The Wife of Bath is played by Dillie Keane. Miles plays Jeeves.        

DILLIE         There was a Wife of Bath along with us
Who of her husbands had made such a fuss
That all of them had died before their time
Exhausted by her loving in their prime
And now she rode, unwed, though not alone,
For trotting beside her, on a dappled roan,
There came a hired man, a sort of valet,
With whom she seemed to be quite pally.
She said to him: ‘Well, Jeeves, how do I look?
Am I all right for Mr Chaucer's book?
When Master Geoffrey bids me tell my story
Do you think that I'll be looking hunky dory?’

JEEVES        ‘Indeed, madam, I think you're fair to see,
And so you should be, as you're groomed by me.
There are some silvery hairs upon your head,
But then of course you have been five times wed.
I find that marriage gives a lady airs,
But five past weddings just bring more grey hairs...’

WIFE          ‘Five weddings, then a funeral, you mean?’

JEEVES         ‘No, no, madam, for I have seldom seen
A lady of such freshness in my life.’

WIFE           ‘You think I'm fresh? Oh ho! I'm not your wife!’

JEEVES          ‘No, no, dear lady, that's not what I meant.
I had in mind the way you ride through Kent
Upon a horse, through rain and mud and wet,
Without a sign of dirt on your toilette.’

WIFE           ‘Oh, Jeeves, I love the way you talk in French!
Did you perchance once court a Gallic wench?’

JEEVES          ‘Me? A wench? Madame, that's not my line.
To books and culture I myself confine.
I never think of girls, or sex, or wife.
A valet does not have a private life.

WIFE           ‘Oh, Jeeves!’

MILES           The wife of Bath cried out in glee.

WIFE           ‘You are the strangest man I e'er did see
Full many a suitor have I wooed and won,
Especially when the victim tried to run,
For I do love the pleasure of the chase!
But I see no such pleasure in your face.’

JEEVES          ‘The face is our least-to-be-trusted part.
I think you'll find that there is not an ar’
To find the mind's construction in the face."

WIFE           I think I've heard that quote some other place!’

JEEVES         ‘You may be right,’

DILLIE           Said Jeeves,

JEEVES           ‘And now, I think,
It's time to for us to stop and eat and drink.
Let's leave our horses on this hitching meter.
Look, over there, I spy Ye Happy Eater !’

DILLIE           And so, continuing their endless banter.
The two of them to Canterbury did canter...


Radio Four 1997/8


END - back to top
Miles on Air
Radio Television
Beginnings and Endings
Wife of Bath
Patpong Road
Memorable Verse
Barbed Wire Ballads
Dying Words
How to tell a Funny Story
A Handbag
Dead Slang
Letter from a Magpie
Choosing Baby's Name
Letter from a Cuckoo
Hunchback of Notre Dame meets Richard III
Scar Head
Wonderland World Cup
Bunter in Hamlet