All human life at Pork Scratchings

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The Independent Online
As I am always looking for ways of making a quick fortune, I have been working recently on an idea for a new TV sitcom.

Hasn't everyone? I hear you cry. Yes, but this one should hit the jackpot, as it is set in a place that everyone knows and where every section of society meets, and yet which has never ever been the setting for drama.

Where else but - the motorway service area!

Here is an extract from the opening episode of what I hope will be my long-awaited smash hit TV comedy: Welcome to Pork Scratchings...

The scene is in the offices on the Northbound side of the Pork Scratchings Service Area on the M99. The manager, Mr Stainley, has sent for Judy, the manageress of Lucy's Larder, the health food part of the service area, to introduce her to her new recruit, Toby.

Mr Stainley: Ah, Judy. How's everything in Lucy's Larder?

Judy: Fresh. Organic. Tasty. Fabulous.

Stainley: Is it really?

Judy: No. But that's what we tell people.

Stainley: Good, good! Now, Judy, this is our new recruit, Toby. He's replacing Willy. Can you show him the ropes?

Toby: Sir? Mr Stainley?

Stainley: Yes, Toby?

Toby: Can I ask you a question?

Stainley: Of course, lad! Intelligence is what we look for in employees at the Pork Scratchings Service Area! We never find it, but that's what we look for!

Toby: Well, Mr Stainley, what happened to Willy my predecessor? Why did he leave?

Stainley: He got food poisoning.

Toby: Food poisoning? Here?

Stainley: Yes, I'm afraid so. He bought a burger from the southbound side burger bar. I had warned him never to venture over the other side, but he wouldn't listen. Now Judy ...

Judy: Yes, sir ?

Stainley (in an urgent whisper): Oh, Judy, when can I take you out for a date again?

Judy: Never, after what happened last time. I still can't believe that your idea of a night out was to drive me 200 miles up the M, give me an all-day breakfast at Charnock Richard and drive me all the way back again!

Cue for cackling audience laughter. Cut to the shop on the northbound side, where the till is being manned by bossy, camp comic character Herbert. A customer enters the shop.

Customer: Excuse me, I don't know if you can help me ...

Herbert: Well, I can in principle, but it depends on the small print of your request.

Customer: Pardon?

Herbert: I mean, what do you want?

Customer: Oh. Well, I'm trying to use the phone out there to phone home and tell my wife I'm late, but it's so close to the video games arcade that I can't hear a word my wife is saying. Herbert: I think you'll find she's saying: "What's that horrible noise in the background ? I can't hear a word you're saying!" Customer: So there are no other phones in a quieter place?

Herbert: No. Telephones are only ever put in two places at service areas. One is outside where it's so cold or so wet that people don't make long calls and form queues. The other is inside by the video game section, where it's so noisy that people don't make long calls and form queues.

Customer: So what's the answer?

Just then, an RAC recruiting man wanders past holding a placard saying, "The End Of The World Is Nigh, So Join The RAC now!" He is talking on a mobile phone.

Herbert: There's your answer!

Customer: What - join the RAC ?

Herbert: No, you silly cow - get a mobile phone. You don't want to go joining the RAC.

Customer: Why not ?

Herbert: It would give him a heart attack.

Cut to self-service section of cafeteria, where Tracey, the cheeky serving girl, is at the breakfast counter. A lorry driver approaches with his tray.

Tracey: What do you want, sir?

Lorry driver: Full breakfast, please.

Tracey: How do you like your eggs ?

Lorry driver: I like them lightly fried two hours ago, left standing around to acquire a soft patina of dust and grease, then reheated to go slightly hard and varnished on the outside.

Tracey: You're in luck. That's the only sort we've got.

And so on, for another half-hour of relentless back-chat. Coming soon, the episode where the Gents Toilet breaks down for an hour and causes chaos, where Tracey becomes convinced that the newly arrived customer is Egon Ronay, and where someone actually joins the RAC and the RAC man does have a heart attack.