The Fish Licence

The story of my name, from the Fish Licence sketch by Messrs Palin, Cleese, Jones, Gilliam, Idle and Chapman.


The man, whose name was Praline, faced the clerk.
Attracting his attention, bade him hark.
“I’d like to buy a licence, for a fish.
“So give me, civil servant, what I wish.

“Excuse me?” said the clerk, “But what was that?”
So Praline grabbed his shirt and told him flat,
“It’s nothing too bizarre or esoteric,
“A licence for my fishy comrade, Eric.

“Here, how’d you know my name?” the clerk demanded.
“Not you: the fish,” said Praline, being candid.
“An ‘alibut, I picked ‘im; that was that,
“The others ones were all a bit too flat.

The cleric rudely answered, “You’re a loon.”
But Praline to his insult was immune.
“I won’t be tarred with epithets and slurs!
I love my fish, no matter what occurs.

“And didn’t Alan Bullock have a pike?
“Or was it two — named Norman, both alike.
“And Marcel Proust, the author, had an ‘addock.
“Call him a loon, I’ll knock you ‘cross the paddock!

“So ‘and across the form, and do it fast!”
“All right, all right.” The clerk agreed at last.
“A licence,” he repeated, “for a trout.
“Your sanity and sense are still in doubt!”

“He’s still a pet, my Eric, like a cat,
“And thus requires a licence, that is that.”
“What rubbish,” said the clerk, “for I insist,
“A licence for a cat does not exist.”

“It does, it must, it’s here, it has to be!”
“I got it in my bag,” said Praline, “See?”
He handed him the form; the clerk replied,
“A licence for a dog, but modified!”

“The man was out of licences for cats,
“It’s often so, with civil beaurocrats.”
“What man?” the cleric asked. “Your story’s mad.”
“It’s sounding more and more like you’ve been had.”

“But look, you silly clerk, I’ve got the papers!
“It cost me sixty quid – don’t get the vapours.
“And more! The one for fruitbats cost me eight.
“I’ll soon be stoney broke at such a rate!”

“A fruitbat form?” The clerk was going spare.
“For Eric,” said the man, “so have a care!”
“Are all your pets called Eric?” asked the scribe.
“They are,” the man replied, “I’ve got a tribe!”

“For note, the famous Kemal Ataturk
“Kept Abduls by the score, at home and work.”
“He never,” swore the clerk, “don’t try to kid.”
But Praline deftly argued, “Did and did!”

“So where’s the form for Eric – cut the act.”
“There isn’t one, there never was in fact.”
“There isn’t? What a shock! At last I see.
“Then how about a licence for a bee?”

“A bee,” the clerk responded, “known as Eric?”
“Exactly,” Praline cried, “oh clever cleric.”
“For Eric Bee? I’m sure it must be so.”
And here the fellow shocked him: he said “No!”

“It isn’t Eric Bee, but Half-A-Bee,
“Bisected accidentally by me
“But such a song you must already know.
“Perhaps I’d best give up and off I go.”