The Public Sector Inspector Inspector - screenplay version - original first draft

...by way of a little explanation.

I decided to write a novel called The Public Sector Inspector Inspector. However, I also wanted to try my hand at screenwriting because I think video offers far more scope - and has a greater demand - than 'mere' books. So I decided to work out the plot of the novel and its storyline by writing it first in screenplay format, scene by scene.

This is that screenplay. It's full of mistakes, omissions, inconsistencies and all sorts of weaknesses, not the least being that in Word document form it is over 200 pages long whereas a screenplay is generally meant to be between 90 and 120 pages long. But I would like Devtome to leave it as it is so people can see what this particular writer's first attempt at writing a story in screenplay format was like.

I shall now get on with writing the story in the form of a novel, but I may well come back to this draft screenplay and 'polish' it so that hopefully it meets industry standards and can be submitted for consideration to be made into a film. That is why I have called this a 'first draft'.

P. B.

February 2014


THE PUBLIC SECTOR INSPECTOR INSPECTOR

By

P. B.

“THE PUBLIC SECTOR INSPECTOR INSPECTOR”

FADE IN:

EXT. FRONT OF PETER'S PARENTS' HOUSE - EVENING

Grand country house at end of long driveway. Taxi pulls up outside the house. PETER PATTER, late twenties, scruffy, bearded, with long hair, gets out of the taxi with a battered rucksack. Holds out some money to the TAXI DRIVER.

PETER Is this enough? It's all the money I've got.

TAXI DRIVER No, that isn't enough. Look at what it says on the meter. Are you telling me you've come to a house like this and you haven't even got enough money for the taxi fare?

PETER I'll go and get some money off my dad.

Goes up to the front door of the house and rings the bell. His father DAVID PATTER, a serious, distinguished looking man, opens the door.

PETER Dad, I need some money for the ….

DAVID slams the door shut. A voice comes from one of the ground floor windows at the front of the house. It's PETER'S mother MARGARET PATTER. She's holding out some money through the window.

MARGARET Peter, here's some money. Don't tell your father.

PETER goes over and takes the money.

PETER Thanks mum.

He goes and pays the TAXI DRIVER. The TAXI DRIVER looks at PETER scornfully.

TAXI DRIVER Sponging off your parents at your age? If anything, you should be providing for them, not them providing for you.

The TAXI DRIVER drives off back up the driveway. PETER picks up his rucksack, goes to the front door, and rings the doorbell again. DAVID opens the door.

PETER It's OK, Dad, I had enough money on me.

PETER goes into the house.

INT. ENTRANCE HALL OF HOUSE - EVENING

DAVID and MARGARET are standing there, and so is PETER'S old childhood sweetheart, SOPHIE, who is about the same age as PETER.

PETER Hello, Sophie. What are you doing here.

DAVID We invited her here, Peter, because she's your oldest and dearest friend and you haven't seen her for two years. And what have you been doing with yourself. You look like a right mess.

PETER Travelling. Living with some hippies in Christiana.

DAVID I don't want to know. Come into my study. I want a word with you.

DAVID and PETER go into DAVID'S study.

INT. DAVID'S STUDY - EVENING

DAVID goes and sits down at his desk. PETER sits on the other side of it.

PETER Dad, you know my allowance just stopped for some reason a few weeks ago. Every time I tried phoning you to ask about it, mum said you wouldn't come to the phone. I've been living on my credit cards.

DAVID How old are you, Peter?

PETER Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine next month. Is that relevant?

DAVID When I was your age I was married and I'd already built up and sold my first business. I was well and truly supporting myself. And what are you doing? Do you expect me to support you all your life?

PETER I've been travelling and seeing the world while I'm still young enough.

DAVID At my expense. If you were earning your own money you could spend it how you like, but I've had enough of paying for your selfish and self-indulgent existence.

PETER What am I going to do?

DAVID You could try working.

PETER (Pause) Okay. I'll come and work for your company if that's what you want.

DAVID It's not what I want, and it's too late for that even if I did want it. My business has collapsed because of foreign competitors under-cutting me and because of the recession we're going through. It's about to go into liquidation, not that the receivers will be able to raise enough money to pay off all the debts the company has. I'm going to be liable for the biggest debt, which is money owed to the bank, because I had to give a personal guarantee to obtain the loan to try and keep the company afloat. It was a stupid thing to do. I should have let the company collapse at that point and walked away from it. Now your mother and I could lose everything.

PETER I wish you'd told me. I wouldn't have kept spending your money.

DAVID It probably wouldn't have altered anything.

DAVID stands up and walks round the desk and goes to the door of the study. He holds it open.

DAVID (CONT'D) You'll have to become responsible for your own life. Earn your own money. And you can't stay here. At your age you should have your own home, or be sharing a home with someone. Sophie, for example.

PETER gets up and walks out of the study. DAVID follows him out into the entrance hall.

INT. ENTRANCE HALL OF HOUSE - EVENING

DAVID (CONT'D) Sophie has waited for you long enough, Peter. She's been a loyal friend, ever since you two were childhood sweethearts. She's put up with your often inconsiderate behaviour, and she's been prepared to wait for you until you see fit to grow up and become an adult, a real man, and settle down with her.

PETER Maybe you're right.

SOPHIE Of course you're dad is right.

DAVID goes to the front door and holds it open.

DAVID Now, you'll have to go. It's up to you to sort out what you're going to do with your life from now on. And you can have the privilege of paying for it.

PETER picks up his rucksack and goes to the front door.

PETER But where am I going to get money from? And where am I going to live?

DAVID Get a job, or start a business, if you think you've got the ability.

SOPHIE And you can come and stay at my place, at least until you sort out a place of your own, if that's what you want.

DAVID (to MARGARET) And I'd appreciate it if you didn't try slipping money to Peter behind my back, dearest. It will be for his own good not to have any more support from us. Anyway we'll soon have serious financial problems of our own to deal with.

PETER Fair enough. Okay, let's go, Sophie.

SOPHIE takes PETER's arm.

SOPHIE My car's in the courtyard.

She kisses PETER on his bearded face.

SOPHIE (CONT'D) I'll be glad when we can have that off. It hides your good looks.

PETER and SOPHIE walk out through the front door and DAVID closes it behind them.

EXT. PETER'S PARENTS' HOUSE - EVENING

SOPHIE and PETER walk round to where SOPHIE'S Mini is parked in the courtyard. SOPHIE holds on to PETER'S arm.

SOPHIE I've missed you, Peter. Don't keep going away. And you do it for such long periods. This last time was two years.

PETER I don't think I'll be going away again anytime soon. And how am I going to pay off my credit cards? I'm sure all this is unnecessary. Dad's making things out to be worse than they really are.

SOPHIE I don't think so, Peter. Your mum's been telling me even more than your dad is letting on. The situation's pretty grim.

SOPHIE and PETER put the rucksack in the boot (trunk) and get in the car.

INT. SOPHIE'S CAR - EVENING

SOPHIE starts the car up and they head out of the courtyard and down the drive.

PETER Listen, Sophie, do you remember Nick? He went to school with us.

SOPHIE Of course I remember him, although I haven't seen him for a few years now.

PETER I'll give him a call. He might put me up for a few days. That might give dad time to reconsider letting me stay at the house.

SOPHIE Why don't you want to stay with me?

PETER It would all get too serious, and it would spoil our friendship. You know what happened last time we got too … (beat) … friendly.

SOPHIE It wasn't that bad. I quite enjoyed it. In fact I wouldn't mind more of it.

PETER It just complicates things. We're best friends, Sophie. If we start sleeping together again it'll just confuse us about what sort of relationship we really have. If we ever settle down together, then that'll be the time for that sort of stuff.

PETER gets his mobile phone out of his pocket and dials a number. SOPHIE stops the car at the end of the drive where it leads out onto the road.

PETER (CONT'D) Hi, Nick! It's Peter. (Pause) Peter Patter, you're old school friend. Remember? Good. Look, I've just got back from abroad and mum and dad can't put me up at the house. There's stuff going on there. I just wondered if I could come and spend time with you at your place. I'm in the car with Sophie. You remember Sophie? She can run me round to your place right now if it's OK with you. It'll only be for a couple of days. Then I'm sure everything will be back in order at the house. See you in about half an hour? OK. See you.

PETER switches the phone off and puts it away.

PETER (CONT'D) He said yes but he didn't sound too keen. You remember the way to his place?

SOPHIE says nothing, but sets off in the direction of Nick's place.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

PETER'S old school friend NICK is a similar age to PETER and SOPHIE. He is a fastidious bachelor living in a small but immaculate apartment. The doorbell rings and NICK opens the door. PETER and SOPHIE are standing there.

NICK Good God, man! What have you done to yourself? You look as if you've just come down from the trees.

PETER and SOPHIE walk into the apartment. PETER has his rucksack with him.

PETER I thought our sort of people were descended from reptiles.

NICK Speak for yourself. In my family we're descended from humans. How are you, Sophie? Still pinning your hopes on settling down with this reprobate?

SOPHIE One day he'll see sense and realize that there's no one better for him than me.

NICK But is there anyone better for you than him? OK, tell me what's happened.

PETER My dad stopped my allowance while I was away. I only just managed to get back from abroad by using my credit cards.

NICK What made him stop your money?

PETER He thinks it's about time I supported myself. Apparently he's got financial problems of his own to deal with as well, so it's a mixture of “I won't support you and I can't support you.” He won't even let me stay at the house. Says it's time I sorted out my own place to live.

NICK You said you wanted to spend only a couple of days here.

PETER Dad will change his mind and let me go back.

NICK And if he doesn't?

PETER Then I guess I'll have to find some sort of work and go and rent a place of my own.

NICK Work, Peter? The shock would kill you. You've never worked in your life.

PETER There's a first time for everything. I might quite like having a job. (Pause) Who am I kidding. I don't want to work. I just want a life of leisure and to spend my time travelling.

SOPHIE You've done enough of that to last a lifetime. What you should want to do now is work for a living and settle down. With me.

NICK Careful what you wish for, Sophie. Peter, you'll have to sleep on the sofa until you get yourself sorted out. I'll find you some bedding. And don't mess the place up. Keep it tidy. There's a place for everything and everything needs to go in its place. Remember I'm out at work during the day, so you'll be left to your own devices.

NICK leaves the room.

SOPHIE I still think you should have stayed at my place, Peter. At least you could have slept in a proper bed.

PETER Your bed? With you?

SOPHIE Yes.

Nick returns with bedding and puts it on the sofa.

PETER I've never really known what your work is, Nick.

NICK I'm a Public Sector Inspector in the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction.

PETER Snappy title. I guess your job is to make sure taxpayers' money is spent wisely and doesn't get wasted.

NICK Or that it gets wasted in the way the government and the public sector want it wasted. It's mostly about appearances and massaging the figures.

SOPHIE I'm off. I'll leave you two boys to talk shop and catch up on what's happened since you last saw each other. I'll see myself out.

SOPHIE leaves the apartment and closes the front door behind her. PETER and NICK look at each other.

NICK Make yourself at home then. I'll do us something to eat. Then I'm just going to watch TV for a bit before turning in.

PETER Sounds good.

PETER starts taking things out of his rucksack.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - EVENING

NICK comes into the apartment. He's smartly dressed in a suit and he's carrying a briefcase. PETER is lying on the sofa in a messy heap of bedding. Crumpled clothes and personal items are on the floor scattered around the sofa. NICK puts down his briefcase and looks at PETER

NICK Why are you still in bed at this time of day? It's six in the evening.

PETER Is it that time already? There's not much for me to do while you're out at work except sleep and watch TV and waste time on the internet. I can't afford to go out and do anything interesting or useful.

NICK You could at least keep the place tidy.

PETER Sorry. I'll try.

PETER sits up on the sofa. NICK comes over and sits down beside him.

NICK This can't go on indefinitely. Is there any sign of your dad relenting and letting you go back to the house?

PETER No. I spoke to mum and she said dad's adamant that I have to stand on my own two feet now. And anyway he's preoccupied with trying to deal with the collapse of his business, and stopping, or at least delaying, the bank coming after him for everything he and mum have got.

NICK So what are you going to do?

PETER I guess I'll have to start looking for a job. But who's going to want to employ someone like me with my history and lack of experience?

NICK You'll just have to tell some little white lies. Listen, Peter, my department is having one of its occasional recruiting drives next week. I think I could get you in. If I was higher up the food chain I could get you in just by having a word with my boss, but I'm not known to him well enough for that. I'm just one of several hundred Public Sector Inspectors. So you'll have to go through the recruiting process and jump through a few hoops, but I know what the recruiters want to hear and see, so I can coach you. Also I know where they keep the copies of the latest entrance exam, and the answers.

PETER But that would be cheating.

NICK Let's be honest, Peter. You're not going to get in any other way. Are you up for it?

PETER I'll give it a go. I don't think I've got any choice.

NICK Good man. The sooner you get a job, the sooner you can get your own place and I can have my own place to myself again.

NICK stands up.

NICK (CONT'D) Get dressed and I'll take you out for a bite to eat and a couple of beers. I can take Friday off sick this week, and Monday too, so with the evenings and those days and the weekend, we should be able to get you properly prepared so you get through the recruiting process, hopefully with flying colours. The exam takes place on Tuesday. If you get through that, there's then a group assessment and an interview. But there's a couple of things you're going to have to do before you even start thinking about those things.

PETER What are they?

NICK Get a haircut and shave that beard off. Come on. I know a barber's that stays open late. We'll get it done there.

PETER I'm going to become someone who isn't really me.

PETER drags himself off the sofa.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - DAY

NICK and PETER are sitting at a table with papers in front of them. PETER is now clean shaven with a smart conservative haircut.

NICK Right. I've taken today off sick. This is the Public Sector entrance exam you'll be sitting next Tuesday, and these are the answers they're looking for. When you read through it, you'll see it starts off easy with clear-cut questions and answers. The first bit is really more of an IQ test than anything. Then the questions get longer, vaguer and weirder, as do the sort of answers they're looking for. The second part of the exam is testing you to see if you've got the sort of attitude they want in a public sector worker, or if you can at least fake it. You and I are going to spend today going through this in detail.

PETER Don't they mind you taking a day off sick? Two days in fact, because you'll be taking Monday off as well.

NICK Monday and Fridays are quite normal days to take off. It makes for a nice long weekend. So long as you only take off a couple of days a month, no one minds. The other approach is to go permanently off sick with some unprovable ailment like stress. We've got people in the department who haven't turned up for work for several years. They still get paid and they'll still get their pensions. It's a nice scam if you can find a friendly doctor to provide you with the paperwork you need to pull it off.

PETER That idea rather appeals to me.

NICK Let's get you employed first. I thought for Saturday, Sunday and Monday we'd spend half the day going through this exam, and then the other half of the day priming you for what to expect and what you'll need to do in the role playing group sessions and in the final interview.

PETER Okay, let's get on with it. By the way, they do know I'm putting myself forward for this test, don't they? Because I haven't applied to do it.

NICK I applied for you. I put your name down for you when you first came to stay here. Think of it as a safety measure. I suspected your dad wouldn't have you back, and I knew you wouldn't do anything about finding a job unless I gave you a helping hand. Or should I say a helpful shove?

PETER People like you and Sophie almost know me better than I know myself. Right, let's press on and see if we belatedly get me into the world of employment.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - MORNING

NICK and PETER are standing by the front door, about to go out. They are both dressed in nice suits and look very smart. NICK has his briefcase with him.

NICK You look the business in that suit of mine.

PETER Thanks for letting me wear it.

NICK This is your big day, or at least one of them if all goes to plan and you get through the entrance exam. Remember to slip in a few mistakes in your answers. Maybe ten percent. It's going to look suspicious if you get everything a hundred percent right.

PETER Will do.

NICK Okay, let's go. I'll drop you off near the hotel where they're holding the exam. It doesn't start till ten, so you might as well go and have some breakfast somewhere. Get some nutrition for your brain so you don't wilt.

NICK takes out his wallet and hands some money to PETER.

NICK (CONT'D) Have this. You can pay me back when you're earning.

PETER With all that you're doing for me, I'm going to have to do a lot of paying back.

NICK I'm sure you'd do the same for me. Come on. Let's go. Do you your best. We'll do an autopsy on how well you think you've when I get home from work this evening.

PETER and NICK leave the apartment.

INT. RUN-OF-THE-MILL LARGE CHAIN HOTEL - MORNING

PETER walks in wiping his lips with a paper serviette, which he throws in a bin. There are a surprising number of people milling around. EXAM ADMINISTRATOR walks up to PETER.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR Are you here to take the public sector entrance exam, sir?

PETER Yes, I am.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR And your name is …?

PETER Peter Patter.

The EXAM ADMINISTRATOR looks down a long list on several pieces of paper on a clipboard.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR I've found you, sir.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR nods towards some open double doors leading into a large room full of single-person desks with a chair each.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR You and all the other exam-takers will be called into that room at ten-to-ten. Find a desk. The exam papers and pens will then be handed out by myself and my colleagues and the exam will begin at exactly ten.

PETER Good job I wasn't late then.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR We're never late in the public sector, Mr. Patter. If we're late, it probably means we're not turning up at all.

PETER Are all these people here to take the exam?

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR Yes.

PETER I wasn't expecting so many people.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR A job in the public sector is highly coveted, Mr. Patter. There's a lot of competition for them. (Leans conspiratorially towards PETER) That's if you're not well-connected enough to get in without competing.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR walks away. PETER walks aimlessly amongst the other exam-takers for a bit. EXAM ADMINISTRATOR stands by the doors to the exam room.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR (CONT'D) All people taking the Public Sector Entrance Exam, come into this room, please. Sit at any desk.

Everyone dutifully files into the large room. PETER sits down at a desk towards the back of the room. The EXAM ADMINISTRATOR goes to the front of the room and waits until there is silence. The doors to the room are closed by TWO COLLEAGUES.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR (CONT'D) I and my colleagues will put on each of your desks the exam paper face down, and a pen. Touch neither until I tell you.

THE EXAM ADMINISTRATOR and TWO COLLEAGUES go around the room distributing the exam papers and pens, then the EXAM ADMINISTRATOR goes to the front of the hall. They look at their watch.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR (CONT'D) It is exactly ten o'clock. Turn over your papers, fill in your full name and contact details on the front, then turn to the next page and start the exam. You have two hours to give the best answers you can. If you feel you have completed the exam to the best of your ability before that time, put a hand in the air and I will come and collect your paper and pen and you may leave the room, doing so as quietly as possible.

PETER and everyone starts the exam. There is a clock on the wall at the front of the room.

ONE HOUR LATER AS SHOWN BY THE CLOCK

PETER puts down his pen, puts his exam paper in order, leans back in his seat, and puts a hand in the air. The EXAM ADMINISTRATOR comes over to him.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR Have you finished already, Mr. Patter? You've used up only half the time available for the exam.

PETER Yes, I've finished.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR That is either a very good sign or a very bad sign. I'll put a note on the front of your paper saying how quickly you did the exam. I think it must be a record time. You can leave now.

THE EXAM ADMINISTRATOR gathers up PETER'S pen and exam paper. PETER quietly leaves the room. Everyone else is still labouring over their papers.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - EVENING

NICK comes into the apartment. PETER is on his mobile phone, just switching it off.

PETER Good day at work?

NICK Same as most days. My department doesn't usually provide a lot of excitement and variety. How did the exam go?

PETER Sailed through it in half the allowed time. I deliberately put down one wrong answer, just so I didn't look perfect.

NICK Only one? That's a bit too close to perfect.

PETER I wanted to make a good impression on them. You know, Nick, it's my twenty-ninth birthday a week today? I was just on the phone inviting Sophie here that day. I thought the three of us could go out together.

NICK Fine with me. Anyone else coming?

PETER No. I've spent so much time living abroad that that's where all my friends are these days. Over here it's only really you and Sophie I'm keeping a connection with. Perhaps I'll make some new friends when I'm in the public sector.

NICK Maybe, if you find they're the sort of people you like. They're not exactly free spirits like you.

PETER Maybe they're wannabee free spirits.

NICK I've never believed in wannabees. You either are or you're not. Talking of which, I'm determined you're going to be a Public Sector Inspector like me, mainly so you can afford to get yourself somewhere else to doss. So what we're going to do, after I've rustled us up a salad, is go through again what you need to do to get through the group role playing assessment. That's assuming you've got through the exam, of course.

PETER I'm sure I have. I had an excellent tutor.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - EVENING

NICK comes into the apartment dressed in his usual office attire and straight into the sitting room where PETER is standing waiting for him. PETER points at the table where a meal is laid out.

PETER I had a phone call this afternoon from your lot. They want me to go to a group assessment session on Friday morning. It's taking place at the same hotel where I did the exam yesterday.

NICK They do have a soft spot for that place. I didn't expect them to get back to you that quickly. So that means you've got tonight and tomorrow to practice what they regard as correct responses and correct behaviour in the role playing situations.

PETER Also they'll be doing a panel interview in the afternoon.

NICK Wow, that's a new one on me. Normally they spend all day on the role playing assessment, weed out the people they don't like, then call back the people they think worth interviewing. It sounds as though they've streamlined and speeded up the whole process.

PETER Suits me. The sooner I get all this over and done with, the better.

NICK So long as you get through it so well that they take you on. Once you've got your feet under the table and you've been working in the department a while, you can ease off and start skiving like the rest of us. And talking of tables, who's done this rather impressive looking spread on the table here?

PETER I did it. I thought you're always doing meals for me, so just for once I thought I'd do one for you. It's just salad and little picky bits, but it should be alright.

NICK It looks great. But that's not just food out of the fridge. Where did you get the money to buy the other stuff?

PETER I got my credit card issuers to up my credit limits. It just lets me be a bit more human until my first salary cheque comes through.

NICK That's what I like to hear. A positive attitude that a job in the public sector is already yours. Give me a couple of minutes to change out of this suit and get freshened up and then we can sit down and eat. After that, we'll have to spend the evening practicing for the role playing malarkey, but also for your panel interview as well. You already know in essence what's required, but we'll just try and fine tune it and get it absolutely right.

NICK leaves the sitting room and goes into his bedroom.

INT. ROOM IN SAME HOTEL AS BEFORE - MORNING

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR is there, as is PETER and FIVE OTHER PEOPLE being assessed. PETER and FIVE OTHER PEOPLE are sitting in six chairs facing the EXAM ADMINISTRATOR, who is sitting in a chair with some papers in his lap.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR What we're going to do this morning is role play a few situations that might arise in the course of your work in the public sector, if you do indeed end up being offered a job in the public sector.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR gets up and hands out some papers.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR As you can see, there are six scenarios set out. I want you to choose one each and you will play the lead role in that scenario. Then afterwards the others can offer some constructive criticism and helpful advice.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR sits down again.

PETER To save getting bogged down in discussions about who's going to take the lead in what scenario, why don't we just take them in the order in which we're sitting? I'm in an end seat, so I could take number one. Then the person next to me takes number two, and so on.

General murmur of agreement.

PETER Right, let's see what I've landed myself with. My scenario is 'a member of the public has complained about a member of your staff being rude and unhelpful. Have a talk with the staff member about their behaviour.' (Pause) OK, so who's going to be the staff member?

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR I'll do that.

PETER Right, well come in and take a seat. Oh, you already have!

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR What was it you wanted to see me about, sir?

PETER Please call me Peter. We're all on equal terms here, at least in the sense that we are all here to serve the public. And talking of the public, a member of that very important class of people has made a complaint. About you, unfortunately.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR It wasn't that obnoxious man who came into the office the other day, was it?

PETER Could be. The man who made the complaint to me said he had been in to see you a few days ago, and although I can't say he was obnoxious, he certainly was rather brusque and he was clearly a fan of plain speaking, to the point of rudeness.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR That's him. And I simply wasn't prepared to have him speaking to me in the way he did.

PETER The problem there is that we still have to deal with him, and he isn't going to get any nicer with time. A better approach is to switch off your emotions and don't react to people like him. Just be cool and calm and deal with the facts of the situation.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR Does that mean I have to speak to this person again?

PETER No, I've dealt with him and clarified a few things for him. He wasn't happy, but he could see I was only applying the rules we have to work with. But there will be other people like him you'll have to deal with in the future, so you need to learn how to cope with them.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR OK, I'll try to be a bit more detached and unemotional next time I have to deal with someone like him. (Pause. Addresses the other people) I think that was a text book example of how to deal with a member of staff who has had a complaint made about them by a member of the public. Do we agree?

Murmurs of agreement.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR (CONT'D) So, let's move on to the next person and the next scenario.

INT. SAME ROOM IN HOTEL AS BEFORE - AFTERNOON

This time there is a large table with EXAM ADMINISTRATOR and JEFFREY COLLER sitting behind it and a single chair in front of it. JEFFREY COLLER is about fifty and affable. PETER walks into the room.

JEFFREY Please, sit down in the chair there, Mr. Patter. Or may I call you Peter?

PETER Please do.

JEFFREY And my name is Jeffrey. Jeffrey Coller. I'm the Director of the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction.

PETER A friend of mine works there. Nick Jenks.

JEFFREY Ah yes, Nick. He's one of our many inspectors, and a very good one too. But then all of our inspectors are good.

PETER He seems to enjoy his job.

JEFFREY Good. You know, Peter. You've put in a pretty impressive performance. In the public sector entrance exam you produced the best results we've ever seen. Almost perfect in fact. You only got one answer wrong. And you did it in what is practically a record time.

PETER I'm pleased to hear that.

JEFFREY And then your performance in the group role playing session this morning was equally admirable. Your own role playing was very balanced and correct, and then you also made a lot of good input to other people's role playing and came up with some excellent advice and fair criticism. In short, you are exactly the sort of person I have been looking for to take up a new position in my department.

PETER A new position? As an inspector like my friend Nick, I presume?

JEFFREY Almost. The position I have in mind is a sort of variation on that theme.

PETER Sounds interesting.

JEFFREY I think it will be very interesting. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Everything must be done properly, and in writing. I propose to offer you employment in my department. I'll have a letter sent out confirming that, and if you want to take up the offer you'll have to put your acceptance in writing. As soon as I have that, I'll call you in and we can get started with training you up for your new role. I intend to do as much of your training and offer you as much guidance as time constraints will allow.

PETER Thank you. I really appreciate this. I couldn't have hoped for anything more.

JEFFREY stands up and reaches out a hand over the table. PETER gets up and shakes his hand. The EXAM ADMINISTRATOR stands up and he and PETER shake hands.

EXAM ADMINISTRATOR I'm sure the public sector will benefit greatly from having you in it, Peter.

PETER I certainly hope so. I shall do my best to justify this opportunity that's being given me.

JEFFREY Excellent. On your way out, can you send the next person in? Unfortunately they're probably not going to be as fortunate as you.

PETER Yes, I'll do that. Good day to you both.

PETER leaves the room.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - EVENING

NICK comes in through the front door wearing his office clothes and with his briefcase. PETER is sitting on the sofa looking happy. He gets up.

NICK And how's birthday boy? Had a good day?

PETER Couldn't be better. I got a letter today. At the age of twenty-nine I've just been offered my first job. I'm going to be working in the public sector, in your department.

NICK Hey, congratulations. So we've got a double celebration tonight. What time's Sophie going to be her?

PETER In about half an hour. I've got to reply to this letter in writing. Is it OK if I use your computer to write a letter and print it out?

NICK Sure. Help yourself. I'm going to have a shower and get changed into something less formal.

NICK goes to his bedroom. PETER goes over to the desk where the computer and printer are and sits down to write his letter.

LATER

PETER takes an envelope out of the printer and puts his printed letter in the envelope. The doorbell rings. NICK comes out of his room dressed in smart casual clothes.

NICK I'll get it.

NICK opens the front door of the apartment. SOPHIE is standing there.

SOPHIE Hi, Nick. Peter. I'm not early, am I?

NICK No. Perfect timing, Sophie. Come in. Peter's just writing a letter accepting the job he's just been offered.

Sophie comes in.

SOPHIE Is that at the same place where you work?

NICK It certainly is. I might volunteer to be his mentor and show him the ropes.

PETER Hi, Sophie. I'm not sure what the position is going to be, Nick. The head of your department, Jeffrey Coller, says he's creating a new position for me.

NICK Apart from Jeffrey, who's the director, we're all Inspectors. That's the only position we have.

PETER Then I guess he means I'm going to be a new Inspector. Has either of you got a stamp? Then I can post this letter on the way out.

SOPHIE I've got one.

SOPHIE gets a stamp out of her bag and gives it to PETER, who puts it on his envelope.

PETER Many thanks. Are we ready for the off? You know where we're going? Shall we take both your cars, or go in the one.

SOPHIE Let's take both, then I can go straight home afterwards.

PETER stands up.

PETER OK. Let's go. I'm going to treat you both tonight, courtesy of one of my credit cards. Now that I'm going to be employed, I'll soon have a salary coming in. Then I can work on getting the cards paid off, sort out somewhere to live, and get myself a car.

NICK Hopefully not in that order.

They leave the apartment.

INT. BISTRO PUB - NIGHT

PETER, NICK and SOPHIE are sitting at a fairly large table, eating fancy-looking food and sharing a bottle of wine.

SOPHIE You know, Peter, if Nick wants you out sooner rather than later, my offer to let you come and live with me still stands.

NICK Yes, Peter, why not try it? Sophie might house train you. It's been interesting having you living with me, but I never expected it to be for several weeks. And you know I'm a fussy old bachelor and like my own space.

PETER Fussy young bachelor. You're the same age as Sophie and me.

NICK You know what I mean. Ever since I started earning an income I've had my own place and lived alone.

SOPHIE Come and live with me, Peter. Let's give it a try.

PETER reaches out over the table and holds one of SOPHIE'S hands.

PETER You know, Sophie, I think we will end up together. You're such a good friend, and we've always been so close. Well, most of the time. But call me old-fashioned, I'd like to be the one providing the roof over our head if we are going to be together.

NICK Very noble. But how soon are you going to be able to sort out a place of your own?

SOPHIE I'm going to take what you just said as a promise we'll be together, and sooner rather than later.

PETER I'll start looking straightaway for a small pad of my own. It takes a while to sort these things out, what with the paperwork and stuff, so if I find a place in the next few days, I should have my salary coming in by the time I can move in, so I'll have the money to afford it.

PETER takes his hand away from SOPHIE'S.

PETER (CONT'D) The funny thing is, now I've posted off that letter to Jeffrey Coller accepting the offer of a position in his department, I'm having second thoughts. I'm not sure I wouldn't be happier trying to get mum and dad to let me live at their place. I mean, even if I had to live there without any money. At least I wouldn't have to work. My time would be my own, and I'd have freedom, even if it was a poor sort of freedom.

DAVID PATTER appears behind PETER and puts his hands firmly on PETER'S shoulders. MARGARET PATTER is behind DAVID.

DAVID I'm afraid that won't be possible, Peter.

DAVID pulls up a couple of chairs from nearby and HE and MARGARET sit down at the table.

DAVID (CONT'D) (to SOPHIE) Hello, Sophie. Thanks for letting us know where you were having this little celebration tonight. (to NICK) Nick? Long time no see. I hope everything is going well for you.

NICK Yes, Mr. Patter. Thank you. Everything is ticking along pretty much the same as usual. Except for having Peter living with me, of course.

DAVID Sophie's told me all about it. It's very good of you to put him up, although I think it would have made more sense for him to live with Sophie, and preferably not only temporarily. But then again, perhaps that would be inflicting too much on her in Peter's current circumstances. (to PETER) Yet I hear you have a job offer. You'll be working at the same place where Nick works.

PETER That's right. I just posted off my acceptance letter on the way here tonight.

DAVID But I just heard you say you had some idea of trying to come back to live a life of idleness at our house. Well I'm sorry to disillusion you, Peter, but there is no longer such a place as 'our house'. The bank obtained a court order today to repossess it. It's their house now, not ours. We have a few days to get all our belongings out and get them in storage somewhere where the bank can't find them, possession being nine tenths of the law and all that. Fortunately I've got a little money hidden away that I got out of the company before it went under, and the bank won't be able to get their hands on the money in my pension fund and your mother's, but from now on we'll be living very frugally. I'll have to find us somewhere cheap to live.

DAVID reaches out and grasps PETER'S shoulders.

DAVID (CONT'D) So you see, son, even if we wanted to, your mother and I couldn't help you now even if we wanted to, either with money or with somewhere to live.

DAVID reaches in to the inside pocket of his jacket and takes out an envelope and hands it to PETER.

DAVID (CONT'D) Having said that, there's a little money in there with your birthday card. It should pay for the food and drink for this little get-together tonight. But I'm afraid that's the last bit of money you're likely to be getting from your mother and me for the foreseeable. Now, you can treat your mother and me to a couple of soft drinks and tell us all about this job you're going to be doing. We've kept one of our cars, so we don't want to be losing our driving licenses as well as everything else.

INT. JEFFREY COLLER'S OFFICE - MORNING

NICK shows PETER into Jeffrey's office then backs out and closes the door. JEFFREY gets up from behind his desk and comes round to greet PETER, extending a hand.

JEFFREY Peter, good to see you again.

JEFFREY and PETER shake hands.

PETER Mr. Coller.

JEFFREY Call me Jeffrey, please. Take a seat.

PETER sits down in the chair facing the desk and JEFFREY goes and sits in his seat on the other side.

JEFFREY Now, Peter, you know I said I was going to create a position for you?

PETER Yes. JEFFREY Your friend Nick Jenks has probably told you that everyone in this department, except for me because I am director, is a Public Sector Inspector. That simply means it is their job to inspect all the different sections of our huge public sector, including the government, to make sure that everything is being carried out according to our masters' wishes. However, for you I have a different role in mind.

PETER So I'm not going to be a Public Sector Inspector?

JEFFREY No, Peter. You see, I've been hoping someone of your calibre would come along. You produced the best results of any public sector applicant ever, and I think I would be a fool not to use you for this new role that I've had in mind for some time.

PETER And may I ask what this role will be?

JEFFREY You, Peter, are going to be my Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

PETER Public Sector Inspector Inspector?

JEFFREY That's right. It will be your job to inspect the Public Sector Inspectors in this department to make sure they are doing their jobs properly.

PETER That sounds like interesting and worthwhile work. But how will I know whether they're doing their jobs properly or not.

JEFFREY I am going to show you all the different sections of the public sector and explain to you what they do and what standards they need to meet, although of course both of those things can change from time to time according to the whims and commands of our masters, and indeed new departments can be created and old departments can be got rid of, or changed, or merged. The public sector is in many ways both rigid and fluid at the same time.

PETER This sounds like really interesting work. I'm looking forward to getting started on it and getting a good overview of everything that goes on in the public sector and then finding out about it in great detail.

JEFFREY Excellent. Now there are a couple of things I need to make clear. While you are training, you will technically be classed as a Public Sector Inspector, and paid accordingly. Payscale 7-b.

JEFFREY passes a piece of paper over the desk, which PETER takes and looks at.

PETER Wow! I'd never have guessed that Nick earned that much. And I'll be on the same. And when I qualify as your Public Sector Inspector Inspector I'll be on what payscale?

PETER I'm keeping that as a pleasant surprise for you when it actually happens, which shouldn't be very far in the future from now. But the other thing I wanted to tell you is that I have a few demands on my time. Not too many, I'm glad to say, but nonetheless there are people I need to say and things I need to do. So I won't always be available to show you the many tentacles and nooks and crannies of the public sector. When I'm not available, my most senior and experienced Public Sector Inspector will have that duty.

PETER presses a couple of buttons on an intercom on his desk and speaks.

PETER (CONT'D) Helga, can you come to my office please?

HELGA (V.O.) Yes, Jeffrey. Right away.

PETER releases the buttons on the intercom.

PETER Helga Sprott was the first Public Sector Inspector when this department was created. She has a wealth of experience and ability.

The office door opens and HELGA comes in, closing the door behind her. She is about 50 and looks stern and frumpy. She approaches the desk.

PETER (CONT'D) Helga, I want you to meet Peter Patter, this department's future Public Sector Inspector Inspector. Peter, this is Helga.

HELGA I still don't see why I wasn't considered for the position and we've had to bring in someone from outside.

JEFFREY Let's not go through that again, Helga. You know I wanted someone who could look at the people in this department with new and objective eyes, unaffected by experience and associations. And I have to tell you that Peter here is a remarkable man. He produced the best results ever of anyone applying to enter the public sector.

HELGA looks at PETER disbelievingly.

HELGA Really?

JEFFREY Helga, what I want you to do is show Peter around the department. Then when you've done that, bring him back here, and I will make a start on showing him other parts of the public sector. Can you do that?

HELGA Yes ,of course I can. Come on then Peter.

HELGA moves towards the door and PETER gets up and follows. He turns to JEFFREY.

PETER Many thanks for this opportunity, Jeffrey. I'm going to do the best I can to meet all the expectations you have of me.

JEFFREY I know you won't let me down, Peter.

HELGA and PETER leave the office.

INT. ROAMING SHOT THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT BUILDING - DAY

HELGA and PETER walk through around the building together, through various open plan offices staffed by VARIOUS INSPECTORS.

PETER So how many Public Sector Inspectors are there working here?

HELGA Two hundred and twenty-one. You'll see quite a few empty desks because obviously some of the inspectors are out inspecting. A lot of our work though is number crunching and we can do that here.

PETER sees NICK sitting at a desk.

PETER That's my old school friend Nick. I'm staying at his apartment until I sort out a place of my own.

HELGA I know Nick. A great one for detail. Let's go over and say hello.

They go over to NICK.

HELGA Hello Nick. I'm just showing your friend Peter around.

NICK Hi Peter. So you're one of us now, are you?

HELGA He's going to be better than us. His job, when he's trained, will be to inspect us. He's going to be the Inspector who inspects the Public Sector Inspectors.

NICK No way. If I'd known he was going to be promoted over us I'd never have helped him get his job.

HELGA Helped him? How could you help him?

NICK

I mean I encouraged him to apply to work here.

HELGA Too late for regrets now. Let's just hope he finds your work satisfactory. Anyway, Peter, let's press on so you can see the extent of the department. We mustn't keep Nick from his work.

HELGA walks off. PETER walks round Nick's desk to see what he's doing on his computer. There's a video game on the screen. PETER smiles at Nick and walks off after HELGA. PETER and HELGA continue through the department, going through different offices.

HELGA What's your background, Peter?

PETER Varied.

HELGA Intriguing.

PETER Whatever it is, it seems to have met with Jeffrey's approval.

HELGA Yes, you've made quite an impression. That's why I've been passed over for the new job that's been created for you, even though I have the most experience of anyone in this Department.

HELGA stops and looks at PETER.

HELGA (CONT'D) I shall be keeping a close eye on you, Peter, to see if you really are as wonderful as Jeffrey thinks you are.

HELGA walks on.

HELGA (CONT'D) Come on. There's more to see. You can have a word with some of the Inspectors here and find out what they do. Then I'll get you back to Jeffrey.

PETER follows HELGA

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - DAY.

HELGA and PETER enter. JEFFREY is on the phone, laughing.

JEFFREY (into the phone) OK, Sir Nevile. We'll see you at your club for lunch in about half an hour. I think you'll like this young fellow I've just taken on. I'm convinced he's got great abilities. He'll keep an eye on the work of all the Inspectors here and make sure everything's running efficiently in the department.

JEFFREY puts the phone down.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) That was Sir Nevile Grevile, the Minister for the Oversight of the Public Sector. You and I, Peter, are going to have lunch with him at his club. He's like our big boss, although of course he has the President over him as his big boss.

HELGA This is moving a bit fast, isn't it, Jeffrey? It's Peter's first day and already he's meeting the Minister who oversees our department.

JEFFREY Helga, that isn't jealousy I hear in your voice, is it? Anyway, did you give Peter a good look around?

HELGA Yes, I did, and he had a chance to speak to a few of the Inspectors.

JEFFREY gets up and walks round his desk.

JEFFREY Excellent. Right, Helga, no doubt you've got work to do, although it will soon be lunch time. Come on, Peter. We can walk to Sir Nevile's club. The exercise will do us good. Help us work up an appetite.

JEFFREY ushers HELGA and PETER out of the office. The three of them leave the office.

INT. OLD-FASHIONED PRIVATE MEMBERS CLUB - DAY

SIR NEVILE GREVILE, a little older than Jeffrey, affluent looking and confident, is sitting at a table looking at a menu. A WAITER walks into the room with JEFFREY and PETER and takes them over to SIR NEVILE. JEFFREY and PETER sit down. The WAITER places menus on the table in front of them. SIR NEVILE puts his menu down.

WAITER Your two guests have arrived, Sir Nevile.

SIR NEVILE Thank you, George. Hello, Jeffrey. So this is your new young discovery, is it?

JEFFREY Yes. Sir Nevile, this is Peter Patter. Peter, this is Sir Nevile Grevile, the Minister for the Oversight of the Public Sector.

PETER Hello, sir.

SIR NEVILE Hello, Peter. Take a seat, both of you. Any plans for the rest of the day, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY I'm going to start taking Peter around various public sector departments, or at least representative departments of them. I thought we'd go off to one of the big police stations this afternoon.

SIR NEVILE Good idea. Let the scales fall from his eyes as soon as possible. Does Peter know what the public sector in this country is really all about?

JEFFREY He'll find out soon enough.

SIR NEVILE Peter, what do you think the purpose of the public sector is?

PETER To serve the public, sir.

SIR NEVILE Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear. Disillusion him, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY Peter, the public sector exists to serve the public sector. It's there to give people like you and me, and Sir Nevile here, an income and perks and pensions, the latter preferably coming as early as possible.

SIR NEVILE If you actually enjoy working you can retire as early as possible on a nice, fat pension, and then get another job in the public sector. Two incomes instead of one.

PETER Right. So my job, when I'm inspecting the other public sector inspectors is to …?

JEFFREY … make sure they don't do their job with too much fervor. Their keenness needs to be tempered with a dose of realism, an appreciation of what we're really about. You might have wondered why your friend Nick never gets sent out of the office to do on-site inspections. He stays in our offices crunching numbers.

PETER That's because …?

JEFFREY He's too principled. He'd ruin the whole game. I like him where he can imagine that our department actually does what its title says - strive for efficiency and cost reduction.

SIR NEVILE That'll be the day. Listen, my wife and I are having a 'do' at our house in the country the first Saturday next month. We're celebrating our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Why don't you two come? You'll meet some interesting people. I'll email you the address and instructions on how to get there.

JEFFREY I look forward to it. You on for that, Peter?

PETER Yes, sounds interesting.

SIR NEVILE Do you live in town, Peter, or in the suburbs or the country?

PETER At the moment I'm living with my friend Nick. Just until my salary starts coming through and I can sort out a place of my own. Then the next thing I'll have to do is sort out a car. At the moment I come into work with Nick.

SIR NEVILE We can't have that. You need your own space, and you need a car in case Jeffrey wants you to go somewhere or meet him at some place. (to Jeffrey) Can't you sort him out a place to live and some transport, Jeffrey?

JEFFREY I'll see what I can do.

SIR NEVILE Good man. Right, let's sort out we're going to eat. They've got a new menu at this club of mine here. All the old favourites on it, but some new dishes on it too, so I think I might experiment today.

SIR NEVILE picks up his menu and JEFFREY and PETER pick up theirs.

INT. POLICE STATION - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER are shown into a busy office in the police station by a SENIOR POLICE OFFICER. Other POLICE OFFICERS are taking telephone calls or talking to each. JEFFREY, PETER and the SENIOR POLICE OFFICER sit down around a desk.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Come in Jeffrey. Long time no see. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit? Normally we only get visited by one of your inspectors. And who's your friend?

JEFFREY This is Peter, and he's going to be keeping an eye on the inspectors. He's my new Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER I thought you kept an eye on them.

JEFFREY I need a bit of distance between me and them. It'll help if they need to be admonished or disciplined in any way. Peter will be like my eyes and ears, but he'll also be like a buffer between me and them. Plus I want a bit of time for other activities.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Golf?

JEFFREY Amongst other things.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER So what exactly is it you want from me today?

JEFFREY Just give him some straight talking about the police in this country.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Well, basically we're here to hassle motorists and get money out of them.

PETER But what about solving crimes?

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Far too difficult and time consuming. We'll tackle high profile cases like murders, because the media would be on us if we didn't do that.

PETER What about things like burglaries and muggings?

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Give the victim some comforting words and a crime number so they can claim on their insurance for whatever they've lost.

JEFFREY If they've got insurance.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER It's their problem if they haven't.

PETER But surely people become police officers because they want to protect the public and lock up the criminals.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER You become a police officer because the money's not bad and the pension is even better. The worst thing about being a police officer is the work you have to do before it's time to retire.

PETER But surely if that was true the official statistics that you have to produce, for the public and for Jeffrey's department, would look terrible and give the game away.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER We fudge the statistics. We downgrade crimes so it looks as though there are less serious crimes than there were in the past. A lot of crimes we don't even record.

PETER What about the serious stuff though? Fraud. Drugs. That sort of thing.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER You know, Peter, police pay isn't that wonderful. The odd bribe from a criminal doesn't go amiss. It's better to share in the spoils and let the bad guy go free to earn more money for us another day.

PETER I can't believe all the police are like that.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER Of course they're not. Mostly the ones in the big cities. We have plenty of honest, principled police, but there's a limit as to how high up the ladder they can rise.

PETER But what if it comes out in public that a cop is a bad cop?

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER We put them on gardening leave on full pay, start an investigation, then do nothing further or just say we can't find incontrovertible evidence that they've done anything wrong, and then let them retire on the grounds of ill health. (to JEFFREY) I think this one's got a lot to learn, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY gets to his feet.

JEFFREY He'll get there. I'll make sure of that. Come on, Peter. We're off to a hospital now. You can look at our wonderful health service.

PETER gets to his feet.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Thanks for helping out, John. I'll see you at the Mason's Lodge one of these evenings.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER I look forward to it. You can buy me a drink afterwards. I'll see you both out.

SENIOR POLICE OFFICER leads JEFFREY and PETER out of the room.

INT. HOSPITAL WARD - DAY

PETER and JEFFREY walk through the hospital ward with a SENIOR NURSE and go into a room at the end where OTHER NURSES, AUXILIARIES and DOCTORS are laughing and drinking tea, coffee, etc. No nurses are on the ward where patients are lying in bed. PETER, JEFFREY and the SENIOR NURSE sit around a table.

SENIOR NURSE Do you want a drink of anything, either of you?

JEFFREY Not for me, thanks.

PETER Me neither, thanks.

SENIOR NURSE We don't normally get a visit from the head of the Public Sector Inspectors' department. Is this a special occasion? Is there something seriously wrong you've found?

JEFFREY It's only special in the sense that this young gentleman here … (indicates Peter) … is going to be the person who inspects the work of the Inspectors in our department. I therefore want him to get a realistic view of what goes on in the various departments that make up the public sector.

SENIOR NURSE Realistic? How realistic?

JEFFREY Totally realistic.

SENIOR NURSE Well, the pay for nurses isn't bad but it isn't brilliant. Doctors are probably overpaid these days. Surgeons actually do something for their money. The worse thing is the paperwork, and when nurses started learning about nursing at university instead of on the job, we ended up with a class of nurse that thinks they're too special to do basic physical things like bum-wiping and giving bed baths.

PETER There's nothing too horrible there, Jeffrey.

SENIOR NURSE The negative things might be having too many pen-pushers in the health service, and not having enough money, staff, room and equipment to cope with the size of population we've got these days.

PETER Standard gripes for many a large organization. Jeffrey, this really all seems very straightforward.

JEFFREY I wanted you to hear it from someone in the front line so you'd be able to put into perspective some of the nonsense that goes on in other parts of the public sector.

JEFFREY gets to his feet. JEFFREY (CONT'D) (to the SENIOR NURSE) Many thanks for giving us some of your time. We'll show ourselves out.

PETER gets to his feet. PETER and JEFFREY walk back through the ward.

PETER One thing occurs to me. Shouldn't those staff be out here in the ward attending to the patients?

JEFFREY Well spotted. I was hoping you'd notice that. Listen, Peter, I'll drive us back to the office. Nick should still be at work to give you your lift home. I mean to his home. Tomorrow I've got some things I want to do, so when you come in in the morning, Helga will take you out for the day. I thought she could take you to see our public sector union leaders. We have two. One represents the upper staff levels, the other represents the general admin staff.

PETER OK. It'll be interesting to see if I get on as well with Helga as I get on with you.

JEFFREY Tread carefully. She's one of our Inspectors who believe they really are supposed to make the public sector more efficient and to cut costs where possible.

PETER Why not get rid of her?

JEFFREY It's illegal to dismiss anyone from the public sector. Once you're in, it's a job for life.

JEFFREY and PETER leave the ward.

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - MORNING

JEFFREY is sitting at his desk. HELGA and PETER are standing in front of him.

PETER OK, I got you booked in to see Nigel Dudley-Farker this morning. He's head of the union that represents top level public sector staff. Then this afternoon I've got you an appointment to see Alf Barge, who represents the general staff.

HELGA That's us.

JEFFREY That's you, Helga. When I put Peter in the new post of Public Sector Inspector Inspector he will be at the senior level and so he will be in Dudley-Farker's union. (to PETER) When you get back here late this afternoon, Peter, I hope I shall have some good news for you.

PETER Regarding …?

JEFFREY It's bad luck to talk about it before I've confirmed it. Now, off you go, you two. I don't want you being late for Mr. Dudley-Farker. He's quite punctilious over punctuality.

HELGA and PETER leave Jeffrey's office.

INT. NIGEL DUDLEY-FARKER'S OFFICE - DAY

HELGA and PETER enter Dudley-Farker's office. He rises from his seat behind his desk and comes over to them. He's very posh and chinless.

DNIGEL How lovely to see you both. Helga, isn't it? And you're Peter?

HELGA Yes.

PETER Yes.

NIGEL Sit yourselves down.

DUDLEY-FARKER goes back behind his desk and sits down. PETER and HELGA sit down in the two chairs in front of his desk.

NIGEL (CONT'D) I hear you're going to be one of us in due course, Peter.

PETER That's right, Mr. Dudley-Farker.

NIGEL Please, call me Nigel.

PETER Nigel. At the moment while I'm being trained I'm just a Public Sector Inspector …

NIGEL Like Helga here.

PETER Like Helga here. But once I'm trained I shall be in the new post of Public Sector Inspector Inspector …

NIGEL Inspecting the Inspectors. We must have someone to guard the guardians.

PETER Indeed. Then I shall apparently be in your union, rather than …

NIGEL Alf Barge's. Alf's a fine fellow, but I think you'll be happier on board our ship.

PETER I believe I will.

NIGEL And you, Helga? Any sign of promotion to our ranks?

HELGA Quite frankly, Mr. Dudley-Farker …

NIGEL Niegel-Piers, please.

HELGA Nigel. I was rather expecting Jeffrey to make me Public Sector Inspector Inspector and so elevate me to your ranks.

NIGEL Life is full of disappointment and woe. HELGA For some of us, yes.

NIGEL Never mind. If you can't rise any higher up the ladder, in a few years' time you'll be eligible for early retirement.

DUDLEY-FARKER gets to his feet.

NIGEL Now unfortunately I have things to do, people to deal with, negotiations to handle, that sort of thing. Then I shall be having a lovely lunch with Sir Nevile Grevile. Have you met him, Peter?

PETER Yes, I met him on my first day. A very affable man.

NIGEL Indeed he is. And a good lunch companion. Especially when he's able to put the lunch on ministerial expenses. Now, I shall wish you both well, and I look forward to being your representative in the public sector in the not too distant future, Peter. And you, Helga, I bid you adieu.

DUDLEY-FARKER leads HELGA and PETER to the door of the office and shows them out.

INT. CHEAP CAFE - DAY

HELGA and PETER are munching on sandwiches and drinking mugs of tea.

PETER Couldn't we have gone somewhere nicer? I mean, lunch is going on expenses anyway, isn't it?

HELGA I try never to put anything on expenses. You know what our department is called, Peter?

PETER It's a snappy title - the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction

HELGA Cost reduction, Peter. All people have lunch as a normal part of daily life. There's no reason why we should burden the taxpayer with the cost of what we would be doing anyway.

PETER I guess you're right, but I'll also guess that's not what many people in the public sector think. Especially the higher-ups.

HELGA Perhaps we need different sorts of people higher up.

PETER People like you, you mean?

HELGA Can I say something, Peter?

PETER Fire away.

HELGA Jeffrey said you had the highest score ever in the Public Sector Entrance Exam, and you completed it in record time.

PETER Apparently so.

HELGA There's something not quite right here. I've met a lot of top drawer people. In the public sector, would you believe. And you're not one of them.

PETER The evidence seems to contradict you.

HELGA It seems that way, doesn't it? But I believe the operative word is 'seems'. I don't know how you did it, but I'll find out. You seem to me as though you've never managed or supervised people. You're not stupid, but you're not ultra-bright. I'm not sure you've ever had a responsible job. That is if you've ever had a job at all. I think you're irresponsible and you're used to indulging yourself and being indulged by others.

PETER I'm sorry you think that, Helga.

HELGA stands up.

HELGA Come on. Let's go. We have an appointment with Alf Barge. You'll find him a bit different from Dudley-Farker.

HELGA walks out of the cafe. PETER gets up and follows her.

INT. ALF BARGE'S OFFICE - DAY

ALF BARGE opens the door of his office and lets HELGA and PETER in. ALF is short and fat and his clothes look dishevelled.

ALF Come in, Helga. And you must be Peter?

He shakes their hands and brings them over to where two chairs are facing another chair.

PETER That's right.

HELGA

How are you, Alf? Fighting the good fight?

ALF sits down in the single chair and HELGA and PETER sit in the other two chairs.

ALF I'm always fighting some fight or other on behalf of my members. What about you, Helga? Anything you need me to do for you?

HELGA Probably not. I've just been passed over for a new senior post in favour of Peter here, but I suppose he's the best man for the job.

ALF Sexism?

HELGA No, I'm sure not. It's just Jeffrey wanted new young blood.

ALF Ageism?

HELGA I'm sure Jaffrey reached his decision purely on the basis of ability.

ALF If you say so, but if you have any doubts, let me know and I'll fight your corner for you. We know our rights. Of course rights don't have to entail responsibility. If you believe you've got a good case we could go all the way up to The International Court Of What's Right.

HELGA I'll think about it and try to find out a bit more.

ALF (to PETER) I'm not saying anything against you, Peter, but I have to stand up for my members' rights. And I here that if you successfully get through your training and get this new post, you'll be in the posh boys' and girls' union anyway, and not mine.

PETER Apparently so. I'll be enrolled in Nigel Dudley-Farker's union.

ALF The Federated Union of Civil Key Employees of the Realm.

PETER That's the one.

ALF Classism, that's what I call it. Discrimination on the basis of class. I reckon there should be only one union in the public sector, and that should be mine - The Union Of Servants Of The Public. At least that's got a sensible name. Like me. I've got a sensible name. What sort of name is Nigel Dudley-Farker?

PETER His family's probably to blame for that.

ALF I won't tolerate any sort of discrimination in the public sector, or anywhere for that matter, but I can't help wanting to discriminate against posh people.

PETER I feel the same. I believe everyone should get what they deserve in life through merit.

HELGA You do, do you?

PETER Absolutely. Everyone should only get what they deserve, and not get anything through privilege or personal connections, or by using any unfair means.

ALF Good man, Peter. That's the sort of thing I like to hear. Of course until you get this new post of Public Sector Inspector Inspector you're actually just a Public Sector Inspector, so that means you're automatically in my union. If there's any conflict or unfairness you need me to represent you with, just let me know and I'll fight your corner for you. And don't forget you can take as much time off sick as you want to. So long as you really are sick, of course, and produce a self-certification letter to that effect. Statistically Mondays and Fridays are the days people most often fall sick. I don't know why that is.

PETER That's good to know. Fortunately I'm quite healthy, so I'm not expecting to take much time off, if any.

HELGA I wonder if Jeffrey would make me Deputy Public Sector Inspector Inspector just in case Peter does go off sick though.

ALF It's always worth asking. The worst Jeffrey can say is 'no'.

ALF gets to his feet.

ALF (CONT'D) So don't forget to come to me if you have any problems connected with work. I'll do everything I can to help you.

HELGA and PETER stand up. ALF shakes hands with them both, then leads them to the door of the office.

ALF (CONT'D) Remember, your work in the public sector should be the be all and end all of your life. It's just what you do to pass time until you can pick up your public sector pension.

ALF shows HELGA and PETER out of the office.

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

HELGA and PETER come into the office. JEFFREY is sitting at his desk.

JEFFREY How did it go with our two contrasting union bosses?

PETER They're both interesting in their own ways. And potentially useful.

JEFFREY When there are problems, yes. Hopefully you won't be having any. Look, it's almost the end of the working day. Time to go home. Helga, can you send Nick Jenks in here?

HELGA leaves Jeffrey's office.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) First of all, Peter, you've got your own office now. It's the one next to mine. You and I are the only people in the department with private offices. Everyone else has to work in open plan offices. Secondly, here's your public sector credit card. Use it sparingly until you get your promotion, then you can treat yourself a little more generously with it. But now for the news that should really please you.

JEFFREY stands up and reaches over the desk to hand PETER some keys. PETER takes them and looks at them.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) I've found you somewhere to live, free of charge, and I've got you a car you can use, again for free. I got Sir Nevile Grevile to pull strings for me. Both the mews house and the car are government properties that aren't being used at the moment.

PETER I don't know what to say.

JEFFREY One thing I'd advise you not to say is to tell your friend Nick that we're providing these things for you. It could cause resentment. Tell him I found them for you and forwarded you some of your first month's salary so you could pay for them. You've got two sets of keys for the house, and two for the car. The car's parked outside your mews house.

JEFFREY hands PETER a card.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) The address of the house and the registration number of the car are on the card.

There's a knock on the door and NICK comes in.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Ah, Nick. Just the man. You'll be pleased to know your friend Peter's sorted himself out somewhere to live and some transport, so he won't need to be cluttering up your place any more.

NICK Sounds good, although in a funny way I've enjoyed having him stay at my place.

JEFFREY Try to sound more convincing. Anyway I guess Peter's got stuff at your place, so if you could run him back to collect it and then take him to his new home, that would be appreciated.

NICK Certainly I'll do that.

JEFFREY Good. In that case, I'll see you both here at work tomorrow.

PETER and NICK leave Jeffrey's office.

EXT. PETER'S MEWS HOUSE - NIGHT

NICK parks his car and NICK and PETER get out of the car. PETER has his rucksack with him. There is another car parked outside the mews house. It is a new black Mercedes - nice but fairly ordinary. PETER blips the remote and unlocks it and then locks it again.

PETER That should do as a runaround.

PETER and NICK go to the front door of the house and PETER uses one of his keys to open it. PETER and NICK go into the house.

INT. SITTING ROOM OF PETER'S HOUSE - NIGHT

The interior of the house is furnished and is slick and modern. PETER and NICK stand in the middle of the room.

NICK This is pretty impressive. I'd love to know how you managed to get it. I don't see how you can possible afford it.

PETER Jeffrey sorted it out for me. I'm not sure but I think it might belong to some relatives or friends of his who are abroad. They were prepared to accept a fairly low rent for it rather than have it empty.

NICK And the car?

PETER Same thing. It belongs to the people who own the house, so it's better to have me using it than just to have it stagnating outside the house.

NICK You won't even have had your first month's salary yet. How did you find the money for this?

PETER The people are prepared to wait till I get paid.

NICK Very decent of them. Unusually decent, in fact. Well, Peter, I'll leave you to your luxury. Maybe see you at work tomorrow.

PETER I'll show you out.

PETER and NICK leave the room. PETER comes back into the room and takes out his mobile phone and dials a number.

PETER Hi, Sophie. Do you want to see my new home? And car? I know, it was a bit quick, wasn't it? But I've got a very helpful boss at work and he's made it happen for me. Do you want to come over? Have you got a pen? I'll give you the address.

LATER

PETER leads SOPHIE into the room.

SOPHIE Wow! This puts my place to shame. How can you afford it? And in such an expensive part of the city.

PETER I suspect it's down to my boss's negotiating skills. Actually I believe this house and the car belong to some friends or relatives of his, so they're doing him a favour by letting me have the use of them cheaply.

SOPHIE Your luck is certainly improving, Peter. But I've got to tell you some bad news. Your parents were going to rent a place when they had to leave their house, but they realized that the bank that's repossessed the house would want to where they were getting the money to do that, so what they've done is gone on the dole so it looks as though they're penniless. That way the bank will leave them alone.

PETER Where are they living?

SOPHIE That's the horrible thing. They had to go to the local council and say they were homeless, so the local council has put them in a bed and breakfast place until they can find them social house. The place is full of weirdoes and dropouts.

PETER We can't have that, not now I've got this place. There's room for them to stay here.

SOPHIE Get in touch with them. You've got your dad's number.

PETER Let me make the call in the kitchen. I know you know everything that goes on with mum and dad, and me too, but I might want to say some private things.

SOPHIE Of course. Go on. I'll be here.

PETER leaves the room.

LATER

PETER comes back into the room, putting his mobile phone in his pocket.

PETER Unbelievable. I told him I've got three bedrooms here, and he's refused to come and live here. And of course mother always goes along with what he says. He says they're going to stay in they're in until they get offered social housing, and then they'll go and live there. He says he can sort out his own affairs and he'll find a way to bounce back. Even now he's looking around for business ideas he might be able to try.

SOPHIE David's a stubborn man, and Margaret's very loyal to him, but he's not getting any younger. It gets more difficult to find the energy and drive, and the opportunities, to make money as you get older. But at least you tried.

SOPHIE gives PETER a hug. He hugs her back. Then they kiss.

PETER You could stay here. At least for tonight.

SOPHIE What? In one of your spare rooms?

PETER No, not in one of the spare rooms.

PETER and SOPHIE kiss. Then they leave the room, hand in hand.

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY and HELGA are facing each other across Jeffrey's desk.

JEFFREY What was it you wanted to see me about, Helga?

HELGA I had an idea, Jeffrey. If you think the new boy Peter should be Public Sector Inspector Inspector, then I believe you must be right. I trust your judgement.

JEFFREY I'm pleased to hear that.

HELGA But what about if Peter should fall ill, or need to take time off work for any reason? Don't you think it would be a good idea to have a Deputy Public Sector Inspector Inspector to be able to stand in for him?

JEFFREY (long pause) I think that's an excellent idea, Helga. I shall appoint myself Deputy Public Sector Inspector Inspector immediately. I'm very grateful for your suggestion.

There's a knock on the door.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Come in.

PETER comes in.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Morning, Peter. Helga has just made an excellent suggestion. She suggested I become Deputy Public Sector Inspector Inspector in case you should ever need to take time off work for any reason. Thank you, Helga.

HELGA I …

JEFFREY Peter and I have a busy day ahead of us.

HELGA I …

JEFFREY And no doubt you do two. Don't let me keep you from your work.

HELGA gets up and leaves the office. PETER sits down where HELGA was sitting.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) How do you like your new home and car?

PETER They're absolutely wonderful.

JEFFREY I'm glad you think so. Did you come to work in your car this morning?

PETER Yes.

JEFFREY Excellent. Then you can drive us around today. You can use your public sector credit card to put fuel in your car. I'll use my card to treat us to lunch. Did you look at your office?

PETER Yes. It seems very (beat) comfortable.

JEFFREY stands up.

JEFFREY Good. OK. Let's go.

PETER stands up. JEFFREY and PETER leave the office.

INT. FIRE STATION - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER walk past the fire engines. There's no one around. They go upstairs. All is quiet. They open a door, and there in a large room are about ten FIREFIGHTERS sleeping.

PETER What are they doing?

JEFFREY Sssshhh. They're sleeping until it's time to collect their public sector pensions.

PETER Shouldn't they be doing some work?

JEFFREY They work on their days off from this job. Come on. Let's go. We don't want to disturb them.

JEFFREY closes the door. JEFFREY and PETER make their way back downstairs.

INT. JOBCENTRE - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER are sitting at a desk in an open plan office with the JOBCENTRE MANAGER. UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CLAIMANTS are milling around and waiting to see JOBCENTRE STAFF MEMBERS at other desks.

PETER First time I've been in a Jobcentre. Funny to think my dad has had to sign on in one of these because of the collapse of his business.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER I'm sorry to hear that. These places can be very soul-destroying, as much for the people who work here as for the unemployed people who come here. That is, when they are unemployed.

PETER But you obviously have to be unemployed to claim unemployment benefit.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER That's the theory. Actually a fair few people who sign on have got cash in hand jobs or little businesses, or they've got money tucked away that they've made earlier in life or they've inherited.

PETER They still have to show they're looking for a job, don't they?

JOBCENTRE MANAGER That just requires them to do a bit of form-filling or muck about on the internet a bit. You'd be surprised at the number of people who see the money they get from this place as just topping up whatever money they're getting from elsewhere. Or if our money is the only money they're getting, they think that though it might not be much - although often it's as much as many people get from having a low-paying job - it at least allows them to live a life of leisure and freedom.

Over at a nearby desk an UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CLAIMANT starts shouting at a JOBCENTRE STAFF MEMBER. PETER, JEFFREY and the JOBCENTRE MANAGER.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CLAIMANT You've got to give me money. It's your duty. I'm legally entitled to have money off you. It's my right. I've earned that money

JOBCENTRE STAFF MEMBER How many jobs have you had in your life? How many years have you worked and paid taxes?

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS CLAIMANT I've never had a job, have I? You should know that. It should be on your computer. Anyway I'm too busy to work, what with looking after my council house and being with my kids and my mates and going shopping and all that.

PETER, JEFFREY and the JOBCENTRE MANAGER turn their attention back to each other.

PETER There must be some people who really are unemployed and are genuinely looking for a job.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER Yes, those are the really sad cases. The only jobs they're likely to find through us are cleaning toilets and flipping burgers.

PETER Well at least you have the people who are physically or mentally unable to work. They deserve to be supported with public money.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER Ooh! My back!

PETER What? JOBCENTRE MANAGER I think I'm suffering from stress.

PETER What are you going on about?

JOBCENTRE MANAGER I can't work. I'm too depressed to work.

PETER You're trying to tell me something, but I don't know what it is.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER There are people who could never do any meaningful or useful work. But not many of them. There's so many people gaming the “I'm too sick to do any work at all, so give me free money, free accommodation and free transport” system that it makes a mockery of the whole thing. For those people they shouldn't say it's an “incapable of work” benefit, they should say it's a “too lazy, cunning and dishonest to work” benefit.

PETER You really think so?

JOBCENTRE MANAGER I deal with these people every day, Mr. Patter. You see all those vehicles around with the “I'm so handicapped I'm in a wheelchair” badges on them?

PETER Yes, they're everywhere, and they get all the best parking places given over to them.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER And nine times out of ten, who do you see getting out of them - normal people or terribly physically handicapped people.

PETER I see the odd person in a wheelchair, or some person who's obviously seriously physically disabled, or people who are just plain nutters, but nine times out of ten it's normal people.

JOBCENTRE MANAGER The state benefits system is a well-intentioned indulgence that became scammed by unscrupulous people decades ago.

PETER So what system would you have in its place?

JOBCENTRE MANAGER No benefits. Hostels for those who don't work for whatever reason, with food provided. That's all. You'd be surprised then how many people suddenly discovered they could work.

JEFFREY Peter, I think it's time for lunch.

JEFFREY stands up. JEFFREY (CONT'D) I think some of the benefits beggars have overheard our conversation and dislike such honesty, and some of the staff here also heard it and wish they could ram it down the scroungers' ungrateful throats.

PETER stands up.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) (to the JOBCENTRE MANAGER) Many thanks for giving us your time. I'm sure it's done Peter good to hear the opinions of someone who works at the coalface of doling out taxpayers' money.

JEFFREY and PETER shake hands with the JOBCENTRE MANAGER and turn and start walking out of the Jobcentre. As they're leaving, JEFFREY turns to PETER.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Of course the money you and I get comes from taxpayers in the private sector, but at least we do something for it. Until we collect our public sector pensions, that is.

JEFFREY and PETER leave the Jobcentre.

INT. DISTRICT COUNCIL OFFICES - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER are sitting in front of the grand desk of DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER, who sits behind his desk facing JEFFREY and PETER. DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER is plump and self-satisfied. He twangs his braces under his expensive suit jacket.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER And what can I do you for, Mr. Coller? And your young friend? Did you have a good lunch, by the way? I did. At the best restaurant in town.

JEFFREY Yes, thank you, we had an excellent lunch. Peter here is going to be the Inspector who inspects the Inspectors who inspect all the different parts of the government and the public sector in general. I just want him to find out what goes on in all the multifarious branches of the public sector. I thought as a district council leader you could tell him what goes on in a district council.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER I can tell him what goes on in the district council that I'm leader of.

JEFFREY Yes, it would do him good to hear about that. If you could tell him, and if he could ask you questions …

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER Of course. I'd be delighted to inform him about my responsibilities and the services my council provides for our grateful public.

PETER Can you tell me about all the services you provide for people in your council's district.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER Let's not get bogged down in petty details. I think we empty rubbish bins, maintain the roads and look after the schools. There must be other things but I can't remember what they are. Basically this country's government gives us money and we spend it. We take money off the local people and spend it. Then we borrow some money and spend it. Then we try to think of more ways to get more money so we can spend it.

PETER What sort of way?

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER We charge people for everything we can charge them for and fine people for everything we can fine them for. By way of example, we don't give property developers planning permission to build unless they bung us bribes. Quite legally of course. We have the power to make the rules, so of course it's legal. Then we've got a camera set up at a traffic junction where it's illegal to go onto the junction unless the way is clear to get off it, but we've set the traffic lights so the only way you can get across it against the oncoming traffic is to wait on the junction. Brilliant! We photograph the car and just send them demands for money backed up by a threat to jail them if they don't pay. We're always coming up with new ways to screw our local taxpayer. They could never give us as much money as we want.

PETER But there must be a lot of things you need to spend money on.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER Of course. There's all our salaries for a start. Then there's our pensions when we retire at fifty on the grounds of ill health.

PETER I was thinking more about the services you provide.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER We do as little as we can get away with doing without having riots outside the district council offices.

PETER But the district council exists to serve the people of the district.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER Don't be silly, boy. The district council exists to serve the people who work for the district council, and of course the people who have retired from working for it. We could provide better services for half the money we extort from the district's residents if we didn't have so many of us wanting to be paid and we didn't want to pay ourselves so much.

PETER When you retire, how do you think you'll be remembered by the people of your district?

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER I hope I'll be remembered as someone who paid himself the biggest salary possible and claimed the maximum expenses possible, and then who retired on the biggest inflation-proof pension possible and spent more time living on a pension than he spent working for a living.

PETER I'm sure you'll get your wish, council leader.

JEFFREY Yes, council leader, I'm sure you will. Peter, do you have any more questions?

PETER Now, I think I've got a good idea what local councils are about, and indeed what the public sector is about.

JEFFREY Excellent. Let's call it a day then. After this, why don't you have a few days off? I know I usually do after I've worked two or three days in a row. Then I might have a surprise for you. Have you ever seen this great nation's parliament in action?

PETER No, I haven't.

JEFFREY I'll see if I can arrange it.

JEFFREY stands up. So does PETER. JEFFREY extends a hand to DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER. They shake hands.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Council leader, I'd like to thank you for your time. I know you're a busy man.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER Busy getting my hands on other people's money.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER shakes hands with PETER.

DISTRICT COUNCIL LEADER I wish you well in the public sector, young man. Remember, God helps those who help themselves.

PETER Yes, sir, I will. Goodbye.

JEFFREY and PETER leave.

INT. AN OFFICE IN PARLIAMENT - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER are sitting alone in the office in a couple of armchairs. There are a couple of empty armchairs facing them.

JEFFREY Did you enjoy your few days off work, Peter? It's important to take plenty of time off sick in the public sector. It's a tradition.

PETER Yes, thanks, Jeffrey. I feel quite refreshed and ready to work hard.

JEFFREY Never say that to a fellow public sector worker, Peter. They'll think you're either simple or a traitor. Always do the minimum amount of work you can to get your salary.

PETER OK. By the way, you haven't told me who we're meeting today.

JEFFREY A politician, and a very important one. Of course you've already met one politician in the form of Sir Nevile Grevile, the Minister who's responsible for our department. Today you're going to meet his boss.

The door of the office opens and in walk two men, THREFTON GUNN and MICHAEL MONEYMAKER. They come over to JEFFREY and PETER, who both stand up. JEFFREY shakes hands with THREFTON.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Threfton, lovely to see you. (turns to PETER) Peter, this is Threfton Gunn, the Minister of the Public Purse. (to THREFTON) Threfton, this is Peter Patter. He is going to be the Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

THREFTON and PETER shake hands.

THREFTON Delighted to meet you, Peter.

JEFFREY and MICHAEL shake hands.

JEFFREY Michael. (to PETER) Peter, this is Michael Moneymaker. He's the Governor of the National Bank.

PETER and MICHAEL shake hands.

THREFTON and MICHAEL sit down in the two armchairs opposite JEFFREY and PETER, who sit down in their armchairs.

THREFTON So, Peter, I understand from Jeffrey that you need to find out what the different sections of the public sector do, and today it's my job to enlighten you on what I and my ministry, the Ministry of the Public Purse, do.

PETER I think I have a general idea, but it would be nice to hear from you directly what your ministry does.

THREFTON Of course. So I shall tell you. Government and the public sector in general have two responsibilities - to take money off the nation's citizens and then to spend that money. Indeed to spend more than that money if possible.

THREFTON and MICHAEL look at each other and laugh.

THREFTON (CONT'D) The Ministry of the Public Purse is the ministry that has overall responsibility for taking money off people, borrowing money, and handing that money out to other Ministers who then distribute it throughout the public sector, included in which is the government itself of course.

PETER It sounds quite straightforward when you put it like that.

THREFTON Actually it's a rather tricky balancing act. Of course we want to extort as much money off productive, profitable people as possible so that we can dole out as much money as possible to other people and keep them content and buy their votes, but if we demand too much and if we spend too much of it in unnecessary, unproductive and even counterproductive ways, we engender discontent and politically we shoot ourselves in the foot.

PETER I see. But surely the people you take money off are aware that their money is needed for vital expenditure in the public sector.

THREFTON Vital?

THREFTON and MICHAEL look at each other and laugh.

THREFTON (CONT'D) I'd be surprised if even ten percent of what the government spends money on is vital. We simply enjoy spending other people's money, so we must take it off people, or borrow it and make other people repay later what we've borrowed.

PETER But surely if the public sector had only ten percent of the money it spends now, the country couldn't be as good a place as it is now?

THREFTON It would be a better place. People would have to be responsible for themselves. Imagine if we didn't have all the people employed in the public sector that we have now. People would have to do something that other people wanted and were prepared to pay for to earn a living. And think what life would be like if we only spent on the military ten percent of what we spend now. Imagine if we spent on healthcare only ten percent of what we spend now. People would either have to be able to sort out their own health or they'd just die off. Survival of the fittest. Natural selection. Which is how we got to be the dominant animal on the planet in the first place. Imagine if we didn't spend money interfering in the affairs of foreign countries. And perhaps best of all, imagine if we didn't hand out money in state benefits left, right and centre. People would either have to be able to look after themselves, or they would fall by the wayside. And nobody would miss them. In fact society would be better off without them. And the consequence on the other side of the balance sheet would be that we would only need to take off productive people ten percent off what we take off them now.

PETER But then I don't get why the public sector takes so much money off productive people and spends so much money.

THREFTON Surely you realize that we in the public sector are here primarily to benefit ourselves? If we have to do things for and with other people in order to seem to have some justification for thieving, extorting and bullying money out of non-public sector dependent people, then that is a price we must pay.

PETER And may I ask why the Governor of the National Bank is here today? (to MICHAEL) It's a very pleasant surprise to have a chance to meet you, but do you have any role in all of this?

MICHAEL You know Threfton revealed at the beginning that government and indeed the whole public sector likes to spend if possible even more money than it is able to extort from people? That's where I come in. The government likes to borrow money. All it wants is to spend as much money as possible. It creates debt - call it bonds or treasuries - and tries to sell that debt to anyone dumb enough to buy it. Sometimes it can't find buyers. So we buy it.

PETER But what if your used up all its money and couldn't buy any more of the government's debt?

THREFTON and MICHAEL look at each other and laugh.

MICHAEL It's impossible for us to run out of money. We make the stuff.

PETER Make the stuff?

MICHAEL We're the National Bank. We create the stuff. We just invent as much new money as we want. Then we give it to the government in return for their junk bonds and junk treasuries. And we give it to our friends. Well, technically we don't give it to our friends in banking and finance, but we lend it to them at such a low rate of interest that they basically get the free use of it while they lend it out to others at extortionate rates or they speculate with it. Then of course they're supposed to give the original money back to us with some notional interest, but if they can't we just lend them some more or write off the debt.

PETER Well, I suppose so long as the system works.

MICHAEL It works until it doesn't work. But when it doesn't work, that isn't our problem. When that happens, it's only the little people who get hurt, not people like us at the top of the financial pyramid.

JEFFREY Michael, Threfton, I think you've given Peter a good description of how and why government and the whole public sector is financed. Thank you very much.

THREFTON Our pleasure.

THREFTON, MICHAEL, JEFFREY and PETER stand up and shake hands with each other and then walk towards the door.

THREFTON (CONT'D) Has Peter ever seen Parliament in action?

JEFFREY looks quizzically at PETER.

PETER No, I haven't.

THREFTON Come back after lunch and I'll show you the Lower House and the Upper House in action.

JEFFREY Thank you. We'll do that.

INT. CHAMBER OF LOWER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT - DAY

THREFTON, JEFFREY and PETER sit down in a viewing gallery looking down on POLITICIANS who are seated in rows directly facing each other. THREFTON leans across to PETER.

THREFTON This is the Lower House of Parliament.

POLITICIAN #1 stands up and addresses POLITICIAN #2 who is facing him about two metres away.

POLITICIAN #1 May I say to my well respected political opponent opposite that he doesn't know what he's talking about?

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #1'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #2 stands up.

POLITICIAN #2 I think this House will find that it's you who don't know what you're talking about.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #2'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #1 stands up.

POLITICIAN #1 To the contrary I think this House will find it's you who don't know what you're talking about, and this House will also find that you don't know that you don't know what you're talking about.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #1'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #2 stands up.

POLITICIAN #2 I think this House will find that it's you who don't know that you don't know what you're talking about.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #2'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #1 stands up.

POLITICIAN #1 Far from that being the case, I am certain that this House will find that I know exactly what I'm, and furthermore it will find that if the law we are proposing on this side of the House is enacted, this great country of ours will become greater still.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #1'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #2 stands up.

POLITICIAN #2 What we know on this side of the House that is obviously not known on the other side of the House is that the other side of the House has presided over the ruination of this country, which once was great when it was governed by this side of the House, and that if the law that the other side of the House proposes is enacted it will ruin this country even more.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #2'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #1 stands up.

POLITICIAN #1 No it won't.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #1'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #2 stands up.

POLITICIAN #2 Yes it will.

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #2'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #1 stands up.

POLITICIAN #1 No it won't

Sits down. POLITICIANS on POLITICIAN #1'S side cheer. POLITICIAN #2 stands up.

POLITICIAN #2 Yes it will.

THREFTON leans across to PETER.

THREFTON Got the hang of it?

PETER I think so.

THREFTON Good. Let's go to the Upper House and see how they operate.

THREFTON, JEFFREY and PETER stand up and leave the viewing gallery.

INT. CHAMBER OF UPPER HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT - DAY

THREFTON, JEFFREY and PETER sit down in a viewing gallery. They look down on POLITICIANS who are seated in armchairs scattered randomly around the chamber facing in all different directions. They are all asleep except for POLITICIAN #3 who is standing up and mumbling to the room in general, reading from papers he is holding. THREFTON leans across to PETER.

THREFTON This is the Upper House of Parliament.

POLITICIAN #3 And I would like further to inform the highly respected members of this Upper House, who have made such great sacrifices for their country, that if this law that has been put to us by the Lower House is enacted, it will bring great benefits to this country, and indeed also to this highly respected Parliament. The proposed law was suggested to the Lower House by one of our nation's great business companies that wishes to do what it wants here and not to have other business companies from what I can only call 'abroad' coming over here and competing with it. I'm sure all highly respected members of this House will agree that that is very reasonable. Indeed how could we expect our companies to survive if we allowed Johnny Foreigner to come over and compete with them? It would make life quite horrid and stressful for them. And we wouldn't want that, would we? I can also further reassure the highly respected members of this House that the customers of the business company that proposed this law to the Lower House for enactment, and which the Lower House is now proposing to us for enactment, are not in the slightest concerned about the quality of the goods and services they receive from this business company, nor are they concerned about what they have to pay for those goods and services. They are merely hugely grateful to get whatever goods and services are offered, and they will happily pay whatever prices are demanded of them for those goods and services. Finally may I say to the highly respected members of this Upper House that this business company that has proposed this law for the Lower and Upper Houses of this Parliament to consider has always been most generous to the well respected and highly respected members of this Parliament, both in terms of cash and gifts, especially as we have always seen fit to pass laws that it has proposed to us, and it has given assurances that if this law particular law is also passed, it will express its gratitude by continuing to be generous to us with further cash and gifts. Now, I have to say to the highly respected members of this House that the time has come for us to vote on whether this law will be enacted, so I would like a clear 'yes' or 'no' from each and every one of you. As is usual in these situations, and in accordance with the rules of this House, silence will be counted as a 'yes' vote. So who wishes to vote 'yes' for this law to be enacted?

The room is silent except for the sound of all the POLITICIANS snoring.

POLITICIAN #3 (CONT'D) That is a unanimous 'yes' vote. The law is now enacted.

THREFTON leans across to PETER.

THREFTON Got the hang of it?

PETER I think so.

THREFTON Good. Let's go and have a few drinks in one of the politicians' bars here in the Parliament building. The drinks are free for us politicians and our friends.

THREFTON, JEFFREY and PETER stand up and leave the viewing gallery.

INT. DINING ROOM OF TATTY BED & BREAKFAST PLACE - MORNING

DAVID and MARGARET are sitting at one of several small plastic-topped dining tables. At the other tables are several young male YOBS and their pregnant teenage GIRLFRIENDS, who are all smoking and drinking cans of strong beer. They have greasy cooked breakfasts in front of them. There are BABIES crying and young KIDS running around. A FAT WOMAN places two cooked breakfasts in front of DAVID and MARGARET.

FAT WOMAN There you are, loves. Get that down you.

FAT WOMAN leaves the room. DAVID and MARGARET unenthusiastically begin to eat their breakfasts. YOB addresses them.

YOB You alright, you two? Enjoying it at this place? It's great, ain't it? Free accommodation, free food, good company.

DAVID It's … (pause) … very pleasant.

GIRLFRIEND These big breakfasts are great. But then I need them 'cos I'm eating for two.

GIRLFRIEND pats her pregnant tummy, then drinks some beer and smokes her cigarette.

YOB You two waiting for the local council to find you somewhere permanent to live? We are. We got chucked out of our last place, so they got to find us another.

MARGARET Yes, we're hoping they'll find us somewhere peaceful to live.

YOB I wouldn't bank on it being peaceful. Most of the council housing estates round here are pretty lively. (to GIRLFRIEND) But we like it like that, don't we lover?

GIRLFRIEND Yeah, we like a bit of life. It makes it more interesting for our three kids.

YOB (to DAVID and MARGARET) Well I hope they find you somewhere decent to live. At your ages you need your own home. Do you fancy a beer? I got another four cans down here.

DAVID No thanks.

YOB Cigarette?

MARGARET Thank you, but no. Neither of us smokes.

YOB Please yourself.

INT. A TINY SHABBY OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY and PETER are sitting in front of a cheap little desk behind which sits a bored and tired looking man, BOB.

JEFFREY (to PETER) This is one of the most important departments in the public sector, and old Bob here runs it all by himself. (to BOB) Tell Peter here what you do, Bob.

BOB This is the Public Sector Department Elimination Department. It does what it says on the tin. It looks for departments in the public sector that can be done away with.

JEFFREY Didn't you find a department last year, Bob?

BOB Not last year.

JEFFREY The year before?

BOB Not the year before.

JEFFREY Well the main thing is that you're looking. (to PETER) Have you got any questions for Bob, Peter?

PETER No. I'd just like to say I think Bob is running a very worthwhile department. Taxpayers will be very pleased to know that it exists.

JEFFREY And they'd be even more pleased to know that it doesn't cost much to run. Come on. Let's go and have lunch. We've got another public sector department to visit this afternoon.

INT. A HUGE OPEN PLAN MODERN OFFICE - DAY

The office is buzzing with hordes of busy PEOPLE. The door of the office opens and in comes BOB with JEFFREY and PETER. BOB is fired up with energy and enthusiasm. He addresses JEFFREY and PETER as they walk into and around the office.

BOB This is the other department that I have responsibility for. This is my pride and joy, my baby. It's an absolutely vital part of the public sector.

PETER What did you say it's called?

BOB The Public Sector Department Creation Department.

PETER I guess it does what it says on the tin.

BOB It certainly does. And it does it very well. Yesterday, for example, we came up with six new departments to create. How good is that?

PETER Sounds very good. And are some of the departments going to be more important than others?

BOB All public sector departments are important. In fact they're vital. They create employment for public sector workers.

PETER And that's a good thing.

BOB Of course it is. You don't want to see people like these … (he indicates the people in the office) … unemployed, do you?

PETER No, absolutely not. It's vital we keep unemployment down. What were the departments you created yesterday?

BOB Oh, I don't remember. Different ones, doing different things. Or if they're doing the same things they're doing them in slightly different ways. Or perhaps they're backing up some other department. Anyway who cares? The important thing is that they're going to be created.

JEFFREY Quite right. (to PETER) Now, Peter, unless you've got any more questions, I think it's time for us to go. I've got a round of golf booked for three o'clock. Oh and by the way, don't forget that tomorrow it's the wedding anniversary party at Sir Nevile Grevile's house.

JEFFREY hands PETER a piece of paper.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Here's the address of his house and how to get there, although you'll probably just use the satnav in that Mercedes we've given you to use. Get there about eight in the evening. (to BOB) Many thanks for showing us around both your departments today, Bob. They're both doing vital work. Now must dash. There's golf to be played.

EXT. SIR NEVILE'S LARGE IMPRESSIVE COUNTRY HOUSE - NIGHT

PETER pulls up outside it in his Mercedes. There are lots of expensive cars parked out the front. PETER gets out of his car and walks up to the open front, where he is ushered inside by a DOORMAN.

INT. SIR NEVILE'S COUNTRY HOUSE - NIGHT

The place is full of wealthy looking people chatting to one another and mingling. PETER spots JEFFREY, who is chatting to SIR NEVILE. PETER goes over to them.

PETER Hello, Jeffrey. Sir Nevile.

JEFFREY Peter.

SIR NEVILE Peter, we were just talking about you. Apparently you're coming along well. Getting a real understanding of what the public sector is all about.

PETER I think I'm getting a grip on it, Sir Nevile. Coming to terms with it, you might say.

JEFFREY I think he's naturally one of us, Sir Nevile.

SIR NEVILE Excellent. That's what we want. Another member of our little family, you might say. (laughs) Except that it's not so little, of course.

SIR NEVILE winks at JEFFREY, then turns back to PETER.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) Perhaps next week you'll be having some good news. Or some interesting news. Or both.

Sir Nevile's daughter ISSIE comes over. She's about Peter's age and more attractive, less homely, than Sophie.

ISSIE (to SIR NEVILE) Hello, daddy. Do you want me to fetch you another drink?

SIR NEVILE No, thanks, Issie darling, I'm fine at the moment. You know Jeffrey, of course. After all, he is your boss.

SIR NEVILE, JEFFREY and ISSIE laugh.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) And this … (indicates PETER) … is his protégé, Peter Patter.

ISSIE holds out her hand. PETER shakes it.

ISSIE Pleased to meet you. I'm Issie. Actually I'm Isabel, but everyone calls me Issie. So much less formal, don't you think?

PETER Issie? It sounds lovely.

SIR NEVILE Peter's soon going to be the Public Sector Inspector Inspector in Jeffrey's department. He'll be keeping an eye on all the Public Sector Inspectors.

ISSIE (to PETER) That means you're going to be my boss. I'd better be nice to you. Get you on my side.

PETER I don't remember seeing you at the offices of the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction.

ISSIE Oh, I'm easy to miss.

SIR NEVILE Why don't you two go and get to know each other better? Jeffrey and I want to talk.

ISSIE OK daddy.

ISSIE takes PETER by the arm and leads him away. PETER looks back at SIR NEVILE and JEFFREY who are talking conspiratorially to each other. When ISSIE and PETER are out of earshot of everyone, they stop.

PETER I still don't understand why I haven't seen you at the department's offices. I know everyone there now. At least I'm on nodding terms with everyone. And I'm sure if I'd seen you I wouldn't have forgotten you.

ISSIE Listen, you're one of us, aren't you? I mean you're not one of those naive, over-principled types who thinks everything should be very moral, and done by the rules, and that everything should be as it seems and be the way people say it is?

PETER I like to think I have standards but that they can be flexible and … (pause) … adapt to the reality of circumstances.

ISSIE Good. Because daddy got Jeffrey to give me a job in his department so that I'd have an income. We all need an income, don't we, Peter?

PETER Indeed we do.

ISSIE So officially I'm a Public Sector Inspector. But I don't have time to work, Peter. I'm a busy girl.

PETER So you …

ISSIE … never have to go into the office. Never have to do any work. Are you shocked?

PETER No. I'd say I'm jealous. That's exactly the sort of job I'd like.

ISSIE You appreciate I can't suddenly start turning up at the office. It would cause difficulties all round.But as you're … (pause) … above me, so to say, you'll no doubt want to keep an eye on me. Make sure I'm performing to your satisfaction. Give me your phone.

PETER gives ISSIE his phone. She dials a number and lets the phone ring out. Her phone rings. She takes it out and presses the answer button, then ends the call. She gives PETER his phone back.

ISSIE That's my number. Put it in the contacts list on your phone. I'll do the same with your number on my phone

PETER and ISSIE do this with their phones, then put their phones away. ISSIE takes PETER'S arm.

ISSIE Now let me introduce you to some people. You might find some of them interesting. Useful even.

ISSIE leads PETER towards some PEOPLE.

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY is sitting at his desk. HELGA is sitting in a chair on the other side of the desk. They are laughing. There is a knock on the door and PETER comes in. HELGA turns and looks at PETER as though she knows something PETER wouldn't like her to know.

JEFFERY Peter, come in, sit down.

PETER sits in a chair next to HELGA facing JEFFREY.

JEFFERY (CONT'D) I've got a busy day ahead of me today, Peter. In fact probably a busy few days. Changes are afoot. So Helga here rather than me will be showing you a couple of new public sector departments today.

PETER looks rather uncomfortably at HELGA, who looks back at him with what seems like a confident superiority.

PETER That's fine, Jeffrey.

JEFFERY Anyway I think it would do the two of you some good to spend some time together. Perhaps in the future because of your respective roles you'll need to spend a lot of time together. So off you go, both of you, and have a good. You know the itinerary for today, don't you, Helga?

HELGA Yes, Jeffrey, I've got the day mapped out. Indeed you might say I've got the future mapped out.

HELGA gives PETER a knowing smile.

JEFFERY That's what I like to hear. Someone who knows what they're doing and what they intend to do. Off you go then.

HELGA Come on Peter.

HELGA and PETER stand up and HELGA leads the way out of the office.

INT. VERY PLUSH OFFICE - DAY

A rather elegant gentleman, MR. BENTINCK, is sitting behind a large antique desk. The door of the office opens a SECRETARY shows in HELGA and PETER.

SECRETARY Helga Sprott and Peter Patter to see you, Mr. Bentinck.

SECRETARY withdraws and MR. BENTICK smiles welcomingly and comes round to the other side of his desk and shakes HELGA'S and PETER'S hands and shows them to a couple of leather armchairs facing his desk.

MR. BENTINCK Do sit down, both of you.

He goes back round his side of the desk and sits down.

MR. BENTINCK (CONT'D) Your director, Mr. Coller, has told me what your visit is about. (he addresses Peter) Apparently you, Mr. Patter, are destined soon to fulfil a new role. That of Public Sector Inspector Inspector. So you need to know what the various departments in the public sector do, including mine, so that you can check your department's inspectors are inspecting us properly.

PETER That's right, sir.

MR. BENTINCK Oh please, call me Mr. Bentinck. We like to be informal here. (turns to HELGA) And you Miss Sprott, as your department's most experienced Public Sector Inspector, are clearly the best person to guide Mr. Patter around the labyrinthine maze that is the public sector.

HELGA I like to think I have a good knowledge of it, Mr. Bentinck.

MR. BENTINCK So, I must tell Mr. Patter here what my department does. It is of course the Department for Foreign Financial Assistance. Basically we give money - this country's taxpayers' money - to other countries.

Long pause.

PETER And the reasons why we do that, Mr. Bentinck?

MR. BENTINCK It makes our President look good when he goes to meet foreign leaders. And it is supposed to give the impression that we are a rich nation. When we give money to foreign countries the message we are trying to convey is, “We're richer than you, so we're condescending to help you financially.” It's a nice thing to be able to do. The President loves doing it. I love doing it. For my country, of course.

PETER But I thought our country was up to its ears in debt.

MR. BENTINCK It may be, Mr. Patter. In which case a little more expenditure is hardly of significance.

Long pause.

PETER Do we get anything in return for our generosity?

MR. BENTINCK We like to think we do. When we give our money to another country it disappears into the pockets of the people at the top. But they may then use their country's money to buy things from us. Guns and gallows. That sort of thing. Or they may look favourably on one of our country's enterprises when it seeks to get involved in some venture on their territory.

PETER But you said the money we give to other countries disappears into the pockets of the people at the top of those countries. Don't you object to that?

MR. BENTINCK Why should it? It's no concern of ours where the money goes. It costs us the same regardless of where it ends up.

PETER But don't we say that we've given it to help ordinary people who've been caught up in a famine, or some natural disaster?

MR. BENTINCK Of course we do. That's to make our money-giving more palatable to the ordinary people of this country of ours. Got to please the people, Mr. Patter. That's democracy.

Long pause.

HELGA (to PETER) Have you got any more questions for Mr. Bentinck, Peter.

PETER No, I don't think so.

HELGA Right. (to MR. BENTINCK) Thank you for your time, Mr. Bentinck.

HELGA stands up, so PETER stands up, then MR. BENTINCK.

MR. BENTINCK. My pleasure. Are you visiting any other public sector departments today?

HELGA Prison service this afternoon.

MR. BENTINCK Almost beyond the call of duty, that one. (he speaks into an intercom) Can you show Miss Sprott and Mr. Patter out please?

The office door opens and the SECRETARY holds it open.

MR. BENTINCK (CONT'D) I hope the rest of your day goes well.

HELGA Thank you Mr. Bentinck.

HELGA and PETER leave the office and the SECRETARY goes out behind them, closing the door.

INT. ROAMING THROUGH PRISON - DAY

HELGA and PETER are being shown around a prison by GOVERNOR MITCHELL.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL So, Peter, is this your first time in jail?

PETER I believe so.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Actually I checked up on you on the police records. It is, at least in this country.

HELGA Really Peter? I'm disappointed. I was rather hoping that you had a colourful past.

PETER No, Helga, you won't be able to dig up any dirt on me.

HELGA Perhaps I'll be able to dig up irrelevance, or incompetence, or inappropriateness. Something like that.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Now now you two. Concentrate on the task in hand. Peter here is supposed to be getting a taste of what our country's prisons are like and what goes on in them.

GUARD #1 lets HELGA, PETER and GOVERNOR MITCHELL through a security door into a large room and follows behind them after locking the door again. There are GUARDS milling around. Tough looking PRISONERS are loafing around in armchairs, reading comics, looking at computer tablets, playing console games, and generally looking content. HELGA, PETER and GOVERNOR MITCHELL walk through the room.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL We like to keep our customers happy.

PETER Customers?

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Yes, we see the inmates of this fine establishment of ours - it's a private prison of course - as being our customers who have paid for their stay here with their crimes.

PETER I didn't realize it was a private prison. In that case it isn't part of the private sector, so why am I looking at it?

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Because it's paid for out of public funds. Taxpayers' money. A lot of things are technically not in the public sector because they've been off-loaded to be run by private enterprise, but they're still paid for with public money.

HELGA Our department, Peter, has to inspect everything that is paid for with public money.

PETER Sounds reasonable. This place looks more like a hotel to me than my idea of a prison.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL We want it to be a welcoming place. We want prisoners to enjoy their stay with us. We want them to feel that if it should ever be necessary for them to return here, it would be something to look forward to, not to be dreaded.

PETER But surely that's just going to encourage people to do things that will get them put in jail?

GOVERNOR MITCHELL That's what we want. We're a business, Peter. We want as many customers as possible.

PETER So you want as many people in prison as possible?

GOVERNOR MITCHELL That's right.

PETER But I thought prison was supposed to be a deterrent. I thought it was supposed to be such a horrid experience that law-breakers would be scared off from ever breaking the law again.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL You're a hundred years behind the times, Peter. Everything is about socialist lovey-doveyness, and spending taxpayers' money. We mustn't be horrid to anyone anymore. Have you had lunch by the way?

HELGA Yes, we had lunch in a cafe on our way here.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Shame. Our restaurant here is superb. We have a particularly brilliant head chef. And our maitre d' is excellent, as are our waiters. Would you like to see our tennis courts? Or our swimming pool. Or our indoor football pitch?

PETER You know, Governor Mitchell, I almost wish I could come and live here.

HELGA But Jeffrey tells me the state is already providing you with somewhere to live, Peter. For free.

PETER So he told you, did he? Yes, and it's very nice.

HELGA So I hear. But with your current salary as a Public Sector Inspector you should be able to afford a place of your own. I do.

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Let's carry on with the tour. I'm really very proud of this place and I want you to see how nice it is.

HELGA Yes, let's do that. Then Peter and I must drive back to the office. In Peter's lovely Mercedes. Or should I say the taxpayers' lovely Mercedes, Peter? You really are a natural in the public sector, aren't you, Peter? You've taken to it like a duck to water.

PETER It was just Jeffrey helping me out.

HELGA Well let's see how much he helps you out in the future.

PETER What does that mean?

GOVERNOR MITCHELL Come on you two. You can save all this sort of thing for later. I want to show you what our prison cells are like these days. They're so comfortable and commodious, with all mod cons.

GUARD #1 goes ahead and unlocks a door. HELGA, PETER and GOVERNOR MITCHELL go through and leave the room. GUARD #1 follows after them, locking the door behind him.

INT. PETER'S MERCEDES.

PETER and HELGA are in the Mercedes as PETER drives them back to the departmental office.

HELGA A lovely free car, a lovely free house. For someone who was having to doss on the sofa at their friend's apartment a short while ago, your luck has certainly changed quickly.

PETER How do you know I was sleeping on the sofa?

HELGA I get on quite well with your old school friend Nick Jenks. Hardly surprising considering we've both worked in the same office for so many years. He likes chatting to me.

HELGA It seems to me he's being a bit secretive about you, apart from letting slip that you came back from abroad and asked to stay at his place. (pause) I don't know how you managed to get into the public sector with such brilliant exam results and assessment results, and a past that looks impressive but can't be checked. In fact I don't know how you got into the public sector at all. But I shall find out. It's obvious to me that you don't deserve the good fortune that's come your way at the taxpayer's expense. When I do find out, I shall make sure your good fortune ends.

PETER I'm sure you will. Or rather I'm sure you would if you had the power to affect my employment and my pay and perks. But you don't.

HELGA Don't I?

PETER No.

HELGA Won't I?

There is silence.

INT. JEFFREY'S OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY is poring over some papers on his desk. There is a knock on the office door.

JEFFREY Come in.

PETER comes in.

JEFFREY Ah, Peter. Just the man. Sit down. There's some paperwork I want to go through with you.

PETER sits down.

JEFFREY I won't beat about the bush. Subject to you agreeing and signing the papers, I am now making you Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

PETER Jeffrey, that is absolutely wonderful. I didn't expect it to happen this quickly.

JEFFREY Neither did I. You haven't seen all the various departments that make up the public sector yet, but I can tell from what I've seen and heard that you're the right man for the job.

JEFFREY passes some papers over the desk to PETER.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Read through those. Then if everything is to your liking, sign in the places where I've pencilled an 'x'. I'll countersign the papers. And that will be it. You will be in your new job.

PETER scans through the papers.

PETER Everything looks fine. More than fine.

JEFFREY pushes an expensive looking pen across the desk.

JEFFREY Let's get it signed then.

PETER signs the papers and passes them, and the pen, back to JEFFREY, who countersigns the papers. He gathers the papers together and puts his pen away in a pocket. He reaches a hand across the table. PETER shakes it.

JEFFREY Congratulations, Peter, you are now the one and only Public Sector Inspector Inspector in the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction.

PETER I'm honoured, and I shall do my utmost to discharge my duties to the best of my ability.

JEFFREY I'm sure you will, Peter. I'm sure you will. I'm going to call all the department's inspectors together tomorrow morning at ten and announce to them your promotion to this new post. I may make one or two other announcements as well. Did you notice your pay grade when you looked through these papers?

PETER Yes, I did, but I don't actually know what salary that is in cold hard cash.

JEFFREY fetches a piece of paper out of his desk. He slides it across the desk to PETER and points at a particular line out of all the lines of figures on it.

JEFFREY That's your new pay grade. It's only one level below mine, by the way.

PETER That is a pretty hefty salary. I'm rather overwhelmed.

JEFFREY You'll soon get used to it. Expenditure rises to meet income, as the saying goes.

There's a knock at the door.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Come in.

HELGA comes in but doesn't sit down. She stands near the desk.

HELGA Good morning, Jeffrey. Morning, Peter.

PETER Morning, Helga.

JEFFREY I have some wonderful news for you, Helga. I've just made Peter this department's Public Sector Inspector Inspector. He will be keeping an eye on all your Inspectors.

PETER looks smugly pleased. HELGA also looks pleased.

HELGA That's marvellous. I've long thought that this department needs someone to oversee all its inspectors, and I can't think of a better person for the job than Peter.

PETER looks surprised.

PETER But I thought …

HELGA No, Peter. I shall enjoy having you be this department's Public Sector Inspector Inspector. I have no doubt you will fulfil the role admirably. Much better than any of the existing inspectors in the department could do it. And I'm certain you will stay in the position for as long as you deserve, which I hope will be for a very long time until you reach a well-earned retirement.

PETER Well thank you, Helga. I didn't expect such a positive response.

JEFFREY Enough of the mutual stroking, you two. You've got work to do. You know what you're doing today?

HELGA Yes, Jeffrey. We've got a bit of a long drive today, so we're only visiting one public sector department.

JEFFREY But it's an interesting one. Remember, Peter, I'm announcing your promotion to all the inspectors tomorrow at ten. Make sure you're there. You too, Helga. Prepare a little something appropriate to say. And Peter, put it in 'public sector speak'.

PETER Yes, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY OK. Off you both go.

HELGA and PETER leave the office.

INT. PETER'S CAR - DAY

PETER is driving. HELGA is with him. They are approaching the entrance of a massively GUARDED, razor-wire-fenced site. The site looks like a mixture of military camp and empty space. A sign shows the site is “FORT BOLLOX - NATIONAL GOLD BULLION DEPOSITORY”. PETER pulls into the entrance. GUARD #1 approaches. PETER winds down the window.

GUARD #1 May I ask who you and your passenger are and what your business here is, sir?

HELGA leans across.

HELGA We're Helga Sprott and Peter Patter from the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction. We have an appointment with the Director here, Mr. Erno.

GUARD #1 Do you have ID?

PETER and HELGA show their official ID's.

GUARD #1 Wait here a moment.

GUARD #1 goes into his guardhouse and makes a phone call. A short while later an official car with a flashing light appears on the other side of the entrance gates. The gates begin to open. GUARD #1 comes out of the guardhouse and back over to the car.

GUARD #1 Follow that vehicle with the flashing light. It will take you to where Mr. Erno is waiting for you.

The vehicle with the flashing light moves off and heads down the road that leads into the site. PETER and HELGA follow it in their car. There are military personnel and armaments and defensive guns and missiles everywhere.

EXT. GOLD BULLION DEPOSITORY BUILDING - DAY

The building is absolutely huge. Massive. It has a GUARDED high security bankvault-like entrance to it at the front. MR. ERNO is standing by the entrance. The official car pulls up nearby and GUARD #2 gets out with a gun .He watches as PETER parks up his car nearby and PETER and HELGA get out. GUARD #2 indicates they should follow him and he leads them over to MR. ERNO and then stands to one side.

MR. ERNO Miss Sprott and Mr. Patter, I believe.

HELGA That's right. Peter here has just been appointed Public Sector Inspector Inspector to oversee all the Public Sector Inspectors, of which I am one. He therefore needs to concern himself with all the different sections of state apparatus that we inspectors are required to oversee.

MR. ERNO Including this country's gold bullion depository, of course. A great task, Mr. Patter. Have you ever seen gold bullion, Mr. Patter? Have you ever touched it?

PETER No, Mr. Erno, I haven't.

MR. ERNO Then we must change that situation immediately. Follow me.

MR. ERNO leads the way to the entrance of the depository. HELGA and PETER follow him. GUARD #2 follows them. GUARDS do complicated things and slowly swing open the massive, tremendously thick steel door. MR. ERNO, HELGA, PETER and GUARD #2 go in. It is in complete darkness. MR. ERNO flicks a switch on the wall and the place is illuminated with blinding light. It is the size of many aircraft hangars put together, and is completely empty. Except that in the distance in the middle of it you can just make out a small desk with a figure sitting at it. MR. ERNO starts walking towards it and HELGA, PETER and GUARD #2 follow. After a long walk they arrive at the desk.

MR. ERNO (addressing the man at the desk) Hello Stan. Mr. Patter here … (indicates PETER) … is an Inspector Inspector. There is no higher authority.

HELGA Other than a Departmental Director.

PETER Or the Minister overseeing the department.

STAN Or the President who oversees the Minister.

MR. ERNO Indeed. But Mr. Patter would like to see the gold, Stan. Show him the gold.

STAN opens a drawer of the desk, takes out a sheet of paper and hands it to PETER, who reads from it.

PETER “Thanks for lending us the thousand tonnes of gold. We'll pay it back, honest. Until then we'll pay you interest for the loan of it. The interest each year will be one percent of the gold's value in America in 1933. Many thanks. Billy's Bank”

MR. ERNO So you see, Mr. Patter, we have a thousand tonnes of gold. How many people can say that?

PETER But it isn't here.

MR. ERNO I can see you don't have a commercial mind, Mr. Patter. Not only do we not have to pay to store the gold, but the people who store it for us, pay us. Rather clever, don't you think.

HELGA Mr. Erno, that is a brilliant arrangement. Don't you think so, Peter?

PETER It's so clever I could never have thought of it, although I once told a schoolteacher my dog ate my homework and I got away with that.

MR. ERNO (laughs) We are much more sophisticated than that, Mr. Patter.

HELGA You can see how much gold there is here, Peter. One thousand tonnes. And it's being well looked after. And not just efficiently, but profitably. Mr. Erno is actually bringing money into the public sector.

HELGA bows deferentially to MR. ERNO.

HELGA If only all public servants were like you, Mr. Erno.

MR. ERNO I like to do my little bit to help the nation's finances.

HELGA (to PETER) Peter, is there anything else you'd like to ask Mr. Erno?

PETER No. I'd just like to thank Mr. Erno for giving me the chance to see and touch our nation's gold bullion reserves.

PETER hands the piece of paper back to STAN, who puts it away again in the drawer of the desk.

MR. ERNO In that case, Mr. Patter, and Miss Sprott, you'll no doubt want to be on your way to see to other important finances. But I'm glad to have been able to reassure you that our nation's finances are backed by the oldest and most solid currency in the world - gold. My men will escort you safely off Fort Bollox.

MR. ERNO leads the way back to the entrance to the building. HELGA, PETER and GUARD #2 follow. Outside, MR. ERNO bows slightly as he shakes HELGA'S and PETER'S hands. Then he gets into a huge black car with blacked out windows. PETER and HELGA get into Peter's car and follow the official car with the flashing light up the long and winding road back up to the site entrance.

INT. PETER'S HOUSE - NIGHT

PETER is alone in the house. With a drink in his hand, he sits down in the sitting room and switches the TV on. His mobile phone rings. He answers it.

PETER Hi. Is that you Issie? Good to hear from you. No, I'm on my own. Just having a drink and watching TV. Yes, of course, if you want to. It would be nice to see you. How long will it be before you get here? No, an hour's time would be fine. I might just go and have a shower and freshen up. OK, I'll see you then.

PETER gets up and goes out of the sitting room to have a shower.

LATER.

PETER is in smart casual clothes. The doorbell rings. He goes and answers the front door. ISSIE is standing there.

PETER Hi, Issie. Come in.

ISSIE comes in. As she does so, she gives PETER a kiss.

ISSIE Good to see you again, Peter. Did you have a good day at work today?

PETER Interesting, I would say. The more I see of what goes on with our government and this country's public sector in general, the more surprised I am and the more I despair. Come on through.

PETER leads the way to the sitting room.

PETER (CONT'D) Fancy a drink? I've opened a bottle of wine.

ISSIE Wine would be fine.

PETER Sit down anywhere.

ISSIE sits down on the sofa. PETER pours them both a drink, gives ISSIE hers, and sits down next to her.

ISSIE I hear you've been made your department's Public Sector Inspector Inspector at last. Jeffrey told my dad.

PETER Yes. It's all happened more quickly than I expected. And you wouldn't believe the salary Jeffrey's put me on. I'm certainly not going to have any money worries.

ISSIE So long as you stay in your job.

PETER What does that mean?

ISSIE There could be more changes taking place in your department apart from you landing your newly created job. All I'm saying is, be prepared to keep on your toes.

PETER What changes?

ISSIE You'll find out.

ISSIE puts down her drink. She take's Peter's drink and puts that on one side. Then she embraces PETER. They kiss.

ISSIE (CONT'D) Listen, Peter, I want you to watch out for me at work. You know I've been on the payroll of Jeffrey's department for ages, but I've never actually turned up and done any work? Keep an eye on the situation so I don't get found out and get into trouble. I'll probably sort something else out with dad and Jeffrey soon, but I just need you to keep a lookout for me over the next few days or perhaps weeks.

PETER But why the sudden concern? If the situation's been rolling along happily for ages, why are worried about everything coming out in the open now?

ISSIE You'll realize soon enough.

She kisses him again.

ISSIE (CONT'D) Can I stay here the night? As a way of saying thank you?

PETER I'd like that.

ISSIE Let me go and have a shower. Then tell me where your bedroom is.

PETER There's an ensuite shower room in my bedroom. Top of the stairs, the door on the right.

ISSIE stands up.

ISSIE Give me fifteen minutes. Bring the wine up with you.

ISSIE disappears upstairs. PETER goes into the kitchen and closes the door behind him. He dials a number on his mobile phone.

PETER Hi, Nick. It's Peter. I didn't have a chance to see you at work today, but I had some good news this morning. Jeffrey's made me the department's Inspector Inspector. Huh? Well, yes, I suppose technically it means I'm above you. The salary's really good too. Anyway as my friend I'm not going to be looking to find fault with anything you do. And guess what else? You know the Government Minister that Jeffrey has to answer to? Sir Nevile Grevile? That's right. Well, I've got his daughter Issie waiting for me in my bedroom upstairs. It's like all my ships have come in at once. Oh come on, Nick! Don't sound annoyed. You sound jealous. I know I owe all this to you - the house, the car, the job, the salary. I'll be eternally grateful. And I'll find some way of paying you back. Promise. Listen, I'd better go. Issie Grevile is waiting for me. What do you mean? Sophie will never find out. This is just a bit of harmless fun. Sophie's the one for me long term. Yes, okay then, Nick. See you tomorrow at work.

PETER switches the phone off, leaves the kitchen and goes upstairs.

INT. ONE OF THE BIG OPEN PLAN OFFICES AT WORK - DAY

JEFFREY is standing in front of all the government's INSPECTORS gathered together. PETER and HELGA are sitting either side of JEFFREY.

JEFFREY (to the roomful of INSPECTORS) Gentlemen. Ladies. I called you together this morning because I have some announcements to make. First of all, you all know Peter here. (indicates PETER) Some of you have expressed surprise that someone has been brought in from outside the department to check up on the work that all of you do. But not only did I want someone whose vision and judgment would be unaffected by established friendships and ingrained habits arising from familiarity with the work we do, but Peter also produced such outstanding results in his Public Sector Entrance Exam and Assessment that I felt he was the ideal candidate for the post I wanted to create. And now that post has been created. Peter Patter, ladies and gentlemen, is your new Public Sector Inspector Inspector. He is the person who from now on will be inspecting the work of this department's Inspectors. (to PETER) Peter, perhaps you'd like to say a few words.

JEFFREY sits down and PETER stands up.

PETER Yesterday I officially became the Public Sector Inspector Inspector for the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction. This is a great honour for me and I fully intend to prove that I am more than up to the job. I appreciate that I still have a lot to learn, but with the help of all of you, and particularly of Jeffrey Coller, and also of Helga Sprott, I am determined to learn all that I need to know. Once I acquired that knowledge I shall be absolutely competent to inspect the work of all the Inspectors in the Department. Now, I want all of us to be on-message at all times and for us to be fully systemized as well as monitored. We will need to regenerate our protocols and instigate a positive, incremental approach with regard to attaining our goals. We shall need to push the envelope of our blue sky thinking. I want our policy making to be both interactive and innovative. Is that clear?

There's a vague murmur from all the INSPECTORS.

PETER (CONT'D) Thank you.

PETER sits down. JEFFREY stands up.

JEFFREY Thank you, Peter. Now we all know where we stand going forward. (pause) Now, my dear Inspectors, I have two other things to tell you. Firstly, with effect from today I am no longer the Director of this Department. You know that we come under the remit of the Ministry for the Oversight of the Public Sector? Well, I don't know whether this is a promotion or a step sideways, but I have been asked to take on the Directorship of the Department of Grants under the remit of the Ministry of the Public Purse. Essentially that means I will be responsible for dispensing taxpayers' money in the form of grants in accordance with the law and according to need, suitability and how deserving an applicant is. So, you will wondering who the new Director of this Department is going to be. It isHelga Sprott here. Our most senior and experienced Inspector. Helga, perhaps you'd like to say a few words.

JEFFREY sits down and HELGA stands up.

HELGA Jeffrey's move is definitely a promotion as the Department he is moving to has a much larger staff than this one and a vastly greater budget, so I would like to congratulate him on his promotion. All of you know me in this Department. You know my history here and the level and extent of my experience. So I hope you will agree that Jeffrey has made the right choice in appointing me to be his successor. One thing I want to remind you of is that our department is called the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction. This department is not immune to being assessed for its efficiency and to see if any cost reductions can be made. I put all of you on notice that I shall be looking to make cost savings here, and to ensure that all systems and personnel are operating at maximum efficiency. (pause) With the help of our new Public Sector Inspector Inspector, of course.

HELGA sits down. JEFFREY stands up.

JEFFREY Thank you, everyone. Back to work now. I must get on with clearing my office of any personnel effects so that Helga can move in, and then I shall be on my way. Of course all of you are welcome at any time to get in touch with me at my new Department. Thank you.

HELGA and JEFFREY leave the room. The INSPECTORS begin to disperse. PETER goes over to talk to Nick.

PETER Nick, this is disastrous. I just get promoted into my newly created job and then the guy who's effectively my mentor and protector disappears and replaces himself with someone who's openly against me. And probably not just against me but against the very idea of this department having and Inspector Inspector.

NICK I never understood why Jeffrey wanted to create the position in the first place. He should have been the one keeping an eye on us and making sure we're all doing our jobs properly. Now I don't see why Helga shouldn't make that her responsibility.

PETER So you're not on my side?

NICK Listen, Peter. I've been working here for years. When I made it possible for you to get into the public sector I thought you'd become an Inspector like me. I didn't think you'd get promoted over my head in a matter of weeks, and at over twice my salary.

PETER It wasn't of my choosing, Nick. It's just the way things have worked out.

NICK Yes, I suppose you're right. I suppose I should really feel good for you and your good fortune.

PETER Yes, but now I'm not sure how long it's going to last. Helga's out to get rid of me, I'm sure.

It's not easy to get rid of someone from the public sector. Anyway, Peter, I've got work to do, and no doubt you have to. I'll see you when I see you.

NICK moves away. PETER turns and makes his way out of the room.

INT. PETER'S HOUSE - NIGHT

Front doorbell rings. PETER goes and opens front door. SOPHIE is there.

PETER Sophie, come in. What's up?

SOPHIE comes in and follows PETER into the sitting room. They sit down on the sofa.

SOPHIE It's your mum and dad, Peter. They're out of that horrible bed and breakfast place they were staying in, but now they're somewhere that seems even worse. The local council has put them in a house on a rough housing estate. Their lives are going to be made an absolute misery by the people there.

PETER What can I do? You know how pig-headed my dad is. He won't accept any help from me. I spoke to mother and she's tried getting him to come and stay here with me, but he won't have it. He just says he got my mum and himself into this mess and he'll get them out of it. Anyway, I've possibly got problems of my own to deal with.

SOPHIE What sort of problems?

PETER My boss has moved to become head of another public sector department. The woman who's taken over from him is out to get rid of me, I'm sure of it. And that means this place would go. The car would go. And of course my money would go. All I've done so far is pay off my credit cards, so I've got no debt but I've got no spare money either.

SOPHIE Wait and see what happens. Maybe your new boss won't be as bad as you think.

PETER Maybe.

SOPHIE Try getting in touch with your parents again. I can't bear to think of them living the way they're living now. At least go and see them so you can see for yourself what their house is like and how rough the area is.

PETER Okay.Listen, Sophie. Do you want to stay the night? I can knock us up some food.

SOPHIE (hesitates, then stands up) No, Peter. That sort of casual stuff isn't for me. Maybe it's alright for others … (hesitates, and looks around the room) I almost have the feeling some other woman has been here.

PETER No, Sophie. No one's been here except you and Nick.

SOPHIE Really? Anyway, I've decided that if there's to be any more sleeping together, it'll be when we live together and are in a committed relationship.

PETER It'll happen. Just let me try to see how my situation works out at work first.

SOPHIE moves to leave.

SOPHIE Okay. Let's hope it works out well. Good night, Peter. I can see myself out.

SOPHIE leaves.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE AT WORK - DAY

HELGA now has Jeffrey's old office. She is at her desk, going through documents. There's a knock on the door and PETER comes in.

PETER Morning Helga.

HELGA Morning Peter. I've just been sorting out what you can do today. I think you should go and see a couple of public sector departments you have seen yet.

PETER OK. Which ones are they?

HELGA The Ministry of Military this morning, and then the Ministry of Agriculture this afternoon.

PETER Sounds interesting.

HELGA The former more so than the latter, I suspect. Then this afternoon after you've visited the Ministry of Agriculture I want you to come back here and write up a couple of reports about what information you've gathered and what you've learnt.

PETER Reports? Jeffrey never asked me to write reports.

HELGA Jeffrey is no longer here. I'm here now and I'm the Director of this department, so I decide what my staff will do, and that includes you. Now here are the addresses of the two Ministries you're visiting today, plus the names of the people you're meeting, plus phone numbers in case you run late or have problems finding where you're meant to be going.

HELGA hands a sheet of paper to PETER.

HELGA (CONT'D) I'll see you back here this afternoon.

HELGA gets on with dealing with the paperwork on her desk. PETER gets up and leaves her office.

INT. OFFICE OF MINISTER OF THE MILITARY - DAY

PETER is shown into the office by someone unseen. The MINISTER OF THE MILITARY is sitting at HER desk. She gets to her feet and reaches out her hand over the desk.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Mr. Patter. Or may I call you Peter? I'm Janet Rigby, Minister of the Military. Delighted to see you. Please call me Janet.

PETER and THE MINISTER shake hands.

PETER Please call me Peter. Delighted to meet you, Janet.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Take a seat.

THE MINISTER sits down at her desk. PETER sits in a chair in front of her.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY So the old Director of your department, Jeffrey Coller, has moved on to pastures new? I haven't met his replacement Helga Sprott yet, but I've spoken to her on the phone. She sounds very brisk and efficient.

PETER Well we are a department that is supposed to encourage efficiency in the public sector.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Of course. Miss Sprott tells me that your role in your department will be to inspect the work of your Inspectors, and therefore you need a good understanding of what all the various public sector departments do so you can be sure your Inspectors are checking up on the right things.

PETER That's right.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Well, to give you an overview of what my Ministry is responsible for is really quite simple. We have an army, a navy and an air force. We also have volunteer reserves. I have to make sure that our personnel are properly equipped, that they are well trained, and that they are deployed in the right places.

PETER I always wondered why we deploy our military forces in so many locations around the world. Couldn't we just keep our forces here to defend us if we get attacked?

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY The best form of defence is attack, Peter. Get to the enemy before they get to you.

PETER But don't we just annoy people by going into the countries?

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Maybe. But if we kept our forces at home, imagine how few people we would need, and how little there would be for those people to do.

PETER That would be a bad thing?

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Of course. Part of our job is to keep people in employment. And also remember all the people who are employed in supplying our armed forces with the equipment we need. You wouldn't want to put them out of work, would you?

PETER I suppose not. But if it meant less government expenditure, less taxpayers' money being taken off people, and fewer people being killed, that would surely be a good thing.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY If only life were that simple. Remember that as well as spending lots of money so that people can have jobs, the government also needs to show other countries that we have power, that we have military might. It's one thing to have it, but you also have to show other people that you have it. That's why we do so much that is unnecessary, militarily speaking.

PETER Makes sense, I suppose. So in that case the job of the Public Sector Inspectors in my department isn't to make your department do less, but rather to make sure you're spending money efficiently.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Up to a point, Peter. We like to be generous with our military equipment suppliers. That way we can be fairly certain that we'll get what we want when we want it. Also remember that when my tenure here in this Ministry is over, I shall want a job in the defence sector, and they're not going to give me one unless I've been generous with them whilst I was Minister here.

PETER Very pragmatic.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY I like to think so. Now there in a nutshell you have the situation. Of course what your Inspectors will be interested in is the money that we spend and what we spend it on. Why don't we go into another office and I'll show you some of our financial accounts and you can see where the money goes. The numbers are mind boggling. The public would be furious if they really knew how much of their cash we waste. I mean how much of their cash we invest in securing the nation's safety.

The MINISTER and PETER stand up.

PETER I have a feeling I'm going to find this a revelation. Then afterwards I'm afraid I shall have to dash. I have to be at the Ministry Of Agriculture after lunch, and it's a rather long drive.

MINISTER OF THE MILITARY Those farming folk will insist on doing their thing in the countryside instead of in town. Each to their own, I suppose. Come on then. Let's look at some of these figures, and then you can be on your way.

The MINISTER show PETER out of the office and then follows him out.

EXT. GRAND COUNTRY HOUSE - DAY

PETER is walking with a man in a tweed suit who looks like a country squire. He's an ESTATE MANAGER.

ESTATE MANAGER Good to meet you Peter. So you'll be keeping an eye on the inspectors who keep an eye on us?

PETER That's right. So at this stage what I'm trying to do is get an overview of what all the different sections of the public sector do that we have to oversee.

ESTATE MANAGER Have you come into the public sector from outside, or have got some experience of part of it already?

PETER I've come in as an outsider. The man who recruited me, who has now moved on to a different department, wanted someone with a fresh pair of eyes who didn't come with a lot of public sector baggage.

ESTATE MANAGER Good idea. So you just want me to tell you in outline what the Ministry of Agriculture does?

PETER Yes, John, if you would.

ESTATE MANAGER First of all, apologies again for the Minister not being able to see you today. He's up in town speaking at a big conference, so that's why he's arranged for me to meet you. As well as being a representative for the Ministry I'm also the estate manager for this place you see here.

PETER Does this place belong to the Ministry?

ESTATE MANAGER Yes. Officially it's our rural headquarters, but really it's just a lovely country estate that the Minister likes to come and stay at for weekends and holidays.

PETER Nice perk of the job.

ESTATE MANAGER And not the only one. We have other estates which are better for the hunting, shooting and fishing that the Minister enjoys.

PETER All fully staffed, I guess?

ESTATE MANAGER You've got it. There are few people in the country who could afford the properties and levels of staff that our Minister enjoys. And others of us get to enjoy those benefits too. I love living at this place. How else could I ever get to have a lifestyle like this other than by working for the Ministry?

PETER It would be pretty much impossible. But all these pleasant perks are justifiable presumably because the Ministry of Agriculture does a lot of good work?

ESTATE MANAGER We do. Or we like to think we do. We have a broad remit. It's not just agriculture, but fisheries and forestry too. Animal welfare is one of our big concerns. Wildlife. Food quality, especially with all this genetically modified food that's appearing in the human food chain thanks to the big chemical companies. Rivers we look after. And of course we deal with the handing out of grants to farmers.

PETER Do farmers need grants? Can't they adjust to supplying whatever the markets want?

ESTATE MANAGER Farmers are considered to need special treatment. There might not be many of them, but remember that a lot of them are old land-owning families and are well connected, so our politicians are naturally inclined to look after them. In fact a surprising number of our politicians own farms or country estates.

PETER So really they're looking after themselves?

ESTATE MANAGER Spot on. But that's a large part of what politics is about. By the way, did you manage to lunch on the way here?

PETER I didn't have time.

ESTATE MANAGER Do you fancy something? We have a terrific chef here. Then afterwards I'll walk you around the estate.

PETER That sounds good. I'd like that.

ESTATE MANAGER Excellent. Let's go in. You can imagine you're visiting a rich friend.

PETER You know, John, the more I see of the public sector, the more I see the benefits of being in it.

PETER and the ESTATE MANAGER turn and start walking back towards the house.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

There's a knock on the door. PETER walks in. HELGA is working at her desk.

PETER Afternoon, Helga.

HELGA You sound happy.

PETER I've had a good day.

HELGA You're not paid to enjoy yourself, Peter. You're paid to know things and do things. Have you written up the reports on what you've done today?

PETER I've only just got back here. How would I have had time to write them up?

HELGA You'd better get started then.

PETER But it's almost time to go home.

HELGA That's right. 'Almost' being the operative word. You can get started on writing the reports now. I want them on my desk in the morning.

PETER Very good, Helga.

INT. PETER'S HOUSE - NIGHT

PETER is sitting at a desk, writing on computer. The room is in darkness except for a desk lamp. A clock shows it is almost midnight. PETER presses a key and a printer starts churning out paper. PETER leans back wearily in his chair, then switches off the desk lamp and makes his way out of the room up the lit stairs.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

HELGA presses some buttons on an intercom.

HELGA Peter, can you come into my office a minute?

A few seconds later and the office door opens and in comes PETER.

HELGA These reports are not adequate.

HELGA hands PETER the reports that he wrote.

HELGA (CONT'D) They don't meet the required standards.

HELGA hands PETER a coil bound book.

HELGA (CONT'D) This is the public sector manual that gives instructions on how reports should be written. Read it and then rewrite your reports. This afternoon I've booked an appointment for you to visit the Department for Immigration. Two o'clock. I want you to write up a report on that visit.

HELGA goes back to dealing with the work on her desk. PETER hesitates, not knowing what to do, then he leaves the office.

INT. OFFICE OF DEPARTMENT FOR IMMIGRATION - DAY

PETER and the D.F.I. DIRECTOR are sitting side by side on a sofa in the office.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR You see, Peter, a lot of people seem to think we have a problem with immigration. They think we have too much of it. But we need more.

PETER More?

D.F.I. DIRECTOR Yes. You see people is this country won't do basic jobs. They'd rather do nothing and just bum along on benefits. So we need the immigrants to do the crap jobs.

PETER Surely if we made it less attractive for people to be on benefits, and then at the same time we stopped practically all immigration, it would force our people to work. No?

D.F.I. DIRECTOR You'd be no good in politics would you Peter? This is a democracy. Democracy means buying votes. It means giving the majority what the majority wants. Or at least appearing to. How many votes do you think a political party said they were going to make people do crap jobs instead of having a cushy life. No, Peter, we need the immigrants to do the jobs our people are too lazy to do. And there's more.

PETER What's that?

D.F.I. DIRECTOR This is an old country. I mean it's a country full of old people. Many of them have had an easy life because of decades of socialism and massive government borrowing. Now we need people to pay for all that generosity and debt. When the people who are old now were growing up there weren't many old people for them to have to subsidize, so they could keep more of the money they earned for themselves. But now we're drowning in old people. We need to import people to work and pay taxes to subsidize those people and pay off the government debt that was run up to give them the easy lives they've had.

PETER So what exactly is our policy on immigration?

D.F.I. DIRECTOR The door's open. Come on in.

PETER So anyone from anywhere can come and live here?

D.F.I. DIRECTOR The funny thing is, no. If you're honest and decent and have useful skills, and you apply through the proper channels to come and live in this country, we'll probably say no. If you're a piece of trash and you can get into the country by fair means or foul, we'll probably let you stay here and we'll put a roof over your head and pay you some money to live on. That is if you can't, or won't, find a job.

PETER No wonder people say this country is a joke. A bad one.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR Remember, Peter, in a few years' time it'll probably be immigrants who are paying your public sector pension.

PETER True enough. And quite frankly the sooner I get it, the better.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR We all feel the same, Peter. It's the pension that's the reason why many of us come into the public sector, and it's certainly the main reason for staying in it. Now, is there any more you want to know about our immigration policies in this country?

PETER No, I think I've got the gist of it. Now I've got to go back to the office and write up a report on what I've learnt.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR Oh, you've got one of those bosses, have you? Bad luck. I try to be much more lax with my staff. I reckon if I leave them alone, they'll leave me alone.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR shakes PETER'S hand. They stand up and walk over to the door.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR Hang on in there, Peter, no matter what your boss is like. It's better to be here on the inside than to be out there struggling to make your way in the real world.

PETER I'll do my best. Thank you for seeing me today.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR My pleasure, Peter. Remember, the policy of my personal office is the same as our immigration policy - anyone is free to come in any time they like without arranging anything beforehand.

D.F.I. DIRECTOR and PETER shake hands again and PETER leaves the office.

INT. PETER'S HOUSE - NIGHT

PETER is sitting at a desk, writing on computer. The room is in darkness except for a desk lamp. A clock shows it is almost midnight. PETER presses a key and a printer starts churning out paper. PETER leans back wearily in his chair, then switches off the desk lamp and makes his way out of the room up the lit stairs.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

There's a knock on the door and PETER enters. HELGA is sitting behind her desk, working. She looks up. PETER goes over and puts some papers on her desk.

PETER Three reports on those three departments I visited. Hopefully you'll find them satisfactory.

HELGA Hopefully I will.

PETER Do you have any particular tasks for me today?

HELGA What's your job title, Peter?

PETER I'm this department's Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

HELGA Absolutely. So you won't be surprised to hear I want you to inspect the work of one of our Public Sector Inspectors.

PETER Any one in particular.

HELGA I thought to make it easy for you, you could start with someone with whom you're at least personally familiar, even if you're not familiar with their work. Isabel Grevile.

Silence.

HELGA (CONT'D) I'm sorry. My mind was wandering. I mean your friend Nick Jenks. I'm sure you don't know anyone by the name of Isabel Grevile. Of course I'd almost forgotten that the Minister who oversees this department is Sir Nevile Grevile. You've met him, haven't you, Peter?

PETER Yes, I went to a house party of his with our old boss, Jeffrey.

HELGA Jeffrey must have been - must still be - quite close to Sir Nevile. Sir Nevile has a wife and children, I presume.

PETER Certainly he has a wife because the reason for this house party we went to was to celebrate Sir Nevile and his wife being married for thirty years.

HELGA What is the name of Sir Nevile's wife.

PETER Lady Nevile.

HELGA Very droll. I mean her Christian name. It isn't Isabel, is it?

PETER No, it's Victoria.

HELGA Do they have any children?

PETER It never occurred to me to ask.

HELGA Weren't they, however many there are of them, at the party?

PETER If Sir Nevile and Lady Victoria have children and they were at the party, I wasn't introduced to them. Or if I was, I wasn't informed that any of the people I was introduced to were his children.

Silence.

HELGA Very well.

She hands PETER some forms and notes.

HELGA (CONT'D) Go into your own office and read through these papers first. They'll tell you how you should conduction a Public Sector Inspector Inspection and the information you need to gather. Then go and inspect the work of your friend Nick Jenks.

PETER takes the papers.

HELGA Report back to me after lunch. Then this afternoon you can write up an inspection report.

PETER Until after lunch then.

PETER turns and leaves the office rather hastily.

INT. NICK'S DESK IN THE DEPARTMENT OFFICE - DAY

NICK is working at his computer. PETER comes over.

PETER Nick, I need a word with you, officially and unofficially.

NICK Sounds intriguing. Fire away.

PETER If anything's going to be fired it's going to be me. The official bit is this. Helga's told me to do an inspection on you. I'll have to read all this paperwork first …

Waves the inspection instruction manual that Helga gave him.

PETER (CONT'D) … to find out what I need to do and what I have to find out from you and about you. Perhaps we can do that a bit later on today.

NICK Sure. Just make sure your report on me comes out sounding positive.

PETER Don't worry. I will.

NICK And what's the unofficial word you need to have with me?

PETER You know the Minister responsible for this department is Sir Nevile Grevile?

NICK Of course.

PETER And you know the other night I phoned you and said his daughter Issie - Isabel - was at my house, just about to jump into bed with me?

NICK Yes, I hoped you both enjoyed yourselves.

PETER We did. Now, Helga just mentioned the name Isabel Grevile to me. There's only one reason I can think of why she should suddenly come up with that name, and that's because she's discovered it on this department's payroll. You see Jeffrey - our old boss - and Sir Nevile are close friends, and what they did was put Sir Nevile's daughter Issie on the department's payroll, but without requiring her to turn up and do any work. She's been getting public sector money in return for doing nothing for years.

NICK Oh dear. If that comes out there's potentially going to be some serious trouble, not just for your bed-mate, but for Jeffrey and Sir Nevile.

PETER You're not kidding. Possibly for me too if it ever comes out that I knew about this arrangement. But just now I denied even knowing whether Sir Nevile had a daughter, or any children.

NICK You'll have to stick to that story. Listen, Peter, I think the best thing you can do is warn Jeffrey and Sir Peter and let them come up with a solution to the situation. After all, they created it.

PETER Yes, I think you're right. That's what I should do. I'll see to it as soon as possible.

NICK After you've inspected me and my work.

PETER Of course. I'll go and read all this stuff, and then when I know what's wanted I'll come back and we'll get on with it.

NICK I'll be here.

PETER OK, see you later. Then I'll write up the report over the weekend and hand it in to Helga on Monday.

PETER goes away, heading for his own office.

INT. PETER'S OFFICE AT THE DEPARTMENT - DAY

PETER sits down at his desk, throwing his inspection manual and papers on the desk. He takes his mobile phone out of his pocket and dials a number. Eventually someone answers.

PETER Issie? It's Peter. Can we meet up some time? Maybe with your dad and Jeffrey? I think we have a problem. I think Helga, the new head of the department who took over from Jeffrey, has discovered that you're on the department's payroll. (pause) She mentioned your name, and I think there's only one reason she would know your name. (pause) OK. Your dad's place in the country, midday Sunday. See you then.

Switches phone off.

EXT. PETER'S HOUSE - DAY

SOPHIE is standing outside Peter's front door. PETER opens the door, comes out, closes the door behind him and gives SOPHIE a kiss.

PETER Thanks for coming over. You know where mum and dad are living now, so you can tell me the way. We can go in my car.

PETER and SOPHIE walk over to Peter's Mercedes.

SOPHIE Yours is certainly nicer and more expensive than mine. And I can't believe they let you have it for free.

PETER That's was my old boss's doing. I wouldn't bank on my new boss letting me hang on to it.

SOPHIE Make the most of it while you can then.

SOPHIE and PETER get in Peter's car and drive off.

INT. PETER'S PARENTS' COUNCIL HOUSE - DAY

PETER and SOPHIE are sitting on a grotty sofa. DAVID is sitting in a grotty armchair. MARGARET comes in with tray of mugs of tea, hands the drinks round, then sits down in another armchair with her own drink, having put the tray on an old table.

PETER Jeez, dad, I can't believe it's come to this. This is a disgusting place.

DAVID It's free. Thanks to the welfare state, people like us on our uppers get given somewhere to live and some pocket money to buy food with.

PETER But why have you got this horrible old furniture? I thought you said you'd put all the furniture from our old house in storage. Can't you get some of that out?

MARGARET You don't understand, Peter. Sometimes we have people from around here come in the house. If they saw expensive furniture they'd think we have some money and they'd be in here in the middle of the night trying to finding it.

DAVID Of course we do have some money hidden away. How stupid do you think I am, Peter? But at the moment the bank is only going for our old house. Once that has been sold and they've got that money, I hope they'll write of the rest of the money I owe, and then I can think about your mother and I getting a proper home - although nothing like our old one - and getting back into some sort of business, although of course it'll be a lot smaller than before.

PETER So if you've got some money, why don't you rent a decent place in a decent area and live well?

DAVID Appearing penniless, and being on the dole and living in government housing, makes it clear to my creditors that your mother and I have no money, so they leave us alone. When the fuss and all their anger at not being paid has died down, then we can gradually start to live a bit more respectably.

MARGARET But it is a bit tough living here. The people are like animals. They don't like us. We're not their sort. We don't fit in.

SOPHIE The people round here are downright dangerous, Mrs. Patter. You and Mr. Patter need to be careful.

A stone hits the sitting room window.

YOB (O.S.) Go back to where you came from, you posh gits.

DAVID gets up and rushes to the front door, opens it and looks outside, and sees the figures of THREE YOUNG PEOPLE running away. DAVID closes the door and goes back into the sitting room.

DAVID Peter, I think you and Sophie had better go. That car of yours stands out like a sore thumb in this area. It'll get trashed if you leave it parked outside much longer. That's if it hasn't been 'keyed' already.

PETER and SOPHIE stand up.

PETER Dad, why don't you and mum come and stay at my place? I've got a couple of spare bedrooms. On paper you'd could be leaving here, but in reality you could live with me.

DAVID If I think things are getting unbearable for your mother, I'll consider it, but for now we'll cope with the situation. It puts the pressure on me to come up with a way of starting to make money again and get something like our old standard of loving back.

PETER Have it your own way.

SOPHIE, PETER, DAVID and MARGARET go to the front door. DAVID lets PETER and SOPHIE out.

DAVID Focus on your own situation, Peter. Don't be satisfied just with being a wage slave. Try to use it as a springboard to something better.

PETER I'm keeping my eyes open for opportunities, dad, but at the moment I'm just trying to cope with my boss at work. She's trying her best to make my life difficult.

DAVID Either outsmart her or learn to put up with her and please her.

PETER I know which I'd rather do.

MARGARET And settle down with Sophie. You've got a proper job and a home and a car now. You're both at the right age and both your circumstances are right.

SOPHIE It's no good trying to put the pressure on Peter, Mrs. Patter. It doesn't work.

PETER No, mother, I think you might be right. I might actually be ready to settle down.

DAVID Invite your mother and me to the wedding.

PETER Will do, dad. Will do. Remember that if you and mum need to escape from this hell hole, there's always an open door at my place.

DAVID Okay. See you son. See you Sophie.

SOPHIE See you, Mr. Patter. Mrs. Patter.

PETER and SOPHIE start walking towards Peter's car.

PETER Do you want to stay at my place tonight?

SOPHIE You know what I said, Peter. When we're a proper couple and we're living together, that's when we'll sleep together again, and then we'll do it forever.

They get into Peter's car and drive off.

EXT. SIR NEVILE GREVILE'S COUNTRY HOUSE - DAY

PETER pulls up in his Mercedes. Get's out. Walks to the front door. It opens before he reaches it. ISSIE is there, smiling.

ISSIE I saw you coming, Peter.

ISSIE leans forwards and kisses PETER.

ISSIE (CONT'D) If you know what I mean. Come on in. Daddy and Jeffrey are here.

PETER goes in and ISSIE closes the door.

INT. DRAWING ROOM OF SIR NEVILE'S HOUSE - DAY

JEFFREY and SIR NEVILE are sitting opposite each other in leather armchairs on either side of a low table. There are a couple of glasses of whisky on the table. There are another couple of armchairs, empty, one next to each man, opposite each other. ISSIE and PETER come in and walk over to the two men.

ISSIE Here he is, daddy.

Sir Nevile stands up and reaches a hand out over the table. PETER and SIR NEVILE shake hands.

SIR NEVILE Sit down, Peter. Good of you to come.

Indicates chair next to JEFFREY. SIR NEVILE sits down. PETER sits down.

PETER Thank you, Sir Nevile. It's good to be back in this lovely house of yours again.

JEFFREY Hello, Peter. I wasn't expecting to see you again so soon.

PETER Hello, Jeffrey. How are things going in your new position?

JEFFREY Excellently. I'm enjoying it very much. I feel I shall profit from it a lot. So I can tell you that I don't want anyone or anything to upset my position in the land of plenty that I now have.

ISSIE Daddy, another whisky?

SIR NEVILE No thanks, darling.

ISSIE Jeffrey?

JEFFREY No thanks, Issie, dear. I'm fine.

ISSIE You'll join me in one, won't you, Peter, dear?

PETER Okay, Issie. Just a small one.

ISSIE goes over to the sideboard where the drinks are and pours a couple of whiskies.

SIR NEVILE So, Peter. You think Helga Sprott, your recently appointed boss, has found out about Issie being on her department's payroll?

PETER I just don't feel there can be any other explanation for her just coming up with the name Isabel Grevile out of the blue. And not in a casual way, as if she had read it in the society pages of a magazine. She was very serious, and she was probing me as to if I knew Issie, which of course I said I didn't. But I don't know why she should think I would know Issie anyway.

JEFFREY Perhaps she remembered that you and I revealed we were coming to a party here at Sir Nevile's house not so long ago. So she knows you've met Sir Nevile. Therefore it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that you've met his daughter, Isabel Grevile.

ISSIE comes over and puts a big glass of whisky on the table in front of PETER. She sits down in the armchair next to her father and starts sipping at her drink. PETER picks up his whisky and does likewise.

SIR NEVILE There are two questions. What is she going to do, and what are we going to do?

JEFFREY The worst thing is if she brought all this out in the open. It would damage all of us.

SIR NEVILE Agreed. So either she mustn't bring our little act of generosity for my daughter out in the open …

SIR NEVILE turns and smiles at his daughter and pats her knee. She smiles at him. SIR NEVILE turns back to the others.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) … or we must ensure that there is simply nothing for her to bring out in the open.

JEFFREY Or we could make it physically impossible for her to come out with anything.

SIR NEVILE Jeffrey! You know that sort of thing is only a last resort.

PETER Should we transfer Issie to another department straightaway? It won't get rid of the problem of her having been on the payroll up till now, but at least it will get her off the department's next payroll report.

SIR NEVILE I think it might be necessary to take her off the public sector payroll altogether.

ISSIE I need an income, daddy.

SIR NEVILE I could pay you.

ISSIE Yes, and then every time we have a falling out, you'd stop the money, just like you used to stop my pocket money when I was a little girl if I did something that didn't please you.

JEFFREY I'll get her transferred to the payroll of my department, Sir Nevile.

ISSIE Thank you, Jeffrey. You're so good to me.

PETER Perhaps then if Helga does start telling people about this missing employee called Isabel Grevile, we can just get the person in charge of payroll to say to Helga, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We put this person in the wrong department. But, yes, she certainly exists.

SIR NEVILE That might work. Certainly it might be the best that we can do.

SIR NEVILE gets to his feet and walks up and down a little with his whisky in his hand.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) Listen, Peter. Keep an eye on Helga, will you? She's a dark cloud looming on the horizon. All of us in this room have something to lose if that resolves to hurt all or any of us.

PETER Yes, Sir Nevile.

ISSIE gets to her feet.

ISSIE Come on, Peter. You can come and give me a game of billiards. I'm a real whiz on the table.

ISSIE takes PETER by the hand and he gets up and she leads him out of the room.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

HELGA is sitting at her desk working. There's a knock on the door.

HELGA Come in.

PETER comes in.

PETER Morning, Helga.

HELGA Morning, Peter. Did you have a good weekend?

PETER Er, yes, thank you. Here's the report on Nick.

PETER puts the report down on Helga's desk and turns to leave.

HELGA Sit down, Peter.

PETER turns back and sits down in the chair facing HELGA across her desk. She stops working, leans back in her chair, and looks silently at PETER for a while.

HELGA (CONT'D) Tell me, Peter. How did you really manage to pass the Public Sector Entrance Exam?

PETER I took it and I passed it.

HELGA That simple, was it?

PETER Yes.

Long silence. HELGA picks up the report on her desk.

HELGA I'll read through this this morning. Nick interests me.

PETER Why?

HELGA I think he has a great future ahead of him.

PETER But he's been doing the same job for years. And anyway, there's nowhere to progress to in this department. You're either a Public Sector Inspector or you're the Director of the Department.

HELGA Or you could be the Public Sector Inspector Inspector.

PETER Are you thinking of creating another Public Sector Inspector Inspector and it'll be Nick?

HELGA I keep an open mind and think of all possibilities and eventualities. Don't you, Peter? I would if I were you.

PETER I'll try to.

HELGA Do. You wouldn't want to be caught unawares now, would you?

PETER No.

HELGA Have you been to the Ministry of Information yet, Peter?

PETER No.

HELGA I know you haven't. That's the advantage of being well informed, Peter. You know things. It allows you to prepare your defence and your attack. It enables you to achieve what you want to achieve. So today, Peter, I've made an appointment for you to meet the Director of the Ministry of Information, Bill Cosby. Here's where you go.

HELGA passes a piece of paper across the desk. PETER takes it.

HELGA (CONT'D) Be there at eleven. That'll be all.

HELGA resumes working. PETER hesitates, then gets up and leaves the office.

INT. MINISTRY OF INFORMATION OFFICE - DAY

PETER and BILL COSBY walk into the big open plan office of the Ministry and start walking around it. It is like a call centre, full of people at desks busily talking into phones. Some of the workers are standing up and gesticulating and grinning.

PETER Many thanks for letting me come and have a look at your Ministry, Mr. Cosby.

BILL Call me Bill, Peter. It's a pleasure. We're all about openness here and helping people to understand what their government is doing, what it is trying to achieve, and what it has achieved.

PETER What are all these people doing?

BILL Communicating, Peter. Communicating. They're letting rays of light into people's lives. They are illuminating their minds.

PETER This is because the government wants the people to know everything that it is doing? It wants the people to know that everything about it is completely transparent?

BILL stops and gives PETER a long, quizzical look.

BILL Come over here, Peter.

BILL leads PETER over to one side where no one can hear them.

BILL (CONT'D) I was being funny, Peter. Didn't you realize that? What do you really think the Ministry of Information is about?

PETER I presume it's about imparting information to the people about the government.

BILL Sort of. But what sort of information?

PETER Facts and figures. Future plans.

BILL If I tell you that the Government Department for Statistics has just announced that inflation is two percent, what do you now know?

PETER I know that inflation is two percent.

BILL No you don't, Peter. You know that inflation is anything but two percent. If I tell you that government borrowing will be going down next year, what do you know?

PETER (pause) Do I know that government borrowing will be going up next year?

BILL That's a bit cynical, Peter. I'm ashamed of you. No, we merely know that it is highly unlikely that government borrowing is going down next year. If I tell you that I don't cheat on my wife, what do you know?

PETER looks flummoxed.

BILL (CONT'D) (laughs) You know that I don't cheat on my wife. I'm paid to tell lies on behalf of the government, but outside that, I'm as honest and straightforward a man as you'll find. Listen, Peter. If I found anyone in this office telling the truth during work hours, I'd sack them on the spot. Do you know what this department's unofficial name is?

PETER No.

BILL Department of Propaganda. Our job is to make people believe what the government wants people to believe. Our job is to deny and contradict any truths that come out. That is if they are truths that the government doesn't want known.

PETER But aren't the media ultimately going to find out the truth and reveal it? The truth will out, as they say.

BILL Then they're wrong, aren't they? What do you think the media is all about, Peter? I'll give you a clue. It's the same as what the public sector is essentially about.

PETER I thought the media existed to give us information.

BILL Sharon Barron's tit implants imploded, do you mean? The star of Digglesby Bigglesby has just bought a new house in Hollywood, maybe? Vegetarian dish of the day for less than the price of a pocket of fluff? No, Peter. The media exists so people can have jobs and get incomes for doing what is unnecessary. Talking worthless crap and imparting information that is of no use to its receivers, and is likely to be wrong anyway. Come on, mate. I'll take you out for a few beers. I always reckon when I've done a morning's work I've done a days work. You can phone your boss Helga and tell her you'll be busy all afternoon looking at every aspect of the Ministry of Information in fine detail. Through the bottom of a glass. Come on.

BILL leads the way out of the office and PETER follows.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

NICK comes into the room.

HELGA Take a seat, Nick. How are you?

NICK sits down in the seat facing Helga's desk.

NICK I'm fine thanks. What was it you wanted to see me about, Helga?

HELGA How well do you know Peter Patter?

NICK He's my friend. We went to school together.

HELGA But how close are you and he?

NICK Not madly close, I suppose, because he's spent so much time abroad.

HELGA Doing anything relevant to the job he's managed to land in this department?

Silence.

HELGA (CONT'D) Do you feel that he deserves the job he now has, Nick? Do you feel that he deserves to be above you, inspecting your work, even though he's barely had time to get his feet under the table? Do you feel he deserves to be earning an awful lot more than you, even though you've been here for years and he has only just arrived?

NICK Obviously I wish him all the best in life and I'm happy for him.

HELGA Are you, Nick? You know I don't believe this department needs an inspector to inspect our inspectors, but if we had to have a Public Sector Inspector Inspector, do you know who I would choose for the position?

NICK No. Who would you choose?

HELGA leans forward and puts both hands on the desk, but with palms facing upwards.

HELGA Do you see what I have in my hands, Nick.

NICK I don't see anything.

HELGA holds up her right hand.

HELGA In this hand I have a carrot.

HELGA holds up her left hand.

HELGA In this hand I have a stick.

HELGA takes her hands off the desk and leans back in her chair.

HELGA What is the carrot?

NICK I have no idea.

HELGA The carrot, Nick, is that if I had to have a Public Sector Inspector Inspector in this department, it wouldn't be your friend Peter. It would be you.

NICK That's gratifying to know. But presumably it's too late to change the situation.

HELGA Not necessarily. (pause) Now, Nick, what about the stick? What do you think the stick is?

NICK I have no idea, but I guess it's going to be something I won't like.

HELGA I have no idea whether you'll like it. Perhaps you value your freedom and would like your life to change. (pause) What's the name of this department, Nick?

NICK The Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction.

HELGA Efficiency and cost reduction, Nick. We must practice what we preach. Nick, I need to lose three Inspectors from this department, because your friend Peter costs as much as three Inspectors, and I need to recoup that extra expenditure. That's right, Nick. Peter's salary is three times yours. Now, Nick, wouldn't it be unfortunate if one of the three Inspectors I need to get rid of turned out to be you?

NICK It would indeed be unfortunate.

HELGA That is the stick.

HELGA puts her elbows on the desk and leans forward.

HELGA (CONT'D) Which do you prefer, Nick? The carrot or the stick?

NICK Probably the carrot, I would say.

HELGA leans back in her chair.

HELGA Excellent! So you fancy being this department's Public Sector Inspector Inspector at three times your current salary? That is what I fancy too. I'll make it happen right away. I'll … (beat) …Oh no!

NICK What?

HELGA To do that I need to fire your friend Peter, and to fire your friend Peter I need grounds. And I want it in writing. Nick, I want you to tell me how Peter did so well in his Public Sector Entrance Exam and managed to get into this department so that that old fool Jeffrey Coller could create the new position of Public Sector Inspector Inspector that he's been looking to create for ages.

NICK Helga, I'm not sure I can grass on my friend Peter. And it involves me too, you know. I was part of it.

HELGA Carrot or stick, Nick. It's your choice.

NICK Helga, I …

HELGA Go! If I don't have something in writing on my desk within the hour giving me justification for getting rid of Peter, it'll be you who'll be losing his job.

HELGA starts busying herself with her work. NICK gets up and leaves the room.

LATER

NICK comes into the room. HELGA carries on with her work, ignoring him. NICK puts on her desk a densely typed letter, signed. Then he leaves the room.

THE FOLLOWING DAY

HELGA is standing by the window, looking out. PETER comes into the room.

PETER Morning, Helga. How are you?

HELGA I'm fine, Peter. And you?

PETER Fine.

HELGA turns around.

HELGA How did you get to work this morning?

PETER I drove in. Same as I usually do.

HELGA What car do you drive, Peter?

PETER It's a Mercedes. Not a big one. Just one of those a couple of classes up from the bottom ones.

HELGA I've got my car on a sort of leasing contract. Are you the same, or did you buy yours outright?

PETER I …

PETER goes silent.

HELGA It isn't yours and you're not leasing it. That's because it's a government car. It's public sector property. What Jeffrey was thinking when he got it for you to use, I've no idea. I'm going to look into it though. In the meantime, however, you can continue to use it, but only for work. You can't use it for private business, and you can't use it for driving between work and your home. Understand?

PETER You mean I can't use it to drive home tonight?

HELGA You're quick on the uptake, Peter. Well done. You got it in one.

PETER Well, if that's what you want.

HELGA Yes, it is. And talking about your home, how did that come about? You know you're living in one of our security service's safe houses?

PETER I didn't realize. Jeffrey just found me this place to live in. I didn't ask any questions. I was just grateful.

HELGA I bet you were. I'd be grateful if someone handed me a place to live in for free. You're not even paying any rent, are you?

PETER Jeffrey never asked me to pay any.

HELGA Why should he? It's not his property. It's no skin of his nose if you pay nothing for living in what would otherwise be a rather expensive property.

HELGA sits down at her desk.

HELGA (CONT'D) It can't go on, Peter. You got into the public sector and into this department under false pretences. You've been given free use of public sector property by this department's previous director. You're receiving a salary that is completely out of proportion to your experience and your ability. It can't go on, Peter. It can't go on.

PETER What are you going to do?

HELGA That is what I'm trying to decide. That report you did on your friend Nick, by the way, was barely acceptable. You just haven't got the hang of writing reports. And the language you use is all wrong. I could actually understand it. Don't you realize that here in the public sector we write convoluted gobbledegook that is so incomprehensible as to be either meaningless or to be able to take any meaning you want to attribute to it? You just can't get the hang of what we're about, can you?

PETER It isn't about serving the public, is it?

HELGA Of course it isn't. It's about serving ourselves. We create work and do unnecessary things so as to justify our salaries and our pensions. Perhaps ten percent of what we do needs to be done and is worthwhile, but the rest of it is just creating and maintaining a public sector for the sake of the public sector.

HELGA pulls a sheet of paper from the pile on her desk and holds it out to PETER, who comes over and takes it.

HELGA Until I decide what I'm going to do about you, you might as well keep on working. I've made an appointment for you to meet the Director of the Department of Department Outsourcing. Be at her department at two this afternoon. You can spend this morning reading through the guidelines on how to write an Inspector inspection report. Then you can rewrite your report on your friend, Nick.

PETER Right, I'll get on with doing that.

PETER turns to leave.

HELGA And Peter, when I leave here this evening, I want to see that Mercedes you're using parked up safely in the car park. You are not to use it to drive home in. Understand?

PETER Yes, Helga. I'll get home under my own steam.

PETER leave's Helga's office.

INT. OFFICE - DAY

The office is cosy and old fashioned, like the study in a country house. SIMON leads PETER into the office.

SIMON Close the door after you, Peter. Take a seat on the sofa there.

SIMON indicates a dark leather Chesterfield sofa with a low antique table in front of it. PETER goes and sits down on the sofa. SIMON goes over to a cabinet and pours out a couple of glasses of port from a decanter. He brings them over to where PETER is sitting and sits down next to him and hands him a glass.

SIMON (CONT'D) I've just had the most terrific lunch but I had to dash back to meet you, so I didn't have time to finish off the meal with my customary glass of port, so here it is now. Chin chin.

SIMON taps his glass against Peter's and takes a sip of his port. PETER does likewise.

PETER I'm sorry to have made you rush, Simon. It was my boss, Helga, who made the appointment. If I'd made it, I'd have made it for a bit later to give you time to have a proper lunch.

SIMON So it's the notorious Helga Sprott that we should blame, is it? Philistine! I bet she doesn't even bother with lunch. She takes her work too seriously, that's her problem. Now Jeffrey Coller, he was much more civilized.

PETER Yes, I miss Jeffrey.

SIMON I hear on the grapevine that Helga is out to get you, Peter. Or more accurately, she's out to get rid of you.

PETER I suspect you're right, but if she is, there's nothing I can do about it. Anyway I've had an interesting time. I've paid of my credit card debts. I've seen a bit of what goes on in the public sector.

SIMON Good. Hopefully you've learnt that it exists for its own benefit and not for the public's. In fact we only benefit the public to the extent necessary for us to keep our jobs. When I say we I do of course mean those few of us in the public sector who actually do something physically useful, rather than just talking, or staring at computer screens or shuffling pieces of paper around. Anyway, Peter, you're here to find out what my department does. Quite frankly I can tell you that in a matter of seconds. Another port?

SIMON drinks his glass of port.

PETER Yes, please.

PETER drinks his glass of port and hands the empty glass to PETER, who gets up and goes over to the drinks cabinet to refill the glasses.

SIMON So, Peter, you know I'm Simon Gray, head of department. And my department is …?

PETER … the Department of Department Outsourcing.

SIMON comes back over, sits on the sofa next to PETER again and gives him his glass of port. The two men sip their drinks.

SIMON So what do you think we do?

PETER You outsource some of the work that various public sector departments do so that the work is done by the private sector rather than the public sector.

SIMON Close, but not quite. We look to outsource complete departments from the public sector to the private sector.

PETER And the reason for doing that is …?

SIMON It reduces the headcount in the public sector, so ministers are able to go to the public and say, “Look, we're employing fewer people in the public sector. We're working hard to save you money.”

PETER But surely the outsourced department still has to be paid for?

SIMON Of course. Sometimes the department will cost less than it cost when in the public sector, sometimes it will cost more. Ideally it will cost less. But you see, Peter, not only does it reduce the number of people directly employed in the public sector, but it also offloads the liability for any redundancy payments and pensions onto the private firm that has taken over the department. All the government has to do is write out a cheque to the firm once a month, and that is the full extent of the government's liability. So you can see why outsourcing, as well as entering into various types of public private initiatives, is so popular with the government.

PETER I can see there are advantages over employing people directly in the public sector, but I bet in practice it doesn't save money.

SIMON Who cares? The government doesn't really want to reduce the amount of money it spends. It can always borrow and print more. It just wants to give the plebs what they want in the simplest, most convenient way possible.

SIMON finishes his drink.

SIMON (CONT'D) Let's have some more of this excellent port.

PETER finishes his drink and SIMON takes the glass and gets up and goes over to the drinks cabinet.

SIMON (CONT'D) You know, Peter, I often wish your department could be outsourced. It's only small. You only have a few hundred people in it. But outsourcing it would give it an air of independence, as though the public sector was being watched over and vetted by impartial outsiders rather than just by another load of public sector employees.

PETER I'll mention it to Helga.

SIMON Don't bother. We know where she stands on outsourcing. If she had her way, everyone in the country would be employed in the public sector. Except you, of course.

SIMON comes over with two more glasses of port and gives PETER his and sits down on the sofa.

SIMON (CONT'D) Do you play backgammon, Peter?

PETER Yes.

SIMON Excellent. We'll have a few games until it's time for you to head back and face that dragon, Helga Sprott.

SIMON reaches under the low table and produces an expensive backgammon set and proceeds to set it up for a game. PETER sips his port.

INT. NICK'S CAR - EVENING

PETER is sitting in the passenger seat and NICK is driving.

PETER Thanks for giving me a lift home, Nick.

NICK No problem.

PETER That Helga's really got in for me. Not that I blame her. I landed this job I've got under false pretences, and Jeffrey really shouldn't have let me have free use of a car. But it means now I've got to find a way of getting to and from work. Either I'll have to buy my own car or I'll have to use public transport.

Silence.

PETER (CONT'D) You're not very talkative this evening. Bad day at work?

NICK Same as usual. I'm just feeling a bit tired, that's all. I might go to bed early tonight.

PETER Right. I might do the same. I'm worried about what Helga's going to do next. I'm worried about my car, my house, my job. I'm sure she wants to take everything from me. And what is she going to do about Issie once she becomes certain about what's been going on and that Issie's dad is definitely Sir Nevile? She's got the power to cause a right old scandal.

NICK Perhaps you should jump before you're pushed. Put a bit of distance between you and this whole situation. Go abroad again.

PETER I would if my mum and dad weren't in the situation they're in. I'm not just worried about me, I'm worried about them. I need to do something to help them and give them back a decent standard of living. No, I've got to hang on in there either until I'm pushed, or until I can find some solution that makes my parents' lives safe and secure and satisfying, and my life too.

NICK Best of luck with all that.

They pull up at Peter's house. PETER gets out of the car.

PETER Are you coming in for a drink? I've got some beer in the fridge.

NICK No thanks, Peter. I just want to get home.

PETER Okay. I'll see you at work tomorrow. I won't ask you for a lift because I need to get used to using public transport again. Night night.

NICK Yes, see you at work tomorrow.

NICK drives off and Peter lets himself into his house.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE. - DAY

HELGA is working at her desk. There is a knock on the door.

HELGA Yes.

The door opens and PETER sticks his head round.

PETER Morning, Helga. Just a small thing. I can't see my car in the car park where I left it last night.

HELGA Your car?

PETER Yes. The black Mercedes. I parked it in the car park last night, like you told me to.

HELGA Oh yes. The black Mercedes that belongs to us. I suddenly thought you'd gone out and used your own money to buy a car of your own. I'm afraid that car, which is government property, has been taken back by the people from whom it should never have been taken. I really don't know what Jeffrey Coller was thinking about when he arranged for you to have the use of it, and I don't know what the people who are responsible for it were thinking of when they did what Jeffrey wanted. Never mind. It's all been sorted out now. You do have your own car, don't you, Peter?

PETER No, I haven't got one.

HELGA Then you won't be able to go anywhere, will you? You'll just have to work here. If you do get a car, though, you can visit other departments. You'll be reimbursed for any travel you do as part of your work. Did you find the Department of Department Outsourcing interesting yesterday?

PETER Yes, and the Director, Simon gray, is a very pleasant and helpful guy. Very affable. Quite the congenial host in fact.

HELGA Good. And so long as you learnt something as well as having a good time, that's what really matters. Now, Peter, you are after all this department's Inspector Inspector, so here are a couple of my Inspectors that I want you to inspect and write reports on.

HELGA holds out some papers. PETER comes over and gets them.

You certainly need more practice on writing reports. Try to do these properly. Bring the reports to me before we finish work today.

PETER Okay. Will do.

PETER leaves the office.

INT. PETER'S OFFICE - DAY.

PETER enters, throws the papers on the desk, and picks up the phone that is on the desk. He dials a number.

PETER Hi, Sophie. You'll never guess what. My boss has taken my car off me. You know, that lovely little black Mercedes. Now I'm having to use public transport to get to and from work. And I can't go off visiting any of the other departments in the public sector until I get my own set of wheels. Mind you, I think I've seen most of the departments that are of any interest anyway. Listen, I was wondering. Can you run me over to see my parents this Friday evening? (pause) Yes, let's do that. I'll pick some flowers up on the way, and I'll get a bottle of something for dad. Okay, you pick me up at my place at seven. See you.

PETER puts the phone down, sits down at his desk, and starts looking through the papers that Helga has given him.

INT. DAVID AND MARGARET'S COUNCIL HOUSE - NIGHT

Doorbell rings. DAVID goes to the front door and opens it. PETER and SOPHIE are there.

PETER Hello, dad.

SOPHIE Hello, Mr. Patter.

DAVID Hello, Peter. Sophie. Come in. Your mother's rustled up some food.

PETER and SOPHIE come into the house.

PETER Here's some drink to go with the food, dad.

PETER hands David a bottle of wine.

DAVID Why, thank you Peter. That's very nice of you.

They go into the back room where there is a small, simple dining table laid out with cold food, plates, cutlery and glasses. MARGARET is just putting some food down on the table.

PETER Hello, mum.

SOPHIE Hello, Mrs. Patter. Here are some flowers for you.

SOPHIE gives MARGARET a bunch of flowers.

MARGARET Thank you, my dear. They're lovely. That's very kind of you.

SOPHIE They're from both of us.

MARGARET Are you a proper couple now?

SOPHIE and PETER look at each other.

SOPHIE Almost.

DAVID Peter just needs that little push to tip him over the edge to make him do the right thing. Everything will be alright, Peter. There's nothing to be afraid of. Marriage isn't that terrible. Look at your mother and me.

PETER Yes, I suspect you're right, dad. (to SOPHIE) We'll have to do something at some point, won't we?

SOPHIE That's what I've been saying for a long time.

MARGARET I'll go and put these flowers in a vase.

MARGARET goes out of the room.

DAVID Sit down, you two. Tuck in. Margaret won't mind.

PETER, SOPHIE and DAVID sit down at the table. DAVID opens Peter and Sophie's wine and pours it out. There's another bottle of wine on the table. The three of them start helping themselves to food. MARGARET comes back in with the flowers in a vase, which she puts on an old, tatty sideboard. She sits down at the table.

DAVID How are things in your high-powered job, Peter? Are you scaling ever greater heights?

PETER Not quite. In fact my boss has got it in for me. I have a feeling my good fortune might not last much longer. I sense everything is quietly unravelling around me. You know she took the car off me that my previous boss gave me to use?

DAVID Really? Can she do that?

PETER Turns out I shouldn't have had the car in the first place. Although really I pretty much knew that anyway. But I suspect taking the car away is just her first shot across my bows. I'm on my guard as to what she might do next.

MARGARET Well, Peter, if it all collapses around you, you can always come and stay here with us.

DAVID I wouldn't wish that on anyone. You say your boss has got it in for you. The people round here have really got it in for us. They've taken a real dislike to us. And yet they don't even know us. We've asked the council if they can find us somewhere else to live.

PETER You know, dad, it almost sounds as though you're resigned to this sort of life. What's happened to the old 'get up and go'? Where's the drive to get back to the sort of life you used to have?

DAVID Your mother and I are tired, Peter. We're not young any more, and this financial calamity has taken it out of us. I'm not sure we have the strength to bounce back from this one. Perhaps we just have to resign ourselves to make the most of the way things are.

PETER Nonsense. You can't live like this. You can't be amongst the sort of people who live around here. You deserve better than this. You and mother always deserved the best, and you still do.

MARGARET Then I think, my dear, that it's up to you now to make something dramatic happen.

DAVID Yes, Peter. The old must pass the baton to the young.

SOPHIE I'll help you in any way I can, Peter. We should all work together. Look after each other.

PETER Yes, you're right. I'm sure I'll come up with something. But first I must see what my boss has in store for me. I need to know whether I have a secure future in the public sector, or whether my boss has something planned for me that I'm not going to like and that will make my life unpleasant and difficult.

DAVID Time will tell.

MARGARET Whatever happens, I'm sure you'll cope, dear.

SOPHIE puts her hand on PETER'S.

SOPHIE We'll manage, Peter.

PETER kisses SOPHIE.

PETER You're an angel, Sophie. I appreciate you more than you realize.

SOPHIE Perhaps one day you'll prove it.

PETER One day I will.

PETER takes a sip of wine.

PETER (CONT'D) Let's see what Monday brings.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

HELGA is at her desk. AGENT WILKINS is sitting in a chair in a corner. He is big and sturdy and has on a black suit and dark glasses. PETER comes into the room.

HELGA Ah, Peter. There you are.

PETER Yes, here I am.

PETER sits down in the chair facing Helga's desk.

HELGA There's no need to sit down.

PETER stands up again. HELGA indicates AGENT WILKINS.

HELGA (CONT'D) This is Agent Wilkins from the D.I.S.

AGENT WILKINS The Domestic Intelligence Services.

HELGA He'd like to have a word with you.

AGENT WILKINS stands up and approaches PETER.

AGENT WILKINS You're living in one of our safe houses, Mr. Patter. Why are you living in one of our safe houses?

PETER I … I … The previous head of this department found the place for me and said I could live there.

AGENT WILKINS Do you have that in writing?

PETER No. There was never anything put in writing.

AGENT WILKINS Then I only have your word that what you say is true.

PETER It is true. I was having to sleep on my friend Nick's sofa. Nick Jenks. He works here, Helga knows him. I told Jeffrey I needed to look for somewhere to live and he helped me out by finding me that house I'm in.

AGENT WILKINS Actually I know all this already. But Jeffrey Coller over-stepped the mark by pulling strings to help you out. You can't stay there, you know. You'll have to get out.

PETER When do I have to leave by?

AGENT WILKINS looks at his watch.

AGENT WILKINS Do you have much stuff there?

PETER Only clothes really. I was beginning to buy a few things for the place. Stuff for the kitchen. That sort of thing. But no, really it's just my clothes I'd need to take.

AGENT WILKINS Good. Let's go then. By lunchtime there should be no sign that you've ever been there. (to HELGA) We'll be on our way then, if that's alright with you, Miss Sprott.

HELGA Yes, of course. (to PETER) Take the rest of the day off, Peter. You'll need to shift your stuff somewhere, and you'll obviously need to sort out somewhere new to stay.

PETER Okay.

PETER and AGENT WILKINS move towards the door.

HELGA I hope you've enjoyed using government property, Peter. But it's best that we stop it now. It can become strangely addictive.

PETER and AGENT WILKINS leave the office.

EXT. PETER'S HOUSE - DAY

PETER is standing outside the front of the house. He has three full bin bags by his feet, and his rucksack. AGENT WILKINS comes out of the house, shuts the front door, pockets the key, and walks up to PETER.

AGENT WILKINS You didn't have any other keys cut, did you?

PETER No.

AGENT WILKINS It doesn't make any difference anyway. We change the locks every time someone stays here. I'll wish you well then. Have you got someone to pick you up? Have you sorted out somewhere else to stay?

PETER I'm just going to phone someone. I'll be alright.

AGENT WILKINS Good. I'll be on my way then.

AGENT WILKINS gets into the black Mercedes Peter used to drive. He fires it up and winds down the window.

AGENT WILKINS (CONT'D) It's not my job to give you advice, but if I were you I'd start looking around for a new job.

AGENT WILKINS winds the window up and drives off. PETER stands there watching him go, then he takes out his mobile phone, dials a number, and holds the phone to his ear. After a while …

PETER Hello. Sophie? Peter. Sophie, I really need you.

INT. - SOPHIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Much more cozy, feminine and cluttered than Nick's apartment. PETER and SOPHIE are cuddled up on the sofa. Peter's bin bags full of clothes are over in a corner.

SOPHIE So is this the great unravelling you were worried about?

PETER I fear so. Helga's taken my car off me, and my house, so the logical next step is to take my job off me. And I can't say I'd disagree with her. I should never been given the job in the first place. In fact I should never have been allowed into the public sector.

SOPHIE Did I ever tell you that really I work in the public sector? Well, maybe not in it, but for it.

PETER I thought you worked for a private company.

SOPHIE Yes, but all our contracts are with local councils and with government departments. We're what you might call the private public sector.

PETER So you work for a private business but all your money comes from contracts with the public sector.

SOPHIE That's right.

PETER That's the sort of thing that Simon Gray, the head of the Department for Departmental Outsourcing, was telling me about. It doesn't reduce the government's expenditure, but it just makes it look as though the government is actually employing the unacceptably high number of people that it really is employing.

SOPHIE I don't care. So long as I get paid, I don't care where the money comes from.

SOPHIE kisses Peter and strokes his hair.

SOPHIE (CONT'D) If you lose your job you'll be able to grow your hair again.

PETER Yes, and I wouldn't have to wear a suit every day.

SOPHIE But you've still got to find a way of earning a living. You haven't got your parents to fall back on now. In fact you need to find a way of supporting them and giving them a decent standard of living and somewhere nice to live.

PETER I'll do it. I don't know how, but I'll do it.

SOPHIE I know you will.

SOPHIE and PETER kiss.

SOPHIE (CONT'D) Come on. It's getting late, and we've got work tomorrow. Let's go to bed.

SOPHIE and PETER get up and she leads him by the hand towards her bedroom. She stops.

SOPHIE (CONT'D) Are we a couple now, Peter?

PETER We're a couple.

SOPHIE And you're not going to run off?

PETER I'm going to stick to you like glue. We're in this for the long term. Together.

SOPHIE kisses PETER. They disappear into Sophie's bedroom.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE - DAY

HELGA is sitting at her desk. NICK is sitting in a chair on the other side of the desk. There is an empty chair next to him. PETER comes into the room.

PETER Afternoon, Helga. You wanted to see me? Hello, Nick. What are you doing here?

NICK That is something I have yet to find out.

HELGA Take a seat, Peter. I hope you had a good lunch.

PETER sits down next to Nick.

PETER Yes. It was a mixture of both work and pleasure. The perfect sort of lunch.

HELGA If there was pleasure involved, I hope you didn't charge it to your public sector credit card.

PETER I didn't have to. The person I was lunching with paid for the meal.

HELGA That's alright then. Now, you two might be wondering why I've called both of you into my office together. It's because what I'm going to say to you affects you both equally. You've committed a misdemeanour together, so you will both hang together, figuratively speaking of course. You, Peter, can regard the lunch you've just had as your last meal before execution.

PETER I rather suspected some bad news was lurking over the horizon. So this is it then, is it, Helga?

NICK But surely there's good news for me, Helga.

HELGA Ah, Nick, you are I believe expecting a promotion.

NICK Yes, I was rather. I did what you wanted. Surely I get my reward.

HELGA Well, yes, you would get it, but unfortunately you gave me a written admission that you've been a bad boy.

PETER What exactly is going on?

HELGA Read this, Peter. As you can see, it was written by your good friend here, Nick Jenks.

HELGA hands to PETER Nick's written statement about helping Peter cheat his way into the public sector.

NICK Helga! What are you doing?

HELGA I am being open, honest and above board. You should try it some time, Nick.

PETER reads Nick's admission of wrongdoing.

PETER Nick, why on earth did you admit to what we did? And why did you put it in writing?

HELGA I'll tell you why, Peter. Your friend here is quite easy to manipulate. I told him on the one hand that if he didn't tell me how you tricked your way into the public sector I would make him redundant. Quite legitimately. I have to recoup the money that this department now has to spend paying your salary, Peter. I also told Nick that if he did tell me what I wanted to know, once I had got rid of you, he could have your job.

PETER (laughs) Oh well, Nick, I guess I'd have done the same in your shoes. Self-preservation on the one hand. Advancement on the other. Really it was a no-brainer to do what you did.

NICK You don't hold it against me?

PETER Of course I do. Don't expect me to want to be with you much after this.

HELGA Unfortunately, Nick, things aren't going to work out quite as you planned, or indeed as I said they would. You see, Nick, I can't have someone working in this department who is guilty of gross misconduct. So as much as I would like to promote you from being a mere Public Sector Inspector to being a Public Sector Inspector Inspector, I am instead going to have to sack you on the grounds of your own admission of gross misconduct, in the form of stealing the answers to the Public Sector Entrance Exam and then using them to enable your friend Peter here to get into the public sector. So with immediate effect I am terminating your employment here.

NICK Can you do that?

HELGA I just did.

HELGA hands NICK a piece of paper.

HELGA (CONT'D) Here it is in writing. Give me your public sector credit card.

NICK digs out his public sector credit card from a pocket and hands it to HELGA.

HELGA (CONT'D) Thank you. You can go and collect any personal things you have at your work station. I've notified security to expect you to leave within about five minutes from now. Hand in your security badge to them, and I wish you all the best for the future.

NICK stands up.

NICK (to PETER) Shall I wait for you outside, Peter? I can give you a lift home.

PETER You don't even know where my home is now. That house Jeffrey let me use was taken off me yesterday. But don't worry, Nick. I'll make my own way to wherever I'm going.

NICK Okay.

PETER reaches out and squeezes Nick's arm.

PETER Don't worry, Nick. Listen, how about if Sophie and I come round to your place this Friday evening? Seven o'clock? We'll see how you're getting on. Take you out for a drink.

NICK Yes, that would be nice. Okay, I'll see you both then. Look forward to it.

NICK leaves the room.

HELGA And now I'm afraid it's your turn, Peter. You got this job of yours under false pretences. You cheated. Indeed you don't deserve to be in the public sector at all.

PETER Oh, I don't know, Helga. I think I'm well suited to the public sector.

HELGA Perhaps you are, but unfortunately we're not going to be able to prove that, in the long term, the medium term, or even the short term. I'm firing you for gross misconduct.

HELGA hands PETER a piece of paper.

HELGA (CONT'D) Here it is in writing. Now, you can gather together any personal things you have in your office and then you must leave. Hand your security badge in on the way out.

PETER Can I just make a quick phone call?

HELGA Can't you do that after you've left?

PETER It's better for both of us if I do it now.

PETER reaches over the desk, picks up Helga's internal phone, and dials a number.

PETER (into phone) Hi, Nigel, how goes it? What, here? No, she's done what I expected. Can you come in to her office? Thanks.

PETER puts the phone down. A short while later the office door opens and in comes NIGEL DUDLEY-FARKER.

NIGEL Hello, Helga.

NIGEL sits down in the chair where Nick had been sitting.

NIGEL (CONT'D) I understand you're trying to deprive Peter of his employment.

HELGA I'm not trying, Mr. Dudley-Farker, I've just done it.

NIGEL Then you will have your public sector cheque book ready.

HELGA What does that mean?

NIGEL You have read Peter's employment contract, haven't you?

HELGA No, but it'll just be a standard public sector contract.

NIGEL Not quite. You see Jeffrey added one or two little extra clauses.

NIGEL hands HELGA Peter's employment contract. HELGA looks at it.

NIGEL (CONT'D) You're quite at liberty to sack Peter, but I'm afraid it's going to cost you rather a lot of money. As your department exists to save the public sector money, Helga, can I make a suggestion to you?

HELGA If you must.

NIGEL You want to get rid of Peter. That much is obvious.

HELGA Carry on.

NIGEL I suggest you pension him off. On the grounds of ill health, of course, as is the usual way in these situations. As Director of the department you have the power to do that.

NIGEL leans forwards and puts his hands palms upwards on the desk.

NIGEL (CONT'D) Do you see what I have in my hands, Helga?

HELGA I don't see anything.

NIGEL holds up his right hand.

NIGEL In this hand I have a carrot.

NIGEL holds up his left hand.

NIGEL In this hand I have a stick. If you try to dismiss Peter against the terms of his contract, I will blacken your name throughout the public sector for trying to carry out an unfair dismissal. If, on the other hand, you pension Peter off on half salary, index-linked, with three years pension as a tax free lump sum, I will be your bestest bestest friend forever, as a thick member of the royal family once said.

NIGEL leans back in his chair and waits. HELGA leans forward with her arms on her desk.

HELGA You know what I love most about working in the public sector?

NIGEL No.

HELGA It's not my money that I'm playing with. Okay. I'll sign Peter off for early retirement on the terms that you say.

NIGEL With one month's notice?

HELGA Yes, with one month's notice. And then good riddance to him.

NIGEL Excellent.

NIGEL stands up

NIGEL (to PETER) Happy, Peter?

PETER Very.

NIGEL Excellent. I'll see you at the bar in the hotel round the corner in five minutes.

PETER Okay. Get a drink in for me.

NIGEL Will do.

NIGEL leaves Helga's office.

PETER It helps if you go to the right schools, Helga. I only found out the other day that Nigel went to the same school as me.

HELGA How lovely for you both. Listen, Peter, you've got one month here. I want you to keep out of my way.

PETER Okay, I can do that.

PETER stands up.

PETER (CONT'D) I think this has worked out for the best for both of us.

HELGA Yes, I suppose so.

PETER leaves Helga's office.

INT. SOPHIE'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

SOPHIE and PETER are cuddled up on the sofa.

SOPHIE So what are you going to do now that you've lost your job?

PETER I don't really have to do anything. Not if I don't want to. The pension I'm going to get is more than most people get for doing a full time job, plus I'm going to get a lump sum that would be enough for me to buy a home. Maybe not in this city, but somewhere else in the country where I could live quietly. But that's not what I have in mind.

SOPHIE What have you got in mind?

PETER It's bad luck to talk about things before they happen. I need to talk to some other people first to see if what I'm thinking of doing is even possible. Do you mind if I make a phone call?

SOPHIE Of course not.

PETER gets out his mobile phone, dials a number, and holds it to his ear. After a delay …

PETER Hi, Issie? It's Peter. How are things? That's great. But watch your back. Even though you transferred onto the payroll of Jeffrey's department, I suspect Helga might still go after you, and your dad, and Jeffrey. Listen, I've got an idea I want to discuss with your dad and Jeffrey something that I think might benefit them and get them out of the line of fire of any trouble that might potentially be coming that way. Oh, and by the way, my job in the public sector is coming to an end. I'm working a month's notice, then I'm getting the maximum pension possible, index-linked, and a lump sum. I'll tell you how I did it when we meet. But can you arrange a meeting for you, me, Jeffrey and your dad. I also want to bring someone else. And can you get Simon Gray from the Department of Departmental Outsourcing to come too? Saturday would be the ideal day. Okay, phone me or text me if you can arrange it. Be good. Bye.

PETER switches the phone off.

SOPHIE Who's Issie?

PETER Sir Nevile Grevile's daughter. Her dad and Jeffrey put her on the payroll of my department, but she's never done a day's work in her life. We reckon my boss Helga has found out about it, so we need a way to spike Helga's guns to stop her kicking up a stink that could bring down Jeffrey and Sir Nevile as well as causing trouble for Issie.

SOPHIE You sounded quite friendly with her. Know her well, do you?

PETER looks at SOPHIE, and there's a long silence. At last …

PETER Listen, Sophie. Whatever I've done in the past is in the past, and that's where it's staying. I'm never going to ask you what you've done, or who you've done it with, and I want you to do the same with me. The one thing I can say is this. I'm not involved with any other woman at the moment, and I'm not going to get involved with any woman other than you in the future. Is that clear?

SOPHIE Yes.

PETER You and I are a couple now. I think you know what's going to happen next in our relationship.

SOPHIE Tell me.

PETER (whispers inaudibly in SOPHIE'S ear)

SOPHIE

Oh, yes! Are you sure? Are you sure that's what you want.

PETER kisses SOPHIE.

PETER I'm sure.

PETER and SOPHIE kiss and hug.

SOPHIE We shall be Mr And Mrs Patter. Like your parents, but the next generation. I'm looking forward to that.

SOPHIE gets up.

SOPHIE (CONT'D) Come on, Mr Patter. Let's go to bed.

PETER gets up.

PETER OK, Mrs Patter. Let's do that.

SOPHIE and PETER head towards their bedroom.

SOPHIE Perhaps one day we'll hear the pitter patter of the feet of little Patters.

INT. NICK'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

NICK opens the front door. SOPHIE and PETER are there.

NICK Hi, Peter. Sophie. It's good to see you both again. Come in.

PETER and SOPHIE come into the apartment.

SOPHIE It's good to see you again too, Nick.

NICK Sit down. Do you fancy a drink? I've got a bottle of wine open.

SOPHIE Not for me.

PETER Sophie's driving. But yes, I'll have a glass of wine.

SOPHIE and PETER sit down on the sofa. NICK pours a couple of glasses of wine and gives one to PETER.

PETER Thanks.

NICK sits down in an armchair opposite SOPHIE and PETER.

NICK Peter, I'm really sorry. I suppose I was just annoyed and jealous that you walked into a job that was better than mine and paid loads more than I was getting after I'd worked in that department for years and years. It serves me right that my attempt to take over your position backfired on me. I'm just sorry that I messed up your employment at the same time. You were doing so well. In the circumstances I was surprised when you phoned to say you wanted to come over with Sophie to see me.

PETER I realized the threat of losing your job combined with the offer of a promotion if you did what Helga wanted really left you with no choice. Anyway don't worry about it because actually it might all just work out for the best. I've got an idea that I want to try. Are you free tomorrow?

NICK I'm free all the time now, although I've started looking for other jobs already. Obviously I need an income, so I've got to find something pretty quick.

PETER Don't go look too seriously just for the time being. I might have something for you.

NICK You? How?

PETER Wait and see. If you're free tomorrow, you'll find out then.

NICK Okay. Where are we going and what are we doing?

PETER takes a pen and paper out of his pocket and writes something on the paper. He hands the piece of paper to NICK.

PETER Be there tomorrow at midday. Sophie and I will be there along with some other people.

NICK Looks like a pretty grand address. Presumably the home of someone important.

PETER It's certainly the home of someone pretty important to us. So be on your best behaviour.

NICK I always am.

PETER finishes his wine.

PETER Shall we go out? It's our treat.

NICK finishes his wine.

NICK Tell me if I'm wrong, but I get the sense that you two are a proper couple now. Am I right?

SOPHIE & PETER Yes.

PETER It took me long enough to see sense, but at long last I've realised Sophie is the one for me.

SOPHIE I never had any doubts that we'd end up together. I knew it was just a matter of time.

NICK I'm pleased for you both. I really am.

PETER Thanks, Nick. You'll be invited to the wedding. In fact you can be my best man. If you want to, that is.

NICK I'd love to.

PETER Great. Come on then. Let's go.

PETER, SOPHIE and NICK get to their feet.

PETER (CONT'D) Let's all go in Sophie's car, Nick. Then you and I can have a few drinks. Let our hair down.

NICK Sounds good to me.

NICK, PETER and SOPHIE leave Nick's apartment.

EXT. SIR NEVILE'S COUNTRY HOUSE - DAY

SOPHIE and PETER pull up in Sophie's Mini (SOPHIE driving). NICK is there in his car. NICK gets out of his car as PETER and SOPHIE get out of theirs and he goes over to join them. ISSIE comes out of the house and comes across to them.

ISSIE Peter, how are you?

ISSIE kisses PETER on the lips. SOPHIE looks a bit annoyed.

PETER I'm fine, Issie. You okay?

ISSIE I'm still getting paid. That's the main thing.

PETER Good. And I want to see to it that you keep on getting paid.

ISSIE I'm intrigued.

ISSIE looks at NICK and SOPHIE and then back to PETER

ISSIE (CONT'D) Are you going to introduce me?

PETER indicates NICK

PETER This is Nick. Until recently he worked at … (pause) … our department in the public sector.

PETER indicates SOPHIE

PETER (CONT'D) And this is my fiancée, Sophie.

ISSIE You dark horse! I didn't know you had a fiancée.

PETER Neither did I until a few days ago. Rather stupidly I've been resisting settling down with Sophie for years, but I just suddenly realised the other day that she's my best friend and she's the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.

ISSIE Well congratulations to you.

ISSIE moves over and hugs SOPHIE.

ISSIE (CONT'D) And best wishes to you, Sophie. I hope you and Peter have a long and happy marriage.

SOPHIE Thanks. (beat) Are you a good friend of Peter's?

ISSIE I'm just a friend, Sophie. That's all.

PETER Is your dad here, Sophie, and Jeffrey, and Simon Gray?

ISSIE Yes, they're in daddy's study, waiting for you.

PETER Right. Well, let's go in and I'll put my idea to them. I'll be interested to find out what they think about it, and, if they like it, whether or not they can make it happen.

ISSIE Am I going to be in on this scheme of yours?

PETER Yes. And Nick. And Sophie.

SOPHIE I hope it's not going to be anything dodgy.

PETER No, it isn't, and it's intended to make all our futures secure.

ISSIE Come on then. Follow me.

ISSIE leads PETER, SOPHIE and NICK towards the house.

LATER

ISSIE, PETER, SOPHIE and NICK come out of the house.

NICK I certainly wasn't expecting you to come up with an idea like that.

ISSIE Nor was I. And I don't think dad and Jeffrey and Simon Gray were either.

SOPHIE But it sounds as though they're going to back you, Peter. Do you really think you can make it happen?

PETER With their support, yes.

NICK This could really turn all our lives around.

PETER You see why I told you not to be in a hurry to try and find another job?

NICK Yes.

SOPHIE Of course if all this does happen, I'll have to give up my job.

PETER If you absolutely didn't want to, you wouldn't have to. But if you want to be with me and you want to be free, you'd need to ditch your existing job.

SOPHIE I'd do it, darling. If this really goes ahead, I'll hand in my notice and we'll be able to be together as much as we want.

PETER kisses SOPHIE.

PETER I'm going to make this happen. Don't you worry. All of us have a bright new future ahead of us.

ISSIE I'll let you guys be on your way. I'm going back in to talk things over with dad a bit more. If this really does happen, I'll be able to carry on living the way I love to live without always having to be looking over my shoulder and worrying about whether I'm going to get caught.

PETER Okay, Issie. And thanks for arranging this little get-together today.

ISSIE My pleasure. It's going to benefit all of us.

ISSIE kisses PETER, and then SOPHIE. She turns to NICK.

ISSIE (CONT'D) I suppose you've got a fiancée.

NICK No, I'm unattached. In fact I've never really thought about settling down with someone.

ISSIE You should. What do they say? A man is incomplete until he's married, and then …

NICK … he's finished.

NICK and ISSIE laugh. ISSIE takes out her mobile phone and hands it to NICK.

ISSIE Dial your mobile number on my phone.

NICK hesitates, but then does it. His mobile phone rings. He hands ISSIE her phone back.

ISSIE (CONT'D) Don't answer it. Just save my number.

ISSIE does something with her phone. NICK saves Issie's number on his phone.

ISSIE (CONT'D) There. I've saved your number. Phone me some time. We can go out for a drink.

NICK Okay. That would be nice.

PETER Right. We're off. (to SOPHIE) I want to go over to see mum and dad. I want to see how they react to this idea of mine.

SOPHIE Okay. You phone them. We might be able to go straight over. (to ISSIE and NICK) See you both. Be good.

ISSIE Yes, see you.

NICK See you Sophie. See you Peter.

PETER Yes, see you both.

PETER and SOPHIE get into Sophie's car. PETER begins to make a phone call and they drive off. (SOPHIE driving.)

INT. DAVID AND MARGARET'S HOUSE - DAY.

MARGARET opens the front door. PETER and SOPHIE are standing outside.

PETER Hello, mum.

SOPHIE Hello, Mrs Patter.

MARGARET Hello, dears. Come in. It's so nice to see you two.

SOPHIE and PETER come into the house.

MARGARET (CONT'D) David's in the sitting room. Shall I make us all some tea?

PETER That would be lovely, mum. Are you okay with tea, Sophie?

SOPHIE Yes, I'd love a cup.

MARGARET I'll go and make some then.

MARGARET goes into the kitchen. SOPHIE and PETER go into the sitting room where DAVID is dozing in an armchair. SOPHIE sits down on a sofa and PETER goes over to his dad and shakes his arm gently. DAVID wakes up.

PETER Hello, dad. Are you having your afternoon nap?

DAVID I must have dropped off. I was watching cricket on the TV earlier on. That's enough to make anyone fall asleep.

PETER Listen, dad. I want a word with you. How do you fancy getting back into business?

DAVID sits up, wide awake.

DAVID What have you got in mind?

PETER Come in the other room and I'll tell you. Mother won't be involved in this, but it'll allow you to look after her properly again.

DAVID gets up.

DAVID That's what I want more than anything.

PETER I know, dad. By the way, where's this self-storage space where you're keeping all the stuff from our old home?

DAVID Why do you want to know?

PETER Trust me and tell me. I'll be doing the clever stuff from now on.

DAVID I hope you know what you're doing. It's the one off Oldfields Road.

PETER I know it. How do I get at our stuff?

DAVID There's a code to get in and out of the building.

DAVID takes a rather empty wallet out of one of his pockets. There's a piece of paper in it. He takes it out and hands it to PETER.

DAVID (CONT'D) And there's a key for getting into the room where all our stuff is stored.

DAVID takes a key out of a pocket and gives it to PETER.

PETER Thanks. Come on, dad. Let's go into the other room and I'll tell you what I'm planning on doing business-wise. Then you can tell me whether you want the role in it I've got in mind for you.

PETER and DAVID go into the back room, shutting the door behind them. MARGARET comes into the sitting room with two cups of tea, which she puts down on a low table in front of the sofa where SOPHIE is sitting.

MARGARET The men have disappeared to talk about something, I see.

SOPHIE Yes, Mrs. Patter. And it might just get you and Mr. Patter out of this terrible place.

MARGARET I do hope so, my dear. I do hope so. David is being very stoic, but this is the worst experience of our lives, living in this grim hovel, surrounded by people who are little better than animals.

SOPHIE Peter's going to do his best to get you back to where you and Mr. Patter belong, Mrs. Patter.

MARGARET In that case I hope he succeeds.

INT. THE DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL OUTSOURCING - DAY

Simon Gray's office. SIMON GRAY, the Director of the Department, is sitting on the Chesterfield sofa with PETER. They are drinking red wine.

SIMON What do think of this Barolo wine, Peter? I find it pleasingly robust.

PETER It has a strong character. Powerful, but without being over-powering.

SIMON Good description, Peter. Now, we need to get things moving with that idea of yours that we discussed at Sir Nevile's place. Sir Nevile, of course,as the Minister responsible for your department, is giving me permission to authorize your department being outsourced. Naturally there are some conditions to be met, so my own written permission has at this stage to be dependent on those conditions being met and certain information provided. You appreciate, don't you Peter, that I have to cover my back by making everything look regular and above board?

PETER Of course, Simon. That's only sensible.

SIMON I presume you've set up a company to handle this.

PETER Yes. It's called Public Sector Inspectors Incorporated.

SIMON Sounds good. Very appropriate.

PETER My mother, father, Sophie and I are directors. Sophie and I are the shareholders.

SIMON And as you suggested at Sir Nevile's, there's going to be a role for me in the business?

PETER Yes. You'll be a consultant and get remuneration for that.

SIMON Excellent. You've opened a bank account?

PETER Yes.

SIMON Of course you have to prove you have adequate financing in place, but as I understand it, Jeffrey Coller will be dealing with that.

PETER Yes, I'm seeing him tomorrow to finalise all that.

SIMON Then the other things you need to show you've dealt with are what happens to existing staff of the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction. Then you'll need to state in writing the service you'll be providing for the government through your new company and what you will be charging the government for that service, which will of course be identical to what is being done by your department now. Whatever you charge, I'll see to it that it gets approved, so you may as well make it higher rather than lower.

PETER I'll get all that dealt with right away.

SIMON Excellent. In that case we might as well savour our wine, and then I'll get on with drawing up some preliminary paperwork.

INT. DEPARTMENT OF GRANTS. JEFFREY COLLER'S OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY is sitting at his desk. PETER is sitting opposite him.

JEFFREY So you've been to see Simon Gray then, Peter?

PETER Yes.

JEFFREY Everything went alright?

PETER Fine. Subject to sorting out the paperwork and the money, Simon has agreed that the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction can be outsourced to my new company.

JEFFREY Yes, the money. That's what we must sort out. Your department isn't a big one, but it still costs many millions a year to run. You're going need several million just to get you started. Fortunately that shouldn't be a problem. It's good that I got promoted to be Director of this department, the Department of Grants. I have access to, and power of discretion over, much more money than we need for this project. Have you any idea how much you need?

PETER produces some papers and puts them on the desk in front of JEFFREY.

PETER There's a business plan and cash flow forecast I did with the help of my dad.

PETER reaches over and points at a figure on one of the pieces of paper.

PETER (CONT'D) That's the figure we reckon we need to get us up and running and to trade for a few months before the money starts coming in regularly from the government for our service.

JEFFREY I think we can stretch to that. It's quite a few millions, but not too many. In fact, Peter, I'll add another three million to that figure. I'm sure you'll want to make some sort of payment to the people who are helping you to become a very rich young man.

PETER I was thinking some suitably generous amounts of money to you and Sir Nevile and Simon Gray for making this all possible would be in order.

JEFFREY Thank you. Does Simon want to see the money now?

PETER No. He wants a letter confirming that the grant money will definitely be forthcoming if he signs off the authorization for the department to be outsourced.

JEFFREY Right, I'll get that seen to now.

PETER There is just one other thing I wanted to have a word with you about, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY What is it?

PETER I'm still worried about Helga Sprott's potential for causing trouble over the Issie affair. You know. Issie getting a public sector salary even though she's never done any work in the public sector. With things looking so good and lucrative for us all now, I'd hate anything to sour the situation.

JEFFREY Yes, we must find a way of neutralizing Helga. Let me get this letter sorted out, and then we'll try to work out what we're going to do about Helga.

INT. THE DEPARTMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL OUTSOURCING - DAY

Simon Gray's office. SIMON GRAY is sitting at his desk dealing with paper work. PETER comes in with a thick folder in his hand. SIMON looks up.

SIMON Hello, Peter. Take a seat. I'll be with you in a moment.

PETER sits down at the desk opposite SIMON, who signs a couple of papers and puts the paperwork to one side.

SIMON (CONT'D) And how is your paperwork coming along, Peter? Did you get written confirmation from Jeffrey that his department would grant us, I mean you, all the money you need for this business idea of yours to fly?

PETER I certainly did.

PETER puts down his folder on the desk in front of SIMON.

PETER (CONT'D) I think you'll find everything in order. There's everything under the sun in there. Business plans. Cash flows. Specifications for the service to be provided. You name it, it should be in there.

SIMON picks up the folder.

SIMON Excellent. If it is all in order, there will only be one extra lot of paperwork that needs to go in there.

PETER What's that.

SIMON picks up the paperwork he was dealing with PETER came in.

SIMON This is Sir Nevile Grevile's written permission for your department to be outsourced to your company subject to all necessary conditions being satisfactorily met.

PETER That's wonderful. We're all set to go then. Although I suppose you'll need to check through my paperwork first.

SIMON Yes. So let's go and combine business with pleasure and have lunch at a madly expensive restaurant, charging it to the taxpayer of course, and while we eat and drink and chat I'll cast my eye over all these papers.

PETER Sounds good to me.

SIMON stands up, and so does PETER. SIMON makes sure he has the folder and the other paperwork from the desk.

SIMON Let's go.

SIMON lets PETER precede him out of the office.

LATER

SIMON and PETER walk back into the office. They walk over to Simon's desk. SIMON is holding Peter's folder in his hand.

SIMON That was a satisfying lunch in every way.

SIMON and PETER sit down on their respective sides of the desk. SIMON puts the folder down on the desk.

SIMON (CONT'D) All the paperwork I need to authorize the outsourcing is there in this folder. It is all correct. It all meets the requirements of the government and my department to let it go through with the full seal of approval. So all I need to do now is sign the official authorization. Can you wait a couple of minutes while I deal with that?

PETER I certainly can. With pleasure.

SIMON And then for you I suppose it's back to Jeffrey to collect the money.

PETER Yes.

SIMON You'll be on the way to becoming a very rich man, Peter.

PETER We'll all end up quite a lot richer, Simon.

SIMON Indeed we will, Peter. Indeed we will.

SIMON puts his elbows on his desk, leans forward and rests his chin on his raised, folded hands.

SIMON There is just one thing that still mildly concerns me.

PETER What's that?

SIMON The Helga problem. Or perhaps I should call it the Isabel Grevile problem. There's no mention of Helga Sprott in here. I don't want Sir Nevile or Jeffrey, or Sir Nevile's daughter Issie for that matter, to still end up getting into trouble in any way after everyone's been set up so nicely in this new and lucrative business of yours.

PETER Don't worry, Simon. Jeffrey and I have come up with a way to … (beat) … neutralize Helga. She won't be causing any of us any problems.

SIMON leans back.

SIMON Excellent. I absolutely take your word for it. So let's get all this paperwork signed off. You can get your money from Jeffrey. Then it's up to you and everyone else involved to see to it that the current activities of the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction are satisfactorily transferred into the no doubt capable hands of Public Sector Inspectors Incorporated.

INT. DEPARTMENT OF GRANTS. JEFFREY COLLER'S OFFICE - DAY

JEFFREY is sitting at his desk. PETER is sitting opposite him. On the desk is the file from the previous scene.

JEFFREY So, it's all approved?

PETER All that remains to be dealt with is transferring the approved grant money and then getting on with everything that's involved in outsourcing the department to my company.

JEFFREY As far as the money is concerned, everything these days is done online. Just point out your company's bank details to me in this folder.

PETER picks up the folder from the desk, flicks through the papers in it, then holds the folder up so JEFFREY can see a particular page in it. PETER points at a particular part of the page.

PETER Here they are.

JEFFREY Hold the folder there while I just make the transfer.

JEFFREY busies himself with a computer on his desk for some time. Then he stops.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Okay, you can put the folder down now. The money's been transferred to your company bank account. It might take a short while to go through, but otherwise you're now a multi-millionaire.

PETER Most gratifying. Thank you very much for that, Jeffrey. Remember that some of that money will be coming back to you, and Simon and Sir Nevile too, as an expression of my gratitude.

JEFFREY Did you have any particular figure in mind for us?

PETER Well, there are three of you, and you did add three million onto the grant I was asking for, which I'd already inflated anyway to meet my own particular needs, so I thought I'd give each of you a million.

JEFFREY I was hoping you'd take the hint.

PETER Of course the three of you will also be employed as consultants by Public Sector Inspectors Incorporated at very generous salaries.

JEFFREY As you yourself said, Peter, that's most gratifying. Thank you very much for that.

PETER Now there's just Issie to be dealt with, and Helga Sprott.

JEFFREY I'm out of the Helga Sprott situation now. That's for you and Sir Nevile to deal with. But let's get Issie dealt with. As you mentioned, she supposedly, if not in reality, works in my department here, having transferred here from your department, which was of course my old department. I therefore have a certain amount of power over her, to do good or bad, just as Helga did with you, and indeed as she did with your friend Nick Jenks. By the way, will Nick have any role in your new business?

PETER I'll be finding him a position.

JEFFREY Good. I always thought him a nice young man, and in his own way as competent and efficient as Helga. But getting back to Sir Nevile's daughter Issie. You suggested that just as Helga did with you, albeit reluctantly, I should pension Issie off on a maximum pension and give her a nice lump sum as well. I think, as I said, that that is a good idea asit would provide her with the financial freedom and life of leisure she craves, and has indeed got used to.

PETER And as I myself could now afford if didn't want to work or be involved in business.

JEFFREY Yes. You know, I sometimes think I should pension myself off, but I rather enjoy working.

JEFFREY smiles complicity at PETER.

JEFFREY (CONT'D) Especially as I now have at my disposal, as you have just seen, rather large amounts of money by almost anyone's standards. But again let's get back to Issie. I agree with you that I should pension her off in the most generous way from the public sector she has never actually worked in, so that is what I shall do.

PETER She'll be delighted. I guess she'll be notified by this department or by the public sector pension department in writing, just as I was.

JEFFREY Yes, both. I have to speak to the right people, grease some palms and doctor some details on the computer system, then everything will appear above board and will be put in writing. But you can tell her yourself what we've decided to do as well if you want to. I shall let Sir Nevile what's happening next time I speak to him.

PETER So that just leaves Sir Nevile and me to deal with Helga Sprott.

JEFFREY I'm sure the two of you will manage it admirably, Peter.

PETER Yes, I'm sure we will.

PETER gets to his feet.

PETER (CONT'D) Right. There's work to be done. Things to be made happen.

PETER turns and walks to the door of the office.

PETER (CONT'D) Thanks for everything, Jeffrey. You're really the one responsible for turning my life around. (beat) Let me know how you want your million paid to you. I'll ask Simon Gray and Sir Nevile how they want their.

PETER opens the office door and leaves.

EXT. DAVID & MARGARET'S COUNCIL HOUSE - DAY

MARGARET opens the front door. PETER and SOPHIE are standing there.

MARGARET Hello, dears. This is a surprise. Why didn't you phone to say you were coming?

PETER Because then it wouldn't be a surprise, would it, mum? I presume dad's in.

MARGARET Yes, we were just playing Monopoly together. He's building up a property empire and trying to bankrupt me.

PETER Good man. Can you bring him to the front door?

MARGARET Aren't you coming in?

PETER No. You and dad are coming out. Sophie and I have something to show you.

MARGARET Shouldn't I go and get changed?

PETER No. Go on, mum. Just go and fetch dad. Both of you put some shoes on instead of slippers, but otherwise just stay wearing what you're wearing.

MARGARET disappears into the house. A few seconds later she comes back with DAVID.

DAVID Hello, you two.

SOPHIE Hello, Mr. Patter.

DAVID What's going on then, Peter? Is this connected with our new business, or rather your new business of which I'm going to be a part?

PETER Not directly. This is something else.

DAVID looks behind PETER and SOPHIE. There is a black Mercedes like the one Peter used to have.

DAVID (CONT'D) Have you got your old public sector set of wheels back? How did you manage that?

PETER No, I've bought that car, but I liked the one they lent me so much that I just decided to get a similar model. Come on, you two. We're going for a ride in it.

DAVID You could have given us some notice, Peter.

PETER Bear with me, dad. I haven't come over here just to surprise you and mum with my car. There's a bigger surprise for both of you at the end of our ride. Come on.

DAVID and MARGARET leave the house, shutting the door behind them, and they and PETER and SOPHIE go to the car.

EXT. THE PATTERS' OLD FAMILY HOME - DAY

Peter's car pulls up outside the house. PETER, SOPHIE, DAVID and MARGARET get out. They stand looking at the house. Then PETER hands DAVID some keys.

PETER Here, dad. Take these.

DAVID What's going on?

PETER They're the keys to our family home. You'll need them so you and mum can get in and out and come and go.

DAVID This isn't a good joke, Peter. This isn't your mum's and my house any more. It's the bank's. I told you when we were coming down the drive that we shouldn't be on this property. Let's go.

PETER Yes, let's go in the house. And it isn't the bank's. It's mine. I bought it off the bank. Luckily they hadn't been able to find another buyer for it since they repossessed it. Come on.

PETER takes SOPHIE'S hand and the couple start walking towards the front door. DAVID and MARGARET hold hands and follow.

PETER turns and says over his shoulder …

PETER Oh, I forgot to mention. Sophie and I are getting married. I thought all four of us could live here.

PETER faces forward and he and SOPHIE keep walking on. DAVID and MARGARET stop briefly, look at each other, and smile, and then continue walking.

INT. THE PATTERS' OLD FAMILY HOME - DAY

The front door is opened by DAVID. He and MARGARET enter and walk into the hallway followed by PETER and SOPHIE. The hallway looks exactly the same as it did originally and has the same furnishings. The four of them stand there. DAVID and MARGARET gaze around almost in disbelief. PETER and SOPHIE smile at each other.

DAVID I never thought I'd be standing here again. Did you, Margaret, dear?

MARGARET No, David, darling. And it looks just the way it did.

DAVID and MARGARET turn to PETER and SOPHIE. MARGARET goes up to SOPHIE and gives her a big hug.

MARGARET So you and Peter are getting married at last?

SOPHIE Yes, Mrs. Patter.

MARGARET I'm so pleased. It's something I've wanted to hear for a long time.

DAVID Yes, and me too. Congratulations to you both. And what a start to married life! I wish our first home together had been like this, Margaret.

MARGARET Me too.

DAVID comes and joins MARGARET next to PETER and SOPHIE.

DAVID (to PETER) And it was some of the grant money you got for the business that you used to buy this? And your car as well?

PETER Yes.

DAVID So basically you've got this for free? I mean you've got it with other people's money that you won't have to pay back no matter what happens. And nobody's got a charge over this place, so it's a hundred percent yours. Very clever. I wish I could have pulled off deals like that.

PETER I'm sure you could, dad, if in your day the government had been handing out taxpayers' money and borrowed money like it does now. But this place has to be earned, even if it hasn't necessarily been deserved. Come on. Let's go in my study and start pulling everything together to transfer the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction to our new family business.

PETER heads towards what was his dad's old study. DAVID looks taken aback. He glances at MARGARET, but she just smiles and nods her head. DAVID follows PETER towards the study. PETER turns to SOPHIE.

PETER Oh, by the way, Sophie, darling, I've arranged to go out with Nick tomorrow night for a drink. Are you coming?

SOPHIE Yes, I'd love to.

PETER Good. Nick's got a girlfriend he's bringing along, so that'll make us two couples instead of me playing gooseberry.

PETER continues into the study, followed by DAVID. MARGARET turns to SOPHIE and takes her hand.

MARGARET Is there anything in the kitchen, dear?

SOPHIE Yes, Peter and I have stocked it up.

MARGARET Good. Let's go and make some tea. Then we can put a meal together for the men and us.

SOPHIE Okay, Mrs. Patter. That sounds good.

MARGARET You'll soon be Mrs. Patter too. Perhaps you should call me Margaret from now on.

SOPHIE I will, if that's what you want, Margaret.

MARGARET I do.

SOPHIE (laughs) That what I shall be saying to Peter soon.

SOPHIE and MARGARET head in the direction of the kitchen.

INT. WINE BAR - NIGHT

SOPHIE and PETER are sitting at a table with a glass of wine each.

SOPHIE I'm looking forward to seeing what Nick's girlfriend is like.

PETER I think you'll recognize her. Here they come.

NICK and ISSIE approach.

ISSIE Peter. Issie. Great to see you.

ISSIE kisses SOPHIE then PETER.

NICK Hi, Peter. Sophie. Do you want more drinks?

PETER I'm OK.

SOPHIE Me too.

NICK OK. I'll go and get Issie and me something to drink.

ISSIE No, darling. You sit down. I'll get us some drinks. Wine?

NICK Please.

ISSIE goes off to get drinks. NICK sits down opposite PETER and SOPHIE.

NICK (CONT'D) Wedding date fixed yet?

SOPHIE We're just debating where to have the wedding and what sort of ceremony to have. Then we'll sort out the date. Don't worry. You'll be invited. And Issie too, by the look of it. You two hooked up pretty quickly.

NICK She's got a pretty captivating character. I think she's the one for me. We're talking about settling down together.

PETER Good on you, Nick.

SOPHIE Go for it.

NICK I think we will. (to PETER) How are preparations going for transferring the department to the business?

PETER Pretty much all the arrangements are in place. Just one or two things left to see to. We want the transfer to go through as smoothly as possible.

NICK Of course. By the way, I told Issie you wanted to tell her something important.

SOPHIE (to PETER) Oh yes. What's that.

PETER You're just about to hear.

ISSIE approaches the table carrying two glasses of wine. She sits down next to NICK and puts the glasses down on the table.

ISSIE (to PETER) So what's this important stuff you want to tell me, Peter?

PETER You know your job in Jeffrey Coller's department?

ISSIE (laughs) Is that the job that involves me not doing anything and never turning up? Yes, I know it.

PETER You aren't going to be having that job much longer?

ISSIE What? But I need the money. What am I going to live on?

NICK We'll have my income, darling. (to PETER) I am still going to be a Public Sector Inspector in the new company, aren't I, Peter?

PETER I'm afraid not, Nick.

SOPHIE (to PETER) Oh, Peter! How could you? You said Nick could have a position in the company.

NICK No, Sophie, it's alright. I guess I deserve it. After all I did try to make Peter lose his job in the expectation that I would take it over.

PETER (to SOPHIE) Nick does have a position in the new company. (to NICK) You're going to be the company's Public Sector Inspector Inspector. You'll be checking that all our Public Sector Inspectors are doing their job properly. You'll be earning three times as much as they do. Okay?

NICK Okay? That's brilliant, Peter. (to ISSIE) So we're going to be alright for money, Issie, darling.

ISSIE Yes. But I've got so used to having my own money. I'd still like to have some sort of income of my own.

PETER (to ISSIE) I forgot to tell you, Issie. Jeffrey is arranging things so that when your job in the public sector finishes in a few weeks' time, you'll be getting a lifelong, inflation-proofed pension equal to half your current salary, plus a tax-free lump sum equivalent to three years pension.

ISSIE That's brilliant.

ISSIE turns and hugs and kisses NICK

ISSIE (CONT'D) (to NICK) Let's start house-hunting. We'd better play safe and look for something that might be suitable as a family home. Just in case. (to PETER) I'm not going to get in trouble for all the money I've had out of the public sector and all the money I'm going to get, am I, Peter? That woman who became head of your department after Jeffrey was promoted …

PETER … Helga. Helga Sprott.

ISSIE What a name! She's not going to spoil everything for me, is she? And for daddy and Jeffrey too?

PETER No. Don't worry, Issie. We know how to deal with her. It's the old carrot and stick.

ISSIE What?

PETER (laughs) Never you mind. Just leave us to deal with her. You're safe in your good fortune.

PETER stands up.

PETER (CONT'D) Now, I think a bottle of Champagne might be in order, and it'll be on me.

INT. HELGA'S OFFICE -DAY

HELGA is sitting upright at her desk, looking across it. On the other side of the desk, seated, are SIR NEVILE, JEFFREY, SIMON, PETER and NICK.

SIR NEVILE You've called all the staff together, have you, Helga?

HELGA Yes, Sir Nevile, just as you asked. (pause) May I ask what this announcement is going to be about?

SIR NEVILE Of course you may. This department, the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction, is being outsourced. (to SIMON) Isn't it, Simon? (to HELGA) You know Simon, don't you, Helga? He's the Director of the Department of Departmental Outsourcing.

HELGA Yes, I've met Simon a few times over the years when I've inspected Simon's department.

SIMON Your department is indeed being outsourced, Helga. You know how keen the government is these days on outsourcing. It's all about efficiency and cost reduction. So really it's quite appropriate this department should be outsourced. It also has the advantage of taking employees off the government's books, so it makes the State look as though it's employing fewer people than it really is. Everything has been agreed and authorized, and the transfer will go ahead in a matter of days to a company run by Peter here.

HELGA What? You must be joking. He worked here for a few weeks, and now he's taking over the running of the department and he's going to own it

SIMON Peter is a very clever and able young man. Also his father is a very experienced businessman and he will be involved in the managing of the company. Plus you have to bear in mind that the existing staff, with their wealth of experience and ability, are being retained by Peter's company. (to PETER) Is that no so, Peter?

PETER All the Inspectors are being retained.

HELGA All the Inspectors? And what about me?

PETER With my father being Managing Director and overseeing operations, it's difficult to see what need there would be for a Head of Department. Indeed there will be no 'department'. There is only the company.

HELGA (to SIR NEVILE) If you think you can push me out of my secure employment in the public sector that easily, Sir Nevile, you are very much mistaken, I know all about your daughter and her fictitious employment in this department.

SIR NEVILE I know you do, Helga.

HELGA I'm going to take that information to the very top. It'll cause such a scandal that it'll ruin your career. (to JEFFREY) And yours too, Jeffrey.

JEFFREY I think not, Helga.

HELGA What?

SIR NEVILE You see, Helga, your record is not entirely unblemished.

HELGA There's nothing I've ever done wrong.

SIR NEVILE Perhaps you can explain then why you authorized Peter here - someone who had only worked in the public sector for a matter of weeks - to receive a pension and payoff that only someone who has worked in the public sector for thirty years is entitled to receive.

Silence.

HELGA I was pressured by the head of Peter's union, Nigel Dudley-Farker, to do that.

SIR NEVILE Really, Helga! Fancy trying to drag other respectable people into your tawdry allegations. Are you saying you have it in writing that Nigel forced you break public sector rules?

HELGA Not in writing, no. But I can phone him and …

SIR NEVILE (interrupts) And you imagine that he will back up your allegation against him? Where are your brains this morning, Helga?

Silence.

HELGA It simply isn't fair that you're taking my job away from me. This department has been my whole life.

SIR NEVILE But who said you're going to be without a job? And who said this department will be taken away from you? (to PETER) Peter.

PETER (to HELGA) My company would conditionally like to offer you the position of Chief Administrative Officer at a salary twenty percent greater than you are currently receiving here. Your duties would be to organize the company's Public Sector Inspectors and oversee all aspects of their activities. You would report directly to my father.

HELGA But that is a conditional offer? What is the condition?

PETER (to SIR NEVILE) Sir Nevile.

SIR NEVILE (to HELGA) Actually, Helga, there are three conditions, but I think you'll find them all to your liking.

HELGA I'm listening.

SIR NEVILE You may be wondering why Nick Jenks is here. You remember you sacked him, Helga?

HELGA (to NICK) I'm sorry about that, Nick. That was mean-spirited of me. If you gave me information I could use to get rid of Peter here, I said I'd give you the job of …

NICK (interrupts) … Public Sector Inspector Inspector. Don't worry, Helga, because that's the position I now hold in Peter's company.

SIR NEVILE The first condition then, Helga, is that you have no objection to Nick holding that post.

NICK I would be reporting directly to you, Helga on how well the company's Public Sector Inspectors were carrying out their work

HELGA I don't object at all. In fact I now see it would be quite useful to have someone doing that. It would free me up to focus on getting the right Inspectors to inspect the right departments at the right times and then deal in an appropriate way with the reports that they produce.

SIR NEVILE Good. So that's the first condition met. The second condition is this. You're not entitled to the maximum public sector pension and payoff yet. You've been here a long time, but not long enough for that. However, I want you to accept a pension and payoff that you would only normally be entitled to if you had worked in the public sector for thirty years. I can make that happen.

HELGA That seems a strangely generous condition. Yet it would be illegal.

SIR NEVILE No more illegal than you authorizing Peter to have such a pension after he'd worked here for only a matter of weeks. Perhaps when you hear the third condition you will understand why we want you to agree to the second one.

HELGA And the third condition is ..?

SIR NEVILE … that you never reveal that my daughter was for years paid by the public sector even though she never did anything or even turned up.

HELGA How does that connect with the second condition?

SIR NEVILE You are already complicit in unlawfully diverting public sector to another person, namely Peter. If you accept a public sector pension you are not entitled to, you are also complicit in unlawfully diverting public sector money to yourself. (pause) The knowledge that both those things could be revealed will doubly bind you to keeping your word on the second condition.

Silence

HELGA I accept all three conditions. (to PETER) I look forward to working for your company, Peter. (to NICK) And I look forward to working with you again, Nick.

SIR NEVILE Excellent.

SIR NEVILE stands up.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) Let's go and tell the assembled inspectors about the change in their employment that awaits them. Lead the way, Helga.

HELGA, JEFFREY, SIMON, PETER and NICK stand up, and HELGA leads the men out of the room, the men looking pleased.

EXT. THE PATTERS' FAMILY HOME - DAY

On a lawn near the back of the house, a large table is laid out with excellent food and chilled bottles of Champagne and jugs of water and of fruit juice on it. PETER, SOPHIE, DAVID, MARGARET, and HELGA form a little circle. Nearby, JEFFREY, SIMON and SIR NEVILE are talking together. All have glasses of Champagne in their hands, except Sophie who has a glass of juice.

PETER (to HELGA) So the company structure is that Sophie and I own the company. Sophie and my mother Margaret here are nominally directors, but they play no active part in the running of the company. Then you know my dad David here is the managing director because you report to him. He oversees the day to day running of the company. But I'm also a director. I take a hands-off role, but dad liaises with me and keeps me informed of how things are going. However, I also keep an independent eye on the company's finances. After all, it is my company.

PETER looks at SOPHIE

PETER (CONT'D) Or rather, our company.

HELGA And I'll keep reporting solely to David, not to you?

PETER That's right. But both of us will be keeping a close eye on the company's financial affairs. Making sure that we get the money due to us from the government. That sort of thing.

PETER looks at the expensive watch on his wrist.

PETER (CONT'D) I wonder where Nick and Issie are. They should be here by now.

HELGA Here they come.

NICK and ISSIE are walking across the lawn. They join Peter's group.

NICK Sorry we're late, Peter. Sophie. Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Patter. Hi, Helga. We didn't realize what the time was. We were celebrating a bit of good news. Issie's pregnant.

SOPHIE No way! Peter and I were just going to announce the same good news.

MARGARET Well, you kept quiet about that, Sophie, dear.

DAVID That is good news.

ISSIE gives SOPHIE a big hug.

ISSIE I'm so pleased for you.

SOPHIE And I'm really pleased for you too, Sophie.

HELGA Congratulations to you both.

SIR NEVILE comes over, followed by SIMON and JEFFREY.

SIR NEVILE Did I hear anything that should remotely concern me? (to HELGA) This, by the way …

SIR NEVILE indicates ISSIE.

SIR NEVILE (CONT'D) … is my daughter, Issie. Or Isabel if you prefer. I'm surprised you didn't recognize her. She worked in your department in the public sector for several years.

HELGA (laughs) So this is the elusive Miss Isabel Grevile. As I remember, you always took a lot of time off work. A great deal of time in fact. But it's lovely to meet you at last.

HELGA gives ISSIE a hug.

ISSIE I'm not going to be Miss Isabel Grevile for much longer. I'm going to be Mrs …

NICK (interrupts) Let's try to do this properly, Issie. (to SIR NEVILE) Sir Nevile, I would like to ask you for your daughter's hand in marriage.

SIR NEVILE So you've got my daughter pregnant, and it's only now you're telling me you want to marry her? (sighs) Never used to be like that in my day. Alright, actually it happened quite a lot. You have my blessing, Nick. I couldn't wish for a nicer son-in-law.

SIR NEVILE shakes hands with NICK.

PETER Of course you all know Sophie and I are getting married, and now you know Sophie's also pregnant. (to NICK and ISSIE) Let's make it three things we have in common. Let's have a joint wedding ceremony.

ISSIE I like that idea.

NICK Me too.

PETER Sophie and I have booked the local church for three weeks time. I could have a word with the vicar and say all four of us want to have our two wedding ceremonies together.

NICK Let's go for it.

ISSIE It's a great idea. (to SIR NEVILE) Dad. (beat) Do you approve? Will you come to my wedding?

SIR NEVILE You don't need my approval, Issie. But if you want it, you've got it. And wild horses couldn't keep me from your wedding. It will be one of the proudest days of my life. The proudest in fact.

ISSIE comes over and gives SIR NEVILE a big hug.

PETER Everyone, top up your glasses of Champagne. I want to propose a toast to us.

EVERYONE goes to the table. NICK pours himself a glass of Champagne. ISSIE pours herself a fruit juice and then SOPHIE tops up her glass of juice. Everyone else tops up their glasses of Champagne.

ISSIE (to SOPHIE) I thought a few months without alcohol might be a good idea.

SOPHIE (to ISSIE) That's just what I thought.

PETER moves a short distance away from the group. EVERYONE ELSE turns to face him. PETER addresses the group.

PETER Weddings. Children on the way. If those aren't things to celebrate, I don't know what is.

Murmur of approval.

PETER (CONT'D) But also we have a new company that is successfully up and running and providing for all of us. (beat) And for those yet to be born.

Mild laughter.

PETER (CONT'D) And all courtesy of the generosity of the government.

Laughter.

PETER (CONT'D) The transfer of the Department Of Government And Public Sector Efficiency And Cost Reduction over to our company, Public Sector Inspectors Incorporated, went through without a hitch.

ISSIE Our company? Don't forget that there's one person here - only one - who isn't part of the company.

PETER I'm sure we can put that right. I had an idea of something to give you as a wedding present. It's an imaginary part-time job with the company. It doesn't pay hugely well, but it has this advantage. (beat) You don't have to do anything and you don't have to turn up for work.

EVERYONE laughs. PETER raises his glass. EVERYONE ELSE raises theirs.

PETER (CONT'D) I think we have a lot to be grateful for. All courtesy of the public sector, channelling to us the taxes that the private sector pays and the government debt that the private sector is responsible for trying to pay off. Long may it continue like that, for our personal and financial success and satisfaction depends on it. The toast I propose therefore is this. To us, at the expense of others.

EVERYONE To us, at the expense of others.

SOPHIE, DAVID, MARGARET, NICK, ISSIE and HELGA begin to mingle and chat. SIR NEVILE, JEFFREY and SIMON come over to PETER.

SIR NEVILE (to PETER) Peter, we just wanted to say thanks for getting that money transferred to us.

JEFFREY A million each. A nice tidy sum.

SIMON Took a while to get some foreign bank accounts sorted out, but at least it keeps the money out of the hands of the tax man.

PETER There's no point paying taxes to the government. They'd only squander the money.

SIR NEVILE Too true. Listen, Peter. This outsourcing of a public sector department to your company has worked out pretty well. Give it a few more months just to prove the business can keep doing a good job, then we have an idea.

JEFFREY We could find another department to outsource to you.

SIMON I'm sure I'd be able to approve it.

JEFFREY And I'd be able to offer you financial assistance. In the form of non-repayable grants, of course.

SIR NEVILE What do you say, Peter?

PETER I think that's a very good idea, gentlemen. A very good idea indeed. After all, we must do everything we can to help the government spend other people's money wisely, mustn't we? Let's go and join the others.

PETER, SIR NEVILE, JEFFREY and SIMON go to join THE OTHERS.

FADE OUT.

THE END


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