26, 31 May, 2 June – “Being husband and wife, we’re psychotic.”*

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*Malapropist Hilda, trying to tell the assembled faithful at the Rovers that she always knows what Stan is thinking

The trials and tribulations of Ken Barlow continue apace during this trio of episodes which centre around the Bank Holiday street party he organises as Community Development Officer. Most of the street’s residents are mildly cynical about the party but help out with resigned good cheer.

Is Coronation Street above using Gail's bum as an outro shot?

Is Coronation Street above using bunting-hanging Gail’s bum as an outro shot?

The answer is no. No, it is not.

The answer is no. No, it is not.

The party is – as one might expect – equal parts grimly unfestive and unwittingly amusing. Never has so much bunting been used to so little effect. The two “stars” of the proceedings – an old pal of Stan’s who bills himself as an “escapologist”, and the local Labour MP – are both ridiculous for different reasons. The escapologist, who manages to extricate himself from locked chains and a sack, but winds up pie-eyed and unable to escape from the ladies loos in the Rovers, was a fairly extraordinary sight, but no less so than the MP, whose speech to the assembled and disillusioned throng centred – I kid you not – around a likeness he once received from his unemployed grandfather of former Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald fashioned from a piece of coal, with the exhortation to “remember!” (What does this mean? Remember the labour movement? Remember not to betray the working classes? I can’t work it out, but I’m struck once again by the strangeness and wonderfulness of these sorts of sentiments, no matter how mockable or confusing, being expressed on a soap opera.)

Local MP addresses the street, to a smattering of applauses and rather more boos.

Local MP addresses the street, to a smattering of applause and rather more boos.

The escapologist also inspires Stan to wrap himself in chains and a sack, assuming he can win five quid by escaping from them himself. Cue the inevitable: Stan lying sadly in the doorway of the Rovers, wrapped in chains, while Hilda alternates telling everyone off with scoffing trifle.

Stan in chains.

Stan in chains.

I am saying nothing about whether his chains are metaphorical as well as literal.

I am saying nothing about whether his chains are metaphorical as well as literal.

By the time these three episodes of partying (Punch and Judy! A teeny tiny carousel! A lone morris dancer!) and angst are over, Ken has been abandoned by Wendy, who returns to her husband after an extremely unromantic discussion over some mystery meat at a local restaurant. I’m assuming this means Elsie will be reclaiming her house from Ken, as she, Gail and Trish are all being kicked out of the lodgings at the corner shop after Renee purchases it. Gail and Trish were deeply unhappy about this, as you might imagine.

A morris dancer in all his glory.

A morris dancer in all his glory.

Wendy and her husband reconcile over mystery meat.

Wendy and her husband reconcile over mystery meat.

One of many tragic shots of Ken amongst the merriment.

One of many tragic shots of Ken amongst the merriment.

Wendy packs her grip and goes, abandoning City for, presumably, United.

Wendy packs her grip and goes, abandoning City for, presumably, United.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain this loud tie, and lose his middle-class lover?

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain this loud tie, and lose his middle-class lover?

Still, he does at least have a ridiculous amount of bunting.

Still, he does at least have a ridiculous amount of bunting.

My overthinking of the previous episode’s salad ingestion is rather vindicated as the various storylines contain more references to to the appropriateness (or inappropriateness) of food. Wendy makes some terribly middle-class-looking hors d’oeuvres for the street party and hands them around to a polite Ena and Bet. Delicious awkwardness ensues.

Wendy's finger food. Is that another vegetable I spy?

Wendy’s finger food. Is that another vegetable I spy?

It’s the tea and trifle that really win hearts and minds.

What's a street party without... tea?

What’s a street party without… tea?

The previous day, Fred the Gormless Barman decided to sell sandwiches from the bar of the Rovers but they were a miserable failure as everyone was off home to have their Sunday roast. Sandwiches might go down well enough in “Surrey”, the Rovers’ clientele sniffed, but “not round ‘ere”.

Can you imagine how appetising these unwrapped sandwiches were after a few hours in a smokers' pub?

Can you imagine how appetising these unwrapped sandwiches were after a few hours in a smokers’ pub?

Bet and Betty give the sandwiches the once-over.

Bet and Betty give the sandwiches an unimpressed once-over.

Incomprehensible Political Speech Corner

The local MP endears himself to precisely no one, not even Ken, by rabbiting on about what a terrible place Coronation Street is and answering straight questions with obfuscating answers. He reached Peak Politicianspeak with “our priority must be prioritising, especially in priority areas like this one”.

Bet's towering edifice of hair gives the politician's speech the side-eye.

Bet’s towering edifice of hair gives the politician’s speech the side-eye.

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