Troubleshooters

A sketch from A Bit of Fry & Laurie

Stephen and Hugh are being dramatic businessmen.

Hugh Calm down John, we're not going to get anywhere ...

Stephen Don't tell me to calm down. Dammit Peter, I want answers, and I want them fast.

Hugh Answers? A bit late for all that, don't you think? (Drinks)

Stephen What the hell's happened to you Peter? You know as well as I do, there's no such word as "a bit late for all that".

Hugh Agreed.

Stephen So shoot. What've we got?

Hugh Marjorie wants control of Derwent Enterprises, and from where I'm sitting, she's going to get it.

Stephen Marjorie? Jesus, Peter, Marjorie's just a kid.

Hugh Tell that to the board.

Stephen Watch me. I might just do that. (Drinks)

Hugh Good luck to you.

Stephen Meaning?

Hugh They'll laugh in your face, John. Like they did me. Marjorie's got them eating out of her hand.

Stephen Alright. Then I'll go to old man Derwent himself.

Hugh Come off it John. No one's even spoken to old man Derwent in years. The man's a recluse. It's hopeless I tell you. Marjorie's won. And she hasn't even fired a shot. (Drinks)

Stephen Listen to me, Peter. Marjorie may have won the war, but she hasn't won the battle.

Hugh Dammit John, you're up to something. I've seen that look before.

Stephen You're damn right I'm up to something.

Hugh Dammit.

Stephen What?

Hugh What are you up to?

Stephen Something. I'm up to something.

Hugh I thought so.

Stephen I want you on my team for this, Peter.

Hugh Dammit John, I'm yours, you know that.

Stephen I haven't finished. It's absolutely mandatory that you buy into my way of working. Things could get a little hairy in the next forty-eight. (Drinks)

Hugh You know me, John. Hairy is as hairy does.

Stephen Good to hear. Call O'Neill for me, will you? Get him to postpone the meeting.

Hugh What shall I tell him? (Drinks)

Stephen (Shouting) Tell him any damn thing you like - just buy me some time!

Hugh Dammit John, it's good to have you back.

Stephen You'd better save the pretty speeches for later, Peter, we've a long night ahead of us. (Drinks)

Hugh Just like old times, eh, John?

Stephen Sure, Peter, sure.

Hugh (Dialling) You know it's funny. I drove through High Wycombe just the other day ... (into phone) Hello? Peter here. Get me O'Neill.

Stephen And fast.

Hugh And fast. (pause) Say again? Dammit.

Stephen What?

Hugh O'Neill's out of town and can't be reached.

Stephen Dammit to hell and back.

Hugh Right. Damn blast and double damn.

Stephen Damn.

Hugh Want me to try Amsterdam?

Stephen No.

Hugh But ...

Stephen Come on Peter, you're not thinking straight. Amsterdam's too obvious. Marjorie was never obvious. That's why I loved her.

Hugh (Drinks) By God here's a turn-up. I never thought I'd hear an old warhorse like you talk about love.

Stephen Love's nothing to be afraid of, Peter. You don't need a Harvard MBA to know that the bedroom and the boardroom are just two sides of the same ballgame. I wonder -

Hugh Try me. Shoot.

Stephen Put it together. A block of part-paid ordinaries funnelled through Geneva. A carefully staged release of IDL preference stock through the back door underpinned by a notional rights issue. Who'll be wincing then? (Drinks)

Hugh Dammit John, it's starting to add up. Want me to try Sydney?

Stephen Come on Peter, stay awake. He'll be in Australia by now.

Hugh Dammit sideways. Wait a minute. Will they trace it back to us?

Stephen A ploy like that? It'll have Seagrove's handwriting all over it, Peter.

Hugh And back again. But that still leaves us with Marjorie.

Stephen Dammit.

Hugh (Whispered mysteriously) What's she after?

Stephen No point in asking that, Peter. I gave up trying to understand Marjorie a long time ago.

Hugh Yeah. Women.

Stephen Marjorie isn't women, Peter.

Hugh No, of course not, John. Forgive me. I meant no offence.

Stephen Something I've always wondered. How did you keep Nancy so long?

Hugh I've never been Nancy, John.

Stephen No, your wife.

Hugh Oh Nancy. You know. Rough with the smooth. You work at it. Do your best. Never enough time. Keep on grafting, long hours, you think you know but of course you don't, cover all the angles, they talk about stress, I tell them I'm married to it.

Stephen Am I right in thinking that you have a daughter?

Hugh Yup. Henrietta.

Stephen Did he? Did he really? That must have hurt. Hurt like hell on a jetski.

Hugh You never had kids of your own, I believe?

Stephen You're wrong, Peter. You're so wrong.

Hugh Oh. I beg your pardon.

Stephen We're sitting in my children at this moment.

Hugh I may have misheard that, John.

Stephen The company, Peter.

Hugh Oh right.

Stephen I gave everything to this company. (Suddenly shouting) Dammit New York should have rung by now.

Hugh Relax, John. It's still early.

Stephen I know, Peter. But It's not going to stay early for long.

Stephen goes to the window.

Hugh New York'll come through, John. I know they will.

Stephen (Looking out of the window) I hope so. There are six million people out there, Peter.

Hugh Really? What do they want?

Stephen Who knows? Peter?

Hugh Yeah.

Stephen I say we go with it.

Hugh Agreed.

Stephen If New York rings, we give them affirmative.

Hugh I'll tell Susan.

Stephen Now let's get the hell out of here.

Hugh Sure?

Stephen Yeah. I don't think even we two can sustain this level of high intensity work without coming down for a space.

Hugh Dammit you're right.

Stephen Besides, I could use a drink.

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