Reposted from State of the Street with permission.
Cathy was introduced to us first, on Coronation Street. She was brought in as a recent widow, shy, not very confident and having had her world tossed upside down by the loss of her husband of many years (wasn't it 30 or more?). She probably had the hoarding habit before her Alan died but his death brought it out in full force.
It wasn't all just junk either, it sounded as if she had been on a spending spree, particularly in second hand shops, picking up old items that might be useful someday. She was living amidst clutter that rose so high in some parts of her house that she had to climb up to look out the window and, likely do to this over spending, the bailiffs were at the door.
Roy Cropper lent his support and their friendship and his encouragement seem to have settled her down. She's enjoying life again and looking to her future with a glimmer of hope. Tyrone, Fiz and Chesney packed up her living room but presumably the rest of the house was still aclutter when she moved back in. The hoarding hasn't been mentioned and neither have the bailiffs,
something that I guess the storyliners have hoped we've forgotten. I
expect now that she's moved home, she's making an effort to clear out
Enter her 28 year old nephew, Alex who showed up at the cafe one day. How he knew that she was living there, we were never told but presumably she did mention it to Alex's mother, her sister, Nessa. But Alex didn't tell his mother where he'd gone. He might be 28 but he's also got Down's Syndrome and once we met his mother, it became clear that she's got a tendency to be overprotective of him, something he seems to be chafing against. There may be a point, though, because he doesn't seem to understand how worried his mother would get when he takes off without notice. In my books, if you're living with someone, you let them know if you won't be coming back overnight or if you'll be later than expected.
Now we meet Nessa and we can see that the two sisters are very different from each other. Where Cathy is quiet, artistic, sympathetic and kind, Nessa is jolly, outgoing, selfish and vibrant. Cathy was married for 30+ years, but Nessa, a live wire, was divorced and is being portrayed as a man-eater. She's certainly enforcing that with her single minded persuit of recent widower, Ken Barlow. That in itself will tell you that she's not thinking of anyone but herself. This isn't a friendship blossoming like Audrey's feelings, this is a woman determined to latch on to a single man, never mind that he's still in heavy grief over his late wife. She's acting a bit like a preying mantis, and Cathy, who values her new friend Ken, is embarassed.
Aside from her unwise quest, I do like Nessa. I like the actor and the character's personality that they've created. I also like the sibling dynamic between Cathy and Nessa, the bickering and the exasperation each seems to carry for the other. Siblings are often very different from each other and quite often there is one that dominates and one that feels pushed to the corner, overwhelmed and jealous of the force of the personality of the one that's always the center of attention. As children, that's difficult at times.
It's also not unusual for that jealousy to hang on into adulthood. It may temper down a lot as the siblings mature and live their own lives but there's always that little fleck of it in the background that rears its ugly head now and then. Cathy was probably always envious of Nessa's ease in social situations and jealous that she always had lots of boyfriends and friends where she herself probably only had a couple of close mates. Perhaps Alan was her first and only love. She wouldn't regret that at all, looking back but as a teenager, while she may have been happy to spend Saturday night in with a good book, may still have been a bit green with her sister rushing around getting ready to go out on yet another date, wishing it were easier for her to talk to boys and have them like her as much.
And maybe we'll also find out that Nessa was jealous of Cathy and her long time stable marriage with a man that loved her very much. Maybe each of them regarded things in the other that they wished were part of their own personality or lives. Nessa loves her son but Cathy never was tied down to the responsibility of a child nor had to bring up a child with disabilities. Cathy would have loved to have a child dearly under any circumstances although if Nessa has always been as flighty as she seems, I think probably Cathy was a second mother to Alex.
I will be interested to see if more of the sister dynamic is explored at all, even if just in dialogue during an argument or conversation one of them has with someone else, that will reveal more insight to each woman. I am not sure I'd like to see Ken and Nessa go the distance only because Nessa isn't really that sympathetic by running after Ken. He's a lonely, grieving man and wouldn't have looked twice at her as other than a new friend but she's determined to draw him in and I can't help thinking it will end in tears.
Tvor (Twitter @tvordlj)
Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.
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