Bye Bye Bailey

Considering he’s only been in Ramsey Street for just over two years, Bailey Turner, played by Calen McKenzie, has had some pretty interesting story lines. From almost the minute he arrived with parents Lauren and Matt and sister Amber, we had a sense that being a geeky and studious schoolboy was not the sum total of his personality. We learned quite soon that he had been sucked into older brother Mason’s criminal activities and, when you’re the son of a policeman, that’s inevitably going to cause problems!

With his floppy fringe, Bailey sometimes reminded me of a young Brian Cox, astronomer and former pop star. Which is interesting, given the teen’s interest in the stars. Physically, we’ve seen Bailey grow from a lad with a voice in that awkward stage between having just broken but not quite of adult depth, to a more mature-sounding young man. But, emotionally, he’s had a lot to deal with. From failed romances to covering up yet more of Mason’s criminal involvement, witnessing the emotional conflicts of his parents, the discovery that he was not baby number three for his mother, but in fact, the forth child, to a very dangerous liaison with Gem Reeves (Kathryn Beck) a young, attractive teacher at his school.

Forbidden Love

Wow, pretty heavy, then! It’s not the first time Neighbours have tackled the illicit love storyline between pupil and teacher. Libby Kennedy and later, Kate Ramsay, both had dalliances of some sort with a schoolboy. I imagine that this scenario is one that the writers will have thought carefully about in each instance, given the time of day the show is aired in Australia, and the limits on what they’re allowed to do with the narrative. Bailey’s crush on Gem was hard for any fans of his to watch, because we knew, of course, what Bailey had not realised: Gem was manipulative and, as it turned out, mentally unstable, and was using Bailey, first persuading him to cover up her rigging of the school captaincy votes, and taking advantage of his IT skills so she could ruin cousin Georgia’s engagement party. Gem also convinced Bailey that she had withdrawn his application for the trip to China because she couldn’t bear to be apart from him, and poor Bailey fell for it. Oh, Bailes!

Shy Boy

From my perspective, Bailey’s apparent awkwardness around girls was always rather endearing. Maybe I likened him to his father. Matt revealed his own moments of awkwardness, such as the time he had to arrest his wife and stepdaughter for their topless protest outside Lassiters. It is therefore easy to imagine Matt having been awkward around girls at Bailey’s age, too. Hence, I might have surmised that Bailey was a ‘chip off the old block’ in that respect. Whilst Bailey undoubtedly had a cute look which would appeal to girls, his friend, and sometimes ‘frenemy’, Callum, always had the greater gift of the gab. Callum styled himself as the funny one of the duo. First, there was the Josie triangle, with Bailey losing out to Calum for her affections, and then Rani Kapoor. Although Rani started seeing Callum, ultimately, it was Bailey who won her heart, at least for a while. But not without much drama, like the time Bailey nearly died as the result of a fight between him and Callum when he fell into the pool! You felt for Callum when Rani decided she wanted Bailey, of course, but on another level, you wanted Bailey to win out, for once. That, too, was short lived when Rani and her father left for India after the death of Rani’s mother. Bailey had lost again.

Misunderstood

I think Bailey always felt overshadowed by his older siblings, and different from his peers, because of his love of school subjects and hobbies they considered geeky. It was nice that, when Paige had been accepted into the family – albeit grudgingly at first by some members – Bailey seemed to have found an ally in his new half-sibling. They bonded because they found they had quite a bit in common, not something which was immediately apparent. Paige being the eldest, and Bailey the youngest, meant that they had more of an opportunity to become close without the rivalry and jostling for position that often occurs in families where several children are close together in age. And of course, he hadn’t grown up with Paige. Paige was starting to persuade Bailey to be comfortable with himself and his interests. She was an outsider too, and it’s a shame we won’t see more of the pair having frank conversations.

Initially, when Alice appeared on the scene, I wasn’t entirely sure about Bailey’s relationship with her. I would have preferred him to grow more assertive. Alice seemed so confident and even a little mean, and for a while he seemed to be under her control. Again I found myself feeling embarrassed on his behalf when she conned him into having a special photo shoot done to boost his Space Camp application. Maybe, though, this showed us that she wasn’t as confident as she would have us believe, and that she genuinely saw Bailey as strong competition for the place. As Alice revealed her more vulnerable, softer side, I did grow to like her, and although I didn’t want to see Bailey leave at that point, I was disappointed that Alice was successful in getting accepted for Space Camp. I would like to have seen if their relationship could develop. Additionally, I loved the character of Alice’s grandma, whom I thought might have made an interesting regular cast member. I could see her and Sheila in scenes together, for example. As I write, we have seen Alice back for a visit, and she and Bailey briefly reunited, but sadly, it was messy, in light of Bailey being in a state of shock and grief after Matt’s death.

Angry Young Man

Bailey’s emotional turmoil after losing his father was beautifully acted by Calen. It must have been emotionally exhausting to do those scenes: Tearful, angry, drunk, and physically violent. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that he had been to blame for his dad’s downhill slide before he was knocked down and killed. After all, it was Bailey who befriended a Russian girl online, who turned out to be a fraudster. It was Bailey who had used Paige’s laptop without permission, leading to the sibling’s bank accounts details being accessed and the money from the house sale to their parents being stolen. And Bailey’s guilt deepened further when Matt took the second job to help meet the mortgage repayments. Bailey saw his father start drinking, unaware that he had also accepted a backhander from Dodgy Dimato and was struggling to come to terms with his actions. We had previously witnessed Bailey develop a drink problem himself. Initially because he was trying to deal with the bullying inflicted by Jayden Warley, son of the bossy, often bitchy, Sue Parker, and then, out of guilt for the problems he had caused his family. Now his dad was drinking too, and things were definitely not rosy between his parents. For a sensitive sixteen-year-old like Bailey, that’s a lot of issues to deal with. All the guilt and self-hatred Bailey was  feeling came tumbling out after Matt died, and spiralled out of control. Should Lauren have delayed the decision to tell her children about the real reason their dad had been granted six months long-service leave? Was that what tipped Bailey totally over the edge? Lauren was still in shock when she made the decision, so with hindsight, she might wish she had kept quiet, at least for a while longer, and maybe Bailey would have been strong enough to deal with it.

As with any young character, there are times when some viewers might have wished that Bailey would grow up/get over it/stop acting like a spoilt brat. Well yes, he did act like a spoilt brat at times. But this rings true for those of us who have brought up teenagers – it’s how teenagers often behave! Let’s face it, it’s darn hard being young sometimes, and as I said, Bailey had quite a lot to cope with! With regards Bailey’s less traumatic scenes, I think one of my favourites was when he set off the fire alarm to spare his dad’s blushes after he’d agreed to pose nude for Lauren’s art class. And of course, to spare his own blushes. I enjoyed this not just because I was a huge fan of Matt, but because it exemplified that feeling of having to deal with ‘embarrassing dad syndrome’. You’re sixteen and your dad is about to do what in front of the neighbours? I can’t even begin to imagine what my own children would have said if my husband had been about to bare all to the people of our street!

Regrets, he’s had a few

I wouldn’t say I have ‘enjoyed’ the angry and grieving Bailey of late, because it really has been painful to watch, although it was probably believable that he should react this way, given his involvement in the loss of the money that led to his dad’s downfall. We need to remember, too, that Matt had covered for Bailey back in Mount Isa on discovery of the Turner brothers’ involvement in a robbery. That has to be a big risk for a police officer to take, and Bailey would have reflected on his dad’s loyalty, making him feel even more remorseful about his own online carelessness. Apart from ringing true, this story has shown another side to Bailey’s character and one which many fans of the show in my Facebook chat group have said that they appreciated in recent weeks.The saddest scene of all was when he spoke at his dad’s funeral. We knew that he was scared of public speaking, so the script writers were spot on when they showed Bailey plucking up the courage to say a few heartbreaking words. Little wonder, then, that he has since been devastated by the knowledge that his dad wasn’t as honest and straightforward as everyone believed. I am only glad that Bailey hasn’t discovered Matt’s liaison with Sharon Canning. He has been emotionally pummelled enough without learning about that.

So, Bailey has gone off to stay with his grandmother, Kathy. The same grandmother who gave away her daughter’s first baby without her knowledge, but who presumably feels a huge burden of guilt herself for the emotional turmoil that the discovery has caused her family. Maybe she feels that she owes it to Lauren to nurture Bailey and prevent him from further criminal actives.After all, he’s already stolen a car, impersonated a police officer and is on the path to alcohol addiction, so it’s probably is for the best that he left Erinsborough. Lauren is struggling to hold everything together, what with Amber’s pregnancy coming so soon after the wedding that never was, and Matt’s death. She currently seems to be at her wits end and doesn’t know how to deal with Bailey. It’s a shame, I feel, that Bailey recently chose to lash out at his half-sister, accusing Paige of using Matt’s death to get closer to Lauren. But you can see that Paige understands his reasoning and doesn’t hold a grudge towards him. At least they parted on better terms.

Leaving like flies?

So we wave farewell to yet another Turner/Carpenter family member. Just Lauren, Amber and Paige left now, as we know that Tom Oliver, who plays Lou, is cutting back on his rôle and won’t be making as many regular appearances. (Before anyone jumps to correct me, I do know that Paige’s adopted surname is Smith, but it wouldn’t have been advisable for her to change her surname to that of her mother!) I am sad about losing Bailey. I liked the Turner family as a unit, albeit a messy, blended, sometimes dysfunctional unit. I know that not everyone was as fond of them, but I enjoyed both the emotionally-charged stories they generated, and the every-day, familial dynamics, trials and tribulations. I want to believe that Bailey will flourish, eventually, and be able to come to terms with everything that has happened. I want him to gain self-confidence so that he isn’t as easily-led. Essentially he’s a ‘nice lad’ but one who needs to find his own place in the world.

Thank you, Calen, for your acting and the way that you’ve played Bailey’s character. I’m sure everyone who has enjoyed your presence on Neighbours will join me in wishing you well for the future. You clearly have a promising acting career ahead of you. But should you ever feel like popping back, don’t hesitate to make it known to the producers!

© Carol Ann Wood
May 2015


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Georgia On My Mind

Troubled Times

Georgia Brooks, cousin to Toadie, arrived in Erinsborough as a relatively mild-mannered girl with a sunny disposition, immediately differentiating her from the rest of the women in her family already known to viewers. Unless, that is, I’ve missed a mild-mannered Rebecchi or Timmins woman, but I doubt it! However, since her introduction, Georgia has been through some heart-wrenching stuff, and has emerged at the end of her stay on Ramsay Street as a more feisty individual, befitting of her clan.

We first encountered Georgia, brilliantly played by Saskia Hempele, when she came from the countryside to work at Erinsborough hospital, and to live with Toadie and his partner Sonya. As we know, Erinsborough hospital is employer to Doctor Karl Kennedy, medic extraordinaire, and so it’s no surprise that we would see Georgia also demonstrating skills beyond her status as (presumably) a general nurse. There was mileage in this girl!

First Impressions

Upon arrival, Georgia was – apparently happily – engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Scotty. However, it didn’t take a genius to predict that Georgia would not be happily engaged to him for much longer. Scotty’s appearance, and subsequent actions, would rock Georgia’s world, starting with his attempt to kiss Chris Papas, who was, by then, openly gay. Viewers could immediately feel sorry for Georgia and warm to her character. Nevertheless, we could also empathise with Scotty, who had clearly been in denial about being gay. It was poignant and sad to watch from the perspective of Georgia, as we knew she had to discover the truth, but uplifting that Scotty was finally able to be comfortable with who he really was.

This set the scene for Georgia to become one of the show’s love interests. Such a pretty, kind-hearted girl wasn’t likely to be single in a place like Ramsay Street for long. She had a ready list of admirers, including the egotistical Rhys Lawson, and the affable, down-to-earth Kyle Canning. You could tell that, even before she knew about Scotty being gay, she was struggling to see Kyle as just a friend. They had a definite spark, and the viewers knew where this might be going!

Before Georgia fully embarked on the (sometimes rocky) romance and subsequent marriage to Kyle, she was involved in a drugs scandal. Dealing with the aftermath of her break-up with Scotty, she had a brief flirtation with a patient, Pete Clark, who later rejected her advances. As a result of the embarrassment, Georgia had trouble sleeping, and became reliant on the strong sleeping pills that Karl prescribed for her. Her performance at work was affected, and on Karl’s advice, she took time off. It was an awful, messy time for her, and she made a big mistake in accepting more pills from Pete when Karl, concerned about her potential addiction, refused to prescribe her any more. When pills went missing from the hospital after Georgia’s return to work, and were later found in her sleeping bag, we could guess that it was Pete who had stolen them and framed her. Thankfully, after initially being sacked, it was Kyle who helped Georgia to clear her name. This was a sign that Georgia and Kyle were on their way to becoming the latest hot couple on the street.

Several plot-lines featuring Georgia stand out. I was in tears watching her read the e-mail print-out at her engagement party. We knew from a previous episode that the e-mail was one sent to Kyle from Kate Ramsay, and planted amongst the others by Georgia’s vindictive, jealous and deranged cousin Gem. How awful must it be, expecting to read out a congratulatory message, from someone purporting to be your best friend, only to find it reveals an infidelity between her and your fiancé? Heartbreaking. Granted, the moment of passion occurred when Kyle and Georgia were having emotional problems. Kyle’s temporary blindness, following the solar eclipse, put a strain on their relationship, and the pair were on a ‘sort of’ break.

Heartache ahead

We all knew that Kyle regretted the moment with Kate (who was confused and trying to deal with her real feelings for Mark Brennan). Nevertheless, it was horrible to watch Georgia feeling so betrayed and sad. The engagement having been broken-off, she would soon discover that she was pregnant with Kyle’s baby, just to add another strand to the story. Well, this is Neighbours. There’s always another strand to the story!

Having a miscarriage is something which we all understand as being a dreadful, painful experience, and anyone would have felt sorry for Georgia, and for Kyle, when it happened to them. The grief of their loss was compounded by the fact that they were still estranged at that point, but had tried to remain friends. Kyle had embarked on a relationship with Kate, but then ended it when he discovered Georgia was pregnant. It made me want to shout at the screen, “Georgia, you still love Kyle! You need each other!” But Georgia wasn’t yet ready to forgive Kyle’s infidelity. Kyle’s tribute at the memorial ceremony, which he had insisted on holding, for their lost child, was touching. I’m glad that the writers chose to portray Kyle in this way, as it was also a sign of the ‘beginning of a new beginning’ for them as a couple.

Out of sadness, comes light

Despite being cautious about reuniting with Kyle, Georgia, being Georgia, eventually forgave Kate’s part in the betrayal. It took a lot of talking from Kate to convince Georgia that she was genuinely sorry for the pain she had caused her, but their friendship was well on the way to being restored by the time Kate had become engaged to Mark. And it was Kate’s assurance, that Kyle and Georgia belonged together just like she and Mark, which were to stick in Georgia’s mind after Kate was gunned down. The aftermath saw Georgia reflecting on the fact that she and Kyle were afforded the second chance Kate and Mark would never enjoy. After Kyle and Georgia’s tender kiss, with the promise of happier times to come, Kyle dashed off to Thailand to help get his hapless cousin out of jail, and we were all greatly relieved when he returned so that he and Georgia could finally start their future.

I was disappointed when the writers decreed that Georgia had developed nodules on her vocal cords, ending her singing career. For, whilst we have enjoyed the fun of Karl and his band, The Right Prescription – given Karl’s over-inflated sense of his talents – Georgia’s singing career brought the show back to its long-standing tradition – reminiscent of Charlene and Nina – of having a female singer amongst the characters. I think the viewers have always appreciated that.

I half-expected Georgia to miraculously recover her voice in time for her wedding, defying the medical prognosis. But for once, the writers stuck to realism. Had Georgia regained her singing voice, I would have liked to have seen her write and perform a song about Erinsborough for the festival. I think it would have been well received by viewers and could have added a nice touch to the commemorative episodes.

Spats with Sheila

I loved the interaction between Georgia and Sheila, Kyle’s bossy but well-meaning grandmother. Sheila did eventually grow to love Georgia, although she was rather fond of interfering in Kyle’s love life and, at one point, she made it plain that she would have liked Kate to be the long-term partner for the lad. I think the writers wanted to convey how much Sheila cared about Kyle, and that, despite her ‘sticky-beak’ ways, her intentions were good. It has been mentioned a few times that Sheila practically brought Kyle up, in the absence of his estranged small-town criminal father Gary and ditzy mother, Sharon. However, even after Sheila’s over-the-top wedding planning, which didn’t exactly meet with Georgia’s approval, the relationship between the two women wasn’t plain sailing!

One scene that stands out in my mind was in the episode where Kyle and Georgia, slightly inebriated, decided to write joke thank-you emails to their wedding guests for their presents. They had no intention of sending them, of course. But, as this is Neighbours, you just knew that at least one of those e-mails was going to be inadvertently pinging its way through cyberspace. When it did, Georgia comically making connection with the ‘send’ key during a moment of passion with her new husband, there could only be one e-mail which got sent: that one to Sheila! Sheila was going to be less than happy with the pair’s ‘appreciation’ of the ‘ugly lamp’. I know I’m not the only one who laughed so hard over that. And I’d love to know where on earth the props department found such a monstrosity. (That’s the lamp, not Sheila, by the way. I’ll leave the rude remarks about Sheila to Lou Carpenter.)

The post-honeymoon scenes in the Lassiter’s suite when Kyle and Georgia had secretly returned early from their holiday were hilarious. Georgia persuading Kyle to dress as a naive Bell Boy bringing room service to her, she in the rôle of glamorous/mysterious foreigner, had me in stitches. (No nurse-related pun intended.) Equally notable for its comedy was when poor Kyle, missing overnight post-tornado, was discovered – safe and well but smelling of poo – trapped in a portable toilet. It’s a pity that we won’t get more scenes like these between him and Georgia.

Framed – again!

Recently we have seen Georgia experience more distressing and sombre events, set in train by nasty Doctor Nick Petrides, brother of Terese Willis. Not only was Nick a sleaze who made a bet with Paul Robinson that he could get Georgia into bed, there was worse to come from the smooth-talking medic. And poor Georgia was embroiled in the whole sorry saga. No-one would believe her when she suspected that Nick was up to something dodgy to gain Paul’s support for setting up his cancer centre. No-one else picked up on any of the clues, but Georgia was ruthless in her attempts to expose him. Viewers were about to see just what she was made of, as she refused to back off. Having realised that Georgia was becoming suspicious, Nick played the grudge card and claimed that she was out for revenge for the bet with Paul. Hacking her Twitter account, he tweeted a piece of confidential information about a celebrity patient and, as a result, Georgia was suspended from work.

Georgia’s suspension from the hospital, however, didn’t deter her from her goal of exposing Nick’s deception. She was relentless in her determination to clear her own name and to prove that Nick wasn’t the medical hero everyone else seemed to believe. She was the first to doubt that Paul’s leukaemia diagnosis was genuine, and risked a criminal record when she broke into Nick’s hotel room and stole medical records from his laptop. Viewers might have wondered why neither Karl nor Paul were suspicious long before this stage. Surely Paul would have got a second opinion on his diagnosis and treatment? And wouldn’t Karl have thought it strange that Paul was ‘cured’ so fast?

Perhaps the storyline exemplifies how a manipulative operator like Nick can con not only colleagues, but even a businessman, who was not without his own history of dodgy dealings. Yet Georgia – having earlier been fooled into thinking that Nick was helping further her career, only to overhear details of his wager with Paul – trusted her own intuitive judgement and never wavered from it, no matter how far-fetched others thought her suspicions. It was a relief for viewers when Nick was finally arrested.

Time to say goodbye?

However we knew by that point that Georgia’s mum’s cancer – mentioned earlier in Georgia’s time on Ramsay Street – had returned and that it was aggressive. When Georgia started researching into potential new treatments for her mum, and found a programme available in Germany, it was a strong hint that Georgia might be on her way out of Ramsay Street.

When a popular actor wants to move on, we have to respect that. Then you hope that they’re written out in a sympathetic way. Moreover, we didn’t want another death, especially not coming so soon after Matt’s demise. On reflection, this probably was the best outcome we could hope for. Georgia is a compassionate person, and has had to make a very difficult decision. That Kyle has decided not to go with her is a bit of a conundrum for those who yearn for a ‘happy ever after’ story. We didn’t want to lose Kyle too, because he’s also popular, but we didn’t want Kyle and Georgia to go the way of many other couples and split up. This way, at least for a while, we might get to hear of whether Georgia’s mum’s treatment is working, and presumably we will see Kyle struggle to cope without Georgia by his side.

Whether the writers will choose to demonstrate that long-distance love doesn’t work remains to be seen. I hope they don’t. And given that it happened to Kyle with Jade, I don’t want see him go through that again. But this doesn’t just depend on the writers or producers, it may also depend upon whether or not Chris Milligan, who plays Kyle, wants to continue in the rôle for any length of time. I have enjoyed Kyle and Georgia as a couple, and I will miss Georgia as a character. She is, undoubtedly, right for Kyle. She’s his soulmate, his rock, and his steadying influence. Georgia can stop Kyle being impetuous and immature, from making the wrong decisions, and sometimes, from being a bit of a dummy.

Saskia, you’ve been a pleasure to watch as Georgia. I, and many others, will miss you. Please let the writers know from me that we don’t want Kyle going too wild without her. Let’s have a bit of moping, and a few drunken nights with the lads. Let’s see him working hard on his new contract and saving for the future family they hope to raise. But let’s not have any straying. We need him to keep his sweet Georgia firmly on his mind!

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
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What A Sheila!

When Sheila Canning, played by the fabulous Colette Mann, first appeared on Ramsay Street, I have to admit I wasn’t immediately taken with her. There, I’ve said it. I initially thought Kyle’s grandmother an annoying, interfering woman, and wondered why she felt the need to come along and start telling him how to live his life, and whom to date.

But I soon gleaned that there was more to Sheila than being interfering. So, where to start? Sheila’s character has many sides to it, and although she is a bit of a sticky-beak, she is also kind, compassionate, funny, and a wonderful example of a matriarch in action. The softer side of Sheila was revealed when we learnt that she’d not had the best of relationships with her children. Her daughter Naomi had been involved in relationships with unsuitable men. When Sheila had found out that one such man was married, she told his wife about the affair, and Naomi became estranged from her mum as a result of this meddling. Naomi’s brother Gary was apparently a feckless small-town layabout who’d shot through. Viewers could tell that Sheila had regrets about her children and that she probably felt partly responsible for the way they’d turned out, even if she didn’t openly admit to it. She had gone some way to make up for this feeling of failure, by raising her grandson Kyle after his father had left. And evidently, she hadn’t had had much choice, given that Kyle’s mother Sharon was not a responsible parent either.

Sheila was probably lonely when she arrived in Ramsay Street, and also thought that Kyle needed guidance so that he didn’t turn out like Gary. So this very blonde, very bubbly, very floral and very forthright lady was not going to be a brief encounter for the residents of Erinsborough. Within a few weeks of watching her clip clopping across the street in her court shoes, I found myself thinking that she was the best new female character on the show in a long while. Soon enough, Sheila’s antics had me in hysterics, and my husband, who doesn’t follow the show, is often party to my giggles from the next room. He knows that when this happens, Neighbours is having a ‘Sheila moment’.

Sheila is one of those people who is hilarious without realising it. For starters, she sees others, such as Susan Kennedy, as a sticky-beak, yet doesn’t recognise this trait in herself! Most of us probably know a real-life Sheila, at whom we might roll our eyes and remark, “Oh dear, whatever will she do next!” The writers, and Colette, have done a fantastic job of relaying this to the viewers. She manages to get herself into some tricky, often inadvisable situations. Because Sheila does whatever she thinks is right at the time, and if that means taking risks to protect her loved ones, she’ll do it. She manages to wriggle out of many an escapade without repercussions. She’s the kind of person who can talk her way out of trouble, much to the irritation of others around her who don’t possess the same skill.

When it suits her, Sheila is not above playing up to the rôle of vulnerable older woman. Especially since her heat attack. Her ‘near-faints’ are priceless, when she uses them to get her own way. Including the best choice of cake from the Erinsborough festival, when she persuaded Harold that she needed to eat so that she didn’t pass out. When Sheila puts on that simpering voice, we’re reminded of drama-queens we know in real life. I always think of my Nanna, who had a ‘telephone voice’ which was very false. I understand from reading an interview with Colette that the writers trust her to interpret this aspect of Sheila’s personality – which she has perfected: Colette, acting as Sheila, putting on an act.

Sheila’s spats with Lou Carpenter have been a joy to watch. I am personally glad that the writers chose to keep them as friends, rather than them becoming a couple. Sometimes it’s good to include a scenario where two people never cross that line, even though their relationship has the classic elements of love-hate chemistry. Lou’s barbed comments about Sheila’s dancing at Matt and Lauren’s wedding vow renewal had her huffing and puffing, her infamous pout forming. And you knew that she would get her revenge. Here we have two people who will always want to get the better of one another and have the last word.

Sheila also has a love-hate relationship with her boss, Paul Robinson. She realises, especially with hindsight after Ezra Hanley’s brief reign as Lassiter’s hotel owner, that Paul may be an annoying ‘moneybags’ but she has managed to tease a little bit of softness out of him. And knowing what we do of Paul Robinson, that’s no mean feat! She doesn’t, nevertheless, see him as husband material for Naomi, and has gone to great lengths to keep the two apart. Currently, we don’t know where this storyline is going, but let’s just say that – should Sheila’s ongoing plan not work, and Paul and Naomi become a permanent item – we can expect more shenanigans from our Sheila.

I have two favourite comedy story-lines involving Sheila, which I could happily re-watch numerous times, knowing that they will always make me laugh. One is the night she and Paul inadvertently spent in the cold store at the Water Hole. All because ‘Moneybags’ had ignored Sheila’s nagging that the door of the store needed fixing. And on checking up on Sheila’s stocktaking, he closed the dodgy door, trapping them inside. As I watched Paul and Sheila resort to huddling together for warmth, the the chorus of Cornershop’s Brimful Of Asha springs to mind: ‘Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow’. Even when it’s Sheila Canning’s bosom that’s giving the comfort. And it got even funnier when Sheila had the bright idea of using cling film to insulate them. This was Neighbours comedy gold. There were also poignant moments: what would two people do when they’re trapped together – literally – in a cold store for the night and wonder if they’ll succumb to hypothermia? They’d talk. And Sheila and Paul certainly talked. When they were rescued in the morning, they shared a moment of private laughter. I felt then that Sheila and Paul’s relationship had shifted very slightly. They had both seen a different side to one another, even though you could guess that they’d never speak of it again, and in public would soon be back to their usual selves!

My other favourite Sheila moment was that dream. It was probably the most surreal, silly scene since Bouncer the dog’s dream all those years ago. Sheila had read Karl Kennedy’s novel The Book Of Secrets which the residents suspected was loosely-based on people in the street. But, at the time, Sheila believed its author was Lou. And so, she dreamt of Lou, and of Paul, which disturbed her. What did it mean? This was such a treat for the lovers of classic Neighbours comedy. If you’d had a bad day when this episode was aired, it provided the perfect antidote.

Another unforgettable ‘Sheila moment’ was when Lauren had asked Matt to pose for her art class, in the belief that she would be the only artist present. When I heard that this storyline was coming up – I don’t normally read spoilers but as a huge fan of Matt, I couldn’t resist – I just knew that, somehow, a few other people would end up being there, and that one of them would be Sheila. Sheila, bless her, has a penchant for being a cougar, (at least, in her mind) and wouldn’t miss the chance to see one of the local constabulary in the buff. The scene was wonderfully acted. Matt (Josef Brown) had beads of sweat on his brow as he stood there in just a towel, realising to his horror that several female residents of the street were about to see him au naturel. The camera panned to Sheila: Now, as any artist knows, positioning the pencil for perspective is normal practice. But the way Sheila waved her pencil somehow made it hilarious. You didn’t need dialogue to see what was going through this minx’s mind. And she clearly picked up on Matt’s nervousness and played up to it for all she was worth.

Sheila even did what many other females on Ramsay street haven’t, but might love to: Snogged Mark Brennan. The shocked look on his face as he managed to break free said ‘did she really just do that?!’ She had done so primarily in order to stop Mark chatting up a girl in the bar, because Sheila was sure that Naomi was the one for Constable Brennan. But you couldn’t help think she she had been waiting for the flimsiest of excuses to lock lips with the cop. Sheila is incorrigible!

Sheila’s vulnerability has also been portrayed well. Her aforementioned flawed relationship with two of her children has pained her. Largely, she and Naomi have resolved their differences, but the fact of their personalities means that the two will always clash. I was pleased when Sheila stopped blaming Naomi for her father’s fatal heart attack. We were told that Frank doted on his daughter and spoilt her, and was greatly disappointed when she begun a relationship with an older, married man. We could see that Sheila would have to learn to let go of bitter feelings of resentment in order to mend her relationship with Naomi. She will, however, always want to have her say in Naomi’s chequered love-life. She successfully managed to steer her away from her pursuit of Toadie, and thus avoid a repeat of the past. Luckily it was easier this time around, as Toadie, despite forming a friendly bond with Naomi, wasn’t about to commit adultery.

Sadly for Sheila, she wasn’t able to mend any fences with son Gary. You got a sense that where Gary was concerned, she was in denial. No mother wants to admit that her child has turned out to be a ‘bad egg’ and she had probably always hoped that one day, he would see the error of his ways and return as the prodigal son. Naomi referred to him as ‘the golden child’ and obviously felt angry that Sheila could not see through his guise. Naomi had also kept the truth about Gary’s past a secret from Sheila. And when Gary turned up in Erinsborough after being tracked down by Georgia, he was happy to continue letting his mother believe that he’d played no part in the robbery in Frankston.

Sheila’s ultimate learning of Gary’s lies was hard to watch. How must it feel to face the fact that your son abandoned his family to save himself? And then, after his return and subsequent promise to stay out of trouble, he had acted as Paul Robinson’s heavy man, beating up Ezra Hanley. The realisation that he hadn’t changed led to Sheila’s heart attack. I was greatly relieved when Sheila recovered and in what seemed like no time at all – real-time for Erinsborough – she was back behind the bar of the Waterhole, chatting, gossiping, advising, and being the Sheila we have come to know and love.

Sheila is such a strong character that I can envisage many more great story lines being written for her. I would relish a scene where Sheila reminisces about her teenage years. I imagine it going something like this: A girl’s night out and a few drinks in, the older women of Erinsborough start getting competitive about their misspent youth. Sheila would be the perfect character to relive her escapades from the 1960s. I see Sheila telling the others about going to the local dances in her mini skirts, with a beehive hairdo. I see Sheila telling them of the time she had to climb out of a restroom window in order to escape the advances of an undesirable man. And probably getting stuck half-in half-out, knowing her.

That I’m able to imagine Sheila being young is an example of how Colette has made the character so believable. We see the whole Sheila, not just one side of her, and we can understand her emotions, even if we do cringe at her sometimes. If Ramsay Street were real, and I was a resident, I would always look for Sheila to buck me up and to give me a few down-to-earth words of advice, no matter how bossy she is. I’d be cheered by her kindness, and reassured by her presence. Everyone needs a Sheila to turn to when they’re down.

I could recount many more enjoyable scenes involving Sheila, but I’d never finish this article! Recently, we got so see her dressed as Dolly Parton at Paige’s fancy dress party, which just seemed perfect. And Sheila being frustrated when silenced by lockjaw was an ingenious scripting. (Imagine what Lou will say if he gets to hear of it!) Colette, we salute you and thank you for the way that you bring such a vibrant character to life. I hope we will be watching Sheila Canning for a long time to come. For me and, I imagine, for many other fans, she is definitely my ‘bosom for a pillow’ when I settle down to watch my favourite soap.

© Carol Ann Wood
July 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


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Terese Willis: More Sinned Against Than Sinning

When diminutive Terese Willis strode into Ramsay Street in her wrap-dresses and high heels, her husband Brad and teenage twins in tow, viewers could tell tell that this was a woman with a big personality, who would become central to future story lines. My first impression of Terese was that she didn’t seem over-motherly, given that she had three children. She was very career-focused, perfectly groomed, and businesslike in manner. Some long-time viewers compared her personality unfavourably to that of Lauren Turner, whom we all knew was Brad’s old flame. They remarked that they had always felt Brad and Lauren belonged together, and had been disappointed when he eventually chose to marry Beth. After Terese’s introduction to the show, we learnt that Terese had been the ‘other woman’ who had broken up Brad and Beth’s marriage (albeit all off-screen) so perhaps this was another reason people didn’t warm to her. How could she be justified in feeling insecure about Lauren and Brad’s history, when she had been involved in a marriage break-up herself, some fans reasoned?

Paul met his professional match

But, maybe that’s too harsh an opinion of Terese. This was not a black and white, right and wrong situation. Brad could have been partly to blame for the demise of his first marriage, and if we look back at the 1990s love-triangle between Brad, Beth and Lauren, we can see that he dithered considerably over which of them he wanted to be with. We were first introduced to Terese when Lucy Robinson invited her to Erinsborough and offered her the job of hotel manager, unbeknown to Lucy’s brother Paul. Terese had been working at another branch of the Lassiters’s chain, and was the family breadwinner whilst Brad was busy coaching Josh in his promising swimming career. Once she had got the measure of Paul, Terese decided the job offer was too good to turn down. Paul was angry about his sister’s underhand dealings, but Terese was hired as it was immediately apparent that she would be a valuable asset to the hotel. Viewers knew that Paul had met his professional match; Terese was not one to be patronised or put down. This was going to be an interesting work dynamic.

Terese had to accept that the move to Erinsborough meant she would be living across the street from Lauren, a fact of which she was initially – albeit reluctantly – accepting. If Terese had reservations, she probably told herself not to be silly, that Lauren and Brad split up over twenty years ago, and besides, Lauren was seemingly happily married to Matt. Brad had been a loyal husband up until now, so why should Terese get hot under the collar about someone he dated long ago? Determined that things would work out in Erinsborough, Terese made a point of being openly friendly towards Lauren. However, you couldn’t help but wonder, was she trying too hard, and was she really as okay with things as she made out?

Terese had not bargained for all that was to occur after the family relocation. Let’s think about what she has had to contend with. First came the revelation that Lauren had a baby by Brad over twenty years ago, something which also came as a shock to Brad. Then, news that the baby had not died as Lauren had always been led to believe by her mother Kathy, but adopted out, illegally. Brad and Lauren decided they wanted to search for their long-lost daughter. It’s easy to say that Terese should have been fully supportive of this decision, but if if we were in her situation, would we be generous of heart and unreservedly accepting of it? I’m not sure it would be that straightforward. Understandably, Terese was concerned, not only for the impact it might have on her marriage, but on her and Brad’s children: Imogen, Josh and Piper already had one half-sibling, Ned, and now another might be introduced to the clan. How might this alter the family dynamics?

Inextricably linked to the Turners

We realise now that Terese had good reason to be concerned, certainly with regards her marriage. When Brad and Lauren shared a kiss during their search for Paige (then known as Lily, Lauren’s intended name for her) you could guess the tryst wouldn’t be secret for long. Next up was Paige’s arrival and, after she eventually revealed her true identity, her birth parents started bonding over her. It’s little wonder that Terese felt put out. Brad and Lauren spent their time being smitten with the daughter they wanted to get to know. Meanwhile, Terese and Matt both felt sidelined in their respective marriages. Then there was Josh, who had a great chance of getting to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, until he was injured in an accident which started as a stupid dare. And who was the one who encouraged him in this dare? Mason Turner. Wherever Terese turned, there was always some underlying connection to the Turners that inextricably linked the families together and brought further conflicting emotions to the fore. No wonder that the as-yet-unseen Piper is still in Canada on the longest school exchange programme in soap history. If the poor girl is aware of all the familial events of the last two years, she probably isn’t in a hurry to return to the fold!

Terese watched as Amber and Josh began a romance; yet another link to the Turners. She’s seen Josh broken-hearted as Amber cheated on him with Daniel Robinson, and then in another twist, Josh was revealed to be the father of Amber’s unborn baby when he ‘comforted her’ on the night of Amber and Daniel’s non-wedding. Added to that, we now learn the baby has a potentially serous medical condition. Another terse two-family debate about expensive medical treatment ensued. And let’s not forget Josh’s alcohol intolerance storyline, culminating in the punch that almost killed Chris Pappas. We had Imogen’s eating disorder and Terese’s vicious assault at the hands of Ezra Hanley. Oh, and Terese’s brother, Doctor Nick Petrides, whom she’d idolised all her life, turning out to be a despicable conman. She found it difficult to accept the lengths Nick would go in order to get his cancer treatment centre funded. Well, I think I might have had difficulty with that one too! And to cap it all, Matt Turner had to go and get himself killed whilst saving Brad from the path of a speeding car. Poor Terese felt torn between being glad that Brad’s life was saved, and sorry about Matt. But when Brad revealed Matt’s last words had been to ask him to ‘look after Lauren’ it could only spell one thing: Trouble. All in all, then, quite a lot for Terese to brood on.

Terese: controlling or fragile?

Despite it being possible to empathise with Terese, it’s also true to say that she doesn’t always deal with situations appropriately. She has hidden behind trees and around corners to eavesdrop on Brad and Lauren, she has read Lauren’s journal and Paige’s text message. Contacting Paige’s adopted mother and telling her where Paige was living wasn’t really a good move, either. Terese was hoping, of course, for their reconciliation so that Paige might leave town with her mother. By Terese’s reckoning, this would give Brad less reason to be continually popping into the kitchen of Harold’s for secret chats and demonstrative hugs with Lauren. The reconciliation plan worked, but Paige has remained in Erinsborough, loyal to Lauren and her collective half-siblings. It doesn’t matter how much Terese tries to manipulate a situation, there always seems to be another problem to solve in order to keep her husband and Lauren at a distance. And Terese suspects that Paige isn’t the only one to romanticise about the two reuniting.

Terese might seem outwardly feisty and controlling at times, but if we look beyond that tough exterior, we can see a more fragile individual who just wants to feel secure and be the centre of her family. She doesn’t always endear herself to others in Ramsay street, sometimes appearing a little brisk and frosty. I believe it’s just a front. Terese doesn’t let her guard down and would hate anyone to think she wasn’t in control of every aspect of her life. (Who else comes downstairs from an afternoon nap wearing heels?) She’s used to organising, making decisions, and given the relatively poor background she’s come from, she’s had to work extra hard to make something of herself. She probably doesn’t want to reveal any vulnerabilities, either in business or personal life. We know, for instance, that she has always felt that Doug and Pam preferred their first daughter-in-law Beth, to her. On a brief visit, Doug made a flippant remark about Terese’s lack of culinary activity, and you could see that it hurt her, but she wasn’t about to let Doug know it. Terese, for all her outward capabilities, seeks approval in every compartment of her life. And if she can’t find the time to produce the freshly-cooked suppers that Pam and Doug would approve of, she makes breakfasts for her brood that would feed an average family for a week.

Unlike other characters about whom I have written recently for Perfect Blend, there are no classic comic moments which spring to mind when I think of Terese. She hasn’t been seen in the hot tub, and she hasn’t been locked in a portable toilet, or wrapped in cling film with Paul Robinson. I have, at times, longed to see a more light-hearted side to her, but given her heavy story lines, it’s unlikely that she’s going to be running across Ramsay street partially clothed any time soon. There was, however, one moment where her authoritative manner made me chuckle. It was a scene of a very serous nature: Terese was in the Lassiter’s corridor, when she saw Matt kissing Sharon Canning. She went into action in typical Terese-fashion, commanding a drunk Matt to open the bedroom door while Sharon was in the shower, and then ushering him firmly out of the room. She may have only come up to Matt’s waist in height, but her strong words brought him to his senses as well as his feet. It was wonderfully acted; Matt looking ashamed, Terese reprimanding him like a naughty schoolboy. True, Terese had probably acted so quickly because she didn’t want Lauren to end up single and available to Brad, but we could also see that she had an affinity with Matt and cared about him as a friend; the two had both shared the painful revelation of their respective spouses indiscretion. Terese had almost succumbed to revengeful temptation with Ezra Hanley but thankfully chose not to go through with it. She wasn’t about to let Matt make an awful mistake with Sharon which she knew he’d regret later.

Terese’s facial expressions convey her true emotions at every turn, and that’s because she’s wonderfully acted by Rebekah Elmaloglou. The words that come out of Terese’s mouth are not always what’s on her mind, but viewers have no difficulty in second-guessing whether she’s feeling angry, vengeful, insecure, hopeful or smug. Her facial expressions say it all. And that pout is priceless. As I write this, those of us watching at UK pace already know she’s hitting the bottle a bit. And now, Sheila has seen her stealing from the Lassiter’s wine store on CCTV. Whether this storyline develops into a full-blown portrayal of alcoholism remains to be seen. If so, I don’t doubt that Rebekah will play the rôle brilliantly. I can see endless potential for this multi-faceted character and I look forward to whatever the writers next have in store for Terese; although, I do implore them to give her a bit of respite now and then. She may not deal with situations in the best way, but she doesn’t deserve all that has been thrown at her. Terese Willis, is, arguably, a woman more sinned against than sinning.

© Carol Ann Wood
August 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


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You’ve Got A Friend In Sonya

There seem to be quite divided opinions with regards the character of Sonya Rebecchi, née Mitchell, given the comments I have heard and read from fellow Neighbours viewers since her arrival in Ramsay Street. Broadly speaking, Eve Morey’s wonderful portrayal of this vibrant, colourful character seems to have placed viewers into the ‘like’ or dislike’ camp with most major story lines she’s been involved in. And let’s face it, she’s had a fair few major stories!

I’m not going to attempt to recount everything Sonya has been through since her introduction to the show; there would not be enough space in one article. I want to look at the way Sonya handles situations, and what makes her tick, with particular focus on the current, dramatic storyline. Sonya is in for a very testing time in the coming months. Toadie’s paralysis is a huge and devastating thing for the couple to deal with, which will impact emotionally, physically and financially. Their lives have been changed, possibly for ever, if Toadie doesn’t walk again. We are familiar with Sonya’s vulnerabilities, given her previous addictions to gambling and alcohol. She’s a busy, working mother, and now she has to help Toadie adjust to life as a wheelchair user. How she deals with this will make compelling viewing, and I have no doubt that the writers will treat this storyline with sensitivity to portray the effect that unexpected disability has on an entire family.

 All things to all people

How well or otherwise Sonya copes with the situation will be partially shaped by her previous life experiences and the elements of her complex personality. Sonya is someone who has a strong need to be all things to all people. She is very intense, and cannot help herself becoming involved in the lives of her neighbours, whenever she senses that they are in trouble. This is what irritates some viewers, who comment that she needs to butt out and mind her own business. However, even if you think Sonya’s ways too interfering, you cannot argue that her compassion and empathy are insincere. She has Utilitarian ideals: she wants the greatest good for the greatest number of people. But Sonya also has an addictive personality, and the writers have shown us that she will have times when she’s tempted back into her old habits if she is stressed. Thus far, she’s always managed to pull herself back from the edge, but in part, this has been dependent on her ability to help others in their own recovery. Whether it’s other former gamblers like Lucas Fitzgerald and Chris’s mum, Patricia, or those with alcohol problems like Bailey Turner, and presently, Terese Willis, Sonya is there at the drop of a hat to lend support. This is sometimes regardless of whether the recipient is willing to accept help, or not. Sonya just isn’t capable of sitting back and watching others fall apart.

Maybe some viewers misunderstand Sonya’s intentions. She is remorseful about her own past, giving her heightened awareness of the misfortunes or erroneous ways of others. She doesn’t think she is morally better than anyone else; she recognises how easy it is to make bad decisions and hurt people the way that she once did. Sonya is an empath: she genuinely feels the pain of those around her, and believes that she has a duty to reach out to her neighbours in times of need. This renders her vulnerable and even a bit naive at times. We have become used to Susan and Karl Kennedy inviting near-strangers into their home over the years, and Sonya has followed in their footsteps. A man posing as her and Jade’s long-lost uncle Walter Mitchell was, in no time at all, living with the Rebecchis. Viewers sensed that this man wasn’t genuine: Sonya’s propensity to trust in people she doesn’t know very well often ends badly. She befriended Jacob, a single parent who was still grieving for his late wife, and when Jacob mistook this friendship for something more, it put a strain on Toadie and Sonya’s marriage. She took in her old friend Erin, even after discovering that it was she who had started a hate-campaign against her. Sonya’s weakness, if you can call it such, is that she believes she can save everyone. She sees the potential for good in people, which is a beautiful and admirable sentiment in life, but she needs to accept that not everyone is able to be saved from their mistakes. And, unfortunately, not everyone wants to be.

Intensity and inner guilt

Sonya puts her heart and soul into anything and everything in which she believes. She’s committed to vegetarianism and ecological issues, and running her plant nursery is important to her. Her intensity is not always an asset though. She – and Toadie to an extent – seem to fuss a little too much over toddler daughter Nell, but in Sonya’s case, it’s clear that this is because she feels an inner guilt at not being there for Calum when he was younger. That guilt includes the shock she gave Toadie and Callum with the revelation that she was Callum’s biological mother who had once abandoned him, and she’s been trying to compensate for this ever since. With Callum almost an adult, and currently studying in America, Sonya’s focus is on Nell, and she’s determined her daughter will receive undivided attention until she’s at least thirty!

Now that Toadie is disabled, the pair will have to guard against over-indulging Nell to compensate for the fact that her daddy cannot run around and play with her in the same way he did previously. Small children can adapt very quickly to the most radical of changes, but they are also very astute at playing situations for their own benefit. I can envisage Nell, adorable though she is, wrapping her parents round her little finger!

One aspect of Sonya’s personality that I especially love is her quirkiness. I like that she doesn’t conform to anyone else’s beliefs for the purpose of fitting in. She has a strong sense of fairness and justice, and this doesn’t always sit well with Toadie’s profession as a lawyer. We all know that part of a lawyer’s rôle is to clear the names of their clients, and Sonya has felt uncomfortable about some cases which Toadie has taken on, given that many have involved other residents of Ramsay Street. Sonya will not compromise on anything she feels strongly about, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Even though she knows people will not necessarily agree with her, she has a firm belief that, at some point, they will come round to her way of thinking or, at least, to respect her views.

Colourful kaftans and saucy outfits!

Sonya doesn’t even conform when it comes to apparel. I have read comments about the character’s dress sense which I think are unfair and judgemental. We all have our own preferred way of dressing. Why should Sonya dress like everyone else? And why would she? Some might call her a hippy type, or an earth-mother, but she is simply expressing part of her personality with her colourful kaftans. You couldn’t imagine her in a wrap-dress, à la Terese, or Va-Va-Voom heels like Naomi. I was therefore delighted when, after Naomi made a play for Toadie, we didn’t see Sonya having any anxiety about her appearance. Too often in soaps, when we see a husband pursued by a glamorous woman, we next see the wife agonising about changing her style.

This would have been a travesty for Sonya, and untrue to her character. Toadie, thankfully, did not cheat on Sonya with Naomi, and he definitely isn’t someone who places more emphasis on glamour than personality. He loves Sonya and thinks she is beautiful just as she is. And it’s clearly implied that the pair have enjoyed a healthy, happy love-life: The look on Sonya’s face when she opened the Mother’s Day gift Toadie had intended for mum Angie was a laugh-out-loud moment. One could only imagine the shock on Angie’s face when she received the saucy outfit meant for Sonya!

Returning to the current storyline, we don’t yet know the eventual outcome of Toadie’s paralysis. What we do know, is that in real life, there is often no fairy tale ending where the person in the wheelchair suddenly starts to feel movement in their legs, or gets up and walks for a special occasion. For most, paralysis is their future, and they have no choice but to accept it and adapt to it. Sonya will be torn between not wanting Toadie to give up hope of recovery and helping him accept that the wheelchair might be his for life. The viewers will also be torn, because whilst we acknowledge that the writers will want to make the story realistic, we want Toadie to walk again because he’s a popular character.

Philanthropic urges

Sonya now has to face re-evaluating her life. She is better at giving than receiving help, and although we can understand her irritation towards mother-in-law Angie, (which of us wouldn’t be irritated by Angie!) Sonya will need all the practical help that she can get. If that includes an occasional visit from Angie, she’ll have to accept it, even if it means having to button her lip when Angie makes one of her barbed comments. Both women, after all, love Toadie and want the best possible outcome for him. Sonya needs to work because Toadie is currently not earning. And she might have to curb her philanthropic urges. We have previously seen her agree to reduce her rôle with Gambler’s Anonymous, but she has continued to give herself freely to all who surround her. In her changed circumstances, will she still feel that urge to help anyone she encounters? Or will she focus entirely on Toadie’s rehabilitation/adjustment to the extent that he feels suffocated by her boundless positivity?

I hope that Sonya and Toadie come through this difficult period in their marriage relatively unscathed, albeit not unchanged, as that would be impossible. I especially hope that whatever the outcome of Toadie’s paralysis, Sonya doesn’t lose her way and start gambling or drinking again. Sonya and Toadie are good together, even if you remembered Toadie and Dee with fondness and hated the way that Dee was written out. Sonya is highly emotional, often over-anxious, excitable, and strong-willed. But she is also warm, intelligent, fun-loving, compassionate, fruity, and vivacious. In my opinion she is one of the best female characters to have been introduced into the show in recent years, for reasons of her personality. We’ve seen so much emotion from her, but there’s nothing to suggest that we cannot see a whole lot more. I would like to see Sonya and Toadie continuing as stalwarts of the street like Karl and Susan (but hopefully without any break-ups or affairs!) I want to see Sonya mellowing ever-so slightly without losing her vibrancy and positivity.

Eve, I admire you for being so believable in this rôle as the whirlwind that is Sonya. Sonya can be ‘a bit much to take’ at times, but, I can say without doubt that, if she were real, I would be very proud to have her as my friend. Although, if she rekindled her enthusiasm for naked dinner parties, I think I’d have to pass on that!

© Carol Ann Wood
September 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.


Through Paige’s Eyes

Not necessarily my opinion, maybe not yours. But Paige sees it differently!

Hey, listen up, guys. I know this is going to sound bad, but I did kind of want my birth parents to be together. The thing is, when I first came to Ramsay Street, I was undercover, cos I had to make sure they really wanted me in their lives. And when I’d worked out who they were, I saw them hug and I honestly thought they were still a couple. They looked so right, so natural.

When I realised that Brad and Lauren were both married to other people, I was surprised, and yes, I admit, a bit disappointed. All I had ever wanted was to have two parents who loved each other. I know what it’s like to not be in a loving family, trust me. I’d always known I was adopted, but I had no idea it wasn’t strictly legal. My adoptive mother thought she couldn’t have kids. Then Ethan was born, and I felt unwanted. Oh, they splashed money around, sure, but it doesn’t make up for feeling unloved, does it?

When I found out the whole truth of my birth and how Kathy had me adopted out, I was hurt and angry. How could she do that, deceive her own daughter? And then there were the ‘what ifs’ for me, and for Lauren and Brad. Well, I call them Mum and Dad mostly now and it feels good. Anyone could see that Brad wasn’t completely happy with Terese. She’s too controlling, too full of career prospects. My dad is creative and he needs to feel he can try new things, not be stuck in a classroom beholden to Susan Kennedy, on top of being bossed about at home. Yea, I know, he and Terese have been married for twenty years, but that doesn’t always mean anything. Like I said, I should know.

Terese wasn’t very nice to me when I was getting to know the family. I think she blamed me for the fact that Mum and Dad bonded again when they found me, but I was only trying to have the relationship I should have had with my birth parents all along. I’ve been deprived of that, and she didn’t seem to understand. Oh, she said I was ‘welcome in their house.’ Yea, right, about as welcome as a bad smell. She only smiled at me with her mouth, not her eyes. She was so cold. Matt wasn’t always happy about me being around either, but at least he did chill a bit, and he would have done anything to make Mum happy. Till near the end, anyway. He had this stupid pride about owning the house, and it all got messy. I felt guilty too, as it was my lap top Bailes used to chat to that girl who stole the money. I should’ve been more careful, but it happened, and I didn’t make Matt go and work for Dimato to get extra cash, so they can’t blame me for that.

I’m not sure Mum ever loved Matt in the same way as she loved Brad. She’s hinted as much, and I once overheard Matt say so when they were having an argument. I’m sorry that Matt died, it was such a horrible thing to happen, and I feel for my brothers and sister, but Mum has to move on in whatever way she needs to now. I’m avoiding Terese, as I know she blames me for my parents hooking up for the night. She thinks I’ve helped engineer it; she once even read my text from Ethan asking if I’d managed to get Lauren and Brad together yet. It was just a random remark, Ethan wasn’t even being serious. I get that Terese would be upset, but she shouldn’t have read my message. She even read Mum’s journal once, AND she tried to get my birth mother to tempt me to go away with her. Bit nasty, don’t you think?

Mum’s told me a lot about when she and Dad were young. How he eventually went and married Beth, even though he clearly didn’t love her. And that’s why I don’t think he truly loved Terese either: There was something restless in him because he was still in love with Mum, even though he might not have admitted it, or realised it. And Mum, she obviously married on the rebound. Nice as Matt was, kind and steady, he was never going to be Brad. I think Mum had always had that thought at the back of her mind, about Dad being the love of her life.

I suppose I’m going to be seen as the bad guy here, for not blaming my parents. But I didn’t say to Dad, hey, go and spend the night with Mum, you know you want to. Dad chose to. And he chose to because Terese was getting impossible. She nagged him constantly, and she didn’t trust him. She drove him away with her paranoid ways and then he had to deal with her drinking. Oh, she said she’d get help, but she even lied to him about that and said she’d been to the AA meeting when she hadn’t. And yes, I know what happened with Ezra that time was awful for her, but she only went to his hotel room out of spite because she was still sulking about Dad kissing Mum once. You know, when they were searching for me. Terese just wouldn’t let it go.

Then there was Nick. Dad saw through him a lot quicker than Terese. She thought the sun shone out of his backside, and to be honest, he was pretty nasty to Dad while he was here, boasting about his wonderful career and making Dad feel rubbish. Well yea, look how that career turned out!He deserved to be locked up. And still Terese was making excuses for him after what he did to Paul! She’s so deluded sometimes.

I don’t know what will happen now, but I don’t want Dad to get back together with Terese. Mum makes him happier. And she’s coming out of her shell too. I hate to say this, but when Matt was alive, she didn’t do things she loved, very much. Look, she only got back into her art properly after I arrived and she discovered that I loved sketching and designing too. She’d kept that sketch of Dad for a reason, I know it. I think that when she started drawing again, she also started to question her life with Matt. Now that she’s widowed, she deserves to be happy. It’s always sad when people get hurt, but she’s not some wicked person here, she’s a warm, loving person, and she didn’t plan any of this. I hate seeing Dad so tortured. I’m not going to let everyone in Ramsay Street slag off my folks. I know it’s a weird situation all round. Who else has a half-sister on their mum’s side who’s pregnant by their half-brother on her dad’s side? Crazy. It’s a mess. But life is messy, right? And in the end, people have to follow their hearts. I know that’s all that my parents want to do. You can’t blame anyone for that.


As told to Carol Ann Wood


© Carol Ann Wood
September 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
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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


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Terese With No H

I’m Terese, with no H, I’m Terese of the street,
And I like to have standards, I’m prissy and neat.
I’m busty and glamorous, businesslike too,
Oh I may not be tall but I’m bigger than you.
I’m Terese with no H, and I’m telling you this:
Something happened to Brad when that tramp stole a kiss.
Yes, I know that she’s lonely now poor Matt is dead,
But my husband has just put his wood in her shed!

I’m Terese with no H, and I’m angry and bitter,
The news of their romping is all over Twitter,
And people are pointing and staring at me,
Cos I’m having a wine and it’s just ten past three.
Well so what if I drink? Hell, I’m having one more,
And it’s clearly what Lassiters wine stash is for.
Look, I know people claimed it was all in my head.
But my husband has just put his wood in her shed!

I’m Terese with no H, and I just have to say
I expected support from our own Susan K,
But she’s laughing with Lauren and chatting with Brad,
So is it such a wonder I’m seething and mad?
And when I ask advice she just thinks I’m obsessed,
As she smiles and says ‘there, get it all off your chest.’
Has she quickly forgotten that feeling of dread
When your husband puts wood in another chick’s shed?

I’m Terese with no H, and I don’t like being scorned,
You wait Lauren Turner, don’t say you weren’t warned.
For hell hath no fury like me when enraged,
You think that you’ve won but you’ll soon be upstaged.
I’m plotting and planning behind that big tree,
You haven’t yet seen the revenge side of me.
Your garden will soon be as bare as your bed,
No Brad in your storeroom, no wood in your shed!

© 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.