Second Best (1994) - full transcript

Graham Holt is a lonely middle-aged man who runs a postal substation in a small village in England. He decides to adopt a son. James is the troubled youth he gets with the assistance of social worker Debbie. James has been in an orphanage for years since his mother committed suicide. He adores his outlaw father John, sent to prison not long after the mother's death. Can James learn to love Graham? Can Graham settle for being second best?



You're not getting many, are you?

Five seconds.


I know.

I know.

I'll take you back.

Who do you love most in all the world,

You, Dad.

Always, Jimmy. Promise. Always.

I promise.

So we went back.

He told the police where to find us.

He said he wanted us
to spend some time together... be together.

They put me in another children's home
and sent Dad back to prison.

We could have stayed there
more than those eight days.

I couldn't believe
I wrote down a son...

...which may seem flippant to you,
but it really was important to me.

Then walking across the street here,
I noticed--

How does your wife feel about it?

-My wife? No, I'm not married.
-Oh, I see.

Do you have to be married
to adopt a child?

No, but it's usual.

-It's usual, but it's not....

It's not obligatory.

-Oh, well....
-Yes. Right.

Look, may I ask you
to take some of these leaflets?

They could be of help to you.

Do your neighbors know
about this ambition of yours?

I thought I'd wait until I'd reached
the stage of being taken seriously.

Does it matter to you
what they might think?

Well, they'll have to know.

If I'm successful,
they'll be the boy's neighbors too.

On a scale of one to 10,
what would you estimate... your degree of security
with your masculine role?


Are you a "cuddler"
or a "touch-me-not"?

You do realize that as a single man,
you'll only be offered the older...

...most difficult to place,
emotionally disturbed boy?

Very well...

...the department will allot someone
to assess you... your own home.

-Me probably.

We're a bit short-staffed
at the moment.

My name is Graham John Holt.

I am a single man, aged 42...

...attempting to adopt
a 10-year-old boy.

And to this end, I have been asked
to write about myself... honestly as possible.

Since my mother's death
18 months ago...

...I have been postmaster
at this village sub-post office...

...where I have lived all my life.

The stroke my father suffered...

...has been made more complicated
by depression following Mother's death.

She was a local girl.

Dad came from the north.

They were a devoted couple...

...who had hardly spent a night away
from each other.

At 7:45, I take Dad's breakfast to him.

I usually try him
with a little conversation.

They said at the hospital I should
keep doing that and not give up.

If there is someone in the phone box
across the road...

...I will name the person and speculate
on whom the call might be to.

He never replies.


Eight fifty-nine on the dot...

...I take up position
behind the reinforced counter screen.

No one has held me at gunpoint
as yet.

Good morning.

Lynn, my part-time helper...

...lives in a caravan
with her four children.

Is that a hot water bottle
under your coat, Elsie Needhan...

...or has that husband of yours...

...still not perfected
the art of safe sex?

Married bliss.

Doesn't it make you wanna throw up?

Hello, Edward.

How are you today?

Is there anything I can do
to make you more comfortable?

Does he know where he is?

I have no idea.

Would I be right in thinking...

...that there's a fair amount of bitterness
between the two of you?

It depends on what you think constitutes
a fair amount.

I don't consider myself crippled by it.

Just a little touchy on the subject.

I hope the house isn't always
as tidy as this.

Can I see it looking a bit more lived-in
next time?

I'm not from the Health and Safety
Inspectorate, you know.

And it is a 10-year-old boy
you're hoping to have living here.

I'm not as young as you think,
by the way.

Nobody's allowed to do this job
until their balls have dropped.

Which reminds me... need a support system.


One which the adoption panel
will consider viable.

Support means friends.

If you haven't got any, get some fast.

And kids,
you need experience with kids.

Babysitter, youth clubs...

...Boy Scouts, dib, dib, dib.

What have we here?

It was my mother's.

-For hair clips.
-Have you ever had a girlfriend?

Elsie Bartlett.

What happened?

Well, we never seemed to find anything
to say to each other.

She married Champion,
the Wonder Horse.

-Lucky girl.
-No, that was--

That was his nickname
when we were at school.

I need to know what happened
to send you scuttling inside your shell.

I mean, for God's sake...

...what have you been doing with
yourself sexually since you were 15?

No more than what's usual I suppose
for a person of my age and background.


If that's what you wanna call it.

Well, why haven't you put yourself
about a bit?

Masturbation's so unfriendly, Grae.

Even in my busy schedule, I've managed
to fit in one good screw a fortnight.

I do have a small bit of news,
if you're interested.

So shall we open your life story book
at the "my third year" page?

-Tell me the news first.
-Will you talk to me...

-...about what's on that page?
-I thought you didn't approve of bribery.

Open the book please
and look at the page.

I'm looking.

Well, we think...

..we might have found the name
of your maternal grandparents.

Your mother's parents.

I do know what maternal means,
strange as it may seem.

Can I close the book now?

No. You still haven't said anything
about that page.

You want me to write their name in
and another few question marks?

Read me what's written on the page.

You're joking!

You don't face the past because that
would mean admitting what happened.

You're nowhere near being ready to start
a new life with a new family, are you?

-And who's gonna stop me?
-You are.

Do you know what I see
when I look at you?

I don't see a 10-year-old.

I see a little 6-year-old
who's just pissed his pants...

...and is about to burst into tears... that everyone around him will say,
"Oh, shame, poor little Jamie."

You said this news came directly
from the horse's mouth.

From a new social worker
at the prison.

He's managed to convince your father
that if he's willing... give his blessing
to you being adopted...

...he can't object any longer to you
knowing your mother's name...

...which was Connolly.

Mary Connolly.

Maiden name.

Look, would it be possible for you
to bring those expressive eyes...

...round this way so that I get
the pleasure of them for a minute?

Would you like to write her name
in your life story book?

Go on.

"This is a drawing...

...I did from memory of the house...

...where my parents lived...

...when I was born.

It has five windows... the front.

Catch the cushion.

The cushion is concentration.


-The cushion is attention.

Will to succeed. Now, shout out
your own name and throw the cushion... someone else.


I hate this kind of thing.

Can't hear you, Janet.

She'll be wearing pink pajamas
When she comes

She'll be wearing pink pajamas
When she comes

She'll be wearing pink pajamas

Wearing pink pajamas

Wearing pink pajamas
When she comes

Any children who might....

I say, might come your way...

...will almost certainly
have been picked on.

Before these sessions are through,
every one of you...

...will have been given the opportunity
to know just what that feels like.

Now, sometimes you have a child
of 9 or 10...

...who's stuck emotionally at 2 or 3
because he may have been caught up... social services' favorite game,
Pass the Parcel.

All right. So you can accept the idea
of a child...

...being emotionally stuck as an idea...

...but can you cope
with a healthy-looking 10-year-old...

...who's wetting, soiling,
crying, biting one minute...

...and giggling manically the next?


Feel as the child feels.

Remember, the idea of permanence
is too frightening for some children.

Like stepping into the unknown.
They've never, ever experienced it.

Always lose one.

In fact, we've lost four.

But not you?

No second thoughts?

-You still like children?
-Very much.

I'm not sure I could eat a whole one.

I've sent someone to find him.

Don't expect too much, will you?

If you agree...

...I'd like to give you a proper home...

...and look after you.

I think it's time your life
was a bit easier...

...and a bit happier.

Do you understand?

We could think of it
as a kind of partnership.

I want a son...

...and you need a....

What I mean is, you need somebody...

...some one person to care about you.

A partnership will only work
if it's what you want, James.

Excuse me.

Who do you love most in all the world,

You, Dad.

Always, Jimmy. Promise. Always.

Never break it. Pain of death.

I promise.

I was beginning to think you'd....

What is it they say? Done a runner?

But you hadn't, had you?

Well, I didn't think you'd want more food
so I....

You didn't eat much.

Is that because you're as nervous
as I am?

I see.

I suppose that's it really, isn't it?

I've chosen you, but in order for it
to be an equal partnership...

...I'd have to be the person
you would choose.

You look after me
when I'm old and decrepit.

You do realize that's the only reason
I'm doing this, don't you?

What kept you so long in the toilet?

Can't you guess?

Thank you.


Are we?

Just a friend, Mrs. Hawkins.

You know you don't think standing there
in that clean white shirt fools anybody.

Well, you ought to be out with company
and enjoying yourself.

It's only natural.

See you tomorrow, Mrs. Hawkins.

-Yes, I hope so.
-Watch your step.

Oh, I'm very careful with steps,
you know.

It's a funny thing.
I fall down so much.

You haven't told them yet.

If you live in a village,
don't tell people things too early.

Cautious bugger.

I have to know....

Be sure it'll happen.

Nothing's for sure in this life, Grae.

Right now, you're not even a candidate
to adopt my stick insect.

-I want to know about your childhood.

I have the reckoning up to do.
You know, it's fiddly work.

-I have to concentrate.
-I'll wait.

You'll have to bear with me.


There's not much to tell.

I had a spotlessly sanitized

...with a change of Aertex
support systems every other day.

Leave the light relief to me, Grae.

Just the facts. Your mum and dad...

...from the point of view
of their only child.

They were always touching
each other.

I cannot remember when I first began
to notice the looks they exchanged...

...full of private meaning.

Or the constant touching.

Not that I lacked....
I mean, they touched me.

Of course, they touched me too.
I don't think I lacked physical contact.


-When did they touch you?

Whenever it was necessary.

Whenever they felt like it.

Not often then.

And as a teenager?

Not at all would be my guess.

I was rather a disappointment
to them.

Even when I went disco dancing
on Saturday night....

He's polishing his brothel creepers.

They're just shoes, Dad.

He's a one, our Graham.

Isn't he a one, dear?

He's always been a one.

Let's have a look at you then.

He'll break a few hearts tonight.

I went. I didn't dance.

My parents never understood
that one had to be part of a group.

Either a couple of opposite sexes...

...or a small group of the--
Of the same sex.

After a while, I stopped going inside
the disco. I did crosswords in the car...

...then endured a cross-examination
when I got home.

Hi, Mum. Dad.

Did you speak to anyone?

-Any nice girl?
-You could bring home to tea... meet your mum and dad?
-Did you enjoy yourself?

You're only young once.

When I was in my 30's,
my parents decided...

...that I'd missed my moment
so I was allowed to stop going... town on Saturday nights.

And then she died?

You make it sound sudden.

It took five years.

I suppose I grew up during that time.

Rather a delayed growing.

I arranged the funeral
and Dad wasn't making much sense.

His hands were like injured birds
looking for a safe place to roost.

So I took her place... the kitchen...

...behind the counter.

Mum and Dad had never seemed
separated from each other.

But he and I were separated.

Dad, please.

Please, don't.

It's all right, Dad.

You'll be all right.

Come on.

Dad, I'm here.

Oh, it's a scrapbook really, isn't it?

Well, that's one way of describing it,
but for obvious reasons...

...we don't call what,
with a help from us...

...the children put together
about themselves scrapbooks.

No, no, mine's just a photograph album.

That's not even a scrapbook.

Who took the pictures?

My dad had a timer.

He'd set it and then run around
and join us.

This one's overexposed.

You look like three ghosts.

We were a very ordinary family.

I think it probably takes flair
and initiative to be a ghost.

You might have been ordinary once,
but you're not now.

Not many unmarried men
want to adopt.

Have you always lived
in the same house?

Afraid so.

And gone to the same school?

Two schools.
Primary and comprehensive.

I went to six schools so far.

I would've thought you'd won a
scholarship to a private school.

No, I told you, no flair.

What sort of things did you do
when you were my age?

Well, I kept my head down, I suppose.

I told you, nothing very exciting.

Is what's in there exciting?

It's more disturbing than exciting.

That's what they say I am: disturbed.

What do you say?

I like this one.
It's you when you were my age.

You were on a beach.
You look like a right tearaway.

May I see it?

It was on holiday alone
with my father.

It was the only time he and I
were ever alone for any length of time.

Only time he and I
were ever really close.

I'm sorry.

I had forgotten about the picture.

I really am very sorry.

We laughed a lot that week.

I suppose it was the feeling...

...that we were doing something secret
and slightly wicked.

I felt important...

...almost needed.


West Indian Sea.

We'll take it home
to remind us of the fun we had.

It was the best time of my life.

It was the happiest I've ever been.

-I cried.
-So I heard.

Isn't it usual to phone
before you visit?

Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.

I like to catch people unawares.

-Anyway, there's no point now.

I told you.

I cried in front of the child
I was hoping to adopt, and his--

And his-- What's it called?
His key worker.

Best thing you could've done.

Now, they're both crazy about you...

...which they certainly weren't before.

Better start getting yourself prepared
for a weekend visit.

It's been suggested
that I put you in a home.

They say that if I'm right
about what you feel for me...

...if you can still feel emotions,
and I don't know, Dad.

See, I just don't know, but if you can...

...the sense of being beholden to me...

...must be very painful for you.

I just can't be sure about any of this,
can I?

I dearly wish you had some way
of giving me your opinion.

I will get your breakfast.

Can I have a word?

His father's had another stroke
and been taken to the hospital.

I guess your first visit is gonna be
delayed for a couple of weeks.

Wait! Wait!

I am waiting. We stopped.

We're here.

-Stage fright?
-If you like.

I've been here before.

I know.

But this is important, Jimbo.

And I think it's what you want.

Look, he's there waiting for you.

Get out of the car.

I'll be back to collect you after tea.



First off, I thought we'd look around,
get used to the geography.

In there is my house, but....

On this side is the post office.

All right. It's okay. Bye.

Hello, Mrs. George.

Thank you.

This is Lynn, my helper.

Lynn, James.


We'll go into the house now.

It's not very big.

Living room.

I thought we'd have tea in here today,
though the kitchen's more usual.

Living room, said that.

And kitchen.

You'll be seeing quite a lot of that.
Then we can go upstairs.

There might be something upstairs
that would interest you.

Watch your step.

It's your room.

Where is your father?

He got sicker
and needed to be somewhere...

...where they could give him
proper medical care.

In a hospital?

Well, yes. Hospital, yes.

Was he sent there because of me?

Would they let me come here
if he hadn't been put away?

Possibly not.

Though the number of single men
who apply to adopt...

...can be counted
on the fingers of one foot.

You only have to look
across this table... see they must be scraping
the bottom of the barrel.

Overdone it, haven't I?

You know, they call this
the honeymoon period.

Paper hats?


Perhaps not.

Have you thought yet
what you'd like to call me?

I thought Graham would be best
if you feel you can manage that.

-There is a chance.
-Yeah, but look, don't raise your hopes.

Round and round the garden
Like a teddy bear

Round and round the garden
Like a teddy bear

One step, two step
Tickle you under there

-It's not my fault. It's your own fault.
-When do you see him?

-When do you spend time with him?
-I see him as often as I can.

Maureen, I'm Graham Holt.

Well, James has decided--

Elected to remain in the car.

We've had a bit of a row, see.

I don't think he wants me poking
in his past even under his supervision.

Supervision he's now withholding
by sulking in the car, right?

Always difficult to know
what to do for the best, isn't it?

-You were his key worker?

His housemother.

-Ever mention his real mother?

I've been warned not to ask
about her yet.

Or ever, would be my advice.

Tell you about the day I had him
pinned to the floor, screaming?

He spat. He bit.

If I'd been wearing makeup,
he probably would've done himself in.

Been told about his constant
running away?

Always hiding in dark holes.

He's attempted suicide twice.

Yes, I've been given all the details.

Over here!

Look at the state of him.

Get off! No! No!

Get off!

Tell him I'm hurt,
he wouldn't get out of the car...

...after all we went through.

If he's allowing you
to stand in for his real dad... must be special.

-Still in prison, I suppose?

Before everything's final...

...we'll be going to meet him.

And whose idea was that?

Well, James'.

Thought it might be.

-But the social worker--
-Oh, yes.

How old is she, 14?

You're being used... a manipulative little boy...

...who wants
to get another glimpse of his dad.

You'll never get to adopt him.
And believe me, you're well out of it.

The moment those two meet again,
you'll be out on your ear.

How come you used to like her...

...when women tend
not to be your cup of tea?

Perhaps she's a bit of a les.

-Lesbian. Butch.

Wasn't she wearing leather and studs
like she hadn't slept for a week?

No. She was a bit untidy, I suppose,

There you are then, aren't you?
Not a proper woman, that's what.

What constitutes a proper woman

Let me out!

Tits and silk and frills!

Makeup that stinks!

And legs that shoot apart the minute
you touch them with your little finger!

Get off! Get off.

You could've turned the radio off,
you know, if it was bothering you.

Nothing bothers me.

It's your radio.

Slow down.

Didn't they warn you
what being a substitute parent was like?

I suppose I need help.

Who doesn't?

Honeymoon's over!

It really is very good of you.
I was going to do it myself.

Center of attraction
at Harvest Festival.

Geraniums, chrysanthemums.

Michaelmas daisies.

It looks better now, look.
It looks better, doesn't it?

Be with you in a moment, please.

I've been given three opinions
so far of what should be done.

-Putting out a suggestion box.
-What were they?

None of them included fostering
with a view to adoption.

-Where is he now?
-Still in his room.

-You had his grandparents' address.
-Yes, but I can't let you have it.

They don't want to be known.

You said I had to see as many people
in his book as I could.

As many as will let you see them.

I need to know.
In time, he'll need to know.

When that time comes,
I'll need to be able to tell him.

Growing up, aren't you?

he's your great-grandfather.

He doesn't know we're coming.

That would be him.

I'd better talk to him first,
and then call you.

She came here to stay, you know,
very often when she was a little girl.

I never saw your dad.

Just you. Just once.

Oh, you look just like her.

She used to write, regular.

Never miss.

And I wrote back.


Suddenly she wasn't known
at that address.

Oh, we were very close.

Always very close.

That time when she stopped writing...

...I needed someone to....

I blamed her.

I thought she didn't want
to be bothered.

There's things of hers... and such in a box
in that bureau.

You can look if you like.

Take what you want.

Go and see if he's all right.

Never break it. Pain of death.

Want the radio?

You okay?

Can we see your father next weekend?

If you like.

He could have another stroke
anytime now.

And it's most unlikely
he'll ever be allowed home.

Oh, well, I am sorry. It is bad news.

And he doesn't seem too unhappy here
with us.

No, no, it's hard to tell really...

...but it seems he's happy here
as he ever was at home.

I miss you so much.

We need a tent...

...a double and single sleeping bag
and cookery pans.

What discount do you give for cash?

My Uncle Reuben
used to go camping a lot...

...until his hernia made rubbing
little sticks together too painful.

Time you started
being a bit more masterful, Grae.

I'm not gonna be around
to nursemaid you forever, you know?

I'd better go see what he's buying.

Grae, if he gets you practicing knots...

...just remember,
untying them again is the hard part.

It's good. Come in.

You are freezing.

-I'm not. Do you wanna come in?
-I don't wanna come in.

-Why not?
-I'm cold right here.

Go on.

-I was getting frozen watching you.
-I don't.

-Are you sure?

I thought you'd lose your temper
with me.

Particularly over that muddle
with the lining. I've always been clumsy.

Everyone's got to learn.

If you don't turn the sausage over...'ll be raw on one side
and burnt on the other.

Funny, I've always thought
of tent people as being a bit odd.

Weird, even. Overgrown Boy Scouts
or leftover hippies.

Tent people aren't odd.

You ought to learn survival.

All sorts of things.

Eat worms if you have to.

No. Really?

Then you get your night vision
and you can go on ahead.

You know a lot about it.

I had a good teacher.

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea

There's a hole, there's a hole

There's a hole in the bottom of the sea

If you'd waited,
we could all have gone together.

It was his school holidays.
I had to do something with him.

No fun for me having him
for a full week on my own.

Terrible room, horrible food...

...and do you know what's it's like
trying to keep him amused?

Were you cold?

You talked in your sleep.

What did I say?

Nothing sensible.

Just words.

-What have you done to yourself?
-A branch hit me.

It looks painful. Just missed your eye.

Must have given you
a hell of a twang.

You go get the first aid kit from the tent
and put some antiseptic cream on it.

Kiss it better, please?

Do it properly.

How's properly?

Longer. Harder.

Got to be a long kiss to make it better.

Is that better?

Do you love me?

Yes, very much.

Too much for my own good, I expect.

Were you testing me?

I do test people sometimes.

Now I know why the skylark sings
like she does.

-Where's the village?

Over that hill.

The moon moves further away
from the Earth... about a foot every 20 years.

Was it something we said?

What does big brother Eddie say...

...about you interesting yourself
in little boys?

It's not a question of little boys,
Uncle Turpin, there's only one.

Jamie came after Dad had his first stroke
so Dad couldn't voice an opinion.

You picked a right sulker.

I doubt even Everton Mints
could put a smile on that fizzog.

Jamie wanted to meet you.
He's catching up on my family.

Is that right?

I'm sorry I didn't get
to your mother's funeral.

I were a bit indisposed myself.

You and she were never very close.

-I couldn't stand the woman.
-Why not?

It speaks.

It not only utters,
it asks bloody, cheeky questions.

Seemed a fair question to me.

It was all that lovey-dovey stuff
that used to sicken me.

They were a devoted couple.
They showed it.

You mean she convinced him
that she'd go to pieces...

...if he strayed even as far as the end
of the garden to do a widdle on his own.

Does this one cry?

-Not as far as I know.

I like watching little boys cry.

Kept me attending school regular,
did that.

Your grandma used to see me to the gate
with me dinner money on Monday...

...and she'd say to me,
"See how many you can upset...

...and don't be late home."

Hadn't you better forgive him...

...before he dies on you
and it's too late.

Always did reckon
you took after your mother...

...even though I had her worked out
all wrong.

It weren't her that didn't want kids.
It were him.


Couldn't bring himself
to poke a fire properly.

Something to do with the war.
I don't know.

Well, that will be why
he was always a bit cool with you.

There's a log in the hole
In the bottom of the sea

There's a log in the hole
In the bottom of the sea

-There's a log, there's a log

-There's a log in the bottom of the sea
-There's a log in the bottom of the sea

-There's a limb on the log...
-There's a limb on the log... the hole in the bottom of sea the hole in the bottom of sea

Bags first pee!

I'll just give my bike a bit of an exercise,

Well, don't be long.
I'll put the kettle on.


--bottom of the sea
There's a hole in the bottom of the sea

Take your breath.
Take a breath before you drink.

I have a letter for you.

From your father.

He wrote to me too.

He wished us luck.

He referred to you as Jimmy.
I didn't think you liked to be called that.

And you want to read your letter
in private, I expect.

Perhaps you're right.

Why not read it in your room?

I should be with you when you read it.

I know it's private, but if it upsets you,
I want to be close by.

Get out of my way, please.

Dear Jimmy...

...they tell me that there is someone
who wishes to adopt you...

...and that they trust this man...

...and you seem to get on well
with him.

In ideal world, Jimmy, my love,
we would be together.

No one would stop me
from being your father.

Never show weakness, Jimmy.

If people sense it,
they just take what they want from you.

Then they disappear.

Please, Jimmy, you must understand that
none of what's happened is your fault.

You're not to blame, Jimmy.
Please remember that.

I'm the one at fault, the one who's failed
his most sacred duty to be a good father.

One day, when you're old enough
to understand what forgiveness is...

...I will need all you can spare.

I love you most. Always, Jimmy.

Promise, always.

Your father.

Will you come home now? It's late.

Come inside.

-You cannot stay out here all night!
-Get off me!

Get off!

Anger scares me.

It's an illness, and we don't have to
look far to see who I've caught it from.

Jealousy cripples people, Jamie.
It makes them behave badly.

But we can't allow everything to fall
apart because you've heard from your--

If I say I understand how you feel,
that's just words, because I don't know.

I haven't read your letter,
but I want to understand what you feel.

I want to know what you think about
while you stand there watching me.

All I can say is, Jamie,
unless you can speak to me...

...unless you say something, unless
you can share something, I don't know.

There is food if you're hungry.

I could make you a sandwich.
Tea seems rather a long time ago.

I have a father.

Just because he's in prison
doesn't make anyone else my father.

His letter doesn't say anything
about us going to see him in prison.

You can't adopt me
unless I see him first.

You know that, don't you?

I had realized that was part
of the bargain you were willing to make.

There is something more
in this adoption...

...than a visit to your father,
isn't there?

Are you sure you want me to read it?

Wouldn't it be best to wait
and think about it for a while?

It's only fair you should understand
why you can't ever take his place.

Little boys are cheap today

Cheaper than yesterday

Smaller boys are....

Why don't you ask for the butter
if you want it?

That's enough of that.

Go to your room.

Well, he won't look at me.

He doesn't talk.

I've insisted he says thank you
and he says it to the ceiling...

...or to the fireplace.

And it's been going on
three weeks now.

I don't know why he continues with the
visits. Every day I expect a phone call... say he decided
he doesn't want the adoption.

-Do you wanna go on with it?
-I suppose I must.

Otherwise, I'd pull out myself.

But you're not sure.

Well, everything was fine
until the letter.

What did the one you got say?


And what did the one Jamie got say?

Oh, everything.

It was very fair, very honest,
very loving...

...devastatingly moving letter.

You answer it.

Hello. Pileth Post Office.

It's the hospital.

My father died on Thursday morning.

So I may not be very good company.

I wasn't sure whether to ask you
to give this weekend a miss.

Perhaps I should have.

I'm sorry.

You'll be all right.


It won't be long.

I was always a disappointment to him.

I don't think so.

I never knew
what they really wanted of me.

Was there never a time? Ever?

Depends on what you mean
by "a time."

Didn't you ever love anyone?

I don't know.



Whatever it was,
she was right out of my class.

It would never have worked.

Go to sleep now.

I'll still be here.

Whether adoption goes through or not
doesn't depend on me.

But in the meantime, James is coming
up for 11 and he'll be changing schools.

And if you adopt him,
he'll be going to your local school.

Silly is making you start twice.

So we're recommending
that in the meantime... should foster James
with a view to adoption.

-Which means?
-He comes to live with you.

Look, there's the new boy.

Germ warfare.
That's why the Conservative lost.

His name was Jeremy Anthrax.

I'm so sorry,
I don't want to interrupt anyone.

I'm sure you have lots to talk about.

Who'd want to vote for a name
that sounds like a cough sweet?

I just happened to be
in a teensy bit of a hurry.

It's the dry cleaning, is it?

I believe I did tell you, Mrs. Hilliard,
the delivery's not till Thursday.

Please don't apologize.
It's quite all right.

When one's used to 24-hour service....

Well, I was going to look
at some knitting wool...

-...but everybody's in a rush.
-Oh, Lizzie, look at the wool.

No, I don't wanna be an inconvenience.
I'll come back tomorrow.


No, you haven't got the time for it.


Hilliard, dry cleaning.

Be with you in a moment.

I'm Jimmy's father.

You'd better come inside.

They've released you early?

It's just one less death certificate
to write out.

Where's Jimmy?

He's at school. He'll be back at 4:30.

Doing well there, is he?

Pretty well.

Jimmy's been there only a month.

Trying to work out a way...

...where I can get a look at him
without him seeing me.



It won't do. That's not the way.


What is it?

It's AIDS.

Do you mind waiting here
till lunchtime?

I've got the shop to look after.

I've managed to keep Jimmy thinking
I've been in prison ever since.

You hid out in the woods?

Yeah, but I've been in and out
three times since then.

You know how it is.

Petty offenses, burglary,
nicking cars...

...receiving drugs, you know,
that kind of thing.

I'd like to have seen him,
but it seemed fairer not to.

He thought you were
a mercenary soldier.

Now, you'd like to know
how long they've given me.

I've got four or five months.

Now, if I could just hang around
somewhere outside the village--

And in a year's time, when someone
has to tell him you're dead?

If you were that selfish,
I'd tell him the truth.

I'd tell him you could come see him
but you didn't.

Make sure he recognize you,
meet the bus, point you out to him.

What does it feel like, eh?
Holding all the cards?

Now, here's what we'll do.

You'll move in here.

We'll tell Jamie what your illness is.

We'll give its proper name
because he has the right to know...

...that his father
has a few months to live.

The village doesn't have to know
though they may guess or find out.

Only the doctor has to know.

The Hippocratic oath
should take care of him.

Are you always like this?

No, never. I'm not the masterful type.

All right, kids.

You've got a broody expression
like a hen with constipation.

Well, don't,
because I've got the remedy.

We're going camping this weekend.

It'll be great.

Not this weekend.

Why not?

We have a visitor.

We never have visitors.

Hello, Jimmy.

Who do you love?

Last time I saw you...

...I said the next time we meet
will be forever.

There's nothing forever for me and you,

I came to find you,
to make sure you're all right.

You're a credit to me, Jimmy.

You're a grown man, almost.

Graham says I should be honest
with you about my illness.

He said we should spend
the next few months...

...the last few months
getting to know each other again.

Don't be scared.

Don't look so frightened of me.

Oh, Jesus, God.

Please say you're not frightened of me,
Jimmy, please.

I'm so sorry, Jimmy.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

-Just give him time.



You just need to give him a little time,

All he needs is time.





It won't take long.

Please promise you'll be a good boy.


Jimmy, be a good boy
so we can play our game.

Hide there for me, baby.

Hide there for me, baby.

Stop. Wait, don't rush. Take time.



Jamie. Jamie.


Jamie. It's all right.


Jamie. Jamie. Jamie.




Jamie. I know where you've gone.

I know where you're hiding.

To have nothing, to feel nothing.

To be nothing.

It doesn't work. I've tried it.

Why him?

And not me?

We can start from day one.

Then we can go from good to better.

Anything's possible, Jamie...

...except feeling nothing.

That's never possible.

I won't be second best, Jamie.

If it's going to work,
it has to be as father and son.

Take it or leave it. It's up to you.