If only Audrey would moonlight as theatre critic for the Weatherfield Gazette! Friday, she gave her take on Waiting for Godot: “If I wanted to watch two old men kicking off, I’d go down to the Legion on dominoes night.”
Ken gave her his tickets to the play and suggested she take Freddie. She did. They left early. “We certainly weren’t going to hang around waiting for this Godot fella to turn up. If he’d had any sense, he’d have stayed at home.”
Absolute gold. I switched my allegiance in the Audrey love-interest stakes. I saw Audrey as a good fit for Ken when Nessa was chasing him. Audrey and Ken are long-time friends and get along well. But there are a lot of interests they do not share. Audrey and Freddie are new friends and seem to have a lot in common.
Ken or Freddie?
Audrey evidently missed English class a lot when she was in school and hasn’t become familiar with much in the way of literature since. She is intimidated by Ken and fears falling short of his intellectual standards.
Ken enjoys the arts and loves discussing them. But he spent many happy years with Deirdre, who prided herself on not being a brainbox and had little but scorn for Ken’s newspapers and pretensions.
I suspect Freddie knows more about the arts than he lets on. But theatre and literature are not passions of his. Like Audrey, he probably enjoys a good musical. He clearly likes her and I think he is a closer match to her beloved Alfie than Ken is.
Freddie has been matchmaking with Ken on Audrey’s behalf. He talked Ken into inviting Audrey to the play. But seeing them in the Rovers, Ken thought Audrey and Freddie were interested in each other. So he made up a story about being busy and gave Audrey the tickets, suggesting she take Freddie.
An evening at the theatre
Crossed wires, and an illustration of Ken’s obtuseness about people. Freddie had told Ken his opinion of theatre – it’s a waste of time. And surely Ken knows Audrey well enough to know that Waiting for Godot, for her, would mean waiting for the curtain to come down and lights to come up.
However, Audrey and Freddie did enjoy their evening. They roared up to the theatre on his motorcycle. They annoyed audience members by eating candies during the performance. And they were asked to leave. For both of them, it seems, that defines a good night at the theatre. By not showing up, Ken and Godot did Audrey and Freddie a favour.
Seeing that a Coronation Street adult colouring book will soon be released made me think about how big the Coronation Street library is. Reams of paper about the fictional town of Weatherfield and its residents. Histories of the show, fictional backstories of the Street, socio-cultural analysis, and more.
It is not just paper. There is merch galore. Documentaries about the show and spin-off movies. Collectibles, from t-shirts to Lilliput house miniatures. Games and quiz books. Everything you could want to back up your fandom is available.
The old Granada Studios had a Coronation Street gift shop. Arrayed in front of you was everything Corrie. Books and cards. Tea towels featuring Ena Sharples. Hilda Ogden’s plaster ducks. Rovers Return teapots. Dinnerware sets with a small Rovers Return on the rims. It was heaven. Now almost everything can be found online. I could not find the dinner sets, though, despite searching high and low.
Here’s some of what is available. My list is not exhaustive: over 60 years has produced a huge Coronation Street library. To see everything Corrie on Amazon.ca, click Coronation Street Merch or use my links below for specific items. I will also add items as I find them. All links are to Amazon Canada unless otherwise noted.
Teaching TV Soaps - Louise Alexander and Alison Cousens, 2008 British Film Institute. "Combining challenging theory with accessible and practical teaching ideas."
Coronation Street: The complete saga
- Katherine Hardy, 2004 Granada Media. The epic novel of over 40 years of life on the Street. (She has written other tv novelizations and also writes as Catrin Collier.)
Libel - by William Roache, Mambi Games Ltd, Boardgame. "The game of Libel was devised by William Roache after he sued the SUN newspaper for printing a defamatory article about his portrayal of Ken Barlow" (gameboardgeek.com). Sounds like fun!
On Thursday and Friday, characters and audience were remembering Deirdre. They and we, of course, were also remembering her portrayer Anne Kirkbride. Her photo on the Barlow sideboard is never far from our view, but it was nice seeing it close up again.
More than words and a raised glass of red marked the passing of actress and character. Remembering Deirdre and communing with her brought dramatic action about. Reconciliation and new beginnings in honour of her spirit – in two storylines.
Amy and Robert
Tracy and Amy reconciled at her gravestone. Robert, acting as peacemaker and friend, brought Amy there and went out for pizza with them after. It had been Deirdre’s death that brought him back into the Barlow family and, for better or worse, he does care about all of them.
Todd and Billy
Tracy brought Todd and Billy together, also for better or worse. She told them to sort themselves out. And she’s right. Despite the huge potential for damage, they need to end their dance around each other and their feelings.
The damage will be huge for Sean. A man dumps him again, a man who is good with and for him. He knows, despite Billy’s protestations, that someone else is involved. When he finds out it’s Todd! That doesn’t bear thinking about.
Billy and Sean
Watching Todd, Billy and Sean this week has been hard. Todd honestly doesn’t want to see Sean hurt. That evil-Todd-back-from-London has gone, at least for now. He isn’t toying with people, just trying to mess up as many lives as possible, as he has done before. He does hurt Billy, but for the greater good, to keep things as they were. Todd denies the feelings he had admitted to when drunk, tells him he’d got the wrong end of the stick, and tells him to go away, go back to Sean. And that was to protect Sean, to make Billy stay with Sean, to keep them together.
And Billy, man of God, is torn between loyalty to the promises he’s made to Sean and his new feelings for Todd. Lying about everything, hiding and deceiving everyone. His own duplicity and Sean’s present and future pain burdens him. But he can’t stop his feelings for Todd, and he knows that Todd reciprocates them.
The direct approach
Tracy acts as a catalyst, and not in her usual way of tattling to one person behind the other person’s back. She sees Billy and takes him to the flower shop where Todd is still working. Todd, meet Billy. Billy, meet Todd. Now talk. Was this direct approach to problem solving due to her long talk to Deirdre in the cemetery? I’d like to think so.
When I was 13, our next door neighbour got a dog. In itself, that’s not extraordinary. However, this dog acquisition caused quite a stir. She was an elderly widow and lived alone. The dog was a young Boxer. His name was Copper. He was the colour of a new penny, she or someone said. I can’t remember where she got him, if she sought him out or if he just happened along. I thought it was wonderful that Mrs. Layfield got a dog, but even I was a bit surprised, especially the dog being a big energetic Boxer.
My parents, and probably everybody else in town, were amazed, maybe even horrified. The Layfields had never had a dog in our memory. And Mrs. Layfield was a tiny lady. My mother feared the dog would knock her down the stairs, knock her over in the hallway, knock her down outside. You’d go to her house, ring the doorbell and hear Copper tearing along the hall at full speed. Mrs. Layfield would come along behind, open the door and welcome you into the front parlour.
She was a lady of the Victorian era. Her house was lovely, with beautifully polished old furniture, lace antimacassars on chair arms and backs. Delicate porcelain figurines and glass ornaments displayed on table tops. And in the middle of it, a huge slobbering Boxer galumphing around.
Boxer amidst bric a brac
Copper, to my knowledge, never knocked a single table over. He seemed able to jump and play in the middle of a room full of lovely and fragile bric a brac without touching a thing. In deference to her upholstered furniture, she put old towels on chair arms and parts of the sofa where he was likely to be, and likely to drool. She kept towels in the kitchen by his bowls and in the hallway to mop up the water that dribbled out of his mouth after he drank. But other than that, Mrs. Layfield made no adjustments to her living arrangements to accommodate his boisterousness, and she didn’t need to. He seemed to know where it was ok to be boisterous and how to play around the furniture.
Her backyard was already fenced, and we’d watch Copper playing with stuffed toys and balls in his yard. Mrs. Layfield took him for walks down Main Street. He walked sedately beside her, never pulling or getting tangled in her feet.
The two of them aged together. Copper’s hips got bad and she made him a bed on the main floor when he couldn’t climb the stairs. Not long later, she did the same for herself. She and Copper lived together until he died of old age. She didn’t get another dog. A few years later, she sold her house and moved to a nursing home. A new young family moved in, with a young black Lab. It was nice to see a dog in the yard next door again. But we still called it “Copper’s yard”. Many owners later, we still call the house “Mrs. Layfield’s house”.
From my St. Thomas Dog Blog, Stories, Feb. 13, 2011
Michelle decides that if she and Steve are not going to get back together, she might as well leave. She gets a cruise ship job. Doesn’t want to leave, but what’s the point in staying, yadayada. Liz, Maria and Tim try to get them back together. Come on come on, I think, let’s get to the leaving part!
The black taxi takes her away. Next day Maria checks on the flat. What’s that? Someone is there. The bedroom door opens and Maria, armed with a frying pan, sees Michelle. Surprise, I’m back! Nononononono! I scream silently in my head.
It’s wrong to feel that way, I suppose. Michelle and Steve have shared custody of a child, they have a business and neither of them are spring chickens. They have a life together and they ought to build on that. They should sort out their problems rather than just get mad and walk out.
The cruise job entailed her being Sporty in a Spice Girls tribute act, Michelle tells Maria. That I’d pay to see, but Michelle won’t do it even for pay. She’s still leaving, for Ireland to spend time with her parents while she sorts herself out. Lucky Connors.
Maria and Amy get Steve on side to save his marriage. He goes with Michelle in the back seat of a Streetcars cab. They can talk on the way to the train station. He talks and she softens. The car drives only as far as the Rovers. Home. Amy and Maria stand at the pub door, a happy and excited welcoming committee.
Together again. Happy?
So they’re back together, and one hopes they will indeed discuss what caused the rift between them. One also hopes that at some point, and the sooner the better, she will stop talking down to him, stop belittling him. But she just can’t seem to help herself.
Earlier, while moaning to Liz, Michelle can’t resist a demeaning dig when Steve does try to talk. Liz is coaching her and Tim is coaching Steve. It’s going not badly, all considered, when Michelle stomps off again saying Tim and Steve are acting like a pair of juveniles. Oh just wonderful, Michelle, and why exactly does Steve and everyone else think you are so good for him?
So despite some great visuals of their return to the Rovers, I couldn’t get past the thought that Steve is back to a life of being nagged, henpecked and lorded over by Michelle. And being told how lucky he is.
The circus came to town last Friday. The Great Benjamin’s Circus at the Princess Louise Park in Sussex. Catching sight of a huge tent with lights flashing and flags flying – all the ‘adulting’ I was in town to do went right out of the window. Errands would get done – after the circus, whenever.
One ring under canvas. Settle in, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and enjoy the show.
Let the show begin
A juggler, a hula hoop lady, a dog act of Standard Poodles, Spaniels, Terriers and one scene-stealing Chihuahua. Fire eaters, a contortionist, aerialists with hoops and silks. Clowning, rope twirling with nerve-rattling audience participation.
Motorbikes circling in a steel cage. Sitting near the cage, I watched a crew member circling the outside of it throughout the performance ensuring all the bolts were staying tight.
I took pictures early on but then just watched and held my breath at the feats of wonder. Cheered and clapped. More photos toward the end, no flash of course. Who would want to be responsible for distracting a performer for even a nanosecond?
It was a capacity crowd for the late afternoon show. The evening performance would likely be overflowing. The front of house people must have agreed with that assessment. While we were leaving, an announcement was made: another performance had been added after the 7 p.m. show. Outside the tent, an enormous line of people waited to get in.
So late in the night, after three performances, the circus would pack up and head off for the next day’s shows in Moncton. It’s not a long drive, but another long day would follow for performers and crew. Not unusual for them, I’m sure.
According to their website, The Great Benjamin’s Circus is based in the US and Mexico. They play the small towns of North America, all through the year by the looks of the schedule. I am very happy they came to my small town. I looked at the faces of the kids as they were leaving the show. Awestruck. I wondered if, like me, they were thinking about running away with the circus.
The best thing for me this week was the end of drama. A calm Sarah. “She’s off her head” still described her but it was due to hospital drugs by Thursday. Lots of nice, calming drugs.
On Monday Lee was seriously questioning his wisdom in taking her hostage. He wanted to use her to get money from his brother Billy. It wasn’t working out quite as planned.
He had his hands full just physically coping with her hysterics. Sarah went nuts at his attempt at mind-games. She totally believed him when he told her that Callum was still alive. Lee had wanted to just get her upset enough, and Billy upset enough, that his brother would pay up to get her back. After a few hours, Lee probably would be happy to pay to get rid of her. (O. Henry’s short story The Ransom of Red Chief comes to mind. Click to read.)
David to the rescue
Lee hadn’t realized quite how close to the edge Sarah was or how strong she was. David heard Sarah’s screams and broke through the door to save her. He saved Lee as well. “She attacked me,” he told David, “she’s off her head, her.” Lee may be a scumbag smack-head, as David said, but he knows when a plan has backfired badly. He was happy to have David take Sarah off his hands.
Back at No. 8, the ‘men in white coats’ (a woman paramedic, actually) managed to talk Sarah into an ambulance and get her to hospital. We next saw her there, with a lovely smile in a lovely drug-induced daze. I thank the marvels of modern pharmaceuticals.
My brother asked if there were pictures of Dad’s tow truck in Mom’s photo albums. We only found one, with Bing the service station dog inside. My brother told me the truck’s story.
It was an International pickup, 1941 I think, blue. He rebuilt it to take the wrecker.
It had a 3 speed transmission. He put in a 4th speed. He mounted dual wheels on it. The fenders had to be extended. The strips welded in them never got painted. It wasn’t welded too good either. I can still see the holes, but it worked.
Dual exhaust coming out up behind the cab. The smoke would stream out of there. An orange flashing light on top. He put a switch for that under the dash.
For the wrecker, he started with a gearbox affair – small gear going to a bigger to a bigger, about 4 sets of gears in there. Then he welded all the angle iron to put the cable on, the crank, all that stuff.
The cradle for hooking up cars was his own invention. It changed over time. First, it was a hand crank he welded on the side. You’d stand there and crank and crank and crank. The cars weren’t that heavy, it just took a lot. Eventually you’d get her up.
Then a Briggs & Stratton lawn mower engine took the place of the crank. But that was a pain in the ass too. It had a pull start. Awkward and hard to start, but it was better than cranking.
The last one was a power take-off on the side of the transmission. That drove the gears that lifted the vehicle. It was the best deal. You could shove the lever forward and back and up she went.
He built a snowplow for her. The plow was made out of an old culvert. He hooked it up to a vacuum system. He got that off a transport truck.
There’s a drum with a vacuum system to lift it. The engine creates a vacuum in the cylinder. The cylinder would lift the plow and gravity would lower it. The cold air hitting the hot valves would cause engine problems down the road. But it worked good. She barked though, loud!
I’ve never heard of anybody else ever doing that. I remember Dad and Jack talking about it, and the next thing I knew it was done. But I never saw them working on the truck. I don’t know how it got done. I likely saw, it just didn’t register.
She was a thing of beauty. If I had any idea where she was, maybe parked someplace, I’d have her back home and I’d be working on it.
When one of the chief mourners dresses like this, you know it’s going to be an interesting funeral. Gemma is in funereal black, and that is the only item that can be checked off in the ‘appropriate’ column.
Having a cuppa at the café beforehand, she stands out like a Victorian peacock of mourning. Alex asks her if she’s a Goth. No, she says, she’s going to a funeral. She does not take umbrage. Given the look she has created, his question makes as much sense as her answer.
At first, the funeral for Callum is just sad. Macca and the other pallbearers follow the robed Billy up the church aisle. The church looks huge – and empty. Such a lot of ceremony before anybody else is even in attendance, I thought. But then I see there are a couple of people sitting up front in the pews. That’s all. The service has started. This is really the high point of the funeral.
Police follow pallbearers
The cops follow the pallbearers in, then sit behind the mourners so they can watch them all. Callum was murdered, and they are investigating.
Billy begins the service, still looking like he is facing his executioner. But he muddles through, until the church door opens. It’s Sarah. She has escaped her keepers. The funeral service goes downhill from there.
And, just because she is so wonderful, here is a look at Gemma as she sits in the café mourning the loss of her friend.
Newfoundland Mi'kmaq, family history, Coronation Street, etc.