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.
Script Excerpt 1
Script Excerpt 2