Mr Blint's Attic

The play script

A page from Peter Cook's typescriptMany many thanks to Carsten Heuer for taking the time and effort to transcribe the play so accurately! I have corrected certain bits from memory and welcome suggestions for remaining textual uncertainties, which are marked with (?words in brackets with question marks?). I have also received another transcript from Barth Richards, and many thanks to him as well. I've included his dramatis personae here and will update the rest of the transcript a.s.a.p... Thanks also to Pierre Dhérété for filling in some of my gaps. It's so impressive that people whose first language is not English have had more success transcribing the play than I have!

Dramatis Personae

Mr Haig
(played by Peter Cook) - A lawyer. The bulk of the play takes place in his office. He starts out a little tipsy and gets drunker as the play continues. By halfway through, he's sloshed. (His first name seems to be Victor, according to a page of script reproduced in the liner notes, although the name Victor doesn't appear once in the final version of the play.)

Malcolm Pepperman (Peter Cook) - Another lawyer. He is loud, tense, paranoid, pompous, and irritable. Almost everything he says is emphatic.

Walter Stapleton (Peter Cook) - Mr Haig's client. He's a Northerner. (He says 'joomp' instead of 'jump,' etc.).

Lulu Stapleton (Judy Huxtable) - Mr Pepperman's client and Walter Stapleton's wife. She speaks with a thick (cod) French accent.

Mr Blint (Peter Cook) - The man downstairs. He always speaks in a calm, measured, unfluttered voice that has a large amount of reverb applied to it. He has something close to Peter Cook's E.L. Wisty voice.

Miss Farthing - Mr Haig's secretary. Her first name is maybe Judy, (Victor Haig says "Ah, there you are. Miss Farthing ? Judy? Where are you going?") - but then Judy Huxtable was playing the part of Lulu, so it might her!

The characters, it should be noted, are all by and large grotesque stereotypes; a drunkard, a Jewish lawyer and a French prostitute. As Pepperman says "I'm a stereotype and always have been a stereotype. I'm not ashamed of it and I'm not proud of it. The whole thing is not an issue to me." Only Blint and Mr Stapleton are really out of the ordinary, Walter because he is so ordinary.

Sides one and two of the LP set are music. They form a sort of overture in which we see signs that Nature has gone mad and is seeking revenge on mankind.

Side one includes the songs:

  • Seascape
  • Wind
  • Fireworks
  • Stampede
  • Burial Scene
  • Side two includes the songs:

  • Sleeping Earth
  • Honolulu Lulu
  • The Flood
  • The only one of these songs to really have any lyrics is 'Honolulu Lulu'.

    [OneWay CD1 Track 7]

    Aloha, it's Honolulu Lulu from Hawaii
    I saw you out the corner of my eye-ee
    And here I come
    Blowing one too many pages of your paper over
    Pulling on the sails of your catamaran
    As only I can, here I come

    Aloha, alo, aloha
    Aloha, alo, aloha

    We're going to have to
    Call in all the army and the navy and the air force
    Everybody on the island
    Every boy and every girl becoming soldiers
    Conscription, aloha
    (Chest in, tongue out, cough twice and they say, ah)
    Description, o no-ah

    Everybody's screaming, streets are teaming
    With kamikaze rickshaw
    And the hurricane keeps on blowing
    Just as hard as she can blow
    Will she ever let up, no
    Panic station, evacuees
    Description, refugees

    Aloha, alo, aloha

      [OneWay CD1 Track 9, LP side 3]

    song: 'Five O'Clock In The Morning'

    It's 5 o'clock in the morning
    You're lying in your bed
    You wonder why it's not morning in your head

    The day is open for business
    But still your eyes are closed
    You spread your dreams
    Like butter on your toast

    Open all the windows
    And we're rolling up the blinds
    All across the world
    Are people wiping sleep from tired eyes
    The faces on the curtains
    All the Jekylls and the Hydes are gone

    It's 6 o'clock in the morning
    You're only half awake
    The other half is shaving
    And the toothpaste like a snake
    Has slithered out the door of the bathroom
    And it's hissing in your ear
    Get up, get out, get out of here

    The sound of people being people
    Slowly fills the air
    And all the crazy things they do
    To get from here to there
    And when the one you're holding
    Runs her fingers through your hair
    You're on

    Shifting through the gears
    It's 8 o'clock in the morning
    It's been 8 o'clock for years
    The factory gates are opening
    To let the night shift out
    And the day shift in

    It's 9 o'clock in the morning
    You've been this way before
    But something seems to be different
    And you can't quite put your finger on it at all

      [OneWay CD1 Track 10]

    (FX: cuckoo clock)

    Blint: It was 10 o'clock on a wet and windy April morning. The hurricane that destroyed Honolulu was moving north towards Florida. Experts forecast that the weather would remain... unpredictable for the next few days. I checked my tarpaulin and all my equipment and logged them in my diary. My piano still needed tuning. Above me in my attic, four conflicting forces were about to gather. Perhaps only I knew what the day would hold...

    (Harp FX)

    Haig: I, I, I - eh dont't think it's too early to have a little sharpener... Er, would you care to join me, Mr Stapleton ?

    Stapleton: (snoring, awaking) Oh, oh no not for me Mr Haig! I only drink at weddings...

    Haig: Oh yes! That's the way I started. (slurping) Cheers !

    (Intercom buzzer)

    Farthing: Mr Pepperman and his client have arrived.

    Haig: Ah well! Send them in!

    Stapleton: This divorce - it's just a formality, isn't it Mr Haig ? I mean, we just sign the papers and go our separate ways like we always, don't we ?

    Haig: Yes Mr Stapleton. I , I see no, er...

    (FX: door opens)

    Farthing: This way Sir.

    Haig Oh, good morning Mr ehmm...

    Peppermen: ...Pepperman! Sorry I'm late. I was delayed by headwinds on the M4. It's terrible out. Thank God for the Rolls I say. Some of the cheaper cars were going backwards.

    Walter: Hello Lulu!

    Lulu: Bonjour Walter!

    Pepperman: Before we sit down to discuss anything, I would like to put it on the record that my attention has been drawn to a gaping hole!

    (A strange ethereal AHHHHHH! noise is heard whenever anyone says the word 'hole')

    Haig: Ah yes... (laughing)

    Pepperman: In the floor on which we stand, there is a large and gaping hole! (AHHHHHH!) Let us begin by clarifying whether this hole (AHHHHHH!) is with or without prejudice.

    Haig: Ha, ha, ha. Yes, perhaps we ought to clear that up, ehm... (slurp). I'm, I'm - I'm not actually responsible for the hole (AHHHHHH!), although it is my office. It belongs to the main downstairs. Eh, the hole (AHHHHHH!) - that is not the office, ha ha eh ha. He is, as you've probably guessed, a, er, a pianist. And this is his hole (AHHHHHH!). Mr Blint was the only owner...

    Pepperman: That's eh - that's Blint with a 'B' ?

    Haig: Oh yes eh...! He was the only owner unwilling to sell, when this block was constructed, so - ha ha - as a compromise, the developers built round him; and technically - that hole (AHHHH!) - is a - is his attic.

    (Walter snoring and Blint playing the piano under Pepperman's next speech)

    Pepperman: It has never been my practise to conduct business in other people's attics. It never has been and it never will be. An attic is not an environment for a serious negotiation. I've never negotiated anything in an attic, and any business of any kind that I have conducted in an attic has been under duress! If this divorce is to succeed, as we all pray it will, it must be properly conducted within an agreed framework, and I trust this will not be a subject of... contention!

    Haig: I don't think my client has any objections.

    Walter: (again sleeping and awaking...) Oh I'm - I'm sorry, I dozed off again. Lulu and I've discussed it all. And we're in complete agreement that we should divorce one another with no acrimony or ill will.

    Pepperman: Fine words Mr Stapleton, very fine words - but that's all they are, aren't they? Words! It's actions we need Mr Stapleton, actions speak louder than I do!

    Walter: Ooh, whatever you say Mr Pepepeperman ?

    Pepperman: Will you keep out of this! - Let me begin with the statement that I trust will not be a matter of dispute. I am Jewish and always have been. I'm not ashamed of it and I'm not proud of it. The whole thing is not an issue to me - it's irrelevant ! And I see no reason why my being Jewish should be dragged into the discussion at all. The fact that I've been massacred personally for thousands of years neither here nor there. So can we agree at least on one thing namely not to waste our time discussing whether I'm Jewish or not!

      [OneWay CD1 Track 11 'When Things go Wrong']

    (Music starts) I'm having enough difficulties with divorce already, without you poking your nose into it ! What's the point of inventing a problem when it isn't there?!

    (Song - 'When Things go Wrong')

      [OneWay CD1 Track 12]

    (Haig uncorks another bottle, Walter is asleep again)

    Walter: Oh, ah, sorry...

    Haig: Cheers!

    Pepperman: And now perhaps we can get down to the business in hand. You were good enough to send me an inventory of your clients alleged assets.

    (Song 'Mine, Yours' runs under next speech)

    Pepperman: I only riffled (?briefly?) through this list on my way here in the car, and am aware of a glaring omission. In this list I can find absolutely no mention what ever of hairpins. I've seen divorces break down on omissions far smaller than this.

    Walter: But I haven't got any hairpins...

    Pepperman: Are you seriously telling me that throughout your long, and judging by your shoes, successful career, you've never accumulateded a hairpin in any shape or form? Or even half a hairpin ?

    Walter: Oh - er - what's 'half a hairpin' ?

    Pepperman: What indeed? If you don't know what 'half a hairpin' is, how can our side be expected to believe that you're cognizant of what a 'whole hairpin' comprises? For all we know you may have a whole hoard of 'half hairpins' masquerading as whole hairpins concealed about the house.

    Walter: Well, if there are any hairpins they're - er - Lulu's - I mean er - I don't use 'em much.

    Pepperman: Which is exactly what I've trying to establish!

    Blint: (coming upwards in his elevator) I make it around 10:17...

    Haig: Ah, ha ha ha - er - sorry about this, Mr. Blint! Yes my goodness me, so it is!

    Blint: Yes. My bath's about three quarters full now. So I can't hang around for long. It takes 11 minutes to fill and 6 minutes to empty. By the time I have to fill it again, it would be 25 and a half minutes past ten, and I like to do a little work around then...

    Pepperman: We are in the middle of a rather serious business negotiation Mr -er- BLINT!

    Blint: Yes. I heard quite a lot of it. Your goldfish looks hungry Mr Haig...

    Haig: Yes, thank you - ha. Are we to understand that you tell the time by constantly filling and emptying your bath ?

    Blint: Oh no ! That would be an idiotic way to operate. I don't know about you, but I rely on a watch. What I was telling you was basically a foolish lie...

    Haig: I, I realise of course that you are standing in your attic, or hole (AHHHH!). And I have every right to do so, but could you possibly see your way to - er to er...

    Blint: Piss off! Yes, I've got rather a difficult transition to make with the wind section. Oh just one piece of advice you might be able to use - seventeen.

    (Rain and thunder FX - singing runs under next section)

    Blint: I'll be downstairs if you need me. I'll be still downstairs if you think you don't need me.

    Pepperman: Despite your assurances, Mr Haig, we seem to be back to square one. Mr Blint, who you so gaily brushed aside as irrelevant, has now become a germane by getting us in what I always feared what happen, namely a 'business in the attic' situation.

    Haig: Absolutely! I'll, I'll drink to that! In fact I'll drink to anything... Well - here's to him not disturbing us again. Ha ha, he's never done it before...

    Singing: 'Keeping a date with the rain! Keeping a date with the...'

    Walter: I don't think it greatly matters. He only came up and went down again.

    (Music ends, Thunder FX)

    Haig: Now, since Mr Pepperman has raised the important issue of non-disclosure, perhaps we can move on to Mrs Stapleton's teeth, which seem to be omitted from our list of assets.

    Walter: I don't want her teeth!

    Haig: You may not want them now, but who knows what the future holds...


    ?Side B?

    Pepperman: True, true - if our side have omitted our teeth, we have erred, we have erred! When did you last count your teeth Mrs Stapleton ?

    Lulu: My teeth? I 'ave never bothered to check!

    Walter: Oh - perhaps I can help here. Thirty-two. I looked one night when she was asleep. I was a bit restless, you know, and I thought, if I counted her teeth, it might make me drowsy...

    Pepperman: Did you make it a habit to spy on your wife when she was most vulnerable?

    Walter: Oh no! I was - er - just passing by, and she had her mouth open. I thought I'd tot them up.

    Lulu: What is the problem ?

    Pepperman: You are the problem! But perhaps Mr Haig and I can hammer out a formula, and it will greatly assist me if you two went away!

    Walter: Well - er - Rome wasn't burnt in a day. Come on Lulu...

    Haig: Well - went to join me in a glass of eh- haha - something...

    Pepperman: No no thank you Mr Haig, but do you mind if I smoke...

    Haig: Yes! I, I, I used to be a just eh- eh (?ten minute?) a day man myself... you know how these things build up.

    Walter: (speaking to Lulu) You're looking well love... How's work?

    Lulu: You know - comme ci, comme ca... about seven a day. And for you, the business is good?

    Walter: Well, let's say: steady. But nothing worth setting the Thames on fire for... You know that at 55 I feel like a break. Nothing drastic, but I like the look of that hang gliding. I think you would do me good to get up in air a bit and see life from another angle... I don't think I've been missed the factory, though I can't be sure. I've not been in for four months.

    Lulu: What is this 'ang gliding, Walter ?

    Walter: Well, you've got these wings you see...

    Lulu: Wings?

    Walter: Aye, and you jump off a cliff or summat. It doesn't really matter what you jump off. I've only got a 20 foot drop here, so I wouldn't get much of a glide from this window. And it's not a good day for a debut... Oh look at the old lady with the brolly - she shouldn't be tryin' it. According to my manual you shouldn't try an umbrella glide in a cross wind. There - what did I tell you - she's blown in to a lamp-post! If you are not a pigeon, don't eat corn, that's what I say... We made that mistake, didn't we Lulu ?

    Lulu: I 'ave no idea...

      [OneWay CD1 Track 12 'Lost Weekend']



    CD DISC 2

    [OneWay CD 2 track 1]

    Walter: Oh well, that's a load off my mind. I don't want to be a trouble maker, but mightn't it be simpler if we didn't bother about the divorce?

    Pepper: Not bother?

    Walter: Yes! It was save all this trouble between you and nice Mr Haig...

    Pepperman: It is not my habit to quarrel. I had never quarreled in my life. We are merely trying to agree at a rational level how best to construct a solid divorce. And now, after all this time, when you are already semi-divorced, you raise the whole miasma of not getting divorced at all. This is becoming a legal nightmare !

    Walter: You can't teach ducks to dance...

    Pepperman: Might I ask one question to which there should be a straight forward 'yes or no'!

    Haig: Yes!

    Pepperman: Do you have an outside line ?

    Haig: Oh yes. They're all outside in here.

    (intercom buzzes)

    Miss Farthing: Just to reminder you, Mr Haig to feed the goldfish.

    Haig: Er - let me have that in writing later.

    Farthing: ...and your wife's on the line from the yacht.

    Haig: Oh, is she? Well - eh -ha! Tell Veronica I'm, I'm...

    Blint: (from below) ...half pissed.

    Farthing: ... you're 'in conference' Mr Haig...

    Haig: Which is exactly what I'm in... 'in conference'.

    (after Mr Pepperman finished dialing on the phone a voice comes up)

    Telephone voice: (singing somewhat in the barber's shop quartet style) Labrokes! Good morning! Gambling is our trade...

    Pepperman: This is 'M' for Malcom, 'P' for Pepperman, Malcom Pepperman, PEC2528. How do you bet the (?Nembutal Triumph Hurdle?) ?

    Telephone voice: (sings) Sorry, no racing! No flat or steeple chasing! The course is flooded, flooded...

    Pepperman: I'll try the greyhounds then!

    Telephone voice: (sings) No - dog racing.

    Pepperman: Not the weather surely...

    Telephone voice: (sings) ...they cannot find the dogs!

    Pepperman: Jesus!

    Telephone voice: (sings) Labrokes, good morning!...

    (Mr Pepperman slams the phone down)

    Haig: I enjoy a little flutter every now and then. Did you have anything on World War II?

    Pepperman: No! It was too big a field.

    Haig: Yes, yes absolutely - absolutely right. But I looked up the form, studied the various strengths and weaknesses, trainers reports and so on; and at the time, the Germans look like a racing certainty. So I had two thousand quid on the Bosche - odds-on, of course. I hadn't reckoned on the Americans - they messed up the whole event. World War Two did me absolutely no good at all.

    Pepperman: Well - It can't win them all!

    Haig: Exactly! My father made a killing on the Titanic... fantastic odds.

    Pepperman: And I got 10 to 1 on Korea for a tie. Very very tasty that!

    Walter: I use a pin if I can find one...

    Pepperman: Mr Haig and I have solved the matter of the pins, Mr Stapleton!

    Walter: Oh dear, yes I'm sorry to intrude...

    Haig: So here's to you keeping well out of it! Huh? Cheers!

    (Spooky percussion under Walter's next speech)

    Walter: It's odd you know, 'no dogs'... It reminds me... I went to the butcher's the other day and ordered that leg of lamb. Well, I've known Jack Harris for years. But when I asked for the leg of lamb, he gave me this strange look, and I thought: That's strange! Jack Harris giving me a strange look. I mean, we're not strangers, but he gave me this strange look. But I thought nothing of it. And he went to the back of the shop where he keeps the lamb and come back. Well, there was nothing odd about that. That's what he usually does. But when he handed the lamb over, he gave me this strange look again. So I looked at the leg of lamb, so he'd given me a bunch of six carrots. Well, it's not like Jack to give you six carrots instead of a leg of lamb, because he's never specialised in vegatbles as a butcher. But I paid my seven pounds and thought nothing of it. But on the way home, I ran into Mrs Kretch from Number 4 and told her about the carrots. She said: 'That's starnge, because I was in Jack Harris's shop yesterday and ordered some best mince. Well, he gave me this strange look. And when he came back with the mince, it wasn't in a plastic bag like normal. He gave me this box. All wrapped up in silver paper with a pink ribbon around it. Well I thought nothing of it. But when I got home and opened it up, I found three twigs. Well, it's not like Jack to give you twigs instead of mince. And Hermes - that's my cat - is not a big twig-eater. Anyway I - I turned round and called Hermes, and it wasn't there. I haven't seen him since. I reckon he knew about the twigs...'

    Blint: Excuse me prying, but what colour of knickers are you wearing Mrs Stapleton?

    Pepperman: Is this really necessary Mr Blint?

    Lulu: Ça m'est égal. I don't mind. The knickers are black.

    Pepperman: Satisfied Mr Blint? My clients knickers are black! And now would you please go away?!

    Blint: Oh yes! It was just that in the eventuality of the lady leaping over my hole (AHHHHH!) while I was downstairs, I could be quite certain, that some crow had not invaded the premises - which reminds me: I'd better get on with ...IT !

    (Sinister chord, thunder and rain FX)

    Pepperman: Get on with anything you like! - Just one little query Mr Haig: Have we agreed that the teeth are ex parte?

    Lulu: It's so boring these teeth! I go with Monsieur Blint.

    Haig: Ex parte teeth! I'll have to drink about that...

    Lulu: It's a very nasty little place you have 'ere... *

    Blint: Thank you! Musicians flourish in an atmosphere of studied chaos. It's taken me years to achieve this mess.

    Lulu: You play much ?

    Blint: Oh yes! I'd say I was married to my piano. I have all the questions, and she has all the answers. Let me see: What are you? Oh yes, definitely: C-sharp minor. (Plays chord) I'm E-flat, so we're reasonably compatible. (Plays chord) Your husband looks like a G-major. (Plays chord).

    Lulu: I only married Walter to get a work permit. I am - ah - how you say - in English, a 'masseuse'.

    Blint: Rosie was a C-sharp-minor.

    [OneWay CD 2 track 2]

    SONG: ROSIE Blint: (speaking over his out-of-tune piano) Rosie, I wish that you were here
    I miss you so much Rosie, my dear
    My Rosie
    Rosie, I miss the hell that we raised
    and the trails that we blazed
    I miss the other half of me

    (song proper)
    My Rosie, my Rosie
    Rosie, we played our song to death
    now the piano's out of tune
    and the singer's out of breath
    My Rosie, my Rosie
    Rosie do you love me still?
    Rosie my little daffodil
    I was a lanky private
    who thought he knew it all
    swept off his feet by a right bobby dazzler
    the WRAFs and the WRENs, like old mother hens
    strutting through our lives going
    (cluck, cluck) Private who?
    (cluck, cluck) He's no good for you!
    Those were the years when beer was beer
    and you knew where you stood
    the laughing stock of the neighbourhood
    Down at the local Palais
    Me and lads were having a knees-up
    I turns round to Harry
    'What's that noise rattling the tea cups?
    Better get your heads down, sounds like another V-1!'

    Blint: (in the middle of the song) Everyone was screaming and shouting and making the most appalling noise so not unnaturally I popped out to see exactly what had happened. Somebody told me that the bomb had missed the Palais by inches but had totally destroyed the next street. The next street? We live in the next street. Rosie! ROSIE!

    Song: Rosie, I wish that you were here
    I miss you so much, Rosie, my dear
    My Rosie, Oh Rosie
    Rosie do you love me still?
    Rosie my broken daffodil

    [OneWay CD 2 track 3]

    Lulu: Oh Monsieur Blint ?

    Blint: (awakes from his reverie) ROSIE? - Ah, Mrs Stapleton. Did you hear the news about Wall Street?

    Lulu: No! I don't work the streets, I visit hotels.

    Blint: It fell today, amidst active trading. They estimate it will take four years to rebuild.

    Lulu: Poor little girls... I am 34, Monsieur Blint.

    Blint: Naturally!

    (Skipping to the scene upstairs)

    Miss Farthing: (on intercom) I wonder if I could go home a little early Mr Haig?

    Haig: (now very drunk) How early?

    Farthing: Now. My niece is on fire.

    Haig: Same excuse every time!

    [OneWay CD 2 track 4 'Office Chase']

    (Screaming and chaotic noise from outside)

    What the hell is going on in there? I can't get to work with all that banging! - Hello, - hello, - hello - Miss Farthing? You're all right ? - Well, just bring in whatever papers I wanted...

    (Miss Farthing's terrible screaming)

    Haig: Ah, there you are. Miss Farthing? Judy? Where are you going?

    (Voices of other office workers in the background: 'Off home early are we dear? I suppose your niece is on fire again, Miss Farthing?' and nightmarish synchronized typing effects)

    (Wind FX and banging)

    Blint: Stop that! Stop that please! I'm trying to concentrate. Very well, let's see if it works...

    (Blint's piano playing stops the banging and wind)


    ...transcript continues in Part 2


    * this line also appears in Peter Cook's film Bedazzled.

    © 1997 - 2020 Giles Booth / blog: BlogMyWiki / twitter: @BlogMyWiki