Corrie Street May 31/15

Writers and crew made good use of their location shoot in Liverpool. liverpool-lightsLast week it was David’s story. This week, it’s Lloyd and the boys having Steve’s stag night without Steve. Then, as it turns out, without Lloyd.

Nothing is going as Lloyd hoped. He wanted to show them his stag-doLiverpool, so planned a minibus excursion. He forgot about Steve’s last minibus trip, when it crashed. So the stag of honour bowed out. The rest go, but it’s not the same.

old-fella-asleepThe great music and party bar he remembers, The Horse and Cart, is not so bangin’ now. It is depressing, even dead. An old man asleep at a table pretty much typifies the place. Oh, I hope we see him again – just prop him up in a corner anywhere anytime.

tyrone-finds-lloydLloyd goes out for a smoke, and keeps going to the harbour front. He buys himself a bottle and sits there feeling sorry for himself. Tyrone finds him and they talk and drink.

Back at the bar, the boys talk about relationships and Jason bemoans sharon-here-is-waiting-for-a-friendhis lack of one. Things look a little more promising when a pretty woman comes in and visibly eavesdrops. She’s meeting a friend who would be great for Jason, she tells Gary. Whooee, Jason’s interested!

Back at the wharf, Lloyd and Tyrone go aboard a we-are-sailingNorwegian trawler and feel the wind in their hair. The bottle is almost gone by this time, and so are they. When it’s nearly dark, they realize they should go back to the bar. Only Lloyd can’t walk. He falls and tells Tyrone to go get the others and come back for him. Off Tyrone staggers, not sure which direction is which.

so-what-are-you-doing-in-a-gay-barAt the bar, the girl’s friend arrives – name of Leon. Jason explains he’s not gay. They don’t believe him. Sean verifies that Jason is telling the truth. “So what’re you doing in a gay bar?” Well, who’d have thunk it. I wonder if it will be a surprise to the old fella whenever he wakes up.

it-were-right-hereNext we see our boys staggering along the harbour apron in pitch black, looking for the trawler. Finally they find the gangplank, and Tyrone sees only open water at its end. They look up and see the ship steaming out.

Onboard, Lloyd wakes up in his nest of nets and hears the engines. He gets up and staggers to the deck. He sees the lights of Liverpool lloyd-sees-liverpool-in-distancereceding. A crew member comes out of the cabin. ‘What the -?’ he probably says when he sees Lloyd. Next day, on the Street they’re piecing together Lloyd’s disappearance. He won’t be home for a while.  The trawler’s next stop is Tromsø.

Musical Ride

unloading-horse-photo-D-StewartThe RCMP Musical Ride was in Hampton NB last week. The horses stayed at Butternut Stables where I ride. I was there when they arrived and, next day, I ran alongside as they walked from there down Main Street to the soccer field where they performed. Black horses, red serge. Impressive. Imagine them precision riding at top speed.horses on the way to Musical Ride Hampton

“32 horses and riders moving as one, perfect harmony between man and beast, a kaleidoscope of manes and tails and battle lances crisscrossing in a collage of synchronous movement. It takes your breath away.” Lt. Welsh, All the Queen’s Horses, Due South

RCMP-Lenny-photo-D-StewartIt started in the 1870s with the precursor to the RCMP, the North West Mounted Police. The men did fancy drill maneuvers with their horses for fun. In 1904 they performed for the public at fairs in Manitoba. Mounted patrols stopped in 1936, but they kept the horses. The Musical Ride officially became part of the public duties of the Mounties in 1961.

The horses are Hanoverians, raised and trained at the RCMP farm near Ottawa, Ontario. The riders are officers who first learn to ride, then perform. After three years, they return to regular duties.stabled-photo-D-Stewart

I don’t think there’s anything comparable anywhere. Certainly there are armed forces ceremonies that combine tradition and ritual with active duty. The Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace is one. You can watch it – at Buckingham Palace.

RCMP-trailers-Hampton-photo-D-StewartBut the Musical Ride is a moveable feast. The cavalcade (4 tractor trailers and support vehicles) travels across the country annually to cities and small towns to perform. Money raised goes to the sponsoring community groups.

back-of-procession-photo-D-StewartIn much of Canada, the RCMP are the provincial and local police force. But they are also a federal policing agency, equivalent to the FBI in the US. I try to picture FBI agents on horseback, looking non-threatening, looking comfortable. Can’t do it.

Cybil-and-me-ButternutIf you’re in Yarmouth NS, you can see them this weekend. Next week they’ll be back in New Brunswick. June 2 and 3rd, they’ll be in Sussex at the Princess Louise Park. I’ll be there to say hello to the lovely Cybil. Here is the 2015 schedule for NB, NS, Ottawa, SK, QC and NL.

due-southATQH-mtvpersiaPaul Gross’ song Ride Forever kept going through my head as I watched the horses unload. They didn’t come down the ramps the way they do in a Due South episode. Listen, and watch in this youtube video.

 

Living “Equipment”

Military Working Dogs -Augustine G Acuna, Scout Dog, Vietnam Combat ArtArmed Forces Day in the US is the 3rd Saturday in May, honouring those who protect and defend. But what of Military Working Dogs, important contributors to any country’s defence?

The text below is an email from the ASPCA sent in May 2012. With so many touching photos online of present-day K9 teams, who knew this was still the case? I thought treating military animals as equipment to be left behind or destroyed was something long gone in the US Armed Forces. If you are in the US, please email your senators*. If you aren’t, please publicize this and also maybe check into your own military’s practices. I couldn’t find much information on the Canadian Armed Forces, only a couple interesting articles on bomb-sniffing dogs in Afghanistan here.

(ASPCA) Help the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act

Each branch of the Armed Forces uses military working dogs (MWDs) in service to the country. Many of these intelligent, loyal animals serve alongside our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have prevented countless injuries and saved lives.

Unfortunately, these heroic dogs are currently classified as “equipment” by the U.S. Department of Defense. This classification not only trivializes these animals’ contributions, it also makes it difficult to transport dogs serving in foreign lands back to the United States for adoption once they’re ready for civilian life.

The Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act will remedy this issue by reclassifying MWDs as “canine members of the armed forces” and instituting programs to assist with their placement and veterinary care after retirement from service—all without using federal funds. This legislation seems like a no-brainer, and yet the bill has only seven cosponsors in the Senate.

Dogs for Defense Save Lives logoWe need to generate greater support for the Canine Members of the Armed Forces Act in the U.S. Senate. Please visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center online right now to email your two U.S. senators in Washington, D.C., and urge them to cosponsor the bill.

Thank you, advocates, for standing up for America’s military working dogs.

*Looking for updates on the Bill, all I could find was that it was passed, in part, in early 2013. The part reclassifying MWDs as Armed Forces members rather than ‘equipment’ was deleted, meaning that costs of returning them to the US must be borne by adopters instead of their military service branch. (Republished this US Memorial Day from my St. Thomas Dog Blog, May 24/12.) 

 

Corrie Street May 24/15

gail-comes-downstairsDavid on Monday, at the kitchen table late at night, thinking. Gail comes downstairs with advice: go to bed, you need your rest. With perspective, reminder, accusation: I barely slept last night not knowing if I’d see you or the kids again. And, finally, with motherly optimism or motherly delusion.

“Oh, that’s not true,” she says after David speaks aloud a truth he doesn’t want to know. Max that-is-not-truewould rather be with Callum.  But it is true, at least at this moment in his life, and her reassurances cannot jolly David out of looking that reality right in the face.

It’s Callum who Max calls ‘Dad’. He calls David ‘David’. There are reasons, ones that don’t mean he loves Callum more or that he truly has a deeper bond with Callum than with David. But those reasons, even if yeah-it-isGail had or could articulate them to David, wouldn’t mean anything to him right then.

What does strike him, with sad force, is that when Max was lost, it was Callum he phoned. He didn’t call David even though he knew for sure David was nearby.

David’s sadness fills the room, as does his air of resoluteness in facing facts. He had gone over the events of the day and looked straight at what it showed about Max’s choices. Gail’s offering of “that’s not true” seemed paltry, delusional, avoiding what is david-sighs-and-looks-awayreal, seeing the fiction you want to see.

Replaying the scene in my mind, though, I wondered if maybe Gail’s perspective, delusional though it may be, is maybe what is needed. Short-term delusions in order to keep long-term bonds.

In spite of every destructive act of David’s, including to her, Gail persisted in seeing him as ‘a good boy, troubled, but he’ll be all right.’ And you know what? She was right.

max-with-callumWhat David did is good, I think, seeing events and motivations as they are instead of how he wants them to be. The logical outcome would be giving Max to Callum. Is that best? Maybe David should borrow Gail’s maternal blinders. Maybe he needs to stuff his encounter with reality in his pocket for a while and see only the Max he wants to see, the Max who is his son for better or worse.

Corrie Street May 17/15

“Motorhome!” Mary bellows at Todd when he calls her home a caravan. She has told a crowded Rovers about the council officer who said there had been a complaint and she would have to remove her motorhome.

When Julie comes in, Mary goes on the attack, believing her to be the Judas who betrayed her. Julie has no idea what she is talking about, but she gives as good as she gets. Everyone ducks for cover, except Todd and Sean.

Todd stirs it up as much as he can because, of course, he had made the complaint. Sean believes it’s quite possible that Julie would do something behind someone’s back. She hadn’t waited for permission from him or Billy to alert the newspaper about their incident with the inn-keeper.

Sean is on pins and needles, waiting for Billy to return from meeting with his Bishop about that incident and the subsequent newscoverage. Billy walks in and he and Sean go out back to talk. Poor Billy says the Bishop gave him a choice, keep his relationship with Sean very low-key, in the closet so to speak, or leave the parish. He confesses that he told the Bishop that he and Sean were finished, that Sean had been a mistake. Sean believes he is being dumped. Billy says no, he lied. He doesn’t want to end it with Sean, he doesn’t want to have to hide, he doesn’t want to leave the parish.

Two lovely scenes back-to-back, fittingly perhaps, both at the Rovers. One a showdown between two individuals with many onlookers, the other between only two people, a private meltdown witnessed by no one.

In the same Wednesday episode, we were properly introduced to a delightful new character. The little dog who stowed away in Steve’s cab. Welcome, Cookie, to Coronation Street! You can read about who she really is on Bluenose Corrie.

It would also be wonderful if the council officer stayed around too. She is a treat. Like Mary (and Julie), she wears pastels like armour. Although by the end of the week, the motorhome was towed away, I live in hope we’ll see all three together.

Lost and Found

Amazon link to Lost and Found by Elizabeth Hess arts journalist
Click for Amazon link

Lost and Found: Dogs, Cats, and Everyday Heroes at a Country Animal Shelter is a wonderful book. Elizabeth Hess, a New York City arts journalist and author of Nim Chimpsky, writes about volunteering at the Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter near Hudson, New York. She and her family were among the “weekenders” who travel between this rural area and the city. When her daughter wanted a dog, they found one at the shelter and Elizabeth found a world that she hadn’t known before. She volunteered and kept notes.

I’ve had this book for a while, but put off reading it. I thought I would cry too much. I did, and got angry, but not as often as I feared. That’s due to Ms Hess’ writing. She is empathetic but analytic. She acts as a camera, showing us a whole picture from her perspective. She records events and puts them in a larger framework. She says what she thinks about it but lets us draw our own conclusions.

One story stood out for me. A “week-ender” came into the shelter one hot summer day, saying he’d found kittens and couldn’t keep them. Elizabeth knew him from gallery events in New York City, so they chatted about new shows and gossip in the artsy crowd. Finally he remembered the kittens and said they were in a box in his car! But the heat inside a sturdy box with only “a few pencil-sized holes” had done its job. The kittens were already nearly dead. “While Fitzgerald was chatting with me… the cats were in his car baking.” She doesn’t need to say that clearly this urbane man didn’t have the sense to come in out of the rain (or bring kittens out of the sun) or that she felt guilt for not asking the cats’ whereabouts. Both things are there, between the lines.

rescue dog Max before and after picturesThe Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter was a county operation, and therefore responsible for cruelty investigations as well as taking in owner-surrendered animals and strays. It adopted animals out and it euthanized.* It had animal quarters in the shelter and used foster homes and farms. Knowledgeable people committed to the wellbeing of animals staffed this shelter, fortunately.

Ms Hess talks about puppy mills and describes a raid on one. She talks about euthanasia of animals for no reason other than homes have not been found for them. She takes us into the euthanasia room and introduces us to the people who do the killing. A story from a euthanasia technician: just after euthanizing a young dog sick with pneumonia, she saw the young couple who had surrendered her. She overheard them excitedly talking about going to the pet store and what kind of puppy they would buy. They asked how their other dog was. “She’s such a good little dog.  You’ll have no trouble placing her.” The Columbia-Greene Animal Shelter, poster for Animal Art at 2012dog’s illness was curable, but this couple evidently didn’t want to be bothered, and the shelter was full. The “good little dog” had been killed.

You become engaged in the stories and you think long and hard about the issues. This book is neither fluffy animal tales nor a diatribe.  It’s a valuable ethnography of our society’s treatment and attitudes towards pets and those who clean up the mess.

*At the time of the book’s writing. Their website home page states: “We do not euthanize animals for space constraints.” (From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Jan. 13/12)

 

Corrie Street May 10/15

Luke is feeling okay. Maria has dumped him, but he’s going to hang out with the guys. The night on the town with beer and curry got replaced with curry and a couple cans at the café due to Tyrone giving Roy a driving lesson. Still okay, Luke figures, even if the curry won’t be what he was looking forward to. Roy is “a korma kinda guy – mild, inoffensive,” he tells Gary.

Roy serves the meal while telling them the history of curry in the British Isles. He relates a funny moment in Vanity Fair, where Becky Sharp misguidedly eats a chili to cool her mouth after a spicy curry. Well, you had to be there, he realizes as Tyrone, Luke and Gary stare uncomprehendingly at him. He continues ladling the curry, saying he hadn’t made it quite as hot as the traditional recipe from Goa that he found had called for.

Roy and Tyrone on one side of the table talk and eat, savouring the flavours. On the other side, Gary and Luke eat, and look increasingly uncomfortable. Their eyes water and Luke begins pulling at his shirt. But he will not admit it’s too hot for him. He likes curry that blows your shirt off, he’d told Gary.

It’s little moments like that I’ve looked for in Coronation Street lately. They are in short supply.

Sarah and Bethany are wearing on my last nerve, as they are on David’s. Carla and Nick cozying up to each other has been fun. But Erica’s return, and her news, will blow that fun out of the water. Sally and the wannabe Banksy is great, but so far is similar to the sofa story. Increasingly loopy Jenny Bradley is causing fights everywhere. Maria getting a punch was great, just because. The enjoyment in that makes up for Sophie being right about Jenny even while she’s still irritatingly self-righteous.

VE Day 70th

VE Day post, photo Jim Taggart, George Anger, Bill Carley 1944May 8th 1945, Victory in Europe Day, marked the end of one part of World War II. War with Japan continued until two atomic bombs were dropped in July and Japan’s formal surrender was signed September 2nd.

My mother was on Dundas Street East in London Ont. on VE Day. She said when the news spread, everyone ran into the street screaming, laughing, hugging anyone at hand. They stayed outside for hours, revelling in the knowledge that the war was over. Bluebirds were flying over the white cliffs of Dover, the boys were coming home.

Coming home took time. My dad’s official discharge papers are stamped November 28th 1945, Wolseley Barracks, London Ontario. My mother and her parents met him. My 3½ year old brother was in his VE Day post, soldiers on Jeep at Camp Borden England 1944grandpa’s arms. He didn’t know the man they all were hugging and kissing and crying over. But he connected the name with the daddy he’d been told about. He slithered, Mom said, across from Grandpa’s arms to Dad’s.

My parents knew they had been luckier than others in the war and the post-war adjustment. Mom was happy to stop restaurant and factory work and stay home with her child. Dad had spent his war working on army vehicles in England and Scotland. At home, he worked on civilian vehicles. They made their photo wwii Bill Hardy and George Angercontribution to the Baby Boom. The war receded into the background, never forgotten but not active in their lives.

Decades later, Mom found an undeveloped film in a drawer. It wasn’t one of hers. From the printing on it, she saw it was from the UK. Realizing it was Dad’s from the war, she was a bit nervous about having it developed. So was he, I think. What would be on the pictures? Soldiers. Some of them he hadn’t seen since.

photo Bill Stewart Captain US Army Air ForceMy parents-in-law survived it too. They had to wait until VJ Day for it to be over. Bill was a pilot in the US Army Airforce. A blast to his eardrum during training put an end to his hopes to be a fighter pilot. Instead he flew transport planes, cargo and people. Some of his passengers, near the end of the war, were survivors from POW camps and Buchenwald, a concentration camp.

He came home to Kentucky in August 1945. He brought gifts from Paris for a girl he had met when home on leave in 1944. One was a gold sequinned Juliet cap. She wore it at their wedding three months later.

 

Corrie Street May 3/15

Along with Michael, I got teary-eyed as he recited the lyrics of South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening” to Gail during their wedding. It made up for a lot about this long, drawn-out, convoluted story. Then Gail knocked the whole thing in the head, for Michael and me, by saying sorry, can’t do it. And Michael stormed off again. Please, when will it be over?

There was, however, an enchanted evening this week. Roy and new acquaintance Cathy having a cup of tea at her new fold-out table in the allotments. They have adjoining garden plots and, like Roy, she is recently widowed. She tells him that her husband always said he had three loves: her, his ale and his allotment. She is not much for gardening herself, but she wants to keep it in good shape in his memory and it’s a place she feels close to him. Roy understands her, maybe better than she knows.

They drank tea from Roy’s flask and talked about things mundane and important. They each seemed aware that this comfort in the company of another was something they hadn’t had for a long time. It was a lovely, and needed, break for them.

It gave us a break too, a moment to sit back and reflect on the pleasures of ordinary conversation and normal life. That’s something in short supply on the Street right now. platt-kidsThe Platts are sharing their nasty little three-ring circus of deception and crowdedness with almost everybody, Jenny isn’t sharing anything with anyone, Todd is messing with his mother’s love life just for fun, Sean and Billy are headed for a huge and public fight thanks to Julie’s sense of justice, and Tracy is wrecking other people’s lives because she hasn’t got anything else to do.

Michael gave us the words to Some Enchanted Evening, but the expectations of one for him quickly became derailed. Let’s hope Sharif “my middle name is sensitive” Nazir doesn’t derail the enchanted times that Roy and Cathy may have.