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Sunday 27 August 2017

Confetti on t'cobbles

I'd mused over this blog before the news (or is it 'fake news') that Reet is about to meet her maker. I was prompted by a mention of one of next week's storylines in which the Weatherfield Warbler sets a dinner place for the long-departed Len. Which got me thinking. In a alternative universe, Rita and Len would be celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary this year. Yes, it was during the year of the Silver Jubilee, Baccara topping the charts and Miss Wade winning Wimbledon that love's middle-aged dream got spliced.

The wedding itself was in keeping with a miserable day out in Manchester. There's a joyous opening shot of a traffic roundabout and leaden skies. Set against this vision of loveliness is the bride-to-be, Rita Littlewood, decked out as Little Miss Muffet. She's in the wedding car with her only known relative, Uncle Sam. No, not the entire American nation, just some bloke who appears to be the same age as her. Which brings us on to the great unanswered question. Why has Rita never had any family?  Did they all die in a never-referred-to mill accident? Or did they emigrate rather than have to listen to her belting out 'You're my world' in the front parlour?

Back on the Street, Len, looking like Toad of Toad Hall in a Burtons suit, is experiencing a flat tyre. This provokes cackles of delight from the non-invited wedding guests, Stan and Hilda. They are at their most awful in this episode. Forget comedy serving hatches and weeping into spectacle cases - this was a display of the Oggies with added vitriol.

Of course, it's easy to laugh at the fashions of the day from our 2017 vantage point . . . so hand round the popcorn and have a giggle. Mavis is dithering outside the church, decked out in a tiered salmon poncho. Rita must really have hated her. Still, it's a notch up from Deirdre's frumpy beige suit but pales into insignificance next to Emily's giant sombrero. Bet schleps in looking like a Bon Marche Stepford Wife but all are outdone by an extra whom sidles down the aisle in a green tartan skirt and trilby.

The older residents are represented by .  . . well, the only remaining older residents, Albert and Ena. Albert has swapped 'joy' for 'anger' and the first recipient is Emily who has to manhandle the sombrero to a new vantage point after being told to 'hutch up'. If it's not new clothes on show, then it's new accents and we thrill to Deirdre pronouncing 'Mavis' as 'Mehr-viss'.

Len finally arrives accompanied by Alf, bitching like mad, and Ray swathed in a factory's worth of flared suit material. Outside the church, watery sunshine lights up the progress of Gail in her sheepskin coat (1974-79) and Suzie Birchall, a vision in denim. They pose for a few photos and then slide into the church to see the vows being exchanged. Len looks as though he's about to wet himself. Rita, owning that shimmering lip gloss look, decides to whisper her responses, seemingly getting quieter as the scene plays out. End of Part One.

It's Part Two and we're off to the reception. Had this been a 2017 episode, Rita would have either killed Len in the back of the car, admitted to being a man or forced the vehicle over a handy, never seen before cliff. However this is 1977 and everyone is content with just telling the story of a wedding.

The reception room looks like a swept out committee  room above a local abattoir which might explain why Deirdre is weeping on arrival. Then again, she might have caught sight of her taupe two-piece in the mirror or maybe she tripped over Ray's trouser bottoms. Elsie also lumbers in with a face like a war. This persists for the remainder of the episode and one wonders whether it was scripted or if Pat Phoenix's opposition to the storyline was shining through. Annie floats by with a sherry and compliments Elsie on her tie-neck blouse adding "My dear, I've always liked it." Ouch!

Back at the Rovers, a malevolent Hilda sips at her pale ale whilst Betty prepares to shut up shop and head to the reception. "I'll give it six months!" yelps Hilda. Six years and she would have been right.

Meanwhile at the abattoir committee room, Albert is completely wasted on copious draughts of bubbly, boring Ena and co with tales of the 'first lot' and being goaded by a sneering Ray. He really did corner the market in nasty comments back then didn't he? The speeches are under way and Rita's uncle recalls having known her since "she was knee high to a liberty bodice". You can sense everyone  doing the maths and concluding that Rita must be about seventy. Alf reads out telegrams, how quaint, from Flossie and June. Who? Were they burlesque friends from Rita's dancing days or two family members who'd escaped t'mill disaster?

There's a bit of chatty filler from Mavis and Derek, still over a decade away from their own nuptials. We also pop back to see Bet gently winding up the Ogdens who are busy souring milk with their looks. Although not for long as Hilda decides that she and Stan are going to the ball. Sadly for them, but happily for us, the free bar has closed by the time they make an appearance. After that performance, they didn't deserve as much as a sniff of the barmaid's apron.

The day is almost over and the happy couple are back on the Street and preparing to jet off to Tenerife. We get to see the unkempt number 9, a hovel which will eventually lead to Rita packing her bags and moving out. The blushing bride is resplendent in a pink frock topped off with a charity shop 'fur'. Len's probably got his demob suit on. The wedding car has been doctored by Ray with the inevitable tin cans and a load of shaving foam. Alf attempts to clean this but makes a real hash of it and in exasperated tones we hear him mumble "I can't see a bloody thing' which makes me think it was more Bryan Mosley than Alf Roberts doing the talking.

There's an ensemble farewell from some of the residents and so the cobbles are awash with flares, denim, pink frocks, sheepskin coats and confetti. This was an episode in Corrie understatement where the only major issue was Len's flat tyre. No one died, had second thoughts, denounced Rita at the altar or took her hostage. Could the show ever get away with such a simple wedding half hour ever again?

By @BridgLondon

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Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Thanks so much for the laughs, and particularly for the nostalgia. Love your posts, Clinkers!

C in Canada said...

I love this!
I didn't watch then, so it is lovely to have this glimpse into the past. Especially about who wore what!

Clinkers (David) said...

Thanks for your comments! It does seem a bit of an open goal, having a go at 70s fashions. I bet most of our family wedding shots from that era are equally as grim!

Newfy Pearl said...

I will truly miss Rita if it is true....but respect to Barbara for enjoying the rest of her life in retirement. Why should she work until she drops dead. God love her. All the best to her and thanks for making Rita such a part of Corrie that you cannot think of one without the other. xo

Louby said...

Brilliant! I do remember this vaguely because I had just started watching Corrie in 77. Len was a great Corrie character.


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