(In the office)
ARTHUR (singing to the tune of Happy Birthday to You): Happy Birling Day to us! Happy Birling Day to us! (He strains to reach the high note on the next line.) Happy Birling Day, dear Martin and Douglas and Arrrrr-thur ...
MARTIN: All right, Arthur, that’ll do!
ARTHUR (finishing off the song rapidly): Happy Birling Day to us!
ARTHUR: Sorry! I just love Birling Day, don’t you?
MARTIN: No, I don’t. I didn’t become a pilot so that I could bow and scrape to some horrible dotty old man just because he gives massive tips.
DOUGLAS: Well don’t do it, then.
MARTIN: Yes – unfortunately I also didn’t become a pilot who earns enough to afford not to.
(Carolyn comes in.)
CAROLYN: Ah, Douglas. Nice and early for Birling Day, I see.
DOUGLAS: Ah, Carolyn. Likewise.
CAROLYN: You are not going to win this time, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: An interesting theory. Let me propose an alternative one: I am going to win this time.
CAROLYN: Ah, but ...
DOUGLAS: And this is a theory I have built up from the following postulates: one – I win every time; two – this is a time; three – I will win this time.
ARTHUR: Ooh, is this about the whisky?
CAROLYN: Yes, Arthur, this is about this two hundred pound bottle of twenty-five years old single malt Talisker whisky which I am providing at the request of and for the sole benefit of Mr Birling – and of which Douglas here is not going to get so much as a single solitary sip.
DOUGLAS: Well, that’s true. I’m not going to drink it – I’m going to sell it.
CAROLYN: You are not going to do anything with it, Raffles, and I’ll tell you why not: this Birling Day, the whisky is going to be under constant and vigilant watch.
DOUGLAS: Oh, are you coming with us for once? That, I admit, does make it a little more interesting.
CAROLYN: No, I’m not. I do not trust myself to spend any more than twenty minutes with Mr Birling without thumping him in the cravat. No, I am referring to my newly-appointed eyes and ears in the air, Detective Inspector Martin Crieff.
DOUGLAS: Oh, really?!
MARTIN: Yes. Sorry, Douglas, but she offered me a hundred pounds if I stop you from stealing it.
DOUGLAS: And let me guess: If I do steal it, you pay her?
MARTIN: ... Yes.
DOUGLAS: Oh, Martin, you didn’t fall for that, did you? Can’t you see she’s just trying to sell her debt on? She knows I’ll steal it because I always do. She just wants to recoup some of her loss off you.
MARTIN: Yes, but what if I stop you stealing it?
DOUGLAS: Yes. That would certainly work out very well for you. There are just two small but – I fear – insurmountable problems with the scheme: I am me; and you are you. And I can outwit you with my wits tied behind my back.
MARTIN: Oh, is that so?
DOUGLAS: It is so.
MARTIN: Well I’m not so sure.
DOUGLAS: I am so sure.
MARTIN: Stop doing that!
DOUGLAS: But I will steal it, and when I do and you come to me moaning about how you have to pay Carolyn a hundred pounds and you can’t afford it, my reply will rhyme with, “I bold you go.”
MR BIRLING (from outside): Well? Do I have to open the door for myself?
CAROLYN (opening the door): Mr Birling. I do apologise. We didn’t hear you knock.
MR BIRLING: Didn’t knock. Shouted. Hello.
MARTIN (grovelling): Mr Birling. How nice to see you.
DOUGLAS: Welcome back, sir.
MR BIRLING: Ah, my dear boys, there you are. Ready once more to help me slip the surly bounds of Earth, put out my hand and punch the face of God?
DOUGLAS: I think it’s “touch the face of God.”
MR BIRLING: No, no, I didn’t like the sound of that at all. Icky.
CAROLYN: Well, I don’t suppose God would be overjoyed at the prospect, either.
MR BIRLING: Oh, are you still here? I didn’t see you last time. I thought perhaps you’d died.
CAROLYN: No. I am still here.
MR BIRLING: Fancy that.
(Mrs Birling comes into the office.)
MRS BIRLING: Birling! You can’t just park with my door jammed against a wall and leave me there!
MR BIRLING: Can. Did. Elizabeth, these are the joke pilots I was telling you about. Captain, First Mate, Cabin Boy.
MARTIN (laughing awkwardly): Um, actually I’m the captain.
MR BIRLING: He always says that. I don’t know why. Pilots, this is Elizabeth, my awful wife. She’s come to see me off.
MARTIN: Oh, hello. Um, I’m sure she’s not awful.
MR BIRLING: Well, I’ll tell you what, my dear boy: you marry her for thirty years and then we’ll compare notes.
MRS BIRLING: Hello, yes. Nice to meet you and so forth etcetera. Anyway, here’s fifty pounds each.
DOUGLAS: Oh, thank you! I must say, the early evidence is weighing heavily in favour of your not being awful.
MRS BIRLING: Those are your tips. You’re having them now, and that’s all you’re getting. Mr Birling and I have talked about those extravagant tips he used to give and we’ve mutually decided they should stop, haven’t we, Birling?
MR BIRLING: No.
MRS BIRLING: Do you want to see your stupid rugby in stupid Paris?
MR BIRLING: Rugby isn’t stupid. Paris, I grant you, is moronic.
MRS BIRLING: What have we decided, then?
MR BIRLING (sulkily): No tips.
MRS BIRLING: That’s right.
MR BIRLING: She’s an awful woman, she really is. I hate her more than I can say.
MRS BIRLING: Right, off you go, then, Birling, and have a mildly pleasant time. Any more than that and you’re in trouble.
MR BIRLING: Goodbye, dear. Take care while I’m gone. Don’t jump into any mineshafts.
ARTHUR: This way, Mr Birling.
MR BIRLING: What, into the aeroplane through the door of the aeroplane? You astonish me.
ARTHUR: Ask me another one!
MR BIRLING: Who won the Triple Crown in ’77?
ARTHUR: Ah, trick question. I don’t know.
CAROLYN: Umm, drivers? Before you get on board, if you’d care to step this way.
DOUGLAS: Yes, Carolyn?
CAROLYN: Phil from the fire crew is standing by for the traditional Birling Day frisking of the first officer.
PHIL (patting Douglas down): Sorry, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Is this really necessary, Carolyn, now you have Crieff of the Yard dogging my every move?
CAROLYN: No sense in taking chances. All right, Phil, what have we got?
PHIL: Er, on his person, nothing. In his flight bag, one large plastic bottle of apple juice.
CAROLYN: Oh, Douglas. Is this the best you can do?
DOUGLAS: What? I like apple juice.
CAROLYN: Well, you’re going to have to do without it this time. Phil, throw it away.
(Phil tosses the bottle in the bin.)
DOUGLAS: I need that!
CAROLYN: Anything else, Phil?
PHIL (opening zipped pockets in the bag): Um, one small bottle of nail varnish.
CAROLYN: What, again? Ah, that’s sweet. Did you really think I’d let you pull the same trick twice? You see, Douglas likes to use a dab of nail varnish to re-seal the caps of the bottles he’s tampered with. Well, much good it may do you, Douglas, because this time there is just one bottle and I am opening it now.
(There’s the ‘crack’ of the bottle lid being opened and then unscrewed.)
CAROLYN: Now, let’s see.
(She takes a sip.)
CAROLYN: Ooh. Mmmm! That is good stuff! Thank you, Phil. Dismissed. Oh, Martin: I am now placing the whisky in your hands – both literally and metaphorically. Stop Douglas getting hold of it for the next six hours and you’ve won a hundred quid.
MARTIN: All right. Douglas, don’t come anywhere near me. Get into the plane and go into the flight deck.
DOUGLAS: You really don’t have to hug the bottle like that, Martin.
MARTIN: Just do it, please.
DOUGLAS: All right. Goodbye, Carolyn.
CAROLYN: Goodbye, Douglas. Good luck, Martin – and may God have mercy on your soul.
MARTIN: All right. Now, into the flight deck.
DOUGLAS: I’m going, I’m going.
MARTIN: Close the door.
(Flight deck door closes.)
MARTIN: Good. Arthur!
ARTHUR: Hello, Skip!
MARTIN: Here is Mr Birling’s special whisky. Now, I am not going to let Douglas out of the flight deck between now and Paris but, if he should escape somehow, he is not allowed to touch, hold, borrow, taste, look at or-or do anything at all with this whisky, have you got that?
ARTHUR: Got it.
MARTIN: So, what isn’t Douglas allowed to go near?
ARTHUR: The whisky.
MARTIN: Who isn’t allowed to go near the whisky?
MARTIN: What isn’t Douglas allowed to do to the whisky?
MARTIN: You really have got it!
ARTHUR: I’ve got it! I’m not stupid!
MARTIN: Who isn’t allowed to do what to what?
ARTHUR: I’m not allowed to drive Mum’s car.
ARTHUR: Sorry, Skip, that’s an earlier one. Um, Douglas isn’t allowed to go near the whisky.
MARTIN: Good. Here it is.
DOUGLAS: Post take-off checks complete.
MARTIN: Thank you.
DOUGLAS: So. You’ve left the whisky with Arthur, have you?
MARTIN: None of your business.
DOUGLAS: Bit risky, isn’t it? I’ve have thought you’d have wanted to hang on to it yourself.
MARTIN: No, actually. If it was here, you could manufacture some emergency to distract me while you swiped it and I’d have to deal with it, but whatever happens, I can make absolutely certain you don’t leave the flight deck ’til we land again.
DOUGLAS: Mmm! Well played!
MARTIN: Thank you.
DOUGLAS: Well, I’m just going to the loo.
MARTIN: Oh no you’re not!
DOUGLAS: I rather think I am.
MARTIN: No! I forbid it!
DOUGLAS: You forbid it?
DOUGLAS: Sorry, er, just to be clear: you are forbidding me from using the toilet, Captain?
MARTIN: You don’t need to go!
DOUGLAS: I do!
MARTIN: Well, you’ll just have to hold it in for an hour, won’t you?
DOUGLAS: Can’t do that. Terribly bad for you.
MARTIN: Right, fine. (Into intercom) Arthur, could you bring the Talisker to the flight deck, please?
ARTHUR (over intercom): OK!
MARTIN: Douglas, put your hands on your head.
DOUGLAS: Put my what on my what?!
MARTIN: Oh, you heard me!
DOUGLAS: I’m not putting my hands on my head!
MARTIN: You put your hands on your head or you don’t go to the loo.
(Flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: All right, Skip, I ...
MARTIN (panic-stricken): Arthur, give it to me, give it to me! Don’t get near Douglas with it! Give it to me! Give it straight to me! Thank you.
ARTHUR: You all right, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Fine, thank you.
ARTHUR: Only you look like you’ve got a headache, or you’ve just discovered you’ve lost your hat.
MARTIN: Douglas, you may go to the loo.
DOUGLAS: I don’t need to go any more.
MARTIN: Oh, what a surprise(!) Go anyway. I don’t want you pulling this again in ten minutes.
DOUGLAS: Your wish is my command.
(Flight deck door closes.)
ARTHUR: I think you’re doing this brilliantly, Skip.
MARTIN: Thank you.
ARTHUR: I don’t know how he’s gonna steal it this time.
MARTIN: He’s not going to steal it this time.
ARTHUR: No, no, probably not. Although he is really sneaky.
MARTIN: I don’t care how sneaky he is, Arthur. If I simply never let him touch the bottle, he can’t steal it.
(The intercom beeps.)
MR BIRLING (over intercom): Hello? How does this thing work?
MARTIN: Oh! (He laughs falsely.) Mr Birling! Are you all right?
MR BIRLING: No. I’ve been dinging on my Summon-an-Idiot bell for ages. And yet have I an idiot to show for my trouble? I have not!
ARTHUR: Just coming, Mr B.!
MR BIRLING: Good. And bring me my whisky.
(Intercom switches off again.)
ARTHUR: OK, Skip, if I could have ...
MARTIN: Arthur, what were we just saying?
ARTHUR: Oh, loads of stuff.
MARTIN: I’m not letting go of this bottle until Douglas is sitting back in his chair.
(The sat-com bleeps.)
MARTIN: Hello? MJN Air.
CAROLYN (over sat-com): Has he got it yet?
MARTIN: No, he hasn’t, and I resent the “yet”. He’s not gonna get it at all.
CAROLYN: Have you got it yet, Douglas?
MARTIN: He’s not in the flight deck at the moment.
CAROLYN: Oh, fair enough. He’s a busy man. He’ll be stealing the whisky.
MARTIN: No, actually, the whisky is with me. I can do this, Carolyn. I am capable of ...
(The flight deck opens.)
MARTIN: ... Ah. Er, bye, Carolyn.
(He switches off the sat-com.)
MARTIN: Hands on your head. Hands on your head!
DOUGLAS: Martin, please ...
MARTIN (hysterically): Hands on your head! (More calmly) Thank you. Now, sit down, back down, slowly. Good, thank you. Arthur, here is the whisky. You may now go and serve Mr Birling.
ARTHUR: Thanks, Skip!
(The flight deck door closes.)
DOUGLAS: Are you really going to keep this up for the whole trip?
MARTIN: Yes, I am. And when – by the end of it – you haven’t managed to steal, I’m going to say something that rhymes with “You ... bidn’t ... gell ... nee ... cat ... er ...”
DOUGLAS: Are you all right?
MARTIN: “You didn’t tell me that, did you?” Oh, it worked in my head!
(Mr Birling is alternately ringing the service bell and calling out.)
MR BIRLING: (Ding) Ding! (Ding) Ding! (Ding) Ding! (Ding) Ding!
ARTHUR: Hello, Mr B.
MR BIRLING: A-ha! Where have you been? I’ve been both ringing my bell and shouting the word “Ding” since approximately the late Middle Ages.
ARTHUR: Sorry. Skip was just ...
MR BIRLING: I don’t wanna hear your “Sorry Skip was justs”. Now, pour me my Talisker.
ARTHUR (pouring a glassful): Here you are.
MR BIRLING: Uh. At last.
(He takes a gulp, then chokes.)
MR BIRLING: That’s not Talisker! That’s horrible!
MR BIRLING: What do you mean, “Wow”?
ARTHUR: Nothing. It’s just ... I think the first officer might be magic!
MARTIN (bursting into the flight deck): Right! How did you do it?
DOUGLAS: Everything tickety-boo, Martin?
MARTIN: How did you do it? How could you possibly have done it?
DOUGLAS: Done what?
MARTIN: Stolen Mr Birling’s whisky – how?
DOUGLAS: What are you talking about? I haven’t.
MARTIN: Oh, don’t give me that! OK, you won! I’ll have to pay Carolyn. Now just tell me: how did you do it?
DOUGLAS (sounding genuinely surprised): Are you telling me the whisky’s gone?
MARTIN: Yes, it’s gone! Because you took it! But how?
DOUGLAS: I didn’t.
MARTIN: Well, of course you did! You’ve been saying you’re gonna take it all flight!
DOUGLAS: Yes, and so I am, but I haven’t yet. I haven’t had a chance.
DOUGLAS: Just tell me what happened.
MARTIN: Mr Birling asked for his whisky; Arthur poured it out; it wasn’t Talisker.
DOUGLAS: It was apple juice?
MARTIN: No, it was cheap horrible whisky.
DOUGLAS: Right. Because when I do it, it’ll be apple juice.
MARTIN: Philip took away your apple juice.
DOUGLAS: My decoy apple juice, certainly.
MARTIN: A-a-a-a-are you seriously saying it wasn’t you?
DOUGLAS: Hand on heart, it absolutely wasn’t ... Oh, hang on. Very clever.
DOUGLAS: No, really, I’m very impressed. Carolyn’s idea, I take it – or did you actually come up with it yourself?
MARTIN: What are you talking about?
DOUGLAS: You’ve quite obviously taken it and hidden it so I can’t steal it and you can return it to Carolyn.
MARTIN: I ... of course I didn’t take it! You took it!
DOUGLAS: No I didn’t. You took it.
MARTIN: No, you took it!
(The sat-com bleeps.)
MARTIN: Oh God.
(The sat-com bleeps again.)
MARTIN (clearing his throat as he answers): Hello, Carolyn.
CAROLYN: So. Has he taken it yet?
MARTIN: I ... don’t ... know.
CAROLYN: You don’t know? How can you not know? Apply this simple test: do you have with you (a) a bottle of fine whisky, or (b) a first officer with a grin like a cat who’s learned to use a tin opener?
MARTIN: I meant no, he-he-he hasn’t stolen it. It’s fine. It’s all fine.
CAROLYN: Oh Lord. He’s stolen it. How could you let this happen, Martin? I give you one simple job ...
MARTIN (hurriedly): Sorry, Carolyn, got to go, we’re just flying over a ... a mountain.
CAROLYN: In the English Channel?
(He turns the sat-com off.)
MARTIN (panic-stricken): All right, I can sort this out, I can sort this out.
(He turns the intercom on, taking in a deep breath as he does.)
MARTIN (into intercom): ARTHUR! Could you come in here, please?
ARTHUR (over intercom): Right-o!
DOUGLAS: Ah, calling in the finest brains to work on the problem.
MARTIN: A plane is a sealed unit. It must be on here somewhere. I just need to think – I just need to think.
(The flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: Hi, chaps.
MARTIN: Arthur, describe to me exactly what happened when you left the flight deck.
ARTHUR: OK. Wow, this is brilliant.
MARTIN: It’s not brilliant!
ARTHUR: It’s a bit brilliant. Can I tell you in my own words?
DOUGLAS: Who else’s words had you planned to use? Winston Churchill’s?
ARTHUR: No, but they always say, “Tell us in your own words the events of the night in question.”
MARTIN: Just tell us!
ARTHUR: All right. In my own words, I came into the galley with the bottle you gave me.
ARTHUR: I got a glass, and I went in to Mr Birling ...
ARTHUR: He had a bit of a shout; I had a bit of a listen ...
MARTIN (impatiently): Yes.
ARTHUR: I poured him a glass of whisky; he tasted it, said it was horrible. I called for you; you came; you did that funny thing with your throat ...
DOUGLAS: What funny thing?
ARTHUR: Oh, you know, the sort of (he makes a high-pitched panicked whining sound).
MARTIN: All right, that’ll do! Thank you, Arthur.
DOUGLAS: Has that revealed the vital clue, Inspector?
MARTIN: Shush, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Just trying to help.
MARTIN: You can’t help. You’re the suspect – and also the person who did it!
DOUGLAS: I really didn’t, Martin. You made it impossible. And if I had, don’t you think I’d be gloating by now?
MARTIN: Well ... yes. But who else could it be?
DOUGLAS: Well, if you’re sure it wasn’t you, then I suppose there’s only one person it could be.
MARTIN: Well ... but why would Mr Birling steal his own whisky?
DOUGLAS: I couldn’t say, Martin. Perhaps you should investigate.
ARTHUR: Ooh! Can I come too?
ARTHUR: I won’t say anything. I’ll just be really excited!
MARTIN: Mr Birling.
MR BIRLING: Ah. Have you found it?
MARTIN: Not just yet.
MR BIRLING: Well, then, find it. Has it occurred to you that Douglas might have taken it? He steals things, doesn’t he, and I don’t like his face. Mind you, I don’t like your face. Worst thing about MJN: very ugly pilots.
MARTIN: Mr Birling, um, I just have a few questions for you. Quite routine. Nothing to worry about.
MR BIRLING: Why would I be worried?
MARTIN: No reason. You shouldn’t be. (He laughs falsely.)
MR BIRLING: I’m not worried – I’m furious. Is that what you meant? “Nothing to be furious about”? Because if so, you couldn’t be more wrong. And what do you mean, “quite routine”? How many mid-air whisky thefts do you deal with?
ARTHUR: About one a year.
MARTIN: Shut up, Arthur! Mr Birling, please tell me exactly what happened.
ARTHUR: In my own words.
MARTIN: In his own words ... in your own words.
MR BIRLING: I dinged my bell for about a week, then idiot-features here poured me my special whisky, then I tasted it and it was foul, and then I was furious, and now I still am.
MARTIN: I see. Now, um, j-j-just for the sake of argument, um, if you had stolen the whisky yourself ...
MR BIRLING (angrily): Me?! Are you a total imbecile? It’s my whisky! I don’t have to steal it – it’s mine! If I stole it, it wouldn’t be stealing, it would be having! And if I had it, I would have it!
(The flight deck door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Any progress?
MARTIN: I don’t think he has it.
DOUGLAS: How can you tell?
MARTIN: Pretty certain. But, um, it’s just impossible. He didn’t take it; I didn’t take it; you couldn’t have taken it, and there’s no-one else except Arthur, so how ... Oh!
DOUGLAS: You’re not thinking ...
MARTIN: Well, I know it seems crazy, but ...
MARTIN: I know! But the thing is, we’ve taken away all the things that can possibly have happened, so I suppose the only thing that’s left, even though it seems really weird, must be the thing that did happen, in fact.
DOUGLAS: Snappily put.
(The galley curtain rattles.)
ARTHUR: Ooh, hello, Skip! I’ve got a theory! Now, suppose there was a travelling circus going by the airport, and one of the monkeys ...
MARTIN: Let me stop you there, Arthur.
MARTIN: I’m not angry.
ARTHUR: Oh, good. Nor am I.
MARTIN: Good. Um, but I-I-I think you should tell me what happened when you spilled Mr Birling’s Talisker.
MARTIN: That is what happened, isn’t it? When I left you to go to the flight deck, I’d taken care to impress you with how very valuable and important the whisky was, so when you dropped it and the bottle unsealed by Carolyn spilled everywhere, you panicked, and in horror you tried to cover up the accident by refilling it with cheap and nasty whisky from the drinks cupboard – didn’t you?
ARTHUR: Skip, you’re absolutely ... brilliant.
ARTHUR: How did you work it all out? You’re like ... Miss Marple!
MARTIN: So that is what happened?
ARTHUR: No! But it’s a brilliant solution!
MARTIN: What? You-you didn’t spill it?
ARTHUR: No. Promise. Cross my heart and hope to die, terrapins tickle me if I lie.
MARTIN: Well, someone did, Arthur, and if it wasn’t me or Douglas or Mr Birling or you, then who was it?
ARTHUR: Well, this is where the monkey comes in. You see, the clowns like to get it drunk on whisky for fun ...
MARTIN: No, it wasn’t a monkey, Arthur!
ARTHUR: Well, you have your theories; I have mine.
MARTIN: There’s Phil from the fire crew, I suppose, but he never touched the whisky, only the apple juice he took off ... Oh!
MARTIN: Well, of course! Now I see exactly how he did it!
ARTHUR: Do you? Brilliant! This is what always happens to Miss Marple as well! Was it the very last person we would suspect?
MARTIN: No, it was Douglas.
ARTHUR: Oh. He’s the very first person we would suspect.
MARTIN: Yes! And he did it, even though it looks impossible.
ARTHUR: OK. I’m just saying – he’s not who Miss Marple would have picked.
MARTIN: Well I’m not Miss Marple!
(The flight deck door opens.)
MARTIN: Ah. Hello, Douglas.
ARTHUR: Yes. Hello, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Hello. How goes the crime fighting?
ARTHUR: Douglas, you may be wondering why we’ve asked you all to gather together.
DOUGLAS: I wasn’t aware you had asked me all to gather together.
MARTIN: Thank you, Arthur. Leave it to me. Douglas, I know what happened.
DOUGLAS: Oh. Sorry, Arthur, I did try and put him on the wrong trail with Mr Birling, but I suppose he was always gonna work it out eventually.
MARTIN: Work what out?
DOUGLAS: Well, I assume Arthur accidentally spilled the whisky and refilled it with cheap stuff, hoping no-one would notice.
MARTIN: No, actually, I thought of that, and he didn’t.
DOUGLAS: How d’you know?
MARTIN: He says he didn’t.
DOUGLAS: Oh, right.
MARTIN: And he’s Arthur. He can’t tell lies. His face goes a funny colour and if he’s not sitting down, he falls over.
ARTHUR: And sometimes even if I am sitting down.
DOUGLAS: Well, that is true.
MARTIN: Also, I know it wasn’t him because it was you. And I know exactly how you did it.
DOUGLAS: Well, you don’t, because I didn’t.
MARTIN: I do, because you did. It was the apple juice! You know you’re always searched on Birling Day. Why would you bring a bottle of apple juice in your flight bag unless having it taken away was exactly what you wanted because it wasn’t apple juice at all – it was the stolen Talisker! It was never taken off the plane because it was never on it! Before I even saw it, you’d got at the bottle, filled it with cheap whisky, re-sealed it with that nail varnish, put the real whisky in the plastic bottle so that Phil – who must be in on it with you – could claim it was apple juice and take it off you to return it to you later!
(Douglas applauds sarcastically.)
DOUGLAS: Very clever, Martin. Very clever indeed. I see I under-estimated you.
ARTHUR: And me.
DOUGLAS: No, not you.
MARTIN: So you admit it, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Uh, no, because you’ve forgotten Carolyn tasted the whisky just before she gave it to you and said it was definitely Talisker. Sorry.
MARTIN: Oh. Yes.
DOUGLAS: So I’d have to have been in league with Carolyn, not Phil, but what would either of us have to gain from ... Ah-ha!
MARTIN: What? What?
DOUGLAS: Of course!
ARTHUR: Oh, wow! Now Douglas is like Miss Marple!
MARTIN: No, I’m Miss Marple!
DOUGLAS: Martin, it wasn’t me, or you, or Arthur, or Mr Birling who stole Carolyn’s whisky. It was Carolyn!
ARTHUR: Douglas is definitely Miss Marple. That’s who Miss Marple would have picked.
DOUGLAS: Or rather, she didn’t, because there was never any whisky to steal. Look: Carolyn knows that every year I steal the whisky. Suddenly, she realises: if Mr Birling’s not going to get the whisky, why bother providing it? If she simply refills an old Talisker bottle with cheap whisky and then re-seals it with the nail varnish trick I taught her, she can open it in front of us, tell us it’s the real thing and then, when Mr Birling finds out it’s not, everyone will blame me and she’ll save herself two hundred pounds.
DOUGLAS: And then, she thinks, why not actually make some money into the bargain? If she can convince you to accept the deal, then, whether I steal it or not, she can sting you for a hundred quid.
MARTIN: No! She wouldn’t do that!
DOUGLAS: I’m afraid so. You’re the mark, Martin; the cat’s-paw, the schmuck, the fall guy. You’ve been played like a cheap pianola.
MARTIN: I don’t believe it! What can I do?
DOUGLAS: Ain’t nothin’ you can do – that’s Chinatown.
MARTIN: Right, give me the sat-com.
DOUGLAS: What for?
MARTIN: I’m gonna tell her exactly what I think of her.
DOUGLAS: Yes, you could do – or ...
DOUGLAS: Well, it’s just occurred to me: maybe there is something you can do. Maybe this isn’t Chinatown.
ARTHUR: You see, I didn’t think it was when you said that.
MARTIN: What do you mean?
DOUGLAS: Well, if you accuse her, she’ll just deny all knowledge of it and – her being her – you’ll end up having to pay. But if you tell her that Mr Birling enjoyed his Talisker very much and finished it all up, she’ll know you’re lying but she can’t say so without giving the game away.
MARTIN: Yes! Thank you, Douglas! That’s perfect!
(He activates the sat-com.)
CAROLYN: Hello? MJN.
MARTIN (smarmily): Hello, Carolyn, Martin here.
CAROLYN: Ah, over the mountain now? Good. So, he nicked it, did he?
MARTIN: No, no, he didn’t.
CAROLYN: I bet he did.
MARTIN: By no means. I’ve just been in to see Mr Birling. He says to tell you how particularly nice the whisky is this year.
CAROLYN: Well! that’s interesting.
MARTIN: Are you surprised for some reason?
CAROLYN: I’m certainly surprised he got it.
MARTIN: Are you?
CAROLYN: And that Douglas didn’t.
MARTIN: No-no, Douglas definitely didn’t, did you, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Alas, no. You were too clever for me, Carolyn. Rats.
CAROLYN: Well! Well done, then, Martin. You’ve earned your reward. Clever old you.
MARTIN: Thank you!
(He deactivates the sat-com.)
DOUGLAS: Well played, Martin.
MARTIN: Thank you. And thank you for helping me out.
DOUGLAS: Oh, it was nothing.
(The flight deck door opens.)
MR BIRLING: Ah, hello. I’ve remembered my cufflinks.
MARTIN: Mr Birling, you’re not really supposed to come up here.
MR BIRLING: Well, this is where you are and I need to speak to you – regarding my cufflinks.
DOUGLAS: What about your cufflinks?
MR BIRLING: I’ve just remembered them. Pearls, dear boy – two beautiful pearls. A present from my awful wife before she was awful.
MR BIRLING: Yes. You see, she took away my money, she took away my cards, but she didn’t take away my lovely pearl cufflinks.
MARTIN: Well, maybe she just assumed you’d never part with them.
MR BIRLING: Then more fool her, because that’s just what I’m going to do. They’re worth a grand each, boys, easily, and I’ll give you one apiece if you should happen to discover that you do, after all, have a bottle of Talisker which can come and watch the rugby with me for a bit until one of us ends up drunk ... by the other.
MARTIN: I’m sorry, Mr Birling, but we really honestly don’t ...
MR BIRLING: I’m talking to the organ grinder, not the monkey.
MARTIN: I’m the organ grinder.
DOUGLAS: Are you sure, Martin? The monkey tends to have the better hat.
MARTIN: I am the organ grinder! And I have to tell you, Mr Birling, that there is no Talisker. We’ve all been the victims of a clever plot by Carolyn. Let me tell you the whole story. Carolyn knew that every year ...
DOUGLAS (interrupting): Er, Martin, sorry to interrupt, but, um ... here you are, Mr Birling.
(Sound of a large bottle of alcohol being handed over.)
MR BIRLING: A-ha! I thought as much!
(He takes a swig.)
MR BIRLING: Mmm! Yes! Mmm! That’s the stuff! Here you are, you grubby little thief. Here you are, you clueless patsy. A pearl apiece. See you in two hours, full of rugby, song, and fine whisky.
(The flight deck door closes.)
MARTIN (faint, breathless): You ... you stole ... the whisky.
DOUGLAS (mildly): Of course I did. I did tell you I would.
MARTIN: You were in on it with Carolyn?
DOUGLAS: No! She had nothing to do with it. It was Talisker when she tasted it. I just fed you that story to make you tell her I didn’t steal it, but I did.
DOUGLAS: With this.
MARTIN: The bottle of nail varnish?!
DOUGLAS: Ah, but it’s not nail varnish. It just comes in a similar bottle which I’ve re-labelled. What it is is a harmless but unpleasantly bitter-tasting clear substance you can buy from any chemist to put on your nails to stop you biting them. Of course, if you don’t suffer that particular vice, there are other things you can do with it. For instance, when you go through the galley on the way to the loo, you can put a tiny drop on the bottom of each of the whisky glasses – just enough that any liquid poured into them becomes unpleasant tasting. Then, once Mr Birling has rejected his glass of genuine Talisker as horrible and the bottle is written off as full of cheap whisky and forgotten about, you can snaffle it at your leisure.
MARTIN (groaning): Oh, no. Uh, well done. Very clever. Just a shame it’s gonna cost me a hundred quid, that’s all.
DOUGLAS: Sorry, Martin. I hate to say, “I fold you crow,” but “I sold you dough.”
ARTHUR: But Douglas, there’s one thing I still don’t understand.
DOUGLAS: What’s that, Arthur?
ARTHUR: How did you do it?