28 July, 2, 4 August 1976 – “You’ve got to be a bit mad these days. Helps to keep you sane.”

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Bet isn’t in these episodes, so no screenshot of her. Here, Ken would like you to have a tomato instead.

I’m not really even sure what else I can say about salad, at this point. It’s like I’m in some sort of weird semiotic time-travelling dance-off with the past scriptwriters of Coronation Street. Each post in which I overthink characters eating salad seems to be greeted with another episode in which the salad ante is upped. Perhaps, like the alternate universe of the “Berenstein” Bears, this blog also exists in another dimension, where it concentrates on deconstructing the motivations of The Munch Bunch.

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Me and you and a salad too.

This is all a rather roundabout and possibly incomprehensible way of saying that bloody Ken Barlow is eating salad again. And, moreover, talking about salad. While, if you can believe it, BRANDISHING his salad ingredients on a fork at hapless Uncle Albert. “For a man to reach your considerable age, Uncle Albert, without ever having eaten a tomato, seems to me to be remarkable… it is a most satisfactory comestible, from both aesthetic and alimentary points of view.”

No, seriously, you guys. HAVE A TOMATO. KEN DECREES IT.

No, seriously, you guys. HAVE A TOMATO. KEN DECREES IT.

Honestly, Ken, couldn’t you go back to philandering and neglecting your children? “What are you going on about?” asks Uncle Albert, testily, quite clearly wondering how he’s managed to be landed with such a smug wanker for a nephew.

Albert makes a desperate escape from Ken and his tomato soliloquy.

Albert makes a desperate escape from Ken and his tomato soliloquy.

Albert is too busy worrying about the unfair distribution of his bingo winnings with playing partner Bertha to be messing about with salad ingredients. He even shows up at Bertha’s grim brutalist block of flats after a few rums to shout outside her window.

Albert wants his ten pounds and he shall not be denied! Have pity, Albert. Look at her building.

Albert wants his ten pounds and he shall not be denied! Have pity, Albert. Look at her building.

She finally appears at Albert’s with his share of the winnings, saying her husband told her to keep them. A kiss on the cheek is misinterpreted and her husband appears to challenge Albert to a fistfight!

Ena: available to break up fistfights between old coots for a small fee.

Ena: available to break up fistfights between old coots for a small fee.

The other thing I was not expecting was a storyline about Mavis Reilly’s boobs. To be strictly accurate, we are considering the appropriateness of Mavis’ newly bought sun top in a work environment. Mavis is, of course, deeply worried that her staid little halter will… well, I’m not sure exactly. Cause a riot? Make Derek keel over and implode around his nether regions? In any case Rita encourages Mavis to show off the… goods while serving punters in the stationers (it’s also a cafe at this stage, since Roy’s Rolls is some decades away).

Mavis Reilly, cafe waitress and bombshell.

Mavis Reilly, cafe waitress and bombshell.

Rita puts Ken up to waxing eloquent on the subject of Mavis’ sex appeal: “Are you going to wear that on your holidays? You’ll be a sensation!”

Mavis, delighted by Ken's attention to her boobs. Be careful, he'll tell you all about tomatoes if you're not careful.

Mavis, delighted by Ken’s attention to her boobs. Be careful, he’ll tell you all about tomatoes if you’re not careful.

The contrast with good-time-girl Gail and last episode’s visible nipples could not be more obvious. Gormless Fred undoes all of Rita’s good work, overdoing the compliments by droolingly telling Mavis “You’re coming out, aren’t you, in more ways than one!… If you went round a building site like that, you’d have them dropping off the scaffolding like hailstones!” Mavis disappears witteringly into the back room in shame.

Mavis, rather less pleased by Fred's attention to her boobs.

Mavis, rather less pleased by Fred’s attention to her boobs.

Shame is not in Gail’s vocabulary, as she welcomes the sleazy owner of Sylvia’s, Roy Thornley (who, as you may recall, is also in a relationship with Sylvia herself) into the boutique for lunch and a sneaky bottle of wine while Elsie is out.

Roy supplies Gail with a fine vintage. Nose-hold-worthy, even.

Roy supplies Gail with a fine vintage. Nose-hold-worthy, even.

Who could resist this man?

Who could resist this man?

There is much giggling and innuendo until Elsie returns to give Gail one of her patented tellings-off, but her words fall on deaf ears. Even after giving Roy some dire warnings, the relationship continues, Gail giggling and dashing off in all directions as the mood takes her. I have a bad feeling about this.

Elsie is really giving it heaps on the tellings-off.

Elsie is really giving it heaps on the tellings-off.

There is much pointing.

There is much pointing.

No, seriously, A LOT of pointing.

No, seriously, A LOT of pointing.

Point! Point!

Point! Point! (When did we stop pinning clothes on shop walls as a display choice? Can we go back there?)

Plonker Ernest gets an enormous tax bill and spends a fair bit of time woe-is-me-ing his way around the Rovers Return. Ne’er-do-well Eddie Yates, unable to understand the idea that anyone might have a work ethic or require a regular wage, can’t work out why Ernest is upset in the first place. “There he is, living a life of gracious ease and quiet contemplation.”

Ernest turns off the radio as it is mockingly playing Helen Shapiro's "Walking Back to Happiness" at him. They've always known how to use incidental music to great effect on this show.

Ernest turns off the radio as it is mockingly playing Helen Shapiro’s “Walking Back to Happiness” at him. They’ve always known how to use incidental music to great effect on this show.

Eventually poor Emily feels compelled to go secretly to a jeweller’s and sell her engagement ring for a hundred pounds, then gets a job at the hospital as an orderly.

The stricken face of a woman about to sell her engagement ring.

The stricken face of a woman about to sell her engagement ring.

Which is quite nice, as it goes.

Which is quite nice, as it goes.

When she suggests Ernest get a similar job as a hospital porter he balks at the idea. Then she comes home from working all day and *still* has to peel the potatoes.

Poor Emily hasn't even got her coat off yet.

Poor Emily hasn’t even got her coat off yet.

PULL YOUR FINGER OUT, Plonker Ernest. Times are tough. Why does Emily have to do all the running around here?

And speaking of running, Mrs Walker is about to start a different sort of exercise: trying to catch up with her fellow landlady friend Nellie Harvey from the Conservative Society, who appears on the scene brandishing a set of car keys and a snazzy white Mini Cooper. Annie Walker’s face as she realises her status has fallen below appropriate obsessive social-climbing levels is a sight to behold.

Nellie and her hat appear to lord it over Mrs Walker.

Nellie and her hat appear to lord it over Mrs Walker.

Sweet ride, Nellie!

Sweet ride, Nellie!

She sees Nellie rollin', she hatin'.

She sees Nellie rollin’, she hatin’.

Offered a lift while waiting for the bus: the ultimate indignity!

Offered a lift while waiting for the bus: the ultimate indignity!

No seriously: SHE HATIN'.

No seriously: SHE HATIN’.

She rings around all of her friends in an attempt to get some dirt, finally discovering that Nellie took 86 lessons in order to pass her test. (Although I grew up in the era of the rotary-dial telephone, I had forgotten just how long it took to laboriously enter six or more numbers.)

Mrs Walker discovers teh 86 lessons. This should be in the dictionary to define schadenfreude.

Mrs Walker discovers the 86 lessons. This should be in the dictionary to define schadenfreude.

Nellie comes over for a cup of tea and the battle of backhanded compliments begins. “DO have another piece of Battenberg Nellie: I know YOU’VE never succumbed to this modern fad of weight-watching.” “It was so VERY VERY brave of you to tackle modern traffic conditions at your time of life.” RuPaul’s Drag Race should be watching this for lessons in High Bitch.

Nellie appears and opens both saloon doors like a western gunslinger. Showdown at the driving school corral!

Nellie appears and opens both saloon doors like a western gunslinger. Showdown at the driving school corral!

The offending Battenburg cake.

The offending Battenberg cake.

At some point in the proceedings Annie drops the hammer of 86 lessons down, saying that one generally needs one lesson per one year of life. OH NO SHE DIDN’T! Nellie’s posh accent drops as she storms out of the Rovers back room, challenging Annie to learn how to drive in fewer than 86 lessons if she’s so marvellous. I can’t wait to see what transpires when Mrs Walker gets behind the wheel.

EXTRAS CORNER

This guy! What a specimen! Hair, pants, shoes, everything.

This guy! What a specimen! Hair, pants, shoes, everything.

Oh look! This wonderfully coiffed lady...

Oh look! This wonderfully coiffed lady…

... gets re-used at Sylvia's later on.

… gets re-used at Sylvia’s later on.

FASHION THOUGHTS CORNER

Damn, Deirdre. Just... DAMN.

Damn, Deirdre. Just… DAMN.

Thumbs up on Elsie's collar and sleeves; thumbs up on Gail's tee.

Thumbs up on Elsie’s collar and sleeves; thumbs up on Gail’s tee.

The men of the Street are really not doing themselves any favours with these strategic unbuttonings.

6 thoughts on “28 July, 2, 4 August 1976 – “You’ve got to be a bit mad these days. Helps to keep you sane.”

  1. Let me say I’m enjoying your posts greatly – they bring back lots of memories. I hope it doesn’t begin to be too much of a drag for you to carry on. Your witty comments are very much appreciated.

    Like

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