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The Long Haul Review- Only Fools & Horses Episode 4

Well last time I sat down to watch an episode I was full of trepidation. Then it turned out to be brilliant and now I’m excited for the next episode. In the interests of full disclosure, this is the first episode that I have very clear memories of watching as a child (albeit as a repeat), and I do remember it being good, so let’s see how it holds up!

Episode 4: The Second Time Around


Original airdate 29th September 1981
7.8 million viewers
Running time: 30 Minutes

Up half a million viewers on last week, obviously Cash and Curry made a similar impact on first airing as it had on me. The episode opens with Del & Rodney selling handkerchiefs in the market, Del is in full sales patter mode, and interestingly Rodney has his own successful sales style too. I don’t remember much being made of his abilities in this way, so that was a nice touch to see. — (What was it, does it tell us anything about his character?) —

Del excuses himself to go and get a drink at the Nag’s Head.

When he arrives, Trigger is already there. Del buys him a drink and gets a blackcurrant and Pernod (hard ‘d’) for himself. The unusual taste in drinks was already pretty well established by now, but as with so many things, parody status hasn’t been reached, it’s just a bad combination as opposed to a contrived bad combination. Joyce the barmaid from episode 1 is here too, so she was recurring for at least the first series. Trig is a bit slow and doesn’t get Del’s jokes, but he still has the streetwise, sharp side we saw in his first appearance. He tells Del that he’s just seen one of Del’s ex-fiances, which gives us a revelation.

“Which one?”

  • Del has been engaged multiple times

Trig reveals it was ‘Pauline’ which brings a surprised reaction from Del. This wasn’t just any old squeeze. He reminds Trig it couldn’t be, Pauline got married and moved abroad, doing so in a slightly mournful tone, there is definitely more than meets the eye here. However it turns out she’s still in the pub. Del spies her and becomes flustered, a side we’ve yet to see of him. It humanises Del a great deal immediately. There’s no bravado here. Del wants to go over and impress her, but Trig says it’s a bad idea “after what happened last time”. Joyce says Pauline was asking after Del, wanting to know how much he was earning. Del promises Trig and Joyce he won’t get involved, he’s too shrewd, but he’s obviously smitten. Approaching Pauline he takes a drink, he’s nervous, his usual front completely stripped. Trig looks on, deeply concerned in what is a huge moment for me. As I’ve alluded so many times already, both Trig and Del, especially Trig descend into caricature in later series, so this is very gratifying to see. Trig is a real person here, worried about his friend, and that concern played totally straight, it’s a nice touch to show Del’s bond with the man.

Pauline gives Del a huge kiss, and he’s immediately under her spell. She’s flirty right away, wiping smeared blackcurrant juice of Del’s lips and then kissing again, Trig looks apoplectic across the bar. Then we get some of my beloved biographical information. It’s been 12 years since she left, which means…

  • Del was 23, Rodney 10
  • This all happened 2 years after their Dad left them

The guy she married is dead, and she’s been travelling since that happened. She asks if Del ever married, but he says he’s never cared enough about someone for that, except one person, Pauline. They’re just about to kiss far more romantically when Rodney arrives looking for Del.

“This is my Brother Rodney, you remember Rodney? He used to be a little scruff! Look at him now…he’s a big scruff!”

Rodney remembers Pauline, he’s very cold and flat with her. Further discussion reveals she had married again, to an American who has also passed away. Rodney does. Not. Like. Her.

“Isn’t that a shame Rodney? She’s had two husbands die on her!”

“Yeah, one more and she gets to keep the match ball”

Del sees daggers at Rodney as Pauline excuses herself, and questions his younger brother about his reaction.

Rodney remembers how damaged Del was by Pauline last time around. Del thinks things have changed. He confirms he was a mod again, and that’s the crowd they ran in together, and uses that to excuse her behaviour in cheating on Del.

Del emphasises he is a sensitive person, he’s grown up, he even cried at Love Story! Rodney says she will screw him up again. Del says he understands Rodney’s concern but tells him to shove it. There’s a quite a lot to unpack from that last little bit.

It was mostly played for laughs, but we’re seeing far more of Del’s human side here, behind the mask, so to speak, and the same goes for Rodney, seeing a man concerned for his Brother, rather than the rather hapless figure we’ve seen at times.

 

Back at the flat, Grandad is watching his 2 televisions. He remarks that Del is late. Rodney says he’ll ring and check the morgues, making mention of the fact Pauline is a widow twice over. Grandad is worried too, last time she came around the three of them were apparently doing quite well, but it all changed after she arrived. Del changed. They were engaged within a week and broken up within a month. Del was out getting into fights with the guys she was cheating with all the time. Grandad even says Del lost his faith afterwards, he stopped donating to the church. Del arrives back in high spirits though, carrying champagne. He and Pauline are engaged again! Rodney is fuming…

You think I’m going to celebrate my Brother getting hitched up to a gold digger?”

Del persuades Rodney that while he understands how his brother feels, he needs to do this for himself, leading Rodney to soften for a moment, before dropping the bombshell that Pauline will be moving in with them. Rodney storms to his room, Grandad is furious too.

I already feel like a broken record praising the scenes in the flat, but everyone is so brilliantly scripted and acted. Nicholas Lyndhurst is particularly coming into his own as Rodney and we’re getting to see a real, deep familial relationship. It’s just so good.

 

We rejoin things with Del eating steak and chips. Everyone is present but the room is silent. Pauline is sat on the corner sofa, feet up, where Rodney usually sits . Rodney, in an armchair puts his feet up on the coffee table instead, but Pauline objects, she cleaned there today! Rodney is pleased as his plimsolls won’t get dirty but one word from Pauline and Del makes Rodney move his feet.

Finishing his meal, Del announces it was “Pas de Calais”

“Been a long time since we had steak like that Rodney!”

“Hell of a long time, me and Grandad had corned beef”

Del questions Pauline on this, but she’s refusing to cook for Grandad and Rodney. It transpires she’s also hidden Grandad’s teeth, he only gets them back at mealtimes. She wants both Rodney and Grandad to go out so she and Del can have some alone time, she’s sick of everyone just sitting around. She also asks why Grandad has 2 televisions.

“The other one is being mended” 

Pauline intimates Grandad should be in a home, but Rodney is immediately on the defensive. Grandad is worried about this development, Rodney is very protective, and says they are not leaving. Pauline demands Del buy her a house then. He can’t because he isn’t registered for anything, but she has a solution, they simply put it in her name, she has the money from her life insurance payouts for her late husbands anyway. She wants Del to get life insurance too. Del is depressed by the idea as Rodney points out Pauline’s track record with husbands, but before he can comment properly, she drags Del off to the bedroom as Grandad and Rodney gesture that he’s under the thumb.

The following morning, Grandad and Rodney have packed their bags and are ready to go, just waiting for Del to get up so they can say goodbye. Pauline won’t let Rodney into their bedroom to do so though, which dismays him, that was his Mum’s room, but she remains cold to his emotional attachment. Rodney isn’t attempting to mask any of his hostility, calling her an “old bag”.

We then get a diatribe I didn’t expect from 1981…

You know why she doesn’t want us in there? It’s filled with objects of sexual torture. We’d go in and find Del bound and gagged in a rubber mask and loincloth being threatened with French lessons”

They’ve alluded to the amount of time Del and Pauline spend in the bedroom a few times in the episode, but that wasn’t something I thought I would hear.

Trig phones for Del and Pauline leaves, mid argument with Rodney. She’s off to get her ring…

“What, another one? You’ve been engaged five times and married twice!”

“Shut it Rodney”

“What is it with you anyway? Are you trying to corner the world’s gold market or just got a thing for wedding cakes?”

She storms off, but it turns out Trig (unheard or scene, David Jason acting out the conversation very realistically) has news he’s reluctant to share. Del promises he won’t tell his friend to mind his own business and stop interfering before doing exactly that before slamming the phone down. Trig told Del that Pauline’s first husband died of food poisoning, the Police investigated at the time.

Rodney and Grandad tell Del they’re leaving; heading to Auntie Rose’s in Clacton. Del is getting worried about Pauline’s plans for him now.

“Rodney, you don’t believe any of that about food poisoning do you?”

“Course not…eat your mushrooms Del”

“RODNEY!”

“Not coming back Del”

“No, hang about, I’m coming with you!”

The trio arrive at Rose’s and Del immediately has the charm on with her as they walk in, and essentially take over, changing the TV channel. Later over Dinner, Del and Rodney discuss Pauline, who Del gave 5 days to get out. They speculate that she will smash up the place. We get more French about the food from Del, it’s “Champs Elysee” apparently. This is the first episode I think where the French hasn’t been part of his sales patter. He’s generous with his money too, dishing out a large sum to Rose for taking care of them, who then wants to know who they are, which gives us a classic comic farce…

Del: Who are we?

Rodney: You mean we’ve been in your house five hours, had your Shepherds Pie and a bath each and you don’t know who we are?”

Rose: I didn’t like to ask because you seemed to know me!

Del: We’re Joanie’s boys! Well he [Grandad] isn’t, but you remember Joanie? Married Reg Trotter? You were at the Wedding!”

Rose: Don’t remember you!

Del: Course you wouldn’t remember me at me Mum’s Wedding, I was only a babe in arms.

Grandad: You said come down any time

Rose: When was this then?

Grandad: 1947

Rodney: So here we are!

Del: You must remember the wedding though? The big church in Peckham!

Rose: I’ve never been to Peckham in me life. Funny you mention though, the lady who owned the cottage before me came from Peckham

Del: [Aside] Auntie Rose has moved 

Rodney: [Aside] Well who’s this then?

Rose: Joanie….Joanie Hollins? Married a Jamaican fella? [Del and Rodney agree] Well you don’t look Jamaican!

Rodney: We’re adopted

Rose: Ohhh…would you like some Apple Pie?

Del, Rodney and Grandad return to their flat 5 days later. It’s very quiet, clean and tidy, but she’s left a note for Del. Rodney asks if she really meant that much to Del, who candidly says it wasn’t the same this time, and then very emotionally, lip quivering wonders if he’s cut out for falling in love. This was genuinely moving, David Jason superb. Rodney feels bad and confesses he put Trigger up to the phone call, they made up the food poisoning story. Del seems as though he’ll be angry, but laughs and hugs both Rodney and Grandad, however Pauline has left a sting in the tale, leaving the phone onto the talking clock in the US for 5 days running up a huge phone bill.

Well my memories were well founded, this was an excellent episode. It wasn’t quite the classic caper of of the previous week, but the scene with Rose was an excellent, genuinely funny farce and we got to see Nicholas Lyndhurst’s best perfomance to date. He and Roger Lloyd Pack as Trigger played their dislike and mistrust of Pauline dead straight which gave the episode a gritty, ‘real’ edge. Again the family interaction is just a joy to see, whether serious or comedic. That’s two great episodes in a row, and now I’m beginning to see just how it became so beloved.

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