Tuesday’s episode – that’s my pick of the week. People on the street are trying to wrap their heads around Aiden’s suicide. So there’s the story of the suicide and the intersection of it with other stories. My only criticism is that its story arc is more like a spike. Johnny and all can’t be the only ones wondering when and why Aiden decided to kill himself. Still, despite the ‘huh?’ element in the storytelling, it is done brilliantly.
Gail looks out her front window and says to her mother, “Forty-odd years I’ve lived on this street…” She continues to speak, but we see other people, other houses. People reacting to the news that Aiden has killed himself. “Oh no, American soap trick again,” I thought. But it quickly drew me in.
Her words were powerful. Wondering what exactly you were doing when someone else was going through the worst crisis imaginable. Thinking your problems are the worst in the world, only to find out someone else’s were far worse.
Listening to Gail while watching the faces of others as they tried to absorb what they were hearing. The factory. Maria telling Liam. You didn’t need to hear – you knew what they were saying. It’s what you’d say yourself. So very effective dramatically. Also time-effective in terms of storytelling. It conveyed an important message in Gail’s words and showed all those who were feeling what she was saying.
Everyone gathered, like you would, in the neighbourhood pub. They hashed out their thoughts on suicide. Tragic? Selfish? Who is hurt the most by it? Could it have been prevented? All the thoughts that we all have, if we’ve been touched by suicide or not. Important sentiments to have voiced.
“I don’t half love you”
The morgue attendants taking Aiden out, covered completely in a body bag. Johnny asks them to stop for a minute. He touches his hands to where his son’s face is, inside the bag. “I don’t half love you,” he tells him. I lost it then. Twenty minutes of pent-up emotion spilled out in my tears for Johnny. For Aiden. For everyone so deeply affected by this action.
“I was raped”
David heard about Aiden as he is leaving for court and possibly prison for his attack on Gary Windass. He takes off. Shona finds him. Finally the words he needs to say come out of him: I was raped. He tells her what happened with Josh. For him, his personal hell has become entwined with what must have been Aiden’s own hell. But he says, he’s realized he wants to live.
There’s a good article on BBC about the writing of the two episodes of Aiden’s suicide.
Any time is avocado time, but sunny summer days especially. Here are two really easy avocado side dishes. The first you may not have thought of. The second you likely know well, maybe even dream of.
1. Avocado half with oil and vinegar
A side salad, of a sort. Elegant and delicious. So even though your observant guest will know you didn’t do much, it looks impressive. The one pictured here is just in a plain bowl with an ordinary spoon. Imagine how pretty it is in a glass bowl with a small fancy spoon.
Cut an avocado in half lengthwise and remove the pit
Shake a bit of salt, pepper and lemon juice on surface
Fill the cavity with oil and vinegar dressing
1-2 very ripe avocados, mashed finely with a fork
1-2 tbsp finely chopped onion or scallion
1/2 finely chopped tomato
(2-3 tbsp finely chopped green pepper – optional)
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice (more or less, to taste)
(dab of sour cream, plain yoghurt or mayonnaise – optional)
Mix all ingredients together, put in bowl, garnish with paprika and/or chopped parsley. Cover with Saran wrap to prevent avocado browning.* Chill, adjust oil amounts, lemon juice, salt and pepper for taste.
Serve with tortilla chips, crispy pita bread or crispy crackers. Also good as a taco topping, or on almost anything. It’s avocado time, after all.
From The Joy of Cooking, adapted a bit by me.
*Thanks to Popo le Chien’s photo on Wikimedia Commons, I learned that putting the pit on top of your guacamole keeps it from browning.
(You can grow your own avocado tree too. Suspend the pit over a glass of water with toothpicks, or try the pot system below.)
Glossy 8×10 photos of mother and baby, what Eva believes will be her only reminder of that single day she was a mother. From now on, she says, she’s Auntie Eva to baby Susie.
She had to sneak around to get those pictures. A photographer came into her room on the maternity ward. Did she want some photos of the baby? Yes, he said, camera phones had been very hard on his business. But some nice pics with a real camera? No no, Eva said, not necessary. But later, when Toyah wasn’t there, she asked him to take some pictures.
They are in her purse, not shared with Toyah. Back at the cottage, in Wednesday’s episode, Toyah is ready to leave. Baby Susie is packed up in her carrier, baby bag is packed. Eva reaches for something and knocks her purse over. The photos spill out. Toyah picks them up. Sees what they are.
She is upset. Does this mean that Eva wants to keep the baby? No, Eva says, she just wanted to have this little visible memory of what happened. It’s not like she’s can pretend that she didn’t give birth, after all, with or without photos. She’ll get rid of them, she tells Toyah.
But she doesn’t, of course. She looks at them and cries her heart out. Sometime, she’s going to have to come back to Weatherfield. She’ll have to meet her ‘niece’ Susie. That’s the plan at least, the way it could work out best. But it’s all going to explode before then, I’ll bet. Mother and baby might be reunited. My guess, based on soap law.
On Saturday, Meghan Markle will become Princess Harry. That is when she will marry Prince Henry of Wales, second son of the Prince of Wales and better known as Prince Harry.
She probably won’t be called Princess Harry. Although it is the proper form for non-royal wives of princes, it has not been used often. The only example I know of is Princess Michael. That is how Baroness Marie Christine von Reibnitz has been known since 1978 when she married Prince Michael of Kent, first cousin of the Queen.
The Queen likely will give Harry a dukedom or earldom, as she did his elder brother William upon his marriage. That way, his wife can be called the Duchess or Countess of whatever.
Meghan is American and an actress. Although Grace Kelly and other American actresses have married into European royalty, this is a first for Great Britain.
A more serious aspect of British royal marriage rules does not have to be an issue for them, or the Queen or Parliament. Meghan is divorced, with a living ex-husband. Despite being founded by a King who wanted to divorce and remarry, the Church of England long forbade the marriage of divorced persons unless the ex-spouse had subsequently died.
For being free to marry Harry in the Church of England, Meghan has 1992 to thank. That year, called by the Queen an “annus horribilis”, Harry’s parents Charles and Diana separated after scandal upon scandal. Tabloid photos of his Aunt Sarah, Duchess of York, scandalized the world after she and Prince Andrew split up. His Aunt Anne, Princess Royal, divorced her husband Mark Phillips then married Timothy Laurence. All this in one year.
Princess Anne and her second husband Timothy Laurence married in the Church of Scotland. It allowed the marriage of divorced, but not widowed, persons. So by getting married at a church near Balmoral, her family home in Scotland, they sidestepped Church of England dicta.
Dissolution of Charles and Diana’s marriage was a thornier issue. He was heir to the throne, therefore the next head of the Church of England. Their marriage and its problems were much more public than his sister’s first marriage had been. However, Charles and Diana did divorce in 1996.
The next problem was what to do about his relationship with Camilla Barker-Bowles. She too was divorced, and her ex-husband was alive. So in November 2002 the Church of England changed its rules. The General Synod said that divorced people with living exes could remarry in the Church.
Despite having the way open to a church wedding, Charles and Camilla did not marry until 2005 and then in a civil ceremony, followed by a Church of England blessing.
Three Kings in One Year
It is the story of Harry’s great-great uncle, 82 years ago, that has been most compared to Harry and Meghan. In December 1936, the new King Edward VIII abdicated the throne rather than give up the woman he loved. She was an American divorcée, Wallis Simpson.
1936 was commemorated in a plate my mother had as Three Kings in One Year. George V died in January, Edward abdicated December 10th, and his brother became George VI. The former king and his new wife were given the titles of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and effectively banished from the UK.
While Meghan Markle’s story invites comparison with Wallis Simpson, Harry’s story is maybe more like that of Princess Margaret. Like Harry, Margaret was a member of the inner circle of Royals and always would be. Also like him, she was in little danger of actually ever becoming monarch.
In 1953 Margaret was third in line for the throne, behind her nephew Charles and niece Anne. She was in love with RAF Group Captain Peter Townsend, and he proposed to her. Problem was he had just divorced his wife. The Queen and Parliament would not agree to their marriage. Over the next two years, they sought ways to allow it without compromising Church or government rules. If Margaret gave up her place in the line of succession, they eventually decided, she could marry him in a civil ceremony. But in 1955 Princess Margaret said that, due to “the Church’s teachings” and her “duty to the Commonwealth”, she would not marry Townsend.
In 1960 Margaret married Antony Armstrong-Jones. Wikipedia says she “reportedly accepted his proposal a day after learning from Peter Townsend that he intended to marry a young Belgian woman [who] bore a striking resemblance to Princess Margaret.” True or not, it fits well in the story of thwarted romance. Princess Margaret and Armstrong-Jones’s wedding was the first to be televised. Fitting for her, the glamorous sister and maybe the first Royal media star. Also maybe in keeping: in 1978 they divorced amid tabloid scandal.
So, from Edward VIII and Wallis, through Princess Margaret to Harry’s own parents, the path has been cleared for him and Meghan. The Church, the Queen and the public have given their blessing.
A girl from Tinseltown and a prince. Maybe General Hospital will use the storyline. The soap opera is part of Meghan’s story. Her parents met while working on it and Meghan got her acting start there.
The Princess Harry story is a happy-ending romance, one hopes. Wallis and Edward, Princess Margaret too, are more tragic romance stories.
See The King and Us for why I think Wallis Simpson and Parliament did us all a favour. Also, although Coronation Street hasn’t yet mentioned Harry’s wedding (at least in Canadian airtime), I loved their take on William and Kate’s marriage in 2011.
“It’s not the hot chocolate. It’s just the rest of my life that sucks.” Summer expresses what recent events have shown her. Life sucks. I felt sorry for her but also relieved to hear her say it. I’ve wondered how she could so blithely accept all the changes in her life in just one year without batting an eye. Or that’s how it seemed.
Her real dad, Drew, died not that long ago. He knew he was dying but did nothing to arrange her future until the last minute. So he approached his ex, Billy, and arranged for him and Todd to have custody of her. Billy hadn’t seen her since she was a baby, Todd had never seen her. Todd didn’t know about Drew, and vice versa. Granny, someone Summer did know, made all the trouble she possibly could about this arrangement. Her actions and attitudes effectively killed all affection Summer could have for her – the only familiar person left in her world. (See Nov. 5/17 Scene for a family overview)
But Summer accepted Billy and Todd as her new real dads, and all three loved each other. Then Todd disappeared, with little warning and no explanation. Summer continued to love Billy as her dad. Next he gets hooked on heroin, and abandons her. She’s shuffled off to Eileen and Pat Phelan. She’s happy with them, her new stand-in parents. Then Pat is exposed as a murderer. And Eileen – well, Eileen can barely look after herself let alone a child. Especially a child for whom every adult she has trusted and relied on has disappeared.
Now Billy is back and clean, and Tracy throws him and Summer out of their apartment. Billy assures Summer he will look after her, everything will be fine, just you wait and see. Sure, Summer has every reason to believe that!
So finally we see this eternally optimistic and trusting girl crack. Life sucks big time. Shona’s talk with her is good. She points out the good points of Billy using her own history with him as illustration. She shows Summer the shades of grey in Billy. Summer understands complexity.
Actress Matilda Freeman shows complexity too in her reactions to him. She gives a lovely nuanced portrayal over this week. Summer tries to believe in Billy and their future together, but the doubt shows in her eyes. She gives up trying and tells Billy that she will be out of there as soon as she legally can. That confrontation is done in a much more mature way than simply screaming ‘you’re not my real dad anyway’. It’s all the more shocking for that.
Another ‘buck up, it’ll get better’ talk from Shona, and Summer tries again with Billy. I’m liking this story – Summer – a lot right now. And I think Shona should adopt her. They’re a good match.
The Story of Seabiscuit was released in 1949, only two years after the great racehorse died. It is the story of his life – sort of. His son Sea Sovereign portrays him. Shirley Temple co-stars. The former child star was a young woman by then, and The Story of Seabiscuit was the second to last movie she ever made.
The real Seabiscuit is also in the movie. It includes archival footage of two of his races. The Santa Anita Handicap of 1938, a photo finish that Seabiscuit lost to Stagehand. Also the famous 1938 match race that he won against that year’s Triple Crown winner War Admiral. The race footage is the very best reason to watch the movie. Well, aside from also seeing his son Sea Sovereign, it’s the only reason.
Fiddling with the real story of Seabiscuit
While the movie portrays Seabiscuit’s career fairly accurately, it takes a lot of licence with the people around him. Owner Charles Howard and jockey George Woolf are portrayed in the movie. But fictional characters take the place of his trainer, Tom Smith, and regular jockey, Red Pollard.
His trainer in the movie, the man who recognizes his potential, is Shawn O’Hara, played by Barry Fitzgerald. O’Hara arrives in the United States from Ireland accompanied by his niece Margaret, played by Shirley Temple. Seabiscuit’s jockey is called Ted Knowles, played by Lon McCallister. He falls in love with Margaret but there is conflict. It’s quite painful to watch.
Very painful to watch is derogatory stereotyping of African-American and Chinese characters – indeed Irish too. It starts very early in the movie and can put you right off watching any more. Also hard to watch is a discussion between nurse Margaret and jockey Ted about jobs for men and women. So be warned: pretty much every insulting portrayal of anyone is in here.
But the race footage! When the picture goes from Technicolor to black and white, you’re about to see the real races. Then you see the real tracks with the real horses and the actual crowds. Interwoven with the historical footage are shots of the actors to move the story along. Still, it’s spine-tingling to see the real horses in action. And, of course, to watch Sea Sovereign up close throughout the movie.
This movie makes you ask yourself questions about the nature of storytelling. Why was Seabiscuit’s well-known and real-life rags to riches story fictionalized in some ways and not others? Did some of the real people refuse to allow the movie to use their names? What did movie viewers think of this bastardization of a story many of them knew? It had all happened only a decade earlier.
A lot of good stuff this week. Phelan, of course. And especially the reintroduction of Seb’s mother. David unravelling. But my favourite scene was Roy offering to diagram Connor kinship for Jenny. To show the relationship of those having relations, so to speak.
Monday, the nice dinner party at Michelle and Robert’s ended abruptly. Michelle saw Ali and Carla canoodling in the hallway. Her son and her best friend, sister-in-law and cousin. So she exploded at them. Everyone else scuttled off quickly.
In the safety of the Rovers, Jenny said “how are they related again?” Roy said the words so welcome to the ears of genealogy researchers. “I’ve got a paper and pencil, I can draw it out for you.” But Robert stopped him. “I don’t think it’s quite the time, Roy.” Oh Robert, of course it’s the time. Let’s see it so I don’t have to do it myself.
The family tree
I was trying to remember how Carla and Ali are related when Jenny asked Roy the question. So, with Robert cutting him off, I got out my pencil and paper and drew the family tree.
Michelle’s dad Barry and Carla’s dad Johnny are first cousins, according to ITV. So here is the chart that Roy would have made, given half a chance.
(Whether you call Carla and Ali second cousins once removed or third cousins is discussed on the Coronation Street Blog. Look in the comments.)
In short, Carla is both cousin and aunt to Ali. She is his 2nd cousin once removed through Johnny, her bio-dad. Through her late husband Paul, Michelle’s brother, Carla is Ali’s aunt by marriage.
There’s an ick factor there, but they didn’t grow up knowing they were family. Ali is Michelle’s bio-kid but she didn’t raise him. Carla is the child of a long-kept secret affair between her mother and Johnny. She grew up thinking of another man as her father. So maybe that’s the greatest ick factor – all these people carrying on with each other not knowing that they’re related. Having relations with my relations – could be a country and western song.
Newfoundland Mi'kmaq, family history, Coronation Street, etc.