As Time Goes By (1992) s02e04 Episode Script

The Book Launch

# You must remember this # A kiss is still a kiss # A sigh is just a sigh # The fundamental things apply # As time goes by # (Lionel mutters) Oh, for goodness' sake! (Lionel) Uhh! - He's not fighting someone in there, is he? - I'll enquire.
Ahem.
Is sir all right in there? (Lionel) No, sir is not all right in here.
Sir is hot and sick and tired of getting in and out of suits and taking his shoes off and putting them back on again.
Sir is becoming claustrophobic and completely brassed off.
Well, that was an outburst.
- Railing.
- I beg your pardon? - Railing.
He does that sometimes.
- About trying on suits? Oh, about anything.
You name it, he can rail against it.
I wouldn't like his blood pressure.
Once he's had a good rail, he's quite himself again.
I don't like being discussed when I'm behind a curtain.
You make that sound like a regular occurrence.
Would sir like a glass of water? - No, sir would prefer a pint of best bitter.
- Oh, I'm sorry, I don't think - I might be able to find a sherry.
- I was joking.
See? He's had a good rail and now he's himself again - joking.
- Well, what do you think? - Very smart.
- Yes.
- Is that an opinion? Yes.
- What does it mean? - Ye es.
- Yes, but? - No.
Er yes, it's just the job? No, no.
I appreciate your giving up a Saturday morning but I assumed you'd bring an opinion with you.
Yes, well, it's hard to put into words.
- There isn't time for you to write me a letter.
- Very nice.
Very smart.
In its own way.
It's just a bit, um - A bit - Go on.
banker-ish.
- Oh, I'd take that as high praise.
- Well, I wouldn't.
Do you mean boring? - No.
- What do you mean? - Banker-ish.
- I'm sure I could find you a glass of sherry.
- No, let's not lose the thrust of this argument.
It isn't an argument.
If the suit was for you, I'd know.
- You mean the suit isn't for sir? - Of course it is.
- I'm sorry.
- No, I'm sorry.
- If it was for me? It is for me.
- But you as an author, you at a book launch.
You signing copies, you making personal appearances.
Oh, a celebrity.
What's the book called, sir? - My Life In Kenya.
- What's it about? Curiously enough, it's about my life in Kenya.
Oh, non-fiction.
I'm afraid so.
Well, come on, help me look like a writer, albeit of non-fiction.
- What does Alistair say? - (Sighs) Well, I brought his folder with me but I was hoping it would only be a last resort.
Right.
Clothes, clothes No.
"Interviews, sex" - Sex? - He believe in covering everything.
- Er clothes, here we are.
- Is this going to be helpful to us, sir? It's gibberish.
- I'm afraid I don't understand it.
- Give it to me.
- It's perfectly plain.
- Well, perhaps you could translate.
Well Yes, well, what Alistair is saying is, um - Yes? - Just a minute.
Is smart but not too smart.
Oh, stylish but not too stylish.
Informal, but not too informal? - I'm lost.
- So am I.
Perhaps we could find that glass of sherry.
- I don't like being patronised.
- Not you, the assistant.
- I mean, all the trouble he went to.
- At least he gets paid for it.
- I had to put up with it for nothing.
- He didn't sell a suit.
- I bought a tie.
- It's not the same.
- Obviously it's not the same.
- What will you do about the suit? - Save money, not buy one.
- Oh.
This vast book-buying public Alistair chunters on about will have to take me as I am.
You make it sound like a threat.
You will be cheerful, won't you? Unbearably.
I shall grin all the time like this Stop it, Lionel.
Lionel, stop it! Oh, Lionel, stop! Stop, Lionel.
Lionel! Stop it! Just stop it! I'm not sure I like this now.
If you're thinking of taking it back, you'll go alone.
I probably shan't.
I think the chap in the shop probably deserves the rest of the day to be a peaceful one.
I think he deserves a medal.
You never make any comment about my coffee.
Should I? You owned a coffee plantation in Kenya for the best part of your life.
Oh, I see.
Well it's jolly nice.
Jolly nice? That's the sort of thing the vicar would say.
Does he often pop round here for coffee, then? I was speaking figuratively.
You wouldn't want a dissertation on the bean and the blend every time I have coffee? Not a dissertation, just an informed opinion.
Oh, all right.
Excuse me! Well? It's jolly nice.
And it wasn't the best part of my life in Kenya, you know.
Major, but not the best.
A tiny time with you 38 years ago, that was the best part of my life.
Are you chatting me up? Yes, I suppose I am.
- Now, about this sex thing.
- What sex thing? - Well, Alistair's folder.
- Oh.
How to be an author in ten easy lessons.
You said there was a bit about sex.
- It isn't instructions.
- Oh, dash! - What does he say? - See for yourself.
- Do you mind if I pour another cup of your - (Both) jolly nice coffee.
- (Laughs) - I knew you'd laugh.
Well, it isn't you, is it? - Is it?! - Of course it isn't.
He wants you to come over as a bit of an old ram.
Well, I could buy a T-shirt with "Sex Machine" printed across it.
- That's not very subtle, is it? - Subtlety isn't a word I associate with Alistair.
- He only wants you to hint at it.
- What, leer a lot? Just suggest that your personal life is steamed without saying it.
- Leer reflectively.
- No, smile mischievously.
- What? - Yes.
If pressed on a ticklish subject, smile a little mischievously and say, "Hey, hey" and your potential readers will think "Ho, ho!" - It isn't me, all this, is it? - Well, it could be.
It's easy enough.
- Go on, then, show me.
- I didn't say I could do it.
- You said it was easy.
- Well, it All right, it's sort of sort of, um Oh (Laughs suggestively) That was rather good.
What were you thinking about to make you smile like that? Gooseberry fool.
I didn't have to carry on like this to sell coffee.
It's not quite the same thing.
- I know, I know.
- Hm, that's nice.
- But it won't work, you know.
- What kind of an attitude is that? Realistic.
My Life In Kenya, it's a dull book.
I imagine it might sell marginally more copies than something called The Anatomy Of A Wireworm.
You've read it, what's your honest opinion? - Well - Well, that's a hesitant start.
Look, just let me finish.
It's, um Well, it's interesting, isn't it, Judy? - Yes.
And, um - Yes.
And authentic.
- Yes.
Informative.
- Yes.
- Dull? - Yes.
- A bit.
- Well, you did ask.
Which brings us to one inevitable point.
Why the hell did Alistair ever choose to publish it in the first place? - Alistair's still not in his office.
- Do you have his home number? Certainly not.
Don't you? - Certainly not.
- Judith might.
I can't ask her.
She stayed the night with friends.
- Why this rush to get hold of Alistair, anyway? - Oh, well, it's Lionel.
Look you've read his book.
What do you honestly think? - My job doesn't depend on my answer? - Well, I said be honest.
Well if it was between reading the book and counting sheep Yes, quite.
Lionel's no fool.
He knows that.
But now he wants to know why Alistair ever chose to publish it.
We all know that.
A bit of non-fiction is good for a publisher's respectability.
I know, but will Lionel find that flattering? I mean, I know him and for all his feigned indifference, he really cares about the book.
If I didn't know you better, I'd say you were falling in love again.
You don't know me better.
Try Alistair's office again, please.
Yes.
I know one thing.
You're much livelier since Lionel turned up again.
Livelier? Oh, hello again.
It's Miss Pargetter's secretary.
Is Mr Deacon back yet? He is? May I? Thank you.
- The whizz kid's whizzed in.
- Thank goodness.
Hello, Alistair.
Ye Yes, I'm fine.
- Now, look, Alistair, it's about Lionel - Judy's already talked to me.
Oh.
Has she? No, I didn't know.
Mind? No.
Why should I mind? Yes, right.
Bye, Alistair.
Yes, ciao to you, too.
Bye.
- Judy's spoken to him already.
- She must've been up early.
She didn't need to.
He was the "friend" she stayed with last night.
Ho ho! Hm.
Ho ho, indeed.
You didn't say that very joyfully.
What do you want me to do? Dance on the desk? He's only a bloke.
That's like saying a wolf is only a sort of poodle.
- Well, if you ask me - What was it I used to do here? Oh, yes, I know, I used to run a secretarial agency.
- Your hints drop like boulders on butterflies.
- Spread your wings, get on with some work.
Sorry to keep you waiting, mate.
I've been on the phone sorting out Italy.
Italians have been trying to do that for years.
Formed a government yet? Something much bigger than that.
I've got a hot author in Rome.
- So, what do you think of the new office? - Very impressive.
- It's not as I'd imagined.
It's not bookish.
- That was yesterday.
I thought it might be.
There's no paper anywhere.
- I commit very little to paper, Li.
- Odd thing for a publisher to say.
- I'm a laptop man.
- Are you? - Laptop computer.
You should get one.
- No, thanks.
I'm still very happy with my quill pen.
- Iced tea? - Certainly not.
Oh.
No, thank you.
- Lemon tea? - No, thank you.
FT? No comment.
- Nice one, Li.
- I'm sure you've got all of Europe to sort out.
- Can I say what I came to say? - Of course.
Sit down and fire both barrels.
Why are you publishing my book? It's what I do.
You haven't got rich by publishing books like mine.
I didn't say I had.
I publish books like yours, Li, and I'm being mega frank here, because it makes me feel better.
Are you claiming that my book has some kind of curative powers? I'm claiming books like yours are real books.
Hm? They're not the trash that make the bucks.
Books like yours will last for years.
The sort of book that my old man used to publish.
Oh.
All fears laid to rest? Yes, I suppose so.
Thanks for being honest.
- The corners of your mouth have gone down.
- Conceit.
I don't suppose anybody's proud to be a tax loss.
You do pull some funny cherries out of the bag.
Who said anything about you being a tax loss? It may be a proper book but it's not going to sell, is it? - Not mega, no.
- Not even mini.
We won't know that until we hit the bookshelves.
- Incidentally, have you bought that suit yet? - No.
You're not gonna fight me on this one? No, it's just that neither I or nor the salesman could make any sense of your description.
Strange.
No problem, I'll send you to my guy.
- We're talking about a different price range.
- Still no problem.
He owes me a favour.
- I set him up in the first place.
- I see.
How's the sex? I bet your pardon? The "hey, hey".
The "boy, did I steam but I'm not telling you" bit.
Oh, that bit.
I'm working on it.
Great.
Well, I'm sorry to be a party-pooper Oh yes, of course.
- Love to Jean.
- Thanks.
- Any movement on that front, by the way? - Oh yes.
Oh? Yes, we've started calling each other by our first names.
- (Lionel) I didn't drag you out, did I? - No.
- Nice to have someone to have lunch with.
- What about all those business lunches? They're not really lunches, just sit-down sparring matches.
There's a seat.
Are you good at sparring? I am now.
I wasn't when I started.
(Lionel) Oh, damn and blast.
When we were young, we had a trick for clearing park benches.
So we did.
- So we did.
- No, I don't mean do it.
Think of it as striking a blow for the aged.
Silliest thing I've done in years.
- We did it rather well, didn't we? - Yes, we did.
- Glad you haven't forgotten how to be so silly.
- So am I.
- Don't expect it to become a way of life.
- Oh, no.
- Cheese or ham? - Ham.
Oh.
- I went to see Alistair this morning.
- Oh? I asked him what he would call the mega question.
Why would he choose to publish what is a very ordinary book? - Did you get the right answer? - Quite a convincing one.
- Course, he'd had time to rehearse it.
- I'm not with you.
He'd been nobbled, got at.
- Did Alistair say that? - He was too ready.
You got to him first.
- No, I didn't.
- Yes, you did.
- Judy did.
- Ah.
I just tried to.
If you're going to get precious about that, eat your lunch on another bench.
- I have my pride.
- Off you go.
- Oh, don't be absurd.
- Very well, I'll go.
- You've got my sandwich.
- I've got all the sandwiches.
- Oh, come back here.
- No, I'm very happy here, thank you.
Look, I only said I've got my pride.
You made it sound like the VC.
If you must know I'm rather touched that you tried to help.
Oh are you? Yes, I am.
Why not come back over there and finish your lunch? All right.
Thanks.
Pardon.
You're very interesting.
- Nice lunch? - Oh, yes, very nice.
Nice night? Oh.
- You said you were staying with friends.
- Well Alistair is a friend.
Mum it's not anything serious.
Judy, men like Alistair Yes? Go on.
I can't finish the sentence.
I don't know any men like Alistair.
- Well, there you are, then.
- You haven't proved anything.
- Neither have you.
- True.
Come on, be fair.
I mean, you're going out with a bit of a one-off yourself.
That probably means we're both peculiar.
- He's more sensitive than you think, you know.
- I know he is.
I'm sure he let Lionel down very gently.
Yes, he did.
Well, good, that's got all that sorted out.
I've been thinking about Lionel.
What is this strange power he has over women? I wonder.
What have you been thinking? Well, we all know why Alistair's publishing the book but why is he personally taking so much trouble with it? - He's a pro.
- He's a rich pro.
Exactly.
So why does he make the time to act like Lionel's personal manager? He's always there for him.
A rich pro helping him, pushing him? A rich pro would delegate that to some junior nobody like me.
Why put so much effort into a book that he expects to make tuppence-ha'penny? Well, it's just a thought.
Let's hope Lionel doesn't have the same thought.
- Yes, let's.
- About this secretarial agency you run.
- The one with the risk-taking secretary? - That's the one.
I wonder if you could sign these.
Hm.
You put "Jean Pargetter"! - Nice to see you again, mate! - It's good of you to make the time, Alistair.
- I've always got time for you.
- That's what bothers me.
You shouldn't have.
- Come again? - I am a minor author.
- Let's qualify that.
- No, let's not.
I'm not a complete fool.
- May I sit down? - Sure, but to be, like, super-honest, I Don't worry, I shall come, like, super-fast to the point.
Shoot.
You told me why you're publishing the book, which I can just about make myself believe, but why the hell are you personally putting so much time and effort into it, into me? - I like you.
- Alistair, to do what you're doing, it wouldn't be enough to like me, you'd have to be madly in love with me.
You're not, are you? I'm not bi, Li.
No.
Then tell me the truth.
And I warn you, I'm going to sit here until you do.
- The truth can sometimes be a bit painful.
- So can clich├ęs.
- Iced tea? - No, thank you.
Just the truth.
Right.
The truth.
I thought you liked that.
Oh, I do.
Not that I expected to send you into absolute raptures.
I'm sorry.
I was just thinking.
About last night? Yes, of course.
Well, it's a lovely evening.
Why don't we drive up the river somewhere to eat? OK.
Maybe go on somewhere afterwards.
OK.
Singapore's nice at this time of year.
OK.
- Did you just say Singapore? - I admit I was trying to gain your attention.
- Alistair, can I ask you something? - Of course.
It's a bit personal.
Excellent.
- It's about Lionel.
- Oh, look, I How can I put this? Just for one day, I'm up to here with Lionel, hm? (Door handle rattling) - (Click of tape recorder, dog barking) - Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof, woof! - (Dog barking on tape) - Quiet, be quiet, get down! - Who is it? - (Lionel) It's me.
- Oh, just a minute.
- (Clicks off cassette) Should I have brought a bone with me? - Good deterrent, dogs.
- Yes.
Does it attack on command? How did you know that wasn't a dog from outside? Something to do with the click at the beginning and the click at the end.
Must give that some thought.
- Why are you here all alone? - I've got some work to catch up on.
- There's more to life than being successful.
- I'm not trying to be.
I'm catching up on work because I spent the day being preoccupied by you.
- You saw me at lunch time.
- I didn't say missing you.
I know but there's really no need.
I found Alistair's description of my book being the dull but respectable one quite satisfactory.
- Did you? - Yes.
Did you? Yes.
So you're quite happy about it? - Almost sublimely.
- You're not, I can tell.
Well, perhaps "sublimely" is an overstatement.
I asked Alistair another question this afternoon.
- Oh? - Yes.
Not the half why, the whole why.
Oh.
And? How shall I put this? I'm a favour.
- A favour? - Mm.
Alistair's father owed my father a favour and I'm it.
- Oh, I see.
- That's why Alistair's been looking after me.
Oh.
Did your father save Alistair's father's life or something? In a way.
He lent him L500 in 1947 to start up a publishing firm.
- Oh, what a lovely story! - (Lionel chuckles) - Your father must love you.
- Yes, he must.
- I could strangle him.
- There's gratitude.
Patronising old bugger.
I'm not a child.
I don't need his help.
It won't do you any harm.
I wish I had someone to help me.
- What's the matter? - Nothing.
- I'm not with you.
- No, well, you know, parents.
Even when you're, well, older, you never stop missing them.
You can't go to someone and say, "What shall I do?" All my father ever did if I said "What shall I do?" was say "Rock on.
" - He couldn't have said that before rock 'n' roll.
- Well, the equivalent.
Now he wants to help you without wanting you to know.
- Yes, interfering old - Oh, stop it.
- Just saying that cos your pride's hurt.
- No, it isn't.
- Dented.
- All right, dented.
- I'm here.
- Yes, I know that.
If ever you wanted to say "What shall I do?" Oh, Lionel, that's very sweet.
But I don't see you as a substitute father.
- What do you see me as? - Well, someone, um - Someone er - Yes? - It isn't as if you need the money.
- You're changing the subject.
Yes, I know.
- What money? - The money from the book.
Ah, well, that's the thing of it, you see.
Kenya's a beautiful country but I reached that stage in my life when I wanted to come home.
And then I got the third-class lecture tour.
- You know, waffling on about my life in Kenya.
That was all right, then I wrote the book and, in my innocence, I thought that'll be all right.
I wasn't looking to make a fortune, you see, just, um, well, enough for me to get by, really.
Unless you've been lying through your teeth, you owned a coffee plantation in Kenya, assuming you sold the odd bean.
The only place I can spend the money from the plantation in Kenya is Kenya.
They moved the goalposts.
Let's go and find something to eat.
- Yes, let's.
Nowhere too expensive.
- (Lionel chuckles) - Just getting by isn't enough any more.
- Are you suggesting that I'm expensive? I'm suggesting that, for me, getting by isn't enough any more.
And I don't want to go back to Kenya.
- Why? - Oh, that's a pretty coy question.
I'd like to know.
Let's face it, we can't wait another 38 years before we see each other again, can we? # You must remember this # A kiss is still a kiss # A sigh is just a sigh # The fundamental things apply # As time goes by # And when two lovers woo # They still say I love you # On that you can rely # The world will always welcome lovers # As time goes by #