Script by John Finnemore
Transcript by Ariane DeVere
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MARTIN (over cabin address): Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Apologies to those of you who have been watching the in-flight entertainment this evening. Unfortunately a mechanical fault seems to have developed and I’m afraid we will not be able to bring you the last half hour of our feature presentation. However, as luck would have it, I happened to see this film a couple of days ago; and I’m happy to tell you that the bald guy was in the pay of the Mob all along; and that that woman from The West Wing shot Bill Paxton, but they caught her in the end. I hope that helps.
This week, Edinburgh!
CAROLYN: And lastly, your roster for the next two weeks. On the eighteenth, you’re going to Oslo to pick up a CFO ...
ARTHUR: Wow! What, for government scientists to study?
CAROLYN: A CFO, Arthur, not UFO. Then nothing ’til the twenty-fourth when, I’m afraid, you’re taking a stag do to Rome.
(Martin and Douglas both groan.)
CAROLYN: Yes, I know, I know. They bring us three millennia of art, culture and architecture; we bring them thirteen City boys to throw up on it. It is heart-breaking.
ARTHUR: Where did you go for your stag night, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Which one?
MARTIN: Any of them.
DOUGLAS: Oh, the first one was the best. Soho, nineteen seventy-seven, with my brother, Jeffrey Bernard, Peter Cook, and a Kink.
CAROLYN: What’s a kink?
DOUGLAS: One of The Kinks.
MARTIN: Which one?
DOUGLAS: Oh, I know nothing about pop music. Whichever one it is that can fit three golf balls in his mouth.
CAROLYN: Anyway – after Rome, a little treat, because guess what’s happening on the twenty-eighth?
DOUGLAS: Ah! The Six Nations final!
ARTHUR: Birling Day!
CAROLYN: Indeed it is.
DOUGLAS (triumphantly): Yes!
CAROLYN: Ah. Of course. You hadn’t joined us by last Birling Day, had you?
MARTIN: What’s Birling Day?
DOUGLAS: Mr. Birling is a retired gentleman who lives in an enormous house in Sussex with his enormous pile of money and his enormous wife; and his big treat is that once a year, he hires us to take him to the Six Nations rugby final, wherever it is ... Where is it this year, Carolyn?
DOUGLAS: ... where he proceeds to get heroically sloshed and spends the rest of the year sleeping it off.
MARTIN: ... Right. So what’s so special about that?
DOUGLAS (nonchalantly): Oh, no reason. It’s just fun – after a year of CFOs and stag dos – to take a nice old boy out on a spree.
(In a car.)
DOUGLAS: All right, Arthur, nearly there.
MARTIN: Why do we all have to pick him up, anyway?
DOUGLAS: It’s just a little courtesy Mr. Birling likes, that’s all.
MARTIN: I’ve never seen you like this with a client, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Ah, well, Mr. B is something special.
(Car pulls up. Doors open. Approaching footsteps.)
Mr. BIRLING (posh voice): My dear boys! My dear boys! Cometh the hour, cometh the men; the magnificent men in their flying machines, no less.
ARTHUR: Hello, Mr. Birling!
MR. BIRLING: Arthur, my dear boy! How are you? Now, I hope you’ve been brushing up on your rugby since we last met.
ARTHUR: Oh yes! Ask me anything.
MR. BIRLING: Who won the last Grand Slam?
ARTHUR (instantly): France!
MR. BIRLING: What colour do Italy play in?
ARTHUR (instantly): Red.
MR. BIRLING: How many points for a conversion?
ARTHUR (instantly): Three.
MR. BIRLING: Excellent; very good.
ARTHUR: How many did I get right?
MR. BIRLING: Not a single one, but weren’t you quick?
ARTHUR: I was quick!
MR. BIRLING: Like lightning, dear boy, absolute lightning. And a new face, I see.
DOUGLAS: Mr. Birling, may I introduce Martin Crieff.
MR. BIRLING: Hello there, my little man. Now, ‘Crieff,’ ‘Crieff.’ Any relation to Jolyon Crieff?
MARTIN: I doubt it.
MR. BIRLING: Ah, but one never knows, one never knows.
MARTIN: One never does, but one can have a fairly strong hunch that no-one in one’s family has ever been called Joly-on.
MR. BIRLING: Well, you’re quite right, of course. My chap was a Moncrieff – like Algernon.
MR. BIRLING: In Earnest.
MR. BIRLING: D’you know your Wilde, my boy?
MARTIN: I’m wild? In what sense?
MR. BIRLING: No, no, Oscar Wilde. Dear me, Douglas, you seem to have landed yourself a bit of a chump.
MARTIN (spluttering): I beg your pardon?!
MR. BIRLING: Oh, granted, my little man, granted. No doubt you’re a valued alumnus of the University of Life ... or possibly Exeter.
MR. BIRLING: Douglas, old man, I take it congratulations are in order – final return to the captain’s seat of which you were such an ornament for so long.
DOUGLAS: No, no. Still in the ... co-pilot’s seat. But ... (he forces a chuckle) ... still terribly ornamental!
MR. BIRLING: Hmm. You don’t mean that ... that this young man’s the captain?
MARTIN: Yes, that’s right. Does that concern you?
MR. BIRLING: Oh, not in the least. I’m all for youth opportunities. I was just thinking what, er, an awful slap in the face it must be for Dougie here.
DOUGLAS (faintly): Oh, no, not really.
MR. BIRLING: Oh, but yes yes really. I mean, do you have to do everything he says?
DOUGLAS: Well ...
MR. BIRLING: And Arthur, my boy, are you still going around with that delightful girl with a squint?
ARTHUR: Er, no.
MR. BIRLING: Did she say she couldn’t see you any more?
ARTHUR: Yeah, she did.
MR. BIRLING: Yes. I have to admit I prepared that one in advance. I was dreading that you might still be together so I couldn’t use it.
ARTHUR: Well, we’re not.
MR. BIRLING: Well, it wasn’t a big risk, I’ll admit. Just look at you.
(He claps his hands together.)
MR. BIRLING: Right, that’s enough pleasantries, I think. Shall we go?
(The door to the portacabin opens.)
ARTHUR: ... but now I’ve got a new way of remembering, because Ireland wear green, ’cause shamrocks are green; Scotland wear blue, ’cause it’s cold in Scotland; England wear red ’cause the flag’s red, white and blue.
DOUGLAS: England wear white.
ARTHUR: Oh yeah: England wear white ’cause the flag’s red, white and blue; France ...
DOUGLAS: Yes, jolly good. Er, Martin, Mr. B’s all settled and I’ve got the weather for you.
MARTIN: Never mind the weather. What was all that?!
DOUGLAS: All what?
MARTIN: That astonishing display of synchronised sycophancy.
DOUGLAS: Oh, very good. Have you been working on that for a while?
MARTIN (sighing in exasperation): You said he was a nice old boy. He’s a horrible old boy.
ARTHUR: What, Mr. B? No!
DOUGLAS: It’s just his way, Martin – a little harmless joshing.
MARTIN: He called you a failed criminal, and Arthur a repulsive half-wit.
ARTHUR: And you ...
MARTIN: I know what he called me. Now how is that ‘harmless joshing’?
DOUGLAS: Well, I think for someone from his background, it’s ...
MARTIN (sighing): Oh, I see. I know what this is. It doesn’t matter how nasty he is, so long as he went to a jolly good public school, like you two.
DOUGLAS: Oh, now, that’s not fair at all! Arthur went to a ghastly public school.
ARTHUR: It’s true, I did. I mean, once, I was top in my year. Me!
MARTIN: Well, for the duration of the trip, can we all please try to have a little professional dignity and not go all gooey just because a man in an embroidered waistcoat calls us ‘dear boys’?
DOUGLAS: He didn’t call you a ‘dear boy’; he called you a ‘little man.’
ARTHUR: Martin, you don’t understand, though ...
DOUGLAS (interrupting): He understands perfectly, Arthur.
MARTIN: Hang on. Hang on. I know that tone of voice. What are you trying to stop Arthur from telling me?
DOUGLAS: I wouldn’t dream of trying ...
ARTHUR: Well, I was just gonna say: what about the tips?!
MARTIN: Ohhhh, I see.
DOUGLAS: Now, look ...
MARTIN: Now it begins to make sense. Big tipper, is he? How nice! So he can treat you how he likes, so long as he pays you off at the end of it. How very dignified.
DOUGLAS: It’s not like that ...
MARTIN: How much does he give you, then? Go on.
DOUGLAS: It’s not ... it’s not a question of how mu...
MARTIN: Come on!
DOUGLAS: Well, if you must know, last year he gave us five hundred pounds each.
MARTIN: ... Oh. Very nice.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but that was unusual ...
DOUGLAS: True. That was because England won. We can’t expect that to happen this year.
ARTHUR: Oh. Aren’t England good any more?
DOUGLAS: Not good enough to win a match between Wales and France, certainly.
(In the flight deck.)
MARTIN: All right, let’s get ...
(Flight deck door opens.)
MARTIN (in a resigned voice): Oh, hello.
DOUGLAS: Carolyn! A flight deck visit. What a nice surprise.
CAROLYN: Really? Is it really such a surprise to see me on Birling Day?
DOUGLAS: Perhaps not.
CAROLYN: Perhaps indeed not. Open your flight bag.
DOUGLAS: If you insist.
(Sound of Carolyn unzipping the bag and rummaging through it.)
MARTIN: What’s going on?
DOUGLAS: It’s a Birling Day tradition: a little contest Carolyn and I have, and that I win.
CAROLYN: It’s not a ‘tradition’ or a ‘contest’: it is systematic theft. You see, Martin, Mr. Birling is partial to twenty-five year old Talisker single malt whisky.
DOUGLAS: As am I.
CAROLYN: As is Douglas – the difference being, of course, that Mr. Birling is a paying and valued customer, whilst Douglas is merely a sneaky thieving pilot.
MARTIN: You drink his whisky on the trip?!
DOUGLAS: No, of course not! I steal his whisky on the trip, and drink it later.
CAROLYN: Well, not this time. Philip! Arthur! Come in here!
(Flight deck door opens.)
CAROLYN: You know Philip from the fire crew, don’t you?
DOUGLAS: Course. Good morning, Philip.
PHILIP: Hallo, Mr. Richardson.
CAROLYN: Good. Philip: frisk him, properly.
PHILIP (patting Douglas down): Sorry about this, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Quite all right.
PHILIP: Er, what am I looking for?
CAROLYN: Tubes, reservoirs, bottles strapped to his legs; anything that can hold liquid. Now, let’s see what we have in your flight bag. Hip flask – an obvious decoy. Still ... (She unscrews it.) Ah. Water. Thought so. A shampoo bottle ... for coloured hair. Surely you’re not tinting, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Oh! Does ‘coloured’ mean ‘dyed’? I thought it just meant ‘full of colour.’
CAROLYN: Yes, of course you did(!) Well, that seems to be shampoo ...
(She unzips another pocket in the bag.)
CAROLYN: ... and, what’s this? Nail varnish?
MARTIN: Nail varnish?!
DOUGLAS: Well, go on, sniff it. It is nail varnish.
CAROLYN: Yes. Yes, it is. What do you want nail varnish for?
DOUGLAS: If you must know, I find it prevents cracking and splitting.
MARTIN: Well! I had no idea you were such a pretty pilot, Douglas!
DOUGLAS (pointedly): Anyway, are you satisfied, Carolyn?
CAROLYN: For now, yes; but let me tell you this, Fingers: on your return, Philip here will be once more frisking you with digits dexterous with practice – and I shall be going through your flight bag with the very finest of tooth combs. And if any of these things have magically transformed from water, shampoo and ... nail varnish ...
CAROLYN: ... into twenty-five year old Scotch, I shall know about it. Now then, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Yes, Mum!
(Clinking of small bottles.)
CAROLYN: I have here thirteen little miniature bottles of Talisker. Guard them with your life. When it’s time to give Mr. Birling another whisky, you take one of these and a fresh glass, you open it in front of him, listening for the crack of the seal breaking, like so.
(‘Crack’ as she breaks the seal of one of the bottles.)
CAROLYN: And you pour it out for him with one hand.
ARTHUR: Why only one hand?
CAROLYN: Because with the other hand you will be most likely fighting off the Yogi Bear of the drinks trolley, First Officer Richardson. Here they are ...
(Clink of the bottles as she hands them over.)
CAROLYN: ... Oh. Except you can’t give him this one. The seal’s been broken. Would, er, anybody like to try it? Oh! (She chuckles.) What am I thinking? You’re all about to go on duty. What a terrible shame(!) Oh, well, cheers.
(Pause as she takes a swig from the bottle.)
CAROLYN: Oh! That is terribly good.
ARTHUR (over cabin address system): Hallo, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to ... well, gentlemen ... well, gentleman ... well, Mr. Birling. Hallo, Mr. Birling!
MR. BIRLING: Hallo, Arthur.
ARTHUR (still over cabin address system): Ooh, hallo! Er, anyway, welcome aboard. Erm, the captain has now at this time disilluminated the seat belt sign ...
MR. BIRLING: Yes, I saw.
ARTHUR: ... er, right, so you can, if you wish, avail yourself of the opportunity to disengage your seatbelt at this moment in time.
MR. BIRLING: Never did it up in the first place. I’m not a girl.
ARTHUR: ... Right. (He laughs.) Actually, I like doing it like this. It’s-it’s more like a chat, isn’t it?
MR. BIRLING: It is – the snag being, of course, that the last thing I want from you is a chat, whereas the first thing I want is another whisky.
ARTHUR: Ah. Right-o!
(He walks four paces to Mr. Birling’s side, ‘cracks’ open a bottle and pours it into a glass.)
MR. BIRLING: Mmm! Yum-yum. Mmm.
ARTHUR: Mr. B? What did you mean before when you said you weren’t surprised about Fliss and me breaking up?
MR. BIRLING: Well, she was from a good family, wasn’t she?
ARTHUR: I liked them.
MR. BIRLING: There you are, then. Even if she didn’t get fed up with you – which frankly she surely did – doubtless her people put their foot down.
MR. BIRLING: Well, for a start, you’re twenty-eight, you have a ridiculous job and you still live with your mother.
ARTHUR: Well, yeah, but not in the, “Ooh, still lives with his mother” way people are thinking when they laugh about it. I ... I just live with her because we get on really well, like friends, so why pay rent?
MR. BIRLING: That is precisely what people are thinking when they laugh about it.
ARTHUR (plaintively): So ... you don’t think anyone will want to be with me?
MR. BIRLING: Well, Arthur, what it really boils down to is: I’m bored of talking about this. Now, when do I get to visit the flight deck?
ARTHUR (sadly): I’ll-I’ll go and see.
MARTIN (into radio): Lundy, good afternoon. This is Golf Echo Romeo Tango India, maintaining flight level two-five-zero, direct Pole Hill.
LUNDY ATC: Roger, Golf Tango India, maintain two-five-zero ...
(The flight deck door opens as ATC continues repeating back Martin’s message.)
ARTHUR (morosely): Hello. Would you like your coffee yet?
MARTIN: Arthur? What’s the matter?
ARTHUR (sighing): Nothing. I just wondered if you wanted your coffee.
DOUGLAS: And the thought reminded you of your cousin Vladimir who died in a coffee mine?
ARTHUR (sadly): No, I’m fine. I’ll go and get it. Oh, and Mr. Birling was wondering if he can come up to the flight deck yet.
DOUGLAS: Of course, of course! Send the old boy up.
MARTIN: What? No! of course not! What’s got into you both? You know the law!
ARTHUR (more brightly): Yeah, but it’s Mr. Birling! He always visits.
MARTIN: Oh, I see. I wasn’t aware that the Air Navigation Order finished, quote, “... unless, of course, he went to the right school and is liable to tip you half a grand at the end of the flight,” unquote.
ARTHUR: Ah, but that was only because England won.
MARTIN: Fine – a hundred quid. So much the more reason not to disregard ...
(Flight deck door opens.)
MARTIN: What the ...?
MR. BIRLING: Hello! I got bored waiting, so I thought what I’d do is just assume it would be fine.
MARTIN: Well... I-I-I’m sorry, sir, but it’s not. CAA regulations and the UK law forbid any non crew member on the flight deck during the flight.
MR. BIRLING: Oh, nonsense. Sort this out, Douglas.
DOUGLAS (apologetically): Erm, I’m very sorry, Mr. Birling. If the captain insists, there’s nothing I can do.
MR. BIRLING: Oh dear. I was right. It is humiliating. You must feel totally emasculated. Ooh!
MARTIN: Sir, will you please return to your seat?
MR. BIRLING: All right, all right. You mustn’t expect much of a tip from me, though, I’m afraid.
DOUGLAS: Er, can I just emphasise: this is entirely the captain’s decision.
MR. BIRLING: Yes, yes, I get the point, though the fact remains, Dougie: I’m not enjoying myself. What shall we do about that?
DOUGLAS: Well ... Now, how about if I came back with you, show you the flight plan, the charts, the weather maps?
MR. BIRLING: Ah, yes. That might help.
MARTIN: Or just get on your hands and knees and let him use you as a footstool.
MR. BIRLING: Oh, and bring your hat. I like wearing your hat – though it’s not as good as your captain’s hat. Well, I need hardly tell you that.
(On the ground, outside the plane.)
MARTIN: All right. Thank you.
(He hangs up his mobile phone.)
MARTIN: I do apologise, sir, but they assure me the limo is on its way and will be with us momentarily.
MR. BIRLING: Well, I don’t suppose it would be here ‘momentarily.’
MARTIN: I’m sure it will, sir.
MR. BIRLING (tetchily): No, I mean it’s not going to wink into existence beside us for a moment and then disappear, is it?
MARTIN (sighing): No. No it’s not.
MR. BIRLING: And yet, curiously, if it did we would still be one up on our current situation.
MARTIN: As I say, sir, I apologise.
MR. BIRLING: Is that it?
MR. BIRLING: Captain, the other two have explained to you, I hope, that I’m rather a generous tipper.
MARTIN: They did mention it, yes.
MR. BIRLING: Hmm. ... but that the level of my tips depends entirely on the quality of the, um ... well, I was gonna say ‘customer service’ but let’s be straight with one another ... the toadying I receive.
MARTIN (sighing): I gathered that, but I’m afraid, sir, that I like to think of myself as not quite so easily bought.
(A car pulls up and stops.)
MR. BIRLING: Ah, well, I see, I see. Then I shall see you after the match.
(The car door is opened.)
MR. BIRLING: Oh, and for the avoidance of doubt, it occurs to me that in a fairytale I would be so impressed by your failure to be bought, I would at the end of the trip give you an even bigger tip than anyone else. What you should know about me, though, is that I like being toadied to, and I pay people to do it ... (the car door closes) ... so you won’t be getting a sausage! Cheerio!
(The car drives away.)
(Outside. A cheerful, steel drum-style ringtone.)
ARTHUR (answering the phone morosely): Hello? Arthur Shappey?
CAROLYN (over phone): Hello, witless, it’s your mother.
ARTHUR: Oh, hello, Mum. How are you?
CAROLYN: Too busy to tell you. How is it going? Did you get there on time? Is Mr. Birling happy?
ARTHUR (sadly): Yeah, it’s all fine. Martin’s showing Mr. B to his limo; Douglas and I are gonna watch the match in the plane; Mr. Birling says I’ll never find another girlfriend.
CAROLYN: Oh. Well, Mr. Birling – the seventy-something retiree from Sussex – is, of course, one of the country’s foremost relationship experts ...
ARTHUR (anguished): Oh, no, is he? I didn’t even know that.
CAROLYN: ... but what he doesn’t know that we know is the peculiar and unaccountable pull you have over bossy, Pony Club types with Alice bands and stupid names.
ARTHUR (more brightly): Yeah, I do have that, don’t I? Like Minty ... and Libbit ... and Pobs!
CAROLYN: Oh, no, please don’t list them. Sounds like you’re brainstorming names for a Labrador puppy. Look, where are you, anyway? You sound as if you’re in a wind tunnel.
ARTHUR: Oh, I just, er, popped onto the roof of the plane.
CAROLYN: The roof?! What the hell are you doing up there?!
ARTHUR: Well, the picture on the rugby went all funny, so Douglas said I should shin up onto the roof and twiddle the aerial ... only now I’m here, I can’t seem to find it.
CAROLYN: Ohh, you idiot boy! This is “Go and water the window boxes” all over again, isn’t it?
CAROLYN: Yes, “Ohhh!” Douglas is just trying to make a fool of you ... though one would have thought all the fish in that particular barrel had been shot long ago. Get down immediately, and make sure you don’t break any of those miniatures.
ARTHUR: The miniatures...? (He trails off quickly.)
CAROLYN (sharply): What? Arthur – do not tell me that you left Douglas with the miniatures.
ARTHUR: No, no! (Hesitantly, unconvincingly) No, I’ve got them here with me. It’s all fine.
CAROLYN: Then why did you start to say “the miniatures,” then?
ARTHUR: I-I didn’t.
CAROLYN: You did. I heard you.
ARTHUR: No! I was just ... singing to myself.
CAROLYN: Singing? What were you singing?
ARTHUR: ... (singing hesitantly to the tune of ‘Hey, Big Spender’) ♪ The minute yer ... walked through the door ... boom boom ♪
(TV on inside the cabin. Plane door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Oh, well done, Arthur, you did the trick. Look.
ARTHUR (quietly): I didn’t find the aerial.
DOUGLAS: Oh? Well, you must have knocked it by accident or something.
ARTHUR (quietly): I don’t even think there is an aerial up there.
DOUGLAS: Oh, all right. You got me. It was a bit of a joke. Still, nice to get some fresh air and exercise, eh?
ARTHUR: Douglas, Mum was just wondering: while I was up there, you didn’t steal the posh whisky, did you?
DOUGLAS: Arthur! Would I do a thing like that?
ARTHUR: You’ve done it on every single Birling Day so far.
DOUGLAS: Well, not this one. Your mother’s been too clever for me. Go and check.
(Rattle of the galley curtain. Clinking of bottles.)
ARTHUR: Well, they’re all still here.
ARTHUR: And they’re full. But maybe you’ve swapped them for tea or something.
DOUGLAS: Well, even if I did, how would I get it off the plane? But if you’re worried, see if the seal’s broken.
DOUGLAS: Pick one at random.
(Clink of the bottles as Arthur picks one up.)
DOUGLAS: And open it up.
(‘Crack’ of the seal breaking.)
DOUGLAS: There you are. Still virgo intacta. Well, not any more, of course. You can’t serve him that one. Shall I take it off your hands?
DOUGLAS: Fine. Be like that. Now, come on: Wales are five points up.
(They urge on the team as the crowd on the TV begins to roar and the commentator gets more excited.)
COMMENTATOR: And Gethin Jenkins picks it up – he runs! He scores!
DOUGLAS and ARTHUR: Yeah!
(Plane door opens.)
MARTIN: God. He is insufferable.
DOUGLAS: What, old Mr. B? No, he’s a nice old boy really.
MARTIN: Douglas, I’m really surprised at you. I didn’t think it was your style to roll over and grovel just for a big tip.
DOUGLAS: We can’t all have your high moral standards, Martin. (Triumphantly) Yes!! Nice kicking, Cymru!
MARTIN: Why are you cheering for Wales? You hate Wales!
DOUGLAS: Oh, now, I wouldn’t say that.
MARTIN: You say that every time we fly to Cardiff – often to the handling staff! I dread to think what they do to our cases.
DOUGLAS: No, no! All one union, aren’t we? Gotta support anyone against the French.
ARTHUR: That’s not why I’m supporting them.
DOUGLAS: Martin doesn’t want to hear why ...
MARTIN: Yes I do. Why, Arthur?
ARTHUR: Well, imagine the size of the tip Mr. Birling’ll give us if his side win.
MARTIN: But ... England aren’t playing.
ARTHUR: No. But Mr. Birling’s Welsh.
MARTIN: He’s not Welsh! How can he be Welsh?! He’s English! He sounds more English than the Queen!
ARTHUR: Posh Welsh. They sound like us. Still Welsh, though. He hates England. That’s why he gave us such measly tips last year.
ARTHUR: Yeah, I told you! Last time we only got five hundred quid, because England beat Wales. The time before that, we got six grand! And Wales weren’t even playing that time!
MARTIN: W... ho... Why didn’t you tell me?
DOUGLAS: You made it clear where you stood on the matter, Captain. To be honest, I was shamed into silence by your rectitude. “His dignity is beyond price,” I thought to myself, “and far be it for me to ...”
MARTIN: Yes, all right!
ARTHUR: And imagine what we’ll get if Wales actually win!
(The cheering on the TV gets louder.)
DOUGLAS: Oh, here we go!
COMMENTATOR: The whistle blows, and Wales are Triple Crown champions!
DOUGLAS, ARTHUR and MARTIN (simultaneously): Yes!!
COMMENTATOR: Two tries in the second half ...
(The limousine pulls up. Mr. Birling is singing to the tune of ‘Cwm Rhondda.’)
MR. BIRLING: ♪ Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, yum yum-yum-yum-yum-yum-yum! Bread of hea-ven, here I come! ♪
MARTIN (fawning): Congratulations, sir. Marvellously played.
MR. BIRLING: Ah, if it isn’t little Captain No-Tips-Please-We’re-British.
MARTIN: Ah, well, yes, since you mentioned that, um ...
MR. BIRLING: You know, there’s a little ... very little, tiny, really ... part of me that admires you, my boy.
(They walk up the steps of the plane.)
MR. BIRLING: I mean, obviously, I don’t admire your manner or your job or your appearance, or anything about you at all and ...
MR. BIRLING: I seem to have lost the thread of my remarks.
MARTIN: You were just saying you admire me, sir.
MR. BIRLING: I very much doubt that.
MARTIN: No, you were, a-about the tips. But the thing is ...
MR. BIRLING: Ah yes, that’s right. You don’t want a tip. The Land of my Fathers has won the Triple Crown, I’m all set to give off money like a ... like a money-geyser, and yet you won’t toady. That’s almost enough to make me admire you, if you weren’t so obviously an odious little tick.
MARTIN: Thank you, sir. Erm, but about the toadying: I’ve had a slight change of heart.
MR. BIRLING: Oh, I see! You want in on the tips after all.
MARTIN: Yes please.
MR. BIRLING: Well then, you, my boy, have much ground to make up.
(Flight deck door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Oh, hello, Mr. Birling. This is a pleasant surprise.
MR. BIRLING: What-ho, Dougie. Little Captain Thing here invited me up to the flight deck for take-off.
DOUGLAS: Did he now?! Good for Captain Thing!
MARTIN (fawning): So if you’d like to take a seat here, sir. I’ll get you some headphones.
MR. BIRLING: I’d rather sit here.
MARTIN: Much as I’d like to help you, Mr. Birling, you probably can’t sit in the captain’s seat.
MR. BIRLING: Oh dear.
MARTIN: But if there’s anything else I can ...
MR. BIRLING: You can let me make the man say, “Pull up, pull up.”
DOUGLAS: Mr. Birling has a particular fondness for the Ground Proximity warning.
MARTIN: Oh! Right! Well ... yes. If you’d like to press this ...
(Alarm beeps. An automated voice sounds.)
GROUND PROXIMITY WARNING: Pull up. Pull up.
MR. BIRLING: Ha-ha! Splendid!
GROUND PROXIMITY WARNING: Pull up. Pull up.
DOUGLAS: Post take-off checks complete, Captain.
MR. BIRLING: Did you see the match, Dougie-boy?
DOUGLAS: I did indeed, sir. A famous victory. Jenkins did you proud.
MR. BIRLING: Didn’t he just? I support Wales, Marty. Did I tell you?
MARTIN: Er, no, as it happens, you didn’t.
MR. BIRLING: Who do you support?
MARTIN: ... Wales.
MR. BIRLING: Really? Where were you born?
MARTIN (slowly): ... Wokingham.
MR. BIRLING: Well, then, where’s your national pride, you reptile?
MARTIN: Of course, you’re right. (He laughs.) Should support England.
MR. BIRLING: No! Trick question. Ten out of ten for toadying effort; none out of ten for toadying technique. I detest anyone who supports England. Your people have oppressed my people for centuries.
MARTIN: Yes. I’m so sorry about that.
MR. BIRLING: All right, I’m bored now. Take me back to my seat.
DOUGLAS: Oh, I’ll do that, Mr. Birling ...
MARTIN: No, I’ll do that, thank you, Douglas.
(Flight deck door opens as Martin escorts Mr. B towards the cabin.)
MARTIN: And if there’s anything else I can do for you ...
MR. BIRLING: Ah, well, funny you should say that while we’re in the galley. I think you should know that the more I drink, the more generous I get.
MARTIN: I’ll send Arthur to bring your miniatures straight away.
MR. BIRLING: Yes. The thing about those miniatures is, they’re rather miniature, wouldn’t you say? When you’re celebrating a great big win, you rather want a great big whisky.
MARTIN: Ah, well. Let’s see what we have in the cupboard.
(Jingle of keys, then Martin opens the cupboard.)
MARTIN: Um ...
(Clinking of a large bottle.)
MARTIN: ... well, this is what we give the stag parties. Um, McHamish’s Special Tartan Reserve. I’m not sure it’s quite the quality you’re used to.
MR. BIRLING: That will do nicely, my boy. The time for quality has passed. Quantity is the watchword now! And excellent toadying work, incidentally – you’re a natural. Oh, and give me that as well.
MARTIN: Of course, sir.
DOUGLAS: Post landing checks complete.
MARTIN: Thank you, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: Incidentally, Martin, where’s your hat?
MARTIN: It’s in the cabin.
DOUGLAS: What’s it doing there?
MARTIN: It’s not doing anything. It’s a hat.
DOUGLAS: You see, I think it is doing something. I think it is adorning the head and loosening the pockets of a man who ...
MARTIN: Yes, all right.
(Flight deck door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Ah, Arthur. How is the Pride of Carmarthen?
ARTHUR: Uhh, sleepy. If I had to describe him in one word, that-that is the one I’d choose. Really very sleepy. He didn’t even wake up for my pre-landing safety announcement, and that’s impressive, because I did the version with the screams.
(Galley curtain rattles open.)
MR. BIRLING (singing blurrily): ♪ If ten green bottles hangin’-on-a-wall. Ten green bottles hangin’-on-a-wall. And if ten green bottles ... hangin’-on-a-wall, there are ten green bottles hangin’-on-a-wall. ♪
ARTHUR: Hello, Mr. B. Uh, we’ve landed.
MR. BIRLING (slurring): D’you like my song?
DOUGLAS: Indeed we do, but ...
MR. BIRLING: It concerns ... ♪ bottles. ♪
MR. BIRLING: I don’t seem to be making much headway with it at all.
DOUGLAS: Well, don’t you worry about that. The important thing is: we’ve arrived.
MR. BIRLING: Mmmm.
MARTIN: Yes, the journey is over.
ARTHUR: Mum’ll be here any moment to pick you up!
DOUGLAS: So ... if there was any last little thing you were ...
MR. BIRLING: I might have a little sleep.
MR. BIRLING: Good night.
(Clunk of a bottle dropping to the floor.)
DOUGLAS: Oh no! Arthur! How on earth did he get hold of this?!
ARTHUR: I don’t – I don’t know, Douglas! Honest! I didn’t give it to him! A-and I swear I kept the cupboard locked.
MARTIN (anxiously): What-what-what? What’s the matter?
DOUGLAS: Well, use your eyes, Martin! He’s got hold of a half litre bottle! Arthur, what were you thinking of?!
ARTHUR: It really, really wasn’t me! I’m not completely stupid!
MARTIN: ... Well ... it wouldn’t be that stupid, would it? I mean, if ... We wanted him drunk, didn’t we?
DOUGLAS: Oh Martin. You didn’t?
ARTHUR: Oh, Skipper.
MARTIN: He asked me to! He said the drunker he got, the more generous he tipped.
DOUGLAS: Yes, up to a point, after which the drunker he gets, the more catatonic he gets.
ARTHUR: That’s why he’s on the miniatures, Skip, so we can – you know – regulate the flow.
(Knocking on the plane door.)
CAROLYN: Hello! Are you ready to go?
DOUGLAS: Mr. Birling? Wake up!
MARTIN: Please, wake up!
ARTHUR: Come on, Mr. B! Rise and shine!
(The door opens as Mr. B sings drunkenly under his breath.)
CAROLYN: Good evening, Mr. Birling. I trust you had a pleasant ... Oh, good lord. He’s outdone himself this time.
(Mr. B makes an incoherent sound.)
DOUGLAS: Yes, with a little help from his friends.
CAROLYN: All right. Well, Philip – do you think you can carry him?
PHILIP: Reckon so.
CAROLYN: Good! Then you escort Mr. Birling to his limo, and then return straight here for a lively game of Search the First Officer for Stolen Whisky.
(Sound of Mr. B being hauled up out of his chair.)
MARTIN: Bye then, Mr. Birling.
(Mr. B grunts.)
DOUGLAS: Any last thing you want to say to us before you go?
ARTHUR: Anything at all?
MR. BIRLING (drunkenly): ♪ ... hangin’-on-a-wall. ♪
MARTIN: Right. Thanks.
(Sound of the limo driving away.)
ARTHUR: Hey. Maybe when he sobers up, he’ll remember he hasn’t tipped us and send us something in the post.
DOUGLAS: Yes(!) Maybe. Or maybe he’ll just get the tooth fairy to pop it under our pillows for him on her rounds.
ARTHUR: I know what will cheer us up. You didn’t manage to get any of that Talisker off the plane, did you, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: No, as it happens I didn’t.
ARTHUR: No, well ... I did.
ARTHUR: Yeah. I mean, not lots or anything – just ... you remember that miniature you made me open, Douglas, that I couldn’t serve to Mr. Birling? Well, I’ve still got it!
MARTIN: Oh, good work, Arthur! Well played!
ARTHUR: Who wants a swig?
MARTIN: Er, yes please!
(He swallows a mouthful.)
MARTIN: That’s horrible!
DOUGLAS (tetchily): Well, it would be. I stole all the Talisker while you were on the roof.
ARTHUR: But you-you can’t have done! They were all still sealed when I came down! I opened one at random!
DOUGLAS: No, they weren’t all still sealed. They all still made a *khrrr* noise. But you see, Arthur, there are two ways of making a whisky miniature make a *khrrr* noise. One certainly is to get an unopened one straight from the factory; but another is to take an open one and to dab the side of the cap with two spots of clear nail varnish. Yeah. So while Arthur was bravely searching for the TV aerial, I opened them all up and switched them for McHamish Tartan Terror – Mr. B being in no state to tell the difference – and then I hid the Talisker on the plane to reclaim at my leisure.
MARTIN: Oh, so at least we ...
DOUGLAS (interrupting): I hid it somewhere no-one would think to look for it or recognise it for what it was – somewhere no-one would touch it. I hid it in the ...
(Martin joins in with him.)
MARTIN and DOUGLAS (simultaneously): ... McHamish Tartan bottle.
DOUGLAS: Yes. Mr. Birling got his Talisker after all. Let’s hope he appreciated it.
ARTHUR: I don’t think he did.
DOUGLAS: No. I don’t think he did either.
MARTIN: So we don’t have any good whisky ... or bad whisky ... or a tip.
DOUGLAS: Anyone care for a shot of nail varnish?