Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 28/10)

And he’s back!

There were a lot of “should be” scenes this week.  Some fell short, some have built over time, and an unlikely one happened right near the end.

The glorious Ciaran

At a restaurant, Ciaran toasts Peter's sobrietyThe thing that signaled ‘uh oh’ the most was the appearance from behind a restaurant kitchen door of the glorious Ciaran.  You knew his return was bad news for Peter and for whatever woman or women he encounters this time.  He is so lovely to look at and listen to, but he leaves a swath of destruction behind him.  And all the while, he just smiles with a “what – who, me?” look.  A poster on Corrie Canuck perhaps summarized him the best:  “As for Ciaran, he is not use, but he IS ornament”.  I would go further:  he is more than not “use”; he is a one-man wrecking crew of people’s lives.  But he certainly is ornament.

So you knew as soon as he appeared that Peter was going to fall off the wagon.  But, of course, it wasn’t really Ciaran’s doing.  Once he realized that Peter’s problem was serious, he vowed to help him keep the pledge.  But, I think, just his presence made Peter think it was time to test his recovering/recovered status.  “Hmm, yes, I took a drink and then didn’t take another, so I’m ok.”  Then, at the new bar pre-opening party, he drank many glasses of champagne and seemingly thought of them all as “justPeter back home, telling Leanne everything will be ok one drink”.

In a “scene contender”, he came home after spending a long time in a bar supposedly trying to convince a journalist to not report his spectacular drunken display at the hard-hat party.  Leanne had fallen asleep on the couch.  He wakes her, telling her in a drunken fashion, that he’s ok, he’ll be back on the wagon tomorrow, everything will blow over.  No it won’t, she says, it’s over; the bar and, I assume, their relationship and his life as he knows it.

Betty’s birthday

What I expected to be the big scene was Betty’s 90th birthday bash.  It was ok, but not as much history as I’d hoped for.  The introduction of the other elderly barmaid drinking milk stout was a nice reference back to the days of Ena Sharples and her friends.  I doubt if anyone has drank milk stout since then.  But I’m not sure if it’s going anywhere, other than just a little interlude of battling pensioners.

Betty, Steve & Liz celebrate, while the 91 year old disputes Betty's claimI was astounded to learn that Betty Driver, who plays Betty, actually turned 90 just a couple months after her character did.  I had thought the show’s attention to historical fiction accuracy had put them in a bit of a bind. Now, forty years after introducing a character as being a certain age, she’d have to be a barmaid of 90.  So I thought the actress was perhaps 80, and even that seemed like a stretch.  But, according to Wikipedia and Coronation Street sites, Betty Driver was born in 1920 and has been performing since she was a child.  What an amazing woman.

Joe’s farewell

So with history being celebrated through Betty, the big crescendo of Peter and his sobriety crashing down, literally, and the pleasure and trepidation in seeing Ciaran again, it surprised me that a little scene with Joe Joe hugging Tina goodbye, almost in tearstouched me the most.  Joe comes to Tina’s flat to tell her that he and Gail are going away for a few days.  His goodbye is very emotional, more so than Tina expects from her dad for his just going on a short vacation.  He tells her how much she means to him and says goodbye.  It sounded like a real goodbye, not a “see you soon”.

He’s been googling topographic information on depth of water in the Lake District. That caused Gail to say she thought it was a romantic getaway, not a natural sciences expedition.  She seems uneasy, reminding him she’s frightened of water (due to a previous psychopathic husband who also found himself in a financial bind).  So we’ve all been thinking it’s the newly life-insured Gail who will not be returning from this trip.  But Joe’s demeanour with Tina suggests he’s the one not coming back.  He also insured himself, I think.  Maybe he’ll solve his debt problem permanently by removing himself.  I don’t know, but his love for his daughter as he said goodbye felt real.  It was a touching moment between the two of them.

Pipelines through Paradise

starfish on fjord shore, Jack DykingaThis past October, there was a documentary by Karin Wells on CBC Radio’s Sunday Edition about a RAVE (Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition) to document and showcase the coastal British Columbia rainforest.  The First Nation community of Hartley Bay, near Prince Rupert, coordinated it.  Hartley Bay and the other aboriginal communities of the area asked photographers from all over the world to come to the northwest coast to capture its essence for the world to see what is valuable about it.

This project was the First Nations’ response to a plan by Enbridge to build the Northern Gateway Oil Pipeline.  That would send oil and gas from the tar sands of Alberta to the Pacific coast for shipping to wherever.  The pipeline would end at the seaport at Kitimat.

Northwest coast proposed pipeline map, Northern Gateway siteSo oil and gas would be transported through pipelines across two provinces and then loaded onto supertankers which would navigate through the waters of the northwest coast to the open Pacific. Between Kitimat and open sea there still are plenty of islands, points of land and shallows a ship must navigate safely through.  Many a slip between cup and lip, or oil sands and market.

Northwest Coast Ecosystem

In the summer of 1978, I went to the BC northwest coast to work for the Haisla Tribal Council.

aerial view of a pipeline, from Northern Gateway siteSpearheaded by the band council of Kitimaat Village, the Tribal Council member bands were researching their traditional use of lands because of a proposed industrial development. Yep, that development was a pipeline from northern Alberta carrying oil and gas across the north to the port of Kitimat for transportation to US markets.

men fishing, RAVE photo by Cristina MittermeierAt that time, the tack taken by the Tribal Council was the practical need for the land and rivers to be kept usable for traditional food and resource harvesting.  The heart of this research was the nutritional value of “country foods” compared to store-bought.

The First Nations believed that basing their opposition to the pipeline on demonstrable health and economic value of their traditional way of life would be more effective than only using land rights and cultural arguments.  Aboriginal land rights and the overall importance of safeguarding land as part of preserving the environment and wildlife, maintaining First Nations’ sociocultural integrity, keeping material cultures alive, protecting historical economies are all valid points. But they can sound like so much blah blah blah to industrial developers and a public wanting cheap gasoline.

Country Food Study

Salmon jumping upstream, Florian SchulzA thriving natural environment, they wanted to demonstrate, meant a real and measurable quality of nutrition in First Nations diet.  So the key person in this project was a nutritionist who weighed, measured and calculated nutritional content and values of traditional country foods and compared those to their store-bought equivalents.

She and anthropologist John Pritchard planned the research methodology and analytic framework.  I replaced Dr. Pritchard in the actual community fieldwork when he had to take time off.   Five villages were in the study:  Kitamaat Village, Metlakatla, Fort Simpson, Kitkatla and Hartley Bay. After the data collection, we all convened in Victoria to analyze it.  We had bags of food and lists of the quantities of wild food that people had in their freezers, in canning jars, smoked and dried – salmon, oolichan, game animals and birds, berries, tubers and greens.

Interviews gave us information on how much country food each household ate in a week and how much store-bought food.  We asked householders how much they spent on food bought at local stores or supermarkets in Prince Rupert.  We researched prices of store-bought food and calculated the cost if they had to replace the wild food with what was usually available in the stores.  Also we calculated the cost of store-bought food that had the same nutritional value as country food.

Socio-cultural Value

Bella Coola women drying fish, Cristina MittermeierOf course, we asked people about the social and cultural value of hunting and fishing. What it meant to them to be able to live on a diet familiar to their ancestors.  We asked about the ritual aspects of hunting, fishing, food gathering and preparation. As well, we asked about the material culture parts of those activities.  What equipment was needed, how did they make it, when and how did they learn these parts of their livelihood?

fisherman and halibut, Thomas P. PeschakThe results confirmed what the Tribal Council had thought. The nutritional value of country foods was far superior to that of store-bought meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.  The expense of buying food to replace country food in their diet would be astronomical in these isolated villages.  The quality of diet could not be matched with the income available to people.  And, realistically, it would be impossible to stock such fresh, high-quality food in local stores.

It was a good and important study.  In the end, they didn’t need it. That particular pipeline project died at the developer’s end as oil prices dropped. But the First Nations were happy to have the study. They knew it was only a matter of time before another pipeline was planned. And there has been talk of one over the years since then. And now there’s the Enbridge plan.

More Pipelines

fjords near Bella Coola, Cristina MittermeierI hope the photographs and videos of the Great Bear Rainforest help stop the pipeline plan.  I would hope common sense would prevail and the developers would see the folly of supertankers wending their way through the complex waterways of the northwest coast.  When they’re in Kitamat or Prince Rupert, perhaps, they will look at the mountains and the sea. They will realize this is a fragile beauty that is necessary to keep safe.

The map and pipeline aerial photo are from the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline website.  All others are from the iLCP Collection, Great Bear Rainforest RAVE Media Gallery.  Photos are by Cristina Mittermeier, Florian Schulz, Jack Dykinga and Thomas P. Peschak.


People without sense to come in out of the rain

Last week in our community paper, the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News, there was an article about a good and caring citizen and chiropractor Dr. Denise Colledge.  For the second year, she is collecting socks for children without any.  According to her teacher friends, there are children coming to school in the dead of winter with shoes but without socks.  So last winter, she collected over 600 pairs of new socks to be distributed to needy children.

This is a kind gesture, on the part of Dr. Colledge and all those who contributed.  However, I was flabbergasted, not by the generosity of spirit that led to the donation of these socks, but by the fact that it was necessary.  And I’m not going to talk about economic hardship thrift store, Sparklingdawg, Wikimedia Commons, caring citizen postand difficulty feeding and clothing a family in today’s economy.

I’m going to talk about several stores that operate in our town.  You don’t have to leave the confines of St. Thomas to find plenty of socks cheap.  You don’t even have to go to Walmart and buy the 12-pack of tube socks for $2.88 or whatever they cost.  There’s a Goodwill store, a Salvation Army store, a community-based store downtown called Keepers and another very large thrift store called Bibles for Missions.  These stores are where my socks come from, along with the rest of my clothes.  There are bins full of socks – for babies, kids, men and women.  A like-new pair of socks might run you 10 cents for kids, maybe 25 or 50 cents for adults.

In these stores you also find bins full of mittens and gloves, scarves and winter hats, similarly priced.  A good winter coat might cost $5, maybe $10 for a dressy women’s coat.  Yet, just in our town, there is an annual “mitten tree” collecting mitts, hats and scarves for kids and a winter coat drive by the Salvation Army and other churches so coats can be given away for free instead of the $5 usually charged at the Sally Ann store.

Caring and ‘thrifting’

Being a life-long shopper at thrift stores, both when my financial situation necessitated it and when it didn’t, I was astounded by the mitten trees and the coat campaigns.  I know just how cheaply you can outfit yourself and family in a thrift store, in style and in durability, especially if you apply the same bargain acumen that you use in any retail outlet.

But the socks!  People who send their kids to school without socks in winter need more than a free pair of socks for their kids.  They need life skills training, household economy Toys in thrift store, ProfDEH, Wikimedia Commonsmanagement and basic training in common sense, if that’s teachable.  In short, they need to be taught to come in out of the rain.

Value Village made thrift “the new chic” many years ago.  So my advice for those who have psychological problems in buying second-hand?  Get over it.  If I ever set up a foundation to aid people, I would name it “Umbrellas for people who don’t know enough to come in out of the rain”.

I couldn’t find a website for Keepers. It is located at 613 Talbot St. There’s a lovely website for the Salvation Army Thrift Stores, but the St. Thomas store isn’t listed on it. It’s at 105 Edward St at First Ave. If you want to contribute new socks to Dr. Colledge’s drive, take them to 172 Centre Street in St. Thomas. She’ll be taking them to schools for distribution on December 15th.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 21/10)

What I really think

Becky shone this week, in every scene with every other character.  aking Kelly on over her flirtation with Steve, taking Steve on, telling Roy and Hayley that her mom had died. Great scenes. Then, Friday, three scenes where I got teary – Becky reading a story to Amy and crying for the loss of her mother; Liz commiserating with Becky over Steve’s behaviour and actually seeming to like and respect her; then the final scene with Becky and Steve reconciling and her telling him she is indeed pregnant.

what I really think - Joe tells Gayle off and Jason and Leann watchWonderful moving stuff. But the scene that has stuck in my head was at the end of Monday’s show. That’s when Joe told Gail what he really, really thought of her. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

Abandon hope all ye

In good Street style, the argument moved from the house to the street. So everyone got to watch the show. David came to his mother’s defense, as did Audrey who oh deared and tut-tutted her way to Gail’s side. And Joe told them all: Joe pointing to David, while Audrey watches her daughter be told off“When it comes to the male of the species, you’re the equivalent of Tutankhamun’s Curse.” “That doorway should have a sign over it, ‘fellas, abandon hope all ye who enter’.”  “No wonder this one tried to kill you, it was self-defence. The lad deserves a flaming medal.” Poor Gail was devastated, with cause. But it was wonderful hearing the words that so many of us have felt for so long. Even if those words were coming from Joe, another in her series of loser and possibly homicidal boyfriends.

Unfortunately, they made up. At least he told her the truth about his financial situation and the loan shark. But no one on screen has yet asked that question we in the audience have been asking: “Why don’t you sell the boat?” Now that Ted is back, maybe he will be the one to ask it.

People doing stupid things

On the Becky and Steve topic, something I’m glad to see is the portrayal of people doing stupid and socially verboten things. Last week, when Becky returned from her mysterious errand, she sat on a bench with a big bottle of cider and lit one cigarette off the other. Oh, she must not be pregnant, I thought, or she’s decided to have an abortion or has already had it. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be showing her doing that. Earlier, she’d turned down drinks and said she was “cutting down” on smoking. If this were an American soap, indeed most of tv now, there would have to be something wrong with the baby at birth. Just to ensure that the message was clear that drinking and smoking while pregnant is bad.

Steve, in his leathers, drops his bike while "leathered"Then, Friday, what brought Steve to his senses was falling over while attempting to drive his motorbike after getting “leathered” in a bar. We could hear the siren in the background, so presumably Steve could too, as he wobbled astride the bike. Fortunately, he couldn’t stabilize it and he, and the bike, fell to the ground.

Before he fell, I thought oh no, they’re going to have him get in a crash, die and/or kill someone else. Or he’ll get stopped and lose his license. Something bad is going to happen because he’s drinking and intending to drive. We must be given the message in a strong and dramatic way. Instead, he called for a ride. Presumably, he’ll go back tomorrow and get the bike.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 14/10)


The 2nd anniversary of Vera’s death. Tyrone is sad. But that morning, he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him. All he knows is Molly is being very difficult to live with. At the Rovers, Jack gives him advice about how to handle women. Betty tells Jack that in her almost 90 years, she’d never heard “such a load of codswallop”.

Betty gives Jack a free pint and a kiss on the headThen, in a week of great scenes, comes the one. It’s a two-parter, maybe a minute. First part: Jack sits alone in a booth, finishing his pint. He’s pulled something out of a paper napkin and is holding it. Betty brings another pint over to him. “I didn’t order that,” he says. Betty puts it in front of him, kisses the top of his head and walks back to the bar.

Jack looks at Vera's wedding ringSecond part: Jack looks at the object in his hand. It’s Vera’s wedding ring. He looks down at it and up at the heavens. “My little swamp duck.” Oh my, I could hardly clip the scene from CBC’s online episode for tears blurring my eyes. Whatever will we do when Jack and Betty leave the street? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

Then, at the end of the episode, Molly begins the “we have to talk” speech with Tyrone. It continued Tuesday. She was leaving him, didn’t love him anymore etc. etc. Why, how can you, etc. etc., poor Tyrone asked. Lines from several hurtin’ songs were used by both of them. “You’re better off without me” and “any girl would be lucky to have you” came from Molly.

Molly telling Tyrone she is leaving himIt was like watching a train wreck. Well, more like being in the train wreck if you’ve ever had a serious relationship end, whether you were the ‘dumpee’ or ‘dumper’. Even though I’ve known what Molly’s been doing the past few months, it still blindsided me. Poor, poor Tyrone.

Next scene, Tyrone twigged in about as long as it takes in these situations: “Who is it?” “There must be someone else.” He’s absolutely right in guessing this, even just from his vantage point as a participant rather than anTyrone in tears, can't believe it observer as we are. There’s always someone else. Speaking from a long history as both dumper and dumpee, there’s always a third person somewhere in the mix. Of course, the dumper always says there’s no one else, “it’s just me”. And, technically, right now Molly is not lying about this. She and Kevin have ended it so, in this tiny frame of time, she is leaving Tyrone because it’s just about her.

Of course, as it always does (and must for soaps to continue with storylines), it will all come out. And if the breakup of Molly and Tyrone was bad, I think the breakup of Kevin and Tyrone will be much, much worse.

Daran Little writing

Both Monday and Tuesday were Daran Little episodes! So happy. I didn’t know there were any more to come of the group of episodes he’d penned after a brief return last year.

Jack telling Tyrone "Vera didn't us to be me and Vera"The loveliest touch of historical analysis he gave us was Tyrone and Molly discussing their relationship in terms of Jack and Vera’s. Like all of us, Tyrone had hoped that he and Molly would be the next Jack and Vera. Horrors, Molly said, that’s exactly what I don’t want to be! Tyrone sees happily married for over fifty years; Molly sees decades of constant rowing and Jack skulking off to get away from her. Both views are correct.

But Molly is using revisionist history to justify what she’s doing, and she must know it. She got to know Jack and Vera well enough to see behind the surface complaining and skulking. She saw Jack when Vera died. So she knows better. But to give her the benefit of the doubt, she’s young and probably still believes in the fairy tales where the thrill of romance remains young and alive forever just as you do yourself. Where settling into a routine of going about your business seems a fate worse than death. On the other hand, she knows better. Disparaging the 50 years of Jack and Vera is a way to justify, to herself at least, what she is doing.

The train wreck spreads the rest of the week. Kev is cast in the role of comforter to Tyrone. And in another beautifully wrought scene, Jack gives his take on the “being Jack and Vera” issue. He says to Tyrone, “Vera didn’t want us to be like me and Vera.” Molly says to Dev, “don’t say anything nice to me”. I say to the screen, “no danger of that, dearie!” Auntie Pam is the only one who seems to share my feelings. In a plea for sympathy, Molly whines, “ Everyone’s already looking at me like I’ve just stamped on a kitten.” Pam’s response?  “Oh, happens you just have.” Thank you, Auntie Pam.


George C Anger RCEME for Remembrance DayI think of my father every Remembrance Day.  George Anger was a WWII veteran.  In December of 1942 he went overseas and he returned home in October 1945.  He was a mechanic in the RCEME, a Lance Corporal.   Dad was not a willing soldier, he didn’t leap up to volunteer as soon as Britain, and Canada, declared war on Germany in 1939.  Twenty-two in that year, he was old enough.  But soldiering had not been a part of his family for many years.  They were farmers and they, and the government, thought they could do the best for their country by feeding it.

The Draft

The Second World War became one of conscription, and in 1942 Dad was drafted.  At the time, he was recently married with a brand new baby.  He knew what happened to conscriptees, or Zombies as they were called.  They became cannon fodder, front line infantry.  He had his papers as a mechanic* and knew his skills were more useful to the Army than his body alone.  So he got to Wolseley Barracks in London and voluntarily enlisted before the due date on his draft papers.  He was assigned to the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps (RCEME).  He was stationed in England at Camp Borden and Scotland at Motherwell.

Dad came home and met the 3 year old son he’d last seen as a 6 month old and left the war and the military behind him.  He rarely talked about the war, other than funny stories about “test-driving” Jeeps in ways the Canadian Army hadn’t thought of.  He never joined the Legion and never, to my knowledge, went to the Cenotaph at Remembrance Day.  “Old farts jingling their medals,” was his description of remembrance ceremonies.  But he was “an old fart” himself with some medals. And every November 11th he was a little quiet, a little far away, a little sad.  His own remembrance.

He hadn’t wanted to go to war, but he was proud of his service and, I think, glad he went.  He knew the right thing had been done by Canada and the Allies and felt good for having contributed.  I never knew what his thoughts on the Korean War were.

Another Draft

I did know his thoughts on the Vietnam war.  He didn’t agree with America’s actions, but he also didn’t agree with those young men who refused to honour their country by going when required.  At least that was his initial stance.  At the time, I was dating a draft dodger.  “Yellow-bellied coward” was the mildest of what Dad called him, and he meant it.

But with another year of that war, the protests and getting to know more about why young men were coming to Canada to avoid the draft, it seems Dad’s opinion was changing.   I found out about his change of mind, and heart, on a trip to the States with him and Mom.  Dad, the dog and I were walking along a riverbank in Ohio.  The dog and I were dilly-dallying behind when Dad began talking with two teenage boys.

I caught up to them just in time to hear Dad say, “well, if you cross at Detroit, just look for the 401 signs in Windsor.  Stay on it past London and you’ll see the exit for our road.”  He then wrote down his name, address and phone number for these two kids who he’d never seen before in his life.  As we walked on, he called back to them, “remember you’re welcome at our place if you have to come.”  I asked him what on earth he was doing.  “They’re trying to decide what to do next year.  They’ll be done high school and if this war’s still going on they don’t know what to do about the draft.  I told them they could stay with us until they get sorted out.”  Well!  Nothing more was said about it.  Those kids never called.  I’ve often wondered what they did.


George and Ruby (Burwell) Anger 1942 on troop trainWhen I was old enough to look at Dad dispassionately, as a person instead of just my dad, I realized his outlook on war and his own service was a good model for life.  He didn’t seek war out, he saw no benefit in people lining up to get themselves blown to bits.  But when such duty is asked of you, think it through, make the best choice of action, and do what is necessary to get the job done.  Then leave it behind you and move on.  But never forget the sacrifices made by so many.

*My brother corrected me. Dad did not have his mechanic qualifications, just ability. An officer he met suggested that might be enough to get him enlisted as a skilled tradesperson. It was.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Nov. 7/10)

Private Gary

Private Gary with EddieI shed a tear for the Windasses this week.  Friday, Eddie unveiled the cake he’d baked for Gary’s going away party at the Rovers, the cake Gary said he hadn’t wanted because “men don’t eat cake.”  In honour of his joining the Army, it was shaped like a hand grenade.  Anna, despite her horror at the macabre design her husband had chosen as a send-off for their son, was touched and wanted Eddie and Gary to express their feelings for each other.

A bit of foot-shuffling by Eddie and Gary, looks of horror toward Anna for wanting them to get “touchy-feeling”. Some “yeah, well, that’s what I think of you too” stuff between them.  Then a lovely moment when Gary looks at his dad with real love in his eyes and a kind of “gotcha” grin.  Then each spits in his hand and clasps the other’s in a long handshake cum embrace.

Everyone partook of the cake and pronounced it light and delicious, one of Eddie’s best.  Eddie is sufficiently moved by emotion toward his son, the strong turnout by street residents for their party and by the expressions of goodwill toward Gary that he actually buys a round for everyone.  But one still wonders whose wallet he lifted in order to get the money!

Community acceptance

A bullseye stuck to Gary's back is discovered by his momThis party, with almost everyone on the street there, might be the turning point for the Windasses in terms of community acceptance.  David pulls a prank on Gary – sticks a paper bulls-eye on his back.  When it’s discovered, everyone calls David on it and speaks in Gary’s defence.  Even Roy.  And Chesney tells David that Gary is “worth a thousand of you.”   Janice agrees with him.

In David’s defence, he has good reason to dislike and distrust Gary.   And, by Gary’s leaving for the Army, the street residents are getting rid of a felon who has demonstrated that he’s willing to steal from anyone, even his neighbours.  Still, it’s nice that it is Gary who pretty much says that himself.  In talking with Chesney about why he’s joined up, he points out that he doesn’t have many options. If he hadn’t done this, he’d likely just end up in jail again.

Gary hugs his dad goodbye outside the RoversIn a follow-up scene, the taxi waits for Gary and everyone is outside the pub to see him off.  Gary hugs his mom, then turns to his dad.  Eddie hands him an envelope, says “don’t laugh”.  It’s what he wrote to Gary telling him how he feels about him.  Gary does a little awkward “man”  shuffle then throws his arms around his dad in a big hug.  I felt affection for a person who usually is truly “a little toe-rag”.