Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cranford Episode Four

After Mr Holbrooks death his inheritor has no desire to live in such a provincial area and his house and possessions are being sold at auction, and while Miss Pole is extremely disgusted with the thought the her dear cousins belongings will be pawed through by all and sundry, this does not prevent her from having a good nose around for bargains, ably assisted by Mrs Forrester. While poking around she finds a silhouette of a young Mr Holbrook and instead of bartering down from 1 and 6p, she imperiously hands him a shilling and and stalks off with the silhouette, leaving the poor assistant auctioneer faced with the prospect of letting her get away with it, or wrestling her to the ground prising the silhouette out of her hand. Sensibly he allows her to walk away quietly, perhaps realising that an altercation with Miss Pole would no doubt leave him the worse off.
Meanwhile Reverend Hutton is bidding on a rather lovely mirror, pleading the fact that a house needs as many mirrors as it has daughters. He probably has to make do with a tiny shaving mirror just to prevent arguments. In my experience, boys spend far longer in front of mirrors arranging their hair, but then I have many brothers each with a serious hair gel fixation.
Dr Morgan and Dr Harrison are also at the sale as Dr Harrison still owns no furniture and is entirely dependent on Mrs. Rose for this commodity. Dr Harrison attempts to assert himself by bidding on a small decorated table against Mrs Johnson of the General Stores and her amazing triangular face. He wins much to the amusement of the auctioneer who inquires if Dr Harrison has a lady in mind of the table, to which he hurriedly answers yes, causing Miss Pole to raise her eyebrows.
Miss Pole has generously given the silhouette of Mr Holbrook to someone who will genuinely cherish it, Miss Matty is wearing her widows cap and says that the silhouette is very like Mr Holbrook. This little scene also portrays a hitherto unknown facet of Miss Pole's character, her deep regard for Miss Matty and her good heartedness in gifting the one thing that Miss Matty would find so comforting.Dr Harrison brings home his table and is dismayed to find that it is a ladies sewing table from Mrs Rose. A slightly disconcerted Dr Harrison entreats Mrs Rose to use it if she likes to cover his embarrassment at his ignorance of ladies accoutrements. Mrs Rose is taken slightly aback but smiles nonetheless.
The railway is slowly encroaching further toward Cranford and Mr Carter along with his newly apprenticed clerk Harry Gregson have come to ask about the progress of the works and Mr Carter gives a letter for Lady Ludlow to Harry to take back to the house.
Unfortunately while reading it, a stray gust of wind rips it from his hand and it is blown away. Harry is faced with the full force of Lady Ludlows icy displeasure when he bravely confesses the loss of the note. However he loses any points he may have gained by then confessing that he has read it and lets her know the contents.
Lady Ludlow takes Mr Carter to task for allowing Harry Gregson to become his clerk and avers that Harry ought to be working in the fields, to which Mr Carter retorts that Harry ought to be in school and that Lady Ludlow has to change with the times.

In a softly candlelit room Miss Matty gently talks about first her father and his habit of getting his children to keep a journal, then Deborah's hopes of marrying an Archdeacon and then she asks Mary if she has ever felt a yearning to have a child of her own when seeing a mother with her child. Mary being only about twenty and having five younger siblings barely out of nappies has no desire yet for children. Matty without stating her own deep yearning, and disappointment, describes a dream she has of a her own child, a girl, who comes to her and her sense of sadness is palpable.
Lady Ludlow has brought a help meet for Mr Carter, Miss Galindo. Mr Carter is disconcerted at the introduction of a lady into his office, but Lady Ludlow merely purrs that Mr Carter ought to move with the times.
Dr Harrison has put on his best flouncy blue flowery cravat and has bravely gone to ask Reverend Hutton for his permission to court Sophy. It took me a short while to realise what was bugging me about this scene, until I realised it was the absence of bonnets and any Cranfordian females!
In an admirable effort and perhaps mindful of the fact that he gets three lines on average an episode, Alex Jennings takes the advantage he's been given and runs away with the scene by managing to run the gamut of emotions from forbidding, stern, conciliatory, wary, grief stricken (and tearful with it) and ending on a menacing note. Simon Woods isn't given much to do but react, wrinkle his brow and look slightly frightened at the end.
With Dr Harrison suitably terrified into behaving honourably, Reverend Hutton goes to find Sophy, who is arranging the worlds most droopy tulips in a vase and smirks at what a lovely couple they both make and shoos them out into the garden.

Sophy and Dr Harrison do make a lovely couple, and in Simon Woods' defence, if he had been a saturnine and romantic hero, he wouldn't have been a suitable match for Kimberly Nixon's Sophy, whose delicate beauty would have been swamped. This pair match!
Despite Reverend Hutton's tentative blessing on Sophy and Dr Harrison's pairing, Sophy says that her father is no doubt watching and Dr Harrison has to settle for a chaste curtsy from his sweetheart instead of a kiss when he takes his leave.
On the way home, Dr Harrison is accosted by Miss Tompkinson and dragged into have a cup of tea and is talked at incessantly, and the prospect of a £4ooo dowry when he marries Caroline Tompkinson is dangled in front of him. Dr Harrison politely sits and listens, slightly bewildered as to why he is being confided in.
Mr Carter is now over endowed with clerks having both Harry and Miss Galindo scribbling away for him. Miss Galindo is so industrious that she has to send Harry out of the room to fetch some more ink, which gives Mr Carter and Miss Galindo to snark good humouredly at each other.
Miss Galindo finally gets to show the sparkiness and sly wit that she embodies in the book and Emma Fielding gets more than one line instead of standing blank faced behind Lady Ludlow. Miss Galindo is quite enjoying her work and discomfiting poor Mr Carter who is finding it difficult working with a woman. She does say she has tried to fit in by perhaps inserting the word "zounds" at frequent intervals and sticking her pen behind her ear, but hasn't had the opportunity.

Mr Carter and Miss Galindo have a certain type of understated chemistry. Mr Carter's bluff facade is slightly softened by his proximity to her. Both are quiet and intelligent (and single) characters and is it easy to see that they are a good match.
Dr Marshland makes a visit to Cranford to inspect Mary's eyes and ascertains that she would benefit from glasses, little round wire rimmed ones!
Meanwhile Dr Harrison has turned up in his pony and trap to pick up Sophy from some May Day dance rehearsals and is disheartened that she is accompanied by her two younger giggling sisters, who have probably been told to stick to Sophy's side by their Dad and efficiently prevent Dr Harrison and Sophy's first kiss. They go for a walk in the most picturesque wood in the world liberally sprinkled with wild bluebells. Unwittingly they interrupt Martha and Jem's tryst at the base of a gnarly tree.
While Dr Harrison and Sophy are content to chastely stroll arm in arm through the wood, Martha has taken the permission to court Jem with both hands and they aren't doing much strolling! Jem bluffly states that this is an awful quiet part of the wood, perhaps a little falsely as the Hutton girls very nearly discovered them and are probably still in earshot, but Martha decides to make the most of it, besides there is still time before she has to get Miss Matty's tea on and Jem gladly makes the most of it.
Lady Ludlow has finally managed to place Harry in a position that she feels is more fitting: cleaning out the stables. As Mr Carter now has Miss Galindo, there is no longer a vacancy for Harry in that role and Lady Ludlow impressed upon Harry the luxury (for him at least) of a regular wage and Harry will be guaranteed a job for as long as he wishes if he takes up the more menial job over the impermanentclerkship with Mr Carter.

Harry mindful of his family's poverty and sense of duty to his Mother and younger siblings, glumly acquiesces and is deaf to Mr Carter's apologies.
The Town and Country bank has gone bankrupt and taken all of Miss Matty's investment with it, she is now penniless but for a small amount of savings. This means that she has to give Martha notice, which Martha resists tearfully. Miss Matty is deeply upset at her newly acquiredpoverty and when Martha states that she will work for free, Mary has to intercede and takes Martha to the kitchen to tell her that Miss Matty will not even be able to afford Martha's food, so bleak are her prospects.

Mrs Rose has been convinced by an excitable Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester that the cumulative gift giving that Dr Harrison has been engaged in: a chimney brush, a pair of purple, ladies gloves and the sewing table, is because Dr Harrison has romantic feelings for her. They then entice Mrs Rose into dying her hair, which transpires to be a dark and unsuitable black.
May Day arrives and Cranford has had its steps sanded into patterns and Jem Herne is released into the community in a large, energetic, leaf covered pot shaped thing as the Green Man (quite apt in the circumstances) and the festivities are full swing, Helen Hutton has been crowned the May Queen by Lady Ludlow and there is dancing and general merriment all round. But not for long.

Mrs Rose turns up in a purple frock to match her gloves and is flanked by a smirking pair of Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester, she is entreated to sit down next to Dr Morgan, displacing Dr Harrison, who takes this higher vantage point to stare at Sophy opposite.

Miss Matty and Mary have their tea disturbed by a Martha and Jem, who is still artfully covered in a few leaves and sprigs from his Green Man costume. Martha has decided that when she and Jem get married, they'll lodge with Miss Matty. This means that Martha can stay and look after Miss Matty and that Miss Matty can stay in her house. All this is news to Jem, who hadn't envisaged getting married quite so soon and is less than happy about this proposal, much to Martha's disgust, who flounces away unhappily, leaving Miss Matty and Mary a little discombobulated to their tea.
Caroline Tompkinson has noticed Dr Harrison's interest in Sophy and is perceptibly disappointed, so much so that she is seated on a bench and her sister goes to fetch a spare parasol and meets Reverend Hutton, to whom she confesses that her generously dowried sister is soon to expect a proposal from Dr Harrison. Reverend Hutton stalks away (perhaps to find a large stick) and Miss Tomkinson flutters back to Caroline.

Dr Harrison sees Sophy and just as they meet a furious Reverend Hutton intercedes and berates Dr Harrison for his mercenary behaviour.

A passing Miss Matty and Mary mindful of a "scene" beginning stop to listen.
Both the Misses Tompkinson aver that Dr Harrison had made romantic overtures to Caroline, citing the Valentines Day card as evidence that could be produced in a court of law. Dr Harrison refutes these claims, stating that he has a understanding with another. At which point Mrs Rose enters the fray.
Mrs Rose is entreated to speak up for her fiance, a relationship to which Dr Harrison find himself unaware. The rejection causes instant upset and she is led away sobbing by Miss Pole and Mrs Forrester, while Dr Morgan tells Dr Harrison to come and see him first thing in the morning.
Reverend Hutton reproaches Dr Harrison for failing his trust and breaking Sophy's heart and firmly leads a reluctant Sophy away.
The Tomkinson sisters float away and Miss Matty and Mary leave quietly leaving Dr Harrison alone. He sits humiliated, shocked, lovelorn, devastated and not a little confused in a marquee while he comes to terms with his now disgraced reputation and his by now Sophy-less future.

2 comments:

A Day In the Life . . . said...

This novel is on my to-read list right now. It looks like such a lovely movie with great actors! Your review is wonderful! Maybe I will have to watch the movie first. . . . Thank you!

pennyforyourdreams said...

Hi a day in the life,

Thanks for you comment, it's appreciated. You will love both the book and the tv show. Hope you get a chance to read/watch them soon!

Penny