Preston Dirges and the Lust for Audit

Blue City Sunset


Preston walks, flanked by Valerie and Gordon. Music starts: “Lust for Life” by Iggy Pop.

Thimbleby looks up from the files, finishes the last bite of his sandwich, and brushes the crumbs off his suit jacket.

The camera zooms into Preston’s eyes, then Thimbleby’s eyes, then Valerie’s eyes, then Gordon’s eyes, one of which he rubs with a finger.

Thimbleby pulls out a blank audit checklist. He clicks the end of his pen.

Gordon draws diagrams and equations on the whiteboard and explains them to Thimbleby.

Valerie tries to lift a box of lever arch files, but cannot.

Ticks are placed in the boxes of a checklist.

Thimbleby removes his spectacles, breathes on them, and wipes them clean.

Valerie wipes beads of perspiration from her forehead.

Gordon draws more diagrams and equations on the whiteboard.

Thimbleby puts his spectacles back on, then perches them on the end of his nose, looking over them and practising a hard stare. Then he pushes them back up the bridge of his nose.

Sweat trickles down Gordon’s forehead.

Valerie uses a calculator.

Thimbleby takes off his spectacles with a dramatic sweeping gesture. He puts one arm in his mouth, and bites on it.

Valerie tries to lift the box of files again. She gives up and crouches down to push the box along the floor.

Gordon steps from the whiteboard and flops into a chair that Valerie has pulled over for him. Preston puts a white towel around Gordon’s neck and rubs his shoulders. Valerie holds a wastepaper bin; Gordon spits into it. Preston slaps Gordon on the shoulders. Gordon stands up, stretches his neck from side to side, then returns to the whiteboard.

Preston holds 5 invoices, fanned out and face down. Thimbleby picks one, like picking a card. He holds it in two hands, and shows it to everyone.

Valerie sits on the ground with her back to the box of files. She pushes it along whilst shuffling her bottom.

Preston joins Gordon and adds to the whiteboard diagram.

Crosses are placed in the boxes of a checklist.

Sweat pours down Preston’s face.

Valerie completes her calculator sums. She turns around the calculator, revealing the word ‘boobless’ on the display, to the hilarity of everyone but Thimbleby.

Preston staples a thick pile of papers. The staple does not go in properly; he pulls it out and tries again. This happens a second time. Preston grips the papers and forces the staple through. When he tries to put the papers down, they are stapled to his finger.

Valerie is on all fours, trying to push the box of files with her head. Gordon and Preston pick up several files from within the box, then pick up Valerie too.

Thimbleby sweats profusely, mopping it with a handkerchief. Then he rings out the handkerchief.

Valerie joins Gordon and Preston at the whiteboard, turning the diagrams into the picture of a smiling face.

A cross is placed in the final box in the checklist.

Thimbleby shuts his audit file, with the sound of a coffin lid closing. He walks away, leaving the others shellshocked.

Music fades. Words flash: “89 audit points and out”.

Valerie lies on the desk, exhausted. Gordon sits with his head on the table, depressed. Preston wipes the whiteboard.

VALERIE: 89 audit points.

PRESTON: That’s good. I was expecting 100.

GORDON: Nearly half of them are for me.

PRESTON: Take it as a compliment. It means you work hard. The less you do, the less there is to audit.

VALERIE: Gordon, be wary of Preston’s compliments. Can I go home now?

PRESTON: Don’t miss your train.

Valerie jumps up and walks out.

GORDON: Preston, you said you wanted me to help with one quick question.

PRESTON: There was one quick question. And an awful lot of slow ones.

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