Drowning by Numbers (1988) - full transcript

Tired of her husband's philandering ways, the mother of two daughters drowns her husband. With the reluctant help of the local coroner, the murder is covered up. Her daughters are having similar problems with relationships, and tend to follow their mother's example, and the coroner becomes reluctantly involved in their murders as well. As the plot progresses, visual and spoken numbers appear in the scenes, counting from one to 100.

One - Antares, two - Capella.

Three - Canopus, four - Arcturus.

Five - Agreetor, six - Anektor.

Seven - Duendin, eight - Algerib.

Nine - Agena, ten - Lalandry.

11 - Vega, 12 - Golubin.

13 - Spirro, 14 - Capra.

15 - Acrab, 16 - Deneb.

17 - Sapho, 18 - Castor.

19 - Pollux, 20 - Storcha.

21 - Algano, 22 - Spira.

23 - Salcis, 24 - Hoytan.

25 - Luper, 26 - MacKay.

27 - Regulus, 28 - Eiridani.

29 - Tenna, 30 - Riga.

31 - Cursa, 32 - Thuba.

33 - Mett, 34 - Mack.

35 - Mez, 36 - Lap.

37 - Zed, 38 - Diss.

39 - Bolse, 40 - Daron.

41 - Jeannus, 42 - Touros.

43 - Plin, 44 - Paul.

45 - Broma, 46 - Branca.

47 - Bellatrix, 48 - Mirach.

49 - Almach, 50 - Caff.

51 - Corboda, 52 - Ceti.

53 - Cruzer, 54 - Spira.

55 - Schredder, 56 - Abiera.

57 - Dipda, 58 - Kracklite.

59 - Salcis, 60 - Okkra.

61 - Bolstar, 62 - Beastal.

63 - Procis, 64 - Salamon.

65 - Groombridge, 66 - Betelguese.

67 - Stobart, 68 - Gobin.

69 - Adnam, 70 - Boston.

71 - Scheet, 72 - Nath.

73 - Stratt, 74 - Kriss.

75 - Bosch, 76 - Louis.

77 - Borick, 78 - Crupel.

79 - Indi, 80 - Smeltzer.

81 - Crucis, 82 - Banka.

83 - Altair, 84 - Nollar.

85 - Schrader, 86 - Fabriticus.

87 - Lucius, 88 - Kuellar.

89 - Kitaj, 90 - Bethal.

91 - Britius, 92 - Colcis.

93 - Centaur, 94 - Sopul.

95 - Jonah, 96 - Vierny.

97 - Ritback, 98 - Rostra.

99 - Procyon and 100 - Elektra.

What are you doing up so late?

I'm counting the stars.

Do you really know all their names?

Yes, I do.

- How many did you count?
- 100.

- There are more than 100.
- I know.

- Why did you stop?
- 100 is enough.

Once you've counted 100,
all the other hundreds are the same.

Take your clothes off girl.

My name's Nellie and there's not room
in that bath for two of us.

Who says two's going in it?

I'm surprised you haven't got a proper bath.

I like a tin bath.

Take that light further off.

What are you frightened of?

Ashamed I might see your underwear?
Or aren't you wearing any?


I'm cold standing here!
I want a bath too!

There's one outside under the apple tree.

Moonlight, good for the complexion.

Oh, Cissie!

We've been using your soap.

Hey, it's her birthday today,
and I took her out to celebrate.

Why don't you wish her happy birthday, Cissie?

She's as naked as a newborn babe.

Nothing wrong with that,
is there, Cissie?

You're not supposed to be here.

You're supposed to be playing cards!

Oh, backgammon, newmarket and whist,

then two in a row, three in a bed,
four in hand,

five-card stud...

along with your... friend!


Hey, get a towel, Cissie,
she's drunk too much.

If you play the cards right, Cissie...

Oh, well, you can get your clothes off
and come in here too!

I've had a wash, I've had a wash.

She gave me one. Nancy...


I've had a wash already, Cissie,
Nancy gave it to me.

Nancy gave it to me,
let's play a game...





Get up and answer the phone!

In the game of Dawn Card-Castles,

52 playing cards

are stacked up into a castle
in a draft-free space.

The player can determine
the dreams of the next night,

if he awakes before the castle collapses.

Those players who wish to dream of romance

build their castles
with the seven of hearts.

He's put a lot of weight on recently.

You'll wake him and he'll want to eat.

The only time he stops eating
is when he's asleep.

- Is it warm enough for this?
- Yes.

- I phoned Madgett, he didn't answer.
- What did you want to do that for?

I've just drowned Jake.

Do all fat men have little penises?

Huh, I don't know mother, I've not known...
What do you mean?

When you first met Hardy
did he have a moustache?

What do you mean you've just drowned Jake?

I don't like the beard.

No, neither do I.
I'm trying to persuade him to shave it off.

What do you mean you've just drowned Jake?

Yes, I need your help to move her.

- What, move who?
- Nancy.

- Nancy who?
- Nancy Gill, she calls herself Nel.

What has she got to do with it?
Have you drowned her too?

He doesn't smell very fresh, does he?

He looks pregnant,
I like these creases.

We better phone Madgett again.

- Perhaps he can help us.
- "Us", mother?

One, two, three...

four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, te-e-e-e-en!

The game Flights of Fancy
or Reverse Strip Jump

is played from as high a jumping point
as a competitor will dare.

After each successful jump,
the competitor is allowed to put on

an article of clothing.

... three, four, five, six, seven,
eight, nine, te-e-e-e-en!


What are we going to say
if we meet someone?

It depends who it is.

"Morning, just taking Nancy home,
she popped round for a bath."

She could lose some weight.

Everyone seems to be getting fatter.

Jake must've thought things
were getting better all the time.

I was only 25 when your father died.

And plump enough.

Look at her thumbs.

Seamstresses thumbs, well turned.

Was Jake interested in thumbs?

Eh, not especially as I remember.

What's that?

- Mother, are you going to sneeze?
- No, I can smell something.

Oh, it's Smut.

Oh, Madgett must keep him from using that paint.
It makes such a mess.

What's the smell?

It's gunpowder,
Smut's been celebrating a corpse!

Ah! It's still wet.

Sheep are especially sensitive

to the exact moment of the turn of the tide.

In this game, nine tethered sheep react,

pull on the stakes,

jog the chairs and rattle the tea cups.

Madgett, where the hell do you keep
all these sheep?

Don't you like sheep?

Shoo them away if you don't like them.

Bets are taken on the combined sensitivity

of any line of three sheep,

read vertically, horizontally or diagonally.

Since there are normally
three tide turns every 24 hours,

it is normal practice
to take the best of three results.

Reliable clocks, calendars and timetables

are used to determine the accuracy
of the sheep's forecast.

Cissie, did you remember?

Yes. Now, they are slightly damaged,
so be careful.

Why didn't you answer the phone earlier, Smut?

I never answer the phone
until the cock crows three times.

It's nice to see you both so early.

How's... Hardy?

He's all right.

What are they doing?

They're playing Sheep and Tides.

Sheep are much maligned,
don't you think?

Smut and I are testing their intelligence.

It's an Old Testament game.

No, it's not.

Isn't it?

Have some heart...
How's... Jake?

Ah, no thank you...
and Jake's all right.

Mother, that's not true.

What are you doing, Smut?

I'm counting the hairs on the dog.

- What ever for?
- To see how many there are.

Madgett, I think you ought to come
and see Jake.


Go and give Gregory and Teigan some tea.

What about the sheep?

They need to be thirsty to be useful.

Why do I have to come and see Jake?

Is he dead?

Good lord, how did you know?

I didn't.

- I feel ill.
- It's those mushrooms.

I've got to lie down.

For God's sake, Madgett,
why have you got to feel ill now?

Look, I'm going to phone Cissie,
tell her that Nancy needs a visit.

Madgett, I've got to talk to you about Jake.

Oh, Cissie, I can't talk now,
I feel ill.

Tell Smut when he comes back
I need some warm milk

and some lemon juice...

and a straw.

In the game of Sheep and Tides,

a referee should be appointed
to determine fair play,

distinguishing correct reactions
from other interferences.

On account of their
special relationship with sheep,

shepherds are disqualified.

The tide's on the turn now!

No, not yet.

Three, two, one... now!

No, you fool! Oh, you missed it!

You can't go by the book.

You have to watch... very carefully.

What happened?

I drowned him in his bath.

- Oh, God!
- Come and see, it looks natural.

- Oh, God!
- Madgett, you are going to help me, pull yourself together.

I am?

And what's in it for me?

Madgett, you're a coroner.

For God's sake, stop reminding me...
but that's nice.

Try a bit lower.

Shall I leave now? While you two
come to some sort of agreement?

Don't be stupid.

I couldn't find any lemon juice,

you'll have to do with one chocolate pudding.

Oh, Madgett...
Oh, come on, Madgett!

Cissie, I'm in no especial hurry
to assist your crimes.

Madgett, there's a corpse in my house.

It's only your husband.

The flies are settling on him.

Brush them off, use a newspaper.

Madgett, I want legal aid,
not a fly swat.

A great many things
are dying very violently all the time.

The best days for violent deaths are Tuesdays,

they are the yellow paint days.

Saturdays are second-best, or worst.

Saturdays are red paint days.

The Great Death game is therefore

a contest between red paint days
and yellow paint days.

So far, yellow paint days are winning

by 31 corpses to 29.

Whatever the colour,

a violent death is always celebrated
by a firework.

He is dead.

God, well done, Madgett!
And what did he die of?

Well.... he drowned.

- Did he?
- Of course.

Why did he die?

There's a strong smell of alcohol.

So there is.

He drowned in his bath,
due to excessive drinking?


Even in the most disadvantageous circumstances,

human beings have an almost
involuntary desire to stay alive.

What's the answer then?

- What's the reward?
- Reward?


What do I get for writing out
a death certificate that says -

"Death caused by drowning
after heart attack

"due to excessive drinking"?

- Madgett, I'm appalled!
- I see.

What do you want, Madgett?

Well, Cissie...
I'd have thought you'd have guessed.

No, you tell me.

Is this the moment when we leave the room?

Yes. The second tub needs emptying.

- Well?
- Well...

A little bodily comfort
would be good for a start.

- Madgett, I am 61.
- So?

Aren't I too old for you?

Were you too old for him?


You've not been unaware
of how I felt about you?

Well, it's a bit soon, isn't it?

Smut, which are you first?
A ghoul or a mathematician?

- Neither I'm just a clerk.
- Modest!

I could wait... a little while...

I think you'd have to,
to stop tongues wagging.

But not too long.

This is blackmail.


If a player in the game of Dead Man's Catch

drops a skittle,

he's obliged to suffer
a succession of handicaps.

First, to catch using one hand.

Then, to catch kneeling on one knee.

Then, on two knees,
and then, with one eye closed.

If a player finally drops a catch
with both eyes closed,

then he is out and must take his place
in the winding sheet.

- Madgett, what sort of game is this?
- One to be played with skill.

Some skill! It's a kid's game.

That was a lousy throw, Smut.

Stop complaining and use one hand.

Look, Madgett, this is no time
for playing games,

- What would everybody think?
- Let them think what they like.

I can see Cissie's upset.

Best to keep her mind occupied.
Down on one knee, Bellamy.

These are my best trousers!
I came to pay my respects.

Then, you can pay your respects kneeling!

I can't spend all my time
paying games, Cissie.

What's your time worth, Hardy?

I was married to Jake for 34 years,

surely you can spare him a few minutes.

Is he going to be buried or cremated, Cissie?


And where are you going
to scatter the ashes?

Oh, don't worry,
I'll find a suitable place for those.

Cissie, you're hardhearted.

And you're a lousy catch,
no eyes and no hands!

Into the winding sheet, Hardy,
you're dead.

God, you're a little ghoul, Smut.
Who is your father?

- Oh, blast it!
- No hands, Bellamy.

All right!
You did that on purpose, Smut!

Into the winding sheet, Bellamy.
It's only a game.

The way Madgett plays it,
you'd think it meant something.

Well, of course it does.

It means you're a lousy catch.

So, Madgett, what's the verdict?

Accidental death, of course.

Into the winding sheet, Smut!

Into the winding sheet, Madgett!

I've found you three more stars.

Cygnia Beta, Castor Minor and Groombridge 35.

There in the north,
between the twins and Ursa Minor,

over by Cissie's house.

Why don't you skip out on the road?
There's more room.

Are you circumcised?

What's that?

A piece of your willy is cut off,
it's in the Bible.

My mother says it's better that way.

These are the photos of Madgett's game
for taking Jake to the funeral parlour.

Who's that?

It's Cissie's boyfriend,
his name's Bellamy.

On his deathbed, Prime Minister Pitt said -

"I think I could eat
one of Bellamy's pork pies."

When are you going to break away from that butt
and come and live with me?

I'll marry you on two conditions.

What are they?

That you learn to swim...

and never...

never, take me from the front.

- I've told you before.
- Why the hell not?

Cos I can't stand being lain on
and it gives me claustrophobia.

Besides... you won't hurt the baby.

- What baby?
- That scared you didn't it?

- What baby?
- There's no baby you dope,

though the way you go about it
I'm constantly surprised.

Fancy a plumber not being able to swim.

What's water for?

Drinking perhaps?

All right, Cissie, why did you do it?

Because he was unfaithful.

Cissie, he's been unfaithful before,
why did you wait until now?


Because he'd stopped washing his feet...

his nose was too red...

Because he had a hairy backside...


I didn't kill him, he drowned.

I drowned him.

- Was it easy?
- Yes.

What is it?

What is it? Oh, Smut!

What have you found?

How old is Nancy?


Older than me and bigger tits.

What does that mean?

It means Jake made a play for me once.

He what?

And me.

What a dirty old man.

Why have you told me now?

It might help.

I didn't like him.

Is that sufficient reason to drown him?

Madgett says it is.

That's pretty irresponsible for a coroner.

Isn't it?

If you ask him nicely he might be
irresponsible enough to help you.

Oh, it's Smut.

Lose one, win one.

- What?
- A husband.

I've got some news for you.

Bellamy and me...

Or is it "I"...?

have decided on a date,
the 31st of this month.

It's a Saturday.

Well, you don't look too excited about it.

Madgett will be pleased for me.

He, least of all.


Yes. Look up those.

Elephant Hawk-moth.

I want a baby.

At 19?

Cissie, you're mad.

I thought you wanted to spend your life swimming,
not bearing children.

Bellamy can't even swim.

- I don't think he can change a light bulb.
- I know, I know.

Championship women swimmers
always have their sons early.

They do.

And how sure are you
that it will be a boy?

Capable women normally have girls.


What do you want?

I'm hot.

Is it true it's desirable
to be circumcised in a hot climate?

So they say.

- Was Samson circumcised?
- Yes.

Does it hurt?

I don't remember.

What does it look like?

Nothing special. Look.

Now go to bed.

Was Delilah circumcised?
Do they circumcise women?

Sort of... in hot countries.

- It's hot here.
- So it is.

Did they do it to Cissie?

I doubt it very much.

Was Jake circumcised?

You'd better ask Cissie.

Is circumcision barbaric?

Some say so. Now go to bed,

and anything unanswered
about man's barbarity to women,

you can ask Cissie in the morning,
she's an authority.

Now let me write.

Sid, Sid!

Number 41.
It's by the bridge in Cattermole Road.

What's he doing?

He's counting the bees,
he's always counting something.

Bees should be told about a death.

That only applies to blood relatives, doesn't it?

Isn't she going to be a blood relative?

Isn't who?

Cissie, Jake's widow.


What makes you think that?

Isn't that why you signed
the death certificate "heart attack"?

Good lord, Gregory, what an imagination!

I know. I got it from my mother.

Mothers have a lot to answer for.

Oh, sorry, it's Smut!
Here, have a newspaper.

Smut... You're late,
you're supposed to be swimming.

Gregory, come and try this new game with me.
You too, Nancy.

I've got to go,
you've forgotten to tell Madgett about...

He doesn't want to know about them!
Silly girl!

All right then, Nancy,
see you later.

Mind the sheep!

The game Bees in the Trees
is a variant of Musical Chairs

and is best played with funeral music
and in the open air.

The object of the game is to sit
on a vacant chair when the music stops.

If the chair sat on
is previously occupied by bees,

it is permissible to arrange
a professional foul.

Are you Cissie Colpitts?

I am, though there are others.

Our name's Bognor.


I am Jonah and this is Moses.

- We're cousins of the dead man.
- What dead man?

Come on, don't be stupid.
Jake, of course.

Oh, pleased to meet you.
Are you in training too?

- Training?
- For the Olympics.

- No, are you?
- Why, yes.

My coach is over there.

The one in the red beret
trained with Dawn Fraser.

The other one swam
with Esther Williams in Stockholm.

I thought Esther Williams was a singer?

Do you know those two men?

No. Oh, wait a minute...
they do look vaguely familiar...

- They know you.
- They do?

They're Jake's cousins,
they're called Moses and Jonah.

The water's a connection?

How much do you think
body hair is appreciably responsible

for extra drag, Miss Freilichberg?


Do you think I ought to shave
and not just my legs?

What do you think I'd look like bald?


What do Bellamy and you get up to?

... when I need to impress, expect support!

Oh, sorry.

The turn...

it is essential that the muscles of the pelvis

move at 45 degrees
at an angle to the front.

Johnny Weissmullers...

Stop that!

Oh, Smut. Here's your towel.

It's all right,
these have been counted.


A man that is born of a woman
has but a short time to live...

You know why they built
the crematorium here, don't you?


The ground is so waterlogged around here

that you can't dig a grave
without making a pond.

Ask Sid.

As it is, they hold these services at low tide
in case the water puts the fire out!


Here comes the bit I've never liked.

Bite your lip and start counting in threes.

Three. Six. Nine.

12. 15. 18.

21. 24. 27.

30. 33. 36. 39.

42. 45. 48. 51...

What are they doing?

They're counting. They often do it.

Are you the local coroner?

- I am.
- How come a six-foot man

drowns in a four-foot bath?

He died of a heart attack.

A bit inconvenient to have
a heart attack in a bath, is it?

It's a bit inconvenient to have
a heart attack anywhere.

What would you say if we said
we don't agree with your verdict?

I'd say you'd better find me
some evidence to the contrary.

Well, how's about
"Why were there two baths?", eh, Madgett?

I had a sort of complaint
recently from Nancy.

She came to me to complain of...
red paint on her leg,

lost shoes and....

some other, I gather,
rather embarrassing missing article.

- Her knickers.
- Really?

How do you know that??

Because she paid me to go into your kitchen
and look for them.

She what?

Well, she used to be
my Sunday School teacher.

She taught me the Ten Commandments -
not to lie...

- Not to commit adultery?
- Shut up, Cissie.

And I found them under your sink,

put them in my pocket
and told her they weren't there.

Which was true because
they were in my pocket.

and here they are.

It'll cost each of you another 50 pence
if you want them back.

God, Smut, that showed
great presence of mind.

And a taste for business!

Well, that settles it then.

If I go down,
you all go down with me.

Look who's there.


And the two swimmers from the baths.

And Bellamy.

Perhaps there's a conspiracy.

- A conspiracy?
- A water tower conspiracy.

Set to accuse you, Cissie, of drowning.


The object of Hangman's Cricket
is for each competitor

to retain his allotted nine lives

by scoring runs with a cat or bat,

defending his lower leg
from being struck by the ball.

There is no limit to the number of players

as long as each has an identity
agreed by the two referees.

Now bat harder or play without shoes!

This game of yours, Madgett,

has everything in it
except the kitchen sink.

Thank you.

When played inland, Mrs Hardy...

The more important identities
are the emperor,

the red queen, the widow,

the fat lady,

the dunce, the judge, the hangman,

the harlot...

Come on, you two, out!

the businessman, the maiden...

Go and do your fornication elsewhere.

It's not fornication any more.

You buy a marriage licence
and it becomes legal.

Not on my couch, it doesn't.

I'll give you three minutes
to make yourself decent.

Hasn't the novelty worn off yet?

Well you see, Hardy,
we've only been married for two hours.

Oh, like hell!

Every cow in every field in the district

has seen the colour of your arse, Bellamy.

Crabby idiot!

Hey, do you think he ever did it?

Ask Cissie.

The adulterer can only pair
with the harlot

when each has an even
number of lives above 12.

Hey, bugger off!

I'm Marina, I'm Bellamy's sister.
Are you Madgett?

I am.

If I'm in mourning,
why do I have to catch one-handed?

Grief is a handicap, my dear.

So is not being able to see.

The mother-in-law is only allotted
five runs at a time,

after which she must defer

to the gravedigger
who is allowed to add

the number of runs of each competitor
he bowls out to his own.

Out Hardy!

She's cheating! Out!

I do not run a pathetic Punch and Judy show
for lonely bachelors,

nor do I run a bordello for newlyweds!

If the phone rings,
or if someone breaks their leg,

or if you decide to play a proper game,

then I'll be in the sea swimming!

Hardy's right.

This is my wedding party,
why can't we play some proper cricket?

To dangerous!

The maiden is always obliged
to be a spectator

unless she is partnered by the twins.

Good afternoon, remember us?
We're the Bognor brothers, I'm Jonah...

- And I'm Moses.
- I remember.

We'd like a word with you.

In private, if possible.

All right.

Well, what the hell do you know
about cricket?

It's no more dangerous
than any other game.

1931, Chapman Ridger, Australia.

A blow to the chest.

Scores 51 runs,
then has heart palpitations for 12 hours...

A cracked rib enters the lung,
coughing blood.

Dies the next day in bed
with a blonde surfer called Adeline.

Summer of '52.

Blow to the top of the head... coma...

His last know words are...
"Bugger Bognor".

No, sorry, that was Edward VII.

Sorry chaps, no offence.

What's the matter with Madgett?
He hates cricket.

He's showing off.

He likes acting...

He might just be distracting everyone
from what's happening in the sea.

The businessman can be saved if he submits

to a red queen, but in doing so,
he must pay a forfeit.

It's all right, it's all right, mother. Cissie...

Get them out of here
and go and find some scissors.

I'm all right, mother, leave me alone.
I just want to be still.

If you have a hangman,
you have to pair with a judge...

By the time we've learnt your rules
it'll be dark.

Anything worth learning
takes a little time.

Cut my hair.

I'll feel better.

You eat too much.

The full flavour of the game
of Hangman's Cricket, is best appreciated

after the game has been played
for several hours.

By then every player
has a fair understanding of the many rules

and knows which character
he wants to play permanently.

Finally, an outright loser is found,

and is obliged to present himself
to the hangman,

who is always merciless.

I haven't found 54 yet.

Send her a horse chestnut tree
in Nightingale Lane.

Here, it's near a water hydrant.

Then Delilah cut off Samson's hair,
I think.

At a large party he summoned up
the last of his strength,

held onto two pillars
and pulled the house down.

His last words were -
"And take good care of Nelly".

Who's Nelly?

This is Nelly.

Although she sometimes insists
on being called Nancy.

- It was Charles II.
- What was?

His last words were -
"And take good care of Nelly".

Who told you that?

My mother, she said
she'd wished she'd been Nell Gwynne

cos she'd liked to have serviced Charles II.

You really could skip more
out on the road.

The rope wouldn't slap on the doorstep that way.

My mother says I'm not to go out.

It's dangerous, there are evil men about.

Stand still.

All right next. Off stump crease.

Left-handed bat.

Left-arm bowler.

New ball, soft ground...

off spinner, oh.

Oh, too low.

Difficult to see how the ball
hit him there, but still.

Tolly Schriker, 1931.

Scored 58 runs with one eye closed,

before falling down pavilion steps.

Died in "Brisbane Municipal..."
Another black cross.

All right.

Stand still.

Smut, pour Cissie a cup of tea.

Oh, don't bother, I'll pour
if you're busy playing cricket.

Bellamy has given me this idea

for a book of cricketing deaths.

Games can be very dangerous.

- Madgett, you could talk to Cissie.
- Why could I?

Marrying Bellamy isn't the best thing
she could've done.

A bit late now.

Why saddle herself with his lechery?

- Are you against lechery?
- You know I'm not.

How do I know that?

You don't.

Right, try along that hedge.

May I kiss you?

If you like, just here though.

Oh, that's chaste.

Please believe,
I appreciate your attentions,

but you'll have to wait a little while.

And who knows...
your prospects might improve.

Cissie's more your age.

But don't go getting ideas about Hardy.

- This time I'm not playing games.
- Aren't you?

It's impossible to tell with you.

I don't think you really know yourself, do you?

May I see what I've always wanted to see?

What is that?

You, without any clothes on.

What a strange desire.

- That's a strange game, Madgett.
- Is it?

And here is certainly
not the time and place.

Are you going to the police
if I don't co-operate?

I might.

There was a man at Pulham Market,
who died in his car.

He was wealthy, a farmer.

He drove his car into a wood near Thomstot,

turned off the engine,
made himself comfortable

and quietly died.

I could find
absolutely nothing wrong with him.

I expect he died of unrequited love.

Is that what you do when you
can't find a reason for death.

Write - "died of unrequited love"?

In his case I wrote,
"heart attack after bowls match".

Trust you to put a game in.

- You didn't stay long.
- No.

- Where is your torch?
- I lost it.

What do you mean?

I'll come and get it tomorrow.

Did you catch anything interesting?

Nothing much.

Let's go to my place
and I'll make some supper.

When you want something, Hardy,
how do you ask for it?

I say "please".

Please, Hardy, can we have a fuck?

Or if I'm in the office,
I'll pick up the phone and dial nine.

Emergency, which service...

All I get is the police, the ambulance,
or the fire brigade, which one do you want?

- Do you want to speak to them?
- No thank you.

Which service do you require?

I'm sorry there is no fire,
accident, burglary, rape or murder...


Thank you.

But don't go away because
we might need you.

I usually find that one nine suffices.

And if it doesn't, I write a note.

- A memorandum.
- Yes.

Well, I suppose I could try that.

And, if pressed, you know very well
I'll do the best I can to oblige.

- You're so considerate.
- You're so imaginative.

Well, I have to be for the two of us.

Mind the juice doesn't stain the sofa.

Show me your tongue.

Just as I thought, it's yellow.

- Does that mean I'm unwell.
- What do you think?

A little colouring goes a long way.

Artificial colouring can be dangerous.

So can too much abstinence.


Now I need warming up.

My mother says

that hot tea on a hot day

can make a body feel very cool.

You're about to make some tea?

I'm not that thirsty.

What does your mother say about swimming?

Reading between the lines,

I'd say she's made at least
one public statement

about bodies in water.

You Colpitts women always have
a lot of trouble with men.

Why do you think that is?

I'll leave you to think about that.

Oh, I always think much better in the bath.

I wonder if it was the same with Jake?

I don't think Jake
was much of a thinking man.

I'm going for a swim.

Hope you drown.

Thank you.

You can look after the typewriter.

Bugger your typewriter!

K... I... S... S...

M... E...

H... A... R... D.

Stupid bloody idiot.


Help me!

What's the matter?

My stomach.

Don't fool around.
Just get me out.

I've just ruined your very best typewriter.

You what?

And now I'm going to do
my best to drown you.

The Colpitts prerogative.

You're so stubborn,
you won't sink.

Get me out, for God's sake.

Get me out.

Do you think I can pull it off?

Start drowning, you dope.

You haven't a chance.

That was a preliminary.
Here comes the real attempt.

It must be your money
that keeps you afloat.

You and your belly are stubborn.

Please! I can't move my legs!


Help, please!


Leave me now.

I want to be alone with him.

We can't leave you.

Yes, you can. He's my husband.

Where is your phone?

Oh, it's all right.
You must let me phone the police.

Or the ambulance.

Or the fire brigade.

And the coroner.

Are you sure you're going
to be all right?

If you want a witness,
our name is Van Dyke.

All right. Thank you.

Mr 70 and Mr 71 Van Dyke.

Smut, go and get the tea.

You women are getting
too proficient at this.

We aim to please the coroner.

The body is already undressed.

I did not imagine he went swimming
with his clothes on.

Doesn't it make it easier for you?

Nothing you do makes it easier for me.

You've got to stop.

One is just possible,
two is very unlikely.

You have no prerogative on drowning.

The coroner's office is inviolate.


- Not violate.
- Yeah, of course it's not.

Don't be so melodramatic, Madgett.

I feel ill.

Why do you always feel ill
at times like this?

It's the excitement.
It goes to my stomach.

I'd have thought
you'd have got over that by now.

It's only with special cases.

What special cases?


Yes, and women.


Yes, and personal involvements.

Haven't you heard of coincidence?

I've heard of it.

Doesn't it appeal to you?

Only as an idea,
not as a police enquiry.


Where did it happen?

On the beach.

Could you say where exactly on the beach?

Oh, it's covered now with the tide.

Smut, you haven't brought
your red paint?

No, Cissie. Today's Tuesday,
Tuesday's colour is yellow.

I am bound to say that
I could try and revive him.

Even now, it has been known...

Don't be stupid, Madgett,
and don't try.

The man's name is Hardy, not Lazarus.

Now, let us turn to page 72.
John 11, verse 23.

Jesus saith unto her,

"Thy brother shall rise again."

Martha saith unto him,

"I know that he shall rise again
in the resurrection at the last day."

Jesus said unto her,
"I am the resurrection..."

Here. I shouldn't take it too seriously.

A great many things are dying
very violently all the time.

Ask Smut.

Small comfort, Madgett.

On the contrary,
I'd say a great relief.

Well, I'd rather be alive and alone
than dead in company.

What are you doing that for?

Smut. He quite liked Hardy...

and there's been a robbery
at the fireworks factory.


Hail Mary!

- Bloody hell, Madgett!
- Cissie!

Oh, God.
There's those two runners from the beach.

And Nancy.

Hardy's mother, Jake's cousins.

I wonder what they're planning now?

It's one conspiracy against another.

Yours against theirs.
Yours to drown. Theirs to prosecute.

Bloody hell. There's Bellamy,
and he hates funerals.

I'm going to find out what he's doing.

No, don't do that.
Drive on, Madgett.

We don't want to get
into a lot of arguments

with all this water over our heads.

Then this woman tipped a bowl of sugar

and a bottle of lemonade
over his typewriter.

He went for a swim in the sea and,
because he had eaten too much,

he got stomach cramps and drowned.

She gave him the kiss of life
but it didn't work.

She knew it wouldn't.

She cut all his hair of
with a pair of blunt scissors,

just like Delilah.

This game's called hangman's cricket.

What's that about hangmen?

It's a game of cricket.
You really need 75 players.

Six sides of 12 and three umpires.

- Have you got any more of these?
- Hundreds.

- Where do they come from?
- I've taken them.

You've taken them?
I don't believe you.

- What was all that about?
- Nothing,

he's a friend of my mothers.

- I'm going to another party tonight.
- Where?

A dance hall over-looking the sea, with lights.

We'd have crab paste,
sprats in batter

and be sick in airline bags.

We're each going to be given a black rabbit
as a going-home present.

How come a non-swimmer belongs
to a water tower conspiracy, Bellamy?

- What?
- A water tower conspiracy.

- You've noticed?
- Come on!

It's just a convenient place to meet.

What, and is there a subscription list?


All those that think the Colpitts deaths
are not accidental.

I guessed that much.

What do you intend doing about it?

For a start, get Madgett investigated.

That sounds businesslike.
Are you going to alert the Water Board?

- Poor cows.
- Bloody hell.

This is no blood, it's red paint!

That little ghoul's been here already!

I thought I could smell gun powder.

I thought it was the smell of death.

It's too early for that yet.

Bellamy, this conspiracy of yours.

Do you regard me as an accessory?

Cos if I am,
I better get rid of you quick.

I'd like to see you try.

I don't think you're allowed
to screw your wife in prison,

so I suggest that
if you are seriously thinking of it...

you make good use of my free time now.

- Kiss my backside.
- No.

- Not here, you fool!
- Why not?

All right, Smut, try the hawthorns.

Well, Cissie,

will you marry me?

No, Madgett.

I could never marry a coroner.

I could never be sure
that you'd washed your hands.

Besides, how could I trust
a game-player?

I'm not playing games
at this particular moment.

Well, you're far more entertaining
when you are, Madgett.

Besides, you're far more valuable
to me as a friend

than a coroner.

How about...

as a lover?


I admit to drowning Hardy,

possibly for not being
a satisfactory lover.

And, give or take an inch,
you could get into his trousers,

but I don't think I drowned him
so that you could get into his bed.

Cissie is looking for a father figure.

But much as I dislike Bellamy,

don't go getting ideas, remember?
You're a coroner.

All coroners see are corpses.

Well, they won't reject you.

Tell me, Madgett, have you ever fallen in love
with one of your corpses?

Yes, several.

Did you ever...

do anything?

I once kissed an old lady of 82...

on the forehead.

She was twice my age.

Is that all?
Was she the only one?

No, but I'm not saying any more.

Oh, really, Madgett!

Tell me.

I once sat up all night

with a young girl
who had been run over by cows.

There wasn't a mark on her
but her skull was fractured.

She was 19.

She had blonde hair
and bright blue eyes.

If she was dead,
how could you see the colour of her eyes?

Ah, well, that was the problem.
I couldn't bring myself to close them.

They were beautiful.

So what did you do?

I sat next to her
and held her hand...

and I'm not saying any more
but I wasn't invited to the funeral.

Well, I tell you what,
you can come to mine.

I'm inviting you now, and...

I don't mind, on the whole,
if you take a few liberties.

As long as they're not too gross.

In fact, if I was very old,
I'd probably be flattered.

I would prefer to be encouraged
to take liberties now.

Well, I certainly don't feel like it
at the moment.


my reputation is at stake,
thanks to you and your mother

and I'm quite sure that Smut
would not want a father

who's an accomplice to murder.

He understands.

Understands what?

That coroners need corpses.

Like grave diggers need corpses.

You notice how Sid follows him around
like a black shadow?

Sid's known him since he was a baby.

He's certainly going to be
very interesting when he grows up.

Yes, I've noticed how you're all
so very fond of kissing him.

Where has he gone?

He's probably sloped off home.

We must go blackberrying.

You could come with us.

No, thank you.

Smut'll need to count them
and his counting

drives me up the wall.



Smut, are you in?

His light's on.
He's probably asleep.

I wonder if he's caught anything.

Look. Look.

My God, Smut!

He's circumcised himself.

Call a doctor.

I can't look.

Smut? Smut!

What did you do it with?

It's all right, Cissie.
I sterilised the scissors.



It's not funny.

Stop striking about in the water
like a stranded fish.

Use your legs, Bellamy!

You're just here to make fun of me.
I'm giving up.

No, don't. Come on, let's try a length.
Take your floats off.

No, I'm not ready yet.

Yes, you are. Come here.


Someone might come in.

You said we had the place to ourselves.

That's what we agreed on.

Frightened of being seen
wallowing in the water like a baby?

Come here.

You are getting more confident in water.

Take your costume off.

Don't worry. I've locked the doors.
Here's the key, look.

Hey. Give me the belt.

Give me the belt.



... what a magnificent throw.




Oh, Madgett. Madgett,
what the devil are you doing here?

Picking blackberries.

We've been looking everywhere for you.

Well, we've been picking blackberries.

Vitamin C is very good for eunuchs.


Yes, well, I don't use mine,

and Smut can't use his for the moment.

Madgett, are you drunk?

You can't get drunk on blackberries,
can you?

- You smell.
- I do.

Well, I haven't had a bath since Monday.

Well, you couldn't say that about Bellamy.

Oh, yes, he's been bathing too, has he?

Perhaps drinking it a little?

Maybe with a bit of chlorine in it?

And drinking enough perhaps
to put out a fire like this?

How did you know?

Drownings like most things
come in threes.

Oh, do they?

You're sinister.

I'm sinister?

Oh, Smut!

What's dead now?

Just about everything.

Just about everything in this field,
I should think.


there's Jonah and Moses,
Jake's cousins.

I didn't know they were keen runners.

Good lord, there's Nancy.

What's all this running for?

Why have you stopped?

I've had enough.
I'm not helping any more.

- You must.
- Why? Why must I do it?

Madgett, you're up to your neck in this.

It didn't take you long
to drown your husband, did it?

Three weeks.
Will they give me bail?

Well, you only had one husband,

so you can't drown another,
so they might.

Do they have swimming pools in prison?


How come you only
gave him three weeks?

I was disappointed.

I don't really understand

what you had to find out
that you didn't know before.

That was mainly it.

I don't understand why you had
to do it at all.

Loyalty, you dope.
And I got what I wanted.


I'm going to be sick.

What do you mean
you got what you wanted?

Madgett, can I speak here
or do you want to come outside?

You can speak here.

You have your permission. Go ahead.

Well, we went looking for you
at your house.

We found these.

Then we discovered some more
in a house on Amsterdam Road.

And let's say, we obtained some
from another source.

Perhaps you'd like to talk about them?

What do you want me to say?

To a casual eye,
they could be suspicious.

Could they?
Cissie, look at these.

It's Smut.
He's put on a lot of weight in a month.

These are good, aren't they?

How did he do it?

And a hospital report.

I believe your son was taken in

for what can only be described
as sexual mutilation.

You better ask Smut about that.

You better know, Madgett,
you're under investigation.

Whatever for?

For procuring pornography
and maybe child abuse.

Why don't you throw in
a little light necrophilia as well?

You see, Madgett, I told you.
Smut'll get you in the end.

We're here to discuss my husband

and not the family photographs.

He could so easily have changed the bulb.

Here, this might help.

Thank you, Smut.

I like his feet.

Thank you, Cissie.

I like his shoulders.

Thank you, Cissie.

What do you like?

I like a natural death.

Is any death natural?

I liked his bollocks.

Are widows eligible for the Olympic Games?

What on earth do you keep
all these sheep for?

I keep them for emergencies.

What emergencies?

Sleepless nights.

I count best at night.

We all count best at night.

That's it, Smut. Not an inch further
or I'll shake you out of that tree.

What's he doing?

- He's counting the leaves.
- Whatever for?

Have you never wondered
how many leaves there are on a tree?


- Or fish in the sea?
- Nope.

Or hairs on your head?


On Saturday, we'll put the ashes
in the sea.

Or rather the river.

You, Madgett, can be a witness.

What do you want a witness for?

To make sure we do it correctly, of course.

- Isn't it illegal?
- No!

We're all together here.
No need for secrecy.

What on earth made you choose this place?

I thought the water tower

would mean we could keep them
under surveillance.

- Who officially invited them?
- They invited themselves.

Are you sure Madgett didn't say something?

And there's the pyrotechnical expert.

It just won't light.
It's too damp.

It's not surprising.
Bellamy was pretty wet out of the water.

What's that smell?

- That man has a nose for a corpse.
- His son is quicker.

What are they?

You know you've got yours
coming to you, don't you?


An invitation to that field near Brough.

Which is surrounded
by that thick hedge.

Where Smut is sent to catch moths
and never returns with any.

Madgett's harmless.

He's really only interested in games
and chocolate pudding.

- I wouldn't mind.
- What wouldn't you mind?

It would be like sleeping
with your uncle.

It would be like bribing the referee.

- What would?
- More than a referee.

Poor Madgett. It's like the story
of Billy Goat Gruff.

What is?

Well, with Madgett
as the goblin under the bridge.

Do you think the grass
is really greener across the stream?

Without a doubt.

Hey, these are herring.
Do you think they're edible?

Well, now, Cissie, it's your turn.

I like his hands.

I might let him touch me
then I'll tell you all about it.

Well, you are the last in the line.

What if you were to be disappointed?

That might spoil it.
You better not go too far then.

If one of us were to make it with him,

surely it would exclude
the other two?

I doubt if Madgett could get it up
three times in an afternoon.


Madgett, we've been talking about you.

I know.

Could you get it up three times
in an afternoon, Madgett?

I'd like to try.
It depends who's asking.

Hey, look at these.

These fish are all numbered, look.

Smut, did you organise this?

Madgett, are you going to try
the same thing on me

as you tried on the others?

You don't think Bellamy drowned
to make way for you, do you?

- It's strange.
- What is?

How this field is synonymous with my failure.

Where's Smut?

Oh, he wouldn't come any more.

I don't blame him.

Three rebuffs in the same place -

that must be a record.

Sounds to me like you should
have more imagination.

Madgett, you can't swim, can you?

Anyway, I'm too young for you.

Suppose you're in a good position
to try blackmail.

You could put all three of us away
if you wanted to.

That's the last thing I want to do.

I believe you.

As you've had such bad luck
with the others...

I'll let you go a little of the way.

As compensation?

Put your hand here.

I've watched you watching me.

I've watched you watching all of us.

Do you think we're the same woman?

Sometimes I do.

Just because we've all got
the same name?

No, no.

Why then?

Because of your camaraderie.

Our what?

Your friendship for one another.

Do you know that I'm pregnant?

Was three weeks enough?

Madgett, don't be so innocent!

Three weeks was long enough
to legitimise.

You can kiss me here.

Will I taste anything?

Not yet, you dope.

Take the rest off.

No, Madgett, I'm a widow of 48 hours.


Madgett, that's enough!

You must be satisfied with small services,
a little at a time.

Must I?

Was saving you from prison
a small service?

- It was death through misadventure.
- Was it?

There's a lot of people round here
don't think that way at all.

To hell with the others!

- You're deliberately provoking me.
- Am I?


Thank you for making me see reason.

- Reason? About what?
- About Bellamy.

That wasn't me, that was Cissie.

No, well, you made it possible.

Did I?

I knew when I married Bellamy.

With you around, when the time came,
I could drown him.


Madgett, is this attempted rape?

You Colpitts women have used me.

Madgett, you're supposed to be harmless.
Pack it in!

You women have destroyed me!

Don't be so melodramatic!

The best days for violent deaths

are Tuesdays in the afternoon.

The safest time of all is Friday night.
Tonight, in fact.

Are you going to a party tonight?

Yes, on a boat.

We're to have pineapple fruit salad,

cheese with walnuts
and I'm going to dance.

Elsie, I love you.

- I've done what you asked me to do.
- What's that?

I circumcised myself.
Do you want to look?

No, thank you. Not today.

Smut, get in.


One, Antares, two, Capella,

three, Canopus, four, Arcturus,

five, Agreetor, six, Anektor,

seven, Duendin, eight, Algenib,

nine, Agena, ten Lalandry,

11, Vega, 12, Golubin,

13, Spica, 14, Capra, 15, Acrab,

16, Deneb, 17...



Stick that one on the table.

- Well, what's the game today?
- Tug of War.

I hope you've recovered.
Don't look so miserable,

you were sorely provoked.

Who's going to play this game?

The good and the evil.

Who's good and who's evil?

It depends on how you look at it.

What are they playing for?

Me, and what's left of my reputation.

As a man or as a coroner?

Both. If they win, I give in.

If who wins?

Oh, God, Madgett,
did you invite them?

They have a nose for funerals.

There are seven of them.

Then we can't complain.

Madgett, what are you up to?


they ought to be here, didn't they?

You don't want to be accused
of secret burials, do you?

And since there are obviously
no rewards for me helping you,

I thought enough was enough.

I've arranged to let the outcome
hang on a game of wit and strength.

Come on, Madgett,
you'll never get them to play.

If the stakes are high enough they will.

Madgett, we're not letting you go
that easily.

Letting me go?

If I go, you go too.

Those are the stakes.

Madgett, we won't party to this.

Your game-playing is your business.

We're not playing games any more.

I've had enough of game-playing.
This is serious.

And besides, you're better playing games
than I am.

This game is very dangerous.

Haven't I told you?
All games are dangerous.

What games?
I thought we were here burying ashes.

I see you've got the grave digger with you.

Sid's going to row the boat, that's all.

The ashes are going on the river.

A nice provocative gesture.

We thought, as a fitting send-off,
we'd play a game.

- A game?
- What sort of game?

Watch him, he's always playing games.

Don't worry, Nancy,
we'll look after you.

Watch what you're saying to my sister!

Shut up!

We felt we owed you an explanation.

Shut up, Madgett.

An explanation?
You owe us more than a bloody explanation!

All right. We'll play your game.

We'll win easily and then we'll wrap the rope
around your neck, Madgett.

If you win, you get your explanation.

Right, come on.

The game of Tug of War
is played with as many people

as there is room for along the rope.

The sides need to be evenly matched
with weight and strength

to make it an interesting contest.

One, two, three, pull.

At an agreed signal.

each team tries to pull the other
over an agreed mark

or space, previously decided on.

Seven a side is an ideal number
of players for Tug of War.



Oh, Smut, you let us down.

Quick! In the boat.

We've won!

Sid, Gregory, come on.
We've got to get Madgett into the boat.

Gregory, get the ashes in the boat.

There's a storm coming up, Madgett.

Can you swim?

I thought not.

The object of this game
is to dare to fall

with a noose round your neck

from a place officially
high enough off the ground

such that the fall will hang you.

The object of the game
is to punish those

who have caused great unhappiness...

by their selfish actions

This is the best game of all

because the winner is also the loser

and the judge's decision is always final.

What on earth is Smut celebrating?
We lost.

He arranged a little spectacle
for the scattering of the ashes.

Thoughtful boy.

Well, Madgett, how do you feel
about things now?

Just the same.

As I said, we lost.

I've had enough.

Madgett, we haven't lost.

And there's no question
of any of us giving in.

What are you going to do?

There's a storm coming up.
I thought I'd be prepared.

Are you going to undress too, Madgett?

That way we could make it
look like a proper accident.

Now, Madgett, off with your clothes.
It'll make it a neater ending.

What an opportunity.
Alone on an open boat

with the women you love
and an invitation to undress.

Don't worry about, Smut.
He'll be all right.

First, the burial service.

In loving memory of a gardener.

In loving memory of a businessman.

In loving...

In living memory of an unemployed non-swimmer.