Love Thy Neighbour: Amy Williams

A fellow neighbours fan remarked recently that it’s amazing how level headed Amy Williams is, given that her parents are Paul Robinson and mentally unstable man-eater Nene. When Amy, played by the delightful Zoe Cramond, first arrived in Ramsay Street with young son Jimmy, she presented as a fiercely independent woman. And it’s hardly surprising. She’d had little contact with father Paul over the years, and was understandably still resentful of the fact that he’d once dipped into her trust fund, to obtain money for one of his business dealings. She wasn’t impressed, either, that her father failed to recognise her upon her arrival. To be fair, he hadn’t seen her since she was seven, and possibly had no photos of her since that time. That said, he still had a lot of making up to do and, when he finally admitted to wanting one more chance to prove his worth, father and daughter began tentatively to build a relationship. But it hasn’t been without rocky patches!

Amy had largely raised Jimmy single-handedly, as his father Liam hadn’t been around much. She has strong beliefs about teaching Jimmy the value of money, something which goes against Paul’s ethos of making as much of it as quickly as possible, and not always in legitimate fashion. Paul struggled with not being allowed to lavish Jimmy with material gifts, but father and daughter seem to have met in the middle. Paul doesn’t want to upset Amy, and so he has had to rein in his indulgences, and place more emphasis on time-richness. Amy has come to realise that she might have been over-protective of Jimmy, and possibly a little over-strict, too. Compromises have been made, with Amy recognising that Jimmy is benefiting from having his granddad around, even if she still gets infuriated with Paul’s behaviour at times. And it’s been good for Paul to have to listen to Amy’s point of view on occasions.

Romance brewing

Amy quickly became a popular character with viewers, but there was one nagging doubt for some of us: before anyone could scream ‘romance brewing’ Amy was working for Kyle Canning. Kyle’s wife Georgia had gone to Germany to be with her mother – who was receiving specialist cancer treatment – and most of us didn’t want to see Kyle and Georgia split up, and certainly not because of an illicit affair. But after Georgia’s admission that she regretted marrying Kyle and wanted to travel before settling down, any misgivings about Amy were forgotten. No one wanted to see loveable Kyle with a broken heart for long. Amy ticked all the boxes; she’s a fellow tradie, she’s attractive, warm-hearted and down to earth. And Kyle, luckily, bonds well with children, swiftly establishing a fatherly relationship with Jimmy. There were, of course, the usual Neighbours style pitfalls and stop-starts to their union for entertainment purpose. Kyle dated the somewhat mysterious Shay for a while, which made Amy jealous, even though she hid it well. Amy was harassed by some builders on-site, Kyle got protective, and Amy rejected his gallantry. She wanted to deal with it on her own, as she was used to doing, so she found Kyle’s interference, though well-intentioned, unnerving.

Amy and Kyle’s budding relationship was also met with opposition from Paul. Typically for him, he envisioned the perfect partner for his daughter as being a professional man, comfortably off, someone who could provide. Amy, however, doesn’t see a man as a ticket to prosperity. She has an entirely different outlook on life to that of her father, and Paul has had to grudgingly accept that Amy has fallen in love with Kyle. And the main objective for Paul is that Amy and Jimmy stay in Erinsborough, so he’s backed off and seems to have stopped meddling. Of course, that might have more to do with the fact that he’s been distracted by his own problems of late, not least the loss of his empire!

Spanner in the works

We could guess that it would’t be long before Amy’s ex, Liam, would turn up and throw one of Kyle’s spanners into the works. Whilst Amy is undoubtedly a strong woman in many respects, she is not without her frailties and insecurities. Liam almost convinced Amy that they belonged together, firstly by getting Jimmy onside and leaving Kyle stomping around with one of his grumpy scowls that makes him look about twelve. Amy eventually succumbed to Liam’s advances, but viewers sensed that he was not to be trusted. It was with much relief, then, that we saw Liam finally outed as the person who stole Toadie and Sonya’s benefit fund, and who trashed Harold’s after breaking in to see if there was money in the till (there wasn’t, even Lauren isn’t that careless.) On finding no cash, Liam took advantage of the feud between the warring Turner and Willis families, thus hoping that Terese Willis would get the blame for the ‘home wrecker’ message he left behind. Paul, typically, paid off debt-ridden Liam, with the agreement that he leave Erinsborough and have no further contact with Amy and Jimmy.

When Amy discovered Paul’s pay-off, she was furious. As much as she wanted Liam gone, she felt that it wasn’t for Paul to decide whether he have contact with Jimmy. It was probably a bit too much pot and kettle for her liking; Paul wasn’t exactly squeaky clean and yet she’d given him another chance. Jimmy became aware of a rift between his G’Dad and his mum. (G’Dad is not a term that sits well with most viewers I’ve spoken to, though. Take note, producers!) It was some time before Jimmy learnt the whole truth about Liam, and why Amy was mad with Paul. You had to feel for the kid when Kyle blurted out the truth. Jimmy sensed that something was being kept from him, and badgered Kyle for answers. Once again, Amy was angry, but Kyle had his reasons. He had been badly let down by his own father, and he didn’t want Jimmy to idealise a man who was cut from the same cloth.

Amy swiftly established friendships with the other women of Ramsay Street. She and Jimmy hadn’t been in Erinsborough long, before being invited to live with Sonya – ever the philanthropist almost on a par with Susan Kennedy – and Toadie. Amy had accidentally run over Nell’s buggy and was keen to make it up to Sonya. She felt that she could ease her new friend’s workload if she was around to take care of some domestic duties. There were a few tense moments when it seemed as if Sonya doubted her decision to have Amy and Jimmy as house guests. Misunderstandings occurred, such as Sonya’s belief that Jimmy was hurting Nell. It turned out, of course, that Nell was going through a common toddler phase: biting. Both women are sometimes blind to their own child’s faults, and this could have fractured the pair’s friendship, but luckily, everything seemed to be resolved peacefully. Although, there were still awkward moments. Amy, in one of her efforts to impress with household tasks, inadvertently thew away Nell’s favourite cuddly toy. Horrified, she and Kyle went on a frantic and complex mission to find it. This brought the pair closer together and Amy – despite having clashed with Paul and considering leaving town – decided to stick around.

A tryst on the couch

Kyle and Amy’s comic moments when getting it together followed on seamlessly from Kyle and Georgia’s in scenes past. As with many couples in the street, the sofa featured writ large. Really, is that not a bit careless, given that front doors are rarely locked in Ramsay Street and anyone could have walked in? Sheila returned home unexpectedly one day, almost catching the pair in a tryst on the Canning’s couch. Amy hurriedly covered herself up, but somehow her bra had got the attention of Bossy, who has been prone to underwear stealing, and she sneaked off with it. Of course, the bra was later discovered by Sheila and we all chuckled. That’s Neighbours comedy at its very best.

When Toadie had his freak accident with the jumping castle, temporarily paralysing him, Amy felt that she and Jimmy were getting in the way at the Rebecchi’s. Cue Sheila’s invitation for them to move in with the Canning clan, much more preferable to Amy than Paul’s penthouse. Sheila was keen to encourage her grandson’s romance with Amy, feeling that she was just what Kyle needed to get over Georgia. After Kyle’s brief dalliance with Shay, he and Amy were still dithering about being together, providing viewers with more amusing moments, as they met by the bathroom door, each pretending not to notice the other’s night attire. Given that Ramsay Street residents are often spotted sunbathing and swimming together, this seems a little tame by comparison! Sheila, frustrated by the pair’s hesitation to commit to the relationship, took drastic action, locking them in the laundry room. It seemed to work better than metaphorically banging their heads together, as the pair were soon loved-up again in every sense of the word. It appeared to have been a bit of a turn on too: despite the fact that  each had their own bedroom, Kyle and Amy began romping regularly amongst the smalls.

A frolicking spin in the utility room

Poor little Jimmy had rather a shock in store. Picture the scene: You’re nine years old, and you go to put your socks in the wash basket like Sheila says, to be met with the sight of your mother and her boyfriend frolicking on top of the washing machine wearing not very much. Accompanied by sounds that definitely could not be attributed to the machine’s fast spin. A lot of frank talking and child-counselling ensued, and it now seems as if Jimmy is on board with his mum and Kyle’s relationship. As long as he doesn’t have to witness or overhear anything physical, as he quite rightly pointed out!

No one was especially surprised when Nina, aka Nene, rocked up – a reinvented version of her former self. Whilst Amy wasn’t unhappy to see her mum, (once Nene had recovered from heat exhaustion after taking grandson Jimmy off, goodness knows where, for a long walk) she was a little uneasy about her intention to relocate to Erinsborough. Amy had apparently thought Nene happy in a new nursing job, and wondered if there was more to her visit than just wanting to spend time with her daughter and grandson. It was bad timing for Paul, too, given that he had recently gone bankrupt, and the last thing he needed was yet another ex turning up to mock his misfortunes.

Nene, though, seems to be more interested in unattainable men, such as Doctor Karl, and Amy has learnt that her mother’s mental instability is not as far in the past as she would have people believe. Her nursing career has apparently been tainted with misdemeanours of the romantic kind, and medical negligence. Unfortunately, she was already employed as a nurse to Doug Willis, a dementia sufferer, before these facts were uncovered. Amy, whilst appalled at her mother’s deceit, and manipulation of Doug’s condition in order to impress Karl Kennedy, has been quick to jump to her defence. This is possibly because Nene brought Amy up alone, in the absence of Paul, and she now knows from personal experience how tough it is to be a single parent. Whether the two can go on to have a more balanced mother-daughter relationship, only time will tell. Since Nene’s arrival, it has seemed as though Amy is the parent and Nene the child, rather than vice versa. But if events with Kyle take the turn we think they might, Amy will need her mum’s support. We can only hope that Nene manages to focus on someone other than herself for more than five minutes, and start being a parent.

Just as it seemed as if Amy and Kyle were becoming one of the more stable couples of the street, the boat has been rocked again, possibly beyond repair. Viewers were given hints of things to come when a letter from Georgia arrived for Kyle’s birthday. He threw the letter away, insisting that he had moved on and didn’t want to know about her new life. Sheila was in agreement with this. She had grown fond of Amy and Jimmy, and was delighted that her grandson seemed happy once more. But Amy wouldn’t rest: The recycling team seem to be sporadic visitors to Ramsay Street, and upon rediscovery of the thrown-away letter weeks later, she retrieved it from the bin. Wrestling with her conscience, she eventually read it, learning that Georgia wanted Kyle back. Sheila sussed Amy’s mood, extracted the truth from her, and tore the letter up, telling her to leave the past alone.

As always in soap land, Amy could bear it no longer. She insisted to Sheila that Kyle deserved to know the truth about Georgia’s feelings. We were waiting for Amy to confess the snooping to Kyle, but first she chose to test his love for her by a spur-of-the-moment marriage proposal. Not one of her better ideas. Kyle, gobsmacked, said it was too soon. He has a point, but Amy took this to mean he didn’t love her enough, and so the whole truth of the letter came tumbling out. We don’t know yet where this leaves Kyle and Amy. This is a storyline where you really can see things from both points of view. Amy might appear tough, but inside, she longs to feel loved and secure. She’s focused on her rôle as Jimmy’s mum for nine years, but now she’s starting to realise that she can allow herself a life outside of work and motherhood. And after all, she deserves to be happy. Kyle seemed to have moved on after Georgia, and he wouldn’t deliberately hurt Amy, or Jimmy for that matter. But he’s still technically married, so will he want to give that marriage another try, or commit to Amy?

Whatever happens, it’s going to leave someone with a broken heart. If it turns out that heart is Amy’s, there will certainly be no shortage of suitors waiting to help her heal it. I’ve grown very fond of Amy Williams, and I hope that she stays in Ramsay Street for a long time. I would love to see the return of Andrew and Elle, to see how the three half-siblings interact. If Amy is left single, I am already speculating on who out of the current residents might be a good match for her. But if no one takes her fancy, I’m sure there would soon be an Erinsborough newcomer happy to step into Kyle’s work boots. And as Amy doesn’t fall in and out of love easily, they’re big boots to fill!

© Carol Ann Wood
March 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Advertisements

Love Thy Neighbour: Amber Turner 

It’s fair to say that since her arrival on Ramsay Street in 2013 with her parents and younger brother Bailey, Amber Turner (Jenna Rosenow) has had quite an eventful time of it. She didn’t seem happy about relocating, and whilst her parents believed that she was missing her old school friends and her beloved horse back in Mount Isa, the all-knowing viewer could guess that it was more likely to be a boy she was pining for. Teenagers rarely enter soap land without a backstory involving love. And so it proved. But Amber wasn’t hung up on your average wholesome schoolboy. She had been secretly involved with Robbo Slade, a young criminal who had cajoled both Amber’s brothers into committing a robbery. This was why, we learnt, that we were yet to see Amber’s other brother, Mason, who was serving time in ‘juvie’ for said robbery, although their father Matt had put his police career in jeopardy by covering up Bailey’s involvement.

Amber was moping around and uninterested in her new surroundings, like, perhaps, any typical teenager who’d been uprooted against their will. However, we knew it wouldn’t be long before a girl with big blue eyes and long blonde hair would attract attention, and that Amber would settle into her new life. Once her past relationship with Robbo was revealed, more family secrets and turmoil ensued. Amber distracted herself by developing a crush on Chris Pappas, not realising that Chris was gay. Once Amber had learned Chris’s sexuality, the pair’s friendship survived and she accepted they’d only ever be mates. When the Willis family moved in opposite the Turner clan, we guessed that there would be a new storyline ahead for Amber. Brad Willis and Lauren Turner having once been young sweethearts meant that tensions were running high between the two couples, and what better scenario to add to the mix than for a teenage Turner to start dating a teenage Willis! Amber also struck up a sometimes-terse friendship with Josh’s twin sister Imogen. Imogen is an altogether more level-headed character, academic and career-oriented, like her mother. Imogen warned Amber that, as her brother was a potential swimming champion, his training would always come before any girl, and she didn’t want her new, naïve friend to get hurt.

Amber, however, didn’t give up on attracting Josh’s attention. But Josh was a rather arrogant character back then and, as Imogen had predicted, didn’t treat Amber very well. Amber frequently  endured dates cancelled at the last minute. Her dreams of becoming a photographer were dismissed by Josh, who saw his swimming career as far more important. Viewers were frustrated by Amber’s deferential attitude. We wanted her to stop being walked over and to stand up to Josh. The pair carried on dating, rowing, sort-of splitting up and making up, on such a regular basis that it seemed to happen as often as in Scott’s and Charlene’s infamous relationship back in the 1980s. The pair looked on as Josh’s dad Brad and Amber’s mum Lauren became involved in a search for a daughter whom Lauren thought had died and Brad never knew had existed. They looked on as the fallout continued with rows and recriminations, and as Matt Turner and Terese Willis found it hard to accept this new situation.

Life turns a new Paige

Suddenly discovering, in your late teens, that you are not your mother’s only daughter must be quite a shock: your position in the family has altered forever. When Paige Smith rolled up and finally revealed her identity, it was a huge change for Amber. Imogen and Amber now shared a half-sister, and Amber had to vie for her mother’s attention as Lauren got to know her firstborn, having been robbed of her entire childhood by an illegal adoption. Paige is a completely different character to Amber, and immediately stuck up a bond with half-brother Bailey. You can’t really blame Amber for feeling that her nose had been put out of joint. Previously, as an only daughter, Amber had been spoilt (as fellow Neighbours fans have frequently remarked).

The arrival of hippyish free spirit Daniel Robinson, nephew of Paul, sparked a new chapter for Amber. We could imagine that she might be more suited to Daniel with his happy-go-lucky attitude, but Amber wrestled with those feelings for some time. How could she desert Josh, who had since had his swimming dreams crushed as the result of an accident – a dare that Mason Turner had challenged him to? Her loyalty and sense of commitment seemed to rule her head until Daniel set up a dark room and as they bonded over their love of photography, they couldn’t contain their love for one another any longer. Typical of a soap storyline, this was further complicated by the fact that Imogen had meanwhile fallen in love with Daniel herself. Awkward.

One of the most poignant scenes involving Amber, for me, was the hug between father and daughter after Amber’s cheating with Daniel was discovered. Matt said exactly what any daughter would want to hear at that moment: that he still loved her, despite his disappointment at her behaviour. Matt was not an overly-demonstrative man with his children; he often had awkward conversations, as if he was torn between tenderness and tough love. Here, he showed his unconditional love for his daughter and it was probably more of a valuable lesson to Amber than if he’d shouted at her. Amber had made her parents sad; she and Daniel had not come clean with Josh.

Kaftans and fringed bags

Amber changed when she started openly dating Daniel. Not only in attitudes, but in her dress sense, which was remarked upon by many viewers. She began wearing tops that resembled kaftans, carried fringed bags, and became more interested in eco issues. Nothing wrong with that if you’re being true to yourself, but Amber is quite an impressionable girl, and I remember thinking at the time that she was probably just going along with what Daniel believed in.

Amber becoming brainwashed by Daniel’s ex, Rain, had worrying similarities to Amber’s mother’s time under the influence of a cult. Long-time viewers remembered how Amber’s grandad, Lou Carpenter had to rescue his daughter, Lauren, and now it seemed history was about to repeat itself. Again, the all-knowing viewer cringed at Amber’s naïvety, as Rain hypnotised her, urging her to give up on education and become part of a new eco-village, which Rain wanted to set up in Erinsborough. That Daniel also failed for so long to see what his ex was doing was alarming. Daniel is older than Amber, and had already been duped and dumped by Rain before, so why had he been so willing to let her into their lives? I was very relieved when this storyline finally came to an end!

When Daniel fell out with his uncle, Paul Robinson, over his relationship with Amber, stormed out and took up residence in his car, the idea that Amber would be happy living in a car with her boyfriend was laughable. How long would she last without her hair straighteners and her hot bubble baths? Not long, as it turned out, after a frightening ordeal when the car was attacked by louts. Amber, in many ways, was in love with love. She continued to convince herself that she was ready for marriage and settling down, but I wanted to scream at her: What’s the rush? The rush was, of course, the family objections the pair faced to their union. Matt and Lauren felt Amber was too young, Paul believed that his nephew was just a dreamer who fell in and out of love at the drop of a hat. (You couldn’t help but wonder, however, how five-times-married Paul felt justified in having his say!) The rush towards marriage for Amber was also about the familial tensions between the Turners and Willis’s. She wanted to branch out on her own, and was searching for something that she would feel in control of. Her mother had been young when she’d married Matt, she’d reasoned. Which leads me to wonder: was Lauren wary because she had her own regrets, given her increasing closeness to first love Brad? Daniel wanted what his own parents, Scott and Charlene had created, but  he seemed to lack their practicality. They married young, but had already established their careers, whereas Daniel seemed to be drifting aimlessly.

Well – what a surprise!

Neighbours scriptwriters certainly get the most out of the purpose-built well set. This time, they found an especially creative use of the well – to trigger the cancellation of Daniel and Amber’s wedding. With Imogen barred from the ceremony after it was revealed that she was in love with Daniel, he wanted to do everything he could to convince Amber that Imogen’s love for him wasn’t reciprocated. Using his best romantic inclinations, (i.e. making a rash and ill-thought out decision) he determined to go in search of a pearl ring that a Robinson ancestor had thrown down the well when suffering from a broken heart. Even Imogen didn’t see this as an especially daft idea, given her desperation to prove to Amber that she and Daniel had her blessing in marriage. So, on the morning of the wedding (as you do) off went Daniel and Imogen down the well, expecting to quickly locate the lost ring, which had been lying there for donkeys’ years. Daniel thought that Amber would see the ring as a proof of his devotion. Of course, the ring would gleam in the dark, despite the years of being encrusted in mud. A quick polish on Daniel’s cheesecloth shirt and it would be as good as new.

Meanwhile, what was Amber to think? Her fiancé and former best friend had disappeared on the wedding day. I can’t think of any other conclusion that I’d have come to other than that they’d eloped. But this is where my sympathy for Amber starts to wane a little. Of course, it would be heartbreaking, and traumatic for her to believe she’d been jilted. But it probably wasn’t very sensible to allow Josh into her wedding suite at Lassiter’s, in order to ‘comfort’ her. Viewers were largely unaware at the time just how far the ‘comforting’ had gone. However, it didn’t come as a huge surprise when Amber, having since reunited with Daniel and reconciled with Imogen when she realised the truth of their vanishing act, revealed that she was pregnant. Oh dear, Amber. She’d just lost her father, and now she was faced with a huge dilemma of whether to reveal to Daniel that he might not be the father of her baby.

To Amber’s credit, the truth about the baby’s paternity emerged when guilt overcame her and she confessed to Daniel. You had to feel a little admiration for Daniel’s intent to stick by Amber, once the paternity test results were back. And yes, a lot of anger at Josh, whose smug smile made you want to slap him. But then again, Josh had been cheated on by these two in the first place. It got messier when the unborn baby was revealed to have a life-threatening condition, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) which would need surgery. Arguments between the Turner and Willis families continued. Amber was adamant that she would raise funds to have a pioneering – though risky – in-utero operation in America. This met with opposition from Josh’s parents. There was so much going on at the time, between them all, that it is hard to decide who had whose best interests at heart. Ultimately, and somewhat predictably, Amber ended up single, with Daniel finally accepting his romantic feelings towards Imogen. And Josh, overly keen to be involved in his baby’s life, became confused about his feelings for Amber, to the extent that he faked an online identity on a CHD support site on which Amber was chatting. Not such a good move, Josh. Already there was enough deceit to weave a million spider’s webs. Amber wasn’t impressed by this stunt.

We saw Amber go into premature labour during the Erinsborough school fire (well, you wouldn’t expect anything less dramatic, would you) and of course, once rescued, Doctor Karl was on hand to oversee the emergency caesarean. Baby Matilda came through her operation in what might be record time, with seemingly few complications, and suddenly we caught a glimpse of a robust-looking rosy-cheeked tot coming home to familial turmoil.

Quite a few of us had read that Jenna was intending to leave her Neighbours rôle for pastures new, so Amber’s departure from Erinsborough wasn’t surprising. Nor was it surprising to learn that she had secured a great job in Public Relations with the CDH Foundation which had supported her during her pregnancy. People in Erinsborough seem to get unmissable opportunities in the employment market with apparent ease, Amber being no exception! Conveniently, the job was in Brisbane, where gran Kathy and brother Bailey live. There was opposition from the Willis side of the family, but Josh had been struggling to bond with his daughter and despite initial attempts to persuade Amber he should move to Brisbane with her, he let go and, currently, we have no idea whether he will play any rôle in Matilda’s life in the future. Nothing seems to end neatly for the Turner or Willis families. So, mum and baby have gone, leaving Lauren with just one child out of four close to hand. I can only conclude that this is a good move for Amber. She will no doubt be a capable mother, but whilst some have argued that her actions are selfish, taking a grandchild and daughter away from so many of her family, it’s probably the only way she is going to make her own way in life. Who knows, maybe one day she and a grown Matilda will return and give some good advice to their feuding clan! Until then, so long Amber, and good luck with your next acting move, Jenna!

© Carol AnnWood
January 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Lauren In Limbo

Inside the mind of Lauren Turner at a difficult juncture

Yes, it’s a bit of a mess right now. You don’t need to tell me that. But I swear I didn’t mean for any of it to happen. Not like this, anyway. I’m not the heartless floozy that some people in Ramsay Street seem to think. But, if I’m totally honest, there was always going to be something between me and Brad. They say you don’t forget your first love, and I know that’s true now. When he and Terese and their kids moved in across the road, I tried to keep my memories and feelings at bay. I didn’t want to be unfaithful to Matt; he didn’t deserve that, at least, not then. He’d never let me down, and he supported me when I had to sell the equine business. He never once said I was a failure.

But seeing Brad again, well, it did change things. Something was unspoken between us. Of course, what he didn’t know then was that we’d had a baby together. When we discovered the truth about Paige, it changed things for ever. People keep saying I couldn’t have loved Matt. I did. But maybe not in the way I had loved Brad. Matt felt safe, he met me when I was in a bad place. I had lost my lover to another woman, and I’d lost my little girl. I thought she was dead, then, of course. I was beyond joy when I found out my daughter was still alive. Well, joy, and anger at Mum. I know she thought she was doing the right thing, but she robbed me of Paige’s childhood. And robbed Paige of the chance to know her real parents.

I should have told Matt that I’d had a baby before I met him, I know that. But I think I was still grieving, and I wanted to push the memories away and start again. Then, boom, Mason was on the way and, well, you know the rest. Matt was good to me, but I often thought about Brad, especially on our daughter’s birthday. When he walked into Harold’s that day, it really did feel like the years had melted away. Cliché, I know, but it’s true. After we knew about our daughter, it was obvious that we’d want to talk about it together. Terese didn’t understand that. Matt didn’t either, at first, but to be fair to him, he did come round eventually. I think he even forgave me for that stupid kiss when Brad and I were searching for Paige. I say think, because I’ll never know for sure if things would have been the same again. He had this stupid male pride about owning the house, then went working for Dimato. It just wasn’t the Matt I’d known. All because he wanted to be the big man.

I can’t even express how it felt to realise that my daughter had been working with me for weeks, and not telling anyone who she was. But when we discovered the truth, it was wonderful, the way that she fitted into the family, or should I say, families. Terese was always creating about it, though. She found it harder than Matt to accept Paige. She pulled a few underhand tricks, too, and she even tried to get Paige’s adopted mum to tempt her away. Oh yes, Terese may seem the wronged woman here, but she’s not above being devious.

I wish the accident hadn’t happened, of course I do. Matt was a wonderful father and until he got into trouble, he was a loving, caring husband. I still don’t know for sure whether he and Sharon Canning got further than a kiss that time Terese found them together. Matt and I, we’d had a terrible row, and he’d stormed out. He saved Brad’s life and sacrificed his own, so you can imagine how that makes me feel. I can’t say whether we would have stayed together, if he’d lived. Maybe we’d both have moved on, he might have found someone else to make him happy. Although not Sharon Canning, definitely not her. She just happened to be around and seized an opportunity.

I tried to stay away from Brad after Matt died, I really did. But I needed someone to talk to. Nights are the most lonely when you’re suddenly bereaved and I just wanted someone to put their arm around me and tell me everything would be okay. Brad was there for me. And Brad was unhappy in his marriage. To be honest, I think he’s been unhappy for years. He tried to do his best for Terese and the kids, but all she gives him is grief. She doesn’t understand his creativity like I do. She wanted him to build a career, and she’s always going on about standards.

I’ve got to let Brad work this one out for himself, I realise that. Terese is busy getting everyone in the street onside, and she didn’t lose any time in telling all the kids what Brad and I got up to. She did that for revenge, because if she had thought it through, we should have all told them together. They didn’t need to find out like that. No, Terese was falling apart before this happened. She’s paranoid, she spies on Brad and she probably hasn’t ever trusted him. Was he meant to put up with that for ever? Was she just going to carry on nagging and picking rows with him every chance she got? And blaming everything that was wrong in their marriage on me, and on poor Paige being around? Why shouldn’t Paige have a chance to spend time with both her birth parents after what she had stolen from her? I’m probably going to sound like a total bitch but Terese drove Brad over the edge and she has to share some of the blame for all this.

© Carol Ann Wood
October 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


From Boy To Man: RIP Josh Willis

It’s surprising to realise that Josh Willis, played by Harley Bonner, has only been in Ramsay Street for just shy of three three years. He’s been involved in so many key storylines, since the Willis clan arrived, that you’d expect to be recalling at least a decade’s worth of memories. During the first day of what was arguably the most dramatic week in the history of Neighbours, viewers sobbed as Josh passed away, when his injuries, caused by the Lassiter’s hotel boiler explosion, were pronounced too severe for him to even be taken to hospital. I can’t promise that I’ve included every single Josh story in chronological order in this trip down memory lane, but let’s have a look at some of his most significant moments.

Josh arrived in Erinsborough a boy, but definitely left as a man, and a brave, heroic one at that. Many viewers remarked this week that they weren’t keen on Pool Boy when they first saw him on screen. Singularly focused on his goal of becoming a medal-winning swimmer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he soon found himself the centre of attention from the doe-eyed Amber Turner. Amber was set on making him her boyfriend. Josh’s twin sister Imogen, always one for plain speaking, warned Amber that swimming would always come first for Josh. Ever since the Willis family had recognised his talent at an early age, their home lives had been organised around Josh and his training. Brad had even given up teaching to become his son’s full time coach. All the focus on his swimming had led to Josh being rather self-absorbed and oblivious to the needs and feelings of others. It was this Josh that we first encountered.

I found myself getting continually angry at schoolboy Josh, for treating Amber so casually once they had started dating. He was extremely thoughtless, and at times, conceited. But let’s remember that he was only seventeen and if everyone is telling you that you will become a champion swimmer, it’s easy to let the adulation go to your head. Josh’s mother, Terese, tended to spoil him, which was a bone of contention with Imogen, who often felt pushed out. And with his handsome, chiselled face and athletic body, it wasn’t surprising that girls were clamouring for Josh. I always believed that there was a softer, as yet undiscovered, side to him, but this wasn’t evident before he had to learn a very hard lesson. He took up a stupid dare from friend and foe Mason Turner – the two were often in conflict with one another – and Josh’s big ego just couldn’t prevent him from trying prove a point. He paid a heavy price for his stupidity, with an accident and a career-threatening injury. And he was already losing his appeal for Amber, who was falling under the spell of recent Ramsay Street arrival, happy hippy Daniel Robinson. Unlike Josh, who was dismissive of Amber’s interest in a photography career, Daniel encouraged it. The two tried to deny their feelings, but couldn’t keep away from one another and they began an affair. But when the full impact of Josh’s accident became apparent, Amber, feeling guilty, dithered, and didn’t end things with Josh. Although it didn’t stop her seeing Daniel on the sly, either.

We saw Josh become addicted to strong painkillers whilst in rehabilitation, so desperate was he to make a full recovery and regain his chances of making it to Glasgow for the games. And we saw him hurt and humiliated on discovering Amber in a clinch with Daniel in the photography darkroom. I did feel a bit sorry for him. He had genuinely loved Amber all along, but hadn’t treated her properly. Now he had been dealt a double blow. He was never going to swim competitively again, and Amber loved Daniel. After the initial impact of this, Josh seemed to be moving on with his life, and he consoled himself with an older woman – Naomi – which made for some popular, comic scenes. He and Naomi kept their passionate encounters a secret, and that was initially part of the attraction for the pair. Naomi pressed the stop button in the Lassiter’s lift, giving them time to enjoy a little between-floors action. However, they hadn’t bargained for Naomi’s mum, Sheila, waiting to greet her ‘poor little daughter’ after they were ‘rescued’ and mistaking Naomi’s disheveled look for being panic-stricken rather than just having been pleasured by a young man with a hot bod.

Then there was gnome-gate. Or, maybe that should be Noames-gate. Viewers will long-remember Naomi desperately pushing Josh’s head under the water in the hot tub as she attempted to have a mundane conversation with Sheila, who had turned up unexpectedly. (They never seem to learn not to take such risks in Ramsay Street!) Who can forget Josh’s dash for home when he was inevitably discovered, and the horrific look when he encountered his sister en-route, whilst wearing, well, nothing. Sheila’s gnome came to the rescue of Josh’s modesty, and this scene was reminiscent of the Henry Ramsay-style naked runs of early Erinsborough comedy. Given that they are a couple in real life, Harley and Ariel Kaplin (Imogen) must have found it a hilarious scene to film! Another favourite moment of mine was when Imogen’s bra had gone missing, in the midst of Bossy the dog’s underwear-stealing phase, and she asked her brother if he’d seen it. Josh, deadpan, declared that, yes, he had borrowed Imogen’s bra, leaving the viewers chuckling.

Josh’s alcohol intolerance, and the awful night when he floored Chris Pappas with a coward punch, were two issues that the writers clearly wanted to highlight. Both were handled very well. Despite the awfulness of the coward punch, I felt empathy for Josh. Naomi had ended their fling, and he was hurt and feeling sorry for himself. Amber was by now happy with Daniel. Josh knew he shouldn’t have drunk alcohol, his intolerance having already been discovered. But he was at an all-time low. No career, no girlfriend, totally directionless. He was immediately horrified when he realised it must have been him who had caused Chris’s life-changing injuries, not Chris’s boyfriend Nate who was a suspect, and so he turned himself in to the police. One bad decision when under the influence of drink, and Josh was looking at a potential jail term. He was so remorseful that it made me want to cry for him. His beautiful blue eyes, once indicative of an air of arrogance, conveyed genuine sadness. After Chris had pulled through, Josh began to try everything he could to make it up to him. Chris wasn’t ready to forget, initially rejecting Josh’s help. Eventually, the pair reached a level of understanding and closure before Chris departed for New York, but the friendship was never the same again.

Relieved to have avoided a jail sentence, Josh’s personality shifted, as he accepted his community payback order. He became a better son, a better brother, and a better friend, throughout the dramas he encountered, including the breakup of his parent’s marriage. However, despite having accepted that Amber was marrying Daniel, he felt compelled to comfort her, on her wedding day, in the Lassiter’s wedding suite, when she believed she’d been jilted. Thus, another setback for his character: Viewers didn’t much enjoy discovering that the supposedly reformed Josh’s ‘comforting’ meant the pair had slept together. Of course, this being soap-land, Amber and Daniel reunited once she discovered that he hadn’t run off with best friend Imogen after all. They had simply been trapped down that notorious well. Neither did viewers much care for the look on Josh’s face when paternity tests revealed Amber’s baby to have been conceived during Josh’s ‘comforting’ of her. Josh looked smug, but on reflection, can you blame him? Of course, he and Amber had behaved inappropriately, and it wasn’t nice to think that he had taken advantage of her distraught state of mind. But beneath this, we could sense that Josh was still in love with his ex. And he was only human.

The lead-up to the birth of the baby was fraught with worry. We learned that the unborn child had CDH, a life-threatening condition. The Turner and Willis clans, already in the throes of conflict, were torn further apart by differing opinions on the best options for treatment. The infant could have a pioneering operation, in vitro, but performed in America, at huge expense. Josh was keen to support Amber’s choice to go ahead, desperately trying to find ways of raising funds. Again, he risked jail, as he got involved in selling illegal peptides. Silly boy, we shouted at the TV. Thankfully he avoided prosecution, and although he didn’t like Imogen’s interference at the time, or the fact that Amber blew the whistle on his whole mess, he would be thankful for it afterwards.

Daniel, unlike Josh, didn’t want Amber going to America. Eventually, relations became so strained that he could take no more and he and Amber ended their relationship. Cue Josh getting the wrong idea, believing he could win Amber back. Again, we became frustrated with Josh when he began posting under the guise of being another mum, on the CDH support-group site which Amber had joined. She had banned him from accompanying her to antenatal classes but Josh wanted to find a way to be involved in the baby’s welfare. We wanted to stop him making such a fool of himself; it was obvious that once Amber found out, she wasn’t even going to think about getting back together with him.

It seemed that whenever Josh was back on the road towards mature, responsible behaviour, something else came along to stop him getting over the finishing line to adulthood. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with working as an exotic dancer to provide for your unborn child, but it was never going to be his forté. Aaron Brennan invested endless time in training Josh, so they could become a double act, only to be left high and dry by another of Josh’s muddles. Josh was feeling low again, upset that Amber wasn’t involving him enough in her pregnancy. His old fling, Naomi, was also low, having become engaged to Paul Robinson, more by accident than design. An evening together, with Naomi getting very drunk, ended in being a night of passion. As soon as Paul Robinson found out, you knew revenge would be round the corner. Despite Paul’s apparent acceptance of Josh’s apology, planted peptides in Josh’s rucksack, and the subsequent complex battle to prove his innocence, meant that his dance days were over. Although, being propositioned to be a male escort by lonely, middle-aged Sue Parker ought to have been enough to put him off pursuing that career!

But we warmed to Josh again with his latter storylines. Seeing him so keen to be a good dad but suffering from male postnatal depression/anxiety was sad to watch. Being a parent at any age is huge commitment, but a situation like Josh and Amber’s was especially frightening, given what they and the baby had been through. Amber almost gave birth, prematurely, in a burning building, but thankfully arrived at hospital in time for a C-section. The baby came through the vital operation successfully and Josh became involved in his daughter’s care, only to be rather cruelly admonished by Amber for falling asleep and rolling dangerously onto young Matilda. Poor Josh, we thought, he was trying to help by letting Amber get some sleep, and whilst falling asleep that way could have had tragic consequences, Amber went way over the top in her criticism of him. Josh became convinced that he wouldn’t be a good dad, and it took a lot of persuasion for him to accept that he just needed time to adjust to fatherhood.

Josh’s relationship with his pop, Doug, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, has been emotional to watch. Josh was tender, caring, and sensitive about his grandfather’s failing memory. He showed a great deal of maturity in making sure Doug didn’t feel stupid or patronised whenever he got confused. Although covering up for Pop’s car accident probably wasn’t the best idea he’s ever had, given that he was yet again risking a jail term for claiming responsibility! We were seeing the emergence of selfless Josh, who put others first. This he did right to the end.

Daniel Robinson, who has apparently morphed into a mini version of his uncle Paul, ruthless and career-driven, was pretty nasty to Josh shortly before the Lassiter’s explosion which ended Josh’s life. Whereas the younger Josh might have held a grudge, when he learnt, as he was laying under the fallen pillar, that Daniel could be saved if the pillar was lifted, he told Doctor Karl Kennedy that the rescuers should go ahead lift it. Daniel was by now the on-off boyfriend of Josh’s twin Imogen, and Josh knew his sister was in love. So, in a heartbreaking episode, we saw Josh saying goodby to his family who were told that he could not possibly survive. We saw a video call to Amber and Matilda, and Josh telling Amber that his daughter needed to know she was his last thought. The only one missing from this sad posse was poor Piper. Watching Brad breaking the news to Piper that she’d lost her big brother was heart-wrenching. Piper will no doubt be riddled with guilt that she was at a counselling session and so hadn’t responded to messages in time. That’s a pretty hard thing for a sixteen-year-old to deal with.

I will miss Josh more than I could ever have envisaged when he first strode in to Erinsborough as a cocky schoolboy. There were times when I wanted to slap him for his attitude and behaviour, as he went from swimmer to angry young man. But, bit by bit, he turned into one of the finest young men ever to grace Ramsay Street. I wish that his character had not met such a terrible end. I wanted to see him go to Perth and to hear news of him, Amber and Matilda, perhaps even that they became a proper family in the end. Now, there is a baby who will never know her daddy, who was born to a mother mourning the untimely loss of her own father. Tragedy repeating itself.

Harley, your pedigree inherited from your lovely mum Carla has stood you in good stead and you’ve established an acting career in your own right. It’s evident that she’s extremely proud of you, and rightly so. Good luck in your next venture, and thanks for bringing us Pool Boy, we’re all going to miss him. Josh may not have won a medal, but in our eyes, he’s Neighbours gold.

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


An open Letter From Nate Kinski

A few words from a man of few words.

What if Nate Kinski, played superbly by Meyne Wyatt since 2014, put his thoughts into an open letter, before slipping quietly away in one of the infamous yellow Erinsborough taxis? He’s never been the type to wear his heart on his sleeve but if we – and Ramsay Street residents – were to read his innermost thoughts, they might go something like this.

“Alright, so by the time you guys get to read this, I’ll be on my way to Darwin. I know I didn’t get the chance to say a proper goodbye. But it all happened so fast. I had to make a snap decision when I got the go-ahead for re-enlisting, and there was no time to waste. And you know me. Don’t like a fuss.

“I know I haven’t been the easiest person to get along with since I rocked up in Erinsborough. Karl and Susan, I reckon you thought I was a bit odd. I wasn’t in a good headspace back then. If you’d seen what I’d seen, been where I’d been, believe me, you’d have known why. And you’d have known why I didn’t talk about it much. Death was a daily thing. Civilians and soldiers being blown up. You lose one army mate, then another, then another. That’s why I was here, a mate’s funeral. Anyway. That was then.

“I didn’t know you Kennedy guys before I came to stay. What can I say about you, Susan? You’re the best. You even forgave me for nearly burying you alive. That’s PTSD for you. You think you’re done with it, then it comes back to bite you. But Susan, you really helped. I should’ve thanked you more, but I’m not one to be demonstrative. Well, not unless it involves a remote control car or a game of cricket. Then you’ll see me get emotional alright! Yes, I owe a lot to you both. And Karl, you’re alright, apart from the music. And the MAMIL gear you wear on the bike. I liked living with you, except for that blue box stuff. I’m all for a bit of sauce if it’s a spunky guy in a high vis vest and not much else, but when you catch your aunt by marriage and the local doctor dressed as … Wait, enough. Let’s not go there.

“Yup, I’ve made some good mates in Erinsborough. Had a couple of big romances too. Shame they didn’t work out. Chris, he was just desperate to be a dad. I wasn’t. I’ve seen the horrible things that can happen to kids, I couldn’t cope with having one of my own and worrying about them all the time. And Aaron, well, I hope you know I love you, dude. But you choose family over me. And I suppose I get that. You’ve got two brothers in Erinsborough. You reckon you’ve got a career going. Though, come on, mate, I don’t see being a PA to a girl of sixteen and a crim like Paul Robinson as a career. You need to find your own path, just like I have. One day you will.

“I needed to come to Ramsay Street, to work out what I wanted out of life. And now I know. Aaron, we had our good times. We got off to a rocky start, didn’t we. There was the Boys In A Box thing. Not one of Naomi’s best ideas. I felt like a total jerk, but I can laugh about it now. Then there was the time when I tried to make cocktails to impress you. I made a right pig’s ear of it and you didn’t even like cocktails, as it turned out. But we got on the beers and had a good night, once we’d got rid of the olds. Karl just doesn’t pick up on signals when he gets chatting about The Right Prescription.

“Aaron, I know you don’t totally get why I had to go away last time. Well, there was one reason but that’s between us. And by the time I came back, you’d moved on. You didn’t know where you stood with me, and you had every right to have fun. But now I’ve seen that guy, Tom, the one you thought was dead in the explosion, I know he’s a phoney. Please stay away from him, he’s trouble. I’ll miss you lot, Aaron. I’ll miss your cute smile, your crazy ideas, hell, I’ll even miss you calling me ‘Eyebrows’. And not many people could get away with that!

Sheila, I’ll even miss you. You’re a bossy old coot, but you’ve got a good heart. You didn’t like it when I was your boss for a while, though. You thought you knew better than me how to run a bar. I’ll let you into a secret, Sheila. You do. But I never told you that, cos I didn’t want you getting big headed. You always stuck up for the gay customers, and I appreciate that. You even became a gay icon. But Sheila, what you know about being gay you can write on a beer mat. You stereotype us, which is a bit daft when you remember that I’m an army guy. You won’t catch me acting camp or wearing bright clothes. You’ve taken on a lot looking after that granddaughter of yours. I know you miss Kyle and it fills a gap. Kyle’s another person I liked. We had some laughs. I feel sorry for Amy being dumped like that, but he must have still been in love with Georgia, all along. Sheila, you should think about yourself a bit. You’ve got to take care of your ticker. Rest up and don’t be a martyr.

“Tyler, me and you have been great mates. We have that man bonding thing, if that’s what you call it. I guess you needed a buddy, and before Aaron arrived, you only had Mark. Mark, you’re a good guy but you can be a bit stuffy. You should chill more, instead of fussing about cleaning and putting the spice jars in a neat line. Surely a cop wants to relax off duty. But then again, you’d lost your girl, and you haven’t exactly had much luck in love since, have you.You need to find the right woman and have a few kids, then you’d stop worrying about mess.

“It didn’t matter that I was running from my army past, I still saw a lot of loss and destruction in Erinsborough. A tornado, a car accident, a school fire, and now an explosion. They were the worst ones. Jeez, I’m gonna tell everyone I meet, if you want a quiet life, don’t go to Erinsborough. I feel a bit bad leaving right now, what with people going through such a tough time. Poor Sonya, you’ve only just dealt with Toad being paralysed and getting mobile again, then Steph rocked up. No offence, Steph, but you do have baggage. And now this Walter. I know Toad will look after you, Sonya, but just watch yourself, don’t get taken for a ride again.

“I don’t suppose Paul will get to read this. I’d hedge a bet that he’ll be behind bars by the time I’ve got my combis back on. Can’t say I have much sympathy there. You all know what a bad time me and Aaron had over trying to find out what he was up to before he went bankrupt. Maybe his past has caught up with him at last. I can’t see who else could have caused that explosion, to be honest. Amy, I’m sorry, I know it’s harsh, but I think you’re going to have to get used to jail visits. And Steph, you believe he’s innocent, but you’ve got to think about yourself now, and getting your boy back for good.

“As for you Willis folks, I cant tell you how sorry I am for what you’re going through. You’d dealt with enough already, but losing Josh and Doug, that’s just awful. I’m glad that Chris and Josh made their peace after Josh coward punched him when he was out of his tree on grog. Josh was a decent guy. Got himself in a few sticky situations but, hey, we all make bad decisions. I wish I’d got to say goodbye to him. Should be used to that, shouldn’t I, not getting to say goodbye. This is it, then. I’ve learnt a lot from Ramsay Street and I won’t lose touch, what with Karl and Susan living there. The army was calling me. And maybe that’s just it. I left the army, but it never really left me. It’s a gamble. But I know it’s the right thing to do. And I owe you folk of Ramsay Street for helping me get my head straight.

“So long. And for God’s sake, no more disasters. Stay safe.”


I know I’m not the only viewer who will really miss Nate. He’s been a very different character to any others I remember. I would love to think that he might pop back in the future, with his comical expressions, his monosyllabic responses and his droll sense of humour. Thank you, Meyne, for dealing with some very heavy storylines in such a sensitive way. Good luck in whatever you do next. Don’t forget about Nate, though, because the viewers definitely won’t.

S’long, ‘Eyebrows’.

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Brad’s Eye View

Brad Willis muses upon his life and relationships

Always my fault, apparently. Brad Willis, father of five, a failure at relationships, a failure in my career. Well, that’s the way that Terese has written the story anyway. I admit, I haven’t always done things the right way. I haven’t always done the right things, even. But I’m not a totally bad person. Terese would have you believe that I’m a philanderer, but seriously? I’ve been faithful to her up until now, for twenty years. It was probably a mistake to come back to Erinsborough in one sense. That was down to Terese being offered the manager’s job at Lassiters of course. But how can I regret coming back when it’s led to knowing about Paige? I can’t wish that had never happened.

Lauren and me, we go back a long way. I loved her, but I was a bit mixed up at the time.I felt torn between Lauren and Beth. I probably shouldn’t have married Beth, as we weren’t really suited. We found that out pretty early in our marriage. That’s where Terese came in. I loved her enthusiasm and the way that she’d come from a pretty poor background and worked her way up. She was strong, feisty and ambitious. Before we knew it, the twins were on the way, and I had to think about what I wanted to do to earn money for my family, plus I’d already got Ned to provide for. That was when I fell into teaching. It was steady, as Terese often said. I think she saw me being a school head one day, rather than just your average PE teacher. And now what am I? A whiteboard wiper!

When we realised Josh was so talented at swimming, we wanted to put our hearts into helping him every step of the way. He was so keen, and so focused. A bit like his mum, in that respect. Terese was enjoying her rôle at Lassiters and it seemed sensible for me to give up my job and coach Josh full time. That’s what was happening when we came back to Ramsay Street. The place had changed a bit, but there was Lauren, with her blonde hair and her familiar smile, and it was like stepping back in time. I knew Terese felt awkward about mine and Lauren’s past, and so did Matt. I admit when I first met Matt, I was surprised that Lauren had married someone like him. He saw everything in black and white; everything was right or wrong. Which is why he was a cop, I suppose.

You could see that Lauren had always been a loving mum and that she’d been quite content, but from the beginning, I felt that there was something she wanted to say to me, something she wasn’t quite telling me. We kept having those ‘moments’ when she was about to open up but then a customer would come into the Harold’s or Terese would appear from behind a tree, as if she was waiting for me to slip up. When the bombshell hit, that I was the father of Lauren’s first child, and that the baby had been adopted out, well, it was such a shock. Why Lauren never told me about the baby I don’t know. Things might have turned out differently. But I’m not saying I regret having Ned, or the twins and Piper, not at all.

Terese was weird about us searching for Paige, and Matt wasn’t happy either. But we needed to do this. Our daughter had been stolen from us, and underhandedly at that. Lauren would never have willingly given up her baby, no matter if I was around or not. She thought at one time that she couldn’t have children. That was partly my fault too, but let’s not go there. Matt came to accept things because he loved Lauren. It was hard on everyone but I tried to be there for Terese and take her feelings on board too. Lauren and I were about to give up searching for Paige, when that kiss happened. I felt guilty and so did she, but it was just an emotional moment and we got carried away.

When the truth about the kiss came out, all hell broke loose. Terese never trusted me again after that. I wondered if she ever had done, the way she reacted. Matt nearly lost his temper, but to be fair to him, he did calm down eventually. If they hadn’t had all that financial mess, he’d never have gone off to Sharon Canning’s room. And then if I hadn’t gone after him to have it out, we’d never have been in the road having an argument, would we. I owe the guy my life. Look after Lauren, he said, as he lay there. Yea, I know, he didn’t mean like that, but then again, in his heart of hearts, Matt knew that Lauren had always loved me and she’d never quite let go. So maybe he did mean it like that.

Bonding with Paige has been such a wonderful thing for me and Lauren. Who could deny us that chance? Paige is artistic like her mum, and she encouraged Lauren to start drawing again. And that sketch of me, I’d no idea that Lauren had kept it all those years.  Being creative is something Lauren and I always had in common. Following our dreams, not just being career-minded. That’s something Terese could never understand. She either just mocked me, or wanted to take over everything I was into. I feel like my dreams have been crushed slowly over the years. She was always reminding me of how much she’d achieved and pointing out how much I hadn’t.

She’s blaming her drinking on me. She says I wouldn’t listen when she wanted to chat about our marriage. I did nothing but listen, but all she ever did was shout at me. And she did even more of that once she started knocking back wine as soon as she got home from work. She says I didn’t give her enough support over Ezra, but she wouldn’t talk about it so how could I? She says I didn’t understand how devastated she was over Nick’s behaviour, but she just refused to see what he was really like, for years. Every time he spoke to me, it was to put me down, and she never backed me up. Not once. Well I don’t mind saying I’m glad he got put away. I’m sorry for what he did to Paul, even though Paul’s not my favourite person. He’s interfered in our marriage more than once, and that’s hypocritical, given that he’s been married five times already.

Well, I’ve got to work out what’s for the best now, I guess. I will always care about Terese, but she has made herself unlovable lately. I’m starting to find out what Lauren’s really thinking. She’s already said she had feelings for me from day one, rekindled feelings. What do I feel? I suppose I let my feelings get rekindled too. We were pretty young when we were first together. Bad timing, Lauren always says, that’s what we’ve had. I think if we’re meant to be together, it will happen at some point. She wants me to move in with her. I know it’s a bit soon but we’ve already crossed the line and I’m not sure there’s a way back now. And I’m not sure either of us want a way back. Maybe the timing could finally be right.

© Carol Ann Wood
October 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Pappa Was A Rolling Stone

Why being a child of Brad Willis isn’t plain surfing

Brad Willis, played by Kip Gamblin since 2013, has never had an easy relationship with his children. When the family first arrived in the street, we saw only two of his offspring, twins Josh and Imogen. Younger daughter Piper was apparently ‘on a school exchange programme in Canada.’ (A convenient ruse when the writers want to introduce a new family member at a later date.) But long-time viewers also knew of an older son, Ned, whom Brad had fathered with his first wife, Beth. That marriage ended when Brad had an affair with Terese, who he subsequently married. Before his marriage to Beth, Brad had had a brief affair with Lauren Carpenter. Are you keeping up? We then learnt about, and were introduced to, the child of that union, Paige. Brad knew nothing of Paige’s existence until she was twenty, whilst Lauren believed that neonatal death had snatched her daughter away. The revelation of Paige’s existence, together with the back-story of how Lauren’s mother secretly, and illegally, handed Paige over for adoption, brought about one of the most emotionally gripping and tense familial storylines in recent years. And the fallout continues.

In the aftermath of the recent Lassiter’s explosion, Brad has to be afforded some empathy. After all, he and estranged wife Terese have lost their beloved Josh, whilst Brad has also lost his father. But it’s clear that Brad never really found it easy to relate emotionally to his children, and that some of his past decisions would come up and bite him on the bum at a later date. We could understand that he was immensely proud of Josh and his potential to be a champion swimmer. Josh was committed to his goal but having his father as coach led to conflict and misunderstandings between the two. And Imogen felt neglected. She expressed several times during her time in Erinsborough, that whatever she achieved, it seemed to pass her father by, so hell-bent was he on getting Josh to the Commonwealth Games. That was never to be achieved, of course, after Josh’s accident which rendered his swimming career over. Brad arguably should have given his distraught son more support, but by the time Paige was on the scene, his attention was turned to this new daughter and by association, to Lauren. Brad doesn’t often get his priorities right!

Clash of the half-sisters

With Paige’s arrival, Imogen once again felt pushed out; the half-sisters clashing repeatedly, whilst eventually settling into a more amicable relationship. Then, a year ago, younger sibling, Piper, came home. Independent and strong-minded like Imogen, Piper had been used to making decisions for herself during her remarkably long stay in Canada. But it didn’t mean that she wasn’t vulnerable. Still only sixteen, she had arrived back to one big mess, her father about to leave the marital home to live with Lauren. She was understandably upset, and carrying a burden of her own, which we later discovered was a love affair in Canada with Brodie, a guy her father had coached alongside Josh, until Brodie had implicated Josh in taking illegal steroids. When Brodie came back on the scene and the fact of his and Piper’s meet-ups in Canada was discovered, Piper needed her father’s understanding and guidance. Brad, however, seemed unsure of how to handle the situation. Again, he seemed to have his mind elsewhere. It isn’t that he doesn’t love his children, but he tends to fail to notice when each one, in turn, is having an emotional crisis.

During Josh’s tragic death scene, we saw Brad and number two son say their sad goodbyes to one another. Brad surely must have realised at that point that he needed to shape up to being a more consistent father in the here and now. Cue the arrival of oldest son, Ned. Whilst Ned believed his dad had taken little interest in him when he was growing up, viewers knew that his mother, Beth, had deliberately prevented Brad from seeing Ned. But you have to question just how hard Brad had tried to fight for access. It is typical of Brad to attempt to avoid conflict at any cost. This mess was largely of his making, and running away from the problem caused greater heartache. In Ned, we saw an angry young man, resentful that his father had, in his eyes, abandoned him and his mother, and started a new family without so much as a second thought. Not only that, this was his first meeting with half-sister, Paige, slightly older than him, with her feet now firmly under the family table. Ned felt like an outsider, felt let down by Brad, and wanted to let his father know it.

The angry young Ned

It’s fair to say that Brad wasn’t in the best emotional state when Ned, played by the super-sexy Ben Hall, arrived. But again, instead of making any attempt to talk frankly with Ned, Brad flounced around apparently not knowing what to do or say, serving only to cement Ned’s view of his father as irredeemably selfish. Quite why Brad didn’t try to put the record straight about Beth’s blocking his access to Ned, goodness knows. Ned grew angrier and acted out, sabotaging his father’s Citizen Of The Year award ceremony by replacing the selected video with CCTV footage of Brad and Lauren kissing. Ned, you could argue, had reason to feel resentful towards everyone. To his half-siblings, because they’d had their father in their lives whereas he hadn’t, to Terese, for stealing Brad away from him and his mother, and to Lauren, for causing the family further pain. He acted-out his resentment, even trashing Josh’s grave because, for reasons best known to Brad and Terese, Josh’s headstone commemorated him as sibling of Imogen, Paige and Piper – with no mention of Ned. Viewers could readily understand Ned’s anger.

Again, instead of noticing Ned’s pain, Brad’s mind was elsewhere, in the quest to get justice for Josh’s death. And Ned’s attention turned to Lauren. Neglected by the amount of time Brad was spending comforting Terese, Lauren’s surrogate step-motherly kindness towards Ned started to confuse him. He saw it as something more. Not that Lauren wasn’t partially complicit in Ned’s obvious flirting. Ned is without doubt an extremely attractive young man. Rippling muscles, smouldering eyes, sexy smile, slightly mysterious. He has sex appeal writ large. And Lauren was definitely flattered by his attention. Why else would she manage to find so much time outside of running a business to sit by the pool sketching, all of a sudden? It might be that Ned reminded her of a younger Brad. (Although he reminds this viewer of what a younger Matt, Lauren’s late husband, might have looked like.) Ned had started to get to Lauren and he knew it. Did he really think that his father and Terese had hooked up again in secret? He claims he did, but was it just an excuse to win Lauren’s attention, or even worse, get revenge against Brad?

I like to think that Ned is basically a good guy, even though we were told he’d been in trouble before, belonging to a notorious criminal gang, and even being an accomplice in a robbery at his grandparents house. He seems to be genuinely remorseful for this act, though. Hence, Doug’s ploy, with Josh’s help, in bringing him to Erinsborough before just before the explosion. Doug was desperate to see Ned and Brad reconcile. Ned’s proven to be a popular character, not least because of his looks, but also because he’s complex and interesting. I have come to the conclusion that he genuinely believed his dad was neglecting Lauren, from whom he was receiving mixed messages. That slightly-too-long pause before she turned away after he’d ‘accidentally’ dropped his towel, causing a lot of viewers hearts to beat very fast! The way that she didn’t exactly pull away immediately when he went in for the kiss, showed us that Lauren was tempted alright. Thankfully for all concerned, she came to her senses just in time, although some viewers were rather relishing the scenario, one which, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been tackled before in Neighbours.

Clan Willis: torn apart again

The revelation of the illicit kiss, which, to give him his due, Ned took full responsibility for, has caused further ructions in the already-torn apart and tortured Willis clan. But even Brad has realised that he can’t put all the blame on his son for this latest crisis. He might need to do a lot of soul-searching now that Ned has gone back to Sydney, having been totally honest and explaining that he does still have feelings for Lauren which he needs to get over. If Brad had perhaps been more honest in the past himself, then he might have had a better relationship with all of his five children. He recognises that he can’t condemn Ned too much for his actions, because it would be hypocritical. And having lost one of his children, he has to face up to his own shortcomings and ensure that he scores higher on the parental scale from now on.

Neighbours fans have been very taken with Ned, so are hoping desperately that Ben is invited to return. We don’t mind if Ned causes more friction in the family, or if he takes up with a new love interest, just as long as he returns. And after all, Brad needs Ned just as much as Ned needs Brad. Currently, Brad is at risk of being as neglectful a father as Paul Robinson, and perhaps Ned is the one to turn that around. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Ned’s stay on Ramsay Street, and surely there is plenty of scope for his character to be developed further. Thank you for your acting, Ben, and we hope this is just ‘see you soon’, not ‘goodbye.’ Keep your mobile on loud, for when the call comes!

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.