"Happy Christmas, Mr. Grainger"


Scene 2

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!

Brahms:       Ooh, 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?

Mash:        Well, 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?

Mash:        (picks up mistletoe) Well, I'm goin' to 'ang it up, aren't I?   I was
                   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!

Brahms grimaces

Slocombe:    You'll be puckered up a long time under that mistletoe, Mr. Mash,
                    before a lady of quality ever submits to you!

Mash:          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.

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.

Tebbs:          Yes, here we are, another Christmas party.  (leans closer) I hope
                    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,
                     doesn't it?

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.

Mash:         Just a minute, squire.  In case you ‘aven't noticed, the store is closed,
                  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.

Mash:        Right!  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.

YMG:          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.

YMG:         Yes, I remember.  (to Bakewell) I got a lovely clock just for

Bakewell:     Yes, you told me, Mr. Grace.  Shall we get started, then?

YMG:          Yes, let's.  (to staff) They're waiting for me at the head table.  I've
                    got to give a speech or something.

Slocombe:   Thank you for hosting such a lovely party, Mr. Grace.

YMG:         You're very welcome, Mrs. Slocombe.  Er, by the way,  I hope this
                    year you'll—

Slocombe:    (frowns) It was a tango!

YMG:           Eh?  A tango?  I was just going to say I hope this year you'll be
                     very happy with your bonus.

Slocombe:     Oh!  I beg your pardon, Mr. Grace!

YMG:            That's quite alright.  (Bakewell pushes him a few feet before he
                      speaks to her)   Oh, now I remember — but that was a cancan,
                      wasn't it?

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?

Mash:            Well, I only saw the tail end, didn't I?  They was takin' him off in
                       an ambulance.

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

Onward to Scene 3

(c)1998 John F. Crowley