Written by Kay McManus
A crumpled Ernie, forced to spend the night with Len at No 9, is still bemoaning his fate. Len – ever the straightforward sort of chap – suggests he buys Emily a box of chocolates and all will be well. Hmm, okay then.
Elsie has now settled into the corner shop flat. Tricia and Gail make up the current staff, although it’s a far from harmonious partnership. Friends they might be, but the claustrophobic nature of the shop means they tend to spend most of the day sniping at each other. If only there was another job available – such as assistant to Elsie at Sylvia’s Seperates. There is? Oh good. But with two of them and only one new position to be filled, that’s a problem ….
Their standard of customer service at the corner shop is something to behold. Ena (never the most affable of customers it’s true) asks for a packet of tea – which Gail slams down on the counter (as she’s still arguing with Tricia). Ena exits by singing the praises of her old sparring partner, Elsie, telling the girls that she’s got “more go in her little finger than the pair of you put together”. Young folk today, eh.
Stan’s next category for the Superbrain competition is the Western Desert (or Western Desserts, as Alf mistakenly believes!). This is where the wheels begin to fall off the Ogden bandwagon. Stan might be an expert on Manchester United, but – having already answered questions on that subject – can’t choose them again. And it becomes clear pretty quickly that this will be a problem.
Stan’s WW2 career as a Desert Rat is briefly mentioned, which suggests that this category should be right up his street. But despite the encouragement of the Rovers regulars, Fred’s rehearsal questions fail to gain many positive results, with Stan looking more and more woebegone every minute. I think we need a Plan B.
Ena Sharples turns up at Emily’s in the role of a marriage councellor. Well, given her capacity for sticking her nose into other people’s affairs, why not? “Go on lass, swallow your pride, make the first move”. Even though Ena has always been presented as a strong woman, unafraid of anybody whether they’re male or female, it’s interesting that she still has an unshakably old fashioned belief in the roles of men and women.
When Emily wonders why it’s always the woman who has to make the first move, Ena replies with a smile that “you’ll never change that, love”.
Poor Ernie just can’t get a break. Still exiled at Len’s, he reluctantly agrees to try on a sweater that Elsie’s brought around. Nothing too terrible there you might think, but Elsie – chuckling away – gives him a helping hand and this happens to be the point at which Emily walks in on them. Oh dear again.
Ernie later screws up enough courage to return home and he pours out his heart. “You’re such a perfectionist. I feel all the time I’m under some sort of test”. There’s no easy resolution though – after he asks whether they can try again, Emily simply stands immobile by the ironing board.
Sidney Livingstone makes his first appearance as Roy Thornley, Sylvia Matthew’s “business associate”. He’ll return off and on until September, infuriating Elsie but forming a close bond with Gail (which only serves to annoy Elsie all the more). Livingstone might not have been the most obvious casting as a smooth talking lothario (I think it’s the moustache) but Thornley’s later fling with Gail does spice up the storyline for a while.
Having spoken to both girls, Elsie is keen to take on Tricia as she believes that Gail is too cocky by half. Personally, I’d say both of them register pretty high on the cocky scale. Oddly, Elsie elects to let them decide between themselves – so they toss a coin, Gail wins and presents herself to an ever-so-slightly unenthusiastic Elsie.