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ARTHUR (in a fake posh voice over the cabin address): Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, lords and ladies … your Majesty. This is your captain speaking – Captain Wing Commander Sir Arthur Shappey – welcoming you aboard this world record-attempting flight around … the world. Er, passengers on both sides of the aircraft should have excellent views of … the world. If you find we’re going over a bit of the world you like the look of, er, do please ring your little bell and one of the cabin crew will fit you with a parachute and chuck you out. Otherwise, enjoy the flight and, er, when we get to Sydney, do keep an eye out for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’m gonna have a crack at flying underneath it.
(Knocking on the cabin door.)
CAROLYN (from outside): Hey, Wing Commander! Less yammering; more hoovering!
ARTHUR: Sorry, Mum!
(A vacuum cleaner starts up.)
This week, Fitton!
(Sound of rain hammering down on the portacabin’s roof.)
MARTIN: Then there’s another leak over here.
ARTHUR: Right-o, Martin!
(Portacabin door opens.)
DOUGLAS: God, the rain’s horrible outside.
(Sound of dripping.)
DOUGLAS: … and inside.
CAROLYN: Douglas, you are forty-five minutes late.
DOUGLAS (insincerely): Oh dear, how terribly remiss of me. And Mr. Goddard is, of course, so famously punctual. I do hope I haven’t kept him waiting.
CAROLYN: It’s a job, Douglas, a job for which you are being paid like any other and I expect you to be on time.
DOUGLAS: I am chastened and ashamed. Arthur, tea.
ARTHUR: Uh, yep, will do, Douglas. Just trying to fix this leak first.
DOUGLAS: Oh well, in that case: Arthur, tea?
ARTHUR: Wow! You’re making me tea?!
DOUGLAS: I know. It’s a topsy-turvy day of misrule, isn’t it?
ARTHUR: Cracking! Loads of milk, four sugars, please!
(He hums a couple of random notes under his breath as he continues to work.)
ARTHUR: Hey, Douglas. You know when you get something going round and round in your brain?
DOUGLAS: Yes – though I’m a little surprised you do.
ARTHUR: A-a tune, I mean.
DOUGLAS: Ah! Yes.
ARTHUR: Well, I’ve got one of yours at the moment.
DOUGLAS: One of mine?
ARTHUR: Yeah, something you were singing a-a few days ago, only I’ve only got the one line. Um, how does it go after this? Um …
(He starts to produce music from his throat. By no stretch of the imagination can it be called ‘singing’ – it sounds more like he’s trying to gargle musically and he produces each note to a strangled ‘Ah’ sound. The first seven notes probably sound vaguely familiar to some of the radio audience, but after that the ‘tune’ descends into what seems more like a string of random notes.)
ARTHUR: How does it go then?
DOUGLAS: Well, I hope after that it goes to a vet and is painlessly put out of its misery.
ARTHUR: But what’s the next line?
DOUGLAS: I have no idea.
ARTHUR: It’s something you were singing!
DOUGLAS: Are you sure you’re not thinking of when Martin trapped my hand in the cabin door?
ARTHUR: No, no, you were singing it this week. Um …
(He strangles a further string of notes. The tune sounds totally unlike what he was strangling before.)
DOUGLAS: Well, was it … (He starts to sing smoothly) … ♪ Summer time, and the living is easy … ♪
ARTHUR: No, it was more like …
(Again he does his best to strip his vocal chords as he gargles a tune dissimilar to the one he was murdering previously.)
DOUGLAS: You do realise every time you do that, it’s completely different?
ARTHUR: No, listen.
(He starts to caterwaul again but mercifully Carolyn interrupts after only a few notes.)
CAROLYN: Please, Arthur, not again!
ARTHUR: Sorry, Mum.
(He gets back to trying to fix the leak.)
MARTIN: Oh, Douglas, I thought of another one this morning.
DOUGLAS: Oh yes?
CAROLYN: What are you doing this time?
DOUGLAS: Books That Sound More Interesting With The Final Letter Knocked Off.
CAROLYN: Oh, right. Er, what have you got so far?
DOUGLAS: Of Mice and Me; and Three Men in a Boa.
CAROLYN: Oh. Ah, ah! Far From The Madding Crow.
DOUGLAS: Oh, very good! We’ll have that. And what’s your new one, Martin?
MARTIN (excitedly): The Hound of the Baskerville! I’ve taken the ‘s’ off!
DOUGLAS: Almost good. Certainly better than when you took the ‘s’ off The Mill on the Floss to make The Mill on the Flos.
[He pronounces ‘Flos’ the same as ‘Floss’.]
(Rattling and thumping nearby.)
(More thudding, then the sound of trickling water.)
CAROLYN: Arthur, Arthur, what have you done?
ARTHUR: I’m making progress. I’ve found the hole where the rain’s coming in.
DOUGLAS: Found it, or made it?
ARTHUR: No, it was there before. I’ve just made it … easier to see.
MARTIN: You mean bigger.
ARTHUR: … Bigger-ish.
DOUGLAS (exasperated): Oh, for heaven’s sake! It’s now raining inside the portacabin! Can we please just go into Fitton and wait in a nice coffee shop or something?
CAROLYN: No! If Goddard turns up, we have to be ready in twenty minutes – flight plan filed, aircraft checked, ready to go.
DOUGLAS: He’s not going to call! We haven’t heard a peep out of him for twenty-eight days! He’s clearly forgotten all about us.
CAROLYN: We don’t know that. Anyway, Standby is the Holy Grail of the airline industry – being paid to fly without any actual flying. No risk of the three of you putting us into bankruptcy, prison or the side of a mountain. God has smiled on us; and if he has chosen as his instrument a lippy telecom millionaire from Bracknell, who are we to argue?
MARTIN: Well, if we can’t go into town, we could at least go and sit in the plane where it’s dry.
DOUGLAS (despairing): Oh, God, do we have to?
MARTIN: Well, we can sit in the plane, or we can sit in the rain.
DOUGLAS: Can’t we sit in the car or sit in a bar?
DOUGLAS: I’m sorry. I thought we were staging an impromptu tribute to Dr. Seuss.
(Sound of rain hammering down on the plane’s roof.)
DOUGLAS: Wow! This is much nicer(!)
ARTHUR: How about … a game of Charades?!
CAROLYN, MARTIN and DOUGLAS (simultaneously): No!
ARTHUR: Oh, why not?
CAROLYN: Because, dear heart, none of us will soon forget the misery of you spending twenty-five minutes miming Apocalypse Now without knowing what an apocalypse was.
(Silence for a few seconds, then Arthur starts to strangle his tune again, but now it sounds even less like the original one. However, Douglas now recognises another melody coming out of the cacophony.)
DOUGLAS: Oh! Oh-oh-oh, is it …
(He grandly sings the opening lines from the aria Non più andraifrom Le nozze di Figaro, although he doesn’t sing the actual words.)
ARTHUR (interrupting on the third line): No, that doesn’t sound anything like what I sang.
DOUGLAS: That, I’m willing to concede.
MARTIN: Well, so long as we’re in the plane with nothing to do, we could always review the Standard Operating Procedures.
(Douglas and Carolyn sigh in exasperation.)
CAROLYN: Yes, that’ll make the day fly by on silver wings(!)
MARTIN: It is a legal requirement, and we’re here anyway.
DOUGLAS: That’s why you were so keen to come out to the plane, isn’t it, so you could get us to go through your rotten old OPs.
MARTIN: Well, since I’ve gone to all the trouble of revising them …
CAROLYN (tetchily): Fine! We’ll go through one.
MARTIN (sulkily): No. I don’t want to now.
CAROLYN: Oh, come on.
DOUGLAS (trying his best to sound genuine): Martin, we’re sorry. It’s very good of you to do them. Please take us through one.
MARTIN: … All right. (He clears his throat, then shuffles through the pages of a manual.) Standard Operating Procedure … evacuation in event of smoke or fire in cabin.
ARTHUR: Hang on: is it okay for me to hear these?
MARTIN: Yes! They’re not secrets!
ARTHUR: Oh. Okay, carry on.
MARTIN: “Set parking brake.”
MARTIN: “Shut down engines.”
CAROLYN: Good idea.
MARTIN: “P.A. announcement.”
MARTIN: “First Officer leaves through the nearest exit.”
DOUGLAS: You bet he does – and enters nearest bar.
MARTIN: “Captain dons cap, enters cabin to assist passengers.”
(There’s a pause, then Carolyn starts to giggle, trying and failing to suppress her laughter. A moment later Douglas also starts trying to choke back his chuckles.)
CAROLYN (giggling): Does what?!
MARTIN: Assists passengers. What? What’s so funny?
DOUGLAS (laughing): No, no, no – before that.
MARTIN: “Captain dons cap, enters cabin to …”
(Carolyn and Douglas lose it, bursting out into sustained laughter.)
DOUGLAS: “Dons cap”?!
CAROLYN: “Captain dons cap”!
DOUGLAS: Oh yeah! You have to don your cap before dealing with a fire!
CAROLYN: Otherwise how will the fire know who the captain is?!
MARTIN: It’s for the passengers.
(Douglas starts quoting from the poem Casabianca by Felicia Dorothea Hemans.)
DOUGLAS: “The boy stood on the burning deck / Whence all but he had fled.”
(Carolyn deliberately re-writes the next lines.)
CAROLYN: “His heart was in his mouth but, lo! / His cap was on his head”!
MARTIN (irritated and hurt): Right! Fine! Forget it. Forget it! I’ll go and sit on the flight deck and review them by myself.
(Douglas and Carolyn continue to laugh as the flight deck door slams, then they slowly pull themselves together.)
CAROLYN: Ooh. Oh. Oh dear.
DOUGLAS: Oh. Was that a bit …?
CAROLYN: Yes, a little bit.
CAROLYN: Do you think, er, do you think one of us should, er …?
(The flight deck door opens and then closes.)
ARTHUR: Right. Well. Just you and me, Mum. … You know, you canplay Charades with two people.
CAROLYN (instantly): No.
ARTHUR: Okay. Oh, um … Dad called this morning.
CAROLYN: Ah. I thought he might.
ARTHUR: Mmm. Well, he did.
CAROLYN: What did he have to say?
ARTHUR: Oh, he asked after you … um, and the plane.
CAROLYN: Oh yes? In which order?
ARTHUR: Not that order.
ARTHUR: Uh, and he said to tell you …
CAROLYN (interrupting): Not interested.
ARTHUR: Yeah, but he said to tell you …
CAROLYN: I know what he said to tell me, because he’s said it every twelfth of November for eight years. Not interested.
ARTHUR: He still made me promise to say it. Sorry.
CAROLYN: Go on, then. Get it over with.
ARTHUR: He said to tell you he’d like to buy his plane back off you.
CAROLYN: Not interested. And it’s not his plane. Not that it matters, but how much was he offering this time?
ARTHUR: A hundred pounds.
CAROLYN: A hundred?! Well, that’s just silly! Last year I turned him down for a hundred and twenty-five thousand. Why would I go for twenty-five grand less?
ARTHUR: No, not a hundred thousand pounds – a hundred pounds.
CAROLYN: No, dear, no. I didn’t pick you up on it before because frankly life’s too short, but when he said “a hundred”, he meant a hundred thousand.
ARTHUR (confidently): No he didn’t.
CAROLYN: Arthur, given that – in your short life – you have caught hold of the wrong end of enough sticks to build an entire wrong end of a forest, what makes you so sure you’ve got it right thistime?
ARTHUR: Because he made me write it down.
(He takes out a piece of paper and reads from it.)
ARTHUR: “Tell her, yes, he does mean a hundred pounds, not a hundred grand. One hundred pounds and no pennies. I haven’t got it wrong. No, write ‘Arthur’. Arthur hasn’t got it wrong. Phone if you want details.”
DOUGLAS (tentatively): Erm, Martin?
MARTIN (sulkily): What do you want?
DOUGLAS: Apologies, Martin. That was very childish of us.
MARTIN: Yes it ruddy well was.
DOUGLAS: Yes. Perfectly reasonable emergency procedure.
MARTIN: Are you being funny again?
DOUGLAS: No! No, I mean it. The hat makes it clear to confused, frightened passengers that you are in charge. Absolutely.
DOUGLAS: Entirely sensible.
MARTIN: It’s nothing to do with showing off about being the captain.
MARTIN: I mean, God knows I could write “Captain” on my forehead in lipstick and people still wouldn’t get it.
(Douglas snorts laughter.)
MARTIN: What? What have I done now?
DOUGLAS (still laughing): No, no, noth-nothing. I mean, not you. I was – I was just hoping you weren’t thinking of putting that in the Operating Procedure.
MARTIN: What, you mean, “First Officer leaves through nearest exit. Captain writes ‘Captain’ on forehead with lipstick, dons cap, enters cabin.”
DOUGLAS: “In unlikely event of captain non-recognition, captain doffs cap, gestures to lipstick inscription …”
(They both laugh, then they settle down.)
MARTIN: Why do they always think you’re the captain, Douglas?
DOUGLAS: Oh, that’s easy. ’Cause I don’t care. Captains don’t care. I’ve been a first officer, been a captain, been a first officer again. All the same to me. So long as you’re happy, who gives a toss how many rings there are on your sleeve? Whereas you always look like you want to be the captain, so people assume you can’t be one. You’ve gotta lose that look.
MARTIN: But I have always wanted to be an airline captain.
MARTIN: Yes, ever since I was six.
DOUGLAS: Ah. And before that?
MARTIN: I wanted to be an aeroplane.
DOUGLAS: I see.
MARTIN: Why – what did you want to be?
DOUGLAS: Oh, various things at different times. I studied medicine at university.
MARTIN: You wanted to be a doctor?
DOUGLAS: Well, I wanted to be a medical student. They seemed to have the most fun. I’m not sure I ever wanted to be a doctor – glamorous, but gloopy.
(Flight deck door opens.)
ARTHUR: Coffee, chaps.
DOUGLAS: How about you, Arthur? What do you want to do if you grow up?
MARTIN: When you were a boy, what did you want to be?
ARTHUR: Oh, well, I-I was a bit like you, actually, Skipper. I always wanted to be a pilot too.
DOUGLAS: Good lord, really?
ARTHUR: Yeah. (He chuckles briefly.) Obviously that was never gonna happen.
MARTIN: Oh, well …
ARTHUR: Although, actually, when I was seventeen Mum did get me an interview at the, um, Oxford Aviation Academy, for my birthday. So I-I-I actually went up and I sat in the hall and the others started to come in and … I dunno – they all looked like proper pilots, or at least … You know the Muppet Babies?
DOUGLAS: I fear they may have passed me by.
ARTHUR: Well, it was this cartoon with baby versions of Kermit and Miss Piggy and everyone; and these guys looked like Muppet Baby versions of … well, you two … well, anyway …
MARTIN (resigned): Yes, I know, I know – of him.
ARTHUR: Yeah. And anyway, the-the woman came out and said, “Arthur Shappey, you’re up,” and all the Muppet Baby pilots looked round to see who he was … and so did I. After a bit they decided he hadn’t turned up and went to the next guy. So, you know, part of me always wonders, um, what would have happened if I’d gone through that door.
DOUGLAS: Well, I can tell you, Arthur. They’d have made mincemeat out of you.
DOUGLAS: Absolutely. You’d be a hopeless pilot. They’d have laughed you out of the room.
ARTHUR: And you’re not just saying that to make me feel better?
DOUGLAS: Not at all. You wouldn’t have had a cat’s chance in hell, would he, Martin?
MARTIN: I’m afraid not.
ARTHUR (affectionately): Aww. You guys are great!
MARTIN: There isn’t, though. After the age of thirty, you just don’t meet anyone new. You’re on your raft with your friends, and everyone else is on their raft. Sometimes the rafts bump into each other, but there’s no raft-hopping. And I’ve managed to get on an all-boys raft.
DOUGLAS: Well, what about cabin crew?
MARTIN: Hmm, well, for two very different reasons, I’m afraid neither Arthur nor Carolyn quite float my boat.
DOUGLAS: Well, there’s always weddings. I met all three of my wives at weddings.
DOUGLAS: Mmm, course. The third one, I met at my wedding … which was a trifle awkward.
MARTIN: Yes, I imagine it would be!
DOUGLAS: Yeah, my second marriage wasn’t my favourite.
MARTIN: Which one was?
DOUGLAS: Oh, the current Mrs Richardson, hands down! She’s smashing! Look: I got her this for our anniversary.
(Sound of his flight bag being unzipped.)
MARTIN: … I think you may be showing me the wrong bag.
DOUGLAS: No – that’s the one.
MARTIN: … You’ve got her a bottle of brown sauce? You incorrigible old romantic(!)
DOUGLAS: Ah, but it’s her favourite brown sauce, only they changed the recipe in Britain and now she doesn’t like it any more. But I did some research and they still make it with the old recipe in Greece. So last time we were in Thessaloniki – you remember, back when we used to fly planes for a living instead of sit in them – I got her this. She’ll love it.
MARTIN: Oh, you sod. That actually is romantic.
CAROLYN: Arthur. Listen carefully.
CAROLYN: I’ve just been talking with your father.
CAROLYN: He’s now offering to buy GERTI for one pound.
ARTHUR: Right. And are you thinking of … ’Cause I’d probably give you ten.
CAROLYN: … in exchange for which, he will take GERTI and, with her, all of MJN’s debts.
CAROLYN: So … what do you think I should do?
(Flight deck door opens.)
DOUGLAS: Ah, Carolyn.
DOUGLAS: Well, it’s two hours to dusk and he’s clearly not coming. Can we have a little snifter?
CAROLYN: No. Get out.
(Flight deck door closes.)
CAROLYN: Carry on, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Well, what do you want to do?
CAROLYN: I-I want to know what you think.
ARTHUR: Really? Are you sure?
CAROLYN: Yes! I mean, let’s be clear: not in your capacity as astute financial analyst; in your capacity as someone who might one day come into this money – or lack of money.
ARTHUR: Oh. Right. Well, um, I don’t want to … I think you should do whatever you think … but … just-just thinking about myself, I don’t know what I’d do with the money that would be better than getting to go up in the plane all the time with you guys. But that’s just me being selfish.
DOUGLAS: No – she didn’t really go for the drinks idea. Water it is.
(Clinking of glasses, then water pouring into them.)
MARTIN: So, what is it exactly that’s so special about … I don’t even know her name.
DOUGLAS: Oh, I don’t know. I mean, she’s clever and funny and kind and beautiful and so on and et cetera – you know, the standard specs. But, I think if I’m honest, what it really comes down to is, she thinks I’m terrific.
MARTIN: Does she?(!)
DOUGLAS: Yup. The bee’s pyjamas; the cat’s knees. Reallyterrific.
MARTIN: And that’s enough to make you happy together, is it – your shared belief in the terrificness of you?
DOUGLAS: It’s not a bad start.
MARTIN: But does it make you happy? Truly happy?
DOUGLAS: Oh, well, come on. No-one’s truly happy.
ARTHUR: I’m truly happy!
MARTIN: Oh God.
DOUGLAS: No, Arthur; you are cheery. No-one’s interested in the secret of true cheeriness.
ARTHUR: No, that’s not true. I’m fairly often just completely happy. Like, for instance, when you get into a bath quickly and it’s just the right temperature, and you go … (blissfully) … “Ohhhh!” I mean, no-one really gets any happier than that.
MARTIN: What a depressing thought.
ARTHUR: No! No, it’s not, though! Because those sort of things happen all the time, whereas you’re hardly ever – you know – blissfully happy with the love of your life in the moonlight; and when you are, you’re too busy worrying about it being over soon. Whereas the bath moments – there’s loads of those! Oh! Like when you realise your knuckles are ready for cracking.
(Arthur cracks his knuckles.)
DOUGLAS and MARTIN: Eurgh!
ARTHUR: See? I was happy then. Ooh – wait! I’ve got another one.
(Flight deck door closes as Arthur leaves.)
MARTIN: Did you order the motivational seminar by Forrest Gump?
(Flight deck door opens again.)
DOUGLAS: Oh, no! Please spare us the crisp crunch of the first bite of an apple.
ARTHUR: No, no, of course not. No-one really likes apples. That would be like liking … wood. No – I mean this.
(Sound of an apple repeatedly landing in Arthur’s hands.)
ARTHUR: This – tossing an apple from hand to hand. It just feels really nice. I could do it for hours. Try it.
(He tosses an apple to Douglas, who also starts tossing his from hand to hand.)
DOUGLAS (after a moment): You know, there is something rather pleasant about it.
MARTIN: Oh, for goodness’ sakes! I don’t believe it!
ARTHUR: Try it!
(He throws an apple to Martin, who joins in with the apple-tossing.)
ARTHUR (after a moment): See?!
MARTIN: Well, it’s … satisfying, but I wouldn’t say I was happy.
ARTHUR: Give it a bit longer.
CAROLYN: Good grief. The world’s least impressive troupe of jugglers. What on earth are you doing?
(As the boys continue to toss their apples, Douglas begins to idly hum the tune of We’re Busy Doing Nothing.)
ARTHUR (loudly): That’s it!
(Martin cries out in surprise.)
MARTIN: Oh! Arthur, you made me drop my apple!
CAROLYN: Oh, Martin. Surely the only professional pilot who cannot successfully juggle one apple.
ARTHUR: That’s the tune, though!
(He gargles the beginning of the tune, still getting it wrong within a few notes.)
(He starts to sing.)
DOUGLAS: ♪ We’re busy doing nothing, working the whole day through … ♪
(Martin is already humming along by the second half of the phrase, and now joins in the singing.)
DOUGLAS and MARTIN: ♪ Trying to find lots of things not to do … ♪
(Carolyn joins in.)
DOUGLAS, MARTIN and CAROLYN: ♪ We’re busy going nowhere. Isn’t it just a crime? ♪
(And now Arthur joins in – somewhat discordantly – for the last line.)
THE WHOLE CREW: ♪ We’d like to be unhappy but we never do have the time! ♪
(They all laugh.)
CAROLYN: All right, all right, who wants a drink?
DOUGLAS: Really? You seemed quite anti the idea just now.
CAROLYN: Yes. Well, I have perked up somewhat since then; and anyway, for goodness’ sake, Goddard’s obviously not going to call. It’s an hour before dusk – after twenty-eight days of silence he’s forgotten about us.
MARTIN: Except he’s guaranteed to call if we have a drink.
DOUGLAS: Well, he’d better hurry up then. He’s three drinks too late for me.
CAROLYN: Douglas. Have you been drinking?
DOUGLAS: I cannot tell a lie. What am I saying? I’m terrific at telling lies. I mean, I’m not going to tell a lie. Yes.
MARTIN: I thought it was water!
DOUGLAS: That’s the beauty of vodka: colourless, odourless. Proof that God loves pilots … or at least the Russians do.
(Glasses clink and liquid is poured.)
CAROLYN: Arthur? One for you?
ARTHUR: Oh, thanks. Er, can I have pineapple juice?
CAROLYN: No, it’s all right. We’ve decided he’s not going to call. You can have wine.
ARTHUR (disappointed): Oh. Okay. (He perks up.) But can I have pineapple juice?
CAROLYN: Yes, fine.
ARTHUR: Thanks, Mum!
(More alcohol is poured into glasses. Martin and Douglas snigger a little drunkenly.)
DOUGLAS: Er, er – A Dance to the Music of Tim?
(Martin and Carolyn laugh.)
CAROLYN: Oh! Oh, very good, very good, very good. Ah, mmm – The da Vinci Cod.
(The men laugh.)
MARTIN: Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! James Bond! James Bond! Erm … The Man With The Golden Gu.
(He pronounces it ‘goo’, then sniggers.)
(Pronouncing it ‘gold-finj’, he laughs … alone.)
MARTIN (loudly): Octopuss!
DOUGLAS: “Octopuss”?! That’s just ‘octopus’!
DOUGLAS (despairingly): Oh, please, someone save me from this.
(A phone begins to ring.)
DOUGLAS: Not you, though.
MARTIN: Who is it?
CAROLYN: Anonymous caller.
ARTHUR: Could be anyone.
MARTIN: Probably not him.
CAROLYN (picking up the phone): Hello? … Oh, yes. … Yes, of course! Yes! Very well. Goodbye.
(She puts the phone down.)
CAROLYN: Goddard will be here in twenty minutes.
MARTIN (groaning): Ohh.
CAROLYN: What do we do?
DOUGLAS: Why did you say yes?
CAROLYN: He’s paid us thousands and thousands of pounds this month just for me to say ‘Yes’ to that one phone call.
CAROLYN: We have to fly.
DOUGLAS: But …
CAROLYN: … but we can’t fly.
MARTIN (drunkenly): I can fly. (half-singing) I can fly right up to the sky!
CAROLYN: You can’t!
MARTIN (singing): ♪ I can! ♪
DOUGLAS: No, but …
DOUGLAS: I can.
CAROLYN: No you can’t!
MARTIN (puzzled): Hmm?
CAROLYN: We’ll just tell him the plane won’t start and refund him his money, and … I-I wasn’t going to tell you this, but as it happens, today someone made me an offer…
DOUGLAS (interrupting): I’m sorry to interrupt, Carolyn, but you’re not listening. I am fit to fly.
CAROLYN: You’re not! You’ve been drinking.
DOUGLAS: No. I haven’t. I don’t drink.
MARTIN (laughing): Yes you do!
DOUGLAS: No I don’t.
MARTIN (drunkenly): You do! I’ve seen you, hundreds of times!
DOUGLAS: No. You think you have, but you haven’t.
CAROLYN (catching on): Oh!
MARTIN (not catching on at all): I have! You’ve been drinking tonight!
DOUGLAS: The thing about not being able to tell vodka from water is it cuts both ways.
CAROLYN: So you’re sober!
DOUGLAS: Very sober. Eight years for me, too.
CAROLYN: You can fly!
DOUGLAS: I can fly.
MARTIN: I can fly too! I can bloody well fly as well as any … fly.
DOUGLAS: Of course, I’m perfectly qualified to fly this plane alone.
CAROLYN: Yes, but Goddard doesn’t know that. He’s hired twopilots. He’s expecting a captain.
DOUGLAS: Well, we could always …
(He trails off.)
CAROLYN: Oh no.
DOUGLAS: Well, what else can we do?
CAROLYN: Oh no!
DOUGLAS: Arthur Shappey? You’re up!
ARTHUR (over cabin address, his voice occasionally cracking with nerves): Good evening, this is your captain speaking. Captain Martin Crieff speaking. I shall be captaining the plane as your captain this evening.
ARTHUR: Okay, bye!
(In the cabin.)
MARTIN (trying and almost succeeding to sound sober): Good evening, Mr. Goddard. Welcome aboard. My name’s Arthur. I’ll be your steward today.
MR. GODDARD (east London accent): Yeah, cheers, Arfur. All right?
MARTIN: May I offer sir a drink, sir?
MR. GODDARD: Yeah, yeah, ’ang on. Let me get meself sorted out.
MARTIN: Oh, absolutely, sir. But when you’re all nicely settled in, would you like me to bring you a drink? That’s all I was asking.
MR. GODDARD: Yeah, all right. Mineral water.
MARTIN: Very good, sir. Would you like spill, or starkling?
MR. GODDARD: Just hang on a minute, can you?!
CAROLYN (sounding decidedly fuzzy): Er, Martin, I’ll take care of this.
MARTIN (quietly, through gritted teeth): I’m Arthur!
CAROLYN: Oh, yes, yes. Arthur … (she chuckles) … I’ll take care of this, Arthur. Sir, would you like a drink?
MR. GODDARD: Yes! A still mineral water, no ice, all right?
CAROLYN: Right! Go and get him one, Mar…thur.
CAROLYN: Arthur! Arthur!
(She and Martin both burst into giggles.)
MR. GODDARD: What’s up? What’s goin’ on?
CAROLYN: No-no-no-no, nothing, nothing, nothing. He used to be … he used to be Martha, now he’s Arthur!
(They crack up laughing.)
MR. GODDARD: What are you laughin’ at?
(The two of them try to control themselves.)
MARTIN: I’m not laughing.
MR. GODDARD: Yes you are.
MR. GODDARD: And why’s your uniform so baggy?
MARTIN (still forcing back giggles): I’m … I’ve lost a lot of weight recently.
CAROLYN: Yes, yes, yes … (she giggles) … from when he was Martha!
(She and Martin crack up again.)
MR. GODDARD: Right. I’ve ’ad enough of this. I wanna see the pilots.
CAROLYN: Oh, no, no. I’m afraid that’s quite impossible.
MR. GODDARD (sternly): Take me to the pilots! Now.
(Sound of apples being tossed from hand to hand.)
DOUGLAS: That’s right! And catch and throw, and catch and throw, and catch and throw, and catch …
(As they set up a rhythm to Douglas’ words, Arthur begins to sing the Entry Of The Gladiators by Julius Fucik – better known as the circus theme. The flight deck door bursts open as they continue.)
MR. GODDARD: Look, what’s going on with … bloody hell!
DOUGLAS (as he and Arthur stop tossing apples): Oh, I’m sorry, sir, but you’re intruding on a standard pre-flight exercise to improve reflex time and hand-eye coordination. Could you return to your seat?
ARTHUR: Yeah. That’s right.
MR. GODDARD: You’re the captain, are you?
ARTHUR: I certainly am. I am … the captain.
MR. GODDARD: Right, I wanna smell your breath – both of you.
DOUGLAS: Be our guest.
(He huffs breath towards Mr. Goddard, as does Arthur.)
MR. GODDARD: All right, then. Fair enough. Fair enough.
ARTHUR: ’Course, if we’d been drinking vodka, you wouldn’t be able to smell it on our breath.
MR. GODDARD: You’ve been drinking vodka?
ARTHUR: No, no, we haven’t! I was just saying, as an interesting fact.
MR. GODDARD: Are you really a captain, mate?
DOUGLAS: Yes. You see, i-it…
ARTHUR: Thank you, Douglas. I can deal with this. I am a captain, yes, and I can assure you that you may fully rely on my professionalism and my judgement.
MR. GODDARD: Yeah. Fair enough, mate. No offence.
ARTHUR: … not to mention my thirty years of flying experience.
MR. GODDARD: ’ang on! Thirty years?! How old are you?
ARTHUR: … Well … if I qualified at eighteen … which I did … that makes me … (hesitantly) forty-eight.
MR. GODDARD: You don’t look forty-eight to me.
DOUGLAS: The captain does have a youthful vigour.
MARTIN: Everyone comments on it.
CAROLYN: Of course, he has a punishing moisturising routine …
MR. GODDARD (interrupting): All right. I dunno what the ’ell’s goin’ on ’ere, but luckily for you I’ve got to be in Madrid by nine. So ’ere’s how it’s goin’ to go: you are gonna fly the plane …
DOUGLAS: Yes, sir.
MR. GODDARD: Shut it. You are gonna watch, and not touch anything unless he tells you to.
DOUGLAS: I won’t tell him to.
MR. GODDARD: Good. And you, and you are gonna sit in your little kitchen with a litre of water each and sober up. And no-one is gonna juggle apples!
(Sound of a hairdryer being waved around.)
ARTHUR: Zzzoooom! Zooom! Zooom!
CAROLYN: Arthur, it’s a hairdryer. You have to point it steadily. You can’t just zap things dry like it’s a ray gun.
(The portacabin door opens.)
MARTIN: Carolyn, I’m off now.
CAROLYN: Cheerio. Oh, Martin, did you leave a bottle of brown sauce on the flight deck, you revolting creature?
MARTIN: Oh, no – actually that’s Douglas’. Has he gone?
CAROLYN: Oh, at the first whiff of mopping up to be done.
MARTIN: Right, well, give it to me. I’ll drop it off on my way home.
CAROLYN: I’m sure he can go a couple of days without brown sauce.
MARTIN: No, he … It’s a long, slightly weird story.
CAROLYN: Then, by all means, keep it to yourself. Goodbye!
(The office phone starts to ring.)
MARTIN: Bye-bye, Arthur.
ARTHUR: Bye, Skipper! I loved being you!
MARTIN: Oh! Well, I’m glad somebody does.
(He leaves. Carolyn picks up the phone.)
CAROLYN: Ah, thank you for ringing back. … Yes, I have a message for Mr. Shappey from the CEO of MJN Air.
(She narrates her message slowly and pedantically.)
CAROLYN: “GERTI’s staying with me, so up yours, baldy.” … Yes, it is a business message. It’s in code, you see. He’ll know what it means. And that’s from Carolyn Knapp-Shappey, CEO, My Jet Now Air. Thank you so much.
(She hangs up.)
(A doorbell is rung. The door is opened.)
DOUGLAS: Oh. Martin!
MARTIN: Hello, Douglas.
DOUGLAS: What are you doing here?
MARTIN: I just stopped by to give you this. You left it on the plane.
DOUGLAS: Oh! Right. Yes. Er, thank you.
MARTIN: You’re welcome. Just thought I’d stop by on my way home. I mean, I’m not really on my way, actually, but to save your anniversary, I thought …
DOUGLAS: I know, and I-I do appreciate it. I really do.
DOUGLAS: Well, I won’t keep you.
MARTIN: Oh. Okay. Well, I’ll see you next …
MARTIN: Douglas. Your epaulettes!
MARTIN: They’ve grown an extra bar.
DOUGLAS: … Oh, look at that! How silly of me! I must have put on my old Air England ones by mistake.
DOUGLAS: Well, when I got dressed.
MARTIN: Douglas, you were not wearing captains’ epaulettes during the flight! I would have noticed, believe me.
DOUGLAS: Yes, you would, wouldn’t you?
MARTIN: Which means you must have …
HELENA (from a distance): Who is it, Dougie?
DOUGLAS: Er, no-one, sweetheart. Just someone dropping something off.
HELENA (coming closer): Oh! Hello.
MARTIN: Hello. I’m Martin.
DOUGLAS: Well, thanks for that, Martin. I’ll see you …
HELENA: Martin! Oh, from MJN.
DOUGLAS: That’s right, darling. Martin, this is my wonderful wife Helena. Helena, this is my … trusted and valued first officer, Martin Crieff.
HELENA: Pleased to meet you.
MARTIN (thoughtfully): … Pleased to meet you.
HELENA: We meet at last! I’ve heard so much about you.
MARTIN: So I gather.
HELENA: Well, won’t you come in for a drink?
MARTIN: Perhaps another time. I’d better get home.
HELENA: Oh, what a pity! I’ve been dying to hear what he’s like as a boss. I bet you end up doing all the work! I know I’d hate to be Douglas’ first officer.
MARTIN: Yes, well, as a friend once told me, “As long as you’re happy, who gives a toss how many stripes you’ve got on your arm?”
HELENA: Ah, but I bet whoever told you that was a first officer!
MARTIN: Now you come to mention it, I rather think he was.
Cabin Pressure - FittonLAS: The captain does have a youthful vigour.
DOUGLAS: That’s right, darling. Martin, this is my wonderful wife Helena. Helena, this is my …