Screenplay: 'Ripples'




 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a screen play synopsis. It has very marked contrasts, for example the contrast between  working class and upper middle class life, and the tragic ending, in stark contrast with the comic and farcical events which come before.

The main character, a snobbish, hard-hearted, thoroughly obnoxious but genuinely cultured man, is disgraced after sexual transgressions and forced to leave behind his comfortable life and to become part of a community he loathes and is unable to understand - its impenetrable dialect alone would make understanding  impossible. His wife leaves him for a very surprising lover and his life is ruined completely, but a very unlikely tragic figure emerges, against the odds.

Prologue

This anticipates the contrast between the working class and upper middle class family:

A small dinner gong is struck. A weedy looking man and woman are showing entering a dining room. They sit down to eat. The portions on their plates are minute. Cut to a muscular but obese man striking a huge gong. A family of grossly obese people are shown trooping in to eat in their living room. The plates are piled high with enormous portions. The working class family and upper middle class family shown next are different from these families.

The working class family

The exterior of the house - quite prosperous looking, in an anonymous way - with a massive display of very bright and  cheerful and  tasteless Christmas lights.

The interior of the house, gaudy Christmas decorations everywhere, a large Christmas tree and an enormous number of Christmas cards, some of them very large. The husband and wife are watching a massive and expensive-looking T.V.

The husband, Jack, talks to his wife Jackie in dialect which is usually impenetrable, to anyone outside the area, South Yorkshire. Jackie has a strong Northern accent but can be quite easily understood. A dog lies on the carpet, an ugly mongrel. The dog farts loudly and the smell is obviously strong. Jack complains loudly. 'Jed's farted! Ee's allus fartin, that 'un. Tha mucky bugger!' Subtitles are shown momentarily and give a 'translation:' 'Jed has laid a wind-egg! He lays wind-eggs not infrequently. Filthy fellow!' Jack opens a window. Jackie protests, because it's so cold outside, but Jack says, 'Gee oer whittlin,' lass, or tha'll get summat tha wayn't get shut on.'

There is the sound of tuneless - hideous - singing from outside the house. The carollers sing 'Good King Wenceslas,' in the form 'Good King Wenslus last looked out ...' The volume of the television isn't turned down.

When they have finished, the four carollers are welcomed inside, very warmly. They are the 'Church choir' - the whole of the Church choir. They are asked to sing again. Choir members 1 and 2 do their best despite their enormous limitations and contribute the most. Choir member 3, even more limited, adds a few notes here and there. Choir member 4, the most severely limited, is completely silent. They are given money - a very generous amount and the same money for each one, regardless of contribution.

Choir members 1 and 2 have a conversation with Jack and Jackie. Choir member 4 says nothing at all. Choir member 3 has a very limited conversational repertoire: 'Ah se, it's reyt warm (with short 'a') in eer, in't it?' Jack: 'Ah, that reyt theeur, lad.' Later, again: 'Ah se, it's reyt warm in eer, in't it?' Jack replies simply with an 'Ah.' Later, 'Ah se, it's reyt warm in eer, in't it?' Jack, to Jackie, 'Lad's not reyt in't eeud.' ['The lad's not right in the head.']

The carollers exit.

The upper middle class family

The exterior of the house - a  large and distinguished detached house. There's only one festive touch - a holly wreath hanging on the door.

The interior of the house is very tastefully furnished, with antique furniture and paintings on the walls but with not many signs of Christmas cheer - just a tiny Christmas tree and a few small Christmas cards. Laura, a girl of nine or ten is watching the T.V., a small black-and-white model. The programme is an intellectual one. The husband, Algernon, is reading from a large book. His wife, Anastasia, is constructing a model of DNA. A dog lies on a rug, an aristocratic and disdainful-looking pedigree. The dog farts very softly. A smell obviously reaches the nostrils of Algernon, Anastasia and Laura. Laura smiles. Algernon and Anastasia look at her very disapprovingly. Algernon says that 'Tarquin would perhaps be more comfortable elsewhere' and takes the dog to another room. He returns.

There is the sound of wonderfully accomplished four part harmony from outside. The carollers sing the carol Es ist ein Ros Entsprungen. When they have finished, the four carollers are grudgingly asked inside. They are members of the chapel choir. They are covered with snow and  the youngest, the treble, is so frozen as to be almost incapable of movement.

Algernon congratulates the tenor, alto and bass on their singing and gives each of them a little money. . He is very critical about the singing of the treble, a boy of about the same age as Laura. He says that the treble sang some notes slightly sharp at one point. He warns him that he will lose his place in the chapel choir if there's a repetition of these poor standards. The boy, shivering, says that he was very cold but is told that this is no excuse. He is given no money by the husband, who asks him to sing another piece. The boy takes a drum from the package he's carrying and sings 'The Little Drummer Boy,' beginning with furious and wonderfully accomplished drumming (he has recovered quickly from his frozen state.)

['The Little Drummer Boy' sung by the Vienna Boys' Choir, too slow and with not enough energy, but well worth hearing, even so, and an alternative (but not 'perfect') version.]

 

Although husband and wife grudgingly admit that his singing is of a high standard, they disapprove of the piece and give him nothing. Laura gives the boy a pound, and a kiss on the cheek. Algernon and Anastasia look scandalized. The carollers exit.

There is a knock and two visitors are admitted, a young man and woman, both very pleasant people. It quickly becomes obvious that they, and not Algernon and Anastasia, are Laura's parents. They thank Algernon and Anastasia warmly for looking after her whilst they went out. The young woman says, 'I hope she was good.' Algernon says that her behaviour was 'vile.' Anastasia agrees. The young man and woman are obviously used to this sort of comment. They are offended, but only momentarily. As the young man and woman leave with their daughter, the girl has to use crutches. Even with their aid, she can hardly walk at all. Laura and her parents exit.

A further insight into the differences between the two families

A neon sign 'Karaoke' outside a pub in the working-class neighbourhood. Inside, Jack and Jackie go up in turn to sing into the microphone to some popular Karaoke music.

A sign 'Karaoke' in artistic painted script on a wooden board outside a quaint and picturesque country pub. Inside, Algernon and Anastasia go up and take a microphone each. A recording of an orchestra (with authentic 18th century instruments) begins, playing 'As steals the morn upon the night (from Handel's 'L' Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato'). Algernon and Anastasia sing the tenor and soprano parts, with ravishing tone and feeling. A recording of the music.  The first three minutes are played.

When they have finished, a young man goes up to the microphone. A recording begins of the orchestra playing 'Al lampo dell' armi' (from Handel's 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto'). The young man sings the fast-moving countertenor part. A recording of the music. The whole of the piece is given.

The school

There are glimpses inside some classrooms in a school, an independent school which is very exclusive. It has its own chaplain, Algernon, although he is not shown here as wearing a clerical collar, or wearing one at any other time. He does often wear a black polo-neck jumper with a white top which resembles a clerical collar. The teachers in the first classrooms shown are very old and very traditional in their teaching. The next teacher is completely different, a glamorous young woman. In all the classrooms, the pupils, all boys, wear school uniforms with an old-fashioned look and are completely silent.

Classroom 1. A history lesson is in progress. Just a few words are heard: 'Joan of Arc was the toast of France.

Classroom 2. A chemistry lesson. The teacher is obviously many years past retirement age and he uses names and units from the distant past of the subject: 'Now ... where was I? Take 2 fluid ounces avoirdupois of oil of vitriol. Next, weigh out 1 ounce of sulphate of potash...' The pupils look bemused but pay full attention.

Classroom 3. An English lesson. The young woman is sitting on the edge of the teacher's desk. The class is very small. A focus on one pupil only, a very handsome sixth former who is obviously transfixed by her and giving her every attention. The other pupils are then shown. They are transfixed by him, and giving him every attention. One is writing a billet-doux and gives it to him. She says, in a flamboyant voice, like the young Edith Sitwell, 'I would like to read you a poem [she pronounces it as if 'pome.']' She recites some of Hilaire Belloc's 'Tarantella:'

DO you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?
And the tedding and the bedding
Of the straw for a bedding,
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
(Under the vine of the dark veranda)?
Do you remember an Inn, Miranda,
Do you remember an Inn?
And the cheers and the jeers of the young muleteers
Who hadn't got a penny,
And who weren't paying any,
And the hammer at the doors and the din?
And the hip! hop! hap!
Of the clap
Of the hands to the swirl and the twirl
Of the girl gone chancing,
Glancing,
Dancing,
Backing and advancing,
Snapping of the clapper to the spin
Out and in--
And the ting, tong, tang of the guitar!
Do you remember an Inn,
Miranda?
Do you remember an Inn?

Algernon's liturgical and pastoral activity

Inside the chapel, Algernon, in full clerical robes (he's an Anglo-Catholic) is giving a sermon, of a very obscure kind, a scholarly exposition of an Old Testament passage.

In Algernon's office. A pupil of 18 - who looks older - enters and sits down. He is told that his (very late) adolescent exploration of independent sexuality must cease: 'it isn't being fair to God, is it?' Algernon gives extensive readings from a non-fictional book, 'The Book of Nature,' by Thos. Faulkner, M.D:' including the appearance of the sufferer and the cure which Thos. Faulkner recommends:

'Self-pollution is the most certain, though not always the most immediate, and direct, avenue to destruction ... with his own hand imperceptibly to infuse a deadly poison, slowly to rankle in the cup of life and embitter each passing day; to shroud in gloom the darkening future, and invite the king of terrors prematurely to do his office. A youth endowed by Nature with talent and genius becomes dull or totally stupid; the mind loses all relish for virtuous or exalted ideas ...

'All his fire and spirit are deadened by this detestable vice; he is like a faded rose, a tree blasted in its bloom, a wandering skeleton; nothing remains but debility, languor, livid paleness, a withered body, and a degraded soul. The whole life of such a man is a continued succession of secret reproach, painful sensations, arising from the consciousness of having been the fabricator of his own distress, irresolution, disgust of life, and not unfrequently self-murder. Nay, what in effect is this but the consummation of slow self-destruction? ...

'The first step to be taken for the cure of these sad effects is to at once and for ever abandon the filthy habit. There must be no indecision here, no temporising - it must be broken off at once, and then by attention to a strict hygienic regimen a cure will be effected.

...

' ... Let him exhilarate himself by free and copious draughts of the pure air of heaven. Let him go to the gymnasium and with moderate beginning, and moderate increase of effort, let him swing upon and climb the poles, the ropes, and ladders' and vault upon the wooden horse and practise all the other feats of that admirable institution; or let him walk and run and jump, or labour on the farm; and avoid sedentary habits, and all anxieties and excitements of the mind; and most strictly shun all dalliance with females, and all lewd books and obscene conversation and lascivious images and thoughts. Let him sleep on a hard bed, and rise early in the morning, and take a shower bath of cold water, or plunge into cold water, or sponge his body all over with it; and in either case rub himself off briskly and freely with a good stiff flesh-brush; and then exercise vigorously in the open air, or in the gymnasium, for an hour before breakfast. Let him exercise as much as he can through the day; let him take an early, light supper, and take a good deal of active exercise before going to bed ...

...

'By these means - if by any short of miraculous power - and by these alone, can the unhappy sufferer hope to be restored to comfortable and permanent health and enjoyment. The progress will be slow, but incomparably the safest and surest; and health restored in this way will put his body in a condition which will, in the greatest degree, secure it from future prostration and suffering, and from transmitting the evils of his former errors to an innocent and helpless progeny.'

Algernon concludes with a more overtly religious appeal to the 'sinner,' holding the Bible and a crucifix. The pupil leaves, looking very chastened.

The discipline that led to the disciplinary hearing

Algernon is sitting forlornly and alone, facing the disciplinary panel of four members, all clergymen, with clerical collars. He points to the headline of the newspaper he's holding and says to Algernon in outraged tones, 'The vicar with the dog collar! The vicar with the dog collar!'

Cut to a previous incident. Two parents are being shown around the school by a deputy head, prior to admission of their son to the school. They pass the school gymnasium, which this evening is full of boys using the gymnastic apparatus, including the pupil who was warned of the dangers of self-abuse, looking very pale and forlorn. All the boys look pale and forlorn. The parents are told that they can discuss the 'spiritual welfare' of their son with the school chaplain. The deputy head explains how to get to the chaplain's office and leaves. The parents find the office and stand outside for a moment before knocking. They hear swishing sounds, as if produced by a cane, each one followed by a distinct cry of pain. The parents are obviously puzzled but the husband says to his wife, very softly, and obviously unconvinced by his own explanation, 'Discipline must be very good here! Even the chaplain goes in for caning. ' He realizes that this can't explain it. He pushes open the door and discovers the English teacher, now a dominatrix, using a cane on the chaplain, who is on hands and knees, dressed only in underpants, with a dog collar round his neck. The English teacher is holding a lead attached to the dog collar.

Cut back to the disciplinary hearing. The chairman gives the verdict of the tribunal. The case is proved. The chaplain is guilty of 'gross moral turpitude' and 'sexual delinquency.' He's told that he can either be dismissed outright, or move to a parish near Barnsley. The chaplain is overcome with gratitude. He thinks that the Barnsley meant is the delightful Cotswold village. He's told abruptly that this isn't so, but a depressed and high crime parish near Barnsley in South Yorkshire - or, if not Barnsley, 'somewhere not far from Sheffield or Doncaster,' the chairman is vague about the geography of these places in the North of England. The chaplain looks very disappointed but says, with sudden confidence that he's a Northerner too. The Chairman asks him where he comes from and Algernon says, 'From Harrogate.'

The chairman explains that the chaplain - now ex-chaplain - will be on probation and will be very stringently monitored in his new South Yorkshire parish. There follows a bureaucratic explanation in terms of 'key aims,' 'key outcomes' and 'key targets.' The probationer will have to increase the size of the congregation, currently 8, 'all of socio-economic group C2,' and will have to demonstrate Christian virtue in a minimum of 75% of outcomes. His progress will be monitored and recorded. He will need to demonstrate satisfactory or greater competence in these 'key areas:'

(1) Liturgical functions (Church services)
(2) Pastoral functions (eg visiting parishioners)
(3) Christian Functions in the wider community
(4) Family functions (relations with his wife.)

The man who will monitor these matters and report back to the disciplinary panel is introduced, a Mr Beest, from a Company called 'Corporate Capability Solutions,' a powerful- looking, sardonic and completely inscrutable man. The ex-chaplain offers his hand, but Mr Beest declines to shake it and says nothing - he says absolutely nothing to Algernon or anyone else on camera.

Arrival at the South Yorkshire parish

A furniture van stops outside the rectory. Algernon and Anastasia get out, with the driver, and go inside. When they go outside later, they see the back doors of the furniture van open and some cars - and a motor bike - heading away, with the last of the couple's possessions. The pillion of the motor bike is carrying a standard lamp. They've lost almost everything.

The main bedroom in the rectory, almost completely bare, later that evening. Algernon and Anastasia are lying on the floor, covered by their own clothes. They seem full of Christian resignation. They talk about the 'incident' and the disciplinary hearing. Algernon says, 'You stood by me. You had to. It was your duty. The Church isn't a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners.'

The musical activities of the parish

Inside the Church hall - or rather Church hut - Algernon is finding out about the musical activities of the parish. The organist shows Algernon the church organ - an electronic keyboard. He plays a hymn with one finger and the keyboard provides a backing beat. Algernon looks away in disgust, whilst he remembers the large organ in the chapel of the school, and a very accomplished organ scholar. The organist exits, having been told that his services won't be required.

The church choir, four in all, previously introduced as the carollers outside the house in the parish, enter. Algernon has been very robust so far, but his confidence is obviously fading fast. He asks the four members of the church choir to sing some Palestrina from the music he provides. The dominant member protests that music's too hard for them. Algernon thinks he means music by a composer such as Palestrina and gives them some simpler music. He's quickly made to understand that what's meant is all music written down. He asks them to sing a simple scale. They've no idea what a scale is.

He sacks them and gives them a new job. He explains that he wants to make this a 'high church.' He explains the importance of Anglo-Catholic ritual, but the four obviously follow none of it. He produces some censers, for burning incense, and instructs three of them in how to walk and swing the censors at the same time. After patient instruction, they manage to do it in synchrony, with arms moving in the same direction at the same time, but only for a few seconds. The fourth (the most severely limited member of the choir) is completely uncoordinated. He's to be taught to sprinkle holy water, although ordinary tap water is used now for practice. The four are told that they need much more practice before they can take part in a church service. They will also need to practise putting on the liturgical dress they'll be wearing. They will have to wait a month before taking part in services (ie, after his monitoring period is over.) They are indignant and their leader tells Algernon that 'We want ter swing them thingies. Lad theeuh wants ter shek watter.' Algernon refuses and the leader tells him that they won't be attending church again. Algernon pleads with them - he knows how important it is not to lose any members of the congregation - but without any effect.

The service of Compline

The church is in darkness, lit dimly by candles. Present are Algernon, Anastasia and the fourth, most limited, member of the choir. His face is lit by the candle-light and seems spiritual, as if painted by Rembrandt. Algernon and Anastasia sing, with the utmost beauty of tone, in long, sinuous lines.

Mass

Algernon celebrates mass, with a sonorous voice and impressive presence. But, as with the service of Compline, Mr Beest is not there to monitor or be impressed.

Liturgical functions: Mr Beest's monitoring of a Church service

The congregation is split into two parts, all sitting in the front row of chairs. It includes Jackie and a Mrs Godspeed. Between the two are three empty seats, which would have been occupied by three disaffected former members of the choir. The fourth, most limited member of the choir, is present. Just before the service is due to start - Holy Communion - Mr Beest enters, clutching what seems to be a black, leather-bound Bible. He takes his place at the back pew and unzips the black package. It turns out to be a notebook computer. He pointedly counts the number of people in the congregation and enters the figures into his computer.

Algernon enters. He looks at the empty seats with alarm. A short time later, as Algernon has begun to speak, the three disaffected choristers suddenly enter, with a smirk, outlandishly clothed, with the liturgical dress obviously put on without the least idea of how it should be done. Two of them are swinging censers, the third is shaking holy water. They go up to the congregation. The two swinging the censors decide to play a game of conkers with the censors. The sound of brass striking brass amuses them no end. They're amused just as much by the fumes overcoming the congregation. The helper sprinkling holy water soaks the congregation. He finds this hilarious too.

The elderly members of the congregation (the great majority) have to be helped outside into the fresh air. Mr Beest goes outside with them, observes the scene very coldly, without helping, and records assessments on his notebook computer. Jackie, though, finds the whole scene hilarious. Algernon, looking at Mr Beest, desperately trying to make the best of things, 'You see we still have 100% attendance!' Choir member 3: 'Ah se, it's reyt warm owt eer, in't it?'

Mr Beest's monitoring of another Church service

Algernon enters, just after the arrival of Mr Beest. There are only three members of the congregation, Jackie, Anastasia and the fourth member of the choir.

Algernon buys a car

Algernon is at a motor dealer's in the parish, the kind with plenty of colourful bunting but otherwise bleak in the extreme. The vicar approaches the motor dealer and says that he needs a car for his parish visiting. The dealer shows him a car, parked against a wall. When he starts up the engine, it's rough and irregular. The dealer points out how good the bodywork is. The vicar agrees. It does look very good. Algernon buys the car. When he drives away and the car is no longer against the wall, it's obvious that although the driver's side was in very good shape, the side which had been next to the wall, the passenger side, has very severe accident damage. The car is red but the doors on the passenger side are yellow.

Pastoral functions: Mr Beest's monitoring of a visit to Mrs Godspeed

He gets into the car, after first opening the yellow door for Mr Mr Beest, who looks askance at the door. They drive to the home of Mrs Godspeed. His conversation with Mrs Godspeed is stilted and there are long, awkward silences. 'Have you lived here long?' 'Ten year.' 'Have you been coming to Church for a long time?' 'Ten year.' 'You used to do the flower rota, For how long?' 'Five year.' Algernon tries to find a topic for conversation. He notices that Mrs Godspeed has a cat and asks, 'Is he a good mouser?'  Mrs Godspeed is outraged: this is a clean house and there are no mice in the house. He manages to calm her down. He tries to placate Mrs Godspeed, apologizing for the fact that she was overcome by fumes and soaked in water, but asks her to put it behind her and to start coming to Church again. But then he shouts out, 'I need to go to the toilet.' He dashes to the outside toilet, a small semi-derelict building. Very soon, he calls for newspaper. Mr Beest comes out with some newspaper and hands it to the vicar. The vicar says that it's too rough. Could he go for some toilet paper? But abruptly, the roof of the building collapses on him - and on Mr Beest.

Mr Beest, although pinned below rubble, continues to type assessments on the laptop computer he has brought with him. They manage to extricate themselves. By this time, Mrs Godspeed has come out into the yard and protests that she's got a good indoors toilet. There was no need to use this one, it hasn't been used 'for 50 year.'  Mrs Godspeed shouts simply 'Gerartnit!' and Algernon does get out, followed by Mr Beest.

Pastoral functions: Mr Beest's monitoring of a visit to Jack and Jackie

A heated debate begins between Algernon and Jack about God, arguments against the existence of God. Although Jack's arguments are very crude, he manages to reduce Algernon to angry silence, but Jack and Jackie retain their good humour. As Algernon leaves, Jack says, 'Tha can cum ageean. Tha't a reyt laff.'

Algernon's Christian patience is tested

Algernon drives away. When he gets to a junction where he has right of way, he finds a car waiting to join the main road from a minor road. He cheerfully lets the driver in. He takes a quick look at Mr Beest, as if to remind him that he has shown Christian kindness and that he should be rewarded. Mr Beest does seem marginally less gloomy and intransigent and taps some keys on the laptop open in front of him. Algernon seems to have been rewarded for showing Christian virtue. A succession of other cars quickly arrive on the minor road and the vicar lets each of them go in front of him. After every one, Mr Beest taps some keys, but with obviously less and less good-will. Still more cars arrive, and some of the drivers are arrogant and abusive. Algernon becomes more and more angry, Mr Beest has obviously lost patience. He continues to use his laptop, but now, it seems, he's recording negative assessments. When a driver cuts in front and shouts abuse at Algernon, Algernon suddenly snaps. He shouts, 'Scumbag!' and follows the car. The car chase, at high speed, in the roads, lanes and paths of the estate,  is accompanied by various pieces of Algernon's car falling off, including the door next to Mr Beest. The car chase ends with a crash for both vehicles. Mr Beest, collapsed on the passenger seat, manages to key in a few assessments even so.

Mr Beest's monitoring of the relationship between Algernon and Anastasia

Algernon and Anastasia are in the front room of the rectory. They have just finished eating. Algernon is slumped in an easy chair reading a newspaper. He's drunk. There are four empty wine bottles on the table. There's a knock at the door and Mr Beest enters. He sits down, opens his laptop computer and begins to monitor their domestic life. Algernon staggers into the kitchen and insists on doing the washing up, hoping to impress with a display of helpfulness. Anastasia says, 'You know you never do the washing up' and then apologizes for letting this slip out. Algernon swears at her. There's the sound of broken crockery at intervals. At each breakage, Mr Beest presses a key on his computer. Before too much damage has been done, Anastasia insists on taking over. Algernon insists on doing some ironing. Anastasia points out that the washing is still wet - the washing machine isn't working properly. Algernon is undeterred. He gets out the iron and ironing table, goes into the kitchen and brings back some of his church vestments, dripping with water. He slumps over the ironing table, the iron in one place on a vestment. Steam rises from the wet washing, then the vestment starts to scorch. Anastasia gently takes the iron away from him and guides him to a chair. She sits down herself. Algernon begins to talk semi-incoherently about their married life. Anastasia says as little as possible. They begin to talk about the 'physical' aspects of their marriage. After Algernon has said too much that is deeply incriminating, to himself, the discussion ends and there is silence. Mr Beest exits, grim-faced.

The second meeting of the disciplinary panel, and the return

Algernon and Anastasia are talking. This is a crucial day. The monitoring period is over. He has to travel a long distance to attend the final meeting of the disciplinary panel. Today, the panel will confirm his post in the South Yorkshire parish - this is the best he can hope for - or sack him. Algernon is very gloomy about his chances. There have been so many disasters in the monitoring period. His wife seems quite cheerful and optimistic and tells him 'Keep your chin up. Everything will work out.' He's inconsolable, though. He gets into his battered old car, now repaired, to an extent, and drives off, as Anastasia waves goodbye and wishes him good luck.

He drives on. At last, he pulls into a lay-by. He imagines the meeting of the disciplinary panel and the words and actions of Mr Beest: powerful oratory and scathing criticism accompanied by dramatic gestures, graphs from Mr Beest's computer projected on a screen, each one showing a steep downward trend. After a short time, he drives off again, but in the direction from which he's come. He's decided that he can't possibly face the disciplinary panel. On the way back, he stops at a shop. When he gets back into the car, he finds that it won't start. He has to walk. He arrives back at the rectory looking a defeated man, and very tired. He wearily opens the door and goes into the front room. He finds some of the furniture and possessions are missing. He says quietly to himself, 'Burglars!' He takes a music stand and very quietly folds it up. It makes a heavy weapon. Making as little noise as possible, he slowly goes upstairs, wielding his weapon.

He hears from behind the bedroom door a man's voice which obviously puzzles him and which he can't identify at all. The voice is very high-pitched, nasal and squeaky, very unusual and also very smug. Algernon hears this, 'He's got nobody to blame but himself, in my considered opinion. Let's try again, dear, give it a go. Haven't been in practice for a long while, in my estimation.'

Algernon smashes the door with the music stand and flings it open. He finds Anastasia and Mr Beest in bed together.

A short time later, downstairs, Mr Beest and his wife, now dressed, tell Algernon that they have no intention of moving out. The rectory will be taken away but in the meantime, he must go, and find somewhere else to live. Anastasia says to Algerno, 'I'm leaving you. To be with the man I love.' Mr Beest says, in his very distinctive and very grating voice, 'She needs a real gentleman, someone who appreciates a lady, not like some what I could mention.' Algernon says that he has no spare money to rent a place. Anastasia and Mr Beest stand firm.

The allotment shop

Algernon calls at the local allotment shop, which includes a small 'restaurant' selling such things as ciabatta. A disgruntled allotment holder is talking to the man in charge. There are no bags of compost on sale but there are plenty of Christmas decorations to be bought. The allotment holder protests that it's still August. Obviously, the man in charge has marketing ideas in which the traditional goods for sale of an allotment shop aren't at all prominent. Algernon has words with him, which can't be heard.

The allotments

Algernon is shown at the allotments, handing over some money to the man in charge of the allotment shop, a wooden shed in the background. The shed is at the top of a slope. Algernon is shown moving into the shed. He carries a folding chair and table, a portable gas stove, a portable toilet, a folding camp-bed and a few personal effects. He's shown eating. He has a sliced loaf and a pack of margarine. He has a fork in his hand and is looking for a knife. He can't find it, and smears the margarine on a slice of bread with the fork. By now, he's unshaven and his clothes are crumpled and dirty. He's shown asleep at night, lying on the camp bed, inside the hut. Vandals are shown entering the allotment site. The gang of teenage youths set fire to another wooden hut close by. Algernon sleeps on. The vandals approach Algernon's hut and tip it down the slope. It slides quickly to the bottom of the slope. Algernon bursts through the wall, feet first, and into some brambles. Algernon is shown digging a deep pit, concealed later by branches. The next evening, the vandals walk into the traps. They fall into the pit.

The operation

Laura is being examined by a doctor in a small room, as her mother and father look on, very worried.

Laura is brought into the operating theatre. As he carries out the operation, the face of the surgeon registers increasing anxiety. At last his face shows horror. The surgeon is shown in a hospital room phoning home. He explains that he's coming home. When patients die on the operating table, they're allowed to come home. It's not expected that they should continue working after such a death.

Later, in the hospital car park, staff and visitors are going in one direction, towards the hospital. The surgeon and nurses are walking in the opposite direction, towards their cars, grim-faced.

The Lake District: the fells

Algernon is walking in the mountains of the Lake District. He looks even more unkempt and desperate. He stops to look at the peaks. He stops by a precipice.

Images crowd upon him - stopping by the door as he hears the squeaky, high-pitched voice of Mr Beest, opening the door. Again and again, in his mind's eye, he opens the door and discovers his wife and Mr Beest, in bed together. He remembers a visit by Laura's mother and father - their tears and anguish and accusations. He remembers Christmas eve when he was harsh to Laura. He remembers scenes from his childhood, when he was bullied beyond endurance at the school he attended and when he was beaten by his father.

He seems about to jump into the precipice but hesitates. For a long time, he tries to recover himself and at last succeeds. He carries on walking. He is seen looking at the fells, more in control of himself.

The Lake District: Buttermere

He has shaved and  is wearing clean clothes.  He's seen walking by the shore of Buttermere. He stops to look at the lake and the fells which tower above it.

The surface of the lake is limpid, absolutely calm. He seems calm enough himself.

The Lake District: Ullswater

He's next seen on the shores of Ullswater. After a time, he takes off the rucksack he's carrying. He empties it of its contents and then lifts, with great effort, some rocks from the shore and lets them fall into the rucksack. He lifts up the very heavy burden of the rucksack. With rucksack on his back, weighed down, barely able to walk, like Laura, he staggers towards the lake. The sound is heard of pure singing, a tenor and soprano voice. The water comes up to his knees, up to his waist, up to his neck, and then covers him entirely.

There's a disturbance in the water, which subsides. All that is left are small, expanding ripples. The camera focuses on water at the edge of the lake where there's a mother duck with ducklings.

Ripples are seen disturbing slightly the surface of the water, passing the mother duck and ducklings and reaching the water's edge. The camera takes in the wider vista again, of the fells, the peaceful lake, and the expanding circles of the ripples.