Saturday, 31 December 2016

The abandoned Barlow Brothers

(Reposted from State of the Street with permission)

Peter Barlow lost his mother to an electrical appliance when he was only a small boy. That's going to affect any child but then his father gave up trying to look after twin children and gave them over to their grandparents who raised them in Scotland. If you watched Corrie through the 70s and early 80s, you will know that Ken rarely visited them and rarely had them back home to visit him. They were mentioned from time to time and I'm sure he sent them birthday cards and Christmas gifts even if it wasn't shown on screen.

Daniel Osbourne's father, Ken Barlow, barely had a look in when he was growing up and his mother went walkabout 6 years ago, with no further sight nor sound. These two men certainly have a lot in common and I think they've kind of bonded over that.

Peter, especially in his Chris Gascoyne incarnation, has shown all the signs of having abandonment issues which have manifested themselves in a fondness for the drink. He's also got his father's "any woman any time" gene and finds it difficult to make a long standing commitment.  He regularly berates his father for dumping him and blames a lot of his failings on his father's non-participation in his life yet has always craved approval from his one remaining parent and yet resented the hell out of him at the same time.

Daniel is very secretive born from having to pretend his mother was not gone while he was too young, really, to be living on his own. Should the authorities have found out, he'd have been taken into care. He obviously had no contact or relationship with his mother's sister (she whose husband Denise had an affair with back in the day) and no other family it seems. He's been on his own for a long time. We don't know if he's got abandonment issues as such but he's bound to when you think of it. We just haven't seen how they've manifested themselves yet.

Children take on so much and learn what they see.  Neither of them ever had a father figure that was ever present in their lives. Peter certainly didn't grow up learning how to be a good father and so has never found it easy being one himself, often at a loss when things get difficult. He grew up seeing or knowing that his father flitted from woman to woman and he mirrored that behaviour. We don't know why his first marriage broke up though he has been known to blame his absences due to being in the navy but I think there's a pretty good chance he had a welcoming bed in every port.

Peter's been a lifelong screw up, or at least as long as he's been an adult from what we know and what we've seen. Just maybe, though, he's starting to take responsibility and grow up. A bit. His father's sudden illness seems to have affected him deeply. It seems like Daniel's reaction has been to  take refuge in books and in his schoolwork and keep his head down.

Daniel was an unplanned child but Ken in his middle age was anxious to do things right this time around. He and Denise were not love's young dream nor were they soul mates in any form. In fact, in the cold harsh reality of the aftermath of the affair, Denise realized she was most definitely unsuited to life with Ken and a baby so she left the baby with Ken initially and walked. Ken tried, he really did but he was a single middle aged man who had no clue how to deal with an infant. He hired a nanny and that helped but he never had the chance to see if he could make a go of this parenting thing. Denise returned and took baby Daniel away, to Scotland because her sister's husband happened to be from that country.

Ken tried to make an effort  at first but gave it up as a lost cause and thus, Daniel really had no memory of him.  Yet another of Ken's children was lost and cut loose from a paternal influence. We next saw Daniel when he was a boy of about 10. Ken and Deirdre were having difficulties and Ken began to think he'd like to make an effort with his son. His son resented Ken's efforts as too little too late and Ken soon gave up again. We would hear Daniel's name on occasion over the intervening years, usually when Tracy or Peter wanted to call Ken's parenting into question.

But Ken apparently had a contact number for Denise in his address book. After he had the stroke, Peter went through the book to contact family and left a message with Denise, or so the dialogue went. Daniel got the message eventually and came to see his father. Before you think this was a plot hole, it's very possible that telephone number was the landline in the flat where Daniel was living. Since he didn't want people to know he was living alone under aged, he would have left the answering machine message on there that his mother recorded.

And where was his mother? Daniel says they weren't getting along, typical teenage stuff and she became more and more agitated and decided to leave. He thought she was coming back but she never did nor did she ever get in contact. It does seem strange. On comment I've seen suggested she could have been bipolar and could have ended up on the streets. That would be an interesting way to take this. Her abandonment had to have been devastating to him.

He's been keeping secrets so long that it's no wonder he's reluctant to open up now. Peter has taken him in hand and has been very supportive. He's a big brother and he's also old enough to be a father figure, really, and Peter seems to really like his little brother. It really seems like there's a weight finally lifting off Daniel's shoulders, relieved to have told the truth and to have someone that he might actually be able to depend on (he doesn't know Peter well yet!) for once in his life.  He was almost in tears when Peter assured him he would be there, as if Peter was a lifeline to a young man near the end of his rope that sorely needed one.

This chemistry between the two brothers who seem to have bonded quickly, able to relate to what the other has been through over their lives is evident. We've long admired Chris Gascoyne's acting abilities and the young man playing Daniel, Rob Mallard, is really showing his acting chops, too.

It will be interesting to see where they take this.

Tvor, twitter: @tvordlj

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