Tag Archives: Paul Kershaw

Corrie Street July 28/13

Race Row

dartboardI avoid on-screen tv guide programme descriptions.  Too often, they give away the whole plot:  “there, saved you the trouble of watching the show, you’re welcome.”  Wednesday, I inadvertently read ‘Race row in the Rovers.’  Huh?

In the final minutes of the show, in a dispute over a dart throw, play-the-white-manPaul asked Steve to be fair, to “play the white man”.  Lloyd overheard and took umbrage.  Paul snapped back that he hadn’t meant offence, it was just a saying.  Lloyd countered that neither he nor his daughter needed to hear racial slurs, especially from supposed friends, no matter how unintentional.

Brian-hear-hearEveryone tried to smooth it over; Paul didn’t mean anything by it, it was a stupid thing to say, let’s just get the drinks in and forget it.  The only other person to pointedly criticize Paul was Brian, as a school principal always vigilant about discrimination and bullying.  Neither Lloyd nor Paul would back down.

A turn of phrase?

A UK blog writer criticizes the show for seeking a “social issue” story by creating dramatic conflict unrealistically:

‘I suspect in a real working class Manchester pub the conversation would have gone something like:

Paul: “Play the white man”.

Lloyd: “What do you mean you cheeky bastard?”

Paul: “What? I wasn’t talking to you”

Lloyd: “Play the white man? As if you lot are better than us?”

Paul: “Oh shit yea, I didn’t think of it like that, sorry mate, just a turn of phrase. Fancy a pint?”

Lloyd: “Cheers yea, pint of bitter please mate. Fancy a game of darts?”’

Both men under stress

Maybe that would be the case, at least between two friends like these.  It’s not like it’s a hear-nonsense-like-thatrandom guy saying something offensive or taking offense, an extra brought in for the scene.  This is a group of long time friends.  However, both men are very stressed and neither knows about the other’s problems.

Paul is being raked over the coals at work for chastising kids for making prank emergency calls.  Being taken to task again for what he sees as over-reactive political correctness is too much for Lloyd-you-tell-mehim.  Lloyd is caught in the middle of an argument between Jenna and Mandy, and is still smarting from Mandy reminding him that he had only been a father to Jenna for five minutes so why did he think he had the right to say anything.  Use of an old expression, and reaction to its racist connotations, is the spark that set off the underlying anger both feel.

An interesting thing was Jason’s reaction.  His father is black, his mother is white.  And JasonPaul is his mother’s boyfriend.  You could see the hamster wheel turning in his head as he tried to decide if he should accept that Paul meant no ill will or if he should be offended on his own behalf.  No one else seemed to think about Jason having a personal stake in this except, finally, Lloyd who tried to recruit him for his side.

Nuances

Last week I watched a CNN interview with a prosecution witness in the George Zimmerman trial.  She explained the difference in meaning of “cracka” versus “cracker”.  “With an a” is not a racial slur; I-am-not-a-racist“with e-r” she didn’t know, her generation wasn’t familiar with the term.  But with such nuanced speech differentiation, I could imagine a lot of room for misinterpretation.  So too is there with sayings so long entrenched that their meanings can be forgotten.

The use of one such saying in this storyline is an interesting premise for exploring societal sensitivities, made better by it take-that-backinvolving a closely connected family/friend unit. By the end of the week, Paul is more upset about being seen as racist and Lloyd wants to finally take a public stand against racism so neither will take the first step to reconciliation.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Apr. 29/12)

The Long Goodbye

Paul’s relationship with Eileen and Lesley.  A story interspersed with the arrival of Robert Vaughn as Milton, the drama of Carla and Peter sneaking around, Frank’s trial Paul kisses Eileen goodbye in the morningand the fallout of Tracy’s trickery.  But it was there, in bits and pieces, growing all the time.  Just like Alzheimer’s does.

Paul has put Lesley in a nursing home for two weeks’ respite care.  He is free to stay with Eileen, and she has decided to not worry about his marital status for now.  Through the week it developed with Eileen’s family and community putting their oar in.  Jason accepted his mother’s friendship with Paul and apologized to them both.  But it was a different story when he realized Paul had spent the night with her.  Eileen decided to go public and that didn’t sit well with Norris or Julie.  Eileen had crossed the line, Julie said.

The story they are telling is so very important, one Paul has explained well.  With Lesley in a nursing home, he feels guilt about leaving her to others, relief at not having to worry about her every second of every day, and guilt at feeling relief.

Eileen has said the right things:  that he needs a break and he’s not abandoning Lesley.  It’s easier for her to say that, especially without Jason accepts that Eileen wants to help Paulthe reality of Lesley’s presence, than it is for him to accept it.  What will it be like when Lesley returns home from the nursing home and Eileen’s pretend world goes back to Paul’s ‘normal’?

Perspective of caregivers

When this story started a few months, I was impressed that Corrie would tackle the issue.  It was one, I thought, that needed telling.  People in the real world, caring for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia, need to know that they are not invisible, that someone sees how hard what they’re doing is on them.

We saw Alzheimer’s with Mike Baldwin, but that was told more from his point of view.  Well-done and powerful it was, about a character we had known for many years.  This one is different:  Paul and Lesley are new with this storyline being their entry to the show.  We haven’t shared their backstory as we had with Mike.  The emphasis here is on the caregiver more than the disease.  That’s what I like about it, showing the ravages of Alzheimer’s for the person who has it but also showing how it can ravage his or her loved ones.

Norris indicates disapproval of Eileen and PaulAt the beginning, Eileen pushed Paul away.  Alzheimer’s or no, she’s your wife, begone and shame on you.  The honourable response, yes.  But one that doesn’t take him into account.  She came to see that, that he is more than Lesley’s caregiver and that he needs something in his life outside that role.  And that having another life doesn’t detract from his love of Lesley.

Watching while living with Alzheimer’s

But there is another aspect of it.  At the time it aired in the UK, there was a call to stop or change the story.  A petition was started by a daughter of a woman just starting on the road of Alzheimer’s.  Seeing what was happening on screen greatly upset the woman with Alzheimer’s – the fear that it might happen to her too, that those she loved might find other lives and loves while she was still alive.

Hayley, Julie and Dennis in Rovers discuss Paul and EileenTurning the tv to a different show isn’t an option, the petitioner explained.  Routine and familiarity is extremely important for people with Alzheimer’s.  If the routine includes Coronation Street, well, what are you going to do when the story hits too close to home?  A difficult situation for Coronation Street:  an important topic with two very painful sides to it.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Apr. 22/12)

Sweet Revenge

Becky's revenge - Deirdre rushes to Tracy crying in street I’m sure everyone who has ever lost a love to a lying, two-faced schemer stood up and cheered when Becky got back at Tracy.  I sure did.  What a wonderful moment when Tracy’s treachery was revealed.  It was made sublime by Becky leaving it until the reception, after Steve had pledged Tracy his troth in their very beautiful wedding.

Becky watches as Steve and Tracy pronounced wedShe decided to keep quiet until after the marriage when Steve told her that he truly believed her capable of causing Tracy’s miscarriage.  When Steve’s delusions are shattered, he’s trapped, legally “chained to that cow” as Becky put it.

She still almost backed out, though, not wanting to hurt him Tracy enters bathroom with Becky and Kyliethat much.  Tracy’s smirking suggestion of ‘X’ as her new middle name made Becky see clearly again.  After dropping her bombshell, she walked away and, like a weeping Bet Lynch, Becky in her leopard skin jacket left in a taxi.  Steve chased her to the airport to beg her forgiveness, then watched her leave with her new man and son.

Steve watches Becky board planeThe whole week was great.  Three storylines struck me as having classic Corrie, and soap, elements.  First, the Tracy/Becky dénouement had evil deeds being eventually repaid, something that soaps do well because of their long story arc.

It also had a particularly Corrie aspect.  Despite having earlier involved the police in order to expose Tracy, Becky did not take the Becky writes down what Gail tells her about clinic computerincriminating medical record to them.  She relied on her neighbours.  That fits perfectly with Corrie’s tradition of people helping themselves instead of going to the authorities.  Don’t trust the rozzers, as Kylie says.

Fish Story

Second, the Owen/Faye/Anna/fish story giving an exposition of all sides of the issues. Continuing serials can do this better than other television forms. Especially explaining without giving a pat answer, which Corrie does very well.  Owen presented a good case Owen discusses Faye with daughters and Royagainst Faye:  that her revenge on him was calculated cruelty and violence directed elsewhere, to living creatures.  Where might this stop, with her wielding an AK-47 in the street?  Anna presented the other side. What Faye did was unconscionable. But it wasn’t Owen’s place to discipline her, especially with corporal punishment and especially doing so in anger.  I agree with her but I also thought – what about “it takes a village to raise a child”?  Surely, that doesn’t just mean comforting and cuddling, it also means everyone has the duty to correct wrongdoing.

And Owen asking his daughters’ opinion of him as a father and of childrearing methods in general – wonderful.  The Katie giving her childrearing beliefsdiscussion was thoughtful and presented all sides, from personal experience and general philosophy.  I particularly loved Katie, teenage mom of infant, saying “I’ll never…” and Owen saying “I’ll remind you of that when…”

Poor Leslie

Lesley cowering on floor and Eileen trying to comfort herThird, Eileen/Paul/Leslie exploring the trauma of Alzheimer’s and the strain put on caregivers.  This is an important story, fraught with pitfalls just in the telling.  Obviously taking Leslie to Eileen’s was a mistake.  Leslie should have stayed in the familiar surroundings of her home.

I can see a production reason for what Corrie did:  saves building a set of Paul and Leslie’s living room.  But, in the nice way that art (and its production) and life can reflect each other, it is also very easy in real life to make mistakes like this.  In caring for those with Alzheimer’s, you learn by trial and error.

Becky enjoying flight first classFabulous writing, acting and storyline development all week.  And if Becky never returns to the Street, I’ll always picture her in Barbados, having a wonderful life and watching her new son grow up.  Sweet revenge indeed.  And for now, I’m consoled by having Kylie as Becky Mach 2.Steve outside festooned Rovers watching plane leave