"Happy Christmas, Mr. Grainger"

Scene 3

Hospital Room

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,
                   that is.

Nurse:          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.

Grainger:       Yes, 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?

Rumbold:     Unfortunately, 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
                     too long.

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.

Figure:         Oy! ‘Ave I got a surprise for you — (pulls down false beard) as
                      Mae West said to the vicar!

Grainger:       Mr. Mash!  How kind of you to leave the Christmas party to come
                      see me.

Mash:             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.

Rumbold:       Ah!  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?

Grainger:       (looking 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)

Mash:           Well, we'll save that bit for later.  I took the liberty of bringin' the
                     parcels you ‘ad on your table. (starts removing gifts from sack)

Peacock:       Ah.  That was very thoughtful of you, Mr. Mash.

Mash:         Right, squire.  ‘Ere, this first one's for you, Captain.  (hands him

Peacock:       Oh, my.  Thank you.  (reads card) Oh yes, from Mr. Rumbold, as I
                     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—

Mash:         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.

Mash:          Right.  (pulls out another) ‘ere's one for you, Mr. Rumbold, from
                     Cpt. Peacock.

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.

Grainger:       Oh, my!  I believe I received one of those at my anniversary

Slocombe:       You did before Cpt. Peacock took it back.

Peacock fidgets

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

Slocombe:      Oh!  An electric foot massager!  Thanks ever so much, Miss
                      Brahms!   It's the sort of thing you never buy for yourself.
Brahms nods

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?

Lucas:            It's a goalie's mask.  Didn't I overhear you tellin' your friend on the
                      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.

Mash:          Ahem! (pulls out another parcel) Let's see — this one's for you,
                      Miss Brahms, from Mrs. Slocombe.

Brahms:         Ooh!  I can't wait.  (she rips open parcel and takes out a white
                      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

Peacock:       Gezundheit.

Brahms:        Oh, blimey! Me eyes are startin' to water up. This dressin' gown
                     must be made out o' zylon!

Lucas:         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

Brahms:        Well, 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.

Mash:            We're nearing the bottom o' the sack, you lot.  ‘Ere's one for you,
                      Mr. Lucas.

Lucas:         Oh yes, from Mr. Grainger.  Thank you, sir.  (Grainger smiles
                      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.

Mash:            Right!  Last parcel for Mr. Grainger, from Mr. Humphries.  (hands
                      Grainger parcel)

Grainger:       Oh, 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.

Grainger:     (caressing 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

Nurse:        Well, this is quite against regulations, but as it is Christmas Eve, I'll
                    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.

Mash:          Hah!  Well now, Father Christmas has told you lot a lie.  There is
                    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 sighs

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

All:                  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

Back to the Executive Kharzi