Extract from Don's diary
Ish all Baldwin's fault anyway. How was I ter know 'e 'ad changed 'is car eh? Anyway, 't weren't my fault. I wash in t'Rover's having drink. Thash all, jush a quiet drink. See, I'd lost on t' 'orses and that Jack, 'e says, I've no nose for a bet. So we 'ad a silly bet. He bet that next person to walk int' bar would be six foot, bearded and wearing a green suit. So I takes him up, see. And while I'm watching t'door, in comes this six footed bearded green suit from toilet. Oh we had a laugh. Jack got me there.
Then in comes Baldwin. "I gotta go" I says to Jack, "there's a funny smell in here", so I goes outside and there's that Jag of Baldwin's. Well, I decides to play a trick on that Baldwin and Jack. So I goes back in t' Rover's and I says to Jack, "I bet that when Baldwin leaves bar, an' goes out, he'll come back in straight away in a bad mood". well Jack knows I know summat, so 'e says "What" an' I says, "Someone's let 'is tyres down". We laughed and Jack says "Someone with one leg eh?" but I says "I dunno". Thing is though, Baldwin's sold his Jag, got some German car now, int' 'e. And when the green suit goes out, 'e come comes back in. It were 'is car, not Baldwin's. So I says "Well, I betta be goin'" and Jack just about managed to keep from laughing 'is 'ead off at me. And that's typical of Baldwin, that is. Changing 'is car. Thinks 'e's so clever, but 'e'll get 'is comeuppance. You jush see if 'e don'.
Extract from Fraser Henderson's diary
I caught Liz today going through my desk. She doesn't realise what a dangerous game she's playing here. Oh she made up some excuse about being jealous of the wife, but I can tell she's hiding something. And who is this Alan, the telephone number she's been carrying around with her? When I asked her she span me some yarn, but "liar" was written all over her face. I'm going to have to look into that.
Extract from Jacqui Henderson's diary
That creep from the CID, Alan, was around hassling me today. Oh, I can see his game right enough. He wants to get me angry with Fraser, wants me to be his dirty little snout. But I know which side my bread is buttered on. The thing is though, I am angry with Fraser. I've always overlooked his womanising in the past, I knew he'd never go the distance with some young tart, but this new bimbo is not like that apparently. According to Alan she's "an old slapper", so it can't be short term appeal. I've only just got back from redecorating the villa in Spain, haven't even seen Fraser or his new tart, Liz. If I find there's any truth in it, someone's going to have to pay.
Extract from Derek's diary
It's not very often I get one over on Des, but I think tonight calls for something of a celebration. All day Des has been in the Rover's with a face like a stewed prune, while Sean tried to embarrass him into parachute jumping. But Des was firm (and so was Claire). I could see he was never going to do it. I had to take it in hand. Reverse psychology, that's what it was, reverse psychology. You learn all about it when you're doing your paper clip sales training. By telling Des I thought he was right not to do the jump, I got him to do what no amount of embarrassment by Sean could have done. "You'd never catch me jumping out of a 'plane", I said. And the look in Des's little piggy eyes told me I'd hit the mark. He's always looked down on me, well, now let him prove it. What's it to be Des, are you going to admit you are just as timid as I am? or... yes! he said he would do the jump. I had left him no alternative really. He thinks he is showing his superiority to me, but I'm the one who pulled the strings. I got you to do the jump Des.
Alf receives a visit from the wife of the school-teacher who lost his job instead of Ken. She is a sharp-faced woman who is furious with Alf and demands to have the decision reversed. "Did you know that Sue Jeffers and Ken Barlow were having an affair?" she questions. Both her and Alf both think about this for a few seconds and then shudder. "That's libel!" screams Alf. "Get out!" But I don't think we've heard the last of the Angry Wife yet.
The arrival of a baby in the Rovers always means that Vera's IQ drops into negative numbers and baby Brad's presence is no exception. "He's a little Bobby Dazzler (What!!)," she coos appreciatively, while Jack just looks bored with the whole thing. "I'm off out," Trash tells her, "Expect me back at some point in 1999." "Don't you worry luv," retorts Vera, happy to play granny, even though it means that she gets no work done all day, and Jack is lumbered. Jack pulls one of his "I saw that coming and there's nothing I can do about it but sulk for three episodes" faces.
So this is the Tony replacement character, and I can say that he has better teeth than his predecessor, but only just. Kevin is skulking around the garage, when a scruffily dressed youth approaches him, asking for a job. Kevin takes one look at him - unshaven, Manchester (TM) hairstyle, army fatigues, and decides that this man is butcher than he'll ever be, so he can't have a job. "Oh go on, let me work all morning for nothing," says the new character who is called Chris. "Go on then," says Kevin, looking him up and down in a way that people usually reserve for when they see Liz for the first time. Meanwhile, Percy happens to see Chris from across the street and does not approve of his "uniform".
Of course, the new boy proves to be a whizz so Kevin hires him, and then they have a conversation where Chris says "I was working abroad, helping deliver food or drive tanks or something when I got shot in the leg." To prove it, he pulls his trouser leg up to reveal something that looks like a bit of pink blue-tac attached to his ankle. Kevin is impressed. Does this mean that they are now lovers I wonder?
Percy has a complain to Kevin about the new boy, "That's not the Queen's Uniform," he bitches. (He's obviously never walked round Manchester's "gay" "village" lately). Kevin puts him right, causing him to shut up. Meanwhile, the writers have decided that once they start teaching us a moral lesson they are going to ram the point home until even the remedial studies viewers come away with a warm glow in their hearts. Chris is squatting (yes, squatting!) outside the Kabin, and Derek and She-Derek think that he is up to no good. "Go and talk to him," demands She-Derek - so Derek goes up to him and comes out with some twaddle about how "this is a close-knit community and we all take care of each other round here." Chris stands up and reveals that he is 8ft tall. Derek blanches. (It is corny moments like this that make the updates worth writing). "I'm glad you are going to look after me then," Chris tells him. Derek slithers away, thanking his lucky stars that Chris's chest hair did not errupt from the top of his shirt and engulf the whole of Manchester.
And I think Cadbury's must be having their annual "Don't Judge a Book by It's Cover Day," because now we are faced with an interaction between Audreh and Roy - Audreh displaying all her usual prejudices against him, and Roy trying to be polite. "He's creepy," says Audreh to Gail. "I can't believe he's the controlling partner." Gail shrugs, realising that Roy has hidden skills. Later, Roy tells Audreh that if she wants to help she can clean out the slops causing Audreh to actually BARE HER TEETH at him and throw a fit.
But the big story is the continuing saga of Liz McDonald and her ever shorter, ever more plastic-looking black skirts. I have been out of the country and never really understand gangster storylines very well anyway, so I'll try to keep this brief. Alan is supposed to be taking Fiona to Chinatown but can't because he is going to "bust" Fraser instead. Later, Fraser and Lackey arrive at Liz's bar and say they are going in the back to do accounts all night and don't want to be disturbed, although Liz can serve them drinks. Then they say that of course they won't really be there and start nodding and winking, and I just lost track altogether at that point, because the next thing I knew they were waiting in a car in some deserted warehousey type part of Manchester (the bit where Racquel was nearly raped no doubt) and are talking on a walkie talkie and saying things like "Unit 2 to Unit 4, over and out". Suddenly lots of police cars drive past them very quickly and the Lackey is saying "It's that slag Liz McDonald she's tipped them off, let's get out of here!" And I'm thinking "Is this an old episode of Juliet Bravo, or did reality in England shift completely while I was away?" Then my sister pointed a finger at the Lackey and said "He tipped them off! He's the villain", so at least there's one person in my family who still has a chance of a career. Credits.
Overacting: Judy Mallet - one minute she's calm, the next minute Gary had better look out! Hurricane Judy continues to storm the street and there's no reprieve. It was fun/sad to see the remnants of Joyce's life - a van full of catalogue merchanise - all still in their boxes. "An Aladdin's Cave!" cooed Derek - yes, if you happen to be addicted to QVC.
A THOUSAND GREETINGS and I trust you've had a super week.
I left you this time last week when myself and the other three health farm escapees had got as far as the kebab van, only to be tracked down by Gummi on Costa's mobile phone.
How did Gummi know we were there? Big Fiona thought a micro-tracking device must have been inserted into one of us during one of our treatments, and the rest of us were happy to accept that idea, in the absence of anything better.
An unmarked van was sent to take us back to the health farm to face our fate. The woman who was driving said nothing on the trip, except that Gummi wanted to see us in Room 102.
Malcolm was visibly shaking, and said he remembered reading a book where dreadful things took place in Room 101, so 102 must be even worse! Like lambs to the slaughter, we padded nervously down the long corridor until we stood outside the fateful room. We looked at each other with an air of grim resignation, and taking a very deep breath, I knocked.
From inside, "Come". We filed in.
The room was in semi-darkness, lit only by beautifully painted and decorated candles. The air was faintly perfumed. Sandalwood. Classical music played quietly. There were pictures of snow-topped woodland scenes on the walls. The landscapes were clearly Scandinavian, for we were in Gummi's private room. It was then that Gummi's ambiguous gender was no longer in doubt. After silently facing away from us for fully two minutes, she turned to speak to us, with tears running down her face.
"Why you all go....why? You not like to make healthy body? You not want healthy life? If guests go away in night time, I lose job here" she wept.
We were seeing the woman behind the sternly-starched facade for the first time. We felt just awful...like we had let someone down who was genuinely trying to help us have a healthier lifestyle. She really cared about the job, the treatments, the clients, her training back home.
She perched her flawless form on the edge of her bed and wept quietly. Rosemary went over and sat beside her, putting her arm around her shoulder to try to comfort her. She didn't know what to say, so she talked about all the candles. "These are lovely, Gummi." "Thank you...I make."
It emerged that people had been escaping on a regular basis and the Director has given her a final warning. He was coming to visit the next day, and if anyone had left early, Gummi would be fired. She went over to a drawer. "Please Malcolm, Nigel, Rosemary and Fiona...please stay for tomorrow...is last day in weekend." From the drawer she took four elasticated headbands and handed them to us. "For special clients I have these." God, I was near to tears myself, and we resolved to really make the best of it tomorrow and show the Director that we were having a wonderful and health-giving time under Gummi's supervision. We put on our bright red headbands there and then to underline our good intentions for the following day, and to try to cheer her up.
She stopped crying, having received copious assurances from me that we would not let her down, and we left the room.
Gummi's private little world, far from home.
The four of us walked along the corridor again, towards our own rooms, not speaking. "lovely candles" ventured Fiona. "lovely music" said Rosemary. "yes" said Malcolm..."Ravanelli I think".
The following day we were as good as our word. Better if anything! When the Director called and Gummi showed him round the various facilities, with all the clients (including us) using every piece of exercise equipment with great gusto, wearing our matching red headbands like some embryonic Olympic squad in the making, he must have been mightily impressed.
I was using the rowing machine, grinning and perspiring happily through gritted teeth, thinking my very heart was about to burst, Gummi walked past with the Director. As she did so, she laid the gentlest of hands on my shoulder for a brief moment.
We left after a light (very light) evening meal, which we all ate and pretended to enjoy. A deal was a deal. We kept our word. She kept the job she loved.
Two hours later I unpacked my case. I found something unfamiliar. In a small pink paper bag was a beautifully decorated scented candle, upon which has been painted THANK YOU MALCOLM from GUMMI.
For once in my life, I didn't mind being confused with a retired undertaker!
Here is the update:
The first shot is of The Kabin in the early morning gloom, where you could be forgiven for thinking the first scene would take place. You'd be wrong, however. It's in fact the back room of the Rovers where Vera and Samantha are discussing what the latter will be wearing tonight when Sean takes her out to a swanky hotel function. Tricia is looking glum as she fiddles with the sproglet. Samantha is rather dismissive of all the fuss about smart dress, but Vera says if she were in Sam's place, she would plan it "right down to me knickers".
Later when the pub is open for business, Sean and Des get onto the subject of Samantha. Sean admits to being "smitten", and Vera requests that they should present themselves "all dolled up" in the pub before they set off. When they do appear later, they both look very smart, although Sean looks by far the more relaxed of the two. We get the impression Samantha is not too accustomed to black tie do's at country hotels. The forthcoming parachute jump is mentioned. The practice is tomorrow, ready for the Main Event a few days later. Vera is wearing the most hideous drop ear-rings made from hundreds of tiny coloured beads.
Alf calls on Ken to tell him that the "malicious nonsense" about his relationship with Sue Jeffers has been laid to rest, and that hopefully it will die a natural death. "Terrible thing, gossip" says Councillor Roberts. Ken duly thanks him for his efforts and Alf leaves. Ken looks pensive and uneasy as he does so. In the cafe, Dierdre tells Audrey that Ken has a lady-friend, but refuses to name names.
Later Sue arrives at Ken's with the Ultimate Reliable Weatherfield Bonking Juice....yes...a bottle of red wine. She hands it to Ken who approves, and leers knowingly at the label as he does so. He's been around Coronation Street long enough to know of its devastating aphrodisiac properties. Before you can say knife, Dierdre is tactfully confirming to Alf in the Rovers that Ken is indeed doing the old rat-up- a-drainpipe business with his boss. Alf storms out of the pub with this knowledge, to confront Ken. Alf accuses him of lying to him by denying it all, or at the very least telling half-truths. Alf feels let down. Sue also comes to the doorstep where this exchange is taking place. Ken says the whole thing is a "grey area". Lust between quasi-sexagenarians must be a grey area alright! Ken says they weren't at it when the decision was made to sack the other teacher, Ray Crabtree, but they are now!
Things are still very tetchy between Judy and Gary. She's still snapping at him and blaming him for Joyce's accident, with all those if- only's which come to the fore at those sorts of times. She says to Sally that she knows she's being a cow, which is the cue for Gary's entrance. There is the question of what to do with Joyce's possessions, and Judy eventually suggests that maybe they should go to a childrens' charity, in the hopes it might bring them good luck in their attempts to create a miniature Mallett. This is the signal for hostilities to cease, and they embrace.
The strongest storyline (amongst a pretty lean bunch, it has to be said) is the aftermath of the failed robbery (blagging) of the previous night. Fraser, an actor hired for his matchless ability to smile, smile, smile, plays the real hard man as he discusses with his henchman Gerry who could have grassed them up and informed the cops of their plans. Gerry says it sticks out a mile. "Some joker blabbed." I thought this line showed great gentility and verbal restraint, so sadly lacking amongst the criminal fraternity on other cop shows and films these days. I can't imagine them REALLY saying "some joker blabbed" can you?
I always thought half of them entered the shady world of crime for the excellent opportunities it affords for blood-curdling bad language!
Somehow or other, Gerry goes off with a piece of paper, on which is written Alan McKenna's phone number, as a link between Liz and Alan has been established. He soon reports back to Fraser that Alan is "pawlis" as the Glaswegians would say, so Fraser confronts Liz in the back office. She begs for him to stop hurting her and tries to wriggle free of her predicament. Writing that line reminds me of the famous Mae West quote when asked what she thought of all-in wrestling; "Honey, if it's all-in, why wrestle?"
Liz thinks on her feet, and basically tells him the whole truth. This involves the threats from McKenna that Steve will come to grief if she doesn't co-operate, etc. She says she knows nothing of Fraser's dodgy activities; not even the date of his birthday! What the hell has that got to do with the price of fish?
Anyway, Fraser buys her patter, and believes her, much to Gerry's dismay. Gerry doesn't see Liz at work behind the bar so assumes Fraser has kicked her out (or worse?). When Fraser tells Gerry that she told him the whole story and he believed her, Gerry says he's gone soft, and is losing his crim-cred on the street as a hard man.
'Tis then Alan McKenna arrives with a couple of coppers and arrests Fraser for conspiracy to rob. Alan looks very pleased with himself, but can he make it stick? Will it stand up in court? Who cares? Fraser has clearly trodden this path before; he straightens his tie with a resolute air, as he leaves with the officers, looking even grimmer than before.
That's yer lot - Good night and I love you all.
Trash is getting in the way (as usual) behind the bar, and to make matters worse she complains that she never gets to go anywhere or do anything (except have babies). Fortunately, someone who understands that problem very well is at hand - as Sally Webster swans in like a fairy-godmother and tells her that the girls from the factory want to take her off on a "girl's night out". Trash is overjoyed and goes to wash her hair - leaving Jack and Vera to mind the baby. "When will you be back?" Vera asks. "Don't know," says Stop-out-Sally. "Whenever". The Duckworths realise that Bad Mother Syndrome is starting already.
And the Baby is the cause of an almost-lawsuit as Mike complains to the Duckworths that they didn't wash their hands when they served him a pint (and they'd been changing the Baby). As Mike tries to wangle a free drink out of the situation, Alma embarrassedly tells him to be quiet. Meanwhile at the other side of the bar, Don has been watching all this with interest, especially noting the "loving" relationship between Alma and Mike. When Mike leaves, Don slurs "You'd better tell that husband to watch himself," or something equally menacing. Alma uses this as an opportunity to check that the black circles round her eyes are still intact. Which they are.
Audreh is helping Alf with his driving test questions ("What do yah do at a red light Alfeh?") and is wearing a fabulous pair of specs to complete this bizarre scene. But Alf only wants to bitch about Ken and Sue - a topic which Audreh finds fascinating as well, so the driving test is quickly dropped and the pair start ruminating about Ken's sex life. "If only you'd arrived a bit later, you would have caught them at it," Audreh says excitedly. "I have no desire to see Sue Roberts in her bra and gusset," says Alf. Bear in mind that this was before the 9 o'clock watershed - and Alf actually said "GUSSET". Both actors seemed to be choking with laughter at this point.
When we have all recovered, Alf says that he is going to "fix" that sneaky pair, and nods sagely. So it is no surprise when Sue gets a summons to a Board Meeting - with Ken as a surprise guest of honor. What starts off as a normal conversation ends with them both screaming and accusing one another of all sorts. So this means that their relationship is over. All Ken needs to do now is start wearing black sleeveless stretchy tops and he will be Liz McDonald.
Is this the worst storyline at the moment or is it me? Des, Sean and Orange-Girl are going to parachute jump classes (why can't they just do Alexander Technique like everyone else?) and are giggling and making quips instead of paying attention to the instructor. When it comes to Sean's turn to jump off a ledge, he slips on some slime that must have come from his own hair and crumples to the ground, wheezing "Oh I've broken my ankle." More giggles, as he is obviously ashamed to have to utter this line. By the time the commerical break is over he is being rushed to hospital (by taxi) and is thus out of the parachute jump. So it will just be Orange Girl and Des who have to do it.
Liz gets out of bed - looking more haggard than she has possibly ever looked, and wanders around her love-nest flat blinking at random. Suddenly a hard looking woman lets herself in and deadpans "I'm Jackie, Fraser's wife." She then proceeds to be rude to Liz and starts taking various bits of furniture. Liz is too dazed to tear her eyes out, as she has mentioned that Fraser is in prison, but she won't tell Liz which prison. "He doesn't want you to know. I am his wife - I have the car, the villa, the soft furnishings from Habitat. You have nothing." She looks a bit like Liz - but with a squashed nose and black hair. Fraser obviously has a "crooked" taste in women too.
After she has gone, Liz goes to see Alan and Fiona, demanding to know where Fraser is. Alan pretends not to know (he is the worst liar in the whole world), so Liz rants a bit and says to Fiona "Do yourself a favour, get rid." ("get rid"? of what?) However, Fiona has had an IQ extraction at the moment so all she can do is pout and simper. Now that her singing career is over, she's terrified that she's going to end up like....
...Drear, who can only live for the tiny plot-lines she gets in relationship to characters with more hair than her. At this point Liz confides in Drear, who advises her to drop Fraser and get her life in order. Liz rejects this information and stalks off. All poor Drear can do is moan to Emily about how she's put her foot in it over telling Alf about Ken's affair with Sue - but that's in another story-line.
With no friends, Liz consoles herself in work - but Fraser's Lackey has other plans and tells her to close the Hourglass and accompany him back to her flat - as she is probably being watched by nameless villains. Liz is suspicious - but bear in mind that like the three crones from mythology she only gets to share one brain cell with Vera and Fiona, and at the moment it's Vera's turn to have it. So she agrees to do whatever she is told.
But before she is put out of our misery, Fraser phones her from prison and cries "Run Pretty Liz, Run!" Liz stretches open her bald-eagle eyes as wide as they can go and confronts the camera head-on. Credits.
Glamour Tiara. Emily was wearing the largest scarf I had ever seen - it was masquerading as a shawl I think - although I had the feeling that it had probably started life as a pair of curtains. Still, it was tastefully draped.
Anti-Glamour. What is it with White Hair at the moment? I thought the Street had a new character, but it was just Claire with the worst hairstyle and dye job that I have ever seen. She looks, literally like an alien from outer-space. Unfortunately it's a case of new glamour, old personality as she still has nothing to say for herself.
This is Talk Radio Weatherfield, with Tom Good keeping you company. If it's on your mind, we'd like to hear about it. "Radio Weatherfield, keeping the community in touch". And our topic for this Mothering Sunday is the mother/child relationship.
Our first caller this morning is one of our regular contributors, Audrey Roberts. Are you there Audrey?
"Yes, I'm here Tommuh".
I understand you have some juicy bit of gossip for us today. "Yes Tommuh. It's about the scandal that has been brewing over the sackings at 'Weatherfield Comprehensive'. Don't tell anyone else, but Ken came to see me this morning, to get me to use my influence on Alffuh to clear up the mess he's got himself into with Sue Jeffers."
"Actualluh, Ken said he'd come over to see Alf really, but Alf was out organising the year 2000. Honestluh, if I want to go out shopping he won't shift out of bed, but if it's official duties, he's up at the crack of dawn. Everyone knows, I'm the last person to pry, but I said to Ken 'Sometimes it helps to have someone to talk to' and he told me all about it."
"Of course he says that he and Sue Jeffers weren't carrying on at the time of the redundancies, but we all know Ken don't we, eh Tommuh? Anyway it stands to reason that he'd be grateful to her after what she did to save him. They don't call her Headmistress for nothing eh?"
Thank you Audrey, not exactly on topic, but interesting nevertheless. And our next caller is Jack Duckworth. Are you there Jack?
"Oh aye, son, aye".
And what do you think of the mother/child relationship Jack?
"It's the worst thing that can 'appen to a man, that. I've seen the effect it 'as. Take our Terry for example now. He had a mother/child relationship and look at 'im. I said to Vee all along, 'You're too soft with the lad' but she was all 'Don't be so hard on him Jack'. Well, I say, 'Look at 'im now' but you'd have to find 'im first."
"Mark my words son, young Brad is going the same way. Vee dotes on that child, but its own mother? She's out at all hours. Don't come 'ome till 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. And when she does she brings 'er fancy man with her. Ray Thorpe or something 'is name is. And 'e says 'Pleased to meet you Mr Armstrong.' Do me a favour son."
"Makes you wonder though, dunnit. 'ow long 'as 'e been on the scene? Maybe our Terry is not Brad's father at all. I wouldn't trust that Trish as far as I could throw 'er. Mother/child relationship? Is that the best she can do?"
Thank you Jack, I think we'll have to draw it to a close there.
Our next caller is Liz McDonald. Do you have any thoughts on the matter Liz?
"Yurrs, Tom. I think that the mother/child relationship is what keeps this community together. Just last night, for instance, I were chased through the streets, nearly run over in me own car and got a hole in me tights. I tried to get help from everyone I could think of, which was Dierdre. But she said she weren't going to help unless I called the police".
And did you call the police?
"Nurr, Fraser told me not to. So I had to call on Andy. I knew that my own son wouldn't let me down. I'd do anything for my family."
And he was able to help you?
"It's funny you should ask that Tom. As it happens Gerry Turner was waiting inside Jim's house with a sawn off shotgun. But that doesn't change the fact that my family were there when I needed them."
Thank you for that Liz, I hope they will still be there when you don't.
Finally, I have Claire waiting on line three. Claire, what does the role of a mother mean to you?
"It means waiting at home Tom. Waiting for the phone call or the knock on the door. - 'We're very sorry, but there's been an accident. Your husband, your boyfriend, Becky, they're not coming home'. Oh, I tried to talk him out of it, this parachute jump. But he is so scared that people might call him a chicken, he won't call it off. Take my word for it, bein' a wife, bein' a mother, it's just waiting and hoping that everything is OK, and that I can pick up the pieces afterwards."
But nothing's actually happened, has it Claire?
"No, no. I just can't help but feel that something will. I suppose he'll probably be all right, but I don't see why he has to put me through all this worry."
Thank you Claire.
And a brief item of news to close. Scientists claim to have disproved the theory that a large group of monkeys sat in front of typewriters long enough will write "Hamlet". Apparently, after exhaustive trials, the best that they have managed is to write soap opera scripts.
That's it from the Tom Good show tonight, and remember, "If you can't be good, be careful".
Well, I will never complain that I get all the crap episodes to write about again (or for a couple of weeks anyway). You can't beat a good old siege at gunpoint can you? And who better to have to spend the whole episode looking down the barrel of a gun than that supremely "common" family, the McDonalds.
As Gerry points the gun directly at the screen, so we are able to look right up it and see its nose-hairs, Andy comes downstairs (with flu) and is invited to join the others in sitting on the floor (the sofa being used to block the doorway - Gerry has very avant guard decorating concepts.)
Liz is unable to do very much during all this but look frazzled, while Andy looks ill and dazed, especially when Gerry does not believe that there is nobody else hiding upstairs and makes him call up "Come down! Please!" Meanwhile, Jim is perfecting his Irish accent, and summoning up every bit of testostorone in his body - but that's for later.
The siege continues - with Gerry trying to reach someone on his (shameless plug) Vodaphone so they can all get in a car and continue this in more tasteful surroundings. I know how he feels - that McDonald wallpaper gives me a headache too after five minutes. To pass the time Gerry starts insulting Liz - telling her that she is no better than a prostitute etc. Liz protests that she "Nurrrs Nothing" but Gerry is no longer a real person at this point and cannot be reasoned with.
Finally, Gerry gets through to the Heavy on the phone and tells him to bring the car round and beep the horn when he gets there. Jim tries to talk sense into Gerry - which considering past events is an irony of ironies. "Let moy wee lad go!" he drawls. But Gerry has a strange fascination for "College Boys with the Flu" and tells them all to stay put.
Suddenly, Gerry realises that the sofa would look much nicer if it were leaned up against the back-door so he gets Andy and Jim to move it. At this point someone toots their car horn outside - Jim takes advantage of this opportunity to catch Gerry off-balance and attacks him - growling insanely - just like in the good old days when a broken whiskey bottle was his only friend and he was always been hauled off in vans they usually reserve for rabid dogs.
We cut to outside and it's not Gerry's Mob-member, but daft old Alf Roberts who's going "toot-toot" in triumph because as he tells Gary Mallet "I've passed my driving test again." Suddenly assorted Street members hear a gun-shot go off in the McDonald house, and the camera whizzes right up on Emily's startled and horrified eyes. And my goodness - we all need a commerical break to calm down.
By the time we're back, Jim and Gerry are wrestling for the gun on the carpet, while Liz and Andy are clutching their pearls in horror. Liz has had enough of this, so she retaliates by whipping off one of her high heels and whacking Gerry over the head with it - allowing Jim to grab the gun and point it at him. "Don't move!" he salivates. Andy crawls outside and in his litotic fashion asks someone to phone the police. The siege is over and its official.
But don't worry because the Aftermath is even more fun - as the repercussions literally reverberate around the Street. Liz and Jim are released from prison and by the time they get home they find that ALL of their neighbours have entered their home and are "tidying-up" for them. Jim is so pleased he kisses Rita. It is decided that Liz will stay with Jim for a while. Andy goes off to bed in a sulk, while the McDonalds finally get to sit on that sofa and stare into respective spaces.
At the Rovers - Vera is quick to judge Jim as being responsible, then Liz for being dangerous and nuts. "They should be banned!" she shrills, and we're not sure if she's talking about guns or the McDonalds. Probably both.
Meanwhile, Emily is in shock and is comforted by Mavis and Percy. She is having a private flashback to the time when Ernest was shot. "I got there and I heard her say "That's the wife"," she says. "The number of times I've heard Hilda Ogden say "That's the wife" since then." And despite the action and violence of the rest of the episode - somehow this is actually the most spine-chilling, best-acted and sensitive part of the whole episode. In fact I'd say it's the best scene I've seen since CS started to go downhill (around the time Rackle left).
Back at the house, Fiona is making everyone cups of tea, and trying to find out what is going on. Liz puts a conciliatory claw on Jim's shoulder, but he quickly brushes it off, telling her that she gave him hell for the time when he was violent, and this time he expects her to do the same to herself, because he can't be bothered to. Fiona asks Jim what happened, and Jim tells her that Gerry thought that Liz had "grassed" on them. Fiona realises that her Overly Ambitious Boyfriend is probably to blame for the whole thing so she puffs out her little hamster cheeks and stares off into space as well.
While the McDonald madness goes on, we are sometimes given a rest from it by cutting to the parachute jump story. It isn't very exciting though. Sam and Des do the jump - and are happy. Des manages to find about five excuses to engage in body contact with Sam afterwards. So guess what's coming. Goodbye Mrs WhiteSkull I think.
Best Acting: Emily
Best OverActing: Jerry
Best UnderActing: Andy
Best Violence: The Stiletto slamming down on Gerry's head
Best Monologue: Emily
Second Best Monologue: Gerry talking about how "one job" would have set him up for life - he'd bought a little plot of land in Spain and was going to have a little house built there. Then that "slut" ruined it all!
A THOUSAND GREETINGS and I hope you've had a better week than I have.
I have had a flare-up of the rare condition which I suffer from, called Harlington's Throop. It comes and goes, and I have been in remission for a few months but this last week, it has flared up again.
I'd prefer not to mention the symptoms and the...shall we say....unusual effect it has on me.
There is no treatment available on the National Health Service, so I have to go private, where the process is expensive and involves considerable suffering to a large number of eels!
Reverberations are still, well...reverberating after the shotgun wedding, or whatever it was. A token Police car is spotted as Emily, Mavis and Rita chew over the bones of the last episode's feast. Any inside info that Percy (in his official capacity as Homewatch- oberfuhrer) has been able to glean was from Jim, through the letter box, reports Emily. Quite why they should converse in that unusual way we are not told. Mavis is sure that the chummy with the shooter was more than likely a jealous lover which Liz had ensnared. There is some lame speculation as to whether this diabolical firearms liberty might bring Liz and Jim together again.
The next scene is remarkable for its unusually high number of lengthy pauses, for which our beloved Street is not renowned, as a rule. Pinter it ain't! There is much contemplative gazing into the near distance from the various McDonalds, as they dwell upon what might have been...if only this, or that. Jim says he brought his brood to the mainland from Ireland to flee geezers with guns! He remarks with irony that they are a "cracking family" Yeah...cracking up! They speculate on Gerry's chances of living. Liz hopes he dies, and tells Andy that she will tell him all about it at some future time, when the dust settles. Later we see Jim plastering up the shotgun blast hole in the ceiling, and a very creditable job he's making of it!
In the salon we find Maxine is wearing a shiny blue plastic lampshade as a skirt! Is it for a dare...a joke....something to do with Comic Relief? Does it refer back to the 40 Watt lightbulb joke of a few weeks ago?? Vera is wittering on about the great British wartime spirit, where everyone in the community would pull together, except for Jack's uncle "who got done for looting!" On that cheery note, she leaves the salon.
Then we're in the pub, looking at Tricia. She's on the phone to her fancy-bloke, Ray, and they're making a date. Jack and Vera are getting fed up (already!) at her going out and leaving them holding the baby. Jack is quite literally doing so, and bottle feeding him. He's handling this fine young actor in a very tender and caring way, as it happens. He tells Vera that someone has to make the little lad feel secure. Vera has a bit of a dig at Tricia about how far back she and Ray actually go. The suggestion is that Terry might not be the father after all. More of this storyline will emerge later in the week, if you want my opinion.
Later when Tricia is putting on her face ready to venture out, Jack, on prompting from the missus tells her she's not being fair, and that a bit more thought would be appropriate. There is also a tender little scene where Jamie is gently toying with Brat...sorry...Brad, and wondering at what stage babies can understand what is being said around them. He hopes Brad will have happier early memories than he does. He also asks who Ray is, to be told by his mother that he's just a friend.
Once again in the salon, Fiona's perfectly formed little nostrils are flaring for all their worth, her eyes are as big as she can make them, her brow is furrowed and her arms are crossed. All of which adds up to one angry little crimper. The focus of her anger is PC Plod, whom she says has lied to her about Liz not being in danger, etc. Again she accuses him of using her for his own ends. Alan says "if you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas" What the hell does that mean? It sounds terribly wise and fashionably enigmatic, so I shall do my best to use it at work tomorrow at every opportunity, most likely horribly out of context, but I'm a sucker for these sorts of current buzz-phrases. It ranks along there with the other one about "feasting with panthers" wouldn't you say?
Any road, Alan's conscience is clear, and he tells her so. How much longer will Fiona stick with this odious little blighter? What on earth has he got going for him? Whatever it is, we never get to see it! He does mention that Fraser is no longer banged up in chokey, however, which is faintly interesting, I suppose.
Deirdre calls on Ken and tells him "you're not normal". This uncertain start eventually takes the form of a kind of apology for her telling Audrey of his romantic dalliance in the Grey Area. I refer to Sue Jeffers, of course. Ken says he doesn't feel worried, but rather angry, hurt, stunned, annoyed and a few other things besides, but I can only write so fast you know Ken, and how can someone feel all those things at the same time? I ask you!
In the pub, Des is in full-smarm with Samantha. He wonders if they should join the skydiving club together. (Here's a thought about skydiving...why on earth wear the pathetic little crash helmet? It would seem a trifle superfluous if the worst happened. Let's not beat about the bush; if you are reunited with terra firma at 300 mph having suffered a bit of a failure of the vital equipment....the big floppy thing which slows you down...can't think of the name right now....your organs are going to be distributed over an area the size of Wales! A 20 quid polystyrene cycling helmet (however gaily coloured) isn't going to help you see next Christmas!)
Later Des turns up unexpectedly at Sam's house. She opens the door in her dressing gown. (At this juncture, you are expecting me to crack that terribly old joke about opening the door in her dressing gown. I shall resist. I shall be resolute. Self control is my watch word, as many of you will attest) She has just washed her hair, and Des's nasty slimy smutty overtures are unwelcome. Maybe his recent jump has done something positive for his libido? He places an optimistic hand on her leg, which she brushes off, but Des will not be denied, and pushes her some more. Then she gives in and invites him upstairs. With that beastly smirk on his face which says "you've cracked another one Des, you old charmer" he follows her up to the privacy of her boudoir.
Moments later, her hysterical laughter is heard emanating from the upstairs window by Gary. Next thing, flying trousers come through said window and flutter to the soggy pavement below. More gales of feminine hilarity accompany Des being shoved out the front door to retrieve them. By this time, Claire, Mavis and Rita have come out of The Kabin to see what all the fuss is about. Claire's face melts from laughter to serious displeasure at the sight of her chap, picking up his dripping trousers having been forcibly ejected from the home of a half dressed barmaid. Let's face it lads....we've all been there or thereabouts in our time......nugde nudge! It's all a bit of harmless fun! But the womenfolk just don't see the funny side do they? I'll never understand them if I live to be 29!
That's yer lot.
I'm offering a bonus of 200 points to anyone who noticed the Beatles song title mentioned by one of the cast. Clue: it was a four word sequence.
Good night and I love you all.
PS Nurse, nurse...I think I'm ready for another two eels about now!
Here I am, back from a lovely restful holiday, not knowing what on earth is going on, but here goes:
Street: Directly continuing from Wednesday's episode, Des is on the street pulling his trousers on. Sam hands him his wallet and he spolshes through the puddles in his socks to placate Claire.
House: Claire and Des have a row, Claire wonders what has been going on, and decides that she would rather have £16,000 per year than Des.
School: Ken is at the Governors' meeting, looking uncomfortable. Alf is there, but leaver the talking to the Chairwoman. Ken is told that in response to the allegation that he kept his position because he was in a relationship with the Head, Mrs Jeffers has admitted it and resigned.
House: Des tries in vain to convince Claire that nothing happened, but she thinks it would have and she cannot trust him any more. She is leaving him. Becky wants to know what is going on and Des tells her he has been stupid. Becky seems quite upset as she was beginning to feel at home there.
School: A new Head will be appointed soon. Ken thinks he is absolved since Mrs Jeffers admitted that she pressurised the Governors, but as Alf points out, Ken still kept his job for the wrong reason. Unfortunately, there will still have to be more staff cuts, and Ken is left to conclude that retirement will be thrust upon him.
Dark Alley: Liz - looking very Mrs. Mutton, gets into a car and snogs Fraser. She is still shaken after her ordeal. He says they have to be careful, but that it was good that he managed to get word to her. She tells him the police have been asking questions but that she hasn't said anything. He tells her to say that he and Gerry were in the back room of the wine bar all that night. Liz wants to know what will happen about their relationship. Fraser promises to phone her when it is safe.
House: Des cannot believe that it is all over. Claire says she will not forgive him, as she would always be afraid he would do it again. She and Becky take their things - including Jarvis the budgie and pile into a taxi. Next morning Des phones in sick to work.
Rovers: Jack moans to Vera that Trish is taking advantage of their looking after the baby while she goes out. To the extent that the pub business is suffering.
Kabin: Mavis and Rita recount to Audrey the events of Des's humiliation in the street. Jim comes in and is not pleased to be plastered over the paper as an Army Hero. Rita says Percy was the one who told the papers everything. Rita informs Mavis that Claire and Becky have left - and Mavis will have to do Becky's paper round.
Rovers: Sean tells Sam that Des is sick - and she lets him think it is delayed shock from the parachute jump. Trish tells Sally that Jack and Vera are being mean about her having a night out. Jack wants to know where she got to until 2am. Sean feels that he is being talked about by Audrey but doesn't know the joke. She is actually wondering why he is still friendly with Sam after the Des incident.
House: As Claire takes the rest of her stuff away, Sean goes to offer sympathy to Des, although he doesn't know why they have split up.
Rovers: After leaving Jack and Vera with a crying baby for 2 hours while she slept, Trish reacts badly to Jack and Vera telling her they are knackered and she shouldn't go out. She says maybe she would be better in a place of her own. Vera agrees, and Jack secretly smiles. Andy is feeling down, he was shaken up by the gun incident. Jim cheers him up. and is even nice to Percy. Curly puts his foot in it with Sean by referring to the recent events. Alan comes in looking for Liz. Fiona attempts to apologise to him, but he has other things on his mind. Sean knows the story and is cross with Sam, but she explains she thought he had been revealing their problems to Des.
House: Mrs Ex-Head calls in to see Ken, and says she wanted to tell the truth and leave cleanly. She doesn't want to lose touch with him, but he doesn't want to see her again. She assumes he will accept early retirement but he vows to fight it every step.
House: Sean angrily confronts Des, who says he was too ashamed to tell Sean why Claire really left. He thinks he has wrecked Sean and Sam's relationship as well as his own. Sean says they will probably be OK, but Des is sacked. Des says it is unfair dismissal, but Sean doubts that Des will sue.
And here is the news for Sunday, 16th of March. This is Jerry Ledbetter speaking.
In tonight's main headlines:
Des's life falls to pieces
Trish goes walkabout
Liz and Frazer reconciled
Des's life falls to pieces
Residents of Coronation street were awakened early this Sunday by the sounds of shouting outside Curly's house. Becky, having found out from Mavis who had caused her mother's break up with Des, was intent on having it out with Sam there and then. Becky was eventually calmed and led away by Mavis and Derek. Before she left she was reported to have turned on Des with the words "We stood up for you, but Grandma and Grandpa were right all along."
I believe you've got Des there in the radio car, Tom. Over to you. Thank you very much Jerry. Now Des, life seems to have let you down a bit this week, or perhaps, you have let life down?
"I don't know why everyone is blaming me. It's Sam's fault, and I just hope she is pleased with herself. The callous hard hearted cow! Thanks to her I've lost me girlfriend, me friend, Sean, and me job. I've even had to put up with Derek and Mavis's sympathy."
How ghastly for you. But, let's be fair, it's not all Sam's fault is it? You did make a move on her?
"She led me on, Tom. If she wasn't interested, all she had to do was say, but that's not good enough for her. She led me on, then made sure everyone knew all about it. Oh yes it's her fault all right. Her and Claire. I mean to say, no man could possibly be faithful to a woman with that kind of haircut."
Didn't you lose your previous job and girlfriend in similar circumstances?
"With Tanya you mean? Yes I did, and it just goes to show that all women are the same. The best thing I can do is to give them all a wide berth in future".
We can only hope for their sakes that you do. Now, back to you Jerry.
Trish goes walkabout
Consternation gripped the street today when it was believed that Trish and baby Brad had absconded leaving Jamie with the Duckworths. A search of the Weatherfield environs failed to come up with any leads, but Trish reappeared that evening, although she refused to divulge where she had spent the day. On rummaging through Trish's things looking for a lead to her whereabouts, Jack was reported to have been surprised that no father's name was given on Brad's birth certificate. A source close to the family has told us that his suspicions as to the identity of Brad's father are deepening.
In a Radio Weatherfield exclusive, your roving reporter, Tom, has managed to find out where Trish went today. Over to you Tom.
Thank you very much Jerry. I'm standing in Blackpool outside the Horton's house. And here is Mr Horton now. Mr Horton...
"What do you want?"
Radio Weatherfield, Mr Horton. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
"Just so long as you don't expect me to answer".
Really Mr Horton, you certainly are a shining wit. But seriously, I understand that Trish Armstrong was here today.
"Yes she turned up about mid morning. Claims to have another of that Terry Duckworth's babies with her, but we're not in the market just at the moment. I said to the wife, 'Terry's certainly lowered his standards since our Lisa'. 'Course, Terry had left her, she obviously hasn't got any money has she. Well, nothing to do with us, I says, but Trish comes over all pathetic and says the baby needs changing and all so the wife invites her in. "It turns out that Trish wants to contact Terry. I did warn her to leave well alone. 'It's a blessing that he's not 'round' I says to her, but she had a letter all ready for us to pass on, and a photograph too. 'If only Terry knows he's a father, he'll come running back' she says. I've always known the education system has gone to the pack under the conservatives, and that woman is living proof. She hasn't got two braincells to rub together. "We sent her off back to Vera and Jack in the end. Vera has always said that she wanted grandchildren to look after. The last thing we want 'round out little Tommy is a reminder of his dad."
Thank you Mr Horton, now back to you, Jerry.
Liz and Frazer reconciled
Unconfirmed rumours have linked Liz with Frazer again, just days after his release on bail from a bungled robbery attempt. Police have closed his headquarters, the "Hourglass" and are searching it with a fine tooth comb, hoping to turn up evidence. The manager of the pub, Liz, was unavailable for comment, although she is said to believe that Frazer is the innocent victim of a frame up. In the studio with me is Jim McDonald.
"Excuse me Jerry, but is that Jerry with a 'J' or Gerry with a 'G'. Only I've had some bad experiences with Gerries, 'Adams', 'Turner', you know what I mean?"
Yes, it's Jerry with a "J", Jim.
"Well, what about cha Jerry? The thing is though, I thought we were here to talk about mah wee bhoy, not about that hurr Elisabeth."
Well, how is Andy today Jim?
"Well, I'll tell you once and I'll tell you no more, Jerry. His life has been turned on it's head so it has. He hasn't slept for a wink since it happened. Honest to G*d, with my hand on my heart. I had to take him home from work today he was so tired. I think he's been on the sauce a bit too, when Jack wasn't looking. "And shall I tell you what really takes the cake Jerry? That hurr Elisabeth turned up at the Rovers to see how he was, so she says, but all she really wanted was to smooth things over with us before going out with Frazer again. I tell you, it makes me ashamed to be associated with her. She's not the woman I thought she was Jerry, so she isn't. "After what happened last week you'd think she'd see sense. I mean, Gerry Turner practically admitted in front of us that Frazer was in it up to his neck. But no, it's all 'Frazer is the victim'. She won't listen to me, oh no. But Andy told her, 'You're not wanted 'round here anymore' I hope he got through to her."
Thank you Jim.
And two items in brief to close:
Claire's departure has spelt good news for Sally, who has been offered her job in the corner shop. Sally overcame her scruples enough to accept the job, but only until another comes up at Baldwin's factory.
Finally, Ken is reported to be devastated by the resignation of Sue Jeffers over the "Jobs for the toy boys" scandal at Weatherfield Comprehensive. He has been trying without success to bring his influence to bear on Alf Roberts in order to secure his own future. However, sources close to Alf report that he is avoiding Ken and that Ken is likely to be thrown to the wolves himself at the end of the next school term.
Trash admits that she took Baby Brad to see the Ortons, in order to find R Terry (is she a complete lunatic?) Jack tells her that she is better off without Terry, but she does not seem to be able to be convinced. Then Trash admits that she never gave Terry's name to the Child Support people. Jack is suspicious, especially as he already knows that Trash did not put Terry's name on the birth certificate either.
Maureen asks an unshaven Des for Claire's forwarding address, so she can send her money on. She goes out to get change, leaving Sally with Maud. When Maud realises that Sally is going to be employed there full-time she throws a huge fit on her, deducing that she no longer has a job herself. Maureen tries to explain, but dithers so much that Maud sends herself home in a strop. Sally is rueful, but Maureen tells her to pay no attention to her mother.
Liz is having a chummy chat with best friend Drear, trying to convince her that Fraser is really nice "if only you knew what he was really like". Drear cannot be convinced, and tells Liz about Andy's drunkeness, which makes Liz pop her eyes a little bit more. Then the Police arrive and haul Liz off for questioning - this seems to be a routine thing which happens every epsiode now.
Meanwhile, Fiona is wondering how to contact Alan, and takes Maxine's advice to go to the Police Station and leave a note. So Fiona sees Liz being dragged into the interview room. They exchange long longing looks (!) When Liz leaves, she bumps into Alan, carrying sandwiches and they accuse each other of being responsible for everything that has happened in this tiresome little storyline so far. I have realised what is so add about Alan - he hardly opens his eyes any more, so his drooping eyelids make him look permanently bored and half-asleep.
Alan visits Fiona and shouts at her for visiting him at the police station. Fiona - who now has no personality left takes it all meekly and agrees to go out with him that evening - even though he turns up late, she still forgives him. Fiona, you need to get some Sojourner Truth out of the library - you are Woman and I want to hear you ROAR! Even Jim McDonald's attempt to resolve her of all blame does not seem to have the desired effect.
Meanwhile, Fraser visits Liz and they kiss (it is too, too repulsive). Liz tells him that she told the police nothing because she nurrrs nothing. Fraser announces that he is going abroad to the place where every single tv criminal ends up - Spain. Would Liz like to go with him? And I have never been so pleased to see the Credits.
In this dire little episode, only Maxine's cheapness shines through. She could give Liz lessons in how to wear black clingy tops, if last night's "number" was anything to go by. And her "scalp massage" of Derek's was quite funny - resulting in him asking for a hanky.
A THOUSAND GREETINGS and what a week it's been!
It always thrills me to hear from update readers. I get all sorts of Emails from all sorts of people in all sorts of places. Some of them are full of glowing praise. I print these up and carelessly leave them around the house when we're expecting visitors. If someone should find one and say "Who's this person in Astonia who thinks you're gifted, Nigel?" I just smile and reply "oh, who left that old thing lying around?" and screw it up, knowing I have seventeen other copies of the same note waiting upstairs for future occasions!
Only this morning, I received a proposal of marriage from a young lady in Ontario, who calls herself Minkee. She said she had been reading my updates for several months and really felt like she knew me very well. She sent a JPEG image of herself (somewhat mysteriously, the picture was taken when she was 15 months old!) and a clipart picture of a very handsome engagement ring, to demonstrate her willingness to commit herself to me for ever. She described herself as a delicious redhead, and added, (even more mysteriously) that she was no longer infectious!
A member of a silent religious order in Sri Kanka wrote on Monday to say that his entire community have been instructed, by their Supreme Lama, to pray for me. I was quite touched and wrote to ask what exactly they were praying for. "We ask Krishna to bring Ken and Deirdre back together, and to make you funny" came the reply.
If they can't say anything nice, it's not such a bad thing they're bloody-well silent!
Some of the letters are not quite so complimentary. Last week, a Street fan from Glasgow wrote (rather tersely I thought) "see your updates, pal...they're pure crap by the way."
Ah, the hurly-burly of the literary life!
Here is the update:
Not for the first time in living memory, we start with the shot of a car wheel splashing through a puddle. This is usually to signify troubled waters ahead. On the other hand, it could be that they can't think of much that's new to kick off with.
The clock's saying 8:15 am and Liz and Fraser are in the kitchen, where she's sipping her morning cup. Fresh from his shower, Fraser demonstrates his class and refinement by making instant (looked like Nescafe) coffee, topped up with milk straight from the bottle! I don't know what I'm getting so damn superior about, that's just the way I have it! He assures her he was deadly serious about the Spain offer, and that he already has a buyer for the Hour Glass. She is further gobsmacked to learn that he already has a bar out there. "You'll be in clover with me" he tells her. She beams excitedly. She's worried about taking such a big step, and wants to know why he needed her to lie for him previously, when she was told to say he and Gerry were in the back room all evening, and therefore couldn't have done that awful deed, m'lud. You remember. He says it was because there's a bent copper round every street corner, just waiting to fit him up, so he needs a permanent alibi service.
He should have come to me.
For years now, I have been running a bespoke alibi service to the criminal fraternity. I operate a sliding scale of charges (cash only), depending upon the dreadfulness of the crime in question, and I'm proud to say I have given sterling alibi cover to many celebrated criminals from Britain and overseas. For instance, I was playing darts with a very well known armed robber on every occasion he was accused of holding up various branches of the Midland Bank. I was on holiday in Warsaw with Egor Vaslinski, the infamous supermarket yogurt-tamperer at the time of his alleged offences. I was at evening classes studying Intermediate Pasta Cuisine with an alleged Turkish mass murderer who has since become a household name.....I refer of course to Dimitri DOMESTOS.
Anyway, Fraser says there'll be a job for Steve in this new Land of Paella and Honey, so Liz is persuaded to agree. They leave tonight! As they are speaking, I'm going all cross-eyed looking at the Magic Eye picture on the wall behind them. Having freeze-framed the tape, see what you think, but I'll swear it's two priests in a rowing boat setting fire to a dead bear.
In the pub, Jack is obsessed by thoughts of Brat's father's identity. Tricia's 'new' friend Ray Thorp arrives, and so Jack ushers him through to the back room to see her. He's eagerly watching for signs that they've known each other longer than Tricia says. As Ray appears, Tricia is cooing baby noises at Brat. e.g. gigiboo...gigiboo! What effect is this gigiboo stuff intended to have on the impressionable sproglet? Personally, I think it'll give him the best of all starts in life. In other social circles, mothers would be putting baby's name down for Eton. Rubbish...waste of money! Here in Weatherfield, babies are wobbled, shaken and told...gigiboo!...gigiboo!
Jack is soon rewarded when Ray tells Jamie how he's grown since he saw him last. Aha! Proof positive in Sherlock Duckworth's eyes, and he confronts Tricia. She says Ray and her used to be neighbours when they both lived in the council flats. (The ones where Jack baby-sat for her that time, and ended up getting biffed on the nose by her jealous husband.) Sherlock is still uneasy.
Liz goes to the Rovers to tell Andy, (who is looking terminally miserable) about her impending emigration. He pointedly fails to give her his blessing, and just gets more morose. The cameraman gives him an ultra-close-up, but even this fails to remind him how lucky he is, and that life's not so bad after all.
Still in the pub, Don has fixed Mike Baldwin with an evil stare. Baldwin is crowing about the upturn in business. Don has the countenance of a malcontent loser, and tells Ashley that Baldwin is "nasty, and someone aught to stamp on him". Chilling!
Liz then goes to see Jim. I'm pleased to see he's still getting some use out of that old Toronto Blue Jays sleeveless sweatshirt! Jim's hair has suffered from the shocking shotgun events of last week. While other people's hair might go white from shock, Jim's has gone black! On that basis, I'm hoping for a bloody good shock in the next few days, to reverse the greying process, and so recapture my former appearance of youthful vigour!
Once again a member of her immediate family stops short of giving her their blessing. Jim just gets all sloppy about their break-up. Pull yourself together man! She'll send you one of those god-awful donkeys you see everyone bringing back through customs from Spain, or one of those tacky mock-bullfighting posters they stitch the dumb tourists up with. The ones where your name is printed on the poster to make it look like you're some famous Spaniard torreador.
Liz then goes to the prison (is Steve REALLY a prisoner in Safeways??) to tell him the great news about sunny Spain. Steve is equally thrilled as he holds Fraser in high regard, on account of his razor sharp criminal mind. He tells Liz how Fraser was the mastermind behind the recently-failed warehouse blagging which went belly-up. By way of testimony to Fraser's brilliance, he tells her that Fraser has only been in prison once. So what? I've only been in prison once....for 22 years, so don't set too much store by that, Liz!
So now she's all fired up to confront Fraser with the truth:
She says she knows all about the warehouse job, and starts to yell and shout about how he's lied to her. He warns her she's got a smack coming if she doesn't button her lip. But she's got the bit between her teeth by this time and shouts some more. He juts out his lower lip in defiance, and tells her everyone is bent! They're all at it. "Lawyers do it...coppers do it...businessmen do it..." goldfish-in-the-privacy- of-bowls-do-it...let's do it...let's fall in love!!
Be serious Nigel.
He ends up calling her a slag! "There are thousands like you," he sneers, and chucks her a handful of cash as a parting 'gift'. She picks up a vase and makes to throw it at him. He warns her it will cost her some teeth if she does. She decides against it. "Get out!" she screams. He leaves. She snatches her chance to smash the vase under circumstances which will not jeopardize her molars.
That's yer lot.
Good night and I love you all.
PS. I would like to thank the anonymous woman in Leichtenstein who sent me the device to relieve my Harlington's Throop without the need for eels. Would she please contact me again, as it arrived with no plug, and I wouldn't want to connect it to UK voltage without knowing the correct current rating. The results could be disastrous. Spectacular, but disastrous!
A remarkable episode in the history of the RATUCS newsgroup, notable for the evidence that Lurking Script Writers exist. For those 'mailing-list-only' followers, I will explain. On the newsgroup, challenges are set; 'If LSWs are reading this, they will make some character, X say a certain thing, Y, in 6 weeks time.' Then, later when X does say Y, people jump up and down. I'm not sure this incident is proof positive, but hey - let's not let truth spoil our enjoyment. More of the LSW evidence later. Here is what happened on Friday.
Outside: A nice little scene with Jack and Jamie. I have no idea what happened as I was late and too busy starting the video, so I wasn't listening. Jack seemed to be in a bad mood. In the street, Kevin and his new sidekick, Chris, opened up the garage, and who should come by but Angie. She starts talking to Des, who's looking really scruffy and unshaven. Angie is looking for Curly, but can't find him. She takes to opportunity to make fun of Des for settling down with an older woman and a kid. She seems not to notice that Des is uncommunicative. Liz calls at the house to tell Andy that she didn't go to Spain after all. Her cheerful mood soon evaporates as Andy informs her he couldn't care less what she does.
Shop: Angie is filled in on the gossip by Maureen and Sally about Curly's lodger, Sam 'hard as nails' who tricked Des into losing his job and his girlfriend.
Salon: Liz has run to Fiona for sympathy as Andy's attitude really hurt her. Liz feels that Alan forced her into being involved with Fraser, but Fiona is quick to point out that Liz fancied Fraser and wasn't forced to sleep with him. Liz is angered by this, and is on her way out when Alan arrives. Fiona feels bad, but Alan cheers her up by asking her to go out later.
Rovers: Vera has done the washing by the time Trish gets up. Trish has been worrying that Jack won't believe her that Terry is the baby's father. Vera says that Jack is trying to protect them from the same thing happening again - they get close to a baby and it is taken away. Trish is adamant that won't happen.
House: Angie barges into Des's house with some food and sympathy. She extracts some shop-bought sandwiches, and offers Des the choice 'Ploughman's, chicken tikka masala or prawn' and Des chooses ploughman's.
Now at this moment, I guarantee that RATUCS news group readers were leaping up and down, shouting 'Mike Plowman's name was mentioned!, the scriptwriters read the newsgroup! He challenged them to ask for a PLOWMAN's and they have.!' Conclusive proof - I'm not sure, (cos it wasn't Roy Cropper who spoke the word) but a Ploughman's sandwich is fairly unusual I'd have thought. Anyway, make your own minds up......
They open a bottle of cheap red plonk and Angie grills Des over how he lost Claire. He seems quite agreeable to Angie's attentions.
Rovers: Audrey and Maud discuss Maud's impending retirement from the shop. Maud is miffed at the way it was done, but not unhappy to have some time to herself. Vera tells Jack he can't carry on mistrusting Tricia. Andy tells Jim about Liz, and Jim laughs, stupid woman. Then Liz comes in and Andy shouts at her to stay away from him, that she's a joke, and a sleazy gangster's tart, and that she should have gone away as he doesn't want her here.
Shop: Maud is about to apologise to Sally for her attitude, but Maureen comes in and jumps to the wrong conclusion, so Maud goes off in a huff.
House: Jim, has taken Andy home from work and gives him a brandy, Andy cries on his shoulder and they hug. Jim says Liz was misguided, but Andy maintains she knew what she was doing.
Rovers: Jamie is gluing together one of those grey plastic aeroplane kits, which during the scene seems to acquire extra bits by magic. Jack and Tricia have a bit of an argument, as Tricia knows Jack thinks they are ripping him off, and he doesn't believe that Brad was premature. Tricia stomps out, having told Jack to stuff his charity up his woolly jumper, leaving Jack to look ruefully at Jamie, who says she is telling the truth. Jack kindly says 'You can't know that, son.' but Jamie says 'I can - she's me mam'
Flat: Dreary has come round to sit with Liz, who is still upset, but Dreary is glad she is not amongst that sort of people any more. Liz says Dreary is the only friend she has left; at which all Dreary can do is blink.
Rovers: Liz is the focus of gossip, leading to Don being grumpy with Mike over some remark he makes. Des and Angie are continuing their post-mortem on his love-life over a pint. She says her own love-life is non-existent, and they conclude that if no one else will have them they will end up together - if they are really desperate!
Some wine bar: Fiona turns up 10 minutes late for her date with Alan. They are having some wine when a female colleague of Alan's comes over with her fiance. Alan seems embarrassed to introduce Fiona to Dawn, and Glynn, her intended - who is, we later learn, a computer programmer. Alan goes off to fetch more wine glasses.
Rovers: Vera puts her foot in it by telling Don that Josie has married a doctor and he walks out muttering. Tricia is about to go out to look at a flat, but Jack tells her not to move out, as he would miss them.
Bar: Fiona is quiet as Dawn says it is funny Alan hasn't mentioned her, and why weren't they at the police 'do' last Tuesday - Alan is usually there. When Alan returns, after Dawn and Glynn leave, Fiona has a go at him and accuses him of having another woman. he denies it, so Fiona says is it because she is black. Alan says that is ridiculous - but can't look her in the eye. She leaves.
Here is the news for Sunday, 23rd of March.
In tonight's main headlines:
Kbec lays off Angie
Des decides to leave street
Fiona gives Alan the cold shoulder
Sally gives Chris a bed for the night
Maxine makes Ashley's hair curl
Andy's university studies slipping
Kbec lays off Angie
Angie Freeman appeared surprised today to find that the troubled Canadian multinational Kbec no longer required her services. She is alleged to have met this news philosophically with the observation "I'm not unemployed, I'm self employed".
Des decides to leave street
In a related story, recent history once again repeated itself on the street today when the return of Angie caused another of the street's men to leave for pastures new. Last time it was Curly, this time Des Barnes has fallen under the wanderlust. I understand you have Des in the radio car with you Tom.
Yes, that is right, Jerry. Now Des, in your own words, why is it that Angie seems to have such a powerful effect on house sales around here?
"Well Tom, to be fair to Angie, Curly didn't sell his house, only rent it out. And anyway, it wasn't Angie decided me to go, it was Derek Wilton."
Really? So there is more to this story than meets the eye then.
"Not so much. When I got up this morning and staggered out to the back yard for some fresh air, Derek and Mave were already in their garden. Derek made the most of the opportunity to tell me that it was time I should be getting my garden under control. I apologised in advance for any concern the sight of my weeds might have on them this summer. To my astonishment, this wasn't met with annoyance, but sympathy and concerned looks. I began to realise that, when the Wilton's feel sorry for you, your life really has hit rock bottom."
"I went straight over to the Rover's and Angie, who was just in the process of celebrating her 'self employed' status joined me for a drink and later, for lunch. It was her idea that I should sell the house and take off on my boat, to do something other than be a bookie. I was certainly NOT inclined to take up her crackpot idea, but Derek talked me into it."
Derek was there at the time?
"Yes, he had come over to invite us to his place for dinner. He said to Angie that he knew I'd never go off in my boat, because he wouldn't do it and I am 'just like him'. What an insult, 'just like him'! I had to say I was going to sell my house and take up a life of cruising on my boat just to prove him wrong".
Isn't that the same reason why you did the parachute jump two weeks ago, to prove you were not like Derek?
"Yes, I don't really want to go, but I've got something to prove to meself now."
Well I wouldn't worry too much about it Des, you'll probably change your mind at the last minute the way Curly did. Now back to you Jerry.
Thank you Tom.
In our next story Fiona, long suffering boyfriend of Alan ended their relationship today, allegedly for reasons of race tension. The trouble started earlier in the week when it emerged that Alan had not asked Fiona to the policeman's ball. Initially the reason given was that he had decided on her behalf that she wouldn't like it there, but under prolonged questioning later admitted that he wondered if his colleagues would express racist remarks to her. I'm joined in the studio now by Fiona.
Fiona, good of you to come in and talk to us.
"Thank you very much Jerry. It's good of you to ask me".
Now Fiona, do you feel that Alan treated you in a racist way?
"Not exactly Jerry, it's more subtle than that. He isn't prejudiced or anything, but he felt the need to protect me from his colleagues whom he felt might be. I've been black all my life, I'm not about to start going around trying to hide it now".
Really Fiona, you say that you are black, but I've come back from Tenerife with a suntan darker than your skin.
"And what does that have to do with it Jerry? It's not the colour of my skin that is important. It's the fact that Alan thought he had to protect me from stereotypes. How can I go out with anyone who doesn't have enough respect for me to let me fight my own corner? By saying that his colleagues might write me off as 'the white policeman's black girlfriend' he has put us in that mould himself. He's not overtly racist, he's patronising, which is worse."
"In fact it's just like you Jerry, with your stupid comment that I might pass muster as a 'white' with a suntan. Do you think I want to? Why do you feel the need to reassure me it's all right to be me? I am me, and I AM all right. White, black or brown, do me the courtesy of assuming that I like who I am."
Please accept my apologies Fiona, I didn't mean to offend. So there is no chance of your getting back together with Alan?
"You know the saddest thing Jerry? When Alan left this morning he said 'I still don't know what I've done wrong'. Even after all that, he couldn't see his condescending attitude for what it was. If I couldn't get through to him on that, I'll never get through to him".
Thank you Fiona.
And in tonight's closing headlines:
Sally gives Chris a bed for the night
This morning Kevin discovered that Chris has been sleeping rough at the garage for the last few nights. Kevin lost his rag and ordered him out, but Sally has offered to let him stay at their house and is reported to be cross with Kevin alleging that he is clearly not paying Chris enough to live on. Hearing that Kevin, refused to sub Chris his wages only made her more determined. Kevin is reported to have responded, "I'm not happy with having some bloke I've only known for two weeks having the run of my house while my wife and daughters are asleep upstairs".
Maxine makes Ashley's hair curl
Midriff Maxine gave Ash the Pash enough heat to bleach the hairs on his chest today at the salon. Sources close to the couple report that Ashley broke down Maxine's resistance with the soulful line "I can talk with you Maxine, not like with me uncle Fred". Such wit and eloquence was not long in being rewarded by the sympathetic stylist.
Andy's university studies slipping
Some parents worry that when their student son invites female classmates 'round "to study" whether some rather more basic instincts might be being gratified. With Jim McDonald the fear is that Liz will be mentioned. Such was indeed the case today when Sandra, a classmate of Andy's who had come to chivvy him up about a late essay, got more than she bargained for at the McDonald's house.
Although Sandra did escape with her life and reason, Jim had cause to give Andy a severe talking to for using such vulgar language in the house. "I will not have Liz talked about in that way in front of an outsider" he fumed. Andy was later sighted retreating to the Rover's for some bottled sympathy.
Another "calm before storm" episode, but at least we can be thankful that nobody mentioned Baby Brad, and Liz McDonald's "lithe and sensual" presence did not grace our screens.
Andy has spent all night at a night-club, which unfortunately has not done his hair or complexion any good at all. Jim lectures him on doing well in his exams, which Andy replies with "When did you go to College Dad?" Meow!
Later, Andy is learning how to be a real McDonald alcoholic by trying to buy drinks in the Rovers. Jim tells Betty not to serve him, and Betty, thankful that someone has remembered to speak to her backs him up. So Andy resorts to Don't-Care-Vera, saying "Hey, darling will you pour me a drink," or something equally uncharacteristic. Profit-hungry Vera doesn't care whose life is destroyed by Tia Maria, so she tells Betty to give him a pint of creme de menthe with extra head.
Kevin is still unhappy that Chris is sleeping on the Webster sofa (would he prefer their sleeping arrangments to be more intimate I wonder?) After Kev spends half of that scene leering at Chris's bare chest he turns to Sally who for some reason has a cold which means that someone has scribbled red Crayola all over her nose and she is more nasal than usual (surely that is not possible!!) Sally does not go to work, so Kevin is forced to do all those unmanly feminine-role jobs like dealing with the kids etc. When Maureen (new severe hairstyle) finds out that Sally will not be coming in for work she has to fall back on Maud, who makes a big fuss about working in a crime zone blah blah blah. And I think the pair of them need to become obsessive stalkers or something or else they'll go the same way as so many other "actresses of a certain age" in CS - e.g. Drear, Betty, Emily, Rita.
Meanwhile Chris tells Kevin that he will be continuing to stay at Chez Websters for "four days tops" whatever that means. I thought "top" was a word used in gay circles, but what do I know? Kevin advises him to put an advert in the Kabin looking for accomodation (as we all know, Salford is so exclusive and difficult to find somewhere to live). Rita warns Chris that...but that's part of the next storyline. Don't you hate it when they crossover. What is this? Robert Altman's "Shortcuts"?
Rita tells Chris to get a shave because all of the landladies in Wetherfield will hold up a cross and scream at him when they see his stubble (it's true), but Chris just laughs in her face - causing Angie Freeman to look impressed.
And this could be important because Angie has recently taken possession of Des's house, while Des decides to "do a Curly" and see the world. Des also has a nice line in stubble at the moment. Is he so depressed that he is only able to shave once every three days? Angie's move has delighted Derek who rushes over to the Kabin to squeal the good news to Mavis. Is it just me, or does every Derek scene seem laden with unspoken tension - it's almost as if the other actors are moving away from him - somehow they know that he's going to die and they don't want to catch whatever it is he's got.
In another storyline, Angie and Mike are having a drink and talking about old times and how crap KBEC is (something which R Jameh could have told them 8 months ago). Angie is pulling one of those "isn't everything I say ironic" faces which consists of raising her eybrows and mugging directly at the camera. All I am able to think is "too much conditioner". The point of this scene being that Angie warns Mike that KBEC are "on to him" about the contraband goods so he had better get rid of them all. This sends Mike into a panic so he sacks everyone at the factory (including my favourite extra) and rushes home to tell Alma the news. Alma offers to help him get rid of all the stuff, and Mike tells her that he will bounce back (stares into space ala Scarlett O'Hara).
Meanwhile, Don has gathered together all of Josie's old remnants - and what a funny collection they are - there are several lentil encrusted casserole dishes, some bicycle clips, and a few empty shredded wheat boxes (so that's where she got her hair from!!) Don is putting everything into a big black bin bag (or who knows - it could be one of Josie's wicked witch of the West costumes), when he comes across a set of Josie's old keys - which are to Mike Baldwin's factory. A look of sinister idiocy crosses his face and for the rest of the episode he rocks himself in his chair, staring at the keys, obviously trying to invoke the Evil Spirit of Pope Ivy to help him work out what to do with them.
Fiona and Maxine are discussing the size of Ashley's penis (don't worry - your children can watch this scene, if you have any. It was all done tastefully), when Ashely walks in, looking resplendant in blood-splattered butcher-boy drag. Maxine is suddenly turned off completely and shoos him away, telling Fiona that she only likes him when he isn't wearing fancy dress (or any other clothes).
Later, it is night-time and Fiona is mooching around her flat - giving various bits of her furniture the evil eye when Alan screams through her intercom "Let me in. I must explain. I'll wait all night if I have to." "You can come up, but only as long as I get to be in the last scene, with the big puffed-out cheeks close-up," she warns. Alan enters and tries to talk his way back into a relationship - which Fiona does not want. She throws him out, but right at the end he turns to her and says in the worst Geordie deadpan (and as I am Geordie I can tell) "Marry me, Pet". As promised, Fiona delights in that final puffed-out cheeks, cross-eyed look in the camera. Credits.
Cadbury's Subliminal Message Placement. Maud's chocolate coloured turban was out again. Eat a Flake. You know you want to.
Line: Derek - "Des is enigmatic, rather like me." Mavis - "No Derek, people say you are an enigma. There is a difference."
Points out of 10: (a new feature to the Monday updates! Each episode will now be graded out of 10 - on the number of times it evoked an emotional response, the quality of the writing, the size of Rita's lapel ornaments etc). This episode is a 5. A bit boring, but a couple of good lines, a bare chest shot, and Don looking spooky.
A THOUSAND GREETINGS and what an incredible week it's been!
In the pub recently, me and my mate Trev, a bloke blissfully untroubled by intelligence but a great mate, were mournfully staring into our beers.
Trev was telling me how his life seemed to be going nowhere until he recently got the new John Denver CD, and he reckoned that old JD was giving out secret messages to him buried deep in the lyrics, in some sort of code that only he understood. The upshot of this is that we've started a bit of a cult. We're not quite sure which direction we're going in, as it's early days yet, but I suppose you could say we're a cross between the Manson family and the Partridge Family. Trev and me are the Supreme Dark Warlocks and we've got the girl behind the bar, Sharon, to be our High Priestess of the Black Arts.
I said to her "I'll have two pints of lager and a packet of pork scratchings, Sharon, and how'd you fancy being our Princess of Darkness?" With her ever-present cigarette bobbing up and down between her lurid red lips, she replied "yeah, alright, but I 'ain't sacrificin' nuffink wiv' a pulse."
We asked John, the landlord, if we could use the pub cellar for our secret meetings. He said "ok Nige, (I hate being called Nige...I'm sure he does it just to annoy me) but I'll not have you and that Trev summoning up The Dark One during opening hours. I've got my licence to think of." I said he could rest assured on that score, as we were all newcomers to the old Satanic malarkey.
We arranged last night as our first meeting.
Trev was to bring a mate who works with him at the Job Centre, Sharon reckoned she could she could drum up a couple of girls from the Building Society, and we got Old Bennie who drinks in the saloon bar every night. We got him on account of his long white hair, not so much on account of the fact that no one's ever heard him speak! He always walks slowly up to the bar every night at 7.12 pm and Sharon says "usual Bennie?" He nods slowly but never speaks, so he's dead mysterious really, and just right for our cult.
Sharon reckoned we could be like The Manson Family and break into people's houses, but to do nice things, like feed old ladies' goldfish while they're away on holiday, and maybe do a bit of ironing. Trev wasn't too sold on this idea, and suggested we could torture the hell out of the landlord's Doberman instead. He only said that because it bit his ass when we went on the pub outing to the races last year. I can see I'll have to hold Trev back a bit.
Sharon wondered what she should wear. I said, "Blimey Sharon, it's not the Golf Club Dinner and Dance; you're going to be unleashing dark forces more than likely...use your imagination!"
"so....jeans then?" she whined.
Trev said he'd bring the black curtains from his dad's darkroom at home, so we could wear them like robes. He was going to paint some candles black, find us some Latin that we could have a go at chanting, and paint a big pentagram on the floor of the cellar, once he's been down there and shifted the crates of Diet Coke and such like.
Everything was falling into place!
I know you're dying to know how the first official meeting went, but I've gone on too long already. You'll have to hang on 'till next week!
Here is the update:
We start with a pair of star-cross'd lovers. One is wearing a very fetching red satin number, and the other is wearing a gooey soppy expression borne of lurve. The two in question are Fiona and Alan. They exchange doting gazes across the toast and orange juice at the breakfast table. The air is full of "I love you" and "I've never felt like this." You know the sort of thing...you see it on the telly but in real life.....? Pah! Fiona is holding back from giving him a firm YES at this stage, saying she needs to be sure. Moments later, something must have passed between them while we were looking at another scene, because...she's sure! Just as soppy Al was telling her he'd wait for ever for her answer if necessary, she accepts! The way it actually happens is that he says, "okay, I'll give you a ring." She replies, "alright then, as long as it's got lots of diamonds." They hug. She closes her eyes with the sheer bliss of it all. I closed mine, but for reasons of cynicism. Every time I've hugged a detective, no good's come of it!
Later in the pub, she and Maxine order a bottle of pseudo-champagne to mark the impending union. Jim offers his congratulations, and Fiona asks him not to tell Steve yet, as she intends to go and see him in Safeways (?) and tell him herself. Fair play to her. Bang on! Betty warns her about being hitched to a policeman, and all that it involves, but she gives her blessing too.
In the Kabin, Derek is chuffed-to-little-meatballs that he's had the bravery and panache to take two days off! He regards this as a considerable achievement, and for someone like him, I suppose it is! He refers to it as a "breakthrough". Des comes in for three rolls of film, and he's wondering about a cab or a lift to the boat, and thereafter a new life on the foaming briny. Well, alright..the canal, but allow me a little linguistic licence! Eventually, Derek agrees to take him, for which trip the allotment will have to wait a while.
At the mooring, Derek casts off (is that the right nautical term? The only one I know is where you shout A VAST BEHIND!) Splice the fo'c'stle...give 'im a taste o' the cat, me hearties! What a perfectly beastly life those old jolly jack-tars must have lived? Why on god's earth were they so infernally jolly in the first place? Imagine being cooped up below the poopdeck for ten months at a time with a handful of seamen! It defies the imagination. Lubber me timbers! Put 'im in the scuppers wi' a hosepipe on 'im! I'll remain a dry-bob, thanks!
As the engine splutters into life, our two chums shake hands on the best of terms, and we see the back of Des Barnes, sailing into the near- distance, Derek looks skywards at the gathering stormclouds. All very ominous!
Earlier, Des has given Angie the keys to his car for her to use in his absence, which pleases her no end, as it allows her to meet a potential client for her new clothing design enterprise.
Mike Baldwin is on the phone to all his old contacts, trying to find somewhere to stash the dodgy counterfeit KBEC clobber. Alma is worried about the possibility of a visit from the Trading Standards authorities, and Mike does his best to reassure her he would talk his way out of it, despite the fact that there would be no workers to be seen, and no genuine stock about the place.
In a later scene, Baldwin's old mate Lennie comes up trumps with a place in Trafford Park which will fit the bill, but it's a case of no-can-do until tomorrow. He pours himself a drink from a bottle containing some very questionable Scotch. If I had been a Trading Standards officer watching this episode, I would have said "bugger the counterfeit shell suits, what's the deal with this frothy Scotch?" The received wisdom is that cold tea stands in place of the real thing in Weatherfield, but I'd venture to suggest that this cold tea had been topped up with Fairy Liquid!
Alma is still anxious about not getting the "merchandise" loaded into the van until tomorrow, and nags him to pop round there now. He doesn't bite.
Don and Ashley are chatting about the latter's lack of prolonged success with Maxine. Don's sage counsel is that he should ignore her and make like it doesn't bother him one way or another. Cheerfully, Ashley goes out to a club to see some of the other fish-in-the-sea. "Fire can't burn without air" says Don, somewhat enigmatically. When Ashley's gone, Don plays again with the factory keys. He has that old mischievous look of menace on his face!
Later in the Rovers, some of Baldwin's ex-workers are telling Don and anyone else who cares to listen, how their services have been dispensed with. Don grasps this opportunity to fan the growing flames of resentment and jealousy where Baldwin's concerned. He remarks how it's always the ordinary folk who suffer at times like these, while Baldwin still lives the high life. Darkly, he utters "What's he ever lost that really hurt him?"
He scurries home, where he digs an old cardboard box out from a cupboard. He leers as he finds a petrol can therein, and leers all the more to find some petrol in it. He places this, along with a torch and some matches in a brown zip-up bag. Here is where reality and art part company. We all know that when you get a torch out of the cupboard, the batteries are flat. Without fail. Either that, or the beam is brown, feeble and wouldn't even illuminate a dental cavity on the darkest night of the year. But no; this torch, which has been at the bottom of a cardboard box for years, has a near-laser beam to it. The sort of light an Olympic runner would have been proud to hold aloft.
First he's startled by junk mail coming through the letter box, before he leaves on his nefarious mission of destruction. Then he's startled outside in the ginnel by a noisy gang of lads, but is he deterred? Absolutely not? Is he deterred when he gets into the factory and sets off the burglar alarm? Absolutely not. Is he deterred when the first match fails to ignite the petrol he has freely distributed around? No! He lights several at once to make sure, and this time....BINGO!.....I AM THE GOD OF HELL FIRE, AND I BRING YOU........
You all know that song....
So then we are given a close-up of burning KBEC logos as the fire takes a hold. The maniacal face of arsonist Don Brennan is seen above the flames as he cackles triumphantly "laugh your way out of this, Baldwin."
I'm thinking "don't try this at home, kids!"
He then starts to scream in agony as his plastic foot melts, thus leaving behind a vital clue to the identity of the miscreant arsonist.
I made that bit up.
That's yer lot.
Good night and I love you all - Nigel
Street: Derek and Mavis decide what to do on their day off. Don shouts to them the news that Mike's factory burnt down.
Factory: Mike and Alma stand outside looking at what used to be the factory but the Fire Investigation Officer won't let them inside.
House: Chris assures Sally and Kevin that he'll soon find somewhere else to sleep.
House: Don tells Ashley about the fire, and is unashamedly happy about it. He goes off to have a look.
Kabin: Derek, Mavis and Rita speculate on the causes of the fire. Rita feels sorry for Alma and Mike.
Factory: Alma and Mike stand around but can't do anything. Mike is told that the police will have to be informed and he should expect to be questioned by CID. He says that's fine. The Fireman asks Mike if he was insured. Don is with a small clutch of onlookers.
College: Andy attends a meeting with his tutor, who is concerned about his poor attendance and work. He doesn't want to talk to her about it, and leaves as quickly as he can, after agreeing to hand in his project soon.
Flat: Fiona asks Maxine to leave as soon as Alan arrives, which Maxine does, reluctantly. Alan gives Fiona an engagement ring and puts it on her finger.
Factory: A Trading Standards officer arrives to talk to Mike, and accuses him of manufacturing KBEC goods. Mike cheerfully tells him that although he has no objection to the man inspecting anything, all the stock and the accounts are burned.
Rovers: Andy is drinking heavily. Chris assures Kevin that he will move into a mate's flat later. Fiona and Maxine have a drink and Fiona flashes her ring around. Betty says that one of the perks of being a policeman is first go at the stolen jewellery. Fiona almost believes her, but Betty is joking. Don is crowing over Mike's misfortune to Vera - but she says Baldwin will always land on his feet.
Factory: The Trading Standards man, having spoken to the Fire Investigation Officer asks Mike about other stock and premises which he may have. Mike says it was all here and has gone up in smoke. He later tells Alma that he is so cheerful because he always paid the insurance premiums.
Street: Natalie Horrocks - Tony's mum - arrives at Sally's looking for Kevin and is directed to The Rovers: where Vera is speculating to Don that Mike burnt the factory for the insurance money. Don is clever enough to realise that if the insurance company know it was Mike they won't pay out. Natalie talks to Kevin while Chris goes to get a drink. She has found a lad to work in the garage, but Kevin says Chris already has the job and is doing well. She resolves to keep more closely in touch in future. Alma and Mike arrive for a drink and Rita offers her sympathy. Andy drunkenly admires Fiona's ring in a sarcastic way and refers to Alan as that smarmy copper. Fiona walks out and as she goes down the Street: Don makes a phone call from the box to the police. He anonymously tells them that Mike Baldwin set the fire in his factory for the insurance money. Fiona gets to Jim's House: Fiona complains to Jim about Andy's behaviour. Jim knows why he's like it, but doesn't know how to help his son.
Flat: Mike and Alma are very cheerful that all the evidence has gone up in smoke, for the Customs and Excise would have been hot on the heels of the Trading Standards. Mike isn't bothered when the police arrive at the door, as he was expecting them.
Street: Maxine, at a loose end, calls for Ashley and they arrange to go out later. Don arrives back to report that the police are swarming around the burnt factory. Chris surreptitiously lets himself into the garage.
Flat: The police question Mike about the loss of the KBEC contract and his recent problems. He becomes more worried when they reveal that the fire was set deliberately, and well inside the building, which was accessed using keys. The police ask where Mike and Alma were last night, and can they prove it? Mike is asked to go down to the station to account for the arson of his factory at such a convenient time.
Glamour award: Mike's woolly pullover with an incredibly awful zigzag pattern. The sort of jumper you only usually see in the local pub on Christmas Day lunchtime!
"There are fires and there are fires....And this was a fire" - Don fails Logic 101 yet again.
Kevin is unavailable so I am doing today's Easter update. Not that anyone was actually watching this episode - having all tuned in to Channel 5's inception instead. I suppose, I should think myself lucky that I live in a region where we can't get C5. Or grenadine. Or tequila. Or slimline Paul Newman Salad Dressing....
Alan has arrived at the flat with a huge Easter egg for Fiona but won't let her eat it as he wants to feed it bit by bit to her, himself (is this a normal heterosexual activity?) But before you can say "Capulets and Montagues" there is trouble in this relationship as Alan still hasn't told his parents about his engagment and is planning to visit them later, without Fiona and tell them. Fiona is stricken, and tells him she is coming, like it or not, and if he doesn't like it she will "gatecrash" and claim to be pregnant. That doesn't seem to be a good building block for a long-term marriage.
Also, Fiona's family have organised an engagment party. Alan agrees to go, on sufferance. I think this is what TV people call "foreshadowing".
Maxine wants to go to a swish nightclub in the centre of Manchester - but as Fiona is already occupado this episode, she has to make do with Ashley, who puts on his favourite Christmas waistcoat and accompanies the Max on a trip downtown. Once in the nightclub (flashing lights, balconies - you know the sort of thing, very Maxine), the pair run into a couple of Maxine's old schoolmates. Ashley, already stunned at the price of a diet lager and lime is dispatched to buy even "posher" drinks for the new arrivals. Meanwhile, Maxine tells her friends that Ashley is her cousin. Ashley struggles to get served at the bar - he looks wonderfully socially inadequate.
Maxine's lie does not hold for long, however. As her friends are bragging about being architects, Ashley announces to a stunned silence that he is a butcher's boy. The whole truth all tumbles out quickly, and Maxine silently sits there while Ashely shouts "Why did you tell them I wor your cousin? Are you ashamed of me?" He stumbles outside, leaving Maxine to pout in close-up (well it works for Fiona) for the remaining 8 minutes of this scene.
Audrey (coarse new wig and blue suit ensemble) has arrived in the Street and is excited to hear about Mike's arrest. She rushes over to see Alma and be a "friend" for her, which really means that every word she says is laden with evil intent. Alma gets rid of her, but not before the police come and take Mike off to the station for more questions. Audrey can't believe her luck, and is soon back at the Rovers, telling Vera et al all about it.
The police just let Mike sit there for a few hours, hoping he'll crack, and then let him go home. But Mike does find out that keys were used to get into the garage. At the Rovers Vera shrieks "Oh look! Did they give you bail?" and Audrey offers her phony support and about a million brittle comments such as "You should be joking about the whole thing Mike, that's what I'd do if I was innocent..." It all turns nasty and the whole thing is about to develop into a wig-pulling fight, with Alma and Gail trying to restrain the pair. Mike sulks off home. Meanwhile, Don (salivating is usual) looks even more eerie/gleeful and mentally disturbed.
At home, Mike raves about Audrey, and Alma (her patience torn to shreds) says "you can see how it looks", and then starts accusing him herself. Mike throws his hands up in the air in fury and rushes out of the room, leaving the classy close-up to do a not-very-soft-focus on the black rings round Alma's pretty, pretty eyes. Credits.
Marks out of 10. This was based on an aggregate of myself and 2 others who watched with me....4. "An episode with Don in can only get at most a 6" we decided.
Best acting. Ashley, being out of his depth - it's not easy being a prole's prole.
"Joyce, mother, Sunliners, scratchcards, catalogue." Judy and Gary discuss words that they can and cannot use in normal conversation.
Apparently Steve is going to be allowed "out" for the weekend and Jim wants there to be some semblance of family-life waiting for in when he visits. Andy is disapproving, pointing out that the McDonald family does not actually exist anymore but in the end agrees that he will have an inch clipped off his fringe and will be nice to Liz all day, in honour of Steve's return.
Alan and Fiona drive to Darlington to visit his parents - who live in a house with large windows. They immediately start telling him off for not visiting or bothering to keep in touch - not even bothering to go to his uncle's funeral. "You've had yah mam in tears hinny", says Dad. "Ee, don't mind me pet!" says Mam. Fiona is pleased as anything because she realises that Alan is not only neglectful of her - but this is actually quite a large personality flaw which he has. For some reason this is good (!)
But all is not well, as Dad turns out to be Gestapo Dad and furrows his brow when Alan mentions that they are getting married. Once the couple are out of the room, Dad starts using phrases like "we marry our own kind" and "concentration camp". Mam tries to smooth things over (she just wants everyone to be happy doesn't she), but we sense that this will not be easy.
And for someone who is usually very good at spotting slights of any kind, Fiona seems to have no idea of her new father-in-law's problem with her and is gloating about the whole trip when she gets back. We have all been warned...
Maxine visits Ashley and says she looked for him when he ran away, and that she was only joking about him being her cousin. Ashely tells her to go away, so Maxine gets spiteful and says she will.
Later she stares at herself in the mirror for ages and perhaps does not like what she sees because suddenly the whole scene with Ashley is replayed all over again - except this time she is more apologetic. However, Ashley still doesn't want to see her.
Mike forgives Alma for accusing him, and decides to do some Nancy Drew work of his own in order to find out whole really did burn down his factory. He works out that Sally might have had a spare set of keys and goes to visit her (but Sally is visiting her mother in Scarborough (not Burrrrrnley as Gary Mallet might have thought)). So Mike turns his attention to Trash - who loves to be accused of anything and starts screaming and grabbing hold of the curtains with her claws, as if Mike intends to drag her all the way to the police station. Vera steps in and sends Mike away. "I don't know anything!" yells Trash. We know.
So, having rejected Sally and Trash, Mike turns his attentions to Alma, but realises (to her amusement) that she would not have done it either. So he sits on his sofa for the rest of the episode, and just as they are getting ready to go out, he works out that "Mad Don Brennan" did it, and pieces together the whole Josie=keys=moved out=Don trail. Credits.
Points out of 10. 3. Another slow episode, with not even a slanging match, original jewellery or a bare chest on show to boost the score.
Best line: Martin and Emily are discussing Mike and Emily says she doesn't think he burnt down the factory. Martin says, something like "Emily, you are a Christian and think the best of everyone." Emily replies with "No, I like to think the worst of everyone. It is one of the few pleasures I have these days," or something equally sadistic and cynical.