Corrie Street Feb. 28/16


Tuesday, a thump-thump-thumping sound might have been heard in leanne with policethe Weatherfield Police Station: Les Battersby turning in his figurative grave. His daughter Leanne was there to grass up her son.

During a football game, Simon seriously injured another player. Was it just in the course of play or was it deliberate? No one knows for sure, but Simon tells Zeedan that he had intended to hurt the kid. Zeedan then tells Leanne. She asks Simon and he gives mixed messages in his replies. With his recent history of violence toward her, she cannot simply take it on faith that he did not intend harm.

So, against every maternal instinct and every predisposition in her Battersby genetic structure, she goes to the police. She tells them leanne-in-stationeverything, not just Simon’s attack on the boy but also his violence toward her . I don’t think she’d planned to do that. Maybe, once she started, she couldn’t stop until she had got the whole story out. Maybe the police became her counsellor, her confessional.

The police question Simon. He says he did not intentionally injure the boy. In the end, it turns out that is the truth. A parent had recorded the game and caught the moment of the fight. It was an accident. Simon is surprised and angry that no one automatically believed him. view into interrogation-roomHe, however, conveniently overlooks his initial statement to Zeedan that led to everyone’s erroneous assumption. He blames his mother, piling more guilt on top of that she already feels for not having believed in him and for turning him in.

Peter criticizes Leanne’s parenting

He phones his dad so that Greatest Absent Father in the World Peter can rip into Leanne about the horrible things she is doing to his son. And somewhere Les Battersby is smiling to himself and saying to Leanne, ‘that’s what you get for being a grass.’

Too bad Simon only knows his father’s family. If he knew his adoptive mother’s family, he would learn that there is nothing he can do that would shock them, no bad behaviour that they had not already done, leanne starts to grassand they would likely be able to teach him quite a lot that he’s never even thought of. Leanne has wanted to be a good role model for him. That has meant keeping her sketchy past and that of her family from him. Perhaps it’s time to let him know that his family has some big bad-boy shoes, and he can’t hope to fill them.

Westminster Dogs

2012-02-14 hunter walker observer“Crategate” exploded in Mitt Romney’s campaign for the US Republican leadership, just as his Irish Setter Seamus’ bowels did when he was strapped in a crate on the roof of the family car for a 12-hour ride.

This story finally hit the media this week [Feb. 2012*]. Protestors used the publicity around the Westminster Dog Show held this week in New York City to garner attention for what Romney did to his dog.

And the winner of Westminster has caused great excitement in the once-yearly media attention paid to dog shows. But another Westminster story got buried by the other two.

Pedigree ads

Pedigree shelter dog adWestminster dropped Pedigree as a sponsor. Why? Because they didn’t like the ads that Pedigree runs during the broadcast. They were “too sad”, they said, showing shelter dogs in cages. The wrong image of doggyness, evidently, to display while the Olympic athletes of dogdom showed their stuff.

How weird is this? Usually in advertising, it’s the sponsors who pull out because they don’t like what the ‘sponsees’ are doing. Westminster must be a very expensive event to put on. Pedigree presumably has the big money needed in that it has been a major sponsor of Westminster for the past 24 years.

Shelter fundraising

I’ve been impressed that Pedigree holds a shelter fundraising drive during Westminster and that their ads show the other side of the dog world. Dogs that are lucky to get any food no matter what quality, that don’t have someone worrying about tartar buildup on their teeth. I’ve thought their Westminster shelter dogs ads are a good antidote, the yin and yang of “man’s best friend”.

Komondor in ring at WestminsterIt’s fun watching beautiful show dogs. I ooh and aah, then look at my own. I have a purebred who probably was born in a show kennel. A Standard Poodle, he became a puppy mill breeding dog. That’s behind him now and I hope he’s forgotten it. I look at the Poodles in the ring, with their leonine hair. “You could look like that” I tell him, in his short serviceable clip. He could, but I’m not willing to put the time and effort into it. I worry about ensuring he’s well fed, his coat mat-free and his body exercised.

When watching Westminster, I’ve got a purebred reality check beside me. If I didn’t have him? Maybe I’d think, wow, I’d like a dog just like the one on tv. Go out, spend a fortune on a puppy. Then not have the interest or time to put into showing (which is a full-time job, not a dabbling hobby), and the dog becomes too much work and – that’s how dogs end up in shelters and pounds. Not all of course, but enough.

Westminster purebreds, ad mutts

What I’d like to see in Pedigree’s ads at Westminster are the purebred Poodles, Mastiffs and Cocker Spaniels that are in pounds and breed-specific rescues. The mongrels in the ads make no explicit connection to dog shows or breeders. If that connection was made, Roscoe hound cross in Pedigree adWestminster might have a valid reason to object. But would it be grounds to fire a sponsor?

Dog breeders, of all people, ought to know about the neglect and abuse of dogs and ought to be outraged about it. Dogs are their vocation and avocation. What’s wrong with Pedigree reminding us that there are dogs desperately in need? The Westminster Dog Show and the AKC ought to be doing that themselves.

*From my St. Thomas Dog Blog Feb. 17th, 2012, when it seemed that the US Republican leadership campaign was as strange as it could ever possibly get. Bwahahaha!

Corrie Street Feb. 21/16


What can you say about Eva’s karaoke performance of Hey Big eva-strikes-pose for karaokeSpender at the creepiest dinner party imaginable? Nothing, except va-va-voom!

Richie Rich O’Driscoll and his wife are slimy, pretentious snobs. They are the upscale twins of Pat Phelan and his now ex-wife. Eva got dragged to their house by Aidan for what she thought was a party and turned out to be dinner. Her dress said ‘Party’. The other women’s dresses, while quite glam, did not.

Eva sings the-minute-you-walkShe and Aidan arrived late. Richie and Mrs. Rich did not let that go overlooked. Plenty of gibes from them, and snooty looks from the other guests. Poor Eva looked like she wanted the floor to swallow her up.

It got worse as the episode progressed. Richie put a big bowl on the table and told everyone to put their car keys in it. No, it was for phones. So rude when guests can’t stay off their mobiles. Even with the explanation, it still seemed like the prelude to a mate-swapping orgy from another era.

eva sings to richie as other man watchesThat feeling continued when Mrs. Rich invited everyone to adjourn to the lounge for the evening’s entertainment. She brushed past Aidan and Eva and purred “we need a bit of fresh meat,” and pinched Aidan’s behind. Oh, run as fast as you can, these people think they live in MadMen!

eva leans over richie and singsIn the retro glitter lounge, there were overstuffed chairs and sofas on which to lounge. And a karaoke machine. Time for the newcomers to show their stuff, Richie Rich said. Aidan demurred, not his thing.* Richie upped the bullying. Too bad, he said, all the possible O’Driscoll orders flying out the window. He and his smarmy smile said “our guests sing for their supper.”

Hey Big Spender

So Eva bit the bullet, and then some! She picked the song that close up of eva leaning over richiematched her dress as well as the company around her. She zeroed in on Richie Rich. Hey big spender. I thought he was going to faint, or something. But he also had a calculating glint in his eyes as he sized her up. Mrs. Rich looked like she was enjoying the show just as much as he was. That did not make her seem like a nicer human being at all.

eva turns away from richie at end of song*This was fun because, with actor Shayne Ward’s claim to talent show fame, it seemed like maybe setting up a showcase for his singing. Not so obvious, our Corrie!


Michael Crummey wrote of Kathleen Winter’s novel Annabel, “a beautiful book, brimming with heart and uncommon wisdom.” That’s on the book jacket. It’s true. This is a beautiful love story – of two young people, a family, friends, and a big land.

Amazon link for Annabel
Amazon link for Annabel

It was one of the books chosen for 2014’s Canada Reads on CBC Radio. Despite (or because of) the praise it received, I decided to avoid it at all costs.

Its Labrador setting interested me – but. It sounded too much like it was good for you. “Diversity” and “inclusiveness” were used to describe its story. These are words that I used to like but now make me gak like a cat with a hairball. Hearing them now used too earnestly, too combatively. Too often, too everywhere.

Last time I was at the library, there was Annabel in a display rack. I stopped and looked at it, went on, then came back. I took it, reasoning that if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to finish it. Too quickly I finished it, even reading and rereading as slowly as I could. I wanted it to go on forever.

People and Places of Annabel

It took a few pages to overcome my resistance and hook me. I still feared it would be a misery of a read, filled with horrible, heartbreaking things happening. And there are those. But, as the characters do, you get past them somehow. It’s how Kathleen Winter tells the story, I guess. You care about the people, and they all have something very good in them (well, all but a few of them). I’m not going to tell you anything about the plot. You’ll have to take my word that it is a rare and joyful experience to read.

Annabel - Sunset-NWRiver-WikipediaYou move into the story – into the houses and the towns and the landscape. And the story moves into you. I realized just how much when I said aloud to the book “You’re up by Bannerman Park!” when a character, lost, describes what’s around him to another character over the phone.

Books can make you laugh out loud and cry. Rarely do they make you simply smile as you read passages that are so lovely you want to imprint them on your mind and memory. Annabel is one of those books. You want to know what happens after the story ends, and you also just want to remember what was in the pages.

Corrie Street Feb. 14/16


Campaigning means to engage in: a, military operations for a specific faye-getting-pregnantobjective, b, a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose, c, competition by rival political candidates and organizations for public office ( Sally’s campaign for council, I think, fits all three usages – together, at one time.

She seems already to be progressing with what you might call a scorched earth strategy. And her official campaign hasn’t even started. She has not declared herself an official candidate for office testimonial-for-one-of-my-pamphletsyet. She is just feeling the situation out.

Oh dear Lord, what will she do when she actually is a candidate? With a Team? With brochures and buttons, knocking on doors of people she does not know? More importantly, doors of people who do not know her? I am waiting with bated breath, hoping she files the papers and runs – like General Sherman over Georgia.

you-were-rummaging-around-food-banksAt the café, trying to enlist Anna’s help, she managed to offend every individual in Anna’s family and every social group of which they are representative. Single parents, the working poor, teenage mothers, those with mobility issues, the military and those with PTSD. “You are the jackpot, really, politics wise!” It was an offence tour de force.

Last week in a practice run at meeting her public, Sally had a brief chat  gary-saw-his-bezzy-matewith Alex who is working at the café. “It’s nice you’ve got a job,” she said in the voice she uses to convey her open-mindedness and inclusiveness. According to a Bluenose Corrie post, “some disability campaigners say that Coronation Street was showing itself to be anti-employment for disabled people” by Sally’s remark.

Offence over offensiveness

Having already snorted with laughter at the episode’s quick little reference to Sally’s monumental insensitivity, I snorted with disbelief at the killed-right-in-front-of-himobjection to it. Seeing it this way suggests lack of familiarity with Coronation Street. There would be cause for outrage if Sally did not offend Alex. Then he would be being discriminated against for receiving different treatment than everyone else on the Street. I think Sally can say, with justification, that she is equal opportunity all the way. Especially when it comes to offending people.

campaigning sally-turns-to-schmooze-mary

Farm Dog

Being a farm dog is the diplomatic posting of the canine career spectrum. They have to be friend, greeter and protector. They have to be independent but know their place, both geographically and in the social hierarchy. It’s a tough job.

farm dog doing stable roundsThey are not fenced in. They have free rein over their property but must stay within its boundaries. No chasing squirrels across the road just for fun. No chasing other farm animals – cats, chickens, cattle or horses (unless specifically told to round up livestock). Farm dogs learn how to manoeuvre safely around large animals, and be gentle with small ones.

They must protect farm animals, people and property from all predators, four- and two-legged. They must be able to read people and other animals, who is friend and who is foe. A good deep bark and growl is an asset. But they cannot be too intimidating. They are ambassadors for their farm.

Farm Ambassadors

When a farm relies on visitors, the farm dog is part of the public face of the business. At a horse boarding stable, for example, a lot of people are coming and going all through the day. First-time visitors drop in to to ask about boarding or lessons. Horse owners, riding students, veterinarians, farriers, other horse people are there on a regular basis. The dog must assess the person quickly, and make the suitable greeting.

Often visitors bring their own dogs with them. The resident dog must be accepting of these other dogs on his or her turf. The visiting dogs may or may not be farm dogs themselves, so they may know how to act in a barn and with another farm dog, or not. Either way, the resident farm dog must be tolerant and gracious.

Stable dogs must know when to stay out of the picture – like when people are there for serious riding or training or horse business. They must also know when it’s time to be the centre of attention – like farm dog portraitwhen kids want to hug them, dress them up or play games with them. They need to be quietly friendly (read non-threatening) with people who fear dogs. In those cases, they are not only ambassadors for their farm but also their species and, sometimes, for their breeds. I overheard someone say about a farm dog, “I was scared of German Shepherds, but then I met her.”

It takes a special dog to be a successful farm dog, and they live in memory for generations of their family and their friends.

Corrie Street Feb. 7/16

Tracy and Todd

todd-sits-down-with-tracyEavesdropping on a chat in a workplace – Tracy and Todd in the florist shop. On Thursday they discussed the newest complications in Tracy’s life, a low key analysis of the situation she is in.

Amid the trauma and drama of the week, it struck me as a particularly good if somewhat odd friendship. It started when she hired him to work in Barlow’s Buys. She didn’t plan to be friends – he’s an employee and was expected to mind his own business. But he’s Todd, everyone’s business is his, particularly their dirty little secrets. tracy and todd drink coffeeKnowledge is currency. Just like Tracy!

Over time, she realized that she might try but would never succeed in keeping her private life private from him. And there must be a freedom in being able to tell someone all the rotten things you’ve done and thought. Often even not having to tell, for the other person has already guessed correctly.

In this instance, she has told him about being at the Bistro and accidentally overhearing Robert and Carla talk about their fling. Then, after Robert had left but before she did, Tracy witnessed a break-in and attack on Carla. She fled, leaving Carla to her fate but also leaving her phone. Now how is she going to explain any of this to Robert, the todd-says-carla-has-paid-the-pricepolice and the entire street?

She does not want to tell Robert she knows about him and Carla. It is a lot of money in the knowledge bank. Invested wisely, it could make huge profits for her with him or as revenge with Carla. Looking at it this way makes sense to Todd so he takes it into account as they try to sort out how she can avoid getting entangled in a web that involves many people and events.

Tracy has one other friend, Beth. Despite her hard exterior, Beth is a good person who sees only the good in those she likes. I don’t think tracy-reacts-to-todd-defending-carlashe sees, or will accept, the true evil that Tracy can do. Therefore Tracy is a better person when she is with Beth. But that’s not the whole of Tracy. Todd knows and accepts, even likes, the full panorama of Tracyness – the vulnerable and the murderous of her. Being enough like her, he can confront her on behaviours and ideas she has in a way that Beth can’t or wouldn’t even think of.

Tracy listens to Todd. She gets good ideas from him, and therefore todd looks gobsmacked at tracyalso will listen to his warnings. She knows that they are simpatico. It is a good thing for Weatherfield that he is gay and she is female. If they were romantic partners, Tracy and Todd would be like gasoline and fertilizer – dangerous.