Script by John Finnemore
Transcript by Ariane DeVere
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DOUGLAS (over cabin address): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, First Officer Douglas Richardson here. Just to let you know we’re making our final approach now into what I am fairly sure is Fitton Airfield. Unless it’s a farm – or just possibly the A45. It’s not the sea, because that’s blue. I should perhaps explain that Captain Crieff and I have a sportsman-like little bet on today about who can fly the best after drinking a litre of vodka through a straw. The captain went first. You may have noticed the take-off run was a little bumpy, particularly over the golf course. Now it’s me to land ... just as soon as I decide which of these two runaways to aim for. And I’m happy to tell you that I feel lucky. So, on behalf of all your crew today, may I just say, “Geronimo!”
This week, Abu Dhabi.
DOUGLAS: Ah, yes, of course. May.
MARTIN: Mm-hm, yep. Cant.
(Flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: Here we are, gents. Coffee with nothing in it; tea with everything in it. Great cabin address, Douglas. I love cargo flights.
DOUGLAS: Thank you, Arthur.
MARTIN: Ooh, Eno!
DOUGLAS: Ooh, eeno?
MARTIN (more slowly): Ooh: Eno.
DOUGLAS: Ah, yes! Sewell.
ARTHUR: Ooh, what are we playing?
MARTIN: Brians of Britain.
ARTHUR: There-there must be loads of them. Umm ... uh ...
DOUGLAS: Well, not to worry. As they come to you.
ARTHUR: Ooh, who was that guy? Umm, oh, grey-haired, did that game show, “Can I have a P please, Bob?” Umm, oh, what was his name?
DOUGLAS: Your hope being that it was Brian?
ARTHUR: Yeah, Brian ... uh ... Brian ...
MARTIN: Bob Holness. It was Bob Holness.
ARTHUR: That’s it! Oh. Well, does he count anyway?
DOUGLAS: Does Bob Holness count in our list of people called Brian? What the hell, yes, he does. Well done!
FITTON AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (over radio): Golf Tango India, expect twenty min delay due runway inspection. Enter the hold at Arden; maintain seven thousand feet.
MARTIN (into radio): Golf Tango India, roger hold at Arden. Maintain seven thousand feet. Can you confirm delay only twenty minutes?
FITTON AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (blowing out a breath): Probably. All depends, really.
MARTIN (exasperated): Thank you, Tower. Hugely informative as ever. Out.
MARTIN: Sorry, chaps. Looks like we’d better divert to Bristol.
ARTHUR: Bristol? Why?
MARTIN: Fitton’s got a runway closure. We’d have to hold for twenty minutes.
ARTHUR: But Bristol? That’s miles away.
MARTIN: Yes. Luckily enough, though, we’re in an aeroplane, especially designed to be good at going miles away quite quickly.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but my car’s at Fitton.
MARTIN: Oh, well, then, let us by all means circle round it until we drop out of the sky.
DOUGLAS: D’you know, Martin, all these years and I’ve never been to Bristol.
MARTIN: Well, get ready for a treat.
DOUGLAS: I dunno. I was rather hoping not to break my duck.
ARTHUR: Skipper, are you sure there’s not enough fuel to wait? ’Cause there’s always a little bit left when the gauge shows red.
MARTIN: Yes, oddly enough, Arthur, a jet aircraft isn’t as precisely similar to a Vauxhall Corsa as a stupid person might imagine. We’re going to Bristol.
ARTHUR: What do you reckon, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: We could go to Bristol. I believe people do. However, we’ve easily enough fuel spare to hold for twenty minutes, maybe even thirty.
MARTIN: No, I’m sorry but we’re diverting.
ARTHUR: Yeah, hang on a tick, though. If Douglas reckons twenty minutes ...
MARTIN: No, let’s not ‘hang on a tick.’ Let’s listen to the captain, shall we?
DOUGLAS: Of course, Martin, if you say we divert, then divert we shall.
MARTIN: Thank you.
DOUGLAS: Unless of course we were to smell smoke in the flight deck.
DOUGLAS: I’m just saying: if by any remote chance we smelled smoke in the flight deck, we would of course be duty bound to land at the nearest available airfield with immediate priority – in this case, by a happy coincidence, Fitton.
MARTIN: Yes, maybe; but I don’t smell smoke in the flight deck.
(Sound of a match being struck.)
DOUGLAS: How about now?
MARTIN: What are you suggesting, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: We tell the Tower we smell smoke, which we do. We get to land straightaway. They check the aircraft, don’t find anything; “One of life’s little mysteries, but jolly good boys for taking no chances.” Everybody’s happy and there’s jam for tea.
ARTHUR: Right! That’s – you know, that’s really clever!
MARTIN: No, I’m sorry, but absolutely not.
DOUGLAS: I used to do it all the time at Air England.
MARTIN: Well, you’re not at Air England now. Where you are now is in the co-pilot’s seat and on the way to Bristol. You’ll like it. They have a lovely suspension bridge.
DOUGLAS: Well, shall I just sat comm Carolyn before we make our final decision? It’s rather an expensive diversion ...
MARTIN: No, we have made our final decision. I have decided, and as Carolyn knows, whilst in flight, I am supreme commander of this vessel.
DOUGLAS: Golly. Captain Bligh flies again.
MARTIN: Douglas, I’m not impressed by your Air England mates. When you’re on Captain Bligh’s aircraft, you can do it his way, but when you’re on mine, you do it mine. Is that understood?
MARTIN: Yes what?
DOUGLAS: Yes it is.
MARTIN: Yes it is what?
DOUGLAS: Yes it is understood.
MARTIN: Yes it is understood what?
DOUGLAS: Yes it is understood ... please?
MARTIN: I’m waiting.
DOUGLAS: Martin, you’re not seriously asking me to call you ‘sir.’
MARTIN: Yes I am. Why’s that so hard to believe?
DOUGLAS: Well, to select just one reason from the fifteen or sixteen that present themselves, I’m old enough to be your father.
MARTIN: Not unless you started very young.
DOUGLAS: I did.
MARTIN: Right, well, I think your age and your previous role is giving you a rather skewed view of the chain of authority on this aircraft, and maybe a little observation of the formalities will help remind you which one of us is still the captain. So: is that understood?
DOUGLAS: Yes ...
DOUGLAS (grimly): ... sir.
MARTIN: Thank you. (Into radio) Fitton Approach, Golf Tango India. In view of your delay, request diversion Bristol.
CAROLYN: Martin, you’re a berk.
MARTIN: I’m not a berk, Carolyn; I’m an airline captain.
CAROLYN: Wrong on both counts. You’re a colossal berk; and you’re not an airline captain.
CAROLYN: I don’t have an airline. I have one jet. You cannot put one jet in a line. If MJN is anything, it is an airdot.
MARTIN: Look, I’m sorry, Carolyn, but I can’t just magic up extra fuel.
CAROLYN: Yes, and I can’t just magic up seven thousand pounds to spend on you taking a scenic tour of the West Country. And where were you in all this, Douglas? Don’t tell me you voluntarily went to Bristol.
DOUGLAS: I did suggest an alternative plan to Sir, Carolyn, but Sir quite properly reminded me that Sir is in command, and we should all obey Sir at all times.
CAROLYN: Who reminded you?
DOUGLAS: Captain Crieff, or – as I am privileged to call him – Sir.
CAROLYN: Martin, you are many things but, believe me, you are not ‘Sir.’ If anyone is Sir, I am Sir; and as Sir I am telling you from now on diversions are out.
MARTIN: I see. So if an engine catches fire on take-off, shrug shoulders, keep upper lip stiff and press on for Portugal. Got it.
CAROLYN: All right, Biggles, you divert if something goes very, very seriously wrong, and I am talking, “Oh dear, surely we had two wings when we started,” wrong. Otherwise ... otherwise you press on like a brave little soldier and you stop treating my company as a bottomless money pit.
MARTIN: That is completely unfair.
CAROLYN: Is that right? I tell you what, then: why don’t you explain to me why you had the cargo hold heated to thirty degrees all trip?
MARTIN: Did we?
CAROLYN: Didn’t you even know?
MARTIN: Well... the thermostat’s in the hold, you see and ...
CAROLYN: You are allowed to look in there when you do the walk-round, you know. It’s not secret. Do you know how much it costs to keep a large metal room toasty warm thirty thousand feet up in the air? It is surprisingly pricey. So listen: next Thursday you’re going to Abu Dhabi and you’re going cheap. You will fly the most no-frills, most cost effective plane it is possible to fly. You will make easyJet look like Air Force One, understood?
MARTIN (quietly): Yes, Carolyn.
DOUGLAS: And who are the lucky passengers on Scrooge McDuck Air?
CAROLYN: No passengers. Some oil exec has moved out there and we’re bringing him everything he owns: furniture, clothes, carpets, cat, the lot.
MARTIN: All right. What time’s the pick-up?
CAROLYN: There’s not going to be a pick-up.
CAROLYN: Well, you remember that thing I said fifteen seconds ago about no frills? Well, astonishingly, that’s still in effect. There will be no taxis. You get to my house at six-thirty and I’ll drive you.
MARTIN: No, no, no, no, no, I’m sorry, Carolyn. You simply can’t treat us like this!
CAROLYN: Fine. Then do by all means feel free to resign, Martin, and take a job with one of the many companies eager to sign up the only commercial pilot in the skies who took seven goes to get his licence.
MARTIN: Look, Carolyn, you cannot penalise me for taking a rational command decision based on reasonable air safety concerns!
CAROLYN: Yes I can.
MARTIN: Well, technically you can, but ...
CAROLYN: Good! Then technically I will. Now, please, go and be somewhere else.
DOUGLAS: Well done, Sir. That’s her told.
(Sounds of splashing in a bathroom. There’s a knock on the closed door.)
ARTHUR (from outside the door): Morning, Mum! Can I come in?
CAROLYN: Do you have coffee?
CAROLYN: Can I have the coffee without talking to you?
ARTHUR: Not really.
CAROLYN (sighing): Oh. Come in, then.
ARTHUR: Here you go.
(Clink of a mug being put down.)
ARTHUR: Do you need a hand?
CAROLYN: Yes. Pass me the shampoo and catch hold of this.
(Splashing as Carolyn throws something to Arthur. A dog yaps excitedly.)
CAROLYN (in a soppy high-pitched voice): All right, good girl. Awwww! Who’s going to be a lovely clean doggie?!
ARTHUR: You know the chaps’ll be here soon, don’t you?
CAROLYN: What time is it?
ARTHUR: Six fifteen ... Oh, damn!
ARTHUR: I’m trying to train myself always to talk in twenty-four hour clock, like Martin, but I keep forgetting.
CAROLYN: Well, what should you have said?
ARTHUR: Well, six fifteen. But not the six fifteen I was thinking of. You see, I was thinking of the one there’s two of, but when you do it right, there should only be one, and what I was ...
CAROLYN (interrupting): Arthur, Arthur, Arthur, light of my life, do please shut up.
ARTHUR: Right. Yes. Sorry. Sorry, Mum. I-I’m just so excited about the trip.
CAROLYN (pulling the plug out of the plughole): Arthur! You’ve been on hundreds of trips. Hasn’t the novelty worn off a little?
ARTHUR: No, never! It’s just always exciting! That amazing moment when twelve tons of metal leaves the earth – and no-one knows why!
CAROLYN: Yes, we do.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but ... you know, not really. I mean, we know you need wings and engines and a ... sticky-up bit on the end for some reason, but it’s not like we actually know why a plane stays in the air.
CAROLYN: No, no, Arthur, we really do. We-we do, we do know that.
ARTHUR: Oh! How, then?
CAROLYN: Well ... er, because ... Will you give me that towel?
(The dog yaps as Carolyn rubs her down.)
CAROLYN (soppy high-pitched voice): Okay, okay, good doggie! Keep still!
(She chuckles fondly, then switches back to her normal voice.)
CAROLYN: Because there are four forces acting on the plane, and so long as two of them are bigger than the other two, the plane flies.
ARTHUR (smiling): ... Mum, I don’t mind that no-one knows.
CAROLYN: But we do! We do! That’s it! What I said: that’s how.
ARTHUR: Well, what are the four forces, then?
CAROLYN: Yes! Well, I will tell you what they are. Lift ... weight ... er ...
ARTHUR: Up and down?
CAROLYN: No, no, no, no, no. Tho-Those are up and down. No, it’s lift, weight ...
ARTHUR: Left and right.
CAROLYN: No, no, no, no. Lift, weight ...
ARTHUR (tentatively): En...gines?
CAROLYN: No, no ... well, yes, yes, yes, sort of. Um, thrust, thrust. Lift, weight, thrust and ...
CAROLYN: Drag. Lift, weight, thrust and drag. So, the weight and drag are overcome because the engines give the plane thrust, and the wings give it lift. And that’s how a plane flies.
ARTHUR: How do the wings give it lift?
ARTHUR: The wings are really heavy. How does bolting two ginormous lumps of metal to a ginormous lump of metal give it lift?
CAROLYN: Well, because they are wings. Well, they’re like birds’ wings.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but birds’ wings flap. Ours don’t flap. They’ve got flaps, but I once watched the flaps all the way to Stockholm and, take it from me, they are seriously mis-named. So-so why does having wings make a plane leave the runway?
(Carolyn draws in a breath. At that moment the doorbell rings.)
CAROLYN (relieved): Ah, they’re here! Now go and wait in the car with them. I need to clean my teeth.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but how do the wings ...
CAROLYN (interrupting): Answer the door!
ARTHUR: Okay, I’m going, I’m going!
(Bathroom door closes. The dog yaps again.)
CAROLYN (soppy high-pitched voice): There we are, Snoopadoop! Who’s a lovely clean girl?! (She laughs affectionately.) Go free!
(Panting, the dog runs off with a rattle of claws on the linoleum.)
(Outside. The front door opens.)
ARTHUR: Hi there, Douglas!
DOUGLAS: Morning, Arthur. You’re revoltingly chirpy for half-six in the morning. Where’s your mother?
ARTHUR: She’s just brushing her teeth. She says to wait for her in the car.
(Sound of the car alarm being disabled. Car doors open.)
ARTHUR: Um, where’s Martin?
DOUGLAS: Who can predict the movements of the Supreme Commander?
(The car doors shut.)
DOUGLAS: Perhaps God wanted to pick his brains about something.
ARTHUR: How d’you mean?
DOUGLAS: Never mind. Ah, but what’s this?
(Sound of footsteps on the drive.)
DOUGLAS: Who is this commanding presence hoving into view? Can it be Sir? It can.
(Car door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Greetings, oh Sir.
MARTIN: Don’t call me ‘Sir,’ Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Sir’s mind is fickle and changeable. I shall endeavour to remember, Sir, but from time to time my natural awe of the majestic figure cut by Sir may bubble up uncontrollably and ...
MARTIN (interrupting): Thank you, Douglas. Truly you are an hilarious pilot. Where’s Carolyn?
DOUGLAS: Sharpening her teeth.
DOUGLAS: Brushing her teeth. Yes, sorry. Well, in you get, then, Sir of Sirs. You’re letting the cold in.
MARTIN: I can’t. You’re in my seat.
DOUGLAS: Your seat? You have a seat?
DOUGLAS: In Carolyn’s car?
MARTIN: The front seat is my seat.
DOUGLAS: What, did you call shotgun?
MARTIN: I don’t need to call shotgun. I’m the captain.
DOUGLAS: The captain gets the front seat in the aircraft, Martin, because he’s driving it – not in any vehicle he happens to be in.
MARTIN: I always sit in the front seat in the taxi.
DOUGLAS: Only because the taxi goes to your house first. This time I got here first, and so here I am. Voilà.
ARTHUR: Tell you what: if it makes it easier, I could go in the front.
DOUGLAS and MARTIN (simultaneously): Shut up, Arthur.
MARTIN: Douglas, I’ve gotta do the briefing. How am I supposed to give the briefing from the back seat?
DOUGLAS: I’ll still be able to hear you. I’ll be in the same car and everything! And my legs are longer – yards longer.
MARTIN: But I don’t ...
DOUGLAS: Oh, all right. I’ll toss you for it.
MARTIN: Hey, no, that’s not fair. You know about me and coin tosses.
DOUGLAS: Heads or tails?
MARTIN: Oh, bloody hell. Tails, then.
(Sound of Douglas flipping a coin, catching it and slapping it onto the back of his other hand before looking at it.)
DOUGLAS: ... Oh. That’s odd.
MARTIN: Did I ... win?
(Douglas sighs in exasperation.)
MARTIN: Did I actually win?!
(Douglas opens his door.)
MARTIN: That never happens! That’s the first time in a run of about five hundred!
DOUGLAS (tetchily): Oh just get on with it.
(Sound of footsteps as Douglas gets out and then both men get into the car. The doors close.)
MARTIN: Oh, now, that is nice. Comfy. Ahhhh! Now listen up, chaps. Here’s the briefing. Fairly straightforward.
(Rustle of a sheet of paper.)
MARTIN: Weather’s good; clear skies expected at Abu Dhabi; our alternate is Dubai. I’ll operate out; Douglas, you operate back. I trust that’s all clear?
DOUGLAS: Aye-aye, Cap’n Ahab.
MARTIN: I suppose he’s a friend of Captain Bligh, is he?
DOUGLAS: The three of you should go for a drink some time.
(Sound of footsteps on the drive; one of the car doors opens.)
CAROLYN (getting in and shutting the door): Okay, Team Useless, we’re late.
MARTIN: But that’s because you were ...
CAROLYN (starting the car and driving off): Shut up and listen. Here’s your briefing. Douglas will operate out; Martin back. Clear skies at Abu Dhabi; your alternate is Bahrain.
MARTIN: Carolyn, I’ve already done the ...
CAROLYN (interrupting): No, really, shut up and listen. Alternate Bahrain, but of course you don’t need an alternate because today’s the day we try running MJN as a profitable business rather than a charitable sanctuary for rubbish pilots. Oh, no, wait-wait-wait a minute.
(Sound of the car pulling over and stopping.)
CAROLYN: Martin, swap seats with Douglas.
CAROLYN: He’s too tall. I can’t see out of the back window. Well, come on, chop-chop!
MARTIN: I don’t believe ...
CAROLYN: I am going to count to one.
(Very brief pause.)
(Sound of car doors opening.)
(Echoey voices in the plane’s cargo hold.)
DOUGLAS: Look at all this lot: carpets, vases, and a storage heater!
MARTIN: Why would he want a storage heater in Abu Dhabi?
DOUGLAS: Well, there is a lot of heat to store.
MARTIN: Right, we’re done. (Calling out) Arthur, we’re done!
ARTHUR (some distance away): Coming, Skipper!
MARTIN: What are you doing back there?
ARTHUR: I’m just trying to soothe the cat.
(A cat wails, then yowls angrily.)
ARTHUR: Ow! Ah!
MARTIN: God. What happened?
ARTHUR: I ... failed.
DOUGLAS: Good heavens! Are you all right?
ARTHUR (coming closer): I-I think so. He’s sweet really. He was just playing.
MARTIN: At what? Being a leopard?
DOUGLAS: I wouldn’t have thought he could get his paw through the bars.
ARTHUR: Nor did I. He really can, though.
MARTIN: D’you want to go and ... sew yourself back together?
ARTHUR: No, I-I’m fine. Ish. A-Are we done?
DOUGLAS: It seems so. And now it’s back to the boring old plane flying.
(Footsteps as the men leave the cargo hold.)
ARTHUR: Oh, yes. About that. Um, I wanted to ask you something, Skipper. Mum was telling me this morning that planes fly because they’ve got wings.
DOUGLAS: Is there anything that woman doesn’t know?
ARTHUR: But she didn’t really explain – why do wings lift us up?
DOUGLAS: Ah, well. Essentially ...
MARTIN: Uh, Douglas, he asked me. Listen carefully, Arthur. The wing is curved on top but flat on the bottom. When it meets the air, it splits it in two. The air that goes over the top has further to go, so it has to go faster to keep up with the air underneath. That reduces the pressure above the wing, giving us lift.
ARTHUR: Ah, fantastic! Thanks, Skipper! I totally get it now.
MARTIN: You’re welcome.
ARTHUR: Except ... why does it have to?
MARTIN: Why does what what?
ARTHUR: Why does the air on the top have to keep up with the air on the bottom? Why don’t they just split up?
(Everyone stops walking. There’s a long pause.)
DOUGLAS: ... For the sake of the kids?
MARTIN: Fuel system checked?
MARTIN: Hydraulics checked?
MARTIN: Transponder checked?
DOUGLAS: Like a picnic tablecloth.
MARTIN: In general, plane not broken?
DOUGLAS: Plane, so far as one can tell, not broken.
MARTIN: Great. I’ll go and do the walk-around, then.
DOUGLAS: Not forgetting, of course, to check that the cargo hold temperature ...
MARTIN (interrupting): No, obviously not forgetting that. Douglas, do I have to remind you again who’s in command?
DOUGLAS: Could it, by any chance, be you, Captain Queeg?
MARTIN: Queeg? You’re just making them up now.
FRANCE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (over radio): Bonjour, Golf Tango India. Maintain three four zero, direct Châtillon.
DOUGLAS (into radio): Mais oui, mon ami. Out.
MARTIN: Post take-off checks complete, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Thank you, Captain. Perkins.
MARTIN: Oh, knock it off, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Knock what off?
MARTIN: Yes, all right, I’ve never heard of Captain Perkins. Happy now? You win again in the game of Referencing Fictional Captains I Don’t Recognise. But d’you know, that’s because of instead of reading The Adventures of Captain Perkins in my punt at Eton College Oxford, I was re-reading Principles of Climatology for Pilots, and underlining bits in red, all right?
DOUGLAS: All right. Feel better?
MARTIN (quietly): Yes.
DOUGLAS: Good. I said, “Thank you, Captain. Perkins.” Brian Perkins.
MARTIN: Oh. Right. Hanrahan.
(Flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: Lunch is served, gents.
DOUGLAS: Ah, excellent. What have we today?
ARTHUR: Ooh, heaps of deliciousness! I spent hours on it.
MARTIN: Arthur, I very much hope that you mean by that that you spent hours removing the lids from our delicious catered food.
DOUGLAS: Which, to be fair, we are perfectly prepared to imagine of you.
ARTHUR: Okay. Uh, you see, the caterers were one of the things Mum thought we could tighten our belt around. She thought that, with me not having terribly much to do on cargo flights, I could try my hand at doing the meals.
MARTIN: Did she? Did she really? And what have you prepared?
ARTHUR: Well, er, two separate meals as per. For someone, this!
(Clink of the food container onto a plate.)
MARTIN: My God.
ARTHUR (proudly): I call it my Orange Platter.
DOUGLAS: Really? I wonder why?
ARTHUR: Oh, because everything in it ...
DOUGLAS: Yes, Arthur, I can see why.
MARTIN: What makes the mashed potato orange?
ARTHUR: Cooking it in the same sauce that I used to curry the baked beans.
MARTIN: And the other option?
ARTHUR: Ah. My signature dish. Behold ...
(Clink of another container onto a plate.)
ARTHUR: ... Surprising Rice!
DOUGLAS: Good Lord!
MARTIN: What are ... those bits?
ARTHUR: Ah, you see, Skipper, if you don’t mind me saying so, that question is entirely against the spirit of Surprising Rice.
DOUGLAS: Arthur, you’re aware the point of giving us separate meals is so that we can’t both get food poisoning? There’s really not much point if you’re just going to poison us in two different ways.
ARTHUR: Oh, come on, chaps! I tried my hardest, you know.
MARTIN: That’s what we’re afraid of. Arthur, sorry, but please take these away, humanely destroy them and see if there’s anything edible on the plane. Douglas, sat comm, please.
(Sat comm on.)
MARTIN: Carolyn, what the hell are you trying to do?
CAROLYN (anxiously, over sat comm): What’s the matter? Has Arthur told you about the accommodation already? I told him to wait ’til you landed.
MARTIN: What? No. What about the accommodation?
CAROLYN: Oh, nothing, nothing. You’ll love it. It has olde worlde ... Bedouin charm. What did you want, then?
MARTIN: The food, Carolyn. We’re skilled professionals doing a difficult and dangerous job. We need proper catering.
CAROLYN: Skilled professionals don’t go to Bristol. Ask anyone. Skilled professionals don’t forget to check the cargo hold heating. Speaking of which, did you check it?
MARTIN: Yes! Yes, of course I did. How could I forget with everyone reminding me twice a minute. I checked it before the walk-round, and I checked it after the walk-round, and it was definitely, definitely off.
DOUGLAS: Sir means on, naturally. It was on. Whoops! Must go now, Carolyn – here comes a mountain. Cheerio!
(Sat comm off.)
MARTIN: Douglas, is this some half-baked revenge attempt? Because, if so, it’s really pointless. Why would she believe I deliberately turned it on?
DOUGLAS: Why indeed? But I had this sort of feeling you might hope she did, what with the cat in the hold and all.
MARTIN: ... Oh God.
DOUGLAS: Precisely. I did try to remind you.
MARTIN: Oh God.
MARTIN: D’you think it’s dead?
DOUGLAS: No, no. Definitely not. Not yet.
MARTIN: Oh God!
DOUGLAS: Probably feeling the chill, though.
MARTIN: What flight time have you got?
DOUGLAS: A little under eight hours.
MARTIN: How long can a cat survive in an unheated hold at thirty-four thousand feet?
DOUGLAS: Oh, I used to know this one. It’s always coming up in pub quizzes.
MARTIN: Yes, all right.
DOUGLAS: Now then, is it three hours and twenty-eight seconds, or is that a weasel in a submarine?
MARTIN: You don’t know?
DOUGLAS: I regret not, but I wouldn’t hold out too much hope for the answer being ‘eight hours.’
MARTIN: Oh God. I’m going to have to kill the client’s cat!
DOUGLAS: It’s looking that way.
MARTIN: I can’t kill the client’s cat!
DOUGLAS: That’s also true.
MARTIN: But what else can I do?
DOUGLAS: I suppose you could always ...
MARTIN: I can’t. I can’t divert. She’ll hunt me down. She’ll actually hunt me down with knives.
DOUGLAS: Whereas if we carry on and freeze the client’s cat to death ...?
MARTIN: Also knives. Big knives. If we ... if we did carry on and the cat didn’t make it, d’you think they’d be able to tell how it died?
DOUGLAS: Again, I fear you flatter my knowledge of cat pathology.
MARTIN: I don’t see how they could. I mean, it’s not as if it’s gonna freeze into a block of ice, is it?
DOUGLAS: Not unless it’s a cartoon cat, no.
MARTIN: I mean, it’s not as if the Cat CSI’s gonna descend on us.
DOUGLAS: I wouldn’t have thought so. They’re so busy these days.
MARTIN: I mean, I know it’s a bit rotten – for the cat – but ten thousand pounds to divert is quite a lot, isn’t it?
DOUGLAS: A fair bit. And Carolyn ...
MARTIN: ... and the knives, yes. So, what d’you think? Is that reasonable? That’s reasonable, isn’t it? Isn’t it?
DOUGLAS: It’s a command decision, Sir. All yours.
(Flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: Right, I’ve found some biscuits and some Strepsils. Who wants what?
DOUGLAS: I think we can probably risk both having the biscuits.
ARTHUR: Skipper? Are you all right?
MARTIN (vaguely): Yes.
ARTHUR: Are you sure? You’re a sort of grey-ey colour; and you didn’t even try the Surprising Rice!
MARTIN: I’m fine.
ARTHUR: No, really, is something ...
DOUGLAS (talking over him): Arthur, you were asking why the air over the wing has to keep up with the air underneath.
ARTHUR: Ooh, yes. Do you know?
DOUGLAS: Indeed I do. Attend: the air is not passing over the wing; the wing is passing through the air, so the curved upper side stretches the air forced over it apart, reducing pressure, producing lift. The lift pushes up; the weight pushes down – so as long as the lift is more than the weight, up we go. And that, my friend, is how an aeroplane flies.
ARTHUR: Got it! Right, yes! Cracking! I completely get it now.
DOUGLAS: Good. You see, it’s actually quite easy to grasp when it’s explained properly by someone who understands ...
ARTHUR: So that’s why planes can’t fly upside down.
DOUGLAS: Er, yes they can.
ARTHUR: Can they?
DOUGLAS: Well, of course they can. Haven’t you seen the Red Arrows?
ARTHUR: But ... doesn’t that mean the curved side of the wing is on the bottom, so the lift is pushing down as well as the weight? How does that work?
MARTIN (smugly): Yes, Douglas. How does that work?
DOUGLAS: Well, Arthur, there’s a very simple explanation; but just to finish what we were saying, Martin, I think it’s entirely up to you whether you let the cat in the hold freeze to death.
DOUGLAS: No-one wants to hear the explanation. What a shame.
ARTHUR: Why? Why would you do that?
MARTIN: I’m not doing it on purpose, Arthur!
ARTHUR: Then why are you doing it at all?
MARTIN: It seems the cargo hold heating may not have been turned on.
DOUGLAS: Masterly use of the passive voice.
ARTHUR: But, Skipper, it’s really cold as high up as this.
MARTIN: Yes, thank you, Professor Science.
ARTHUR: S-so we should turn the heating on.
MARTIN: Yes, okay, good idea! You can do it! Just climb out over the wing, wrench open the hold door, swing yourself in and adjust the thermostat.
ARTHUR: Okay, how will I wrench ...
MARTIN: Not really!
ARTHUR: Oh, oh, I’ve got an idea! We could divert! If we landed now, the cat might be okay.
DOUGLAS: Well done, Arthur! Why didn’t we think of that, Martin?
MARTIN: Arthur, I know he’s a lovely cat, but it ... it costs thousands and thousands of pounds to divert, and you remember your mother and her ... thoughts about that?
ARTHUR: Right. Yes. But ... you know ... it’s just a sweet little pussycat.
MARTIN: It’s not! It’s a crazed psycho-cat! Look at yourself, Arthur! You have open wounds!
ARTHUR: Yeah, I-I suppose so, but ... it’s gonna get really cold ...
(Martin sighs in despair.)
ARTHUR: ... and ... you know ... die.
MARTIN: So you want me to divert, is that it? You want me to ditch in Nowheresville, Normandy. You want me to tell Carolyn I do have the absolutely cast-iron excuse she demanded for diverting, and it goes ‘Miaow.’
ARTHUR: Yes please.
MARTIN: All right. Fine. Fine! All right. It’s only a job. There’ll be other jobs.
MARTIN: France Control, this is Golf Tango India. Request immediate diversion to nearest airfield.
FRANCE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL (over radio): Roger, Golf Tango India. Do you have an emergency?
MARTIN: Well ... (he sighs) ... we’ve got ...
DOUGLAS (interrupting): One moment, please, Tower.
MARTIN: What is it, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Captain ...
(Sound of a match being struck.)
DOUGLAS: I do believe I can smell smoke in the flight deck. Can you smell smoke in the flight deck, Captain?
MARTIN: Yes. Yes, I can, Douglas. Could you request an immediate diversion, please?
DOUGLAS: Certainly, Sir.