Young Mr. Grace's office
YMG is sleeping at his desk. In the background is the murmur of a crowd. Bakewell enters.
Bakewell: Mr. Grace? (nudges him) Mr. Grace?
YMG: (waking with a start) Eh?
Bakewell: Sorry to wake you sir.
YMG: Oh, that's alright. I'm glad you did, in fact.
Bakewell: Were you having a bad dream, sir?
very much so. I was standing for prime minister, and all the
reporters from Fleet Street were looking into my past to find the
skeletons in my closet.
Bakewell: Oh! And they found some?
YMG: (sighs) Not a one. It was very disappointing.
Bakewell: Well, I've notified all the
department heads to send the staff home
early, as you instructed.
YMG: Oh, thank you. Er, did I instruct you to do that?
Bakewell: Oh, yes, sir. Because of the High Street being closed.
YMG: Oh, yes. Some sort of bug invasion, isn't it?
Bakewell: No, it's The Beatles, sir.
YMG: Well, they're bugs, aren't they?
Bakewell: (chuckles) No, sir,
remember? The musical group The Beatles.
They're all in London today to sign some papers, and they've had to
move their meeting place because Abbey Road got so crowded with
spectators. And now they're to meet in their solicitor's office in the
Finsbury Hotel across the road.
YMG: Yes, that's
right, and the mob moved over here. Well, I feel sorry
for our sales staff, having no customers able to get into the store.
Bakewell: Oh, I'm sure most of them don't
mind getting out of work an hour
early, sir. (looks out window) And a lot of them seem to be out
waiting in the road themselves.
YMG: I see. Well, is there anything else?
Bakewell: Well, while you were napping you had a call from Mr. Rumbold.
YMG: He's not back, from that, er, sales and managerial seminar, is he?
Bakewell: Oh, no, sir, he'll be in Edinburgh another week.
YMG: Oh, good.
Bakewell: Yes, he was a bit concerned that
Mr. Grainger wasn't at his desk when
he called. He left Mr. Grainger in charge, remember?
YMG: That's right. But we sent him back to his counter last week, didn't we?
Bakewell: Yes, sir. You said it was too much for him.
YMG: Yes, too much bourbon and cigars. Er, anything else, Miss Bakewell?
Bakewell: Yes, sir, the workers in the Board
Room have put up the new
chandelier, but they say the plaster won't be dry until Monday.
YMG: I see.
Er. Make a note, Miss Bakewell. Ask the hostess from the
Safari Club not to bring her monkey next time. Which reminds me —
have the carpet cleaners finished yet?
Bakewell: They're still on it, Mr. Grace.
YMG: Hmmm. Well, anything else?
Bakewell: Oh, Mr. Tebbs from Bedding is here to see you.
YMG: What does he want?
Bakewell: He's very unhappy about something, sir.
YMG: Yes, he's always unhappy about something. Send him in.
Bakewell opens the door
Bakewell: Mr. Grace will see you now, Mr. Tebbs.
Tebbs waddles in. As Bakewell exits, he "moves" to her.
Tebbs: Good afternoon, Mr. Grace.
YMG: Yes. What's on your mind?
Tebbs: Mr. Grace, I have served
this firm faithfully for many years, and have
had little reason to complain.
YMG: Well, that's never stopped you, but go ahead.
Tebbs: It was bad enough,
sir, that the Bedding Department's outstanding
accomplishments this last sales year were so cruelly undone by the
Wig Department's recent fiasco. We, and our colleagues on the Third
Floor, deserve better. Even Cosmetics
YMG: Yes, well, we went through all that last week. What's fair is fair.
Tebbs: Ah, yes. That's been
settled, but I am here today to respectfully protest
this unannounced early closing.
YMG: Oh come now, Percival. It's only an hour
Tebbs: Ordinarily, that would
pose little problem, but today is the last day in the
Cosy Comforter Contest.
YMG: The what?
Tebbs: A sales incentive campaign,
sir, put on by the Cosy Comforter firm of
Cornwall. I was only one comforter away from qualifying for an
Award of Special Merit.
YMG: Oh, my.
Tebbs: Yes. And I
was expecting a customer to return before closing, who had
indicated an interest in buying one. He'd gone to collect his wife, so she
could look at the selection and tell him what color he wanted.
YMG: I see.
Tebbs: And now the doors
are closed, my customer has been locked out, and I
shall never qualify!
YMG: That's too bad. What was the award?
Tebbs: Well, beside the
hand-lettered Certificate of Merit, most certainly
suitable for framing, there was to be an all-expense-paid weekend at the
comforter factory in Cornwall, including a tour of the duckworks.
YMG: The duckworks?
Tebbs: Yes, where they pluck
the down from the eider ducks. To stuff into
the comforters. Mrs. Tebbs is very fond of eider down, and for many
years now I've hoped to show her a good plucking.
YMG: That's very commendable,
Percival. But why don't you just buy the
last one yourself? They'll never know.
Tebbs: (stiffens) Hmmph.
That sort of antic might be acceptable in
Do-It-Yourself, Mr. Grace, but we in Bedding adhere to a higher
YMG: Is that right?
Tebbs: It is reflected in our
motto: (gravely) "Make your bed with care, for then
you must lie in it."
YMG: I see. Well,
there's nothing to do for it, I'm afraid. You can't blame the
police for closing down the High Street. Those, er, Beatles seem to have
drawn quite a mob.
Tebbs: Bah! The Beatles
are a pox! I cannot abide all that ob-la-doo,
poo-pa-roo, and neither can Mrs. Tebbs.
Tebbs: You may recall, sir, that
they were responsible for my one instance of
tardiness here at Grace Brothers. (looks off, frowns) It was in 1964,
when I was knocked down by a swarm of young girls in Marylebone
Station after I'd gotten off my train. It seems they were chasing these
Beatles down the platform. Most undignified.
YMG: Yes, I've heard that story.
Tebbs: I was eleven minutes late.
YMG: Yes, well, it's been ten years, Percival. We've all forgiven you.
There is a knock on the door. Mash pops his head in.
Mash: Sorry to interrupt you, sir. I didn't see Miss Bakewell.
YMG: No, she's probably down in
the road, er, waiting to get knocked down,
Mash: Right. Well, we've
got something of a problem. (enters) In all the
excitement outside in the High Street, there was a few gentlemen tryin' to
get into the Finsbury ‘otel, and their car couldn't get through the mob, sir.
Mash: Yes, sir, and they had to
jump out in the next block and make a run for
it, but they didn't get very far, and they wound up ‘oppin' in the back of
one of our lorries on its way in to the loadin' dock, sir, just to avoid
gettin' trampled underfoot!
YMG: Oh, dear. Are they all right?
Mash: Oh yeh, just a bit shook
up, is all. They asked if they could hang about
a bit until their friend comes to collect ‘em.
YMG: Well, I suppose so. How many of them are there?
Mash: Four, sir. Two of ‘em ‘ave come up to thank you personally.
YMG: Oh, very well, Mr. Mash.
Mash goes to the door and opens it again.
Mash: Right. Mr. Grace will see you now, squires.
John Lennon and Ringo Starr enter. Lennon is wearing jeans and a tan corduroy jacket over a white T-shirt reading "New York City." Starr is wearing black trousers, an iridescent blue jacket and a yellow silk shirt. YMG squints at them; Tebbs, grasping his lapels, regards them warily.
Mash: Young Mr. Grace, this
‘ere is Mr. John Lennon of Liverpool and Mr.
Richard Starkey, to wit, Mr. Ringo Starr, a scouse, and all. Lads, this
‘ere is Young Mr. Grace.
Lennon: (to Starr) This is "Young" Mr. Grace?
Starr: (to Lennon) Old Mr. Grace doesn't get about much anymore.
Lennon and Starr smile and nod.
YMG: How do you do?
Mash: And this ‘ere is Mr. Percival Tebbs of our Bedding Department.
Tebbs "moves" to them, albeit reservedly
Lennon: Bedding, eh? That's a soft job.
Tebbs: (deadpan) Ah. Very comical.
Starr: Listen, Mr.
Grace, we just wanted to come up and say thanks for lettin'
us hide out a bit.
Lennon: Yeh, it was gettin' potty out there. I thought we'd had it!
YMG: You're welcome, of
course. But I, er, don't understand why you need
to hide out at all. You're not undesirables, are you?
Mash: Don't you recognise them,
Mr. Grace? We've got two of the Beatles
‘ere! John and Ringo! The mob got a look at ‘em comin' round the
corner and they ‘ad to run for their lives!
Lennon: Yeh, your lorry was very handy.
We jumped in and hid behind some
crates. We lost our friend Mal, though.
Starr: He was just a few steps behind us.
Lennon: (to Starr) Probably trampled to death.
Starr: (to Lennon) It was just like old times, wasn't it?
Lennon: Ah, those were the days.
YMG: Well, I must say!
This is an occasion. I quite fancy your music, you
know. Although you'll have to work a bit harder to win over our Mr.
Lennon: Not your cup o' tea, were we, Percival?
Tebbs: Well, I'm afraid we didn't get off to a very good start, as it were.
Tebbs: In fact, I was knocked
down by some of your "friends" getting off my
Starr: (to Lennon) Must have been the Stones.
Tebbs: And in addition to that,
the uproar created by your arrival has caused the
store to shut its doors to customers.
YMG: You see, Mr. Tebbs
needed to sell only one more Cosy Comforter to
win a sales award.
Lennon: Not Cosy Comforter of Cornwall!
Tebbs: We sell only the best.
Lennon: Me Aunt Mimi fancies those.
Could you send one ‘round to
Tebbs: (brightening) We can ship anywhere, Bingo.
Lennon: (pointing to Starr) He's Bingo.
Tebbs: Just so! Would you care to come to my department and select a color?
Lennon: Lead on, Percival. Coming, Bingo?
Starr: Ah, no thanks. I could do with a cup, though.
the Ladies' and Gents' departments are ‘avin' a bit of a nosh
down in the Canteen. I'm sure Mr. Grace wouldn't mind you lads
pullin' up a chair.
YMG: Good idea, Mr. Mash. Make yourselves at home, boys.
Starr: Thanks ever so much.
Tebbs waddles out, followed by Mash. As Lennon and Starr exit, they look back at YMG, who smiles and waves.
Lennon: (quietly, to Starr) He's a very clean old man.
Starr nods, they wave back and exit.
(c) 1999 John F. Crowley