The Fundamental Things Apply

by John Finch
(under the pseudonym of John Ellison)

Episode Number: 42
Director: Baz Taylor



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Freda Mackenzie (née Ashton)   Barbara Flynn
Ian Mackenzie   John Nettles
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Helen Hughes   Georgine Anderson
Mrs. Mackenzie   Joyce Heron
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Ricky   Paul Stender
John George Porter   Paul Brett
The Superintendent   Elizabeth Kelly
Private Eugene Hoffman   John Hug
A Military Policeman   George Roubicek
Miss Doyle   Wendy McConnell
Man in Pub   Peter Kerrigan



The Ashton Home   Edwin is alone in the living room, rehearsing aloud his "impromptu" speech for Freda's wedding.

Helen comes in, so Edwin quickly drops his speech notes and tells her about something he saw in the newspaper.

She reminds him that his daughter is getting married in the morning, and she wonders why he is reading the newspaper when there is so much preparatory work to do.

When Helen asks him whether he has polished his shoes, readied his shirt, tie, and cufflinks, and seen to the last-minute arrangements about the reception, he answers yes to everything.

Then she inquires if he has written some notes for his speech, and Edwin replies, "I don't need notes. I'll think of something at the time."

The Mackenzie Home   Ian comes into the lounge and tells his mother that his day at the hospital was very busy, as if the entire female population of Liverpool decided that every one of them needed medical attention that afternoon.

He wonders if his best man, Derek, has arrived yet, but Mrs. Mackenzie says no—and just as well, too, seeing as how he probably would have taken Ian on a "proper bachelor night out."

She confesses that she hopes Derek will not show up because he was best man at Ian's first wedding.

Mrs. Mackenzie must admit that this wedding is different from his first one in many respects—it's a registry office instead of a church, it's Liverpool instead of Blackburn—"…and it's Freda instead of Mary," interjects Ian. "That's all the difference it needs, Mother."

A Pub   Freda, Sheila, and Doris are sitting at a table, cheerfully singing Bing Crosby's hit, "Swinging on a Star," until Freda claims that they are embarrassing her "childhood sweetheart," Tony Briggs.

After Freda places an order for more drinks—three green goddesses for the ladies and a bitter for the gentleman—she teases Tony about suddenly falling in love with him, and he becomes wistful about that notion.

Doris tells Sheila about a new crooner who is even better than Crosby: a singer with Tommy Dorsey's band named Frank Sinatra.

The Ashton Home   Edwin continues to practice his speech in private until the doorbell rings.

Helen opens the front door and greets her brother, Sefton, who has come to see Edwin.

When Helen goes to put the kettle on, Sefton asks Edwin if everything is "ship-shape" for tomorrow, and Edwin says, "I reckon so. I've got a knack with these things. Ignore them, and you find everyone else sorts them out for you."

Sefton informs Edwin that the two candlesticks are not all he is giving the betrothed couple, explaining that he wants to pay for the wedding reception as well.

This Edwin will not permit, regarding Sefton’s offer as an infringement upon his responsibility as father of the bride.

"I'm very pleased if you want to do something for Freda," he snaps, "but what you can't do is buy the right to be her father."

Undeterred, Sefton wonders if he might supply some chicken and wine for the reception—no questions asked—but again Edwin refuses, saying, "Leave it to me…please!"

The Mackenzie Home   Ian comes into the lounge and informs his mother of the tragic news that Derek will not be serving as best man because his father was killed by one of Hitler's flying bombs.

Mrs. Mackenzie says it is too late to enlist a new best man tonight, and Ian agrees, saying that sounds like a job for tomorrow.

He adds that he hopes this is not a bad omen, portending that Freda will leave the bridegroom standing at the registrar's desk.

A Pub   Doris and Freda, feeling a bit tipsy, are singing a Cole Porter tune, "Don't Fence Me In" (another Bing Crosby chart-topper, this time collaborating with the Andrews Sisters), when Tony notices that the pub appears to be closing for the night.

Obviously, they cannot leave without Sheila, so Doris goes to the ladies' room to find her.

Suddenly serious, Freda proclaims, "Big step tomorrow," and Tony repeats those words, causing them both to laugh.

Freda asks him when it will be his turn, but Tony, with mock gravity, will only say that he plans to live on into a lonely old age, pining for the childhood sweetheart who married another.

He wonders whether Freda remembers those dances to which he used to escort her, at Margaret's request, and he compliments her by admiring how pretty that little girl turned out to be.

Flattered by Tony's comment and attention, she teases him by claiming that next he probably will want to walk her home.

To her surprise, he asks for permission to do just that, and she consents, but only so far as the garden gate or possibly pressing the bell at the front door.

The Ashton Home   Outside, Doris bids Freda and Tony goodnight and then, using Freda's key, goes into the house, leaving the cousins alone at the garden gate.

Freda remarks that life was good before the war, but it will never be the same again.

Tony thinks of something that makes him burst out laughing, and he confesses that he was recalling the sight of her in that gym slip.

Taking hold of the shoulder of his coat, she sighs, "Oh, it was lovely—having a crush on you," and he responds, "Was it?"

They both realise their relationship never can be that way again, and this poignant thought brings them closer than ever before.

Tony and Freda embrace and indulge in a lingering kiss until Freda pulls back and runs inside the house without so much as a word.

Both are perplexed by what just happened, trying to explain it to themselves.

Tony watches her silhouette through the glass door until Freda switches off the light, and even then he continues to stare at the darkened house.

A few hours later, restlessly lying in bed at nearly seven o'clock in the morning, Freda looks at the other bed and notices that Doris is awake.

Freda confides to her friend that she did not sleep well because her head would not let her—funny dreams.

She asks Doris if she has a hangover, but Doris replies that she cannot say for sure until she tries to lift her head off the pillow.

Doris declares that she will miss her, whereupon Freda insists that she plans to continue working, an empty statement that prompts Doris to lament that it will never be quite the same.

Freda suggests that Doris find herself an English husband, but Doris has her sights set on a wealthy Yank.

It is her last morning as Miss Ashton, so Freda gets out of bed, wishing to have a cup of tea and then a long, brisk walk, "to blow the cobwebs away."

She is surprised to see Margaret in the kitchen at such an early hour, trying to find a medical remedy for John George's toothache.

Margaret wonders whether Freda needs for her to assist with any ironing or packing, and she reminds her younger sister that she will be going away on her honeymoon that very afternoon.

After Freda confesses that she has been packed for a fortnight, Margaret says she wishes Freda were having a church wedding—stating that their mother would have wanted it that way.

Over tea, Freda tells Margaret that she wants to go on a long walk, this being her "last day of freedom."

Margaret objects to such negative talk, saying it is only a half truth anyway.

Suddenly, Freda asks her if she ever has second thoughts, speculating about what might have happened, had she really been free, at the time, to marry Michael Armstrong.

"At the time and now are different," contends Margaret. "Things pass."

"Do they?" wonders Freda, deep in thought—struggling with visions of Tony and Ian, past and future.

The Mackenzie Home   Ian is cutting the lawn when his mother brings him a cup of coffee.

He tells her that he slept like a log, until a half hour ago when he started to think.

She inquires whether he has reached a decision on a suitable replacement for best man, but he must report to her that he has not.

Ian wonders if his mother really is planning to move to Bournemouth, and she answers yes, "and I'm not coming back except for a social call, so you'd better make this marriage work, young man."

The Ashton Home   Margaret awakens Doris by opening the curtains and then gives her a cup of tea.

Doris muses that it would be a lark if Freda did not come back for the wedding—"Young Nurse Jilts Well-Known Gynecologist"—but then she adds that Freda would never do such a thing because she thinks Ian is Robert Taylor and Clark Gable rolled into one.

In response to Margaret's curiosity, Doris tells her of their adventures last night, going to the pictures and then to the pub, where Tony sat in a corner with Freda, joking about when she used to have a crush on him.

"You'll miss her too, won't you?" asks Doris. "Only one more to go now," and Margaret realises that she is referring to the unmarried Philip.

The Mackenzie Home   Ian notices that Freda is admiring the house, and he cautions her that it could well be bad luck for them to see one another before the wedding.

Freda asks if he slept well, but he points to the lawn, which he has been cutting since daybreak.

A bit sleepy herself, Freda says, "Well, perhaps we'll be able to catch up…" and then stops in mid-sentence, embarrassed at the wedding-night implication.

Ian informs Freda that his best man cannot make it to the wedding, so he is thinking of asking Tony to do it for him, a comment that leaves Freda speechless and troubled.

The Ashton Home   John still is clad in his pajamas when he lets Tony in the front door.

When John goes upstairs to get dressed, Tony explains to Margaret that he has come by to see whether he could be of any assistance.

As he follows Margaret to the kitchen for tea, he pauses long enough to glance up the stairway, toward Freda's room.

Margaret good-naturedly chides Tony for what he did to Freda on the night before her wedding—teasing that she is very disappointed in his behaviour—and Tony is shocked that she could know what happened.

She is amused by his serious countenance, explaining that she was only kidding him about getting his cousin tiddly and then walking her back home.

Tony is relieved that his romantic secret remains known only to Freda, and he tells Margaret that he is suffering from a bit of a hangover, which accounts for his lack of humour this morning.

John is wearing only his underwear when he enters his bedroom, glancing at Doris, who is dressed in her slip.

At second glance, he sees that this is Doris, not his wife, and so he leaves the room blushing in embarrassment.

Edwin sits on the stairs, clad in his bathrobe and still rehearsing his supposedly impromptu speech.

Margaret interrupts his surreptitious practice by telling him that Tony is in the kitchen.

She follows her father there to tell Tony that Ian wishes to see him about something this morning.

Having returned from her walk, Freda enters the front door, and Margaret advises her that Tony is in the kitchen if she wants to see him.

Bravely, she does just that, but only for a moment, excusing herself to go awaken Doris.

Tony desperately wishes to speak with her, but Edwin asks him a question ("Tony, what's another word for harmonious?"), and the fleeting opportunity is lost—at least for now.

Freda comes into her temporary bedroom and notices that Margaret already is there, looking for some aspirin to treat Tony's hangover.

Candidly, Freda tells her sister that she was compelled to see Ian on their wedding day, and Margaret confides that she felt the same way about John—as if seeking reassurance that she was marrying the right man.

Freda wonders if Margaret is glad she married John, again asking about her feelings toward Michael, and this causes Margaret to inquire why she persists in resurrecting a ghost from her past.

"Well, it's just making sense, all of a sudden, that's all," says Freda, noting aloud that Margaret settled for doing the right thing when John returned from the war.

It is clear that Freda bears some residual uncertainty that marrying Ian will be the right thing to do, particularly if it means forever wondering about her bittersweet childhood romance.

Downstairs, Doris enters the kitchen, hears Edwin mumbling to himself, and says at once, "Rehearsing your speech, Mr. Ashton?"

The Mackenzie Home   Helen is arranging flowers in the lounge when in comes Tony, wishing to speak with her.

Without mentioning names, he solicits his aunt for advice about handling his "cousinly" dilemma.

He explains that he just discovered something which would have been obvious to him, were it not for the war, but it goes against all behaviour that he has been taught.

And yet, he adds, if he does not pursue it, he might always feel like he missed his chance for true happiness.

Helen says she and Jack had to make such a decision prior to emigrating to Australia—and somebody was sure to get hurt.

Ian arrives and asks Tony to be his best man, a service that Tony is loath to provide, given the awkward circumstances.

The Ashton Home   The family is scurrying about, readying themselves for the wedding.

John wonders if Tony has his speech prepared, and Tony is startled to learn that the best man is expected to deliver a public oration.

He asks his uncle whether his speech is ready, and Edwin casually replies that he will think of something to say when the time comes.

Freda sneaks into the kitchen, dressed in her nightgown, and begins searching through some undergarments in the laundry basket.

She looks up to see Tony standing there, watching her, having put the kettle on for tea.

Freda thanks him for last night, and Tony says, "Yes, we overdid it a bit, didn't we?" to which Freda responds, "Still, once in a lifetime…"

Adroitly changing the subject, Freda expresses her appreciation for Tony's willingness to serve as best man.

When Sheila comes in with a tray of cups and saucers to be washed, Freda departs, telling Tony, "Well, see you later," but he can only stare after her in silence, regretting that he could be so blind for all these months and years.

Turning to Sheila, he asks her how she is coping with her difficult times.

As they wash and dry the dishes, she tells Tony that she dreaded the prospect of Freda's wedding, fearing that it might make her think back to her own, but instead it has made her think ahead to her divorce.

Sheila wonders when it will be Tony's turn, and he quips that he never should have agreed to be best man because every woman at that wedding will have the same question.

She alleges, "You must lie in your little hammock at night, dreaming about some girl patiently waiting for you at the dockyard gates."

"No," he explains, "all the ones I know are married already, or…" whereupon Sheila is curious to know, "Or what?" but Tony chooses not to elaborate.

Instead, he lays down his cup towel and leaves the kitchen, telling Sheila that he must look after the bridegroom.

Upstairs, Edwin knocks on Freda's door and enters her room, remarking that she looks very nice in her stylish, pink outfit—quickly opting for the word "stunning" as more descriptive of her beauty.

Freda says she always thinks of the war when she is in this room because it was the boys' room before Hitler turned the world upside down.

It was the bedroom of David, Philip, and Robert, she recalls, and she asks her father, "Does it still hurt?"

He urges her not to think about thinks like that on her wedding day because it is supposed to be the happiest and most important day of her life.

This house has not been a pleasant one for the past few years, they both agree, and Freda wonders how her father will feel if she comes running back home someday.

But that would not be Freda, he replies, because she is the one who knows what she wants in life—not Margaret, he has come to realise.

Turning pensive, Freda displays a jittery case of wedding-day nerves, pondering, "Who knows what's right, in the end? Everything's always much more complicated than it seems at the time."

She adds sadly, "Oh, well, there are no shining knights on white horses, are there, Dad? It is all in the past," whereupon her father contends, "It always was, my love."

The Registrar's Office   The family has gathered in the vestibule—Edwin, amidst the throng, chatting with Mrs. Mackenzie, and Freda chatting with Ian.

Claiming that it is too crowded in the waiting area, Tony leaves for a few minutes of fresh air.

Sefton grumbles that being married outside a church if you are a divorcé is like being buried outside a churchyard if you are a suicide.

The next couple—Private Hoffman and Miss Doyle—are summoned into the office, and Sefton complains about that conspicuously expectant woman marrying an American soldier.

"We couldn't have won the war without them," argues Edwin, but Sefton points out that there is no victory yet, adding that Hitler "has more up his sleeve than his arm."

Two American military policemen enter the office, and one of them confronts Private Eugene Hoffman.

To Miss Doyle's shock, he disallows the wedding to proceed, explaining that the private is under twenty-one years old, has no parental permission to marry, and has no permission from his commanding officer.

Evidently, this is not an uncommon occurrence in the registrar's office, for the MP seems to be on familiar terms with the superintendent as they exchange pleasantries about her back and his catarrh.

A moment later, the military policemen whisk Private Hoffman away, and he is heard to tell one of them, "Thanks, Bud. You're a miracle."

Poor, confused, very pregnant Miss Doyle runs after her Eugene, presumably to no avail.

Now Mr. Mackenzie and Miss Ashton are called into the office, and the family members follow them.

Doris, however, first must collect her American soldier from the toilet, to where he fled when he spotted the two MPs approaching.

Once the family have been seated in the austere municipal office, the ceremony commences under the direction of the superintendent.

Tony produces the ring, as requested, and then views the proceedings with a sense of gloomy resignation.

At one point in the vows, where Freda is supposed to repeat, "I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, Freda Ashton, may not be joined in matrimony to Ian James Mackenzie," she instead says, "…unlawful impediment…" and must begin anew.

The Mackenzie Home   After the ceremony, John and young John George help to decorate Ian's automobile with signs, such as "Mackenzies' Baby Wagon" and "Buy Me and Stop One."

Meanwhile, the reception is in full swing, and even Sefton grudgingly admits that everything was arranged very well.

Doris's American boyfriend, Ricky, slaps Sefton on the back and says, "Well, the weather sure turned out lousy, didn't it, Bud?" whereupon Sefton grumbles, "Cheeky devil!" as the sergeant swaggers away.

Flitting through the room, John seems to be more drunk than anyone else—and perhaps having the most fun.

Definitely not enjoying this day is Tony Briggs, who waits outside, smoking.

Freda finally appears, holding a large bouquet of flowers, and Tony quips, "Sneaking away?"

Ian comes outside as well, carrying the last case, and he loads it into the boot of the automobile.

Tony hurries to open the car door for Freda, and the couple seem ready to make their escape without detection.

But then someone spots the newlyweds, and the car soon becomes surrounded by well-wishers.

About to depart, Freda hands the flowers to John, who is quite unsure what to do with them.

Confetti is thrown, and kisses are exchanged all around until the automobile—with a hired driver at the wheel and the happy couple sitting in the back seat—pulls away from the Mackenzie home, destined for a brief, wartime honeymoon.

John has relinquished the bouquet to Tony, who now hands it to Doris, declaring, "Here. Present from the bride."

Doris thanks him but watches sadly as her friend drives off as Mrs. Ian Mackenzie.

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