Ken sits Sinead down Thursday for a talk. A life lesson. It was a spine-tingling good scene. A history of his life and of Coronation Street. Also a glimpse into the future, of what might be for Daniel and Sinead.
More than that, it was an exchange between generations. The discussion that never works, can’t work: don’t make my mistakes. The one where the elder says to the younger, I know how this is going to go because I’ve done it.
This scene encapsulates Coronation Street at its finest. While incorporating its own history, it speaks to universals. It should be on the best clip reel for actors William Roache and Katie McGlynn and Coronation Street itself.
The importance of Oxford
Ken tells Sinead what Oxford University means in his world and Daniel’s, also what refusing it will mean. He is blunt, even cruel. But he is desperate to keep his son from the path that was his own. His life journey that “can be covered in ten paces”, from No. 3 to No. 1 Coronation Street.
But you had Deirdre, Sinead says, you loved Deirdre. Yes, Ken says, but it’s not enough. “Not the life I would’ve chosen at 22.” “Does it matter?”, she asks. “Of course it does. That 22 year old had such dreams. Now he weeps over his squandered potential and wasted years. Sometimes I sit here with him.”
Now Ken is seeing the future: his son, exceptional enough for Oxford, joining the spectre of his own young self at that dining room table, weeping over what might have been. He tries to tell Sinead. But she has no idea what he’s talking about.
You can almost see the glass wall between them. It’s not a wall of education or class. It’s age. He is looking back, able to see all the circumstances and choices that led to his future – now his past and present. But too late to change them. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.
For Sinead, however, it starts and ends with ‘love will keep us together’. Oh, and I’m carrying his baby, your grandchild. And that does give her a vested interest in Daniel’s decisions.
And who knows? Everyone has something they regret, some path they wish they had or had not taken. Maybe, if he shed Sinead and the baby for Oxford, years later sitting at his dining room table late at night, Daniel would weep for the chance at fatherhood.
Another powerful intergenerational scene was Jack Duckworth and Molly (Sept. 4/11). It was just before Jack died.