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MILGRIP'S PROGRESS
First transmitted by BBC Radio 4 on 3rd November 1969

From "The Guardian" (8 November 1969)

Two programmes from the regions this week provide excellent examples of why it would be a real shame to cut back, as is proposed in "Broadcasting in the Seventies", on regional output...........

The second was the Wednesday afternoon play from the Midland Region, W. G. Stanton's MILGRIP'S PROGRESS. This was a bitterly funny look at what separates the men on the shop-floor from the boys in lower executive ranks. It had sympathy, insight, and a sound, round construction. A first play from Mr. Stanton went out some weeks ago on Radio 4 (THE COMPOST HEAP, starring Wilfred Pickles), when the author's gift for constructing interior dialogue for the protagonist was used as in this week's play to heighten the contrast with the action of the other characters. Anthony Cornish, whose work I have learned to look out for, produced both plays.

Gillian Reynolds.

From "The Observer" (9th November 1969)

How many radio plays have there been about someone or other's progress? In MILGRIP'S PROGRESS (Afternoon Theatre, Radio 4) W, G. Stanton made an honest comic figure out of our old friend the henpecked middle-class salary-slave. This one fights back at his nasty surroundings (wife, bank manager and boss) after being pushed into action by a breezy working-class technician, a blue-collar man who laughs himself sick at the chuffing bourgeois because they sell themselves instead of their chuffing labour. The plot revolved around a load of steel ingots, and the technical details were handled with a rare authority.

Paul Ferris.

From "The Listener' (13 November 1969)

A play which gave me a good deal of pleasure was W. G. Stanton's MILGRIP'S PROGRESS on Wednesday afternoon. It was essentially a radio play, using established radio techniques of sound montage to create and analyse states of mind. It was an artless piece, in which a young steel salesman finds himself, and in a somewhat despairing gesture of pride and libertarianism tells his sales manager to get stuffed. The best thing about it was a brilliant characterisation of the British working man as an indispensable technician: Barney Collins was vibrantly alive and stuck in the mind like a burr.

Bernard Davies.

MILGRIP'S PROGRESS

by

W.G. Stanton

Produced by Anthony Cornish

REHEARSAL: Wednesday 1st October 1969 1430 -1730 (S.M.s only)
Thursday 2nd October 1969 1030 -1730
Friday 3rd October 1969 1030 -1530

RECORDING: Friday 3rd October 1969 1530 -1730

STUDIO: Studio 2, 282 Broad Street, Birmingham 2.

PROGRAMME NUMBER: TBM 40/MD150M

TRANSMISSION: Wednesday 5th November I969 l500 -1600

CAST

Arnold Milgrip.................John Baddeley
Carew .......................... James Irwin
Muriel ........................... Eileen Barry
Josie and
Station Announcer.......... Catherine Crutchley
Bank Manager ...............George Woolley
Receptionist and
Switchboard Operator......Gillian Andrews
Rogers ...........................Leslie Dunn
Barney Collins ............. John Hollis


Studio Managers Alastair Askham, Patricia Lees, John Holmes

(MILGRIP I IS THE MILGRIP KNOWN TO HIS FAMILY. HIS FRIENDS, AND TO THE WORLD - WHET HE IS BEING HIMSELF. MILGRIP II IS THE SUPER-SALESMAN WHICH MILGRIP I SOMETIMES SEEKS TO PERSUADE HIMSELF THAT HE IS)

(WE OPEN WITH THE NOISE UF A CAR ENGINE GRADUALLY MIXING WITH OFFICE NOISE WHICH IN TURN MIX TO NOISE OF STEELWORKS. THROUGH THE LAST SOUNDS THE RISING SCREAM OF THE HOT SAW CUTTING THROUGH METAL BEGINS TO ASSERT ITSELF, DROWNING ALL OTHER SOUNDS AS IT RISES TO A CRESCENDO, AND ENDING ABRUPTLY AT PEAK WITH THE SLAM OF A DOOR)

MILLGRIP I

Milgrip!

MTZGRIP II

That's me! Milgrip!

MILGRIP I

Arnold Milgrip. Forty-two. Midlands Area Representative, Universal Steels.

MILGRIP II

Midlands Area Representative? Representative? I am Universal Steel. In the Midlands.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) I should like to think so, I should.

MILGRIP I

Reasonably good background. I suppose.

MILGRIP II

Actually, Father was in steel too.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) In a way. Actually, me Dad was a furnaceman.

MILGRIP I

Reasonable education.

MILGRIP II

Not one of the better-known public schools old boy. But a good school, good school.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Filbert Street Elementary.

MILGRIP I

Joined the company straight from school.

MILGRIP II

Straight from Varsity, actually. Graduate trainee. Management, you know.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Office boy, actually.

MILGRIP I

Interviewed for the road ten years ago.

MILGRIP II

Interview, yes. Remenber that, hmmmmm. The directors were impressed, if I do say it myself. With my record, you know.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) I lied.

MILGRIP I

It' s a responsible job, I supose. In a way. looking after the company' s interests. It' s not eyerybody could - I mean, some chaps wouldn't take on the responsibility. Meeting people. Making decisions. Well, in a way making decisions.

MILGRIP Il

The M.D. hirnself wculdn't move without me. Not in my a.area. I'm the sharp end, after all. Where the action is. So I've got a hot line, sort of, straight through to top brass.

MILGRTP I

(INWARDLY) Dogsbody, that' s me. Dogsbody to a Sales Manager. Carew. "Mad" Carew...

CAREW

Milgrip!

MILGRIP I

Sir?

CAREW

Your figures. Your Sales figures. For October.

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir. It' s - er - a quiet month, sir.

CAREW

These are quiet figures, Milgrip.

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir.

CAREW

Very guiet.

MILGRIP I

Yes,sir.

CAREW

Much guieter, they'd be dead.

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir. I -

CAREW

Milgrip!

MILGRIP I

Sir?

CAREW

Refresher course indicated, I think. Mustn't lose our grip, must we? We're the sharp end, Milgrip. Lose our grip, lose our customers. Lose our customers, lose our jobs. Eh?

MTLGRIP I

Yes, sir!

CAREW

Right then, We'll lay it on. That's all, Milgrip!

MILGRIB II

Talking to the Sales Manager the other day. Bill Carew. Good type, Bill. Knows his men. Milgrip, he says, what say to a course? All exes paid, of course. One of these staff training things. Company's very keen on them. Sort the men from the boys, you know. The coming men. The potential.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Trouble is, I can't really afford these courses. You can't claim anything. You've got to spend, but you can't get it back.

MILGRIP II

Great life on a course, great life. Hard graft all day, mind you. But the nights

Not much blood in the old alcohol-stream at the end of a week, I can tell you. (LAUGHS) And when it comes to claiming expenses, ha

You!ve got to do some composing then on the old hymn-sheet, what?

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) The wife won't like it.

MURIEL

Course? Course? Another? I know! I know. Just an excuse for getting drunk. And telling your filthy stories. Men! How would you manage if I kept clearing off on courses, eh? That's what I'd like to know.....

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) I wish she would. Gawd, I wish she would.

MURIEL

If you ask me we'd all be better off if you lot were to settle down to a job of work instead of gallivanting about the country like a pack of laughing hyenas. I'm sick and tired of sitting here at home looking after your kids while you clear off with your boozy pals without so much as a by-your-leave. I know you'll say you've no choice. I don't believe you. I reckon the whole thing's a put-up job between you reps and the management whenever the directors start to run out of dirty stories they lay on another course. Disgusting, that's what it is, disgusting....

MILGRIP I

What can I do about it? Wht can I do about it?

MILGRIP II

It's a break f or the wife. It's a break for the.........

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up....

MILGRIP I

What can I do about it? What can I do about it?

MILGRIP II

Wife. It's a break f or the wife. It's a break for the.........

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up....

(THE COMBINED SOUND RISES IN PACE AND PITCH UNTIL IT IS AN INCOHERENT SCREAM, WHICH ENDS WITH THE SLAM OF A DOOR. FADE IN OFFICE SOUNDS MUTED NOISE OF TRAFFIC OUTSIDE, TYPEWRITER IN NEXT' OFFIC. THERE IS A TAP ON THE DOOR)

MILGRIP I

Come in!

(DOOR 0PENS)

JOSIE

Oh, you're in, Mr. Milgrip

MILGRIP I

In, Josie?

JOSIE

Yes. I thought you hadn't come yet.

MILGRIP I

Thought I hadn't ? Why?

JOSIE

It's only twenty past nine.

MILGRIP I

So? (UNEASILY) Why, has someone been asking for me?

JOSIE

Yes. Mr. Carew was. On the 'phone.

MILGRIP I

What time was that?

JOSIE

Just after nine.

MILGRIP I

Oh Gawd! What did you say?

JOSIE

I said I thought you would be in later.

MILGRIP I

Good g-

JOSIE

He said didn't I know whether you would.

MILGRIP I

Oh, all right, all right.

JOSIE

I'm sorry, Mr. Milgrip. I wasn't to know -

MILGRIP I

Never mind, Josie. Never mind.

JOSIE

Righto.

MILGRIP I

But -

JOSIE

Yes, Mr. Milgrip?

MILGRIP I

Next time - I mean, if I'm ever late again when he rings - like that - tell him I'm having trouble with the car, eh? Or something like that.

JOSIE

I did. I mean, I did last time. He didn't seem to believe me. So I thought-

MILGRIP I

Oh, all right. Get him for me, will you?

JOSIE

Yes, Mr. Milgrip.

( SOUND OF HER HIGH HEELS ON THE FLOOP. THEN DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES)

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) A right start to the day. First Muriel......

(RAPID BURST OF MURIEL' S LAST SPEECH AT HYSTERIA LEVEL)

Then the letter from the bank. . . . . .

MANAGER

Dear Mr. Milgrip, My attention has been drawn to your account which has again been over-drawn beyond the agreed limit.

( THE WOPDS BEGIN TO SPEED UP UNIL THE RESULT IS MEANINGLESS GABBLE )

At the close of business today, cheques already presented left a sum outstanding to the bank of £63 5s. 4d. You will recall that we had occasion at the end of October to remind you of your continuing indebtedness to the bank.

( THE GABBLE COMES TO SUDDEN HALT, AND SPEECH RESUMES AT THE NORMAL LEVEL)

We must request an immediate credit to the account.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Where the Hell does he suppose I going to get it?

MILGRIP II

(SPEAKING RATHER MORE QUICKLY THAN USUAL) As a matter of fact, Mr. Stanley, it's my company again. They're late. With repayment of my expenses, you know. At this present moment in time, you'll hardly credit it but they're in to me for nearly six weeks' arrears. I'll get on to them right away. Right away, I assure you.

MILGRIP I

( INWARDLY ) I wonder if the firm would stand for a sub again?

( BUZZ OF TELEPHONE )

MILGRIP I

Milgrip here!

CAREW

That you, Milgrip? Morning

If I'm not too late, that is!

MILGRIP I

Oh, ah, yes, sir, Morning! As a matter of fact, I've been having trouble with-

CAREW

Spare me the details, Milgrip. I'm much too busy to hear about that transparent excuse you drivee about in. Skip it. Now then - Matheson's Forgings.....

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir?

CAREW

When did you last see Rogers?

MILGRIP I

Rogers? Oh, Ted Rogers. A couple of weeks ago, Perhaps three.

CAREW

Really?

MILGRIP I

Just a minute. I'11 check with my diary.

CAREW

Don' t bother, Milgrip. You know, then, about the trouble they're having?

MILGRIP I

Trouble?

CAREW

Yes, I rather thought that would be the case. Look, Milgrip! You' d better get off to Matheson's right now. You know the way, of course? Make our apologies - and your own- And Milgrip

MILGRIP I

Sir?

CAREW

Make yourself known to them, eh? I mean, if they should find your face unfamiliar?

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir.

CAREW

That' s all, Milgrip! See to it!

( THE TELEPHONE IS REPLACED )

MILGRIP I

Oh, Lord

Matheson's!

MILGRIP II

Good old Bill Carew! Knows who to rely on. Arnold Milgrip, Number One trouble-shooter for Universal Steels

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) William Henry Carew. Sees all. Knows all. Oh, God!

(FADE IN SOUND OF CAR ENGINE VOICES OVER),

MURIEL

What d'you mean, overdrawn? I haaven't had anything new in months, the kids all want new things. What do you do with it all, eh? Boozing with your so-called colleagues, I expect....

(CROSS FADE TO...

B. MANAGER

I'm sorry Mr. Milgrip, if - I should say, since your company is so much in arrears I suggest you approach then and put the position. I'm afraid you must not expect the bank to carry both ycu and your company at least not indefinitely......

(CROSS FADE TO. . . .

CAREW

That you, Milgrip? Carew here! Carew! Lose our grip lose our customers, lose our customers lose our jobs, eh Milgrip, eh?......

(NOISE OF CAR ENGINE NOW MORE EVIDENT. MILGRIP' S VICE OVER)

MILGRIP I

Pretoria Road, Johannesburg Road, scrap batteries wanted, best prices given. Elim Gospel Hall. Question; Which Chapel' s never there? Elim, 'cos it's a mile back. Come and join us. Pleasant Sunday afternoon. I can inagine. Launderama. Question; What' s the differcnce between a Launderama and a Washerteria? Never mind, never mind, it'll all come out in the wash, Christ! Sixty-three quid

Sixty-three quid in the red

(CAR SLOWS DOWN, SLAM OF DOOR, SOUND OF DROP HAMMERS DISTANTLY OVER STREET NOISE)

RECEPTIONIST

Yes, sir`?

MILGRIP I

I' d like to see Mr. Rogers, please.

RECEPTIONIST

Is he expecting you, sir?

MILGRIP I

He is indeed.

RECEPTIONIST

And the name, sir?

MILGRIP I

(TRYING WITHOUT ANY SUCCESS TO DO A MILGRIP II) Now come, my little chickadee. Let's not be forgetful eh? Universal Steel. Who' s the big wheel from Universal Steel?

RECEPTIONIST

(COLDLY)I' m sorry, sir.

MILGRIP I

(DEFLATED) Ah, Milgrlp. M.I.L.G.R.I.P. Milgrip.

( INWARDLY ) Fair enough. I don' t remember seeing her before, either. (PAUSE) They've altered the reception-room, too - I think. Better not mention it. Might have been a long time since.

(SOUND OF TELEPHONE BEING REPLACED )

RECEPTIONIST

Mr. Rngers says would you mind waiting? He shouldn' t keep you too long..

MILGRIP I

Oh. Oh, right.

(SOUND OF TYPEWRITER MILGRIP CONTINUES IN HIS INWARD VOICE)

Oh, what am I to do? The mortgage is O.K., thank God

Banker's Order. Rates? Think of something else, think of something else, think of something else..... Then there's the insurance.. and the gas bill, and - Think of something else, think of something else, think of something else... ..

(BUZZ OF TELEPHONE, AND SOUND OF OT BEING LIFTED FROM THE CRADLE)

RECEPTIONIST

Reception - oh, yes, sir. (PAUSE) Mr. Rogers will sse you now, Mr. - er - Milgrip.

( TELEPHONE! REPLACED )

You know the way, 'of course?

MILGRIP I

Ah, well, - er - upstairs?

RECEPTIONIST

(COLDLY) Straight through the forge, sir. You'll see the office at the far end.

MILGRIP I

Of course, of course. Well, thanks. Be good now...o

(A SUDDEN ENORMOUS NOISE OF DROP-HAMMERS WHICH CONTINUES UNTIL REDUCED BY THE SLAM OF A DOOR. THEY CONTINUE TO POUND AWAY IN THE BACKGROUND )

MILGRIP I

Mr. Rogers?

ROGERS Who are you?
MILGRIP I

Milgrip. Universal Steel.

ROGERS

Universal St- ? Oh yes, oh yes. Just the man I've been looking for.

MILGRIP I

Oh good.

ROGERS

It's not good. It's bloody awful.

MILGRIP I

I'm sorry, I -

ROGERS

What sort of a scrap-yard are they running up in Sheffield? At your place, anyway...

MILGRIP I

I' m sorry, I -

ROGERS

I ordered twenty iive tons of` billet. All the same steel. All the same size. No trouble at all.

MILGRIP I

Just the sort of order we want, Mr. R-.

ROGERS

(IGNORING HIM) And what do they send me ! eh? What do they send me? A flipping lucky bag, that' s what! Take your pick

Any size you like, any shape you like, any kind of steel you like!

M1LGR1P I

D'you mean they've sent the wrong steel?

ROGERS

No, I don't Mean they've sent the wrong steel, I mean they've sent the right steel and the wrong steel all in the same load.

MILGRIP

You mean they've sent a mix?

ROGERS

A mix. Exactly. I order twenty-five tons of alloy steel in three-inch square billets.

MILGRIP I

As I said, just the sort of-

ROGERS

And what do you bright herbs send me, eh? Some alloy steel, and some carbon steel.

MILGRIP I

But surely the size of the billets will help?

ROGERS

Look, I wasn't born yesterday. If the two different lots had been in different size billets I could have sorted it out myself. Oh no, They've made a right job of this one. Two different kinds of steel, and all in the same size billets. No means of telling 'tother from which.

MIZGRIP I

Oh, no!

ROGERS

Oh yes! What do you propose to do about it?

MILGRIP I

(TRYING TO DO A MILGIP II AGAIN) Look, Mr. Rogers, leave this to me. I'll get back to my office right away, and get things moving. Cack-handed lot of incompetents back at base as usual. But you know the score, I'm sure...

ROGERS

(COLDLY) Let me know what you propose to do. And quick, or this lot goes back.

MILGRIP I

(DEFLATED) Oh. Oh, right. Well - er - good day! - I'll be in touch -

ROGERS

(GOING AWAY) Do that!

(SUDDEN SOUND OF DROP HAMMERS AGAIN, MIXING TO SOUND OF CAR ENGINE. ENDING WITH SLAM OF DOOR)

MILGRIP I

Josie, my sweet! Action stations! All hands to the pumps! Man overboard!

JOSIE

(RESIGNED) Yes, Mr. Milgrip ?

MILGRIP I

Get me Mr Carew, will you?

JOSIE

Yes, Mr. Milgrip.

(MILGRIP BEGINS TO HUM TO HIMSELF

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Well, here's one he can't blame me for. Now, if I handle this one right I could do myself a spot of good with Mad Carew. And Rogers,

( SOUND OF TELEPHONE )

( BEGINS TO HUM AGAIN )

CAREW

Carew here!

MILGRIP I

Milgrip, sir! Matheson's Forgings. Bad show, sir! We've sent them a mix.

CAREW

It happens. What have you done about it ?

MILGRIP I

What have I - ? I - I don't follow -

CAREW

Look, Milgrip. You're the man on the spot. The sharp end, remember ? Now, what have you done about it ?

MILGRIP I

I - well, I've come back to the office, to report it.

CAREW

You've done what ? Milgrip, I knew about the mix. I sent you, Now, what have you done about it ?

MILGRIP I

I - I don't quite see what I -

CAREW

Milgrip. Just be quiet for a moment, and I'll tell you. You could have suggested to Rogers that he might like to sort out the material and charge us with the cost of the Iabour -

MILGRIP I

But it' s our responsibility - I mean -

CAREW

Our responsibility? (COLDLY) I interrupted you, Milgrip. You were about to advise me on thc subject of responsibility.

MILGRIP I

I - I'm sorry, sir.

CAREW

Has Rogers got the necessary facilities for sorting the material?

MILGRIP I

The necessary facilities?

CAREW

Yes, man. Spark-testing?

MILGRIP I

Spark testing?

CAREW

You do remember, don't you, Milgrip, that we have a small but quite expensive department up at the works here for sorting steel by spark-testing? The idea being that if we run a grinding-wheel over the surface of the steel it will give off a shower of sparks? And that the kind of spark will tell use roughly the kind of steel ?

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir. I knew that, sir.

CAREW

Oh godd, good. Well, has Rogers got the facilities for spark-testing at Matheson's?

MILGRIP I

I'm not absolutely sure.

CAREW

Milgrip, that what I sent you for. Now look, find out if Rogers can sort the steel by spark-testing and charge us with the labour cost. It'll be cheaper than having all twenty five tons of billets back here. Has he used any of the steel?

MILGRIP I

I - I'm not sure.

CAREW

There's a certain lack of surety about you today, Milgrip. There's a rapid remedy for that, you know!

MILGRIP I

Sir?

CAREW

Get that finger out, man. Sharp now!

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir!

(THE TELEPHONE IS REPLACED)

(INWARDLY) Oh, Gawd!

(DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THE RHYTHM OF A HEART-BEAT)

Rogers won't like it.

(DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP)

Anyway, he'll be at lunch.

(DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP)

Besides its twenty miles away.

(DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP)

I'll ring him up, that's the drill.

(FADE IN VOICE OF ROGERS)

ROGERS

What's that you say? You wonder if I could what? Sort ot out here? Sort it out here ? Now look here, Mr. - what's your name? Oh yes, Well, look here, you can tell your Mr. - what's his name? Oh, yes. Well you can tell him that you've mixed the stuff, you bloody well sort it out. And quick, before I sent the whole lot back!

(DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP, THUMP)

MILGRIP I

I'm sorry, Mr. Carew. He won't co-operate.

CAREW

What's that, Milgrip?

MILGRIP I

Rogers, sir. Matheson's Forgings.

CAREW

Oh that. He won't sort it out, eh?

MILGRIP I

No, sir. I'm afraid we'll have to get a spark-examiner down from the works.

CAREW

It's not quite as easy as you think, Milgrip. Spark-examiners don't grow on trees, you know. They're short-handed anyway. However, I have already asked Broomfield to have one standing by for tomorrow.

MILGRIP I

Oh, good.

CAREW

It's not good. It's far from good. I had hoped that you might have made his journey unnecessary. By the way, is the material still in long lengths as delivered?

MILGRIP I

I - I'm not sure.

CAREW

Then find out, man, find out. You realise, don't you, that if they have cut it into small pieces to forge it, we'll have to check every piece? And in that case the job could take several days?

MILGRIP I

I hadn't thought of it, sir.

CAREW

I'd gathered that, Milgrip. So give it some thought now, eh ? And, Milgrip -

MILGRIP I

Sir?

CAREW

Next time you visit a customer try flapping your ears instead of your mouth. You might learn something.

MILGRIP I Yes, sir.
CAREW

You'll have the spark-examiner down there by the first train tomorrow. I'll let Broomfield know that you'll meet this man at New Street. Got that?

MILGRIP I

Yes, sir.

CAREW

Good, that's all. Oh, by the way -

MILGRIP

Sir?

CAREW

It'll probably be Collins they send. Collins.

MILGRIP I

Collins. Yes, sir.

(TELEPHONE REPLACED. DROP-HAMMER, THUMP, PAUSE, THUMP, PAUSE, THUMP, PAUSE, THUMP. FADE IN SOUNDS OF STATION PLATFORM)

BARNEY

(INWARDLY) First time I saw this geezer Milgrip he was standing on the platform at New Street looking for me. Collins, I say to meself, he'll never find you. He doesn't know you. I knew him alright. Spotted him first crack out o' the box. As old Jack Broomfield said, keep your eyes open for a bloke wanderin' up and down the chuffin' platform, lookin' at everybody who gets off. Every so often he'll walk up to somebody and say something. They'd shake their chuffin' 'eads and he'd carry on again. I thought I better put him out of his misery.

(EXTERIOR VOICE) Mr.Milgrip?

MILGRIP I

Oh, ah, yes?

BARNEY

Collins. Universal Steel.

MILGRIP I

Univ - ? But youíre not - youíre not ?

BARNEY

Spark-examiner? Thatís right!

MILGRIP

But -

BARNEY

Yes? You were sayiní-

MILGRIP I

No. No, itís nothing.

BARNEY

You were going to say that you expected to see a burke in chuffiní overalls, wií mucky finger-nails?

MILGRIP I

Oh. No. I mean -

BARNEY

All right, mate, all right. No offence.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry.

BARNEY

Granted. Come on. Give us a hand with this grinder. Whereís your car? Oh, good. Theyíre bloody heavy to carry far. Iíd like to meet the geezer who sold this as a portable grinder. Heíd be alright on the chuffiní Olympics, he would. Weight lifting. Here. Cop hold of yon end. Thatís it.

(SOUNDS OF EXERTION)

Right. Lead on MacDuff.

(FADE IN SOUND OF CAR ENGINE, VOICES OVER)

Nice Car

MILGRIP I

Mmmm.

BARNEY

Firm provide it?

MILGRIP I

Yeah.

BARNEY

Thought so. (PAUSE) Whereís the catch?

MILGRIP I

Catch?

BARNEY

Yeah, thereís got to be a catch in it.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry, I -

BARNEY

Sounds to sense. Somebody comes up to you and says, Here yíare, mate, a nice car worth - oh, eight or nine hundred quid. All yours. No, donít bother to thank me. Think nothing of it. What do you say?

MILGRIP I

(LAUGHS)

BARNEY

Got to be a catch in it.

MILGRIP I

I donít see -

BARNEY

You think itís any different if itís a firm?

MILGRIP I

I canít really say Iíve given it much thought.

BARNEY

You should give it some thought, mate. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

MILGRIP I

The price of - ?

BARNEY

Now look here mate. Letís start again, shall we?

MILGRIP I

Start ag - ?

BARNEY

You keep looking at me as if I was under-privileged or something.

MILGRIP I

I wasnít aware that I -

BARNEY

Now donít start again gettingí all toffee nosed, or youín me Ďll fall out.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry.

BARNEY

Granted. As I was sayiní. You canít understand why a bloke like me trots out the odd quotation. Sort of out oí place, innit?

MILGRIP I

No,no. But - er- surprising, perhaps.

BARNEY

Now thatís very interesting. It surprises you. Very interesting.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry, I -

BARNEY

You do a lot of apologising, donít you, mate?

MILGRIP I

I donít quite follow -

BARNEY

Now me, Iíd say that if a blokeís always apologizing when itís not called for, happen youíd better not take much notice when it is called for. Might just be a habit.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry. (LAUGHS) I mean - there I go again.

BARNEY

(ALSO LAUGHING) Thatís better. Sounds nearly human.

MILGRIP I

Do you mind if I say something?

BARNEY

Free country, mate.

MILGRIP I

Youíre not like - er - well, youíre - er -different.

BARNEY

Different?

MILGRIP

Yes.

BARNEY

Different from what?

MILGRIP

Oh, you know.

BARNEY

Different from the other members of the proletariat? That it?

MILGRIP I

Well, in a way - I mean, you put it that way.

BARNEY

There could be two reasons for that.

MILGRIP I

Iím not with you.

BARNEY

Why you think Iím different from the usual run of the mill.

MILGRIP I

Go on.

BARNEY

Either I am different.

MILGRIP I

Yes?

BARNEY

Or youíre cock-eyed.

MILGRIP I

Cock-eyed?

BARNEY

Yeah, take that mote out of your eye, mate.

MILGRIP I

You know, I rather like you.

BARNEY

Iíll take that remark at face value. Otherwise I mught just think that you were being a condescending bastard - and then Iíd have to put you one on, wouldnít I?

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry! I didnít mean -

BARNEY

Your trouble, mate, is the trouble with your class. You canít get it out of your chuffiní Ďeads that somehow you are better than us; God knows why, but you do think that.

MILGRIP I

Iím sure I -

BARNEY

Save your breath, mate. Youíre not on your own.

(UNCOMFORTABLE PAUSE)

How much further is this place?

MILGRIP I

(STILL RATHER DISGRUNTLED) About a mile, I should say.

BARNEY

So this is the Black Country, eh? Proper dogís breakfast, innit?

MILGRIP I

I get on with the people here well enough.

BARNEY

There you go again. Who said owt about the people? No, the place! Look at it! Just look at it! Itís a compliment to call it a dogís breakfast! No mate, what rots my socks is the way the folk who made this stinkiní mess cleared out of it and left it to other poor bastards to live in it. Then, just as I said, they start feeliní superior. Youíre one of Ďem.

MILGRIP I

Me?

BARNEY

You. I donít mean youíre helping to make it a mess. But Iíll lay six-to-four you ainít doiní anything to clear it up, eh? You wouldnít live Ďere if you was paid, would you now?

MILGRIP I

I should say not!

BARNEY

No. But you earn your money here every day and then drive away from it every night. See what I mean? Youíre one of Ďem!

MILGRIP I

Youíre entitled to your opinion.

BARNEY

Is that all! Gawd Ďelp us!

MILGRIP I

This is it. Mathesonís

(SOUND OF CAR SLOWING)

BARNEY

Ay, ay, no red carpet? Whatís things coming to?

MILGRIP I

Look, Mr. - er -

BARNEY

Barney!

MILGRIP I

Just as you say. Weíre in trouble here. Rogers - the Works Manager - heís steamed up about it. Just take it easy, eh?

BARNEY

No wise cracks, you mean? Flannel?

MILGRIP I

Well -

BARNEY

Speak when Iím spoken to? thatís it?

MILGRIP I

Weeell -

(SOUND OF DROP-HAMMERS HEARD AS CAR DOOR IS OPENED. SLAM OF DOORS AND VOICES OVER)

BARNEY

Trust me, mate. Your show. Lead on, MacDuff.

(DROP HAMMERS RISE TO PEAK, AND FADE. FADE IN VOICE OF MILGRIP AND BARNEY)

See what I mean, mate. Thereís you frettiní your fat, whether Iíll remember to tug me chuffiní forelock in the right places. And what happens? Rogers never even looks at me.

MILGRIP I

Oh, come on -

BARNEY

Us blokes, weíre anonymous. Nobody sees us. Not that sort, any road. The boss class. Letís say I was to bump into your bloke Rogers five minutes from now. Díyou think heíd remember me? Bloody likely, mate.

MILGRIP I

Oh, come of it!

BARNEY

Like to bet?

MILGRIP I

You go on a bit, donít you?

BARNEY

I keep my eyes open, mate.?

(SOUND OF DROP-HAMMERS RISES TO A PEAK, AND IS SUDDENLY CUT DOWN BY THE SLAM OF A DOOR. FADE IN CONVERSATION BETWEEN MILGRIP AND BARNEY)

MILGRIP I

You know, I find that business quite fascinating. Iíve often wondered how itís done.

BARNEY

You mean spark-examining. Nothing to it. When you know how.

MILGRIP I

Well, how?

BARNEY

Howís it done?

MILGRIP I

Yes!

BARNEY

Simple. You put a grinding wheel on the steel - like this -

(SOUND OF PORTABLE GRINDER ON STEEL)

- and you get lots of sparks, see ? Lovely, innit? Like Bonfire Night.

MILGRIP I

But how can you tell - ?

BARNEY

Well now, you shouldnít really ask me that, itís a trade secret. When you join, you Ďave to swear. An oath, you know. Not to give away. Special ceremony, anĎ all that. Signed in blood.

MILGRIP I

Youíre pulling my leg.

BARNEY

(LAUGHS) You reckon?

MILGRIP I

No, but seriously, I do think itís fascinating.

BARNEY

Course you do, mate. You wouldnít find it so chuffiní fascinatiní if you had to do it all day, I can tell yer.

MILGRIP I

How is it done, though?

BARNEY

All right, pal. You wonít be any the wiser, though. Look!

(SOUND OF GRINDER ON STEEL)

What do you see?

MILGRIP I

Sparks!

BARNEY

Thatís right. Sparks. And all different.

MILGRIP I

Different?

BARNEY

Yeah. Well, not all different. But every different ingredient gives you a different spark. One sort of spark, thatís manganese. That one Ö

(SOUND OF GRINDER AGAIN)

See? That one? Thatís nickel.

MILGRIP I

Itís no use. They all look exactly alike to me.

BARNEY

Well, I warned you. A good job, too.

MILGRIP I

What do you mean?

BARNEY

Think about it, mate. Just think. If you got your cards today - how soon could they fill your shoes?

MILGRIP I

They wouldnít find it all that easy, old boy. Iíve got some good contacts.

BARNEY

How long?

MILGRIP I

I might just go to a competitor, you see.

BARNEY

How long?

MILGRIP I

Weeell -

BARNEY

Thatís better. How long?

MILGRIP I

All right. Weíre all expendable.

BARNEY

Speak for yourself, mate.

MILGRIP I

What do you mean?

BARNEY

Not me, Iím not.

MILGRIP I

Oh, come of it!

BARNEY

Fact. Prove it any time you like. Letís say your pal Rogers was to complain to your bosses. Might just be your cards, eh?

MILGRIP I

Well, yes, I suppose it might.

BARNEY

Not me, mate.

MILGRIP I

I donít believe it!

BARNEY

Try it then! Just try it some time. See where it gets you.

(SOUND OF GRINDER BRIEFLY)

Now look, if Iíve got to make my time on this job, youíll have to stop gabbiní and let me get on. Tell you what. You go and chat up that bint in the office. Come back lunch-time.

MILGRIP I

(GOING) Righto!

BARNEY

Aní mate!?

MILGRIP

(DISTANT) Yes?

BARNEY

None oí yer chuffiní transport caffs! Letís have some decent scoff, eh?

(NOISE OF GRINDER BEGINS AND FADES OUT. FADE IN RESTAURANT SOUNDS, MUZAK, ETC)

(One thing about your job, Iíll say that. ĎEre what do I call you, mate?

MILGRIP I

Er - well - Arnold.

BARNEY

Right Arnold. One thing about your job. You find the right scoff. Eh?

MILGRIP I

We try.

BARNEY

Not bad. Not bad at all. I could have done with a bit more garlic in the Bordelaise sauce myself, but you canít please everybody.

MILGRIP I

You know you really are an astonishing chap.

BARNEY

Ay, ay. There you go again. Condescending.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry.

BARNEY

All right. Canít expect you to catch on all at once. You need practice.

MILGRIP I

(EMBARRASSED, TRIES ON HIS MILGRIP II VOICE) Oh before I forget, old boy -

BARNEY

Just a minute. What díyou want to go puttiní on that thirty-bob accent for?

MILGRIP I

Thirty - ?

BARNEY

Yeah. All upstage. Posh like.

MILGRIP I

I donít understand -

BARNEY

You donít know when youíre doing it do yer? You talk to Rogers back there, youíve got a mouthful oí plums. Why? Be yourself, Arnold, be yourself.

MILGRIP I

Well, I was saying -

BARNEY

Thatís better!

MILGRIP I

Eh? Oh yes! I was going to say that Iíd fixed you up with accommodation. For tonight.

BARNEY

Have you now? Here? This hotel?

MILGRIP I

(EMBARRASSED) Well, no. Actually, its - er -digs. In Tipton.

BARNEY

Tipton? A whole night in the fleshpots os Tipton ? What would my dear old mother say?

MILGRIP I

Look Iím sorry. Iíll cancell them, and book you in here.

BARNEY

You neednít have bothered, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

Why? You wonít be through at Mathersonís today, will you?

BARNEY

No, mate. Nor tomorrow either.

MILGRIP I

Then youíll want somewhere to stay for the -

BARNEY

No thanks, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

What?

BARNEY

Not me, mate.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry, I -

BARNEY

Not me, Arnold. Iíve got a very nice bed at home, thank you. And a nice wife in it.

MILGRIP I

But you canít - !

BARNEY

Go on, Arnold. You were going to say - ?

MILGRIP I

Wonít you - ?

BARNEY

Get into trouble? What for? ĎCos Iíd rather sleep in my own bed? Do you know what the firm allows me for board and lodging for the night, mate?

MILGRIP I

No.

BARNEY

Fifteen bob.

MILGRIP I

Fifteen - ?

BARNEY

Yeah. So Iím going home tonight, boy. Makes a long day with the travelling and all. But then, you havenít seen my wife.

MILGRIP I

But suppose the firm - ?

BARNEY

Are you frightened you might cop it, Arnold? Doníe fret yourself. Refer Ďem to me!

MILGRIP I

And what will you do?

BARNEY

Do ? Tell Ďem to get stuffed!

MILGRIP I

Tell Ďem to - ? Theyíll - !

BARNEY

Give me me cards ? Is that it? Not on your Nelly!

MILGRIP I

I donít believe it!

BARNEY

Try Arnold, try! Force yourself, boy!

MILGRIP I

But theyíll never stand for that! (PAUSE) (THEN HESITANTLY) Will they?

BARNEY

Theyíd have no choice, mate. Long as I do my job.

MILGRIP I

I donít belive it

BARNEY

You not believiní it doesnít Ďave owt to do with it, Arnold. I sell my labour. I donít sell anythiní else. Just my labour.

MILGRIP I

So do I.

BARNEY

You donít mate. Youíre running in blinkers. If you were in my shoes, youíd have to stay put, right?

MILGRIP I

Well -

BARNEY

Remember what I said about the car? Thereís got to be a catch in it.

MILGRIP I

Iím not sure I -

BARNEY

Pinyour ears back, mate, while I tell you the facts of life. Youíre exploited, Arnold, you know.

MILGRIP I

Oh, nonsense!

BARNEY

Belt up, mate, do - listen. Whatís the attraction about your sort of job? The pay? I doubt it. I wouldnít mind betting your take-homeís not as good as mine. No, itís what you blokes call the fringe benefits. Perks. Car. Expense account you can fiddle yourself another quid or two out of. Sure, smashing. But whereís the catch.

MILGRIP I

There you go again! Thereís no catch, as you call it!

BARNEY

Isnít there ? Sure?

MILGRIP I

Of course not.

BARNEY

Then why can I please myself, aní you canít, eh? Look Arnold, Iíve kept me eyes open and Iíve seen it happen. Good blokes - I nearly said good bosses - working every chufiní hour the Lord sends - flyiní off to foreign parts, week-ends, usually while Iím Ďaving a bit of quiet fishing - back Monday night or first thing Tuesday - straight back to work again. And for what? Money they canít enjoy, pensions they donít live long enough to draw, and fringe benefits, mate. I wouldnít call them benefits, Arnold. Iíd call them chains.

MILGRIP I

Every job has its drawbacks.

BARNEY

Of course. Mine has. Bosses - condescending lot.. Piece work - a lousy wrotten system, But I donít kid myself. Chains are chains. Only I throw mine off at the end of a dayís work, and call my soul my own. Thereís a hell of a lot of blokes drawing so-called fringe benefits who canít do as much. Think about it, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

I donít have to knock off if somebody blows a whistle.

BARNEY

I thought we would come to that. You mustnít think we ike it, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

Then why do you stand for it?

BARNEY

Thereís one important thing you blokes always forget when you throw that one up, mate.

MILGRIP I

Whatís that?

BARNEY

Itís never a boss thatís blowing the whistle. Itís one of our mates. It makes a difference, Arnold.

Look we could chew over the fat over this one all night. Come on, letís get back. (LAUGH) Blokes like us canít afford to spend three hours over lunch. And, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

Yes?

BARNEY

Do me a favour,eh? Look up the trains and see Iím not too late home, will you.

(FADE IN TO STATION SOUNDS)

BARNEY

Right you are, Arnold. See you in the morning.)

MILGRIP I

Same train?

BARNEY

No, Make it a later one.

MILGRIP I

Here, just a minute - !

BARNEY

There you go again! Relax, boy, relax!

MILGRIP I

No, but seriously - !

BARNEY

Iím not going to do any skiving, mate. Iím just going into the firm tomorrow morning before I catch a train, thatís all.

MILGRIP I

Going into the - ? What for ?

BARNEY

Might be nothing at all.

MILGRIP I

Whate might be nothing?

BARNEY

This job. Something funny about it.

MILGRIP I

Funny?

BARNEY

Yeah. Something smells. I want to have a word with Jack Broomfield, and the blokes in the wharehouse. Right, mate. Back to me lady wife. And you get off to yours. Clear off, then. Thereís no need to wait for my train to come inÖ..

(FADE OUT)

(FADE IN)

MILGRIP I

Of course, itís all nonsense.

MILGRIP II

The manís a bolshie. Trade union layabout. Thatís all. No sense of dedication at all.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) I liked him. Yes I did. I liked him.

MILGRIP I

It wouldnít work if everybody carried on like that. (PAUSE, THEN HESITANTLY) Would it?

MILGRIP II

Of course it wouldnít work! Thatís just whatís wrong with the country, dammit!

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Wonder what it feels like? I mean, to say it? To actually say it? (TENTATIVELY) Carew, you can get stuffed. (RATHER MORE BOLDLY) Carew, you can get stuffed! (A SHOUT OF TRIUMPH) Carew, You - can - get - stuffed!

(THE DROP-HAMMERS GO MAD )

MURIEL

(RATHER SHRILL) I never heard such nonsense in my life. Of course he can thumb his nose at the boss. Because heís nothing, thatís why. Heís nothing. He can be - ignored.

MILGRIP I

Youíve not met him, Muriel. Heís - heís an - interesting little chap.

MURIEL

Interesting? Interesting? Youíd find life interesting if you started throwing your wieght about like that.

MILGRIP I

I might too.

MURIEL

Arnold Milgrip, you stop this nonsense at once. At once, do you hear? Youíve got a good job with prospects as long as you behave yourself. Youíve got a car and a nice home, nicer than some round here if I do say it myself. All kippers and curtains, never met such a load of snobs and itís not as if theyíd anything to be snobbish about. They donít send their kids to private school, some of them anyway, so you just remember that before you go getting ideas aboutÖ..

(HER VOICE CLIMBS THE SCALE UNTIL IT IS NO LONGER COHERENT)

B MANAGER

We should have to insist that you draw no further cheques against the account. You will appreciate that we are reluctant to take such a step, but in the circumstances we feel that we would have no alternativeÖ..

(HIS VOICE TOO RAPIDLY CLIMBS TO INCOHERENCE)

CAREW

What is that you were saying, Milgrip? I interrupted you. You were about to advise me in the matter of responsibilityÖ..

MILGRIP I

(WHISPERS INWARDLY) Get stuffed, get stuffed, get stuffedÖ..

(THE VOICE PETERS OUT)

STATION
ANNOUNCER

(MUCH DISTORTED) The train now arriving at Platform 11 is the 7.06 from Bradford, the Cornishman, going forward at 10.30 to Penzanca, calling at Cheltenham, Gloucester, Bristol, Taunton, Exeter, Plymouth, Liskeard, Bodmin Road, St. Austell, Truro, Redruth, CamborneÖ.

(FADE OUT)

(FADE IN)

BARNEY

Morning Arnold.

MILGRIP I

Morning - er - Barney.

BARNEY

Cup oí coffee, boy. That chuffiní train was freezing.

MILGRIP I

Weíre a bit late, you know.

BARNEY

You worry too much, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

Itís not me Iím thinking about. Itís Mathesonís.

BARNEY

They wonít be doiní any complaining at Mathesonís when they hear what youíve got to say.

MILGRIP I

What Iíve got to say?

BARNEY

Yeah. Not my job. Youíre the mouth-piece.

MILGRIP I

What do you mean?

BARNEY

Coffee first, Arnold, eh? Iím bloody cold.

(FADE IN SOUNDS OF REFRESHMENT ROOM, VOICES OVER)

BARNEY

After you with the sugar, mate. And donít look so worried. The way youre going on, youíll be dropping the firm.

MILGRIP I

Sorry Barney. Had a bad night.

BARNEY

Too much ale?

MILGRIP I

Too much something.

BARNEY

Hard luck, mate. Happens to the best of us.

MILGRIP I

Yeah. Whatís this news, then?

BARNEY

News?

MILGRIP I

About Mathesonís.

BARNEY

Oh, that. This mix.

MILGRIP I

Yes?

BARNEY

Oh, sure, itís a mix, all right.

MILGRIP I

So it is our fault?

BARNEY

I didnít say that, Arnold!

MILGRIP I

But you said - !

BARNEY

I said it was a mix. I didn#t say it was our mix.

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry, I donít know what you mean.

BARNEY

Let me tell you in words of one syllable. You know that every time we make a cast of steel - a furnace-load - every billet we roll is stamped with the number of that cast?

MILGRIP I

Of course. On the end of every billet. So that we can trace it back to the day it was made, and the furnace it was made in.

BARNEY

Right. Well, at Mathesonís yesterday I found ends of billets with two different cast numbers on.

MILGRIP I

Thatís it, then. Weíll just have to sort it out, wonít we?

BARNEY

Not me, mate.

MILGRIP I

Not you. What the hell are you on about?

BARNEY

Listen carefully, Arnold. If you found two different cast numbers on the same size of billet, both deliviered on the same day, but different kinds of steel.

MILGRIP I

Both on the same day? Oh, well, thereís a good chance that weíd mixed them up.

BARNEY

They might have mixed Ďem, though?

MILGRIP I

Mathesonís, you mean? They might. It isnít likely at Mathesonís, though. Itís a fairly efficient set up.

BARNEY

Iíll give you that. But supposing - just supposing - that the two casts in that bin had been delivered separately - one of them a month after the other?

MILGRIP I

A month after? Then it would have to be their own fault.

BARNEY

There you are. Simple, innit?

MILGRIP I

It would be Barney, but for one thing. Rogers gave me the cast numbers. Hold on a minute. Iíve got Ďem right here. Yes, here we are. MX2307 and MY8621. Both delivered on the same day. Both on the same advice note, in fact.

BARNEY

So Mathersonís are in the clear?

MILGRIP I

Yes.

BARNEY

Thereís only one thing wrong with it.

MILGRIP I

Wrong?

BARNEY

Yeah. This. I found lots of billets with cast numbers MX2307. Lots. Easy.

MILGRIP I

Yes?

BARNEY

And thee was certainly some steel in the bin that was a different kind of steel altogether. The spark proved that.

MILGRIP I

So what would be the other cast - what was it? - here - MY8621

BARNEY

Yeah. Thatís what I thought. Trouble was I couldnít find a single billet-end with that cast number on. Funny, when there were quite a few of the other cast.

MILGRIP I

You couldnít find a single billet with - er - MY8621.

BARNEY

No. Funny, innit? You canít have a ten to twelve foot length of steel thatís all middle and no ends, can you now? And if thereís ends there has to be a cast marking.

MILGRIP I

I donít see what youíre getting at -

BARNEY

Wait for it, Arnold. Took me the best part of a couple of hours to find a billet-end with a cast mark on that wasnít - what was that first one ? - MX2307.

MILGRIP I

Did you find one?

BARNEY

I did. Cast MZ 3144.

MILGRIP I

MZ?

BARNEY

MZ. Delivered to Mathesonís a month earlier than the other two casts.

MILGRIP I

But this is terrible, Barney. It means that somebody is deliberately pulling a fast one.

BARNEY

Thatís just what it does mean.

~M

I canít believe it. Not deliberately.

~B

Itíd have to be deliberate, Arnold.

MILGRIP I

I canít - no, no. Not Rogers. Heís like a bear with a sore head, but heís straight.

BARNEY

You know, Arnold, youíre not a bad guy, for a bossís man. It doesnít have to be Rogers though.

MILGRIP I

He gave me the Cast Numbers, remember.

BARNEY

Be your age, mate. Díyou suppose Rogers went into the stell stores and got them Cast Numbers himself? No. Somebody fed Rogers with duff gen. Deliberately, too.

MILGRIP I

But - this is terrible.

BARNEY

It happens, I reckon. Canít think why anybody should want to do it, but thatís not our worry, is it? Let Rogerís sort that one out.

MILGRIP I

Whoever did it should get the sack. On the spot.

BARNEY

Use your loaf, boy. Heíll have covered his tracks - whoever he is. Besides, how do you know why he did it?

MILGRIP I

Thereís no possible excuse for that sort of -

BARNEY

Oh, knock it off, mate do! If you got your desserts, where do you think youíd be? Look we donít know what made him do it, and likely we never will. Forget it.

MILGRIP I

Forget it? Forget it? I shall have to report it.

BARNEY

You wonít mate!

MILGRIP I

I will, you know.

BARNEY

You wonít, you know.

MILGRIP I

Why not?

BARNEY

Wherís your evidence for a start?

MILGRIP I

Youíve got it!

BARNEY

Ah, but you havenít, Ďave you?

MILGRIP I

But - but - this is - ?

BARNEY

Terrible!

MILGRIP I

Itís -

BARNEY

Look, Arnold. You donít understand. Iím not goiní to shop one of my own kind. I donít know what he did it for, and I donít care. Weíve spotted it, so thereís no harm done, fas as I can see. Trouble is, youíre a bossís man, so you canít be expected to see it our way. Youíre a bossís man. Thatís why you canít tell them to get stuffed. Like I can. Simple, innit?

MILGRIP I

Simple? Itís immoral. Look at the expenses. Train fares. One dayís pay for you.

BARNEY

Two days, mate.

MILGRIP I

Two?

BARNEY

Sure. You donít think Iím going to get the next train back do you? Oh no! You and meíll have another nice lunch at that there hotel. Then, after lunch, you can break the news to Rogers. And I can get an early train back.

MILGRIP I

But itís Mathesonís who ae responsible! Why should Universal foot the bill?

BARNEY

Itís all one to me, mate. I donít care which of the bosses pays. Theyíre both bosses. Come on. Whereís the car.

(SOUND OF CAR ENGINE, VOICES OVER)

MILGRIP I

I donít understand. I donít understand.

MILGRIP II

Thatís why theyíre where they are. No morals. No morals.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) The things he syas. They remind me of - something.

MILGRIP I

I canít hink why he wonít try to find out whoís responsible. He doesnít know him. He might not even like him.

MILGRIP II

Thick as thieves, thatís what it is. Thick as thieves.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) The other blokes in the office. Theyíd shop me for a fifty-quid-a-year rise. They would, you know.

(SOUND OF DROP-HAMMERS)

BARNEY

Something on your mind, Arnold?

MILGRIP I

Iím sorry, I donít understand it, at all.

BARNEY

O told you, mate, you worry too much. Itís because you once got the idea youíd like to be a boss yourself, I expect. Itís the price you pay.

MILGRIP I

I canít accept that.

BARNEY

Oh yes, you can. If you try hard enough.

MILGRIP I

What do you mean?

BARNEY

Just once, Arnold, just once - before itís too late - you should try telling them to get stuffed. Might do you the world of good.

MILGRIP I

A world of g - ?

BARNEY

Course, you might get the sack.

MILGRIP I

Is that all?

BARNEY

That might do you the world of good, too. You never know.

MILGRIP I

And howís a chap to manage then?

BARNEY

Sounds as if youíre tempted, boy.

MILGRIP I

Oh, nonsense! But -

BARNEY

But youíd like to do it just the same. Eh?

MILGRIP I

I didnít say -

BARNEY

Freedomís a luxury, Arnold. And luxuries come dear. If you canít pay the price, do without, I say.

( SOUND OF CAR ENGINE FADES IN AND OUT AGAIN)

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Thereís a sort of weird logic about it all. A sort of rational nonsense.

MILGRIP II

Of course, itís a load of bolshie codswallop. Where would we all be if everybody went round defying authority?

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Might be interesting tofind out. Might be very interesting. I wonder Ö.

(CAR ENGINE FADES IN AND BEGINS TO SLOW DOWN)

BARNEY

Here we are, boy. Mathesonís.

MILGRIP I

Yes. Yes.

BARNEY

Not looking forward to this, are you?

MILGRIP I

No. No, Iím not.

BARNEY

Want me to come in with you, then?

MILGRIP I

No, Barney. I think not. You donít mind?

BARNEY

Me?

MILGRIP I

You spotted it. I thought perhaps -

BARNEY

I might want some of the credit>

MILGRIP I

No, no. Of course not!

BARNEY

All right, Arnold, all right. Look, out it this way. If you want me to come and hold your hand, Iím easy.

MILGRIP I

Thatís one thing I donít need.

BARNEY

Good. Itís all yours, then.

MILGRIP I

Yes.

BARNEY

Best of British luck, mate. Iíll read the paper while youíre gone, eh?

MILGRIP I

(ABSTRACTED) Yes. Tes. Do that.

BARNEY

Well, go on, boy. Go on. He canít eat you.

MILGRIP I

Itís not that.

BARNEY

What then?

MILGRIP I

You donít understand, Barney. Rogers carries the can whoever did it.

BARNEY

(LAUGHS) Just another fringe-benefit the bosses have got, mate. Go on, clear off, do. Give my love to Roger. See if he remembers me.

(SOUND OF CAR DOOR. DROP-HAMMERS IN DINSTANCE)

MILGRIP I

Weíve cleared up that complaint, Mr Rogers.

ROGERS

Good. What do you propose to do about it?

MILGRIP I

Weeell - itís a bit - er - tricky.

ROGERS

Look, Mr. - er - !

MILGRIP I

Milgrip!

ROGERS

Yes. Look, has your chap sorted out the two casts, or hasnít he?

MILGRIP I

No, Mr Rogers, he hasnít.

ROGERS

He hasnít? What the bloody hell has he been doing, then? I thought you said youíd cleared up the complaint?

MILGRIP I

Mr. Rogers, please. This is horribly embarrassing. Just give me a minute, please!

ROGERS

Carry on!

MILGRIP I

The mising of the two steels is not our responsibility -

ROGERS

What ?

MILGRIP I

Please! The steel was mixed here. In your own works.

ROGERS

Youíre not getting away with -

MILGRIP I

We have proof, Mr Rogers. The two lots of steel in that bin were delivered a month apart. They couldnít possibly have been mixed at the time of delivery.

ROGERS

What the hell are you talking about?

MILGRIP I

Be;ieve me, this is as bad for me as it is for you -

ROGERS

Oh, is it?

MILGRIP I

Yes, it is. I donít like making accusations of sharp practice -

ROGERS

Youíd better not!

MILGRIP I

Iíve no choice. You reported two cast mixed. MX2307 and MY8621.

ROGERS

Yes.

MILGRIP I

Therís no MY8621 in that bin, Mr Rogers.

ROGERS

What?

MILGRIP I

Thereís no MY 8621 in that bin.

ROGERS

Thereís two different lots of steel.

MILGRIP I

Granted, but the other is not MY 8621

ROGERS

Not - ?

MILGRIP I

We found one billet-end from cast MZ 3144.

ROGERS

MZ - ?

MILGRIP I

A cast that was delivered to you a month before the other two casts.

ROGERS

I donít believe it! That would mean?

MILGRIP I

It would mean that somebody had deliberately misled you. They did. We have the proof.

ROGERS

Just a minute -

MILGRIP I

Iím very sorry. I mean, Iím very sorry we had to find out.

ROGERS

Youíre saying that somebody here mixed these two steels?

MILGRIP I

Yes?

ROGERS

And then reported it was a supplierís mix.

MILGRIP I

Yes.

ROGERS

And you can prove it?

MILGRIP I

Absolutely. Iím sorry, Mr Rogers, but thereís not a shadow of a doubt. None whatever.

ROGERS

Oh. (PAUSE) What do you propose to do about it?

MILGRIP I

I - I donít know. Itís my duty to report it.

ROGERS

Of course.

MILGRIP I

But -

ROGERS

Well?

MILGRIP I

Mr Rogers, I -

ROGERS

Yes?

MILGRIP I

Are you proposing to report to my company that you made a genuine error? You now, sorry for the trouble, the usual thing?

ROGERS

Of course. Least I can do.

MILGRIP I

I think that might cover it.

ROGERS

You mean you wonít report the circumstances?

MILGRIP I

I wonít need to, will I? If the initiative comes from you? I shall simply say that on investigation it was found that we hadnít sent a mix. I shall simply refer our people to your letter. And that will be an end of it.

ROGERS

Mr. - er - Milgrip, thatís very - er -generous of you!

MILGRIP I

Oh no. Itís just - well, youíve not done me any harm. I donít see any good reason to stir up trouble unnecessarily.

ROGERS

I shanít forget that.

MILGRIP I

Not at all.

ROGERS

And youíll leave me to get in touch with your people first?

MILGRIP I

If you wouldnít mind. Then my report is just a formality.

ROGERS

Iíll get on the phone right away. Mr. Milgrip, put it there! Iím very grateful!

MILGRIP I

Think nothing of it!

ROGERS

What? If Iíd sent samples of those two steels back to your lab, for checking, Iíd have looked a right fool. Youíve saved me that!

MILGRIP I

Weeell - anyway, I must be going.

ROGERS

Right. Well - Iíll get in touch with your people right away. And - er - thanks once more. Iíll look forward to seeing you again!

MILGRIP I

Right. Cheerio, then!

ROGERS

Good day, Mr. Milgrip! Er - the nameís Ted by the way.

MILGRIP I

Arnold! Now I must go. Iíve got my colleague waiting in the car!

(SOUND OF DOOR)

BARNEY

Well, Arnold?

MILGRIP I

All right.

BARNEY

All right? Is that all?

MILGRIP I

Thereíll be no fuss.

BARNEY

No reports? Nothing?

MILGRIP I

No. Just a formal acknowledgement that a complaint was unfounded.

BARNEY

Good! Now, whereís me bag? Ah! Here! Here, cop hold of that!

MILGRIP I

What is it?

BARNEY

Itís a billet end, mate!

MILGRIP I

I can see that.

BARNEY

Youíll be able to see the cast mark then?

MILGRIP I

Cast mark? Oh. M-Z-3-1-4-4.

BARNEY

Thatís it. MZ 3144

MILGRIP I

What do I do with this.

BARNEY

Do what you like, mate. Frame it. Mount it aní stick it in a chuffiní glass case if you like. Youíve got the evidence now.

MILGRIP I

Thanks. Er - thanks, Barney.

BARNEY

Donít mesh! Now, back to News Street, eh? And you can ring your boss up and tell him its all cleared up. Aní everybodyís happy.

(SOUND OF TELEPHONE)

MILGRIP I

Milgrip here!

CAREW

Look here, Milgrip! How much longer is this bloody nonsense at Mathesonís going on? Iíve got Inspection Department on my neck because theyíre short-handed in spark-inspection, and weíre tying up one of their blokes in the Midlands indefinitely, to say nothing of the expense. And whatís all this about Collins coming home last night, I suppose this comes of sending a boy on a manís jobÖ

(CROSS FADE TO MURIEL)

MURIEL

I tell you this, Iím sick and tried of scrimping and scraping while you go gallivanting about the country with your boozy colleagues, so-called, and if that Carew so much as raises a finger youíre off it doesnít matter that I might have made other arrangements for the evening oh noÖ

(CROSS FADE TO BANK MANAGER)

BANK
MANAGER

Iím sorry, Mr. Milgrip, I must insist that you make more determined efforts to keep your account in balance. Iím sure you will agree that we have been very patient but Iím very much afarid that we must finally draw the lineÖ.

(CROSS FADE TO CAREW)

CAREW

I shall want a full report from you on this business, Milgrip. If the thing had been properly tackled in the first place it could have been settled in five minutes. See to it, Milgrip. Get that finger outÖ.

(THE SOUND OF DROP-HAMMERS COMBINES WITH ALL THREE VOICES AT HYSTERIA LEVEL)

MURIEL

If youíd only concentrate on getting ahead.

BANK MANAGER

It really is impossible for the Bank.

CAREW

The job of selling, Milgrip, is one thatÖ.

MURIEL

Instead of having a good time with buyers and

BANK MANAGER

to do its best for its clients except on a

CAREW

requires all your energies all the time Iím

MURIEL

so-called colleagues we might get somewhere

BANK MANAGER

basis of mutual trust we might get somewhere

CAREW

bound to say that I donít see in you that sense

MURIEL

Look at Jim Matthews a Saels Manager already

BANK MANAGER

if your Company is unable to pay your expenses

CAREW

of dedication to the Companyís interests that

MURIEL

and heís nearly six years younger than you

BANK MANAGER

more promptly it might be wiser to approach

CAREW

every salesman ought to have if a salesman

(THE COMBINATION OF DROP-HAMMERS, THE THREE VOICES AND THE RISING SCREAM OF THE HOT-SAW BECOMES INTOLERABLE BABEL OF SOUND, ENDING IN AN ALMIGHTY CRASH. THERE IS A BRIEF VERY STILL PAUSE.)

MILGRIP I

(SHOUTS) Oh, get stuffed!

CAREW

What was that, Milgrip? What did you say?

SWITCHBOARD
OPERATOR

Mr. Carew, I have another call for you!

CAREW

Just hold it a moment, miss.

SWITCHBOARD
OPERATOR

Iím sorry, Mr. Carew, I canít do that -

CAREW

(SAVAGELY)All right! Take the number and Iíll call him back, whoever it is -

SWITCHBOARD
OPERATOR

Iím sorry, Mr. Carew, Itís the Managing Director!

CAREW

Oh. Ah. Well -well, all right, miss. Milgrip! Iíll speak to you later!

(A CLICK FOLLOWED BY THE DIALLING TONE)

MILGRIP I

Strewth, what have I done?

(PAUSE)

Better get Josie to book a call back right away. Apologise. Plead sickness. Pressure of domestic difficulties. Something. Anything.

(INWARDLY)I donít care! I donít care! I did it! I did it!

(EXTERIOR VOICE)Better start looking for another job. No. Make it convincing. Take a few days off. Send a doctorís note. Might just get away with it. You never know.

(INWARDLY)I donít care! I did it! Three cheers for Barney! Three chears for me!

(BUZZ OF TELEPHONE EXTENSION)

JOSIE

Mr. Milgrip! Mr. Carew for you!

(CLICK OF TELEPHONE CONNECTION)

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY) Oh, God! (EXTERIOR VOICE) Milgrip here!

CAREW

Oh, Milgrip. Glad I caught you. Youíre to come up to the Works. Tomorrow. The M.D. wants to see you.

MILGRIP I

(INWARDLY)Oh, no!

CAREW

Seems heís had Rogers on fromMathersonís. I donít know what youíve been up to over there, Milgrip, but the M.D. sounded very pleased with you. Hrrm - in the circumstances, old boy - perhaps weíd better forget all about this - er- other business a few minutes ago. Eh?

MILGRIP I

No!

CAREW

ís that?

MILGRIP I

I said no.

CAREW

Iím sorry, Iím not with you.

MILGRIP I

I mean that Iíll come and see the M.D. tomorrow. With my resignation.

CAREW

Your resig- ?

MILGRIP I

Yes, thatís all.

CAREW

Milgrip! No donít ring off. Perhaps we can sort this out.

MILGRIP I

I doubt it.

CAREW

At least tell me what the trouble is.

MILGRIP I

Itís a long story.

CAREW

Domestic trouble, old boy.

MILGRIP I

No, itís not. Iím just sick and tired of being a rubbing-rag, thatís all. Sick and tried. Iíve been bitched, bothered and bewildered - and mostly by you - till Idonít want to do a good job any more. There isnít a single man on the shop-floor that would put up with it the way Iíve done. And Iíve had enough. Thatís - thatís it.

CAREW

Oh. Oh. I see. Look, old man, letís not do anything hasty, eh? Anything we might both regret. Tell you what. Come in and see me before you go up to see the M.D. Will you?

MILGRIP I

Iíll think about it

CAREW

Do that. Look forward to seeing you, old boy.

(CLICK. THE DIALING TONE)

MILGRIP I

Old boy! Right, now for Muriel! And then that chuffiní bank manager! What was it that Barney said? Freedomís a luxury. And luxuries come dear. True, Barney, true! But by God! They taste good!

(DROP-HAMMERS AND HOT SAW BEGIN SOFTLY, RISE TO A CRESCENDO, AND FALL AWAY AGAIN AS THEIR SOUND MINGLES WITH THE STRAINS OF THE CHORUS OF ďRULE BRITANNIAĒ WHICH RISE TO A TRIUMPHAL END)