Steptoe and Son: Episode one
Disclaimer: I do not own Steptoe and Son or claim to. All credit to the writers and the BBC. No copyright intended. Special credit to the actors who played the characters Harold and Albert, Harry H Corbett and Wilfrid Brambell, and the effort given by the actors who took up their roles, briefly in the BBC4 Docu-Drama, The Curse Of Steptoe, Jason Isaacs, as Harry H Corbett/ Harold, and Phil Davies, as Wilfrid Brambell/Albert, in March 2008.
Harold Steptoe, got off the cart, and started to collect from a block of flats, receiving a few slammed doors in the process. He wasn't having much luck, as he reached the second floor, he wondered allowed, why he was in the position that he was in.
"I don't know why I bother, I really don't. They either slam the door in my face, or pretend their out, when I can hear the TV, from outside!"
He reached flat number seventeen, and expected one or the other, of the same treatment. As he waited, he expected the owner to be, pretending not to be in, until he heard shuffling and moving around. A muffled voice, sounded like he was being told, to wait. Eventually the door opened, much to Harold's surprise, to add to the surprise of the door being answered, he found a young woman, in her mid twenties, was the owner of the flat. She was dark haired, with a kind face, that did not look upon him with annoyance, or disgust. Harold was speechless, unlike the young woman.
"Can I help you?" she asked.
Harold slowly removed his hat, with the look in his eyes, he got, every time he fell for a girl, that could only be described as misty-eyed.
"I'd like to think so, I'm a rag and bone man, see, just wondered..." he began.
The door opened on the other side of the corridor, and the young woman, went wide-eyed at the sight of the man, who walked through it.
"Oh no, the land-lord, one of the rules he had, was no trades-men. Come in quick, before he sees you," she said quickly.
Harold stepped quickly inside, and the first thing he noticed, was boxes all over the place. The young woman, had only just moved there, yet she was taking risks by giving him flat-room. They waited nervously, but luckily, no knock on the door came, and the young woman breathed a sigh of relief.
"I know he has his reasons, I'm sorry I probably can't give you anything at the moment, as I'm not sure where everything is, plus I might have cleared out before I came," she said.
Harold, was still shocked at her actions. The only time people usually let him in, was if they had something large and heavy, to get rid of.
"That's quite alright, I'm quite glad of the rescue," joked Harold.
"Well I wouldn't want you arrested on my account. If it's not too much to ask, you can come back in a few days time, I'm sure I might have packed a few clothes that don't fit," she said.
"That's very kind of you, Miss..." began Harold.
"Raquel," she added.
"Raquel, that's lovely that is, the name I mean. Thank you, I'll come back," he said.
"Oh good, do you want some tea? I've managed to get that sorted before I answered the door, wouldn't want you to have had a wasted visit," said Raquel.
"No, no, no, not wasted, certainly not, tea would be nice, thank you," said Harold.
As soon as Raquel smiled and turned to go into the kitchen, Harold had a look on his face, that looked like Christmas had come early.
Later Harold returned home, very late, with very little on the cart. Albert, his father rushed out, when he heard him and noticed this, and his son's late arrival, neither of which he was pleased with. He pulled a disgusted expression.
"Is this it? Where've you been all day? It's almost gone six and you turn up here, with next to nothing on the cart! I'm hungry! What have you been doing the rest of the day?" he asked.
Harold unloaded the cart, a huge smile on his face, put the horse away and walked into the living room, and sat down, as his father ran after him, waiting for an answer.
"Yes father, that was it, I was at the flats, a few streets from here...as to the time and your bleeding stomach! I couldn't care less, it is irrelevant, as I spent the day, with a most polite, charming and beautiful girl, I have ever met," replied Harold.
"A bird! It's always the same with you! And what's a nice girl like that want with someone like you? That's assuming you didn't help yourself to the crumpet!" added Albert.
Harold looked disgusted with his father's words and glared at him.
"Dad! Get your grubby, little, mind out of the gutter. However, if you must know, Raquel has promised that when she is more settled and has fully unpacked, she will find some things for the cart," he said.
"Just moved has she? Where from?" asked Albert.
"Town further south I think, I didn't ask, don't want to put her off do I? Being all nosey, but what got me, was how she didn't look at me funny, when I told her what I did, it didn't bother her at all," replied Harold.
"Why should it?" asked Albert.
"For some reason with birds, that's usually the part they leave," replied Harold.
"Seeing her again are you? I mean besides collecting from her?" asked Albert.
"Perhaps, I mean, I'd like to. Oh Pata! Even you can't possibly dislike her! I'm sure of it, she saved me from her land lord and everything!" replied Harold.
Albert made a noise that made it clear, that he'd easily sort Raquel out, and see if she was really as good, as Harold was making her out to be.
"Fiver says, after she meets me, she'll never want to see you again," he said.
"Done! If I can persuade her that is to give you a chance. Oh God! What if she don't really like me? If she was only being nice? Am I taking advantage?" asked Harold.
Three days went by, until Harold called again on Raquel, reluctantly, as he had spent the last few days, convincing himself that she'd never be really interested in him, not as much as he was in her, not in the same way. He knocked on the door and Raquel answered, looking surprised and pleased to see him, causing Harold to become misty-eyed once again.
"Harold, I thought you'd forgotten," she said.
"Oh no, Raquel, I never forgot you, no, I just thought I'd give you plenty of time, you know, didn't think you'd want me hanging around all the time," he said.
Raquel smiled, but with a little disappointment in her eyes.
"Shame, I could have done with the company. Never mind, I found some things you might like, just this way," she said.
Harold noticed as he entered the flat again, that she had completely unpacked, along with the fact, that she had wanted to see him. Raquel picked up a couple of bin bags and turned to him.
"One's got clothes, the other some unwanted items, all sorts I can do without," she added.
By a happy mistake, Harold's hand took hers, instead of the bin bag. Raquel froze, but didn't look shocked or offended by his hand on hers. Harold however, was waiting for a smack on either side of his face, unless he did something, but his hand seemed stuck.
"I'm terribly sorry," he began.
"Don't be," added Raquel.
It was then Harold realized, Raquel was far from offended, that she did actually like him. Unnoticed, but not unheard, the bag with ornaments and other bits slipped completely from their hands, and Harold and Raquel found themselves holding hands, in the middle of her living room and she smiled.
"I can stay, if you want me to, that is, no pressure," he said.
"I'd like that," replied Raquel.
Harold gently moved closer to her, and they both gave into the attraction. Harold and Raquel kissed each other, at first stood up, then together they hit the sofa and continued. For once, things started to look up for Harold, but he wasn't any the wiser, on how he would get Raquel to meet his father so suddenly, without her thinking he was moving to quickly.
Later, Harold and Raquel were still on the sofa, the kissing had stopped and she was leaning into him, with his arm around her, feeling and looking rather comfortable. Harold had finally thought of a way to win the bet with his father.
"Raquel, there's something, that I should probably tell you, what with us, just being together. I live with my father, mainly because of the business," he said.
Raquel just looked up and smiled.
"There's nothing wrong with living with your family, if you have the patience I mean. It's better than living on your own. What's he like your father?" she asked.
Harold smartened himself up, he had managed to convince Raquel to join him for dinner with his father, who walked passed him, smirking.
"Just because you got her over, doesn't mean that she'll not be gone before dinner," said Albert.
Harold turned sharply to Albert and pointed at him warningly.
"Listen to me, you scheming old devil! This might have started off as a bet, but no more! I really like her and you will behave yourself, or so help me, if you upset her, I shall ring your scrawny little neck!" He shouted.
"Nervous are we? Good! It's always the same, she'll come here, you'll put your foot in it and she'll be off. I've seen it before. I can't believe you're making me see it again!" moaned Albert.
Harold, practically lifted Albert off his feet, as he grabbed him by the shirt and Albert screamed with protest and fear.
"That's because it won't happen again! Because the only reason my birds ever leave, is because of you! They either leave because of something you said, or some how, they get over than and then go all bleeding sensitive, because I'm about to punch your bleeding lights out! Not this time mate! Raquel is different! You will not go out of your way to mess this up!" Threatened Harold.
"Alright! Put me down, you great lump! Never seen you this bad over a bird before, maybe you are in love," said Albert.
Harold glared at him, as the door bell rung. He forgot his father and ran to the door. Raquel and Harold entered the living room. Albert looked at her through narrow eyes, and Harold glared over Raquel's shoulder.
"Dad, this is Raquel, she's having dinner with us tonight," he said.
Raquel again, remained kind faced, and smiled at Albert.
"Hello Mr. Steptoe," she said.
Albert realized that Harold was right, he couldn't fault her, so he went to his other plan, to fault Harold. Albert smiled at her.
"Oh, hello...what's this one called again Harold? You do confuse me, the amount of birds you bring home," he said.
Harold looked furious, but tried to hide it as Raquel looked at him questioningly.
"Really?" she asked.
"No, no, he's just kidding, don't mind his little jokes, bad in taste though they are, please take a seat and my father and I shall get you a drink," replied Harold.
As Raquel sat down on the sofa, Harold dragged Albert by his collar over to the drinks cabinet, as he made Raquel a drink, he hissed, angrily at his father.
"What the devil are you playing at?" he asked.
"Well I can't fault her, the bet still stands, so I thought I'd use a different angle and make her dislike you that way," replied Albert.
"You greedy little swine! I told you, forget the stupid bet! I'll give you a rotten fiver if you just behave yourself!" hissed Harold.
"Ten," whispered Albert.
"What? You money grabbing- it's a fiver or nothing!" hissed Harold.
"Tenner, or I'll say all sorts of things, that would curl even her, lovely straight locks," threatened Albert.
"Do your worst, your not getting money out of me," added Harold.
He walked over to Raquel and passed her the drink he had made, Albert pulled a face as again Harold looked at Raquel happily and she smiled at him, he thought for a few moments.
"I'd watch your drink if I were you misses, many's the time he's slipped a pill in there and had his wicked way..." he began.
As Raquel looked at her drink, Harold shot off the sofa, and turned to Albert, with annoyance and anger in his eyes.
"I've never done such a thing in my life, you dirty old man! Only you could come up with something as perverted as that!" he snapped.
"Harold..." Began Raquel.
"I'm sorry Raquel, really I am, but he's doing it on purpose, I know he is, and I know I shouldn't rise to the bait..." he began.
"Harold, calm down, I wasn't checking for pills, I was wondering what your secret was. I believed you, when you said he's not easy to get on with, and I know you're not that kind of man," added Raquel.
Harold looked smugly at Albert, whose jaw almost hit the floor, Harold walked back to the sofa and put his arm around his girl-friend.
"Thank you Raquel, but a magician never reveals his secrets," he said.
Raquel giggled and so did Harold. Albert didn't know how his trick hadn't worked and was most put out, that Raquel was totally immune to any of his tricks so far. The next thing he knew, they had their dinner and Harold had helped her into a taxi, and returned to the house, with a big grin in his house.
"Right! That's that, she's perfect and you! You! You miserable little git! Owe me the sum of five pounds exactly, with a five pound interest, for the damage you could have caused my relationship," added Harold.
Albert scrunched up his face.
"Get out of it! It'll be five pounds as agreed, here, take it! Although I agree with you, she is perfect, maybe too perfect," added Albert.
Harold had been looking at the money, with glee in his eyes. He then turned to his father, with his hand on his hip, with a raised eyebrow.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" he asked.
"Well, the way she was with me, very polite, didn't bat an eye-lid when you shouted at me, and her voice...she's a toff!" snarled Albert.
"You what?" asked Harold.
He looked highly amused, and then looked at Albert with disbelief, shaking his head and laughing as he spoke, pocketing his money.
"I find myself, a nice bird, who isn't put off by you, and your conclusion is that she's a toff? She's clever I'll admit that, but I've been to her flat mate and it aint exactly the Ritz, with a doorman and Butler," he added.
"Alright then, if she aint a toff, then she's a..." began Albert.
"Dad! You finish that sentence about my bird, and I swear to God, that all of the plates, are going right up your backside. You got that?" asked Harold.
"Fine! But there's something wrong about her, there has to be, no woman would put up with any of that earlier, not unless she's up to something," replied Albert.
Harold rolled his eyes, as he began collecting up the dishes, he put them down again.
"Yes dad, she is, she loves me and she just proved it, especially when you started making comments about what I thought of her figure, god almighty, I though she was going to throw her knife at one of us," he said.
"I'm telling you son, there's something not right about that girl," said Albert.
"Oh give it a rest will you? Me and Raquel are a very happy couple, now leave it at that. You're just upset that you couldn't put her off, at least I hope you didn't...I'll go round and see her," said Harold.
He grabbed his best coat and Albert ran after him.
"You're not going now are you?" he asked.
"Of course I am! What do you think I've got this on for? It aint that cold in here," replied Harold.
"But Harold, it's getting late, anything could happen to you," said Albert.
"Dad, look at the size of me, I'm more likely to be the one beating up people, especially if they get in my way, when I am going to see Raquel, move!" Growled Harold.
Harold walked up to Raquel's flat, who was just combing her hair, almost ready for bed. There was a knock at the door that she didn't expect. She put down the comb, and opened the door only slightly, wondering who could call upon her at such an hour.
"Who is it?" she asked.
"It's only me, just wanted to make sure you're alright, I know my father was far from polite this evening, I wanted to apologize if he...caused...any...offence," replied Harold.
Raquel opened the door, a little more when she heard Harold's voice, which paused a few times, as he looked at her in her night dress.
"Not at all, you better come in, don't want the land-lord catching you at this hour," she said.
The land lord was the last of Raquel's problems. Although Harold and Raquel, thought that everything was perfect, Harold leaned forward and kissed Raquel, who wrapped her arms around him and responded, until the door burst open, and they both turned to the intruder, a well-dressed older woman.
"Mum!" cried Raquel.
Harold slowly and carefully, let go of Raquel.
"What on earth are you doing? And what kind of place is this?" asked Raquel's mum.
Harold looked at her, then at Raquel, whose mother spoke very well, considering her daughter was living, in a working class person's flat.
"Blimey! You kept that quiet, you could have told me your mother was the queen of bleeding Sheba!" added Harold.
"Did I judge you by your family?" asked Raquel.
"How dare you? Who is this man?" asked her mother.
"This man, Mrs. Raquel, is a rag and bone man, who's had your daughter at his house, having dinner with his father, because I thought I was her type, 'til you came along!" added Harold.
"Harold!" exclaimed Raquel.
"Look at her! I can't put on a posh front in order to make her think, that I have your best interests, no point in even trying," added Harold.
"I don't expect you to put on a front! And I couldn't care less what she thinks!" said Raquel.
"Don't you speak to me like that!"
"Oh be quiet, you stupid, old woman!" added Raquel.
Harold couldn't believe what he was seeing, it was just like him and his father, only it was mother and daughter, and they were of a higher class.
"Raquel, you don't understand, we can't be together, not with our parents how they are, they're so similar in their own strange ways it's frightening," he said.
"I can't possibly see, what I'd have in common with the father of a rag and bone man," added Raquel's mother.
Through tears, Raquel was able to laugh, as she silently compared her mother to Albert, who also came flying into the room.
"The downstairs lot told me, said...Oh hello? Who are you? You her mother?" he asked.
Raquel's mother looked at him in disgust.
"Nice girl, she is, but not right for him, too good for him, makes me sick every time I see them, the way she looks at him, like their bleeding soul mates, get of it, lets go home Harold, you don't want to get mixed up with a family like that," added Albert.
He led Harold away, who realized how sad Raquel looked, now that it was over between them, she ran to the corridor, where she watched him leave, from the window. Harold looked back at her, and saw her shout at the person behind her. Albert was waiting on the cart and looked at him, impatiently.
"Harold! Hurry up! It's late and dark!" he shouted.
Harold got on the cart, and didn't look away from the window, until he could no longer see it, and turned around to face the long, dark road.
"I told you she was a toff!" snapped Albert.
He had been looking at the road when he spoke, one look at Harold and his gaze softened, as his son looked as though the world, fell down around him.
"There was something there dad, really, I know she's of a higher class than I am, but you should have seen her face," said Harold.
"Easily missed son, especially with head-lamps like she had!" added Albert.
Harold, slowly turned to Albert, with a look of horror on his face.
"You dirty old man!" he cried.
The pair argued all the way home, Harold continued to defend Raquel's honour, while Albert continued on her obvious, more physical attractions, no matter how many times, he was yelled at or punched and pinched.