Amid all the tutting about ‘why didn’t your teachers notice?’ and ‘why didn’t you tell me?’, Faye made the best observation about Tim’s inability to read: “You must be dead clever”. Getting by in a word-based world when you can’t read has to take great skill. Hiding it from everyone, including your nearest-and-dearest, takes even more skill.
Sally, and pretty much the whole street, found out about Tim’s illiteracy. She made it all about her, but that’s understandable at least to an extent. He did not adequately explain his frequent absences and his presence with Anna. Sally feared he and Anna were having an affair, and seeing him give Anna flowers seemed to confirm it. Even Maddie came to believe he was doing the dirty on Sally.
So, as Sally chucked his belongings out the upstairs window, he had little choice but to tell her what he and Anna were really up to – reading lessons. He’s embarrassed that everyone knows. Sally goes from gobsmacked to self-recrimination, that she hadn’t noticed, to Tim-recrimination for not trusting her enough to tell her and ask her for help. After all, she points out, she has plenty of experience from helping Rosie and Sophie with their homework, and look how well they turned out.
Anna gets a chance to rub Sally’s nose in her erroneous conclusions about “Anna Slutty Windass” and plans to continue the lessons with Tim. But it will be duelling teachers because Sally quickly did her internet research and gathered her glossy magazines as teaching aids.
If I were Tim, I’d take up Faye’s offer of help. Much more straightforward and much less emotionally loaded. Also she would be likely as good if not better at teaching. If I were the show’s producer, I’d link this storyline to the new community centre. Where better to have adult literacy classes? It would bring the centre back to our screens and make use of a brand-new set. It would also show a real-life issue with both characters we know and a larger community. I would feel bad for subjecting poor Tim to Yasmeen’s attentions because, for sure, she’d be there with bells on. But it would be fun to watch.