Scene: a quiet French-style bistro in Melbourne, during the curfew, lockdown, middle of winter, and God knows what comes next. It’s just your average cosy little place where the local paisans and bohemians come to wile away a few hours over bitter black syrup, passed through liquid nitrogen and served in three test-tubes with a slice of almond rocca.
Rene, the proprietor, is sitting at one of the cafe tables, with the curiously large amount of food he always had amid Nazi-occupied France.
RENE: ‘Allo ‘allo! You know, in normal circumstances, it would be necessary to explain to younger readers that ‘Allo ‘Allo was a popular British television sitcom of the 1980s set in France during World War II. However, this is Crikey, so our younger readers will have watched it at the time. For our older readers, television is a device like radio, but with pictures. Consult the Muirs’ advertisments in The Argus for more information.
And now, we present:
‘ALLO ‘ALLO! THE STAGE FOUR LOCKDOWN EDITION
THE CAFE AT NIGHT. SIRENS ARE HOWLING, SEARCHLIGHTS PLAY ACROSS THE SKY. SCREAMS AS THE GESTAPO ARREST SOMEONE GETTING A TAKEAWAY CHICKEN KORMA AT 8.05PM.
EDITH, RENE’S WIFE, IS WASHING DISHES. RENE BURSTS IN.
RENE: Tiens! I just made it before the curfew! I am so tired!
EDITH: Rene! You can’t sit down!
RENE: But it’s a cafe!
EDITH: That’s why you can’t sit down.
RENE: But I live here!
EDITH: You could buy a takeaway coffee.
RENE: But I live here! None of this makes sense.
EDITH: A socialist left government outsourced critical health care. Why should any of it make sense?
RENE: OK I will pretend to wait for a takeaway.
EDITH: Blend or single origin?
RENE: Mon dieu.
EDITH: Now you can breathe on whoever you like.
RENE LOOKS AT A SHOWGIRL SITTING AT A CAFE TABLE.
EDITH: Not her.
RENE: Edith how long will this madness continue? My beard is down to my belly, my clothes are put together from patches and rags, and we live on meals of roots and husks.
EDITH: Yes, we never should have moved to Thornbury.
GENDARME OFFICER CRABTREE ENTERS.
CRABTREE: Good moaning.
RENE: It is evening.
CRABTREE: Yes, but I have no bade accented pun for “evening”. Yi em whore to enfarce the corflute.
RENE: To enforce the curfew?
CRABTREE: That is wit I sad. Because there is a plaiiiiiigk. Ohhhh I like saying that, plaigggggggggk.
RENE: Ohhhh that sounds like fun. Plaiggggggggk.
CRABTREE: Edith you must put your mask on.
RENE GOES TO THE SHOWGIRL SITTING AT A CAFE TABLE.
RENE: Oh Mademoiselle Yvette Carte-Blanche I am so in love with you. Tonight will you surrender to me?
SHOWGIRL: Of course I will surrender! I am French after all. But I am not Yvette Carte-Blanche!
RENE: Ah non? Are you Mimi LaBonq?
SHE SHAKES HER HEAD.
RENE: Jeanne Stissonce? Fanny Libre? Fatime Pants? Jacinta le Plastrier? Vivienne Shark Le Witt? Tiens, you all look the same.
GIGI: Because of our masks?
RENE: No I think it’s the ’80s hairdos.
FLYING OFFICER CARSTAIRS, THE BRITISH OFFICER HIDING IN THE ATTIC, ENTERS.
CARSTAIRS: Unhand that generic brunette actress!
RENE: Carstairs, what are you doing out?
CARSTAIRS: I couldn’t stand that cramped attic a moment longer.
RENE: Is it the darkness? The fear?
CARSTAIRS: No it’s the four overseas students you rented it out to before this started. Any more ramen and I’ll break back into Colditz! Besides Gigi Rada-Graduate and I are in love!
GIGI UNHANDS HERSELF FROM RENE AND GOES TO THE WINDOW BY THE BALCONY.
GIGI: That’s right Rene! It is lervvv.
SHE CASTS HER HAND OUT THE WINDOW OVER THE OPEN BALCONY.
CARSTAIRS: Our love is like the moon and the stars.
GIGI: We will be together forever!
EDITH: Well at least all night, if you stay another five minutes. The curfew is starting.
CARSTAIRS PUSHES GIGI OVER THE BALCONY.
CARSTAIRS: It’s alright cherie, I will call you an Uber!
EDITH: Carstairs, what are you doing with that Folies Bergeres ten franc an hour tart?
CARSTAIRS: I’ll have you know she’s a masters student in gender studies at Melbourne University researching feminity as performance.
RENE: Most of them are at the Folies Bergeres…
CARSTAIRS: And a sessional tutor.
EDITH: So five franc an hour tart then.
RENE: When will this end? Another six weeks of this, everyone huddled inside, nothing to read or see, no one out at night, what will Melbourne have become?
RENE: I can’t stand it anymore. I must go outside.
RENE BEATS ON THE GLASS OF THE LOCKED DOOR.
RENE: LET ME OUT! LET ME OUT!
EDITH: Rene! Stop ritually beating your head against broken glass and howling incomprehensibly.
RENE: (sobbing) Why?
EDITH: People will think we’re the Malthouse and performances have started up again!
MICHELLE FROM THE RESISTANCE, A FIGURE IN BERET AND BELTED RAINCOAT, BURSTS IN.
MICHELLE: I am Michelle from the resistance! I will only say this once! Thank God you’re open!
ALL: Only for takeaway!
MICHELLE: I came here on the 57 tram. It was madness, people gibbering and screaming, blood-red eyeballs, coughing up their lungs
EDITH: Yes this disease is terrible.
MICHELLE: What disease? I told you, I was on the 57 tram. I have got coffee on the black marke-
ALL: No, no no no no.
MICHELLE: On the illegal market! Coffee! Actual real coffee!
SHE HOLDS UP A BAG OF COFFEE. THEY LOOK DOUBTFUL.
MICHELLE: Didn’t you hear me? Coffee!
CARSTAIRS: Well, is it arabica?
EDITH: Single origin?
CRABTREE: You know I am exploring Costa Rican these days.
ALL: Oh yes, lovely undertones, thick crema.
MICHELLE: Who cares, it’s coffee. Coffee is coffee!
EVERYONE GASPS IN HORROR.
RENE: Who are you and what have you done with the real Michelle?
MICHELLE: For God’s sake, for three years we have been using chicory and sawdust to make our cappuccinos.
ALL: Erggggggh! Cappuccinos!
SUDDENLY THERE IS A BANGING ON THE DOOR.
EDITH: It’s the Gestapo!
CARSTAIRS: Hide me — I’m a survivor!
RENE: You were in the concentration camps?
CARSTAIRS: No I interned at The Lifted Brow! Also, they’ll think I’m dining in!
RENE: Oh tiens! The atti-
K-POP ISSUES FROM THE ATTIC.
CARTAIRS: Not the attic!
EDITH: Put him in the renovators delight in the up-and-coming suburb!
RENE: The what!
EDITH: The root cellar! Put him in the root cellar!
CRABTREE: Will he be safe?
EDITH: As long as the Nazis don’t read Domain!
RENE: Does anyone else?
THEY HUSTLE CARSTAIRS INTO THE CELLAR. THREE GESTAPO OFFICERS ENTER.
NAZI 1: Good evening I am Ubergruppenfuhrer VON BADTAKE
NAZI 2: Und I am Lyftgruppenfuhrer VON BADJOKE
NAZI 3: Und I am Didigruppenfuhrer VON SEQUENCE!
EDITH: That is the worst joke ever!
NAZI 1: That’s not the worst joke this episode!
NAZI 2: Mein Gott, they have only just run out of Netflix! They don’t know what ’80s sitcoms are like!
NAZI 3: Wait till they get to George and Mildred!
NAZI 2: Also vy is this creaky old show four times funnier than anything the ABC has done in the last 10 years?
NAZI 3: You’ll have to follow your nose on that one.
NAZI 1: Silence! I vant to know eveything that is going on in “Le Maison”.
RENE: That’s “la maison”. It’s a common err-
NAZI 2: I zink the noun can have whatever article it wants!
NAZI 3: Ja! We may be Nazis but we won’t be misgendering anyone!
NAZI 1: We are here because outside your door, a casualised academic with a derivative gender studies thesis topic fell on us from the sky. Do you have an explanation?
EDITH: Yes, it’s Melbourne.
RENE: Mon dieu, how does this end?
EDITH: The pandemic?
RENE: The parody! How does the parody end?
TIM SMITH BURSTS IN.
ALL: Tim Smith!
TIM SMITH: I can’t stand it anymore. Dictator Dan Xiao Ping and Jenny Metaxas and Tim Pallas… Tim Pallas-Hitler are acting like Nazis! Who are you?
NAZI 1: Ve are Nazis!
TIM SMITH: Really?
NAZI 2: Ve are dressed in black from head to foot and an air of evil hangs over us. Who else would we be?
TIM SMITH: Well it’s Melbourne, so… architects. What did you guys do as Nazis?
NAZI 3; Ve plunged Europe into six years of death and destruction. Vat did zis Dan do?
TIM SMITH: He won’t let Chris Uhlmann cough on his own grandmother.
NAZI 1: Vat a Nazi.
TIM SMITH: Exactly! So I have joined the resistance!
MICHELLE: And you have covered your face in dark brown shoe polish to go on a dangerous night raid!
TIM SMITH: Ah, no. I was going to do a hilarious TikTok Anyone seen my banjo?
THE NAZIS ATTACK TIM SMITH.
ALL: The plaigggkkk, the plaiggggkkk, the plaigggkkk.