Rory's Barbecue

I had a barbecue for lunch. It wasn't bad. The charcoal was okay, but the metal grating was a bit chewy. I had a few friends over, and we all ate out in the garden. Went well... oh, except they made a bit of a fuss, just because Ralph bit one of the guests. Ralph's my pet lion. Jesus, Rory, they said, why've you got a lion in your back garden? I said, what's the problem? He scares burglars away, and he's great for keeping the wildebeest down.

Anyway, we bandaged this guy up, and got to talking about Ralph. I guess he's a bit of a talking point: pet lion, frightens the neighbours, can't take him on buses, have to dress up in safari kit to take him on a walk. I got him by answering an ad, actually, put in the local paper by this circus that was in town. Apparently one of their performing lionesses had produced half a dozen unwanted cubs after being knocked up by a stray tom. So I suppose if you wanted to get technical, Ralph's not really a hundred-percent lion: he's more like a huge orange tom-cat with big claws and teeth. Something like Garfield. Except he doesn't go around humping windscreens.

Anyway, the lion-tamer who handed him over asked what I was going to name him. I dunno, I said... what about 'Leo'? And he said "Fuck OFF!" And I just stared at him in surprise; and so did the lion-tamer, because it's not every day you hear a lion speak. And Ralph said, "Don't give me any of that 'Leo' crap. Every lion from here to Cape Town is called 'Leo' or 'Leon' or 'Lionel' or something piss-weak like that. I want a decent name." Well, I said, what did you have in mind? "Something with bite," he said. "Something with growl... I dunno. What's your name?" And I said "Rory".... and he said "All RIGHHHHT!"

No, no, I said, you can't have the same name as me. It'd cause all sorts of confusion when the wrong one of us answers the phone. Look—how about 'Ralph'? "Yyyyyeeeahhhh..." he says, "it's got possibilities. Any particular reason for that name?" Well, I said, I used to have a pet platypus called 'Ralph'. "A pet what?" A pet platypus. It's an Australian animal like a beaver, but with webbed feet and a bill like a duck's. And it lays eggs. "Lays eggs? I don't know how it's done, but it sounds disgusting! What kind of pervert are you?" Look, just lay off, I said, he was really cute! And he was great in the garden. Scared off burglars, and kept the aquatic insects and algae down. Now look, do you want to come home with me or not? "Wooor—any more kinky pets I should know about first? Meh-eh-eh-eh!"

Right. That was it. Lion or no lion, I grabbed him by the mane and wrestled him to the ground, and for two or three minutes we were locked in mortal combat, punching and clawing, man versus beast... and then the bastard bit me. The pain was EXCRUTIATING... When I came to, they told me the bad news. It was a bit of a shock at first. But I've come to accept the fact that there won't be any little Rorys running around the place... and I've learned to use the lavatory in my own special way...

Ralph was very apologetic, really, and he's been really well-behaved since. Well, except for today's little... relapse. But look, I said to my guest, just stick a band-aid on it, and in a few days you'll have forgotten you ever had one... come on, don't look so gloomy! You never really used it that much... Look it's a beautiful day: enjoy the barbecue, it'll take your mind off it... Sausage, anyone?


First performed with Three Men and a Penguin at the ADC Theatre, Cambridge, April-May 1992.
This page: 12 February 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©1992, 2000 Rory Ewins