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Synopsis

It’s Jessie's birthday and Ruth has miraculously found time overnight to arrange a huge party and invite hordes of local brats to their house. Ruth reminisces about her deprived childhood with her miserly and miserable Scots father. Mark acts all concerned about her emotional welfare and tells her in a horribly patronising way that it's OK for her to talk about her father. She replies that she doesn't want to, thanks, but Mark is irritatingly solicitous and worried about her in any case. This gets on her nerves, as she's always had a short temper, and she whinges about Mark thinking she's an emotional cripple to Conor. They share the joke and can't helping laughing at Mark when he comes in and interrupts this conversation asking if Ruth is OK. Alex has his counter-attack letter in his hand, but he has second thoughts about sending it to the Gazette, worrying about that "turn the other cheek" bit of the Bible. His father persuades him to go for it, saying if you don't shout as loud as the rest, people will only hear Ian's voice and they will believe his story unless Alex fights back, publicly and loudly. However, Jeff has his own problems and is off to York to sort out his divorce this evening. He tells Kathy as she sees him with his luggage, and says he'll probably only be gone one night, as that will be torture enough. She is a bit abrupt with Alex in the square, busily thinking about her own divorce. Alex asks her round to talk that evening, and she says she's busy, suggests tomorrow, and Alex agrees, somewhat disappointedly. Kathy is thoughtful in the café and Pat insists on asking what's up. Kathy says it's about the divorce and she had such a nice evening with Phil last night, she wonders if she's doing the right thing. Pat says she'd better talk to him about it, as her solicitor will be getting the signed divorce papers tomorrow morning, so she should talk to Phil or she may regret it for the rest of her life. Pat even offers to look after Ben, for the whole night if necessary, to allow Kathy to spend the evening with Phil. Phil comes in and offers to pay for some new warm clothes for Ben, but refuses when Kathy suggests they go out together at the weekend to buy them, saying she should get them and he'll give her the money. Annie asks George for a meeting at lunchtime and he says he's busy meeting the Di Marcos. She's suspicious, and asks why he'd bother asking them for advice on restaurants when theirs is a flop. George says they have years of experience and may have some good tricks - it's not just about slapping food on a plate, it's showbusiness - the papers do reviews all the time. Annie's mercenary eyes light up and she rushes off saying she has a great idea. George has spoken to Rosa Di Marco and she and Gianni turn up for a meeting at lunchtime. They meet outside the old printers shop, and George tells Gianni he wants advice on a restaurant he is planning to build there. Gianni says it's no good - no parking space and deliveries will be a problem. George says he has sorted both of those out with the planning permission and it wasn't just for his business, he was looking for someone to run it. Gianni points out it took them an hour to get here from the West End, and there would be too much travelling. George says he owns a house opposite which he is renting out, so they could move there. Gianni is reluctant, but Rosa is already sold on the idea, as she's in the George fan club along with her parents-in-law. She chats to Peggy in the Vic, while George tries to persuade Gianni that it's not charity, but a business proposition. Gianni chooses to remain insulted at the handout of a business and house, but when George asks if that means he's turning it down without consideration, Gianni actually relents a little and says he'll think about it. Max and Polly open Alex's letter and are delighted. Polly's pleased that Ian's been slagged off, and Max says it's just what they need to whip up a local storm - there is talk of a paper starting up in competition. Then, Ian appears in the office. Polly tries to tell Max not to take any notice if Ian's trying to stop them printing Alex's letter. However, after Ian's gone, Polly can't wait to find out what went on, until she discovers it was nothing to do with that. Max tells her he had an offer - to write a regular restaurant column for the paper, and it's a fair offer. Polly raises the obvious objections - politics, and Max says that he's already told Ian that, and they will have editorial control in any case. Polly says it's still free publicity for Ian himself. Max says he's got a point, and he is a local caterer so has the experience for the job, and with the paper relying on so many restaurants buying advertising, it is worth considering. Polly perceptively says that this has all the hallmarks of a Palmer's idea, and she'll bet they are behind it. Dot corners Ian and tells him that Alex gets up to a lot of things he shouldn't. Ian asks what, but she won't say. Michael wonders why Sanjay keeps disappearing from the stall and finds out he's gambling again. Sanjay says it takes his mind off things, and Michael says you never see a poor bookmaker. Sanjay says "that's what Gita used to say." Ian meets Brian, his councillor friend, and Brian persuades him that the club is a good place to go because it's the place to make contacts and alliances, and if he is to be a councillor it is worth knowing the people who matter. They go off to the market cellar. Huw and Lenny are less than thrilled to see Ian arrive, and Ian comments it seems OK, except for the bar staff. Annie welcomes him and seems keen to impress him, so she says if he needs a little more persuasion, she'd like to show him something. She has seriously misjudged him, as she proudly shows him the gambling den behind the club. Ian is horrified and says it's illegal, and he never realised she was involved in this sort of thing. She's clearly been a criminal too long to realise the effect this would have on an average honest-ish bloke who hasn't been in politics long. Ian says he will return next door, thanks, hoping the entire event will be wiped from his memory if he leaves quickly! Annie protests that it's only the taxman who objects, and he can't say he's never done a little tax avoidance, so they are in the same boat. Ian is still horrified and says it's totally different. He sees Brian and says he needs a drink, quickly! Brian says he envies Ian - with a woman like Annie behind him, he can do anything. An ugly, common woman appears on Mark's doorstep, saying rudely "Are you Mark Fowler? I would have thought you'd have at least 2 cars in the drive, but you don't even have a driveway." Mark tries to be polite and replies "Excuse me, but who are you?" She belatedly introduces herself as Nicole. Nicole comes in just as Jesse is blowing out the candles on her cake and making a wish. Nicole is almost human despite the bad start, and tells Ruth and Mark that she has a bedsit on the other side of Walford until she gets a job and can get a better place for her and Jesse. She supposes that they read her letters to Jesse, and Ruth replies rather misleadingly that they "don't pry" Ruth is looking daggers at her the entire time, and she leaves fairly promptly and sits in the square like a tramp snivelling away for a bit until Kathy walks past and asks if she needs help. She says a time machine would be good, to go back a few years, but you can't and the past is past. Kathy is supposed to be on her way to meet Phil, and she stands in the middle of the square looking undecidedly at the two doors - Alex's and Phil's, which seem to be conveniently located opposite each other. Possibly influenced by this comment, she chooses not to revisit the past, and instead turns up on Alex's doorstep, although saying she can't stay long as she's supposed to be at Phil's. Mark and Ruth discuss Nicole, saying that they knew it would happen and they told themselves not to get too emotionally involved in the foster kids. However, neither of them are too convincing and they've failed dismally in this respect too. Kathy tells Alex she wishes she and Phil could communicate and Alex says he is puzzled as to why she is there if she is supposed to be with Phil - surely she really means that they should communicate and talk about their relationship. Kathy says there is no relationship, because he can't go out with a married woman, and her divorce will take time, so if they're even seen together within the next year there will be a scandal. Meanwhile, in the Vic Phil moans to Conor that Kathy never showed for their meeting. Kathy gets up to leave and Alex says she can't. She says they both come with too much baggage, and it's impossible, and gives him a quick kiss goodbye. Alex kisses her on the neck and predictably, when Kathy says "no", she doesn't mean "no" and they get into a huge snog.

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