Hello again campers! Let’s continue our journey through 1976. I might get to the end of the year by the time I die.
The biggest drama in these episodes is Gail being cited as co-respondent in the Thornleys’ divorce. This whole sub-plot is an argument for “sex liberation”, as Hilda puts it in a conversation with Stan, as having to prove your spouse has committed adultery with a slutty, slutty homewrecker seems both hopelessly old-fashioned and stupidly sexist. I did a little googling to find out when no-fault divorce became accessible, and it appears to have been after the Divorce Reform Act of 1969, when a two year separation would suffice without having to prove the “matrimonial offence” of adultery. We’re in 1976 here so unless Weatherfield is like Brigadoon and only appears once a century, the screenwriters are fudging the law for better drama. (Although the couple aren’t separated and Mr Thornley is making noises about fighting his wife’s divorce request which would, I assume, be some sort of reason to have Gail involved? I’m increasingly confused and I need to stop myself from reading more journal articles about the history of UK divorce law. I’m nearly 42. I don’t have much time left on this earth.) Aaaaaanyway, poor old Gail gets given the sack from shop owner Mrs Matthews (who, you’ll recall, was also carrying on with Roy Thornley, Sex God).
Mrs Thornley, at the request of Elsie, turns up to discuss Gail’s… well, not exactly *innocence*, but naivete. As you might expect, she won’t have a bar of it.
After that little exchange, no wonder Elsie remarks “t’s not tea I want, it’s a double gin and tonic.” Gail flees with a suitcase but is brought back to the stationer’s for a cup of tea and some comforting words with Rita. This scene is filled with gems, including “don’t come over all dramatic and hard-bitten, it doesn’t suit you” and “take life in little bits, instead of big chunks. It’ll only give you indigestion.” TELL ME MORE WISE THINGS OF PERSPICACITY AND DISCERNMENT, RITA LITTLEWOOD (or as she referred to herself here, “Gypsy Rose Littlewood“)! I AM YOUR DISCIPLE!
Bet, who was soaked by some unimpressive water-pistols of errant youth (more on that below), got semi-undressed to dry off, much to Stan’s delight and Mrs Walker’s horror. She was given one of Mrs Walker’s polyester numbers to wear instead and was not too subtly slut-shamed for her troubles.
The Coronation Street of Things
As you know, I am always on the lookout for a nice prop, and here we see Ken’s blue patterned toaster making a reappearance (with a cute bevelled mirror in the background).
A moment for us all to savour: Hilda put her ducks up on the new wall for the first time!
And not exactly a prop, but some practicality-based Rovers musing: it occurred to me that not only do the loos appear to exist in the exact same spot as Ken and Albert’s downstairs, but there is a dartboard right beside them! Imagine wending your way through an obstacle course of sharp flying objects thrown by drunk people to have a slash! I know English people in the 70s were probably pretty adept at holding their liquor since they were constantly mildly squiffy, but this is surely a head injury waiting to happen.
Salad or Fish?
Albert is dutifully doling out his vegetables from the allotment and has also organised to sell the bulk of them direct to the local Darby and Joan club. Various people are getting lettuce! With which to make DUNDUNDUN – SALAD! You all know how I feel about salad. Ne’er-do-well Eddie rejects his lettuce and radishes out of hand, saying he can’t stand them and that he’s already “bursting with vitamins”. (You see, the lower on the social totem pole you go, the less likely you are to eat lettuce. MY THEORY HOLDS.)
And merely for posterity, here is an immortal exchange between Bet and Betty about a paramour:
“Betty, what were t’name of that fish man what fancied you?”
“You remember, he fetched you a salmon that time.”
“… Bert Goslin. And he was a master fishmonger.”
He sounds irresistible! Who wouldn’t want to go out with a MASTER FISHMONGER?
Stuff Which Is Very Different Now
1. Elsie, in her quest to talk to Mrs Thornley about the divorce proceedings, rifling through an actual phone book! How quaint!
2. Renee wacking some larrikin kids who were touching her stock across the knuckles! Imagine going down to the dairy and getting the bash nowadays!
3. Plus said larrikin kids had the saddest excuse for water pistols I have ever seen. Where is your pump-action super-soaker, 70s UK?
4. Deirdre waxing eloquent about her future baby’s “little brown arms and legs”. a) The chance would be a fine thing, we haven’t seen the sun in Weatherfield for weeks and b) PUT SOME SPF50 ON THAT CHILD YOU NEGLECTFUL MONSTER.
Eddie Is My Muse
Eddie is a constant source of delight to me. Here he is telling Renee that he shouldn’t be gainfully employed because “the vacant jobs ought to go to the most deserving…. You’d hardly call me deserving, now would you?”
What the what?
Finally, this is hella weird: a slow-mo final shot of the naughty kids running to the sound of synths. I had a confirmed-by-Google feeling this is meant to be a reference to Logan’s Run, which was released in June of 1976. Never let it be said this show can’t be topical!