Auntie Doris’s All Things Must Pass #5: The Crossroads Motel

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When Harold Wilson was the prime minister, his wife Mary used to love Crossroads. I’m not surprised. It was a ruddy good programme. Yes it was a soap opera. But it wasn’t the same as Coronation Street, which was a refuge for outdated music hall acts half the time. Crossroads was a refuge for actors who weren’t particularly good at acting, but showed willing. It was magical though. And that Meg Richardson was a proper heroine, how she held it all together, by trying harder to act than all the other characters put together, and running the ruddy motel into the bargain.
What probably attracted Mrs Wilson to the programme though was its vision of a politically correct world, long before even the labour party had even dreamed up the idea of political correctness. Back in the sixties, I think that they would have called it Political Correctitude actually, but that’s beside the point.
For starters Meg’s son Sandy was in a wheelchair, at a time when no one else on the television was allowed to be in a wheelchair. Alright the Americans had had Raymond Bear in a wheelchair in “A Man Called Ironsides” for about five years, but Ironsides’s wheelchair was just one of them gimmicks that separated him from the other cops who were either bald, cowboys or wore dirty raincoats. Sandy was properly in a wheelchair because he had septic legs or something. I can’t remember exactly, but I remember Meg telling Ruth Fraser about it all once. Or maybe it was a car crash. Even if it was, I still think that his legs went septic, due to complications.
Not only did they have a physically disabled Character, they had a mentally challenged one as well. Barmy Benny, who fancied Miss Dianne and wore a woolly hat. People still talk about wearing Benny hats, and throwing a Benny when someone has a tantrum to this day. And the British army even got into trouble off their officers in the Falkands war by calling all the islanders “Bennies”. Apparently, even after they were told to stop calling them Bennies, the islanders STILL wore them hats and threw wobblers, so the soldiers called them “stills.”
People generally liked having Benny around though, and he perhaps remains the most popular character with significant mental development issues ever to have been on the television, with the possible exception of Jeremy Clarkson.
They also had black and Asian characters and wrote storylines about serious issues of the day, even though the cast couldn’t really act them out properly.
And to top that, Crossroads even had Norah Batty in it, looking after the Laundry, before she moved to Holmfirth and became the pin up of “Last of the Summer Wine,
She didn’t actually leave the series until after it came back in the 2000s. She said there was too many sex stories in it for her liking. Good for her. There are too many sex stories on everything in the 2000s.
It was never as good as it was in the golden age of Crossroads before Meg got the sack and burned to death in a fire in 1981. It was never the same after that. Like Emmerdale ruddy Farm was never the same after Mollie Sugden left the show in 1995 to concentrate on her pussy. Mollie And Meg: Two brilliant women who the soaps would never be the same without. But there you go… All things must pass.

The Auntie Doris Years: 1974

imageTimes got harder and harder. The IRA were stepping up their campaign and setting off bombs in London and Birmingham and even one on a bus near Oldham. The miners were on strike along with what seemed like two dozen other unions. Fuel was getting scarce. Prices were going up and up and up. There were regular power cuts, which left us all in the cold and dark. The shops ran out of ruddy candles! Ted Heath didn’t have a clue what to do! He made it so that people could only work three days a week, which wasn’t too bad, because it meant a four day weekend. He had the telly finish for the night after half past ten, which wasn’t too bad because it was mostly rubbish on after that time any road. But he was floundering, and he had to call a general election.
We ended up with Harold Wilson in charge of a minority government. We had to have another one before the year was out to get enough seats to be properly in charge. ‘Course, he was a sensible bloke and managed to get the miners sorted out by paying them a bit more. Some people thought that that was outrageous, but they were generally the sort of people who had no idea what it might be like to work in a coal mine, and thought that money was an entitlement reserved for clean people with posh accents. In other words, Daily Mail readers.
There’ll always be people who say that the unions ruined the country. That’s just ruddy nonsense. It’s the ruddy Tories that ruined the country, and persuaded everyone otherwise by printing a load of shite in newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Sun.
Hark at me! I’m on my high horse again aren’t I? I can’t help it though. When you have lived through it you can see it happening. I wouldn’t let any other newspaper except the Daily Mirror into my house when I was alive. Well, I had a look at the Morning Star once, but there was no cartoons, no horoscopes and no telly in it. Not even a ruddy crossword. You can’t run a revolution without giving people something to do in their coffee break. You have to give people a glimpse of good things, and I don’t mean the kind of glimpses you get in the Sun. “Show em some pictures of half naked lasses and tell them that people who want to be paid a decent wage for a hard days work are greedy” that’s what the ruddy Sun is all about. And it hasn’t changed much since the 1970s either. They are still peddling the same old nonsense.
I think I had better have a small glass of rich ruby QC and go for a lie down. I might just listen to…
…Auntie Doris’s Topping Pop Tune of 1974: “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. Although why that fact that “all the birds are singing in the sky” should make dying any harder. I don’t know. It might be a pleasant distraction if you were listening to one or two birds twittering and chirruping a bit, but a skyful of the little buggers would make a right old racket, and I I was feeling poorly anyway, I’d probably be begging the nurse to switch me off.