Small Island s01e02 Episode Script

Episode 2

This programme contains some strong language.
'How people's lives entwine is one of life's mysteries.
'For Hortense, living in England was a childhood dream she shared with Michael.
' I will be a teacher in a fine English school and I will live in a fine house with electric lights and a bell at the front door.
'But war has a habit of crushing dreams.
' He's to go overseas.
The mother country needs men to fight for her.
'For Gilbert, war was a chance to escape his small island, 'while in England, Queenie had her own dreams.
' I can get a job, travel, see the world.
We're getting married.
'But the war put paid to her dreams also.
'But the chaos of war can also bring people together.
' Mrs Bligh, I presume.
'As well as divide them.
'Some, perhaps for good.
' It's your own flesh and blood you should think on now, Queenie, not some man who's left you in the bloody lurch.
This is my home now.
'Hortense did not let the loss of Michael mean losing her dream.
'Love was a luxury she could no longer afford.
' I will lend you the money.
You will send for me to come to England when you find a place to live.
'While Queenie was paying the price for love.
'There's a shallow sleep just before wakefulness 'where reality can merge with a dream and the two become as one.
'So it was for Hortense on her first morning in England.
'She was having the same dream she'd often had, back in Jamaica, 'that one day she would live in a fine house with its own doorbell and a warm fire in the grate.
'She would sit by it with her children and tell them about the power of dreams.
'As Gilbert watched her sleep, he could sense the sweetness of her dream and it reminded him of his own 'when he, too, had first arrived in England.
' SQUEAKING AND SCRABBLING What is that noise? Just rats.
Micejust mice in the roof.
You bring me to a house with mice? Every house in London have mice, Hortense.
They bombed out too, you know.
It not light yet? This is how it is with the English winter.
It stay dark till nine in the morning.
By four in the afternoon, the sun gone and it dark again.
SQUEAKING Sometimes, if you blink, you miss a whole day.
Shut up there! Don't you know a lady is present? I must leave for work now, Hortense.
I put the fire on for you, see? If the gas go out, you put money in the meter.
I'll leave it for you here.
For the, er I get back at six o'clock.
There is a egg and potato in the cupboard.
You can make us chips for supper.
You do know how to make chips, nah? Do I look like an imbecile, Gilbert Joseph? We did all aspects of domestic science on my college course.
Perhaps you would like to see my diploma? I swear, Hortense, you can be more prickly than a prickly pear sometimes.
I bet you not get no sleep last night.
Man, if I had a wife like that, come all this way to be with me! What a piece of something I would give for some of that to keep me warm.
Winston, wait for me outside, nah? Did I wake you? What do you think? Me wife, Hortense, she think she know everytin' about England, but she know nothing.
If you go out today, can you take her with you? Show her round, make sure she's all right? Go on, then.
Thank you.
Oh, Queenie.
Don't tell her I asked you.
She's proud that way.
All right.
'Some believe that destiny is the predetermined path we travel down in life.
'Others claim it is the roulette wheel of luck which shapes us.
' 'If it is luck, 'then perhaps it lies not so much in what happens to us, but resides 'within our own natures, in how we deal with the hand we are dealt.
' WIND BLOWS, THUNDER Gilbert? Gilbert? Gilbert! Gilbert, wake up now, man! Don't do that! My turn.
Up and out.
I tell you, only so much longer I can take this, Winston.
Well, then find us a place like you promise! "Boy, it will be easy," you say.
"We get a job easy," you say.
How many doors I knock on since we been here, Winston? How many shut in me damn face? You say you had friends.
You say you know people from the war.
All your big talk on that ship, huh? We stuck here for months in this stinking rat hole with no whiff of a job.
Things were different in the war.
They needed us then.
I see you were in the RAF.
RAF myself, too, as it goes.
Where were you stationed? Yorkshire, sir.
And then some time in Scotland.
Ah, Scotland? How was it there? A beautiful country, sir.
Truly majestic.
But cold.
I never know such a cold wind.
Well, I expect everywhere seems cold to you, lad.
How long have you been back in Blighty? Near two months now, sir.
Finding work has been Seem every job I go for vanish when I get there.
Oh, believe me, if I could do something for you here I would.
Like a shot, I would.
They say at the labour exchange you had a vacancy for the job of storekeeper.
I have it wrote down.
Or did this job vanish, too? Oh, no, no.
We still have the vacancy.
It's just, we have women working in this factory, too, you see.
What if, in the course of your duties, you found yourself talking to one of them? Well, II be polite, of course.
Oh, I don't doubt it, lad.
But, if the men saw you talking to a white woman, all hell would break loose.
They wouldn't stand for it.
I can't ignore the opinions of my workforce, can I? You must see that, surely? A question, sir, if I may? Please.
Why you never tell me this when I first sit down? When I still had feeling in me backside? 'A coloured boy trying to make his way in London can often feel his luck has run out.
' 'But it can change in a blink of his eye.
' 'Just for a fleeting moment, he can believe, after all, that he is in control of his own destiny.
' 'Then again, luck can simply be remembering a friendly face.
' Queenie.
It's Gilbert, Gilbert Joseph.
We meet up in Yorkshire.
Gilbert Joseph.
Well, I'll be damned.
I remember the address from the card your father-in-law carry.
Well, don't just stand there.
Come in.
Come in! Morning, Mr Todd.
I did feel so bad about what happened that day, Queenie.
It was my intention to come and express my condolence for your You have nothing to apologise for, Gilbert or blame yourself for.
You know, it's fate, you turning up like this.
I was just that minute wondering where I could find myself a man.
I'd never manage the damn thing on my own.
You are on your own? Your husband is not Not dead, no.
Right, one more floor.
He made it back from India with his unit after the war.
Just didn't see fit to make it back to me.
Oh, God.
So what are your plans, now you're back? Well, I finally get myself a job, driving for the Post Office.
I did hope for sometin' better than be a damn driver yet again, but it mean money comin' in at last.
All I need now is to find me a place to live so I can send for me wife, like I promise.
Say again.
Me wife.
I'm married now No, no, no about needing a place to live.
Why I come looking for you.
I thought maybe you might know somebody Didn't I say it was fate you coming? That's what all this malarkey is about.
I'm getting the rooms ready to rent.
Needs a bit of paint, a few more sticks of furniture I have a friend, Winston.
He needing a place, too.
Well, he can have one of the other rooms.
Send him along too, why not? Sorry, sorry.
When will your wife come? Directly I have saved enough for her passage.
So is she a childhood sweetheart, or was it love at first sight? You think there is such a thing? Doesn't much matter.
Chances are you end up alone.
You're not angry with him? Your husband? No, what does anger solve? This is nice.
I have found some English people are not so welcoming to us coloured boys now the war is over.
At school, we learn everytin' about the mother country.
At age ten, I could recite all the great industrial canals of England 'So he told Queenie how as a child he had learnt all about the steelworks of Sheffield, 'the china firms of Stoke-on-Trent, the railways, 'the parliamentary system of Westminster and all the great laws which had been passed there.
' All West Indian children must learn this until they are word perfect.
'As Queenie listened, she felt perhaps for the first time 'what it was like to walk in the shoes of another.
' When I arrive here, the English, they look at me dark skin and say, "Ah, you are from Africa.
" I say, "No, I'm from Jamaica in the West Indies.
I am British like you.
" And their face go blank and I realise that this mother country, about which we Jamaicans know so much, does not even know where her own children live.
She does not care one jot for us.
RADIO: 'At the christening of the first-born child' HORTENSE COPIES ACCENT: .
firstborn childand the Duke of Edinburgh.
Charles Philip Arthur George' Charles Phillip Arthur George Windsor.
'a lace brocade robe, which' Lace brocade robe.
KNOCKING AT DOOR 'The ceremony was followed by a family lunch at Buckingham Palace' Who is it, please? It's Queenie from downstairs.
We met last night.
Hortense, isn't it? Just came up to see you're settling in all right.
Oh, having a clean-up, eh? No, he's not exactly housetrained, your Gilbert, is he? Oh, I'm glad you've got this on today.
It's perishing out there.
Oh, er, we say "perishing" when it's cold.
Erm, you know, brrrrrr.
"Perishing cold," we say.
You'll get the hang of these things soon enough.
Well, so, um, how long have you and Gilbert been married? Since the day before he sail to England.
Oh? I met him during the war.
Did he tell you? He mentioned something of that nature in a letter, yes.
He's a good sort.
Reliable, decent.
You're lucky to have him.
Well, if you like, I can take you down the shops, show you about, show you how to use your ration book.
Oh, have you got a ration book? We'll soon get you fixed up.
Well, erm, you just, you know, just give me a knock when you're ready.
I'm usually about.
One thing, if I may ask? Can you perchance inform me what is "chips"? Chips? What, the sort you eat or The edible variety, yes.
They're, er, they're potatoes sliced up small.
Bit of salt and vinegar, just the job.
Oh, I want you to know, Hortense, I'm not like most round here.
It doesn't bother me being seen out with you, so don't give it a thought, all right? You can get most anything here.
This is where you get fresh fish.
Cakes, bread, so forth.
Oh, and there's the groceries for your fruit, what-nots and Mrs Bligh? Queenie! You are a punctilious teacher, Mrs Bligh.
I know because I am a teacher.
But perhaps we can come to an agreement, you and I.
When I do not know what something is, I will ask.
Brushes, nails, clothes pegs Can I help you? I would like to purchase, please, three basins.
Approximately this size.
Eh? Three basins.
So big.
What's she on about? What did you say? Basins, for the sink.
Oh! She means a bowl.
A washing-up bowl.
Ninepence ha'penny.
I will need three, please.
Three? Why three? One for washing vegetables, one for crockery and one for clothes.
No! You just need one and rinse it out after.
One is fine.
Still ninepence ha'penny.
On the counter.
I wish you a good day, sir.
Here to pick up for the Earls Court sorting office? Did someone speak? Didn't hear a dicky bird.
Could you tell me, please, those I'm to take? There it is again.
I can't see nothing.
Can you? All right, I'll find it myself.
Oi! Don't touch those.
They're not for Earls Court! Get your dirty black mitts off 'em! Is it these? How many coons does it take to change a lavatory roll? Well, no-one knows, it's never been done! Just tell me those I am to take, nah? Then I can be on my way.
What is the wog on about? Tell you what, I'll answer your question, Sambo, if you'll answer mine.
When are you going back to the jungle? THEY SNIGGER HE MAKES MONKEY NOISES THEY LAUGH Not yet, man.
I mean, I only just get here and I don't fuck your wife yet.
What did you say? Oh, I'd think twice, Sambo, eh? Do you want to keep your job and stay out of jail, eh? Everyone here will say you attacked a defenceless white man.
The police will have you back on your banana boat so fast your feet won't touch.
Animals! Now you owe me an apology, coon.
And I'm not hearing it.
On your knees.
On your knees! HE GROANS Say it.
Good evening.
What you doing, woman? Cleaning the floor.
No wife of my mine will go on her knees in this country.
Not now, not ever! Come to the table and I bring your supper.
See, all ready at six o'clock, just like you ask.
You not taking off your coat? Too cold.
What is this? Chips, like you ask.
This is not chips! Chips is fried! How you don't know what a chip is? And this, what is this? Your fancy college not teach you to cook a goddamn egg? They teach us to be thankful for the food the Lord provide, a lesson you would do well to learn, I think! What are you doing? Food should be eaten at a table! You can eat where you want, Miss High and Mighty High Class! I am cold.
I eating here.
You cannot cook a simple thing like egg and chips.
Can you cook anything at all? You are an ungrateful man, Gilbert Joseph.
I been working hard all day.
This is what I come home to.
This egg is off.
I can take no more of this! No more! You dropped your glove, dear.
You dropped it back in the street, but you walk too quick for me.
Have a cough sweet.
Warm you up.
Ruddy things.
Always get stuck together! Look like a precious jewel, don't they, when the light gets through 'em? Well, best be getting off home.
Best place to be on a night like this.
You should do the same.
Good night, dear.
TEARFULLY: Good night Me so sorry, Hortense.
Look, see, I get something for us.
Will you join me for dinner? My lady? This here is your English delicacy.
Fish and chips.
You know what the English do? They eat this food straight from the newspaper.
No plate, no cutlery.
They use just them finger.
Like monkeys? Like monkey.
Lesson number one, Hortense.
This is a chip.
Lesson number two.
Now listen well, Hortense.
All they tell us in Jamaica how everytin' and everybody in England is good? It's not true.
You must be ready for that.
I was born ready, Gilbert Joseph.
You may extinguish the light now.
Many talents I have, Hortense, but seeing in the dark is not one of them.
Or is it you cannot trust yourself not to peek at me? The shoe is on your foot in that respect, Gilbert Joseph.
Good night, wife.
Good night husband.
It is called The Times Educational Supplement.
It is the periodical where all the best teacher jobs are advertised.
BOYS: Golliwog! I look it up in the library before I leave Jamaica.
Hey, golliwog! Take no notice.
Keep walking.
Are they talking to me? Just stupid kids.
Keep walking.
Golliwog! Come here! Come over here this instant! You're wasting your breath, Hortense Queenie Queenie! Thank you, I can manage from here.
I am her husband.
I'll look after her now.
She lives here, Bernard.
In the top room.
I rent it out.
I'll be all right now, Hortense.
Come here.
Take a minute.
Catch your breath.
It can't be wise, Queenie, to rent rooms to someone like that.
Could you not find anyone else I'm the one who should be asking questions, Bernard.
Since the war, I've not heard a word from you.
I didn't know if you were alive or dead, if I was a widow.
Where on earth have you been all this time? It's complicated, Queenie.
I've not been well.
I spoke to the Ministry, Bernard.
They said you got back from India with your unit, you weren't injured.
It wasn't that kind of an injury.
I lost my bearings.
Lost your memory? What? Were you in hospital? Brighton.
Let me see if I've got this right.
I'm stuck here, struggling to keep a roof over my head, while you're on a beach with a bucket and spade an hour away on a bloody train? Where's Dad, Queenie? I-I wrote to you in India.
Did you not get my letter? We were waiting outside a cinema, and some Yanks started making trouble.
The Military Police were called.
A bullet bounced off a wall.
A tragic accident, they called it.
I took him to Yorkshire to keep him safe.
Did a good job of it, eh(?) No-one did more for him than you did, Queenie.
FRONT DOOR OPENS GILBERT: Queenie? Queenie? It's your favourite day of the week, rent day! Yeah, man.
Bang on time this time! This is my husband, Bernard.
Gilbert Joseph, Hortense's husband, who you met, and Winston Seymour.
Pleased to meet you, sir.
We're in the middle of something.
Do you mind? They live here, too? Dear God, Queenie, what were you thinking of? How was I going to pay the bills while you were playing hide-and-seek in Brighton? Sell my body? Walk the streets? Why are you back, Bernard? Why now? You're my wife.
Huh! What, I'm supposed to let you back into my life, into my bed, because you've come to your senses and remembered that, when all of a sudden it's convenient to you? You can sleep in your father's old room.
Islington is the other side of London, Hortense.
Why you need to go there? It is the location of the education authority.
I do not intend to spend my days cooking and cleaning like your servant, Gilbert Joseph.
The paper is full of advertisements for teaching posts.
I will make it clear, of course, I will only consider a position in a good school.
I am not so desperate I will accept just anything.
How will you travel to this, er, Islington, Hortense? By bus, when I have ascertained which to take.
Best to go by tube from Earl's Court, get the Piccadilly Line.
That's the dark blue line.
Then go to King's Cross, change to the Northern Line, City Branch.
That's the black line.
Maybe it better if I go with you, Hortense, no? Wednesday is my half-day.
I will take you there in the afternoon.
You may accompany me, if you wish.
Queenie's husband don't look too friendly, though, eh? Queenie will talk him round.
Hm Will you be joining us, Winston? It is fish tonight, fresh fish from the market.
What? Home cooking? Now, that is a treat.
Wow, you a lucky man to have a woman cooking you up something nice every night.
What? Ooh! Yeah, man, but you know what I just remember? I did promise to meet some of the boys, so another night, yes? Later.
It make no matter if we are asked to leave.
Soon I will have employment in a good school and we can find a decent place to live, a house with its own doorbell, electric lights in every room and a garden for the growing of vegetables, a home that is befitting for a teacher such as I.
Eat, before it get perishing.
How long you been here? "Perishing" mean cold.
DOORBELL DOORBELL All right, all right! Bloody hell! I'd say I was passing, but my father always say a white lie is your entry card to hell.
Sergeant Roberts.
I thought I'd seen the last of you.
It's just plain Mr Roberts now.
And you thought wrong.
Are you alone? Your father-in-law is .
No longer with us.
And your husband? Ditto.
Well, look, make yourself at home while I, er, you know, just 'There was a time back when Queenie still had her sassy spring to her step.
'She made heads turn.
'She had what is called presence.
'But since the war, she had lost her spring.
'Heads no longer turned when she passed by.
'She had become invisible.
'But that day in the park, heads were turning once again to look at her.
'Queenie knew that she was not the cause 'but the sight of a black man and white woman walking arm in arm.
'With Michael beside her she was visible again.
'She existed.
' We were flying over France from a night raid in Germany when the plane was hit.
It just turned into a fireball.
As I was coming down, I see the plane explode.
I could see Ginger in the distance.
His parachute was on fire.
It looked like the flame of a match just floating down in the dark sky.
I could hear him screaming.
I came down in a turnip field.
All I got was a sprained ankle.
Days I spent in that damn field, pulling up turnips from the ground, eating them raw.
And then some French children found me.
And at first they just stared at me.
Then, one by one, they step up, rub my skin to see if the colour would come off.
I wasn't angry.
I thought maybe this once my black skin would save me .
and they would think me an oddity and not a threat.
They took me to their farm, and the farmer there, he hid me, and when the Yanks come he hand me over.
I was one of the lucky ones.
You left something last time.
Well, well! My good-luck charm.
When I first flew on missions, I always swore this is what kept me safe.
Was that your sister? We were raised together.
She was something, I tell you.
Nothing could defeat that girl.
I cannot believe you kept it all this time.
This one I want to keep.
It was my good-luck charm, to bring you back to me.
So, how long do I have you this time, Michael Roberts? Until Monday.
A weekend.
Well, we must make the best of it.
So, when you leave tomorrow, will you go back to your family in Jamaica? You know, the girl in the photo? There was a hurricane before I left.
Things are never the same after a hurricane hits.
There is nothing for me there now.
Have you ever felt the force of a hurricane, Queenie Bligh? You know, you could stay here if you've a mind.
I've got plenty of room, after all.
Before I came to England, I had such ideas about what it was like.
But it's just another island, just like the one I left.
Full of small minds, just like there.
I'm going to Canada.
I tell you, the land is vast there.
A man can breathe there.
He could make a good future for himself in such a land.
'She waited, 'hoping he would ask her to go with him to Canada.
'If he did, she would lock the house, wave goodbye to her life and go with him.
'But he did not ask her, 'so she resolved she would ask him.
'But when it came to it, she did not dare say the words.
'She was too afraid of what his answer might be.
'So it was, on that Monday morning, she watched him walk out of her life 'without a backward glance.
' In Hertfordshire, Herefordshire and Hampshire .
hurricanes hardly ever happen.
It's not just me who thinks it.
Mrs Lucas at number 25 feels the same, so do the Reids at number 19.
The whole street's up in arms about it.
They say either your wife gets rid of the darkies, or they'll be forced to take matters into their own hands.
Now you're back, you can deal with it, thank God.
But I wouldn't leave it too long.
It was a woman, wasn't it? It had to be a woman.
Not in the way you think.
India was after a while you think you get immune to the squalor and the death.
We lost over half the men in our unit in one month.
Boys, most of them, barely old enough to shave.
They called me Pops.
On VJ day, just being alive was Some of the chaps wanted to go to a brothel in Calcutta.
They got me drunk and talked me into going with them.
On the ship on the way back to England, I developed a sore on my Well, I knew straight away it was Syphilis.
When we got to India, a medic had told me the symptoms, what to expect Apoplexy, insanity, death.
All from a few misspent minutes with a whore in Calcutta! I thought about ending it all there and then but I didn't have the bloody guts.
When we got back to London, I knew I couldn't come home.
So, I ended up at Waterloo Station and I got a train to Brighton.
I wandered around and saw an ad in a shop window on the front.
"Handyman needed in hotel in exchange for board and lodging".
So I took it and waited to die.
People don't die from Syphilis any more, Bernard.
I wanted to die! It was my punishment, for betraying you.
And why should I escape death when so many hadn't? But nothing happened.
No symptoms.
After a while I went to a doctor and he said after so long without penicillin I'd either be mad or dead.
Said it wasn't syphilis, more likely an infected insect bite.
Some husband you've got yourself, eh? You're human, like the rest of us, Bernard.
We're none of us perfect.
You can go now, Gilbert.
I do not wish to disrupt your day any further.
They may want to show me straightaway the school at which I will be working.
Hortense? Don't build too many hopes, nah? England have it own way of doing things.
A teacher will not be treated in the same way as someone in a low-class job.
I will see you at home.
PHONE RINGS Enter! Good day to you.
Yes? I understand this is the place I should present myself for a position in the teaching profession? You're a teacher? I am.
My letters of recommendation.
As you will see, one is from the headmaster at my last school.
Sorry, where are you from exactly? Jamaica.
This letter is written by the headmaster at my last school, and you will see that The school was where? The Coral Hill Parish School in Kingston, Jamaica.
And here is the recommendation from the Alexandria Hall Teacher Training College which previously I attended, under the tutelage of Miss Is that also in Jamaica? Of course, yes.
If you didn't train here, you can't teach here.
It's not possible.
If you read the letters you will see I spent three years training to be a teacher.
I received distinction in the teaching diploma awarded to me.
I'm sure you did, but your qualifications aren't recognised here.
They're of no use to us.
The Education Authority make the rules, we must abide by them.
I must train all over again? Is that what you say? Assuming you are accepted.
I must warn you, competition for places is extremely fierce.
GIGGLING SHE RAPS ON DESK How you get on? Hortense? What, what happened? Wait! Why you ask me these questions? What business is it of yours? You are my wife! I can look after myself.
I did it for many years before you came along, I can again! I don't need you In God's name, woman! What they say to you? They say I cannot teach here! Talk, talk to me, tell me what they say.
My teaching qualifications are no good here.
I must train all over again.
And when I get up to go, I walk into a cupboard.
A cupboard? I thought it was the door to leave by.
But it was a cupboard.
And the women laugh at me.
What was in this cupboard? A broom and mops.
See, I've walked into plenty cupboards myself.
Broom cupboard, stationery cupboard.
This one had paper in it also.
Cha? Broom and paper? You should tell them, curious cupboard you have there.
Mixing cleaning utensils with stationery.
How long you stay in this cupboard? Long enough to see it was a mess! Everything higgeldy-piggeldy, I even bang my foot on a bucket there.
You hurt your foot because these people cannot keep their cupboards in a tidy manner? And they call this a civilised country.
You should go back in there and say that where you are from you are used to a tidy cupboard.
You are a fool, Gilbert Joseph.
I try, God knows.
I have an idea.
We will do what the English do in times of trouble.
We shall drink a cup of tea.
But first, we pay a visit to the King.
Look at all those rooms.
I mean, you can only sleep in one bed at a time, after all.
But then he is the King.
Maybe he hop between them, eh? You have no respect, Gilbert Joseph.
What am I to do, Gilbert? To teach here is all I ever dream of.
Well Can you sew? Of course.
I been sewing since I was a girl.
A dressmaker I pass on the way to work, she have a sign in her window for a seamstress.
I am a teacher, not a seamstress! And you will be.
You can sew, and I will drive my Post Office van, and we will save enough money so you can go to college and train to be a teacher HERE.
You would do that for me? I once had hope to study law.
It was a pipe dream.
We can still make yours happen.
Of course, I can also cook.
My teacher Miss Plumtree said my lemon sponge cake was the best she ever taste.
Even better than those she eat in the finest the tea shop in London! She tell you where this tea shop is? Mm-mm.
Because we must be sure never to go there.
You are teasing me again, Gilbert Joseph! 'The trauma of war is like a wound which never truly heals.
'When a man returns, he can feel like an impostor in his own life.
'His struggle for recognition can make him act in a way even he does not recognise.
' Hey what you doin' here, Mr Bligh? To tell you to leave.
I don't know how you inveigled your way into Queenie's favour, but I intend to run a clean and respectable household.
You saying that we not respectable? We're not clean! Last night? Stinking the house out with the stench of your cooking.
Don't insult her cooking! You going too far! Don't tell me what to do and say in my own home! I want all of you now, tonight! What's happening? I can hear you down the stairs.
I was born in this house! I will not have wogs here! Wogs?! They need to pack their bags and leave now! Better yet What you think you doing man? You don't belong here any of you! Stop! I want you out of here! Stop! This is my house now! You signed it over to me when you went away! It's you who doesn't belong here! I is so sorry.
He not an easy man to deal with, Queenie.
SHE GASPS Go fetch a doctor, please, now! Help me downstairs.
Help me downstairs, please.
Ah! Oh! Help me undress! The doctor will come, he will help you.
Arghh! You are with child! Get it off me.
Unwind it quickly.
I can feel it coming! It's coming.
I can feel it, it's coming.
But the doctor's not here yet! Oh, it's like Gone With The Wind.
When they delivered the baby.
Scarlett or the other? Oh, I can't remember? You think I am like that foolish slave girl in, Gone With the Wind! I am an educated woman, a teacher For god's sake, not now, Hortense! Aaah! SHE GASPS FOR BREATH Get towels, quickly get towels! The head is there, Mrs Bligh! Baby coming, Mrs Bligh! You must push now! Push, Mrs Bligh, push! In God's name, call me Queenie! Push, Queenie, push! Arghhh! BABY CRIES She is waiting for you.
Hortense My perfect boy.
Hey, hey, hey, this is nothing to do with me, man! I swear to you, I am not the father! Damn it, man, this business is nothing to do wit' me! I is not the only black man in England! KNOCKS ON DOOR Hortense? Come on, let me in, nah? Hortense, please! I will send for my trunk when I am settled.
Where you going? Wait, nah! Hortense? Hortense! Hortense! You're getting soaked out there.
Hortense? NO! Hortense! Let me go! Let me go! This woman is not your whore! She's my damn wife! Are you all right? God knows who the father is! Some damn fool Jamaican with an eye for a pretty woman.
But it's not me! I only been here six months.
It cannot be my child! Hortense? It cannot be my child.
I met him during the war.
He was RAF, like you.
Out of the blue, he turned up again.
I wish I could tell you I regret it, but I don't.
You once said that I bought out feelings in you that you never knew you had, that it was a gift I had.
That was his gift to me.
'And so she told him when she found she was pregnant, 'how she tried everything to get rid of it.
'Hot baths, heaving heavy furniture about, even throwing herself down the stairs.
'But nothing worked.
'Then, one night, she said how she felt a tiny kick, 'like a flutter of Morse code.
'She saw the enemy was not within her, as she had thought, 'but in the world outside, 'and only she could protect him from it.
'So it was, Queenie's son began life in a drawer, 'and a bottom drawer at that.
'The thing about starting life at the bottom, 'there's no place to go but up.
' What going on wit' you today? Today is a special day, man.
Today's the day I hand in my cards.
What are you talking about? Didn't I tell you I had a plan? Huh? To do what? Sweep the road? I got somethin' going on.
Somethin' big, man.
My grandma back home sell her land for a good price to some fool, fool Yank movie star, right? She send the money to me.
True? Yeah, man! Enough to buy me a house in London.
Up in Finsbury Park.
You know it? Course I know it! So the place is a bit run-down.
But now the sale is gone through, I want you to fix it up, Gilbert.
You can live there, with Hortense.
Other rooms we let to people from back home.
You collect the rent, you run the place, you keep it nice.
You pay me a small percentage.
You can do all this yourself.
Because I have my eye on another house.
Me do the same t'ing there! And you don't wan' no money right now? No man, not until the rent is coming in.
And me and Hortense can live there? Yeah, man, that's the plan.
Why you doing all this, for me? All the boys I meet since we come, is only you who look out for me.
You put a roof over my head when I needed one so now I return the favour.
You know what you is? The cavalry! That is what you are! The cavalry, man! THEY CHEER AND LAUGH BABY CRIES What happened - you and the child's father - I'm to blame, Queenie.
If I hadn't gone to Brighton, if I'd had the courage to face you, then I would have been here.
All that time, I never stopped loving you, Queenie.
I'll take the child on, if that's what you want.
I'll be a father to him.
Or I'll leave.
Whatever you want.
It run-down, all right? So don't be expecting no palace.
It been empty a long time.
There been a war, remember.
Hortense? Well, stuck right there.
Come on.
Is this it? Is it just this? Don't rush to judge so quick, Hortense.
Give it a chance, nah? It is a fine room, Gilbert, but is it just this we have? Or is there more? You like the room? It is an excellent room.
It very run-down.
What? You scared of a little hard work? There is nothing here we cannot fix.
A bit of paint and some carpet.
A table and chairs here by the window.
Some warm curtains.
And here, two armchairs in front of the fire.
Yes, it will be very nice, like a home should be for a teacher such as I will be.
So I ask again, Gilbert Joseph, is it just this one room we have or are there others? Oh, no, there are others, Hortense! Plenty others! Come, I show them to you.
Queenie here? Not at the minute.
Tell her, please, we're moving out at the end of the week.
All of us.
I spoke without knowing the full facts.
I was mistaken.
You think your white skin make you better than me, don't you? We both finish fighting a war for a better world.
We was on the same side! And after everytin' we go through, you still think that I am worthless and that you are better than me.
So tell me, what exactly was it we fight for? BABY CRIES (Gilbert?) Gilbert! Gilbert! Is it the mice? Is not the mice.
You wan' come in the bed wit' me? Say again? I said, do you wan' sleep in the bed with me? I get perishing here, Gilbert Joseph.
Soon build you up, eh? I managed to get a couple of decent steaks from the butcher's, too.
The coloured chap seems all but ready to leave.
Make myself useful in the garden, I think, while the weather holds.
Bernard? You never told me you were born in this house.
Yet you still signed it over to me.
I love you.
I thought I'd plant some vegetables for next year.
He'll be on solids by then, won't he? I'll get the hang of this father thing, you'll see.
I've not had a chance to thank you yet for all you did for us.
I'll put the kettle on.
Do you want to hold him? Hello, handsome.
You have a real knack, Hortense.
I always had a way with babies.
If she says so herself.
Oh, he's good as gold, he really is.
He's no bother at all.
Can tell he likes you.
Show him to Gilbert.
You will scare the poor thing! You have a name for him yet? Michael.
You are calling him Michael? Do you like it? It is a favourite name of mine.
Hello, baby Michael.
Well, I'll, um, I'll get us some tea.
You'd better take him now.
I want you to take him, Hortense.
Oh, I dare not drink hot tea while I'm No, I mean I want you and Gilbert to take him with you when you leave.
What is it you say, Queenie? I want you to bring him up as your son.
I know it's a lot to ask but you're good people.
I know you'll look after him.
You'll give him the home he deserves.
You do not want your baby? Yes, I want him! Course I want him! But I want what's best for him, and I can't give him that.
Look, say yes, please.
Look, I'll beg you, if that's what it takes! I've thought about it.
I've thought about nothing else.
It's the only way! Queenie? What in God's name's going on? She ask us to take the baby.
It's the best thing for him.
You're his mother.
You're the best thing for him.
I'll help, I told you.
For pity's sake.
For God's sakes, get up.
You say that now when he's a just a baby.
What happens when he grows into a young lad with a mind of his own and does something out of order? You'll think, "You wog, black bastard!" I'd never think such a thing.
You won't be able to help yourself, Bernard, because you'll be angry, angry for all the times the neighbours shunned you, all the bricks thrown through the windows, all the sniggers behind your back.
He'll see the anger in your eyes, and he'll know he's the cause of it.
If he's the only black face, he'll never feel he belongs.
I want him to hold his head up high and not be brought down because people shout abuse at him wherever he Oh, I beg you, please take him! For not for my sake, but for his, please.
You have been through a lot, Queenie.
This is not you talking.
Oh, God, if you won't help us, who will? Oh, God 'As Gilbert comforted Queenie, he saw a look in Bernard's face he recognised.
'He'd seen it too many times to mistake it.
' Hortense, come, give the baby back.
Come, come.
'He knew that look would forever haunt him, 'yet still he fought it.
' How will we feel, knowing we turned our backs But we can't do this, Hortense! How can we? We have our own lives to lead.
We have enough goin' on without all this.
He is not our responsibility! But if we leave him here alone Look, he's not Look, he's not alone.
He has Queenie.
She's not enough.
She knows that.
My mother knew it, too.
Ach! To give up what you love the most? I doubt I would have such courage.
BABY CRIES This was the Michael I knew.
We were raised together as brother and sister.
He was lost in the war.
I was a child then.
I'm a grown woman now, and old enough to be a mother.
Let's take a look at that nappy of yours, eh? Eh? There we go.
Hey, Dad.
Hi, guys.
Come on, get your stuff, yeah? We been doing our genealogy ting again.
Is this the house they moved into? Mm-hm.
And a few years later, they bought it.
And this is your great-grandma, Hortense, the woman who raised me.
Who's that? She is my mother.
Get your stuff.
We're going to the park.
Do you want to come with us, Dad? Why not?