I’m sorry it took Rita’s marriage ending to see some lovely scenes with her and Norris. In 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 the 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 feeling 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 compassion. 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?