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Painting by Numbers

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ARCHIE: Gordon, would you mind going over to Hut 9 and giving them this decrypt?

GORDON: Why don't you send it through the I-Tube, like we normally do?

ARCHIE: Can't, I-Tube's broken. George in Hut 5 wanted to borrow your book on non-Euclidian algorithms, and Josh tried to send it to him.

GORDON: But the I-Tube wasn't meant for big things like a heavy hardcover book!

ARCHIE: No. Which is why they're currently digging the tubes all around Hut 32, trying to find where it's stuck.

GORDON: Oh no, they'll ruin it! And I paid a fortune for it!

ARCHIE: The perils of sharing a hut with Joshua Fanshawe-Marshall, the man who wouldn't know common sense if it whacked him on the head. Which it probably has. Repeatedly.

GORDON: (sighing) I'm sure he meant well. I'm going to see if I can salvage my book. See you in the canteen!


ARCHIE: Ah, hello Gordon. How's the book search going?

GORDON: Well, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that they're making good progress in digging out all the tubes. The bad news is there's still no sign of my book. Oh, and a couple of the huts have collapsed.

ARCHIE: How did that happen? Surely not just from digging out the I-Tube!

GORDON: Well, Josh felt guilty for getting it stuck, so he tried to help.

CHARLES: Ah, say no more. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a situation that can't get any worse only needs Joshua Fanshawe-Marshall to prove you wrong. How did he do it this time?

GORDON: He used his father's influence and resources. He borrowed a tank.

MRS BEST: Oh dear. Still, I suppose it's a good opportunity for the young chaps who were displaced out of their huts to get to know their neighbours. They must be freezing and in need of cheering up. I know just the thing. In fact, Archie, you look a bit blue yourself, can I-

ARCHIE: No, thank you, Mrs B, I think I know what your "thing" is. You do tend to recommend it to any man who looks the slightest bit down. Or like he might be down in the future. Or has ever been down in the past.

GORDON: But there's a war on! No one's truly cheerful.

MRS BEST: Exactly. My work's never done.


CHARLES: Any news on the book front, Gordon?

GORDON: Well, the search is over.

ARCHIE: Ah, so can we use the I-Tube again? And can I borrow the book? I'm getting a bit stuck with this message.

GORDON: Not really.

ARCHIE: ...to which one?

GORDON: Both. You can have what's left of my book. (paper rustles) And they're going to have to rebuild the whole I-Tube net.

ARCHIE: What?

CHARLES: Did Josh get access to another tank?

GORDON: No, it was... Minka. We found the exact place where the book was stuck, and we were struggling a bit with digging it out, and Minka just wanted to help.

MINKA: British hut design very poor.

ALL: Agh!

ARCHIE: Hello, Minka. How did you help get the I-Tube unclogged?

MINKA: Grenade.

(silence)

ARCHIE: Well. Could've been worse, could've got Neville to help. We'd be digging out the huts from bomb shells and rubble by now.


ARCHIE: Another Victory Ale, please, Mrs B.

JOSH: Same for me, Mrs Best.

MRS BEST: Anything for you, Charles?

CHARLES: A glass of red wine, please.

MRS BEST: There you go. Shall I charge to your room, or shall I charge you, to mine?

CHARLES: No, thank you, Mrs B, monetary transactions will do me just fine.

MRS BEST: Oh come on, Charles! You've been on leave for ten whole... hours. I've got needs!

CHARLES: So do I. Social and intellectual needs.

MRS BEST: Where did you go, anyway?

CHARLES: I went to London to see a new play. They said the lead actor was a promising new name in British theatre. Personally I don't think he's going to get very far, he doesn't have enough of that air of nobility a true thespian needs.

GORDON: What's his name?

CHARLES: Laurence Olivier.

(silence)

GORDON: Why are we all looking at Mrs B?

(silence)

ARCHIE: Come on, Mrs B, I know you're dying to tell us how you "had 'im", too.

MRS BEST: Hmph.

ARCHIE: That's an unexpected attack of modesty, Mrs Best. Or was he not up to your usual standards of human male with a pulse?

MRS BEST: I didn't, actually. More's the pity. His loss, really. If you ask me, he wouldn't know a good woman if she stared him in the face - backstage, dressed only in a fur coat, asking him to sign her script with his mightiest pen, if you get my meaning.

ARCHIE: Maybe he didn't "get your meaning".

GORDON: Yeah, what was your meaning, Mrs B?

MRS BEST: Oh Gordon, so innocent. You'd be more his type.

GORDON: How do you mean, Mrs B? I'm not sure I'd have anything in common with an actor. I'm just a mere mathematician. They'll never make plays and movies about us.

JOSH: Haha, imagine, a movie about us, here at Bletchley!

ARCHIE: Nah, they'd never get the security clearance to do it, for one thing.

CHARLES: Why would they want to make a movie about your word puzzles? I can't imagine anyone wanting to sit through your muttering of the alphabet forwards, backwards, or starting with the most frequently used vowels.

ARCHIE: 'ey, our work 'ere has saved countless lives, and it might even win us the war!

CHARLES: And certainly not how you mutilate those vowels. Although there would be some comedic value in that, I'm sure it pales compared to the general tragedy of the war.

GORDON: Yes, all the men dying on the frontlines, it's terrible.

CHARLES: I was thinking more of the tragedy of decent people ripped out of academia and forced to work on the ground with the working classes.

JOSH: It's all right, Charles, Colonel Standring has a plan to get our spirits up, put some colour around the place.

CHARLES: What?

JOSH: Oh, did I not mention it? They're repainting the huts. For morale. To cheer us all up after the demolishing of the huts that were in Minka's strike area.

ARCHIE: Morale? If they wanted morale to improve, they'd be fixing the windows, and the holes in the wall, and the roof! That's what makes life miserable in this hut, not the outside colour!

JOSH: Sorry, chaps, there are no resources to fix... all those things, but there is some leftover paint from repainting the hangars at the airfield, so we're getting that.

ARCHIE: How's that going to improve morale?

JOSH: Well, you know what my father says: Beatings will continue until morale improves!

CHARLES: Yes, and we're all grateful he's not in charge of morale in Bletchley...

JOSH: Anyway, we have received two tins of paint per hut, and we're to paint them ASAP, as soon as the rain stops.

ARCHIE: Oh great, we have to do it ourselves? How's that going to help morale?

MINKA: Minka help.

ALL: Aagh!

ARCHIE: Minka, stop creeping up on us!

MINKA: I creep up like a plane in the sky.

ARCHIE: That's... usually quite noisy?

MINKA: Can you stop plane in the sky?

ARCHIE: Good point. Anyway, Josh, I don't see how Minka helping us paint is going to do any good. Her preferred method of helping is to shoot at things.

MINKA: Yes. I shoot paint out of modified air rifle. Bang-bang, bang-bang, bang-bang-bang-bang...

ARCHIE: Yeah, we get the idea. That's... going to be messy.

MINKA: No worry, you can help. I make enough paint rifles for all of us in the hut. Is very efficient.


MRS BEST: Hello boys, you look... quite different. How did the painting go?

ARCHIE: We look dirty, Mrs B. I don't think this paint is ever going to come off my skin.

MRS BEST: Oh, I can help you, Archie! Let me give you a good hot bath...

ARCHIE: No, thank you, Mrs B. Although you might want to bathe Charles. Last I saw him, he was wailing and moaning that paint had got into his...

CHARLES: Yes, thank you Archie, that's quite enough.

MRS BEST: Ooh. How did you get paint... there, Charles?

CHARLES: Why don't you ask Archie? He was the one busy shooting at me, instead of even trying to pretend he was aiming at the hut!

ARCHIE: I was aiming at the hut. You were in the way.

CHARLES: I was between you and Hut 32!

ARCHIE: You can't fault me for wanting to give a helping hand to a colleague.

JOSH: Well, I think it was an excellent group activity. It brought us all closer together as a hut, and with other huts. You should market that, Minka.

CHARLES: Grown men flicking paint at each other from modified rifles, in a mockery of combat? That's preposterous, it will never catch on.

GORDON: Well, it worked for you two. You seem much happier after finally getting the chance to shoot at each other non-lethally.

ARCHIE (sotto voce): Well, give us some time, we'll get to the lethal part...

GORDON: What was that?

ARCHIE: I said you're one to talk! You got more paint on me than Charles did! I know for a fact it was you, you and Josh were the only ones with the yellow paint, and Josh couldn't hit a target if it stood right in front of him.

GORDON (coyly): I'm sorry, Archie, I was still trying to work out angles and trajectories for the corners of the wall.

JOSH: Hey, that's not fair, chaps! I painted the whole eastern wall!

ARCHIE: ...Yes. And without Gordon filling in the corners, your painting looked very... anatomically correct.

CHARLES: And Gordon hasn't painted the corners as much as making it look like there are flicks of paint coming out all over from the tip of your "painting", Josh.

JOSH: Well, it has helped with morale. The chaps from all other huts are coming over to look at our hut!

MRS BEST: Ooh, that sounds interesting. I might drop by later to have a look as well, boys. Come to think of it, that sounds like an excellent meeting place.

ARCHIE: (sigh) See you all later, in Hut 33!