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Third series, episode 25

All 117 episodes are available here on the HebWeb.

In episode 25, there's a Happy Valley reflection, a memory of Ciara, talking shops, a woman hanging, men talking and a man of few words, a walk on the Long Causeway, a proper dad and his fridge, Valentine greetings from the past, and an actor's pride.

February Sunset

Photo by Nina Oaken

And in the end

Pubs in Hebden Bridge, and across the nation, emptied. People rushed home to see the last ever episode. On Newsnight, Sally Wainwright, rather than basking in her 5 star reviews, said Sarah Lancashire wasn't happy with the first draft of the last episode. She'd visited her around Christmas 2021, spending the day explaining her own ideas, before leaving her with 'some great notes.'

Actors, Sally reminded us, especially the main character, know scripts at 'a granular level', because they have to learn them. "So everything got pushed a bit further in that last episode and it was all thanks to Sarah." Her performance was 'off the scale' for all three series.

I thought there was a pleasing circularity in the finale, a feeling of loose threads being tied. Happy Valley began with a young guy threatening to set fire to himself and ended with Tommy's self-immolation. In the final, showdown scene, Sarah assured Tommy that she remembered Gary Gogowski alright, because he had once bitten her, echoing her comment when she identified Gary's body in the opening scene of the final series.

As Wainwright said, Catherine deserved a positive outcome. It was appropriate for her relationship with her sister to be healed, thanks to Ryan's prompting, "She was always there for me." And it felt right for the 'man baby' Tommy to gain at least some self-understanding. Ryan also proved his mettle, as well as his genetic connection to his granny, by taking photos of the guys who helped Tommy escape from the court room, and by using his game station to gain information about his dad's whereabouts.

Despite Tommy killing three of the drug gang members in a vicious and brilliantly choreographed fight sequence, and later going up in flames, two female fans visiting Hebden Bridge next day told a TV interviewer they were a bit disappointed by the last episode.

"We were hoping for a bit more violence!"

Remember Ciara?

On social media, I noticed photos I took exactly three years ago. I'd almost forgotten the storms and deluges that Ciara brought in February 2020, what with COVID and Lockdowns and Party Gate and the Russian Invasion and such like happening since then. The main thing I recall was the sullen faces of TV reporters who hung out bored, cold and sodden on Bridgegate one morning, sending undramatic footage of a few sandbags and over-hyped commentary back to their studios before finally packing up their gear, admitting that Ciara had done a body swerve overnight, and the real deluge and flooding was happening miles away from their cameras.

Shop talk

Neil wasn't there when I popped into Oasis for a Private Eye and cream cheese. But Radio 2 was blasting out an item on the Annual Report by the Children's Commissioner, Dame Rachel de Sousa.

Twenty seven percent of 11 year old kids have seen pornography. Dismayingly, 47% of young people between the ages of 16 and 21 believed that girls expect physical aggression in sex. As I was leaving, the discussion had moved onto the Met policeman who had pleaded guilty to imprisoning and raping women.

In another store, an elderly shopper was discussing the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, saying she wished she could go and help people. A shop assistant told her not to bother, "They wouldn't do it for you!"
A guy chipped in as he was leaving, "Charity begins at home."

"Yes, but it doesn't have to end there," I thought.

By Sunday, UK charities had donated £53 million.

Tell me why

Those familiar with the former Court building in Halifax (opposite the defunct swimming baths, aka the Happy Valley cop shop) may have seen this stained glass image. I can't help wondering why the young woman hung herself?

Perhaps the foppish dandy with the football was playing away all the time, or kept explaining the offside rule? More likely, she was married off against her wishes, with no voice in the matter …

Thanks to Rosie Moon for the stained glass window snap and for starting the conversation!

Men Talk

By Liz Lochhead

Rabbit rabbit rabbit women
Tattle and titter
Women prattle
Women waffle and witter

Men Talk. Men Talk …
Women gossip Women giggle
Women niggle-niggle-niggle
Men Talk …
From True Confessions and New Cliches, (Edinburgh, 1985).

The gift of the gab

When I told my youngest sister that I was performing my own monologues, she said, "What's new?" Which inspired me to write this fairy tale

A Man of Few Words

Prince Vince wor handsome, quite a catch,
And yet he'd never made his match
For lasses spurned him as their choice,
Cause he loved t' sound of his own voice.

A passing witch, who thought him cute,
Decided she preferred him mute,
And cast a spell that cost him dear,
To only say one word per year.

Next Feast Day, this dumb struck feller,
Took a shine to t' storyteller,
Who told a bold and saucy tale,
And said her name wor Emma Dale.
And he thought on, at next year's do,
He'd happen say a word, or two.

But next year he wor proper smitten,
She had him purring like a kitten,
But because o' t witch's spell,
He'd need three years his love to tell.
Oh, peripatetic performer,
He loved her but couldn't inform her.

But after those three years had past
Our Prince's lips remained shut fast.
His mind had turned to t' marriage state,
But four more years he'd have to wait.
Four years he'd need at his disposal,
For proposing his proposal.

Till, nine years after t' witch's spell,
T' day came at last his love to tell.
After t' Feast Day's cakes and ale,
A shout went up for "Emma Dale!"
Once more her audience wor wowed,
She blew them kisses scraped and bowed.

Then t' Prince came forrard, full of charm,
And gently took her slender arm
And led her out to t' balcony
Where t' Royal Gardens she could see.
Accompanied by t' song o't birds,
He uttered his nine precious words.

"My darling, I love you. Will you marry me?"
And, slowly turning back from t' garden,
Smiling sweetly, she said, "Pardon?"

Old Town in the sun

One sunlit day, I sauntered along Long Causeway, with the moors behind me and spectacular views all around.

In Old Town shop and café, there was a wall of striking, not for sale, photo-realist paintings, old copies of The New Stateman to thumb through, and Christopher Goddard maps to buy. But the award winning gardening book I'd come for, written by a local man, had sold out.

I got a table with scenic views in both directions, a cappuccino and a good bellyful of thick vegetable soup, "More like a stew." I got change from a tenner. You certainly get your wads worth up at Old Town.

Not a proper dad

Twenty five years ago, I was looking into the fridge with Jude for a coca cola. He said, "Why can't you be a proper dad?"

"What d'you mean?"

"Proper dads have cans of lager and coke in the fridge."

He mentioned his mate, a daft but nice lad, whose tattooed stepdad had a large Alsatian that always terrified Jude, but apparently he kept an exemplary fridge.

A few years back, Jude said he'd bumped into his old school mate, who was up visiting relatives in the valley. He lives in the south west now. I asked if he still lived with his stepdad.

"No, his stepdad's in prison for a double murder."

February 14th

The fact is, this old Saint's day just happened to fall on 14th February, which was regarded in medieval times as the first day of spring, as it coincided with the time when birds choose their mates. The first record that can be found for the connection of the date to human love appears to be in John Lydgate's poem, A Valentine to Her that Excelleth All, after which regular references to valentine customs appear, including the awarding of presents to loved ones, and other mock serious beliefs, such as the fancy that the first person you see on the day will become your lover. Samuel Pepys records that, having builders at work in the house, his wife did not open her eyes until she had left to go into the garden. Commercially produced cards were given in Victorian times and the sending of a valentine card leads to terrible consequences in Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd.

Children's Valentine Rhymes

Here's a couple of rhymes written by children of my generation:

I would wash all the dishes
If you would be my Mrs.

And …

My love is like a cabbage,
Divided into two,
The leaves I give to others,
But the heart I give to you.

(Both from The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, 1959, OUP)
The first one came true, as it happens. Nowadays, I stack the dish washer.

And finally

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