When I did my first solo trip to Melbourne in the mid-90s, I told my friends there were three things I absolutely had to do. To go to Hanging Rock, to see the floral clock and to visit the Neighbours street. Accommodating as they were, they took me to all three and, while I have photos of the clock and the rock, I have no photos of the little cul-de-sac in Vermont South where Neighbours was filmed.
This is most unlike me! After all, I’d made a trip to Melbourne to see the street. You’d think I’d have photo evidence of having been there.
Maybe it’s because I was never a die-hard fan. There were periods when I watched it religiously and then many years when I never did, but the show was always there in the background. A story line would make its way into my newsfeed, a character would leave under dramatic circumstances, or a former star would go on to do something else. Neighbours was one of those things that seems to have always been there, even if you weren’t directly aware of it. Until it wasn’t, with the news earlier in the year that the series was coming to an end.
Back in the 80s in Tasmania, with the huge choice we had from two commercial channels, we didn’t get Neighbours right from the start. We only knew about the show from reading articles about the actors in Dolly magazine (and probably TV Week). We knew who the characters were but we’d never seen the show. And, if I recall correctly, in those days, Tasmania was always seasons behind in shows, and we’d see episodes that had already aired on the mainland weeks, months, maybe even years ago. So when Molly died in A Country Practice (sorry, spoilers), we’d heard about it long before we ever saw it.
But, instead of starting Neighbours at the very beginning, Tasmanian TV started screening the show from Scott and Charlene’s wedding episode.
(Scott and Charlene. They don’t even need surnames. Like Madonna. Or Kylie. Though these days they’d probably be called something like “Scorlene”, which brings to mind images of weird-looking triangles.)
I can’t remember if this was in time with when the mainland saw it, or if it was after that (I suspect it was the latter), but we finally got to see what all the fuss was about. And hear that horrific Angry Anderson song in context. The wedding didn’t make the song any better, by the way.
That was one of my regular viewing periods. Des and Daphne, Mike and Jane, Scott and Charlene, Madge, Henry, Jim Robinson, Lucy, the very naughty Paul, Gail, Harold, Helen, Mrs Mangel, Bouncer. I can remember Dr Karl and the rest of the Kennedys arriving in Ramsay Street, the Scullys (or is that Scullies?), Todd and Phoebe, and Todd getting hit by a van as he was trying to get to the hospital to prevent Phoebe having an abortion. (I’ve been slightly nervous around white vans ever since.)
I became a regular viewer again in 2006 when Kramstable was a baby and he always seemed to need feeding right when Neighbours was on. Also when the Bold and the Beautiful was on during the day. In fact, I think (and I could be well wrong), that at this time Neighbours was playing catch-up early in the day and then airing the current episodes in the late afternoon time slot. I could be making that up. I was addled by baby brain at the time.
I hadn’t kept up with the show since then but it was still a shock to hear that it had been cancelled. TV without Neighbours is like, I don’t know, eating chips without the seagulls. All I knew was that Paul Robinson was still in town. Or had gone away and come back. And collected a few more wives since the last time I’d seen him.
So, of course, I tuned in to see the final episode, which focused on Toadie’s upcoming wedding. I was familiar with Toadie, having seen his short-lived marriage to Nurse Dee Bliss end in tragedy. (Actually, the first time I saw Shannon Bennett on Masterchef, I said, “oh he’s married to Nurse Dee Bliss” to the blank looks of my family. “You know, she got married to Toadie and the car ran off a cliff and . . . never mind . . . ”) What I didn’t know is that not only did Dee come back, but that Toadie had since had two other marriages that didn’t end well. (Did Toadies and Steph actually go through with the sham marriage? Some sources say yes, some don’t mention it. I think I missed that part.)
Dr Karl and Susan were still there, Izzy was back to stir up trouble, Paul Robinson was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Sophie from Home and Away and Jane Harris had been back on the street for the last four years. And this set the scene for the most meaningful previous cast member return for the final, in the form of Guy Pearce, I mean, Mike, returning to Erinsborough to see his daughter, and admitting to Jane he still loved her and maybe, if he moved back, they could take things slowly . . .
We saw Madge’s ghost, Scott and Charlene were there, sort of (were they?), Toadie got his happy ending, Susan wrapped it all up with a tribute to the cast and the show’s viewers, and there was glitter for everyone.
I’m glad they didn’t do something horrible like having a plane crash into the street party and blowing everything up, as some had thought the series might end. Or that someone woke up and found that everything had been one of Bouncer’s dreams. It ended with a party and a celebration of good neighbours and good friends over the last 37 years.
Coming back to Neighbours, even just for one night, felt like that thing when you lose touch with a good friend for 15 years, and you find them again. You’ve both changed but you’re both still the same people with the same connection you’ve always had and it’s easy to pick up from where you left off.
22 for 2022 update
I spent most of my spare time this week working through the romance writing course (thing 20), which has been interesting and has certainly changed my perspectives on romance and romantic elements stories.
I opened the cupboard, glanced at the scoby hotel (thing 5) and quietly shut the door again. I’ll deal with that later.
On Sunday I went out with my camera and made the last photos I need for my photo project, which I need to start editing or I’ll lose enthusiasm for. Stay tuned . . .
I did some more work on my learning repository (thing 12) and have come to realise that I take way too many notes that I end up stashing in a file somewhere and never look at again, which isn’t any help to me at all. It’s better to take fewer notes that I’ll actually look at again and use, than notes that cover absolutely everything that make it difficult to find the things I can actually use.
This is what’s known in the world of Clifton Strengths (thing 14) as the strength of “input” and means I love to collect things, in my case, information, The profile of the input strengths says that I like to acquire facts and store them away.
Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing, it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away.
One of the action items for people with this strength is to “devise a system to store and easily locate information”.
I think the key here is the term “easily locate” not the term “store”. I’m very good at storing it. I’m not so good at finding it again. It’s actually thing 15 on my list, which is parked until September. I am very aware I need to do this. I just don’t know where to start!
22 for 2022 summary
Things completed to date: 7 (8, 10, 11, 13, 18, 19, 22)
Things completed this week: –
Things I worked on this week: 3: (12, 20, 21)
Things in progress: 5 (1, 5, 12, 20, 21)
Things not started: 2 (14, 17)
Things that are parked until the end of September: 6 (2, 3, 4, 6, 15, 16)
Things I’m not going to do: 2 (7, 9)
What do I want to do next week?
Next week, my plan is to finish the romance writing course and to keep working on my learning repository. As part of that I think I need to get back into the Mindspot program (thing 1) and try to complete as much of the outstanding work as I can. And I need to keep working on my sore shoulder.
What did I learn this week?
I’d seen references to the Enneagram personalty profile in a few places and my curiosity eventually got the better of me so I looked it up to see what it was about. I’ll spare you the details only to say that in the brief (cheapskate, free) assessment I did, my result came out very consistent with my INTP Myers Briggs Type and my C type in the DiSC system.
What was the best thing about this week?
Going to the physio about my shoulder was definitely up there in the highlights, as was getting out and walking in the daylight rather than the grim, cold and dark early morning. That’s one for next week’s update.
What I’m reading this week
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain
The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner
Days I went for a walk in the morning or at lunch time (Goal = 5): 6
No phone at breakfast (Goal = 6): 6
Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
Days I did controlled breathing (Goal = 7): 7
No phone at lunch time (Goal = 5): 5
Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 5): 5
Finish work by 5.30 (Goal = 5): 4
Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 7
Days I shut my computer down before 9.30 (Goal = 6): 7