Corrie Street Mar. 30/14

Amid the construction Tuesday, Owen and Gary discuss what makes a man.  What is bravery.  Gary says a from-a-bloke-whosoldier in war.  Owen says someone who does what is needed to keep his loved ones safe.  Both are right, and both say essentially the same thing but frame their argument in terms of their own experience.

Gary speaks from his time in Afghanistan.  Owen speaks from his time raising two girls on his own.  Their point is how does a man handle a difficult situation.  They are in one right now.  Phelan is enjoying working them mercilessly and goading them about their inability to do anything about it.  Gary keeps wanting to do something; take a jab at him, the-same-girlgo to the police and confess, call Phelan’s bluff.  Owen is playing the game with Phelan.   Yessir, no sir, will that be all sir?  Grovel or crawl, and smile.  Owen tries to keep his patience with both Phelan’s gloating and Gary’s temper.  Gary keeps his fists to himself only by Owen physically restraining him.

Owen gives Gary, and us, a bit more of his story.  When his wife left him, he wanted to just drive into a wall.  But she had also left their kids.  He had to take care of them, so what he wanted no longer could matter. It was good to hear more about his pre-Windass your-son-is-not-yet-a-year-oldlife.  It’s an Owen we don’t know that much about: middle of the night baby feedings, consoling a heartbroken eight-year-old.  Mothering and fathering them to adulthood.

Owen tells Gary that he is now the one responsible for that grown-up eight-year-old as well as a baby, so what he would like to do about, or to, Phelan doesn’t matter.  He needs to suck it up and do whatever it takes to keep Phelan happy and, more importantly, quiet.  That, he says, is what a man, a brave man, does – whatever is necessary to protect those who rely on you.

you-are-preparedGary doesn’t extend his argument to a discussion of what a soldier does in a case where his own actions result in a messy situation.  But he knows that it is the same as what Owen is saying – whatever is necessary to protect his fellow soldiers.  I’m sure he knows too that the point of military training is to learn to not jeopardize the safety of anyone by acting before thinking.

Corrie Street Mar. 23/14

Tina hangs up her coat in the Rovers’ back hall, listening to Carla extol the virtues of tina-hangs-up-coatPeter the romantic, Peter the sex god.  A surprise overnight getaway to a posh hotel – what a guy!  Who could ask for more?  Well, Tina for one.  The posh hotel was supposed to be hers.  Peter wanted to make up for her always being second to Carla, so suggested a romantic night away.  But Carla took the call from the hotel, and why would she assume the room hadn’t been booked for Peter and her?

tina-listens-to-carlaGet used to it, Tina, this is what it’s like.  You will come second to the wife and the wife’s assumptions of hotel bookings and the wife’s cooking of dinner.  Sneaked kisses and conspiratorial glances are good, and they need to be because that’s the best you’re going to get.  The thrill of maybe getting caught, maybe a look being seen by the wrong person.  The risk is a large part of the romance of an affair.

This affair is being played awfully close to home; same street, shared local, shared carla-and-peter-in-roversfriends.  There are a lot of balls to juggle and Peter has them. He comes to the Rovers to explain to Tina what went wrong with their hotel plans, but Carla drops in.  With Tina right there, he plays kissy-face with Carla as she tells Liz and anyone who cares to hear what a wonderful husband she has.  If Carla had looked at Tina, she might have wondered about her expression.  Maybe not all share her joy in her perfect marriage.  liz-look-of-disgustLiz’s thoughts about Peter’s acts of love and devotion were reflected perfectly on her face.  Peter caught it, did Carla?  She didn’t seem to, but sometimes one can see something without it fully registering at the time.  Later, a lot of things can add up and make sense.

What’s adding up for Tina is that she can’t play the long game.  It’s too close at hand, and your-romantic-prowess-too demeaning not only to have to wait on the availability of one person but of two.  Carla does not know it, but Tina must make her plans according to Carla’s needs and whims.  And, with everyone being so near each other, Tina gets to hear the before and after of marital life for Carla and her husband, Tina’s lover.

For Peter, this threesome is a real test of his strategy, navigation and gambling skills.  When bigamously married to Shelley and Lucy, his two households were in different peter-kisses-tinaparts of town.  In his seduction of Carla while married to Leanne and of Leanne while engaged to Carla, there was a fourth party in the game.  That made it more complex but also gave him breathing room.  Both women had to take their fiancés/husbands into account so weren’t always free to see him.  And when, as with Carla after Frank’s demise, there wasn’t another man, there was always the bottle, providing endless excuses for Peter to disappear without explanation.  Now he’s called upon to give reasons, which his AA friends are unwittingly supplying, but he still is peter-looks-for-tinaanswerable and can’t just say ‘I was blotto.’  Now, it’s just him and Carla, married, and Tina, free agent and in love.  Success depends solely on his skills.  It’s a game of chance, and he likes those.  He’s a bookie without a shop, a gambler without a racetrack.

Lloyd, I think, would choose Dusty’s version of The Look of Love, so here it is.

Corrie Street Mar. 16/14

I’m sorry it took Rita’s marriage ending to see some lovely scenes with her and Norris.  said-rita-nowIn particular, the two of them having tea and a heart-to-heart was good for all of us and showed how very much he cares for her and vice versa.

So often we just see him being nosy and judgemental about everyone and everything on the street.  We forget that he too has lived a full life, and has loved and dreamed.  He even carries a bit of a torch for Rita.  She relies on him, more than she usually is willing to admit.  We don’t often see them speak of personal and emotional matters though.  Norris believes in being the button-downed man.  Even when he is concerned and being supportive, he rarely verbalizes his feelings or wishes to hear norris-listensthe minutiae of another’s emotional state.  While he loves gossip, he doesn’t really want the emotional backstory to it.

We’ve seen a couple wonderful Norris moments lately.  Both were due to Hayley really and involved ballroom dancing, a passion they shared.  Norris taught Roy to dance before Roy took Haley for her big surprise in the Blackpool ballroom.  And, at Hayley’s wake, he saw something amiss with Mary and followed her out to the Rover’s patio.  He saw her dancing alone to music only she heard and he offered to partner her.

Now, with Rita heart-broken and feeling foolish, he alone of her concerned friends actually gets her to talk about it.  Emily and Mary had come offering sympathy and words of advice, she drove them out of the shop.  She didn’t want a fuss, didn’t want anyone incredibly-luckyfeeling sorry for her.  Norris quietly put on the kettle and sat her down with tea and biscuits.  And out it all poured.  He just let her talk.

At the end of it, she realized she had been horribly rude to two very good friends.  She invited Emily, Mary and Audrey to join her and Norris at the Rovers.  They had a good evening together, celebrating Rita’s birthday, yes, but more importantly their long-standing friendship.

Most of the current storylines of cheating, intrigue and nastiness are unsoftened by you-are-strongercompassion.  So it is especially nice to see one, the abrupt departure of Dennis with Gloria, followed by some quiet reflection and affection.  Rita herself might ask, why should it always be the young’uns having all the high drama?  It is not only the young ones who can break hearts and have theirs broken.  But viewers might also ask, why is it being left only to the older characters to give us those necessary but increasingly rare glimpses of shared history and friendship?

late-husband-lawrenceDifferent topic, but I have to mention it. Looking at the tiny urn of bingo lady’s husband’s ashes, Beth asks, “was he quite a little fella?”  LOL!

Corrie Street Mar. 9/14

The Rovers was a sad place Friday.  Islands of unhappiness, caused by people manipulating other people’s emotions just to see if they could.

dennis-and-ritaRita and Dennis, looking anywhere but at each other, filled with fears and resentments.  Gloria, the bane of Rita’s existence, is leaving.  Rita hopes that will mean her marriage will get back on track.  Dennis hopes so too, kind of.  He also is thinking of Europe and adventure with Gloria.  She asked him to go with her, asking if marking time behind the counter of a sweet shop was enough for him for the rest of his life.

Rita and Dennis are so miserable, and their companions Emily and Mary so busy trying to not intrude on that misery, that none of them notice Marcus nearby, head in hands.  marcus-head-in-handsCompared to him, their table looks like a party.  He has missed a house viewing with Maria, the house that may have been ‘the one’ for them.  He went to return Todd’s phone and one thing led to another – which was Marcus jumping on Todd and hauling him up to the bedroom.  Infidelity to Maria, with a man, and not turning up to see the house that would complete his transformation to straight man with family.

Although they don’t realize it or care at the moment, Dennis and Marcus are doing the same thing.  They are returning to what and who they are.  Both decided to live someone else’s life for awhile, for the love of someone else.

dennis-sees-life-unfoldDennis, I believe, does love Rita and what she represents – familiar memories of his youth on Coronation Street, security and friendships.   But Gloria must remind him of his mother and of his own dreams and aspirations for excitement.  Those dreams are not dead for him, nor are they for Gloria.  Rita has made it clear that they are for her.

Marcus isn’t swept away by love for Todd and knows full well that Todd does not love maria-talks-about-househim.  Marcus does love Maria.  She is part of a package he wants, fatherhood and family.  But he has been gay for much longer than he’s been straight.  Also, Marcus is an intelligent and thoughtful man.  Maria is pleasant and personable and caring but has about as much depth as a birdbath, and less ‘edge’.  Todd is everything Maria is not.  And he’s a man.

Both Marcus and Dennis have had someone more like them tantalizing and teasing them.  take-it-easy-marcusTodd and Gloria have repeatedly pointed out the dreariness of the humdrum lives chosen by their targets.  Their cattiness hit the marks.  The only block to happily-ever-after for the new proffered relationships is that both Gloria and Todd are flakes and users.  Gloria might like the thrill of taking Dennis away from Rita, but ultimately she needs someone perhaps more stable than he, and certainly someone richer.  Dennis needs the same.  And Todd?  Maybe when he grows up and gets over whatever turned him so nasty, he’d be good for Marcus.  But now, no.  Seducing Marcus is just sport for him, to gloria-and-jaquarsee if he can do it.  Too bad Gloria peeled out of town before she and Todd could high-five each other.  They both proved they could do what they set out to do.

Turcotte, the movie

If you live in or are from New Brunswick, if you’re Canadian, if you like horseracing, the dvd cover Secretariat's Jockey Ron TurcotteNFB has a film for you:  Secretariat’s Jockey:  Ron Turcotte (2013).  In 1973 Mr. Turcotte, already well known in racing circles, became famous world wide as the man who rode Secretariat.

The Triple Crown has been won only eleven times since it was established as the pinnacle of Thoroughbred racing in America.  Never has a horse won it in such jaw-dropping style as Secretariat did.   And Ron Turcotte was on his back for all three rides.

As a young man in northern New Brunswick, Mr. Turcotte worked in the woods with his father and brothers.  With a downturn in that industry, he moved to Toronto in search of a job.  He had worked with horses at home and knew them well, and he was a small man.  Still, working as a jockey was a suggestion that came from someone sports illustrated cover 1973 with Secretariat and Ron Turcotteelse.  He tried it, liked it and found he was good at it.  Eventually he went to the big leagues – Kentucky.  There he met Penny Chenery and her horses and the rest is wonderful horseracing history.

His riding career ended horribly in 1978 with a race accident that paralyzed him.  But he stayed associated with horseracing, not as the trainer that many said he would have been so good at, but as an ambassador for the sport and for jockeys.  He knows firsthand the physical, psychological and financial costs of such a risky occupation.  He also knows the hard work of training, and the thrill of race days and wins.

Ron Turcotte takes us to the races

Mr. Turcotte takes us on a road trip to Kentucky.  There we meet the other two jockeys of those five years of three Triple Crowns, Jean Cruguet (Seattle Slew 1977) and Steve Cauthen secretariat running the belmont stakes(1978 Affirmed). We go with him to Churchill Downs on Derby Day 2012.  We go on to Maryland, where Triple Crown talk is in the air when I’ll Have Another wins the second leg.  Then to New York and the dashing of hopes when I’ll Have Another is pulled from the Belmont Stakes due to the threat of laminitis.  The Triple Crown wait continues, a much longer dry stretch than even the 25 year one after Citation in 1948 that Secretariat and Ron Turcotte broke.

Ron Turcotte at Ron Turcotte Bridge Grand Falls NBWe go back home to Grand Falls, NB, driving over the magnificent falls on the “Ron Turcotte Bridge.” We meet his family and friends and go to his home.  Seeing the photographs, trophies and statues in his living room, I thought of the house of a man similar in many ways to Mr. Turcotte.

Dale Dufty, harness racing driver

It is a small house near St. Thomas where the late Dale Dufty, a retired harness racing driver, lived.  I had the good fortune of Harness racing driver Dale Duftybuying a saddle from him.  Good fortune both because I really like the saddle and because I got to meet him.  His house was filled with awards, photos and memorabilia of his favourite horses.  He repaired and made tack and racing harness, usually while watching races on a specialty channel.   Like Mr. Turcotte, his love of horses and the sport of horse racing never disappeared. He too was happy to share his great knowledge of horses and tracks, owners and fellow drivers, great risks and great joy.

Click for Amazon link to The Will to Win book
If you want to learn more about Mr. Turcotte, he and Bill Heller wrote his life story in The Will to Win.  It is an excellent read. (click cover for Amazon link)

For my take on the 2012 Triple Crown run, see I’ll Have Another.

Corrie Street Mar. 2/14

Monday we saw scary Fiz.  In the past few weeks, we’ve seen worried Fiz, caring Fiz and after-what-i've-seenhurt Fiz.  My husband and I include the latter three in the large category of irritating busybody Fiz.  Scary Fiz is a category unto itself.  A hard and implacable face, with eyes that burn right through you.  My husband said if Jennie McAlpine hasn’t done Shakespearean theatre, she ought to.  Lady Macbeth comes to mind.

The reason for her anger is a burst pipe in the café and what Fiz sees as Anna’s ineptitude in getting it fixed and cleaned up.  It gives her an excuse to call Roy (like he leak-made-worseneeds to worry about the café right now).  Roy is not where he said he’d be and the alarm sirens go off.  Fiz insists on calling the police.  Then, to make matters worse, she insists that she will tell them whatever is necessary in order to get them actively looking for Roy.  Oh great, Fiz is teetering on a blab-all brink of jealousy-fueled hurt about Hayley’s death and someone else knowing something she didn’t – and she’s going to talk to the police?

But Anna can’t stop her, doesn’t try hard enough in my opinion, and the police come.  Two more shifty looking “concerned” friends than Fiz and Anna, I can’t imagine.  They tell about Hayley dying and Roy being inconsolable.  Then Fiz feels it necessary to add “and feeling guilty”.  What a great choice of word to use to a police officer about a missing person who has just had a death in the family.

he-is-vulnerableOk, she’s worried and Hayley charged her with looking after Roy.  But I wish she’d remember the list Hayley left for Roy, which Fiz read:  the last item to Roy was “look after Fiz”.  Hayley neither considered nor asked Fiz to be Wonder Woman.  If she’d only think back a moment to the hubbub of the funeral and the strife and heartbreak surrounding Hayley’s death, Fiz might think of Roy and his personality.  If anyone doesn’t want fuss and bother and will run a mile from it, it’s Roy.  And that’s all he’s done, got away from the madding crowd.

keeping-secrets-does-thatBut we see in what she says to Anna throughout that day and the next, she’s still angry about not having been told in advance what Hayley was planning to do.  Anna is the handiest person to take this out on.  Fiz does this by staking her claim as Lord Protector of Roy and what is Roy’s.  To that end, she is willing to involve the authorities and spill the beans about Hayley’s suicide;  “whatever it takes.”  If official suspicions are aroused about the circumstances of Hayley’s death, Fiz’s high-flown sentiments of wanting Roy home safe and sound may only land him in legal difficulties.  Maybe she doesn’t realize that, or maybe she just doesn’t care.  She’s angry at him too.  He will pay, one way or another, for not including fiz-phones-for-royFiz in the loop.  Never mind that Hayley herself pretty much handed Fiz a roadmap of her intentions on her final day; the fact that Fiz didn’t get it is Roy’s fault, and Anna’s and Carla’s and, sadly, probably Hayley’s too.