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UPWARDLY MOBILE MUTKIN

A PLAY FOR RADIO

By

BILL STANTON



DRAMATIS PERSONAE

MUTKIN
SIR HECTOR
BARNARD
SMITHERS

......The liftman
......The Managing Director
......The Financial Director
......The Personnel Manager

(WE OPEN WITH THE SOUND OF A GAVEL ON A TABLE)
SIR HECTOR: Well, gentlemen, we seem to be getting through the agenda splendidly. Now, any further business? Smithers?
SMITHERS: One small item, Sir Hector.
SIR HECTOR: Oh God, I know these smali items. We authorise three new developments costing a couple of million in three minutes flat, and one of these so-called small items takes up twenty minutes. And we always adjourn it for further consideration. What is it this time?
SMITHERS: Personal seating accommodation for one of the service employees, Sir Hector.
SIR HECTOR: I take it you mean one of the workers wants a chair?
SMITHERS: Yes, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Then, Good God, man, say so in plain language. And then give him one. Requisition one from stores, or we'll be here all night.
SMITHERS: We can't do it, I'm afraid, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Can't do it? What the devil do you mean, can't do it? You're the personnel man. Why can't you do it?
SMITHERS: We don't have finance authorised, sir.
SIR HECTOR: No finance? For a damn chair? Barnard, accounts is your department. Why can't he have the money?
BARNARD: There's no precedent for it, Hector.
SIR HECTOR: My God, here we go again! No precedent. We can never do anything in this damned organisation unless it's been done before. Now why can't this particular worker have his chair?
SMITHERS: Mutkin's never had a chair, Sir Hector. So he can't have one because - well, because he's never had one before.
SIR HECTOR: Why do I get this feeling that this is another of those fiddling little things that's going to take forever? And who, or what is Mutkin? Have I met him?
BARNARD: Frequently, Hector. He's the lift man.
SIR HECTOR: Oh, him. Little chap. Sandy hair.
SMITHERS: No, sir. You're thinking of Rogers.
SIR HECTOR: Rogers?
BARNARD: He left five years ago.
SIR HECTOR: Oh, really? And why can't a lift man have a chair?
BARNARD: It's not on the inventary, Hector.
SIR HECTOR: I can see this is going to take some time. If not longer. Look, you two. Smithers and Barnard. Just put your heads together, will you? And come up with a solution before the next board meeting, eh? I want my lunch. Right, nothing else, is there? No? Nothing from sales, Cartwright? Production, Ackroyd? Good. Meeting adjourned.

(FADE DUT ON SCRAPING OF CHAIRS. PAUSE. CUT IN BOARDROOM TALK, FOLLOWED BY SOUND OF GAVEL)
SIR HECTOR: We'll skip the preliminaries this time, I think, and get on to Matters Arising. Smithers?
SMITHERS: Just the matter of the Mutkins chair, sir.
SIR HECTOR: The Mutkins -? Oh yes, that.
SMITHERS: I rather think we have a problem, sir.
SIR HECTOR: I knew it. They're always the same, these small matters. Well?
BARNARD: We told him there was no precedent, naturally.
SIR HECTOR: And?
BARNARD: Well- er, he's making an issue of it.
SIR HECTOR: An issue of it? A confounded chair?
SMITHERS: On a matter of principle, he says.
SIR HECTOR: Principle? I'll give him principle. Barrack-room lawyer, is he? Well, there's one way to deal with that sort. Get him up here. I'I1 give him principle.
SMITHERS: Then you'll agree to negotiate, sir?
SIR HECTOR: Negotiate? What the -?
BARNARD: Mutkin's the union representative. For all clerical and ancillary staff.
SIR HECTOR: Oh. Ah. Is he? Well, perhaps we should- er, talk to him. (PAUSE) Mavis? Ah, there you are. Ask Mr Mutkin to be good enough to come up to the boardroom, would you? That's right. The liftman.

(PAUSE. KNOCK ON DOOR))

SIR HECTOR: Come in!
MUTKIN: You sent for me.
SIR HECTOR: I did.
MUTKIN: I don't know about this. It's most irregular. My routine channel for negotiation is Mr Smithers here. Any other channel, I'll require notice of.
SIR HECTOR: It's about this - er, this chair.
MUTKIN: Ah well now, I'm happy to say that that little matter has been appropriately dealt with according to protocol - and after negotiation through the proper channels in accordance with procedure, of course - to the satisfaction of both parties.
SIR HECTOR: Eh, what's that? What's he talking about? Smithers, I understood-
SMITHERS: Mutkin has provided his own chair, Sir Hector.
SIR HECTOR: Has he, by God! Look here, Mutling, we can't have that sort of thing. Cluttering up the corridor with any old chair.
MUTKIN: You know, I rather resent that remark. It isn't any old chair. It's a nice period piece. We're not all philistines, you know.
SIR HECTOR: Look, you simply can't have a chair. You'll have to manage without. You've done it so far.
BARNARD: Hectar -!
SIR HECTOR: Leave this to me, Barnard. This would have been settled long since if I'd been handling it. You can't have a chair, Mudskin, and that's that.
SMITHERS: Sir Hector -!
SIR HECTOR: What is it, Smithers? What is it now?
SMITHERS: I'm sorry, sir. That's the problem. The one I was about to bring up.
SIR HECTOR: What is?
BARNARD: Mutkin claims there's some EEC regulation that applies to this - this sort of thing. Every employee whose work involves Iong periods of standing is entitled to seating accommodation.
SIR HECTOR: Is there?
SMITHERS: We haven't had time to check, Hector. But, knowing the EEC, it seems likely.
SIR HECTOR: All right, then, give him a chair. And for God's sake don't start talking about precedents, or everybody will be wanting one.
MUTKIN: I'd rather have my own chair, thank you. More comfortable.
SIR HECTOR: Rather have your -? Now look, Mutlet, we're not having it! Let everybody start bringing his own furniture and the place will begin to look like a junk shop. All right, all right. Don't worry. We'll see you get a chair.
MUTKIN: I prefer my own, thank you. Matter of principle.
SIR HECTOR: Mutkin, there's only one principle here. We provide the furniture. You use it.
MUTKIN: Mr Smithers -!
SIR HECTOR: You still here?
MUTKIN: That photograph of Sir Hector's family. On his desk there. Company property?
SIR HECTOR: How dare you? That's mine!
MUTKIN: Brought it from home, did you?
SIR HECTOR: What the devil has that got to do with anything? (PAUSE) And what are you grinning at, Barnard?
BARNARD: Just a thought, Hector. He does have a point, you know. People often do provide personal things at their place of work.
SIR HECTOR: All right, all right. Seems there's a precedent after all, Mutson. That's all.
MUTKIN: Thank you. Good day, gentlemen.

(SOUND OF DOOR CLOSING. PAUSE. SOUND OF OFFICE INTERCOM BUZZER)

SIR HECTOR: Oh, Mavis. Get hold of Mr Smithers, will you? I want him up here. On the double.
(PAUSE. KNOCK ON DOOR)
SMITHERS: You sent for me, Sir Hector?
SIR HECTOR: I did. What the devil is Mutlock doing with a chair inside his lift? And who authorised the carpet he's got on the floor?
SMITHERS: I'm rather afraid there's nothing we can do about the chair, sir. Or the carpet.
SIR HECTOR: What the devil do you mean?
SMITHERS: He claims that the lift is his place of work. I told him the chair would have to go in the corridor. He says his place of work is the lift, not the corridor. He doesn't move people up and down the corridor, he says. Only between floors. Unless, of course, you're prepared to sanction a chair on every floor, he says.
SIR HECTOR: And what about the carpet?
SMITHERS: Well - er, if I may say so, you agreed to that, sir.
SIR HECTOR: I agreed to it? It's the first I've heard about any carpet.
SMITHERS: I mean in principle, sir. You authorised the chair, you remember?
SIR HECTOR: Well?
SMITHERS: Mutkin supplied his own carpet, too.
SIR HECTOR: Look, Smithers, this has gone far enough. I want this nonsense stopped. I don't care how you do it, but get it stopped. Got that?
SMITHERS: Yes, sir. (BEGIN FADE) As you say, sir.
Right away.
(FADE OUT. CUT IN SOUND OF GAVEL)
SIR HECTOR: Now look, you chaps. Something's got to be done about Mutkin. For some reason Smithers here seems powerless to stop his nonsense. First, it's a chair. Then it's a carpet. Now it's potted plants, God damn it. There'll soon be no room for passengers in the damned lift.
(SOUND OF INTERCOM)
SIR HECTOR: What is it, Mavis? What's that you say? All right, all right. You'd better put some coffee on. Oh, my God!
BARNARD: Trouble, Hector?
SIR HECTOR: Why does he have to pick such times?
BARNARD: Who is it?
SIR HECTOR: The Chairman. He's on his way up.
BARNARD: I'm sorry, Hector. I don't see why that should mean trouble.
SIR HECTOR: And how do you think he's getting up to the boardroom floor? By helicopter? He'll be in the lift now.
BARNARD: Ah!
SIR HECTOR: What's he going to say to a chair, and carpet, and potted plants?
BARNARD: Yes, I take your point.
SIR HECTOR: I'd better go and meet him.
(SOUND OF SCRAPING CHAIR. PAUSE)
SIR HECTOR: John, How nice to see you! And what a pleasant surprise! Now, about that lift... (BEGIN FADE) We've got a small problem there.
(SOUND OF INTERCOM. VOICE OF BARNARD, DISTORT, DISTANT)
BARNARD: Has the old man gone, Hector?
SIR HECTOR: Yes, he has.
BARNARD: Any problem about the lift?
SIR HECTOR: Yes, there is.
BARNARD: I take it he didn't care for it?
SIR HECTOR: No.
BARNARD: Then that's aIl right, isn't it? If the Chairman says so, we can get rid of that bit of nonsense.
SIR HECTOR: I didn't say he didn't care for it. I said you were wrong in assuming he wouldn't.
BARNARD: My God! You mean to say he did?
SIR HECTOR: That's right. Thought it showed initiative, he said. The right sort of attitude, he said. Might give us a few pointers about brightening up the working environment, he said.
BARNARD: Did he now?
SIR HECTOR: And then, of course, he got on that hobby horse of his. Time we had some decent premises, instead of this slum.
BARNARD: Slum?
SIR HECTOR: That's right. He thinks Mutkin has a point, he says. Made the rest of the place look shabby. More attractive than the boardroom, he said. Seems we ought to have a picture or two about, like Whatsisname.
BARNARD: Picture?
SIR HECTOR: That's the latest, apparently. A picture or two on the walls of the lift. I expect he'll be providing seats for passengers any day now.
BARNARD: Oh, Lord! Now we are in trouble. With the Chairman on his side.
SIR HECTOR: No, we're not. Pick up the rest of the chaps and meet me in the boardroom in ten minutes' time.
BARNARD: What do you propose to do?
SIR HECTOR: It's obvious, isn't it? We've got to get rid of this chap Muttering.
(CUT. SOUND DF FEET ON STAIRS, DOORS CLOSING, GENERAL AIR DF ACTIVITY, FOLLOWED BY SOUND OF GAVEL)
SIR HECTOR: What I'd like to know is where he's getting all the money. Reproduction furniture. Carpet. Prints on the wall.
SMITHERS: But that's the point, sir. They're not.
SIR HECTOR: They're not what?
SMITHERS: Reproductians, sir. The chair's a period piece, the carpet's a genuine Bokhara, and the painting's an original.
BARNARD: We can't afford such things in the boardroom, even.
SIR HECTOR: Then where are they coming from?
SMITHERS: Oh, Mutkin's very well-to-do, sir. He had a fortune left to him some years ago.
SIR HECTOR: Then what the hell's he doing here as a liftman?
SMITHERS: He prefers it, sir. Says he likes to be with people. Money doesn't buy you friends, and all that.
BARNARD: Good Lord! Now we raally are in trouble.
SIR HECTOR: Let me get this straight, Smithers. You mean to say we can't get rid of him?
SMITHERS: On what grounds, sir?
BARNARD: That's right, Hector. What has Mutkin done wrong? And even if he had, you know the routine. Two verbal warnings, followed by a written one. Then you can dismiss him.
SIR HECTOR: You mean to say we can't just fire him?
BARNARD: Not any more, I'm afraid. Times have changed.
SIR HECTOR: Then we'll make him redundant.
SMITHERS: I'm afraid we cauldn't do that either.
SIR HECTOR: And why the hell not?
SMITHERS: We can't declare a man redundant, sir. Only a job.
SIR HECTOR: All right then. We'll make the job redundant.
BARNARD: We can't do that, Hector.
SIR HECTOR: Why not'?
BAKNARD: We'd still need a lift man.
SIR HECTOR: Then we'll get another.
SMITHERS: We couldn't do that, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Why in God's name do you keep on saying we couldn't do this and we couldn't do that? Whose firm is it, anyway?
BARNARD: Well, actually, the shareholders', Hector. But we couldn't take on a lift man once we'd said the job was redundant. The job wouldn't exist.
SIR HECTOR: What you're saying is that we've got Mutlock on our necks till one of us retires? What the hell are we going to do?
BARNARD: Looks like it. Besides, you're forgetting something.
SIR HECTOR: And what's that?
BARNARD: The Chairman seems to have taken quite a fancy to friend Mutkin. How do you think he'd react to the news? That you'd sacked him, I mean. Dr even made him redundant. Supposing you did find a way.
SMITHERS: There's one thing we could do, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Right, then, spit it out, man. What is it?
SMITHERS: It was something the Chairman said, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Well, go on then, man.
SMITHERS: I'd have to make a few enquiries first, sir.
SIR HECTOR: And how long is that likely to take?
SMITHERS: An hour at most.
SIR HECTOR: Right. Then we meet here again in an hour's time. Right.
(CUT TO SOUNDS OF FRENZIED ACTIVITY AGAIN. SOUND OF GAVEL)
SIR HECTOR: Well now, Smithers, we're all agog.
SMITHERS: Relocate, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Re-? What the hell does that mean?
BARNARD: It means we move. And not a moment too soon, if you ask me.
SIR HECTOR: Move? Move what?
BARNARD: The firm. This company. Hang on, though. That won't work. We'd have no reason not to take Mutkin on again as liftman.
SIR HECTOR: Of course. You'll have to think again, Smithers.
SMITHERS: No, sir. I don't have to, sir.
SIR HECTOR: What the devil do you mean?
SMITHERS: Not if we moved to the new industrial estate.
SIR HECTOR: The new -?
SMITHERS: They're all one-storey buildings.
BARNARD: So they are. So they are. Smithers, that's a brilliant idea.
SIR HECTOR: I don't see anything brilliant about moving the whole damned firm just because of one damned liftman. (PAUSE) What was that, Smithers? Say that again. One-storey buildings? Just a minute. Of course. Of course. No lift.
BARNARD: That's right.
SIR HECTOR: You're right, Barnard. It is brilliant. Smithers, you'll go far. And so, thank God, will Mutcock. (PAUSE) Hang on, though. Would the parent board stand for that?
BARNARD: Oh, I'm sure you could persuade them, Hector. With the Chairman's backing, of course.
SIR HECTOR: Of course! I'll do it. Do I have a proposition?
BARNARD: You do. (BEGIN FADE) I formally propose that we recommend to the parent board...
(CROSS-FADE TO SOUNDS OF BIRD-SONG))
SIR HECTOR: I must say, Barnard, I rather like these new surroundings. Clean air, country sounds. It's not like a factory any more.
BARNARD: That's right, Hector. And just come and look at this view from the boardraom. Wonderful.
SIR HECTOR: (APPROACHING) Yes, isn't it? Trees, hedges, birds singing. The only sign of a factory is one gateman's hut.
SMITHERS: Actually, sir, that's really not part of the factory, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Not part of the -? What do you mean?
SMITHERS: I mean, we don't employ gatemen ourselves. It's an outside firm. They're under contract to provide our security. You remember I
Suggested it.
SIR HECTOR: Yes, yes, of course. You know, we're quite indebted to you, Smithers.
SMITHERS: Thank you, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Well, don't stand there, man. Come and admire the view.
SMITHERS: (APPROACHING) Thank you, sir.
SIR HECTOR: Hang on a minute. What in God's name is that gateman doing? There. The chap in front of those shrubs.
BARNARD: I'd say topiary, Hector.
SIR HECTOR: Topiary?
BARNARD: Yes. You know, hedges and shrubs clipped to represent things. For instance, that thing he's doing now. Might be a panda he's carving. Dr perhaps it could turn out to be a peacock.
SIR HECTOR: Panda? Peacock? Smithers, get that stopped at once. Al1 right, all right. I'll take care of it myself!
(SOUND OF WINDOW BEING OPENED)
SIR HECTOR: Hey, you! You there! Stop that at once, do you hear? (PAUSE) Oh, my God!
BARNARD: )
) What is it?
SMITHERS:)
SIR HECTOR: It's not what! It's who! Don't you see? It's Mutkin! He's back! Mutkin!

(AND WE CLOSE WITH SUITABLY FUNEREAL MUSIC)