Grainger in sitting up in bed with a large bandage on his left foot and a thermometer in his mouth. A nurse is beside the bed, taking his pulse, looking at her watch.
Nurse: Ah. Your pulse is getting back to normal, Mr. Grainger.
Grainger: Mmph mmph mmph mmph.
Nurse: What was that? (removes thermometer, reads it)
Grainger: Oh, thank you.
I said I'm feeling much better. Except for my foot,
Yes, well, the pain medication the doctor just gave you should be
taking effect very soon. Are you comfy? (she adjusts his bed)
Grainger: Oh, my, yes.
Thank you, sister. You know, I should like to have
this sort of bed on Sunday mornings, when Mrs. Grainger and I lie
abed and read the Sunday Times. She takes all the pillows to sit up,
you see, and all I have is a novelty pillow her sister sent her.
Nurse: A novelty pillow?
Grainger: Yes. It's shaped like, er, a great tin of tomato soup.
Nurse: Oh. Not very comfortable, is it?
Grainger: Oh, it's very comfortable. But I hate tomato soup.
The nurse smiles and nods, then exits; after a moment the staff enter and gather at Grainger's bedside
Brahms: Ooh, Mr. Grainger, are you alright?
Grainger: Oh, dear me! You, er, needn't have all come down here.
Slocombe: Oh, nonsense. We're all dead worried!
Humphries: (gasps) Look at that bandage on your foot. Whatever happened?
Grainger: Well, I
had just left the store and was waiting in the High Street to
cross over to the underground. I was on my way to Kings Cross
station, you know.
Lucas: Yes, to meet your wife to go to St. Albans.
well, I was standing on the kerb, and a woman behind me was
loaded down with parcels, and I suppose she couldn't see where she
was going. She pushed me into the zebra, and before I could step
back, er, my foot was run over.
Humphries: And Richard Attenborough said zebras weren't dangerous!
Slocombe: It was a lucky thing there was an ambulance close by.
Grainger: Hmph! It was the ambulance that ran over my foot!
Lucas: Now that's what I call service!
Slocombe: Is it broken, then?
Grainger: No, the doctor said it was just rather badly bruised.
Peacock: Ah. They'll be releasing you, then.
Grainger: I'm afraid
not, Cpt. Peacock. My blood pressure is still rather high,
and they say I'm to stay overnight for observation.
Brahms: You're not goin' to spend Christmas Eve in ‘ospital!
Grainger: It rather looks that way, doesn't it?
we've been unable to contact Mrs. Grainger. We
rang up Kings Cross station directly we arrived here, but the 2:20 to
St. Albans had left already.
Grainger: Oh, dear.
She's probably halfway there by now. I shall have to ring
her at her sister's. I do hope she'll be able to get a train back before
Peacock: We're terribly sorry, Ernest.
Humphries: But we're here with you, Mr. Grainger.
Brahms: Yes, and we're ever so glad you weren't run down in the road.
A commotion comes from the outer hall, and a figure dressed as Father Christmas enters the room with a sack.
Oy! ‘Ave I got a surprise for you — (pulls
down false beard) as
Mae West said to the vicar!
Mash! How kind of you to leave the Christmas party to come
Oh, that's all right, Mr. Grainger. We run out of the Japanese
tinned champagne. Anyroad, you lot left the party so fast you
forgot a few things. (reaches into sack, pulls out a concertina)
Oh, this is for you, Mr. Rumbold.
I was planning on playing a few Christmas carols at the party.
Thank you for bringing it along, Mr. Mash. (to Grainger, eagerly)
Are you ready for song, Mr. Grainger?
at concertina, at Rumbold, and wincing) Er, not quite,
thank you. My pain medication hasn't taken yet.
Rumbold furrows his brow
Slocombe: Well, what else have you got in there, Mr. Mash?
Mash pulls out some mistletoe, winks at Slocombe
Slocombe: (to Grainger)
That reminds me. How's the food here? (Grainger
gives a befuddled look)
Well, we'll save that bit for later. I took the liberty of bringin'
parcels you ‘ad on your table. (starts removing gifts from sack)
Peacock: Ah. That was very thoughtful of you, Mr. Mash.
Right, squire. ‘Ere, this first one's for you, Captain.
my. Thank you. (reads card) Oh yes, from Mr. Rumbold,
recall. (unwraps parcel) Ah. Thank you, sir. (reads label)
"Duncan's Aberdeen Blend Scotch, Guaranteed Aged for No Less
than Six Weeks." (sarcastically) Where did you find such an
exotic brand, sir?
Rumbold: I, er—
He got it from me, sir, back when the ‘eat was cut off in the store,
remember? Fell off the back of a lorry, it did. I ‘ave two more—
Rumbold: Er, thank you, Mash. Heh-heh. The next gift, please.
Right. (pulls out another) ‘ere's one for you, Mr. Rumbold,
Rumbold: Yes, that's right. We pulled each other's names, didn't we?
Peacock: (flatly) Yes.
Rumbold unwraps parcel
Rumbold: Ah! A, er, combination shoe horn and back-scratcher.
my! I believe I received one of those at my anniversary
Slocombe: You did before Cpt. Peacock took it back.
Rumbold: Er, yes. Thank you, Cpt. Peacock.
Peacock: Don't mention it, sir.
Mash produces another parcel
Mash: Oy! ‘Ere's one for Mrs. Slocombe, from ‘er junior.
Slocombe tears open parcel
An electric foot massager! Thanks ever so much, Miss
Brahms! It's the sort of thing you never buy for yourself.
Slocombe: And listen, you can borrow it whenever you like.
Brahms: Oh, that's alright. I bought one for meself.
Mash: Mr. ‘umphries? ‘ere's one for you.
Humphries: Oh,this is so exciting!
Let's see what you've bought me, Mr. Lucas.
(unwraps parcel) What's this?
It's a goalie's mask. Didn't I overhear you tellin' your friend on
phone that over the holidays you planned to spend most of your
time in hockey courts?
Humphries: Tsk! Not hockey
courts — jockey shorts. (all look at him) Well,
mother's goin' away for a few days.
Ahem! (pulls out another parcel) Let's see — this one's for
Miss Brahms, from Mrs. Slocombe.
Ooh! I can't wait. (she rips open parcel and takes out a
dressing gown) Ooh, it's lovely Mrs. Slocombe. (holds it against
herself) We don't stock this line, do we?
Slocombe: No, I bought
it at Derry & Tom's on me way home last evenin'
when I stopped in for a couple quarts of nog.
Lucas: Come again?
Humphries: Egg nog, Mr. Lucas.
Our competitor sells their special brand of egg
nog this time every year. It's quite famous.
Slocombe: Oh, you've never
tasted anything like it. (closes eyes) It's the rich
Devonshire cream. It's the farm-fresh brown eggs. It's—
Humphries: It's the rum.
Slocombe frowns at Humphries
Brahms: (her face wrinkles up) Achoo! Achoo!
Peacock, who is standing across from Brahms, frowns and uses his handkerchief to dab his face
blimey! Me eyes are startin' to water up. This dressin' gown
must be made out o' zylon!
Humphries: (to Lucas) Wasn't that the planet ruled by Ming the Merciless?
Slocombe: (takes gown and reads label) Tsk! It is zylon.
Brahms: Oh, I'm allergic to that!
Slocombe: Allergic? You never told me that.
Humphries: (takes gown)
Oh my, isn't it smooth. I'd offer to trade gifts with
you, Miss Brahms, but I can't imagine why you'd need a goalie
just a minute. Mr. Lucas is taking me to that show tonight,
and I might need it afterwards. It's a deal.
Brahms takes the mask, and Humphries takes the gown from an exasperated Slocombe
Slocombe: Don't tell me you're going to wear that dressing gown?!
Humphries: Oh, yes. It just goes with my jockey shorts.
We're nearing the bottom o' the sack, you lot. ‘Ere's one for you,
Oh yes, from Mr. Grainger. Thank you, sir. (Grainger
expectantly; Lucas unwraps parcel. It's a misshapen brown
loaf with bows on it) Ah, it's a, er, er—
Grainger: It's one of Mrs. Grainger's holiday fruitcakes. I hope you enjoy it!
Lucas: Er, yes, Mr. Grainger. Thank you.
Humphries: (to Lucas) Well, I knew you'd get a lump of something.
Right! Last parcel for Mr. Grainger, from Mr. Humphries. (hands
my. Thank you so much, Mr. Humphries. (he unwraps it and
opens the box. His eyes light up) Oh! A thermal pad!
Humphries: Yes, a replacement for the
one I ruined last month. Use it in good
health, Mr. Grainger.
Rumbold: What a wonderful
spirit we have in our department. You cannot
doubt the high regard your colleagues have for you, Mr. Grainger.
thermal pad) Yes, it's really quite touching. Thank you,
all of you. I, er, only wish that Mrs. Grainger was here to share this
lovely moment. (sighs)
There is a knock on the door. The nurse opens it and regards the crowded room
this is quite against regulations, but as it is Christmas
just admit these other visitors, Mr. Grainger.
Mrs. Grainger enters and rushes to Grainger, followed by Young Mr. Grace, pushed in his wheelchair by Bakewell
Mrs. G.: Ernest! Are you alright? What happened?
Grainger: I'm quite alright,
my dear! I, er, was on my way to the train station,
and, er, an ambulance ran over my foot. I thought you'd be on the
Mrs. G.: Yes,
well, I waited at the platform, and when I didn't see you, I
started to worry, and I took a taxi to Grace Brothers. Young Mr.
Grace was kind enough to leave the Christmas party and drive me
here in his Rolls-Royce.
Grainger: Thank you, Mr. Grace.
YMG: Oh, that's alright. We'd run out of champagne.
Hah! Well now, Father Christmas has told you lot a lie. There
one more parcel in my sack which I was savin' for last!
(withdraws large tin of Japanese champagne and several
plastic cups, and sets about opening it and pouring)
YMG: You've done very well, Mr. Mash.
Mash: (proudly) Thank you, sir!
Grainger: I'm really
most grateful to all of you. The accident was very
upsetting, but I must say this has turned out to be a very happy
Christmas Eve indeed.
Mrs. G.: Oh,
yes. It's just too bad we couldn't have our customary visit with
my sister and her husband. And their two sons. They're chartered
accountants, you know.
Grainger: Er, Mr. Rumbold?
Rumbold: Yes, Mr. Grainger?
Grainger: (smiling broadly) I rather feel like singing now.
Rumbold picks up concertina
Rumbold: Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
Grainger: ‘Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
Humphries: (slipping on dressing gown) Don we now our gay apparel
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la. (gathering around beaming Grainger)
Troll the ancient Yuletide carol, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.
(C) 1998 John F. Crowley