This was a comedy sketch initially performed in the revue “Clowns in Clover” which had its first performance at the Adelphi Theatre in London on December 1, 1927. This particular sketch was written by Dion Titheradge and starred the inimitable Cicely Courtneidge as the annoyed customer Mrs Spooner. It has been recorded and is available on many different collections; you can also hear it on youtube.
I have loved this sketch since I first heard it as a teenager on a three record collection called something like “Masters of Comedy”, being a collection of classic sketches. Double Damask has also been performed by Beatrice Lillie, and you can search for this also on youtube. For example, here. I hope admirers of the excellent Ms Lillie will not be upset by my saying I far prefer Cicely Courtneidge, whose superb diction and impeccable comic timing are beyond reproach.
No doubt the original script is available somewhere, but in the annoying way of the internet, I couldn’t find it. So here is my transcription of the Courtneidge version of “Double Damask”.
A customer, Mrs Spooner
A shop assistant (unnamed)
A manager, Mr Peters
Scene: The linen department of a large store.
MRS SPOONER: I wonder if you could tell me if my order has gone off yet?
ASSISTANT: Not knowing your order, madam, I really couldn’t say.
MRS SPOONER: But I was in here an hour ago and gave it to you.
ASSISTANT: What name, madam?
MRS SPOONER: Spooner, Mrs Spooner,
ASSISTANT: Have you an address?
MRS SPOONER: Do I look as if I live in the open air? I gave a large order for sheets and tablecloths, to be sent to Bacon Villa, Egham. (pronounced “Eg’m”)
MRS SPOONER: I hope I speak plainly: Egg Ham!
ASSISTANT: Oh yes, yes I remember perfectly now, Madam. Let me see now… no, your order won’t go through until tomorrow morning. Is there anything further?
MRS SPOONER: Yes, (very quickly) I want two dozen double damask dinner napkins.
ASSISTANT: I beg your pardon?
MRS SPOONER (as quicky as before): I said two dozen double damask dinner napkins.
ASSISTANT: I’m sorry madam, I don’t quite catch -
MRS SPOONER: Dinner napkins, man! Dinner napkins!
ASSISTANT: Of course madam. Plain?
MRS SPOONER: Not plain, double damask.
ASSISTANT: Yes… would you mind repeating your order Madam? I’m not quite sure.
MRS SPOONER: I want two dozen dammle dubbuck; I want two dammle dubb… oh dear, stupid of me! I want two dozen dammle dizzick danner nipkins.
ASSISTANT: Danner nipkins Madam?
MRS SPOONER: Yes.
ASSISTANT: You mean dinner napkins.
MRS SPOONER: That’s what I said.
ASSISTANT: No, pardon me, Madam, you said danner nipkins!
MRS SPOONER: Don’t be ridiculous! I said dinner napkins, and I meant danner nipkins. Nipper dank…you know you’re getting me muddled now.
ASSISTANT: I’m sorry Madam. You want danner nipkins, exactly. How many?
MRS SPOONER: Two duzzle.
MRS SPOONER: Oh, gracious, young man - can’t you get it right? I want two dubbin duzzle damask dinner napkins.
ASSISTANT: Oh no, Madam, not two dubbin - you mean two dozen!
MRS SPOONER: I said two dozen! Only they must be dammle duzzick!
ASSISTANT: No, we haven’t any of that in stock, Madam.
MRS SPOONER (in a tone of complete exasperation): Oh dear, of all the fools! Can’t I find anybody, just anybody with a modicum of intelligence in this store?
ASSISTANT: Well, here is our Mr Peters, Madam. Now perhaps if you ask him he might-
MR PETERS (In an authoritative “we can fix anything” kind of voice): Can I be of any assistance to you, Madam?
MRS SPOONER: I’m sorry to say that your assistant doesn’t appear to speak English. I’m giving an order, but it might just as well be in Esperanto for all he understands.
MR PETERS: Allow me to help you Madam. You require?
MRS SPOONER: I require (as quickly as before) two dozen double damask dinner napkins.
MR PETERS: I beg pardon, Madam?
MRS SPOONER: Oh heavens - can’t you understand?
MR PETERS: Would you mind repeating your order, Madam.
MRS SPOONER: I want two dazzen -
MR PETERS: Two dozen!
MRS SPOONER: I said two dozen!
MR PETERS: Oh no no Madam - no, you said two dazzen. But I understand perfectly what you mean. You mean two dozen; in other words - a double dozen.
MRS SPOONER: That’s it! A duzzle dubbin double damask dinner napkins.
MR PETERS: Oh no, pardon me, Madam, pardon me: you mean a double dozen double dummick dinner napkins.
ASSISTANT: Double damask, sir.
MR PETERS: I said double damask! It’s… dapper ninkins you require, sir.
MRS SPOONER: Please get it right, I want dinner napkins, dinner napkins.
MR PETERS: I beg pardon, Madam. So stupid of me…one gets so confused… (Laughs)
MRS SPOONER: It is not a laughing matter.
MR PETERS: Of course. Dipper nankins, madam.
ASSISTANT: Dapper ninkins, sir.
MRS SPOONER: Danner nipkins.
MR PETERS: I understand exactly what Madam wants. It is two d-d-d-d-..two d- Would you mind repeating your order please, Madam?
MRS SPOONER: Ohhh, dear.. I want two duzzle dizzen damask dinner dumplings!
MR PETERS: Allow me, Madam, allow me. The lady requires (quickly) two dubbin double damask dunner napkins.
ASSISTANT: Dunner napkins sir?
MR PETERS: Certainly! Two dizzen.
MRS SPOONER: Not two dizzen - I want two dowzen!
MR PETERS: Quite so, Madam, quite so. If I may say so we’re getting a little bit confused, splitting it up, as it were. Now, the full order, the full order, is two dazzen dibble dummisk n’dipper dumkins.
ASSISTANT: Excuse me, sir, you mean two dummen dammle dimmick dizzy napkins.
(The next four four lines are spoken almost on top of each other)
MRS SPOONER: I do not want dizzy napkins, I want two dizzle dammen damask -
MR PETERS: No - two dizzle dammle dizzick!
ASSISTANT: Two duzzle dummuck dummy!
MRS SPOONER: Two damn dizzy diddle dimmer dipkins!
MR PETERS (Shocked): Madam, Madam! Please, please - your language!
MRS SPOONER: Oh, blast. Give me twenty four serviettes.comments powered by Disqus