I hate spoilers. It’s like walking into a movie as someone walks out of the previous screening and says “I would have never guessed it was the good guy that did it.” Spoilers Spoilers Alert kittensare like seeing your Christmas presents by accident. When I was a kid I did not want even a clue about what I might be getting. I still don’t. And I don’t want to know what’s coming up on Coronation Street. So I avoid UK Coronation Street sites. I only read Canadian timeline sites said to be “spoiler-free”. So imagine my disappointment when I learn something I didn’t want to know, whether it’s in a post, a comment or a tweet. They may not be intentional spoilers, but they spoil anyway.

Right now, I know two characters are leaving, due to posts on Canadian sites saying something like “Since so-and-so is leaving the show, we wonder if this is how they are going to write him/her out”. Well, no, I didn’t know so-and-so was leaving and didn’t want to. To add insult to injury, I know the circumstances for the departure of one of those characters. That’s thanks to a tweet posted on a Canadian site and a well-intentioned ad on another one. For sure, the tweet and ad could have waited a week or so until we all in Canada see on our screens the particular event.

Some real life spoilers are unavoidable

Sometimes, real life events make real-life news and therefore spoilers are unavoidable. The death of actress Betty Driver made us all know that, sadly, we would also the face the news item about death of Betty Driver in Daily-Mail-15-Oct-2011death of her character Betty Williams. Real-life reporting of legal problems meant we would somehow see the characters of Kevin and Ken being written out of the show. Those things I can accept because they are newsworthy realities.  Even the big anniversaries with special stories and lots of promotion – impossible to avoid.

But an actor deciding to leave or a contract not being renewed? If I were in the UK, I probably would know about it because of mainstream press coverage. But I do not live there. I learned the hard way, on British media sites, to employ tunnel vision when reading articles. I do not look at ads or promo lines for “in other news”. If I must go on a UK Corrie site, I have developed the ability to scan without actually reading to avoid digesting bits of information I don’t want to know.

I do everything in my power to avoid spoilers so it makes me feel let down when they pop up on Canadian sites that profess to be spoiler-man with many hands over facefree. They are enjoyable sites to read, to see what other Canadian Corrie fans are thinking. But too often, even there, I have learned things that ruin my pleasure in just watching the story.

At least now, being only two weeks behind the UK, the events in these spoilers come to pass quickly. But for that length of time, my viewing pleasure is lessened. And why?  If something is a spoiler, even by a day, is it that difficult to remove or clearly mark it with “SPOILER ALERT”?

A good article in the Calgary Herald about spoilers.

Corrie Street July 28/13

Race Row

dartboardI avoid on-screen tv guide programme descriptions. Too often, they give away the whole plot: “there, saved you the trouble of watching the show, you’re welcome.” Wednesday, I inadvertently read ‘Race row in the Rovers.’ Huh?

In the final minutes of the show, in a dispute over a dart throw, play-the-white-manPaul asked Steve to be fair, to “play the white man”. Lloyd overheard and took umbrage. Paul snapped back that he hadn’t meant offence, it was just a saying. Lloyd countered that neither he nor his daughter needed to hear racial slurs, especially from supposed friends, no matter how unintentional.

Brian-hear-hearEveryone tried to smooth it over; Paul didn’t mean anything by it, it was a stupid thing to say, let’s just get the drinks in and forget it. The only other person to pointedly criticize Paul was Brian, as a school principal always vigilant about discrimination and bullying. Neither Lloyd nor Paul would back down.

A turn of phrase?

A UK blog writer criticizes the show for seeking a “social issue” story by creating dramatic conflict unrealistically:

‘I suspect in a real working class Manchester pub the conversation would have gone something like:

Paul: “Play the white man”.

Lloyd: “What do you mean you cheeky bastard?”

Paul: “What? I wasn’t talking to you”

Lloyd: “Play the white man? As if you lot are better than us?”

Paul: “Oh shit yea, I didn’t think of it like that, sorry mate, just a turn of phrase. Fancy a pint?”

Lloyd: “Cheers yea, pint of bitter please mate. Fancy a game of darts?”’

Both men under stress

Maybe that would be the case, at least between two friends like these. It’s not like it’s a hear-nonsense-like-thatrandom guy saying something offensive or taking offense, an extra brought in for the scene. This is a group of long time friends. However, both men are very stressed and neither knows about the other’s problems.

Paul is being raked over the coals at work for chastising kids for making prank emergency calls. Being taken to task again for what he sees as over-reactive political correctness is too much for Lloyd-you-tell-mehim. Lloyd is caught in the middle of an argument between Jenna and Mandy, and is still smarting from Mandy reminding him that he had only been a father to Jenna for five minutes so why did he think he had the right to say anything. Use of an old expression, and reaction to its racist connotations, is the spark that set off the underlying anger both feel.

An interesting thing was Jason’s reaction.  His father is black, his mother is white. And JasonPaul is his mother’s boyfriend. You could see the hamster wheel turning in his head as he tried to decide if he should accept that Paul meant no ill will or if he should be offended on his own behalf. No one else seemed to think about Jason having a personal stake in this except, finally, Lloyd who tried to recruit him for his side.


Last week I watched a CNN interview with a prosecution witness in the George Zimmerman trial. She explained the difference in meaning of “cracka” versus “cracker”. “With an a” is not a racial slur; I-am-not-a-racist“with e-r” she didn’t know, her generation wasn’t familiar with the term. But with such nuanced speech differentiation, I could imagine a lot of room for misinterpretation. So too is there with sayings so long entrenched that their meanings can be forgotten.

The use of one such saying in this storyline is an interesting premise for exploring societal sensitivities, made better by it take-that-backinvolving a closely connected family/friend unit. By the end of the week, Paul is more upset about being seen as racist and Lloyd wants to finally take a public stand against racism. So neither will take the first step to reconciliation.

Baby Prince George

FB-Monarchy-post about Prince GeorgeIn the past three days, the royal baby has been born, brought home, had pictures posted on Facebook, and been named. A boy named HRH Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge.

For two days my television was tuned to the Royal Baby Channel – whichever one had “live coverage”. It’s been worth it, waiting to see that little bundle in the arms of both his parents.

Also worth it have been the hours and hours of filler patter by hosts and guests on the broadcast specials. I find you always learn something new about British and Royal history and protocol when guests have to fill airtime.

Four monarchs, present and future

There is a photograph, I learned, from the last time there were four generations alive in the direct royal line. It is of Queen Victoria, her son who would be Edward VII, her grandson London,-Royalty,-Four-Generations Queen Victoriathe future George V and her infant great-grandson the future, and fleeting, Edward VIII. Let’s hope it works out better for this newborn when it is his time to be king.

Something struck me as very interesting in the analyst chat on CNN yesterday. It was the question of when this future king’s time will come. Repeatedly, people said with amazement that it might well be 70 years before it was his time. Amazing indeed considering that, in 70 years, his father William will be 101 years old. Even with the good genes of the Windsors, still being a reigning monarch at that age would be remarkable.

I think having three generations already in line for succession actually means is that there may not be a reign as long as that of Elizabeth II, or Victoria, in this century. That is, of course, assuming that these future kings live out their assigned ‘three score and ten’ or more years.

my-tv-screen CTV Prince George leaves hospitalLooking at the number of direct heirs doesn’t determine how long it will take for them to reach the throne anymore than only counting heads in a grocery store check-out line tells you how long you have to wait to reach the cashier. You also have to look at how full their shopping carts are. With succession, you have to look at the age of the heirs as well as the number of them. The best estimate you can make is how long their reigns might be.

Queen Victoria’s heirs

Queen Victoria also had three heirs lined up. She came to the throne at the age of eighteen and lived a very long life. Her son’s reign was only 9 years. His son came to the throne already a grandfather. He reigned for 26 years. His son, the present Queen’s father, died when only 56 so Elizabeth came to the throne at the age of 25, much younger than she or anyone else expected.

Mom's Royal Scrapbook photo D StewartWhat is significant about these four generations is that, all things being equal, it is likely that people alive today will never again see a young monarch or such a long reign. The last generation to see the fairy-tale story of a young princess, or prince, crowned will have been the age cohort of Queen Elizabeth. That being said, Long Live the Queen – and the future King and King and King.

Corrie Street July 21/13

Best Served Cold

David is trying to abide by the proverb ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ – meaning take try-again david served coldyour time in avenging a wrong, it will be all the more effective and enjoyable. But he is having trouble because he has trouble with “delayed gratification.” That is the psychological process that occurs with maturity, of realizing that you can’t always get what you want immediately. Maturity and David are not yet on a first-name basis.

He is trying. It’s been a few weeks since he found out about Kylie’s one-night-stand with everybody-is-against-meNick and the fact that she is not sure about the paternity of the baby she is carrying. He decided to take his revenge on Nick, not her. As he said to Tina, he can’t risk losing Kylie. But, once he confronts her about her infidelity, he won’t be able to forget what he knows. Of course he can’t forget it anyway. So he is displacing his anger: instead of destroying his own marriage, he will destroy his brother’s. It’s working, but not quickly enough for David to keep his composure.

Terror by peanut

people-in-this-familyHe finds a second repository for his anger, his mother. In an absolutely frightful scene, David amuses himself and exorcises his demons by tormenting his mother. Starting with snide remarks while Gail makes their dinner and he eats peanuts, he moves on to throwing peanuts at her.

In a ghastly escalation he physically moves in on her, still holding the bag of peanuts and still chucking them one by one, hitting her face and upper body. He laughs while he’s doing it, demanding she play catch with her mouth, look-back-on-your-childhoodbut Gail is frightened by the twisted brutality he shows her in his “fun”.

The camera stands in David’s place as he backs her into the kitchen cupboards. We see what he sees, his mother’s face wrenched in terror. I fully expected to see her hand search for a knife on the countertop, any weapon to stop him coming at her, pushing her farther and farther into the corner. And the camera switches so we see as Gail sees – an enraged yet cold attacker-son coming at her relentlessly.

didn't-get-on-did-weThe game of terror stopped after Kylie’s entrance to the kitchen to see what was going on. Just a bit of fun, according to David, just relieving some stress. A very weak apology and explanation to his mother, at Kylie’s insistence; stressed out over money, working too hard, anxious about the new baby. Kylie is frightened, but willing to buy it for the sake of peace.

Gail – not so much. She has seen Psycho Dave’s a-lieviolence before. She has been his victim before. Despite her usual willingness to overlook and explain his patent lunacy, she is too shaken by this. She leaves the house for the safety of Sally’s. If I were Kylie, I’d be right behind her!

…dig two graves

There is another saying David might want to remember: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” David will be his own worst enemy in exacting a slow revenge, pleasurable and safe for himself she-dropped-her-nutsif no one else. He will, I think, destroy not only Nick’s marriage but his own and his relationship with his mother. He’ll destroy himself as well.  He does not have the degree of self-control, or introspection, necessary to be an effective Machiavelli and make others suffer while he prospers.

Queen’s Secret: Review

Amazon link for Charles Templeton The Queen's Secret
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Last week I saw a book called The Queen’s Secret by Charles Templeton. Curious to see if it was by the late Canadian journalist of that name, I pulled it off the shelf. Yes, and even better, due to my being in a Royal mood with the expected arrival of HRH Baby, the plot hinges on the line of succession to the throne.

It was published in 1986. Its queen is a fictitious Mary III who has one heir, a daughter.  References are made to real-life monarchs, including Elizabeth II and her father and uncle. It also refers to times of conflict between personal life and duty in their reigns. Conflicts that caused crises for the individuals, the monarchy and the nation.

The book is set in an unspecified future. It is a future in which scientific discoveries and technologies now commonplace clearly have not been invented. Problems that have beset the monarchy in past and present times move the story along.

Buckingham Palace Break-in

Those problems include the political and Daily-Mirror-July-1982 Palace prowler Templeton inspirationreligious aspects of marital choice for Royals, especially those who are heir presumptive or apparent, and the intrusion of media attention into the private lives of Royals and the governance of the country.

According to the book jacket, Templeton got the idea for the book after a man broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982. The intruder succeeded in getting into Queen Elizabeth’s bedroom. When The Queen’s Secret was published, media attention on the Royals was high. Particularly so for Diana and Sarah, wives of Charles and Andrew.

Critic: “quaint and archaic”

We had not yet reached the apex of attention, and tragedy. But we did not know that then, of course. A 1987 review of Templeton’s novel considered the plot outdated. “[T]he glory days of royalty are clearly waning,”  the reviewer said. He called stories about mésalliances of Royals “quaint and archaic to a generation weaned on People Andrew_Sarah_wedding_1986-07-23_wikimediamagazine and prime-time soap operas. The British nobility itself is now in decline…”  Little did the reviewer know, in 1987, that the Royal soap opera had barely begun.

The solution  in the novel to the problem of reconciling the personal and political would not be possible now. Queen Elizabeth made a change in succession protocol in anticipation of William and Kate’s baby. As the firstborn, their child, whether female or male, will in time be the heir apparent. Prior to that change, a firstborn daughter of the monarch was the “heir presumptive”. If a boy was born later, he would displace her in the line of succession.

Victoria is the name of the heir presumptive in this Templeton novel. That’s also the name I’m betting on if William and Kate’s baby is a girl.

Corrie Street July 14/13

Creepy People

Brilliant scenes this week with Roy’s sleepwalking OCD, Emily’s creepy people Windass-Armstrongs in Roversconvalescence and Norris’ fears for his future and especially a Gift of the Magi moment with Tina and Izzy (he’s your baby; no, he’s yours).  But it was the Windass-Armstrong clan that did it for me again. Oh please, God of Corrie, make those creepy people stop!

owen-anna-roversizzy-gary-roversMy husband observed: “I think glad Windasses are worse than mad Windasses”. In the pub, while Tina was trying to work and maintain composure, they fawned over her. Or, in their attempt to give her some space, had happy family discussions about the baby – all within earshot of her. I cringed on Tina’s behalf.

What a horrible strain to try to keep it together while they are wittering tina-tommy-roverson, either directly to her or amongst themselves. I believe that she had no right to keep the baby or put them through the nightmare that she did. However, at that moment I wished she would say to them, ‘listen up – back away now or I take the baby back.’

Space needed

I know she signed the papers and can’t do that – but. Can’t they see that the best way to thank her is to shut up about the whole thing around her? Maybe even give her some space that is free of them? Even jake-is-doing-really-wellIzzy, who has much more sensitivity toward people’s feelings than the others do, can’t shut up. If she isn’t looking doe-eyed at Tina, thanking and thanking and thanking, she’s telling Tina about the baby. Or apologizing for her father. All Owen did was attempt to right a wrong by offering her back the flat. Awkward, yes, but at least he didn’t mention the blessed baby while doing it!

On Friday, Gary and Izzy once again come into the Rovers while Tina is working. He have-a-drink-with-usapologizes to her and Tommy for the night before when he had been insistent they join the clan for drinks. He was drunk, he says. Not a crime in a bar, Tina says.  Being drunk may excuse his aggressive conviviality. But it can’t excuse all the other times he and the rest of them have been getting in Tina’s face.

It’s going to be very hard for Tina when they bring the baby home. Then she will not be able to avoid seeing him and them with him. time-we-all-moved-onSo can’t they give her a bit of a break now, while he’s still in hospital and let her go through her separation and grieving time without constant reminders? I avoid spoilers so I don’t know if Tina is staying or leaving. However, if I were her, I’d have my bags packed and be out of Weatherfield so fast that even racing Windasses wouldn’t be able to catch up with me.

Corrie Street July 7/13

Solomon Redux

King Solomon C14th-Psalter-St.-John's-Cambridge-joh.cam.ac.uk_library_special_collections_manuscripts_medieval_manuscripts_medman_A_K26_K26f10v.htmIn Peter and Leanne’s fight over Simon, I thought of the Judgment of Solomon in determining which of two claimants to a baby was the real mother. On Friday the tale, with Izzy, went to the conclusion: one woman deciding to give up the baby to keep him safe. Had Izzy spoken in Solomon’s court instead of to Gary in the pub patio, I think she would be given the baby Jake/Joe.

I doubt that she will stick with what she said, that the baby should stay with the person with whom he was bonding. Gary would not accept it and neither would Owen and Anna. But she showed she is putting the baby first. She, I think, is the only one doing so.

unspoiltThe turning point for her was Tina saying that the baby was responding to her voice and touch. The solicitor’s letter, saying there would be a hearing in a few months, confirmed her feeling.  A legal battle could take a year or more. Izzy realized that by then, if they won, they take the baby from the only person he knew as his mother. Regardless of biology, she and Gary would be strangers to him. In a moment of clarity, she sees that is unfair to the child.

Baby’s needs or Tina’s needs?

baby photoEarlier, Tina moaned to Tommy that she felt pulled apart by what the baby wanted and what Gary and Izzy wanted. Codswallop! It’s the baby who is being pulled apart by what she wants. He is in an incubator tended by shifts of nurses. At this point, he soon will grow accustomed to new arms holding him.

Tina’s concern for his needs is a smokescreen hiding her own. Maybe that’s subconscious but it needs to will-be-our-faultbe brought to light quickly for the baby’s sake. Maybe also subconsciously, she knows it’s wrong. She called the baby “Jake” after fiercely telling everyone “his name is Joe”. A slip in line delivery or a Freudian slip?

Tina’s enablers

Tina is being enabled in her selfishness by Tommy and, surprisingly, Rita. They know what she is doing is wrong. They had the chance to say so when Tina asked point-blank what they thought. Rita let-Tina-keep-himequivocated, saying she had feared this would happen from the beginning of the mad scheme but now she would support Tina wholeheartedly. Tina then asked Tommy. What could he say but “ditto”? Interesting no one asked Dennis’ opinion. I think he would have told Tina that she has to honour the deal she made no matter how difficult and that delay will only cause stress for the baby.

Rita later tells Tommy that he has to tell Tina that she should not keep the baby. What a Gary-disbelievingdifficult spot for Tommy! And he cannot successfully do it. Rita stands the best chance of getting through to Tina. Her relationship with Tina is of a different order than Tommy’s and there is a remote chance that her opinion might be listened to. By kicking the ball to Tommy, Rita has let Tina and Tommy and the baby down badly.

So in this murky melodrama of maternal izzy-final-frameattachment that feels, unfortunately, all too real, Izzy is the only person truly thinking of the baby’s best interests. The choice she is thinking of is probably not the best for anyone involved. But it does come from an unselfish, pure love of the child.