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Pop CultureMarch 10, 2017

Goodbye my Deirdre, goodbye my friend


Tara Ward gives a tearful farewell to Deirdre, the bespectacled Black Eyed Pea-fanatic of Coronation Street.

Coronation Street is set in a surburban netherworld where trams derail into corner shops and serial murderers drive their families into the canal. Why the heck anyone lives there is beyond me, but Deirdre Barlow loved it so much she stuck around for 43 years. FORTY THREE YEARS. That’s a shitload of hot pots and heartbreak; no wonder she was such a legend.

Alas, there’ll be no more delicious hot pots for Our Deirdre. Following the death of actor Anne Kirkbride in early 2015, Coronation Street bid Deirdre a sad farewell by sending her to old mate Bev’s house, never to return. Good one, Bev. And good one TVNZ, for making New Zealand viewers wait two long, cold years to say a final ‘ta-ra’ to Deirdre — beloved soap icon, goddess of the goggles, queen of the cobbles.

Brace yourselves, this is going to hurt.

Who am I kidding? If you’re a Coro fan you’ll have YouTubed the shit out of Deirdre’s death two years ago. But to humour TVNZ, let’s slap on our shocked face and pretend we’re watching for the first time.

Excellent work, friends

Let’s revisit the many reasons why Deirdre was such a bloody legend — mostly because she knew what a courgette was, way back in 1981. Were courgettes even a thing, then? And they said Ken was the smart one.

She was cooler than she knew

We’ve all been Deirdre — hopelessly drunk, sniffing weird stuff in bathrooms and finding love in a hopeless place.

Haven’t we? No? Just me, then.

She had flames of passion that needed fanning

Deirdre had a fire in her loins that Ken “Pipe and Slippers” Barlow could never ignite. She was a caged animal who unashamedly put the ‘grrr’ into cougar, a wild beast of a woman shrouded in an flouncy apron of repressed desire.

Deirdre had terrible taste in men; they lied to her, died on her, sent her to prison. But not Dev from the Corner Shop. “You are an amazingly attractive woman,” he drooled in her ear, with all the passion of a small business owner who specialised in selling three types of baked beans.

It was a night no Coro fan can ever forget, no matter how hard we try.

She didn’t give a shit what anyone thought

Her Stuffed Marrow was always watery, her Christmas turkey ‘dry enough to choke a camel’. How many fucks did Deirdre give? Not many, if any. She was a chain-smoking, wine guzzling, pinny wearing queen who polished those marrows with a paper towel like she was Nigella bloody Lawson on a midnight sugar high.

Also, what’s with the phallic set of kitchen scales? I told you, TOTAL LEGEND.

She loved the Black Eyed Peas

It’s the only conclusion to draw from this masterpiece. Watch to the end to see Ken’s eyes roll so far back in his head that they rattle.

Deirdre was an icon of grace and beauty

Those glasses. That perm. The chain belts and chunky necklaces. The way her neck tightened when she was angry, how her voice sounded like a Landrover bumping along a gravel road. By ‘eck, Deirdre was magnificient.

Alone, the glasses and belts were pieces of nothing, but on Deirdre they created a visual symphony that looked the way I imagine happiness smells.

That makes no sense, but neither does that perm and I love her for it anyway.

She weathered more shitstorms than NIWA could ever forecast

Lumbered with a spiteful daughter, an overbearing mother, a borebag of a husband and an alcoholic stepson, Deirdre lived in a perpetual state of crisis and disappointment. Not as disappointed as Ken will be if he tries to eat that plastic fruit, but to Deirdre there’s nothing that a hearty sigh and a sneaky ciggy can’t fix.

Except for bad Stuffed Marrow. Nothing can fix that.

She loved Ken so much she married him twice

Like one of Jack Duckworth’s pigeons, Deirdre always flew back into Ken’s safe and slightly suffocating arms. “He looks after me,” she told Dev. “He gets me through”.

Sure, but did he appreciate her Stuffed Marrow? No, Deirdre, he did not.

“Do something, Ken!” is the catchphrase for our age.

She went out with a bang

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that jelly shouldn’t run, it should wobble. If only Deirdre had used phallic kitchen scales to correctly measure the gelatine/water ratio.

This scene, filmed four months before Anne Kirkbride’s death, is the perfect way to remember Deirdre. She was fierce, flawed and fabulous, just like a good trifle. Deirdre did find love in a hopeless place, and the Coronation Street cobbles won’t be the same without her. Nor will the marrow section of Freshco, but there you are. Ta-ra, love.

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