5, 7, 12, 14 July 1976 – “And what did your last slave die of?” “The same as what you will, lovey.”

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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.)

Plonker Ernest grimly wields a scythe.

Plonker Ernest grimly wields a scythe.

Summer days, make me feel fine, Albert Tatlock's allotment's on my mi-i-ind.

Summer days, make me feel fine, Albert Tatlock’s allotment’s on my mi-i-ind.

Honestly, this is just a tiny sampling of the flower shots. It was most unnerving.

Honestly, this is just a small sampling of the flower shots. It was unnerving.

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.

Ena helps herself to the party food before it's actually at, you know, the party.

Ena helps herself to the party food before it’s actually at, you know, the party.

And with a spread like this, who could blame her? Yikes.

And with a spread like this, who could blame her? Yikes.

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.)

Merriment!

Merriment!

Smokin'!

Smokin’! Drinkin’!

Flirtin'! (Successfully.)

Flirtin’! (Successfully.) (Also, whoa, lampshade.)

Flirtin'! (Profoundly unsuccessfully.)

Flirtin’! (Profoundly unsuccessfully.) (Also, whoa, cleavage.)

Rita tee-shirtin'!

Rita tee-shirtin’!

And an oddly staged pregnancy announcement: in the dark, behind Bet's hairpiece. This probably symbolises... something bad about Tracy.

And an oddly staged pregnancy announcement: in the dark, behind Bet’s hairpiece. This probably symbolises… something bad about Tracy.

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.

Hilda is pleased with her new wallpaper.

Hilda is pleased with her new wallpaper.

Until Eddie tries to fob her off with some kiddy race-car stuff as a "feature wall".

Until it runs out, and Eddie tries to fob her off with some kiddy race-car stuff as a “feature wall”.

But never fear! The muriel is here!

But never fear! The muriel is here!

Mrs Walker's priceless expression when she first sees the muriel.

Mrs Walker’s priceless expression when she first sees the muriel.

Bet and Mrs Walker take tea with a proud Hilda.

Bet and Mrs Walker take tea in front of the finished muriel with a proud Hilda.

There are many meaningful looks.

There are many meaningful looks.

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.

Ena, suspicious of grifters.

Ena, suspicious of grifters.

Eddie gets the con man in a headlock while Len helps.

Eddie gets the con man in a headlock while Len helps.

Eddie, not long out of the big house himself, is touchingly pleased to have made a citizen's arrest.

Eddie, not long out of the big house himself, is touchingly pleased to have made a citizen’s arrest.

The many wonderful expressions of Ena Sharples: a triptych.

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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?

Seriously, whole hard-boiled eggs? What are you Bishops, made of money?

Seriously, whole hard-boiled eggs? What are you Bishops, made of money?

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”?)

Spot the Kinks album above Deirdre's head! That is, if you can tear yourself away from her amazing pinny. And the gloriously clashing curtain print.

Spot the Kinks album above Deirdre’s head! That is, if you can tear yourself away from her amazing pinny. And the gloriously clashing curtain print.

Chillin’ like a villain: Deirdre’s doctor.

I mean, seriously. This dude apparently works ten and a half hours a week!

I mean, seriously. This dude apparently works ten and a half hours a week!

Ena Sharples’ front door fascinates me.

What is with the pointy semi-arch at the top there? Was this popular in the 70s? Can you still buy doors shaped like that?

What is with the pointy semi-arch at the top there? Was this popular in the 70s? Can you still buy doors shaped like that?

And finally, Ray carves some graffiti into one of Albert Tatlock’s marrows.

If you're not careful, Deirdre will stuff you one day. It's her signature dish, you know.

If you’re not careful, marrow, Deirdre will stuff you one day. It’s her signature dish, you know.

2 thoughts on “5, 7, 12, 14 July 1976 – “And what did your last slave die of?” “The same as what you will, lovey.”

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