"Brideshead Revisited" A Twitch Upon the Thread (TV Episode 1981) Poster


Cordelia Flyte: Tell me, Charles. When you first met me last night, did you think "Poor Cordelia. Such an engaging child, grown into a plain and pious spinster, full of good works"? Did you think "thwarted"?

Charles Ryder: [chuckles] Yes, I did. But now I'm not so sure.

Cordelia Flyte: It's funny, you know. That's exactly the word I thought for you and Julia when I saw you up in the nursery with Nanny - "thwarted passion", I thought.

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[Cordelia has been telling Charles that she has recently met Sebastian living a dissolute and drunken life in a Tunisian monastery after his lover has killed himself]

Charles Ryder: It's not what one would have foretold. I suppose he doesn't suffer.

Cordelia Flyte: Oh, yes, I think he does. One has no idea what the suffering may be - to be as maimed as he is. No dignity, no power of will. No-one is truly holy without suffering.

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[Bridey has just announced his engagement to Beryl Muspratt, a widow with three children. Julia asks why he hasn't brought Beryl to Brideshead to meet her]

Lord Brideshead 'Bridey': [pompously] You must understand that Beryl is a woman of strict Catholic principle, fortified by the prejudices of the middle classes. I couldn't *possibly* bring her here. It is a matter of indifference whether you choose to live in sin with Rex or Charles or both - I have always avoided enquiry into the details of your ménage - but in no case would Beryl consent to be your guest.

Julia Mottram: Why, you pompous ass!

[Julia walks out of the room, holding back tears]

Charles Ryder: Bridey! What a bloody offensive thing to say to Julia.

Lord Brideshead 'Bridey': [coldly] It was nothing she should object to. I was merely stating a fact well known to her.

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[Bridey has just deeply offended Julia by referring to her affair with Charles as "living in sin"]

Charles Ryder: Darling, what is it? Why do you mind? What doe it matter what the old booby says?

Julia Mottram: [sobbing] I don't. It doesn't! It's just the shock. Don't laugh at me.

Charles Ryder: How *dare* he speak to you like that? Cold-blooded old humbug.

Julia Mottram: No it's not that. He's quite right. They know all about it, Bridey and his widow - they bought it for a penny at the church door. All in one word - one little flat word that covers a lifetime. "Living in sin". Not just "doing wrong", as I did when I went to America, doing wrong, knowing it's wrong, stopping doing it, forgetting it. That's not what they mean, that's not Bridey's pennyworth.


Julia Mottram: He means just what it says. *Living* in sin - every hour, every day, year in, year out. It's always the same. It's like an idiot child, carefully nursed, guarded from the world. "Poor Julia," they say, "She can't go out. She's got to take care of her little sin. It's a pity it ever lived, but it's so strong. Children like that always are. Julia's so good to her little mad sin." All those years when I was trying to be a good wife, in the cigar smoke, when I was trying to bear his child, torn in pieces by something already dead. Putting him away, forgetting him. Finding you - the past two years with you, all the future with you or without you. It's a word from so long ago - Nanny Hawkins stitching by the hearth and the nightlight burning before the Sacred Heart. Me and Cordelia with the Catechism in Mummy's room before luncheon on Sundays. Mummy carrying my sin with her to church, bowed under it. Mummy dying with my sin, eating her more cruelly than her own deadly illness. Mummy dying with it. Christ dying wit,h it nailed hand and foot, high among the crowds and soldiers. No comfort except a sponge of vinegar and the kind words of a thief. Hanging forever, over the bed in the night-nursery. There's no way back - the gate's barred. All the saints and angels posted along the wall. Thrown away, scrapped, rotting down. Nameless and dead. Like the baby they wrapped up and took away, before I had chance see him.

[she dries her tears on Charles's handkerchief and walks away]

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[gossiping about Bridey's new fiancée]

Julia Mottram: I met The Widow at luncheon.

Charles Ryder: [intrigued] Did you?

Julia Mottram: Do you know what she said to me? "So you're divorcing one divorced man and marrying another? It sounds rather complicated. But, my dear" - she called me "my dear" about twenty times - "I've usually found that every Catholic family has one lapsed member, and it's often the nicest."

Charles Ryder: What's she like?

Julia Mottram: Majestic. And voluptuous. Common, of course. I'll tell you one thing: she's lied to Bridey about her age. She's a good forty-five - I don't see her providing an heir. Bridey can't take his eyes off her: he was gloating on her in the most revolting way all through luncheon.

Charles Ryder: Was she friendly?

Julia Mottram: Goodness, yes, in a condescending way. I think it put her rather at ease to have me there as the black sheep. She concentrated on me, in fact. She said, rather pointedly, that she hoped to see me often in London. I think Bridey's scruples only extend to her sleeping under the same roof as me. Apparently I can do her no serious harm in a hat-shop or a hairdressers. And the scruples are all on Bridey's part, anyway.

Charles Ryder: Does she boss him?

Julia Mottram: Not yet... much. He's in an amorous stupor, poor beast, and doesn't really know where he is. She's just a good-hearted woman who wants a good home for her children, and isn't going to let anything and in her way.

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