Peter Barlow in a pub, drinking himself legless, trying to forget his wife is pregnant and his girlfriend might be. Steve comes in to take him home. Peter introduces Pete, his buddy on the next barstool. “Two Petes,” he says, delighted with his own wit. Steve is not so amused. Especially when they end up sharing a small bed in a small room above the bar so that Peter’s state could be kept secret. Nor when Peter confesses all to Steve: an affair, with their mutual neighbour and Steve’s employee no less, a baby with Carla and maybe another with Tina.
Later at home Peter is trying to conceal his hangover, and we see just how crowded the world is when you’re “two Petes” rolled into one. While reassuring Carla that he is delighted about the baby and that of course he didn’t take a drink, his phone is constantly beeping. It’s Tina, but Peter again blames that poor schmuck from AA.
When Carla goes out the door, Tina barges in. To his horror, she takes the pregnancy test right there and then. He looks like he’s going to be sick. He fears Carla’s return any moment, is terrified Tina’s going to announce she is having his baby and, even worse, is planning to keep it. Sadly for her, the test is negative. He has to conceal his delight. Maybe his pounding head and queasy stomach helped him with that. He puts on his soulful face and tells her it’s not you, it’s me. He’s no good for her, she deserves someone better, she deserves children and rose petals and bluebirds of happiness, and it ain’t me babe, no, no, no. Yes yes, she says, I want you. And your babies. Oh, you don’t want babies? Ok, just you, that’s all I need. We’ll be happy together.
Every cliché of romance and breaking up was voiced and shown by facial and body gesture by both of them. It was superb. My husband speculated that the writers were asked to compile every dumping line they had ever heard in their lives. I added that they also wrote down every word they had ever said when trying desperately to keep someone. All these were strung together and the script was born.
Why Peter just didn’t tell Tina that Carla was pregnant, I don’t know. Maybe he thought it was more honourable to convince her that he was bad for her. Maybe he just thought it was easier at that moment and he’d worry about the next hurdle – the announcement of Carla’s pregnancy – later. Or maybe lying is so engrained in him that, even when the truth could get him out of a bad spot, he doesn’t think of telling it.