“Here we go, for another session of ear-bending.” – 30th August, 1, 6 September 1976

Hello again campers! Let’s continue our journey through 1976. I might get to the end of the year by the time I die.

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I believe Bet was espousing clipping some youths round th’earole. More on that later. Just look at those earrings.

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).

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I mean, how could any of us possibly resist?

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.

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Mrs Thornley: the textbook definition of unimpressed.

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No really: SHE MAD.

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!

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Don’t run off to London without having a chat with Rita, Gail.

 

 

Fashion Corner 

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Gail’s jeans in these episodes make me so uncomfortable. That level of binding can’t be good for your, um, nethers.

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This is how Elsie looks when she first wakes up in the morning, and I aspire to this level of louche glamour. Black polyester peignoir, bouffant hair and a cigarette. Damn right.

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.

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Even for Bet, this is a whole lotta boob. Annie Walker looks stricken by the mammaries.

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Not only does the poor woman have to wear this bepatterned middle-aged monstrosity of respectability, but Mrs Walker won’t even let her undo the top button! The indignity.

 

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).

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Cheer up, Gail. You may have been called a “trollop” by Mrs Thornley but you’ve still got your job. OH WAIT

A moment for us all to savour: Hilda put her ducks up on the new wall for the first time!

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The middle one keeps falling down, but she’ll soon whip it into shape.

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.

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Bet, Alf and Ken all look just as worried as I am about Eddie hurling pointy missiles right by the gents’ door.

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As an aside, why don’t people play dominoes in the pub anymore? You’re far less likely to end up bleeding.

 

 

 

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.)

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These are the floppy-leafed lettuces my mother grows and so I have a fondness for them.

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?”

“Fish man!?”

“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!

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Not shown: Elsie waiting 30 long seconds for the dial to return between each digit of the phone number. How did we even survive??

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!

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Renee, mid-bash.

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?

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That green blob inside the glass is a water pistol. This is pitiful. No wonder punk happened.

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?”

6

Tell me anything in a Scouse accent and I’ll accept it, Eddie. Even Paul McCartney saying “Rockestra” was a good idea.

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!

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4 thoughts on ““Here we go, for another session of ear-bending.” – 30th August, 1, 6 September 1976

  1. British divorce law is still only no-fault up to a point. No more trips to Brighton with your private detective hanging around to catch you in pre-arranged flagrante (for the avoidance of doubt, this was a real and common thing), but there’s no automatic 50/50 asset split. There’s a *presumption* of equality, but that’s easily displaced by individual claims/circumstances in practice, and whether you were the adulterous party can weigh into it too (for example, if you were adulterated against you can claim the legal costs of the divorce). Needless to say, this often works to the detriment of women (in heterosexual relationships) who can end up with little because the husband used to pay the mortgage or whatever and therefore claims a larger share of the assets. Yay that NZ doesn’t have this system. The British often say NZ is like the UK 50 years ago: in my opinion they’re talking through their strangulated nethers.

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  2. Lovely postings here! At the time, we took the two lads running in slow motion during the end credits to be a reference to the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man – all the rage in England in 1976.

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    • I initially thought that too, but when I rewatched the Six Million Dollar Man’s credits the likeness wasn’t that close and I became confused!

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