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    Written by: John Alsop   Produced by: John Holmes   Directed by: Philip East

It's early evening, and Irene arrives at the Fisher house. As Todd lets her in, she says she hopes she's not late. Todd assures her that she's right on time. Irene explains that she had an unexpected visitor... Todd offers her a drink. Amanda holds up the glass in her hand and chips in that Irene should try that. Irene asks what it is, and Amanda explains that it's one of Todd's concoctions. Todd asks his mother if she's game. Irene smiles and replies that there was never a drink she couldn't handle! She takes in the lounge room and remarks that it's all mod cons round there - she's surprised Nat went in for the 2001 look! Todd explains that it's not his father's doing. Amanda tells Irene that Karen organised the redecorating. Irene queries, "Karen?" Todd explains that she's the lady his dad is living with. Irene comments, "At the moment..." Todd assures her that it's stood the test of time so far - maybe because it's a fairly open relationship. Irene mutters, "How convenient..." Todd tells her not to judge her before she's met her. Irene asks if Karen will be joining them. Todd replies that, so she says, but she went out a while ago and, knowing her, if she gets a better offer, she might not be back! Amanda, changing the subject, comments to Irene that it must be strange walking into somewhere that used to be home. Irene replies that she admits she wasn't looking forward to it, but it turns out she hardly recognises the place. Karen suddenly comes in, hands Todd a bottle and tells him to put it on ice. Todd takes it and then tells her that he'd like her to meet his mother. Irene, pausing momentarily, as if deciding what to do, introduces herself. Karen tells her that it's lovely to meet her at long last - she's heard so much about her. Irene replies that it's all good, she hopes. Karen tells her, "Hear no evil - that's my motto!" Todd offers her a drink and she tells him that she'll have her usual. He goes to get it. When he's gone, Karen comments to Irene that she's got him well trained, hasn't she! Irene grimly retorts, "Very..."

A while later, Todd starts to clear the starters away from the living room table and he asks Irene if she enjoyed it. Irene replies that it was lovely. Amanda smiles and comments that it's amazing: nobody's keeled over yet! Irene offers to give him a hand, but he assures her that everything is under control, so they should just enjoy themselves. He goes. Karen is sitting smoking a cigarette, and she tells Amanda that she'll have to put Todd to work in the kitchen more often! Amanda asks what could be better: great food, being waited on hand-and-foot and lovely surroundings. Karen asks Amanda if she likes the way she's decorated the place. Amanda replies that it's great. Karen tells her that the ultramodern look isn't everyone's cup of tea. Amanda says she thinks it's better than having a whole load of antiques round the place - half the time, you're too frightened to breathe! Karen smiles and replies that that's exactly what she said to Kenneth Dawson - he did the designs. Looking incredulous, Amanda asks her if she means the guy whose stuff's in the magazines. Karen explains that they're old mates. She then adds that she'll take Amanda up to this studios one day, if she'd like. Amanda replies that she'd love to meet him. She goes on that, if she ever has a place of her own and has a small fortune to spend on it, she'd use him to decorate it floor-to-ceiling! Karen tells her that, of course, she knew him before he was such a big name - they were quite a pair for a while. She then suddenly realises that she's being awful, holding the floor. She turns to Irene and tells her that they've hardly heard a peep out of her. Irene curtly retorts that it's alright. Karen goes on that she didn't mean to be rude, but Irene has been so quiet that she almost forget she was there. Irene assures her that she's more than happy to sit back and let her do the entertaining; she does it so well... Amanda looks at them, suspiciously.

At the O'Briens', Heather kisses Jeff, who's sitting on the couch, and says, "Thank goodness you're alright." Jeff, looking glum, replies that he should have 'phoned. Mike asks him why he didn't. He then adds that he knows it would have been hard to 'phone after he hit him, and he wishes he'd never done that; they've both been pretty dumb - but with a bit of luck, if they both sit down and talk about it, maybe they'll be able to sort something out, eh? Jeff, though, retorts that he doesn't think there's anything to talk about: he ran away from home; he's just lucky he had someone like Tony to help him get back. Tony, who's sitting in an armchair, announces that he'd better get going, as he's supposed to have tea with the Palmers. Mike thanks him again, and he makes to go. Jeff, though, asks him to come into his room. He goes on that he won't be needing his runners anymore, so if they fit Tony, he can have them. They get up. Mike tells Jeff that there's one other thing. Jeff looks at him. Heather explains that they know about Titus. Jeff just mutters, "Yeah... poor old mutt. No sense going on about it, though." Heather looks at Mike, in shock.

David arrives back at the Palmer house, holding a newspaper. Beryl is just spreading the table cloth over the table in the living room, and she tells him that she's sorry she's late starting dinner, but she was a bit longer at the children's home than she expected. She adds that Kevin and Lynn have gone out to eat. David comments that they may be able to sort themselves out. Beryl says she wishes she could feel a bit more sympathy for Kevin's side of it, but frankly, she thinks he wants to have it both ways. David asks, "How's that?" Beryl explains that Kevin admits he was in love with that girl - Sharon - but he also expects Lynn to believe his feelings for her are as strong as ever. David replies that that sounds fair enough to him. Beryl looks at him in surprise, and he tells her to put it down to experience: even after he got involved with Margaret, he never stopped caring for her. Beryl points out that it didn't stop him moving out of there, though. David tells her that she forced his hand - he doesn't think he'd have been able to make the decision on his own. He adds that it was a pretty rotten choice to have to make anyway; he thinks Lynn would understand Kevin a bit more if he took the time to explain it to her. Beryl says she hopes so. She suddenly picks up the tablecloth and starts folding it up. David asks her what she's doing. She replies that she's changed her mind: they're going to eat in the kitchen - like they always did. She smiles and then walks off purposefully.

A short time later, there's a knock on the back door at the Palmers' and Tony comes in. He says he hopes he didn't hold up the production line! Beryl tells him that he's just in time. He goes and sits down at the table, and as Beryl serves up, he tells her that it's a great meal, as usual. Beryl comments that at least she's good for something! Tony goes on that he's always liked coming there - and it's even better now that she and David are back together. Beryl suddenly looks awkward, and David explains that it's not quite that simple. Tony holds up his glass, smiles and says, "Cheers anyway!"

At the O'Briens', Mike asks Heather if she thinks Jeff will sleep. Heather replies that she should think so, as he's worn out. Katie suddenly joins them, and Heather comments that she didn't realise she was home. Mike tells her that she's just missed seeing Jeff and Tony. Katie retorts that she saw them - she's been hanging around 'til she could talk to them privately. Mike asks what's wrong. Katie replies that she probably shouldn't be telling them this, but when Jeff got back, she could smell alcohol on his breath. Heather, looking worried, asks her if she said anything. Katie replies that she didn't. She adds that she hated telling them, but she thought they should know. She then announces that she's going to meet Luke, and she leaves. Mike and Heather sit down, and Mike exclaims, "Oh boy..." Heather asks what they do. Mike tells her that the last thing he wants is another argument. Heather asks how they get through to Jeff, then. Mike says he doesn't know - it's hard when the boy keeps things to himself. Heather comments that it's like when he mentioned Titus. Mike agrees that he couldn't believe Jeff was so offhand about that. He then goes on that he won't mention anything about the drinking yet, but if he keeps on drinking to solve his problems, he'll have to - they can't let it become a habit with him.

Next door, David asks Tony if his mum's happy down in Lorne. Tony replies that she's a different person now that his dad isn't around to hassle her. Beryl comments that it's shocking to think that nothing short of his death gave her the chance for a normal life. Tony retorts that, yeah, well, his dad brought it on himself. Beryl remarks that it still makes her shudder when she thinks of that shooting. Tony turns to David and tells him that everyone was worried sick about him. David smiles and says he must have been lucky, as he doesn't remember a thing! Beryl snaps that it's not a laughing matter - she has awful memories of sitting outside his hospital room, worrying how she'd carry on if he wasn't there-- She breaks off as she realises what she's saying and then adds, "If you died..." David looks at Tony awkwardly and changes the subject, telling him that he could always stop the night. Tony replies that he's like to, but he's got school tomorrow, so he'd better get back; in fact, he'd actually better start making tracks now. He stands up. Beryl tells him to give her love to his mum. Tony, though, asks her and David why they don't drive down one weekend - they've got a spare room and he can clean out his room if it's any help. Beryl just says they'll see. David goes to the door to see him out. Beryl half smiles, looking thoughtful.

At the Fisher house, the meal is over, and Irene asks Amanda if she can give her a lift home. Amanda replies that she'll just give Todd the glasses she's holding, so that he can put them in the dishwasher, and she'll be right with her. She leaves the room, and Irene finds herself alone with Karen. Karen curtly tells her that she'd like to congratulate her. Irene asks, "For what?" Karen tells her that she means for having the good sense not to say anything in front of Todd about their little meeting earlier. Irene retorts that she still might. Karen, though, says she doubts it: she and Todd are very close and he's not likely to pay any attention to anyone trying to run her down. Irene threatens that she's a patient woman - she can wait. Karen retorts that that may be - but Irene's not to forget that she's she got Todd's father on her side. Irene points out that Nat is stuck in America. Karen tells her that he'd be home tomorrow if she let him know that Irene was around - he'd do anything to keep Todd away from her. Irene coolly replies that she has enough faith in her son to know that, despite Karen's bad influence, he chooses for himself who he will or won't see. Todd comes in at that moment, and Karen tells him to say 'goodbye' to their guest. Todd thanks Irene for coming. Irene tells him that the meal was lovely. Karen lightly comments that it was a breath of fresh air having her there. She goes on that, if they put her beside all of Fisher's medical friends, she'd never have guessed in a million years that Irene was a doctor. She adds, "Isn't it lovely to meet someone so down-to-earth for a change..." Irene looks annoyed.

A while later, Amanda and Irene get back to the Morrell apartment, and Irene tells Amanda that she'll leave her to it, then. Amanda tells her to at least stay for a night-cap. Irene admits that she could do with a soda water. Amanda remarks that, if she's got indigestion, she'll get Todd onto her! Irene assures her that it's not the meal that upset her stomach... They walk over to the bar and Irene sits down on one of the stools. Amanda asks what it was, then: Karen? Irene asks if it was that obvious. Amanda says she thought it was, but she doesn't know whether Todd picked up on it or not. She asks Irene if she's not jumping to conclusions too quickly. Irene replies that, no, she isn't: Karen is the sort of walking, talking, cutie doll that Nat tried to turn her into. Amanda asks whether, just because she didn't want to be part of the social world, it means it's the same for everyone else. Irene explains that it just gets her goat when she thinks of Todd being sucked into it. Amanda suddenly realises that that's the real reason: Irene is jealous because Karen is more of a mother to Todd than she is. Irene snaps that Karen couldn't be a mother to a-- She breaks off and then goes on that, alright, she admits that jealousy is part of it - but she still doesn't like the woman. She adds, "'Karen Fox'. What an apt name." She then says she'll give it a bit of time, but she only hopes Todd wakes up to what she's really like.

David wanders from his bedroom into the lounge room at the Palmers', wearing his pyjamas. He heads into the kitchen and finds Beryl standing there, at the sink. He asks her if she couldn't sleep either, and she replies that she couldn't, adding that she guesses she was worried about Kevin and Lynn. David comments that they're a bit late getting back. Beryl points out that they've got a lot to talk about. She then goes on that there was something else keeping her awake: she was lying there, turning things over and over in her mind. David asks her if she means the things Tony brought up. Beryl replies, "And more." She continues that, the other night, when they had dinner, they were struggling to find things to say to each other; once, they'd talk and talk: what happened during the day... the kids... what needed doing round the house... words came easily; why is it so different now? David walks over to her and puts his hands on her shoulders. She stares at him and they then share a kiss, which turns into a hug. Beryl smiles happily.

The next morning, Beryl is cooking breakfast when David comes in and comments that that's the way to start the day - the bacon smells good! Beryl smiles and says she knew he'd say that! He kisses her on the cheek, but she suddenly looks awkward. David asks her if she's OK. Beryl replies that of course she is, but he must have the same worries as she does. David asks whether she means about last night being a mistake. Beryl points out that it was almost too easy - reliving old times - but it's no use pretending they're any further down the track than they were. David says he thought getting it together for Kev's sake might have changed things again. Beryl tells him that it has - she's been going out of her way to make Kevin feel comfortable: cutting back on her work... playing mum... but it's not going to last forever. David asks her if she's saying last night was an exception. Beryl agrees, "In a way - unless you can accept the change in me." She goes on that the kids will be gone again soon, but she doesn't want to go back to being just a housewife; she enjoys being a businesswoman and she loves her charity work, and she doesn't want to give them up. David comments that he guessed as much. He goes and sits down at the table. Beryl says, "And?" David replies that it means he's got to do some thinking, doesn't it. He adds, "No more mistakes, eh?" Beryl tells him that if they rush into anything now, it could be the worst mistake of all. David nods and takes a sip of his orange juice.

Jeff sits down on the couch at the O'Briens'. Heather take her jacket off the coat rack and asks him how he's feeling. He replies that he's a lot better. Heather tells him that she doesn't think there's any rush to get back to school. Looking surprised, Jeff asks her if she's going to work. Heather replies that she's sorry, but she couldn't get out of it. She adds that Katie's out too, but he'll be alright for a couple of hours, won't he? Jeff assures her that he will. He adds that he's got to do some work out the back. Heather points out that he should be resting. Jeff, though, explains that he's got to clear up some stuff: Titus's kennel and his bowl - they've got to be put away... He suddenly stops what he's saying and breaks down. As Heather hugs him, he sobs that it's all his fault...

Barbara is at the boarding house, in Irene's apartment, Irene tells her that she's glad she called in. Barbara replies that she had some business of Gordon's to fix and she thought Irene would like to know how he's managing. Irene comments that he seems to be taking the bad news without suffering too many ill effects. Barbara explains that the hardest thing she has to do is stop him overexerting himself. Irene tells her that it makes her boil when she thinks of Todd, compared to Gordon: Gordon is busting his boiler in spite of everything, and Todd has been loafing around for six months. She goes on that the trouble is, she's sure that, left to his own devices, he'd be fine - but she's found out that there's a fly in the ointment: Karen Fox. Barbara exclaims, "Who?!" Irene explains that she's her ex-husband's lady-friend; she's the one who talked Nat into subsidising Todd while he sits around on his backside. Barbara asks if Todd hasn't got any ambition. Irene replies that he's interested in boat design. Barbara comments that she doesn't think there are too many openings in that area, but Irene says she doesn't know - there was chap who used to live at the boarding house who was in the boat-building game; it was a long time ago, but they kept in touch. Barbara asks her if he'll give Todd a start. Irene replies that she hopes so - anything to keep him off the streets. Barbara agrees, "Yes, and out from Karen Whatsername's thumb!" She adds that it's worth a try and she asks Irene if she's spoken to her friend yet. Irene explains that he's difficult to get hold of, but she'll keep trying.

Todd comes into the Fisher house looking glum, and Karen asks him what the matter is: was he dumped by a wave? Todd complains that the water was a flat as a pancake. He then goes on that he can't hang round for long, as he's got to pick Amanda up for lunch - not that he feels like lunch, though. Karen assures him that he'll be alright when he gets there. She adds that Amanda is good company - certainly a lot more lively than Irene. Todd retorts that Irene can be fun when she wants. Karen 'innocently' asks what made him look her up. Todd replies that she's his mother; he supposes it was curiosity to start with, but the more he sees her, the more he likes her. Karen just comments, "Oh?" Todd goes on that she's had plenty of opportunity to sink the boot into his dad, but she hasn't tried to turn him against him at all. Karen replies that that's all very well, she's sure, but what happens when his father gets back and finds they're the best of pals? Todd tells her that he'll cross that bridge when he comes to it. Karen, looking at his expression, remarks that he is down in the dumps, and she asks if this happens every time the waves are bad. Todd replies that it doesn't - he's just a bit run down, to tell the truth. Karen says she heard there was a virus going round - maybe he's caught that? Todd agrees that, yeah - maybe he'll have a lie down; it probably is a virus.

Barbara is at the Morrell apartment, sitting on the couch with Amanda, who exclaims that she can't believe it: Wayne was actually telling the truth about the business crashing. Barbara says she's sorry she didn't tell Amanda personally, but things have been a little hectic. Amanda asks how things are money-wise. Barbara explains that she's had to get herself a little part-time job at the golf club to make ends meet. Amanda asks if Wayne has found a job, too. Barbara, looking annoyed, retorts that he has - of sorts: he's a male escort! Amanda bursts out laughing and cries, "You're kidding!" She then asks what the name of his agency is, and Barbara tells her that this will kill her: "Personality Escorts!" Amanda laughs again and says Wayne will have to rent a personality along with his tuxedo! She then goes on that she knows what she's going to do: she'll ring them up and make a booking for Wayne, and then when he sees it's her, he'll try and wriggle his way out of it and she'll have him sacked. Barbara, though, snaps, "Don't you dare." Amanda retorts that it'll be fun - and he deserves it. Barbara, though, angrily asks her if she hasn't learnt anything. She goes on that she knows Wayne gave Amanda a rough time, but her childish behaviour got them all into trouble before; if she can't work out for herself how being petty and silly drives her down to his level, then she's wasting her breath talking to her.

A while later, Barbara tells Amanda that she's sorry if she sounded harsh earlier on, but she meant it. Amanda tells Barbara that she was right. Barbara announces that she'd better get the papers back to Gordon. There's suddenly a knock at the door, and Amanda says it's probably Todd - they're having lunch. She opens the door but it isn't Todd standing there - it's Karen. Amanda asks her what she's doing there, and Karen explains that Todd seems to have caught some virus - so if it's alright with Amanda, she thought she'd step into his shoes and come to lunch in his place - it'll give her a chance to really get to know Amanda. Amanda introduces Karen to Barbara. Karen holds out her hand, but Barbara ignores it. Instead, she curtly says she's afraid she's just leaving. Karen tells her, "Some other time, then." Barbara just mutters, "Yeah, perhaps." She then turns to Amanda and tells her to keep in touch, and she leaves. When she's gone, Karen remarks to Amanda that her friend gave her very short shrift. Amanda explains that Barbara isn't herself at the moment - her family's company has just gone on the rocks. Karen remarks that losing doesn't become some people, obviously. Amanda assures her that Barbara is normally very nice, but her husband's been ill and she's been forced to work - and her stepson - her former creep of a husband...; she shouldn't really be telling her this, but Wayne has had to take a job as a male escort! Karen smiles and comments, "What a come down!" Amanda replies that it is when you think how important their company used to be. Karen asks if it was a big business, then. Amanda explains that it was more like a group of companies; they've still got some valuable holdings, but they used to have their fingers in all sorts of pies. Karen, looking thoughtful, remarks that, until recently, then, the Hamiltons were a big deal. Amanda tells her that she can say that again. Karen, looking intrigued, says, "Fascinating..."

The 'phone rings at the Fisher house, and Todd gets out of bed and answers it wearing his dressing gown. Irene comes on and says it's her: she just wanted to thank him for last night's dinner. Todd replies that it was no trouble. Irene goes on that she'd like to repay him, if he'll let her. Todd tells her that it's alright, and so Irene asks him if doesn't want to hear it. Todd just murmurs, "Sure." Irene tells him that she remembered his interest in boat design. Todd asks, "What about it?" Irene explains that she got on to a friend of hers in the business: he wants to see Todd - it may be an opening. Todd says he thinks she should just forget it. Looking surprised, Irene tells him not to be so slack, adding that he could be turning down a wonderful future. Todd mutters, "Future?" Irene replies that she means a career: doing something he really likes. Todd tells her that he doesn't mean any offence, but he thinks he should be the one to make plans for his 'future'. He adds that it was nice of her to try, and she hopes it doesn't inconvenience her friend, but can she tell him that he's lost interest? Irene agrees that she will if he really wants her to. Todd insists that he does. Irene mutters, "Fine." Todd tells her that he'll probably call her in a few days and he hangs up. Irene looks bemused.

At the Morrell apartment, Karen asks Amanda if the Hamiltons' company was a public company; was it listed on the Stock Exchange? Amanda replies that she doesn't know - she was never interested in all that business talk. She asks Karen why she's interested. Karen tells her that she isn't, particularly - she was just thinking how easily people's fortunes can turn around: big business to an escort agency is quite a drop! Amanda grimly comments that it couldn't have happened to a nicer person! Karen goes on that they have such absurd names, these agencies. Amanda suddenly realises that she's got a ladder in her stockings, and she asks if she has time to change. Karen assures her that of course she has. As Amanda gets up to head for her bedroom, Karen asks her what her husband's agency is called. Amanda smiles and replies that it's 'Personality Escorts'. She adds that, if the customers had any idea of his real personality, they wouldn't have a bar of him...

A few moments later, with Amanda still out of the room, Karen is standing by the bar, dialling a number on the 'phone. It rings and is then answered by a woman saying, "Personality Escorts." Karen tells her that she'd like to book an escort for this evening, please; her name is Karen Fox and she'd liked to be picked up at 8:15pm sharp form 8 Brenton Drive, Calarra. The woman asks Karen if she had a particular type of gentleman in mind. Karen replies that she has, actually - someone who's been highly-recommended: his name's Wayne Morrell. The woman pauses and then tells her that she's in luck: Mr. Morrell is available this evening. Karen says that's good - she'll expect him at 8:15pm, then. She hangs up, a sly smile on her face...


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