Are You Being Served?
"All Together Now"

The Players

Young Mr. Grace             Cpt. Stephen Peacock
Mr. Ernest Grainger          Mr. Percival Tebbs
Mrs. Betty Slocombe        Mr. W.C. Humphries
Mr. Dick Lucas                Miss Shirley Brahms
Mr. Mash                         Miss Bakewell
Canteen Manageress         Warwick
Seymour                          Four Stowaways
Road Manager                  A Drummer

Notes for non-British readers: pilchards are sardines; a solicitor is a lawyer; the Pally is the Palindrome Theatre; bismol is a medication for upset stomach; Wimbledon is a prestigious annual tennis tournament.

Scene 1

The Canteen

Brahms, Humphries, Lucas, Grainger and Slocombe (her hair is purple) are sitting at their table, where the Canteen Manageress, in a stained pinny, is just finishing serving them their tea from a trolley.

Grainger:      (to CM) Ah.  Haven't you forgotten something?

CM:             Well, I've tried to forget I work in this place, but so far no luck.

Grainger:      No, I mean the biscuits. You usually bring them for our afternoon
                    tea  break.

Humphries:   Don't you remember, Mr. Grainger? We asked Miss Yardswick to
                    skip the biscuits today seeing as it's so close to our award dinner at
                    closing time.

Brahms:        Yes, we didn't want to spoil our appetite.

Lucas:         (looking at CM's stained pinny) Too late.

Grainger:      Ah, that's right. I had almost forgotten that was this evening.

CM:             Award dinner?

Slocombe:    (sniffs) Yes, the Grace Brothers Most Improved Floor award.

CM:             Wait a minute, I ‘eard the Third Floor won that this year.

Humphries:   Oh, they were disqualified.

CM:             Disqualified?

Humphries:   Yes, see, a couple of weeks ago, just before the deadline, the
                    Wig Department got in a shipment of Lady Rapunzel Glamour Wigs.

Lucas:           Made in Paris from genuine human hair, they said.

Humphries:   Yes, and they ran a special offer and sold out the lot — it was more
                    than a hundred wigs.

Slocombe:     Yes,  that's what put the Third Floor over the top

Humphries:   But the week after that, all the wigs started comin' back to the store.
                    It turned out they weren't made in Paris, they were made in Wales.

Lucas:          Yes, and they weren't made from human hair, they were made from
                    horse hair.

CM:             ‘orse ‘air?!  Couldn't they tell the difference, then?

Grainger:        Perhaps they came from, er, very beautiful horses.

Humphries:    Well, apparently it was unusually fine hair, even for horses, but it
                     wasn't long before the ladies wearing the wigs discovered the

CM:             When did they catch on, then?

Lucas:           When they started sleeping standing up.

CM nods thoughtfully

Slocombe:     Well, not all the customers would take a store credit, so the
                    department wound up giving refunds for most of them, and that
                    dropped their floor out of first place!

CM:             And you lot moved up.  So what improved your Fourth Floor so
                    much last year?

Slocombe:    (sighs) The year before.

Grainger:       Yes, it was very bad.

All nod.

CM:             Well, I didn't see anything on our schedule, so Mr. Grace must be
                    caterin' it for you.

Slocombe:     Yes, we're havin' it in the Board Room.

CM makes a haughty face

Brahms:       Yeah, with a band, and all.

Grainger:      Yes, and then we're off to the West End for the theatre!

CM:             Hmff.  What show are you seein', then?

Humphries:   Oh, it's a revival of Sweeney Todd.  The Demon Barber of
                    Fleet Street!

Slocombe:    (with a naughty gleam) And his ladyfriend, who cooks his victims
                    into meat pies.

Lucas:         (looking at CM's stained pinny).  By the way, who's for lunch

CM:             There's always room on the' menu for you, saucebox.
                    (Sticks out tongue, exits)

Peacock enters, bearing a slip of paper.

Peacock:     Ah.  I'm glad you're all still here.  I've just come from a meeting with
                  Mr. Grace, and I have the final arrangements here regarding our
                  dinner this evening. (Dons glasses)

Slocombe:   Didn't we settle that already?  We decided on the roast chicken.
                  It was quite nice at Mr. Grainger's dinner, as I remember.

Peacock:     (looks over glasses) I'm surprised you can remember anything about
                  that dinner, Mrs. Slocombe.

Slocombe glares at him.

Humphries:   Anyway, didn't we vote for the roast chicken?

Lucas:           Well, I voted for the macaroni cheese.

Brahms:         Tsk!  You always vote for macaroni cheese.

Lucas:            Well, I happen to fancy macaroni cheese, don't I?  It's quite, er --

Brahms:         Cheap? (Lucas frowns)

Peacock:        Please.  We're still having the roast chicken, only the aperitif has
                     been changed.

Grainger:       The what?

Humphries:   (leans in) A change in aperitif, Mr. Grainger.

Grainger:      (befuddled) But I'm wearing my good teeth now.

Humphries:   No, he means the appetiser, Mr. Grainger.

Grainger is a bit embarrassed

Slocombe:   Well, what about the appertiser?  We ordered the oysters, didn't we?

Peacock:     Some of you may have heard over the weekend of several cases of
                  food poisoning caused by locally harvested oysters, and they've
                  temporarily been placed on the "quaranteened" list.

Brahms:      So what are we gettin' instead?

Peacock:     Ahem.  It seems Grace Brothers have a rather large supply of

Slocombe:   (making a face) Pilchards?!

Humphries:  Not the Grace Brothers Tinned Pilchards left over from the last war?!

Brahms:     And the war before that?!

Lucas:        I'll have the oysters.

Peacock:     I very much doubt they're the same pilchards this firm produced for
                  our fighting men.  My understanding is that this lot is imported.

Brahms:      From Sardinia?

Peacock:     Very funny, Miss Brahms.  At any rate, my information is not that

Lucas:         That's not fair.  Let Mr. Grace eat his own pilchards.

Humphries:  Yes, he could use the protein.

Lucas:         That's right. He's not exactly swingin' from the chandelier these days.

Grainger:      I have rather fond memories of pilchards. When I started at Grace
                   Brothers, you know, a junior didn't make a lot of money.

Lucas:         (sarcastically) Unlike today. (Brahms nods)

Grainger:     During the war, of course, things got even more dear, and Mrs.
                  Grainger and I used to have pilchards on toast every Monday and
                  Wednesday for supper.

Slocombe:   Ugh.  And every Tuesday and Thursday they had bismol.

Peacock:     Ahem.  The staff may choose to eat or not eat the pilchards, as they
                  see fit.  Now as to the second item, (consults his notes) there's been a
                  change in the location of the affair.

Slocombe:   What, it's not goin' to be in the Board Room?

Peacock:     I'm afraid not.  Last night Young Mr. Grace hosted a cocktail party
                  there for his favorite charity.

Brahms:      Don't tell us — the Distressed Nightclub Hostesses.

Slocombe:   Tsk!

Peacock:      Yes, and apparently there was damage to the room which will
                   necessitate considerable repair.

Humphries:  Oh, dear.  What happened?

Peacock:      Well, I don't have all the details, but I believe one of the chandeliers
                   will need replacement.

Humphries and Lucas look at each other

Brahms:       So it's the Salesfloor, then?

Peacock:     (removes glasses) I'm afraid not.  After Mr. Grainger's recent
                   anniversary dinner, it was decided to restrict such affairs to venues in
                   which one cannot fall down the stairs after drinking too much
                   Japanese tinned champagne.  (All look at Slocombe)

Slocombe:    I never fell down the stairs!

Lucas:          Mrs. Slocombe is right — technically.

Peacock:      What do you mean?

Lucas:          Well, at the time, she thought it was an escalator, didn't she?

Slocombe:    (irritated) You're not helping me, Mr. Lucas!

Brahms:        So where is it goin' to be, then?

Mash enters, pushing a drum kit on a dolly.   The staff gasp.

Brahms:        Not down ‘ere!

Peacock:       I'm sorry, Miss Brahms.  This was the only room available on such
                    short notice.

Mash:           Oy! Mr. Grace said to bring this lot up ‘ere for your dinner.
                    You've ‘eard about the Board Room, then?

Peacock:       Yes, we've heard, Mr. Mash.

Mash:            ‘ad a little woopsie-do, eh?  As Mae West said to the midget!

Peacock:        How droll.  Where's the rest of the equipment?

Mash:           Seymour's bringing it along.  (looks at the name on the bass drum)
                    So who are "The Egg Men" when they're at ‘ome?

Slocombe:     Oh, they're one of those duffelbangers.

Humphries:    You mean doppelgangers, Mrs. Slocombe

Slocombe:      Yes, you know, sound-alikes.

Humphries:    They're one of those Beatles impersonator bands, Mr. Mash.

Mash:            Impersonators?  Phaw!   Is that the best Grace Brothers could do
                     for your swanky dinner, then?

Lucas:           Well, we didn't have a choice, now did we?  It's the band the
                    Third Floor booked, and it was too late to change, wasn't it,
                    Cpt. Peacock?

Peacock:        Indeed it was.

Brahms:         Well, my neighbor Rose saw them at the Pally durin' the
                     intermission at that special show they ‘ad this summer — you know,
                     when they showed the Beatles movies?  She said they looked quite
                     a bit like ‘em — even ‘ad a left-'anded bass player.  And she says
                     they didn't ‘alf sound like them.

Peacock:         Hmmm.  Was there alcohol served at this show, Miss Brahms?

Slocombe:       Oh, give ‘em a chance, Cpt. Peacock.

Lucas:             Yes, how bad can it get?  We've had the Trixie Trio, and lived
                      through that!

Humphries:      But we'll never get that night back again, Mr. Lucas.

Lucas:             True.

Mash:             Oy!  Speakin' of the Beatles, they're all in town today, y'know!
                      We ‘eard it on the radio down in Packin'.

Brahms:          Oh, that's right, all four of ‘em!

Humphries:     Yes, to sign some documents regarding all that messy legal business
                      they've had.  I was reading about it this morning.  They've finally
                      settled their differences.

Brahms:          Yeah, I saw it on the telly.  And they're goin' to sign the papers
                      over in Abbey Road, where they made all their records.

Slocombe:       Ooh, wouldn't it be fun to pop ‘round and get a peek?

Mash:             Hah! Too late for that! The radio announcer says it's a mob scene
                      in St. John's Wood, and they ‘aven't even arrived yet, ‘ave they?

Slocombe:       Tsk!  Well, everyone wants to see ‘em.

Peacock:         Yes, I recall reading about it, as well.  Apparently they're just
                      reuniting, as it were, to settle the paperwork, and there are no
                      performances anticipated.

Brahms:          Oh, that's such a shame.

Seymour arrives with a dolly loaded with guitar cases and amplifiers.

Humphries:    Well, we can just pretend that our doppelgangers are actually
                      the Beatles.

Lucas:           Aye, and that our dinner is actually edible.

 Onward to Scene 2

(c) 1999 John F. Crowley