Corrie and me

I love Coronation Street. I’m not ashamed to admit it.

Corrie’s always been there, for as long as I can remember. It was background noise when I was a little’un, before it fully grabbed my attention as I headed into my teens. The cool kids liked the grit of EastEnders. I went for the warmth and familiarity of Weatherfield every time.

There’s just something about hearing the opening strains of that iconic theme tune. Echoes of childhood, the promise of half an hour of pure escapism.

I’ve always said that Corrie is not only the best drama on telly, it’s the best comedy too. Jack and Vera’s constant bickering is probably the most accurate depiction of true love I’ve ever seen committed to screen. Mike Baldwin and Ken Barlow set the standard for petty rivalry long before Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin made it their USP. And who could forget Blanche’s withering putdowns, which frankly should have resulted in their very own spin-off sitcom.

At its heart though, Corrie is a memory of moments of silliness with those I love.

When Baldwin heralded Deidre’s release from prison with a cry of ‘FAAAANTASTIC’ whilst vigorously thrusting his glass of Scotch into the air and managing not to spill a drop, me and my mom spent years trying to recreate it with glasses of water – always without success.

I think of drunken nights with my pal Al, when I’d regale not only the scene above, but also one in which Kevin Webster was annoyed because his enjoyment of an Atomic Kitten song had been ruined (I’m not even going to elaborate, because not a single person in the world will remember it).

Speaking of scenes that everyone has forgotten, there was also Dev’s declaration of love for the humble Scotch Egg… something my mate Ed can thankfully back me up on.

Most enduring of all is my Jim McDonald impression. There’s barely a day that goes by when I don’t do it, so there isn’t.

Corrie is also a reminder of happy times with people who meant the world to me. I write this blog on what would have been the 100th birthday of my Nanny Rene, who would often want to share her thoughts about the latest storylines.

It also feels particularly poignant that it’s less than a week since the loss of my dear Aunty Pat. Whenever I arrived for a visit to her in Canada, where Corrie was shown a few months behind, it would never take long for her to ask for the lowdown on the latest comings and goings on the cobbles.

Then there was the look on her face when she’d arrive in the UK, effectively getting to ‘time travel’ by peering ahead at storylines that hadn’t even begun as far as she was concerned.

Going to Canada was always a laugh, now I come to think of it. Random people would catch my English accent, and I’d spend the next ten minutes regaling them with tales of what was still to come.

You’re probably getting a sense now of just how ingrained Coronation Street was within me. So, hopefully, you’ll forgive the fact that I would usually expect everyone else to be as familiar with it as I was.

When a real-life Mancunian started at my school, I’ll never forget his bewildered face when I constantly bellowed my Fred Elliot impression in his face. It turned out, that despite hailing from tantalisingly close to the cobbles, he wasn’t especially arsed by what happened upon them. It didn’t hold us back, though. Somehow, Matthew Lindley remains ones of my best friends to this day… I SAY HE REMAINS ONE OF MY CLOSEST FRIENDS.

I have to be honest, though, reader. my relationship with Corrie has had a bit of a wobble in recent times. Just as I was about to turn 30, I found the Vera to my Jack in the shape of Anna. And while we have many things in common, a love of Coronation Street was not one of them.

Even dragging Anna for tours of the set, both old and current, I failed in my mission to encourage her to take an interest. While I tried manfully to keep up after we moved in together, eventually I lost track. And then, five years passed without me watching as much as a single episode. Sadly, it seemed that Corrie was no longer a part of my life.

Like Deidre always came back to Ken, however, somehow it seemed obvious that we wouldn’t be apart forever.

Then 2020 came along.

This has probably been the best year of my life and the worst year of my life all at once. It’s undoubtedly been the most chaotic. Amid all the madness, I was craving a comfort blanket. And Corrie was it.

The start of the lockdown saw me quickly binge on about a month’s worth of episodes in just a couple of days, and I’ve stayed fully up to date since. As we head into the 60th anniversary, I’m fully invested once more. I felt as nervous about the outcome of Yazmeen’s trial as I tend to be before an important Aston Villa game. And I’m all about seeing that bastard Geoff get his comeuppance.

I’m not sure why I felt compelled to write this blog. I guess, subconsciously, with all the fuss about the 60th anniversary, I’ve recognised that the show has actually played a pretty important part of my life. That through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows that life can throw at you, sometimes you just need that little something that’s always there, reminding you that nothing ever really changes that much.

And so, all that remains to say is a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Coronation Street. I’m yours forever, I’ll never stray again.

You know I won’t. I really won’t.