The Things You Never Told Me

by John Finch

Episode Number: 36
Director: Les Chatfield



Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Harry Porter   Patrick Troughton
Celia Porter   Margery Mason
John George Porter   Paul Brett
A Boy   Leslie Winterburn
A Girl   Jackie Leach



The Ashton Home   Harry Porter makes a surprise call, but Margaret explains to him that John is at night class, and Edwin is visiting his cousin in Castleford, about ten miles southeast of Leeds.

Margaret and Harry chat in the living room, and Margaret wonders where Celia is.

She is shopping, Harry explains, so he passed the time watching an insipid picture called Johnny Doughboy, starring Jane Withers and other former child stars.

John George comes in and seats himself on the sofa, begging his grandfather to read him a picture book, but it is the boy's bedtime, so Harry volunteers to take him upstairs.

Train Station Lunch Room   John rushes in, only to be informed by his mother that there is really no sick relative—that was just a fabrication to pressure his superiors at work to forward a message to him.

Celia asks him how he likes his job, and John concedes that it is better than unemployment, which otherwise is what he might have expected "when they sound the last all-clear."

This reminds Celia of the Vera Lynn song by that title, and she expresses her fondness for the singer's "The White Cliffs of Dover," particularly the line that reads, "And Jimmy will go to sleep in his own little room again," though Celia, of course, substitutes the name "Johnny."

She claims that the song was a great comfort to her during his absence, but she never doubted that John would return—and now she has her reward.

In contrast, John reveals that Margaret told him she gave up all hope, presuming that he was killed.

When John goes to buy a sandwich, Celia notices a young sailor and his sweetheart, and she nostalgically recalls what Harry said about his feelings toward her as he left for the trenches.

The Ashton Home   It is quite chilly inside, so Margaret goes to fetch the electric heater, complaining that the only time she is ever warm is when she is in bed.

Harry stops her to ask if she has informed John about Michael yet.

Margaret answers no, confessing that she no longer has the old excuse that John is too ill to handle such news.

In fact, she adds, John is better now than ever before—much more confident, more sure of himself.

So much time has elapsed that Margaret now fears that John will not forgive her for keeping silent about it for these many months.

Even Margaret herself has begun to wonder if the real reason for her silence was to protect John from hurt.

Harry follows her into the kitchen, expressing his faith in her, though she accuses him of having too high an opinion of her.

Suddenly, it strikes Margaret that Harry wants her to tell John the truth at whatever cost, and he admits as much, explaining that sooner or later Celia is certain to reveal the affair to her son.

Harry reminds her of last Christmas, when Celia opened the letter from her… —and Margaret finishes his sentence, "…lover?"

See? she claims, even he cannot bear to utter the truth, so how can they expect John to face it?

But Harry gives Margaret full credit for not abandoning John for Michael, and, in the end, that is what counts.

Margaret notes that both she and Harry have stayed with their spouses, while putting something else in the place of love.

Train Station Lunch Room   When John returns to the table with his sandwich, Celia laments getting older.

She shows John some vintage photos of herself and Major Harry Porter, and she contends that she could have had any man she wanted back then.

If only her eyes had been open about Harry before they were married, she declares, and John wonders why she is berating her husband like this.

Finally, Celia explains that she has clear evidence that Harry is seeing other women.

She can tell by the way he ignores her during the evenings at home, smiling to himself whenever he thinks of the other women in his life.

The Ashton Home   Harry explains to Margaret why she has no choice but to tell John about her affair with Michael.

Following a bitter row, he says, Celia came to Liverpool without him, and she seemed determined to reveal everything to her son.

Harry caught a Liverpool train, in order to warn Margaret about what was happening.

Margaret is fearful of divulging the knowledge to John, but Harry insists that he has to hear it from her first.

Train Station Lunch Room   Celia forces a bowl of soup upon her son, claiming that John used to have an enormous appetite when he was little.

He tells her that he only pretended to have such an appetite, in order to spare her feelings.

That is when Celia says that people often tell falsehoods to avoid confronting the painful truth.

She asks John if he ever goes to church, and he says no, that he has gotten out of the habit.

Celia laments the changes this war has brought, but John contends that the war has awakened him from the dream world where he used to reside.

He never questioned anything heretofore, he says, but now he is beginning to look at everything anew, seeing injustice, hypocrisy, and didacticism all about him.

Across the room, the young sailor and his sweetheart are holding hands and kissing in public, and prudish Celia expresses her disapproval to John, who sees nothing wrong with such an honest display of affection.

The Ashton Home   Harry looks over some of the composition books of poems that Margaret is grading for school, and he regrets not having tried his hand at writing poetry after the Great War.

In a moment of introspection, he ponders why he does not leave Celia, now that John is married and living elsewhere, and he concludes that he pities his wife—something he describes as the ultimate degradation.

Train Station Lunch Room   John begins to depart for the resumption of his night class, but Celia pleads with him to say a bit longer.

She explains that she once started to tell him the truth, but their bitter argument prevented her from completing what she had to say.

Now she is determined to tell him about Margaret, though she fears that John will not believe her, that it will only be her word against Margaret's.

While he was away at war, she blurts, Margaret met another man.

John accepts this startling information with equanimity, but he is shattered when Celia adds that Margaret had the man's baby.

He rushes from the room, hardly even saying goodbye to his mother, and she hurries in vain to catch him.

The Ashton Home   For his New Year's resolution, Harry pledges to quit smoking, and Margaret vows to tell John about her affair with Michael Armstrong.

Harry recalls the pain he felt for John when the fourteen-year-old lad was experiencing his first encounter with love.

He says he never shared this secret bit of knowledge with Celia—nor many other such things, for that matter.

Train Station Lunch Room   Unable to locate her son, Celia returns to await her train's departure for Chorley.

The Ashton Home   John comes home and testily informs Margaret that he decided to give night school a miss.

When she offers him some tea, John indicates that he needs something stronger—whereupon Margaret tells him there is no scotch, only David's bottle of sherry from Christmas.

He decides to say goodnight to John George, but when Margaret urges him to take care not to awaken the boy, he snaps angrily at her, "I won't wake him. What do you take me for?"

Train Station Lunch Room   Harry arrives, buys a cup of tea, and, spotting his wife, joins Celia at her table.

He explains that Margaret will be telling John soon, but Celia declares that she has saved her the trouble—having said what she should have told him long ago.

Aghast, Harry can only stare at his wife in disbelief.

The Ashton Home   In the kitchen, over her cup of tea, Margaret is very pensive, sensing that there is something terribly wrong.

Meanwhile, upstairs, John is watching little John George as he sleeps peacefully in his bed.

Train Station Lunch Room   The Porters have missed their train, and Harry's anger is seething within.

He looks directly at his wife and declares that their marriage has been "wasted years, wasted lives—yours as well as mine."

Harry tells her that he has stayed still for the past thirty years, a slave to the treadmill of daily routine.

He says that he married her because he felt he could share the ups and downs of life with her, and then he shouts, "Has it been so very terrible?"

The Ashton Home  

As a melancholy Margaret plays Claude Debussy's "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" on the piano, John is in the kitchen, searching for the bottle of sherry.

Suddenly, he throws the drinking glass to the floor, noisily shattering it to pieces.

Then he carries another glass and the sherry bottle into the living room, where he joins Margaret while she continues to play.

Referring to the piano piece, she wonders whether John would have liked her, had she been born blonde.

Annoyed by the question, he asks, "Why do you want to be blonde, for God's sake?"

"I don't know," she says. "We all want to be something we're not, don't we?"

When Margaret tells John that his father was there earlier in the day, John wonders what they talked about, and she replies, "The usual—you, mostly."

John confides that it was difficult growing up in the Porter household, with his parents constantly bickering, and he wishes his father had struck Celia and been done with it.

Now he himself is just half a man, like his father who raised him.

Margaret assures John that he is much better now—that he just needed time—but he declares to her, "We both needed time, didn't we?"

When Margaret refrains from answering, John says it is just like when he was a boy, and his parents would always skate around the issues, never resolving them or confiding in one another.

He adds that he never had anyone to turn to when he was in trouble, to which Margaret responds, "Well, you've got me now, haven't you?"

At this, John rushes from the room and proceeds to runs up the stairs.

Margaret hurries after him, but then the doorbell rings, and she must stop to answer it.

She opens the door to reveal her father-in-law, who explains that Celia has disclosed the truth to John, something Margaret has guessed from the way her husband is behaving.

When Harry offers to speak with John, Margaret declares, "I think I have to do that myself this time, don't I?"

Celia, who has been waiting in the taxi, comes inside, so Harry goes out to pay the driver and send him on his way.

Margaret informs Celia that she would have told John in time, but Celia only laughs at the remark.

Defending her decision to tell John, Celia explains that there was a child to consider, but Margaret scoffs at the notion that her mother-in-law was thinking of the boy instead of herself.

Celia claims that Margaret always has hated her, something Margaret denies.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?" snaps Margaret. "It's your big day!"—and she rushes from the room in tears.

Harry returns to confront his wife, demanding, "What have you been saying? Haven't you done enough?"

When Celia claims, "She thinks I'm enjoying it," he shouts at her, "And aren't you?"

A moment later, Celia wonders what she has done to him, and Harry is man enough to accept half the blame for their failed marriage.

Together, he says, they have destroyed the only chance of happiness they might have had.

"We've only the one life, and we've thrown it away, haven't we?"

He adds that sometimes he thinks of the happiness that might have been, and he wonders, "What didn't we say to each other that might have made it possible?"

Upon opening the door upstairs, Margaret sees that John is lying on their bed, fully awake and dressed.

She asks him whether he knows, and he says yes.

Margaret explains that she did plan to tell him, but at first he was ill, and then, as time went by, it just became harder to do so.

She says she is sorry that John had to learn the truth from his mother instead of his wife.

John tells Margaret that he would prefer talking about it when nobody else is in the house, so he goes downstairs to ask his parents to leave.

In the living room, Celia tells Harry that John may be going home with them, rather than staying with Margaret, who has soiled herself with illicit behaviour.

"You really believe it, don't you?" says Harry. "That there's nothing worse, nothing more scandalous."

John comes in and is assured by his father that there is another train departing for Chorley.

Celia suggests that John go home with them, and John asks whether that is why she broke the news to him in the first place.

John informs her that he would never agree to go to Chorley and return to "the old hook and chain."

When John asks his father to phone for a taxi, Celia notifies him that she will not leave until he has it out with Margaret.

Hearing that ultimatum, John declares to his mother that he has no intention of walking out on Margaret without first giving her the opportunity to explain.

Celia spitefully acknowledges that Margaret has had plenty of time to come up with a whole line of excuses since John's return from the war.

But John argues that Margaret has stayed with him through some very difficult times, helping him to regain both his physical and mental health.

Undeterred, Celia insists that John should come home to his parents—and he would be granted custody of the baby, too, considering what Margaret has done.

"You were happy at home," she recalls, but John cries out, "Happy?" and then explains that he was "miserable as sin" at home.

When John shouts at his mother to go home, she alleges that Margaret has pulled the wool over his eyes.

She adds that Margaret has done things so terrible that not even a saint could forgive her, to which John responds, "Well, I'm no saint, Mom, believe me. I found that out in Belgium, when they gave me a woman, in return for services rendered."

He proceeds to shock his mother by saying that he came home with a "dose" (venereal disease), for which he has gone secretly to a medical clinic twice a week for treatment.

Were the situation reversed—had he received a telegram, informing him that his wife was "missing, believed killed"—John confesses that he would have done just as Margaret did in the same circumstances.

Explaining that they all need love, John reaches out to comfort his distressed mother, but Celia pulls away, shouting at him, "Don't touch me!"

John returns upstairs to the bedroom, telling Margaret that his father has sent for a taxi.

When Margaret asks if he wants to talk now, he turns the question back to her: "And you?"

"Yes," she says, "but hold me while I tell you," and he responds, "Hold me."

The couple embrace tearfully, finally free of the divisive secret that has kept them apart for all these many agonising months.

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