Felix has dementia

Four friends in Newcastle have the strands of their lives interwoven with the political and economic events over three decades. Superficially it’s a nine hour film about housing, but it’s much more than that.

The Labour Party, corruption in public life and housing, the rise and fall of T. Dan Smith (Mr Newcastle), John Poulson and Reginald Maudling, sleaze in Soho, corruption in the Met, the Tories rise to power, the violence and politics of the Miners’ strike in 1984 to name but a few of the political events covered.


PLOT SUMMARY BY CHAPTER – 1987


C1. Felix’s dementia is worsening. Tosker has become slum landlord with money borrowed from the Masons. Nicky and Mary have stopped having sex. A Phd student called Alice comes onto him in London at his book signing.

C2. Nicky runs into Geordie down and out while photographing homeless people in London. Nicky and Alice have a fling. Tosker takes Elaine to Valley View and tells her he’s selling the doss houses and setting up a right to buy mortgage company instead.

C3. Nicky visits Eddie at the Houses of Parliament. Colin Butler is selling access to MPs. Alice and Nicky continue their fling. Mary visits Tosker and Elaine who tells her about Tosker’s property ideas. Mary explains why it’s a really bad idea for the residents.  Joyriders in Valley View.

C4. Christopher Collins is shot by Police. Felix doesn’t recognise his own son. Claudia Seabrook makes political capital out of the shooting at Valley View. Felix is moved to a care home. Eddie wants Nicky to expose bent MPs, he isn’t interested. Elaine and Tosker argue about money. Nicky’s homelessness photos appear in the Observer. People call to congratulate him, including Alice. Mary took the calls, “Who’s Alice MacDonald?” she asks.

C5. Mary wants to know why Nicky is in London so much. Alice dumps Nicky. He goes looking for Geordie but doesn’t find him. Throws his camera against a wall in frustration at the loss of Alice. At a hostel Geordie sets his mattress on fire. Nicky follows Colin Butler and finds out he’s sleeping with Eddie’s assistant, then warns Eddie. Geordie gets life for setting fire to a mattress.

C6. Eddie has retired at 65. Ill health. Mary argues with Nicky and throws him out. Tosker and Elaine are wiped out by a stock market crash having put all their money into shares on Elaine’s advice. Nicky is living in a London hotel. It’s the night of the 1987 storm.


NOTES AND COMMENTS – 1987


C1. How much longer?

Felix and Florrie have been up and down the same street twice looking for his parents house, and it’s the wrong street. But she’s humouring him. He’s still carrying the (empty) suitcase from the hospital. Nicky turns up.

“Me Dad’s got Alzheimers. He needs proper care.”

Felix is in some kind of museum with old products. Presumably to relate to his childhood. Nicky is trying to rationalise his conversation but it just leads to trouble. Felix calls him useless.

Tosker has borrowed money from the Masons to invest in rented property. He’s now visiting some of it and Elaine is with him. She’s not impressed at being married to a DHSS landlord given what she can see with her own eyes.

Tosker’s in a run down house, Elaine comes in too. The tenant has drowned herself in the river. The social worker is not impressed with Tosker’s attitude. Nor is Elaine.

Nicky and Mary are in bed and Mary is on the phone talking council business. Cuts. Much like today (2017). Anthony and Barbara have a baby. “Since then you haven’t been near me” says Mary. “Seems to me you don’t want to come near a Grandma”.

Nicky is signing books in London. A Phd student is next.

“Could it say to Alice McDonald?” asks Alice.

She follows him home in the evening and hassles him into letting her be his assistant. She is persistent, she offers to carry his bag. He tells her to write to the publisher. But she won’t leave it alone, she hangs around while he photographs people at the Bullring. She’s a first year photography student doing a dissertation.

C2. Down and Out

He gives her his bag and carries on photographing. Unfortunately the next person to come by is Geordie in a bad way who tells him to **** off.

Nicky recognises him and goes to talk to him. He tells Alice to go home and takes his bag back, but she doesn’t. Nicky tries to help but the woman with Geordie rejects the help and Nicky gives Geordie some money.

“I’ll come back tomorrow morning ok?” says Nicky. He does but Geordie isn’t there.

Nicky and Alice are in a bar. She is smoking.

They sleep together. Nicky leaves her in bed and goes back to the “Bullring” but Geordie is not there. Back at his room Alice has gone but he’s having flashbacks to them shagging, doggie style.

Tosker drives into Valley View with Elaine. “What have you brought me to Valley View for?”

He pays some kids to look after the car.

“Terry you can’t leave the car here, they’ll use it for a ram raid!”. Elaine warns him.

“I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided to get rid of the doss houses.” replies Tosker.

He’s come to Valley View because he wants to offer 100% right to buy mortgages. No questions asked. They default and he cleans up. They are homeless. He’s been talking to Alan Roe, of the scabs during the miner’s strike.

He pays the lads, drives off and there is “**** off” painted on the boot lid.

C3. Robbers’ Cave

Nicky is talking to Eddie in a bar at Westminster. Colin Butler is running a PR company selling favours to people willing to pay to alter legislation and get access to politicians. Austin Donohue got four years for doing much less.

“Does not scripture say my house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations but you have made it a robbers’ cave?’” says Eddie loudly.

“Jesus Christ” says Nicky. “Exactly” says Eddie. “Mark’s gospel, Chapter 11, verse 15.”

Lobby groups. Eddie tries to get Nicky interested in covering it.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/06/lobbying-inquiry-registrar-parliamentary-secretaries

Alice is on top of him in bed asking him what he wants. “Do you want it like last night again?” “You can do what you want” “We can do what we want” “Tell me what you want” and she leans forward and kisses him.

Meanwhile Mary is with Tosker and Elaine, wondering where Nicky is.

Tosker has gone out for something, in the meantime Elaine tells Mary about Tosker and his businesses, as she sees it. Elaine tells Mary he’s setting up a mortgage company to lend money to people who want to take advantage of right to buy. Mary being deputy council leader sees it from a different point of view.

“He’s selling all the doss houses you know” says Elaine.

“Him and Alan (Roe) have got a new idea”. “They’re creating a company for people wanting to buy their council houses.” Mary gives a sidelong glance of dismay and sighs. “Hmphh”.

“Well I believe in freedom of choice” says Elaine.

“So do I” replied Mary “Let those who want to buy, buy. Let those who want to rent, rent, but what will they rent if I’ve sold all the council houses?”

“Well, why not use the proceeds to build more council houses?” says Elaine.

“Because a) I have to sell them dirt cheap, and b) I’m only allowed to use half the proceeds to build replacement houses.” replies Mary. “The other half has to finance a reduction in the rates.”

“Well it’s freedom of choice for those who can afford to buy” says Elaine.

“Yes, exactly!” replies Mary “If Alan Roe thinks the down wave’s coming why are they putting money into council house sales?”

“I don’t know” replies Elaine.

“It’s not a new idea. Various companies in the South have set up to do the same. Either way they make a lot of money. If the house price boom continues they make money charging high interest to people who wouldn’t get a mortgage on the high street. If the bubble bursts and people can’t keep up the repayments, they repossess them.”

“Then they’ve got their hands on property at rock-bottom prices, paid for by the rate-payers!” continues Mary.

“I would think that’s what Alan Roes banking on, wouldn’t you?” asks Mary.

Elaine’s face is a picture.

“At least Austin Donohue actually built the houses he made money out of.” ends Mary.

Tosker returns. “Everything ok?” he asks, returned by Elaine with a face like thunder.

Change of scene – a stolen Range Rover is being badly driven chased by a police car with Anthony in the passenger seat, into Valley View.

“Is Valley View still a no-go area, even in daylight?” asks Anthony on the police radio.

“Do not go into Valley View. I repeat, do not go into Valley View. (Siren stops).

The police car stops short of the viaduct (entrance to Valley View) and the Range Rover reverses towards them and the passenger taunts them then produces some kind of gun. It’s not clear what it is but looks like a rifle.

Mary gets home and puts on the answering machine. While she is listening to the messages Nicky comes home and says “sorry”. There’s an incident at Valley View involving a gun. It’s Christopher Collins. There are lots of police on the estate and a helicopter. Felix is still wandering around carrying his suitcase.

C4. Shooting

A gunshot is heard on Valley View. Felix tears off on his own. Christopher Collins has been shot and is now in an ambulance.

Nicky returns Felix to the bungalow.

“Who are you?” says Felix to Nicky. His wife looks on in bemusement.

“I can’t cope with him anymore.” says Florrie. Nicky hugs her.

Claudia is being interviewed at Valley View the morning after.

“There are of course a number of causes leading to an incident like this, but what is surely apparent, after one makes all the allowances one should, is that this estate is facing a breakdown in law and order.” Claudia.

Mary tackles her about her statement in view of the fact that the Tories are cutting money to councils.

Felix is moved to a care home. He sits down in the common room. Florrie and Nicky leave.

At Westminster Eddie Wells is counting the number of bent MPs. Nicky is cynical about it. He has a go at Eddie and that’s it.

Elaine and Tosker are having a row. The conversation with the flying plates. Later, sitting in a living room surrounded by broken ornaments. She doesn’t want to be just a wife. She wants to be included in decisions. So she advises him to buy stocks and shares. Let the money work for us. (Ha, ha, that ended well).

“What I want to do is go back into showbiz” says Tosker. “Karaoke”.

“Put all the money in shares for now and then you and me will go on a second honeymoon and sort things out.” “If you ask me these are both sound investments.” says Elaine confidently.

Observer – Homeless – Nicky Hutchinson’s new and shocking photographs.

Nicky and Mary are in bed.

“What’s all this?” he says looking at a notepad.

“People who called to congratulate you on this” replies Mary. “It’s extraordinary Nicky.”

“Like pictures from another planet or something.” continues Mary.

[I remember walking through the bullring at Waterloo, and under Blackfriars Bridge, it was horrible, and unbelievable. Whenever the Tories are in power the number of rough sleepers rise.]

“Who is he?” asks Mary about a photograph.

“I don’t know” replies Nicky. It’s Geordie.

Alice MacDonald called too. Oh dear. At least Mary doesn’t know who she is.

“Who’s Alice MacDonald?” Whoops.

“She’s that student I told you about” replies Nicky. “The one who’s doing the dissertation.”

C5. Let’s be Honest

They walk by the sea. Mary asks why he’s spending so much time in London. He tells her he’s digging for Eddie. She say’s that’s not what Eddie says,

“I speak to him twice a week Nicky”. says Mary.

“Look, me and Eddie had a row, but he’s wrong, I’m still digging for him.” replies Nicky.

Mary is aware something is wrong but doesn’t know what to do to fix it. She questions whether he needs to return to London.

Back in London he’s with Alice again. She dumps him one evening without staying the night.

“I know you think you’re in love with me” Alice.

“I am in love with you.” Nicky.

[It’s a real shame. He spent more and more time in London, ignoring his wife, then Alice dumped him anyway. It’s a horrible storyline. It took him twenty years to get the girl he wanted when he was twenty and he’s thrown it all away for a quick shag with a student.]

Nicky goes looking for Geordie but doesn’t find him. At the Bullring he throws his camera against the concrete wall and it breaks.

In the homeless hostel Geordie isn’t having much better luck. An argument over the TV leads him to set his mattress on fire. He was trying to watch Eddie on TV talking about a select committee to expose lobby group corruption. Another guy wanted the football results. It seems a little unfair. He hasn’t even got his own room. He’s got a partitioned space with a curtain. It’s just a dormitory.

[I can’t believe that a) Geordie and Daphne went wrong and b) that Nicky and Mary breaks down so quickly. It really sucks. But that’s just me being sentimental.]

Nicky is visiting someone in a block of flats by a lift. Where? He’s visiting Francine, Eddies assistant. He catches Colin Butler coming out of the lift to see her.

“You bitch.” Nicky says to her, and leaves.

He’s in time to warn Eddie off at the Select committee meeting. Eddie can’t ask anything because he’s been stiched up by Colin Butler and Francine.

Geordie is guilty of arson. He is being interviewed by a lawyer. He has a social worker beside him.

“A gang of us set fire to this guy once.”

“When was this Geordie?” asks the concerned social worker.

“Bonfire night.” replies Geordie. Laughter.

The judge. “A merciful sentence of life imprisonment.”

C6. Life

“I didn’t know you could get life for setting fire to a mattress”, says the prison officer.

Eddie has retired at 65. Ill health. Eddie suggests Mary goes for his seat. She says no. Mary gets angry at being accused of not being willing to do it.

“Why does it matter to you so much?” asks Mary.

“It matters to me because in 10 years time you could be leader of the Labour party.” replies Eddie.

“I’ve made me decision.” continues Mary.

Mary argues with Nicky and in the course of a row throws him out. Nicky ends up in London goes looking for Alice. He walks into her local. He tries to be friends but they politely fend him off. They are all much younger than him. She didn’t even finish her dissertation.

“I decided to do something else.”

“I’ll go then shall I?”

“Yes please”.

And it’s over.

He walks through the Bullring, again.

Then there’s a stock market crash. £50 billion knocked off shares. So that’s Tosker and Elaine wiped out. They’ve lost all their money. Elaine accepts responsibility for poorly advising him.

“Just have to start again” says Tosker / Terry. He buys an interest in a boat under the Tyne bridge opposite the Guildhall.

Nicky is sitting in what? A hotel suite in London perhaps. Mary calls.

“I thought it was about time we talked.”

It’s the night of the 1987 storm and some prisoners are in transit in a Transit that is block by a fallen tree. Several escape but Geordie climbs back in. Michael Fish is shown on TV again, the same old clip.

Nicky is failing to answer Mary’s questions about their relationship.

[This is being cut between four different scenes. 1) Tosker and Elaine 2) Eddie dying outside Parliament, 3)Nicky and Mary, 4) the prisoners in transit.]

Poor old Eddie. In a gale outside the HoP his papers blowing everywhere he dies in the road. October 21st 1987

End of 1987.

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