Last night's TV
Dot Cotton had had a rather hard day. Then her son Nick tried to kill her
Nick Cotton has this demon king quality. On Tuesday, wreathed in sulphurous smoke in the flaming doorway of Kaf's caf, he vanished. As, when the gas exploded, did Kaf's caf. Last night he reappeared, only slightly singed, in his mother's doorway. It had been a trying day for Dot Cotton, a careworn woman in a wig, what with the police hammering on her door and Max giving her a right earful and Heather offering sympathy while taking up most of the sofa. The last of many, many trying days.
One does rather hope for an old age serene and bright and lovely as a Lapland night. If so, one should probably move to Lapland.
Since Christmas Day, when he moved in, Nick and his chip-off-the-old-block daughter, Dotty, have been plotting to do Dot in for her life assurance. As Eliza Doolittle, an East Ender herself, shrewdly said: "Them as she lived with would have killed her for a hat pin, let alone a hat." Their cunning, if protracted, plan was to make her think she was losing her mind then overdose her with sleeping pills. This would be attributed to dementia. I'm inclined to think that, in the event of Dot joining the choir invisible, her husband, Jim, would have had first call on the dibs. However, at the last moment, Dotty, an enigmatic child, switched the sleeping pills from Dot's tea to Nick's beer. This only seemed to disable his driving, as he narrowly missed several single mothers before demolishing a flower stall and taking refuge in Kaf's caf.
Nick has been a murderer from day one. EastEnders opened with Reg, an old age pensioner, being found dead in his flat after a robbery. Nick was the obvious suspect. I was always sorry for Reg, who must have been so pleased when he heard he had landed a part in a brand new soap. But, at the moment, I am even sorrier for Ian Beale, whose chip shop is in the hands of an alkie in a trilby, and whose caf (movingly named after his late mother, Kaf) is a smoking ruin.
Dot's greeting for her sulphurous son was strong on exclamation marks. "I should have known, 'cos you've tried to kill me before! Me own son, trying to kill his mother! I ain't got a cheek left to turn! I ain't got a tear left to shed! I look in the face of the boy God give me and I see pure evil! Get out of my 'ouse! You're not my son no longer! And if I ever catch you trying to corrupt that little angel ... "
Nick, stung, retaliated with question marks. "Oh, little angel is she? You want to know the truth, ma? She's the one who's evil. It was 'er idea to kill yer. I ain't the one whose after yer money, it was 'er. 'Er ma can't cope with 'er, I can't cope with 'er, you're welcome to 'er. You want to grow old, ma? Sling 'er out with the rubbish. I managed to escape last night. You think you're going to be so lucky?" Saying which, he vanished in a puff of smoke.
And little Dotty appeared, charmingly offering to make her grandma a cup of cocoa.
As if to counterbalance the terrible tosh on TV, poetry has flung itself bodily on the other side of the seesaw. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (BBC4) was presented by the likable Simon Armitage, a poet, and the wettest man I ever saw. He chose to follow Sir Gawain's footsteps in, one must say, stupendously inclement weather. You could hear the rapid rattle of the raindrops machine-gunning his anorak. Sir Gawain, of course, would have been wearing armour, and you did begin to wonder if armour rusted and, if so, how anyone ever got out of it without WD-40. Even the forests seem to have rusted red and gold. It all looked wonderfully unmanicured and medieval.
Along the way he - Simon, not Gawain - met a knight called Gary, a priestess called Lolita and jolly blokes in Pennine pubs who still use Middle English words and who insisted, for instance, that to "sam" means to pick it up. So, "Sam, Sam, pick up thi' musket," must mean: "Pick it up, pick it up, pick up thi' musket." Unless they were pulling his leg. A common peril for gullible questing knights. I enjoyed every spectacular, sodden second of it.
The green knight, who lost his head with no apparent inconvenience, reappeared after 600 years in Monty Python and the Holy Grail as the black knight, who is dismembered limb by limb but, being John Cleese, furiously refuses to die: "It's only a flesh wound!" You can't keep a good knight down.