Monday, closing time
The Board Room
All of the staff are present, except Brahms; also present are the lift girls, other salesgirls and Rumbold. The table is laden with gift-wrapped packages. All are standing around, chatting. Harman enters beneath a banner reading "Good Luck, Miss Brahms," pushing a tea trolley.
Harman: (singing) Oh, I'm gettin' married in the morning . . . ding-dong, the bells are gonna chime--"
Rumbold: It's about time
you arrived with the tea, Mr. Harman. We've been here for nearly
dear. Is the wedding over, and the 'appy couple gone on their 'oneymoon
I still get my two quid, squire.
Rumbold: No, of course
not. Miss Brahms went to meet her fiancé at the front door.
be up directly, so please set up the tea service, Mr. Harman.
Harman: (starts laying out tea ) Right. Isn't the cake here, then?
Rumbold: (looks at
watch) No, as a matter of fact, it is not. (turns to Humphries,
who is chatting
with the staff ) Mr. Humphries, you're sure you arranged for a five-thirty delivery?
Humphries: Oh, yes, Mr. Rumbold.
I spoke to my friend at the bakery not an hour ago, and
she's sending her assistant Chloe over with it personally.
Slocombe: Probably just caught up in a bit of rush-hour traffic.
Rumbold: Yes, I expect so. (he starts to help Harman)
Slocombe: Oh, what a lovely
place for a bridal tea. And Miss Brahms will be so happy when she
sees all her friends from the store, and all those lovely presents!
I'm glad you brought that up. I didn't mind buyin' Miss Brahms a
gift for this tea,
but aren't we supposed to buy another one for the wedding, as well?
Peacock: Oh, yes, Mr. Lucas. That is etiquette.
Lucas: That's a racket!
Cpt. Peacock is correct. I think you'll find as time goes by,
Mr. Lucas, that these
are the little threads of etiquette that are woven into the great fabric of civilization.
Lucas: Yes, woven into a great wet blanket.
Hmmpf. (turns away from him) Speaking of civilization,
Mrs. Slocombe, your recent
words of guidance apparently have made an impression on your junior. I didn't see her
outside the front door with her paramour this morning, engaged in their customary
Slocombe: No, she promised me they'd just have a quick one in the car.
Tebbs raises an eyebrow.
Slocombe: A quick cuddle, Mr. Tebbs. When he drops her off at the kerb, I mean.
Harman comes over with cups of tea and starts handing them out.
Harman: 'ere y'go, you lot. Can't start the tea wiffout the rosy lee.
Young Mr. Grace now enters the Board Room in his new wheelchair, pushed ny Goddard. As everyone is chatting in small groups or getting tea, no one notices him. Goddard tries to push the chair past a small group but can't get through.
YMG: Now let's see, which button was that?
YMG pushes a button; the radio comes on, playing "The Girl from Ipanema." He listens contentedly for a moment.
YMG: No, no, that's not the one.
He flicks it off and tries another button, which sounds the klaxon horn. Everybody jumps, and Humphries spills his tea on his jacket.
YMG: Sorry! Wrong button. Er, good afternoon, everybody.
All: (variously recovering) Good afternoon, Mr. Grace.
I didn't mean to make you spill your tea, Mr. Humphries. Go straight
down to your
department and get something from stock, if you like.
Humphries: Oh, that's not necessary,
Mr. Grace. I'll just clean up a bit in the lavatory. You know,
I've always wanted to see what it's like in the Board Room gents'.
YMG: Oh, I think you'll find it's much like the rest of the lavatories here at Grace Brothers.
Harman: Aye: Bunged up.
Humphries exits through a door at the other end of the Board Room. Meanwhile, Brahms and Edward enter arm in arm.
Slocombe: Ooh, here's the happy couple now!
Those assembled break into polite applause. Edward is as Lucas described: tall, dark-haired and handsome.
Brahms: Blimey, what a mob! (looks at banner, gifts) Everything is so lovely. Thanks, everyone.
Edward: (in mild Cockney accent) Yes, thanks ever so much.
Oh, you've got to meet everybody. This is my fiancé, Edward Frobisher.
Mrs. Slocombe, of course.
Slocombe's hand) Oh yes, your lovely supervisor, although I find
it hard to believe
she's old enough. (he kisses her hand)
Slocombe: Oh, Edward!
The men roll their eyes.
Brahms: And I think you've seen Mr. Tebbs.
Mr. Frobisher. ("moves" to Edward) I did indeed see you
by the front door last Friday.
You were, er, occupied at the moment.
Edward: Oh, yes. Heh-heh. (awkwardly "moves" to Tebbs)
Brahms introduces him to the rest of the staff and other guests, then the couple accept tea from Harman.
Brahms: Thanks ever so much, Mr. Harman.
toward the couple) Don't worry about the cake; it'll be here any
Mr. 'umphries as seen to that.
Edward: Yes, where is your Mr. Humphries? Shirley's mentioned 'im.
'e just 'ad a bit of a whoopsie, an' 'e's tartin' 'imself up in the kharzi.
Be out in
Edward: Oh, smashin'.
Peacock: Er, Miss Brahms tells us that you're in the meat trade.
Edward: Oh yeah. Me dad's got a butcher shop in Mayfair, an' I 'andle the deliveries.
Peacock: Ah. Is that where you two met, in your father's shop?
Actually, we met at the news agent's. I was browsin' in an almanac,
see, and I was
just readin' about Joan of Arc when this lovely thing comes in to buy the News of the
World. (looks at Brahms and sighs) It was love at first sight.
Slocombe: Oh, how romantic.
It'll become one of those little things that happy couples share.
Whenever you see or hear somethin' about Joan of Arc, you'll think of each other.
Ooh, I've always liked 'er. Shewas so brave, and all. The way
she led the army to
victory. I didn't care for the way she died, though.
Peacock: Ah. Being burned at the stake.
Brahms: Yeah. What a way to go!
Lucas: Yes, that does get hot. I'd almost rather get me head chopped off.
Edward: Oh, not me. I'd rather get the stake.
Lucas: Really? How do you reckon that?
Edward: Well, like me dad says, a hot "stake" is better than a cold chop!
Brahms and Slocombe laugh at the joke. The others groan.
Lucas: I'll, er, see what's taking Mr. Humphries.
Lucas ambles across the room towards the loo. When he's almost there he pauses to chat with a lift girl, but the loo door opens and a hand comes out, grabs Mr. Lucas and yanks him into the loo.
The Board Room Loo
Humphries has pulled Lucas into the richly appointed gents' room.
Lucas: Cor, what was that about?!
Humphries: He's Randy!
Lucas: They're going to think we are if anyone saw that.
Humphries: No, it's Miss Brahms' fiancé -- he's Randy.
Lucas: You can tell by lookin', then?
Humphries: No, he's the man who introduced
himself to me as Randy. Remember? From the disco?
I peeked out the door a moment ago when I heard them arrive, and it's him!
Lucas: Not the one you went back to his apartment?!
Humphries: I didn't say I did that!
Lucas: You didn't say you didn't!
Humphries: Oh, never mind that now!
Lucas: If you're sayin' what I think you're sayin' -- no, you can't be saying that.
Humphries: I can and I am!
Lucas: Blimey! That's really livin' a double life, isn't it? Well -- we've got to tell Shirley!
Humphries: Yes, but how can we break it to her?
Lucas: Well, we can tell her he's, er, not quite ready to settle down.
Humphries: Oh, how can you joke?
In a minute, I'm going to go out there and tell her something
that's going to break her heart.
Lucas: Yeah, I reckon you're right.
Humphries: (starts sniffling) And she's been so happy lately. Oh, this is just too sad--
Humphries starts to sob and leans on Lucas, who awkwardly puts one arm around him in consolation. Peacock enters loo; Lucas is startled and quickly pushes Humphries away, snatches Humphries' handkerchief and starts "whisking" Humphries' jacket.
Nothing, Cpt. Peacock. Nothing at all, heh-heh. Just helpin'
Mr. Humphries get
cleaned up, is all.
Well, kindly finish up and rejoin the group. The watchman's just
rung to say
the cake is on its way up. And the groom-to-be would like to meet you, Mr. Humphries.
Lucas: (mumbles) That's what he says now.
Peacock: What was that, Mr. Lucas?
Lucas: Er, we'll be straight out, Captain.
Peacock exits loo.
Lucas: Pull yourself together, now. I'll go out and stand with you, Mr. Humphries.
Humphries: (blowing his nose)
Your loyalty touches me, Mr. Lucas. But I rather think the jig
will be up directly he sees me!
Lucas: If we're lucky, maybe he'll pass out.
Humphries: If he's smart, he'll pretend to.
Lucas: Right. Well, we'll just have to play it by ear.
Humphries: (draws himself up)
Yes. Better actors than we have trod the boards without a script.
Steady on, Mr. Lucas.
Lucas: Steady on, Mr. Humphries.
The two exit the loo.
The Board Room
As Humphries and Lucas enter, a commotion arises at the door.
Harman: Right! Ere's the cake what you hordered. Bring it straight in, darlin'.
Harman holds the door open as a young woman in bakery uniform with "Chloe" stitched onto it carries in a large, heart-shaped cake decorated with strawberries and meringue. From where they'd been chatting with the staff, the bridal couple turn toward the young woman. Brahms beams her approval, but Edward is horrified; his mouth drops open. The bakery girl stops in her tracks.
Chloe: What are you doing here? And who's this girl you're clutchin'?
Brahms: Just a minute. This is Edward, my fiancé, you're talkin' to!
Chloe: Well, he's Teddy to me!
Humphries: (to Lucas, shocked) He was Randy to me!
Lucas: So I've heard.
Chloe: And he's your fiancé, you say?
Brahms: Edward, do you know this woman?
Edward is still standing in shock.
I was wonderin' where you've been the last few weeks. So this
your new bit of fluff.
A shop girl! I don't suppose you told her you were already engaged to me, did you?
Brahms: Already engaged? Edward, is that true? Edward?
Edward looks at Chloe, at Brahms, and then spots Humphries across the room. Humphries smiles and gives a little wave. Edward faints.
Lucas: He just got smart, Mr. Humphries.
Humphries: And we just got lucky, Mr. Lucas.
Brahms: Edward! (to Chloe) Look what you've done!
Chloe: Look what I've done? Why, you little tart!
Chloe moves toward Brahms; Rumbold steps between the women.
Rumbold: Now ladies, I'm--
Chloe: You stole my Teddy, you witch! He was perfectly happy with me.
Lucas: (to Humphries) Will you tell her, or shall I?
Brahms: Edward would never have anything to do with your sort!
Chloe: My sort?! You common little cow!
Chloe heaves the cake at Brahms, but it lands on Rumbold. Chloe runs out. Brahms dissolves to tears, and Slocombe comforts her. The guests are all standing around, astonished.
YMG has Goddard push him over to Rumbold, who is wiping cake off his face and clothing.
YMG: I told you you'd never get away with it, Rumbold.
You have been watching
Blowing her nose
Mollie Sugden Taking down banner in Board Room
Frank Thornton Reading Staff Code of Conduct
James Hayter Inspecting snakeskin belt
John Inman Crossing off number in little black book
Trevor Bannister Happily preening
Nicholas Smith Wiping cake off face
Harold Bennett Comfy in his old wheelchair
Penny Irving Smiling
Doremy Vernon Smiling, winks
Melita Manger (Chloe) Smiling
Michael Halsey (Edward) Shrugs
Mavis Pugh (The Wedding Hat) Smiling
Robert Raglan (The Belt) Smiling, fingering new braces
Arthur English Rolls by, grinning, in new wheelchair
(c)1998 John F. Crowley