Summary: This is meant to be purely as fun. If the sketch has a message at all it is simply this; Why are missionaries usually single women? Where are the men to stand in the gap?
Style:  Light-hearted.  Duration: 12min
Actors: 1F, 1M (non-speaking)

Mandy Scurridge,
An unprimed volunteer from the audience



(Enter Mandy, complete with hat, brolly, handbag and large Bible. She walks in a business-like fashion to the pulpit and addresses the audience.)

My name is Mandy Scurridge – MISS Mandy Scurridge, and I represent the reach the Utterly Impossible Nations mission, the R.U.I.N. In fact you could say I AM the R.U.I.N., for I founded this mission over forty years ago, and for forty years I have been trying to gain recruits.

My text today is found in the 22nd chapter of Ezekiel, and verse 30. No time to turn to it, and besides, I see that most of you if not all, have your Bibles at home! Disgraceful! I quote. ’I looked for a man to stand in the gap, and there was none’. What a tragic statement, and I reiterate it again today. I am looking for a man to stand in the gap in my life. I want a MAN!

There have been some volunteers to the RUIN, but they have all been lily-livered poltroons! Namby-pamby nincompoops! Would you believe that a young man fainted at the sight of Ndope the chieftain eating one of his wife’s arms? Well, really! This is nothing to get alarmed about, it is merely one of the quaint customs of the area, and one of the highest honours for any of his wives. In fact, you could say that all my people are quite armless! Ndope tried to eat my arm once, but I had to resist his advances. Wouldn’t be seemly! The afore-mentioned good-for-nothing was despatched forthwith! I cannot suffer fools gladly. Sent him with the best guide from Ndope’s tribe, too! Never had the decency to let me know if he arri... – when he arrived home safely! I want a man!

My mission station is in the furthermost corner of the remotest part of Africa – Bechu-wanna-go-land. I tell you, I wish I was back there! (at this point, a hot water bottle descends from Mandy’s clothing to the floor) Oh, How positively frightful! It’s my central heating! One simply cannot keep warm in this beastly climate! Let us press on!

Let me tell you a little about the village: (nostalgically) Set amidst tropical jungle, festooned with poison ivy and carnivorous plants, in temperatures of around 120 degrees in the shade, in winter the surrounding area reverberates with teeming wild life and ancient and forgotten tribes with quaint and unusual customs. I have already discussed one of these customs, now let me tell you of another: Newcomers to the area, there aren’t many, are requested to spend the night in a bed of shrunken heads in a snake infested pit. If they emerge... ahem – when they emerge unscathed on the morrow, they are treated with very great respect and made an honorary member of the tribe, you see one before you! Needless to say, four out of five volunteers to the R.U.I.N. have failed this simple test. I fear for the future of British manhood. Whatever happened to backbone and stiff upper lip! I want a man, not a boy!

The village is reached by paddle-steamer up the Mpongo-pongo river for 450 miles followed by a 73 mile canoe trip up one of the Mpongo-pongo’s tributaries – the Unelfi. Any waterfalls, and there are many, are negotiated by climbing around them with one’s canoe on one’s head. Likewise, any swamps are traversed by wading straight through them! Unfortunately, most of the pygmy bearers disappear in the waist-high green slime of the swamp, which is very irritating! One has to keep an eye open also, for the crocodiles. When they approach one with jaws agape, one simply places a sharpened stick between the upper and lower jaw, thus rendering them incapacitated, not to say confused! Easy! Of course, in the absence of a sharpened stick, a furled umbrella will do. On attaining the shore of the swamp, one gets rid of the leeches by dusting with a little salt, and skewering on a large hatpin. Is there a man to stand in the gap?

I have built myself a modest bungalow, from mud-brick and thatch, which is quite adequate for my needs. There are two sorts of uninvited guests, though, which tend to visit . The first are the petty thieves of the area, one could call them one-armed bandits! Heh, heh. I keep a boa constrictor in my sleeping-quarters, an affectionate little thing, and she does tend to discourage this practice, although if she does catch one, I feel it only fair that she should have it! After all, such a large meal invariably stimulates her egg- production, and they do make an excellent meal, with local roots and berries. The second type of uninvited guest is the poisonous bog-beetle. These creatures tend to lurk in the shadows, where the paraffin lamplight doesn’t reach. I simply command them to go, whereupon they scuttle backwards, whimpering. O course, when cornered, they curl up and die.

As well as my modest bungalow, I have built a schoolroom, a dispensary and a meeting hall. The whole village comes every night to the meetings – I see to that, and they don’t leave before I do, I keep a key in my pocket. Two hours of English grammar is followed by either a history of the British Empire, or by a study of Shakespeare as a treat. Then we’ll sing some hymns until midnight, followed by ‘God save the Queen’.

What young man wouldn’t jump at the chance of pioneering with me? I can take all volunteers back with me, as I have taken the precaution of bringing an extra canoe. I can offer free food and accommodation, all to be had from the jungle, and if you want mail, as I frequently do, this can be collected from the capital every year. All this with the added bonus of companionship with myself at all times, to guide and instruct and to correct when wrong! Come forward now! Come and join the R.U.I.N.! Is there a man to stand in that gap? Do I see a hand? What? No-one? But this is abysmal! This means that I’ll have to choose somebody! Let me see, now. Oh, dear! (scanning audience) Is this the pride of British manhood? Tut, tut! (sees unfortunate victim) Ah, yes, there! I see you, sir! Yes, you with the rather fetching tie! Come forward, now, don’t dilly-dally. Auntie Mandy won’t hurt you! Yes, splendid, you’re a fine specimen. I could make a missionary out of you! (starts to take victim towards the door) If we hurry, we can catch the tide at (nearest port). (She links an arm with the victim and leads or drags him to the door)  -  Exeunt

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