Sunday, 14 September 2014
Monday 14 September 1964
For once, TV Minus 50 gets to follow up directly on the events of the previous Corrie instalment (thanks, of course, to Network's choice of episodes released on DVD). It's the morning after Florrie Lindley smashed her shop up, and it's up to long-suffering Irma Ogden to clean up the mess, having hurriedly placed a sign over the boarded up window to assure customers that all is well.
A passing Elsie Tanner points out a spelling mistake. "As brilliant as she is beautiful!" observes Charlie Moffit, angling way out of his league. It doesn't bother Irma: "I've never cracked on I was nowt but ignorant."
Florrie's recuperating above the shop, and District Nurse Hadfield (Madeleine Christie), a Scots gorgon remarkably like a woman I once worked with, bustles in to take care of her (in much the sense one would "take care" of an unpleasant household chore). "Are you the husband?" she accusingly demands of a startled Charlie. "You know, you wouldn't believe what some women'll get themselves in a state over."
With that, this sister of mercilessness makes her way upstairs to see her charge, who she unceremoniously turfs out of bed in order that she can make it. Poor Florrie's totally distraught after her actions of the night before, which saw her end up with six stitches in her arm.
The patient's soon pushed into the background, however, by the clash of the titans that ensues when Ena Sharples arrives on the scene. She knows Nurse Hadfield of old, and has no intention of being cowed by her: "You might frighten some, but you won't frighten me. I've been ministering to folk on this street a sight longer than you." "Aye, I dare say," the baleful nurse shoots back. "You've managed to survive most of 'em too."
Minnie Caldwell wanders into Albert Tatlock's back yard in search of her naughty pussy. Albert tells her of his plans to raise the paving slabs and transform the yard into a proper garden. There's a sweet little moment with the pair going off on separate monologues, neither listening to the other, he about having a garden, she about the house where she was born, which no longer exists. They're interrupted by the arrival of Charlie, who's quick to insist that he's not the right person for the work Albert requires.
At the Rovers, Hilda Ogden gossips about Florrie's breakdown with Jack and Annie Walker. Annie recalls that Harry Hewitt's first wife experienced something similar. "Nervous breakdown? You might call it that," says sensitive Jack. "Screaming abdabs is what I called it." A conversation about domestic violence ensues, of the sort you're unlikely to see on your telly any time in 2014.
Annie: She actually attacked him.
Hilda: Oh, is that all? I have a good go at my Stan twice a week.
Annie: Ah, you're joking of course. But she attacked him with an implement.
Hilda: Oh aye, that'd be a pan. It's generally a pan. Leaves its mark but it's very rarely fatal.
Annie: The implement in question was a knife.
Hilda: Oh. Oh, well that's different. Naughty, is that.
It's Hilda's considered opinion that Florrie's gone mad through not having a man. The conversation moves on to Nurse Hadfield - Annie has her own horror stories of suffering at the woman's hands: "In the end I just had to get out of bed and carry on, simply to get rid of her... In my opinion, that woman is a public menace. Oh, hello Nurse Hadfield!" The nurse has darkened the portals of the Rovers in order to fetch someone to look after Florrie. Annie's flattered to have been chosen. but of course she hasn't been - it's Hilda who's been expressly asked for.
Albert's fixing the stove at the mission hall, but it looks as if it might have been better to leave it unfixed...
He finds some tools that he thinks would be ideal for excavating his yard. Ena wistfully thinks back to their owner: "It belonged to Bob Crosby, did that. He got killed on D-Day. Fell off a ladder when they were decorating the street." This leads she, Albert and Minnie to further thoughts of the war, all of them admitting they often think what would've happened if the other side won. "You know, these young 'uns, they don't know the half of it," Albert snorts. "They wouldn't have had any of them gramophone records then, nor electric guitars."
Much to Ena's displeasure, Stan knocks off, and bumps into Stan Ogden, who's unhappy at coming second to Florrie Lindley in Hilda's priorities. "Here, shut up," she tells him. "There might be money in it!"
Albert has "a proposition" for Stan: he wants him to dig up his backyard. Stan's not keen initially, but begins to change his mind when a pie and a pint are offered. The price Stan eventually names for the work is free beer for a week (nearly giving Albert a heart attack when he claims he gets through 12 pints a night).
Charlie discusses Albert's plans for his garden with Jack and Annie. Jack scorns them as a load of hard work for nothing. "You know, Mr Moffit," sighs Annie. "To hear Mr Walker talk, you would think he had no finer feelings whatsoever, and yet, do you know, during the war he wrote me letters that were sheer poetry."
Annie's comprehensively embarrassed both her husband and her customer, and as Charlie makes a swift exit, she voices her fears that she and Jack have grown apart in recent years, and begs him to tell her he loves her. It's a tender little moment as the heartfelt but not easily expressed words are wrung from Jack, but Annie's little smile as she forces the pronouncement is more of cunning than joy, suggesting it may have been more a ploy for attention than anything else.
Over the shop, Hilda suggests Florrie might feel better after a drop of port ("Does wonders for me, does a drop of port"), but it looks like the shopkeeper needs more than that. Florrie was the first of Coronation Street's regular characters to appear on screen, the first episode seeing her take over the corner shop, and using her as our identification figure as she encountered the other residents. This makes her plight all the more upsetting, particularly as she tells Hilda she thinks buying the shop was the worst mistake she ever made, shutting her in to a tight-knit community she never meets anyone outside of. "I worked in a bar once. That was the best time I ever had. I got on so well with the customers. I used to meet such interesting people. I never meet anyone now." Hilda suggests a game of dominoes, prompting reminiscences of the repulsively ugly pub customer who gave them to Florrie, and who once asked her to marry him. "The very thought of it made me feel sick. But now I wish I had."
Work commences on Albert's garden, but a gloomy shadow descends in the form of Ena Sharples, who warns Albert he'll need permission, and besides there could be subsidence down there due to the old mine workings.
Hilda discusses Florrie with Elsie. She doesn't have much sympathy: "Tears every five minutes. She'll have to wring the sheets out if she doesn't stop." Elsie's waiting for Dennis, who's taking her to the pictures. She suspects she's going to be dragged to "one of them 'orror films". They both wonder about the strange noises coming from Albert's yard, and are apprised of what's going on by the disapproving Ena.
The trio make their way into the Rovers, and shortly afterward a dazed Florrie descends into the street, overcoat thrown over her pyjamas, earning a glare from a passing extra.
"Dennis, tell me the truth," his mother begs. "We are going to a horror film, aren't we?" "You don't have to watch, just close your eyes and I'll tell you what's happening."
Much to Annie and Irma's consternation, Florrie wanders into the Rovers, but she doesn't seem entirely sure of where she is. Ena takes charge, dragging her into the snug for a game of dominoes. "She's wearing her pyjamas!" exclaims Irma. "Which is a sight more covering on than you've got," Ena snorts. I've had a few mental health difficulties of my own recently, and helpful as anti-depressants are, I doubt they're a patch on Ena Sharples grabbing holding of you and telling you what's what.
Meanwhile, in the yard, Stan hits something with his pick. It's an unexploded bomb!
Sadly the next episode's not available for me to feature here. Spoiler: the street isn't blown to smithereens.