Jenny’s kidnapping of Jack and the revelation that she had a son, Tom, aged 4, who drowned, put me in mind of how other mothers on the cobbles cope with motherhood.
Firstly, the peerless Elsie Tanner, nee Grimshaw and her ongoing rows with her son Dennis over his joblessness and his fecklessness. So convincing they were as mother and son that Elsie (Pat Phoenix) used to receive many letters of advice about problems with almost grown up children. One of the arguments between mother and son involved Elsie’s suspicion that Dennis had taken two shillings (10 pence) from her handbag.
‘Now look, let’s get this straight. Not an hour ago you asked me for 2 bob for cigarettes.’
‘And you wouldn’t give it to me - we know.’
‘So you stoop to going in a lady’s handbag!’
‘Just listen - a lady is that what you crack on you are these days.’
“Fine son, a fine son you are. That tongue of yours will get you hung one day.’
‘Look, you’ve lost 2 bob, what am I supposed to do about it?’
Get work, get work, that’s what you’re supposed to do about it.’
‘Change the record, will you?’
Although Pat Phoenix never had her own children she was a good enough mother to Dennis and her daughter Linda. Linda was already married when Coronation Street began and later had a little boy called Paul, born in 1961. She married a Polish man, Ivan when Political Correctness was not the order of the day. Ena Sharples took it upon herself to ask who ‘that gypsy looking feller’ is. When we first meet Linda she is separated from Ivan, because he would not allow her to work. Linda finally left him and in 1966 Linda returned to Weatherfield, after having had an affair.
Elsie swore, she smoked, she drank, she cried, she argued and men were drawn to her like magnets. She loved her children and they loved her. Elsie was a single parent before that term was ever coined. She was divorced and in the early 1960s there was a strong stigma about divorced women. They were regarded with suspicion and considered to be husband snatchers.
As we all know, Dennis returned recently and married Rita, had his head turned by Gloria and tried to come back to Rita. Rita’s rejection of him, gave Dennis no choice but to leave. So it seems that that’s it for any further Tanner links
Pat Phoenix was for a short time, mother in law to future Prime Minister, Tony Blair after having married Tony Booth, Cherie’s father in the last few days of her life, before her 60 a day habit killed her at the age of 62.
After having had children and those children having grown and gone, many women wonder what their purpose is, now fulltime motherhood is over. In a scene with Mike Baldwin and Elsie, Elsie bemoans her situation. She refers to herself as a ‘clapped out tart.’
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