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A THIN MAN SCREAMING

A RADIO PLAY

by

W. G. STANTON.

60 Minutes

C A S T
CYRIL MEGGITT A fat man.
THE DAEMON OF CYRIL MEGGITT
LILIAN MEGGITT - Cyril's mother.
PRUNELLA SAVAGE - A spinster.
MAINWARING - Cyril's colleague.
SIMPSON - Cyril's superior.
A MUMBLER is heard briefly.

SYN0PSIS

Cyril Meggitt, rising forty, balding, heavily overweight is employed as chief clerk in the firm of Craddock's Ltd., steel stockholders. He in a conscientious though not ambitious worker. A bachelor, he lives with his mother in reasonably comfortable circumstances, his father having died of a coronary thrombosis so" years before, leaving his widow well provided for. Me implication is that Lilian, the mother, having overfed her husband. into his grave is now in the process of repeating the performance with Cyril. He is slowly being reduced (or rather expanded) to a chronically dyspeptic bladder of lard. Me chances of his marrying grow less with every year.

A departmental manager at Craddock's having died suddenly, the almost extinct embers of ambition begin to glow again in Cyril, who in incapable of seeing that he has really wither the desire nor the ability to hold down a more responsible job than the one he is doing. Unfortunately for his, there art two people who encourage him in this ambition; his mother, who fondly imagines that to her son all things are possible and Prunella Savage, a typist with Craddock's, for whom Cyril represents perhaps her last chance of marriage.

Cyril's rival for the post of Departmental Manager in Bruce Mainwaring, an unpleasant individual, but a more obvious choice than Cyril.. Moreover, he moves in the same social circle as Simpson, their immediate superior.

Whilst the whole question is in the balance, Cyril ruins his chances. Simpson has told him that a certain acknowledgement to an important order must go that evening. Cyril gives it to Prue to type, and Prue makes a vital error in the price before leaving it on Simpson's desk that afternoon for signature. It transpires that Simpson has noticed this, and leaves the acknowledgement unsigned for correction the next morning.

Prunella finds the acknowledgement unsigned on Simpson's desk and realises why. But the opportunity is too good to mine. She now has a pretext for calling on Cyril at home, and takes the acknowledgement along for him to sign, knowing that in fact he has no authority to do so. However, since she fully intends to re-type it the next morning, she feels that there is no danger in this. Cyril jibs at signing, but she points out the urgency and how it will cause Cyril to stand well in Simpson's eyes if he uses his initiative. (It in made clear to the listener that this is all a ploy).

Cyril signs. Prunella contrives to worm an invitation to the cinema out of Cyril, her evening having 'loon otherwise spoiled. Whilst he is getting the tickets she waken a pretext of slipping round the corner to post the acknowledgement though in fact she does nothing of the kind. But the whole incident has served to make Prunella and Lilian implacable enemies the war for Cyril in on.

Prue's strategem comes to grief when Simpson notices that the acknowledgement in missing before she has had time to type the replacement. Cyril in questioned, and confesses to his supposed Milt. Simpson tells him that, "eon he can undo the mischief, the directors will take a serious viewl dismissal is hinted at. Whilst Cyril is thus being called over the coals Prunella in her anxiety tells Mainwaring. Mainwaring sees his opportunity. Telling her that she met not breathe a word or she will be held fully responsible he effectively silences her. Then he hams on to the acknowledgement and toile no one, whilst Cyril sweats It out. He desperately trios to undo the harm he thinks he has brought about by ringing his opposite number at the

I customer's works, only to find that the acknowledgement has not arrived; a delay in the post in suspected.

When after several days it is assumed by Simpson that the acknowledgement has gone astray and that there will be no repercussions. Simpson informs Cyril that he is prepared to overlook the offence, but that a" question of promotion is ruled out. At this point Mainwaring produces the document and says he has just found it, Cyril knows this to be impossible and challenges Prunella. Me has to confess, and her hopes are in ruins.

Cyril goes home to mother, who cooks him his favourite carbohydrate, rejoicing in the knowledge that after such a scare he will never want to escape again.

TREATMENT

Cyril has two hobbies, his mother's cooking and writing, for which he has a small talent. His mother encourages him in both since they anchor him to her* I propose to develop these by interior monologue between the scenes of the play. lose interludes will also establish his chronic dyspepsia. (Is a burp permitted as a sound effect

Simpson and Mainwaring are rather flat characters, designedly so* But I feel that the desperation of both Lilian and Prunella will provide a rich source of conflicts Cyril being the ball in their game of tennis. I want to suggest throughout that his life with mother has gradually eroded his will, and that in fact the end of the story is inevitable.

DAEMON

Listen !

(SOUND OF PEN SCRATCHING)

The moving finger writes. Or rather pen.

(SCRATCHING AGAIN)

That's Cyril. Cyril Meggitt. He has the writer's itch.

(MORE SCRATCHING)

And when he itches, he scratches.

(STILL MORE SCRATCHING)

But it never gets any better.

(SCRATCHING BEGINS AGAIN, THEN STOPS)

CYRIL

(SIGHS)

DAEMON

Nor does his writing.

CYRIL

Oh, damn !

DAEMON

Cyril Meggitt. Fortyish, baldish, fattish. No, not fattish. Fat. Five years ago his waist measurement passed his chest. Five years more, he'll double for Falstaff. Cyril Meggitt.

CYRIL

The ribbon round the old hat -

DAEMON

Old ? Antique.

CYRIL

Antique ?

DAEMON

Well, ancient.

CYRIL

Ancient ?

DAEMON

Ancient.

CYRIL

Oh, all right.

(SCRATCHING BEGINS AGAIN. VOICE OF DAEMON OVER)

DAEMON

I'm his daemon. D.A.E.M.O.N. Every writer has one. Shakespeare, Moliére..... Cyril Meggitt.

(SCRATCHING STOPS)

CYRIL

And the ribbon round the ancient hat bore the marks of great age.

DAEMON

You said 'great age'.

CYRIL

Did I ?

DAEMON

Ancient.

CYRIL

Oh. Oh, yes.

DAEMON

Tautology.

CYRIL

Tautology ?

DAEMON

Meaning you've said it once.

CYRIL

(SIGHS)

DAEMON

He may well sigh. Cyril's like the rest of them. He deludes himself that his hand directs the pen. Ha, ha! We are the writers. The daemons. They ? Mere instruments. That's all. Instruments. It's the daemon's talent the writer gets credit for. The quality of the daemon determines the talent of the instrument.

(PAUSE) Poor Cyril! I'm terrible.

(CYRIL SIGHS. SCRATCHING BEGINS AGAIN)

LILIAN

Cyriiil ! (SHE TRILLS IT LA NYMPHS AND SHEPHERDS) Cyriiil !

(SCRATCHING STOPS)

CYRIL

(ANNOYED) Yes, mother ?

LILIAN

Supper, dear !

CYRIL

(PLEASED, TO HIMSELF) Ah! (ALOUD)Coming!

(SOUND OF FAT MAN RISING)

Bit peckish, come to think.

(YET DESCEND STAIRS, HEAVILY. T.V. SOUND APPROACHES, AND IS SWITCHED OFF)

LILIAN

(APPROACHING) Come along, dear ! It's your favourite.

CYRIL

Oh ?

LILIAN

Toad in the hole. And some nice thin bread and butter.

DAEMON

Cyril is the product of a mother's love.

CYRIL

And very nice, too.

DAEMON

A love which manifests itself in large dollops of carbohydrate.

CYRIL

Ha!

DAEMON

She's the divinity that is ending his shape.

(SOUND OF CYRIL SITTING)

LILIAN

Careful, dear. Me plate's hot.

CYRIL

Right. Bating irons - at the ready! Tuck in the old serviette. Rub hands together smartly. And what ho !

DAEMON

You see ? Mother loves Cyril. Cyril loves his food.

(THERE IS A BRIEF SOUND OF PIGS TROUGHING)

She has theories, too. About food values.

LILIAN

That's right, dear. Strength goes in at the mouth.

DAEMON

There is no evidence for this. Certainly not in Cyril.

(SOUND OF PIGS TROUGHING MAKES ITSELF HEARD AND CONTINUES UNTIL THE END OF LILIAN'S NEXT SPEECH)

DAEMON

But she does take an interest in her son. Other than food, that is.

LILIAN

Had a good day at the office, dear ? Did you have a nice lunch ? I do wish you could manage to get home. I had a piece of hake. Lovely it was. I did think of bringing you a bit, but then I thought, well, he does enjoy his toad-in-the-hole. And it's very light. Fish. Not filling, I mean. Mr. Grierson's got a new assistant. But the price! Would you believe it, four and nine ? Four and nine ! I ask you. Oh, I know we can afford it. But I mean. When your father was alive I could get a whole skate well practically a whole skate for eighteenpence. Eighteen pence. Not that I blame Mr. Grierson. It's all these middlemen….

(THE TROUGHING COMES TO AN END, AND THERE IS A BURP AND A SIM OF SATISFACTION FROM CYRIL)

CYRIL

Thompson's dead.

LILIAN

Thompson ?

CYRIL

Office Manager.

LILIAN

Oh. Oo, fancy, dead!

CYRIL

Yes.

LILIAN

Sudden, was it ?

CYRIL

Found him this morning. In bed. Dead.

LILIAN

Well! His wife, was it ?

CYRIL

Mmm. Took his tea up. Waste of time.

LILIAN

Well, if you've got to go.....

CYRIL

Be a new appointment.

LILIAN

New appointment ? His wife ? Oh. Oh, I see. At the office.

CYRIL

Mmm.

LILIAN

It's an ill wind, dear.

CYRIL

Humph. (PAUSE) Talk about wind, you seen my tablets ? (BUR P) I'm not the only clerk at Craddock's, you know.

LILIAN

Not clerk, dear. Still, been with them a long time, haven't you ? Oh, you'll get it.

CYRIL

Mere's Mainwaring.

DAEMON

Ah, Mainwaring. Mainwaring, the patrician. A product of one of our minor public schools. Mick and smooth. Smoothnesse oblige. Mainwaring, with the coveted button in his lapel, and his hankie up his sleeve. Strutting around his lodge like Big Chief Sitting Bull. And just about as civilized.

(SUDDEN SOUND OF TYPEWRITERS)

MAINWARING

Morning, Meggitt

CYRIL

Mr. Meggitt.

MAINWARING

They tell me you're putting in for Thompson's job ?

CYRIL

That's right.

MAINWARING

Really ?

CYRIL

Any objections ?

MAINWARING

Me ? Seriously ? Competition from a penpusher ?

CYRIL

Good day, Mainwaring!

(SLAM OF DOOR, SCRATCHING OF PEN HEARD OVER SOUND OF DISTANT T.V.)

Management nowadays - hmm, management today is becoming less adept - skilled ? - less skilled in the control of large-scale undertakings - don't care for that, sounds like mass funerals - industrial complexes ? since the very qualities - attributes ? qualities demanded by such control are necessarily inhumane, and tend to vitiate warm, human associations. Or, in other words, Mainwaring's a bastard.

DAEMON

Tsk, tsk. Cyril! What a thing to say! Tsk, tsk.

CYRIL

It's true. He'll wipe the floor with me. Mainwaring's the type to get on.

MAINWARING

Mr. Simpson, may I have a word ?

SIMPSON

Is it important, Mainwaring ? I'm rather tied up.

MAINWARING

I'd like to be considered for the vacant post, sir.

SIMPSON

Thompson's ?

MAINWARING

Yes, sir.

SIMPSON

Bit sharp, aren't you, Mainwaring ? The poor devil's hardly cold.

MAINWARING

I had thought of that. But I'm anxious to get ahead. I believe you know that.

SIMPSON

Yes, I do. Can't blame you for that. But it's not quite as simple as that. I must think of my own position.

MAINWARING

I don't follow, sir.

SIMPSON

You've just joined my lodge, Mainwaring. Oh, I'm sure that has no connection with this situation, but you see my problem.

MAINWARING

No, sir.

SIMPSON

I should want solid reasons for preferring you to people who've had more experience. Otherwise, it might just - er, smack of wheels within wheels, you know ? Me Old Pals Act ?

MAINWARING

Yes, I see that, sir. But -

SIMPSON

I'll put your name forward, Mainwaring. Don't worry. But there are - others, you understand.

MAINWARING

Of course, sir. I hope you didn't mind my asking ?

SIMPSON

Oh, no, no. No harm in that, Mainwaring.

MAINWARING

Thank you, Mr. Simpson. And thank you for giving me your time. I wonder if I might venture - just one more thing ?

SIMPSON

Well ?

MAINWARING

May I know the competition, sir ?

SIMPSON

That's up to the board, Simpson. They'll have my recommendations, naturally.

MAINWARING

Meggitt, sir ?

SIMPSON

Now you know better than that, Mainwaring. You'll be told at the right time.

MAINWARING

I'm sorry, sir. No offence intended.

SIMPSON

That's all right, Mainwaring. Close the door as you go.

(DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES. PAUSE. SOUND OF SCRATCHING OF PEN)

CYRIL

Not that I want the job all that much.

DAEMON

Oh no ?

CYRIL

Well, only for one thing.

DAEMON

Yes ?

CYRIL

I wouldn't like Mainwaring for a boss.

LILIAN

(DISTANT) Cyriiil!

CYRIL

Yes, mother ?

LILIAN

Supper, dear

CYRIL

Good. Let's see, what day is it ? Tuesday. Stew and dumplings, then.

(SUDDEN BURST OF T. V. PROGRAMME. TURNED DOWN. VOICES OVER)

LILIAN

Any more, dear? About the job, I mean.

CYRIL

Job ?

LILIAN

You know.

CYRIL

I saw Mr. Simpson.

LILIAN

Mr. Simpson ?

CYRIL

The director. Any more dumplings ?

LILIAN

Help yourself, dear. (SOUND OF GENEROUS HELPING BEING LADLED OUT)

CYRIL

They'll consider me, he says.

LILIAN

Oooh, Cyril! There's nice. You a manager!

CYRIL

Here, steady on !

LILIAN

Have to be careful now.

CYRIL

Careful ?

LILIAN

Making up to you. Making a fuss. Trying to get round you.

CYRIL

Get round me ?

LILIAN

Women.

CYRIL

Women ?

LILIAN

What's-her-name. You know.

CYRIL

What's-her-name ?

LILIAN

Your office. Forward thing!

CYRIL

I don't know what / you're on about.

LILIAN

Things you've said. Prudence.

CYRIL

Oh. Not Prudence. Prunella.

LILIAN

There's a name.

CYRIL

Just a typist.

LILIAN

Making up to you. All the time. More now. You want to watch. Prunella ? I thought it was Prudence.

(SOUND OF TYPEWRITERS)

PRUNELLA

I was ever so pleased, Cyril. Ever so. To hear. Oh, not about Mr. Thompson, good heavens. You. Shan't be able to say that much longer.

CYRIL

Say what ?

PRUNELLA

Cyril.

CYRIL

Oh.

PRUNELLA

It's a nice name. Cyril.

DAEMON

Prunella. Prunella Savage. Admits to thirty-two. Thirty-two rising forty. A single-minded maiden. Or perhaps marriage-minded is more the word.

PRUNELLA

Meggitt's a nice name, too.

CYRIL

Anyway, I haven't got the job yet.

PRUNELLA

Oh, but you will. I know you will.

CYRIL

Not even sure I want it.

PRUNELLA

Course you do, silly. Settle down. Get a nice house. In a nice part. Nice.

CYRIL

Not sure I'm the settling-down type.

PRUNELLA

Plenty of time for that. Men you find the right one.

CYRIL

Yes. You can drop a lot of money on houses.

(PAUSE)

PRUNELLA

I don't care for Mr. Mainwaring, anyway.

CYRIL

Er - have you typed that acknowledgement ?

PRUNELLA

He's so bossy.

CYRIL

To Spurley Engineering ?

PRUNELLA

Always wanting personal stuff typed.

CYRIL

The acknowledgement for Spurley.

PRUNELLA

Oh, that ! I'm doing something for Mr. Mainwaring.

CYRIL

Oh ?

PRUNELLA

I'll do yours first, though, if you like.

CYRIL

Which came first ?

PRUNELLA

Well, his, actually.

CYRIL

Better do that first, then.

PRUNELLA

He did say he must have it this morning.

CYRIL

Righto.

PRUNELLA

It was important, he said.

CYRIL

Very well.

PRUNELLA

Yes. (PAUSE) It's the guest list for the Ladies' Evening. At his lodge.

CYRIL

What

PRUNELLA

Yes.

CYRIL

Well, of all the

PRUNELLA

He gave it to me yesterday.

CYRIL

You'd better do that acknowledgement. Now. Business first.

PRUNELLA

Will you tell him ?

CYRIL

Has he come yet ?

PRUNELLA

Are you serious ?

CYRIL

The acknowledgement.

PRUNELLA

Righto.

(SLAM OF OUTER DOOR)

That'll be him.

(INNER DOOR OPENS)

Good morning, Mr. Mainwaring

MAINWARING

Morning, Miss Savage! Come along now! To work! To work ! Done that list yet ?

PRUNELLA

Better ask Mr. Meggitt.

(DOOR CLOSES)

MAINWARING

What's this, Meggitt ?

CYRIL

Mr. Meggitt. Miss Savage is typing an acknowledgement. For me.

MAINWARING

Afraid it'll have to wait, old man. She's doing a job for me.

CYRIL

I know. After she's done my acknowledgement.

MAINWARING

Your acknowledgement ?

CYRIL ; It's business, anyway.
MAINWARING

Now hold on, Meggitt. I gave that job to Miss Savage yesterday.

CYRIL

Question of priorities.

MAINWARING

That's right. Mr. Simpson wants it.

CYRIL

Oh. Well, I still think business should come first.

MAINWARING

I'll have a word with Simpson. We'll let him decide.

(TYPEWRITERS CEASE)

SIMPSON

Look here, Meggitt, I'm beggared if I can see what all the fuss is about. So long as your acknowledgement goes today, what does it matter which job comes first ?

CYRIL

Very well, Mr. Simpson.

(SOUND OF TYPEWRITERS AGAIN)

PRUNELLA

But, Cyril, I thought you knew.

CYRIL

Knew ? Knew what ?

PRUNELLA

That they were in the same lodge. Mr. Mainwaring and Mr. Simpson.

CYRIL

No. Well, perhaps I did, and forgot.

PRUNELLA

I'm ever so sorry. Really I am.

CYRIL

Never mind. Just do that acknowledgement. When you've done the other, I mean.

PRUNELLA

Yes, of course. I'd rather do yours, though.

(TYPEWRITERS RISE TO PEAK, AND FADE OUT. SCRATCHING OF PEN OVER DISTANT T.V.)

CYRIL

Even older than the felt hat were the tired and broken boots.

DAEMON

Oh, no !

CYRIL

I like that. Tired and broken. Yes.

DAEMON

You would.

CYRIL

Well, I do.

DAEMON

Why didn't you stand up to him ? Held have been the first to complain if the acknowledgement had gone late.

CYRIL

Mainwaring ?

DAEMON

No, Simpson.

CYRIL

Don't know. Well, yes, I do, I suppose.

DAEMON

Yes ?

CYRIL

I was looking at his ears.

DAEMON

Mainwaring ?

CYRIL

No, Simpson.

DAEMON

Well ?

CYRIL

They're pointed. At the top.

DAEMON

Pointed ?

CYRIL

Like a pig's.

DAEMON

Cyril, you're becoming observant. We'll make a / writer of you, yet.

CYRIL

Say casseroled. With onion sauce. Tasty, I should think.

DAEMON

Oh. (PAUSE) I sometimes think you don't want to get on.

CYRIL

Perhaps you're right. Or get off.

DAEMON

Get off ? How will you ever marry ? Your size.

CYRIL

How does anyone ?

DAEMON

Or have a family ? Look at you!

CYRIL

My head teems with my brainchildren.

DAEMON

Every one as nutty as a fruitcake.

LILIAN

Cyriiil !

CYRIL

Yes, mother ?

LILIAN

Visitor for you

CYRIL

Righto! Coming!

(FEET DESCEND, HEAVILY)

Oh, it's you, Prunella. What on earth - ?

PRUNELLA

(APPROACHING) Hello, Cyr - Mr. Meggitt.

CYRIL

Mother, this is Miss Savage. Prunella, my mother.

LILIAN

Oh. Oh, I see. You were expecting Miss Savage ? You might / have said.

PRUNELLA

Oh, no, no, Mrs. Meggitt. It's to do with work. The office.

CYRIL

Work ?

LILIAN

Well, don't keep Miss Savage standing there in the hall, Cyril. Take her into the lounge. You never think, really. You'll have to excuse him, Miss Savage. What held do without me, I just don't know. He's such a dreamer, you know. You wouldn't believe. (GOING) Mind on his book, I suppose. Come along, Miss Savage.

(DOOR OPENS)

PRUNELLA

It's the Spurley acknowledgement, Mr. Meggitt.

CYRIL

The Spurley - ? But that's gone

LILIAN

Do sit down, Miss Savage. If you're stopping for a few minutes.

CYRIL

Mother, do you think we might have a cup of tea, or something ?

PRUNELLA

Oh no, not for me, Mrs. Meggitty thanks all the same.

LILIAN

It's no trouble. Not really.

PRUNELLA

No thank you, really. I've just had tea.

CYRIL

I think perhaps I will, mother.

LILIAN

Oh. Oh, all right, dear. (BEGINNING TO GO) I'll set the tray, and put the kettle on. (COMING BACK) I like to see him enjoy his food, Miss Savage. Cyril's father, before he died, he used to say I was the best cook in the land. Lilian, he used to say, my recommendation carries weight. Eighteen stone, he was. Big, fine man. I am a good cook, though, aren't I, Cyril ? (GOING) You ask him, Miss Savage.

(DOOR CLOSES)

CYRIL

Now, what is it, Prue ?

PRUNELLA

Prue. Oh. (QUICKLY) It's ever so nice, your mother's house, Cyril. Not quite our generation, but

CYRIL

What about the acknowledgement ?

PRUNELLA

I noticed it as I was clearing up. On Mr. Simpson's desk.

CYRIL

But, surely - couldn't you have posted it ?

PRUNELLA

He said he would. After held signed it.

CYRIL

So he forgot. What difference / does that make ?

PRUNELLA

It's not signed.

CYRIL

Oh.

PRUNELLA

I'm sorry, Cyril. I knew it was important. But I did remind him.

CYRIL

Oh. Lord

PRUNELLA

I've been round to Mr. Simpson's. There wasn't anyone in.

CYRIL

You've been round to - ? But it's miles.

PRUNELLA

You said it was important.

CYRIL

Well, yes - but ..…

PRUNELLA

So I thought I'd better bring it. I hope I didn't do the wrong thing ?

CYRIL

Oh, no, no.

PRUNELLA

What is it, then ? You look -

CYRIL

I can't sign it

PRUNELLA

Oh.

DAEMON

Go on, Cyril! Use your initiative!

PRUNELLA

It's all ready.

CYRIL

I haven't the authority. You know that.

DAEMON

Comes the hour, comes the man.

PRUNELLA

I thought in the circumstances .....

CYRIL

I'm not allowed to!

DAEMON

Letting 'I dare not' wait upon 'I would', Like the poor cat i' the adage.

PRUNELLA

The last post goes in half an hour. Seven thirty. From the G.P.O.

CYRIL

But I can't!

DAEMON

Sir Cyril Meggitt, Bart., the man who toppled the financial empire of Simpson & Mainwaring, can do anything he damn well wants !

PRUNELLA

Oh, very well, Cyril. I'm sorry I bothered you.

CYRIL

I could put 'p.p.', I suppose.

PRUNELLA

Yes.

DAEMON

Go on, then

CYRIL

Right. I'll sign it

PRUNELLA

Here it is.

CYRIL

I'd better check it.

PRUNELLA

(QUICKLY) There's no need. I mean - I checked it with your figures. We - we're a bit short of time.

(RUSTLE OF PAPER)

I've got a pen. Here you are.

(MORE RUSTLING)

CYRIL

Right. I'll use my own pen, though.

(SCRATCHING OF PEN)

There!

PRUNELLA

Thank you, Mr. Megg - Cyril. I'll post it on my way home.

CYRIL

I'm sorry you've been put to this trouble.

PRUNELLA

I wouldn't do it for everybody.

CYRIL

Spoiling your evening.

PRUNELLA

Oh, that's all right.

CYRIL

No, it isn't. What were you doing ? I mean, before -

PRUNELLA

Oh, nothing. Well, going to the pictures, actually. Alone.

CYRIL

Oh.

PRUNELLA

My friend wouldn't wait.

CYRIL

Oh.

PRUNELLA

But it doesn't matter. Really.

CYRIL

But -

PRUNELLA

I can go another night. Easily.

CYRIL

Would you - ?

PRUNELLA

Yes ?

CYRIL

Would you go with me ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, really, Cyril, you don't have to do that ! Of course, it's very nice of you, but I couldn't put you to that trouble.

CYRIL

It wouldn't be any trouble. I mean - it would be a pleasure.

PRUNELLA

Weeell ....

CYRIL

I - I'd like to. Really.

PRUNELLA

You're quite sure ?

CYRIL

Yes. Yes, I would.

PRUNELLA

I wouldn't be interfering with anything ?

CYRIL

Of course not. I'll just have that cup of tea and a bite of something. Won't you join me ? And then we can go down in the car.

(SOUND OF CAR COMING TO A HALT)

Stupid of me. I never asked which cinema.

PRUNELLA

Oh, this one's fine. Really.

CYRIL

Right. I'll park the car and get the tickets, then.

PRUNELLA

While you're doing that, I'll slip round the corner to the G.P.O..

CYRIL

Oh, of course, the acknowledgement. I'll come with you.

PRUNELLA

(QUICKLY) Oh, no, no. There's no need. You park the car, and I'll be back in a minute.

(SOUND OF CAR DOOR)

(GOING) You'll let me pay my share, though, won't you ?

(SOUND OF KEY IN DOOR)

LILIAN

(DISTANT) That you, Cyril ? (APPROACHING) You're rather late, dear.

CYRIL

Late ? I had to see Miss Savage home.

LILIAN

Naturally.

CYRIL

Why didn't you go to bed ?

LILIAN

What about your supper ?

CYRIL

Oh. Oh, thanks. I am a bit peckish.

LILIAN

(GOING) Come along, then.

(WE GO WITH HER)

I was right, you see.

CYRIL

(APPROACHING) Right ?

LILIAN

The minute you begin to get advancement.

CYRIL

Advancement ?

LILIAN

Oh, they know a good thing, they do. Designing. I can't be doing with them. Forward things.

CYRIL

Mother, Miss Savage was kind enough to bring round some papers which had to go tonight.

LILIAN

And whose idea was the pictures ?

CYRIL

I'm not a child any more.

LILIAN

You are where they're concerned. That sort.

CYRIL

You're talking about / a friend of mine.

LILIAN

There was that woman at the library. Five years older. If she was a day. And thatone at night school. The writing circle. You don't see anything. You never think.

CYRIL

(GOING) I'm going to bed.

LILIAN

(DISTANT) Anybody can lead you by the nose.

CYRIL

Good night !

(FEET CLUMP UP STAIRS, SLOWLY)

LILIAN

(DIS TAN T) Don't you want your supper ?

CYRIL

Hmm. No point cutting off your nose to spite your face.

LILIAN

It's macaroni cheese!

CYRIL

Oh.

(PAUSE)

All right

(FEET DESCEND, QUICKLY)

I am a bit peckish.

LILIAN

Come along, then, dear.

CYRIL

You know, you really shouldn't, mother. Think of my waistline.

LILIAN

(QUICKLY) Why ? You're not fat. Well-built. Like your father. (PAUSE) Has someone been saying ?

CYRIL

Saying ?

LILIAN

That you're - well - ?

CYRIL

No, of course not.

LILIAN

You don't want to take any notice, son. Strength goes in at the mouth. Here you are. Tuck in now. There's plenty.

(SOUND OF PIGS TROUGHING. VOICE OVER AND FADE OUT)

Now tell me what Mr. Simpson said .....

DAEMON

But the sleep of Cyril Meggitt is troubled. And not only by macaroni cheese.

PRUNELLA

I don't think it's too old, Cyril. Good heavens, a man's in his prime at that age. Forty - well, thirty-nine, you said - it's, well, young...

(MIX TO)

MAINWARING

Forty ? Bit old for promotion, surely ? In these days. You know what they say, old man. If you haven't made your mark before thirty-five .....

(MIX TO)

LILIAN

It's a dangerous age, son. You want to watch 'em. Forward things. I can't be doing with them. I'd be ashamed, I would. But you never think. Never think.

(CUT TO)

CYRIL

(IN AGONY) Aagh! It's not fair!

DAEMON

Not fair ?

CYRIL

Indigestion. Aagh! Can't sleep for it.

DAEMON

What do you expect?

CYRIL

Expect ? Justice. I don't burn the candle at both ends. Drinking. Loose living. That sort of thing.

DAEMON

No.

CYRIL

Then why ? Why

DAEMON

Simple. You eat too much.

CYRIL

I don't. I don't. It's - glands. It was father's trouble.

DAEMON

Oh, you've got father's trouble, all right.

CYRIL

There you are, then.

DAEMON

And it's not glands.

CYRIL

It is. It must be.

DAEMON

It's not, you know.

CYRIL

What, then ?

DAEMON

I'll tell you. It's macaroni cheese. It's stew and dumplings. Toad in the hole. Bubble and squeak. Apple pie. You know the menu. Man, you've put more starch into you than a laundry would need in a twelvemonth.

CYRIL

(GROANS)

DAEMON

You asked for justice. Be satisfied.

CYRIL

All right. All right. I'll go on a diet.

DAEMON

You'll what ?

CYRIL

That's what I'll do.

DAEMON

(BEGINS TO LAUGH. THE LAUGHTER GROWS LOUDER AND MORE HYSTERICAL UNTIL IT RINGS IN A CAVERNOUS SPACE. TAKE DOWN, AND SUPERIMPOSE CYRIL'S SNORES. FADE OUT. CUT IN SOUND OF PHONE BUZZER)

SIMPSON

Meggitt

CYRIL

(DISTORT) Yes, Mr. Simpson ?

SIMPSON

Come in here, will you ?

CYRIL

Yes, Mr. Simpson.

(RECEIVER REPLACED. SOUND OF PAPERS. TAP ON DOOR)

SIMPSON

Come in

(DOOR OPENS)

CYRIL

Yes, Mr. Simpson ?

(DOOR CLOSES)

SIMPSON

That acknowledgement. The Spurley thing.

CYRIL

Yes, sir ?

SIMPSON

Have you seen it ?

CYRIL

Seen it, Mr. Simpson? Why, yes, / I've dealt with it….

SIMPSON

Yes, man. I left it here. On my desk. There was a mistake. In the price.

CYRIL

A mistake ? Oh, no. I double checked it, sir. I'm sure it / was quite in order.

SIMPSON

Must have been a typing error, then. It was wrong, anyway.

CYRIL

Wrong ?

SIMPSON

Yes. Forty-seven pounds a ton, when it should have read seventy-four.

CYRIL

Oh, no !

SIMPSON

Good thing I spotted it. You should have picked it up, though.

CYRIL

We were a bit rushed, Mr. Simpson.

SIMPSON

Don't just stand there, Meggitt. Get it! It'll have to be re-typed. No, never mind. Stay where you are. I'll get Miss Savage to bring the folder in.

(CUT TO PRUNELLA AND MAINWARING IN OUTER OFFICE)

MAINWARING

Something wrong, Miss Savage ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, lor !

MAINWARING

What is it ?

PRUNELLA

It's all my fault.

MAINWARING

Your fault ?

PRUNELLA

I meant to put it back.

MAINWARING

I'm sorry, I don't / know what you're talking about.

PRUNELLA

The acknowledgement for Spurley. I noticed it on Mr. Simpson's desk last night.

MAINWARING

Yes ?

PRUNELLA

He hadn't signed it.

MAINWARING

Oh, I see.

PRUNELLA

I took it round to Cyril's - Mr. Meggitt's. I got him to sign it.

MAINWARING

Oh ho! Naughty! He's not authorized. Still, if it meant catching the post ...

PRUNELLA

But it didn't. That's just it, Mr. Mainwaring.

MAINWARING

I'm not with you.

PRUNELLA

I didn't post it.

MAINWARING

Why ever not ?

PRUNELLA

I couldn't. It was wrong. The price was wrong. I'd typed in the wrong price.

MAINWARING

In our favour ?

PRUNELLA

No, no.

MAINWARING

I can't see what you're worrying about, then.

(PHONE BUZZER. RECEIVER LIFTED)

SIMPSON

(DISTORT) Look, Miss Savage, I'm waiting for that folder.

PRUNELLA

I - I won't be a minute, Mr. Simpson. It hasn't - er, been filed yet, you see.

SIMPSON

Well, be as quick as you can.

PRUNELLA

Yes, Mr. Simpson !

(RECEIVER REPLACED)

MAINWARING

You can't find the folder ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, yes. Yes, I've got it.

MAINWARING

Then take it in, girl

PRUNELLA

I - I can't! I can't!

MAINWARING

Why ever not ?

PRUNELLA

Because he thinks I posted it.

MAINWARING

He thinks - ? Mr. Simpson ?

PRUNELLA

No, no. Cyril. Mr. Meggitt.

MAINWARING

Well ?

PRUNELLA

He's in there now. I heard Mr. Simpson talking to him.

MAINWARING

I'm sorry, I still don't follow.

PRUNELLA

Don't you see ? Suppose Cyril's already told Mr. Simpson that the acknowledgement has gone ? He'll be in terrible trouble.

MAI NWARNING

Unless he gives you away, you mean ? Hmmm. Tell me, why did you take the acknowledgement round to his home ? You knew held no authority to sign. Oh, I see. You spotted the mistake after held signed it ?

PRUNELLA

No. I mean, yes. Oh, never mind that now. What am I to do ?

MAINWARING

I begin to understand. You knew it was wrong, but you wanted to -

PRUNELLA

Please, please, what shall I do ?

MAINWARING

You've no choice.

PRUNELLA

No choice ?

(PHONE BUZZER)

Oh ! That Ill be him again. Mr. Simpson. What am I to do ?

MAINWARING

Just a minute. Let me think. (PAUSE) Yes, that's it.

PRUNELLA

Yes ?

MAINWARING

Say nothing. You posted the acknowledgement.

PRUNELLA

But I didn't !

MAINVARING

We know that. So it won't get to Spurley's. So there'll be no harm done.

PRUNELLA

But Cyril - Mr. Meggitt ....

MAINWARING

He's not the one who's in trouble.

PRUNELLA

But he is! What do you mean ?

MAINWARING

Suppose Mr. Simpson finds out what you did ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, no !

MAINWARING

Meggitt wouldn't have signed it if you hadn't taken it.

PRUNELLA

No, no.

MAINWARING

If Simpson finds that out, you've had it.

PRUNELLA

What do you mean ?

MAINWARING

You'll get the sack.

PRUNELLA

Oh, no !

MAINWARING

And no reference, I expect.

PRUNELLA

Oh, no. No !

MAINWARING

Please yourself.

PRUNELLA

All right. I’ll tell him I posted it - and I've mislaid the copy.

MAINWARING

Where is it ?

PRUNELLA

The acknowledgement ?

MAINWARING

Yes.

PRUNELLA

Here.

MAINWARING

Give it to me.

PRUNELLA

But -

MAINWARING

Don't want the evidence lying about. You get off in there - quick. I'll look after this.

PRUNELLA

You're sure ?

MAINWARING

Do you want the sack ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, no !

MAINWARING

Right, then.

(PHONE BUZZER SEVERAL TIMES. FEET RUNNING. DOOR OPENS)

PRUNELLA

(DISTANT) Coming, Mr. Simpson

(DOOR CLOSES. PAUSE. VOICE OF SIMPSON IS WARD THROUGH WE DOOR)

SIMPSON

What's that ? Signed it ? Posted it ? With the wrong price on ? Do you realize what you've done, Meggitt ? All right, all right, Miss Savage. No fault of yours. You did what you thought was best. That's all for the moment.

(DOOR OPENS, AND WE HEAR SIMPSON'S VOICE CLEARLY)

Of all the damn silly things to do, Meggitt! In all my experience I don't think I've ever come across such a

(DOOR CLOSES, MUFFLING THE SOUND A LITTLE)

case of downright incompetence. I ought to sack you on the spot. But I'll save that pleasure for later - if we don't manage to undo the damage you've caused.

(THE SOUND OF PRUNELLA'S WEEPING IS WARD THROUGHOUT ME REST OF THE SPEECH)

On second thoughts, you made the mess. You sort it out with Spurley's. If you can. And if you can't - well, you know what to expect. Of all the bloody fools!

(THE WEEPING INCREASES IN INTENSITY AS HIS VOICE CEASES)

MAINWARING

Now, now, Miss Savage.

PRUNELLA

Oh, poor Cyril! Poor Cyril! It's all my fault !

MAINWARING

Pull yourself together. Come along!

PRUNELLA

But it is. It is.

MAINWARING

He's not going to get the sack.

PRUNELLA

He will. I know he will.

MAINWARING

He won't.

PRUNELLA

Why not ?

MAINWARING

Why should he ? He hasn't done anything. Simpson thinks he has, that's all. There won't be any come-backs. So there's no harm done.

PRUNELLA

What do you mean?

MAINWARING

You didn't post anything. All you've got to do is sit tight until it's all blown over.

PRUNELLA

You're sure ?

MAINWARING

Of course.

PRUNELLA

But Cyril - Mr. Meggitt ?

MAINWARING

Come on now, dry your eyes. Before he comes back.

(DOOR OPENS)

CYRIL

I'm sorry, Mr. Simpson. I was quite sure I'd checked it.

SIMPSON

(DISTANT) Then you should have double-checked, shouldn't you ?

(DOOR CLOSES)

CYRIL

(ALMOST TO HIMSELF) Yes, Mr. Simpson. Oh, Gawd!

MAINWARING

Something wrong, Meggitt ?

CYRIL

Wrong ? Wrong ? Good heavens, no. What gives you that idea ?

MAINWARING

That's all right, then. Just your natural pallor.

CYRIL

Hmmm. What's that ?

MAINWARING

You look - disturbed.

CYRIL

(LAUGHS WEAKLY) Oh, that!

MAINWARING

Well, I'll be off. Got a few calls to make, you know. Bye bye now! Don't forget, will you Miss Savage ?

PRUNELLA

Forget ? Oh, yes, yes, of course. I mean no, I won't.

(INNER DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES)

Mr. Meggitt - Cyril, I - I'm ever so sorry. Really I am.

(SOUND OF OUTER DOOR)

CYRIL

Eh ?

PRUNELLA

I'm sorry. I never thought -

CYRIL

(ALMOST TO HIMSELF) I could have sworn I checked it.

PRUNELLA

What are you going to do?

CYRIL

Do? I could try talking to them, I suppose. Fat chance, though. They'll snatch our hands off when they see that price.

PRUNELLA

They can't hold us to it, can they ?

CYRIL

No. We'll have to tell 'em it was all a mistake. They'll try holding us to it. Even though they know they can't. I know Spurley. There'll be a lot of unpleasantness.

PRUNELLA

You're sure ? They won't be able to hold us to it ?

CYRIL

Oh, no. They know that. But they'll have a thundering good try.

PRUNELLA

I am sorry.

CYRIL

All right. All right. Don't go on about it.

(PRUNELLA BEGINS TO WEEP AGAIN)

PRUNELLA

But it's - it's awful. I never thought -

CYRIL

Here, I say, none of that now. Nothing for you to get upset about.

PRUNELLA

But there is. It was my - I mean, I brought it round. I only wanted to see - oh, never mind that now.

CYRIL

Look, get me Spurley Engineering. I'll see what they've got to say.

PRUNELLA

Oh, all right.

(THE NEXT THREE SPEECHES ARE DELIVERED IN UNISON, ENDING TOGETHER ON 'YOU KNEW THAT, DIDN'T YOU ?' WHICH IS FOLLOWED AT ONCE BY THE SHARP RING OF THE EXTERNAL PHONE)

SIMPSON

Meggitt, I credited you with more sense. What in God's name possessed you to do such a damn silly thing ? I don't care how important you thought it was. You'd no right to sign company documents without authority. You knew that, didn't you ?

MAINWARING

You don't really suppose they'll consider you, do you, Meggitt ? I mean, just look it. You're forty, you're in poor shape. Besides, you've been too long at one firm. In this game you've got to move around. You knew that, didn't you ?

LILIAN

It's what I've said all along, Cyril. You can't trust them. That sort, anyway. I can't be doing with 'em. Oh, they know a good thing, all right. Sounds to sense. And that Miss Savage. Been after you for years. You knew that, didn't you ?

(PHONE BELL)

CYRIL

Hello Spurley Engineering ? Mr. Renshaw, please! (PAUSE) Right, I'll hang on for him.

DAEMON

Now then, Cyril, here's a how-de-do.

CYRIL

Oh, push off !

DAEMON

Tsk, tsk. That's no way to talk. Where would you be without me ? Your familiar spirit ? Your presiding genius ? Put it all down to experience, man. Wonderful material. Meat and drink to a writer, this sort of thing.

CYRIL

Meat and drink ? Fat lot of that there'll be if I get the push.

DAEMON

Oh, you'll manage. Mother's got plenty. You could do with a bit less, anyway.

CYRIL

A bit less ?

DAEMON

Meat and drink.

CYRIL

I'm having less. I told you, I'm on a strict diet.

DAEMON

I know. Nothing to eat between supper and breakfast.

(HE BEGINS TO LAUGH, A" AGAIN ME LAUGHTER BECOMES MORE HIGH-PITCHED AND HYSTERICAL AND GOES ECHOING AWAY TO SILENCE)

PRUNELLA

Mr. Meggitt - Cyril!

CYRIL

Yes ?

PRUNELLA

What did they say ?

CYRIL

Say ?

PRUNELLA

Spurley Engineering.

CYRIL

Oh, it's not there.

PRUNELLA

Not there ?

CYRIL

They haven't got it yet. It hasn't arrived.

PRUNELLA

Oh good. I mean, it must have gone astray in the post.

CYRIL

Fat chance. Miracles don't happen. Not that sort. I expect it'll be there by the second post. (BEGIN FADE) I'll give them another ring just before lunch....

(FADE OUT. FADE UP PRUNELLA)

PRUNELLA

What did I tell you ? I knew it would be all right. I knew it.

CYRIL

You knew it? What do you mean - you knew it ?

PRUNELLA

(QUICKLY) I mean, I was sure it wouldn't well, I just - sort of - knew....

CYRIL

Just a minute. Just a minute. I'm beginning to see. You knew all the time, didn't you ?

PRUNELLA

Me ?

CYRIL

All of you. I see what happened. Spurley's rang Simpson this morning, and he decided to put this act on. To make me sweat, for signing when I wasn't authorized. That's why he sent for me. You knew all about it all the time. Simpson, Mainwaring, you !

PRUNELLA

Oh no, Cyril, please. I wouldn't do that to you. You know that. I wouldn't. Not you.

CYRIL

Well, there's something funny. Why should Renshaw say he hadn't got it ? Unless Simpson put him up to it ? It went first-class mail, didn't it ?

PRUNELLA

Eh ? First-class - oh, oh yes, of course.

CYRIL

You don't sound very sure.

PRUNELLA

Oh, yes, yes, I am. Absolutely.

(SLAM OF OUTER DOOR)

That'll be Mr, Mainwaring. I - I must get on. Or he'll be - saying things.

(INNER DOOR)

MAINWARING

Hello, hello, hello! Why the air of gloom and despondency ?

CYRIL

Oh, give up, do!

MAINWARING

What's the matter, Meggitt? Spurley's got your billet-doux ?

CYRIL

What do you know about it ?

MAINWARING

Only what came loud and clear through Simpson's door.

CYRIL

Oh. Well, they haven't.

MAINWARING

Haven't got it ? Or haven't done anything about it ?

CYRIL

They say they haven't got it.

MAINWARING

Strange. Ought to be there by now, surely ? You think they're keeping mum. Letting us all sweat ?

CYRIL

I don't see anyone else sweating. Besides me.

MAINWARING

Well, you're in the hot seat, aren't you - eh ?

PRUNELLA

Mr. Mainwaring - please

MAINWARING

Just a minute! I've had a thought. Miss Savage!

PRUNELLA

Yes ?

MAINWARING

You didn't by any chance send it second-class mail, did you ? Eh ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, no, no. I'm sure.

CYRIL

That's what I said. She must have made a mistake.

MAINWARING

Well, not to worry, old boy. You'll only have to wait until tomorrow morning. Even if it did go cheap rate. Eh ?

(PHONE BUZZER! RECEIVER LIFTED)

CYRIL

Meggitt!

SIMPSON

(DISTORT) Oh, Meggitt. Have you been on to Spurley 7

CYRIL

Yes, Mr. Simpson.

SIMPSON

This morning ?

CYRIL

No, sir. I - I was giving them time to do their post.

SIMPSON

Ring them up - now

CYRIL

Yes, sir !

(RECEIVER REPLACED)

DAEMON

Well, go on then

CYRIL

Plenty of time.

DAEMON

Don't make excuses now.

CYRIL

I'm not.

DAEMON

All right then. Prove it.

CYRIL

Prove it ?

DAEMON

Pick up that receiver. Now.

CYRIL

Oh, all right.

(RECEIVER LIFTED)

Get me Spurley Engineering, Janet, will you ?

(PAUSE)

It'll be there. Miracles don't happen. Aagh Damn this indigestion. Fried bread. Come on, come on ! Ah ! Oh, thanks.

(HIS VOICE BEGINS TO TREMBLE A LITTLE)

Mr. Renshaw, please.

(PAUSE. CLICK)

That you, Renshaw

(MUMBLE)

Look, have you had an acknowledgement for just a minute - your order, er, F 2483 ?

(MUMBLE)

What's that ?

(MUMBLE)

Oh, nothing - there's some sort of idea it had gone astray this end.

(MUMBLE)

Yes.

(MUMBLE)

You've got the post ? Today's ?

(MUMBLE)

Yes, I'll hold on.

(PAUSE)

What's that ?

(MUMBLE)

It's not there ?

(MUMBLE)

You sure ? But it =at be

(MUMBLE)

Oh, all right. No offence, I'm sure.

(MUMBLE)

Well, thanks. Sorry to have bothered you.

(RECEIVER REPLACED)

Oh, Gawd

(MOM BUZZER. RECEIVER LIFTED)

Meggitt

SIMPSON

Well ?

CYRIL

It's not there, sir. It hasn't arrived.

SIMPSON

Look here, Meggitt, this foolery has gone on long enough. Find it ! I don't care how you do it, but find it ! Try the Post Office. Get over to Spurley's, if need be. But get that acknowledgement back, or get your cards. See to it, Meggitt

CYRIL

Yes, air !

(MONTAGE BEGINS WITH STRIDENT TELEPHONE

BELL, MIXING TO SOUND OF CAR ENGINE,

MIXING TO ENGINEERING WORKS NOISES,

MIXING TO CAR ENGINE, CLIMBING TO PEAK

AND ENDING WITH THE SLAM OF A DOOR)

(IN AGONY) Aagh Where's my tablets ?

PRUNELLA

Oh, you're back, Cyril. Mr. Simpson's been asking for you. You're to go right in.

CYRIL

Oh, all right.

SIMPSON

Well, Meggitt ?

CYRIL

I'm sorry, Mr. Simpson. I've done everything I can. Everything. It's just - disappeared.

SIMPSON

Disappeared ?

CYRIL

I've tried everything.

SIMPSON

Post Office ?

CYRIL

They couldn't help. Not while it was in transit, they said.

SIMPSON

Spurley ?

CYRIL

I've just come back from there. They haven't

got it. (PITIFULLY) I've had no lunch.

SIMPSON

My heart bleeds.

(TAP ON DOOR)

Come in

(DOOR OPENS)

Oh, it's you, Mainwaring Not now, please.

Later. I'm tied up now.

MAINWARING

Yes, sir. It's just -

SIMPSON

Not now, Marketing.

MAINWARING

It's the Spurley job.

SIMPSON

Eh ? What's that ? What about the Spurley job ?

MAINWARING

Here, sir. It's the folder.

SIMPSON

Folder ? What the hell's the use of the folder ? It's the acknowledgement I want.

MAINWARING

But that's it, sir. It's here.

SIMPSON

The acknowledgement ? Oh, yes, so it is.

CYRIL

But it can't be It can't be It's another

copy !

SIMPSON

Where was it, Mainwaring ?

MAINWARING

In the filing cabinet, sir. Wrongly filed, actually.

SIMPSON

We could have been looking for it for weeks. Bit more of your work, Meggitt ?

CYRIL

But that's not the acknowledgement. Mat was posted last night. You got it from Spurley's, didn't you, Mainwaring ? To show me up ?

MAINWARING

Quite unnecessary, Meggitt. It was in the filing cabinet.

SIMPSON

Thank you, Mainwaring. If ever you're in charge of that department, I hope you'll do something about the way stuff is filed.

MAINWARING

Yes, sir.

CYRIL

You're in charge of the department ?

SIMPSON

Not yet, Meggitt. But on the face of it, he's a likelier prospect than some. Don't you think ? You'll have to pull your socks up

CYRIL

(ALMOST IN TEARS) Pull my socks up ? What do you mean ? I did what I thought was best.for the company. It had to go that night. You said. You did.

SIMPSON

So you signed it ?

CYRIL

Yes.

SIMPSON

And you posted it ?

CVRIL

Yes. No. I mean -

SIMPSON

You didn't post it ?

CYRIL

No No ! I -

(SOUND OF A CHAIR BEIM FLUNG BACKWARD)

SIMPSON

Where are you going, do you think ? Meggitt. Come back here

~~ (DOOR OPENS)

Do you hear ?

(DOOR SLAMS)

PRUNELLA

Cyril, Cyril, what's the matter ? You look awful !

CYRIL

Just a minute. Be quiet a minute. Let me think.

PRUNELLA

What is it ?

CYRIL

That acknowledgement -

PRUNELLA

Yes ?

CYRIL

How did Mainwaring get hold of it ? How ? Unless - Look, Prunella, has Mainwaring been out this morning ? In his car ?

PRUNELLA

No.

CYRIL

Has he had any post ?

PRUNELLA

No.

CYRIL

Then how - ? How could he possibly have got hold of the Spurley acknowledgement? It was never out of my hands until

PRUNELLA

Oh; no, no ...

CYRIL

Until you took it to the G.P.O.

PRUNELLA

(BEGINNING TO BREAK DOWN) No, I didn't.

CYRIL

You didn't - ?

PRUNELLA

I - I didn't post it.

CYRIL

You - you didn't post it ?

PRUNELLA

It was wrong. Me figures were wrong. I knew they were. I couldn't post it

CYRIL

But - why ?

PRUNELLA

It was my mistake. I meant to re-type it this morning. But Mr. Simpson was too quick. He would have seen your signature, you see.

CYRIL

But why didn't you tell him ?

PRUNELLA

I couldn't. He said I'd be dismissed. And I can't lose my job. I can't.

CYRIL

Simpson said that ?

PRUNELLA

No, no. Mr. Mainwaring.

CYRIL

I see. No, I don't. If it was wrong, why did you bring it for me to sign ? Why ?

PRUNELLA

I - I can't tell you.

CYRIL

Why not ?

PRUNELLA

. I I can't. It was just - an excuse.

CYRIL

Excuse ?

PRUNELLA

To see you.

CYRIL

See me ? You see me every day.

PRUNELLA

But you don't - see me. Oh, what's the use ? You don't understand.

CYRIL

There's a lot of things I don't understand. How did Mainwaring get hold of it ?

PRUNELLA

I gave it to him.

CYRIL

You ?

PRUNELLA

Yes.

CYRIL

When ?

PRUNELLA

Yesterday.

CYRIL

And you you let me sweat it out for nearly two days?

PRUNELLA

No, no, it wasn't like that.

CYRIL

You let him hold that over my head ?

PRUNELLA

He said I'd get the sack.

CYRIL

It didn't matter to you that I might ?

PRUNELLA

But he promised. He promised that you wouldn't get into trouble.

CYRIL

He promised ? And you took his word ?

PRUNELLA

Cyril, please I did it for the best.

CYRIL

For the best Me best ? I'm sick and sick to the back teeth with everybody doing things for the best. Some poor devil always gets the worst.

(DOOR OPENS)

MAINWARING

Hello, hello, hello What's the trouble ?

CYRIL

Trouble ? Trouble ? I'll tell you what the trouble is ! Marinating, you're a stinking, conniving bastard

PRUNELLA

Cyril

CYRIL

And you're a stupid, interfering, stupid, stupid bitch !

MAINWARING

Now, look here

CYRIL

No, you look here If you think I'm stopping here to crawl to a swine like you, you're up a gum-tree.

PRUNELLA

Cyril, what are you saying ?

CYRIL

Listen ! Listen ! You've managed it between you. I'm getting out. If I don't escape from this - this - soon, I shall - well ....

MAINWARING

I'll get Mr. Simpson.

CYRIL

Do that Toad AM I'll tell him to his face ! Talking to me as if he was a - a gaoler, or something.

(RAISING HIS VOICE TO A SHOUT)

Listen here, Mr. Bloody Simpson, - I'm leaving. Do you hear that ? I'm getting out. Out of your gaol! Lock up the Mainwarings ! Lock up the Savages ! It's all they're fit for. But the Meggitts are free! Free !

~(HE BEGINS TO LAUGH, AND LIKE DAEMON’S LAUGH IT BECOMES MORE HIGH-PITCHED AND HYSTERICAL AS IT ECHOES AWAY INTO SILENCE. FADE UP SOUND OF CAR ENGINE)

DAEMON

You've done it now, Cyril.

CYRIL

Oh, shut up

DAEMON

Make a marvellous scene in your book, though.

CYRIL

Leave me alone.

DAEMON

What're you going to do now ?

CYRIL

Do ? How should I know ?

DAEMON

You were very hard on her.

CYRIL

You reckon ?

DAEMON

Yes.

CYRIL

They shouldn't interfere.

DAEMON

They ?

CYRIL

Women. I can't be doing with them.

DAEMON

There's a familiar ring to that.

CYRIL

One thing -

DAEMON

Yes ?

CYRIL

Indigestion's gone.

DAEMON

Really ? No lunch, you see.

CYRIL

Ye s. Come to think of it, I am a bit peckish.

DAEMON

Home, then ?

CYRIL

Yes. It's about tea-time, anyway.

(SOUND OF CAR ENGINE RISES TO PEAK AND FADES OUT. PAUSE. SCRATCHING OF PEN BEGINS, AND STOPS AGAIN)

Me shabby overcoat was a tattered ruin.

DAEMON

Oh, no !

CYRIL

What's wrong with that ?

DAEMON

Don't you know ?

CYRIL

Sounds all right to me.

DAEMON

All right, Mrs. Meggitt, let's have it.

LILIAN

Cyriiil !

DAEMON

That's it.

CYRIL

Yes, mother ?

LILIAN

Supper, dear

CYRIL

Good.

(SOUND OF FAT MAN RISING)

Coming !

(MET STUMP DOWN THE STAIRS)

DAEMON

So there he goes. Cyril Meggitt has escaped from his prison. He can now settle down with his mother, his ever-loving mother, for the term of his natural life.

(FOR THE LAST TIME, HE BEGINS TO LAUGH AND THE LAUGHTER CLIMBS TO HYSTERIA AND TO UNIVERSAL SPACE AS WE REACH…

THE END