Cus­tomer. Hel­lo, I would like to buy a fish li­cense, please.

Shop­keep­er. A what?

C. A li­cense for my pet fish, Er­ic.

S. How did you know my name was Er­ic?

C. No no no, my fish’s name is Er­ic, Er­ic the fish. He’s an hal­ibut.

S. What?

C. He is . . . an . . . hal­ibut.

S. You’ve got a pet hal­ibut?

C. Yes. I chose him out of thou­sands. I didn’t like the oth­ers, they were all too flat.

S. You must be a looney.

C. I am not a looney! Why should I be at­tired with the ep­i­thet looney mere­ly be­cause I have a pet hal­ibut? I’ve heard tell that Sir Ger­ald Nabar­do has a pet prawn called Si­mon (you wouldn’t call him a looney); fur­ther­more, Dawn Pailthor­pe, the la­dy show‐​jumper, had a clam, called Stafford, af­ter the late Chan­cel­lor, Al­lan Bul­lock has two pikes, both called Chris, and Mar­cel Proust had an had­dock! So, if you’re call­ing the au­thor of ’A la recherche du temps per­du’ a looney, I shall have to ask you to step out­side!

S. Al­right, al­right, al­right. A li­cense.

C. Yes.

S. For a fish.

C. Yes.

S. You are a looney.

C. Look, it’s a bleed­ing pet, isn’t it? I’ve got a li­cense for me pet dog Er­ic, and I’ve got a li­cense for me pet cat Er­ic . . .

S. You don’t need a li­cense for your cat.

C. I bleed­ing well do and I got one. He can’t be called Er­ic with­out it⁠—​

S. There’s no such thing as a bloody cat li­cense.

C. Yes there is!

S. Isn’t!

C. Is!

S. Isn’t!

C. I bleed­ing got one, look! What’s that then?

S. This is a dog li­cense with the word “dog” crossed out and “cat” writ­ten in in cray­on.

C. The man didn’t have the right form.

S. What man?

C. The man from the cat de­tec­tor van.

S. The looney de­tec­tor van, you mean.

C. Look, it’s peo­ple like you what cause un­rest.

S. What cat de­tec­tor van?

C. The cat de­tec­tor van from the Min­istry of Housinge.

S. Housinge?

C. It was spelt like that on the van (I’m very ob­ser­vant!). I nev­er seen so many bleed­ing aeri­als. The man said that their equip­ment could pin­point a purr at four hun­dred yards! And Er­ic, be­ing such a hap­py cat, was a piece of cake.

S. How much did you pay for this?

C. Six­ty quid, and eight for the fruit‐​bat.

S. What fruit‐​bat?

C. Er­ic the fruit‐​bat.

S. Are all your pets called Er­ic?

C. There’s noth­ing so odd about that: Ke­mal Ataturk had an en­tire menagerie called Ab­dul!

S. No he didn’t!

C. Did!

S. Didn’t!

C. Did, did, did, did, did and did!

S. Oh, all right.

C. Spo­ken like a gen­tle­man, sir. Now, are you go­ing to give me a fish li­cense?

S. I promise you that there is no such thing: you don’t need one.

C. In that case, give me a bee li­cense.

S. A li­cense for your pet bee?

C. Yes.

S. Called Er­ic? Er­ic the Bee?

C. No.

S. No?

C. No, Er­ic the Half‐​Bee. He had an ac­ci­dent.

S. You’re off your chump.

C. Look, if you in­tend by that uti­liza­tion of an ob­scure col­lo­qui­al­lism to im­ply that my san­i­ty is not up to scratch, or in­deed to de­ny the se­mi‐​ex­is­tence of my lit­tle chum Er­ic the Half‐​Bee, I shall have to ask you to lis­ten to this!
Take it away, Er­ic the or­ches­tra leader! . . .

A one . . . two . . . A one . . . two . . . three . . . four . . .

[pi­ano in­tro]

Half a bee, philo­soph­i­cal­ly, must, ip­so fac­to, half not be.
But half the bee
has got to be,
vis a vis
its en­ti­ty⁠—​do you see?

But can a bee
be said to be
or not to be
an en­tire bee
when half the bee
is not a bee
due to some an­cient in­jury?

Singing . . .

La dee dee, 1 2 3,
Er­ic the half a bee.
a b c d e f g,
Er­ic the half a bee.

Is this retched de­mi‐​bee,
half asleep up­on my knee,
some freak from a menagerie?
No! It’s Er­ic the half a bee.

Fid­dle dee dum,
Fid­dle dee dee,
Er­ic the half bee.

Ho ho ho,
Tee hee hee,
Er­ic the half a bee.

I love this hive em­ploy­ee‐​ee‐​ee [with buzzing in back­ground]
bi­sect­ed ac­ci­den­tal­ly
one sum­mer af­ter­noon by me
I love him car­nal­ly.

He loves him car­nal­ly . . . [to­geth­er]
. . . se­mi‐​car­nal­ly


The end

“Cyril Con­nel­ly?”
No! “Se­mi‐​car­nal­ly”

Cyril Con­nel­ly [sung soft­ly and slow­ly]