Firing

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen is sitting at a desk. Hugh knocks and enters.

Stephen Ah, Terry, thanks for dropping by.

Hugh No problem,

Stephen Good, good. You got my memo, I take it?

Hugh The one asking me to drop by?

Stephen Yeah.

Hugh Got it this morning.

Stephen Excellent, excellent.

Hugh You got mine, hopefully?

Stephen Yours? I don't think I did, no.

Hugh It's not important. Just said I would drop by.

Stephen Right. Probably in my in-tray. I dare say Carol will have taken care of it.

Hugh Right. How is Carol, by the way?

Stephen Er ... How is Carol. Hold on a sec. Stephen presses intercom buzzer. Carol?

Carol (Off) Yes?

Stephen How are you?

Carol (Off) Fine, thank you.

Stephen She's fine.

Hugh Oh good.

Stephen I thought she was, but I don't have the paperwork in front of me. Anyway. Worth checking.

Hugh Absolutely.

Stephen Now Terry. I'd like if I may to go through a little recap of your career. You've been with us for nearly three years, am I right?

Hugh Seven actually.

Stephen Seven, is it really? Seven years. Tscch. There was I thinking it was three, when all along it was seven. Well thanks for putting me right.

Hugh No trouble. Stephen starts taking notes.

Stephen Now how would you describe your duties here in that time?

Hugh Well I suppose as personnel manager I guess it's been my job to look after the hiring and firing around here.

Stephen The hiring and ...

Hugh Firing.

Stephen Firing. Hmm. (Writing) Two "F's" in firing?

Hugh No, just one.

Stephen Just one. Firing. Yes of course it's one. One "F" in firing. It would look silly with two. Now by firing, I take it that you don't mean rifles or anything like that? You mean firing in the sense of sacking, or dismissing an employee.

Hugh That's right. Although a rifle would be handy every now and then.

Stephen Would it? Oh my dear chap, you should have said.

Hugh No, not really.

Stephen You sure?

Hugh I've had to give courses of instruction to senior management.

Stephen In how to fire people. You've done wonders, Terry. The whole company is massively grateful to you for the guidance you've given in how to fire, sack or dismiss employees.

Hugh Well, I aim to please.

Stephen Ha. Aim to please, and fire to please.

Hugh Ha ha. Very good.

Stephen Thanks. Well now, Terry, I need your advice.

Hugh Fire away. Ha ha.

Stephen Ha ha ha. That's it exactly. I have to fire away. So Terry, let us suppose for a moment, that I wanted to fire someone.

Hugh Right. Well I advise directness and candour.

Stephen Two s's in directness. Directness and candour.

Hugh Start off with a brief recap of their career, how long they've held their present job ...

Stephen Done that.

Hugh ... and then tell them, as directly and candidly as you can, that they're fired.

Stephen Just like that?

Hugh Just like that.

Stephen So, sort of "Terry, you're fired", you think would meet the case?

Hugh Absolutely.

Stephen Terry, you're fired.

Hugh That's it.

Stephen Right. Good. Er ... Terry?

Hugh Yup.

Stephen You're fired.

Hugh That's perfect.

Stephen Good, good. Terry, you are actually fired.

Hugh Yeah, you only have to say it once.

Stephen Oh do I? I don't have to repeat it?

Hugh Best not to.

Stephen So having said, "Terry you're fired" you would ideally get up and walk out of the building.

Hugh Sometimes.

Stephen Sometimes?

Hugh Sometimes I might break down in tears and beg you to take me back.

Stephen Oh dear.

Hugh I know.

Stephen Well we don't want that.

Hugh Other times, I would just go very quiet and nod.

Stephen Well that's more the sort of thing I was hoping for, I must say.

Hugh It varies a lot from case to case. Depends on the individual.

Stephen Hmm. What about you?

Hugh Me?

Stephen Would you say that you were a crier, or a nodder?

Hugh Well you never really know until it's happening.

Stephen I see. I see.

Hugh I think I'm a nodder.

Stephen Right. Terry?

Hugh Yes?

Stephen You're fired.

Hugh That's great.

Stephen You're fired.

Hugh No, just once.

Stephen Mm. And if the person you want to fire, doesn't really take it seriously?

Hugh That often happens.

Stephen Does it?

Hugh Thing to do is to look them right in the eyes and tell them.

Stephen I see. Stephen looks deep into Hugh's eyes. Terry?

Hugh Yes?

Stephen You are ... fired.

Hugh Just like that, perfect.

Stephen Good. Excellent. Thank you, Terry.

Hugh So, is that all?

Stephen No. There's one other thing. (Searching through paper on his desk) I'm having the most tremendous difficulty firing someone. I've followed your instruction to the letter, directness with two s's, candour, look them in the eye ...

Hugh And they can't take it on board, can't accept it's them, give me their name and department, and I'll take care of it for you.

Stephen Would you Terry? That would be a great burden off my shoulders. Stephen hands Hugh a piece of paper.

Hugh That's what I'm here for. Catch you later.

Stephen Possibly Terry, possibly. Hugh exits. Stephen sighs. Hugh re-enters.

Hugh You bastard.

Stephen I thought you said you were a nodder.

Vox Pop

Hugh I lost my sense of smell during the Korean War. I was cycling down Witford Street, just over there, and I got knocked off by a GPO van. Never smelt anything since.

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