This play is about a family who all talk about Rafe. Because Rafe even comes up on stage we already get an opinion of him that he doesn’t like to see anyone enjoying themselves. Because while he’s at work everyone else is at home watching television and doing what they want. Daisy, Rafe’s wife is always worrying about money. She says “it’s for his peace of mind”. “Rafe always likes to come home to everything spick and span”. Harold asks what are we having for dinner, Daisy says “fish, Rafe has always liked fish on a Friday”.
Betsy Jane the next door neighbour comes round and is talking to daisy about money and houses and Betsy Jane says that all the neighbours “they envy you and your nice home”. Then Betsy Jane hurries off after borrowing five pound off daisy. Harold is smoking in the room and sat in dad’s chair. Florence is warning him “I’d like to see you if he comes in and catches you in his chair and stinking the room with your fags”. Harold “that little word if”. Hilda’s just got home from a party “oh, I had a good time! ” (She’s had spring and port wine). Harold is telling her to be careful “be careful your dad doesn’t hear you”.
Hilda “he’s not home yet”. Harold, Florence and Hilda are talking about tea and what there having. Harold is saying how they always have to wait for there dad to come home, he say’s “what I say is let’s all sit down and start tea right now”. Florence “I’d like to see the day when you dare”. When Rafe comes home from work the first thing he does is turn the television off. Hilda and Harold are talking about the news and Rafe picks up the family bible. “You may question every fact in this holy book, but who dare say every word isn’t god’s truth! When Rafe is collecting there house keeping Harold tries to keep a pound back from Rafe but he realises and say’s “I’m not one of them lad, you know one of them you seem to take me for! ” Rafe putting the money, book, collar and tie on the sideboard, “money can be a good servant but a very poor master. So always have it right”. They start tea and Hilda say’s “mum, I really don’t fancy my herring if you don’t mind”. Hilda was going to have an egg instead, but Rafe won’t let her “is there something wrong with your herring, that’s a lovely fresh herring, and you say you don’t feel like it”.
Hilda tries to leave the table. Rafe “pigs leave there troughs when it suits, but not civilized human beings”. Harold “what a scene like that over a herring? He must be mad”. Rafe has just bought a new coat and they are talking about it behind is back. Hilda “I think it would have become him better to have paid a bit less, and bought a new coat for mum”. Daisy “I don’t need a new coat. Anyway I could have one tomorrow if I asked him”. Harold “if he had a couple of gumboils he wouldn’t give you one”. This gives the audience the impression that he is tight with his money and doesn’t share much.
Arthur comes home from work and is mucky. Rafe “never be ashamed of a bit of honest dirt”. Arthur sees his new over coat “that looks a gradely bit of top coating”. Rafe “always buy the best if you can afford it, you won’t go far wrong”. The family are talking about work and jobs and Arthur may be getting promoted but he needs to be married. Arthur “Mr. Aspinall is going to promote a worker but a married one”. Rafe “if you take things laying down in this life, and every upstart will trample over you”. Arthur wants to marry Florence and she wants to work as a teacher but Rafe doesn’t like that idea.
Rafe “I’d certainly never let a wife of mine go out to work”. Rafe and Arthur are talking about the wedding and Arthur wants to get wed as soon as possible so he can have the job, but Rafe doesn’t like that idea. “If you’re the lass I think you are Florence, you’ll tell mr Alf Aspinall when a Crompton gets married they choose the time not him”. Hilda has had some spring and port wine and is upset over her dad been mean and say’s “it’s our rotten old father, its mr bighead Crompton”. Florence “yes, because you’re farther cares for you”. Hilda “he cares for his bloomin’ self”.
Wilfred “no I think he honestly cares”. In act one Hilda wouldn’t eat her herring and that is why she was upset with her dad, but it has been bought back up again in act two. Daisy “you know your dad once he has set his mind on something, it takes a bit of shifting”. Rafe had told Hilda she had to eat the herring no matter what and she would be served it every meal time until she ate it. But Rafe is talking to daisy about it and is not going to make her eat it. “She mustn’t get the idea in her head she’s bested me”. When it comes to tea time the herring goes missing and Rafe thinks its Wilfred.
Rafe “I’m going to ask you a question. All I want to know is the truth”. Rafe is making Wilfred swear on the bible. “I never turn back once I start something”. Wilfred passes out and when he comes round he tells his dad he did give the herring to the cat. Rafe “It’s all right now you’ve told me. We’ll not mention it any more”. Arthur “you want to crush the spirit out of everybody who doesn’t agree with you. You’re a bully”. Earlier on in act two Daisy got Betsy Jane to open Rafes desk and also to porn his new over coat, for some money to give to Hilda to go to London. Now Rafe has found out.
Don’t you realize that I love you for what you call your faults? I haven’t made you go in fear of me have I lass? ” Daisy “a bit, your standards are too much for me”. Rafe “I don’t care a bloody damn about the coat or the desk, all I care about, all I’ve ever cared about is you and our four children”. “My poor mother hadn’t a day’s peace from bailiffs and tallymen. Every knock on our door was a threat”. Daisy “you never told me, dad”. “I’ve never been one to seek pity”. Daisy “yes, I felt there was something”. “Now you know why I am so obsessed with the truth, I know it’s an obsession but I just can’t help it.
I’ve never told you this before, but I came home from school one dinner time and there were two bailiff chaps sitting in our front room playing cards, and when I went through into the back kitchen there was my mother, and she was trying to gas herself at the gas stove”. By now the audience have changed there opinion of Rafe from a mean, tight, killjoy to a loving caring man who just wants to take care of his family the best he can. Later on Rafe is kinder toward people and a little light hearted. Rafe “it’s better to marry than to burn. Don’t mind the cost Arthur. I can pay for it”. Hilda is set on leaving home. Rafe “leave home, eh?
I envy you. I only with I could leave home”. Rafe talks about the way he has been coming home from work and has got to the top of the road and wanted to turn the other way. The audience know that this is not true as he is trying to make them feel guilty for wanting to leave home. Then he goes on to tell them about what they all do that they think he doesn’t know about. Rafe “mother, with that frozen look of honesty she put on her face after the last minute fiddling of the house keeping accounts”. Now the audience know in the end he’s not as bad as they thought to begin with, but he is a nice, kind, loving and caring father and husband.