Scampi: But I can’t sleep.
Peter: Oh? Why?
Scampi: I don’t like American history.
Peter: What it is about American history that you dislike?
Scampi: It’s just so mean.
Peter: Who do you think did a better job? Of history?
Scampi: I don’t know. It’s the way they say things, so sly.
Scampi: Like Andrew Jackson.
Peter: Can you give me an example of Andrew Jackson speaking in a sly way?
Scampi: Oh, Peter. The way you phrase things.
Peter: I am simply repeating what you’ve said.
Scampi: No, no. Anyway.
Scampi: Do you know the machines that window-washers use?
Peter: I have seen them.
Scampi: Of course you have.
Peter: You asked.
Scampi: “I have seen them.” You say that like it’s some kind of state secret.
Scampi: Well, have you ever been on one?
Peter: Ah. No.
Scampi: Are you sure?
Peter: I believe so.
Scampi: It’s all about belief of course, window-washing. Keeping our sightlines clear, and such.
Peter: Ah, sight.
Scampi: You use your glasses to see.
Peter: I do.
Scampi: This is pretty funny.
Peter: How so?
Scampi: I dunno. Like a lady with a snuffbox.
Peter: Pardon me?
Scampi: You know. You hold something up to your face to improve your outlook.
Scampi: Anyway, you’re aware of the Bessemer process, naturally?
Scampi: The Bessemer Process. Named after Henry Bessemer, you know.
Peter: Yes, what of it?
Peter: What is this?
Scampi: Can’t you read?
Peter: I can.
Scampi: It’s Bessemer’s autobiography. In which you can learn that he was born in Hertfordshire.
Peter: Oh. I was not aware of this.
Scampi: How about this?
Peter: Please do not hurl books at me.
Scampi: Hurl! As if.
Peter: “Father of the Steel Industry”.
Scampi: That’s right.
Peter: I did not realise you were such an avid aficionado of the steel industry.
Scampi: Pff! What sort of thing to say is that? And, speaking of things to say, listen to this: “I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long-established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that whatever is, is right.”
Peter: Yes, ignorance is a great boon to the inventor.
Scampi: What do you know about it?
Scampi: If we were in a tall building, it would need its windows washed, of course.
Scampi: And if we were in America, history would be prickling our skin all the time.
Peter: Are we in America?
Scampi: We might have been. When we were cowboys.
Scampi: Or farmers.
Peter: I don’t remember being farmers.
Scampi: You and your memory. Do you remember the name of the hoisty thing that window washers use?
Peter: Remember it?
Scampi: Precisely. Do you know, the Bessemer Process helped to make artillery, 16-pounder guns. That sort of thing.
Peter: That would make sense.
Peter: That would make sense.
Scampi: No it would not. There is nothing sensible about artillery.
Peter: Doesn’t this depend on the context of the discussion?
Scampi: What discussion? How vile.
Peter: I believe it was your choice of topic.
Scampi: This is a French word.
Scampi: And béchamel is a French sauce. But what does that have to do with anything?
Peter: I like sauces.
Scampi: Oh, naturally.
Peter: What do you have against sauces?
Scampi: Nothing, nothing. I have something against the sixteen-pounder gun, though.
Peter: What is that?
Scampi: It is the tender heart of history.
Peter: I see.
Scampi: Yes. It’s being held against the pride of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as we speak.
Peter: It is?
Scampi: Or whatever. I certainly can’t convert anything to steel, myself.
Peter: Perhaps you should start with the tender heart of history.
Scampi: Oh, Peter. You clownfish.
PETER BURNS AN ORANGE STRIPED BLUSH.
Scampi: I suppose it’s just a simple pulley system, really.
Peter: What is?
Scampi: The window-washing platform. What holds it up, et cetera.
Scampi: A system of pulleys and cables. It’s a dangerous job, of course.
Peter: Compared to floor washing?
Scampi: That’s right. It’s important to see where we are, in a building.
Peter: I suppose it is.
Scampi: Rather than where we’re going.
Scampi: We aren’t going anywhere.
Peter: At present.
Scampi: But we can see for miles.
Peter: Can we?
Scampi: I can. Mind you, don’t look down.