ACT ONE – SCENE ONE
Action starts at the external set – the other sets are all in darkness.
(Geoff Barnes arrives at the front door, looking awkward and somewhat out-of-place. He is clearly not used to being dressed in jeans, is wearing a business shirt under a business jacket too. He’s even more uncomfortable because he’s trying to carry a briefcase, a laptop case, a suit carrier and two bulky carrier bags. Juggling with the bags, he tries the door, looks at his watch, then looks around and spots someone. He tries to wave, but fails because of the cumbersome bags.)
Kate Warren (She arrives more natural in her jeans and a jumper – but empty handed – she ignores Geoff as she looks up at the poster wistfully, then reluctantly looks across at him.) Hi-yah, can’t find your way in?
Geoff (Moving awkwardly with his many bags.) I see you managed to get our posters up nice and early!
Kate Of course … just had to call in a few favours. This venue’s like my second home.
Geoff (Moving awkwardly with his many bags.) When I got here there were a few trucks already waiting at the gate, for ColourStyle I think.
Kate Yep, ColourStyle have booked in five trucks for first thing to get all their steelwork done – it’s our most difficult double-decker stand. I’ll have to keep on their backs, to make sure they get it up in time – it’s gonna be tight.
Geoff (Moving awkwardly with his many bags.) The gatekeepers were a bit reluctant but, when I told them I was the Event Director, they opened up and sent them around the back.
Kate Acting Event Director! (She smiles at his awkwardness with the bags) And, I’m here to assure you that the court’s very much still out on that decision!
Geoff (Realising why she is smiling he sets down the bags awkwardly.) While we’re at site let’s put all that to one side. This week I’m the only Event Director there is and you are our Operations Director. We need to be seen to work here as a seamless team. That’s in both of our best interests. We can worry about who gets the job formally once we’re off site. I hope you agree?
Kate (She won’t catch his eye, looking up at the poster) Let’s see how it goes.
Geoff I just hope we’ve both done everything we should. I don’t feel as if we’ve got everything properly licked into shape. We’ll have to hope we can sort it all out as we go along. I’ve just chucked everything into my bag…
Kate Or bag-z! Chill out, you know, this is the moment I really cherish. Over the last few weeks you tear yourself apart trying to think up every little thing, look at it from every angle, try to cover every item that could go wrong at site. And yet deep down you just know, whatever you do, it’s the unexpected, the unplanned, that always comes along, turns around and bites you in the bum.
Geoff Precisely my point!
Kate Ah, but yesterday, as I packed everything up, I breathed a big sigh of relief. Now the planning’s all done, we can’t worry about anything more, now we just have to come here and do it. No more time to think about what might and might not happen – you just have to deal with what bloody well does happen. Once we’re here, the joy is that we just have to sort it out as we go along. That’s the craik!
Geoff (He looks up at the poster too and almost says to himself) Strange, I feel exactly the opposite – I see all the pre-planning as the joyous bit, get it right and the at-site stuff runs smoothly. It’s well, cleaner somehow, the setting of the strategies, considering all aspects, drawing up responses to each and every probable situation, I love all that. It’s only when you get to site that all the people turn up and sort of get in the way – the contractors, the exhibitors, the visitors, the press – they all come along and mess up all that neat planning, ignore all the smart procedures. It’s all beautifully in control, then they turn up and ruin it!
Kate But don’t you see that’s what’s truly great about it – that’s just why we’re needed. If the procedures worked all the time, wouldn’t that be just too boring? Anyone could do that! We’re here because it’s the very nature of shows that shit happens. We’re the ones who have to respond effectively.
Geoff Well… (clearly does not agree) … Was that Kevin Thomson, from the main contractors, I saw dropping you off?
Kate (hesitates) Yes, he gave me a lift around to the hotel so I could leave all my bags there. He’s gone to get someone to open up (looks around) Look here’s Mike Stone from Hall Management, perhaps he’ll let us in?
Mike (Arrives from left) Hi guys! I see you got your signage up already, won’t ask whose palms were crossed for that one. Here let me help you in (picks up some of Geoff’s bags). I do trust that everything at this show will be organised according to rules and regulations?
Kate (From behind Mike makes a face and sarcastically mouths his words ‘according to rules and regulations’.)
Geoff (Ignores her) Ask us again in three days, when we’ve got the show open!
Kate Well it’s too late to worry about anything now – we’ve done everything we can to be ready for anything (makes a face to Mike that Geoff can’t see) – well that’s the case until we learn all the crazy promises the sales team has made.
Geoff Come on Kate, we need to be a tight team at site, no bickering, once we’re here we have to bury all the differences – just one big happy family – right?
Kate (smiles and curtsies)
Mike (is trying to get the door open – when Kevin appears inside the doors carrying a series of carrier bags with a doorkeeper in uniform who actually opens the door for them.)
Kevin Welcome to [Earls Court] – (bows and waves back through the door) It’s all yours (pause) well at least for the next nine days!
Geoff Yes, it’s all mine, that means it’ll all be my fault (bustles through the door with difficulty given the baggage)
Kevin (to his disappearing back and winking at Kate) And, all at your cost!
Mike Provided you work according to the rules and regulations you’ll have no problems from me. (passes through the door after Geoff)
Kate (To Kevin) What Geoff really meant to say is that it will all somehow be my fault if anything goes wrong – and yet all his success if it comes off!
Kevin Everyone who matters knows that it’s you that makes it all work.
Kate But do they, do they really? I’ve been trying to move into the event director role for five years now and sometimes it doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. You know I really want that job!
Kevin I can’t see the attraction, at your place all the sales people and event directors come and go so fast, they should fit a revolving door. But it’s you that carries on making sure the shows you’re involved with are high quality and that they work.
Kate I hope so. I do care you know – passionately. I love this business and work bloody hard to make sure that it all happens as smoothly as possible. I just couldn’t wait to come.
Kevin No comment, was the fond reply…
Kate Your mind! (Clearly amused she makes a big show of walking off into the venue as if annoyed.)
They appear in turn in the outer organiser office. It is completely empty of furniture/equipment but with old and untidy floorplans, post-its and used sticky tabs on the walls from the previous event. Boxes of rubbish are strewn across the floor – it is very tatty and completely uninviting. It has no furniture, phones or anything, just a Tannoy mike on the floor. It is low lit as if from a skylight.
Geoff (enters fumbling for the switch and finally gets it – the lights flicker on) Just look at the state of this room, it looks like no-one’s cleaned it up in months! I thought at least we would get it handed over tidy. It’s that bloody EuroEvents mob, they were in last. Look they’ve left loads of stuff. I’m not paying for their mess to be cleared up and dumped!
Mike (follows him in) Relax Geoff, when I get up to my office I’ll get the cleaners down here pronto to sort it all out for you.
Geoff It’s just not good enough, I’ve paid big six number monies for these halls – at the very least I’d expect it to be handed over clean and tidy – I know you can’t do anything about its age and general tattiness – but clean shouldn’t be too much to ask…
Mike Careful Geoff you’re talking about the grand old lady that I lavish with love, care and affection.
Kate (Enters with Kevin.) I didn’t know you were into the more mature woman, Mike?
Kevin I’ve got only one rule – they must be old enough to have had experience, yet young enough to want some more.
Geoff And none too fussy I imagine, (looks at the rubbish) the way you keep house!
Kevin It’s got a long history, this hall. It just reeks with it.
Geoff I was trying to be polite and not mention the smell.
Kevin Did you know (says it an exaggerated way) that Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show were here once…
Geoff (Looking through some documents he has picked up from the floor.) Hm, and evidently it’s still run by a bunch of cowboys!
Kevin (Smiling at Kate then pulling down signs from the wall.) Your oppo’s got no soul. Tell him, this is the place where dreams are created and delivered.
Geoff Nightmares, more like it.
Kate (She smiles and twirls in the centre of the room.) No, he’s right, this is home sweet home – it’s so good to be back. I can feel the buzz starting already. It’s only real when you’re on site. It’s brill, I just can’t wait for my shows to come around.
Geoff (Turns quickly and slips on some papers.) Our shows, Kate, our shows!
Kevin (Looks at her with affection) Can’t you see Geoff, it’s all one big drug for her – she’s always on a constant high at site.
Kate Guilty as charged your honour – it is a drug! It’s absolutely the biggest high that you can get from anything!
Kevin At least the best you can get with your clothes on!
Geoff (Glumly) Not to forget the biggest depression of all time when you get to the breakdown and your year’s work disappears in twenty minutes – all that effort becomes yesterday’s chip papers.
Kate Yes but that’s days away – we’ve got lots of fun first. I must work out where we’re having dinner tonight. Which do you prefer, [Quag’s or Mezzo]?
Geoff Kate, we’ve got a lot to do before we can begin to start thinking about dinner!
Craig (Knocks and enters waving a sheet of paper) Excuse me sir, (he looks from Kevin to Geoff uncertainly) I have some trucks at K Gate saying they have your permission to come in before the mark-out has been finished.
Geoff (Makes a move to respond but is beaten to it)
Kate (Walks around Geoff and grabs the note from Craig.) If it’s ColourStyle then yes I gave them my permission – there should be five of them in all – all to be here around 8am.
Craig (Still uncertain – looks at Geoff and Kevin again, before accepting the note back from Kate.) Reporting for duty, sir. (He pauses, realising he’s effectively called Kate, sir.) Uhh, I’m Craig MacGregor. I’m your security supervisor for the show, sir. (clicks his heels to attention)
Kate Where’s Tim then?
Craig He’s on another show but will be here for the pre-open day onwards – didn’t you know? I thought you’d been advised, uh, (looks at Geoff) sir?
Kate Whatever, it’s nice to meet you – I’m Kate, in charge of op’s for Dream Homes – so when we get the radios in I’ll give you one of ours so I can reach you in a hurry – OK? This is Geoff, he’s responsible for sales and marketing, and you should meet Kevin too, he’s the main man from our main contractors.
Craig (Touches his hat in a sort of salute at each as they are introduced) I’ll go and let them in then. (Looks at Kate) Sir, um, ma’am. (Clicks his heels and leaves)
Geoff That is just super. You appointed the contractors and they send someone who doesn’t know anyone at site – and I suppose he’s not worked this hall before?
Kate He’ll be good company for you then – a pair of venue virgins together!
Geoff (Snaps) I think we should look for a discount if we’re stuck with him. Tim promised he would give his personal attention to this one. He promised me, personally.
Kate When was that then? Presumably during that boys-only (stressed) day out at the golf course?
Geoff It was actually. Not that it makes any difference. It was a rather good day. We covered a lot of ground.
Kevin Visited all corners of the course, eh? (Makes a practice swing) Personally I’m a bit of a military golfer myself (waves his arms to indicate) you know left, right, left, right.
Geoff Very funny – and it was pure business!
Kate (Aside to Kevin) Oh yeah, monkey business!
Geoff (Obviously half-hears this and turns to react but then visibly thinks better of it.) Look Kate let’s get off on to the right foot. You and I, we are the A-team. We have got to provide the lead for the rest of the troops. Surely the enemy is going to be that lot out there.
Kate Look I’m not some sort of squaddie you can push around!
Geoff (Looks exasperated) I just meant that there will be enough other forces out there determined to pull us apart at the seams, without us doing their job for them. So please can we try to keep any arguments between us down to a minimum? This awful situation is absolutely none of my doing – I hate it, certainly just as much as you must!
(David enters – he always has an air of calm effectiveness, wearing a sweatshirt and trousers he manages to look quite smart)
David Morning team – I see we’re already at it! (Geoff and Kate both look shocked by the remark which suggested he had overheard their recent argument.) The rear loading bay ramp was full as I passed. I understand Craig is going to let them in?
Kate Hi, Dave (They hug) How’re you feeling? Fully recovered from IMPEX?
David Yep we finally got it all out of the hall. It took five skiploads to clear all the rubbish. Supposed to be out by lunchtime but got it off finally around 5pm.
(As they talk Vicki and Bill are seen entering the external set – they are carrying briefcases and suitcases, they pause to look up at the poster, look around with a smile and a clear look of pride and enter the halls without comment.)
Kate (introduces David to Geoff) This is David Reagan, he’s our floor manager for the duration.
Geoff So David, you seem to know this Craig character then?
David Well I’ve seen him around, but never really worked with him before. Seems the normal uninformed, sorry uniformed (smiles) type that security companies attract. But I’ve not seen his pitbull as yet.
Kevin Yeah, I bet he’s got a great array of tattoos!
David It’s good to be working with you for the first time too, Geoff. (They shake hands)
Geoff Yes, Kate gave you a super build-up. I’ve never worked with a floor manager before so I’m looking forward to seeing the value-added that she insists you can deliver. But then this is, of course, my first show at this hall.
David Just think of me as your eyes and ears – and legs! I’m here to make it easy and relaxed for you and Kate. So you can really get to enjoy your show.
Geoff I feel sure I’m going to need your help and advice, it seems like I’m going to have a baptism of blood this week – I hope I can count on you?
David That’s my role in a nutshell. By the way Kate I saw Harry arriving with the stuff from your office. He was out by the side entrance loading up his trolley.
Geoff Super. (Looks pointedly at Kevin) All we need now is some furniture to put it in (He picks up his bags and moves through into the rear office and switches the lights on.) I see you’ve already set up the back office – at least that’s done!
(The inner office is already set out with a bar area, a board table and chairs and a few small round tables and chairs – Geoff pointedly moves one of the table and chairs to a new position)
Kate (Still in the outer office, says quietly to Kevin.) You promised me you’d have set up both of our offices
Kevin (Kevin piles the last large box onto the heap.) Sorry, we did manage to get a bit of a flyer yesterday and the mark-out is already half-done, but we just couldn’t get this stuff cleared and the furniture in last night.
Kate Still, it’s good to be back at site isn’t it? I don’t think I’m half as alive when I’m away from here.
David (Sits down on a box and takes out and opens up a folded sheet of paper from his jacket.) It should be a reasonably quiet start for the build-up this morning based on this (reads as if alien terminology) ‘delivery vehicle arrival schedule’ you supplied me.
Kate Yes Geoff does like to name all of his forms. But no such luck, sorry Dave, but I think the word’s already out that we’re letting ColourStyle in this morning. We got quite a few calls last night. You know what the grapevine is like in this place. So don’t be surprised when a lot more turn up than you see on there.
David Situation normal!
Kate The real problem’s likely to be Geoff – he seems to carry around his own personal black cloud – he seems to look for trouble in everything we do.
Kevin He doesn’t seem to be very practical our Mr Barnes. Likes the bookish stuff yet seems frightened about the real on-site stuff.
David (Stands up looking uncomfortable with the conversation) So, you’ve worked with him before then?
Kevin No, but that’s what Kate tells me.
David Personally I always like to draw my own conclusions.
Kevin You know what I mean – you can see it straight off.
David Didn’t they ever teach you not to judge a book by its cover?
Kevin Yeah, but if it’s an old-fashioned dull-looking cover then I’m afraid I seldom get round to looking inside!
David Prefer big type and pretty pictures – eh?
Kate (Clearly bored with the topic of conversation.) Look we’re the real A-team, despite what he says. The three of us should be quite capable of handling the show as well as keeping Geoff Barnes out of it. P’r’aps we can leave him to concentrate on his forms and the theory whilst we get to grips with the practicalities.
Kevin That’s my feeling too. S’long as he’ll actually leave us to it!
David (Obviously now very uncomfortable with the conversation) Look, I’d better pop down to the rear gate to see that all’s well. (he leaves)
Kate (As David leaves Kate smiles and approaches Kevin, but hearing someone coming, pulls away and moves to the other side of the room and becomes engrossed in searching through her briefcase)
(Vicki and Bill enter. They exchange greetings, Bill pecks Kate on each cheek. Kate clearly none too happy with the contact)
Bill Here we all are again then.
Vicki Well we’re all here, but what’s missing from this picture? A little furniture would help.
Kate (Snaps) I had wanted everything set up in here before everyone started arriving – but you know Kevin, all promise and no do.
Bill Careful, you’d be playing with fire if you assume that, that’s if I know anything about our Kev!
Vicki (Pointedly looking at the debris on the floor) Geoff not here yet?
Kate Oh, he’s here all right, in the back. (She points at the door)
Kevin I’d better go and see how the mark-out is going and rustle up your furniture – about this time of the morning they usually bunk off for an early breakfast if I don’t keep on their backs. (He leaves)
Bill (Putting his arm around Kate) It’s a fine day for it!
Kate (Extracting herself) I didn’t realise it mattered to you what the weather was like.
Bill (Undeterred strokes her cheek.) You’re so beautiful when you’re cross – it’s those Paddington Bear stares of yours that really turn me on, you know.
Kate So just what surprises have you sales guys got for me this year, Bill? Am I committed to any awful promises that you shouldn’t have made?
Bill (Looks her up and down) I’d like to think I was on a promise.
Vicki Come on Kate – you’re not going to climb on your high horse already!
Kate You know if I had my way sales types wouldn’t be allowed on site until we’ve opened. It’s the same thing every bloody year. All my problems caused by ridiculous over-promising – by you bloody lot! And it all comes out of my budget, covering up for your weaknesses. All those bad deals that you sign up!
Vicki That’s why we’re here from the very start this year. You know that Geoff feels the same way we do. If you’re here alone with our customers…
Kate My customers! Once you’ve signed them up, they’re my customers…
Vicki Can’t you see? Of course they’re going to claim we said all sorts of stuff. If we’re here we can confirm or deny what they claim with you. So you see, in point of fact, we’re actually here to make things easier for you!
Kate But it’s still me that’s gotta deliver on all that you promised.
Bill (Leers) What absolutely everything I’ve promised?
(Kate humphs, picks up her bag and moves through into the inner office – where Geoff is clearly practising a speech soundlessly. Kate ignores him and places her bag into the cupboard, looks around and rearranges the chairs and table back to the way they were before Geoff moved them.)
Bill (Dropping his bags in the corner and looking through the rubbish) Isn’t she just wonderful?
Vicki (Ponders this carefully, rather wistfully looking at the door through which Kate departed, then looks away hurriedly when she realises Bill is watching her) Her trouble is that she thinks she’s the only one with any common sense. Of course if she’s on site alone, then the exhibitors are going to claim we’ve promised this, that and the other.
Bill (Chuckles.) I’ll ‘fess up to the other! And I don’t know ‘bout you but I’ve been known to make all sorts of promises. I’ll promise them anything so long as I hit my target. If that means she carries the can on her budget it’s not my problem – is it?
Vicki You’re such a sleazebag Bill – have you ever done anything straight in your life?
Bill (Moving off into the rear office – mumbles) Unfortunate use of terms – straight!
(Cheryl and Petra enter before Vicki can respond or follow. Cheryl is dressed in tight top and trousers that accentuate her rather pneumatic shape – she is Afro-Caribbean, has a ponytail and shouts personality. She has on a tight T-shirt that says ‘Coming’ across the chest later we will see that it says ‘Going’ across her back. Petra is more of a Sloane with a navy blue twinset with a scarf at her neck. Though her skirt is a little too short and she has something that is rather schoolgirlishly naïve about her)
Vicki (Instantly her mood switches and she smiles rather predatorily at Petra) Oh hello! You must be the ‘Personality Plus’ team?
Cheryl Yeah. Is Kate Warren here? I’m booked for your hospitality area – out the back isn’t it?
Petra (Looks around) I’m here to run the enquiry desk – where is that?
Vicki The furniture is on its way – you’ll be out here. Hang on, let’s find Geoff’s notes. (takes a ring binder from briefcase) He’s given us a planned layout for the office, I’ve got it here somewhere. (She searches through the folder)
Petra What does one do precisely at an enquiry desk?
Cheryl (Mimics the accent) What does one imagine one might do at one’s enquiry desk?
Petra (Looks confused) I meant who might be doing the enquiring? And just what sort of questions am I expected to answer?
Vicki It will be exhibitors and contractors during the build-up days and then our visitors on the open days – don’t worry you’ll be fully briefed.
Cheryl And most of them don’t bite! You’ll have them eating out of your hand.
Vicki It’s nothing to worry about – it’s all pretty straightforward.
(Vicki finds the folder and begins to show Petra the details – silently – standing very close to her. While the action moves into the rear office – Cheryl enters the back room to find Geoff who has finished practising his speech and is sitting at a table making changes to his notes; Kate is setting out sweatshirts bearing the show logo; Bill is struggling into a far too tight sweatshirt.)
Bill (Still not properly into his sweatshirt) Hell-lo – and who might you be?
Cheryl Nice sweat – fits absolutely everywhere it touches, darling! Do I have to wear one?
Bill (He pointedly looks at her chest) Are you a large? Or an extra-large?
Kate Hi-yah! Cheryl, don’t take any notice of Bill – you’ll be in the back here all day and I don’t s’pose you’ll need to go out into the halls too often. We use them because it gets so cold with the doors open, but in here I don’t think you’ll need one. You’re welcome to have one though.
Cheryl Oh an extra large one (she looks to Bill who is smiling) for my 6 foot 7 inch, American footballer boyfriend!
Kate I don’t think you know Geoff Barnes?
Cheryl (Coquettishly offers her hand with a big smile) Hel-low Geoff – I’m looking forward to working very closely with you.
Geoff (Looks up from his notes with half his attention) Sorry?
Kate This is Cheryl from Personality Plus. She’ll be running this hospitality area for us.
Geoff (Still not really looking up) Hello Cheryl – welcome aboard. We’ll need you to keep this area as a clean and effective working area. It’s not meant to be a sleazy bar. Can you make sure that you keep it tidy in here? Get everyone to put their stuff in the cupboard and keep it looking good.
Cheryl I’ve never had any complaints about looking good before. (She turns her back revealing for the first time the word ‘Going’ and struts to the rear of the bar counter and rummages beneath it, clearly aware that her rear in very tight trousers is proudly displayed for all to see. Even Geoff notices her now.)
Geoff Bill is everyone here yet? I said the meeting would be at 8.30 prompt.
Bill (Reluctantly drags his eyes away from Cheryl’s rear) I’ll go and rustle them up.
(Bill goes into the front office and approaches Vicki and Petra, we do not hear what he says but he points back to the inner office – they collect up their things and follow him back into the rear office.)
Kate Geoff, I prepared an agenda for this morning’s meeting. (Pulls out a file) Here!
Geoff Let me see – (he looks through the agenda) mm, yes, yes, yes. OK but I would like to open the meeting because there are some basic rules I want to set down for the event. Then you can handle your points 2 through 5 and perhaps I can handle 6. Good, good – now where is everyone?
(Kate crossly takes back her agenda and sits off to one side. Vicki and Petra enter the rear office)
Vicki Oh, hello Geoff – this is Petra – she’s going to be running the enquiry desk. I’ve just been showing her the ropes.
Bill Not bondage before breakfast? (Petra looks confused)
Kate Hi-yah Petra, ignore Bill, we all do! Nice to have you with us. Surprised it’s you ‘cos Penelope said she thought you’d be on a shoot all this week?
Bill (Mimes shooting a rifle.) So the wildlife is safe this week after all.
Petra No, not that sort of shoot, a photographic shoot in Brighton, silly, but it got cancelled.
Bill (Raises his eyes in disbelief) A joke Petra – a joke!
Cheryl (Laughs) Oh life’s a beach – then we get a silly one! (Bill laughs too and leaves)
Petra (Clearly unsettled by the remark but not understanding it, then realises) That’s not very nice!
Geoff Whatever, we’re pleased to have you here Petra – with a great voice like yours presumably you’ll be doing the Tannoy announcements for us.
Kate But Sue likes to do those.
Vicki Sue’s like a cross between British Rail and Barbara Windsor – we don’t have to live with her announcements again do we?
Geoff She’ll be far too busy – so Petra it’s up to you.
Petra Oh, but I’ve not had to do (distastefully) announcements before.
Geoff Nonsense, there’s nothing to it – and you’ve got just the right tone of voice for it.
Petra (Doubtfully) So, you want me to do announcements – and enquiries?
Cheryl Don’t worry Petra, both are just propaganda. (She pronounces it propa-gander)
Petra (Petra looks first confused and then somewhat surprised.) What have geese got to do with it?
(Action moves to the balcony. Kevin is stood looking over the rail and is joined by Bill – they light cigarettes,beside a large ‘no smoking’ sign, lean on the rail and look down into the hall)
Bill Well Kev, it looks like it’s going to be the best yet.
Kevin Yeah, you’ve got a great looking exhibitor line-up this year. But how do you get on with this Geoff Barnes character?
Bill His heart’s in the right place but I fear that perhaps this one’s just all a bit too much for him to handle.
Kevin What’s his background?
Bill I’ve absolutely no idea. At our place they seem to find them by the dozen, perhaps there’s a secret production line in our basement?
Kevin But what is he? Married?
Bill Not that he’s ever mentioned to me – not exactly drinking buddies him and me.
Kevin It’s not fair on Kate, or him really, what your mob has done to the pair of them.
Bill Yeah, but then they’re always slow to respond to things like this – I’ve given up worrying about it – and Kate knows the form.
Kevin Surely they could have made a decision before they got to site though?
Bill I don’t think Kate should hold her breath, a woman in our place – she doesn’t stand a chance to become an event director!
Kevin Yeah I s’pose, and I hear you’ve got to be into playing rugby to get on, right?
Bill (Displaying his beer gut) Yes, so it’s not just women with a problem – I’ve got no chance either!
Kevin But will Geoff get it?
Bill Our lot keep promoting guys like him, no experience, been here five minutes and they give them big events like this to screw up. But then he talks proper and of course he’s got a degree that’s usually enough for our lot.
Kevin What about a degree of commonsense?
Bill I could get a real inferiority complex. (Smiles and counts off on his fingers) low IQ, no BSc, no MA and no RFU.
Kevin (Laughs) Not what you’d call a man of letters eh? But all those bright guys with their qualifications still need us Neanderthals when it comes down to getting it all to work. They can’t deal with the down and dirty bit.
Bill Yes, s’like my game, selling still needs characters rather than bloody business graduates.
(They both look off to one side, towards where a truck noise can be heard)
Kevin I think ColourStyle have bitten off more than they can chew with that stand design of theirs.
Bill Have you got anything out of it?
Kevin Not enough – but the electrics alone will hit my target for this show, so I’m not really complaining. It’s just those ‘Booths Inc’ people, they’re so unreliable. They always take the piss, never put enough men on to the job early enough and then wonder when they run late.
Bill I think they’ve got three other large stands to build in this show.
Kevin That’s their problem. They move their teams around as each exhibitor complains but there’s always one that runs late as a result. Let me place a little wager with you. First, that ColourStyle will keep pushing Geoff into agreeing concessions. Then, that Mike Stone and the venue team will squeal, but give in because of the threat that the show won’t open on time. I really don’t know how Booths keep getting the business. Shall we say a fiver?
Bill No ta – you’re spot on! Look at what John Wright is wearing next time you see him. He’s the ColourStyle exhibition manager. He can’t be on more than thirty K a year and yet he’s always wearing a different designer label gear – QED?
Kevin (Smiling) Shock, horror – you don’t mean to tell me that there’s someone in this business on the take?
(They both ponder this for a few seconds)
Bill Look, there’s Sue (with a warm smile) our resting actress.
Kevin She’s been resting for at least three years to my knowledge!
Bill Don’t knock Sue. She’s superb value at site.
(They’ve been tidying and putting on their sweatshirts)
Geoff So let’s see, who’re we missing? Sue and Mel, plus Bill has wandered off again of course!
Kate I don’t s’pose we should hold our breath for Mel – she’ll not be here before twelve She said she was going up to the office first – and then she’ll stay in the Press Office all week, if last year is anything to go by.
Geoff (Firmly) That is her role – P R O.
Kate …spells pro, in her case it’s as in slapper of course, not professional.
Geoff We don’t need to wait for her – but I need Sue – where is she?
Kate Don’t worry, she’ll be here on time.
(Sue arrives holding a tray of bacon butties.)
Sue (Kneels at the Tannoy mike and intones like a quiz show mystery voice) The bacon butties are in the organiser’s office. (At the balcony rail where Kevin and Bill stub out their cigarettes and move off to the office as we hear her repeat via the Tannoy) The bacon butties are in the organiser’s office!
Sue (Makes a grand entrance – by waving her leg through the door, withdraws it and then jumps through the door holding the tray) Well hello everyone!
Kate Can I have some of what you’re on?
Sue Just natural ebullience, luvvy – this is what we’ve all been working for isn’t it – the last bit before curtain up – you just have to enjoy this bit, else what’s it all been for?
Kate You’re only right of course.
Sue (Stands in the centre of the room and strikes a pose,) Curtain up, overture comes to an end, she steps to centre stage, the spotlight picks her out, the crowd subsides into an expectant silence, she takes a deep breath, pauses, then intones perfectly (holds up her plate) ‘Ketchup or HP, luv?’
(Kevin, Bill, David and Craig are each arriving during this – everyone shows various degrees of amusement as they gather around the bar and help themselves to the sandwiches, ketchup, brown sauce etc. By now the rear office is littered with bags and briefcases and the table tops start to fill with plates, ketchup sachets, and serviettes)
Geoff Can you all take a seat and we can get on with the meeting? Kevin and Craig, you are very welcome to stay. We have no secrets from you.
(Kate and Kevin sit near the front but off to one side, far enough away from Geoff so that he cannot hear their asides)
Geoff First let me welcome you all to what Sue correctly stated as the best bit. In fact it’s the best bit – of the best show – in the best venue – with the best team! (Bill puts two fingers to the roof of his mouth and turns it into a sneeze as Geoff looks around for reaction, but is clearly disappointed.) Certainly it is the thing we have spent the last year working towards.
Kate (Aside to Kevin) Yes, most of us, though some of us are relative newcomers.
Geoff It’s my first show at this venue so I am going to need all of your help to get us through this baptism of blood.
Kate (Aside to Kevin) And how!
Geoff I hope I can count on it? (Gets no apparent reaction from his audience, though Vicki smiles at him) But I’ve done my research and asked around my colleagues to try to reach some basic ground rules – our housekeeping arrangements for the show, what I’ve called my Five Features – I suppose it is like a half set of the Ten Commandments. (He passes out a single sheet of A4 to each of them)
As you’ll see, first and foremost there’s ‘Thou shalt be enthusiastic – it’s infectious’. It helps to diffuse and defuse the problems we will encounter. So (he smiles at the assembled group) this one is so key that I prepared this earlier. (He puts up a printed version of the commandment on the wall with Blutack)
(The team all exchange glances as he does this)
Geoff Second, ‘Thou shalt be nice to each other’ – our exhibitors and visitors will come into this office and we need it to be harmonious – we’re here to relax their emotions, not inflame them. They’re in an unnatural environment and will be very highly charged. We need to be a haven where they can expect solutions. If we’re squabbling amongst ourselves we won’t be able to soothe their troubled brows. (Looks meaningfully at Kate)
Third, ‘Thou shalt not panic’ – deal with situations calmly – if you can’t handle the situation then pass it to the right person who can. And, be careful what you say on the radio. There will be at least thirty handsets all over the building with your dulcet tones ringing out and that probably means hundreds of people can hear what you say, so be cautious and positive in all remarks that you might make.
Kate (Aside to Kevin.) Doesn’t sound much like any organiser office I’ve ever been in.
Kevin (Aside.) It doesn’t sound like he’s spent much time in one!
Geoff Fourth, ‘Thou shalt always be nice to our clients’ – I mean both exhibitors and visitors.
Kevin (Aloud.) What about contractors?
Geoff And, of course we should be nice to contractors too.
Bill (Aside to Vicki) I think we can leave it to Kate to be very nice to the contractors.
Geoff (Frowning, clearly aware of the asides though not quite hearing them) Fifth – the organiser’s office must be kept very tidy and efficient at all times – just look around us now! We have the cupboard over there and Kate has arranged for all the necessary furniture, so please do tuck everything away.
Kate (Aloud) To that end let me add that you should not sign for any deliveries for exhibitors – you’ll find they use every excuse in the book these delivery guys – but no-one’s to sign for any delivery. They just build up in here, mess up the office, and they could contain absolutely anything! We’ve warned them in the Exhibitor Manual – so don’t sign for anything!
Geoff Now I believe Kate wants to talk to us all about the radio code.
Kate I’ll allocate each of you with a radio – and I want it back at the end of the show. So don’t put the radios down – every show we lose one or two because someone just lays it down to do something and forgets it. I’ve got you all slings to hold them so there’s no excuse. And, do monitor the radio at all times – it’s so frustrating to keep calling and calling for someone – Mel’s the worst – last year I don’t think she ever responded.
Geoff Remember the second commandment – Mel is not here to defend herself!
Kate When using the radio make sure you listen first so that you don’t break in to another conversation – every show you get someone, (looks at Geoff) usually Mel, who bursts in to vital calls. Pause before you speak, because there is a brief period when what you say is lost – so pause then say twice carefully ‘Kate to Geoff, Kate to Geoff’…
Geoff (Beams at the others.) Send Kate.
Kate (Totally ignores him.) When you finish say ‘over’ and when you’ve finished say ‘over and out’ to indicate that others can get onto the air then.
Bill (Clearly bored.) And what does it mean if you say ‘Roll me over and do it again’?
Kate (Ignores the comment.) Does everyone know what ‘standby’ means? (Pauses but gets no reaction.) If you hear someone calling for you and you are too engaged in something to break off you say ‘standby’. This indicates that you’ve heard the call but will get back to the caller as soon as you become free.
Bill And if you’re on the loo, just say you’re in the blue room – and call back when you’ve done your business.
Geoff (Glares at Bill.) Thanks Kate. I also need to stress that it is only Kate and myself who are allowed to agree or approve any add-on spends.
Kate Bill, you listening to this?
Geoff (Frowns at Kate.) Please be aware that you are not permitted to solve any problems you might encounter by spending money – Kate, make sure Kevin and the caterers know that I will not pay anything that has been signed off by anyone but you and me – OK?
Kate Catering and Kevin are all in hand. (Giving Kevin a smile)
Geoff And by the way we will allow no drinking in any part of the organiser’s office, not even coffee, in the front office – you have to wait for your break and take coffee in the inner office or out in the hall.
Bill So much for democracy!
Geoff Democracy is all well and good in the right place, but for the sales team, at least, I shall be running a democratic dictatorship on site. I will listen carefully to anything you might suggest but then I shall make my decision – and it is my decision that will count. It is not whether we wish to smoke or drink – it is the image it portrays to those who come to the office for our help.
Bill So they can drink?
Geoff If they should come in with a drink we won’t ask them to give it up. Oh, and thanks for reminding me. On drink I would prefer that none of us drinks any alcohol until the show is closed each day – otherwise it sends out all the wrong messages.
Bill Am I allowed to fart?
Vicki We couldn’t possibly expect you to give up your very special hobby!
Sue Come on now – if fart were art then Bill would be an old master!
Vicki Yes, I share an office with him and he could fart for England!
Geoff (Looking very unhappy with the tone of the conversation.) Look Bill you are here to work – during the build and open day it’s ‘press the flesh’ time. I want you and Vicki out there welcoming clients on site and making them feel supported and important. You are to liaise with them on any problems they might have.
Kate Excuse me Geoff, but that’s for me and Dave to handle. I don’t want confusing messages going out there. We’re the operations team. The sales team are on site too early, in my humble opinion, but I see no harm in them meeting and greeting – if they should come across any problems then I want them to call Dave or me to handle it – they all have radios.
Geoff We’re saying the same thing Kate – the sales team are here to do a PR job not solve problems – but of course if they’re on the spot then they will perhaps hear the problems first hand.
Kate As long as they don’t create them in the first place!
Geoff There is an unwritten rule that we should all take on board too – and that is ‘Thou shalt have fun’ – and that’s an order!
Kate (Aside) The other rules’ll have made sure that’s impossible!
Geoff Finally, can I remind everyone that the very last thing you should do is to go up to an exhibitor and ask them how the show is going. It’s just like in a shop – the staff should never say ‘Can I help you?’ because the obvious reply is ‘No, just looking’. At shows asking ‘How’s it going?’ just opens up the door to a list of real and imagined problems that that exhibitor might have. It’s vital we all approach exhibitors by stressing how well it’s all going – or the latest stats or a fun story from around the show – absolutely anything except ‘How’s it all going?’
(He is interrupted by the arrival of John Wright who comes through the door smoking and rushes across to greet him. John has an expensive looking leather jacket and designer jeans, a black shirt, and loafers…)
Geoff Hello John. How’s it all going for you?
Kate (Raises her hands to the skies and looks around the group in exasperation)
John Hello chief! I thought Kate said the markout would have been completed and we could get on to it by now. I’ve got two crews for the decking and steelwork just standing around doing nothing. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you how much that’s costing me. And so far your security team has only let in one of my five trucks – what’s happening? It’s small wonder we’re getting nowhere with you lot all sat in here stuffing your faces.
Geoff (Looks around) Bill – why don’t you go with John and help sort things out?
Kate No Geoff – leave it to Dave – he’ll go and sort it all out for John. Come on John, you know how it is on the first morning.
Geoff I’ll come with David to ensure that nothing holds you up, John.
(He ushers John back out through the door. David follows)
Kate So much for Geoff’s Five Fables, (throws her copy into a bin).
Vicki At least he made an attempt at making it amusing and I thought he made quite a few valid points too.
Kate Yes, but the content’s not at all amusing – there he is lecturing us on how to operate at site when frankly he should be the one asking our advice – he’s the new boy around here!
Kevin Don’t worry the next week will knock a few edges off of him.
Vicki Come on Petra, as it’s all new to you, let me show you around the halls.
(They leave through the front office and on out into the hall – Kate and Kevin follow but stay in the front office)
Bill So Cheryl, do you model too?
Cheryl No, never really bothered.
Sue You know that’s strange, I could have been a brain surgeon, but I never really bothered either.
Bill Come on Sue, you know that a good-looking girl with personality like Cheryl would never go short of work.
Sue Have you ever tried your hand at singing?
Cheryl What, because my lot’s all supposed to have rhythm?
Sue Usually a stereotype has some basis in fact. On black rhythm and soul I’ve usually found it’s quite true.
Cheryl No, never really bothered with that either.
Bill If you don’t model and don’t sing what do you do with that wonderful body.
Cheryl (Leans close to him) I save one very special side of it for guys like you – the view of it disappearing.
Bill Always was a bum man any way!
Sue Likes do attract I suppose!
(The three are obviously enjoying the banter but the action moves to the front office)
Kate I’m not going to let him get me down – we’re going to have a brill time over the next week or so, aren’t we?
Kevin Yes, just let him get on with it – you know in the end it’s what you’ve planned and what you and your team do that’ll make it all work – so relax.
Kate You’re right. I don’t want anything to spoil my mood.
Kevin And I’m here to make sure that you are seen to have made it all happen.
Kate Yeah, I need a good show so back at base they can see I’m right for the event director’s position.
Kevin Relax, between us we’ll make sure that happens.
Kate But why didn’t they sort it all out before we got to site?
Kevin You know your lot, they’ve never been accused of moving quickly on anything.
Kate Or necessarily for having the right instincts, making the right decisions.
Kevin Come on, you’ve just seen Geoff Barnes in action – you’ve got absolutely nothing to worry about there. Have you?
Kate No, but they may need a bit of a push to realise what’s right. (She nestles up to him and changes her voice to that of a little girl) You’ll help me make sure that happens, won’t you?
(Balcony rail – Vicki and Petra appear on the balcony rail)
Vicki That’s the ColourStyle stand position where they’re unloading all that steel work – it’s going to be an amazing structure – the centrepiece of the show.
Petra The hall is so big and empty (shivers) and cold!
Vicki Here borrow my coat. It won’t stay that way long – try to pop up here every few hours and look again – it’s absolutely thrilling to see it all come together.
Petra It all looks so different when it’s empty. I’ve never been in here when it hasn’t been noisy and crowded.
Vicki Let’s hope that’s how it will be again in a few days. We’ve all worked on this for a whole year and finally here we are watching all of our efforts take shape.
Petra A whole year on one show?
Vicki Sounds silly doesn’t it, but it does take up every part of that year to make it work. For me nothing else feels quite so real. Exhibitions are like a drug.
Petra Oh, I don’t take any of those things. You don’t know quite what might happen to you when you take drugs.
Vicki I mean it’s something you just want to keep doing.
Petra Yes, that’s the problem with drugs I understand they become habit forming.
Vicki No, that’s not what I’m talking about, (momentarily she looks frustrated, but looks at Petra again and relaxes) I mean you just don’t ever want to do any other job.
Petra Yes, they say that addicts end up stealing things all day, and they don’t have any time to go to work.
(Vicki smiles at her and gives up the attempt to explain herself. They move close together on the balcony rail – they carry on talking (unheard) with Vicki pointing at various things around the hall)
Kate (Stood in the centre of the room.) You know what we were saying earlier about this all being a drug – well it’s true. If you could bottle the way I’m feeling right now – you could make an absolute fortune.
(Kate and Kevin are in the front office clearly very wrapped up in each other and happy; Bill, Sue and Cheryl are animatedly chatting in the rear; Petra and Vicki happily talking on the balcony rail; Geoff appears at the front door, looks up at the poster with a smile – all are looking into the distance with a fond smile as they contemplate the future event with clear enthusiasm.)
~·~ ~·~ ~·~
ACT ONE – SCENE TWO
(Last day of the build. The front office is fully furnished now with two large reception desks for Sue and Petra. These have a counter along the front that visitors can lean on, though in the middle there is a rather over elaborate floral display. The two have been supplied with high stools so that they are a tad higher than the desk surface. There is also a standard desk for Kate with filing cabinet in the corner. There is a large floorplan on the wall in front of the reception counters. Just inside the door to the hall there is a set of low chairs for visitors and a small coffee table. A large clock is behind the reception desks.
Cheryl is in the rear office clearing up some glasses and plates into a bowl, her T-shirt has a wine glass logo that says ‘This Way Up’ and on the back has an inverted beer mug saying upside down ‘Bottoms Up’. Bill and Vicki are sat at a table in the rear office. Clearly in a business discussion, they are more smartly dressed – Bill has on a loud tie, Vicki has a man’s suit and tie though it’s a little more subtle. Cheryl moves around the tables collecting cups and glasses whilst Bill watches her every move – she is aware of his attention and milks it somewhat. In the front office Sue, Petra and Kate sit at their desks in the front office. All dressed more smartly – Sue all in black and loose fitting, Petra in a skimpy top with bare midriff, Kate in an employment-agency-like red suit.)
Petra – phone (Cheerfully.) Yes, we open tomorrow through until Sunday – we’re open from 10 ‘til 6 each day with a late night on Friday – when we stay open until 8pm – Sunday we close a little earlier at 5pm. Pricing is £12 for adults and £6 for children. But it’s £2 off after 4pm each day. (Pauses) It’s everything for your dream home. (Then clearly and obviously reading from a sheet) – interior decoration, furniture, fabrics, ornaments and so on – and we have tons of celebrities every day. (Pauses) Oh, he’ll be here on Sunday afternoon from 4 until we close. (Pauses) The Minister? He’ll be opening the show at, let me see, 9.30 am on Thursday, tomorrow in fact – yes, mm, yes. (Said unnaturally, obviously because the script feels awkward) Um, see you here then!
Cheryl (Is clearing the table) So what got you both into exhibitions then?
Bill I started out selling magazine ads and sort of drifted into shows.
Vicki Does anyone really choose what they want to do? OK I suppose doctors, vets, even musicians – perhaps they set out very early in life to do what they end up doing. But most people I get to meet sort of fall into their job.
Cheryl I know what you mean I didn’t exactly set out to serve behind a bar in the bowels of an exhibition hall either.
Vicki But don’t get me wrong I like exhibitions – it’s a unique business. The only job I’ve ever had with a clear beginning, middle and end. Basically it’s about going out there to meet potential exhibitors and convince them to come along for what is essentially, well a big party.
Bill No, it’s all about convincing them you will get the right audience for their brands’ objectives.
Vicki Yes, but that’s just like a party. You ask who’s going before you agree to go yourself. It’s no more sophisticated than that. They have to trust that we’ll build a good event, with all the attractions and catering properly sorted out – just like a party. And finally that we’ll get along enough of the right sort of guests, or in our case, visitors. And that they’ll all have some fun.
Cheryl I’ve never really thought of it like that – I suppose it is a bit like a big party.
Bill I agree that it’s just like that when you open – I’m always terrified that no-one’s going to turn up!
(Bill walks across to the bar as Vicki carries on working at the table)
(Geoff is joined by David on the balcony rail)
Geoff It doesn’t look to be going too well down there – our last day of build and it still looks pretty chaotic.
David It’s all going quite smoothly actually – I’d say that it all looks well ahead of the game compared with this time last year.
Geoff (Seems to cheer up a little.) Do you really think so?
David Yes, I can’t see any real problems in getting this show completed and open on time. Though the ColourStyle stand is going to go close.
Geoff So what should I be doing to help to sort it out?
David I’ll call on you if I need to – but relax for now you can trust me, just leave it to me.
Kevin Can I get you to sign these purchase orders whilst you’ve got a second? (Hands him a set of dockets on a clipboard)
David Excuse me Geoff can I have a look at that one? (He says something quietly to Kevin, then says aloud) Come on Kevin play the game. You can’t seriously want to bill us for that, I warned you not to build that stand near the door. It’s as much your fault that we needed to take it down because you got ahead of yourself. There’s a good lad, tear it up for me.
Kevin OK – it’s a fair cop.
David And this one here, is that the price Kate agreed for walling off?
Kevin That’s our standard rate.
David Yes, but what about a bit of a discount for quantity – can’t we call it 15 metres instead of 20?
Kevin You’re a hard man. (Scribbles on the docket)
Geoff (Signs the dockets smiling at Kevin.) Pleasure doing business with you (finishing with a flourish).
(Kevin leaves them with less of a bounce than when he arrived.)
Geoff Brilliant – he takes too much joy in presenting those bills, I was not aware I could challenge them or that he had any notion of charity.
David He doesn’t. I just advised him that I was involved in deciding on any tip we might give him at the end of the show – and if he showed no flexibility…
Geoff And I thought he was showing he did have a heart after all!
David But he does have a heart, and you should be worried about that.
Geoff What do you mean?
David Surely you’ve seen the looks between him and Kate?
Geoff She wouldn’t be so stupid would she? No, I’ve always seen her as a professional.
If she had something going on with him, then her position as Ops manager would be untenable.
David I’m not saying there is – just suggesting you need to keep a bit of an eye on the situation.
Bill So where have you been all my life?
Cheryl Not alive for nine-tenths of it, I should imagine.
Bill Yeah, I suppose it took me that long to be able to define you. (Looks skyward) I needed to have had lots and lots of experiences before I could start to dream you up and put in my order with the big guy upstairs.
Cheryl Live in a block of flats then, do you?
Bill I love a girl with a sense of humour.
Cheryl (With a little more steel) …she’d need one to spend any time with you.
Bill Sounds like I might be growing on you a little since last night’s drinkies.
Cheryl Like mould – watch my lips, as I told you last night I am not interested – ting (mimics ringing up a till) – no sale!
Bill (Starts to leave the room) Sorry, is that it? I hadn’t realised that I should offer you money – is that where I went wrong?
Cheryl Just what part of the word ‘No’ don’t you understand? You push it one more time and I’ll be yelling harassment. (As he leaves she turns to Vicki) Really, that man is absolutely impossible. Just when I’d relaxed into what I thought was an acceptable level of innocent banter with him he drags it back down to his level – the gutter.
Vicki Oh Bill, I’m immune to him now. Even he doesn’t expect anyone to take him seriously any more.
Petra-phone (By now all of this is said by rote with a limited amount of expression) … it’s everything for your dream home. Interior decoration, furniture, fabrics, ornaments and so on – and we have tons of celebrities every day. (Pauses) Glenn will be here on Sunday afternoon from 4 until we close. (Pauses) See you here then!
Kate Obviously our office is dumping ‘em all on us now – that’s the umpteenth call already this morning!
Bill It’ll just keep building all the way now.
Kate Ah Bill – just the man. Look I’ve done a walkaround and there’re a few no-show exhibitors – look these have no sign of activity on their stands as yet.
Bill Oh they’re alright. They have a shell scheme and will come in the morning and set up in good time. I’ll give the others a ring.
Kate I’ve got to find Kevin to show him my snagging list.
Bill Not up to scratch last night then? (He leaves hurriedly)
(Geoff calls in by radio – note he is not seen merely heard via the radio)
Geoff by radio (Buzz) – ganiser’s Office.
Kate Oh god, will he ever learn to pause before talking – I’m not answering ‘til he does.
Geoff by radio (Buzz) – to Organiser’s Office.
Kate (Picks up her radio) Kate here – who’s that calling the Organiser’s Office.
Petra (Answers the phone after two rings) Good Morning Dream Homes Organiser’s Office.
Geoff -radio (Shouting) (buzz) Organiser’s Office it’s Geoff calling.
Kate (Clearly with nothing else to do) Standby Geoff.
Geoff – radio Kate, can you get Sue to go across to the security office and get them to send someone down to the ColourStyle stand? There seems to be something happening down there?
Kate (Not by radio) I said standby, Geoff.
Petra (In a monotone) Yes, we open Thursday until Sunday – we’re open from 10 ‘til 6 each day with a late night on Friday – when we stay open until 8pm. Pricing is £10 for adults and £5 for children – but it’s £2 off after 4pm each day. (Pauses)
Geoff -radio Did you hear that, Kate?
Petra It’s everything for your dream home – interior decoration, furniture, fabrics, ornaments and so on – and we have tons of celebrities every day.
Kate Standby, Geoff – will revert to you in two minutes.
David -radio (David is not visible either) I monitored that Geoff – I can be at ColourStyle stand ETA 1 minute.
(Steve Wilson arrives at the office. He is dressed in an expensive suit with tailored shirt, large knot tie, highly polished shoes, carrying a briefcase – looking the perfect corporate man)
Kate (Bustles around her desk and gives him a hug and kiss – he is as enthusiastic.) Hi Steve, so pleased you could pop in – come on let me show you around. (Waves at Petra, grabs up her radio and pulls Steve back into the rear office)
(Kate gets a coffee for each of them and says something to Cheryl – Cheryl clears up some dirty crockery and leaves)
Kate Thanks for coming in to see us. It’s all in hand and looking good. Perhaps I can show you around?
Steve Yes, but I needed a private word first.
Kate I can see from your face what you’re going to tell me.
Steve We can’t spare you from your current role – you’re our top operations manager and that’s an invaluable skill. It’s the same in selling, the most successful salesman should not be promoted to sales manager, though sadly all of them usually want that status. The really top sales people learn to enjoy the role and its financial rewards and stick at it.
Kate But then why is it sales managers always get promoted to event director and ops managers like me just keep getting passed over?
Steve Acting event director in this case. We’re not giving Geoff the position fully – he will need to prove himself here before we formalise it.
Kate Tell me truthfully – will I ever get my own show?
Steve Of course you will, but my advice to you is that you need to train up a successor and then we could consider you more seriously. It’s always best to have someone, a deputy of some sort, who is fully able to take over your role – but of course not so ambitious as to try to take it from you.
Kate So you think I can do it, it’s just that you can’t spare me. That’s just great. You’re saying I’m too good at what I do to get promoted – when I always thought that doing a good job was the sure way to get on up the ladder!
Steve Come on, it’ll happen sooner than you imagine. Why don’t you show me around? Show me what you’ve built for us! I bet it’s great.
(They get up to leave and pass through the front office)
(Kevin arrives back at the balcony rail beside Geoff)
Kevin Hoped you would still be here – I forgot to ask you to sign for the rigging costs of these free banners that Bill agreed with various exhibitors?
Geoff Not more add-ons, over a thousand pounds for seven banners – everywhere I turn you just want more money! What about a discount?
Kevin Rigging is done by a subcontractor I don’t have any leeway on this. Besides I’m just trying to make sure this is ‘the best show in the UK’ Geoff.
Geoff You enjoy this far too much! (signs it and Kevin leaves with slip)
Geoff-radio Geoff to Bill, Geoff to Bill.
Bill -radio (somewhere in the hall) Send Geoff.
Geoff –radio Meet me on the balcony close to stand 2300. Over.
Bill -radio On my way. Over and out.
(A delivery biker arrives at the outer organiser’s office in full leather gear and helmet with a package, goes up to Petra.)
Biker Mumble, mumble. (No-one can hear what he’s saying through helmet and visor)
Petra-phone (Waves the biker towards Sue) Oh, he’ll be here on Sunday afternoon between 4 until we close, yes on our live stage.
Biker Mumble, mumble.
Sue (Having just put the phone down, ignores the biker and goes to the Tannoy microphone)
Sue –Tannoy Can I have your attention please? Please, your attention, can I have it? Would a representative of Event Security please bustle on over to the ColourStyle stand. Immediatement. Thank you so much!
(Cheryl returns carrying a bowl with the glasses and plates and moves towards the rear office. The biker turns to watch Cheryl cross the room and leave)
Cheryl (Calls over her shoulder as she passes through to the rear office) I heard that!
Petra-phone The Minister? Yes, he’ll be opening the show at 10am on Thursday – yes, mm, yes – See you here then!
Biker (Approaches Petra as she hangs up) Mumble – ColourStyle.
Petra Oh, ColourStyle – let me show you where their stand is located. (Takes him to a large floorplan on the wall and points out their location and how to get there. But as she reaches to show him the position quite high on the wall he is clearly more interested in her body as her skirt rides up than where she is pointing)
(Biker eventually acknowledges the directions and leaves – Sue has been watching this, amused)
Sue Though I have often thought I’d like to be more attractive, I don’t know that I’d enjoy the fact that no-one would ever listen to anything you say.
Sue That biker couldn’t take in the instructions because he was more interested in looking at your backside than the floorplan.
Petra Was he?
Sue I want to be recognised for my lines not my curves.
Petra (Tries to look at the back of her thighs) What I haven’t got any lines, have I?
(Sue takes a call before she can answer, then Petra takes one, both are clearly reciting the ‘mantra’)
(Balcony rail – Bill joins Geoff at the rail)
Geoff What the hell do you think you are up to? Every time I see Kevin he wants me to sign off for more things that you have agreed to give away – the latest was seven banners that are apparently freebies – we just cannot cover any further add-ons.
Bill Four of them were to pacify Allgoods. You remember, when they were going to pull out a month or so back. You approved it at the time. Two were in the sponsorship deal you agreed personally with Villiers – and this last one I think is down to Vicki.
Geoff That is the lot, we cannot afford another item of spend – nothing. We are all spent out, well over budget – do you understand?
(Kevin arrives back at the rail)
Kevin Geoff, you know you asked me to look at erecting some walls to blank off that flank of the ColourStyle stand – we’ve calculated it will take 40 running metres of shell.
Geoff Mm, you had better go ahead and order that up – we have got to keep John happy.
(Bill smiles at Kevin over Geoff’s shoulder and makes a face)
Kevin I’ve got the purchase order here (Passes it to him to sign) By the way can I get some more comp tickets for my guys? Say another ten for the boys?
Geoff You’ve got a cheek, you keep adding to my costs – and yet you expect free tickets – you are unbelievable. (He looks out into the hall) Hey, that’s my boss down there with Kate, why didn’t anyone tell me he is on site. (He rushes off)
Bill (He opens his cigarette packet to find it’s empty) Don’t worry I’ve got some comp tickets I can let you have. (They hear Geoff calling ‘Geoff to Kate, Geoff to Kate’ without getting a response) What a prat!
Kevin (Offers Bill a cigarette) I’m just keeping clear of that ColourStyle stand – they’re having a ‘little local difficulty’ down there.
Bill I’m trying and failing to keep clear of Geoff. What’s the latest problem with ColourStyle then?
Kevin Oh, it’s nothing really – think someone tried to half-hinch some of their gear and its all getting a bit fraught down there – security guards everywhere.
Bill Yeh, and when I walked by it looked like they’ve already built their base around their steelwork. I don’t think that Mike from hall management has noticed yet, otherwise he’d be throwing his weight around.
Kevin Everyone needs to have their moment in the limelight I suppose.
Bill Look, while I’ve got you here alone I need a favour.
Kevin What’s in it for me?
Bill I see not ‘what favour’, but ‘what’s in it?’ That’s what I like about you – straight to the point.
Kevin Usually your favours cost me, somehow.
Bill It’s like this, I got this late punter took a stand and he’s paid me in cash. It’s only a small 2×2 shell stand – if you could stick it up for me, no-one’s going to notice and we can share the proceeds. What d’you say?
(Geoff arrives and ushers Steve through the front office through to the rear office where he asks Cheryl to offer them coffee)
Geoff I’m sorry I wasn’t here to greet you personally when you arrived.
Steve No problem, I know you’ve kicked off and the game’s still in the balance.
Geoff Yes it is a bit frantic at the moment.
Steve That’s the nature of the beast – you have to learn to relax into that. It’s a bit like sport, you can try too hard you know.
Geoff So tell me what is the news?
Bill Thanks for that then Kev. You know where I need it set up?
Kevin Yes, down by the restaurant, on that end of the existing run – right?
Bill Great. I’d better leave you guys alone – I understand she has some complaints about you, Kev. Something about snagging – or was it sagging, Kate? (He moves quickly on down the balcony and leaves them to it)
Kate What an asshole!
Kevin He’s harmless really.
Kate (Ponders this – looks after Bill) No, not that asshole, I mean Geoff. Just came over and grabbed Steve and dragged him away as if I was some bloody secretary – like a bloody skivvy or something.
Kevin Steve will know who’s calling the shots, whatever Geoff may do or say.
Kate I thought so too, but he’s making Geoff the event director.
Kevin I’m really sorry – but not that much of a surprise for your place – is it?
Kate No I s’pose not, but I had hoped. Steve seems to rate me but obviously that’s not enough. Though he’s only made him acting event director. I sort of wonder if that means the door is still a bit open for me.
Kevin There you are then. Make sure that this one goes well – and make sure everyone can see who made it go well and you might still be in with a shout.
Kate (Smile) I suppose so. (Her little girl voice again) You’ll help me won’t you?
Geoff We are having a few problems mostly with ColourStyle, but they are building something pretty remarkable. I have had to make a few concessions along the way.
Steve Now you’ve been, albeit temporarily, selected as the event director, you should stay on the touch-line and out of the rucks. You have to learn to leave that sort of stuff to your team – the floor manager and to Kate.
Geoff Mmm. (Reacts to the mention of her name, obviously thinks of complaining about Kate, but thinks better of it) Kate has been good and does seem to know her stuff. But how is she going to take the news of my appointment?
Steve She’s a pro, you can count on her support. Why? Aren’t you two working out as a team?
Geoff What has she been saying?
Steve Relax, no-one is talking out of school. But this is a big match we’ve given you here, it’s the Premiership. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s no shame in inexperience. We’ve got other players we can bring on if you need help. But we, no I, won’t forgive you if you carry on without asking for any help and then go and drop the ball!
Geoff Don’t worry. I will call if I need help, but for now all is well under control.
Steve Look, you’ve got a lot on. (Looks at his watch and gets up) And I must get back to the office. I’m counting on you to get the right result and deliver that bottom line contribution. (Shakes hands and leaves)
Cheryl (Comes over to remove the cups) God, he was so smooth. He needn’t have opened the door, he could have slithered right under it.
Geoff (Ponders this and says almost to himself) Not quite god, but as far as I’m concerned he’s descended from him. (Then smiles at Cheryl) Back at the office we all call him Mr Teflon – nothing ever sticks to him, because he never quite ends up being responsible for anything. You watch. If it all goes well he will be back here for all the plaudits and photo opportunities. But if it fails then I will be the one that takes the fall.
Cheryl What about Kate? Wouldn’t she share the blame too?
Geoff Oh, she’s his protégé, or something or other – whatever, she always seems to be beyond reproach from his point of view.
Cheryl Are you suggesting they’re an item?
Geoff No I don’t think so. It seems to be just that he rates her highly – I think. (Looks as if he’s rethinking)
Cheryl That explains why she’s a bit full of herself then.
Geoff She does know what she’s doing – and this is my first time here.
Cheryl We’ll all have to be gentle with you then.
Geoff (Smiles) Thanks. I mean for listening. I don’t seem to have too many friends at site at the moment and just to be able to relax and chat about some of them is helpful.
Cheryl And, of course, as a temp I don’t count. But now you’re Mr Acting Event Director do I have to call you sir from now?
Geoff Gosh you’re really remarkable, I can’t work out what angle you’re coming from from one sentence to the next.
Cheryl What you mean for a temp – and a black girl at that!
Geoff See what I mean. I try a compliment and you turn it around before it’s had a chance to stop echoing off the walls.
Cheryl Sorry, I can’t help myself sometimes – I guess I should accept your nice thought on face value, but I usually find that people don’t often mean what they say.
Geoff Now there is one of my problems. I do tend to take everyone at face value.
Cheryl You’re dead right – you could certainly use some lessons in how to read Kate better.
Geoff I know she’s not got a lot of respect for me – but then you always have to earn that and I guess this week is when I must.
Kate It would serve the little shit right if I really fitted him up for this.
Kevin In what way?
Kate Leave him hanging out there on some subject or other. Sort of let him talk himself into trouble and not bail him out this time.
Kevin Anything I can do to help – you know you can count on me.
Kate It’s all been running a bit too smoothly for my liking – it’s time for something to go wrong.
Kevin Don’t wish it on yourself – you’ve planned it so well you don’t want to put it all at risk.
Kate Not all of it, but enough so it notices.
Kevin Bill was saying that there’s an accident waiting to happen with ColourStyle. Apparently they’ve clad their steelwork before the structural engineer’s had a shufti.
Kate What, not Geoff’s favourite client?
Kevin But I don’t want anything to keep us here late at the halls – though that’s of course going to be my excuse for not going home tonight!
Kate (Is in deep thought and then smiles to herself) Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!
John (Enters the front office) I need to see Geoff!
Sue What’s the problem? Can I help?
John The safety officer, Stone’s his name I think, has faulted our steelwork. If he’s insistent then you just won’t be able to open the show on time. Someone’s got to help me. Well, help me to help you really.
Sue If you pop back to your stand I’ll get David to meet you there.
(John leaves – Sue goes to the Tannoy mike)
Sue -Tannoy Atten-shun! Ten-hut! News from the front again – would Mister Reagan please make himself available on the ColourStyle stand – and I mean now mister!
Geoff –radio (Buzz) ..eff to Sue, Geoff to Sue.
Sue –radio Send Geoff.
Geoff –radio (Angrily) All terribly amusing Sue – but this is meant to be a business, do try to keep the messages straightforward and to the point please!
Sue –radio Admonition accepted and acknowledged – arrivederci!
Sue (Radio off) I see his humour by-pass is still firmly in place! (Returns to her desk)
(Petra is seen to be answering the phone again clearly reciting the ‘mantra’)
Sue (Asks Petra) Anyone fancy a coffee?
Vicki (Coming into the front office) Yes please, black without!
Petra (Covers phone) Yes please. (To phone) Pricing is £12 for adults and £6 for children – but it’s £2 off after 4pm each day. See you here then! (Sighs back into chair)
(Sue moves off into rear office)
Vicki You must be exhausted – we should have an answering system to tell the callers all that standard stuff.
Petra Yah – but it does makes the time pass quickly though.
Vicki How long’ve you been doing this?
Petra Just a couple of months, I’m not sure it’s for me. Take last week. I was on a stand for some plumbing firm. They tried to tell me what it was all about but it was so frightfully dull. I just stood around and handed out the brochures. If anyone asked me a question I just pointed (demonstrates a haughty waving away) at one of the guys on the stand. Honestly, visitors to shows expect you to know everything!
Vicki All men I suppose – just using you as a sex object.
Petra Oh no, they tried but I certainly wouldn’t let any of that lot near me.
Vicki No, I meant that they just want to use a pretty girl to sell their products.
Petra No,they had salesmen there too I just had to hand out brochures. It was so boring.
Vicki Dream Homes is a bit more interesting than that – it’s decor, furniture…
Petra …fabrics, ornaments and so on. Yah I know – but it’s just another show to me.
Vicki I shouldn’t let Geoff or Kate hear you say that – they think it’s unique. What are you getting up to tonight?
Petra (Frowning) Kate invited me out with the team, but I don’t know. We open the show tomorrow and I understand that’s supposed to be rather heavy isn’t it.
Vicki Oh come on. I’ll need someone cheerful, intelligent and attractive to talk with.
Sue (Returns with the coffees to hear this last comment) One out of three isn’t bad!
(John Wright, Mike Stone and David Reagan arrive in the office)
David I need Kate and Geoff here to meet up with us – we’ll be in the back.
Sue Geoff’s in there already. (Lights a cigarette and goes to Tannoy)
Sue – Tannoy Good afternoon everyone – trust you’re all still having fun. Sorry to bother you – but this is for Kate Warren, would you kindly rendezvous at the rear organisers office where a small group awaits your imminent arrival.
Vicki (Still hovering at Petra’s shoulder) Didn’t I hear Kate say something about you modelling?
Petra Yah – when my agent can get me work.
Sue Yes, didn’t I see you in that advert for the Indian restaurant – you know the one, a grainy 35mm slide drops in awkwardly from the top of the screen at the cinema (with Indian accent) just two minutes from a cinema near you.
Vicki (Pats Petra on the shoulder) She’s only jealous – she has to look for character parts, no leads or heroines for her.
Geoff (Looks out of the door sniffs the air detecting the hidden cigarette, looks exasperatedly around. Sue has the offending cigarette behind her back) Have you called for Kate?
Sue Yes, did it seconds ago.
(A delivery man arrives with a big box and approaches Geoff)
Delivery man Any chance of any complimentary tickets then?
Geoff None at all!
(Geoff signs the docket and takes the box – passing it to Sue who has to hold it awkwardly with one hand. Still sniffing the air he inserts a wedge into the door and moves into the rear office. Petra and Vicki continue to talk closely – as Geoff leaves, Sue takes a drag on her cigarette and answers a phone call.)
(Rear office -the noise from there carries into the back room as Sue and Petra take call after call.)
Geoff Kate’s on her way.
Mike (Standing just too close to Geoff who backs away but Mike follows) We’ll wait for Kate to get here first if you don’t mind.
David Geoff, it’s about Mike not being alerted to inspect the ColourStyle steelwork before it was clad and now they can’t really get a view of the work to be able to check it for their approvals.
John (Pushes Mike aside to stand in front of Geoff and stabs his finger into his chest) Look I’m not the sort of person to throw my weight around – but without ColourStyle this show wouldn’t have happened. We don’t want special treatment just a bit of tender loving care.
David (Interposes himself between John and Geoff) You have all of our support. We’re all dedicated to helping you to be ready and operating tomorrow morning.
John Look chief, we needed, and we got, Kate’s approval for an early start. If we hadn’t you would have absolutely no hope of opening on time. It’s not our fault that you cocked up and didn’t inform the safety officer – I’m certainly not stripping it back down again!
Mike Then I won’t sign off for the show to open. Yours is a complex stand and it’s a matter of public safety.
(Kate arrives passing through the front office into the rear office)
Geoff Mike, you had all the plans six weeks ago – why is there a problem now we’re on site?
Mike (Again walks up and stands annoyingly close) The drawings and calculations were fine – in fact, as I said to Kate earlier, if anything they were so detailed that we were able to look at it more closely than we would normally be able to. (Looks at John with what passes for a smile) I wouldn’t have done it that way if I had been you. As a result of your comprehensive approach we were able to insist on many more things that we wanted you to do – really it’s because you were so detailed…
John (Bridles) Hang on, so you’re saying we’re paying for being ‘whiter than white’!
Cheryl (Who is serving them beers, smiling says) I’ll have to report you for that one!
John (Ignores this) Now come on. You’re saying that you’ve made us pay for being more accurate than normal!
Geoff So, if you have had these extra items included – what is the problem now?
Mike I can’t approve the ColourStyle stand steelwork because it was clad before my structural engineer got here to check that it was to the specification supplied and approved. If this, the largest stand, can’t be approved then I am afraid you’ll not be allowed to open tomorrow. Unless of course Geoff is prepared to sign off that he takes all of the health and safety responsibility for going ahead?
(Craig enters the front office and passes through to the rear office)
Geoff John, just what is involved in getting Mike the view of the steelwork.
John It’s impossible now – we’d have to destroy parts of the stand. He should have been here yesterday and he could have seen everything.
Mike Kate didn’t invite us to attend his stand formally until late today.
Geoff Solutions, solutions – I don’t want to hear the whys and wherefores – just what we should do now?
Craig Mr Barnes have you got a minute?
Sue – Tannoy (Note: everyone in the rear office stops what they are doing whenever the Tannoy is being used, as they cannot be heard over it) Can I have your attention please. Anything in the aisles will be considered rubbish – the gangs are coming through the halls and absolutely anything you leave in the aisles will be dumped. We’re trying to ensure that we can open on time tomorrow so do please take this seriously – all and any items in the aisles are at risk – so move them now!
Kate No, you can see he’s busy – just wait there!
Geoff John, if it’s a matter of public safety my hands are tied.
Kate Mike, have you got a moment? (She takes him to the other side of the rear office)
John (To Geoff.) Stone’s being bloody outrageous – the plans are quite clear and Booths Inc have shown him everything he could possibly want.
Mike (Aside to Kate – she too backs away feeling he stands too close) Thanks for that tip-off Kate I’m really enjoying this. Those Booths people screwed me around the last time they were in here and I’ve waited a very long time to get them bang to rights like this – so I want them to squirm.
Kate (Aside to Mike) Look you’ve achieved that – their client’s hopping mad – but let’s not take it too far. I do still want to open on time.
Mike (Aside to Kate) OK, but if you don’t mind I’ll finish my beer first.
(David is watching Kate and Mike as they talk privately. He watches carefully and appears to realise that this situation is not all that it seemed. Delivery man arrives with a note in the front office, passes it to Sue.)
Geoff (to Craig) Sorry to hold you up Craig. What was your problem?
Sue – Tannoy (Dealing with the delivery guy.) Would a representative of Villiers please come to the organiser’s office, a representative of Villiers please come to the organiser’s office.
(Sue and Petra both take telephone calls and they do now speak aloud the litany of dates, times, etc, so that this provides an ever-increasing buzz to the action in the rear office)
Craig (Starts to speak but waits for the end of the Tannoy) We nabbed two of the local tearaways trying to take out a goggle box.
Geoff Just hand them over to the local police station – that is what you do isn’t it!
Craig It’s just that the set they were taking. It’s been damaged in the chase. One of my lads rugby tackled one of the toerags. He didn’t ought to have done it, ‘cos of course he dropped the set.
(Kevin arrives and passes through to the rear office – the noise of a third phone ringing plus the girls answering other phone calls starts to build to a crescendo)
Geoff Whose TV set was it?
Craig (Looking apologetically at John) I think it’s from the ColourStyle stand.
(John throws his arms up in despair – Kate is finding it hard to suppress a grin so leaves the room and is seen starting to use her mobile as she leaves the front office – as she presses a button the phone rings and Sue answers it.)
Kevin (Bursts in) Geoff, that boat for Huskins has finally arrived and it’s a lot bigger than they indicated – it’s stuck in the gate and it looks like we may have to take down one corner of the ColourStyle stand to get it through!
Mike At least then we could get a look into the steelwork in that area!
John I just do not believe you lot!
(A contractor in overalls comes into the front office – sees Petra and Sue on the phone and so he goes to the rear office door)
Sue (Says to the phone) OK, Kate consider it done. (Then by Tannoy) Can I have your attention please, if the owner of the black Mercedes number JW180, that’s J for Jalopy, W for Wreck, doesn’t move it soon it will be fork-lifted from site.
John That’s mine you imbeciles! – and that’s the final straw! Look I’m going back to my stand and I expect you to sort all this lot out, Geoff. You call yourself a bloody organiser – so organise! I haven’t got any more time to waste on any of you bloody pillocks. (Leaves)
Kevin Oh Geoff, can you sign this order for some extra carpet that Bill has promised stand 1534?
Contractor Is this where you get all the complimentary tickets then, eh?
Geoff (Clasps his head in his hands and slumps back into a chair in frustration)
~·~ ~·~ ~·~