Friday, 5 September 2014

The Kids Aren't Alright

Here's a fact for you: there are thousands of children being brought up in Greater Manchester today.  They're playing, learning, having fun, eating dinner.  Almost all of these children are perfectly normal and very few of them are evil personified.

This may surprise you, because you're a Coronation Street viewer, and so you might be used to children from that area being the spawn of Satan.  Just in the last few episodes, we've learnt that Amy is a lying manipulative witch and Max is an ADHD-riddled tornado of devastation.  Any child who is on the Street beyond their toddling years will almost inevitably turn out to be marked with the sign of the devil and you'd be better off retreating before they eat your face.

It used to be so much simpler.  Children in Corrie were spoken of, but rarely seen.  The first baby born in the street was Paul Cheveski, son of Linda and Ivan and grandson of Elsie Tanner.  The pregnancy was considered so unimportant that she gave birth offscreen and just turned up with a baby a few episodes later.  The birth of Peter and Susan Barlow was a bit more important, with Valerie actually going into labour pains on television, but once they were brought into the world they were occasionally mentioned in passing and that was it.  When Val died and Ken sent them off up to Scotland (ready to come back after twenty years without so much as a Scottish accent) they weren't missed.

The next baby born was Tracy Lynette Langton, and here we have both the first important Street baby and the first unalloyed child of darkness.  It was that long since anyone had got pregnant in Weatherfield, the birth of Tracy was treated as a festive event, and Deirdre was permanently surrounded by a cluster of well-wishing old biddies.  You'd think this would create a loving atmosphere for the young infant, but it actually worked more like the witch's coven in Rosemary's Baby, and before you knew it Tracy was getting hopped up on ecstasy and stealing kidneys off innocent Moroccan waiters.  It was the start of a life of unbridled evil, which culminated in her trying to sell her baby, murdering Charlie, and worst of all, putting up that awful swirly wallpaper in the living room of number six which is still there, dammit.  (I mean COME ON OWEN; you've got nothing else to do now - even slapping a coat of magnolia over the top would be a relief.)

Anyway.  Relatively speaking, Tracy was a late starter in the testicle-shrinkingly horrible stakes, waiting until she was a teenager (and on her third head) before really turning pestilent.  The other children took up her gauntlet gladly.  First the McDonald twins interpreted "youthful high jinks" as "robbing plant machinery and ramming it into Alf Roberts' shop", then Steve became a smack dealer and a jailbird.  It's hard to remember, looking at the roly-poly ball of blancmange who stands behind the bar picking fluff out his belly button, but Steve was once a dangerous rebel who caused untold agony for his parents.

Across the road, Sarah-Louise Platt was barely in a training bra before she was knocked up.  This was a new variant on the "causing agony for the grown ups" scale, but unlike Steve's forays into criminality which were momentary headaches for Liz and Jim, having a baby meant at least eighteen years of pain for Sarah-Lou and Gail.  It just got worse as Bethany grew up, and she revealed herself to be really annoying.  Meanwhile, Sarah-Louise parlayed her eternal victimhood into repeatedly getting kidnapped, trapped in car crashes and generally finding an excuse to squeal and cry whenever possible.  Her stepfather turned out to be a serial killer, but in a baffling misjudgement, he tried to kill Gail's mother instead of her daughter; that would have got him just a slap on the wrist and possibly a fruit basket as thanks.

You'd think that uber-Mummy Sally Webster would bring up a couple of perfect children, but once Rosie and Sophie got past their fish finger guzzling childhood days, they both found their own unique ways to give their parents nightmares.  Rosie rebelled against her sanctimummy by becoming a Goth; spending her days meditating on the agony of human existence and nodding along to Fields of the Nephilim was guaranteed to irritate Sally Webster, who had her heart set on bringing up a tiny Bonnie Langford.  Later, Rosie left school and took a major career change by becoming a slut - sorry, I mean, "a model".  She carried on applying eighteen tonnes of make up, only instead of it being whiteface and black lipstick, now it was Kim Kardashian Radiation Burn Effect Bronzer (Industrial Strength) and false fingernails that made her look like a Primark Freddie Krueger.  Meanwhile, Sophie also rebelled by first becoming a Christian, then a lesbian; her three girlfriends have all been deeply unsuitable for one reason or another (too young; too old; too annoying) and her religious beliefs have lead to levels of sanctimonious preaching even Emily Bishop thinks are excessive.

Sometimes a change of scene activates a Street child's hidden levels of horror; Tracy, Amber and Todd were a bit annoying before they left, but they returned from That London as tools of Beelzebub.  Meanwhile, Nicky Tilsley was a sweet, ineffectual little boy until he went to Canada; he returned a steroid-fuelled sex maniac, before transmogrifying into his latest incarnation, a bitter uncharismatic man who somehow also looks older than his grandmother.

Mention of Nicky, of course, leads us to that ne plus ultra of Weatherfield's worst children, David "Damien" Platt.  Looking back over his CV it's easy to wonder where it all went wrong; personally I blame the death of Barney the Rabbit, which sent David into a spiral of cruelty, violence, a spell in Borstal and marriage to a pole dancer.  He's thrown his mum down stairs, tried to kill his brother in a car crash, and fed drugs to his niece; he hijacked his sister's wedding day by attempting suicide and gave his nan a heart attack.  Gail's thrown him out more times than a loaf of mouldy bread.  He's calmed down a little in recent years, perhaps a result of becoming step-father to Max.  None the less, I can't be the only one who uttered a prayer for salvation when Kylie announced she was pregnant.  There was no need for them to have a DNA test to find out who Lily's father was - the wolves baying at the moon as she was born should have been a clear indication that this was the spawn of David.  His insistence on her being Christened seemed to be a deliberate taunt to God; I was surprised the church didn't burn down when they tried to take Lily over the threshold.  I note that confirmed child of Christ Sophie Webster hasn't volunteered to babysit her, probably because she's afraid she'll end up skewered by a lightning rod like Patrick Troughton in The Omen II.

Lily is one of four infants on the Street right now, along with Jake Windass, Ruby Dobbs and Hope Stape.  Of the four of them, Lily's parents are ASBO magnets, Ruby's mother is a convicted psychopath, Hope's father is a dead serial killer and Jake's birth mother got clobbered to death a hundred yards from his cot; basically, what I'm saying is that the signs are not good for them growing up to be productive members of society.

Meanwhile, just above them at school, Max is demolishing most of the set as he tries to vent his badly acted hyperactivity.  Asha and Aadi haven't yet revealed their twisted dark halves, but as they're twins, it's a given that they possess evil psychic powers; it can't be long before they're stood holding hands at the end of the Street asking little Liam Connor to play with them "forever and ever and ever".  There might still be hope for Amy; her interest in Albert Tatlock's war past certainly bodes well, as does her love of Eccles, and she is cousin to Simon Barlow, a.k.a the most adorable child ever to walk the cobbles and the exception that proves the rule.  Simon is sweetly cheeky, appallingly cute, and prone to filling his eyes with big tears of sorrow that manage to pierce the heart of even the most cynical viewer.  I suppose we should enjoy it while it lasts; give it a couple of years and he'll be joy-riding Carla's BMW into Maxine's bench and snorting cocaine off a prostitute's breasts before school.  The alternative is that he's just a normal little boy, and that sort of behaviour gets you beaten up at Weatherfield High.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ on one point-- David didn't fed drugs to Bethany. He hid drugs in her doll, and was absolutely gutted when she ingested them. I am not a huge David fan, but he has some nice qualities. (Um, he loves his family. He apparently cuts hair well. I got nothing else.)

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