Skylight (2014) - full transcript

On a bitterly cold London evening, schoolteacher Kyra Hollis (Carey Mulligan) receives an unexpected visit from her former lover, Tom Sergeant (Bill Nighy), a successful and charismatic restaurateur whose wife has recently died. As the evening progresses, the two attempt to rekindle their once passionate relationship only to find themselves locked in a dangerous battle of opposing ideologies and mutual desires.

The door was open...

My goodness.

Just hold on a minute, I’d started running a bath.

It’s my fault.


I shouldn’t have called in like this.

I’ve grown.

Yeah, I know.

Everyone says that.

How tall are you?

Well, will you give me a kiss?

I brought these.

What’s this?

Some beer.

It’s a present.


And some rap records.

I don’t know how much you know about this stuff.


I just spent £30 in that shop round the corner.

That’s why I’m here.

It’s next to the Nepalese restaurant.

There’s this great specialist rap shop.

All my friends go there.

Then I realised you must live round here.

That’s right.

I do.

I had the spare time.

I’m in my gap year.

If you know what I mean.

Yes, of course.

Out of school, not yet at university.

I’m doing what everyone does.

You have a job?


I’m selling frankfurters outside football grounds.

If you come close you can smell them.

It’s all right, thanks, I’ll stay over here.

It’s freezing.

I know.

Close the door.

You gave me quite a shock standing there.

I’m feeling embarrassed.


I’ve never done this.

Hold on a minute, I’ve got a small fire in here.

It’s a very nice place.

My God!

You are growing up.

When did you start saying dumb things like that?

When I knew you, Edward, you always spoke your mind.

You came to the point.



The point is my father.

I’ve plugged it in.

I think you’ll find it makes very little difference.

The last few weeks it’s been so damp I find you barely see it.

Here, we even have indoor fog.

You sit on that side of the room and peer, thinking, I’m sure it’s on, I’m sure the fire is on.

But you can’t actually see.

Do you want tea?

No, thank you.

So why not tell me what you came here to say?

I’m not sure what you know.

Did you know my mother had died?

I knew she had cancer.

How long ago?

It’s about a year now.

A year?

Dad hasn’t told you?

I haven’t seen him.

That’s why I came here today.

I wasn’t passing by...


I don’t suppose anyone does.

Pass by this area, I mean.

Unless, I suppose, they’re desperate to get from Willesden to South Finchley.

Which I can’t imagine most people are.

Did you...

I mean, you lost your parents...

I did.

My father recently.

My mother, you know, died when I was three.

Once they’re dead, I find they keep changing.

You think you’ve got hold of them.

And it’s like you say, ‘Oh I see.

So that’s what she was like.’

But then they change again in your memory.

It drives you crazy.

Now I’d like to find out just who she was.



It’s also...

you see...

I don’t know...

it’s had an effect on my father.

Why, surely.

I mean if you see him...

I’d love it.

I mean, if you did.


Because he’s changed.


Now I’m really embarrassed.

I’m guessing.

I think you can help him.

Help Tom?

Tom needs help?

Well, at least that’s what I think.

The tea actually...

I would like the tea now.

I’d like some tea to help get me through.

How am I doing?

Am I doing all right?

You’re doing fine.

You don’t think I’m being obnoxious?

I mean, it’s none of my business.

If you want you can send me away.

You can say anything you like.

It’s not going to bother me.

I don’t really know the whole history.

I mean, between Dad and you.


So is that why you’re here?

No, I mean, yes, well, partly.

But also Dad’s got very peculiar.

I am here for his sake as well.

It can get pretty strange, I promise you.

Silence at dinner, that kind of thing.

We moved to Wimbledon.

My God!

I know.

Well, that doesn’t help.

The sense of all that sort of nature, trees and flowers, sort of flapping around.

He did it for Mum, to give her some peace at the end.

But now it just seems pointless and spooky.

Me, I get on a bus and head for the street.

I keep saying, Dad, you’re not dead, you’re thriving.

It’s too early for lupins.


What I liked about Dad, he was sort of ageless.

I think that’s why he was such a success.

All ages, all types.

He knew how to reach them.

But now he’s in this kind of hideous green fortress.

Does he talk to you?

About what he feels?

You know Dad.

He’s not what you might call ‘emotionally available’.

But also...

let’s face it...

well, I can be quite a shit.

Have you read Freud?


I read some recently.

I told Dad everything had to come out.

That you pay a price.

Is that true?

I don’t know.

For everything you repress there’s a price to be paid.

You told him that?


And how did he take it?

It was the night before last.

It was Sunday.

We had the mother of all arguments.

We had the most terrible row.

I suppose I left home.

You did?

Where did you go?

Do you have a girlfriend?

Sort of.

There’s a girl who’s willing to take me in.

She does the frankfurters with me.


I don’t know.

I’m only eighteen.

I don’t like the word ‘girlfriend’.

All that stuff’s finished.



It’s out of date, I think.

I stayed there last night.

I’ll stay there tonight.

Yes, but have you rung your father?

She’s the only girl who’ll sleep with me.

Because at least we both smell the same.

Dad is a fuckpig. I mean it.

I don’t think you see it.

I talked to some people at work.

He commands respect, yes, of course.

People who have all that confidence do.

But you scratch the surface, you talk to his employees, you find respect can be much more like fear.

There’s one woman, you know, I happened to talk to her, it was by chance, she’s pretty high up, she’s worked close to Dad for some time.

She knows him well.

And she said he is definitely sexist.


She said without question.

Thank God she spotted it.

Oh, so, OK, what are you saying?

You think it’s me, it’s just me being stupid...



That sort of thing.

There’s a whole list of things I could tell you.

Dad can be a real bastard, you know.

The charm’s that deep.

Are you keeping an inventory?

All right, but you don’t have to live with it, you don’t have to deal with anyone at all...

I do.

There’s always this doom.

This heaviness.

He comes home every night.


He lands on the sofa.

You feel the springs go.

One night he actually destroyed a whole sofa.

He cracked a sofa he landed so hard!

Then –

Guess his response?

Guess his response to it!

Next day he just bought a new sofa!

A new sofa!

Well, that seems fair enough.

No, you’re wrong.

It’s an attitude, Kyra.

It’s all – Yellow Pages.


Leaves on the roof?

Yellow Pages!

The lavatory’s blocked?

Yellow Pages!

That’s how he lives.

He even orders in meals.

It’s absurd!

He flicks through.



It’s Citizen Kane!

Only with Yellow Pages.

I said to him, Dad, for God’s sake get real.

Not everything in life is in Yellow Pages.

Isn’t it grief?

Yes, of course.

He’s grieving.

He’s sitting there alone in this bloody great house.

Like some stupid animal.

Licking his pain.


of course, I mean, everyone said to me...

Alice wasn’t as clever as him.

People assumed she was some sort of dumb ex-model.

But she kept Dad moving.

Now he just sits there.

I say, for Christ’s sake, it’s been almost a year.

We knew it was coming.

It’s been a long time.

Let it out, for fuck’s sake.

Because, I tell you, otherwise...

it’s driving us both bloody mad.

Is it just the two of you?

Yes. We’re like a married couple.

My sister’s gone.

She’s at university.

That’s what I’m saying.

We’re both off.

We’re finished.


Next year, I mean.

They make you draw up this list, you know this?

This absurd piece of paper...

Of course...

Every student goes round: ‘Look I’ve got my CV!


I think I’ll study CV when I get there.

As my special subject.

Why not?

We never do anything because we might actually enjoy it.

We do it so we can write it all down.

You think, ‘This is stupid!

Doing things just so they’ll look good on paper.’

But then, I don’t know, just tell me, what choice do I have?


You have none.

What do your kids do?


Oh well, they’re different.

You’re teaching in East Ham?


How is that?

East Ham?

Well, it has its drawbacks.

I wouldn’t say the kids are all great.

But at least they’re not on the ladder.

So perhaps that means...

they do things for their own sake.


You don’t need a CV to get a UB40.

No, well, exactly, I mean exactly.

As you say, it’s different.

It is.

The fact is...

when I think about that kind of life...

just ordinary kids...

I know it sounds stupid, but I feel sort of envious.

Do you?

I suppose you think I’m just spoilt.


I’m not saying...

God knows...

that my life is too easy, nobody could live alone with my bastard of a father and say that my life is easy at all...

But I do look at the street, and think, shit!


And here I am heading in the opposite direction.

I mean, I think in a way you’re so lucky, living like this …

Well, thank you.

I’m not being rude.

I mean it.

In this kind of place.

Dad said...


What did Dad say?

I suppose he hinted...

he was implying...

in a way he was saying that you made a choice.

Look, whenever I mention it, he always says it’s none of my business.

He gets really angry.

He says very little.

I mean, I’ve been trying to get him to talk about you.

Shit, that’s what I mean, for fuck’s sake.

After all, it’s my life as well.

We saw you for years.

Well, didn’t we?


Yes, you did.

Until just a few years ago.

They were great times.

Then you vanished.



Just think.

It’s probably the first thing you think of.

And it’s the reason.

And now are you saying I’ve no right to ask?


My mother died.

She actually died.

Not you.

You did something else.

You cut yourself off from us without saying anything.

And in a way I’m coming to think that’s much worse.

Because you just left and said nothing.

Alice had no choice.

It wasn’t her fault.

But for you it’s different.

Because it’s not necessary.

Because yours is deliberate.

And that makes it sort of more hurtful.

I’m being hurt by someone for reasons they refuse to explain to me.

And I’m left thinking...

hang on, life is too short.

You know what it is?

The thing that puzzles me, the thing I can’t understand?

It’s odd, but it’s true.

Mum and Dad were much closer...

they were always closer when you were there.

That’s often true.

Of a couple.

They need a catalyst.

A third person there, it helps them to talk.

Is that all it was?

Edward, come on, stop pushing me.

This is a fight with your father.

If you want to quarrel, then quarrel with him.

I’m glad you called round.

I’m proud of you, Edward.

You’re a good boy.

But you do seem to want to be judge and jury in some family court of your own making.

And that’s not the most attractive impulse to have.

I’m sorry.

If you like judging, please: be a lawyer.

Run a dog show.

There’s a whole lot of jobs if judging is your passion in life.

But take my advice: if you want to be happy, keep your judging professional.

And don’t start putting in practice at home.

And now I’m afraid, I’ve a whole lot of homework …

No, no, you’re right.

I’ve been really stupid.


Not at all.

I was wondering...


At least...

I’ve been wondering: what do you miss?

You mean, from your father’s world?


I miss a good breakfast.

Toast wrapped in napkins.


And really hot coffee from a silver pot.

Scrambled eggs.

I never have those.

And I do miss them more than I’d have thought possible.

Nothing else?

You miss my father.

And so saying, I think I shall go.

Edward, I enjoyed seeing you.


I mean it.


Then I’m off.

You’ve got all your stuff?


Yes, thank you.

I expect I’ll see you again.

Yes, well, I hope so.

You didn’t mind?

Edward, I’ve said so.

Kyra, I wish you would bloody well help.


Who is it?

I'm coming!

Jesus Christ!

Ugh. Go away.

Hold on a minute and I’ll throw down a key.

I wanted to say I'm not guilty.

Not guilty?

What do you mean?

You arrived like a fucking stormtrooper.

Thank you.

Have you parked your tanks in the street?

I was only ringing the bell.

You always were excessively manly.

I brought you some whisky.


Put it down over there.


Beside the beer.

Did somebody tell you?

That if you called I’d be in?

No, I was just guessing.

Oh really?

Just passing?

I wouldn’t say that.

I mean, does anyone...

Pass through this area?

No. You’ve got a good point there.

You mean this visit’s deliberate?


Sort of.


Will you take off your coat?

I won’t.

Just at this moment.

Perhaps it’s me.

But it seems a bit parky.

It is.


I thought it was time.

That’s what I’m doing here.

Time you and I saw each other again.

Oh, I see you’re making your supper.

I’m sorry.

Perhaps I should have phoned.

I think I was scared you might hang up on me.

I mean, I’ve had no idea.

I mean, what you’ve been thinking.

I suppose I thought perhaps you hated me.


If you’d rung, then you’d have found out.

It’s not been easy.

One way and another.

It’s been a hard time for me.

I heard about Alice.

Did you?


I just heard.


She died a year ago.

It seems much longer.

I mean, in a way it was fine.

I’d already ‘discounted’ it.

It’s a term we use in business.


I know what it means.

You’ve already prepared yourself.

So when it happens it isn’t so awful.

That’s right.


You’re shocked?

Not at all.

Should I be?


Well, that’s how it was.

And also Alice was so incredible.

I can hardly tell you.

I mean, she was so brave.

Propped up in bed, wearing yellow.

She spent the day watching birds, through this large square of light above her.

The skylight over her bed.

She was truly... truly fantastic.



Kyra, I must say you always surprise me.

I’d never have thought you’d have taken up rap.


No, well, I haven’t.

In fact only recently.

You know that Edward’s into this stuff?

Oh really?

Who are your favourites?


You know.

It varies.

I suppose you picked it up from your kids.


You’re still at that same place?


How is it?

At the moment?

It’s doing fine.

I mean, we had a not-bad head teacher, truly she really wasn’t too bad, but then – it always happens – things started wearing her down.

People started stealing her car.

It was sort of a challenge or something.

We think it must have been some of the kids.

Then they broke into her flat.

She lost her stereo.

Also they got hold of her cat.

She came back one night.

The cat had been baked in the oven.

She began to feel it was time to move on.

She got a better job, you know, down in Dulwich.

Dulwich is nicer.

Yes, I think she probably felt that as well.

And what about you?


Don’t you get tired of it?

I talk to the police occasionally.

They say it’s a problem.

Assaults on the police are growing all the time.

Then they say, on the other hand, there’s one thing they can’t help noticing.

It’s the same coppers who get beaten up time and again.

So what does that mean?

Some people are victims.

I walk in perfect peace to and from school.

I’m not a mark, that’s the difference.

And what do you put that down to?

I wish you’d take off your fucking coat.

Well, I would.

Of course.

If you’d get central heating.

Then of course I’d take off my coat.

But since you’ve made a style choice to live in Outer Siberia, I think for the moment I’ll keep my coat on.

If you want central heating, look, it’s no problem.

I’ve got this really good bloke.

From Yellow Pages?

I’m sorry?


If you like, he’d come round.

It wouldn’t take long.

This bloke does all of my restaurants.

I’m pretty sure I can spare him next week.

Unless of course you say, no thank you.

I mean, no doubt you’d prefer to be cold.

No, I’d prefer to be warm.

Well then.

Warm, but not beholden.

If it’s all right, I’m going to cook.

Oh really?

I was going to ask if you’d like proper dinner.

Meaning mine isn’t proper?


Oh Lord, so touchy!

No, I meant, would you like to go out?

I’m just asking if you’d like to go out.

What for?

An evening.

Tom, don’t you think I’ve got enough memories?

Why should I want any more?

So tell me, how is the business?


Business has generally recovered.

Yes, I’d even say it was thriving.

Of course I’m not my own boss any more.

In theory.

Like everyone, I now have a chairman.

The chairman of course has a bloody great board.

That’s the price I paid for going public.

I report to this sort of management guru.

My God!

I know, but, like all really top-class management gurus, he only comes in for four hours a week.

He wanders in.

Makes a few gnomic statements.

Mutters the words ‘core competence’.

Or whatever trendy management mantra happens to be in fashion this week.

Then he wanders out.

For that the banks just love him.

They adore him.


Because he once was a banker himself.

So for this insider’s sinecure he is paid more or less twice what I am paid as full-time chief executive.

The person who created the company.

The person who knows the business of hotels and restaurants.

But that is the way that things are now done...

What’s he like?

He’s one of those people who’s been told he’s good with people.

That means he smiles all the time and is terribly interested.

He keeps saying, ‘No, tell me, what do you think?’

In other words...

Yes, he’s completely insufferable.

It was how I was always told you could get women into bed.

By doing something called ‘listening to their problems’.

It’s a contemptible tactic.

You wouldn’t do it?


Of course not.

You know me, Kyra.

I wouldn’t stoop to it.

Either they want you or else they don’t.

Listening’s halfway to begging.

But this bloke... he does it all the time in the business.

‘How interesting. Really? Is that what you think?’
Then he does what he’d planned in the first place.

It’s called consultation.

Buttering you up and then ignoring you.

I can imagine.

Oh yes, that’s how things go nowadays...

Is there no way you can get rid of him?


It’s the price I paid for floating the company.

It made me millions, I can hardly complain.

I offered you shares, remember?

I never knew why you refused.

When we went public they jumped thirty-fold.

You could have had the house in the West Indies.

Like me.

Oh, really?

Well, maybe not quite.

But at least you could have moved up in the world.

Banks and lawyers!

That’s all I see.

So perhaps you did well.

Perhaps it wasn’t so stupid.

Coming here.

It wasn’t stupid.


Me, I’m with shits and shafters all day.

I went in to one guy, the other day, I said to this fellow ? he’s lending me money at eleven per cent ? I said: ‘You want it?

Well you can have it.

You want the shirt off my back?

I will hand you my shirt.

Here it is!

And still, as God is my witness, you will not stop me, you will not stop me from trying to build a business out there.’

I said, ‘I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a doer.

I actually go out, I make things happen.

I give people jobs which did not previously exist.

And you...

you sit here with your little piles of money.

Doing fuck all.’

How did he take it?

Oh, no problem!

The odd thing was, he agreed.

He said, ‘Yes of course, you’re right, that’s right.

It’s true.

You take the risks and I never do.

I hate risk!’ he said.

‘But also,’ he said, ‘has it occurred to you that this may be the reason finally why it’s you who always has to come grovelling to me?’

He didn’t say ‘grovelling’?

Kyra, there’s nothing more irritating...

All right, I’m sorry...

No, Alice...

Alice would do this.

I would say, I’m telling a story.

For God’s sake I’m telling a story.

If I say it, it’s true.

I know.

‘Oh, I don’t believe it,’ Alice would say...

I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t what happened.

I wouldn’t say it!

I know.

That’s what he said to me!

He used the word ‘grovelling’?

Those exact words!

‘And that is why you come grovelling to me …’

Well I must say...

who was he?

Some fucking graduate in business studies.



Knows nothing.

The Rolex!

The fucking lemon-yellow Gaultier tie!

Goodness, the banks have got trendy.

They’re beyond trendy.

The banks are running the world.

You think – oh fuck!

– you think, I’ll run a business, I’ll build a business.

You remember, Kyra, we started out, my God it was great!

Actually counting the money, you counted it with me...

Of course.

Actually handling the money each morning, after you’d joined us, totting it up each Saturday night...

I remember.

Then – oh Christ!

– there’s this fatal moment.



And then you borrow.

And then you’re no longer in business, you’re no longer in what I’d call business, because it’s nothing to do with the customer.

It’s you and the bank.

And it’s war!

There was a moment, I tell you, in the middle eighties...

Oh yeah...

Yeah, just for a moment, I tell you, there was a time.

I think, through that little window – what was it?

Four years?

Five years?

Just through that little opening in history you could feel the current.

For once you could feel the current running your way.

You walked into a bank, you went in there, you had an idea.



Thank you.



They gave you the money!

It was like for a moment we all had a vision, it was a kind of a heavenly vision, the idea of how damn fast and fun it could be...

And then of course everything slipped back to normal.

The old ‘Are you sure that’s what you really want to do?’ The ‘Wouldn’t it be easier if we all did nothing at all?’ They always have new ways of punishing initiative.

Whatever you do, they think up new ways.

You know, you read all this stuff in the papers – this stuff about banks – you read it, you know what I mean …


I’m afraid I’ve stopped reading the papers.

What are you saying?

Not altogether?

It’s funny, I remember my father.

Dad used to say, ‘I don’t watch the news.

I don’t approve of it.’

I used to say, ‘Dad, it’s the news.

It’s the news, for God’s sake.

How can you not approve of it?’ But I must say, now...

perhaps I’m my father’s daughter...

I tend to think that he had a point.

I don’t have a television either.

But that is just crazy.



Well, you’re missing what’s happening.

You’re missing reality.

Oh, do you think?

I just noticed the papers were full of...

sort of unlikeable people.

People I couldn’t relate to.

People who weren’t like the decent people, the regular people I meet every day at the school.

So I thought, I start reading this stuff and half an hour later, I wind up angry.

So perhaps it’s better I give it up.

So what do you read?

On the bus I read classic novels.

Computer manuals.

It’s like that game.

Name a politician you actually admire.

So what is the point of sitting there raging at all the insanity?

That’s not the point.

It’s the same with new films.

I just won’t go to them.

Old films I like.


Those you like because they’re romantic.

You can hardly deny it.

They have something we don’t.

And Edward?


How is Edward?


Edward, your son?

Oh, bloody Edward, that’s who you mean.

He’s fine.

I mean, he’s living.

He’s alive.

I mean, he gives the external signs.

He eats.

He tries to spend all my money.

What can you say except he’s eighteen?

I saw that old film.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

You know, where they look the same.

They look like humans, but it turns out they’re creatures from Mars.

They’re pods.

Well, another way of putting it, they’re male adolescents.

It’s like they get taken over.

Someone comes and surgically removes all the good qualities they have, and turns them into selfish hoodlums...

I don’t really think it’s that bad.

I mean, you spend all this money on education.

A generation builds something up.

And the children learn nothing but how to stand back from it...

Tom, that is nonsense.

He called me a brainless animal.



That’s unspeakable.

That’s what he called me.

Buying and selling.

That’s what he said.

Without ever questioning.

He called me a zombie...


Just doing business without asking why...

I said, perhaps it’s true, perhaps I’m not brilliantly contemplative, perhaps I do not stop like some Oxford smartarse philosopher to ask myself the purpose of it all.

But the rough effect of all my endeavour – my putting my house, my mortgage, my car, the whole of my bloody life on the line – as I reminded him I have done in my time – has been to embody this unspeakably crude assumption that it’s still worth human beings trying to get something done...

And what did he say?



You mean, like ‘say’ as in the concept of actually replying?

Kyra, you don’t understand.

This is the modern game.

This is men’s tennis.

People don’t bother with rallies.

You put in your big serve and you hope to hell it never comes back.

He’s not like what you’d call rational-articulate.

He doesn’t want argument.

For Christ’s sake, Kyra, you teach.

Language belongs to the past.

This is the world of Super Mario.



Spit out your venom and go.

It’s not like, you know...

when we were together.

You and me talking.

Talking down the stars from the sky.

This is...

oh, you know...

it’s instinct.

This is a young man wanting to hurt.

And does he hurt?

No, of course not.

For God’s sake, look, I’ve fought bigger than him.

He can’t get a glove on me.

That’s why he’s angry.

There’s no problem.

It’s all in hand.


No, really.

What are you thinking?

Are you putting the chilli in first?

No, it’s just I usually...

I fry the chilli, so it infuses the oil.


I see.

I don’t do that.

I’m doing it the way I prefer.


I haven’t quite asked you.

I mean, if I’m going to stay.

I mean...

I just mean for supper.

I’m actually asking.

I mean, are you laying two plates?

Thank you.

Believe me, I’m really grateful.

Think nothing of it.

Oh, and put the chilli in first.

You never cooked.

No, I didn’t.

I remember in those early days once you asking if you could try it some time...

I never did.

I was a happy waitress.

You weren’t a waitress for long.

I was a waitress for forty-five minutes.

Alice made me the boss on the spot.

That was a night.

It was.

Hilary’s accident!

It was my first trip to London, I just walked in off the street.

You were eighteen.


You were the same age Edward is now.

I was so thrilled, I remember.

At last I’d escaped.

I was walking down London’s famous King’s Road.

I saw the sign ‘Waitress Wanted’.

I walked in.

Alice told me I could start right away.

Then after an hour of it, she came running over.

She said her daughter was in hospital, she’d fallen off her bike.

She said she’d looked round and she’d decided.

Could I run the place for the night?

I said, ‘I’ve only just started, I only started an hour ago.’

She said, ‘I know.

I’ve watched you.

I trust you.

Now you must trust me, you’re going to be fine …’

What time was that?

Do you remember?

Oh, it can’t have been later than eight o’clock.

Before the rush?

I mean, oh yes.

I handled it.

I know I did the whole thing.

Then I closed up.

All the waiters were great, they were great, considering I’d only just started yet I was in charge.

They all said, ‘Look, we promise, there’s really no need for you to hang on here.

Just lock up the door and we’re all going home …’

But I don’t know...

I just had this instinct.

Somehow I didn’t think it was right.

I wanted to be there when Alice got back.

It’s funny.

Of course, I would have met you anyway.

Surely I would have met you the next day.

But there was something about that evening.

Something to do with the evening itself...

I sat alone.

Drank espresso.

Smoked cigarettes.

This deserted restaurant all to myself.

But filled with inexpressible happiness.

This crazy feeling.

‘I don’t know why but this is where I belong.’

And then?

And then...

Need I continue?

Then towards morning she came back with you.

Earlier she’d rung.

I’d driven like a madman from some meeting.

In those days I had the Jag.



You know, feeling not like myself, because I thought...

I was thinking, I’m not a person who cries.

Crying with relief, too, at the sight of Hilary.

Fast asleep in the little bed.

Her leg in plaster.

Some fucking nurse.

What terrible parents!

How could you let your daughter play in the road?

Then, when we came back, you brought us brandy and coffee.

In our own restaurant.

At four o’clock.

It was completely natural.

I thought, this is the strangest night of my life.

This girl I’d never met before, bringing brandy and coffee.

It’s as if she’s been with us the whole of our lives.

Yeah, that was something.

It was.

Didn’t you stay with us?

I did.

I stayed at your place.

On the floor.

Well, I have to say that was my moment.

From that moment on...

I’d have done anything, just to stay with you, just to stay in that house.

I remember I got really angry soon after, after a few weeks or so, you saying you weren’t going to give up a place at university.

You weren’t going to make your life in the catering trade.

I didn’t say ‘catering’!

I never used the words ‘catering trade’!

Honestly, you make me sound like a prig.


A prig?


You’re a seaside solicitor’s daughter!

Are you saying that some of that hadn’t rubbed off?

It’s just...

for goodness’ sake...

I loved mathematics.

I did.

I loved it.

I wasn’t going to give up halfway.

And what’s more, it meant finally escaping my father.

I was hardly going to pass up that chance.

It wasn’t easy.

You started to lecture me.

I was quite shocked.

‘Don’t waste your time on higher education, it’s only a way of postponing real life …’

So it is.

I was so worried, I went to Alice.

I said, ‘Does he mean it?’ She said, ‘Never take any notice of Tom …’

Thank you, Alice...

‘And even if you go, he knows you’ll always want to come back …’

You gave me a place.

It was there.

I could count on your welcome.

And I never doubted, not for a moment, that when I came back to London, there’d be a job waiting.

In spite of – my God!

– whatever else I was doing.

Far more, let me tell you, far more than you ever knew …

Yes, well, I have to say I assumed, I hardly thought – you were young enough, for God’s sake – I hardly thought you lived the life of a nun.

You wish!

You thought I was jealous?

You did tear that painting from the wall.

I did not tear it.

As God is my witness, I did not remove it.

It fell.

Oh yes, I see, pure coincidence, this picture painted by a man of whom you happened not to approve...


The original art-school wanker...

the greasy beard and the clogs.

Who had painted me at college, as I felt rather beautifully.

Rather beautifully, but wearing no clothes.

That was the point.

You could not stand it.

You saw me there on the wall.

It’s true.

I looked at it.

I just looked at it.

I sent beams of hatred from across the room.

And without my touching it, I admit it fell down.

Oh, sure.

It wasn’t – be fair!

– it wasn’t the sight of you, it wasn’t just the image of you, it was my disbelief...

my horror that this young woman who seemed so capable...

so smart –

Thank you...

– should have had the clothes ripped off her as if they were tissue as soon as some phoney used the word ‘art’.

I thought you were gullible!

No, I was open-minded.

And what’s more, yeeaaaars younger than you.

And living a life.

I was, what do they call it, experimenting... I was having a good time.

You actually tried to lecture me... You did!

‘In a way you’re part of the family, in a way, Kyra, you’re like a daughter of mine …’

I didn’t say ‘daughter’!

Oh, but you did.

Where was this?

That ghastly hamburger restaurant you had.

You were in your chargrilled hamburger phase.

Oh God, I’m ashamed!

I mean, I’m ashamed of the lecture, I’m ashamed of those burgers as well.

The burgers!

The lecture!

I must say, it begins to come back...

And I thought, yes, oh I see.

I realised then: here we go.


I thought, hold on.

This is it.

This is only going to be a matter of time.

Pressing on.

You know, that’s the thing in business.

My chairman keeps telling me: never look back.

In business, he says, the world was created this morning.

No such thing as the past...

He says that modern management asks you to look at your assets, really look at them – this is a fierce, competitive world, all that crap!

– how you got here’s not part of the story, the only story is what you do now...

And what do you do?

Oh, expand, inevitably.

I mean, expand, I hardly need say that.

Defend market share.

Build another stainless steel restaurant, this one larger, more fashionable than ever, turning over hundreds of covers in a day.

It need never end.

Nor will it.

You love it.

Oh yes.

I must admit that I do.

All that time, I must say, I can’t deny it, while Alice was...

you know...

while she was lying in that bloody room...

well, it was true for me, I saw no alternative but to redouble my efforts.

It was like some lunatic board game.

Not helped of course by your having quit.

It’s true, though, I must say I missed you professionally.

Thank you.

I kind of missed you in person as well.

I really did, Kyra.

I never...

I’ve never got used to it.


What, missed me so badly it’s taken you three years to get back in touch?

Now look...

I mean, come on, let’s be serious.

You think I haven’t wanted to?

My God, you think I haven’t wanted to call?

To pick up the telephone?

You think I haven’t wanted to jump in the car and bust my way through that bloody door?

But then why didn’t you?

Kyra, why do you think?

Because I knew once I saw you, then I’d be finished.

I knew I’d never be able to leave.

OK, well, I must say, that’s an answer...

You see.


I’m getting better.

Well, aren’t I?

Getting better at what?

Talking about my feelings.

You always told me I had no gift for that stuff.

As far as I remember we had no need for it.

We had no need to discuss our feelings at all.

Or rather, I didn’t.

I could always tell what you were feeling.

It never had to be said.

You’d wander about the office in Chelsea.

Later we’d go home to work.

We’d sit in the kitchen with Alice.

I’d spend the evening reading to your kids.

I could never understand it.

I still don’t.

You never felt the slightest sense of betrayal.

There we are.

I always felt profoundly at peace.

I don’t know why, it still seems true to me: if you have a love, which for any reason you can’t talk about, your heart is with someone you can’t admit – not to a single soul except for the person involved – then for me, well, I have to say, that’s love at its purest.

For as long as it lasts, it’s this astonishing achievement.

Because it’s always a relationship founded in trust.

It seems mad to me.

I know.

You didn’t feel that.

I knew you never understood it.

Why I was able to go on seeing Alice.

Why we were always at ease.

Why I loved her so much.

But I did.

It’s a fact.

There it is.

The three of us.

It gave me a feeling of calm.

You were the person I fell in love with.

And as it happened you arrived with a wife.

Do you mind?

Do I mind what?

No, I’m just asking...


I’m asking. Will you grate the cheese?

Do you mean this?

I do.

Are you serious?

Is this what you’re calling the cheese?

Yeah, I forgot to get fresh.

I wouldn’t give this greasy lump of crud to my cat.

I do not believe it.

Kyra, what’s happening?

Are you really living like this?

Why didn’t you say?

For God’s sake, I have this supplier...

I’m sure!

For cheese – all types of cheese – I have this really great bloke.

Of course!

Your whole life is great blokes!

I mean, I can get you a weekly delivery – no problem – he’ll send you fresh parmesan whenever you need.


I’m going to get Frank.

I’m sorry?

I’m going to call down to Frank, this is ridiculous, to send out, just to go to a deli and get us something for now...

Hold on a moment, what are you saying?

Are you saying that Frank is sitting out there?


Waiting out in the car all the time we’ve been talking?


I mean, yes!

For Christ’s sake, what’s wrong with that?

You leave him down there?

You really are quite extraordinary.


You used to tell me you had this great gift!

I remember, you prided yourself on what you called your man-management skills.

And yet you still treat people as if they were no better than objects...

For God’s sake, Kyra, the man is a driver.

That’s what he does.

You know full well that drivers don’t drive.

The greater part of their lives they spend waiting...

Tom, there is some sort of limit!

And furthermore, that is what they expect.

Frank, I may tell you...

Frank, as it happens, is perfectly happy.

Frank for a start is bloody well paid.

He is sitting in a spacious limousine listening to Kiss 100 and reading what is politely called a ‘men’s interest’ magazine...

Have you looked out the window?

Have you seen the weather?

Have you seen there’s snow about to come down?

Don’t give me that tosh!

Frank is a bloody sight better off sitting in a warm Mercedes than he would be in this fucking fur-store which you call your home.


I mean, here we are!

This is the problem!

That’s what it was.

That was the problem.

This ridiculous self-righteousness!

I mean, to be fair, you always had it.

But also, I knew, I knew it wasn’t going to get better.

And, let’s face it, it was only going to get worse once you decided you wanted to teach.

It’s nothing to do with my teaching, it isn’t to do with the work that I do, it’s just a way of respecting people.

Frank isn’t people!

Frank is a man who is doing a job!

You were always salving your own bloody conscience...

these stupid gestures, nothing to do with what people might want.

They want to be treated...

respected like adults for the job they are paid for, and not looked down on as if they were chronically disabled, as if they somehow need help all the time.

I mean, yes, this was the craziness!

This was the whole trouble with business and you!

You looked down – always!

– on the way we did things.

The way things are done.

You could never accept the nature of business.

I mean, finally that’s why you had to leave.

Well, I must say...

I mean...

I never knew that was the reason!

All right, I’m sorry...

I never knew that was why I had to leave.

I put it badly.


You did.

I thought I left because your wife discovered I’d been sleeping with you for over six years!

I mean, well, yes.

That as well, that played a part in it.

I should say it fucking well did.

That was part of the problem.

Part of?

Part of?

But you did have a problem of attitude.

Your attitude to business you never got straight!


What I’m saying is, you’d have left anyway.

I could sense it.

You were feeling it was time for a change.

Tom, I left because I’d always warned you: ‘If Alice finds out, then I shall go.’

All right...

I told you, I told you a thousand times...


I know you did.

I can only do this for as long as she doesn’t find out.

When she found out, then it changed things.


‘Instantly’ says it.

You were gone in an hour.


Out the door!

With me left explaining to all the other employees...

Oh, really?

I don’t think anyone was very convinced.

I had no choice.

I know it sounds stupid.

You have something worked out in your own mind.

Then something changes.

The balance is gone.

You no longer believe your own story.

And that, I’m afraid, is the moment to leave.

I heard you moved.


We did that quite quickly.

We moved when Alice was starting to get ill.

How long was her illness?

She was...

well, let’s see...

She was in the bed, in the bad bit, I suppose, it was getting on for a year.

I mean we’d known, I mean soon after you left us...

then she began to experience dizziness.

She’d taken no notice at first.

We were in such total confusion, at that time things were already so tough, so that news of the illness...

to be honest, at first, when it was first diagnosed, it seemed like kind of a joke.

How much misfortune?

and so on.

Where are the gods?

She needed a place where she could be peaceful.

I built this extraordinary bedroom – this builder, the one I mentioned, you know – with this wonderful sloping glass roof.

The Common outside.


We gave her the picture she wanted, exactly what she wanted to see.

She became quite...

well, she became quite mystic.

I don’t mean to sound cruel, but it was kind of difficult for me.

In what way?

You know Alice.

She got hold of this bloody word ‘spiritual’.

It’s one of those words I’ve never quite understood.

I mean, I’ve always hated the way people use it.

They use it to try and bump themselves up.

‘Oh I’ve had a spiritual experience,’ they say...


As if that’s the end of the argument.

‘Spiritual’, meaning: ‘It’s mine and shove off.’

People use it to prove they’re sensitive.

They want it to dignify quite ordinary things.


Now, that is something different.

I like religion.

Because religion has rules.

It’s based on something which actually occurred.

There are things to believe in.

And what’s more, what makes it worth following – not that I do, mind you – there’s some expectation of how you’re meant to behave.

But ‘spiritual’...

well, it’s all wishy-washy.

It means, ‘Well, for me, for me this is terribly important, but I’m fucked if I can really say why …’

Is that how Alice was?

Oh look, I don’t mean to downgrade it.

Alice was dying.

Let’s face it, in my view she grabbed at whatever she could.

She was always faddish.

But that’s what it was.


It wasn’t solid.

It wasn’t like she really believed.

If you’d said, ‘Oh look, what do you believe in?

What is there?

What’s happening?

What’s real?’, she couldn’t say.

It was all sensation.

Yes, but Tom, surely, that’s not so unusual...

I know!

That’s how most people die.

They die in that state.

Not knowing.

Half knowing.

Surely that’s what you’d expect?

I don’t know.

I could see the room was beautiful.

I mean, it was a beautiful room.

And so it should be.

I’m not being wholly facetious, but the fact is I had spent a great deal.

I mean, I’m not kidding.

I spent a great deal of money.

All that glass, the sandalwood floor.

The sky!

The greenery!

The light!

I gave her everything.

So what are you saying?

I don’t know.

I just felt frustrated.

I felt out of contact.

What you’re saying is the two of you never got straight.


What you mean is, you never got over your guilt.


I don’t know.

I mean, guilt’s another word.

It’s one of those words people use.

I mean, sure.

In a way.

I mean, yes, I can hardly deny it.

Both of us knew.

Both Alice and me.

We knew our time together was wrecked.

But Alice was far too proud to reproach me.

And then of course, being Alice, she began to withdraw.




All those feminine things!

The effect?

To make me feel much worse than if she’d stood up and fought.

She kept saying, ‘No, you go on with your life, Tom.

We’re such different people,’ that’s what she said.

‘Don’t mind me.

Forget me.

I’m happy reading and gardening.’


Fucking gardening!

If I could make it illegal I would!

She’d say quietly, ‘Well, you know, Tom, I think we were always mismatched.

For a man like you, Kyra is much more intelligent.’

She’d praise you.


‘Kyra’s attractive.

She’s clever.

She’s smart.’

I mean, she’d actually say that.

‘I’m much too docile, I know.’


I look back on that time in our lives, my own wife telling me in tones of absolute sweetness how right I was to love someone else.

And what’s more, what a good choice!

Then when she got ill...

you think, ‘I see, is this some sort of punishment?

Do You always punish the meek?’ Alice’s peace of mind taken from her.

Her friendship with you.

She’s just beginning to absorb this.

And then she’s told that she’s going to die.

And now?


What are you feeling?

Oh, not too bad. I think I’m all right.

No, really.

I’ve found ways of coping.

In the way that you do.

I mean, I’ve got the business.

No problem.

I’ve got the house.

A woman came – I didn’t tell you this – a woman came to the door.

She said she was from a local support group.

I couldn’t believe it.

She told me she’d come to help me to grieve.

I said, ‘I beg your pardon?’ She said, don’t worry, it’s not going to cost you.

It’s on the rates.’

Or the Poll Tax, whatever it’s called.

I said, ‘I’m meant to feel better?

You mean that’s meant to make it all right?

That’s meant to make all the difference?’ Oh good, this is great, I think I’ll do this, I’ll mourn my wife in the company of this total stranger, after all it’s going to be free...

I said, ‘Look, lady, I’ll tell you one thing.

When I choose to grieve for this woman...

this woman with whom I spent such a...

large part of my life, it will not be in the presence of a representative of Wimbledon Council.’

She said, ‘Oh, we’re in Merton now.’

I mean, please tell me, what is it?

Don’t they know anything?

You suffer.

That’s what you do.

There are no short cuts.

There are no easy ways.

And I have been doing my share of suffering.

Yes. I know that. That’s what I’ve heard.

What do you mean?

What do you mean by that?

I talked to Edward.


That’s right.


You’ve talked to Edward?

Oh shit, the pasta is going to be done...

For Christ’s sake, forget the pasta.

Oh God, I think it’s going to be spoilt.

What are you saying?

Have you kept on seeing Edward?

No. He’s only been over here once.


As it happened, this evening.

He came, he told me that you’d been impossible.

He says you still can’t live with yourself.

He said you spend the whole day in a fury.


What fury?

He says you’re totally lost.

How dare he?

How dare he come here and talk about me?

He came out of kindness.

He came because he’s concerned for his father.


Concerned for his father?

Like fuck!

He came because he’s a little shit-stirrer.

Because he likes making other people’s business his own.

This is it.

I mean, shit!

I’ve heard you, Tom...

I mean, you’ve done this, you’ve done this your whole bloody life...

Done what?

Pretended not to understand anything.

Pretended, when you understand perfectly well.

Understand what?

You’ve taken this boy...

I’ve taken him?

You’ve taken this son of yours.


You’ve made his life miserable.

He told me.

You had a row.

For God’s sake, earlier this week, he left home.


You’re making his life unendurable.

And only because you happen to be so bloody guilty...


And so you take your guilt out on him.

Is that what I do?

It is.

Oh, really?


I see.

Is that his opinion?

I think so.

Is that his version?

Is that what he says?

He didn’t need to say it.

I lived with your family, remember?

Do you think I don’t know what the hell’s going on?

Ah, now I see, Kyra, you’re actually inventing.

I see.

This is guesswork.

The truth is, you’re making this up.

From your knowledge of the family you once walked out on...

All right.

Edward didn’t actually say any of this...

I think he saw your behaviour.

My behaviour?

The way you behaved at the end.

He was there.

He knew your real feelings.

And I think that’s why you’re punishing him now.

Do you think, please, Tom, do you think I’ve believed this stuff you’ve been telling me?


‘I’m enjoying the business, it’s wonderful.

I get on great with my son.

Alice dying was hard, but of course I survived it.

No problem.

I just dropped round to see you...

Oh, no reason, I just thought it was time …’ And me, I’m standing here, nodding, smiling, agreeing like some ape...

and thinking, is this man lying to me deliberately?

Or does he not even notice?

Or is he so used to lying to himself?

It’s all right for me.

I’m fine.

You can tell me anything.

Any old story.

I’m lucky because I’ve moved on.

But Edward is young.

He needs his father.

He deserves honesty.

He deserves not to be treated like dirt.

That isn’t fair.

Oh, isn’t it?

It isn’t one-sided.

Sometimes, I know, I can be hard on the boy.

And why?

He’s such a jerk.

That’s the reason.

Oh come on, Tom.

All right, it’s true.

I couldn’t face Alice.

I couldn’t.

Not at the end.

Any excuse.

I went travelling.

I opened hotels abroad.

New York.

Los Angeles.

The further the better.

I couldn’t – I know it was wrong of me – do you really think I don’t know it?

– but, Jesus...

I could not stay in that room.

All right, I’m not proud.

We both knew what was happening.

I kept thinking, ‘It’s not like a test.

What’s happening is chance.

It’s pure chance.

It’s simply bad luck.’

But I couldn’t fight it.

I felt...

oh, everyone’s watching. Her friends.

I know what they think. This is some sort of trial of my character.

And no doubt the bastards are saying I fail.

But Edward was as bad. Don’t ever think otherwise. He failed just as badly. In a different way.

I came home, six friends of his lying on the floor, drinking Heineken.


Shit, I don’t know...

I remember screaming, ‘What the hell are you doing? Don’t you know your mother is lying up there?’

I was so angry.

Every day this fury that you had walked out.

Walked out and left me to handle this thing.

I did try to use it.

I used your memory.

I kept saying, ‘Look, I must behave well.

I must try.

Because who knows?

If I behave well, I might still have a chance here.’

A chance?


What sort of chance?

I think you know what I mean.

I kept on saying, ‘If I behave well, if I get through this, then maybe Kyra is going to come back.’

Sitting by the bed.

Just awful.

Looking at Alice, propped up on the pillows, her eyes liquid, cut off...

I’d think, ‘Oh shit, if Kyra were with us, if Kyra were here …’

Jesus, why weren’t you?

‘If Kyra were here, she’d know what to do.’

But you ran and left us.


I had to.

You did what you said people never should do.

I had no choice.

I had to get out of Alice’s way.

I had to make a new life of my own.

And this is it, Kyra?

This is the life that you made?

Will you tell me, will you tell me, please, Kyra, what exactly are you doing here?

Are you going to go down?

Will you talk to Frank then?

What shall I say to him?

Send him away.

He’s gone.

Kyra, Kyra. I’m back.

What are you doing?

Eating the sauce.

I’m starving.


We never had supper.

God, I’m sorry. I fell asleep. What time is it?

I think it’s two-thirty.

I must say...

It’s no worry.

I must have fallen asleep as well.

Why don’t Baptists like to fuck standing up?

Because they’re frightened God will think they’re dancing.

Is it me?

Or has something happened to make it warmer in here?

It may be you.

But also it’s been snowing finally.

Everything’s covered in snow.

My God, you’re right.

It’s beautiful.

I’m beginning to like it.

I think I’ve decided I’m going to move in.

I was lying there, yeah, in that bed of yours, next to that sort of interesting lump in the mattress you have, I was thinking I could get used to this.

Maybe this area isn’t so bad.

Over there, I was thinking, I’m going to put my telly...

Have you still got that big one?

Oh no.

It’s much bigger now.

I’ve got a home projection system.


It’s going to take up most of that wall.


The football.

Sunday afternoons with the lager...

Do you still support Chelsea?

Of course.

How are they?

They play the English game.

My own game, you know.

Kick it up the middle and hope for the best.

And over there, the stereo.

Maybe put Frank in a box room.

He’d love it.

We could make a life, you and me.

Takeaway Indians...

Except you’d need the flat next door as well to store all your clothes.

Oh no, I’ve stopped all that rubbish.

I haven’t bought clothes...

well, since Alice died.

Do you think I’ve lost weight?

A diet of suffering...

I didn’t notice, in fact.


I wasn’t thinking.

I was thinking, whatever else happens, we always have this.

I was wondering, you know, it can’t be much longer.

Your term.


There’s only two weeks to go.

Do you know what you’re doing for Christmas?

It’s just I’ve now got this place in the sun.

It’s at the water’s edge.

It’s perfect.

The steps lead down to the sea.

The island has palm trees.


Great fish.

Unless of course you’d made other plans...

I mean, I’m just saying.

Think about it.


No pressure.


No hurry.

Of course.

If you let me know, say, Friday...

No, honestly, that’s just a joke.

For God’s sake, I’m not totally insensitive, I don’t think ‘One fuck and everything’s solved...’

Two, though, and that’ll be different.

I mean, well, yes.

That sort of thing.

So it’s good...


This teaching?

You enjoy this teaching of yours?

I wouldn’t say ‘enjoy’.


It can be pretty stressful.

But at least it does mean I feel stretched.



Surely that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

Don’t we think it’s good to be stretched?

Oh sure.

I know it sounds crazy, but I’m out at six-thirty – earlier.

My goodness!

I get on the bus.

That simple journey, Kensal Rise to East Ham, in many ways it’s the thing I like best about the job.

I take a good book.

I take my sandwiches.

Every day I sit there.

Always the top.

The top deck’s better.

Oh really?


You hear better things.

I’ve developed this passion for listening.


It’s like an addiction.

I love it.

I can’t get enough.

And the more I listen, the more it strikes me, you know...

what extraordinary courage, what perseverance most people need just to get on with their lives.


And at the start I actually got lucky...


Yes, I met this fantastic Nigerian friend.


And she’s introduced me to the group that she’s in.

A group? What sort of group?

A women's group.

It’s very informal.

We meet every Friday after work.

We have a few drinks

to compare experiences.

That’s nice.

Because when you’re working so hard, you’re working such ludicrous hours, the danger is you forget to share. The group's helpful about that.

And there’s always something new.

Like at the moment we have this real problem.

We have this private security firm...

At the school?


I mean, we’ve had them there lately.

Just for a few days.

It’s absolutely disgusting, the staff have protested like mad.

We had this problem with burglary.


A dinner lady was mugged.

She was mugged at the school?

Tom, that’s not unheard of.

Not during lunch.

Don’t take up that Home Counties tone.

I’m not.

Just allow a moment of taxpayer’s interest that dinner ladies now walk in fear of their lives.

One dinner lady.


Only one incident.

It happens.

It happened once.

But of course it’s being used politically.

There are – let’s face it – certain elements.

Partisan elements, who wish the school ill.

For what reason?

Precisely because it is an enlightened regime.

Tom, don’t look at me like that.

I didn’t say anything.

I’m not a soft liberal.

Far from it.

My views have got tougher.

They’ve had to.

You grow up pretty fast.

Education has to be a mixture of haven and challenge.

Reassurance, of course.


But also incentive.

I’m not sure I actually know what that means.

Tom, these are kids from very tough backgrounds.

Forty per cent speaking English as an additional language.

Fifty per cent on free school meals.

At the very least, you offer them support, you care for them, you offer them security.

You give them an environment where they feel they can grow.

But also you make bloody sure you challenge them.

Don't just let them sit back in the world.

You make sure they realise learning is hard.

Because if you don’t...

if you only make the safe haven...

if it’s all clap-happy and ‘everything the kids do is great’...

then what are you creating?

Emotional toffees, who’ve actually learnt nothing, but who then have to go back and face the real world.

I see that.

I tell you, it’s fucking interesting...

I’m sure...

Finding that balance...


Finding it, keeping it there.

Tom, there’s nothing I’ve done in my life which is harder.

You’re really that involved?

You mean me personally?

Do you go to staff meetings?

I’m not an activist, if that’s what you mean.

But I take it quite seriously.


apart from anything, I’m older than most of the teachers...


It’s become a young person’s area.

A young teacher comes out of college.

They think, this is the kind of work I believe in.

Then pretty soon...

well, they move, they marry...

They decide they want something a little bit easier.


Something a little less arduous.


But that’s not happened to you?

Early on, you know, I was spat on.

Very early.

Like maybe, the first day or two.

In front of the class, this boy spat on me.

He called me an arsewipe.

A cunt.

I tell you, I can still feel it.

Here, on the side of my cheek.

And then I thought – right, this is it.

I realised then. I have to go one step further.

I have to really give myself to the children.

I have to really let them know who I am.

That's when they respect you.

Now no problems with discipline, none.

And I have to say, my grades are amazing...

I took on a job and I bloody well did it.

I see.

It sounds like a challenge.

I’ve seen the way things now are in this country.

I think for thirty years I lived in a dream.

I don’t mean that unkindly.

Everything you gave me I treasured.

But the fact is, you go out, you open your eyes now, you see this country as it really is...

But you have friends?


This life that you’re leading?

I’m asking, it’s not without friends?

It’s none of my business, but as you describe it...

I suppose it all sounds a bit bleak.

Tom, the point is, we’re mostly totally exhausted...

I’m sure.

What are you asking?

Do I go out?

Oh yes, I go out!

On Fridays, we go to Thank God It’s Fridays.

On Saturdays, Sainsbury’s.

And also, yes, I have a few friends.

Well, good.

Adele is terrific.

She's teaching abroad for three years,

so I've taken up this place.

You call that an act of friendship?

Oh very funny.

It’s more like she’s trying to freeze you to death...

It doesn’t bother me.

Not after my childhood.

Being pushed by nannies beside stormy English seas...

You know he died?

Your father?

Dropped dead on the golf course about a year ago.

But, Kyra, I don’t understand.

I thought you were going to get lots of money.

Ah, well, yes, so did I.


Tom, things are never as simple as that.

There were clubs. There were charities. There were good causes.

Oh come on...

Rotarians, dying children.

He gave me some money.

Not much.

In fact, very little.

But for Christ’s sake, how did you feel?

I didn’t feel anything.

What difference did it make?

All the difference in the world.

What do you mean?

If you’d had his money you would have been able to buy a new place.


I mean, that’s what I’m saying.

You would have been able to leave.

You could have bought somewhere decent.

I mean, yes, I suppose so...

You can hardly intend to live here the whole of your life?

I suppose I’m asking, what are you planning?


Tom, I don’t expect this to make any sense to you.

But I’m planning to go on just as I am.

Do you want tea?


Shall I make tea for you?


Oh, yes.

I mean, yes.

Of course.

I don’t know.

I know it sounds silly.

There’s something...

I suppose, an idea of the future.

It seems to me important.

Why, sure.

I have an idea of the future as well.

Do you?


Yes, I mean loosely.

A future doing a job I believe in.

Why does that bother you?

Because of a feeling...

it’s to do with something that happened with Alice.

Something which happened right at the end.

Do you know how I first met her?

I saw her modelling in a magazine. I thought, oh look, it’s Audrey Hepburn.

You cut out her picture.

That’s what I heard.

I sent her flowers.

Red roses.

I sent her these roses, day after day.

After a month of this, she finally agreed to meet me.

In a coffee shop.

She was quite charming.

Quiet, you know.

But she said, ‘I’m not a thing, don’t you see?

You can’t buy me.

Whatever you give me, I can’t ever be bought.’

I remember, even then, I was just laughing.

I said, ‘My God, do you not understand?’

You see, by that time, I’d already started.

I had a couple of restaurants, nothing too grand.

But I’d already worked out – I’m not an idiot – you either run money or else it runs you.

If you keep your money...

if you’re frightened to spend it, you become its prisoner.

OK, sure, when you’re making it, be as mean as you like.

But when you spend it, just give.


Show your contempt for it.

I said to her, there in that café, ‘I give for the pleasure of giving.

Just for the pleasure itself.’

But Alice understood that.


She never accepted it.

I promise you.

Right to the end.

She always thought if I was giving, then somehow I must want something back.

You told me you built her that room to be ill in.

That’s what I’m saying.


That’s what I mean.

I gave it to her because...

oh shit...

I preferred it that she should be happy.

What’s wrong with that?

I wanted her to die in a place that she liked.

While she was dying, every night I brought her these flowers.

The very same flowers – red roses – that I’d given when we first met.

Then one day she was lying, her head on the pillow, I thought asleep.

She suddenly said, ‘No.

No more flowers.’

I said, ‘Why not?’ She said, ‘It isn’t the same.’

She said, ‘The flowers were when you loved me.

You and I were really in love.’

She said, ‘Now I don’t want them.’

She was one week from dying.

Kyra, that’s fucking hard.


I’d tried to explain to her...

many times I’d tried to talk about you.

But she’d cut me off.

She’d made up her mind.

She had her opinion.

And believe me, she wasn’t willing to change.

She knew exactly what she was doing.

The one thing she had was her moral authority.

A wrong had been done.

That was it.

The last thing she wanted was to change her view of things, and certainly not by listening to mine.

She used her death as a way of punishing me.


No, really.


You think I’m exaggerating.

She treated me as if I were still some sort of schoolboy: you betrayed me; that’s it.

Now in my opinion that’s not bloody fair.


What I’m saying: it wasn’t one-sided.

It wasn’t simply that I was a shit.

You have to deal with this – part of the problem was Alice.

Right to the end, she couldn’t forgive.

And even now I feel out on a limb.

I see that.

I get home from the restaurants – that’s if I bother to go in at all – at ten-thirty I think that I’m tired, but then two hours later I’m sitting up, stock still in bed.

I go for a walk on the Common.


I go out around three.

Just looking around, and thinking.

Always the same thought.

I find myself thinking: something must come of all this.

I try to go out.

I try to enjoy myself.

I think: oh tonight, I’ll go out, I’ll get drunk.

But my foot’s on the floor, I’m pumping, I’m flooring that fucking pedal, and nothing’s moving.

I’m getting no fucking pleasure at all.

It’s like, you know, like earlier you were saying, how all the time you felt you’d been loyal to her.

You’d also been loyal to something inside yourself.

I suppose I feel: what happens now?

Do we just leave it?

Just leave it completely?

And if we did, isn’t that like admitting our guilt?


No, look, isn’t that like saying we did behave shabbily?

And, oh, it was just an affair!

And then when she found out, it was over?

Doesn’t that seem to you wrong?

Tom, you know there’s something which you do have to deal with.

There is this whole world I’m now in.

It’s a world with quite different values.

The people, the thinking is different...

it’s not at all like the world which you know.

I mean, if we ever...

if we...

what I’m saying...

if we can work out a way of keeping in touch...

then you have to know that I have made certain decisions. And these are decisions you have to respect.

Why, I mean, yes.



I’m not a complete idiot.


You’re saying you’ve made an informed and serious choice.

You’ve chosen to live in near-Arctic conditions somewhere off the North Circular.

No, really.

Why should I have any problem with that?

I promise.

I’m deeply impressed with it.

I assure you, it gives me no problem at all.

Put a bucket in the corner to shit in, and you can take hostages and tell them this is Beirut!

Tom, I have to tell you, this place is really quite reasonable.

Oh really?

As it happens, I get it at a very cheap rent.

I should hope!

It’s you, Tom.

The fact is, you’ve lost all sense of reality.

This place isn’t special.

It’s not specially horrible.

For God’s sake, this is how everyone lives!

Oh please, please let’s be serious...

I mean it.

Kyra, honestly...

No, this is interesting, this is the heart of it.

It wasn’t until I left your restaurants...

those carpaccio- and ricotta-stuffed restaurants of yours...

it wasn’t till I deserted that Chelsea milieu...

Which in my memory you liked pretty well...

I do like it, yes, that isn’t something I’d ever deny...

but it wasn’t until I got out of your limousines...

until I left that warm bubble of good taste and money in which you exist...

Thank you.

It was only then I remembered most people live in a way which is altogether different.

Well, of course.

And you have no right to look down on that life!

You’re right.

Thank you.

Of course.

That’s right.


In one thing you’re different.

I do have to say to you, Kyra, in one thing you’re different from everyone else in this part of town.

How is that?

You’re the only person who has fought so hard to get into it, when everyone else is desperate to get out!

All right, very funny.

For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve loved this.

Loved what?

Whenever I say anything serious, there’s nothing you like more than winding me up.

Yes, I’m afraid that is true.

But it’s hard to resist winding people up when they’ve little metal keys sticking out of their backs.

And what does that mean?

OK, you’re right.

I know nothing about anything.

As you would say, I’m pampered.

I admit it.

Frank drives me round.

But even I know that East Ham is on one side of London, and this place we’re now in is somewhere quite else!


That is just chance.

Oh really?

That’s just how it happened.

A friend found this flat!

Adele was desperate.

She was in the most desperate straits.

All right, I admit it wasn’t exactly convenient...

It was sort of a sacrifice, is that the word?

You work in one dreadful place.

But of course for you, that’s not nearly enough.

You must punish yourself further by living in another dreadful place.

And spend the whole day commuting between them!

Oh, for God’s sake, that’s not what I do.

And, what’s more, listening to the people on the journey, mopping up their every remark.

As if they were Socrates, as if they were Einstein, just because they happen to travel by bus.


I come from bog-ordinary people, me.

No solicitors hanging on my family tree!

If you start out ordinary, I promise you, one thing you’re spared, this sentimental illusion that ordinary people can teach you anything at all.

I tell you, it’s this, it’s this that’s so interesting.

How you’re threatened...

Me, threatened?

Of course.

By what?

I remember.

As soon as any quite normal person is praised – a waiter, a chambermaid, someone who’s doing a quite lowly job – you become like a dog on a leash.

You can’t wait for them to do something stupid, and great!

You’ve found your moment to bite.

That isn’t true.

Oh, isn’t it?

I remember once saying I thought that Frank did his best to hide it, but underneath he was really quite bright.

You said, ‘Oh come on, let’s face it, Kyra, there’s a reason he’s a driver...’

Well, what am I meant to say?

You want me to lie?

It’s only the truth!

You don’t talk to him.

You don’t even talk to him.


I talk to Frank.

He tells me how Tottenham are doing, he tells me who Cindy Crawford is sleeping with now...

Oh, really!

I mean, please.

I’m not saying that Frank was born stupid.

Believe me, I wouldn’t say that.

But if you turned him upside down, his brains would come out on the floor.

Why do you think I’m working where I am?

I’m sick of this denial of everyone’s potential.

Whole groups of people just written off!

Oh I see, right, you’ve been reborn.

Now I understand you...


You see good in everyone now!

How comforting!

Of course.

But if I could be reborn as anyone, I’m not sure Julie Andrews would be my first choice.

I mean, Kyra, please!

As you’d say: let’s be serious!

You must know what’s happening.

Jesus Christ, just look at this place!

I mean, it is screaming its message.

For instance, I tell you, look at that heater!

Sitting there fulfilling some crucial psychological role in your life.

There are shops, I mean, you know, shops, proper shops that exist in the street.

These shops sell heaters.

They are not expensive.

But of course they are not what you’re looking for.

Because these heaters actually heat!

You accuse me of being a monster.

You say that I’m guilty.

You tell me that I’m fucking up the life of my horrible son.

But the difference is, at least I admit it.

At least this evening I took that on board.

But you!


It’s like talking to a Moonie.

I’ve not set off like some fucking missionary to conduct some experiment in finding out just how tough I can make my own way of life.

You think that’s what I’m doing?

You really think that’s what this is?

I mean, I’ve been listening, I’ve been listening to this stuff you’ve been telling me – the bus!

The school!

Even the kind of place that you choose to live – and, I’m thinking, my God, my dear old friend Kyra’s joined some obscure religious order.

The Kensal Rise chapter!

She’s performing an act of contrition.

You say to me, Lord goodness, everything’s psychological.

I can’t be happy because I’ve not come to terms with things that I’ve done.

But you – you’re like Page One.

A textbook Freudian study!

Your whole fucking life is an act of denial!

It’s so bloody clear.

You know what it’s called?

Throwing Teddy in the corner!

You’re running so fast you don’t even know you’re in flight.



Of course.

Yes, it’s obvious.

I suppose you couldn’t tell me.

I’m running from what?

Do I need to say?

Oh, I mean, that really is contemptible!

Why do men always think it’s all about them?

Because in this case...

it is!

I’ll say this for you.

You always understood procedure.

You’ve always known the order in which things should be done.

You fuck me first.

Then you criticise my life-style...

Now Kyra...

Doing it the other way round, of course, would be a terrible tactical mistake.

I mean, if you’d started by calling me weak and perverse, if you’d told me straight off I was fleeing from you...

But the great restaurateur knows the order.

You don’t serve the pudding before the fucking soup!

I refrained from commenting only because it’s so bloody obvious.

I didn’t actually think it needed to be said.

You have a first-class degree, for Christ’s sake.

Oh, really!

You came out top of your year.

I can’t see anything more tragic, more stupid than you sitting here and throwing your talents away.

Am I throwing them away?

I don’t think so.

Kyra, you’re teaching kids at the bottom of the heap!

Well, exactly!

I would say I was using my talents.

It’s just I’m using them in a way of which you don’t approve.

God, you claim I’m dismissive of people, you think I don’t give them a chance.

But any of those people who work for me...

when they saw what you were doing with the gifts that God gave you...

they would be so bloody furious.

Would they?

Of course!

They wouldn’t understand you, any more than I do.

They would simply say you were shallow and spoilt.

You know you could be teaching at any university.

They’d take you today!

Anywhere you liked!

But oh no!

Of course not, for Kyra nowhere is good enough.

Except of course somewhere that’s no good at all...

Of course it’s only this country, only here in this country, it’s thought to be a crime to get on.

Anything rather than achieve!

What you call ‘achieve’!

Sitting in North London, just spinning your wheels.

Out of stubbornness.

Sheer goddamned female stubbornness.


That’s a very odd choice of word.

You see, I’m afraid I think this is typical.

It’s something that’s happened...

it’s only happened of late.

That people should need to ask why I’m helping these children.

I’m helping them because they need to be helped.

Everyone makes merry, discussing motive.

Of course she does this.

She works in the East End.

She only does it because she’s unhappy.

She does it because of a lack in herself.

She doesn’t have a man.

If she had a man, she wouldn’t need to do it.

Do you think she’s a dyke?

She must be fucked up, she must be an Amazon, she must be a weirdo to choose to work where she does...

Well, I say, what the hell does it matter why I’m doing it?

Why anyone goes out and helps?

The reason is hardly of primary importance.

If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.

I’m tired of these sophistries.

I’m tired of these right-wing fuckers.

They wouldn’t lift a finger themselves.

They work contentedly in offices and banks.

Yet now they sit pontificating in parliament, in papers, impugning our motives, questioning our judgements.

And why?

Because they themselves need to feel better by putting down everyone whose work is so much harder than theirs.

You only have to say the words ‘social worker’...

‘probation officer’...


for everyone in this country to sneer.

Do you know what social workers do?

Every day?

They try and clear out society’s drains.

They clear out the rubbish.

They do what no one else is doing, what no one else is willing to do.

And for that, oh Christ, do we thank them?

No, we take our own rotten consciences, wipe them all over the social worker’s face, and say, ‘If –’ FUCK!

– ‘if I did the job, then of course if I did it...

oh no, excuse me, I wouldn’t do it like that...’

Well, I say: ‘OK, then, fucking do it, journalist.

Politician, talk to the addicts.

Hold families together.

Stop the kids from stealing in the streets.

Deal with couples who beat each other up.

You fucking try it, why not?

Since you’re so full of advice.

Sure, come and join us.

This work is one big casino.

By all means.

Anyone can play.

But there’s only one rule.

You can’t play for nothing.

You have to buy some chips to sit at the table.

And if you won’t pay with your own time...

with your own effort...

then I’m sorry.

Fuck off!’

All right, very well, I do see what you’re saying.

I should hope so.

This work you’re doing leaves you deeply fulfilled.

But, Kyra, are you also saying you’re happy?

Oh come on now, Tom, that isn’t fair!

Why not?

That’s a shitty kind of question.

It’s a game!

I’m not playing that game!

The funny thing is – do you see?

– you talk about escaping your father.

You were always telling us.

The chilly, cold childhood you had!

But here you are, building exactly the same kind of bunker that he did...


Living exactly the same kind of isolated life.

You end up here in this room.

With ice on the windowpane.

The wind still blowing off the bloody English Channel.

And no one allowed to get near...

The only time you haven’t been lonely, the only time you actually lived a proper life among friends, was when you lived in our family.

And you know bloody well that is true.

On no account must I be happy.

On no account must I have succeeded in getting away.

You walk in this room, and at once you’re picking up folders...

What folders?

Glancing at the bookshelves.

Lifting my papers.

Oh my God, does she have a boyfriend?

Oh, really!

Is there any trace of a man?

I never did any such thing.

Looking for any male objects.

Any gifts.

Any ties.

Any socks.

Oh come on now, that’s ridiculous.

Is it?

Your whole body language expresses it.


I think you’ve patrolled this room fifty times.

Inspected its edges.

You even smelt the fucking bed!

Like an animal.

The whole thing’s about possession.

Kyra, you know that’s not true.

I mean, apart from anything, there is the arrogance, the unbelievable arrogance of this middle-aged man to imagine that other people’s behaviour – his ex’s behaviour – is always in some direct reaction to him.

Well, it is!

You were saying – my God!

– you were telling me you don’t think of us as objects.

I don’t.

We’re not possessions, that’s what you say!

Yet you stand there complaining your wife omitted to forgive you.

She did!

I have to ask you, Tom, why the hell should she?

When all the time you were dreaming of somebody else.

All right.

I mean, Jesus...

All right!

Earlier this evening you were telling me that all the time she was dying you were meanwhile thinking about me!

That’s right!

Yet you’re standing there seriously demanding my sympathy for the terrible hurt which you’re claiming she’s done to you!

I mean, even you, Tom...

even you must see it.

I know, being a successful businessman – sweet wife, me adoring you as well!

– you’re richly deserving of compassion, I know your life was really jolly hard...

All right.

But even you must see the balance of sympathy in this case maybe...

just maybe lies somewhere else.

You only say that because you weren’t around.

Oh, that again!


Because that’s at the heart of it.

That’s at the heart of all this.

Is that what you think?

You know what I’m saying is right.

You simply walked out!

You simply walked out on me!

That is a fact.

And what’s more, you did not consult me.

You made a decision which I never approved.


You mean, you signed no consent form...

All right...

You took no executive decision?

I was never filed next to Alice.

Diminishing assets!

Oh, very funny.

Oh yes, very smart!

You did not downsize me, delayer me, you did not have a drains-up meeting to discuss the strategic impact of letting me go?

You mean I just went and there was no management buy-out?

Oh, is this your idea of satire?

And I suppose it’s meant to be at my expense?

I knew this job of yours would make you a smartarse.


Of course.

It’s a joke.

All teachers look down on business!

They all mock business!

Tom, I’m just asking, but are you developing just a bit of a chip?

Not at all.

I mean, like earlier...

earlier this evening, you were going on about ‘business’.

‘No one understands business,’ that’s what you said.

Suddenly, I must say, I hear it everywhere.

These so-called achievers telling us they have a grievance.

The whole of society must get down on their knees and thank them, because they do something they no longer call ‘making money’.

Now we must call it something much nicer.

Now we must call it ‘the creation of wealth’...

Putting money in your pocket.

And the rest of us, we’re ungrateful...

we’re immoral...

we must simply be envious...

You have to laugh.

It’s this modern phenomenon.


Self-pity of the rich!

Well, I tell you, I spend my time among very different people.

People who often have nothing at all.

And I find in them one great virtue at least: unlike the rich, they have no illusions that they must once have done something right!

Nor do they suffer from delicate feelings.

They don’t sit about whining.

How misunderstood and undervalued they are.

No, they’re getting on with the day-to-day struggle of trying to survive on the street.

And that street, I tell you...

if you get out there...

if you actually have to learn to survive, well, it’s a thousand times harder than leading an export drive, being in government, or...

yes, I have to say, it’s even harder than running a bank.

And the sad thing, Tom, is that you once knew that.

When I first met you, you knew that full well.

It marked you.

That was the charm of you.

It made you different.

And I’m not sure the moment at which you forgot.

Well, thank you.

Not at all.

I needed that lecture.

It wasn’t a lecture.

It was good of you.

Henceforth I’ll try not to complain.

Of course I’m disqualified from having any feelings, because I’ve made some money.

I didn’t say that.

No, you said something near it.

For you, people are no longer people, it seems.

Now they’re symbols.

And I am a symbol of...

what does it matter?

Something you’re plainly angry with.

Oh come on, you know it’s not as simple as that.

I can see that you’re furious.

I’m not sure I wholly know why.

Come with me.

Just spend a day with me.

Then I think it will be pretty clear.

Oh I’m sure.

There’s plenty of injustice.

God knows, it’s always been there.

The question is why you’ve gone out to look for it.

You see, it’s a funny thing, you’ve always said yes to everyone.

It’s something I noticed right from the start.

Everyone liked you for this very reason.

The first time they meet you, they always say, ‘Kyra, what a nice person!’ Always.

‘Kyra, no question, she’s a good sort...’ It’s typical.

Your friend needs a tenant.

To you, oh, it’s no problem.

You’ll do it.

There’s no inconvenience.

You’re happy to do it.

That’s who you are.

Even for us, when you started.

You were happy to babysit when Alice and I wanted to go out.

It used to amaze me.

I used to ask myself why there was only one person, one person in the world my friend Kyra ever said no to.

And that is the man who asked her if she’d be his wife.

I remember, I remember that morning so clearly.

I remember coming downstairs.

Then you were at the office.

I rang you.

I said, ‘I’m afraid she’s discovered.

This is our moment.

It’s finally possible.

So now at last we make a clean break...’ You put down the phone.

For the rest of the day I couldn’t find you.

At the office they said you’d simply walked out.

I did.


My marriage was finished.

You knew that.

And Alice herself had no wish to go on.

You could have had a thousand reactions.

You could have gone to try and talk to Alice.

You could have come to me.

But no.

You did something cowardly.

You picked up your bags and walked out.

Oh, you always said you did it for Alice.


That’s what you told me.

When I finally found you, you said, ‘I had to do it.

I did it for Alice.

And for the children as well.’

But that wasn’t so.

Well, was it?

What do you want me to say?

You didn’t give a fuck about Alice’s feelings.

Alice’s feelings were just an excuse.

I mean, even tonight, you were telling me, you told me: an adulterous love is the best.

Well, let me tell you it isn’t.

The best thing is loving with your whole heart.

Yes, and what’s more, out in the open.

The two of you.

That’s when there’s risk.

Not the risk of discovery.

But the risk of two people really setting off on their own.

But that means all the things you’ve avoided.

Really giving yourself.

Even now you’re doing it.

You’re telling me how much you love the people!

How much you’re in love with the courage of the people on the bus!

Yes, of course you love them.

Because in three minutes you can get off.

Do you think I don’t see it?

Loving the people’s an easy project for you.

Loving a person...

now that’s something different.

Something that will take you right to the brink.

That isn’t fair.

Isn’t it?

I think it is.

You love the people because you don’t have to go home with them.

You love them because you don’t have to commit.

You’re very cruel.

I’ve made a life here.


You can’t open a paper, that’s what you say.

You have banished papers, you tell me, you’ve banished TV.

I mean, why?

What’s the reason?

It’s some kind of insanity.

What, you feel the world is somehow letting you down?

You go off to do what you call ‘rebuilding’.

‘Rebuild your life’, that’s what you say.

Start again.

But how can you?

Kyra, look at you now!

It won’t even work.

It can’t work.

Because it’s built on a negative.

It’s built on escape.

What is it in you?

This thing that you have.

Why doesn’t it yield?

I don’t understand it.


I honestly don’t think you do.


You never will, Tom.

It’s the difference between us.

It’s kind of a gulf.

You’re right.

I’ve become my anger.

And now I think you should go.



You got what you wanted.

You wanted me to say I never loved you enough.

Well, plainly, in your view, I didn’t.

And so that’s the end of it.

Isn’t it?

And these are books which I have to mark.

Oh come on, these fucking books, these fucking children.

Marking fucking books in the middle of the fucking night!

You know what we had.

Why can’t you admit it?

I think you should change.

Yes, hello.

I'm at 43 Canon House.

There's a friend of mine going to Wimbledon.

Yeah, I understand that.

A doorbell.


Yes, thank you, as soon as you can.

I got you a cab.

Oh, all right...

They say they’re not sure, but they think they can get through the snow.

By the time I get home it’s going to be time to go into work.

You look ridiculous.

I’m afraid you’ve forgotten your tie.

You ask me if I remember that day.

I remember the days before it.

Why I wrote those letters at all.

Do you remember why I had written?

Of course.

You went off on holiday.


For once, on my own.

Because you two couldn’t come – I think a new restaurant was opening.

That’s right.

And I was exhausted.

So I insisted.

And you said, ‘Kyra, you promise, whatever you do, you must write...’

They were wonderful letters.

I’m glad you thought so.

I can remember, the first day going down to the beach and thinking...

I am going to make this man very happy.

I am going to tell him what he really wants to hear.

It was also the truth.

Even now, I remember, I remember writing, ‘You will never know the happiness you’ve given me.

I’ll never love anyone as much as I love you...’

After a few days, people on the beach were all looking and laughing.

This strange English girl, I was chalk white, under a parasol, ordering just an occasional beer.

You say I can’t give, that I’ve never given.

I gave in those letters.

I gave my whole heart.

‘Just to think of you fills me with warmth and with kindness.

All I want is that it should go on...’


Then of course I got back to London.

I said to you, ‘Tom, those letters I wrote...’ You said to me, ‘Yes, don’t worry, it’s fine, there’s a safe in our house.

It’s upstairs in the attic.

There’s no reason Alice would ever go near...’


Then, later, that morning.

My first question to you on the phone: ‘How did she find them?’ ‘Oh,’ you said...


Just for the night, you’d left them tucked away in the kitchen.

That’s right.

But I told you, the night before I’d got them out to read them.

I admit, I’d had a few drinks.

Alice was asleep.

I thought, I’m going to wake her if I go up to the attic.

So I thought, just for this evening, I’ll hide them in the kitchen.

Then later I’ll put them back.


Oh, for Christ’s sake, you know what happened.

I was going out to work and...

Look, I don’t know...

Frank had been waiting, he was bullying me, telling me I had to hurry up.

For whatever reason...

I went off to work, and yes, I forgot!

You left them in the kitchen.

Look, I’m not saying it was highly intelligent.

I mean, at the time, I said it was crazy.

I told you: it was stupid.

It was remiss.

No, it wasn’t remiss, Tom.

It was deliberate.

Please, please don’t start lying!

Don’t start lying to me now!

Of course.

Do you think I’m proud of it?

Do you think it was easy?

Just to walk out of your lives?

Every day, I’ve thought of the wreckage, of what must have happened to Alice and you.

But I couldn’t stay.

I couldn’t.

Breeze in to Alice and say, ‘Please understand, in my mind I never betrayed you.

Really, I promise you, you have our everlasting love and respect...’?

Do you think we could have been happy?

You and me?

Happy like murderers, perhaps.

And all the time I’d be thinking: the one thing...

the one thing I asked him never to do...

he went off and did it deliberately.

Kyra, that just isn’t true!

We had six years of happiness.

And it was you who had to spoil it.

With you, when something is right, it’s never enough.

You don’t value happiness.

You don’t even realise.

Because you always want more.

It’s part of the restlessness.

You say you knew that I loved and valued your family.

You knew how much you were loved.

But that can’t be true.

Well, can it?

Because if you’d realised, why would you have thrown it away?

I love you, for God’s sake.

I still love you.

I loved you more than anyone on earth.

But I’ll never trust you, after what happened.

It’s what Alice said.

You’ll never grow up.

There is no peace in you.

For me there is no comfort.

There’s no sense of rest.

The energy’s wonderful.

Oh God, I tell you the energy’s what everyone needs.

But with the energy comes the restlessness.

And I can’t live in that way.

You wanted a family. You say what you loved was family.

I’m happy to start a family again.

It’s too late.

And you know it.

He’s coming.

Your whisky.

I came here today, wanting forgiveness.

I thought you’d say, well, OK.

Things do just happen, that’s how it is.

The world’s not a court.

Most things are chance.

That’s what I’m saying.

A girl of eighteen walks down the King’s Road...

And in that girl, there’s infinite potential.

I suppose I just wanted some of that back.


At least, if nothing more, come to one of the restaurants.

There are one or two which are really not bad.

I promise you, you know, on a good night, it’s almost as nice as eating at home.

Jesus Christ, all right!

Who is it?

I’m coming.



What are you doing here?

What have you got there?

Well, come up, don’t stand down there freezing.

It’s kind of a joke.

I just hope I can get it upstairs.

I don’t know, at the time it seemed funny...

Just put it down over there.

Jesus, what time is it?

I was frightened I’d miss you.

I was frightened you’d already be gone.

Christ Almighty, I’ve overslept.

It’s almost seven o’clock...

I don’t know.

Perhaps this is a crazy idea.

I don’t know what it is.

I’ve brought you breakfast.

You said you missed breakfast more than anything else.

I don’t believe it.

So here it is!

You make a wish and it’s here.

I went to the Ritz.

I’ve a friend.

He’s my best friend actually.

He was at school with me.

He works in the kitchen.

Is he in his gap year?

He is.

And he smuggled me this stuff.

All this silver.

Apparently they lose thirty ashtrays a week.

People put them in their pockets.

Still, that’s how the rich stay rich, I suppose.

Look – a real butter dish with proper ice cubes.


I’m afraid the toast’s a bit hard.

Charentais melon.

The orange has been freshly squeezed.


And there are croissants.

At least I know the coffee is hot.

The eggs are scrambled.


Well, they looked pretty nice when they left.

It doesn’t matter.

We’ll eat them.

Oh this is wonderful!


I thought you’d be pleased.

I didn’t eat last night.

And look, the pièce de résistance.

Just smell the napkins.

Thank you.

Thank you so much.

Hey, look, I mean, it’s just breakfast.

I’ve just brought you breakfast.

I know.

Are we going to eat it?

I have to eat quickly.

There’s a boy I’m late for.

I’m teaching him off my own bat.

Extra lessons.

Early, so early!

Sometimes I think I must be going insane.

I wake at five-fifteen, five-thirty.

The alarm clock goes off.

I think, what am I doing?

What is this all about?

But then I think, no, this boy has the spark.

It’s when you see that spark in someone...

This boy is fourteen, fifteen.

His parents are split.

He lives in this place I cannot describe to you.

It’s so awful he has to go to the bloody park to work.

I mean, to be a teacher, the only thing you really have going for you...

there’s only one thing that makes the whole thing make sense, and that is finding one really good pupil.

You set yourself some personal target, a private target, only you know it – no one else – that’s where you find satisfaction.

And you hope to move on from there.

And that is it, that’s being a teacher.

One private target, and that is enough.

It's a start.

Your chair.

Are you ready?

Yes, yes, I’m ready.

Then sit.

This looks terrific.

Come on, Edward, let’s eat.

Subtitles are aligned by aeneas
Edited by ninep9up