I believe I do have a timeline of events that you might find revelatory.
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.
Gally sings the part of “the fellow on the cello”, while Susanna sings as “Susanna on piano” (pronounced “pian-ah”). The two characters are in love with each other, but both are under the impression that the other does not love them.
Vanessa is acting as stage manager for them.
She tells them that the act do not have tab music and that Miss Midnight (Gally’s stage name) would walk off stage if tab music was played.
They protest and ask to speak to Vanessa’s mother, but Susanna shouts from the wings that they are just to deal with Vanessa.
Albert was a renowned bird impressionist as a child. However, when his voice breaks, he can no longer reach the notes needed to imitate birds like the nightingale. So that he can continue to perform, he changes to doing dog impressions instead.
Gally phones Newt to ask him to do her a “colossal” favour by filling in for her at a Midnight & Noone performance in Leeds. She tells him that he will need to play the cello, but will only have one small bit of singing in the Albert Small song.
Despite Newt’s protests, Gally insists that he must do this for her. Gally tells him that he can borrow her clothes, but he will need to buy himself a top hat. (Presumably, this is because his head would be too large for Gally’s top hat.)
Newt is worried that the audience will be disappointed if they are expecting a male impersonator but get an actual man. Gally dismisses this by saying that they will just think he is frightfully good.
Her parents are hesitant, but are somewhat reassured when Gally tells them that Susanna has recently married a Captain Noone and that he will be travelling with them.
Gally’s brother, Newt, has been on the sidelines of the discussion. When their parents withdraw to discuss the matter, Newt asks Gally more questions about Susanna’s supposed husband.
Newt deduces that Captain Noone is a ruse. He tells Gally that the play on words with ‘no-one’ is not as subtle as she might think it is.
Gally tells him that it is too late to change the name from Noone, not least because she and Susanna are planning to rename their act ‘Midnight & Noone’.
The two discuss Gally’s new stage name of Midnight, agreeing that it is better suited than Nightingale given Gally’s low voice. This gives Newt an idea for a song in which Gally would play the part of a man who impersonates birds.
The Nightingale family are celebrating Christmas with a family friend, Monty James.
His son, Oswald, and daughter, Gally, both protest that he should wear the hat. Even his wife, Lettie, points out that Mr. James is wearing the hat that he won from his own cracker. Patrick is unmoved and does not wear his hat.
Gally blames the rip on the large size of Oswald’s head, but suggests that Oswald should take their father’s unused hat. Patrick refutes the idea, saying that Oswald should have taken better care of his hat.
Seeing an opportunity to lighten the mood, Mr. James seizes Patrick’s hat and rips it. The family laughs as Patrick then rips Mr. James’ hat and Gally rips her mother’s one.
Patrick describes this round of hat ripping as “fun in its proper place”.
As the laughter dies down, Gally tells Oswald to let their dog, Toby, out.
At the end of the meal, Patrick reveals to the children that Mr. James is known for his ghost stories, and that he has kindly consented to tell them one now.
Uncle Newt is able to tell her that Susanna Noone was indeed her mother, despite Vanessa’s resemblance to Aunt Gally.
He does go on to say that Gally would have loved to have been Vanessa’s mother, and that, really, she was one of her two mothers in every meaningful sense.
When Vanessa asks what her father looked liked, Newt only says that he never met Major Noone.
Newt is reluctant to do so. In his life generally, Newt has no interest in the required activity and never intends to try it. He remarks that there are other ways of achieving the same effect.
At this point, Gally begins to speak more plainly. She had particularly hoped that Newt would do this for them, so that the kid would be the closest possible thing to being Gally’s own child.
This convinces Newt and they agree to the plan. He asks to be part of the child’s life in the role of an uncle.
Gally begins to explain the practicalities of the arrangement by asking if Newt knows Crewe.