Mrs. Mangel looking shocked as she reads the thirty- year- old letter Bronwyn found in John's jacket.
Jane comes into the lounge room, holding an atlas and telling her nan that she's found St. Albans. Mrs. Mangel, however, is staring into space, and she murmurs:
MRS. MANGEL: Not now, Jane...
Jane tells her to cheer up; don't think about what she's leaving behind, but about the wonderful new life she'll have in England. Mrs. Mangel, however, just says quietly:
MRS. MANGEL: Oh no...
JANE (frowns): Don't tell me you've changed your mind about going?
MRS. MANGEL (declares): It's a terrible mistake. I should've known.
JANE (frowns): What? What are you talking about?
MRS. MANGEL: All those things he told me - about how devoted he was to his first wife; and that letter makes a mockery of it all; all of it *lies*.
Jane takes the letter and looks at it. She then points out that it's over thirty years old. Mrs. Mangel, however, retorts:
MRS. MANGEL: What difference does *that* make? The one man I thought would never do a thing like that, and there's the proof in black and white. He's no better than your grandfather. They're all the same: you can't trust them.
JANE (gently): Yes you can.
MRS. MANGEL (retorts): No you can't, Jane - and that's the tragedy of this whole situation: I wanted to trust John more than I wanted anything in my whole *life*.
JANE: Don't you at least owe him a chance to explain?
MRS. MANGEL: It wouldn't change my mind. As much as I love John... I won't ever risk being hurt again. Not ever.
Scott, Sharon, Nick, Bronwyn and another girl from school are sitting round the kitchen table, planning the party. Bronwyn asks how everyone's costumes are going and Scott replies that he and Henry figured they drop down to the op shop tomorrow and see what they can dig up. Bronwyn says uncertainly:
BRONWYN: Is Henry coming? I wasn't sure he was.
SCOTT: Yeah - as far as I know.
Bronwyn sits there looking worried. Sharon asks if they should all go down to the op shop tomorrow lunchtime and make sure Scott and Henry don't take all the good stuff! The girl from school, however, says she can't as she's got softball practice. Sharon asks her when she'll get her outfit, then, and the girl says she'll get it after school. Nick then says they've got to do the place up somehow in gangster stuff. Sharon suggests that he do a mural on one of the walls in the lounge room. Bronwyn points out that they don't want anything they can't clean off afterwards, but Sharon points out that they've got to repaint the whole place for Aunt Edie anyway; they can paint over it. Bronwyn remarks in concern that this all sounds a bit bigger than what they originally talked about; she'd better talk to Des to make sure he's happy about it, as he's had enough hassles lately without them adding to them.
Joe is at No. 28, asking Des when he's going to have some info on how he wants the shop rebuilt. Des, however, replies that it won't be for a while - there's been a bit of a hold- up. Joe asks if it's something *he* can sort out, but Des explains that Harold's withdrawing from the partnership and he hasn't decided what he wants to do yet. Joe shrugs that Harold's not much loss, is he? Des just says in exasperation:
DES: Your mum expecting you for dinner, is she?!
Bronwyn comes in through the front door at that moment and asks Mike - who's sitting on the couch - how his first day of prac teaching went. He smiles that it was fine: he's got Year 7s at the moment, but that'll change to Year 10s after his exams. Bronwyn then turns to Des and tells him that she just wanted to check: they're planning sort of a party tomorrow night over at the house and she thought she'd better make sure he doesn't have any objections. Des says:
DES: As long as you don't wreck the place...
BRONWYN: Oh, it's not going to be a full- on rage or anything! We were planning to decorate the place a bit, though...
DES: Yeah. Oh sure. OK.
She then turns to Mike and tells him that he's welcome to come along too: the theme's Gangsters & Molls. Mike thanks her but says he's supposed to be meeting a couple of friends from uni. Bronwyn smiles:
BRONWYN: Bring them along - although I'd personally prefer it if Jackie wasn't one of them!
MIKE: Don't worry - I wouldn't do that to you!
JOE: A bit of a party, eh? Sounds good to *me*.
BRONWYN (warily): Gee, I'd like to invite you, Joe, but, um, Sharon made a bit of a rule: no oldies.
Joe comments that it's them oldies that really make a party go! He then adds that if he's really stuck for something to do, he can always come over to Des's for a bit of a chat. Looking concerned, Des says quickly that he's got to go out for a bit, so he won't be there. Joe smiles that he can always come back later!
It's evening- time. The letter is on the coffee table and Mrs. Mangel is sitting in the armchair staring into space. Jane comes in and sighs at her nan to turn the TV on or play some music or something. Mrs. Mangel, however, murmurs that she's not in the mood to be entertained. Jane asks her if she's decided what she's going to do. Mrs. Mangel replies:
MRS. MANGEL: As far as I am concerned, there is only *one* thing to do - but I don't pretend it's going to be easy; far from it.
The doorbell rings and Mrs. Mangel comments that that will be him now. Jane goes to answer it and she lets John in. He heads into the lounge room and holds out a bunch of flowers to Mrs. Mangel. She doesn't look at him. John tells her that he thought they might go down to the bowls club bistro and announce their engagement. Mrs. Mangel still doesn't respond. Jane starts to say something, but Mrs. Mangel cuts her off and tells her sharply that she's perfectly capable of saying what has to be said. Jane leaves them to talk. Mrs. Mangel then says to John icily :
MRS. MANGEL: There will *be* no announcement, Mr. Worthington, because there is no engagement. Please leave my house and I trust I'll never have to set eyes on you again.
JOHN (looking astonished): Is this a joke, Nell?
MRS. MANGEL (thrusting the envelope at John): Is *this* a joke?
John takes out the letter and reads it. He then murmurs:
JOHN: Where on earth did you...?
MRS. MANGEL: I'm shocked. *Shocked.* Deeply distressed.
JOHN: This must've been in the coat I gave Bronwyn. I can *explain* this.
MRS. MANGEL (tersely): No need for explanation: the letter says it *all*. You were unfaithful to your late wife.
JOHN: You have to understand: when Iris wrote this, she was upset.
MRS. MANGEL: Obviously!
JOHN: She had moved out, she was staying with her mother, and neither of us—
MRS. MANGEL: I am quite aware of the circumstances - the letter says it all. I'm only glad that I found out what kind of man you are before it's too late.
JOHN: Oh Nell, really, this all happened a long time ago.
MRS. MANGEL: I'd appreciate it if you'd stop calling me by my first name. In fact, as we have nothing else to say to each other, there's no need for you to call me anything at all. Please go.
JOHN: Nell, you *have* to listen.
MRS. MANGEL (snaps): Please go - *now*.
John stares at Mrs. Mangel and then turns and walks out. Mrs. Mangel stands there looking upset. She goes and sits down on the couch and picks up the flowers that John brought, a rueful expression on her face.
The next morning, Joe is talking to John on the 'phone in the hallway, saying to him that he's told his mother she should hear him out, but she doesn't want to know. He suggests they meet at the park at Anson's Corner at about 12:00. He hangs up just as Mrs. Mangel walks over to him and asks sharply who was on the 'phone. Joe replies quickly:
JOE: No one - just someone trying to sell me some biros!
Bouncer trots up and starts barking at him! Joe heads into the lounge room, where Mrs. Mangel has started dusting, and says hesitantly:
JOE: Mum... why don't you, um, just have a *talk* to John?
MRS. MANGEL (retorts): There's nothing to talk about. The man cheated on his wife.
JOE: Look, everyone can't be a saint.
MRS. MANGEL: It might seem trivial to *you*, but to me the marriage vow is sacred. I could never respect or trust any man who'd break it - and I certainly couldn't *marry* him, so I consider the matter closed.
With that, she walks out, leaving Joe looking worried.
Nick has nearly finished his mural on the walls of the lounge room at No. 30. Sharon joins him and smiles that he's brilliant! She gives him a kiss. Bronwyn comes in and asks Nick if he's got time to be working on it now, as they'll be late for school if they don't hurry up. Nick nods that he'll finish it after the exam. Sharon reminds him that they're going down to the op shop to get some stuff to wear. Nick picks up his bag and gives Sharon a passionate kiss, then heads out. When he's gone, Bronwyn remarks to her sister:
BRONWYN: That was pretty full- on. Don't you think you should slow down a bit?
SHARON: That's *my* business, Bronny.
BRONWYN: I'm not saying it *isn't* - but I know how *I* felt rushing into a relationship and then realising I shouldn't've. It's worth taking time to be sure.
SHARON: I will - but I'm old enough to make my *own* decisions now, you know?
BRONWYN: All I'm saying is: don't let yourself be pressured until *you're* ready
SHARON: I *won't*. Would you stop worrying about me? I know what I'm doing, OK?
She walks off, leaving Bronwyn looking dubious.
Park at Anson's Corner
Joe is sitting on a bench, waiting for John. He rocks up and asks Joe how he went. Joe sighs that he tried but she didn't want to know. John tells him that he spent thirty years regretting what he did - but never as much as now. He sits down with Joe, who says:
JOE: These things, you know, they *happen*.
JOHN: It was just that one time. I... I was going away for a two- week conference and Iris and I had an argument the night before I left. I can't even remember what it was about, now, but we were both too angry to make up before I left. Then, by pure chance, *at* the conference, I... I met this girl. I'd taken her out as a teenager.
JOE: What - and the old flame was still smouldering, was it?
JOHN: Things just got out of hand. I'd *never* been unfaithful to Iris before. I was so guilty I told her the moment I came home. I promised it would never happen again, but she was horrified. She packed and went home to her mother; that's when she wrote that letter.
JOE: But you got back together...
JOHN: Of course. We loved each other and we both knew it. Oh, why did that letter have to turn up now, after all this time...? It's not just *my* happiness I'm thinking of. I know I've hurt your mother very badly, and I'd give anything - believe me - not to have done that.
JOE: It's a real shame. That's all I can say, Johnno: it's a real shame.
Scott and Jane are looking at clothes on a rack in the op shop. Jane smiles that she bets Charlene will be upset when she finds out she missed out on all the fun! Scott, however, remarks that she seems to be enjoying herself in Brisbane: each time he gives her a call, she's either just got home from a party or she's on her way out to one! He adds that he can't wait to get up there himself. Henry walks over to them and Scott grins at him that he'll never guess who's working there. Henry says:
HENRY: Well how am I supposed to *guess*?
At that moment, they hear an extraordinary walrus- type laugh from behind a changing room curtain, and Henry realises it's Melanie! She comes out and Henry gives her a hug! He asks her excitedly what she's doing there and she tells him that she's *working* there! Henry says:
HENRY: What about your secretary job?!
MELANIE: I needed a change! I've always loved shops and this place is really interesting!
SCOTT (grins): Yeah - especially when a hunky spunky like Henry comes along and you can just whisk him off into one of the changing rooms!
Sharon emerges from the same changing room that Melanie was in at that moment, wearing a long yellow dress, and shows it off. Henry smiles that it's definitely her. Jane finds her a handbag to go with it. Henry then whispers something in Sharon's ear and Sharon tells him to go for it. He turns to Melanie and says:
HENRY: Er... what if I was to ask you to this party tonight? You wouldn't break a bloke's heart by turning him down, would you?
MELANIE (laughs): Break your heart? That would be the day!
HENRY: Come on, what do you say: do you wanna go?
MELANIE: Sure! It sounds like a million laughs!
SCOTT: The mind boggles!
Henry then asks Melanie if she's got something really wild for him to wear tonight!
It's evening- time and the Gangsters & Molls party is in full swing, everyone in costume. Henry is dancing with Melanie. Jane is serving up some glasses of punch and Scott offers one to Mike, but he says he thinks he'll stick to soft drink. Jane asks him if he's on one of his health binges again, but he explains that the kids at the party are going to be in his class next week and he doesn't want to set a bad example.
Away from the main party, Nick and Sharon are pashing on Sharon's bed. Nick reaches round to unclasp Sharon's dress, but she stops him and says:
SHARON: Uh- uh.
NICK: Why not?
NICK: Because why?
SHARON: Because I think we should take things a little bit slower, that's why.
NICK (sighs): Any slower, we'll be going *backwards*. Come on, relax. We *like* each other, don't we?
NICK: I mean we *really* like each other...
SHARON (warns): Nick...
They start pashing again and Nick tries again to unclasp Sharon's dress. She again pushes him away, though, snapping:
SHARON: I said 'no', Nick.
NICK: Come on... you get me all fired up, then you wanna stop, just like that.
SHARON: Why can't we just keep kissing?
NICK: Come off it, Shaz - you're not a kid anymore. There's a name for girls like you, you know?
SHARON (gasps): What? Girls like *what*?
NICK: Well, girls who lead a bloke on and then just shut off.
SHARON (coldly): Well, excuse *me*. If I'm such a disappointment to you, there are plenty of *other* girls outside. Try cracking onto *them* - maybe you'll have more luck.
NICK (retorts): Yeah - maybe I *will*.
With that, he storms out of the room, leaving Sharon looking upset.
Out in the lounge room, Melanie sits down with Henry and says:
MELANIE: Is there something funny about me?
HENRY (laughs): In what way, Mel?!
MELANIE: That Bronwyn girl keeps checking me out all the time.
The two of them glance over to where Bronwyn is standing in a corner of the room, watching them. Sharon comes in at that moment, though, and asks Bronwyn if she can speak to her for a sec. The two of them head through to the kitchen. Meanwhile, the girl who was involved in the planning of the party walks over to Mike and introduces herself as Jessie Ross. She asks him if he'd like to dance, but Mike says he doesn't think it would be such a good idea, as she'll be in the class he'll be teaching during the week. Jessie asks flirtatiously if he doesn't think students and teachers ought to get to know each other... Mike nods:
MIKE: Yeah, I do, but don't you think it would be better in the classroom?
JESSIE (coolly): Not particularly.
Over by the bowl of punch, Nick sighs at Henry:
NICK: Women? Who can figure them?
HENRY: Tell me about it!
NICK: Well, it's Sharon, you see: she was coming on like—
HENRY: No, I don't mean *tell* me about it, Nick! I mean...
Nick, however, tells Henry that this is serious: he needs his advice.
In the kitchen, Sharon is telling Bronwyn:
SHARON: I thought about what you said before and you're probably right: I shouldn't do it unless I really want to - but then I don't want to lose Nick. Oh Bronny... what do you think I should do?
BRONWYN: I can't decide that *for* you, Shaz. All I can say is if Nick can't show a bit of respect for your feelings then maybe he's *not* the right guy for you?
SHARON: I *think* he is. I *am* kind of love with him, and a lot of my friends have full- on relationships. *They* all seem to handle it OK. If I give Nick what he wants then I'll have a real boyfriend and the other kids will all like me a lot more, but I—
BRONWYN (warily): I don't know...
Jessie comes in at that moment and announces that she's got to go now, as her olds get really heavy if she's late home on school nights. Bronwyn says they'll see about getting her a lift. Jessie says goodbye to Sharon, who just sits there looking upset.
Joe is sitting with Mrs. Mangel in the lounge room, saying to her:
JOE: What about all those years you wouldn't talk to *me*? I mean, we could've been really close if it wasn't for your pigheadedness; now you're doing the same to *John*.
MRS. MANGEL (retorts): It's not the same at *all*.
JOE: Oh, it's *exactly* the same. The least you could do is *listen* to the old bloke.
MRS. MANGEL (snaps): And listen to a string of pathetic excuses? No.
JOE: Look, if you loved John the way you said you would, you'd hear him out. I don't reckon you ever *did* love him; you're just looking for an excuse to back off.
MRS. MANGEL: That's not true - I *did* love him.
JOE: Well, if you do, then at least let him tell you his side of the story - 'cos if you don't, you go right down in my estimations, as far as I'm concerned.
MRS. MANGEL (looking upset): Oh, for heaven's sakes, if it means that much to you, yes I will agree to see him just once more.
JOE (smiles): Ma - that's terrific. You won't be sorry.
He then stands up, goes to the front door and whistles loudly. Mrs. Mangel walks over to him asks him in astonishment what he's doing. Joe tells her that John's been waiting outside, just on the off- chance. Mrs. Mangel exclaims:
MRS. MANGEL: What?!
John walks in and says softly:
JOHN: Hello, Nell. Thank you for agreeing to see me.
MRS. MANGEL (hesitantly): Well, I... I suppose, as you're here, you might as well come in.
The two of them head through to the lounge room, leaving Joe looking relieved. Bouncer starts licking his hand!
Melanie sits down on Sharon's bed and says to Henry:
MELANIE: Is it that girl who's been watching me all night?
MELANIE: This thing you want to talk about - is it that girl?
Henry tells Melanie that she's a good mate, and she understands how women think; god knows *he* doesn't! He goes on:
HENRY: The thing is I really *like* Bron. I'd like to... you know... get something going with her - more than anyone I've met for ages. At first, I thought she liked me too - then I started to talk about getting serious and she suddenly went cold.
MELANIE: I know how it feels. Same thing happens to me all the time. After a while, you get used to it.
HENRY: I don't think I *want* to.
MELANIE: It's just that you and I are fun people, Henry. We clown around and make people laugh, so I suppose it's *hard* for them to take us seriously when we want them to.
HENRY: Maybe it's time we *stopped* being fun people?
MELANIE (shrugs): Maybe you just need to let Bronwyn know that you can be serious as well, huh?
Out in the kitchen, Sharon is sitting with a glum- looking Bronwyn, saying to her that she knows she's upset that Scott wrote that letter and not Henry, but Scott only helped with the wording; she's sure what it said is what Henry really feels about her. Bronwyn asks why Henry couldn't just say it to *her*. Sharon shrugs:
SHARON: I don't know... He said he'd tried, but every time he just backed off because I suppose he was scared he'd make a fool of himself.
BRONWYN (thoughtfully): Well, there have been a *couple* of times when I thought he was building up to something serious, but then he just came out with all the usual jokey stuff.
SHARON: Why don't you try *talking* to him, person to person? I'm sure he'll say what's on his mind.
BRONWYN: Does seem like the sensible thing to do, doesn't it? I *will* go and speak to him. Thanks!
In the bedroom, Henry is saying to Melanie:
HENRY: You reckon if I just talk to her without joking around—
MELANIE (smiles): I'd give it a try! I'm sure once she knows you're serious she won't be able to resist you. What red- blooded woman *could*?!
HENRY (grins): That's true! You're a real mate, Mel. You are one of my favourite people in the entire universe. You know that, don't you?
MELANIE: I know - and you're one of mine, too.
She takes hold of the ends of the scarf Henry's wearing round his neck as she adds:
MELANIE: I hope everything turns out just the way you want it to.
With that, the two of them hug tightly - just as Bronwyn opens the door and peers in. She quickly closes it again and stands in the hallway, looking upset.