Coronation Street Mar. 31/13

White Cliffs of Dover

got-all-the-luckA lot of stories coming to a head this week – Katy and Chesney, Sunita and Dev. But the big one is the Rovers’ fire.

Karl has tried to ruin anything and everything for Jason. He sees him as responsible for all his woes. So he sabotaged Jason’s plumbing repairs by deliberately taking out the electricity. I knew that the Rovers was going to burn, due to a comment on a spoiler-free site that unfortunately hadn’t been deleted. I tried to forget. But it was difficult to do with Karl melting down and spraying water on a fuse panel. So I figured it would be an electrical fire.

Then the candles came out for a cozy evening at the Rovers. Fire caused by a candle accidentally Episode_391-9-Sep-1964-coronationstreet.wikia.com_wikior deliberately knocked over, I thought. Oh no, Rita is there, Dennis, Mrs. Bishop, Sylvia. They can’t have them caught in a fire. Them reminiscing about the Blitz  and singing songs in bomb shelters. I expected someone to mention Ena Sharples and the time in 1964 when they took cover in a shelter due to an unexploded bomb found in Albert Tatlock’s back garden. But they didn’t.

Blitz nostalgia

some-sunny-dayHowever, Rita did sing “There’ll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover.”  They all sang. Tommy Duckworth sat with them. A nice touch I thought, having a young’un and grandson of Jack and Vera singing with them. Maybe it was hokey, but I cried all the way through it. Sylvia saved it from being too sentimental, observing that the war is overrated in nostalgia; “all powdered eggs and Spam” in reality.

best-night-in-agesAs the singing, chat and laughter continued, Karl looked less and less happy as he lurked at the bar. When Rita told Jason what a lovely evening they were having due to ‘his’ mistake, Karl looked fit to be tied. If a candle doesn’t start the fire tonight, Karl will.

But no, another day passes and Karl’s need for revenge grows. He sees Stella and Jason canoodling and talking about their new partnership in the Rovers. So Karl steps up his efforts to make Jason look incompetent. During the Full Monty show at the Bistro, he ducks out after his number and enters the Rovers with keys he earlier lifted from Jason’s jacket. Sunita sees him and follows him in. She is on the cellar Karl-and firestairs as he throws a soaked cloth into the newly repaired electrical panel. “What are you doing?” she asks. Arson, he doesn’t need to say.

Karl has tried everything to make Jason look bad and each time, somehow, Jason comes out of it smelling of roses. In reality, all Karl had to do was wait. Jason has given up his business in return for working with Stella in the pub. That job would last only as long as they are together. Jason’s name is never going to be over the door as landlord, despite the jibes made by Gloria and others. Stella will tire of Jason’s immaturity and he will tire of her waspish remarks about it.

But Karl wants vengeance now and his plans aren’t working. My husband said it reminded him of a rather dreadful comedy he watched, Let’s Go To Prison, in which a guy devoted his life to revenge on another and everything he did just candles-and-Karlmade life better for his target. Same for Karl.

I think Karl could have become a great Coronation Street male in the tradition of Stan Ogden and Jack Duckworth. Work-shy and a bit of a bounder, but at heart a decent man. I am sorry to see that man gone.

Coronation Street Scene (Mar. 24/13)

Blaming the Victim

Kirsty’s mom listening to her tell about her situation with Tyrone. At first Alison believed her did-not-learn kirsty blaming the victimdaughter, wanted to believe her. Then you could see her face change as Kirsty’s words didn’t add up. Slips in use of “I” and “he” were caught by Alison. She heard her daughter say familiar phrases, ones that blame the victim. He makes me do it, it’s his fault I get so angry. Phrases – excuses, justifications – Alison has heard many times over the years. She has heard them from her husband, and now from her daughter.

She realized that there was violence within her daughter’s home. But it wasn’t being perpetuated by the man but rather by the woman, her daughter. You could see her mind processing this, and did-you-hit-himrealizing that sadly it made sense. She had seen nothing in Tyrone to suggest a violent nature. So she was surprised to hear that he had been charged with abusing Kirsty. Baffled even that she had so misjudged him. She wants to support Kirsty because she is her daughter and also because she knows she has let Kirsty down so many times before. She well knows that her daughter grew up amid violence and abuse. Knows that both she and Kirsty were direct victims of her husband’s violent temper. She must know too that often the abused becomes the abuser.

Victim and/or abuser

with-whatever-came-to-handAn innocent man is in jail, an abuser is free and on the streets and a small child is caught in a situation in which she too may become part of the cycle of domestic violence. Possibly vulnerable to abuse herself, certainly being in a situation in which she in later life, like Kirsty, will have to make some sort of sense of the circumstances of her upbringing.

Alison knows it’s time to stop the cycle of violence. She knows Kirsty must admit what she did, for her own sake as much as Tyrone’s and Ruby’s. She succeeds in getting through to Kirsty. Kirsty’s emotional protective wall collapsed as i-let-them-thinkher mother asked her straight out and Kirsty nodded, yes, it had been she who hit Tyrone repeatedly. Kirsty will retract her statement to the police.

But next day, apparently not realizing that telephones have been invented, Alison goes to Tina’s apartment to tell Tina and Fiz. Of course Kirsty sees her. All Kirsty’s remorse goes out the window, vengeance shall be hers. She confronts her mother with the set up job by Fiz and Tina, and her mother’s betrayal by colluding in this with Tyrone’s current girlfriend. Skilled in manipulation and aided by her mother’s already existing guilt toward her, she convinces Alison to not further betray her now.

show-him-you-are-sorrySo Alison tells Fiz that she will not help Tyrone, that her first and only obligation is to her daughter. She will let the unjust accusation and charge against Tyrone stand. She will not let her daughter down. I only hope she remembers Ruby and remembers that once before she let a little girl stay in an abusive home. She is seeing now how that worked out for that child, her daughter Kirsty.

Chinua Achebe

Today, the great Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe died at the age of 82.  If you have never read his books, this would be as good a time as any to do so. Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, is wonderful in its Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe Buffalo_25Sep2008-Stuart-C-Shapiro-wikicommonstelling of the history of Nigeria and British colonialism.  Things, you could say, fell apart.

I borrowed from his book in the titling of my thesis on Newfoundland Mi’kmaq cultural regeneration, “Putting It Back Together.”  The passage from his novel that inspired my choice was, “The white man is very clever… He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

Read. Our. Books.

A New Yorker obituary quotes him as having said about African writers and Africa, “Read. Our. Books.” Good advice.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Mar. 17/13)


You do something enormously stupid. So you come up with a plan that gets you out of it and, even come-on-katybetter, makes it seem somebody else’s fault. You will look like a hero, maybe even a martyr, and somebody else will look like the schmuck. Somebody, say, like Chesney. Perfect. What could go wrong?

Thursday Katy learns the art of covering your tracks. But she needs more practice to become successful at it. She is angry at Chesney because he is not thrilled about her working at the kebab shop, leaving him with baby Joseph. She’s become interested in Ryan because, well, he’s not Chesney. Her friends think Ryan’s hot so she’s looking at him with new eyes. He deejays, has fun and pays her compliments. Chesney works at a market stall and whines about lack of money. Katy is just a teenager, stuck with a baby, a stack of dirty dishes and a sister-in-law whining about her boyfriend banged up in jail. Yep, Ryan would look good.

Katy-and-Ryan-kissAfter she and Ryan kiss in the back of the kebab shop, she realizes she has to get out of temptation’s way. Conveniently Dev walks in so she says she quits, that Ches doesn’t like her working. She’s angry at Ryan, at Ches and, most of all, at herself. So she stomps home and says I quit – are you happy now. She plays the martyr card, taking over feeding of the baby and saying I’ll bring your pipe and slippers as soon as I’m done here.

Katy overplays her hand

take-over-thanksThe lesson she’s about to learn is, in this situation, don’t overplay the martyr. She doesn’t know that Fiz and Tina have been telling Ches that he’s wrong to expect Katy not to work, that almost all couples must both work and share child-care just to make ends meet. So when she sits glowering about the injustice Ches has does her, she isn’t aware of how the wheels are turning over in his head.

Katy-Ches-DevOn his way to get take-out, he stops by Dev’s and pleads for her job back. Dev finally agrees and comes back to the house with Ches. Both are very pleased with themselves. Dev is giving a flighty young girl a second chance. Ches is showing that he can change his thinking and isn’t still swimming in the primeval swamp of male chauvinism. Tada!

Fiz and Tina are witness to the entire thing – Ches fairer-than-thatcomplaining about not having a wife at home, Katy unwillingly giving in to his unreasonable expectations, then his change of heart. “Can’t say fairer than that, Katy,” says Fiz.

No indeed, Katy, you can’t. What you must learn in the art of shifting blame is don’t provide a way for the other person to remedy the situation that you have set up as their fault.

all-happyHad she tamped down her appearance of anger before she walked into her house, she may have achieved the outcome she wanted. Walk in saying, you’re right, I can’t bear to be away from Joseph. He’s only little once, we’ll get by on what you make, etc. She then provides Ches with no option other than to say thank you, are you sure, you can work if you want to. That is the “martyred saint” approach, safer than the “angered martyr” that she chose. But success in such deception, and deflection, takes time to learn. And she’s still very young.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Mar. 10/13)

The Family Way

should-say-something - Kylie in the family wayThe scene: Sylvia and Norris discuss Kylie, who is drinking her pregnant face off. Sylvia says she shouldn’t be drinking if she’s in the family way. Norris says that’s probably how she got that way. Bwahaha. You’re more correct than you can even imagine, Norris.

The story: just sad, especially for Kylie. She had to confess to Gail about what Lewis was using to blackmail her. A one-night-stand, she says, too drunk to remember who the guy was. Gail does the math, might be that guy’s baby. Kylie says no, I used protection. Gail doesn’t quiz her on how she can remember that when she can’t remember who or where.

how-many-of-thoseWith Gail saying she is telling David, Kylie decides to get drunk. But does she go to the Weatherfield Arms or the Flying Horse, nearby but less likely to be filled with her neighbours and friends? No, across the road to the Rovers. Recently returned Gloria is the only one who doesn’t know she’s pregnant, so she serves her. Stella cuts her off. Kylie makes a scene, falls and ends up in hospital. Both she and the baby are in jeopardy.

Oh poor Kylie, there is no way she can come out of this ok. If Gail tells David, who can even Kylie-on-tableimagine what he will do? Nick points that out to Gail, who of all people ought to be aware of the thin pinpoint that is David’s sanity. If Gail doesn’t tell David, Kylie will still have the guilt, remorse and fear forever – made even more acute by knowing that Gail knows.

Nick tells the truth

Nick for once did the decent thing and told his mother the truth, that he was that other guy. I feared he was going to leave that for Kylie to have to do. At least this way, she spreads her disgust around to both of them.

Kylie-fallsI can’t blame Gail for being disgusted, for wanting to protect David and even thinking he ought to know what his wife and brother have done to him. They were both terribly wrong and she is his mother after all. She cannot, or will not, see what is apparent to anyone with a little more distance. This whole sorry mess was started by David and his obsessive need to Be A Daddy Now. That’s what caused the estrangement between him and Kylie.

Her response, to fall into bed with Nick, was really-hurtneither mature nor advisable. She had been mature in telling David she wasn’t ready for another baby and why. Neither David nor Gail was mature enough to listen to her and accept her decision. But now, despite that and despite Nick so desperately hanging on to his own ill-starred marriage, it is Kylie who will take the blame. Poor Kylie.

Coronation Street Scene of the Week (Mar. 3/13)

Counting Cards

Sylvia has found her Rain Man and her rainmaker. Having developed a liking for games of chance comfort-in-numberswhile in America, she realizes Roy’s odd and heretofore embarrassing mental acuity has a practical use. She has lost a great deal of money in casinos and Roy wants her to get it back. She would like to recoup her losses and make even more!

His abilities in mathematics and memory are perfect for the game of blackjack. He has never played before but, after scanning her book on card games, realizes the trick to it is in counting cards so you have a better chance of predicting card-practicewhat is left in the dealer’s deck. But he needs to practice with other players.

Enter Dennis and Ken, come to the café for tea and a bun but recruited into blackjack practice. How perfect that it is them! Like Roy, Ken has never been in a casino in his life and has moral qualms about all gambling. Like Sylvia, Dennis is in his element.

Casino Roy

blackjack counting cardsRoy decides that he is ready and takes the café float. He stops playing after winning back exactly what Sylvia lost in that casino. The manager comes over after suspecting Roy is counting cards. Roy freely admits he is and points out that he’s broken no rules by doing so. The manager says the casino has the right to bar him regardless. Roy says fine, he has no intentions of returning.

Back at the café, Hayley is horrified by what Roy did. Roy is proud but uneasy about using his feel-like-a-circus-actpowers for evil, as it were. Sylvia is exultant and sees riches in their future if only she can convince Roy to keep playing – using his great gift in a way she can be proud of. He stomps out, after referencing Alex Gilroy’s wish to turn him into a circus act.

“Miracle Memory”

Hayley explains to Sylvia that the long-ago Rovers landlord and wannabe impresario wanted to create a stage act for Roy to amaze crowds with his “miracle memory”. Roy had felt humiliated by such exploitation. Sylvia realizes she was indeed doing the same thing.

hugWhen Roy returns, he has got back the watch Sylvia had pawned. She apologizes, says she was proud because he defended her and hugs him. Hayley is pleased. So is Roy, although his face shows his unease with such a display of physical affection.

Counting cards as Roy was doing it, all in his head, is legal. Casinos dislike it and watch out for it because it gives the player an advantage. Shuffling techniques, manual or automated, are used to lessen the likelihood of a player being able to keep track of cards played. Casinos cannot kick someone out for counting cards, as long as no aids in the form of technology or a helper are used. But they have the legal right to bar anyone from specific games or the whole casino if they choose without having to show cause.
dealing-cardsProdigious memory is not needed to count cards although obviously that helps. There are techniques you can learn that help. My husband says that in playing bridge, you keep track of cards played in order to anticipate what is coming next. And that is what counting cards is.