ACT THREE – At First Site!

© Bob Denton, 2014
Back to At First Site   –   Back to Anecdotes

ACT THREE – SCENE ONE

It’s the last open day morning just before the doors are opened to the public. Geoff is in the rear office with Cheryl.  She has on a T-shirt that says ‘I am a virgin’ on the front and later we will see ‘This is a very old T-shirt’ on the back.  They are talking animatedly, the camera backs away through the door to the front office.  Kate and Petra arrive, both looking a little worse for wear.  Sue has now got blond hair with a purple stripe and she is already running a vacuum around the front office.  Everyone looks and sounds tired.

Kate        Sue, must you do that?  My head’s awful and my throat’s like the bottom of a parrot’s cage.  Can you pause, at least until I’ve had at least one whole jug of coffee?

Sue         (Switching off the vacuum) Oh, sorry.  Look Cheryl’s got the coffee machine on – do you all want one?  Must have been a good exhibitors’ party looking at the state of you lot.

Kate        I could die for a coffee.

Sue         No need to be quite so drastic I’ll get you one. (First she goes to the Tannoy and in the style of Robin Williams ‘Good Morning Vietnam’) Goooood moorrrning, Dreammm Homes!

Kate        God, I wish you wouldn’t do that – especially in my current state.  Where did you all get to?  Didn’t see you or Cheryl after about 10-ish.

Sue         (She’s clearing away the vacuum)  Yes surprise, surprise I pulled.  So I didn’t see any point in wasting the night with you lot.

Kate        (Behind Sue’s back she mouths to Petra ‘Who?’ and Petra shrugs a ‘no idea’) That’s what makes you so chirpy this morning then.  I’II really do need to get some of whatever it is you’re on!  Was it anyone we know?

Sue         (To change the subject she waves at the rear office where Geoff and Cheryl can be seen obviously enjoying each others’ company) Clearly I wasn’t the only one!

(Sue takes the vacuum cleaner to the rear office, Kate and Petra follow to take off coats, drop bags etc)

Geoff      (Cheerily turns to greet them) Good morning.  (Then studies them)  I trust we are all going to look a little brighter and smarter by the time we open?

Sue         You certainly know how to make a girl feel good about the way she looks!

(Bill, Vicki and David arrive – also a bit subdued – not Bill’s tie of course.  They pass through to the rear office – each picks up a radio, gets a coffee and takes a seat for the morning’s meeting)

Craig       (Bustles in and goes up to Geoff, hands him a piece of paper) Here’s the final counts from the turnstiles.  You were all gone when I came to give them last night.

Geoff      (Scans them – Kate tries to look over his shoulder and he hides it)  Good we are on track provided today is as good as we hope.  Kate, why don’t you start us off?

(Craig looks around uncertainly, gets a coffee, then leaves with it)

Kate        (Very morosely) Here we are – the beginning of the end.  We’ve made it to the last day without any lasting disfigurements. (Looks around)

Cheryl     Most of us anyway! 

Geoff      (Seeing Kate’s not going to take the conversation further)  This will be one tough day.  A full and busy open day to manage, then we have to get the public out before our exhibitors can start to tear down their stands.  At the same time of course we have to keep the contractors out until we are well and truly closed. 

David      And we have to try to minimise the losses too – don’t forget that breakdown’s the worst time for thefts. 

Kate        We’ll do a handout for a stand drop to remind exhibitors mid-afternoon. 

Geoff      Anything from you, Vicki?

Vicki       We’ve got 45% of the exhibitors re-signed for next year and Bill and I expect to get that up to around 60% by the end of the day.  (Looks meaningfully at Bill)  That’s if all the promises of signatures are kept.  Can I ask Petra to help in holding on to any exhibitors who come to the organiser’s office until we can get here?  We’ll be covering a lot of ground today.

Geoff      I trust that means we have seen the end of Bill’s spending spree on bits and pieces around the halls?  And Vicki, we must hit that 60% so we can all get a break after the show – with 60% in the bag we could afford to relax a little.  I am sure Petra can assist earlier on today but it will get tougher later on.

Vicki       Right, if Bill and I can be excused we can make an early start – catch them on their stands before the visitors are let in.

(Vicki and Bill leave)

Kate        As I was trying to say, I’m using Dave and Craig’s team to do a stand-drop of this note to exhibitors. (Passes round copies)  As you’ll see, it stresses Dave’s point about vigilance during breakdown as this is when most thefts happen.  Some of the silly twits leave at the end of day before their contractors arrive and then wonder why their stock goes walkies. 

Geoff      Don’t forget it is those ‘silly twits’ who pay our wages!

Kate        It also says that we’ll deal strongly with anyone trying to remove exhibits or dismantle early – another charming habit they’ve all picked up.  If you see anyone starting to pack up make sure you tell them that it’s a safety issue. While the public are in we don’t want any accidents.  Let’s keep Mike Stone out of my hair today.

Geoff      Yes, we have all got to be firm about the dismantling and removal issue – no exceptions!

Sue         And don’t forget the really big news of the day – Glenn from Lads Unlimited is coming at 4pm – God, we’ll be mobbed. (Goes to the venetian blind and flicks it open)   Look, they’re already queuing in their hundreds out there.

Geoff      This afternoon will be chaos.  Even though Glenn has left the group his popularity is still ridiculous – so I’m told.  Craig’s lot are being beefed up by the local police station and we will all need to lend a hand on crowd management.

Kate        Who is going to meet and greet?

David      He’ll expect the top man, Geoff – so it’s down to you and me I imagine.

Geoff      That’s all I need to do – go around here with some no-talent pimply youth.

Sue         He won’t be your problem – it’ll be the screaming girls who will be following him around.

Cheryl     No Sue, you’ve got to stay in the office!  (They make faces at each other)

Geoff      When’s he arriving?  And what’s the plan?

(Phone rings – Petra answers it)

Petra       Dream Homes Organiser’s Office

David      He arrives just before 4 – the car will come to the traffic desk.  We’ll put him up the goods lift 13 to the mezzanine and then escort him across to our stage.  He’ll go backstage first and then appear on the stage at about 4.15 for about ten minutes.  After that we need to get him back to the lift and out to his car about 4.45.  Then we can all breathe again – until breakdown at 5 that is.

(Kevin and Craig arrive in the front office and make their way to the rear office)

Geoff      Who will be in the escort party?

Kate        You, Craig and two of his biggest guys.

Petra      Yes this is our last day – no we aren’t open tomorrow – we’re open from 10 until 5pm today   ….  No not tomorrow  …I’m sure you misread it, I can assure you we close today.

(Kevin and Craig enter the rear office and start to help themselves to sandwiches)

Craig       Have you seen the queues out there?  They started before 8.  It’s half-way round the building – thank God it’s not raining so we can keep them in some sort of order – and outside.

Geoff      Craig, we were just talking about you.  Apparently you are all set for this Glenn character this afternoon?

Craig       No problem.  We’re ready for everything.

Geoff      Why don’t you and I walk through the route to be sure?  OK everyone, about your business, let’s keep on top of it today.

(Geoff, David and Craig leave and go out into the halls – Petra and Sue go to the front office and make themselves busy.  Cheryl takes her bowl off to clean the cups and plates)

Kevin      We really have got to talk.

Kate        I’m busy.

Kevin      What have I done? – I’ve left her and I just want to talk about what happens next?

Kate        What’s that got to do with me?

Kevin      How can you say that?  I’ve helped you in all sorts of ways.  We’ve worked well together, we’ve played well together – we’re clearly meant for each other.

Kate        Look, I think you’re confusing lust and love.  I wanted no part of you breaking up with your wife.  I just wanted a bit of fun at site.  Why do guys always have to take it all so seriously?  It was just sex…

Kevin      But I’ve even been helping you make Geoff look bad.

Kate        Oh yeah, and just how have you done that then?

Kevin      (Looking proud) Who else do you think gave the bomb scare?

Kate        You bloody idiot.  You scared me to death with that.  How on earth did you think that was going to help anything?  (Rolls up a newspaper)

Kevin      (Looking crestfallen) I just thought…

Kate        (Starts to hit him with the rolled up newspaper) Not one of your strong points, thinking!

(Sue comes back in to the rear office)

Sue         Oops sorry to interrupt – I’ll make myself scarce.

Kate        No need to apologise – Kevin is just leaving. (Beats him to the door)

(Kevin looks imploringly at her, then shows some anger at last and leaves)

Sue         It’s my bad timing that keeps me in exhibitions work – God, look at the queues out there – I hope I didn’t interrupt anything too important?

Kate        Isn’t it obvious?  His wife’s kicked him out and he thinks he can just move into my flat.

Sue         You certainly seemed pretty keen on him and clearly you were the reason for his row.

Kate        He’s fun at site, but I like my independence too.  I’ve lived alone long enough to be selfish about my space.  I’m looking forward to getting back to my flat all alone in two nights’ time and I don’t want it littered up with all his emotions – and laundry!

Sue         You can be a bitch sometimes – you’re responsible for him being kicked out of his home, you know?

Kate        I doubt that I was his first fling or will be the last.  You know what he’s like.  And for me it was just an at-site thing.  When I get to venue it’s all part of the buzz – I work hard and play hard – but then I want to get back to my flat alone and collapse for a few days after to recover.

Sue         You’re right – you are selfish!  (She leaves)

Kate        (Sits in a chair looking into space)

~·~

(Balcony)

(Geoff, David and Craig at the rail)

Geoff      So the awkward moment appears to be at the lift on the way out – provided you give us lots of support there, then we should be OK.

David      You happy with these arrangements, Craig?

Craig       Looks fine, I’ll go and get everything sorted. (He leaves as Bill is passing)

Bill          This where you’re going to locate the snipers and machine-gun nests then?

Geoff      Aren’t you supposed to be selling somewhere?

Bill          Don’t worry.  I’m well on top of MY job! (Begins to move off)  It’s the others who should be worrying about theirs… (Geoff looks after him pondering)

David      In fact, perhaps just a little bit too much on top of his job!

Geoff      Pardon?

David      I can’t prove anything yet but I think he’s at the back of that peripheral aisle problem?

Geoff      No surprise there then, but just how did he become involved in that?

David      I’ve compared your accounting records with what’s there on the floor, a sort of audit of the space used.  I’m convinced there’s a shell-scheme stand that has suddenly appeared since we got to site, but the at-site plans all seem to have been changed to show it.

Geoff      So we haven’t billed anyone for it but it’s there – which company?

David      It says ‘James Interiors’ on the signpost, but there’s just a couple of kids on the stand who know nothing.

Geoff      But if the plans have been changed wouldn’t Kevin have to be involved?

David      Precisely my thinking too.

Geoff      So David, I need chapter and verse on this with any documentation you can collect before I can act.

David      I’m working on it – should have it all in hand by the end of the day.

~·~

(Front office)

(A phone rings and Petra answers it)

Petra       Dream Homes Organisers Office.

(John arrives in the front office.)

Sue – Tannoy Good morning everyone – the last day of Dream Homes begins but possibly this will be the best – don’t forget we finish with a bang with Glenn of Lads Unlimited arriving at around 4pm.  So you’ll be kept busy until we close at 5.  And don’t be wicked, you mustn’t even think about breaking down early.  More news from the nerve centre soonest!

John       Funny you should mention that – I need to talk with Geoff about breakdown.

Sue         Kate’s in the back.

(Cheryl arrives back to the front office – John holds open the door for her as they both go into the rear office)

Petra – phone  Yes, this is the last day – we close at 5pm – yes, Glen will be here at 4 – see you here. (Hangs up and turns to Sue)   An awful lot of callers seem to think we’re open tomorrow too.

Sue         Not too many of them can read – I shouldn’t worry about it.

~·~

(Rear office)

John       Hi Kate, got a little problemette for you.

Kate        What’s new?

John       Don’t be like that.  It’s all gone smoothly in the end.

Kate        Yes, but wouldn’t it be nice if it went smoothly from the start?

John       That’s this business for you – anyway, you know that rotating display panel we have on the stand?  I’ve got to get it to Frankfurt by Monday evening.

Kate        So?

John       Because of the ferries and permitted driving times I need to get it out of here a little before or on the dot of 5pm at the latest.

Kate        Sorry John, you know the rules.  Nothing moves before we close – it’s very clearly a safety matter.

John       Yes, but you know no-one takes any notice of the rules – at least I’m warning you and not just doing it!

Kate        How come you’re only aware of this now?

John       There’s a product launch over there and we want to reuse it for economy.

Kate        If you’d told me yesterday, you could’ve taken it out overnight.

John       Yes, just like Lincoln wouldn’t have gone to the theatre or Kennedy for that drive.  I didn’t know until this morning.  Come on help me out on this one?

Kate        This one!  At a quick estimate this will be at least the tenth rule-breaking favour you’ve asked for.  Sorry, no can do – I’ve got to hold the line on this one – if I let you do it, it’ll start a stampede – and we’re going to be busy with Glenn coming later.

John       Can you call Geoff then please?

Kate        I know he let’s you walk all over him – but breakdown is my area of responsibility and it’s no go!

John       (Smiles) We’ll see!

~·~

(John goes out into the front office and approaches Sue)  

John       Could you find out where Geoff is please?

Sue         Couldn’t Kate help?

John       She seems to have got out of the wrong side, or perhaps even the wrong bed this morning!

Sue-radio            Sue to Geoff, Sue to Geoff.

Geoff-radio         Send Sue.

Sue-radio            Can you come back to the organiser’s office please?

Geoff-radio         On my way ETA a couple of minutes, out.

(Kate comes out of the rear office)

Kate        (To John) Best of luck! (She leaves the office)

John       See what I mean!

Sue         Why don’t you take a seat in the back – Cheryl will offer you a drink.

John       Thanks. (Moves into rear office)

~·~

(Rear office)

John       I’ve been told to ask you for a drink.

Cheryl     Always play to instructions, do you?

John       What’s the matter with everyone in here – can’t I get a straight answer from anyone?

Cheryl     Kate’s under a bit of pressure at the moment and my comment was meant to be a joke – so perhaps you’re the one who is being just a bit paranoid?

John       (He recites) Just ‘cos I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me!  (Then more seriously)  Yes, sorry we’re all under pressure – it’s been a hard show and I suppose the old emotions do start to creep in at around this stage.

Cheryl     Apology accepted – just look at how many there are out there queuing.  It looks like we’re going to have a very busy day.

John       Well that’s why we invested so much in being here!  (He takes a coffee and they talk on – but the camera moves to the front office)

~·~

Sue-Tannoy  (Looks at her watch and leaps for the Tannoy) We open in fifteen minutes.  Can we please remind you that breakdown night is the time to be at your most vigilant?  It’s when most thefts happen at shows – you will be receiving a note on your stand to remind you of the breakdown rules and timings.  Please make sure you do read it – it is important.  Now get ready for a stonker of a last day – the queues are huge – the doors will be opened in just fourteen minutes.

(Geoff arrives at the front office.)

Geoff      Stonker, Sue?  (smiling) You called me back?

Sue         John from ColourStyle is in the back for you.

Geoff      Have you seen Bill lately?

Sue         No, he’s out there somewhere.

Geoff      If you see him you could mention I need a chat.

~·~

(Geoff pushes on through to the rear office)

Geoff      Yes John, you wanted me?

John       Nothing serious chief.  I just wanted to advise you that we would be stripping down that rotating display unit from about 4.30 and need your team’s help to keep the aisles clear for it to get out on the dot of 5pm – ‘cos we need it in Frankfurt tomorrow evening.

Geoff      You are not going to move anything before 5 o’clock though are you?

John       No of course not.  I know the rules.

Geoff      You will need to rope-and-post off that part of the stand while it is being stripped so that it’s safe for the visitors.

John       Of course, that’s all in hand – just thought out of courtesy I should let you know.

Geoff      Yes, thank you John.  It helps us with our planning – if only all the exhibitors were as helpful and informative.

John       See you later – must get back to the stand before the off.  (Leaves, winking at Cheryl)

~·~

(Front office, as John leaves we hear.)

Petra       No.  I can assure you that today is the last day, madam.

~·~

(Rear office)

Cheryl     (Handing Geoff a coffee) That man is evil.  You need to watch him carefully.  You ought to know that he told Kate that he was going to move it at 4.30.

Geoff      You are indispensable – what will I do when I don’t have you looking out for me?

Cheryl     You tell me?  That sounds like you’ve already decided that it all finishes when the show closes.

Geoff      Sorry, I hadn’t given it much thought.  (Realises what he has said)  You know, with all that’s happening here.

Cheryl     So is that what we are – one of your happenings at site?

Geoff      That is not what I meant – it is all sort of, well, unreal, while you are stuck in this place – it’s a bit like being a troglodyte.  I haven’t seen daylight for almost a week!

Cheryl     So you’ve not even thought about us, in the future I mean?

Geoff      Of course I have, but I didn’t think I had the right to make any decisions without discussing it with you.  Get your input, so to speak.

Cheryl     Is that what I am input, like some sort of business case study?

Geoff      Sorry I’m not expressing myself very well.

Cheryl     No you’re not.  When you find some time in your busy schedule perhaps you can give it some thought and let me know.  I imagine I’ll be around somewhere.

(Cheryl walks to the front office leaving Geoff looking morosely out at the crowds

~·~

(Front office)

Petra       You must have read it wrongly, madam – we close at 5pm today.

Sue-Tannoy  I am delighted to announce that Dream Homes is open for business – our last day – have a good one everyone!

Petra       Have either of you seen a paper today?

Cheryl     Cigarette paper? Toilet paper?

Petra       News-paper!  This last caller said she had the Express and the Mirror in front of her and quoted from both – which she says clearly states that we were open tomorrow – she seemed pretty certain.

Sue         I told you there are a lot of thick people out there.

Cheryl     Yeah, who on earth buys the Express and the Mirror!

Sue         (Laughs) I hadn’t thought of that!

Cheryl     (Nods towards Petra)  And they’re not all out there…

(Petra goes quiet and glares at Cheryl.  Bill arrives)

Bill          All my favourite women in one place – this is just too much.

Sue         Precisely.  If you couldn’t manage to satisfy just one of us last night – what chance do you think you’d have with all of us?

Bill          Perhaps the drink had something to do with it?

Sue         Yeah, it did – I must have been well gone!

Cheryl     I shouldn’t go in there I know Geoff is very keen to catch up with you about something.  But I need him to finish pondering something else first!

(Petra is glowering at Cheryl; Cheryl is looking off into the distance unhappily; Bill is looking concerned about what Geoff might want; Sue is looking at Bill obviously disturbed at the fact that she’d been with him last night; Kate is at the door set where she takes a look around her and is taking some deep breaths; Kevin is glumly looking over the balcony rail; Geoff is stood morosely looking out of the window.  All are looking downright miserable and this is fully intended to be an obvious and complete contrast to their spirits at the end of act 1, scene 1.)

~·~     ~·~     ~·~

ACT THREE – SCENE TWO

Craig is outside the hall, steps into a puddle while pacing at the front door.  He looks anxious and is talking on his radio.

It’s the last open day, late afternoon. Sue and Petra are in the front office at their desks answering phone calls.  Cheryl is at her ‘post’ in the rear office with Vicki, Bill and John, drinking and chatting noisily, but without any clarity as to what they are saying.  Kate is at a table by herself drinking coffee but not evidently doing anything of importance.

The sound coming from the halls penetrates the office as a constant background loud hum with the occasional deep base burst from some stand inside.  Geoff and David walk along the balcony at pace towards the front of house, with Geoff holding his radio to his ear.

(Exterior)

Craig-radio  There’re queues all round the building at the moment.  The cashiers are having trouble getting them through quickly enough.  Over.

Geoff-radio  (at the balcony) We are on our way – out.  (They walk off.)

~·~

(Front office)

Petra – phone  No we close this evening at 5pm. (Listens)  We have been open for four days, madam, which must have given you plenty of options to come. (Listens)   It must be a mistake in the paper – I can assure you today is the last day.

(Mike arrives)

Sue-phone  No, contractors will not be permitted into the hall until 5.15 – that’s fifteen minutes for us to clear the visitors from the hall. (Listens)  It’s a question of safety.  (Reacts to some comment at the other end and a hang-up)  Oh and a good day to you too!

Mike       Where’s Geoff Barnes?

Sue         What, no hello, please or thank you?

Mike       Don’t mess me about this is important – I have to close your doors until some of the visitors can leave.

Sue         And, why pray do you have to do that?

Mike       That’s what I have to talk to Geoff about.  (Adds with heavy sarcasm)  Please!

Sue-radio  Sue to Geoff, Sue to Geoff.

Geoff-radio  Yes Sue, I’m tangled at present is this important?  Over.

Sue-radio  Mike Stone is demanding to see you in the organiser’s office.  Over.

Geoff-radio  Can it wait?  Over.

Sue         (Raises her eyebrows to Mike) Well?

Mike       No, it has to be right now.

Sue-radio  Mike says ‘It has to be right now’.  Out.

(At front door)

Geoff-radio  Coming, now!  Out

Geoff      (To David.)  What does he want now?  Can you help Craig to get some sense of order out here?

David      Geoff, I imagine Mike’s calling you because he will want to close the doors.

Geoff      What?

David      The numbers in the hall are quite high – he’s reacting just a little early though – I guess you’re going to have to decide whether you want to go along with him and shut the doors or not.

Geoff      Why would we want to do that? Just look at this lot out here.  I don’t want to risk that we miss taking all their twelve quids!

David      Of course, but think about it for a minute.  You would be able to say that you ran a show that exceeded the capacity of this hall.  That hasn’t been achieved very often in its history.

Geoff      I was never very good at history.  (Points around)  My company would want me to collect all the money from every one of this lot.  If I don’t, back at base it will be a case of hysteric rather than historic!  Look Craig, can you try to get your lot to organise some sort of queuing system while we go and get Mike sorted out.  If he has his way it can only get worse out here. (Leaves with David)

(Craig remains at the external set using his radio and pointing outward)

~·~

(Rear office)

Kate        (As if to Cheryl – who is uninterested) Look at the time!  I’m going to have to start checking the aisles – the exhibitors’ll start getting restless soon. (Finishes her drink and starts to leave via front office)

Cheryl     You sure that’s all you’re going to be doing?

Kate        What do you mean?

Cheryl     Not up to any more mischief then, to make Geoff look bad?

Kate        Just stick to cleaning the crocks love, and don’t poke your nose into stuff outside your understanding.

Cheryl     So not denying it then?

Kate        Look, what’s it to you?  You’ll be on another show next week.  But this, it’s my life as it happens.  Hang on a minute, you’re not telling me?  You and him?  God how could you be interested in him?

Cheryl     You’ve clearly not noticed but he’s actually one of the good guys – you should just give him a chance.

Kate        Yes I will – no bloody chance!  (She smiles at Cheryl nastily and leaves)

~·~

(Front office)

Sue         Can I help at all?

Mike       No, I’ll wait for Geoff.

Petra       It’s not another bomb scare is it?

Kate        (Comes into the front office) What’s up now, Mike?

Mike       It’s something I want to discuss with Geoff, thank you.

(Geoff and David arrive)

Geoff      Yes Mike, I hope this is important.

Mike       I have had the fire officer on to me and we both agree that the aisles are too busy and we feel you should close the doors for a while.

Kate        Absolutely no way – I’ll decide when my show is overcrowded.  I don’t need you to tell me my job!

Mike       Do I have to remind you that as safety officer I have the power to order you to do this.

Geoff      Kate, I feel sure that the breakdown needs your attention over the next few hours so leave this to David and me.  (Stepping between Kate and Mike, he says to Mike)  I do fully understand your thinking.  We are very crowded but I have just been outside.  Have you seen how many people there are out there?  I’m not so sure that closing the doors is such a clever decision just now.

Kate        (Thinking aloud and ignored by the others) When was the last time the doors were closed at this venue?  Just think about the publicity for next year’s show! 

Mike       This couldn’t be anything to do with a desire to relieve all those people out there of their ticket monies?

Geoff      I’m taking this to be a serious issue – as you’ve stressed it’s about public safety – it’s nothing to do with money – or publicity.  Kate, please get on with the breakdown planning!

Kate        You can’t just brush me off like that. I’m a key part of this team!  (Then more to herself)  We’d get ‘em all in eventually.  We’ll be legends in the business!  I hope Mel is getting photos of all of this!  Kate to Mel, Kate to Mel.  (No response of course)

Mike       If we have any sort of problem in there we wouldn’t have a hope of evacuating inside 20 minutes – we have to close.

David      What if we hold the turnstiles and let in only as many as leave so we keep the numbers inside at a constant?

Glenn fan  (Bursts in wearing a T-shirt saying Lads Unlimited and Glenn I love you.)  Where’s Glenn?  When’s he coming?  Is he in here then?

Sue         (Looks at her watch) He should be here any minute now – he’ll be on the stage soon – why don’t you go and get a good place?

Glenn fan  Right.  Yeah!  Uh, where ‘xactly is the stage?  (Sue points and she runs out)

Sue-radio  Sue to Craig, Sue to Craig.

Craig-radio  Come in Sue.

Sue-radio Any sign of our celeb?  Over.

Craig-radio Not yet – we’ll let you know as soon as there’s any news.  Out.

Petra       Organisers office. (Listens)  Sue, it’s him… (Thrusts the phone to Sue)

Sue         Hello, who’s calling. (Listens)  Don’t worry I’ll make sure you have no problems on arrival.  (Hangs up)  It’s Glenn’s car.  They’ll be arriving at the rear entrance in five minutes.

Mike       Look, I can’t wait any longer – I believe we should close the doors – right now.

David      But you heard.  Glenn’s about to arrive.  I’m sorry but I totally disagree about doing it right now.  There’ll be a riot.  They’ve all come especially to see Glenn.  Once they catch sight of his car we don’t have a hope of closing the doors!

Geoff      If he is almost here then let’s agree to get him in safely first.  If we hold all those visitors outside they could block, or worse, mob his car – let’s worry about the doors later.  Listen to me everyone.  This is vital.  We have to get Glenn in safely before we can consider anything else.  (Whispers something to David and then rushes out of the office)

David      Geoff’s right.  The safe arrival of this celeb is our first and absolutely pressing priority.

(Close up of Kate as a wicked smile crosses her face, she leaves hurriedly)

Mike       (Looks after Kate) So is that supposed to be a decision?

David      Actually Mike, can you tell me what the exact capacity is that has been agreed with the local authority?

Mike       Well, it sort of depends on so many things.

David      (Steers him into the rear office) Come in the back and let’s sort this out – clearly Geoff’s not ready to make a decision while his major celeb is arriving.

Mike       Bloody organisers.  They’re all the same!

David      (Signals to Cheryl behind Mike’s back to get drinks for them – she responds speedily with wine glasses and a bottle) They do have to balance all sorts of issues – it’s never black and white – just lots of greys.

Mike       (Takes his wine glass and visibly relaxes) I’m here to tell you that it certainly gives me lots of greys – hairs that is!

(They subside into a conversation and start drinking)

~·~

(Geoff arrives at the door set waving – Craig comes back from the outside onto the door set)

Geoff      What are you doing up here?  Apparently their car is coming in by the back entrance.

Craig       I’ll make sure the gatekeepers know.  (On radio) Craig to Del, Craig to Del.

Del-radio Send Craig.

Craig-radio  Just been advised by the organiser that Glenn’s coming in your way.

Del-radio Yes, its alright I know, Kate Warren’s just arrived here and told me that already.  All in hand.  She’s here to handle it personally.  Over.

~·~

(Front office)

Sue-Tannoy Only an hour left to go with lots left for you to see (clearly tired without any real feeling more like a mantra) – do make sure you visit all corners of the hall there’s a surprise around every corner!

Petra-phone  Hello organiser’s office.  (Listens)

Sue-Tannoy  (With rather more feeling) And don’t forget Glenn ex- of Lads Unlimited will be on our stage very soon – make sure of your place!

Petra-phone  OK, that’s terribly disappointing – but I’ll make sure they all know.  (Hangs up as a female visitor enters)

Petra       Can I help you?

Female visitor  You sound like the stuck-up person I spoke to yesterday – you didn’t believe what I told you.

Petra       I’m sorry?

Female visitor  I told you I’d read in the papers that you were open on Monday too – and you denied it – talked to me as if I was some sort of idiot – well look here’s your advertisement (thrusts a newspaper under her nose) – it clearly says the 8th ‘til the 12th.

(Sue joins Petra to look at the cutting)

Sue         It actually says Thursday 8th until Sunday 12th – but of course today is actually Sunday the 11th!

Female visitor  Well, what are you going to do about it?

Sue         It’s just a silly error – we’re sorry for any confusion.

Female visitor  Yes, but I could have turned up tomorrow.

Sue         But as you’re here now I’m sure that you are no longer confused – and you can get to see everything today.

Female visitor  But what about others who might get confused?

Sue         We’ll deal with each of them as they arise – is that all?

Female visitor  No, I’ve only just got here so I won’t have time in an hour to see everything.

Sue         I shouldn’t waste any more time in here then!

Female visitor  Really! (Leaves)

~·~

(On the balcony rail Kevin arrives and sees Kate.  Ponders walking by but approaches her.  They have an uncomfortable conversation – trying to be matter-of-fact but the weight of their situation is very evident.  They keep stealing the odd sidelong glance at each other but with a respectful distance between them at the rail.)

Kevin      It’s a good turn out – you must be very pleased.

Kate        (Jumps a little) Yeah – but Mike Stone’s threatening to close the doors.

Kevin      What, and you haven’t agreed?

Kate        It’s Geoff.  He’s greedy to take the money so he wouldn’t agree.

Kevin      But it would be great for the show to be seen to be over-capacity.  Just what you need to show Steve!

Kate        Precisely – but Mr High and Mighty was a bit worried about trying to close the doors with all the Glenn fans that’ve been arriving.

Kevin      He does seem to have attracted lots of interest.

Kate        (Smiles nastily) And won’t they all be disappointed.

Kevin      What’s that?

~·~

(Front office)

Geoff-radio  (Calling in by radio to the office) Geoff to Sue, Geoff to Sue.

Sue-radio  Send Geoff.

Geoff-radio  Can you start the countdown on the Tannoy advising visitors we are closing soon? – Perhaps some of them will start to leave and make room for those still arriving?  Over.

Sue-radio  Consider it done – out.

Kate-radio  Kate to Sue.  Kate to Sue.

Sue-radio  Yes – Kate.

Kate – radio  Perhaps include something about exhibitors not stripping their stands.  Over.

Vicki-radio  Oh and Sue one more thing – um sorry are you receiving?

Sue-radio  Send Vicki.

Vicki-radio  Don’t forget to mention next year’s dates.  Over.

Sue-radio Any more for any more?  (Waits but hears no more on the radio)

Sue-Tannoy  This is a gentle reminder to visitors and exhibitors that we close in just thirty minutes.  Visitors, we hope you’ve had a fun time but you should be starting to think about making your way to one of the exits.  To exhibitors we would remind you that dismantling of displays should not start until the halls are clear.  And to both exhibitors and visitors don’t forget we want to see you all back here next year when Dream Homes is again at this hall from March 7th to the 10th – make a date and don’t be late.

~·~

(Scene moves to the rear office during the Tannoy – Cheryl has been topping up the drinks – and Bill gooses her as she passes – she turns and slaps his face)

Cheryl     I’ve taken just about all I can from you. (Plonks down the bottle and goes out to the front office)

Vicki       You are the absolute pits, Bill – where do you get off thinking you have the right to grab any woman that you see?

Bill          Don’t worry, you’re quite safe!

John       (Laughing) It’s only a bit of harmless fun.  (Leans over and pinches Vicki)  You’re only jealous!

Vicki       (Starts to explode – gets herself under control) I’ll assume that’s the drink talking. (Goes to the front office – John and Bill dissolve into laughter and help themselves to more wine)

~·~

(Front office)

Vicki       Men – I really don’t know how we put up with them.  (Leaves front office)

(Cheryl and Sue look quizzically at each other – turn to look at Petra who is frowning deeply – they both dissolve into laughter too.)

Geoff-radio  Geoff to Sue, Geoff to Sue.

Sue-radio  Send Geoff.

Geoff-radio  Any news on the ETA of our celebrity?  Over.

Sue-radio  Nothing yet!  Out.

Petra       Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh, that was that call I received earlier just before that silly woman came in and carried on about the dates in our advertising being wrong.  It was her fault.  She totally put it out of my mind.

Sue         Put what, out of what mind?

Petra       (Frowns at Sue but says) It was someone called from his car – Glenn’s car.  They said that, let me see, (struggles to list the points) that, after he’d been turned away from the back door because he was told it wasn’t safe, that uh the traffic was terrible, um and that as he had some other engagement (smiles as she’s recalled it and gleefully completes with) he’s not coming now!

Sue-radio  Sue to Geoff, Sue to Geoff.

Geoff –radio  Send Sue.

Sue – radio  Can you come back to the organisers office – we have a little local difficulty.  Out.

~·~

(Door set)

Geoff-radio  On my way!  (Turns to Craig)  Where do you think he bloody well got to?

Craig       I don’t know.  For some reason he chose to come around to this door so Del told me.  It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.  Of course he had two choices of route but whichever way he went it should only have taken ten minutes at most!

Geoff      Well find him!  There’s thousands here waiting to see him!  Get some of your guys out onto the road.  Find out what car he was in – do something – now!

~·~

(Rear office)

Mike       (Evidently the worse for drink) We ought to see what’s happening out there.

David      (Perfectly sober) Geoff will have sorted it all out by now – have another!

John       I ought to be going too – we’ve got to start stripping that display unit out around now.

Bill          Go on just one more, John – here try this other red wine.

David      John, that display unit – I think there are far too many people in the hall to be doing what you proposed – why don’t we try to get you out quickly after shutdown instead.

Mike       I thought you said that Geoff had sorted it.

David      Yes, all I mean is that stripping the display while the public are in the halls is not a smart move.

Mike       It’s also very much against the rules – it’s that bloody Booths mob again – they’re always taking the piss.

John       Calm down – Geoff has agreed it all.

David      Look guys, why don’t you stay here?  Bill open that bottle.  I’ll only be a second while I find out what’s happening out there.  (He slips away before anyone notices)

~·~

(Front office)

(Dave emerges from the rear office)

Sue         Oh Dave, just the man.  We’ve got a big problem.  Petra took a call from the Glenn minders to say they weren’t coming.

David      It’s all been in the papers for days that he’d be here.  He’s why we have the crowds today!

(Geoff arrives.)

Sue         Geoff, Petra took a call from the Glenn mob to say they weren’t coming.

Geoff      Oh hell!  That’s just what I needed to complete a wonderful day!

Petra       Yah, they called in from the car and sounded quite cross about the fact we’d turned them away at the back gate – and said they weren’t coming now.

Geoff      Not half as cross as that crowd will be outside – lots have come specifically to see Glenn.  Did you take their mobile number?

Petra       (Beginning to realise her culpability, she becomes tearful) Oh no, they didn’t mention it.

Sue         But my problem is – what Tannoy announcement do I make to tell them?

(From here the noise from the halls starts to steadily increase – to a cacophony of bass and largely indistinguishable sounds.)

(Glenn fan arrives back in the front office.)

Glenn fan  Where is he then? I’ve been hanging around for ages up at the stage?

(They all look at each other but it is Geoff who responds first as Kate enters the front office.)

Geoff      You’re probably missing him then.  He personally agreed that he would be on stage by now.  You must have read about that in the papers?  Would he let you down?

(She looks around doubtfully having picked up the fact that something is wrong – but leaves anyway. Cheryl arrives)

Geoff      (Cheryl too has clearly realised something is wrong) Glenn is not coming.

Cheryl     Oh my god, what do you mean, not coming?

Geoff      Just that.  His lot called in to say he was not coming now.  Sue can you get Mel to contact his agent?  Look Petra, just what exactly did they say.

Petra       After Kate told them it would not be safe to come in through the rear entrance…

Geoff      Why on earth would you say that?  (Kate stares at him defiantly and doesn’t answer his string of questions)  What risk was there?  Craig and his team were all stood by?  What difference did the entrance make?  Come on Kate.

Kate        (Looks pressured, unsure whether to speak, and then finally explodes) You deserved it – you kept on overruling me – now let’s see you get yourself out of this one!  (She sits on one of the visitor chairs and crosses her arms – clearly enjoying the moment)

David      We’ll have to suggest that it’s all his fault – his choice to let them all down.

Petra      (Answers the ringing phone quietly – still fighting the tears) Organisers office.

Geoff      Craig, I think you’d better get a squad of your guys up by the stage while we consider what we do.  (Craig salutes, clicks his heels and leaves)

Petra-phone        No I can assure you that we close in about ten minutes and we are NOT open tomorrow.  (Hangs up and goes to Geoff with the cutting)  This is the other thing I wanted to show you – apparently our advertisements are all suggesting that we are open on the 12th – look that’s why I’ve been getting all these calls.  (Starts to cry)

Sue         (Takes over the call)  I’m sorry the advert is an error.  (Pauses)  Please write to our office then.  (Hangs up)

Kate        Yet another cock-up by the sales and marketing team!  Steve is going to love all of this – riots, people arriving on the wrong days – I’m really looking forward to reading the post-show review!

(A contractor enters)

Contractor  (Approaches Kate) Can I get my pass here then?  The nonce on the door wouldn’t let me in without it

Kate        Contractors can’t come in before we’ve closed and cleared the visitors from the hall – you’ll have to wait outside for half an hour.

Contractor  What happened to please and thank you?

Kate        Look, don’t piss about.  We’re trying to close the show – so be a good guy and get lost for a bit – you know the rules.  And I haven’t any time for you. I’m watching a worm squirming – on a whole series of hooks!

(Vicki enters as he’s leaving)

Contractor  (Mumbles aloud) Snooty cow – either she’s not getting enough or she’s probably some sort of (says as if to Vicki) bloody dyke.

(Vicki looks totally bemused, looks herself up and down to see what had offended him, then becomes aware of the drama around her)

Geoff      If no-one has any brighter idea then I think we should lie – tell them he is going to be outside so we can get them out of the halls.

David      I know what you mean, but that only shifts the problem to outside – what do we do then?  Lock all the doors?  ‘Cos the exhibitors will be dismantling as soon as they can so they’d be fighting their way out through an even angrier crowd outside, who could then easily get back inside through the goods entrances to wreak havoc during the breakdown.  And they’d feel they had a right to do so because you’d lied to them!

(Vicki goes over to console Petra who has been sobbing throughout – and this time she accepts her ministrations)

Geoff      Oh God, we’re going to have a riot on our hands.  (He stands clearly pondering his options as the following mayhem develops)

(Kevin arrives, sees Kate and seems to sense the emotion of the moment and goes to stand besides her, taking on the same defiant look towards Geoff)

(Bill, Mike and John emerge from the rear office extremely drunk)

Bill          (Emerges first from the rear office and approaches Cheryl) Hello darling, where’ve you been?  (Paws at her – she slaps him and Sue goes to stand in front of him protectively)

(Mike and John try to be polite at the door, waving each other forward and then both stepping into the doorway at the same time.  They realise the humour of the situation and subside into giggles)

Mike       After you kind sir – spelt c-u-r of course!  (Giggles uncontrollably)

(Craig enters at a run – bloodied nose and all dishevelled)

Craig       (Approaches Geoff) We need to get them out.  There’s all sorts of trouble.  The Glenn fans are up at the stage they’ve pushed over the barriers and occupied the changing rooms behind.  There’s one local gang that got past us and they’re trying to steal anything that’s not nailed down.  It’s almost five o’clock – can’t we please close it now?

Geoff      (Jumps out of his pondering, looks around, takes a deep breath and goes to the Tannoy mike.  Takes another deep breath) Can I have your attention please, can I have your attention please – I have some very good news, some good news, some bad news and some very bad news.  I repeat I have mixed news…

(The whole team is frozen like a tableau, all are waiting to hear just what he can say to get out of the situation)

Geoff-Tannoy The very good news is that today there was a record attendance – thank you for all helping to make that so!  (All of the noise from the halls promptly stops – leaving a rather deathly hush)

              The good news is that although this is our formal announcement to say that Dream Homes is hereby closed, we will be back next year right here from the 7th to the 10th March – with even more for you to see.

Mel-radio   Hello, this is Mel in the Press Office, was someone trying to reach me earlier?

Geoff-Tannoy (Takes a deep breath) The bad news is that we have just heard from the London Underground and there is to be a 24-hour strike starting at 6 o’clock tonight so there is only one hour to go.  Their statement (he flutters a piece of paper by the mike) says that they expect it to be 100% supported.  So if you have travelled by Tube you need to leave promptly to have any chance of reaching your destination before the strike starts.  (Pauses)  But please don’t rush the doors.  Make your way carefully through the nearest available exit.

              The very bad news is that this strike has meant that the roads are already badly congested, particularly in this part of London.  This is why Glenn has not been able to make it, but see tomorrow’s papers for his abject apologies.  I feel sure he’ll find a way of making it all up to each and every one of you.  Thank you for coming – I hope to see you all back here next year.

              Now an important announcement to exhibitors – please allow five minutes for the halls to clear before you commence your breakdowns. 

(Kate, realising that Geoff has won, drops her head and Kevin moves to her to console her.  Bill is still rubbing his cheek, Mike and John are still stuck in the door, Craig is washing off the blood from his face with a handkerchief – all looking at Geoff in absolute surprise.)

Geoff      (He looks around the office at each of them and pushes the Tannoy button once more) But I see that some of you have not heeded my announcement and have started your breakdowns already!

Cheryl     (Throws her arms around him.)  That was absolutely brilliant!

Geoff      (Bows) That’s show business!

THE END

© Bob Denton, 2014
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