"Happy Christmas, Mr. Grainger"
Young Mr. Grace
Mr. Cuthbert Rumbold
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 Nurse
Several customers are still shopping as the closing bell rings. The floorwalker consults his watch.
Peacock: Ah. The store
is closing, ladies and gentlemen. We will be
open again tomorrow, Christmas Eve, until two o'clock.
Thank you for shopping at Grace Brothers. And happy holidays,
of course. Heh-heh.
The customers move toward the lifts. At the Ladies' counter, Mrs. Slocombe — her hair is green — is handing a bag to a middle-aged woman
Slocombe: Thank you for
your custom, madam. And if your aunt doesn't care
for the sweater, she can always bring it back for an exchange.
Customer: Oh, good. I'm afraid she's something of a perfectionist.
Slocombe: Oh, yes, I know the type.
Customer: You can just
imagine what the holidays do to her! Just this
morning, she said "Christmas is going to kill me this year!"
Slocombe: Well then I should
put a little card on the parcel that says "Open me
The woman nods in consideration and heads for the lift.
Slocombe: Oh! Thank goodness this day is over. My feet are killing me.
and all, but I don't care. I made enough commission today to
buy one o' them electric foot massagers.
Slocombe: Oh, I'm not complainin'
about the commission, just about me
Slocombe sits down on a chair and takes her shoes off as Peacock comes over to the counter
Peacock: Well done, Mrs.
Slocombe. You and Miss Brahms did yeoman's
Slocombe: (rubbing her feet) The yeoman can ‘ave it!
Peacock: All the same,
well done. Our sales figures are running far ahead of
Brahms: Can we stay home tomorrow, then?
Peacock: Of course not.
As you well know, Miss Brahms, for whatever
reason, many people wait until the last minute to do their holiday
shopping. And it is our job to be here to serve them.
Slocombe: Oh, I'd like to serve them — to the lions.
Peacock: Ahem. At
any rate, I must ask you ladies to stay behind a moment,
if you please. (starts to leave)
Slocombe: Cpt. Peacock! It has
been a long, debilitatious day, and I am
unanimous in that! Whatever business there is can wait until
Peacock: Hardly, Mrs. Slocombe. It's time to choose up for staff gifts.
Brahms: Ooh, that'll be fun. Come along, Mrs. Slocombe.
It will only take a moment, so please join us when you're free.
Thank goodness there's only one more day of shoppin' left.
This last week has been murder on my pussy! By the time I get
home, I've barely enough energy to stroke the poor old thing.
Brahms nods in sympathy
Humphries and Lucas are consulting their salesbooks
Humphries: Whew! It gets worse every year.
Aye, what a mob! Everybody rushin' about to spend money they
don't have, on presents they're not sure about, for people they don't
like. (nods toward Humphries' salesbook) You got a bit of it today,
Humphries: My sensibilities revolt
at the crass commercialism of Christmas, Mr.
Lucas. But I'm glad some of it's comin' my way. (nods toward
Lucas' salesbook) You made a few sales yourself today.
Hah. It was less than meets the eye. Just like it's been all month:
A belt here, a handkerchief there. You and Grainger were gettin' the
big spenders — I was gettin' the stocking stuffers.
Humphries: Didn't I see your last customer
trying on that big gold watch that sells
Lucas: Yes, but he said it made his hands look too small.
Humphries: Hmmm. For that price you
could have thrown in a couple pairs of
Lucas: I'll remember that next time.
Humphries puts his salesbook into a drawer and takes out the counter dust covers
Humphries: So tell me, how are your plans working out for tomorrow?
(putting salesbook away and helping with the dust covers) Oh, very
well, indeed! After the party, I'm takin' Miss Brahms to that holiday
show that the prince is throwin' this year. And after that, who
Humphries: Well, don't count your presents until they're unwrapped.
Lucas: Just as you say, Mr. Humphries. So what are your plans, then?
Humphries: Well, every Christmas Eve I get
together with a few of my old mates
from St. Swithin's Mixed Boys Choir. It's sort of a reunion, you
see. We like to get together for a sing-song and a bit of Christmas
Lucas: Hmmm. Don't you lot eat anything, as well?
Humphries: Tsk! It's too close to Christmas
to be cheeky, Mr. Lucas. You
don't want to look into your Christmas stocking.
Lucas: Will you ask Father Christmas to bring me a lump of coal, then?
Humphries: Well, you've got the "lump" bit right.
Grainger comes over
Grainger: Mr. Humphries, Mr. Lucas, are you free?
Humphries and Lucas look at Grainger, at each other, then left, then right, then back at Grainger
Both: We're free.
Grainger: Oh, good.
I've just been talking with Cpt. Peacock, and he told me
our seasonal sales figures are very good indeed, especially compared
to last year. And he added that we may expect a substantial bonus!
Humphries: Well done, Mr. Grainger.
Lucas: Yes, well done. Will we all be gettin' the same bonus, then?
Grainger: Er, no, it will be based on individual sales, of course.
Humphries: Oh, good. It's bound to be a vast improvement over last year.
Lucas: Or, in my case, half-vast.
Grainger: Hmpf. Er,
Cpt. Peacock also asked me to remind you to kindly stay
behind a moment.
Humphries: Yes, for the gift choose-up.
I've just got the slips ready, Mr.
Grainger, with everyone's name written on them. (produces several
slips of paper from his pocket)
Grainger: Oh, good.
they could have given us more time to shop, couldn't they? I
mean, we have to exchange them at the party tomorrow.
Grainger: Yes, well, that
can't be helped. (sighs) In any event, I'm afraid I
shan't be going to the party tomorrow.
Humphries: Oh, dear. Why not, Mr. Grainger?
Grainger: Well, my wife
always insists we spend Christmas with her sister's
family in St. Albans. But it seems everybody will be traveling
tomorrow, and we've only been able to book on the 2:20 train.
Humphries: Tsk. And the party starts at two.
Oh, well. I'm sure you'll have a good time in St. Albans, once
rather doubt it. My wife's sister is a nettling chatterbox, and after
a few hours listening to her, I get a crick in my neck from all that
nodding. And her husband always drinks too much and spends all
evening at the piano.
Lucas: Ah. Leading the sing-song?
Grainger: No, passed out. And my two nephews always start arguing.
Humphries: Well, at least that could be interesting. What do they argue about?
accountancy. (sighs) Just one year I'd like to spend
Christmas with Mrs. Grainger. And perhaps some people I don't
Rumbold strides out, wearing his coat and hat, tying on his muffler
Rumbold: Ah! I thought you'd all be gone by now.
Lucas: We've stayed behind to choose up gifts for the Christmas party.
Humphries: Yes, and we couldn't start without you, Mr. Rumbold.
Rumbold: (smugly) Ah. Because of my executive abilities.
Humphries: No, because of your executive
bowler. (removes Rumbold's hat
and dumps slips of paper into it) We're ready, Cpt. Peacock!
Rumbold frowns. Peacock and the ladies join the others at the Men's counter
Slocombe: Next year, let's not
wait ‘til the last minute to do this. Me feet have
been through enough today.
Yes, you want to be in top form for your traditional cancan at the
Christmas party tomorrow, Mrs. Slocombe.
Slocombe: If you are inferring to last
year's Christmas party, Mr. Lucas, it was
not a cancan, it was a tango.
Lucas: Not after your third gin and tonic, it wasn't.
Slocombe glares at Lucas
Brahms: Why's the Christmas party
so flamin' close to Christmas this year,
Rumbold: (frowns) To answer your rather
inelegant query, Miss Brahms, that
was explained in my interdepartmental memo of 3 December, which
was prominently posted on the notice board.
Peacock: Indeed it was. It stated that in view—
To reiterate, in view of previous Christmas
parties which were deemed overly long and, shall we say, rather
indecorous, it was decided -- at Board Room level (looks up) -- that
holding it on Christmas Eve would encourage people to stay only
briefly, as most of us have other plans later on, with family, and so
Peacock: That's correct.
And, if I understood your memo correctly, sir,
making it an afternoon affair is an effort to encourage more, shall we
say, moderate behavior.
Brahms: Oh, that's
very reassuring. (looks knowingly at Peacock) Will there
be blow-ticklers this year, Mr. Rumbold?
Rumbold looks puzzled
Peacock: (looking uncomfortable)
Er, there was no mention of that in the
memo, Miss Brahms. Come along now, let's get this over with.
They begin to choose names from the hat as the scene fades
(c)1998 John F. Crowley