The Argument Clinic

mathew

 

A reception desk in a sort of office building.

Receptionist: Yes, sir?

Man: I'd like to have an argument please.

Receptionist: Certainly, sir, have you been here before...?

Man: No, this is my first time.

Receptionist: I see. Do you want to have the full argument, or were you thinking of taking a course?

Man: Well, what would be the cost?

Receptionist: Yes, it's one pound for a five-minute argument, but only eight pounds for a course of ten.

Man: Well, I think it's probably best if I start with the one and see how it goes from there. OK?

Receptionist: Fine. I'll see who's free at the moment... Mr. Du-Bakey's free, but he's a little bit concilliatory... Yes, try Mr. Barnard -- Room 12.

Man: Thank you.

[...] The man knocks on the door.

Mr Vibrating:(from within) Come in.

The man enters the room. Mr Vibrating is sitting at a desk.

Man: Is this the right room for an argument?

Mr Vibrating: I've told you once.

Man: No you haven't.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I have.

Man: When?

Mr Vibrating: Just now!

Man: No you didn't.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I did!

Man: Didn't.

Mr Vibrating: Did.

Man: Didn't.

Mr Vibrating: I'm telling you I did!

Man: You did not!

Mr Vibrating: I'm sorry, is this a five minute argument, or the full half-hour?

Man: Oh, just a five minute one.

Mr Vibrating: Fine. (makes a note of it; the man sits down) Thank you. Anyway I did.

Man: You most certainly did not.

Mr Vibrating: Now, let's get one thing quite clear... I most definitely told you!

Man: You did not.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I did.

Man: You did not.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I did.

Man: Didn't.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I did.

Man: Didn't.

Mr Vibrating: Yes I did!!

Man: Look this isn't an argument.

Mr Vibrating: Yes it is.

Man: No it isn't, it's just contradiction.

Mr Vibrating: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is.

Mr Vibrating: It is not.

Man: It is. You just contradicted me.

Mr Vibrating: No I didn't.

Man: Ooh, you did!

Mr Vibrating: No, no, no, no, no.

Man: You did, just then.

Mr Vibrating: No, nonsense!

Man: Oh, look this is futile.

Mr Vibrating: No it isn't.

Man: I came here for a good argument.

Mr Vibrating: No you didn't, you came here for an argument.

Man: Well, an argument's not the same as contradiction.

Mr Vibrating: It can be.

Man: No it can't. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a definite proposition.

Mr Vibrating: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is. It isn't just contradiction.

Mr Vibrating: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.

Man: But it isn't just saying "No it isn't".

Mr Vibrating: Yes it is.

Man: No it isn't, an argument is an intellectual process... contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.

Mr Vibrating: No it isn't.

Man: Yes it is.

Mr Vibrating: Not at all.

Man: Now look!

Mr Vibrating:(pressing the bell on his desk) Thank you, good morning.

Man: What?

Mr Vibrating: That's it. Good morning.

Man: But I was just getting interested.

Mr Vibrating: Sorry the five minutes is up.

Man: That was never five minutes just now!

Mr Vibrating: I'm afraid it was.

Man: No it wasn't.

Mr Vibrating: I'm sorry, I'm not allowed to argue any more.

Man: What!?

Mr Vibrating: If you want me to go on arguing, you'll have to pay for another five minutes.

Man: But that was never five minutes just now... oh come on! (Vibrating looks round as though man was not there) This is ridiculous.

Mr Vibrating: I'm very sorry, but I told you I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid.

Man: Oh. All right. (pays) There you are.

Mr Vibrating: Thank you.

Man: Well?

Mr Vibrating: Well what?

Man: That was never five minutes just now.

Mr Vibrating: I told you I'm not allowed to argue unless you've paid.

Man: I've just paid.

Mr Vibrating: No you didn't.

Man: I did! I did! I did!

Mr Vibrating: No you didn't.

Man: Look I don't want to argue about that.

Mr Vibrating: Well I'm very sorry but you didn't pay.

Man: Aha! Well if I didn't pay, why are you arguing... got you!

Mr Vibrating: No you haven't.

Man: Yes I have... if you're arguing I must have paid.

Mr Vibrating: Not necessarily. I could be arguing in my spare time.

Man: I've had enough of this.

Mr Vibrating: No you haven't.

[From "Monty Python's Flying Circus: Just the Words, Volume 2", episode 29.
Methuen, ISBN 0-413-62550-8 (hardback).]

[Also available in sonic form on "Monty Python's Previous Record" and "Monty Python Live At Drury Lane", both from Charisma Records / Virgin Records.]


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