Poor old Jack’s in the doghouse. Annie’s been giving him filthy looks since the second episode but it’s only at the start of this one that we find out the reason why. Tucked in the back of his bowling bag was a copy of London Lovelies Number 4. Annie is incensed – it’s not only a sure sign of moral deviance, but it also poses other disturbing questions ….
Is Jack entertaining a fancy woman? Quite why Annie should jump to this conclusion isn’t quite clear (surely if Jack had another woman he wouldn’t need a magazine!). But she’s also concerned about where he bought it from – surely not from somewhere local. As we see time and time again in these early episodes, many of the characters are very much concerned with the opinions of others. This is very plain in Annie’s case – her social status would take something of a knock if it became known that her husband was a purchaser of off-colour books.
We never really learn too much about London Lovelies, although it does seem to be pretty tame stuff (pictures of young women in bathing costumes possibly). And whilst Jack squirms for a few minutes, the truth soon emerges – Harry lent it to him, since they both believed that one of the Lovelies was the granddaughter of a hoity-toity chap down at the bowling club. So all is well.
Ena, Martha and Minnie have taken up their usual position in the snug and are joined by a mysterious fourth woman. Rather like Minnie in episode two, she’s mute (she also spends the scene with her back to the camera so we never see her face). Director Michael Scott chooses a slightly unusual high angle for some of the snug shots – given the cramped nature of the sets it’s good to see something different being done.
With Christmas fast approaching, the weighty topic of Christmas cards is broached. Ena’s incensed that Minnie’s not received hers (since she posted it the day before) and is also acerbic on the topic of carol singers. Maybe the pennies and halfpennies donated to the church carol singers helps to explain why the vicar’s wife can afford a new fur coat ….
We then hear the sound of carols from the public bar, although this cue seems to have been a little bit late (both Violet Carson and Lynne Carrol take a few extra swigs of their drinks whilst waiting for the action to start). It turns out that Mr Swindley is leading them – surely his only intention was to catch Ena in the act of forcing down a milk stout. All of Ena’s defiance from episode three seems to have dissipated, as she now seems incredibly conscience stricken (a little odd, but maybe Ena’s just relishing being a drama queen).
Ena’s later rendition of My Drink is extraordinary. Back in her room in the mission, she warbles “my drink is water bright from the crystal stream” for the benefit of Mr Swindley, ear-wigging from the other side of the door! All this stress and singing is too much though and she swoons into Mr Swindley’s arms. He calls for Miss Nugent, although the unnamed extra who pops her head around the door isn’t Eileen Derbyshire (who wouldn’t appear until episode fifteen).
Is Harry having his daughter Lucille (Jennifer Moss) home for Christmas? Nope, he seems to think she’d be much better off in the orphanage. This is very hard to understand – it’s true that Harry’s working over Christmas, so looking after her would be a problem (but if he really wanted to, surely he could have booked some time off?) The inference seems to be that he’s decided to work because otherwise he’d be all by himself over the festive period.
So Lucille decides to take matters into his own hands by running away from the orphanage and back home. Eventually a reluctant Harry does agree she can stay for Christmas, although his burden is lifted when the ever-understanding Esther Hayes (Daphne Oxenford) at Number Five offers to lend a hand. Fair to say that so far Harry’s come across as a rather selfish and self-centered character.
As with the previous episode, the credits play out over a rolling caption of the street – stopping to flash up the names of the characters who live at each house. Although here the Mission Hall is shown to be next to the Rovers, not on the other side of the street.