(Clock ticks in background)
Only two more days, Miss Stephen, until the opening of the trout fishing season.
(Mary clears her throat)
Is it really?
Of course, for sea trout, it's rather later.
There's tremendous sport to be had on the Dee, even as early as February.
It seems, Nessa, since your poor father's death, that you have been campaigning to put yourselves beyond the pale.
As if removing from Kensington were not enough... there is the question, Thoby, of how your sisters are being chaperoned now you're alone.
I can only spare so much of my time.
By me, of course.
A pillar of the legal profession.
Surely I couldn't be more respectable.
And Virginia's... delicacy?
I'm perfectly well now.
As long as Ginia feeds, and rests.
The goat's no madder than the rest of us...these days.
Adrian! Which isn't sane, God knows.
But will simply have to do.
Nessa takes great care of her.
I understand you are at the painting schools every day.
What your poor father would have thought of this arrangement, I cannot imagine.
Have you ever caught a trout, Miss Stephen?
Thank the Lord insanity exempts me from such nonsense.
Aunt Mary won't rest until she's married you off to some purple squire with a family.
Whatever are you doing?
All the d*ad conversations, d*ad habits.
Tea tables! Why not coffee, for once?
The so ugly piles of linen. Ah...
I've decided, we shall each just have the same napkin until they're too dirty to use.
Or be rid of napkins entirely.
One can always wash one's face. Is that your milk from this morning?
Oh, yes, I must have forgotten it.
If one even cares to wash!
All those years of pleasing Father.
It seems impossible to say we might be able to please ourselves now.
I should warn you, Nessa, that most of my friends are highly unused to females.
There's really no saying how they'll behave in front of you and Ginia.
Thoby, did you really think this evening is a good idea?
Well, if it isn't, there's no need to repeat the experiment.
I want to see my friends.
It was you who suggested it would be ridiculous to banish you and Virginia upstairs.
Well, it would be.
I have no conversation, you know.
Then you must rely on your profile.
Duncan, Thoby is more a brother than a friend to me.
His sisters are reputed to be as clever as they are beautiful. Still, let's presume they haven't abandoned civilisation entirely.
Lytton! Oh, cousins.
You're so tiresomely un-persuadable on that point.
Rest assured, it will be an evening of brilliant amusements.
Thank you, Miss Stephen.
When you come down to it, though, Childe Harolde is a load of posturing nonsense.
This is abominable.
Oh, it has its moments.
You have to give Byron that.
But it can't hold a candle to Don Juan, even if the Alexandrines are forced to breaking point.
Well... Thank you, Miss Stephen. How delicious.
I mustn't leave you out.
Now it becomes clear why you've made such poor progress on your essay, Strachey.
(The others chat in background)
A distraction having him in the house, I imagine.
Mm. Torment, Maynard, of the most delectable kind.
It's not very good. No.
But this is.
I do apologise. Please.
I'd much rather honesty than praise.
Braver than I am, then.
Mr Sargent says all my things are too grey.
I thought I saw you at the painting schools.
Everything's too something for him, isn't it?
Too grey, too tonal.
Too horizontal. Yes!
I suspect what he really means is, too unlike one of my paintings.
Miss Stephen, might I trouble you for another of those remarkable buns?
Of course, Mr Bell.
I like your socks.
I'm so glad.
Your brother loves nothing more than to tease me for my sartorial flourishes.
Mr Bell is a fearful parakeet. Isn't he?
And yet Thoby is fonder of him than all the others.
They're all so unattractive.
Mr Grant's certainly the only one of them one could even begin to imagine marrying, don't you think?
I was unaware either of us were contemplating matrimony.
Just when we're attempting our escape from all that.
Mr Grant has a fine head, it's true.
Yes, probably because it contains a brain un-deformed by Cambridge.
Still, we shall all marry eventually I suppose. What?
Children, Billy. Copulation.
No, really. I know copulation is something like sodomy in Plato...
Surely you can imagine. No!
Yes, on the snout.
Promise... if you marry, you must only marry me.
Just us, Stephens.
Very well, then.
Just us, Stephens.
Ah...looks just like it, doesn't it?
I, er...I know a nice view up there a bit.
Perhaps you might show me.
(Groaning and moaning)
Can it be true what I hear, Thoby?
That you've been holding some sort of degenerate salon?
Hardly! You can't mean our Thursday nights?
A few friends, Aunt, that's all. It's all terribly high-minded.
Oh, hello, Aunt Mary...
How was it, Ginia?
Well, I'm not sure the least thing I said went in.
I mean, the poor shop girls can barely keep their eyes open, and there's a very difficult socialist, Mr Zeldwyn, a Jew I think. He asked the most vexing questions...
You're tremendous, Goat. "Literature for the working man."
The working man?
Well, it's composition, as a matter of fact. Morley College.
You have kept this from me, Nessa.
Virginia, you know you must take great care not to overstrain yourself, to tire out your brain.
Aunt Mary's right, Virginia, you know how tired your brain can get...
Oh, do shut up, Adrian, you're like a feeble little echo!
Smoking? Really! This can't be...
I fear I must speak out, on behalf of your dear father.
He would have despaired to see his daughters...
Father is d*ad, Aunt Mary!
And since he didn't believe in an afterlife, I don't think even he could claim further sacrifice from Virginia and me.
We intend to live in our own way...
Now. All of us.
If that is distressing to you, I'm sorry.
But in that case, it may be better for you not to call again.
Aunt Mary banished! You are entirely magnificent!
Perhaps I went too far.
She's bound now to believe every rumour she hears.
Well, let her. We alone know the purity of our intentions.
Indeed. Chastity shall be our shield!
Oh, Lord. Is it really so late?
Mr Bell's accompanying me to see some paintings.
It's almost French... and yet not French enough, don't you think?
Of course, English painting was only in its infancy.
Duncan says there's something disturbing about Gainsborough's handling of tone, I don't know if you agree. Stimulating though.
Perhaps that's the best thing about him.
Perhaps you could say that Gainsborough is the Turner of portrait painters.
I think you could say anything, Mr Bell. It doesn't make it true.
All of you, talking and talking, as though everything can be talked.
Well, not everything.
I can assure you this has got absolutely nothing to do with me.
Aunt Jane: Good God, Lytton.
Mrs Elvers found it while she was putting away Duncan's linen.
I am dumbstruck. Quite.
Now, you are closer to your cousin than any of us.
Have you noted signs of depravity?
I mean, he's pale, of course... vague. Mother, he's always been vague.
It wouldn't be fair to trouble Duncan's parents until we establish if the tendency is far gone.
I shall consult an expert!
Dr Hyslop. She met him through her work with the Women's Progressive Movement.
He's the head of Bedlam.
Honestly, it's fairly tame, compared to the sort of thing that did the rounds at school.
Well, you know Mother -
13 children, but she remains untroubled by knowledge of anything that occurs below the waist and above the knee.
Still, I'm the more shocked.
Hm. Don't worry, I'm sure Dr Hyslop will confirm I'm fully an invert.
It could be a great deal worse.
Well, no signs of disease.
Your aunt is concerned that your inability to finish a painting may be the result of, um... unclean habits.
Yes, no, I...
I don't know why.
Aunt Jane has quite the...
She has got hold of the wrong end of the stick, truly.
I am not dissipated.
Not in that way.
I, um...I painted myself, when I was young.
Quite the enthusiast... for a time.
It's not so much knowing one is degenerate, criminal even... it's sitting at meals or making conversation and knowing that everything one thinks and feels... what one finds amusing, or important, or beautiful, everything is different from those around you.
And if they knew, they'd think you an imbecile or lock you up.
My dear fellow...
You don't think that's why I can't... why I find it hard to finish my work?
You yourself are unfinished.
At your age, one passes through many phases, and as an artist, many styles, until one finds what suits.
And until a phase passes, the sympathy of true friends is a wonderful thing.
I shall set your aunt's mind at rest.
I wish I could see what it is that so beguiles you.
Some passages of paint... you feel them... in your marrow.
You know what it must have been like to... make that mark.
Painting can be a sort of... physical knowledge.
Thank you for being so patient.
I know not everyone enjoys looking at the same thing over and over again.
I never tire of looking at you.
If you were a painting, Miss Stephen, I... I shouldn't tire of it.
A-ha! Your expeditions with Mr Bell get ever longer!
The collection must be of a size to rival the National Gallery.
I did tell you I'd be out all afternoon.
I'm not sure Mr Bell's intentions are honourable.
I think he intends r*pe and pillage.
Well, you're wrong.
He's proposed, actually.
What could be more honourable than that?
You've finished with your cup, haven't you?
You turned him down, of course.
Thursday nights are going to be a mite awkward from now on.
Really, Thoby, are you suggesting I should have accepted Mr Bell purely to avoid embarrassment?
Of course not!
I don't see why there should be any awkwardness.
I explained I have no desire whatsoever to be married, that's all, to anyone.
He seemed to understand perfectly.
Don't tell me you both drank it without noticing!
Really, sometimes I despair!
I did nothing to encourage him.
Lytton, cake without eating it simply isn't cake.
Art doesn't exist apart from the artefact, human relations don't exist apart from...
Lytton: Come, Mr H, I think you have to concede Keynes' point...
I'm not giving up.
Maynard: Thank you, Goth, I am glad that someone finds it possible to see sense through this morass of ill-will...
Oh, God, cricket! Keep lobbing b*lls for long enough...
Giving up what?
One has to keep hold of painting as the most important thing, don't you find?
You must see you've argued yourself into a corner.
Not for the first time.
Only because you've manoeuvred him there, like the most craven sort of bullies. I'm with you Mr Strachey.
No-one can be with me...
Though I find I'm only interested in theories of painting when I can't actually paint.
Or when I'm miserable. The two often go together, in my case.
Not at the moment, I hope.
It's a flaw in my character.
..You're taking this far too personally!
Mr Strachey... Lytton! Oh, dear!
Well, of all prost*tute, the spiritual ones are the worst.
You mean Maynard?
I thought you two were rather going at it. Hobhouse.
Maynard lacks the imagination even to be a jade.
He's a... safety bicycle with genitals.
The blond boy, the one at Cambridge.
He knew, Duncan, that I'd given my heart.
And I'd have gladly given my penis, but Hobber always claimed he was sworn to chastity.
And they're... It appears that vow of chastity applied only to me.
He and Maynard have copulated freely... have f*cked and sucked all summer.
Of course guilt compelled Hobhouse to write to me about it.
The whole world stinks in my nostrils.
God...I stench in my own nostrils.
Oh, Christ, I'm ridiculous!
No, you're not.
Are they all sodomites then?
Mabel could come in at any moment!
Oh, the shock would do her good.
It's hardly a question of shock.
In the eyes of the law, it's jail and hard labour.
Even if Mr Strachey does prefer to call it "the Higher Sodomy".
The exalted love of man for man.
It makes perfect sense, since they all consider women so thoroughly inferior.
What a bore for them the world must be peopled! Hm.
But really, why should we be content with the scraps from their table?
That's what they do, Nessa. Exclude us.
Schools, colleges, clubs. Orifices!
I don't see why we should concern ourselves with men at all.
I much prefer women. I shall take a leaf from their book - the Higher Sapphistry!
If you prefer.
What does it matter - who puts what where and with whom?
Friendship is the thing.
And not making other people unhappy.
Or even...making each other happy!
I just think strong feeling of any kind tends to go badly.
You of all people should know that. That way madness lies.
You know, the King exposed himself in the bushes... and the birds sang to me in Greek.
Do you think I tried to k*ll myself from grief because Father was d*ad, or because I was so very relieved?
I genuinely don't know, still.
There's no need to say absolutely everything out loud, you know.
I'm sorry I'm so quiet, Mr Bell.
Although you've been unusually quiet yourself.
It's k*lling me.
Three floors of the Army and Navy is enough to finish anyone off.
Miss Stephen, have your sentiments changed at all since my proposal?
Or developed, in any way?
Couldn't we mould marriage to suit our own ends rather than be moulded by it?
Adrian! Success, as you see.
There are more packages in the hall.
Take them upstairs, would you? Put them by the steamer trunks.
I'm sorry, I still don't see the need for marriage.
Is it your sister? I know she needs your care.
My freedom has been so... late in coming, and so hard won.
I value your company, truly.
I have come to... to care for you... as a friend.
Perhaps I'm being unfair.
Yes, I see I am.
Perhaps if you went away, from England.
That might be best, since I'm only travelling myself for a few months.
A year might help. It would clarify both our feelings.
Believe me, I feel for you with perfect clarity.
I am in love with you, Miss Stephen.
But how is that even possible, when we don't really know one another?
Oh, God! Enough!
Women are encouraged to be such idiots in these matters. I hate it.
Shall I put the hatboxes with the others?
Marry... or burn.
You're the full moon of heaven.
Does heaven have a moon?
You'll never love me.
That's not a request, by the way.
Duncan, tell me how you feel.
When I'm not here, you don't miss me at all, do you?
Society may condemn us to deceit, but that only makes it more vital that we are absolutely honest with each other about our feelings.
So... You don't love me. Say it. Say, "Lytton, you mean nothing to me."
But I really am fond of you.
Oh, "fond". One is fond of country dancing or milk pudding.
All this is worthless unless you can tell me the truth.
"You...mean...nothing to me."
All right. You mean nothing to me.
(Call to prayer)
"Dear Mr Bell, I'm so glad you have established yourself in Paris. And from everything you write, so very comfortably. I can assure you my indisposal when we arrived in Athens was no more than that, perhaps due to the heat. As you recommended, I took four glasses of brandy before we got on the train for Constantinople, which rendered the journey a pleasing blur. I'm sure you remember from your university walking tours that Thoby sets a gruelling pace. I only hope that blisters might ensure us all a few days' rest once we reach Fethiye. You have probably heard that Mr Strachey has announced a determination to finish his dissertation once and for all or die in the attempt, and to that end has shut himself away to work. Mr Grant reports that Mr Keynes is in full pomp with his new fellowship, and has declared he longs to share his good fortune with us all. Virginia asks, if you've heard any more from either horse's mouth, to please pass it on. We are starved of gossip. And need it far more than mosquito nets or malaria pills. Even amid ancient splendour, I must confess our Thursday nights are keenly missed. And I trust the rarest French cuisine cannot compare to penny buns dished out by the Stephen sisters."
The doctor on the boat thinks it's his appendix, or possibly malaria.
I can't thank you enough, Mr Bell, for returning so promptly. Nessa!
She needs attention herself!
So I see.
All will be well, Miss Stephen.
"Anne did not share these feelings. She persisted in a very determined, though very silent disinclination for Bath, caught the first dim view of the extensive buildings, smoking in rain... ..without any wish of seeing them better... ..felt their progress through the streets to be, however disagreeable, yet too rapid. For who would be glad to see her when she arrived? And looked back, with fond regret, to the bustles of Uppercross and the seclusion of..."
Not heaven then?
My dear chap.
Do you know... I have the most damnable craving for anchovy toast.
To Thoby, and his recovery.
And to Duncan.
How many paintings finished?
Oh, er, three!
Remarkable! A new epoch!
On that matter... the completion of your dissertation and a far greater accomplishment - your beard.
Do try to savour it, Maynard, it's Montrachet, not ginger beer.
Sorry. I've become rather spoiled by the cellars at King's.
You'll be the same.
Let's hope I get the opportunity.
I don't know what I'll do otherwise.
Hasn't Aunt Jane arranged for you to go to this sanatorium in Sweden?
She has, but I do consider being an invalid more of a hobby than a career.
Thank you so much.
Lytton, you should know... Maynard and I are...
Well, there's no point pretending to you.
While you've been so occupied...
I know you prefer honesty with these things. Feelings and such.
And it's not as though you thought I was in love with you.
You were extremely clear about that.
Another toast then.
That rarest good deed in the naughtiest of worlds.
Saxon, old chap.
What is it?
Oh, God, it's like iron, Nessa.
What are we going to do?
I don't know.
He didn't suffer.
It's what one is supposed to say, is it?
But it's true.
He even had time to... to say goodbye.
Nothing will change.
Everything... Everything will change.
Yes. That's probably what I want, isn't it?
I thought you wanted freedom. I thought that's what we both wanted.
Just us Stephens. Billy Goat.
A husband is not a sister.
He's a parakeet and you agreed with me!
Oh, God, Virginia, we can't always agree!
It just seems... more important than ever... with Thoby, to try, to at least to try to be happy.
And Clive has a talent for that.
Besides, I find parakeets are to my taste.
I didn't know.
But you should have! You should have.
I know what I feel, too much, you always say.
But you - for God's sake, a painter, your work is meant to show the world, your vision of the world.
What use can it be to live as a mystery to yourself as well as to the rest of us?
You might as well be colour blind!
I feel I should thank your Mrs Raven Hill.
For the excellence of her instruction.
Some things can't be taught.
Is it really like this for everybody?
Servants and...cabinet ministers?
Possibly not the Home Secretary.
"I am in heaven here with Clive, the weather is divine, as is the food. The sunsets are a revelation and copulation continues to be a tremendous success. It could only be improved by your presence. Nessa."
Aren't you meant to be resting at this stage?
I have never had more energy in my life, have I, Clive?
You had rather a terrifying amount of energy before, compared to me anyhow.
Have you settled in Fitzroy Square?
Oh, yes, now that Adrian and I are orphans.
Duncan says Maynard's rooms are very comfortable.
Well, he should know, since he's in them most of the time.
You should hear Aunt Mary - "Virginia, all alone in a house of men. Is it a boarding house, or a brothel?"
Surely what it most resembles is a library, which is disappointing.
The best of everything.
There's Clive for you.
You mustn't mind, Virginia.
Your sister's not as intelligent as you, of course, but she's still terribly clever.
I wonder how long it'll take her to discover that Clive isn't?
Oh, I can't, didn't you know?
On account of being cracked.
I'm forbidden stimulants.
I'm glad to see you're flourishing.
I can scarcely believe you've been so good about it.
Maynard and me.
I can scarcely believe it myself.
Come and decide, both of you - is this any good?
Semen, I presume?
Can one really say such things without being thought mad?
Well, human nature has changed.
Among friends, anyhow.
You and I have a chance to be good friends now, Virginia.
How pretty you look.
Of course, Nessa was born to be a mother. She'll adore it.
Not too much, I hope.
I didn't marry her to see her turn into a brooding milk cow!
I'm so happy!
Julian Heward Bell.
I thought he'd be Thoby, but...look at him - there's not a scrap of Stephen in him, he's pure Bell.
I can't tell you how it feels.
The Times Literary Supplement have asked me to write another review.
Oh, Billy, how wonderful for you.
I'm not surprised.
Just in time for autumn plans.
Oh, God, all those years, dreaming of escape, plotting away.
Writing for Aunt Virginia, painting for me.
Plans. And now there's no need!
Don't you just need to carry on now, regardless?
Reviews and...that book of yours will be finished some day... and published to roaring acclaim and you'll live happily ever after.
I feel as though you've tidied me into a drawer.
Oh, dear, are you hungry?
Is that what's the matter?
This is impossible.
Are you hungry?
I'm going to go and sleep in the dressing room.
(Baby continues crying)
Anything I can get you?
They're only suggestions.
You did like it, though?
Virginia, you've written passages of pure prose poetry.
Perhaps a few too many, I've marked the surplus.
Thank you for reading it so closely.
I must confess I didn't expect you to do more than glance at it.
Well, I have the time...
I'm so sorry.
I was snatching an hour while Julian has his nap.
My hands are covered in paint!
Do you want me to bring him down for you?
Oh, no, don't disturb him.
I must go, I'm afraid, I'm teaching.
On the snout, if not too wet.
Yes, English Poetry Since 1750, so no-one has the least interest!
Well, write to me from Cornwall, will you! Dorset!
I hope you looked after her.
I know you know I need the money.
I asked Clive to buy it because it's the best painting I've seen in at least five years.
And he loves it too.
You know I can't lie.
I'm famous for it.
Anyway, I thought Maynard was richer than wotsit these days, with the King's chair and all his stock market things.
I can't live off Maynard for the rest of my days.
It's not as if we're... married.
Oh, hello, Duncan.
Darling, you realise we're expected for eight.
You're coming too, aren't you?
To the Morells?
I did intend to shave.
And I must have a bath.
You certainly must, it's going to be smart.
The Asquiths are going to be there.
The Prime Minister and his wife?
No! It's far too late to make your excuses.
Go and get ready.
And you must shave!
You don't mind, do you, darling?
Since Duncan's an invert?
How is it different, though?
You and Maynard, from being married?
I want to know.
Well, I'm hardly best suited to say, am I?
I suppose... we don't expect the same things of each other.
Loyalty? No, that's something else, isn't it? Loyalty is... a primary colour. Yes. Good.
There must be two others then.
Companionship, I suppose.
Or rather friendship.
Being able to say what one means, anyway, without being thought depraved... or mad.
Loyalty, friendship and... sex, of course.
And the greatest of these is...
At same time: Friendship. Sex.
Thank God we're so much more sensible than our parents with all this kind of thing.
Virginia says... I couldn't borrow a pair of studs, could I?
Oh, of course, Clive seems to have hundreds.
Virginia says that's what led to no end of trouble with their lot - not just madness, but wars and so on.
Naturally she puts it much better.
Anyway, all that nonsense about never mentioning the WC or copulation or anything of that sort.
We intend to bring up Julian quite differently.
We weren't allowed to say WC when I was a child.
We called it...
What did we call it?
Paying a visit, of all things.
Which was rather confusing, given the actual visits people were always paying.
One did rather think of the vicar sh1tting on the drawing room carpet.
The three primary colours.
Surely loyalty's... the most important.
Perhaps you're right.
Just the ticket.
Whose scent is that, Clive?
You must tell me.
Virginia never wears scent.
Virginia? Who is it?
I shan't mind, I promise, as long as I know.
You've been with another woman, your clothes are heavy with it.
It's, um... It's Mrs Raven Hill.
I saw her again, and...
Now, look here, you must know, I don't love you any less.
It's just... the wretched baby.
You know I love the little chap.
But you've been so shut off.
One thing led to another, as they say.
Stupid. I've been very stupid.
I adore you.
You must believe me.
Men have a...weakness.
I'm so wretchedly susceptible to beauty.
My darling... No.
Listen to me. I don't want...
I don't think either of us should be hemmed in... or unhappy just because we're married.
But we have a son.
Our beautiful boy.
And friends and a house.
We must be honest with each other.
If one is reasonable, we can overcome almost anything.
Nessa, you...amaze me.
But you must...end it with Virginia.
Nothing has happened between us, I swear.
Whatever it is, I couldn't bear it.
And neither could she, really.
You know she couldn't.
Where is she?
Julian is showing her the new barn.
You mustn't forget all those wretched hats.
If they're on refusal, it'll cost you a fortune. Ha!
Virginia and hats!
Prepare to be astonished.
Clive, don't be cruel.
Maybe we need to find her a husband.
I'll go and load them up, shall I?
It's Vita's great project - turning Virginia into a fashion plate.
Apparently a five guinea hat is essential if she's to be taken at all seriously... in the public eye.
It must be rather a bore, all this romance business.
Her and Vita.
Well...I can hardly begrudge her a hat or two.
She'll have her fling.
As long as it's my slippers under the bed. I suppose.
You know all about that, I imagine.
I suppose it might just be the price of love.
All: Bride and groom.
Virginia's letter said she finds the climax "immensely exaggerated".
Is it the tool or the workman?
You never speak to me any more.
We speak all the time!
You're still planning to visit us in the country, aren't you?
And Bunny, of course?
Nessa's an absolute saint!
Aren't you lucky to have the devotion of an actual, living saint!
You know, Nessa, if we f*cked, you'd probably find me less irritating.
I wish so much I could make you happy.
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01x01 - Episode 1
Episode transcripts for the TV miniseries "Life in Squares". Aired: July 27, 2015 to August 2015.
"Life in Squares" is a fast-paced drama of the close and often fraught relationship between sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.
1 post • Page 1 of 1
1 post • Page 1 of 1