Coronation Street – 28th December 1960

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Christine and her mother, May, continue to have a fractious relationship.  Today, the boiling point occurs when they disagree over the dress Christine plans to wear to a swanky dinner dance.  Prior to May’s reappearance in the Street, Christine played the dutiful and loving daughter – keen to protect her mother’s reputation by squaring up to the likes of Ena Sharples.

But now May’s back home, it appears that just her presence is causing Christine grief.  May’s constant complaints (her head hurts, she feels faint) are casually dismissed by her daughter as nothing more than attention seeking, but it seems plain that this isn’t the case.  Some four minutes in, the camerawork supports this by suddenly switching in and out of focus as May sits alone in the living room.

May’s looking after Lucille, who proves to be a bit of a handful.  It’s not entirely her fault though, as even innocent questions (such as wondering why May had to go to hospital) are loaded ones.  Cue another moment when May looks pained.  But when May pops out to the shops and Lucille decides to try on Christine’s dinner dance dress, you get the feeling that everybody’s going to be pained ….

I’m also not sure how the frock can not only fit the very diminutive Lucille but also the much larger Christine.

Dennis is accused by the police of breaking and entering.  Since he doesn’t have an alibi, things look bleak for him with Elsie thinking the worst.  This is a re-run of the plotline from the first episode, which also saw Dennis under a cloud (although the crime there – pinching money from his mother’s purse – was rather more trivial).  After yet another confrontation between mother and son, the peacemaker Linda knows what to do (“don’t worry Mam. You sit down over there and I’ll make you a nice cup of tea”).

But as with the purse incident, things work out in the end as Harry witnessed Dennis’ success at the dog track and is therefore able to provide him with an alibi. Yet again, bad-boy Dennis isn’t quite as bad as he first appeared.

Ena’s still in hospital, stuffing her face with a box of chocolates and complaining about her fellow patients.  She seems in rude health, but that doesn’t stop her from believing that she’s not long for this world.  Ena quizzes Vera about what she knows, but the perplexed Vera naturally can’t tell her anything, as she doesn’t know anything.  “How long have they given me?” mutters Ena darkly.

Ena and Martha then have a cracking stand-off, with Ena still fuming over Martha’s underhanded duplicity.  “Ooh, you’re bad minded, that’s what you are” retorts Martha.  Ena then responds that Martha isn’t a woman, she’s a snake!  The scene concludes with another zoom into Ena’s face as she stares down the camera lens.  Brrrr! Frightening stuff.

There’s more direct-to-camera shenanigans, as a group of carol singers (having successfully taken some money off the initially intimidating but ultimately soft Elsie) turn to face the audience to include them in a brief post-Christmas serenade.

Later, Martha confides in Minnie and tells her that she’s considering taking legal action against Ena.  Incidentally, it’s a little strange that Minnie hasn’t been in to visit Ena (unless it’s happened off-screen).  It’s clear at present that Ena and Martha are the dominant characters in this part of the series, with Minnie currently only called upon to comment on what the others are doing.  This scene is chiefly memorable for the ear-wigging extra in the background who pulls some remarkable faces.

Ena’s had enough of the hospital and walks out. Her absence is discovered by one of the nurses who delivers the following memorable piece of dialogue.  “Sister, that Mrs Sharples. You know, the one who calls me ‘speccy four eyes’.  She’s gone”.

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