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Duty Free - 'A Play for Europe': Script Excerpt

Rich grew up in Folkestone and never quite accepted his parents' excuse ('the war') for leaving him alone and coming back from Flushing in Holland with his seemingly favoured brother Joe. When Joe takes after his father and begins coming back from 'over there' with unexplained bottles of brandy and French luxury goods, Rich's response is to join the Volunteers protecting Britain's coasts from the foreign invader Napoleon. No wonder that the mysterious Neal sees him as likely recruit for British intelligence in Flushing, spying on, amongst other, his own brother; a connection which comes in handy when, after the war, the latter is caught red-handed at his old trade.

Duty Free by Steve Gooch scene

Rich: We're not like the Masons -- whatever anyone says. Everything's above board.

Neal: Except it's illegal. (Rich is shocked) It's looked on the same as keeping a private army.

Rich: But we're just ... patriotic.

Neal: I only point it out.

Rich: Since when were you an expert on the law?

Neal: I took articles last year. Surely I told you? Dad said it's be more use than Cambridge. One day, no doubt.

Rich: Why we had to be disbanded I don't know, the threat's still there.

Neal: The trouble with war is, it's tso terribly expensive. Far better the Austrians hold the front line, or the Prussians ... someone else, anyway. Your brother never joined up, I suppose?

Rich: My family has long tradition of avoiding conscription. -- Well, the press-gangs anyway.

Neal: So your patriotism is something of an exception?

Rich: I don't know what they would fight against. Drying out the Channel?

Neal: D'you go over much yourself?

Rich: As little as possible.

Neal: You now they're taking on people for the Customs.

Rich: Really? (Tempted at first, he realises the familial implicatons) No, I couldn't.

Neal: Well there's always the Post Office. Not all the mail that comes over is harmles these days. Sifitng it through is an important job.

Rich: Opening people's letters? No thank-you.

Neal: A bit sordid, I grant you.

Rich: The thing with the Volunteers was, you felt you were making a different. Especially with the uniform and everything ...

Neal: Of course in certain situations a uniform could be a positive disadvantage.

Rich: What d'you mean?

Neal: It sort of announces your presence. The front line isn't always what's most important. Or successful. The Grand old Duke of York scuttling out of Dunkirk, and all that.

Rich: That was just bad luck.

Neal: Still, someone who had a very good reason to be over there, but is actually over there for quite a different reason could make a substantial contribution, wouldn't you say?

(Pause)

Rich: We're not talking about my brother any more, are we.

Neal: No we're not. The Home Secretary's quite choosy about who does this kind of work, you know ...

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