I believe I do have a timeline of events that you might find educational.
In the poem, Jerry tells the audience of the years he spent living with Newt during the war. It was there that Jerry first started writing rhymes, for which Newt would pay him a ha’penny each (on condition that they scan).
Well, since you ask me for a toast…
O Nightingale! O Uncle Newt!
Jerry’s original reason for visiting the shop was to purchase a rubber stamp that could replicate a mark that he shows on his hand. This mark is to prove that he has completed a cross-country run, a task which he wishes to avoid in future.
Hilla says that her father could make the stamp, but questions why he should help a British soldier. When Jerry asks if this is because her father is still sore about losing the war, Hilla responds: “No, Solomon Goldfarb is not sorry that Germany lost the war.”
After more back-and-forth between the two, Jerry comes to the suggestion that he should save his money on the rubber stamp and instead buy tickets to the pictures for Hilla and him.
Vanessa tells Jerry that, once she is discharged from hospital, she will be returning home from her service on the narrowboat.
After first hearing Jerry’s latest poem, for which Jerry is paid his standard ha’penny, Uncle Newt gives him his birthday presents.
Jerry opens a gift to find a kazoo, which Uncle Newt admits he had just found at the back of a drawer.
Uncle Newt encourages Jerry to blow the kazoo, which cues Newt to deliver a “paean of praise” that he has written for Jerry. The paean tells of Jerry’s accomplishments and good deeds while living with his uncle.
Unbeknownst to Jerry, his mother, Vanessa, has taken leave from her war service, so that she can visit. She arrives in the room as Uncle Newt is finishing his paean. She delivers the final word: “Surprise!”
They debate whether or not to wash beforehand, knowing that they haven’t washed for some time. Vanessa claims that it has got to the stage that she can pick out Queenie’s “note” from the other end of the boat.
Queenie asks what sort of note she means, but Vanessa points out that no possible answer to the question would not cause offence. Queenie suggests that “violets” would be an acceptable answer and Vanessa scoffs at her friend’s optimism.
They resolve to wash.
Vanessa undergoes a medical examination to evaluate her fitness to serve the Ministry of Transport during the war.
While the doctor is checking her for fluid on the lungs, Vanessa advises him on improvements to his diagnostic technique.
The doctor refuses to give Vanessa the results of the examination, since they must come from the Ministry. To bypass this, Vanessa immediately requests a second examination as a private patient.
Vanessa is speaking to members of her new sewing circle. They offer her their condolences on the death of her mother.
It transpires that there is some confusion in the group about the identity of Vanessa’s mother.
Vanessa tells them that her mother was Susanna Noone, who had died three years previous from a long illness.
The sewing circle members had been under the impression that Gally Nightingale was her mother, who had died only three weeks previous in a bombing.
Vanessa explains that Aunt Gally, as she calls her, was her mother’s companion. She tells them that, although Gally was like a second mother to her, they were not related.
The group are surprised to learn this, given Vanessa’s resemblance to Gally.
Spencer explains that the SOE communicates with field agents using “poem codes”. The message sender and recipient encrypt their messages based on an agreed upon passage of text. For security, this text must be carried in the agent’s head, but not be something well known generally.
The passages need to be intensely memorable, unpredictable and, ideally, consist of twenty-six words.
Spencer recalled the rhymes that Newt used to teach him in class as memory aids, and thought that Newt could help with this. He tells him that suitable passages were in great demand.
Newt tells her that, if she wants to go away to join a different wartime service, her son, Jerry, would be welcome to stay with him.
They discuss work that Vanessa might be able to do, hoping to find something that fits with her desire for autonomy.
He admits that he has been blind since the war, but never brings it up. Deborah questions how he manages, to which Walter says that his wife, Vanessa, is a great help to him.
As if to demonstrate, Vanessa enters the room at that moment. She says:
“Ah, Walter. There you are. Oh, and Deborah too. You look very cosy over there, dear, in that window seat.”
Vanessa uses indirect comments like this to help Walter place people and objects in the room.
Jerry is auditioning a satirical song that he has composed about “comfortable men”.
When he finishes, the auditioner points out a major snag regarding the object of his satire – the generation above him served in the war, so can’t be said to have never stood up for anything that mattered.
The auditioner does compliment Jerry’s ability to write lyrics that scan, but still sends him away.
The horse driver is indignant that there is nothing he can do to move the horse if it doesn’t want to move, but Vanessa is able to get it moving by first blindfolding it.