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A tale of Christmas past was a piece of short Coronation Street fiction which appeared in TV Times for the issue of 23rd December 1989 to 5th January 1990. Illustrated by Brian Denington, it was written by Adele Rose.
It is Christmas 1966. Bet Lynch is working in the PVC factory on Coronation Street and living in a scruffy bedsit. This time of year always brings back bad memories for her as it was another Christmas ten years before when she had had to give up her baby for adoption…
Bet was just sixteen years old and working in a chip shop, determined to meet a “big, rich, handsome fella” who could sweep her off her feet. Joe Mason, 28 and twelve years Bet’s senior, wasn’t rich but had the charm and looks to attract Bet to him. Plied with Babycham in the Bricklayers Arms, Bet couldn’t believe that she was the girlfriend of this worldly and sophisticated man and confided to her best friend Shirley Pinner that she was going to marry Joe and live happily after after with her own little home and a couple of children, a boy named Martin and a girl called Marilyn.
Bet’s need for this dream to come true came about because of her own harsh upbringing when her father Patrick Lynch walked out on her and her mother when she was six months old. Mary Lynch worked hard to support them but Bet suffered at the hands of various indifferent childminders. Her dreams of a secure and happy future fell apart though when Joe charmed Bet into his bed and she fell pregnant. Instantly he found out, he too walked out on her and she never heard from him again. Her mother reacted badly to the thought of an illegitimate grandchild and all but suffered a nervous breakdown. When the baby was born, she insisted that Bet put the child – a boy named Martin – up for adoption and, scared and lonely, she agreed. Martin Andrew Lynch was handed over to his adoptive parents when he was six weeks old and Bet never saw him again.
Ten years later, she refuses to let any man use her again the way that Joe Mason did. She prepares herself for a night out in her bedsit with a new friend, an exotic dancer named Rita Littlewood. Short of bookings from her agent Billy Reno following a bout of flu, Bet and Rita go out to the Orinoco Club where an ageing man with the beginnings of a beer belly and thinning hair and a desperate need to talk with someone begs to buy Bet a drink. Feeling sorry for him, she agrees to just the one drink and listens to his tales of failure and rejection. After the one drink and not too happy about the way in which the man’s fingers are starting to touch her knee she walks away and rejoins Rita. “Who was that creep you were with?” her friend asks. “Nobody much” replies Bet, feeling on top of the world. She realises that she can’t hate Joe Mason any more – not now that she has seen how the last ten years have treated him…