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Diary For Timothy, A (1946)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

A radio newsreader gives the latest bulletin: 3rd September 1944 and Timothy is born. The narrator talks of war-torn countries and cities, soldiers march and city roads are rubble strewn. Timothy is weighed. A miner, a farmer, an engine driver and a hospitalised pilot are introduced. All fight for Timothy's future. Home: Arnhem is on the radio, Timothy in the bath, his father away, fighting.

Blackout is reduced. The pilot, Peter, is treated; Timothy is in his pram. Womenfolk listen to the radio with its talk of 1st Airborne, low rations, Nijmegen. In contrast, Myra Hess gives a lunchtime Beethoven recital, which merges briefly with the radio report.

Mid-October. Roofers repair houses. Rain is everywhere, even permeating underground, where miner Goronwy hews coal as Tim lies in his crib. A sequence of activity leads into Timothy's baptism. Peter begins walking again. Goronwy is hurt and a colleague calls to tell his wife.

November. Landmines are cleared from beaches. In foggy London, Gielgud's Hamlet is intercut with wardens calculating flight patterns of V weapons and searching rubble for survivors.

December. Timothy is weighed. The Home Guard stands down. Peter's leg is dressed while the radio plays dance music. The postman brings Timothy's first Christmas card. Window shopping takes place and sheltering women sing Good King Wenceslas. Fog envelops an equestrian statue. A German counter attack is reported. Carols follow and snow heralds Christmas dinner and the toast: "To absent friends... and Tim."

Timothy blows a raspberry as his card is read. Ice-skating gives way to a band playing boogie-woogie. Dancers' legs contrast with Peter's sticks. Big Ben chimes and Auld Lang Syne marks 1945. A Russian offensive is reported as frozen ground is broken, and coal bagged and sold. Snatches of Polish and Russian anthems are played and then John Brown's Body while Peter exercises. Prefabs are built and Timothy, at the clinic, is advised that, paradoxically, life will be more dangerous after the war. Goronwy wonders whether this peace, too, will end with broken families and unemployment and Peter, having boasted of beachcombing returns to his 'plane.

Timothy feeds, the "biggest European offensive since D Day" is announced and bombs and flames are seen. The narrator asks "Are you... going to make the world a different place?"