Giving and Taking

by John Finch

Episode Number: 25
Director: Gerry Mill


NOTE: During the making of this episode, there was a trade union dispute,
which resulted in "Giving and Taking" being produced in black and white.



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Michael Armstrong   Mark Jones
Jenny Graham   Wanda Ventham
Colin Woodcock   David Bradley
John George Porter   Ben Grieve



The Briggs Home   While Edwin is waiting for Sefton, he looks at a vintage photograph of his brother-in-law and Sefton's late wife, Edith.

Sefton arrives back from a trip to Preston—about thirty miles to the north northeast of Liverpool—and he tells Edwin that Tony gave him that picture and frame the year before last.

He remarks that Edwin always liked Edith, and Edwin responds that he found her to be a very understanding woman.

Sefton recalls that the feelings were mutual, as she often said, "Sefton, you underestimate Edwin."

When Sefton asks how Jean is taking the tragic news of Robert's death, Edwin indicates that she grieves as if in a daze but says very little.

Edwin says he has felt very close to Harry Porter the past few weeks, explaining that "You can never really put yourself in someone else's place until it's happened to you. You can only pretend to share something like that."

Then Edwin reveals the reason for his visit—he needs a couple of days off from the works, to put his late father's modest property in order.

The old man, a Yorkshire coal miner, was nearly eighty when he died.

"He had a good innings, as they say," adds Edwin. "Still, coming as it did on top of everything…"

Sefton informs Edwin that Tony is home on leave, turning up unannounced with his girlfriend, Jenny Graham.

After contending that Jenny has more sense than Tony, he begins to launch into a diatribe on the shortcomings of the younger generation.

Edwin cuts him short, claiming, "They're doing a dirty job that we let them in for—the way we got let in for the last lot. The sins of the fathers, huh? How many more generations of sins of the fathers?"

The Ashton Home   Jean has been washing dishes, but suddenly her mind is consumed by disturbing thoughts that cause her to be oblivious to Freda's entrance into the kitchen.

Freda asks her mother if she needs anything from the paper shop, but Jean does not seem able to comprehend.

The telephone rings, so Freda goes to answer it.

Major Dimmock is on the line, and Freda jots down his message on a note pad.

Then, as Freda is about to leave, Jean astonishes her by placing a request for some cigarettes, though she is known to smoke only about one of them a year.

Jean asks her to buy a pack of twenty, so Freda can have some too, whereupon Freda feebly attempts to deny that she sneaks more than just an occasional smoke at work.

After Freda—with a concerned look on her face—leaves to go run her errand, Jean reads the message from Major Dimmock.

The Briggs Home   When Tony and Jenny come in, Sefton informs them that Edwin's father has died, and also that David and Sheila seem to be breaking up—if, that is, where David sleeps while in Liverpool is any indication.

As Tony goes to the kitchen to ask Mrs. Foster to prepare some tea, Jenny looks at the photograph of Sefton and Edith.

She tells Sefton that Tony respects him very much, calling him "astute," but that he wants to be on his own when the war is over rather than returning to work for Briggs and Son.

Sefton comments to her what a fine town Liverpool is, and Jenny responds that he sounds as if he is trying to sell it to her.

The Ashton Home   Michael and Margaret arrive home from looking at the flat where they plan to live.

Margaret tells Michael that she will not join him there for another couple of nights, so she can help look after her mother in the wake of Robert's death.

After Michael goes into the living room to "thaw out" from the chilly weather, Margaret and Freda chat in the kitchen, and Freda informs her that David will be coming home on leave tomorrow—but not staying with Sheila.

When Margaret says the break-up of their marriage hardly seems possible, Freda states, "Lots of things that hardly seemed possible are turning out to be possible," and Margaret frowns at her.

Freda tells Margaret that their mother is upstairs, preparing the rooms for David's arrival—putting David in Margaret's room, Edwin in Freda's room, and Freda and Margaret in the boys' room.

Margaret remarks that their mother seems to be handling Robert's death all right, but Freda disagrees, saying, "You've been away, haven't you?"

They wonder whether Jean still blames Edwin for allowing Robert to go away, and Freda says when their parents talk—which is not all that often—it is like listening to two strangers.

Margaret asks if there were any details of Robert's death, and Freda says their father received a letter from one of the officers who was there at the time.

The officer wrote that they were in a boat, that Robert died in his sleep, and that he was a "brave boy."

At this, Freda begins weeping, and she asks Margaret how she was able to bear the news about John, to which Margaret replies that she just turned her back on it, as if their relationship had never happened.

Upstairs, Jean is turning over Robert's mattress when it topples some books off the night stand.

She goes to pick them up and notices Robert's old school supply box, on which is scribbled, "Robert Ashton / Aigburgh / Liverpool / Lancashire / England / Europe / The World / The Universe / Space."

Edwin comes in the front door, and Margaret greets him with a hug before joining Michael in the living room.

Freda shows her father the message from Major Dimmock, and then Edwin goes upstairs to see his wife.

He discloses to her that there is some evidence that John may be alive—and Margaret will be needing the support of both of them when she is told.

Then Edwin asks Jean to go with him in the morning, on the half-past-eight train, to the old family house in Yorkshire and help him put his father's affairs in order.

Jean does not commit to that, instead telling her husband that she always has known that John was not dead, just as Celia Porter has contended all along.

When he asserts that Mrs. Porter is a neurotic, unhappy woman, Jean alleges that he probably thinks the same of her.

Finally, Jean agrees to pack for the trip to Yorkshire—for the both of them.

Margaret kisses Michael goodnight, until tomorrow, and Michael tells her, "And all the other tomorrows."

Edwin is writing a note to Philip when Margaret comes into the living room to tell him goodnight, and he teases her, "No pillow fighting tonight," like old times.

"Old times are never going to come again, Dad," she says, and he sadly nods his head in agreement.

The Briggs Home   Tony comes into the kitchen and sees that his father already is eating breakfast.

Sefton explains that he has to be in two places at one time, with Edwin being away for a couple of days.

Tony wonders aloud if his father always sleeps with his door open, and Sefton cagily replies that he began doing so after "the burglary," as a way to stand guard.

Jenny enters the kitchen, and Tony hints to his father that it is time for him to be going to work.

As he is leaving, Sefton asks Jenny if he will see her that night, and she says yes, drawing a glare from Tony, who had more exciting plans for the evening than staying home with his father.

The Ashton Home   Freda, Margaret, and little John George are having breakfast at the table, and Margaret remarks that she is glad their parents went together to Yorkshire, their first joint visit there since they got married.

Yorkshire   It is a bleak mining village that Edwin introduces to Jean, and the tiny house looks like one of those in a typical company town.

They go inside, and Edwin builds a fire, telling his wife that he will ring Major Dimmock at seven.

When Jean comments about the home, "It's awful. It smells," Edwin lashes out at her, "Of course it bloody well smells. The whole place smells!"

He apologises for shouting at her, explaining that he is taking his guilt out on her—guilt at only visiting his homeplace on rare occasions.

"I loved them," he confides, "and I neglected them."

Edwin tells Jean that his parents felt bad that she never visited them.

"They weren't my people," she says matter-of-factly, and Edwin can only agree, in words barely above a whisper, "No, they weren't your people."

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila and Margaret come in together, commenting on how nice it is to see each other again.

Margaret mentions that David is coming home, and Sheila is surprised to hear the news.

When Margaret asks what has been going on between them while she was away, hospitalised in Shropshire, Sheila says she would rather not talk about it.

But Margaret persists in talking about David, and Sheila finally declares that she has had enough of his infidelity and carousing.

Then Margaret asks about the children, and Sheila answers that she will raise them herself, and if they need a dad, "I'll have to start looking, then, won't I?"

Sheila admits that she worries about Peter, that a boy does need a man about the house—a father.

Yorkshire   Jean is looking through old photographs when Edwin comes in with his father's mining lamp, proudly stating, "He was a born collier."

"Pity there aren't more like him," Jean remarks. "We might have had more coal last winter," and Edwin accuses her of sounding just like her brother, Sefton.

When Edwin begins to tell of the downtrodden miners, Jean is disinterested.

Edwin spitefully reflects that he spent three decades with her in a middle-class Liverpool home while his own people, the miners, were fighting for their very survival.

Jean demands to learn what she is guilty of, and Edwin replies that she really does not know him all that well—because they never talk about such things as class politics and Dad and Mam anymore, as they did in the past.

She explains that she was young back then, and there was time to be interested in ideas, other people, the future.

Jean informs Edwin that she once told Margaret, "Part of your life comes to an end. What if there's nothing to put in its place? Nothing."

Edwin appears willing to reconcile, to open the line of conjugal communication, but Jean is unreceptive, turning him aside with a reminder that it is time to ring Major Dimmock on the telephone.

As he leaves, Edwin remarks that he wishes he had brought Philip's camera with him, to take a picture of the old suite—a snapshot of history—as there will be none of them left in twenty years' time.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Colin Woodcock and Sheila are having tea, and she tells him that he just missed seeing David's sister, Margaret.

He asks her what the sleeping arrangements will be tonight, and Sheila replies, in no uncertain terms, that he will be sleeping not with her but in Preston, so he will be closer to work in the morning.

Now she has to report for the late shift at the NAAFI, so she takes her coat, and the two of them leave together.

The Ashton Home   David arrives, and the first person he sees is Michael, who is washing dishes in the kitchen.

Michael informs David that his parents are in Yorkshire but will be returning tomorrow.

Margaret comes in, and the siblings embrace, but then David says he wants to have a word with her—in private.

In the living room, David asks her if Michael is staying there, declaring that he certainly is not sharing a room with him.

"And what if he is?" she snaps, insisting that David apologise to her, which he does.

Margaret explains that Michael and she have found a flat, and she will be joining him there in a few days.

Then she asks her brother to do her a favour—go and visit Sheila—but he refuses, claiming that it would be useless.

Margaret, however, will not take no for an answer, so David finally agrees to go see her sometime tomorrow.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila arrives home and is shocked to see Colin sitting inside, casually drinking a beer.

He sheepishly explains that he missed the last train, and he got a key from the neighbours.

Sheila wonders what the neighbours must think, adding that he cannot stay the night.

But Colin has nowhere to go, so finally Sheila agrees to allow him to sleep on the floor, in the Morrison shelter like a caged animal at the zoo.

The Briggs Home   Tony announces to his father that he and Jenny will be going out for the night.

She is still upstairs, so it is a good opportunity for Sefton to ask his son if he plans to marry Jenny, as a woman has to watch her reputation.

"Not so far as I know," he grumbles, resentful of his father's meddling, and their discussion soon descends into a bitter argument.

Tony informs Sefton that the threat of cutting him off without a penny will not work any longer—that the war has taught him not to care.

Jenny walks into the fray, and Tony tells her, "Come on. Let's get out of here."

Yorkshire   Jean is making the bed when Edwin returns from his telephone conversation with Major Dimmock.

John is still alive, he confirms, but Dimmock was not at liberty to say where or in what condition—details that might not be revealed for another few weeks.

Jean believes that Margaret must be told, and Edwin is quick to agree.

The Ashton Home   Freda and Margaret are in their respective beds, the latter reading, and the former amusing herself with a nursery rhyme about the man who never was.

When Margaret asks her sister how Owen Thomas is, Freda says he writes letters to her, but she only writes back when she feels like it.

David barges into the room, and they all share some cheerful small-talk and childhood reminiscences.

That all changes when Freda innocently asks if his bed was always this lumpy, and David responds, "No, that wasn't my bed. It was Rob…."

Freda is struck with a pang of sorrow, and David quietly turns out the light as he leaves.

The Briggs Home   Tony and Jenny are bickering as they return home, avoiding Sefton by going directly to the kitchen.

Peering into the icebox, Tony threatens to eat his father's bacon rations, which causes her to call him childish.

Tony asks her if she is waiting for an old-fashioned proposal of marriage, but she accuses him of being the old-fashioned one.

His father, Tony discloses to her, thinks their marriage is only a matter of time.

When Jenny urges patience, saying that maybe it is only a matter of time, Tony declares, "But there isn't any time. Time is something I find very precious these days."

Frustrated by what he perceives as her excessive caution, Tony suggests that perhaps they should "just pack it in."

Jenny asks him if that is really what he wants, and he answers, "You know what I want. You just don't care enough."

She declares, "Always remember it was you that said that, not me."


Edwin and Jean are lying awake in bed, and she wonders what the strange noise is, to which he replies that it is the next shift heading off to the mines.

Both are sleepless, so Jean offers him a cigarette, which comes as quite a surprise to him—knowing her to be a non-smoker.

She started smoking yesterday, Jean explains as she lights up.

Edwin climbs out of bed to go downstairs and make some tea.

Jean says she will come down too, but first she glances around at the drab bedroom of Edwin's parents.

Downstairs, Jean complains that the bed feels damp to her, and Edwin concedes that, yes, it is a bit damp.

Jean wonders how Margaret will handle the situation of John's return, and Edwin says he does not feel certain that she will choose to come back to John rather than continue living with Michael.

"She's John's wife," argues Jean, and Edwin growls, "Yes, and you're mine—and look at us. We can't even sleep in the same bed. We can hardly reach agreement on anything."

Jean contends that it is not the same thing at all, but Edwin is not so sure.

He does not know what her complaint is, as he has tried to be a good father and husband.

She responds that he has tried too hard, shutting her out of his life in the process.

Edwin explains that he was only trying to take the man's share of the load, assuming that is what was expected of him.

Jean says that she has regrets too, things she wanted from life that have not happened.

This comment hurts Edwin badly, and he protests that she makes him seem to be a complete failure.

"No, you're a good man—a good man," she declares, placing her hand on his arm.

She concedes that she has not helped, letting him… "Go blundering on?" he interjects.

Finally, he comes to the heart of the matter—"It's the boy, isn't it? You blame me for Robert."

She blames herself too, she replies, adding something that John once told her: "Our lives aren't our own anymore."

In a poignant moment of openness, Edwin asks his wife to help him because he feels lost.

He wants to comfort her, he says, but she turns her back on him, though they should mourn him together.

"I mourn him. I mourn him," he cries. "Oh, God, I do. I do."

Then, sobbing, he lowers his head onto her lap and pleads, "Help me. Help me—I'm lost."

But there is no comfort from her, as she declares, "We're all lost. Lost."

David's and Sheila's Flat   David arrives unannounced, and Sheila comes downstairs, where they exchange the usual stilted pleasantries and queries about the kids.

Sheila is careful to position herself on the opposite side of the Morrison shelter from her husband.

She notices, from his uniform, that he has received his commission, and she compliments the way he looks as Flight Officer Ashton.

David asks if Doris is there, but Sheila says no, that Doris went to live with her sister.

Slowly, David approaches her, and she does not retreat.

That emboldens him to speak of the future, mentioning that they should try to find another place to live.

At that inopportune moment, Colin returns to the flat, and David senses that something has been going on between them while he was off serving King and country.

As nonchalantly as she can manage, Sheila says, "David, this is Colin."

David, however, hurries to leave, only pausing long enough to tell the stranger, "I'll see you again sometime, eh?"

Colin stands there, embarrassed and contrite, telling Sheila the obvious: "I'm sorry."

The Ashton Home   Edwin and Jean return home from Yorkshire and are delighted to see David.

Jean invites David for a talk in the kitchen, so Edwin can be alone with Margaret.

After taking a deep breath, Edwin goes into the living room, where Margaret is ironing clothes, and they chat briefly.

Margaret cannot help but notice that her father is staring at her with a great deal of concern etched on his face.

Finally, he tells her that they have another "bridge to cross," and she urges him to go ahead and tell her what it is.

"We've had some news," he states without elaboration, and Margaret asks, "It's John, isn't it?"

She looks down, trying to grasp the implications of this startling disclosure.

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