Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Corrie and cancer

As well all know well, Corrie isn't shy when it comes to depicting illness and how it affects all those involved. Almost from day one, the show has depicted this. How could we forget the frail knockings of May Hardman as she gasped her last in the hallway of Number 13 in December 1960? A not so happy new year. Cancer though, an emotive subject at the best of times, seemed to steer a course around our favourite street. Most serious illnesses did, save for the shocking demise of Martha Longhurst in 1964 and Vera Lomax's 1967 brain tumour. Cancer wasn't explored at much length, as far as I can remember, until Alma Halliwell's diagnosis and we were treated to a memorable, heartbreaking performance from Amanda Barrie. Then came Hayley Cropper.

It was a surprise to learn that Julie Hesmondhalgh was leaving the series and many fans expected a disgruntled Hayley to disappear back to Africa to continue with her charity work. The cancer storyline, well-researched and planned for, was a shock. This, I thought, is going to be brutal. Then, just as the story began to unfold, my wonderful partner Gary received a cancer diagnosis. We were totally stunned. There were tears - many. Lots of staring, trying to fathom out what to do next. Listening to consultants and attempting to comprehend what they were telling us. We made plans, we cancelled plans. As many of us do at times like this, we looked for comfort amongst the familiar and in our house, that meant Corrie. Or rather it didn't. Living with the real thing meant that it was impossible to follow the twists and turns of Hayley's demise. The whole thing was too raw and much too difficult to deal with. I caught bits of Roy and Carla's reactions and that was more than enough. For a while Corrie went unwatched or it was recorded, the harrowing bits fast forwarded through in order that we could concentrate on the important stuff like Liz reclaiming the Rovers. The best laid plans though! One evening we were ambushed by a particularly emotional Hayley moment cropping up (pardon the pun) on Channel 4's Gogglebox. Hit pause. Gasp. Dry your eyes. Carry on. Which is exactly what we did. Weatherfield, as daft as it is, managed to provide us with a semblance of normality at a tough time. I watched Hayley's death scenes alone, crying for her and for us.

We, like Roy, Carla and the rest emerged into 2014 and for Gary, the long round of treatment began. Things settled into a routine as did our Corrie viewing and soon it was back to grumbling about miserable Eileen, dopy Gail and Stella Price's accent. In December 2015 we joined fellow bloggers on an evening trip around the old set, the cobbles glistening under Manchester rain, which was to be expected. It was a rather wonderful night.

That would have been a good place to end this piece but this is real life. Gary died in February this year. Nothing can prepare you for that all-consuming shock. The classic Corrie episodes on ITV3 actually helped us through those final few months, as we retreated into the safety of a past where Mavis dithered with Derek, Rita wore offensive knitwear and Bet stood before the Rovers crowd like an Aunt Sally in drag. We watched, we laughed. Could ageing episodes of a popular soap really offer up comfort? Absolutely.

Now we are on the cusp of another Corrie cancer storyline as Sinead succumbs within a matter of weeks. I'm already listening out of cries of 'battle', 'fight' and 'brave', none of which should, arguably, ever be used. It seems inevitable that Sinead had to die, despite the false hope provided in the past few months. They rang the bell when she ended her treatment. I sighed with relief, wiped my eyes and thought 'yes!' All in vain. For me, the prospect of watching Sinead's demise is too much. While I know this is only a TV drama, the thought of what is about to play out on our screens is too difficult to deal with. No doubt many of us have had to cope with this kind of loss and in many ways, watching these scenes may help with what we have been through. We all have the power to hit the 'off' switch though and so for me, for now, the curtain comes down on this particular drama. The fast forward button might be pressed into service until I'm brave enough to take on Eileen's misery and Liz's skirts once again. As the appropriately named rapper, The Streets once implored - dry your eyes mate.

By Clinkers to Riddle






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5 comments:

Glenda Young said...

David, what a beautiful piece and a wonderful picture of Gary on the cobbles too. Glenda x

Sharon boothroyd said...

Pity I can't read this, as the first photo covers the text.

MartesBC said...

David,thank you for writing. I understand what you mean. The fast forward command is active in our family for similar reasons. So sorry for your loss. How wonderful that you had this show to share.

Louby said...

This is really moving, thank you for sharing. I'm sorry for your loss.

Emma Hynes said...

What a moving piece, David, beautifully written. Xxx

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