"EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR"
Mrs. Slocombe is handing a bag to a stout woman
Thank you for your custom, madam. I do hope you
enjoy your new corset.
I shan't enjoy getting into it again. (looks Slocombe up
and down) I can see why you don't bother to wear one.
(with a cold smile) Just so, madam. (customer leaves;
to Brahms): Middle-class cow!
Ooh, the cheek! And she came in right in the middle of
your story, in all! So what happened after that bloke tried
to pick you up at the pub?
Well, like I said, I fancied he was loaded with money.
He kept buying me gin &tonics and talking about his
"new wheels" and asking me if I wanted to go for a ride.
Well, finally I went outside to take a look .
Brahms: Did he have "new wheels?"
Oh yes -- on his bicycle. I thought Right, he's all fur coat
and no knickers!
Brahms: Oh, one of them. So how did you finally get rid of him?
Thank goodness for Mrs. Axelby! She leaned in between
us and reminded me I had to get up early to take in my
pussy for its six-month washing. He took off like a shot!
Lucas: Well, you were very nearly late this morning, Mr. Humphries.
what I horrible night I spent! I had one of those
nightmares where you find yourself marooned on a desert
island with no food or water. I was running about wearing
only a straw hat and a grass skirt.
Lucas: Well, then, you could've eaten those, couldn't you?
Lucas! I might have been marooned, but I still had
Lucas: Ah yes. So there was nobody else about on this island?
a soul. I called and called, but nobody answered.
That's unusual for me, Mr. Lucas.
Lucas: Yes Indeed, Mr. Humphries. You make friends very easily.
I've always thought so. Anyway, just as I was about
to starve to death I found this giant mushroom and started
in on it. I couldn't get enough!
Lucas: So the dream had a happy ending.
Not really. I woke up and found my pillow torn to shreds.
(plucks feather from his sleeve)
The phone rings
(deep voice) Menswear. . . Just a moment. (calls out)
Are you free, Cpt. Peacock?
(at center floor) Mr. Humphries, it is considered rather
common to call across the salesfloor like a fishwife!
Flattery will get you nowhere. Mr. Rumbold wishes to
speak with you.
(moves to counter) You might have said so in the first place.
Lucas: Be kind to him, Cpt. Peacock. He's moulting!
Humphries: If you're going to mock me, I shan't share my confidences.
Peacock gets off the phone, returns to center floor
Peacock: Attention, everyone! Gather 'round.
Cpt. Peacock! You needn't shout across the salesfloor
like a fishwife!
Peacock: (glowers at her) Mrs. Slocombe, are you free?
Slocombe: (looks right, then left) I'm free.
Lucas: (to Humphries) Fancy that! She's free, and still no takers!
You too, Miss Brahms. Gather 'round, now. (looks around)
Where is Mr. Grainger?
Humphries: He's resting, Cpt. Peacock. He's had a very trying morning.
Peacock: In what way?
His false teeth are giving him trouble, and he spent most
of breakfast trying to get the better of a sticky bun.
me, Cpt. Peacock. (goes to where Mr. G is sleeping
in chair, leans down) Are you free, Mr. Grainger?
Grainger: (with a start) Yes, I'm free. (he joins group)
If Mr. Grainger has quite recovered from his breakfast
ordeal, Mr. Rumbold has asked me to assemble you here.
He is en route to make an important announcement.
Brahms: Did he say what it was about?
No, Miss Brahms. But I can say that, as one who is
occasionally privy to higher-echelon decision-making,
I have a fairly good idea.
What he means is he's been chatting up Mr. Grace's
secretary in the lift.
Harman enters with female display mannequin that is dressed in underwear
(singing) Round and round the world, looking for the
Peacock: Mr. Harman! What are you doing on the floor at this hour?
You know, Capt. Peacock, it may seem to those what is
unsophisticated like I am working at this hour, but in
actuality, I am independently wealthy, and I am merely
presuming the identity of a poor but handsome working
devil to satisfy my heccentric nature. And in my current
masquerade, I have been sent to deliver this display model
to Ladies Imminent Apparel what shows off the latest in
unmentionables. Where would you like her, Mrs. Slocombe?
Slocombe: What exactly
is this line, Mr. Harmon? These hardly seem
like new items.
Now there's where you'd be mistaken, dear heart, for these
are Naughty Nibbles -- underwear what is edible!
They're made out of rice paper, sweetened up a bit. There's
a men's display, too.
Humphries: And me on a diet!
Peacock: What idiot instructed you to set up these ridiculous displays?
Harman: That idiot what just come up behind you, Captain. (he leaves.)
Rumbold: Pardon me, Capt. Peacock, I believe I missed your comment.
Oh! I, er, was just saying what a clever idea these, er,
edible underthings were.
(enthusiastically) Yes, my secretary tells me they're all
rage in some of the other shops about town, and I have
decided to include them in our stock.
Mr. Rumbold, as senior salesperson, I should have been
consulted, and I am unanimous in that!
Brahms: Right, they's dead common.
(looks over his glasses at Brahms) Er, yes, Mrs. Slocombe,
that is usually the case, but I had to act quickly. When I
contacted the supplier he said that he had very little stock
left, and that they were selling like hotcakes.
Lucas: Fancy that with your morning coffee!
Peacock: Is this the announcement you wished to make, Mr. Rumbold?
Rumbold: Certainly not. My news is much more important.
(looking disdainfully at display) Really? What could be
more important than knicker-noshing?
Now listen up, everyone. Young Mr. Grace has informed
me that he has selected the Grace Brothers Employee of the
Year, and that this year's winner is entitled to a one-week,
That is most generous of Young Mr. Grace. May we ask
who the lucky winner is?
Our leader has expressed a wish to announce the winner
personally, and you are all invited to remain behind
directly we close this afternoon. I trust you will all be here?
Peacock: We'll be here, sir.
Brahms: Ooh, if he's coming here, it must be one of us!
Peacock: It would seem so, Miss Brahms.
Isn't it exciting? I wonder where the winner will go
Personally, if I were to win, I'd prefer someplace warm
and romantic, like the Caribino.
Don't they have those hurricanes down there this time
That's alright. There's a big wind wherever Mrs. Slocombe
Mr. Lucas! Back to work, all of you. It's a long way to
closing, and you've all plenty of time to speculate.
(lingers) A holiday would be most welcome. Have you
given any thought to where you'd like to go should you
Well, I had rather considered going to the continent, Ernest.
I do so enjoy traveling abroad.
Humphries: Hmmm. Mother sent me abroad for my 18th birthday.
Lucas: Cor, did you ever figure out what to do with her?
Harman returns wheeling male mannequin with edible undie display
Right, then, Mr. Grainger. Where do you fancy this
(inspects the boxer shorts) Actually, I prefer you take it
wherever you got it. This is Gentlemen's Ready-to-Wear,
Hmmm. They don't seem very stylish. I mean, they are a
Lucas: Not to worry, Mr. Humphries. They'll ride up with wear.
The staff are seated at their table
folded) Well, we've been sat sitting here for ten minutes
now, and still no lunch. I liked it better when we got our own.
Brahms: Yeah, whose stupid idea is this?
Have patience, all of you. I understand Young Mr. Grace
instituted this change personally after dining at the Lally's
and Willet's canteen, where employees enjoy table service.
Slocombe: Well, they don't
have the lot that works in this canteen, do
they? And anyroad, what was he doing in Lally &Willets?
of industry often socialize, Mrs. Slocombe.
Although they may be competitors in the marketplace, civility
dictates a certain detente among great men of commerce.
Lucas: Honor among thieves, I call it.
At any rate, the change has been made. Personally,
I find the arrangement a bit more elegant.
Canteen manageress arrives in stained pinny with several plates on tray
Peacock: I beg your pardon?
CM: Rissoles. Who gets the rissoles?
Humphries: Oh, they're mine.
Lucas: (to Humphries) Cor, you're not half brave.
Humphries: My horoscope said I had nothing to lose today.
Slocombe: We'll check with you later.
CM: Right, who's the stuffed bird?
Peacock: Here, please.
Humphries: Don't say it, Mr. Lucas.
(setting down plates roughly) Let's see, spaghetti for the
junior, Bubble and Squeak for Mr. Grainger, best of luck,
and Shepherd's Pie for the young lady in Underwear.
Slocombe: And where's my Toad in the Hole?
CM: When it pops out, dear, you'll be the first to know. (Exits)
Peacock: I'm sure it will be out in a moment, Mrs. Slocombe.
(inspecting her food) You know, I've always wondered why
they call it "Shepherd's Pie."
Lucas: That's easy. Because no one knows what the flock is in it!
Slocombe: Oh! How sick-making!
across the canteen) Isn't that Mr. Hobbes from
Humphries: (looking) That's him, Mr. Grainger.
He won Employee of the Year last year, you know. He
made that special elevating loo seat for Young Mr. Grace!
Lucas: Fancy that getting him the award.
As you get older, my boy, you find the little things become
rather more important.
Humphries: (wistfully) True.
Ideally, of course, the award is a special recognition of
loyalty, hard work and dependability. The embodiment of
those virtues is, of course, the floorwalker, and I shouldn't
be surprised if recognition were finally given here today.
Slocombe: Dream on, Mr. Chips.
Grainger: In all
modesty, if loyalty and hard work are the criteria,
I should hope that I be recognized for my many years of
service to Grace Brothers. After all, I'm not getting any
Lucas: You're not working any harder, either.
Peacock: I daresay you're not in the running this year, Mr. Lucas.
Oh, I don't know, Captain. Didn't I bring my sales up this
I believe it takes more than merely raising your sales above
Slocombe: Well, if sales decide it, one need only to look at my figures.
Lucas: (pained) Need one, Mrs. Slocombe?
Slocombe: I shouldn't talk
if I were you, Mr. Lucas. Even my junior
has rung up more sales than you in the last year.
Brahms: Still, that doesn't mean I'll get the award.
Don't feel bad, Miss Brahms. At least you get a discount on
your unmentionables, and all the cotton wool you can stuff
Brahms: Of all the cheek!
not heard from you, Mr. Humphries. Don't you
covet the award?
Humphries: Not really. I've always felt that good service is its own reward.
Peacock: Ah, yes. Like virtue.
Humphries: Let's not get carried away, Capt. Peacock!
The Sales Floor
The lift door opens, and out comes Young Mr. Grace with his nurse and Mr. Rumbold.
YMG: Good afternoon, everybody!
All: Good afternoon, Mr. Grace.
Nurse and Rumbold help him downstairs.
Well, I suppose you're wondering why I asked you all here.
(to Rumbold) Why did I ask them all here?
Rumbold: To announce the employee
of the year, sir. I assume the
winner is one of the staff assembled here today.
Oh yes. Well, actually, no. I'm giving the award to
Mr. Hobbes of Bathroom Fittings.
Rumbold: But Mr. Grace, surely
you remember you gave Mr. Hobbes
the award last year.
Peacock: Yes, sir, for the, er, clever seat he devised for you.
Yes, I know. But he's made a new one this year that heats up
and plays "Flow Gently, Sweet Afton" when you sit on it.
It's a great comfort to me.
Rumbold: Er, a very wise choice, sir.
your pardon, Mr. Grace, but if none of us here has
won the award, why have you assembled us?
Oh, I've decided to award second place to Mr. Humphries,
whose sales figures have been excellent again this year.
Humphries: Always a bridesmaid. Thank you, Mr. Grace.
Peacock: And what shall Mr. Humphries' prize be, Mr. Grace?
Well, I've thought about it, and I've decided he can just
have anything he wants in the store.
General exclamations and chatter
Humphries: That is most generous of you,
Mr. Grace, but just to be
honored is reward enough.
Oh, come now, Mr. Humphries. Surely there's something in
the store you've had your eye on.
Humphries: I don't suppose that junior in Sporting Goods--
Peacock: Merchandise, Mr. Humphries!
Humphries: Well then, I could use a new pillow.
Oh, and I'll just take
some of the edible underwear!
Whatever you like, Mr. Humphries. Well, thank you,
everybody. You've all done very well!
He staggers; the nurse catches him and helps him back up to the lift.
Slocombe: (to Brahms) Well, go to the foot of our stairs!
(to Humphries) Criminy, you could have had anything
in the store!
Peacock: Mr. Humphries
is to be commended for his restraint.
You would be wise to follow his example, Mr. Lucas. I'll see
that Bedding sends up their finest pillow. And Mr. Grainger,
please make sure Mr. Humphries gets the rest of his award.
Grainger: Certainly, Capt. Peacock.
(Moves behind counter and pulls out
box of Naughty Nibbles) One pair of size medium, Mr.
Humphries: Actually, I'll take two dozen assorted, Mr. Grainger.
Grainger: Two dozen assorted?
Humphries: (looks around at puzzled colleagues)
Well, I do make friends
(c)1999 John F. Crowley