`A Dance to the Music of Time' - the abridged version

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The Independent Online
Many people who couldn't face reading the whole of Anthony Powell's novel sequence A Dance to the Music of Time were looking forward to watching Hugh Whitemore's abridgement for television, but I gather that a lot of them found that even that was a bit too long and complicated. So for them, and for anyone else who has missed the whole thing, I bring you today a condensation of the complete Hugh Whitemore/ Anthony Powell A Dance to the Music of Time in one newspaper column!

Exterior shot, smart London street. Nicholas Jenkins lets himself into front door. Interior shot of Jean, his girlfriend, with no clothes on.

Nick: You've got no clothes on.

Jean: Haven't I? Gosh, nor I have.

Nick: Why haven't you got any clothes on?

Jean: Because it will make the viewers think that there is lots more sex and nudity to follow.

Nick: But there isn't?

Jean: No. Not a sausage.

Nick: Phew. Thank goodness for that. Now, get your clothes on before your husband, Bob Duporte, comes home.

Jean: Why did you mention the name of my husband? I know perfectly well what he is called.

Nick: I know, but if we don't keep mentioning names, and whether we are married or not, the viewers will forget who everyone is. By the way, were you at school with a chap called Widmerpool?

Jean: No. Were you?

Nick: Yes, I was, as a matter of fact. Incidentally, I saw my Uncle Giles today.

Cut to seedy hotel on Brighton seafront, interior, lots of period detail.

Enter seedy uncle.

Uncle Giles: Hello, Nick, fancy bumping into you here. Will you look after these papers for me?

Nick: Why, what are they, Uncle Giles?

Uncle Giles: My scripts for the next five episodes. Can't make head or tail of what's happening without them. Or with them, come to that.

Nick: Pleasure, Uncle Giles.

Enter Bob Duporte.

Bob: Hello, Nick and Uncle Giles. Fancy bumping into you again after all these years.

Nick: Actually, I think this is the first time we've met.

Bob: Consulting script You may be right.

Nick: I'm married now, you know.

Cut to country station at night. Steam train arrives.

Close-up of porter.

Porter: Widmerpool! Widmerpool!

Carriage door opens and Widmerpool descends balefully, accompanied by Miranda Richardson playing herself.

Widmerpool bumps into another passenger.

Passenger: Why don't you watch where you're flaming going?

Widmerpool: Because my name is Widmerpool and I run this railway, or at least I end up head of almost anything you care to mention, so I probably run this railway as well. And who are you, you nasty little working class oik?

Odo: My name is Odo Stevens, and I write short stories.

Widmerpool: Why on earth would a working class chap want to write short stories?

Odo: I'm not sure, but I think that Anthony Powell is totally incapable of portraying anyone proletarian unless he is like himself, ie a writer with a curious name?

Odo: It is if you insist on pretending it's pronounced Pole.

Enter Nicholas Jenkins, holding kit bag.

Nick: Widmerpool...!

Widmerpool: Hello, Nick. I'm married now, you know, but I haven't any children.

Nick: Have you heard about the war?

Widmerpool: Heard about it? My dear boy, I am a major shareholder in it!

Porter: Come along, gents, please, come along! Have you no homes to go to?

Nick: Peering closely at Porter My God, it's Charlie! Charlie Stringham! But you're ... drunk! And we were at school together! I'm married now, you know.

Charlie: I must be even drunker than I thought. You look nothing like the Nick Jenkins I once knew.

Nick: Yes, but that's because I am being played by a different actor now.

Charlie: Well, it's lovely to see you again, Nick, whoever you are.

Enter Bob Duporte.

Bob: Anyone here seen Quiggins?

I'm not sure if this quite wraps up everything. Maybe we'll have another episode tomorrow. And there again, maybe not.

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