, well, I’ll have some of that!

O. Oh! I thought you were talk­ing to me, sir. Mis­ter Wens­ley­dale, that’s my name.

[pause]

C. Greek Fe­ta?

O. Ah, not as such.

C. Er, Gor­gonzo­la?

O. no

C. Parme­san,

O. no

C. Moz­zarel­la,

O. no

C. Pipo Crème,

O. no

C. Dan­ish Fyn­bo,

O. no

C. Czech Sheep’s Milk,

O. no

C. Venezue­lan Beaver Cheese?

O. Not to­day, sir, no.

[pause]

C. Ah, how about Ched­dar?

O. Well, we don’t get much call for it around here, sir.

C. Not much ca⁠—​It’s the sin­gle most pop­u­lar cheese in the world!

O. Not ’round here, sir.

C. [slight pause] and what is the most pop­u­lar cheese ’round here?

O. Ilch­ester, sir.

C.is it.

O. Oh, yes, it’s stag­ger­ing­ly pop­u­lar in this manusquire.

C. Is it.

O. It’s our num­ber one best sell­er, sir!

C. I see. Er . . . Ilch­ester, eh?

O. Right, sir.

C. All right. Okay.
“Have you got any?” He asked, ex­pect­ing the an­swer “no”.

O. I’ll have a look, sir . . . nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.

C. It’s not much of a cheese shop, is it?

O. Finest in the dis­trict!

C. [an­noyed] Ex­plain the log­ic un­der­ly­ing that con­clu­sion, please.

O. Well, it’s so clean, sir!

C. It’s cer­tain­ly un­con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by cheese . . .

O. [bright­ly] You haven’t asked me about Lim­burg­er, sir.

C. Would it be worth it?

O. Could be . . .

C. Have you⁠—​ shut that bloody bouzou­ki up!

O. Told you, sir . . .

C. [slow­ly] Have you got any Lim­burg­er?

O. No.

C. Fig­ures.
Pre­dictable, re­al­ly I sup­pose. It was an act of purest op­ti­mism to have posed the ques­tion in the first place. Tell me . . .

O. Yes sir?

C. [de­lib­er­ate­ly] Have you in fact got any cheese here at all?

O. Yes, sir.

C. Re­al­ly?

[pause]

O. No. Not re­al­ly, sir.

C. You haven’t.

O. No sir. Not a scrap. I was de­lib­er­ate­ly wast­ing your time, sir.

C. Well I’m sor­ry, but I’m go­ing to have to shoot you.

O. Right‐​o, sir.

[The cus­tomer takes out a gun and shoots the own­er.]

C. What a sense­less waste of hu­man life.