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Forty years on: it was all in the tea leaves was a piece of Coronation Street fiction which appeared in TV Times magazine for the issue dated 3rd to 9th December 1983. Written by Ken Roche, the article was illustrated by John Berry.
Hilda Ogden and Elsie Tanner are having a rare moment of neighbourliness over a cup of tea in the back room of No. 13. Hilda has just read Elsie’s tea leaves and has slightly puzzled her as her statements about things in Elsie’s life have proved to be surprisingly accurate. Nevertheless, old habits die hard and Elsie makes slightly sarcastic enquiries about when she first realised she “had the gift”. Hilda tells her that it was when she was fifteen: Her father had lost his job in a cotton mill and, to help make ends meet, Hilda got a job delivering groceries. Her employer also read the leaves and taught Hilda the knack. On her second reading of his leaves, she saw him winning a small fortune and the next day he won £100 on an accumulator.
The discussion turns to Stan. Although Elsie knows most of the story already, Hilda rambles on about meeting him when she tripped over him when he was drunk in the blackout on a trip to Blackpool and six days later they were married – and that was forty years ago this week. Elsie realises that it this makes it a special anniversary for the Ogdens and before she can bite her tongue she blurts out that in some ways Stan and Hilda have only been together for thirty-nine years. Hilda doesn’t take the bait but remembers the day after their wedding night when the military police burst into her parents’ house and arrested Stan for desertion. He spent the next year in the glasshouse and then for a good ten years after that he was away more often than not as a lorry driver, sending money home when he remembered.
Hilda tells Elsie something she’s never told anyone else. On the day of their wedding she’d seen in the leaves that she and Stan would be parted for a time and after his arrest she grew to rely on the tea leaves a great deal too much for her own good. Some years passed and Stan was home from his driving when Lily, an old friend who Hilda had known at school, popped in. She was up from London to see her parents. After she had gone and Stan had departed on his next driving job, Hilda read Stan’s leaves and saw in them a terrible accident and she wouldn’t see him again. Worried sick, she tried to get in touch with him and burst into tears when he walked through the door days later when he returned home – safe and in one piece. Hilda realised that she must have read Lily’s cup instead and went round to see her parents. They had a letter from Lily who had got married quickly after her trip up north to a New Zealander and moved out there with him. On the boat out she broke her leg but was otherwise unharmed but the prediction had come true: Lily had had an accident and Hilda never did see her again.