Corrie Street May 25/14

Crossed Lines

anna-prepares-to-tell owenYou knew Anna was not going to tell Owen about her deal with Phelan, the one that got Owen out of Phelan’s debt if not the bank’s. You knew something always was going to happen just when she had steeled herself to tell him the real terms of Phelan’s agreement to let Owen and Gary off the hook. A secret nearly but not quite coming out is ‘soaps law’ but, this time, I almost hope she keeps it to herself.

izzy-katy-garyHe is not going to understand. She realized that when Izzy, Gary and Katy, all three upset, barged in just as she was ready to do it and he was ready to listen. Izzy told them she had borrowed from the charity money and got caught before she could return it. She got no sympathy from her father. There are lines that cannot be crossed no matter what, Owen told her. Anna recoiled as she realized that her sleeping with Phelan in order to get her family out from under pay-that-money-backservitude to him was likely another uncrossable line.

It was a nice oblique way of bringing the two stories together. Izzy has been going out of her mind with worry and guilt since she started dipping into the donation funds in order to pay bills. She is an honest person and this has been a difficult choice. Similarly, Anna is essentially an honest person and her guilt about Phelan has been more than she can bear. It is affecting her life with all her family, and especially Owen who interruptedbelieves that his business failure must be the reason she is so distant with him. What else could it be? The only way to convince him it isn’t is to tell him the truth, which is an even worse option.

A burden shared

She almost told Roy and I was half hoping she would. Surely Roy would understand and give good counsel, and at least it would be told. A burden shared is a burden halved and all that. But Roy has a clearly defined sense of morality and little experience in the grey area of situational ethics. What if he didn’t, couldn’t, understand? She would feel even worse, and it would be out there and likely always come between them.

some-things-you-do-not-doIzzy might be a good choice for confidante, I’ve thought. She knows Phelan was coming on to Anna so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise. But she is Owen’s daughter and would her loyalty to him trump the compassion and understanding she has for Anna? Plus this whole situation resulted from Gary winkling out from Izzy what she knew about Phelan and Anna. Izzy isn’t very good at keeping secrets and if Gary knew this one! Too much of a risk.

My advice to Anna is see a professional. Go to a counsellor and get it off your chest. He or anna-rethinking-decisionshe may have good advice on how to deal with this and, if not, would at least be duty-bound to keep your secret. Going on as she has been is not viable, but there are not a lot of options for confession either.

Corrie Street May 18/14

Foster Care

Friday Maddie showed maybe there is more to her than meets the eye. I have been Maddie gives Ben one sixty changealternately bored and irritated by her and Sophie – please get off my screen! – pretty much since her arrival in Weatherfield. The Dickensian tough but vulnerable urchin that the character seems to be modelled after is done best by Dickens. Seeing this week that her story was about to ramp up again, I considered fast-forwarding through those scenes. But then she and her brother repaid me for not doing so.

a-better-homeSitting in Mary’s RV, which Maddie had broken into, trying to plan a future after a series of rash actions, Maddie’s heartache tapped even my sympathies. I could feel her hurt and loneliness, and the desperation of her love for her little brother. And now he’s going to move with his foster parents to Devon. That might as well be in the Antipodes for all Maddie knows about geography or could find the means to travel to, even if she knew where it was.

your-mad-maddie-daysIt crossed my mind that if Mary came in right then, after she got over the shock of a break-in, she’d understand what was happening because it was so palpable. Even Sophie, for once not being shrill and know-it-all, added to the complexity of emotions swirling in that small space.

Sophie presented the other, rational point of view about ‘care’ in both the official and loving senses. Also about legalities in the form of social services and police. That opened do-you-want-to-go-to-devonthe door for Maddie to ask her brother what he wanted. And he told her; he loved Maddie but he wanted to be with his foster parents. Although I expected and would have liked to see Mary arrive and be the peacemaker, it worked out very well without her or any ‘adult’. The principals in this story – Maddie, Sophie and Ben – sorted out this complex and sorry situation by themselves. That was very nice to see.

cuffing-maddieOf course, we couldn’t have anything as simple as Maddie and Ben presenting themselves to the authorities and explaining. There had to be a confrontation and arrests of both Maddie and Sophie. Sophie’s arrest seemed to be mainly for shrieking, and maybe that ought to be sufficient legal cause.

That laid the groundwork, however, for another quite moving scene back at Sally’s when Sophie’s screaming subsided into pleading and enough what-i-was-going-to-saytears to bring some to my own eyes. And, praise the Lord, when Maddie returned, she seemed sufficiently scared by what had happened that she managed to “keep her gob shut” as Tim has often suggested she do.

I was sorry to see Tim pack his small bag and leave at the end of that eventful day. But I could see his reasons for doing so. I hope he returns. If Maddie is going to continue being sofa-surfingpart of the Webster family, I want Tim to be there to inject some common sense into their drama. He makes Sophie more tolerable and is a fabulous foil for Sally. Also, he would be most helpful for Maddie in what might be her ‘one step forward two steps back’ growing up process.

Northern Dancer

There are some athletes so well known that, fan or not, you can place the name without thinking. Gordie Howe, Muhammed Ali, Michael Jordan, Northern Dancer.

Northern Dancer wins Preakness, great athletes50 years ago, the little Canadian Thoroughbred Northern Dancer won the Preakness. Two weeks earlier he’d won the Kentucky Derby, setting a record at 2 minutes broken only by Secretariat (1:59.40) in 1973 and Monarchos (1:59.97) in 2001. Three weeks after the Preakness, he finished third at the Belmont so his name is not on that very short list of Triple Crown winners. But his performance on the track made him famous, and a Canadian hero.

He won 14 of his 18 starts, had two seconds and two thirds. After winning the 1964 Queen’s Plate, he retired due to injury. He then went on to make his real mark in history, as a sire. His name is in the pedigree of three-quarters of all Thoroughbreds alive today. Of the 635 foals he sired, 80% made it to the track, and 80% of those became winners. His progeny also were impressive as sires and dams of great racehorses around the world.

His own breeding was excellent, sired by Neartic with Natalma, but he was a small horse, too small it seemed to be successful on the track. No bidders were interested when he was put up for auction as a yearling. So owner and breeder E. P. Taylor, of Windfields Farm and founder of Argus Corporation, kept him. After Northern Dancer had made his abilities clear, Taylor turned down all offers to buy even a part interest in him. The Dancer repaid that loyalty, literally, with a stud fee of $1 million and plenty of takers. Northern Dancer lived at Windfields Farms in Oshawa and Maryland, where he died in 1990 at the age of 29. His body was returned to the Oshawa farm for burial.

Kevin Chong: Northern Dancer

click for Amazon link to Northern Dancer by Kevin Chong
Click for Amazon link

There are a lot of wonderful books about Northern Dancer and there’s a new one out. Written by Kevin Chong, Northern Dancer: The legendary horse that inspired a nation puts the horse’s story in the context of Canadian culture and collective consciousness in the 1960s. The country was finding its way as a nation, trying to form an identity separate from Great Britain and from the elephant beside us, as Pierre Trudeau called the US. Northern Dancer wasn’t just a phenomenal horse running in the most prestigious races in world, he was our phenomenal horse. And, looking at it the other way around, he wasn’t just a great Canadian horse, he was a great horse among the best of America’s horses.

Throughout Northern Dancer’s two-year-old season, New Brunswicker Ron Turcotte rode him. But when he went to the US, the horse’s connections wanted a known (read American) jockey. Bill Shoemaker first rode him, then switched to Hill Rise for the Triple Crown races. Newcomer Bill Hartack took over on Northern Dancer, beating Shoemaker and Hill Rise by a neck in the Kentucky Derby. Hartack remained the Dancer’s jockey. Ron Turcotte rode him one more time, for his retirement appearance at Woodbine.  Turcotte went on to become a household name himself. He rode Riva Ridge to victory in 1972’s Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes and, a year later, Secretariat to a Triple Crown.

National pride in equine athletes

Northern Dancer created “own the podium” decades before the slogan was test-marketed. His win in the Kentucky Derby was a moment of national pride and self-Northern Dancer Canada Post stamp 1999definition that lasted much longer than the two minutes he took to run the race.

Tomorrow, at Pimlico in Maryland, California Chrome will be trying to match what his great-great (and great)-granddaddy Northern Dancer did in 1964. All Californians, I’m sure, are proud of their home-bred Kentucky Derby winner. So too is this Canadian Northern Dancer fan.

Click to hear a great interview with Ron Turcotte and Kevin Chong on CBC’s The Current.  There is also an excellent post about Northern Dancer’s history and effect on Canada at The Vault: Horse racing past and present. If you want to know more about Northern Dancer’s Canadian jockey, see my Turcotte, the movie.


Corrie Street May 11/14


“You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube, can you?” That’s what David tells Maria when toothpaste-back-in-the-tubehe sees that her use of a misunderstanding is spiralling beyond her control. She has not a clue what he’s talking about. It has been truly painful this week watching Maria trying to be master manipulator. There are reasons for this.

First, the character. Poor Maria, as Todd toothpasteput it so well, is pretty, vapid and desperate. She is trying to regain happiness and a perfect opportunity dropped in her lap – Tyrone the good, and memories of carefree youth. But it requires strategy and Maria cannot strategize her way out of a paper bag.

Second, the logic. The text message that started this sorry tale came from an unidentifiable caller. That’s why Tyrone thought it was Kirsty with a blocked phone number. Major panic ensued, especially after a second text. So Fiz, woman of action, david-with-phoneredialed the number. By convenient coincidence, David answered Maria’s phone and twigged. However, there is a lot unexplained in all this. I thought the phone number was not visible. Next day, Maria explained to David that she had replaced her phone and had a new number unfamiliar to Tyrone. Maybe this was due to the writers seeing the ‘oops’ in their writing. But only an unfamiliar number doesn’t adequately explain why Tyrone freaked out so much so quickly. Why not hit redial right away if you have a number?

Third, the cliché. Unfinished conversations leading to misunderstanding do happen in real life. But they are an overused and ridiculed staple of soaps. A lot of action on Corrie Street recently has reminded me of American soaps, and I’m not used to that. Pregnancies or pregnancy scares from wife and girlfriend at exactly the same time, as happened to Peter. A discussion or admission of something goes awry because one person interrupts maria-trying-to-explainor forestalls what the other is trying to say. The moment is lost, wrong conclusions drawn. We saw that this week with Nicholas as Leanne tried to tell him about Kal.

And that’s how the whole thing started with Maria and the texts. Tyrone, normally the most polite of men, kept cutting Maria off when she was trying to explain that she had sent the original text. She’d get two words out and he’d talk over her, until she realized his misunderstanding might be the wedge Maria-takes-opportunitybetween him and Fiz that would help her. Then, of course, as David said, a whole truckload of toothpaste came out of the tube and it became way too late to put it back in. Explaining herself would be embarrassing and, as the tension between Fiz and Tyrone increases, Maria’s chance to get Tyrone increases also. But this type of sneaking around and plotting isn’t Maria’s forte. Neither should it be Coronation Street‘s.

Corrie Street May 4/14

Tina’s War

say-that-again Tina's warPeter is slick with the ladies. He has proved he can juggle wives, lives and emotions. But when Tina girded herself for battle, Peter didn’t stand a chance. Tina has nothing to lose. She had already lost Peter, so one final surge would either leave her exactly in the same position or would win her the prize.

She started her preparations at Audrey’s salon. ‘Give me the works’ was her instruction, and I could hear the bell toll for Peter and his marriage. It was the first time that I can remember someone coming out of Audrey’s Peter-watches-Tina-in-Roversactually looking different than when she went in. Looking good, with armour of make-up and hair mousse in place, Tina sought her quarry.

Of course Peter was at the Rovers, and of course he noticed. He tried to keep his emotional distance – have a good time, shouldn’t let that go to waste. But he didn’t have the sense to keep his physical distance. He had to go out back for a smoke. How many times had he chased Tina out to that same patio when she was putting garbage out or getting cases of whatever? Had he been thinking strategically, he’d have gone out the peter-kisses-tinafront door to the sidewalk for his smoke – somewhere public, somewhere even Tina wouldn’t risk standing very close to him, kissing him, telling him she’d be home alone all night.

If Carla had been at the Rovers, she would have known something was up with Tina. If Tracy had seen Tina and witnessed her interaction with Peter and their mutual disappearance out back, she Tina says you can say stoplikely would have detected something amiss. But alas, no woman with her radar up was there and paying attention. Steve should have known. But, like Peter, he fails to see the nuances of female wiliness. Like Peter, he is just as likely to fall into the trap.

“You can say stop”

And so of course Peter went to Tina’s place. He did not need to, should have known that doing so was the stupidest thing he could possibly do. But I think he had the best intentions, to tell her he planned to stay with Carla and Carla only. Probably he had a bit of cockiness about it too: he knows how to tina-in-bedroom-doorwayhandle women. He can pick them up and he can let them go and do both with style and grace.

But for all his skills as a Lothario, he was a babe in the woods once inside her apartment. Not a snowball’s chance that he was coming out of there in time to make the movie and dinner with his wife and child. After he finally left, he did the only thing that seemed reasonable to him at peter-drinking-in-factorythe time: go to the factory, find a bottle and get wasted. But he should have stayed there all night. Going home to the wife and child in the state he was in showed just how rattled he is by all this.