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In Efficiency

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From: Mr. Grace
To: All Employees of Grace Brothers Department Store
Re: Efficiency Experts

Grace Brothers is pleased to announce a visit from Efficiency Experts, Inc, in an effort to help us streamline staff usage of time and maximize profits. Employees of EEI will be installing closed circuit television cameras and selecting certain departments for review. The most efficient department will be rewarded with a gourmet meal in the canteen at the end of this week. Please extend the EEI employees—Doug McCallum, Hugh Jones, and Julia Groves—all courtesies you would afford your co-workers.

That’s enough, Miss Bakewell. Now help me figure out what time “Last Tango in Paris” is playing.


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Mr. Harman, Maintenance
CC: Mr. Grace, Department Heads
Re: CCI Installation

I would like to remind you to aid in the installation of the cameras PRIOR TO the store’s opening. It does not do for you to be on the floor when customers are present.



Old Jug Ears insists on me sacrificing my morning tea break to this EEI bollocks. I’d like to send him a memorandum about where he can put those cameras.


EEI TECHNICIAN’S NOTES, Doug McCallum: November 2nd

Even before the installation of the cameras, we readily saw that Grace Brothers was sorely in need of some efficiency re-training. Staff in the ladies’ and gentlemen’s departments spent the morning gossiping with one another instead of tidying up, checking their figures, or planning for the upcoming holiday sales season. Granted, there were very few customers to speak of, but it was still a waste of time on almost all fronts. Looks like our work is cut out for us.


From: Mrs. Slocombe
To: Mr. Grainger
Re: EEI evaluation

Mr. Grainger: It has come to our attention that Grace Brothers insists on spying on our departments in the name of “increasing efficiency.” Speaking for myself, and I am unanimous in this, I find this very unpleasant and rather discriminatory. I suggest that we meet to discuss this during morning break.


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Captain Peacock
Re: EEI Evaluation

Captain Peacock, please keep a ready eye on the staff. It has come to my attention that there are some bad feelings amongst the employees regarding the Efficiency Evaluation, but since this decision is from Board Room Level, we must comply. Please report to me if you witness any shenanigans taking place.


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 2nd morning, Canteen Observation. (Julia transcribing.)

Slocombe: Captain Peacock’s not around, is he?

Brahms: No, he’s gone down to millinery for a new hat. What’s this about, Mrs. Slocombe?

Grainger: Bad news, Miss Brahms.

Humphries: We’re being evaluated for efficiency.

Lucas: I bet reading Solcombe’s file would be a laugh, wouldn’t it? It would be, “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am, very efficient indeed!” (laughs)

Slocombe: (livid) None of your lip, now.

Grainger: Yes, please take this seriously, Mr. Lucas. These efficiency experts will no doubt recommend staff reductions as a way to save money! A terrible prospect, indeed.

Humphries: Oh, I say. That would be terrible, and right before the holidays, too.

Lucas: And my poor Mum couldn’t handle the shock.

Brahms: Yeah, the shock of you staying home and doing nothing all day long would probably kill her.

Slocombe: (clearing her throat) If we could stay on topic, I think Mr. Grainger is right to be worried. My friend at Harrods told me that when the efficiency experts arrived, it was all over for the newest hires. So you’d best watch yourself, Mr. Lucas.

Lucas: So what are we going to do?

Brahms: Maybe we could just work faster or something.

Humphries: No, it’s more than that. If we worked faster, we wouldn’t have any work at all!

Lucas: True. Not a lot of people buying suits, and if we worked faster to take an inside leg, we wouldn’t get any satisfaction at all! Isn’t that right, Mr. Humphries?

Humphries: Quite right, Mr. Lucas, there would be no satisfaction at all.

Grainger: What if they fired someone else instead of Mr. Lucas? Do you think they would do that?

Slocombe: They might impose early retirement on… certain people. I, of course, would not be eligible.

(Lucas opens his mouth to speak, but Mrs. Slocombe shoots him a look and he subsides.)

Brahms: I don’t like this whole efficiency thing. We work hard enough as it is, without someone who don’t know our jobs coming in and telling us how to do them better! It’s rude, almost.

Lucas: I agree, but what can we do? Working faster is the best idea we have to beat them at their own game.

Humphries: No, I have a better idea than simply working faster.

Slocombe: Well, go on, then! Tell us!

Humphries: (staring at camera) Not here. The walls have ears.

(All turn to stare at camera)

Slocombe: Oh, the things you see when you haven’t got your gun.


To: Mrs. Slocombe
From: Mr. Humphries
Re: You Know What

Operation Tally-Ho is a go and Captain Peacock is watching me, so I’d better get back to—


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 2nd afternoon, Ladies and Gent’s Departments (Hugh transcribing)

Peacock: What is the meaning of this, Mr. Humphries?

Humphries: Oh, well, you see, that is—

Peacock: ‘Operation Tally-Ho’? Are you involved in some sort of espionage game, Mr. Humphries? Fancy yourself as James Bond?

Humphries: No, dear me, no, of course not. I haven’t the stamina, do I, Mr. Lucas?

Lucas: Quite right. I was just saying to Mr. Grainger that Mr. Humphries doesn’t possess the stamina that man possesses.

Peacock: (exasperated) Listen here, both of you. Grace Brothers does not tolerate any sort of shenanigans, larks, or pranks, especially those that utilize department property.

Slocombe: (clearing her throat) Captain Peacock?

Peacock: Not now, Mrs. Slocombe.

Slocombe: Captain Peacock, I have some information that may illuminate this situation.

Peacock: Oh, all right. What is it, Mrs. Slocombe?

Slocombe: Mr. Humphries and I have been planning a surprise.

Peacock: A surprise? For whom?

Lucas: For any man who walks through that door.

Humphries: You shut your mouth, saucebox.

Slocombe: (ignoring Lucas) Why, for you, of course, Captain Peacock. Isn’t your birthday coming in a few weeks?

Peacock: (pleased) Why, yes, yes it is. How kind of you both to remember.

Slocombe: (batting her eyelashes) So can you please forgive us our little cloak-and-dagger maneuver?

Lucas: It would have to be a pretty big cloak.

Slocombe & Humphries: (in unison) Shut it, Mr. Lucas!

Peacock: (very pleased) Yes, you’re not helping, Mr. Lucas. Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Humphries, carry on with Operation Tally-Ho. I shall forget that I heard about it.

(He walks off. Slocombe rushes over to the men’s counter.)

Humphries: Wonderful, now we have to get him a gift as well as figure out how to deal with these efficiency experts! This is too stressful for my delicate constitution! I’m becoming quite pale, you know!

Slocombe: Never mind that! Are we going to try—

(Rumbold appears on the floor.)

Rumbold: Gather round, everyone. I need to have a meeting—wait, where is Captain Peacock?

(Captain Peacock emerges from the ladies’ side racks.)

Rumbold: What on earth were you doing back there, Captain Peacock?

Peacock: Just inspecting the display figures, Mr. Rumbold.

Lucas: (to Humphries) That’s not all he was inspecting.

Rumbold: (frowning) Well, gather round, please. I have some news.

Peacock: Yes, gather round, everyone. Mr. Rumbold has some important news.

(Closing bell rings)

Rumbold: Yes, I do. It’s very interesting news. If I had to categorize it, I’d say it was news of the most important, interesting variety—

Slocombe: Can we please get on with it? If I’m not at the pub before six, Mrs. Axelby will claim all the handsome men!

Rumbold: Ah, yes. Well, the news I have is this: the efficiency experts have already turned in a preliminary report.

Peacock: (impatient) And?

Rumbold: And, ah, they find the use of floorwalkers to be…

All: What?

Rumbold: (sighing) Inefficient.

(Peacock’s jaw drops. The others look at each other uncertainly.)

Rumbold: Now, I’m afraid that this decision was made at the Board Room Level, and I’m sorry to say—

Peacock: The years of service I’ve given this company! You’ll be hearing from my solicitor! This is unheard of! I shall complain to the newspapers! You haven’t heard the last of—

Rumbold: (clearing his throat) I’m sorry to say that you may not like this decision, but you’ll be working alongside the others for the time being, Captain Peacock. The Board didn’t feel it was right to fire you, and they think floorwalkers may be going the way of the dodo. That’s all. Good night, everyone.

(Rumbold exits. Captain Peacock stammers incoherently.)

Humphries: Dear, dear. Glass of water for Captain Peacock!

Lucas: Glass of water coming right up!


INTEROFFICE MEMORANDUM: Wednesday, November 3rd
From: Young Mr. Grace
To: All Department Heads
Re: Floorwalkers

Please see to it that all floorwalkers are absorbed into their respective departments. We look forward to reading the efficiency experts’ full report on Thursday.

Not that one, Miss Bakewell, the one with the lace.


EEI TRANSCRIPTS, November 3rd morning, prior to store opening, Ladies’ and Gents’ Department (Julia transcribing)

Brahms: Did you see the look on old Peacock’s face last night?

Humphries: Did I ever! I thought he was going to blow his top!

Brahms: Wasn’t he wearing a homburg?

(Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Grainger, and Mr. Lucas arrive.)

Grainger: I think you’re right, Mrs. Slocombe. There’s no respect for the old ways these days.

Lucas: Well, Mrs. Slocombe, you would know about the ‘old ways,’ wouldn’t you?

Slocombe: (frostily) Whatever are you referring to, Mr. Lucas? I suggest we focus on our plans for today.

Humphries: Operation Tally-Ho is still a go, right?

Slocombe: Yes.

(She glances around, motioning the other to come closer, lowering her voice. Transcript is incomplete.)

Slocombe: … ladies’ department… Captain Peacock… sales… two birds, one stone… tally ho!

(Tape ends)


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Young Mr. Grace
CC: Captain Peacock
Re: Today’s assignment

Since Mrs. Slocombe has graciously extended an offer, and the Gents’ Department is currently fully staffed, Captain Peacock will join the sales team in the Ladies’ Department today.


From: Captain Peacock
To: Mr. Rumbold
Re: Today’s assignment

Get stuffed!
You must be joking.
Of all the insulting, facile decisions you could have made, this one takes the cake.

I shall endeavor to do my best, sir.


Everything’s topsy-turvy today! There’s no floorwalkers anywhere to yell at me and the lads for being on the floor during store hours. Stuffed shirt Captain Peacock is working in the ladies’ department and he’ll probably make a right mess of it.


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 3rd morning, Ladies and Gent’s Departments (Hugh transcribing)

Slocombe: (motioning to the cash register) Now, have you understood me, Captain Peacock, or do I need to give it another go?

Peacock: (irritated) No, Mrs. Slocombe, I am certain that I can ring up a sale properly.

Brahms: Don’t worry if you make a mistake! I had a lot of problems on my first day.

Peacock: (with a thin smile) I’m sure I shall be more than proficient.

(A woman wearing a fur coat and fancy hat approaches. She takes off her sunglasses to reveal Brigitte Bardot looks.)

Woman: Yes, can someone help me?

Slocombe: Yes, of course, madam. What can we assist you with?

Woman: I need a new hat and gloves.

Slocombe: Right away, madam. I’m putting you in the capable hands of our newest associate, Captain Peacock.

Peacock: (vacillating between excitement and trepidation) I shall happy to assist you, Madam. But, ah, Mrs. Slocombe, a word, please? Over here?

(They step off to one side of the counter.)

Peacock: Are you sure that I should be the one to help her? You know the stock better than I.

Slocombe: Ah, you’re more knowledgeable than you think, Captain! Besides, Miss Brahms and I are expecting a return customer this morning, any moment now.

(Captain Peacock frowns, still nervous. From the gent’s department, Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas mime playing a trumpet and riding horses.)

Slocombe: (seeing them and smiling) And I believe she was, ahem, making eyes at you when she came in.

Peacock: (preening) Really? Are you sure?

Slocombe: Oh, yes, I’m sure. It takes a woman’s intuition to know these things, you understand.

Peacock: Well, then!

(He moves back to help the customer. Mrs. Slocombe rolls her eyes.)

Slocombe: Tally ho, indeed.


From: Young Mr. Grace
To: All Departments
Re: EEI report

Excellent news! The store has made strong sales this morning, with outdoor furniture currently tied with bathroom fittings as the most efficient department. Keep up the good work.

No, I don’t want that one, Miss Bakewell. It’s boring.


From: Young Mr. Grace
To: Mr. Rumbold
Re: Ladies’ and Gents’ Departments

The Ladies and Gent’s departments were tied for last place by the efficiency experts. Find out what the problem is and fix it.


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Young Mr. Grace
Re: Ladies’ and Gents’ Departments

My apologies, sir. I discovered that Captain Peacock wasn’t a good match for the Ladies’ department after all. He spent the entire morning fawning over one customer, and since there was no floorwalker present, too many other, potential customers weren’t able to find where they needed to go. I shall try moving Captain Peacock to the Gents’ department this afternoon and installing a map near the elevator doors.


From: Ladies’ Department
To: Gents’ Department
Re: Operation Tally-Ho

Great success this morning! On to part two this afternoon. Mr. Humphries, where do you meet all those interesting actresses??


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Mr. Harman, Maintenance
CC: Young Mr. Grace
Re: Map Installation

Please install a map of the store in plain view of the elevators on the ladies’ and gents’ department floor. You are permitted to appear on the floor BRIEFLY while you install it.


-Lent Gus one quid til payday.

-Old Jug Ears wanted me to install a map on the ladies’ and gents’ floor. I tried to introduce Grace Brothers’ New And Improved Talking Mannequin Map, but it was a right muck-up. First its ears popped off from steam, and then after I fixed that, it shot sparks out of its eye sockets and chased one of the cleaners around the floor. She screamed bloody murder. Scared customers off. Typical Wednesday.

-Out with the lads tonight.


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 3rd afternoon, Ladies and Gent’s Departments (Hugh transcribing)

Grainger: Well, Captain Peacock, at least you’re back on terra firma, as it were.

Peacock: I hope so, Mr. Grainger. You’re very kind to offer me a place here.

Grainger: We’ve known each other for so long, Stephen. I’m sure you’d do the same for me!

Peacock: Of course, Ernest.

Lucas: Blimey, the love in the Gent’s department right now.

Humphries: I’d say it’s of biblical proportions, Mr. Lucas.

Lucas: Biblical, indeed, Mr. Lucas, exactly the word I was looking for.

Grainger: (annoyed) In any case, Stephen, let me familiarize you with some of our spring stock, since there are no customers at the moment.

(Grainger and Peacock disappear behind the Gent’s displays.)

Lucas: Are they gone?

Humphries: Yes! Are we ready?

Lucas: As we’ll ever be. Are you sure he won’t recognize her?

Humphries: Who says it’s a her?

Lucas: (stammering) I—I—I—just—she…looked like… THAT.

Humphries: I’ll have you know my friend is a talented performer! Make up skills like you wouldn’t believe. Peacock will be none the wiser.

Lucas: Your friends, Mr. Humphries!

Humphries: My friends what?

Lucas: How do you meet these people?

Humphries: I’m a very popular person, Mr. Lucas. If it weren’t for my mother, I’d be off gallivanting around the world with God knows who, getting into who knows what trouble!

Lucas: Funny how you get into a lot of regular trouble here.

Humphries: You don’t know the half of it.

(Phone rings.)

Humphries: Men’s wear. Right. (He motions to Mr. Lucas.) It’s a go!

Lucas: Tally ho?

(The elevator doors open and a gorgeous woman steps out, dressed in a sparkly pantsuit with a plunging V-neckline.)

Lucas: And view halloo!

Brahms: She looks just like Bo Derrick!

Slocombe: In that thing, she can look like whoever she wants. Peacock will fall all over himself drooling over her.

(Captain Peacock returns with Mr. Grainger and spies the girl.)

Mr. Humphries: Yes, Madam, how can I help you?

Woman: I’d like to purchase a sweater for my boyfriend. He’s a rugged army man. I love the strong, outdoorsy type.

Humphries: Of course, madam! I’m going to ask my associate to step in on this matter since he is an expert on rugged men’s wear. Captain Peacock, are you free?

Peacock: (glances around before answering) At the moment, Mr. Humphries.

Grainger: (angry) Now, see here, Mr. Humphries—

Lucas: (whispering) Tally ho, Mr. Grainger. Tally ho!

Grainger: Oh! Of course!

Peacock: Surely you should step in on this sale, Ernest.

Grainger: No, no, Stephen! You need to earn your first commission to be truly a part of our department. I’ll assist you only if you need it.

Peacock: Well, then, Madam, I’m sure you’ll be happy with our selection.

(The woman reaches across the counter and runs a suggestive finger down his lapel.)

Woman: If you’re serving me, I’m sure I’ll be… quite satisfied.

(Mrs. Slocombe and Miss Brahms share a weary glance as Peacock hems and haws.)

Brahms: She’s laying it on a bit thick, isn’t she?

Slocombe: If thick is what we need, Miss Brahms, then thick we shall have.

(tape ends)


From: Young Mr. Grace
To: All Staff
Re: EEI preliminary report

As the workday draws to a close, I want to thank you all for your efforts in the EEI evaluation. Based on preliminary reports, the toy department has narrowly passed bathroom fittings to clinch the win for most efficient department! They will be rewarded with a gourmet meal in the canteen Friday. I look forward to reading the full EEI report and sharing its findings with in the next few days. You’ve all done very well for yourselves!

Now, Miss Bakewell, what will it be, the club or the dance hall?


From: Young Mr. Grace
To: All Department Heads and Floorwalkers
Re: Floorwalker positions

For the time being, all floorwalkers should return to their previous occupations and locations, pending further review of the EEI report at the end of the day.


From: Young Mr. Grace
To: Mr. Rumbold
Re: EEI report

The Ladies’ and Gents’ department sales were worse than ever yesterday afternoon. Whatever you’re doing, stop it.


From: Mr. Rumbold
To: Young Mr. Grace
Re: EEI report

I don’t understand what went wrong! It’s as if the staff and customers colluded to make sales impossible. However, as this seems highly unlikely, I shall return all staff members to their regular positions per your request.


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 4th morning (Julia transcribing)

Brahms: So, you were at the roller rink with Mrs. Axelby.

Slocombe: Oh, yes! I was. This nice man was helping us do up our laces because we’d had just a little too much at the pub, you understand how it is. Anyway, I realized he was only doing it as an excuse to peep up our skirts!

Brahms: No!

Slocombe: Yes!

Brahms: How disgusting! Whatever did you do?

Slocombe: Beat him up with our handbags, of course. He won’t be bothering us, or any other ladies, for that matter, again.

Brahms: Good on you!

Slocombe: Thank you. I’d do it all over just the same, even though it meant that we didn’t meet any nice men at all.

Brahms: You can always try again tonight, yeah?

Slocombe: Perhaps, but… we’re banned from the roller rink now.

(Captain Peacock approaches.)

Peacock: Good morning, ladies.

Slocombe: Good morning, Captain Peacock. It’s nice to see you back where you belong.

Peacock: Yes, thank you, Mrs. Slocombe. You were kind to take me in yesterday, but I must confess I was rather uncomfortable in the ladies’ department.

Brahms: (under her breath) Could’ve fooled me.

(Mr. Grainger appears.)

Grainger: Captain Peacock, I’m sorry to interrupt, but there was a phone call. It seems that you’re wanted in Mr. Rumbold’s office.

Peacock: In that case, will you take over for me, Mr. Grainger?

Grainger: Of course, Stephen.

(Captain Peacock exits.)

Slocombe: Do you know why Mr. Rumbold wanted him?

Grainger: No idea, but it can’t be for anything good.

Brahms: You think Old Jug Ears would really fire him?

Slocombe: I don’t know.

(Tape ends.)


From: Mrs. Slocombe, Ladies’ Department
To: Mr. Humphries, Gents’ Department
Re: Peacock

What’s going on? It’s been an hour!


From: Mr. Humphries, Gents’ Department
To: Mrs. Slocombe, Ladies’ Department
Re: Peacock

No idea. No, wait. He’s coming back.


From: Mrs. Slocombe, Ladies’ Department
To: Mr. Humphries, Gents’ Department
Re: Peacock

Oh, he looks angry. Something bad must have happened!


-Fixed front window display so that the mannequin wasn’t mooning people.

-Peacock chewed me out for coming on floor with Mrs. Slocombe’s alterations. Reminded him that alterations must be delivered for customers. “Mr. Harman,” he said in that uptight-fancy-git voice of his, “may I remind you that customers are paying for alterations, not your presence!” “Captain Peacock,” I said in that suave-power-to-the-working-classes voice of mine, “may I remind you that without my presence, the customers wouldn’t receive their alterations and would have to go round to the service entrance in back.” He got all snotty and Mrs. Slocombe told us both to shove off. “Typical men! Bickering over silly matters when there’s work to be done! Weak as water!” Peacock’s nostrils were all red at that! Customer came along though and distracted him.

-Lunch was bangers and mash.

-Fixed front window display AGAIN so that the mannequin wasn’t flashing people. Note to self: Get Gus to stop building mannequins like that.

-Normal Thursday.


EEI TRANSCRIPT, November 4th late afternoon (Julia transcribing)

(Closing bell rings. As staff are leaving, Mr. Rumbold calls them back.)

Lucas: What now? We’ve already signed out.

Rumbold: Gather round, everyone. I have some very important news.

Peacock: Yes, gather round, everyone.

Slocombe: I hope this won’t take long. If I’m not home by the stroke of six, my pussy goes mad and exacts her revenge on my curtains.

Lucas: Hell hath no fury like Mrs. Slocombe’s pussy scorned!

Humphries: Apparently.

Peacock: Let’s keep it polite, everyone. Mr. Rumbold has something important to tell us.

Rumbold: Ah, yes. I’m expecting Young Mr. Grace at any moment to share the preliminary findings of the Efficiency Experts with us.

Brahms: (worried) I hope no one’s being let go!

Rumbold: I, ah, believe that option is not on the table, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s at Board Room Level.

(Elevator dings but the doors don’t open.)

Humphries: The suspense is killing me!

Lucas: That’s funny; it’s putting Mr. Grainger to sleep.

(Grainger has sat down in a chair and nodded off.)

Humphries: Oh dear, poor thing’ll miss his bus. Mr. Grainger, are you free?

Grainger: Oh, yes, I’m free!

Humphries: Get up or you’ll miss the meeting.

(The elevator doors finally open and Young Mr. Grace emerges, accompanied by his secretary and nurse.)

Staff: Good evening, Mr. Grace.

Grace: Good evening, everyone. I’m sorry to keep after the bell.

Rumbold: Not a problem, sir. I’ve gathered the staff for you.

Grace: Oh, good. Listen, everyone, I’ve read the first report from the Efficiency Experts. They had cameras just about everywhere, you know.

Peacock: 'Everywhere'?

Slocombe: (aghast, glancing around) In our fitting rooms?

Grainger: (surprised) Behind the counters?

Rumbold: No, of course not. But enough that they overheard some rather disturbing talk.

Grace: Disturbing? I’d hardly call it that.

Rumbold: (sputtering) But what about the insubordinate name-calling you told me about?

Grace: What, that? I quite like your nickname, Old Jug Ears. No, that’s not the problem at all. Staff talk a bit rudely every now and then; it’s how they deal with the stress of the job. No, the efficiency problem lies elsewhere.

Rumbold: (frustrated) Well, then, where?

Grace: Apparently, we send too many memos. So I’m canceling all memos from here on out. If you need something, just go and talk to the person you need it from.

Peacock: An excellent idea, sir.

Grace: Keep it up, everyone! You’ve all done very well for yourselves!

All: Thank you, Mr. Grace.


From: Julia
To: Hugh

That job was bonkers. Is that store always like that?


From: Hugh
To: Julia

No, sometimes it’s worse.