The sight of them ducks …
Another memory from one’s youth fades 🙁
Jean Alexander who recently died aged 90 played Hilda Ogden, a pivotal character in Coronation Street during the soap’s heyday of the 60s and 70s.
Hilda was married to Stan, a hopeless and hapless layabout played by Bernard Youens. Everything in her life with him seemed to disappoint her. Yet when the make-believe Stan ‘died’ off-screen shortly after Youens himself had died, Hilda’s grief-stricken reaction was incredibly moving and remains memorable even 32 years later (Alexander won a Royal Television Society ‘best performance’ award for the scene).
I stopped watching ‘Corrie’ shortly afterwards when it ditched its warmth and humour in an attempt to match the more gritty ‘reality’ (aka ‘misery’) of the nascent EastEnders. (The same sad descent into miserable social issues also befell the Archers so ever since I have inhabited a soap-free zone). Anyway, this is for Hilda …
Your nagging just fell on deaf ears
While Stan carried on downing beers
But you sat there and cried
On hearing he’d died,
With genuine sorrow and tears.
The title of this post comes from one of Hilda’s last lines. She had a mural on her living room wall (that she always mispronounced as her ‘muriel’) and three plaster flying ducks (all of which Stan had damaged on the occasion that he let his bath overflow). On leaving the soap, Alexander’s character was to move away from the Street and her home of years at which point Percy Sugden suggested that she’d be glad to see the back of her decor.
Hilda’s reply was as dramatic as her response to Stan’s death: “I’ve come in here more times than I care to remember – cold, wet, tired out, not a penny in me purse – and the sight of them ducks, and that muriel… well, they’ve kept my hand away from the gas tap and that’s a fact“.
Postscript: The newspapers quoted some classic Hilda one-liners when reporting Alexander’s death; here’s a couple of them:
“Elsie Tanner’s heart is where a fella’s wallet is – and the bigger the wallet, the more heart she’s got”.
“Quite right Stanley, I wouldn’t give them to a working man, but since you don’t come under that category there’s no problem is there? Now get them ate”.