All posts by Dorothy

DNA Tests

Irish_Setter-Oct-2008-Douglas_0158-Flickr-wikicommonsI first saw DNA tests at London Ont’s Pawlooza dog festival, in 2010 I think. They were tests to find out what breeds were in the genetic structure of any given dog. The process was explained by a contest. Guess the genetic make-up of a dog in a photo, then compare your guess to the actual test results.

DNA my dog

The dog was medium sized with short brown and white hair and floppy ears. I guessed some kind of terrier, hound and maybe Corgi. The results? Everything from Mastiff to Chihuahua with no single breed group predominant.

“Want to test your dogs?” the lady at the booth asked. I looked at them, and thought why? One clearly was a Standard Poodle. The other one? I had studied his personality and his looks. My guess was some kind of terrier and Shih Tzu. A DNA test might show everything from Mastiff to Chihuahua. Useful? Not really.

DNA me

That’s my thoughts on human DNA testing as well. What does finding out that you’re 5% something and 10% something else actually tell you? It’s fun to know, sure. It lets you wonder who travelled across continents to wind up in your genetic map.

DNA tests were among the most popular gifts this past holiday season, Forbes reported last December. Quick, cheap and well-advertised, they address something fundamental: Who are we?

They answer that, to some extent. There’s a percentage breakdown of your geographical make-up. So you can see all the peoples and regions that went into making you. It can be a surprise.

Kiss me, I’m Irish

ancestry dna tests website 2018-irishIt was for my family. Our largest grouping? Irish. No German, nor anything we expected from documentary and family history. Does this matter? Yes, because it shows that our ancestors’ migration path was different than what we’ve thought. No, because documents and family history show another traceable geography. And, more significantly, tell the stories we grew up with.

DNA – ‘blood’ if you will – on its own does not define us. There have been systems of classification of people based on “blood”. But, before DNA tests, these could only rely on appearance and/or association. Guessing based on culture and history, not genetics.

But what do scientific DNA results actually do for us? Possibly give important medical information. Other than that, not much. New hobbies, new histories to learn. But do they make you someone else?

mom-dad-dublin-ferry-1989Am I now Irish? I could consider myself to be, I suppose. Stake a front row spot for myself in the Paddy’s Day parade. But would waving the DNA results help get me, say, a work permit in Ireland? “Oh, Ancestry says 41% of you is from the old sod! Well, come right in!” About as much chance as that dog in the photo convincing a Mastiff that they are brothers separated at birth.

Ford Ontario

The Ontario Progressive Conservative party yesterday chose Doug Doug Ford 2014 parade-Bruce-Reeve-wikicommonsFord as its leader. That’s Doug, brother and advisor to the late Rob Ford who has to have been the weirdest mayor of Toronto ever. And that’s saying a lot. There have been some dillies. But Rob was the biggest dilly of them all.

Doug Ford as leader of the Ontario PC probably means that Kathleen Wynne will be re-elected as premier in May. Or he gets elected premier. Either way, it’s a disaster for Ontario. I’m sure there’s still a leader of the NDP but I’d have to google to find out who it is. And I have no real faith that she or he would be all that much of an improvement on either of the other two. Just mess up the province in new and different ways.

Kathleen_Wynnes_Campaign_Bus_Alex-Guibord-2014-wikicommonsI am very glad I am no longer living there. Living under the Liberal flag of first Dalton McGuinty and then Kathleen Wynne was an endless nightmare of trying to survive under their endless, non-essential ‘improvements’. And also an endless source of amazement of what stupidity they could dream up next. Kind of like what living in Donald Trump’s USA must be like.

But I have another reason for being glad I have been well clear since long before this latest move to crazy-land in Ontario politics. A friend once told me that when I moved to a place, it tanked.

He was speaking about my move to St. Thomas, Ontario, years ago. When I moved there, a Ford assembly plant had been in operation for four decades. Then it shut down and over 1,000 people lost their jobs. It was the largest employer in town.st thomas ford plant sep-2011-photo-d-stewart

I moved to Sussex, New Brunswick, where PotashCorp had operated a mine for four decades. Then it shut down and over 400 people lost their jobs. It was the largest employer in town.

Penobsquis NB Potash-Mine-2009-Verne-Equinox-wikicommonsSo, superstitious or not, I’m glad I am far away from Ontario. I do not have to feel any responsibility for this newest shit show. Doug Ford and Kathleen Wynne could be the dictionary definition of ‘between a rock and a hard place’. Good luck, Ontario!

Corrie Street 11 Mar. 2018

Danny Zuko

brian-enters-roversFriday, for the first time I ever remember, someone walked out of Audrey’s salon looking different than when they went in. I was so amazed by seeing actual evidence of a haircut that I didn’t get the Danny Zuko joke at first.

Brian didn’t get it either, apparently. I guess we both missed Grease its first time around. But Bethany, whose mother was not even born until 9 years after the movie was released, knows it well enough to play a joke on Brian.

audrey-looks-at-haircutAudrey, however, got the reference immediately and wasn’t pleased. She knew Danny Zuko was not “some Greek singer that all the kids are mad after”. I googled to check that Audrey and Brian were talking Greece and Grease. I would expect that a teacher would google a name now associated with his hair. But with the teacher being Brian, it isn’t that far-fetched that he wouldn’t. ‘Curiosity’ is not Brian Packham’s middle name.

brian-shows-off-manicureAnd, after six hours of Corrie this week, that’s the best I can come up with for a scene that stood out. Oh, there were moments for sure. But something took the edge of perfection off them for me.

Phelan was perfect, especially in his moment of confrontation with Nicola in the hospital. But I’m weary of the extended permutations and ‘almost’ moments of that story. So I’m happy if we’ve seen the back of Nicola and Seb.

Jenny feeling excluded as the murder of crows called the Connors descended on her living room. That brought a little lump to my throat, and I am not a Jenny Bradley fan. But then she went off to Kevin and they commiserated. I don’t like even having to think about a repeat of them together, or any more secrets and sneaking around.

Johnny and Roy bonding a bit outside the hospital entrance while the transplant surgery was taking place. Great too was the guy in the background, having a smoke right by the No Smoking signs. I loved the scene, but I have nothing other than that to say about it.

greek singer called danny zukoSo Danny Zuko and Brian’s new look it is. The only downside is the appearance of Bethany’s friend at the salon. Because that foreshadows the return of Tassels and the lap dancing story. Gak!

Beef Stew

beef stew with garlic bunBeef stew is one of the easiest things to make. Brown meat cubes, add veggies and liquid and let it cook slowly. Plan on a couple of hours of cooking time. Stew can be a one-pot meal, with potatoes in it, or served on a bed of rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

eye-of-round-steaksI like round or eye of round steaks for stewing beef. They have very little fat and you can easily slice or cube them. You can, of course, buy stewing beef. I find it’s more work because I remove the fat and cut the pieces smaller. However, any cheap cut of beef works, a blade roast or steak for example. The long cooking time makes the meat tender.

Stew Process, in short

  1. Brown meat cubes
  2. Add liquid
  3. Add barley, dense vegetables and dried herbs
  4. Let cook 30-40 mins, add delicate vegetables
  5. Cook an hour, add wine and fresh herbs
  6. Let cook 30-40 mins. (Cook stew ‘bed’ if needed)

Stew Process, long version

Put a bit of oil in a deep wide pot, let it heat up, and add chopped onions and garlic. When they have started softening, put the meat cubes in. Stir to get them browned on all sides. (If it’s a teflon pan, you don’t need oil.)

Browning the meat

A) Put it in the pan as is or (b) coat it in seasoned flour first. If you do (b) put maybe 1/4 cup flour on a plate or in a plastic bag. Mix a bit of salt and pepper in. Put the meat pieces in the flour and stir around or shake to completely coat them. Then put the coated meat in the heated oil in your pot. Stir to ensure all sides are browned.

Add liquid, barley, dense vegetables

Start with a cup or two. Any vegetable or beef stock is best, but water will do. The cooking veggies and beef will make their own stock. But using stock adds to the flavour of your sauce.

Stir a handful of barley into the liquid. It needs a long time to fully cook. Barley thickens stew wonderfully. I don’t add barley if I’m putting the stew on top of a starch. It makes it too dense.

Add potatoes (cut up if large or whole if very small) and chopped carrots. They take the longest to cook. Add any other dense vegetable, like brussels sprouts, now as well.

If you want a tomato-ey stew, add a can of whole or diced tomatoes.

Dried herbs, seasonings

Put in 1 or 2 bay leaves. Add dried herbs like basil or oregano as well. If you’re using fresh herbs, leave them until the final half hour of cooking. Add salt and pepper, a few shakes of Worcestershire Sauce and a dollop of ketchup. Simmer for 30-40 mins.

Add soft vegetables

beef-stew-cookingBy now, the potatoes and carrots should be softening. Time to add your other coarsely chopped vegetables. Celery, green and/or red pepper, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini – whatever you fancy. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, either cherry or chopped, add them too. I add these vegetables later because they are softer and more delicate. You don’t want to cook them to mush.

Now just let it cook for maybe an hour. Add more liquid if it needs it or if you want a thinner sauce.

Red wine, fresh herbs

This is the time to add red wine, both as a flavour agent and a source of liquid. Also add fresh herbs.

If the sauce is too thin, mix up a couple teaspoons of flour in a tablespoon or so of cold water. Stir well to remove lumps and mix slowly in the stew. Or shake in some blending flour, stirring to avoid lumps.

Let it cook another 30 minutes, and it should be done. You’ll see a thin film on the top, almost like a glaze.

Stew more or less cooks itself and it’s remarkably versatile. You can add whatever you have in the way of vegetables. Or if you like meaty stew, you can leave all vegetables out. I’d still put in onions and garlic, though. You can make chicken stew instead of beef, or leave out the meat entirely and make it vegetarian or vegan. Just change the type of stock you use.

Corrie Street 4 Mar. 2018

Helpful Hints

Monday and Tuesday episodes were like Hints from Heloise – what to do and what not to do.

1. Empty pockets before doing a wash.helpful hints summer puts hoodie in washer

Summer puts clothes in the laundry, including Billy’s hoodie. We know he never lets it out of his sight. It’s comfortable and it’s also where he keeps his painkillers. But he’s asleep. After he wakes and she’s gone and the laundry is done, he finds it in the washer. Only the pill package remains in the pocket. The painkillers dissolved into the water system.billy-finds-dissolved-pills

2. Why let perfectly good flowers go to waste?

craig-bins-rosesCraig put the beautiful roses he’d bought Bethany in the garbage bin. And just then Jude came along, holding a couple Valentine’s balloons.

jude-with-rosesWhat would go well with red heart-shaped balloons? Red roses. Will they do it? Yes! Next we see him, Jude’s walking off-screen with the balloons and the roses. Good man! Just don’t tell Angie!

3. “Proper disposal” of medication is not down the sink.

eva-holds-pills-that-billy-wantsEva finds the dodgy pills that Adam gave Billy. He says they’re an old prescription he found way back in the cupboard, way way back. He’ll put them in the bin, he says. She’s not letting him touch them, so says she’ll do it properly. Down the sink. No no no! See #1. They contaminate the water system. Take them to a pharmacy where they will do whatever they do to safely dispose of them.

4. Keep track of your kids so we can too.

liz-surprisedLiz is shocked to see that the new doctor at the medical clinic is Michelle’s son. So am I. I had to google to find out which one Alex is. Is he the biological son or the one she raised?

alex-or-aliEither way, I’d hoped we’d never see either of them again. It was a horrible ‘switched at birth’ story that was soapy both in construction and presentation – complete with recasting at the time and again now. So the present face wouldn’t help even if you could, or wanted to, remember Alex.

Corrie Street 25 Feb. 2018

Living Donor

Thursday, a transplant unit assessor talks to Aiden about being a living donor. “We do like to shower people with pamphlets,” he chuckles when Aiden says he’d read all the pamphlets.assessor explains living donor process

It was a PSA, to be sure. Getting the information out there about the importance of being an organ donor. But also the risks and the seriousness of such a decision. A well done scene, and a well done public service announcement.

It’s not something we think about much, unless we’re faced with the situation. What would you do if your sibling or friend needed a part of you? And you could give it. Getting tested is one thing – then hoping against hope you’re not a match. But Aiden is a match for Carla. He can give her one of his kidneys. If all goes well, he will live just fine with one kidney and she will live just fine with the transplanted one.

If all goes well. That’s what the assessor is talking about. It might, but it also might not. There’s the operation itself, filled with risks as all surgery is. Then there’s the after. His health and abilities could be compromised. Carla’s body might reject the kidney. Even if it goes well, she could still have problems. And there’s the psychological aspects, before and after.

Do the right thing?

assessor-asks-if-any-pressure-put-onIs anyone pressuring him? Does he feel pressured by himself to ‘do the right thing’? Legitimate questions, and ones that might be overlooked in the midst of the trauma of a loved one facing death or long-term hospital treatment such as dialysis. You just want to help however possible as soon as possible. So these are good questions the man is posing. Do you feel obligated? How will you feel afterwards? And you can back out at any time prior to surgery without having to justify your change of mind to anyone, including the recipient.

Important information to convey to the public – the viewing audience – and to the character in the story being told. Coronation Street did it very well, I think, as did Tom Carter, who played the counsellor.

aiden-says-he-wants-to-do-itHis points are reinforced at the end of the episode, when Aiden tells Carla he’s good to go. She thanks him and promises “I will look after that kidney, you know. No late nights, no boozing sessions, no binges on pizza.” Paying respect to the magnitude of his action. Then she reestablishes their separate lives, despite anticipating having a shared organ. “Actually, who am I kidding? I’m going to drive that kidney like a Formula One race car.” Funny, and realistic. They’re going to have to negotiate the big issue of whose kidney is it. Carla is making a start at that already.

Acts of kindness

Amazon link #BeccaToldMeTo
Click for Amazon

From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Feb. 3, 2012. Reposted in honour of Rebecca Schofield of #BeccaToldMeTo acts of kindness renown.

Ms. Schofield, of Riverview NB, passed away Feb. 17, 2018. She wanted to make the world a better place, she said. Becca, you did. Visit BeccaToldMeTo and you too can see just how much she achieved.

This week, I stopped at Elgin Animal Hospital to check their Caring Pet Cupboard donation bin. There was a bag of cat kibble in it, high-quality food sold by the clinic. There’s usually a bag cat and kitten eating side by side - acts of kindnessor two of it in the bin and it’s never past its expiry date. It’s always that same kind. So it didn’t seem likely it was excess stock the clinic wanted to clear out. It is always unopened, so it didn’t come from someone whose cat didn’t like it or had passed away.  It being there with such regularity made me wonder who provided it. But I hadn’t asked.

This day, the receptionist looked at the bag in my hands and smiled, “Mrs. [–] was in.” She explained when she saw my puzzlement. “That food comes from her.” All the way home, I felt good knowing there’s a lady out there who makes a point of coming in and buying a bag, sometimes two, of this food for other people’s cats. She’s probably got cats of her own to feed. With rebagging one of her bags, she’s also feeding 8 other cats for a week.

Random Act of Kindness Day

farm cats investigate dog and cat food deliveryLast Wednesday Feb. 1st was “Random Act of Kindness Day” here in St. Thomas/Elgin. It was designated in honour of the late Laurie Houston. Her family had suggested that everyone do what she had done throughout her life: something nice for someone – just because.

Caring Pet Cupboard

In the past year, with the Caring Pet Cupboard, we’ve been seeing a lot of those acts from kind people. The lady who buys the cat food for our bin at Elgin Animal Hospital is one. The lady who always buys a couple extra cans of cat food at Pet Valu “for the poor cats” is another. She buys in bulk, they told me, for her own cats and the neighbourhood strays and ferals. But she always puts a few cans in our bin as well. Two boys who buy a box of dog treats for our bin when they come with their mother to buy food for their own dog.

German Shepherd waiting to eat his dinnerThe people who think of our bins or the animal shelter when their pet passes away. Partial bags of special diet food along with cat toys never played with, geriatric care dog food. Sometimes you can piece the story together just from the kind of food. I want to give those people my condolences on their loss, but I don’t know who they are. Still I thank them. Another cat or dog with kidney problems or diabetes is going to have the special food they need because of the thoughtfulness of those bereaved people.

The stores who give us their unsold or extra food and supplies. “It’s better than throwing it out,” they say. The pet food companies that take their corporate citizen role seriously and make donations of food to us and to animal shelters. Also department stores that donate pet food directly to the food banks.

dogs watching cat eat - are you done yet?From the small bag of kibble you hoped would tempt finicky Fluffy but didn’t, the extra can you bought for the donation bin, all the way to skids of food straight from the manufacturer – it’s added up. In this past year over 5 tons of kibble, nearly 600 cans and lots of treats have gone to people who need help providing food for their pets and to rescue groups. Random or not, all these are acts of kindness. Thank you.

Corrie Street 18 Feb. 2018

Soup for Henry

gazpacho-over-henryFriday, Henry and his little game got unmasked. Not a big surprise, but done in a way that I found worth a replay. Soup dumped on his head. Not just one bowl but three. Gazpacho, then noodle soup and, lastly, cream of something.

In the lead-up to this at the Bistro, Gemma had her first encounter with cold soup. Gazpacho, a lovely concoction of cucumber and tomato, served cold. “Mingin”” was her opinion as she spat out a mouthful. Then she told Robert to microwave it.connor-table-watches

i don’t know why a restaurant would have gazpacho on its menu during the cold, damp English winter. But it had to be gazpacho, I guess, because it really cannot be heated up and remain edible. Vichyssoise, also served cold, could be heated maybe, becoming leek and potato soup instead.

Gemma and Henry are on a double-date with his friend Hugo and his streel of a date Carly. The cold soup moment gives Hugo something more to laugh at about Gemma. Turns out the two upper-crust boys have got a £5,000 bet that involves shocking their parents by bringing home unsuitable girls. Chesney overhears them talking about this while they’re at the bar.hugo watches noodle soup throw

Henry ought to know that Chesney is a friend of Gemma’s, and is within earshot. I don’t know if this was a writing oversight or a deliberate way of showing that, in Henry’s rarefied world, little people like Ches don’t matter.

Ches tells Gemma about the bet. She’s gutted. Carly hears too, and is more philosophical about it. Whatever this guys are playing out, she’s getting a fancy meal out of it. Meanwhile, back at the table, Henry has enough of Hugo’s class crassness and his amusement at Gemma’s expense. Henry is indeed falling for her.

Gemma hears Henry’s defence of her but she doesn’t care. She is furious. She grabs the bowl of gazpacho and there it goes, right over his head. Then she reaches around to the Connor’s table and grabs Aiden’s bowl of soup. Over Henry’s head. Excellent, I’m loving it.tracy hands gemma cream soup

Like everyone in the restaurant, Tracy is watching and enjoying the show. Then she steps nearer the action and picks up Johnny’s soup and hands it to Gemma. And Gemma throws that one over Henry’s head too.third-bowl-over-henry

Soup, beer or water, anything thrown over someone is generally always good. But that third move bumped the grade of execution of an old gag right to the top of the scale.

Louis John

Newfoundland archivist and historian Don Morris wrote about Louis John in his Vignettes of the West column in The Western Star. The photocopy I have of the article is difficult to read, so I’ve typed it out. Unfortunately the date of publication is not on it. It would be between 1974 and 1989, the years that Mr. Morris wrote for The Western Star.

don morris louis john western star
Click or tap image for larger view

The great caribou-skin canoe journey

By Don Morris

One of the greatest outdoorsmen and hunting and fishing guides who ever trod and explored the pristine Newfoundland wilderness was a Micmac named Louis John. Born in Conne River in 1868, he entered the guiding business at the age of 18 under the expert tutorage of his father, Peter John.

During his long career as woodsman par excellence, Louis gained the respect of all who loved the great outdoors. He acted as guide to sportsmen in all walks of life, including affluent St. John’s merchants, well-heeled visitors to our island and to ordinary local folk who wanted to know the best fishing and hunting grounds. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the vast and – to some – forbidding Newfoundland interior and its wildlife long before any train began snorting its way across the island. When he died in 1957 at the age of 89 he was already a Newfoundland legend.

Paddled hundred of miles

His stories of his experiences in the wilds captivated young and old alike. One such adventure was about a remarkable journey he and a partner, Micmac guide and trapper Noel Mattis (Matthews), made from St. George’s to Bay d’Espoir where they lived. They made the trip in a canoe of caribou skins and paddled many hundreds of miles of interior waterways without a single portage.

st-georges-to-bay-despoir-map.
Red line is a very rough indicator of their journey. My apologies to geographers. Click to enlarge.

Mr. John related that they left St. George’s and trekked along the Lapland River and over the mountains until they came to the base of the Anniopsquotch Mountains. Heading northeast, they came out at the head of Red Indian Lake by a place now called Lloyd’s River. They made camp there for a few days. They set their camp between what Mr. John described as “two old Red Indian houses.” He was obviously referring to the remains of Beothuk Indian abodes.

He said he couldn’t sleep well that night and was always waking up, explaining that “in those days, I guess, I was pretty scared of spirits and superstitions, because I thought those Red Indians were always after me.”

Killed caribou with rock

The men built a raft and poled their way down Red Indian Lake until they came where it emptied out into the Exploits River. One Sunday when they were out of meat Louis suggested to Noel, who apparently was older than Mr. John, that they shoot a caribou. The older man objected strongly that they hunt on the Sabbath Day and hid the rifle under the bed in camp.

Louis told his companion that they would have meat anyway. He picked up a heavy rock. One caribou looked over his shoulder at some others. Louis took aim and threw the rock with all his might. Recounted Louis in later years: “I hit him (the caribou) hard and he fell down. Quickly I leaped on him and cut his throat, dressed him and put him on my back and walked up to the camp.”

“The old man”, as Louis described his companion, was surprised that Louis had the animal as he had not heard a gunshot. Louis explained that the “gun” he used made no noise. He said that he threw the rock with such force that he had to dig it out of the caribou with his knife. The “old man” chuckled and remarked that they would not go hungry if there were rocks around.

The two men decided to build a canoe out of the hide in which to continue their overland journey. In later life, in describing this experience, Louis explained that the method of making the canoe was simple and used by many guides and trappers in the old days.

mikmaq-canoe-the-rooms-heritage.nf_.ca
ca 1983 Michael Joe and Martin Jeddore, caribou skin canoe, Newfoundland Museum, Traces

Louis and his companion cut a keel, tied a stem to the keel with roots. The caribou skin was laid out flat and the keel placed under it. Side timber and ribs were cut from crooked spruce and tied together. The ribs were placed under the hide, which was punctured on one side to hold the frames. They used spruce roots to tie the whole canoe together, and it worked very well, tight and buoyant.

Louis and his companion then paddled down river to Paul’s Brook and made camp. While there, they made a pine tree “dug-out” to carry them in country to the south and eventually home. With the dug-out Louis and his friend made their way up Noel Paul’s Brook and by hitting smaller tributaries eventually reaching Bay d’Espoir, covering a total of about 400 miles of water routes. Mr. John boasted as he recounted the adventure to his eager listeners in later years: “We never made one portage during the entire trip with the raft and boats.”

Louis John, when an elderly man, said that in one season he killed 50 caribou. He estimated that he had killed more than 1,000 in his lifetime and he packed every pound of meat out of the woods, leaving nothing to waste.

It would take a series of “Vignettes” to recount all the experiences of this remarkable man of the forest. For the material for this particular column I am indebted to William Peter Dugan of Gordon Terrace, Corner Brook, who is the great grandson of Louis John. Mr. Dugan is intensely interested in his genealogy and the history of the Micmac people in Newfoundland. It was said at the time of the death of Louis John: “The John Micmac ancestry is worn as a proud banner.”

Louis John 1868-1957

The Atlantic Guardian  published a long and interesting obituary of Louis John (pp 27-32). Above is the first page.  Also, his daughter Kathleen (Cassie) Humber talks about him in Calvin Coish’s Stories of the Mi’kmaq (pdf pp 9-26).

The caribou skin canoe pictured above was made by the late Michael Joe and Martin Jeddore, of Miawpukek. It was part of the Newfoundland Museum Mi’kmaq material culture project Traces. The construction method, as I remember, was just as Mr. John described. All photography for the project was done by Dave Quinton.

Corrie Street 11 Feb. 2018

Secrets and Lies

Thursday’s episode starts with two stories packed full of secrets and lies. One is working for me, one is not. The one that works is Nicola conspiring with Gary and Seb to bring Phelan down. The one that doesn’t is Toyah and Eva deciding to pass Eva’s unwanted baby off as Toyah’s much wanted one.

gary-sees-seb-with-nicolaNicola returned to the Street this week, surprising Phelan and Eileen and me too. She says she got it all wrong about him and begs his forgiveness. Very disappointing because a) I thought she had figured him out and b) if he gets another supporter there’s going to be that many more people shouting at each other and his comeuppance is going to take that much longer.

Secret Agent Nicola

nicola-explains-planBut no! Next we see her she’s spiriting Gary off. She’s got a surprise for him. Seb went to ground at her place, and she believes what he tells her about Phelan. So she wants Gary’s help in bringing Phelan down. To that end, she will cozy up to dear old dad and get the dirt on him from the inside.

nicola-asks-are-you-certainGary wants to tell Sarah and Faye so that they won’t worry. They can keep a secret, he says. Ha! Sure they can! Nicola puts it a bit more diplomatically, and Gary gets the point. He’ll keep his mouth shut.

gary-wonders-about-danger versus secrets and liesI feel nervous for Nicola, and fear that it won’t go smoothly for her personally and for the plan. That’s how it should be. Although Nicola hasn’t been on the show long, she and this story are being written so that we do care and do fear for her. We also know there will be a lot of twists and turns and Phelan cold stares. It will be exciting, I think.

Baby Secrets

toyah-suggests-she-take-babyThe secrets and lies in the back room of the Rovers, however, I’m not looking forward to. Like a figure skater telegraphing a jump, you could see this baby swap coming a long way off. Except, evidently, for the principals.

It had to get right down to her being at the abortion clinic before Toyah suggested it. The suspense in this case was not killing me, only the dread that they were going to do yet another soap opera cliché. At least the writers had the decency to have Toyah say that she’d started thinking about it as soon she knew about Eva’s pregnancy.nurse-calls-eva-in

Toyah finds out their surrogate mother has lost the baby. So Toyah is grieving for that baby and any future baby. Then she finds out that Eva is pregnant by Aiden. Eva can’t see any good way of having, and raising, the baby of the man she defrauded and made a fool of. “I can’t have the baby you want,” she said to Toyah. Oh yes you can, I thought to myself, it happens all the time – in soap operas!eva-cancels-abortion

Already the secrets and lies have started. Toyah to Peter, and Eva to Shona, and plans are afoot for how they’re going to pull this off. Watch television or read a novel, I want to tell them, this never works!