I Can Be Happy, Can't I?

by John Finch

Episode Number: 15
Director: Baz Taylor



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Michael Armstrong   Mark Jones
Barbara Armstrong   Judy Higgins
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Ted Fiddler   Bill Waddington
Miss Walsh   Penelope Davis
A Schoolgirl   Vivienne Moss



The Ashton Home   Edwin is enjoying a comedy show on the radio when Jean comes into the living room to tell him that she is going to bed.

He asks her whom Margaret went to the concert with, and Jean replies that it was Marjorie.

Freda brings her father a slice of bread and drippings ("lightly salted") along with a cup of cocoa.

Father and daughter both agree that Margaret seems to be happier nowadays.

Edwin says he thinks Margaret finally has given up all hope, accepting the harsh reality that she will never see John again.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Doris Jackson, the babysitter, is reading Bram Stoker's Dracula while young Barbara sleeps upstairs.

Barbara's father, Michael Armstrong, returns home from the concert with his date, Margaret Ashton.

After Doris leaves, Michael shows Margaret some of his daughter's drawings.

Margaret says she enjoyed the Brahms performance very much, but that such uplifting concerts always seem to spoil her for the next few days.

Michael speculates that happiness is bittersweet when you cannot believe it is going to last.

When he places his hands on her shoulders, she pulls away from the embrace, explaining to him that it is too soon, as they are both still tied up in other people.

Michael says, "There aren't any other people, Margaret," and she is struck by the truthfulness of his comment.

This time when he embraces her, she responds warmly, and they kiss.

Margaret tells him that she has not been able to begin a relationship with anyone because she always thinks of John, but Michael says such thoughts are just ghosts.

She considers for a moment, then slowly guides his hand to her breast.

The Ashton Home   Over breakfast, Jean and Margaret bicker about such issues as Margaret's social life and how to make ends meet.

Margaret leaves, telling her mother that she will be visiting the doctor to obtain a prescription for John George.

Jean suggests that Margaret get something for herself, too, to make her more like her old self.

The Briggs Home   Sefton is in high spirits, singing "We're Gonna Hang Out the Washing (on the Siegfried Line)" as he secures the knot in his necktie.

When Tony enters the room, Sefton asks him to have a word with Edwin.

Margaret's School   Energetic children are going to their classes through the front entrance.

Michael takes this opportunity to ask Margaret if she will see him again, but she says no.

Michael's daughter, Barbara, witnesses their brief exchange through the window.

Later, as teacher Margaret recites Tennyson's The Revenge: A Ballad of the Fleet to the class, the children are noisy and inattentive.

Miss Walsh brings Margaret some aspirin and a glass of water, which makes the children giggle all the more.

Margaret recalls the voice of her husband, John, as he promises to be patient with her for the next forty years.

Strange noises elicit more laughter from the class, interrupting Margaret's attempts to read aloud to them.

The teacher angrily approaches the source of these distractions—Barbara Armstrong has been snapping her wooden ruler on the edge of the desk.

Margaret instructs Barbara to walk to the front of the room, but she refuses to move, so Margaret strikes her on the arm with the ruler.

The Works   Edwin complains to Sefton about the poor quality of paper stock.

After Sefton departs, Tony advises Edwin that he will not be returning to the works after the end of hostilities.

Edwin tells Tony that he had been considering a position at rival Pringle's but hastens to add that he cannot make such a rash decision at his age.

The Ashton Home   Sefton asks Jean whether her problem with Edwin has been resolved.

After all, he claims, it was not Edwin's fault that Robert has gone to sea.

Jean is surprised to hear Sefton defending Edwin until she considers that it is in Sefton's own best interest to have Edwin content in his job rather than unsettled.

Margaret's School   The bell rings, and children run to collect their coats and return home.

Margaret stops Barbara to ask whether she is all right and to apologise for striking her with the ruler.

The Ashton Home   Jean is trying to find the code that she and Philip developed for informing them of his location overseas.

Edwin asks if she also has a code for Robert's whereabouts, and she bristles at the mention of his name—so young to be at sea.

As Edwin is about to leave for the ARP, Jean mentions that her father's old house was destroyed in one of the two last raids.

A strip of the wallpaper that she remembered from her childhood is now lying exposed and visible.

They discuss Margaret and how she has lost the positive spirit that she briefly displayed around Christmastime, back when she was going out at night to attend concerts.

The Briggs Home   Sefton informs Tony that he has bought a half share in a pig.

Harry Jenkins, brother of the Briggs housekeeper, Mary Foster, is said to be keeping the pig in the rear of a garage.

Sefton explains to his son that he regards this porcine investment as a business tool, occasionally giving a few slices of bacon to the clients.

When Tony inquires as to how much his share in the works is worth, Sefton snaps back that this topic is off-limits while Tony's grandmother is still alive, and Tony apologises for bringing it up.

Sefton asks Tony whether he informed Edwin that he will not be returning to the works at war's end, and Tony answers yes.

Tony speculates that Edwin will not be truly content until he owns his home, a gift from Sefton that might ensure Edwin's permanence in the business.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Margaret asks Doris whether Michael is in, but Doris says no.

The Ashton Home   Michael wonders whether Margaret is at home, but Jean explains that she is at the doctor's.

The Briggs Home   Sefton brings home a bottle of scotch, so he and Tony enjoy a drink together.

During the course of their conversation, Sefton shocks Tony by saying they will need to rely upon the works when the war ends, so it is imperative that some capital improvements be made.

The Ashton Home   Margaret finally arrives home, and she and Michael discuss Barbara's disruptive behaviour at school.

Michael asks Margaret why she refuses to see him anymore, and she points to the fact that her marital status is still an uncertainty—with John missing and presumed killed.

Michael argues that what Margaret says and what she feels are two very different things.

Margaret reveals that Michael will have to wait for seven years if he wishes to marry her.

Michael is upset at this notion, alleging that Margaret's silence on the issue was unworthy of her.

Freda enters the room, and Margaret introduces her to Michael, who does not even turn to look at her.

Margaret politely asks Michael to leave and tells him there would be no point in seeing each other again.

Freda has been mending the broken heel of her shoe, and she assures her older sister that she will not get into trouble with any of the servicemen with whom she occasionally dallies.

This remark seems to hit Margaret hard, and Freda wonders what has happened to her.

The ARP   Ted Fiddler comes in to relieve Edwin from duty.

He tells Edwin a funny story that he heard, and they both have a good laugh.

Freda rings her father and asks him to hurry home because Margaret is in trouble—pregnant.

The Ashton Home   Freda returns to the kitchen after her telephone call but sees that Margaret has disappeared into the night, just as the air-raid siren begins to wail.

Later, when Edwin arrives, he accuses his wife of not being very understanding when it comes to Margaret's problems.

Freda excuses herself from the living room, visibly upset by her parents' harsh words to each other.

Edwin tells Jean that she had the same look of shame on her face years before, when David disclosed that he was about to become an unwed father.

But he adds that there was an important difference: David's problem was his own doing, whereas it was the war that compelled Margaret to behave as she did.

Edwin blames Jean for Margaret's reluctance to reveal her pregnancy to them, and now she is somewhere in the black-out during an air raid.

In the kitchen, Freda tells her father that she knows who Margaret's lover is, and that his daughter is in Margaret's classroom.

They both agree that Margaret's behaviour was very unlike her, but Edwin says maybe they just never took the trouble to find out who Margaret really was.

The Briggs Home   Tony asks his father if he is serious about selling Edwin the house.

Sefton confirms that indeed he is, further stating that he is confident he will not regret doing so.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Michael goes to answer the doorbell and discovers that Margaret is there to see him.

The ARP   Ted Fiddler finds for Edwin the name and address of Michael Armstrong in the city directory and realises this is a young man who occasionally comes to the shop.

This Michael Armstrong, he recalls, is a hospital worker—and also a conscientious objector.

The Ashton Home   Freda echoes her father's remarks in telling Jean that Margaret's behaviour, unlike David's, was caused by the war.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   The all-clear is sounding as Edwin arrives to see Margaret sitting on the sofa, next to the sleeping Barbara.

When Michael takes Barbara upstairs to bed, Margaret and Edwin share a candid talk.

Margaret asks her father not be too hard on Michael, as he, like her, is running away from misery, the death of his wife.

Michael returns to tell Margaret that Barbara wants her to come upstairs and say good night.

That leaves Edwin and Michael alone in the room, and they have a heated discussion about Michael's determination to marry Margaret, even if he has to wait the requisite seven years.

In Michael's opinion, the only feasible solution is for Margaret to come live with him.

The Ashton Home   Sefton tells Jean that he is willing to sell them the house, even lending them the money to do so.

Furthermore, he plans to give Edwin a substantial enough increase in salary to cover the payments.

When Jean seems suspicious, her brother reveals that one day the business will become a partnership, and he would need to count on her vote.

Sefton says, "He'll be tickled pink to think he owns this place. He deserves it."

The Works   Edwin is very touched to realise that the house will soon be his own, and he expresses his gratitude to Sefton.

Margaret's School   Michael playfully carries Barbara piggy-back to the front entrance.

There, after the children run inside, he asks Margaret whether she has told her parents about his offer to have her live with him.

Margaret asks for more time, knowing that this proposed arrangement will come as quite a shock to her mother.

Michael agrees to be patient, stating that he will do so "for a lot longer than seven years."

His comment appears to bring more worry than assurance to Margaret.

Script Excerpt 1

Script Excerpt 2