Many apologies for the longer-than-usual gap between this post and the last. My life interrupted my Coronation Street viewing, which I’m sure you all agree is completely unacceptable. Especially when there is Plonker Ernest wielding a scythe like the grim reaper to contend with! Poor old Plonker Ernest. He’s been to the accountant and his photography business is going belly-up in the recession. As befits his plonkery, he does a bit of whining at Emily and a bit of shouting at Albert Tatlock before wending his way to the allotment to scythe down some overgrown grass. He and Albert discuss the difficulties of the economy and being older and out of work. (The director went a bit mad on “rural idyll” shots of bees and flowers in the allotment scenes, which seemed rather out of character for the Street. Perhaps the heat was going to his head.)
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as Deirdre and Ray have their combined anniversary/birthday party without falling out irrevocably over the cost. An as-yet-unseen Blanche comes to the rescue over the phone, saying they can use her house (which seems to be downstairs from their flat?) for free to throw the shindig. I must say this seems rather out of character for the Blanche we come to know and love in later years, but perhaps she was having a brief moment of generosity. “Foreign muck” watch: Ray gets rather sniffy about Deidre’s plan to make some lasagne for the party, since he has never heard of it (!!!). The recipe was supplied by the street’s resident gourmet chef, Mavis, but the fact that the pasta contains spinach and is therefore green was a bridge too far for Ray. He’s happy to stick with the pies supplied by Renee’s shop – and so is Ena, who has the brass neck to come by the shop and take some of the food before it’s even been delivered, using the rationale that she was invited to the party but isn’t going, so she deserves some of the spoils.
The party itself is a bit of delight: Rita in a tee shirt! Everyone smoking up a storm and laughing uproariously! And it culminates in the announcement that the suspiciously non-smoking and non-drinking Deirdre is pregnant! (The dates are right for this pregnancy to turn out to be the future bane of the Street, Tracy. Urkh. Well, we won’t think about that, everyone. Let’s just have a moment of happiness with Deirdre before her entire life turns to custard.)
Hilda and Stan have a corker of a storyline in these episodes, with the doofus Eddie Yeats as their willing accomplice. Hilda hears that Mrs Walker is having her flat above the Rovers redecorated with some snazzy wallpaper and decides to do the same with their living/dining room. A comedy of errors ensues: Eddie gets some mildly dodgy wallpaper from a mate and the non-faulty rolls are only enough to do three walls. He tries to talk Hilda into another pattern for one wall, but she is having none of it. Finally he supplies her with the most legendary of Hilda’s malapropisms – wallpaper that looks like a “muriel” of a mountainous country scene. Hilda is proud and delighted and Bet and Annie Walker are invited over for tea to view it. I think it’s fair to say that they, along with those of us at home, are… amazed. “I’ve seen nowt to touch it since Cinerama,” says Bet, in a daze. “Do you know dear,” Mrs Walker announces primly, “I feel just a little giddy.” Hilda notes that “either you’re one for the great outdoors, or you’re not.” The entire scene is gold from go to whoa.
Ena has a fun storyline too, in which a couple of grifters roll into town and attempt to scam money for shower installation out of the local elderly, saying baths are far too dangerous. They pretend they’re from the council, but Ena calls in the big guns: Len Fairclough, who is not only a builder but a councilman. Ena, Len and Eddie sabotage the grifter just as he thinks he’s about to make away with forty pounds and a citizen’s arrest is made. There’s nothing like an “elderly woman gets revenge on manipulative criminal” storyline to make you feel satisfied.
The many wonderful expressions of Ena Sharples: a triptych.
BITS AND BOBS CORNER
Salad watch: Emily and Ernest enjoy a salad while discussing their financial woes. I don’t want to belabour the point but it should be noted that they are also aspirational (photography!) and rather “posher” than some of their fellow characters. Weirdly, Emily appears to put ENTIRE hard-boiled eggs in her salad, which is rather profligate! What happened to slicing them up so they go further?
Pop culture corner: Deirdre and Ray are fans of The Kinks (this may explain Ray’s haircut. And name); Bet was humming Jimmy Webb’s “Didn’t We” while cleaning up the pub. (I find this pleasingly obscure. What, no “MacArthur Park” or “Wichita Lineman”?)
Chillin’ like a villain: Deirdre’s doctor.
Ena Sharples’ front door fascinates me.
And finally, Ray carves some graffiti into one of Albert Tatlock’s marrows.