Scene 7

The Sales Floor

Lucas walks over to the Ladies' Counter, where Miss Brahms, who's been folding some nighties, is holding one up to herself and seeing how it looks in the mirror

Lucas:          You retirin', then?

Brahms:        (startled, "covering up" over the nightie ) Oh! You made me jump right out of me skin!

Lucas:          You almost jumped out of that nightie, as well.

Brahms:        (noticing now that she's "covering up," puts nightie down again)  Keep dreamin'.

Lucas:          I'm sorry, Miss Brahms.  It's just that I'm at my wit's end tryin' to stay awake over there.
                     I've cleaned the counters, tidied up the socks and the ties and the gloves.  I've even taken
                    down my Y-fronts.

Brahms:        What?!

Lucas:           From the display, I mean.  And put up the new ones.

Brahms:        Oh.  I've run out of things to do, and all.  I wish there was a  customer to take me mind
                     off.  It's kinda sad, innit, bein' ‘ere on a Friday night, when everybody is out ‘avin' a
                     good time?

Lucas:          (sighs) I try not to examine my life too closely, Miss Brahms.

Brahms:        Well, I could ‘ave gone out tonight with a bus conductor.

Lucas:          A bus conductor?

Brahms:        Yeah, ‘e works with me dad.  But with all the rain, it's just as well the date is off.

Lucas:          Why's that?

Brahms:        ‘e was goin' to take me for a ride on his bus tonight.

Lucas:          Upper deck?

She nods

Mash enters hastily from the direction of the goods lift.  He is agitated.

Mash:          Oy!  Where's your troops, then?

Lucas:          Our troops?  Well, Cpt. Peacock is unaccounted for and Mr. Grainger is sleeping.

Brahms:        An' Mrs. Slocombe an' Mr. ‘umphries are still watchin' "Coronation  Street" in
                    Mr. Rumbold's office.

Lucas:          And Mr. Rumbold and Miss Thorpe are still slumberin' in his settee.

Mash:          Well, there's good news and bad news.  Which do you want first, then?

Brahms and Lucas look at each other

Lucas:          Let's have the bad news.

Mash:         The bad news is, I forgot to tell you Mrs. Rumbold's comin' to collect Mr. Rumbold
                    for their anniversary nosh.  I remembered just  now ‘cos I seen ‘er comin' into the store.

Lucas:          She can't find him in that state!

Brahms:        Blimey, what's the good news?

Mash:           The good news is, I am urgently needed in Packin'! (he dashes back toward goods lift)

The main lift doors open, and Mrs. Rumbold, a large woman in a mac, descends purposefully

Lucas:          (to Brahms) Criminy!  You stall ‘er and I'll warn the others! (he quick-steps off)

Brahms:        (approaches her) Good evening, madam.  Are you being served?

Mrs. R:        (barely slowing) Oh, I'm not shopping, thank you.  I'm here to collect my husband,
                    Mr. Rumbold.

Brahms:        (taking her arm and guiding her toward the Ladies' Counter) Ooh, you've got a
                     lovely staff discount, then.

Mrs. R:        (stops) No, thank you.  I don't need anything this evening.

Brahms:        Oh, just a minute, then.  Everyone who comes in tonight gets a free pair of Jubilee
                     knickers.  The queen ‘erself wears ‘em. (holds up a  pair)

Mrs. R:        Then she may have that pair, as well.  Now excuse me.  We've booked at Romano's!
                     (she heads for the office)

Rumbold's Office

Lucas leaps into the office and quickly shuts the door behind him.  Slocombe quickly clicks the set off, and she and Humphries jump up.

Slocombe:     Oh!  What is it?  Did Cpt. Peacock come back already?

Lucas:           Worse!  Mrs. Rumbold is on ‘er way in to collect ‘er ‘usband!

Humphries:   What are we goin' to do?!

Slocombe:     Let's get out of here and sort it out later!

Lucas opens the door again, but at the sound of approaching voices shuts it.

Lucas:          Blimey, she's comin' down the hall!

Slocombe:    Ooh!  Into the cupboard!  Quick!

The three cram into the cupboard and shut the door.  The office door opens. Mrs. Rumbold enters, followed closely by Brahms

Brahms:        I think ‘e's waitin' for you in the Canteen!

Mrs. R:         Nonsense! He-- (she now sees that Rumbold and Thorpe are  asleep against each
                     other. Her jaw drops) What on earth?!  Cuthbert!  Cuthbert!

Rumbold's eyes flutter but he doesn't move.  Mrs. Rumbold takes a vase of flowers from the desk, yanks the flowers out and dumps the water over Rumbold and Thorpe.  Thorpe is unaffected, but Rumbold sputters and comes to.

Mrs. R:         Are you having fun with your secretary on your love seat?

Rumbold:      (shaking himself) Wha-- oh, dear!

Mrs. R:        How could you, Cuthbert?  And on our anniversary?!

Rumbold:      (still groggy) I, er, must have fallen asleep.

Mrs. R:        Oh, did you?  Well, I'm glad you're rested.  You'll not be sleeping in your usual
                    place tonight.

Rumbold:      Huh?

Mrs. R:        I'm locking you out! (looking at Thorpe) As for your bit of fluff, when she wakes up,
                     she can have you! (still holding the vase, she smashes him over the head with it)

Rumbold sinks back into the settee next to Thorpe.  Mrs. Rumbold wheels and storms out past a horrified Brahms.  Brahms stands there a moment, looking around for the others.  Suddenly Slocombe, Lucas and Humphries tumble from the cupboard.

Brahms:        (startled) Oy! I was wonderin' where you lot went!  Did you ‘ear all that?

Slocombe:     (looking at the scene) Oh!  What happened?

Brahms:        She splashed ‘em with water from the vase and then bonked Jug Ears on the ‘ead with it!
                      ‘e's out cold again, and she never woke up!

Slocombe:     Oh, the poor dear.  She's all wet.  Miss Brahms, get her things, and you and Mr. Lucas
                     put her in a taxi.

Brahms:        Right.  Oh, what do I tell the driver?  I mean, her address and all.

Slocombe:     Oh, I don't know.  Look in her handbag for her drivin' licence or somethin'.

Brahms:        ‘andbag?

Slocombe:     Yes, get goin'!  Mr. Lucas, help her.

Brahms and Lucas help Miss Thorpe out of the settee, and walk her, one on each side, out of the office

Humphries:   Very good, Mrs. Slocombe.  You've handled the whole situation quite decisively.

Slocombe:     Thank you, Mr. Humphries.  My executive qualities have been noticed before.

Humphries:   (looking at Rumbold) Well, there may be a vacancy here soon.  This entire
                      Midnight Madness affair has been a fiasco!

Slocombe:     ‘asn't it, though? (sighs)  Well, what should we do now?

Humphries:   Well . . . (looks at watch, looks at her) Let's just watch the end of  "Coronation Street."

Slocombe:     Oh, I forgot all about it!

They pull up chairs again

Sales Floor

Peacock enters warily from the direction of the goods lift, carrying his hat, raincoat and umbrella.  The floor is empty.  He looks around, crosses the floor, puts his things away and goes over to Grainger, who is still sleeping in his chair

Peacock:       Mr. Grainger? (nothing happens) Mr. Grainger?! (still nothing. He  frowns and leans
                     further down) Mr. Grainger, are you free?

Grainger:      (snapping to) Wha-- er, yes, I'm free! (rises)

Peacock:       Where is the staff, Mr. Grainger?

Grainger:      Er, the what?

Peacock:       The sales staff.  There's nobody minding the counters!

Grainger:      (looking around) Oh, dear. Mr. Humphries? Mr. Lucas? They were just here, er,
                    Cpt. Peacock.

Humphries and Slocombe enter from the direction of Rumbold's office

Humphries:   Did you call, Mr. Grainger?

Peacock:       Where is the rest of the staff?

Humphries:   Oh, Mr. Lucas and Miss Brahms are just taking Miss Thorpe down to a taxi,
                    Cpt. Peacock.  Didn't you see them on your way in?

Peacock:       No, I, er, used the employees' entrance. Is Mr. Rumbold still sleeping?

Humphries:   Sounder than ever, Captain.  Mrs. Slocombe and I were just checking on him.

Slocombe:     Ooh, you missed it!  His wife come up and found ‘im on the settee with Miss Thorpe,
                     and left a right lump on his ‘ead from a vase.

Peacock:       Good heavens! (to Grainger) Did you know about this?

Grainger:      I, er--

Peacock:       You were sleeping, weren't you, Mr. Grainger?

Humphries:   Now, it's not his fault, Cpt. Peacock!  He's weak from hunger, that's all.

Grainger:      I -- I haven't had a decent meal all day.  I've been peckish since I woke up!

Slocombe:     Yes, we're all dead famished ‘ere.  And it's eight o'clock, and our supper should be here,
                    shouldn't it?

The lift bell rings

Humphries:   It's room service!

The lift doors open.  Out come Mr. Grace and Goddard, his chauffeur, followed by Lucas and Brahms

YMG:          Good evening, everybody!

All:               Good evening, Mr. Grace

Goddard helps Mr. Grace down the stairs.  Brahms and Lucas descend.

YMG:          I found your juniors downstairs, Cpt. Peacock, helping Miss Thorpe  into a taxi.
                   Such nice young people!

Peacock:       Er, yes, Mr. Grace.  Thank you.

YMG:           My secretary and I were having dinner at the Savoy, and we ran into Miss Hurst
                    from Novelty Candles.  Wasn't that lucky?

Peacock:       A stroke, sir.

YMG:          Yes, the ladies are waiting down in my limousine.  We're on our way to Lord Hirly's
                    townhouse for a game of bridge, but I wanted to stop  at the store first and see how
                    you're getting on. (looks around)

Slocombe:     Well, things are a bit slow at the moment, Mr. Grace.

YMG:          Yes, well, it's pouring with rain.  You'd have to be daft to go shopping on a night like this!

Peacock:       It would seem so, sir.

YMG:          This was a very bad idea. (all nod) It wasn't my idea, was it?

Peacock:       Oh, no, sir.  It was Mr. Rumbold's.

YMG:          Oh yes, that's right. Where is Rumbold?

Humphries:   Don't you remember, sir? He was going to go out tonight.

Lucas:          Yes, and he's still out!

YMG:          Well, there's no sense keeping you all here. You can go home if you like. Under the
                   circumstances, you've all done very well! (raises cane, staggers, is steadied by Goddard)

All:               Thank you, Mr. Grace.

Goddard leads Mr. Grace up the stairs.

Peacock:       (getting his hat, coat and umbrella) Mr. Humphries, you and Mr. Lucas get
                     Mr. Rumbold.  Put his coat on him and get him downstairs to a taxi.

Humphries:   But Cpt. Peacock --

Peacock:      Don't argue, Mr. Humphries, just do it.

Humphries:   (to Lucas) Did you hear the way he talked to me?

Lucas:          Yes, but we have to go now.  Come along. (they exit)

The tramp comes up the stairs from the Third Floor and down to the Sales Floor.

Peacock:       Good grief, what's that smell?

Grainger:      Oh, dear. I forgot about him.

Tramp:         Excuse me, sirs.  I jus' come up to see what all the row was about.  I can't get a wink,
                     is why.

Grainger:      Er, I'm sorry, sir.  I'm afraid you'll have to leave.

Tramp:         Oh, dear I didn't mean to complain.  I'll just go back down, then.

Grainger:      No, Mr. Grace is closing the store for the weekend.

Tramp:        Oh! Where will I sleep now, sir?

Humphries and Lucas walk a dazed Rumbold out onto the floor

Peacock:       Oh, good. Bring him down to a taxi and send him home.

Slocombe:     That's just it, Cpt. Peacock -- he can't go home.

Brahms:        Yeah, ‘is wife turfed ‘im out!

Lucas:           Well, we've got to do something with him!

Humphries:   Whatever you do, make it quick.  I'm losin' me grip.

Peacock:       (looks at Rumbold, then at tramp, then sighs) The way things have been going this
                     evening, my next move is perfectly clear. (takes hotel key out of pocket and hands it
                     to Lucas) Tell the driver to bring these orphans of the storm to the Savoy.

Humphries and Lucas look at each other, shrug, and drag Rumbold up to the lifts.  The tramp, elated, follows, and they get into a lift.  Peacock starts up the stairs.

Lucas:          Are you comin', then, Cpt. Peacock?

Peacock:       (squinting from the tramp's smell) Thank you, Mr. Lucas.  I'll walk down.

Peacock exits, and the lift doors close

Slocombe:     Well, go to the foot of our stairs!

Brahms:        Where did ‘e get a key to the Savoy ‘otel?

Slocombe:     I think there's more to the story, Miss Brahms.

Grainger:      I know there is, but I'm afraid I slept through it.

Mash enters from the direction of the goods lift with a trolley laden with take-away cartons

Mash:          Right, you lot!  I ‘eard Mr. Grace has closed the store, so I've brought your take-away
                    up ‘ere.  Good for a tuck-in tonight, innit?

Grainger:      Yes!  Finally I shall have a decent meal!

Slocombe:     Oh, me too. I  could just murder a kebab.

Mash:          It's Chinese takeaway, Mrs. Slocombe.

Slocombe:     Wherever it comes from, I'll murder it!

Grainger:      Did you say Chinese?

Mash:          Why, yes Mr. Grainger.

Grainger:      Oh, damn!

Brahms:        What's the matter, don't you like Chinese?

Grainger:      Yes, I  do.  But in an hour I shall still be peckish!


You have been watching

Arthur Brough             Fiddling with chopsticks
Frank Thornton          Looking defeated
Trevor Bannister          Fingers to his temples, squinting
John Inman                 Reading a Rio brochure
Nicholas Smith            Waking up with a start in the suite's waterbed
Harold Bennett           Looking at his bridge hand, mystified
Mollie Sugden              Reading a Rio brochure
Wendy Richard            Holding up Jubilee knickers
James Hayter               Noticing a smell
Larry Martyn              Looking at pill bottle, shrugs
Jennifer Guy                (Miss Hurst) Touching up makeup, smiles
Moira Foot                  (Miss Thorpe) Yawning
Doremy Vernon           Smiling, winks
Jess Conrad                 (Mr. Walpole) Smiling
Mike Berry                  Grinning, gives "peace" sign
Penny Irving                Smiling
Mavis Pugh                  (The Large Hat) Steadying hat, smiles
Avril Angers                 (Miss Comlozi) Smiling
Jean Challis                 (Mrs. Rumbold) Smiling
Jack Haig                   (Tramp) In bubble bath, eating chocolates

© 1997 John F. Crowley

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