`A Dance to the Music of Time' part two: `Anyone here know Widmerpool?'

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Yesterday I brought you the first half of a condensed version of A Dance to the Music of Time. It wasn't meant to be the first half - it was meant to be the whole thing - but as anyone who has ever tried to condense A Dance to the Music of Time will testify (which, I suppose, means just me and Hugh Whitemore) it does tend to go on a bit.

Anyway, on with the second half!

Story so far: lots of old friends keep bumping into each other and asking if they know Widmerpool. They generally do, but don't like him. Meanwhile, everyone is getting older.

Early morning. The scene is a bombed street in London. A man in a black tie, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses, wanders up.

Man: God Gad. Where has my house gone?

Policeman: This your pile of bricks, sir?

Man: Yes. I only popped out for an all-night party and popped back again at first light, and - my house has gone!

Policeman: Did you take your wife with you, sir, or is she ... in there somewhere?

Man: Did I take my wife? I don't know. What does she look like?

Policeman: Well, if she's in there somewhere, I'd hate to say what she looks like.

Man: Do you know Ken Widmerpool?

Policeman: No, sir.

Man: Nor do I. I think we must be in the wrong play.

Cut to large rambling house. There is a sign outside: "This house was used in the filming of `A Dance to the Music of Time', pounds 2.50 entry Wednesdays and Fridays." The sign is hastily removed. Nick Jenkins, in demob suit, comes to the gate. His wife comes running up the drive.

Nick: Hello, darling. I'm back.

Isabel: Hello, darling. What sort of war did you have?

Nick: I didn't like it much. People kept asking me if I knew Widmerpool. And I had the wrong tie on in one scene.

Isabel: Were you court-martialled?

Nick: No, but millions of viewers wrote in to complain. What sort of war did you have?

Isabel: Perfectly bloody. Daylight was rationed, you know. But I've had three children in the past three years.

Nick: That's awfully clever considering I haven't been here in the past three years.

Isabel: Oh, medicine can do so much to help these days, darling.

A figure steps out of the undergrowth.

Oh, look - it's Uncle Giles!

Giles: Hello, you two.

Nick: Giles! I thought you were dead!

Giles: Am I? He consults the script. Oh, yes, - so I am. He dies.

Cut to a West End art gallery. Everyone is there.

Woman: Do you know that dreadful man Widmerpool?

Pamela: I should do. I am married to him.

Woman: Oh, my dear, I am so sorry!

Pamela: Not half as sorry as I am. Do you know that painting by Poussin called Dance to the Music of Time?

Woman: Poussin? That's French for chicken, isn't it? Can you imagine a British painter called Chicken?

Pamela: Well, we have painters called Constable and Sargent, and nobody thinks it's odd ...

Widmerpool (banging a table with his first): Could we have silence just for a moment? Thank you all for coming ...

Nick Jenkins arrives, out of breath

Nick: Have I missed anything?

Woman: Hello, Nick.

Nick: I am sorry, I don't think ...

Woman: It's Jean. We had an affair in the first episode.

Nick: Did we? I've got that episode on video but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet.

Widmerpool: ... and in conclusion may I say that I shall shortly be going bonkers and running off with a charismatic young man called Scorp?

Sir Magnus: Why?

Widmerpool: It's short for Scorpion, I believe.

Sir Magnus: No - why are you going bonkers and running off with this young man?

Widmerpool: Well, I'm not sure, but I think it's because Anthony Powell can't think of an ending.

Nick: And doesn't know anything about the Sixties.

Enter Bob Duporte, Odo Stevens, Nicolas Poussin, and everyone who is not there so far.

Poussin: Excusez moi, mais connaissez vous Widmerpool?

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