Friday, 17 September 2010

Coronation Street - what I remember

I watched The Road to Coronation Street last night with my sister.  We're old enough to remember the beginning of the soap and the portrayal of its origins had us laughing throughout.

Not only because in itself it was a great story but for the memories it brought us.

At the time Coronation Street began, we were both living at home and we'd had a television for about two years.  My Dad won a work sweep and with the money we invested in a set.  Huge it was.  And quite fearsome looking in the corner of the kitchen (we only used the front room at weekends or high days and holidays).

Next door lived my Dad's aunt known to all the family as Auntie Ann.  And two doors away from her lived my grandmother. 

Now our street wasn't terraced; it was mostly semi-detached on the edge of what was originally a farming village.  And we weren't anywhere near Manchester - in those days it was an hour's train ride from one of the two railway stations our village boasted.  But anyone could have identified with the behaviour and the personalities shown in Coronation Street.

Lace curtains twitched just as vigorously there, and though we didn't have a Mission, we did have a Methodist Chapel where some of the attendees were as fierce and focused on hell and damnation as Ena Sharples.

Of course we were church which to my grandmother was a cut above the Methodies.  And of course we never associated with the RCs because everyone knew what they were like.

Despite the fact that my grandmother was deeply suspicious of television she had been beguiled into watching some improving things and when Coronation Street aired for the first time she was in her seat well before time and waiting for the set to warm up.  Oh the long lost days of patience.

And once it began, both Grandma and Auntie Ann were hooked.  The pattern was set.  Round they came and woe betide anyone who spoke during the transmission.  Even my poor sister coming home from a late shift at the library, had to eat her supper in total silence while the show was on.

Over the years their allegiance never wavered.  They never had their own tvs not trusting the technology.  At that time they still both used ranges powered by coal for heat and cooking and gas lighting that popped as the fittings went.

So many memories.  And now as a writer I can appreciate and celebrate the standard of writing that has been maintained over the years.  My sister and I still watch, though not every episode and sometimes a quite innocent conversation is proceeding in front of us and a character comes out with such a wonderful line it has us marvelling at the expertise of the writer.

Coronation Street - long may it continue and long may its writers be celebrated.

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