The following day
Staff from throughout the store are filing into the Canteen, which is decorated with garlands and a Christmas tree. A banner across the entryway reads "Happy Christmas." Carrying several small gift-wrapped parcels, Slocombe and Brahms enter beneath it, near Mash, who is moving a ladder. They stop at a table.
Slocombe: Oh, doesn't the Canteen
look lovely? You know, I'm starting
to get into the Christmas spirit!
yes, it's just like a Christmas fairyland. And the tables are
decorated so nicely, and all. (she picks up some vegetation from
the table) But I think the kitchen staff dropped some of the salad
on the way in.
Mash rushes over to the table
Mash: Oy! Careful with that!
Brahms: What is it?
that's my mistletoe, darlin'. You'd never put that in your salad.
It's poisonous, innit?
Brahms: Ugh. What's it doin' on the table, then?
up mistletoe) Well, I'm goin' to 'ang it up, aren't I?
just shiftin' the ladder — as Mae West said to the midget! Heh-heh!
Just give me a minute, Miss Brahms, and you can be the first to give
it a go!
Slocombe: You'll be puckered
up a long time under that mistletoe, Mr. Mash,
before a lady of quality ever submits to you!
Hah! Let's face it, Mrs. Slocombe — you're not a nippy no more,
are ya? The time's past when you can pick an' choose, y'know.
Sooner or later, if you fancy a kiss, you're goin' to have to deal with
the likes of me.
Slocombe: (sighs) Give me that mistletoe, Mr. Mash.
Brahms: You're not goin' to stand under it?!
Slocombe: Stand under it? I'm goin' to eat it.
Mash frowns and goes to his ladder
Slocombe: We might as well just
sit here, Miss Brahms (they dump gifts on
table. As they sit, Tebbs waddles past)
Tebbs: Ah! Good afternoon, Mrs. Slocombe (he "moves" to her)
Slocombe: (formally) Mr. Tebbs.
Tebbs: Miss Brahms ("moves" to her)
Brahms: Good afternoon, Mr. Tebbs.
The staff have got the Canteen done up splendidly, wouldn't you
say, Mrs. Slocombe?
Slocombe: Yes, me an' Miss Brahms were just sayin'.
Tebbs: Just so. And hasn't the year gone quickly?
Slocombe: Yes, it's just flown by.
Yes, here we are, another Christmas party. (leans closer)
we'll be seeing more of your cancan this year. I've been looking
forward to it for months.
Slocombe: (irritated) It wasn't a cancan, it was a tango.
Tebbs: Ah. In that case . . . I don't want to see it. (waddles away)
Rumbold, Peacock and Lucas arrive
Peacock: Ah, how charming the Canteen looks.
Rumbold: Yes, most enchanting.
Puts you firmly in the holiday mood,
Slocombe: It did for a minute.
Lucas: Well, we're all here. Where's the band, then?
Rumbold: (consults watch) They should be here any minute. Oh, Mr. Mash!
Mash comes over
Mash: You rang, Mr. Rumbold?
Rumbold: Yes. We're expecting
the band any moment. Go down to the main
entrance and make sure they're not locked out.
Just a minute, squire. In case you ‘aven't noticed, the store is
and I am 'ere strictly in my off-duty hours, and you cannot order me
about. An' in addition to that, I ‘ave to stand by the mistletoe, in case.
Rumbold: In case what?
Mash: In case some bird is slow to spot it! Heh-heh!
Rumbold: Yes, well, we can't start
the party without the band, Mr. Mash. So let
me ask you again if, in the holiday spirit — and the prospect of a
Christmas bonus that is not inexplicably delayed for several weeks
— you will kindly go down and escort the band here to the Canteen.
That's blackmail, that is! But I'll go down an' ‘ave a look just
the same, ‘cause I'm filled with the ‘oliday spirit.
Peacock: (picking up
opened tin) Or more likely filled with Japanese tinned
Mash gives an impertinent salute and exits. The men sit, except for Rumbold
Lucas: So what band are we waitin' for, then?
Rumbold: Well, I was quite impressed
with the orchestra that entertained us at
Mr. Grainger's anniversary dinner earlier this year.
Humphries: Not Madame Trixie?
Lucas: And the Trixie Trio?!
Rumbold: Yes, the very
same! I'm sure you all recall how wonderfully they
performed. I booked them on the spot for this party. (takes off
glasses) I was filled with elation!
Peacock picks up the opened Japanese champagne tin again, they all look at it, then at Rumbold, who frowns and puts his glasses back on.
Young Mr. Grace enters, pushed in his wheelchair by Miss Bakewell. As he passes their table, he addresses the staff.
YMG: Good afternoon, everyone.
All: (standing) Good afternoon, Mr. Grace.
YMG: Please sit down. (all but Rumbold sit)
Rumbold: Thank you, sir.
Ahem! On behalf of my department, may I wish
you a very happy Christmas and a prosperous new year! And may
I add how heartwarming it is to see you alert and cheerful at yet
another Christmas party.
YMG: Yes, I'm glad I'm not dead, too.
Rumbold: Heh-heh! I meant it's always uplifting to see our beloved leader.
I've approved your bonuses, Rumbold. You can stop now. (looks
around) Where's the band, by the way?
Peacock: Er, they're due
any moment, sir. We've booked Madame Trixie and
the Trixie Trio.
YMG: Hmmm. They played for Mr. Grainger's dinner, didn't they?
Peacock: Yes, sir.
Yes, I remember. (to Bakewell) I got a lovely clock just
Bakewell: Yes, you told me, Mr. Grace. Shall we get started, then?
Yes, let's. (to staff) They're waiting for me at the head
got to give a speech or something.
Slocombe: Thank you for hosting such a lovely party, Mr. Grace.
You're very welcome, Mrs. Slocombe. Er, by the way, I hope
Slocombe: (frowns) It was a tango!
Eh? A tango? I was just going to say I hope this year you'll
very happy with your bonus.
Slocombe: Oh! I beg your pardon, Mr. Grace!
That's quite alright. (Bakewell pushes him a few feet before he
speaks to her) Oh, now I remember — but that was a cancan,
Bakewell smiles and shrugs as Mash bursts in
Mash: Oy! There's just been an accident outside the front door!
Humphries: Oh, dear! Was anyone hurt?
Lucas: (hopefully) Was it the Trixie Trio?
Mash: It was Mr. Grainger!
All: Mr. Grainger?!
Peacock: Good God! What happened, man? Is he alright?
Well, I only saw the tail end, didn't I? They was takin' him
The staff get up and, with Rumbold, rush off, leaving Mash alone. After a moment, they rush back in
Rumbold: Mr. Mash, where have they taken Mr. Grainger?
Mash: Oh, the ambulance said The Middlesex Hospital.
Rumbold: Ah! Er, who knows where we can find the Middlesex?
All look at Humphries
Humphries: (sighs) It's in Mortimer Street. Come along!
All rush off
(c)1998 John F. Crowley