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A PLUG FOR THE CABINET

A PLUG FOR THE CABINET featured GEORGE COLE as Lucius Tring, the hapless DIY enthusiast.

PLUG was one of a number of short plays in BBC's JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT series in the late 1970s. Established playrights were asked to write a fifteen minute radio play. Bill wrote PLUG. The play catalogues an escalating disaster and was inspired by Gerard Hoffnung's Bricklayers Story in his address to the Oxford Union.

PLUG became a phenomenal success when a translated version was broadcast in Germany, and it was repeated on a regular basis.




A PLUG FOR THE CABINET
By Bill Stanton

Directed by Michael Bartlett

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SMs



Production Secretary:

Wednesday, 28th February 1979 1000-1800
B.11 Broadcasting House
TLN09/238A752

in studio
in studio
Saturday, 24th March 1979 2345-2400 Radio 4

Lucius Tring……………GEORGE COLE
Cockfosters ……………MICHAEL McCLAIN
Judge……………………GERALD CROSS

Jim Knight
Donald McLeod
Enyd Clowes

Cathy Hignett
6097 B.H.
PABX 4636

(JUST BEFORE MIDNIGHT SIGNATURE TUNE)
ANNOUNCER:
(SIGNATURE TUNE OUT)
(TING OF SHOP DOOR BELL, DOOR OPENS)
COCKFOSTERS:Morning, Sir! Can I help you?
(Door closes)
TRING:Er, yes. It's a - well, I scarcely know how to start. I - well, I want to hang it, you see.
COCKFOSTERS:Hang it, sir?
TRING:Yes, that's it. I want to hang the cabinet.
COCKFOSTERS:(facetiously) Hang the cabinet, sir? Bit drastic, surely? Though I am bound to say there are times -
TRING:Yes, but there's nothing to hang it with, you see. Or on. Just sort of small ears at the back like a loving cup, you know.
COCKFOSTERS:Ah. That sort of cabinet, sir.
TRING:In the bathroom.
COCKFOSTERS:I see, sir. What seems to be the trouble then?
TRING:Well, how does one?
COCKFOSTERS:How does one, sir?
TRING:Yes, hang it up?
COCKFOSTERS:Is it tiled, sir?
TRING:No, no. Just a sort of box. Wood, I think. With doors.
COCKFOSTERS:No, sir. The wall. Is it a tiled wall?
TRING:No, no. Just a wall sort of wall.
COCKFOSTERS:Then you'll need to plug it, sir.
TRING:Plug it? The cabinet?
COCKFOSTERS:The wall, sir. You'll need to plug the wall.
TRING:Oh. Oh, I see. Plug the wall. Yes (pause) How does one.
COCKFOSTERS:Plug the wall, sir? Easy. You'll need to use a jump drill.
TRING:A jump drill.
COCKFOSTERS:That's right, sir. Do you have such a thing as a jump drill?
TRING:Well, no, I don't believe I have.
COCKFOSTERS:Right here, sir. One pound seventy-five.
TRING:Ah, yes, a jump drill. I'm afraid I -
COCKFOSTERS:It's quite simple, sir. You put the bit in the drill like this, you see, and you make a hole in the wall.
TRING:Ah, but -
COCKFOSTERS:You strike the end, here, you see.
TRING:Strike the end of the drill.
COCKFOSTERS:With a hammer. Turning the drill round as you do so.
TRING:Strike the other end?
COCKFOSTERS:Oh, no, sir. Just turn it round in your hand like this. So it doesn't bind.
TRING:Bind. (pause) With a hammer, you say?
COCKFOSTERS:Yes,sir.
TRING:I don't believ I have a -
COCKFOSTERS:I've a very good one here, sir. Two pounds fifty.
TRING:I see. Yes.
COCKFOSTERS:Then, when you've drilled the wall, you put in a plug.
TRING:A plug. (pause) Aren't they the things with three prongs, sort of? Or sometimes two? I'm not very good with electricty, I'm afraid.
COCKFOSTERS:Oh no, sir, not that sort of thing.
TRING:Oh, good.
COCKFOSTERS:Oh no, this is a wall plug.
TRING:I see.
COCKFOSTERS:Then, when you've drilled your hole you put in the plug, you see. I take it you don't have any plugs?
TRING:Er, no, I don't believe so.
COCKFOSTERS:A screwdriver?
TRING:Well, no.
COCKFOSTERS:How about screws?
TRING:Well, no.
COCKFOSTERS:Ah.
TRING:Perhaps I'd better get a man in.
COCKFOSTERS:Oh no, no. No need for that, sir. Do it yourself in no time. With the right tools.
TRING:Really?
COCKFOSTERS:Shall I parcel them up for you?
TRING: Well, yes, I suppose so.
COCKFOSTERS:Right sir. Now, let's see...Jump drill, hammer, spare plugs, screwdriver, and screws. One and a quarter inch tens, I think. Perhaps a few eights as well. In case the shanks are too thick.
TRING:Shanks. Of course.
COCKFOSTERS:There we are, sir. Everything you'll need. One pound seventy five, two fifties is four pound twnety five, plugs forty pence, screwdriver one-fifty, screws twenty and twenty's forty pence. Six pound fifty-five altogether,sir. (Till noise) Ten pound note, and three forty-five change. And thank you sir.
(DOOR OPENS WITH TING OF A SHOP BELL. PAUSE. SOUND OF A TENTATIVE TAPPING WITH HAMMER, GRADUALLY BECOMING BOLDER, THEN STOPS. PAUSE.
TELEPHONE DIALLING, DISTANT BELL, AND CLICK.

FOR THE REST OF THE PLAY, THE VOICE OF COCKFOSTERS IS ON DISTORT.)

COCKFOSTERS:(DISTORT) Cockfosters, the Hardware Man.
TRING:Ah, yes. Tring here!
COCKFOSTERS:Tring?
TRING:Lucius Tring. You sold me a drill thing. This morning. For hanging the cabinet.
COCKFOSTERS:Ah yes, of course. Everything all right, Mr. Tring? Got the cabinet up?
TRING:I'm afraid I can't get it to work.
COCKFOSTERS:Can't get it to work, sir?
TRING:This drill thing.
COCKFOSTERS:What seems to be the trouble, sir?
TRING:It doesn't seem to make holes. Just a mess.
COCKFOSTERS:I see, sir. Well they are a problem sometimes, walls. Don't make 'em like they used to, you know.
TRING:Yes, but what do I do?
COCKFOSTERS:It might be easier with a hand drill, sir.
TRING:A hand drill?
COCKFOSTERS:You don't have one?
TRING: I have this one. The one you sold me.
COCKFOSTERS: Oh no, sir. That's a jump drill. No, a hand drill. One that you turn. With a geared wheel at the side, you know. You've probably seen one.
TRING:I don't believe I have.
COCKFOSTERS:I think you might get on better with one.
TRING:Oh, good.
COCKFOSTERS:Shall I put one on one side for you?
TRING:Well, yes. (pause) How much are they?
COCKFOSTERS: We have several models, sir. Perhaps you would like to come in and select one?
TRING: Very well.
(TELEPHONE RECEIVER REPLACED. PAUSE. SOUND OF DRILL TURNING, FOLLOWED BY DAMAGE TO PLASTER BOARD, AND A MUFFLED CURSE FROM TRING. DISTORT RINGING AND ANSWERED.)
COCKFOSTERS:(DISTORT) Cockfosters, the Hardware Man.
TRING:It's gone through.
COCKFOSTERS:Who is that speaking?
TRING:Tring. Lucius Tring. It's gone through!
COCKFOSTERS: Oh, Mr. Tring. Gone through, sir?
TRING:Yes, the drill thing. It's gone through the wall.
COCKFOSTERS:Ah, not to worry, sir. You've obviously hit the mortar line between the bricks.
TRING:Bricks?
COCKFOSTERS:Yes, the layer of mortar between two bricks. You'll need to drill a little higher up or to one side. Or lower down, if you like. Into the bricks.
TRING:There aren't any bricks.
COCKFOSTERS:No bricks, sir?
TRING:It's sort of thick cardboard.
COCKFOSTERS:Thick cardb- ? Oh, you mean plasterboard, Mr. Tring.
TRING:Is that it?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right. Nothing to worry about. The hole can easily be filled with cellulose filler.
TRING:Cellulose f - ?
COCKFOSTERS:Just the thing for small holes.
TRING:Small holes?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right, sir. Just the job.
TRING:It's about three feet square.
COCKFOSTERS:Three feet squ - ? Ah, you've broken the plaster-board.
TRING:Is that it?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right, Mr. Tring. You've got what we call a stud partition.
TRING: Stud - ?
COCKFOSTERS: Plaster-boards fastened to the head and plate. At two foot centres.
TRING:Really?
COCKFOSTERS:You'll need to replace the whole board.
TRING:The whole board!
COCKFOSTERS:That's right, sir. Of course, you might shorten the existing board, and make a borrowed light.
TRING:Borrowed light.
COCKFOSTERS:Yes, sir. A sort of interior window. Letting light from one room to another.
TRING:Yes, but look here, I don't want a window between the bathroom and the kitchen!
COCKFOSTERS: The kitchen, sir.
TRING:Yes, I live in a bachelor flat. On the first floor.
COCKFOSTERS: I see. Well, if it's a case of privacy, Mr. Tring, you could always use frosted glass.
TRING:But all I want to do is to hang the cabinet.
COCKFOSTERS:Very well, sir. You'll need to replace the board in that case.
TRING:Replace it?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right, sir. You''l need to remove the old board entirely, and then replace it with a new one. Nine by four, Mr. Tring. Standard size.
TRING:I'll come and get it.
COCKFOSTERS:Oh, you've got transport, sir?
TRING:Transport?
COCKFOSTERS:You'll need a roof rack?
TRING:Roof rack?
COCKFOSTERS:On the car.
TRING:But I don't have a car.
COCKFOSTERS:I think I'd better deliver it to you, Mr. Tring. Next Tuesday all right?
TRING:Next Tuesday! But, I say, I've got a great hole between the bathroom and the kitchen!
COCKFOSTERS:I could send it special delivery, perhaps.
TRING:Oh, good.
COCKFOSTERS:There'd be an extra charge, of course.
TRING:Oh, very well.
COCKFOSTERS:Very good, sir. Oh, do you have clout nails?
TRING:Clout - ?
COCKFOSTERS:For nailing the board to the uprights, sir.
TRING:No. Er, no. (pause) I have a hammer.
COCKFOSTERS:I'll send them with the board.
(RECEIVER DOWN
PAUSE. SOUND OF TELEPHONE BELL DISTANT. CLICK.)
COCKFOSTERS:(DISTORT)Cockfosters, the Hardware Man!
TRING:Tring, here! Lucius Tring!
COCKFOSTERS:Ah, yes, Mr. Tring. Board arrive all right?
TRING:It's too big!
COCKFOSTERS:Too big?
TRING:It won't fit!
COCKFOSTERS:Standard size, Mr. Tring. They're all like that. (pause) Oh, is it near a corner?
TRING:Corner?
COCKFOSTERS:Yes, is it near the corner of the room?
TRING:Yes.
COCKFOSTERS:Ah, then you'll need to cut it, sir.
TRING:Cut it?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right. You'll need to cut the board.
TRING:What with?
COCKFOSTERS:A tenon saw, Mr. Tring.
TRING:Tenon saw?
COCKFOSTERS:You don't have a tenon saw?
TRING:No.
COCKFOSTERS:I could let you have one, I think.
TRING:Oh, very well. How much is it?
COCKFOSTERS:I've got one for four pounds thirty.
TRING:Four pounds thirty?
COCKFOSTERS:Yes, but I wouldn't recommend it for the job. A bit course in the teeth. I've got a very good one at six pounds fifty. Shall I send it?
TRING:No, no, I'll come round and get it.
COCKFOSTERS:I'll put it on one side for you. Last you a lifetime, Mr. Tring.
TRING:But I'm not sure I -? Oh never mind.
(RECEIVER REPLACED.
PAUSE, SOUND OF AMATEURISH SAWING. AFTER TWO OR THREE ATTEMPTS, STOPS.
DISTANT RING. ANSWERED)
COCKFOSTERS:Cockfosters, the Hardware Man!
TRING:It won't work!
COCKFOSTERS:Ah, its Mr. Tring! Any trouble?
TRING:It's too big! This board, I can't sort of get at it. To saw it.
COCKFOSTERS:Can't get at it, sir?
TRING:The wall seems to be in the way.
COCKFOSTERS:The wall, sir?
TRING:I've got it fastened at one side. In the corner. Now I can't get at it.
COCKFOSTERS:Oh no, sir. You'll need to unfasten the board and put it on a flat surface?
TRING:A flat surface.
COCKFOSTERS:Yes, Mr. Tring. To saw it. You'll need to lay it flat.
TRING:I see. Well, thank you very much.
(RINGS OFF
PAUSE
DISTANT RINGING. ANSWERED.
COCKFOSTERS:(DISTORT)Cockfosters, the Hardward Man!
TRING:I say, its broken.
COCKFOSTERS:Mr. Tring?
TRING:That plaster-board! It's broken!
COCKFOSTERS:How did you come to do that, sir?
TRING:I was taking it down from the corner. It broke. Where the nails were.
COCKFOSTERS:I see. You'll need another board then?
TRING:Well, yes.
COCKFOSTERS:Today, Mr. Tring?
TRING:Well, yes.
COCKFOSTERS:I'll send it special delivery, sir. Good day.
(RECEIVER DOWN
PAUSE
DISTANT RINGING. ANSWERED)
COCKFOSTERS:(DISTORT) Cockfosters, the Hardware Man!
TRING:It won't work!
COCKFOSTERS:What seems tobe the trouble Mr. Tring?
TRING:The saw. It won't go straight.
COCKFOSTERS:Well, they are
TRING:Yes, but look here -!
COCKFOSTERS:You'll find it easier with a power saw, Mr. Tring.
TRING:Power saw?
COCKFOSTERS:That's right. Clamp your board down, switch on our power saw, and zoom!
TRING:Zoom?
COCKFOSTERS:Cut right down your board in ten seconds flat.
TRING:Ten seconds?
COCKFOSTERS:And if you had a power drill with a saw attachment it would come in useful later.
TRING:Later?
COCKFOSTERS:For hanging the cabinet.
TRING:I see. Of course. How much?
COCKFOSTERS:Let me see. The basic drill, twenty-five ninety-nine. And the saw attachment six seventy-five. Altogether thirty-two seventy-four. To you Mr. Tring, thirty-two seventy complete.
(SOUND OF A POWER SAW STARTING UP.
THE NOTE CHANGES AS IT BITES INTO THE BOARD. IT RISES TO A SHRILL, PROTESTING NOTE, SUDDENLY PUNCTUATED BY THE CRASH OF FALLING TIMBER. THE DRILL STOPS.
PAUSE
DISTANT RINGING. ANSWERED)
COCKFOSTERS:Cockfosters, the Hardware man.
TRING:It didn't work!
COCKFOSTERS:Trouble, Mr. Tring?
TRING:It's the table. Or rather tables. I now have two tables, each with two legs.
COCKFOSTERS:But you managed to cut the board?
TRING:Yes, I did. But then the table fell apart…
COCKFOSTERS:And you've broken the board. They won't stand up to that sort of treatment, you know. They're made for walls.
TRING:Yes, but look here -!
COCKFOSTERS:You know Mr. Tring, you might find it easier all round of you rebuilt the wall in breeze block. And it would make things easier later.
TRING:Later?
COCKFOSTERS:When you come to hang the cabinet. Much easier to plug into breeze block than plaster-board, you know.
TRING:I see.
COCKFOSTERS:It's just a matter of taking down the plaster-board partition, and then rebuilding in breeze block. Stronger job altogether. And much easier for an amateur. If you like, Mr. Tring, I could get the builders merchants to send the materials round?
TRING:Oh, very well.
COCKFOSTERS:Glad to have been of service, sir! Good day!
(RECEIVER DOWN
PAUSE
SOUND OF CREAKING, WHICH SLOWLY INCREASES IN VOLUME AND RAPIDITY, FOLLOWED BY ACCELERANDO OF FALLING METAL AND MASONRY, WHICH RISES TO A PEAK AND ENDS WITH ONE OR TWO FINAL METALLIC CLANGS.
PAUSE
SOUND OF JUDGE'S GAVEL)
USHER:Silence in Court!
JUDGE:It is now my duty to pronounce judgement in this case. An unusual case, if I may say so. It is one thing for a citizen of the realm, enjoying his simple domestic pleasures, to be joined by the occupant of the flat above him. It is quite another matter when the occupant is accompanied by the floor, the furniture, and in short, the entire contents of the same apartment. The plaintiff has been fortunate in escaping serious injury, and has every reason to feel aggrieved. His premises will require extensive rebuilding.-
TRING:(Groans aloud)
JUDGE:- and his furniture will need to be replaced in its entirety.
TRING:Oh, no!
JUDGE:- and there is, of course, the matter of complete redecoration.
TRING:Oh no, no!
JUDGE:All this will call for the services of several skilled tradesmen, one of whom might have been better employed hanging the said cabinet which has been mentioned in evidence. Well has it been said that it is the business of the wealthy man to give employment to the artisan. I find the plaintiff's claim fully proved, and I award costs against the defendant.
(SIG TUNE.)
ANN.

(SIG TUNE CONTINUES AND OUT)