(Carolyn opens the door of the portacabin)
CAROLYN: Boys, we’ve just picked up an extra job. There shall be buns for tea. Where’s Martin?
DOUGLAS: He’s not in yet.
ARTHUR: What’s the job, Mum?
CAROLYN: For Air Caledonian, (Scottish accent) the wee Scottish airline. (Normal accent) One of their pilots has gone sick in Newcastle. They want us to fly out the covering crew. I do like flying other pilots! You don’t have to hold back with them.
DOUGLAS: Do you do much holding back with the passengers normally, then?
CAROLYN: Of course I do!
DOUGLAS: Good Lord.
ARTHUR: Mum, we’ve only got two pilots. What would we do if one of them went sick?
CAROLYN: They wouldn’t dare.
ARTHUR: But what if they did?
CAROLYN: Then I’m sure we’d think of something.
(The portacabin door opens.)
CAROLYN: Ah, there you are, Martin.
MARTIN (sounding very different because he’s played by Tom Goodman-Hill, as Benedict Cumberbatch went sick): Hullo, Carolyn. What have I missed?
ARTHUR: Hi, Skip! You’re looking very well.
MARTIN: Oh. Thank you, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Don’t you think, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Not specially. I think he looks exactly the same as always.
This week, Newcastle!
(Douglas comes into the office while the printer is running.)
DOUGLAS: Hullo, Martin. Are the pilots here yet?
MARTIN: We’re the pilots, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Yes, but the proper pilots.
MARTIN: Not yet, no.
(The printer finishes running.)
DOUGLAS: Ah, is that the flight plan?
MARTIN: No, it’s mine. Leave it.
DOUGLAS: Oh, Martin. Please don’t tell me you’ve written a slim volume of verse!
(He picks up the printed paper.)
DOUGLAS: Oh. A c.v.
MARTIN: Umm ...
DOUGLAS: Goodness. Feeling the call of the Highlands, are we? Fancy ourselves in tartan epaulettes and a flying kilt?
MARTIN: There’s nothing wrong with trying to advance one’s career.
DOUGLAS: Not at all! So, what’s the plan? Fly them to Newcastle with such panache and élan that the captain feels compelled to recommend you to their Chief McPilot?
MARTIN: Look, I know it’s a long shot, but if the captain and I should happen to hit it off, you never know.
DOUGLAS: You never do. What flight time do you have from Fitton to Newcastle?
MARTIN: Twenty-five minutes.
DOUGLAS: Hmm. Let’s hope he’s the sort who makes friends quickly.
CAROLYN (coming in): All right, look sharp. The pilots are here.
MARTIN: We are the pilots.
CAROLYN: I mean the proper pilots.
MARTIN (angrily): Could everyone please stop calling them that?!
(The portacabin door opens.)
HERC (well-spoken English accent): Good morning. MJN Air?
(They promptly simultaneously go into what sounds like an old rugby or drinking chant.)
MARTIN: Oh, terrific(!)
HERC: How the devil are you? Not seen you since ... well, well, for a long time. But haven’t you done well for yourself? I see from your uniform you’ve become a Bolivian tank commander.
DOUGLAS: Yes, it’s an exuberant little number, isn’t it? And you’re a Scotsman now, are you?
HERC: Ah, you don’t have to be Scottish to fly for a Scottish airline, you know?
DOUGLAS: Don’t you? That’s interesting, isn’t it, Martin? Oh, Martin, this is Captain Herc Shipwright – old friend of mine from Air England.
MARTIN: Yes, I thought he might be.
HERC: Martin, pleasure. Hope this lazy old sod doesn’t work you too hard.
MARTIN (tightly): Not really, no. I’m the captain.
HERC: Oh, gosh, so you are. Terribly sorry. So, Douglas, does that mean you’re ...
DOUGLAS (talking over him): And this is Carolyn.
HERC: Charmed. Herc.
HERC: That’s it, yes, yes. Short for “Hercules”. Dad was rather eccentric. After the aircraft, though, rather than the hero. I find I never know if that makes it better or worse.
CAROLYN: Do you have any brothers?
HERC: Wellington and Harrier.
HERC: Sarah. He was eccentric, not mad. You’re the cabin crew, then, I take it.
CAROLYN: I am the owner and the CEO.
HERC: Oh gosh, are you? Well done!
CAROLYN: What do you mean, “Well done”?
HERC: I don’t know. Nothing, really.
CAROLYN: “Well done for running a big scary company all by yourself, you clever little lady”?
HERC: No, no, absolutely not. No, just a general ... you know ... “good for you”.
CAROLYN: I see. So you’d still have said “Well done” if I’d been an ugly middle-aged man in a suit, would you?
HERC: The thought is inconceivable. So, it’s you I do the forms and what-not with, is it?
CAROLYN: Yes. So please step into my office from where I administrate my airline.
HERC: Right you are. Ah, here’s my first officer.
(The portacabin door opens.)
HERC: I thought I’d lost you. Chaps, this is Linda Fairbairn. Linda, these are some chaps.
LINDA (Scottish accent): Hello.
HERC: Back in a tick.
(The door to Carolyn’s office closes.)
MARTIN: Oh – how lovely to see you.
LINDA: Have we met before?
MARTIN: I don’t think so, no. People haven’t usually met me before.
MARTIN: I mean, they’ve-they’ve normally met Douglas before if they’ve met anyone. I mean, obviously the people who’ve met me before have met me before, but there aren’t many of those because I-I haven’t ... met ... most people.
DOUGLAS: Douglas Richardson. How lovely to meet you.
LINDA: And you. Oh, is that your plane out there?
DOUGLAS: That rather swish Gulfstream? Alas, no. You see the forlorn object facing it and thereby providing it with a rather grim memento mori? That’s Gerti.
LINDA: Yes, that’s what I meant. The Lockheed McDonnell 312.
MARTIN: Oh! Yes, that’s it!
LINDA: Fantastic! I didn’t realise there were any of those still flying.
MARTIN: Well, there aren’t many.
DOUGLAS: And those there are barely do.
MARTIN: That’s very impressive, though. Not many people know what it is.
DOUGLAS: Most people have to stop and think before saying, “Aeroplane.”
LINDA: Well, I was a big plane spotter when I was a girl, so ...
MARTIN: Really?! Me too!
LINDA: What, when you were a girl?
MARTIN: What? No, no. Oh ... (He giggles inanely.) Yes, when I was a girl. No – when I was a boy. I-I was never a girl.
DOUGLAS: Yes. Good. To be absolutely clear.
(The flight deck door opens)
ARTHUR: OK, chaps. Cabin cross-checked and ready for take-off.
MARTIN: Thank you, Arthur – and how’s Captain Shipwright looking? Happy? Relaxed?
ARTHUR: I wouldn’t say “relaxed”.
MARTIN: Oh? Why not?
ARTHUR: Well, he’s talking to Mum.
MARTIN: Why’s she still on board? I can’t ask him for a job with her sitting there. Tell her to get off the plane.
ARTHUR: Tell her to?
MARTIN: Yes! How hard can it be?
ARTHUR: It can be impossible.
DOUGLAS: You’re sure it’s Herc you want to speak to?
MARTIN: What do you mean?
DOUGLAS: Not First Officer Linda, the plane-spotting pride of Penicuik?
MARTIN: Well, she can’t recommend me, can she? She’s only my age; she’s hardly going to know the chief pilot.
DOUGLAS: She is about your age, yes, and rather nice, I thought.
MARTIN: Why, d’you think ... d’you think she ...
DOUGLAS: So, by the time we land in Newcastle, you’d ideally like a job recommendation from one of our passengers and a date from the other.
MARTIN: That’s not really feasible, is it?
DOUGLAS: It’s an ambitious programme, certainly.
HERC: All right, I admit it: I said, “Good for you,” because you’re a woman.
HERC: Because you’re clearly doing a fine job in what is, unfortunately, a male-dominated profession.
CAROLYN: Well now you’re changing the terms of the argument.
HERC: Yes, I am.
CAROLYN: And you’re still wrong.
ARTHUR: Er, Mum? Captain says to tell you we’re leaving now.
CAROLYN: Right. Thank you.
CAROLYN: Anything else?
ARTHUR: No, well, just, um, if you’re gonna get off, you should probably get off.
CAROLYN: I’m not going anywhere.
ARTHUR: Well, you sort of will, uh, because by not going anywhere, you will go to Newcastle, if you see what I mean.
CAROLYN: All right, then, I’ll go to Newcastle.
ARTHUR: Yeah, fine. Um, only I think the skipper’s done the weight calculations based on five people and ...
CAROLYN: Arthur. If you are about to suggest my weight is going to make us too heavy to take off, very bad things will happen to you.
DOUGLAS: Post take-off checks complete.
MARTIN: Thank you.
DOUGLAS: Which means today the pre-landing check’s pretty much about to start.
MARTIN: Right. OK, I think I’ve decided. I’m going to concentrate on getting Herc alone and giving him my c.v.
MARTIN: What? D’you think that’s the wrong decision?
DOUGLAS: No, I think it’s probably the right one. I’m just an old romantic.
(There’s a knock on the door.)
DOUGLAS: Come in.
(The door opens.)
LINDA: Hello, sorry to intrude. It’s ... the conversation back there was getting a little heated.
MARTIN: Oh no, you’re welcome. It’s lovely to see you and very nice to ... see you.
LINDA: Thank you, Martin.
MARTIN: So, Linda, you’re a pilot.
MARTIN: Yes, obviously. Sorry. That wasn’t a question. That was just a preliminary statement before the actual question that I was going to ask, which is: how long have you been a pilot?
LINDA: Twelve years.
MARTIN: Twelve years, right. Twelve years. Well, that’s not a long time or a short time. Umm, do you like it?
MARTIN: Being a pilot.
LINDA: Yes, I do. Do you?
MARTIN: Yes, I do. I like it, like you. I mean, I like it like you do, not I like it like I like you. I don’t like you. I mean, I don’t not like you, I just, I don’t like you as much as I like being a pilot.
LINDA: Don’t you?
MARTIN: Well, not yet. I mean, I’m sure if I got to know you, I’d like you more than being ... well, probably not more than, because I love being a pilot and I don’t suppose I’d love you ... well, I suppose I might ... no, I mean, I’m just gonna go and have a wander down the cabin now.
(He leaves the flight deck.)
LINDA: Is he always like that?
DOUGLAS: No. He’s not terribly good at talking to other pilots, I’m afraid.
LINDA: Oh. I thought it was because I was a woman.
DOUGLAS: And he’s atrocious at talking to women, so I’m afraid you represent something of a Perfect Storm.
(Martin pulls back the curtain to the galley.)
ARTHUR: Oh, hello, Skip! Have you come to talk to me?
MARTIN: I’ve come to talk to Captain Shipwright.
ARTHUR: Oh, right. Well, he’s just, uh, through there ...
MARTIN: I know where he is, but he’s still talking to your mum. I want you to go and get her, bring her back here.
MARTIN: Just tell her you need to speak to her in the galley.
MARTIN: It doesn’t matter! Anything! Just make something up!
CAROLYN: ... because the sexism inherent in the whole aviation industry is now so institutionalised, we falsely imagine it must be justified – that’s why.
HERC: I know! That’s what I was saying, hence “Well done”!
ARTHUR: Er, could I have a word?
CAROLYN: Arthur, I am busy.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but there’s a problem in the galley. Can you come and have a look?
CAROLYN: Sort it out for yourself, Arthur. I wasn’t even supposed to be on this flight, remember?
ARTHUR: Yeah. Still, since you are here, I think it’s something you should take a look at.
CAROLYN: Well, what is it?
ARTHUR: It’s hard to describe. Come and have a look.
CAROLYN: Just tell me! You can say it in front of Herc – he’s not a real passenger.
ARTHUR: Right. Well. It’s ... a fire.
HERC: A fire?
ARTHUR: Only a little fire.
MARTIN (hurrying over): Ah, hello, hello again, Herc. I don’t suppose it’s a fire, is it, Arthur?
HERC: He says it’s a fire.
MARTIN: No he doesn’t.
ARTHUR: No I don’t.
ARTHUR: No, not a fire. I didn’t mean a fire.
MARTIN: Course he didn’t.
HERC: Well, what did you mean?
ARTHUR: Just ... smoke.
HERC: Smoke? Where from?
ARTHUR: I’m not sure.
MARTIN: From something you’ve cooked, probably. Explicable smoke from cooking.
ARTHUR: Yes, that’s right, yes.
CAROLYN: You’re not cooking anything, Arthur.
ARTHUR (desperately): I’m not cooking anything, Skip.
HERC: So, Captain, I imagine you’ll be wanting to land immediately.
MARTIN: Umm ...
HERC: I mean, I’m not wanting to tell you your job, Captain, but obviously this counts as an emergency and you need to land now.
MARTIN (unhappily): Yes I do.
(In an echoing hangar)
EDDIE (Birmingham accent): Right, then. Mornin’ all. Welcome to Birmingham. Nice of you to drop in. I’m Eddie, Chief Engineer. Now, Captain – I’ve had a look round ...
HERC: Actually, I’m merely a passenger on this flight.
EDDIE: Oh, sorry. I’ve ’ad a look round, Captain ...
DOUGLAS: You’re getting warmer, but no.
EDDIE: Bloody ’ell. Someone give me a clue then.
MARTIN: Oh, for goodness’ sake, it’s me! Look at my arm! Look at my hat!
EDDIE: Very nice. So, Captain, I’ve ’ad – as I may have said – a look round and there’s absolutely nothing wrong at all. Well, I say that – there’s about a dozen things wrong, but nothing that’d cause smoke in the galley.
DOUGLAS: Just one of life’s mysteries, then: the self-igniting and -extinguishing galley. Perhaps we’ll never know its secrets.
CAROLYN: All right, can we just get back up in the air, please?
DOUGLAS: Maybe it was the ghost of some of Arthur’s cruelly-burned toast.
MARTIN: Yes, if you’d all like to get back on board ...
DOUGLAS: No takers for the ghost toast? Shame.
MARTIN: Er, Linda, this way.
LINDA: Yeah, I just wanted to ask Eddie, though: sorry, what did you mean, “a dozen things wrong”?
EDDIE: Well, look at it. It’s only gaffer tape and hope keeping it together.
MARTIN: Er, actually, this is a perfectly airworthy craft. There may be a few superficial cosmetic snags, but I conduct a meticulous walk-round before every flight.
EDDIE: Oh yeah? Where’s your tail navigation light, then? Or doesn’t your meticulous walk-round extend to looking up?
MARTIN: It ... Oh. Well, I’m sure it was fine when we left. I would have noticed. The bulb must have blown while we were in the air.
EDDIE: Probably, yeah. ’ow long was that, again? Seven minutes, did you say?
MARTIN: Well, then, you’d better replace it, hadn’t you?
MARTIN: You’ve identified a fault on my aircraft. Thank you. Now, naturally, I expect you to make it good.
LINDA: Martin, d’you not think we’d be better off getting under way?
EDDIE: It’s a light, Captain, a little twinkly light so no-one flies into the back of you in the dark. I reckon you can risk going without it at midday.
MARTIN: We might be delayed. It might get dark.
EDDIE: You’re flying from Birmingham to Newcastle. Which way round the globe are you plannin’ on going?
MARTIN (getting on his high horse): Look, I happen to be the commander of this vessel, and if you want me to sign off your tech log, we will do this – please – by the book.
EDDIE: All right then, Commander. By the book it shall be.
MARTIN: Thank you.
EDDIE: So the first thing we’ll need is a cherry picker.
MARTIN: What? What for?
EDDIE: To reach the tail light.
MARTIN: But it’s right here! You can reach it! You only need a stepladder!
EDDIE: A stepladder, Commander?! Oh, you daredevil! No, no, the book specifically forbids the use of the dreaded stepladder or – as it’s better known round ’ere – the widow-maker. What we will be requiring is a cherry picker and, of course, a safety harness, hard hat and high-vis vest. See you in an hour or so.
(He walks away.)
MARTIN: Right. Still, I think the principle was ... was worth ...
(He falls silent.)
MARTIN (over intercom): Er, hello, chaps. Um, just to say everything’s absolutely under control but the ground engineer – and I – did, er, at the last minute, jointly notice a minor performance defect which he’s going to put right now. So, we should be taking off in ... about an hour.
CAROLYN (yelling from the cabin): Martin! What have you done now?!
MARTIN: So sorry about the delay – which is not, incidentally, because of anything I’ve done now.
CAROLYN: I’m sorry about this, Herc.
HERC: No, not to worry. We’ve still got two hours in hand.
ARTHUR: Brilliant! I love take-off delays!
DOUGLAS: Oh, Arthur, please! Even you cannot love take-off delays!
CAROLYN (wearily): No, he does.
ARTHUR: Yeah. Yeah, because take-off’s the best bit of the whole flight, isn’t it, and normally it’s over before you can enjoy it, whereas this way we get to really build up to it! Right, I’m gonna get some teas and coffees on and – er, Mum?
ARTHUR: It’s gonna be an hour. Can we open the games cupboard?
(In the hangar)
MARTIN: Hello, Linda. I’ve, er, I’ve appraised them of the situation. Is Eddie back yet?
MARTIN: Oh. Right. So, Linda, apart from being a pilot, are you anything else? I mean, do you do anything else, or do you like ... anything?
LINDA: Do I like anything? Er, well, I’m a rally driver, if that’s the sort of thing you mean.
MARTIN: Oh, right! Wow! How exciting! Rally driving. That’s amazing! Gosh! So many questions. (He pulls in a deep breath.) Um, for instance, do you do it by yourself or with your ... I dunno if you have ... if you have a ...
LINDA: ... a navigator, yes.
MARTIN: Right, yes. And do you drive or does he ...?
LINDA: Well, because I’m the driver and Sam’s the navigator, I tend to do the driving.
MARTIN: Oh, yes, of course, silly of me! And Sam – is he your ... I mean, is he also ...?
LINDA: Well, for a start, she’s a woman.
MARTIN: Oh, right. Oh, I see. I’m sorry. Of course.
LINDA: What do you mean “of course”?
MARTIN: I don’t mean anything.
LINDA: Are you assuming that because I’m a pilot and a rally driver that I must be a lesbian?
MARTIN: No! I’m not assuming that! I hope you’re not!
LINDA: You hope I’m not?!
MARTIN: I mean, not because it’s bad. It’s not! Lesbians are great! I just meant, I hope you’re not for my sake. No, not my sake! I mean for all men’s sake. No, that’s worse. God.
LINDA: Let’s just change the subject.
MARTIN: Yes. Um, so ... how did you come to join Caledonian?
LINDA (furiously): Oh for goodness’ sake! Because I was the best candidate for the job, OK? My father deliberately didn’t sit on the panel and I applied under my mother’s maiden name.
LINDA: Well, you’re insinuating I only got the job because my dad is Chief Pilot, aren’t you?
MARTIN: No! No, not at all. I didn’t ... I didn’t ... I didn’t even know. Your dad’s the Chief Pilot? Of Caledonian?
LINDA: Yes! So what? It doesn’t matter!
MARTIN: No! Not in the least. That’s a totally, totally ... un-mattering thing.
(In the cabin)
CAROLYN: So, the deal is that I pay you £362 now ...
CAROLYN: ... plus you don’t pay any rent next time you land on any of my greens, my yellows – excluding Leicester Square – or Park Lane ... unless I’ve built a hotel on it, unless you mortgage something, unless it’s a station.
HERC: Unless it’s King’s Cross.
CAROLYN: Yes. Well, that seems straightforward enough. Deal.
DOUGLAS: I must say, Herc, Monopoly’s a very different game with you than it is with Arthur.
ARTHUR (indignantly): Hey!
DOUGLAS: Arthur’s strategy tends to be pretty ruthlessly focussed on getting Marylebone and Covent Garden because those are the ones he’s been to.
CAROLYN: He also once did a deal whereby he gave Martin Mayfair so long as he was also allowed to give him the Electric Company.
ARTHUR: Well, I kept having to times things by four. That’s not fun, that’s maths!
(In the hangar)
EDDIE (unnecessarily loudly): All right, I’ve made it! I’m up here! (Sarcastically) Can you hear me down there, Commander?
MARTIN (flatly): Yes.
EDDIE: All right. Safety visor on, noise cancelling headphones on. Stand by, Commander! I’m now about to commence the operation!
EDDIE: And ...
(He screws the bulb round five times, takes it out, and screws the new one round five times to fit it into its socket.)
EDDIE: And there we are! One brand new navigation tail light shining like a beacon! And now let the descent begin!
AUTOMATED VOICE: Caution. Cage about to descend. (Warning beep.) Caution. Cage about to descend.
EDDIE: And away we go!
(The cherry picker whirrs for about a second.)
EDDIE: Ah, that’s better. I can’t stand heights.
MARTIN: Fine. Have you had your fun now?
EDDIE: You wanted the book – you got the book. Are you happy to sign off the tech log now?
(He scribbles his signature.)
MARTIN: Right. And now that’s done, let me just say this: people like you love to mock doing it by the book, but one of these days you might just find yourself on a plane when something goes wrong and then you’ll be jolly glad that there is a book and that there are people like me who do it by it.
EDDIE: Oh yes?
MARTIN: Yes, actually. Goodbye.
EDDIE: Of course, I haven’t signed the tech log yet.
MARTIN: ... Oh.
EDDIE: When did you last check the radios?
MARTIN: This morning.
EDDIE: What, all two hundred and fifty-six channels?
MARTIN: No, of course not.
EDDIE: Right. This aircraft is grounded.
MARTIN: What?! No!
EDDIE: What can I say? You’ve shown me the error of my ways.
(In the cabin)
DOUGLAS: All right, Arthur, for a cheese: according to Jean Paul Sartre, what is hell?
ARTHUR (thoughtfully): Hmm. Right. Jean Paul Sartre. What would he have said?
HERC: Are you familiar with Jean Paul Sartre, Arthur?
ARTHUR: Of course I am. I think he’d have said that hell is something like when the baddies are in a concrete bunker and you’re out of grenades.
CAROLYN: Dear heart, are you by any chance thinking of Jean Claude Van Damme?
ARTHUR: I might be, yes.
DOUGLAS: Sorry, Arthur, “Hell is other people.”
ARTHUR: What?! That’s just stupid! Other people are great!
DOUGLAS: I’d love to have seen you and Sartre go head to head on that one.
CAROLYN: My go.
(She rolls the dice.)
CAROLYN: Ah, Art and Lit, please, Herc.
HERC: Oh dear ... (he laughs) ... this is terribly easy. Which Bizet opera features the Toreador Song?
DOUGLAS (laughing in agreement): Oh dear!
CAROLYN: I haven’t the least idea.
(Herc laughs again.)
CAROLYN: Is there something amusing you, Captain Hercules?
HERC: Oh. You really don’t know?
CAROLYN: No, I really don’t know. Tosca?
DOUGLAS: Carolyn! That’s Puccini!
CAROLYN: Take your word for it.
HERC: Oh, Carolyn, you’re not gonna tell me you don’t like opera?
CAROLYN: Well, what’s the point of it? It does two things badly. If I want a story, I go to see a play. If I want to hear music, I go to a concert.
ARTHUR: Do you, Mum? When?
CAROLYN: Shut up, Arthur. What I have no use for is a ridiculous story sung at me by actors who can’t act in a language I don’t speak for four and a half hours.
HERC: Oh, what utter nonsense. Well-sung opera is the pinnacle of human endeavour.
CAROLYN: How rot!
HERC (singing grandly): ♪ Toréador, Toréador ... ♪
DOUGLAS (joining in with him): ♪ Toréador, Toréador ... ♪
(They continue singing.)
CAROLYN: Yes, Arthur, the answer was wrong. Hell is being trapped in a grounded aircraft with two middle-aged pilots ... (her voice rises) ... singing Puccini at you!
DOUGLAS and HERC (simultaneously): It’s not Puccini!
CAROLYN (yelling): I don’t care!
(On the flight deck)
EDDIE: Channel thirty-two. Golf Tango India radio check.
BIRMINGHAM ATC: Strength five.
MARTIN: So, Eddie, how are you getting on?
EDDIE: The first thirty-two are clear as a bell, Commander. The next two hundred and twenty-four – who can say?
(The flight deck door opens)
HERC: Hello there. Eddie, is it? I’m Herc, the other captain. I gather you’re very kindly checking the comms for us, yes?
EDDIE: That’s right. Gotta do it by the book for the commander here.
HERC: Oh, oh golly, yes. Cross the i’s and dot the t’s – couldn’t agree more. No, I just wondered if you fancy a little bet. You’ve got two hundred and fifty-six channels to check. I bet you fifty quid I know which one you’re on.
EDDIE: That’s pretty long odds, isn’t it? And how will you know I’m tellin’ the truth?
HERC: Oh, my dear chap, I trust you implicitly. Because, you see, my guess – on which I’m betting this fifty pound note – is that out of the two hundred and fifty-six channels, you’re on channel two hundred and fifty-five.
EDDIE: Oh, I see. Well, very close, Captain, but as it ’appens, I was on two hundred and fifty-six!
HERC (insincerely): Oh, curse my terrible luck. Here you go.
EDDIE: Much obliged. OK, you’re good to go.
DOUGLAS: And on stand at 2.32.
MARTIN (into intercom): Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Newcastle. I do apologise for our delay today and I hope you’ve nonetheless enjoyed your flight. And could First Officer Fairbairn step into the flight deck for a moment?
DOUGLAS: Oooh! You’re going to ask her?
DOUGLAS: For a date, or to take your c.v.?
MARTIN: None of your business.
DOUGLAS: Fair enough. Well, good luck.
MARTIN: Were you planning to just sit there? I mean, I can ask Arthur to get you some popcorn.
DOUGLAS: Right. No.
(He leaves as Linda comes in.)
LINDA: You wanted to see me?
MARTIN: Yes, I-I did. I just wanted to say to you that if, some time, I mean, in the future, well obviously in the future, if you felt like ... Linda, would you like to go to Duxford Air Museum with me?
LINDA: Oh, I am so pleased you said that, Martin.
MARTIN: Are you?!
LINDA: Yes! Oh ... God, no, sorry – I don’t want to go out with you. Sorry. I should have said that first. I mean, no offence, but no.
MARTIN: Right. So when you say you’re so pleased I said it ...
LINDA: No, I meant I’m so pleased that you said that. I could see there was something and ... forgive me, but I had this awful feeling that you were gonna pull out a c.v. for me to give to Dad!
(She laughs. Martin joins in falsely.)
MARTIN: Oh, no, I ... wasn’t going to do that.
LINDA: No, of course not. I’m sorry, but people do, though, and ... Oh, I’ve been thinking the worst of you all this time. Forgive me?
MARTIN: Of course! (In a mock-teasing voice) Maybe I should give you my c.v. now!
LINDA (laughing): There you are – you see, you’re funny! I had a feeling that you would be if you just relaxed.
MARTIN: So ... might you, after all ...?
LINDA (interrupting): No. I think you relaxed because I said no, and I think you’re probably right about that.
HERC: Well, cheerio, Douglas. Jolly good to see you.
DOUGLAS: Yes, and you.
HERC: Hope to bump into you again soon.
DOUGLAS: Well, funny you should say that. I was rather toying with the idea of, er, well, stretching my wings a little.
DOUGLAS: Yes. I wondered if it was time to be thinking about a move to a slightly bigger airline with aeroplanes in the plural. I mean, even Caledonian mightn’t be a bad ...
HERC: Oh, I wouldn’t do that.
HERC: Goodness me, no, no. No, you’d find it deadly dull after all the excitement of charter life, nipping round the world like a sports car rather than lumbering about in a big old bus like us poor chaps. No, I envy you.
DOUGLAS: But if – hypothetically – I were to ask ...
HERC: Ah, but you wouldn’t ask, would you?
DOUGLAS: No. (Grimly) As you say, I’m very happy where I am.
HERC (signing something off): And done. Well, thank you very much, Carolyn, for a far more entertaining trip than I had any right to expect.
CAROLYN: Our pleasure. Lovely to meet you. Goodbye.
HERC: Oh, and, er, Carolyn?
HERC: I can’t tell you how wrong you are about opera.
CAROLYN: Oh, come on, we’ve already had that argument, and I’ve already devastatingly won it.
HERC: I don’t think so, and I thought perhaps I’d prove it to you. There’s a rather super Rigoletto at Covent Garden at the moment. I don’t believe it’s humanly possible to see it and still dislike opera. Why don’t you come along?
CAROLYN: With you?
CAROLYN (after a long pause): I think not.
HERC: Oh, all right. May I ask why?
CAROLYN: Because I hate opera, as you know.
HERC: Fair enough. Just a suggestion. Cheerio.
CAROLYN: Er, what I like is walking. I often walk my dog, for instance, on Brinkley Chase near Fitton, and then sometimes I have lunch in a pub.
HERC: Well, now you’re redefining the terms of the argument.
CAROLYN: Yes, I am.
HERC: All right, then, how’s Thursday?
CAROLYN: I’ll let you know. Bye.
(She walks away.)
HERC (to himself): Jolly good! Now, I wonder if, er ...
HERC: Ah, you got my message. Excellent. Well, listen: I just wanted to get you on your own for a moment to tell you I was very impressed today by the way you handled our little stopover, and by your attitude generally. So, look, here’s my card. If you ever fancy slinging your c.v. over to Caledonian, I’ll make sure you’re on the top of the pile.
ARTHUR: Gosh! Well, that’s very kind of you, Herc, but to be honest, I’m really happy here!