mentioned at the culmination
of the classic comedy sketch
between John Cleese
and Marty Feldman
. Cleese is the bookshop assistant and Feldman portrays his favoured role of a Very Annoying Little Man
. (Mr Raymond Pest in the magic cigarettes sketch is another.)
Feldman begins by asking for David Coperfield. "Ah, Dickens," replies Cleese, pleased to get a connoisseur of fine literature. Feldman corrects him by saying it's by Edmund Wells, whereupon the assistant politely and hesitantly suggests he thinks you'll find Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield. The customer replies that he wrote David Copperfield with two P's but Edmund Wells wrote David Coperfield with one P; at which point the assistant begins to grow wary. He turns down the customer's request to go through all the shop copies of the two-P Copperfield even though it's explained that some of the early editions of Wells's masterpiece had two P's.
They go through several other Edmund Wells books, such as Grate Expectations and Rarnaby Budge, Cleese maintaining firmly they have no Edmund Wells at all. The customer surprises him by saying one of them is by Dikkens, though this proves to be Charles Dikkens with two K's the well-known Dutch author. Sadly, the bookshop has nothing by Charles Dikkens with two K's the well-known Dutch author, and Cleese now definitely wants Feldman to go away.
Feldman then asks for Olsen's Standard Book of British Birds, to be met by a disbelieving "O-L-S-E-N?" followed by "B-I-R-D?". On confirmation that this is right, Cleese admits they do have the book and goes to get it.
"The expurgated version."
"The expurgated version. The one without the gannet."
Cleese protests they all have the gannet, it's a standard British bird, but Feldman insists they've got nasty sharp beaks and they wet their nests.
Next they go through a few other possibilities, like The Gospel According to Charlie Drake and The Amazing Adventures of Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet and her Intrepid Spaniel Stig Among the Giant Pygmies of Beccles... Volume Eight. (I love the portentous way Feldman adds "Volume Eight" after a pause.) (Another version of the sketch substituted Corsica for Beccles.)
Finally he names the ridiculous Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying and the assistant is about to dismiss this with the rest, when he realizes they have it. He gets it out triumphantly.
"There. Now buy it!"
Feldman hasn't any money - Cleese says he'll take a cheque - Feldman says he hasn't a bank account - Cleese says he'll buy it for him - Feldman breaks down and admits he can't read.
So Cleese sits him down and begins reading him the story of Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying: "One day Ethel the Aardvark was trotting down the road when she saw a nice quantity surveyor..."
Source: entirely my own memory on seeing this nodeshell. No scripts used.