Part 2 of  "Poor Relations"

Young Mr. Grace's Office

Young Mr. Grace is at his desk dozing.  Miss Bakewell enters with a newspaper

Bakewell:      Mr. Grace? [she gently nudges him awake] Mr. Grace?

YMG:           Yes, yes?

Bakewell:      I've got the newspaper you asked for.

YMG:           Oh yes, thank you. [looks for something on his desk] Miss Bakewell, I can't find
                    my reading glasses, would you please check on something for me?

Bakewell:      Certainly, Mr. Grace.

YMG:           Thank you.  That's the Times, isn't it?

Bakewell:      Yes, sir.

YMG:           Very good.  Look on Page 22.

Bakewell:      [she finds it]  Here it is.  Oh!  But this is the obituary page.

YMG:           I know.  Look and see if my name is in there, would you?

Bakewell:      [smiles and scans the page] No, it's not here, Mr. Grace.

YMG:           Thank goodness!  Back to my kip, then. [settles back]

Bakewell:      Just a minute, sir.  Mr. Rumbold is on the phone for you.

YMG:           Rumbold?  Oh, I just saw him last night at the board meeting.  We made him WHACO,
                     you know.

Bakewell:      Yes, I know, sir. [gives him phone]

YMG:           Yes, Rumbold, what is it?

Rumbold:     It's about Grace Brothers' new policy toward workplace harassment, sir.  I've already
                    had two rather serious complaint from employees in Ladies' Intimate Apparel, and I'm
                    afraid I'm going to have to take bold action!

YMG:           You've only been on the job one day, Rumbold!

Rumbold:     That's true, sir.  But it is a position of responsibility.  And, well, the board did select
                     me, Mr. Grace.

YMG:           Well, nobody else wanted it.  What kind of bold action did you have in mind?

Rumbold:     Well, sir, seeing as how the, er, miscreant has rather a long history of general disrespect
                     for female staff, I'm going to set a firm tone in this regard by suspending him from
                     Grace Brothers for one week, effective at once.

YMG:           Dear me. What did he do?

Rumbold:     Well, sir, he asked one young lady to [he consults his notes] to hold her gorgeous
                     body against him.

YMG:           He was very polite to ask.

Rumbold:     Ahem.  And the other woman said something about the good old days and, er,
                    [reads again] feeding a biscuit to her pussy.

YMG:           Hmmm. I guess you had to be there.

Secretary enters

Bakewell:      Excuse me, sir, there's a woman outside to see you, and she's very agitated.  [leans a bit
                    closer] She's perspiring, as well.

YMG:           Oh, dear.  Who is she?

Bakewell:      I think she's a customer, sir.  She says her name is Bucket.

Woman:       [from hallway] It's 'Bouquet!'

Young Mr. Grace and Miss Bakewell look at each other quizically

Rumbold's office

Rumbold:     Thank you, Mr. Grace. [hangs up]  Well, that settles it.  I am to handle the situation as
                     I see fit.  No, Miss Belfridge, I didn't ask to be thrust into the forefront of social
                     guardianship, but neither shall I shrink from it.  We must all forge ahead.  The day has
                     come when women are to be respected, and their achievements honored.

Belfridge nods appreciatively

Rumbold:     I rather think this disciplinary action will give Mr. Lucas something to think about.
                    [he lifts his gaze]  As Aristotle said, "He who commits injustice is ever made more
                    wretched than he who suffers it."

Belfridge:      Oh yes, but that was Plato.

Rumbold:      I beg your pardon?

Belfridge:      Not Aristotle, sir.  Plato said that.  It's in his--

Rumbold:     [interrupts her] Nonsense, Miss Belfridge. I'm quite sure it's Aristotle.  I'm something
                     of a Classics man, you know.

Belfridge:     Yes, well I've got a degree in--

Rumbold:     [interrupts]  Well, it's been very nice discussing Greek literature with you, but I'm
                     much too busy right now.  I must finish up this incident  report before I go out and
                     give Mr. Lucas my decision, unpleasant though that will be.  [turns his attention to
                     papers on his desk]  Yes, some days one's job can be rather painful.

Belfridge:      [gives him a dirty look]  I couldn't agree more.

Ladies' Counter

Mash bursts from the direction of the goods lift, pushing a covered display on a trolley

Mash:           Good afternoon, Missus!

Slocombe:     Mr. Mash, how many times have you been told not to come onto the sales floor during working hours?

Mash:           Too many to count -- as Mae West said to the questionnaire!

Slocombe:     Before I summon Captain Peacock to dispose of you, state your business.

 Mash:           Not so fast, missus.  I was instructed to deliver this directly it arrives, and it's hot
                     off the loadin' dock this very minute!

Slocombe:     [annoyed] Oh, what is it? [moves out from behind counter]

Mash:           It's the Athe-Lady Sport Bra! [he whips off the cover to show a display bust wearing
                     a sturdy-looking bra]

Slocombe:    The what?

Mash:           The Athe-Lady Sport Bra!  It's made for ladies what like to run and play sport but
                     don't fancy a lot of up-and-down under the blouse, if you catch my meanin'!

Brahms:        Oh, how crude!

Mash:           Nah, it's a breakthrough, isn't it?  It's got a switch right ‘ere what turns on the display
                     mode. [he hits the switch, and the bust moves  up and down at a moderate rate;
                     inside the bra, a simulated lady's upper anatomy bobs snugly]

Slocombe:     [looks at it skeptically] Tsk!  What next?

Mash:           Now that's the settin' for joggin', Missus.  It also got one for tennis [he hits the switch
                     again, and the bouncing increases] and one for lady soccer. [he hits it again, and the
                     bouncing becomes brisk]  And then we got the top range o' motion, which I calls "polo
                     during an earthquake."  [he hits the switch again, and the bust bucks  rapidly, and the
                     two sides of the bra begin to move independently]

Slocombe:    Good heavens!

Mash:           Oy!  They're alive!  Run for your life!  [laughs crudely]

Slocombe:     How disgustin'! [she turns off machine]

Mash:           What's the matter, missus?  Jealous?  Bet yours don't see that much action anymore, eh?
                     On a Saturday night?

Slocombe:     The cheek!  Listen, you'd better mind your lip.  Miss Brahms has already reported
                      Mr. Lucas for sexual harassment today.

Mash:            Yeah, word ‘as it in Packin'.  What's ‘is crime, then?

Brahms:        Oh, ‘e made a disgusting comment!

Mash:           Oy!  You call that ‘arassment?  Them comments is just polite chat, is all.  To break the
                     ice.  We're not tryin' to be cheeky.

Slocombe:     No?

Mash:           Not at all, Mrs. Slocombe.  [leans closer to her]  If we're tryin' to be cheeky, we give
                    ‘er one of these!  Way-hey!  [he gooses her]

Mrs. Slocombe jumps. At that moment, Rumbold is crossing the sales floor.

Rumbold:     Mr. Mash! Have you lost your mind?

Slocombe:    How dare you!

Rumbold:     [has reached Ladies' counter] I can scarcely believe what I've seen!

Brahms:        It's disgraceful!  An' it's not the first time!

Peacock, Humphries and Lucas join the group

Slocombe:     [to Rumbold] There!  Now you seen it yourself!  If that's not harassment, I'm the queen!

Humphries:   What have we missed, Mr. Lucas?

Rumbold:      Mash, do I understand that this-- this horrid grabbing is common behavior?

Mash:           Oh, nothin' disrespectful meant, sir!  Why, down in Cathford, that's just our way
                     of sayin' ‘ello, is all.

Rumbold:     That's how you say hello?

Mash:           Well, yeah, sometimes.  I mean [leans closer] you're down the pub, right?  You sees
                     your mate, ‘e's got ‘is sarnie in one ‘and, and ‘is pint in the other, see? And you come
                     up behind 'im and go  "Way-hey!" [he gooses Rumbold]

Rumbold jumps out of his skin; everyone else laughs.

Rumbold:      [whips off glasses] That was quite unnecessary!

Brahms:        Well, now you know how it feels!

Humphries:   Yes, so don't complain!

Rumbold:     [puts glasses back on]  Right!  I'll see all of you in my office -- immediately!

Slocombe and Mash glare at each other a moment, then follow Rumbold, et al, offstage.



Men's Counter

Tebbs:           I think it was most unnecessary for Mr. Lucas to be suspended for one week.
                     It leaves us in a fine spot!  And frankly, I don't think the sentence matches the crime.
                     I mean, boys will be boys.

Humphries:   You'll get no argument from me, Mr. Tebbs.

Tebbs:           Poor devil.  When the punishment was announced, Mr. Lucas looked as if he had
                     found himself on the chopping block, with Mr. Rumbold the executioner.

Humphries:   Well, that's why they call him WHACO.

Tebbs:           However, I must concur with his decision to suspend Mr. Mash.  I have always said
                     there is no excuse for putting one's hands on a lady, and Mrs. Tebbs will back me up!

Humphries:   I'm sure she will.  Oh, speak of the devil!

Humphries points to the stairs, where Mash has just emerged,wearing a striped jacket that is too small for him and a bow tie.

Mash:           Afternoon, all!

Peacock:       Mash, what are you doing here?  You've been suspended!

Mash:           Yeah, suspended from working.  But I'm not workin' -- I'm shoppin, aren't I?  I'm
                     just a customer now, come to buy some ‘andkerchieves, maybe a lovely dickey.

Peacock:       Mr. Mash, go away!

Mash:           Oy!  Is that how you treat the customers?  ‘Go away,' is it?  You'll be whistlin' a
                     different tune tomorrow, mate, when there's no customers at all!

Peacock:       Whatever are you talking about?

Mash:          I'm talkin' about tomorrow, when the brotherhood goes on strike to protest the unjust
                    and harbitrary suspension of an ‘onest member,  that's what!  And the Canteen staff will
                    come out in sympathy, and all!  Try an' get through that picket line, Cap'n!  You'll get a
                    bunch of fives up yer ‘ooter! [shakes fist at Peacock, who flinches]

Peacock:       I don't believe you.

Mash:           Ha!  Suits me.  Bugger off, then, I've got some shoppin'.  [moves over to the Men's
                    counter]  Afternoon, Mr. Tebbs. Nice day, innit?

Tebbs:          [glares at Mash] It must be somewhere.

Mash:           Just as you say, Mr. Tebbs. Would you show us some dickeys, then?

Tebbs:          [grimaces] Mr. Humphries, are you free?

Humphries:   I suppose I am, Mr. Tebbs.

Tebbs:          Would you show this man a dickey?

Humphries:   Yes, but I shan't get any pleasure out of it.

Ladies' Counter

Slocombe:    Captain Peacock, can't you get that person out of here?

Peacock:       I'm afraid he's got us on a technicality, Mrs. Slocombe.  He is a member of the public
                     now, and is entitled to shop wherever he pleases.

Slocombe:     Well, it's not right!

Brahms:        And what was that about a strike?

Peacock:       Apparently, Packing and Maintenance, and the Canteen staff, are prepared to go on
                     strike tomorrow and picket the store.

Slocombe:     Right!  It's bad enough we ‘aven't had any customers because the lifts are out!  Now
                     they won't even be able to get to the stairs!

Peacock:       It is unfortunate, Mrs. Slocombe.  But now we must live with the way Mr. Rumbold
                     is handling your complaint. [gives her the fish-eye and moves away]

Slocombe:     Oh, I've half a mind to withdraw my complaint, if it would keep everyone from goin'
                     on strike.

Brahms:        Do you think it would work?

Slocombe:     Well, it might do.  But there's still our complaints about Mr. Lucas.

Brahms:        Yeah.  Well, to tell you the truth, I'd take mine back if I could.  I thought Jug Ears was
                     just goin' to put another bad mark in ‘is record, not send ‘im ‘ome for a week!  How's
                     ‘e gonna keep body and soul together with no pay?

Slocombe:     Well, now you mention it, it does seem a bit extreme, Miss Brahms.  Do you think it's
                      too late to get Rumbold to change his mind?

Brahms:        Well, it can't hurt to try.  Let's go see ‘im.

Slocombe:     Yes, let's do.

Brahms:        Wait a minute, ‘e's comin' out ‘ere!

Rumbold enters Sales Floor

Rumbold:      I thought I heard you out here, Mash.  What on earth are you doing?

Mash:           Afternoon, Mr. Rumbold! I'm tryin' on a dickey -- as Mae West said to the midget!

Rumbold:      You have been banned from this store for one week!

Mash:           Oh, sorry, Mr. Rumbold -- just tryin' to get my shoppin' in before the big strike
                     tomorrow, is all.

Rumbold:      Yes, I've heard from the unions. And I shan't back down one inch!  The suspensions
                     will stand.

Slocombe and Brahms cross the floor

Slocombe:     Now wait a minute, Mr. Rumbold.  I never meant my complaint to cause a strike at
                     Grace Brothers.  I cannot let that happen, and I am unanimous in that!  I withdraw my
                     complaint against Mr. Mash.

Brahms:        Yeah, and I withdraw mine against Mr. Lucas, and all.  I didn't think you'd turf ‘im
                     out for a week!

Rumbold:      Oh, no, no!  The board made me WHACO, and my decision stands.

Slocombe:     Well, we'll just ask Young Mr. Grace then!

Brahms:        Right!

Rumbold:      Mrs. Slocombe.  Mr. Grace has affirmed my authority in these matters.  Your protests
                      will be futile!

Slocombe:     We'll see about that! Come, Miss Brahms! We've a lot of stairs to climb!

Rumbold:      Yes, we will see about that!

He joins the women ascending the main stairway. Just then the lift bell rings and the doors open up. Out walks Lucas.

Brahms:        Mr. Lucas!

Rumbold:      Lucas, what are you doing here?

Lucas:           Don't take my ‘ead off, I've just come back for me bus ticket.  It's in my salesbook.

Slocombe:     They've got the lifts workin'!

Lucas:           Well, I guess they must have.

Slocombe:     Don't leave yet, Mr. Lucas.  Miss Brahms and I are on our way to see Young Mr.
                     Grace to withdraw our complaints.  [she and Brahms enter lift] Going up!

Rumbold:      I'm coming along.  This is most insubordinate, and Mr. Grace will not be pleased!
                     [enters lift]

Slocombe:     We'll take our chances. [doors close]

Lift Interior

Rumbold:     [standing between Slocombe and Brahms] Mrs. Slocombe, I shall give you one more--

The lift, which has gone up a few feet, suddenly stops, and the lights go out.  It is pitch black.

Brahms:        Oh, blimey!  It's one of them days!

Slocombe:     Drat!  I thought he said the lifts were repaired!  I can't stay in here -- I've got hydrophobia!

Rumbold:      Don't panic, ladies.  We need to let cooler heads prevail here.  I shall summon help.
                     The alarm switch is right over here, I believe--

Brahms:        Oy! Watch where you're puttin' your hands!

Rumbold:     Oh, I'm sorry, Miss Brahms.  I thought the switch was right about--

Brahms:        [squeals. A smack is heard] That's me you're pokin'!

Rumbold:      Ouch!  I'm sorry, Miss Brahms.  Er, perhaps I was looking on the wrong side.  Yes,
                     the switch should be right about--

Slocombe:     [she yelps] Take your hands off me!

Rumbold:      Oh, sorry.  It must be here--

Slocombe:     Oh! [another, louder smack is heard]

Sales Floor

Peacock and Lucas are outside the lift doors. There is the sound of yelling and pounding.

Lucas:           [pointing to indicator] Look, the lift's stopped again.

Peacock:       Oh dear.  And listen to that racket.  They must be panicked!  Give me a hand, Mr. Lucas!

Peacock and Lucas pry apart the lift doors some. The lift is stuck three feet above the landing. We see the ladies, whose clothing is a bit disheveled.

Brahms:        Help!

Slocombe:     Get us out of here!  I've got hydrophobia!

Peacock and Lucas help Brahms down, then Slocombe, whose bloomers are exposed.

Slocombe:     Kindly avert your gaze!

Humphries has helped Tebbs up the main stairway and they, along with Mash, join the others at the lift.  Rumbold now appears in the lift, stunned.  The men help him down.  His glasses are askew.

Peacock:       Mr. Rumbold!  Are you all right?

Rumbold:      I - I'm not quite sure-- [he rubs his head]

Slocombe:     He's lucky he's still breathin'!  He had ‘is hands all over me, like ‘e was tryin' to
                     guess me weight!!

Brahms:        Yeah, as soon as the lights went out!  ‘e was like an octopus!

Mash:           Ha!  Typical bourgeois management, that is!  Suspends a poor  workin' bloke for a
                     bit o' tickle, then with the lights out he goes straight for the lucky dip!

Rumbold:      Please, I assure you, it was all a mistake!

Brahms:        It was a mistake makin' you WHACO, that's what!

Slocombe:     I agree.  To whom does one complain about you, Mr. Rumbold?

Mash:           Young Mr. Grace, that's what.  Come on, I'll take you ladies up in the goods lift!
                    [they start to exit]

Rumbold:      Now just a minute! Let's not be hasty!

Slocombe:     [turns around] What was that, Mr. Rumbold?

Rumbold:     Please.  Er, perhaps we've all gone a bit overboard on this matter of harassment.
                    We mustn't let these, er, misunderstandings get the better of us.  Yes, I think it may be
                    a good idea to reconsider the suspensions and, er, let today's events serve as a lesson to
                    us all.

Slocombe:     Yes, only mainly you.

Mash:           Right.  So I'm reinstated then, am I?

Rumbold:     [resignedly] Yes, Mash.  But I expect no further such incidents!

Brahms:        And Mr. Lucas too?

Rumbold:      Yes, yes, Lucas too.

Humphries:   Welcome back, Mr. Lucas. We missed you, didn't we, Mr. Tebbs?

Tebbs:           Generally speaking, we did, Mr. Humphries.

Peacock:       Mr. Lucas, I hope that out of all this trouble you have learned a lesson.

Lucas:           I have, Captain, yes, I have.  Miss Brahms, may I apologize for all the insensitive
                     comments I've ever made.

Brahms:        You'll knock it off, then?

Lucas:            [smirks] Cor, I'd like--

Humphries:   [interrupts] Mr. Lucas!

Lucas:           [shakes himself a bit]  I mean, I'll try harder, Miss Brahms.

Brahms:        Then I accept.

Rumbold:      Very good.  And Mr. Mash, isn't there something you'd like to say to Mrs. Slocombe?

Mash:           Yeah, but I'm in enough trouble already, aren't I?

Rumbold glares at Mash

Mash:           All right, all right.  I'm sorry, Mrs. Slocombe, for givin' you the tickle.  There you ‘ave it.

Slocombe:     [grandly] I accept.  And there's something I want to say to you, Mr. Mash.

Mash:           What's that, Mrs. Slocombe?

Slocombe:    Way-hey! [she gooses him]

Mash jumps, glares at her and stomps off, to the laughter of the others


You Have Been Watching

Mollie Sugden         (Brushing off her hands triumphantly)
John Inman             (His knee goes out)
Frank Thornton       (Next to pried-open lift door, flexing his muscle)
James Hayter           (Seated in the palanquin, waving royally)
Trevor Bannister      (Hands folded angelically)
Wendy Richards       (Next to lift, adjusting her frock)
Larry Martyn           (Ogling Athe-Lady Sport Bra display )
Nicholas Smith         (Reading Plato's "Republic")
Harold Bennett        (Reading obituary page, smiling )
Penny Irving            (Giving a wink )
Candy Davis            (Smiling and doing a little shimmy )
Hugh Laurie            (The vicar, holding up tweed shorts in wonderment)
Patricia Routledge   (Woman customer, fanning herself near stairs)

© 1997 John F. Crowley

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