Tuesday 5 January 2010

Out of sync with the Street

15st 3lb, zero units. I love Coronation Street, me. My spirits soar on the days when I know I can look forward to watching it in the evening, and are correspondingly depressed on the days when it is not aired. If Mrs H would let me get away with it, I would be happy to cite it as a valid excuse for not attending any other sort of evening engagement on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays.

We were talking in the pub over lunch on Sunday about how much I wished that my own life contained Street levels of drama, and how disappointed I was that our wedding day last year did not feature a single punch-up, food poisoning outbreak, bizarre case of mistaken identity, the reappearance of any long lost relatives (ideally played by someone who bore no resemblance to the person they had looked like when last seen) or indeed require the attendance of even one of the emergency services. The nearest we got to it was a couple of scratter gatecrashers trying to hoover up our evening buffet and dancing like bin liners full of helium balloons, but one of our more determined guests finally persuaded the management to make them sling their hooks.

Yet when one of our lunching companions asked whether I would really like to live in a mean terraced street with people who might be described, if one were feeling generous, as working class, then I immediately had to confess that I could think of nothing worse. When Mrs H and I first lived together, it was in a small terraced house in what had once been a rather smart bit of Chester, but was suffering from scratter incursions. And, as regular readers of this blog will have noted, I could not wait to make my escape to the countryside. Just as my father could not wait to set his feet on the rungs of the semi-detached suburban housing ladder as he made his escape from the cobbled street of terraced Tyneside flats where he was brought up and my grandmother lived until shortly before her death in 1973 (see my previous entry on this subject).

Yes, but I would not mind living on a street full of reasonably attractive actresses pretending to be working class, I thought to myself but felt it prudent not to say in Mrs H’s presence.

Anyway, I am currently having trouble with my suspension of disbelief. It’s the little things that irk. It’s not the fact that the weather is completely different from everywhere else in the country, as it so often is in The Archers because they have based their scripts on the Met Office long range forecast rather than the reality (so Mike and Vickie Tucker are basking in that barbecue summer while the rest of us are in waders). There has not been a hint of snow or ice on the Street. So what? Everyone knows they have to film it in advance.

But when Rosie Webster got a postal delivery on the Boxing Day bank holiday it suddenly seemed all wrong. Or when her mother last night insisted on taking the decorations off the tree because it was bad luck to leave them up after Twelfth Night, and when you have just had a diagnosis of cancer you obviously want all the luck you can get. And there’s me shouting at the telly “It’s not Twelfth Night yet, you silly bitch, it’s either the 5th or 6th of January depending on which ecclesiastical authority you believe, and in any case the original superstition was that you must not leave your decorations up after Candlemas, which is not until February, for Christ’s sake.”

And then I noticed Mrs H giving me a strange look and wondered whether I might not be getting a bit too involved in the whole thing. Perhaps it would be best to refocus on The Archers, with special emphasis on how they are going to kill off Phil. Quiet heart attack in his bed or gory accident with a combine harvester? If this were the Street, some bloke would turn up claiming to be his long-lost son who had been horribly abused as a child, and blow his dad’s head off with a sawn-off shotgun before being killed in a police siege of The Bull that would also take out maybe half a dozen of the duller members of the cast, plus a special celebrity guest. Wow, what a thought. I wonder whether either of our great national broadcasters has got a vacancy for a scriptwriter?

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