Kevin and Denise – A Match Made in Heaven?

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By Charles S.P. Jenkins

Phil Daniels is perhaps best known for his starring role in The Who’s film Quadrophenia. His role as Jimmy led to his playing a cockney in a number of other productions before coming to the role of Kevin Wicks in EastEnders.

I remember that when he first appeared in Walford as Kevin Wicks, I was decidedly unimpressed with the character. I think that this was mainly due to his whimpering around his kids, the dozy Deano and less dozy Carly. Apparently he had plans to see the kids ‘settled’ and then to take off and ‘travel the world’. However, he does not go. No, he decides to stay and, with the kids, he settles into the house of his cousin by marriage, Pat Evans. This leads to our being treated to endless boring plotlines centring on their domestic dealings. I couldn’t wait for him to change his mind and ‘sling ’is hook’, as we used to say in the East End, and GO!

Not long after the arrival of the Wickses, into the Vic walks Denise Fox, played by Diane Parish, a former Lovejoy character, and now here as a mother of two spoiled girls. The elder, Chelsea, is lazy and thinks herself a beauty who upon arrival throws herself at Grant Mitchell during one of his return visits. The younger is unpleasant and surly and supposed to be a ‘clever’ child. Although this child is named Libby, she answers to the ludicrous name of Squiggle! She takes a shine to Darren Miller, which proves that she and her sister are demonstrating an early tendency towards making poor choices in men!

I dismissed both Kevin and Denise as two more dull characters to fill the screen while we awaited the further exploits of Phil Mitchell. And then it happened: Kevin was sat at the bar of the Vic one early evening bemoaning something of absolutely no interest when in walks Denise, grumpy as ever, and the two met, and… my opinion changed.

There have been great ‘pairings’ in film and on the stage: Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh; the couple in The Thin Man series (William Powell and Myrna Lloyd), Cary Grant and just about any woman he worked with. Of course, ‘on-screen chemistry’ does not always translate into ‘off-screen attraction’, but as far as I was concerned, this on-screen ‘odd couple’ certainly looked made for each other.

Although this meeting of Kevin and Denise was hardly the forerunner of ‘a match made in heaven’, I did not see it that way at all. Instantly sparks flew between them. She, being the obvious aggressor and Kevin, defending himself against what he saw as an unprovoked attack! How on earth did I think that they were a match made in heaven, you may be asking? But sparks and insults often hide an attraction between two apparent combatants. Anyway, upon reflection I soon realised what it was about these two characters that appealed to me and made me believe them to be an ideal couple on screen.

I have to confess that I have disliked and been disliked by some in the past that I eventually changed my opinion of, and I could tell that despite the spats, Kevin and Denise were destined to ‘find each other’ sometime. But this is not the point: what was it I saw in these two characters that made me suddenly like them together?

Allow me to tell you about my parents. My mother was a true East Ender, from the Borough of Bethnal Green, while my father came from the South London Borough of Dulwich, where actor Dennis Harman went to school. My parents were like ‘chalk and cheese’, quite different in personality and had spats often. However, one was able to see their attraction for each other, which was especially evident when they danced together, which they often did in our kitchen. To see them ‘move together to the music’ was quite magical. They were graceful, and although I am sure that they were not especially great dancers, together, they gelled and moved in perfect unison to the rhythm of the music. As a child, I loved to watch them dance.

Something else about my parents that Kevin and Denise have in common with them: they were short, perhaps even tiny! My mother was 4 feet 11 inches tall, although she insisted she was five feet in height. My father was 5 feet 1 inch, but was what you would call wiry. They were both dark with jet-black hair, which my father inherited from his Welsh ancestry. From where came my mother’s colouring, I know not. Both also knew how to dress to their best advantage and always looked fine when they went out, and they made a handsome couple.

Seeing Kevin and Denise together at the bar of the Vic immediately made me think of my folks: both small and dark, with Kevin being wiry. I wondered how long we were going to have to wait for these two to realise that they were ideally suited?

Denise has a temper, which brought a great deal of friction to their early attempts at starting a relationship. There were multiple misunderstandings when they tried to ‘go on a date’, each abruptly ending with Denise walking off in a huff. She can be quite the pit bull. Despite this, Kevin chose to respond to Denise’s tantrums by showing a side of him so far not seen on screen. Since he obviously had begun to have ‘strong feelings’ for her, brave Kevin appeared undaunted by these failures and kept coming back with the hope that she had calmed down and he could continue to try ‘to win the hand of the fair maiden!’

Even Denise’s daughters noticed that there was ‘something’ between their mother and Kevin. While Chelsea actively encouraged her mother to be nicer to Kevin, the spoilt, unpleasant and loud Libby became openly hostile to the kind overtures made by Kevin to her. Libby, who is supposed to be a clever child had her head in the clouds and yearned for her mother to fall back in love with her father, the odious Owen Fox. Obviously the child saw her parents and herself living happily ever after in some distant fairyland on a planet far, far away!

So why was Denise no longer with her husband? Like many failed marriages in Britain and elsewhere, the abuse of alcohol can be found as the root cause of their breakdowns. This was the case with Denise and Owen Fox. Apparently, she had fled her husband and their life together along with her daughters and escaped to Walford. Here she took up the position of postmistress in order to support her family. And like Kevin, she was trying to make a new life for them.

Meanwhile, once Kevin decided to stay in Walford, he took over the car lot and began selling second-hand cars, while Carly took up the job of a mechanic along with Gary and Minty at Phil’s garage under the Arches and Deano tried to show off his skill as a vendor in the Bridge Street Market.

Things now looked set for Kevin and Denise to finally go on a date. Daughter Chelsea was working at a restaurant where the owner had taken a shine to Kevin. Chelsea was soon fired, but Kevin stepped in and got her reinstated. When this owner insulted Chelsea and Denise a little later, Kevin, always the gentleman, sided with Denise and gave the owner a piece of his mind. All now looked set for the couple to finally get together, as Denise became less hostile towards Kevin.

But as we all know, even though Kevin and Denise appear on screen to be a great couple, and despite the fact that it looked as if all would go smoothly for them, dark clouds were sure to be looming on the horizon together with a meddling unpleasant child causing havoc. Alas, the path of true love never runs smoothly, especially in a soap opera!

Dr Charles S.P. Jenkins is solely responsible for the fine websites stories-of-london.org and eastend-memories.org

 

Alfie Moon on the Therapist’s Couch

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By Yaz Headley

Editor’s note: The author is an accredited Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) Psychotherapist in private practice in London, UK. Yaz is also studying for a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine and Integrated Mental Health. She has followed EastEnders on and off over the years. You can reach her at yheadley@gmail.com and read more about her background at www.thecompletelife.com.

We are all a subject of our own history. Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something or is invested in you continuing to live as you are. For some this is a good thing, for many this is not the way to go. Many would love the magic elixir that would get rid of every negative break with the past, but it is not possible to find it in a bottle, a happy thought or magic.

In looking at a psyche of a person, we would look at their history, their present life and their thoughts and behavior. We would look at the support system and resources they have in their lives, and we would look at what they do when they are stressed. In some therapies, such as the psychodynamic and the psychoanalytic, a great deal of time is spent on the patient’s past and in the unfurling of their history.

In the version of Integrative Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is the approach I take, I spend some time there, but I also look at their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. These are key to helping an individual change. Modern-day research shows how we are not just a subject of history and genetics but are also affected by epigenetics.

Epigenetics is our environment, those whom we have around us, the food we eat and the activities we do.

Patient’s File Alfie Moon.

The song “Whats it all, Alfie” about comes to mind….. The thing is – does Alfie ever have an answer to this question? I think not. Alfie does not know from one day to the next as to what is really going on. Alfie has no real sense of self. Alfie is amorphous and adapts to whosoever he is with. He is a perfect host at any place he is in, because he can easily adapt to people and those around him. He absorbs what is around him and easily gives and reflects their energy.

Alfie’s parents were killed in a car crash when he was young. The loss of a parent when young has been found to be a significant factor for those who suffer from depression later on in life. It is often thought that we can manage and handle matters when we are young, but the loss of parents is a huge blow to anyone who is starting out in life. So much needs to be reset and changed.

No one is as important to us as our parents or those who may care for us. The value of our original carers is inestimable because our memories and imprints when young are scorched into our DNA. This is then carried within us for the rest of our life, and we need to rework it if we are to live better lives. Such important imprints are not easily replaced.

Alfie is no stranger to criminal activities either; identity theft, bigamy, and arson. He is always trying it on, trying to make things better. Trying to find a short-cut to happiness and wealth. In the end, the charming, sweet Alfie starts again and again from zero. A perfect host to others, but to himself, he is not true. Alfie promises the moon but barely gets past the cheddar cheese.

We all know an Alfie. They are sweet kind people but in the end, do so because they also hope you will also in the end really look after them. Alfie is very co-dependent, and his very own existence is determined by others. We all in some way are co-dependent, but Alfie has it perfected to an art-form.

Only a co-dependent like him would be able to live with someone so borderline or bipolar as Kat. Kat is unpredictable, and the very seeming predictable Alfie likes the ups and downs that Kat brings to their lives to avoid making his own decisions. He is so busy fire-fighting the entrails which Kat leaves in her wake that he does not have to do anything about his own life. You meet these people sometimes. Sweet helpful, always thinking about others. He can be hot and cold and committed and avoidant too.

Avoidance is very accepted today. We can avoid relationships, discussions, what counts by – by watching lots of TV, looking over and over at mobiles, playing online games, by lots of sex, food and alcohol; behaviors which seem so acceptable nowadays. All often accounted with a “I’m just having fun”. There is a tipping point, though, to avoidance. A point when it becomes unhealthy. Its fun to drink, eat and have sex. But there is a point when it really starts to have a negative effect on ourselves and those around us.

Alfie does it with his relationship with Kat. But at the end of it, they really need to stop avoiding. But the stopping of avoiding is unexpectedly harder to do then to continue with the avoiding. But hey, where would we be without the fun, unpredictability, and avoidance of Alfie and his hot and cold relationship with Kat. Life would be so boring if he were reasonable, organized and settled. He is such an important character that keeps the EastEnders storyline moving. ©2016 Yaz

‘Phil Mitchell Would Break My Legs’

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Edward Hopper’s painting Nighthawks reimagined by Doug Pledger

By Larry Jaffee

London artist Doug Pledger has found an unusual muse in Phil Mitchell, and his memes dedicated to the EastEnders hard man often go viral in social media, collected at www.utterphilth.com.

Pledger, whose other artwork is showcased at www.douggy.com, graciously shared insight into why he pays homage to someone who many fans consider to be an Albert Square menace.

Walford Gazette: What was the catalyst for using Phil Mitchell as a muse, and how old is the site? 

Doug Pledger: About 10 to 15 years ago, I did a few jokey photoshopped images of Phil, in fake film posters and what not, just to send to mates, and over the years have done a few here and there. My friend osymyso had also dabbled in messing with EastEnders, having made a musical track ‘Pat and Peg’ which had done the rounds in the late 1990s. We thought we’d rub our brains together and do a few more bits and pieces and make a website – Utter Philth, which we started in March 2016. Osymyso does the music for the videos, and I do all the designs/cartoons/photoshop stuff along with the video editing. It caught on pretty quickly thanks to the Facebook page, and kind of took off overnight. We haven’t made a single penny from it, but it sure is a laugh.

WG: But why Phil?

DP: I think the fact that Steve McFadden is the only actor in EastEnders who doesn’t do that much in the way of interviews/chat shows gives an air of mystery about him, almost like he really is Phil. He’s great to plonk into different situations, as he has various traits that work really well for comedy/tragedy. He’s famously angry, confused and sad, never really that happy… unless he’s drunk or doing someone over. He’s certainly the best thing about the show, by a million country miles.

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WG: Have you received any recognition from the BBC of your Utter Philth efforts?

DP: The BBC certainly know about Utter Philth as I have worked freelance for the EastEnders social media department; this was before Philth took over. I did a bunch of non-Phil-related images and designs, which were used on their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter etc. They did post a few of the early Utter Philth images but due to some of the stuff being pretty backward and just plain odd, they haven’t embraced it that much. This has all taken off in a weird direction now anyway. We like the idea of creating an alternate Phil Mitchell. One who’s scared of Kermit and has a sick Rubik’s Cube addiction.
WG: How many Utter Philth memes have you created?

DP: The amount of ‘memes’, as you say, so far I think there are more than 100 photos and 23 videos. There are also probably about that many again that’ll never see the light of day as they’re either too awful or just too unholy.
WG: What is the thought process behind creating such a meme?

DP: There isn’t really a thought process on any of this. Things just pop into your head, mostly due to what clips and photos surface. It’s a lot easier getting ideas from watching and looking rather than having an idea, then spending all day looking for a photo where he’d look good on a skateboard, for example.

WG: Why do you do it?

DP: FUN. Nobody’s paying us to do any of this, so it’s more like a hobby. The fact that it’s being banded around the web is just icing on the cake. I’ve been doing stuff like this forever, for the love of making stuff.

WG: If you met Steve McFadden, and he realized Utter Philth was your creation, what would you say to him?

DP: If I met Phil, I mean Steve, I would go weak at the knees probably because he’d be breaking them. Has he even seen it? I have no idea. I’d have to say hello though, shake his hand and check out that thumb of his. You know what… up until recently I couldn’t stand the guy, not Steve, but Phil. It’s only been this year I think and that he’s gotten older, that I’ve realised how fucking brilliant he is. Always known he’s a great actor and admired his skill but never really took to him. Maybe because when he was younger he was just this “well ’ard thug,” but now, he’s kind of still that, but he’s more of a character. But maybe that’s always been there. As I said before, I don’t really watch the show so I’m not really the best person to judge. Would love to have a drink with him though.
WG: Have you received any acknowledgment from Steve?

DP: My fiancée Caroline went to school with his son and is friends with him on Facebook. She said one day, “Oh look! Matt’s liked one of your Phil videos” so we know his son’s seen it … that’s as close to the holy grail we’ve got.
WG: To what extent do you watch the show for ideas?

DP: I have a one-year-old daughter, so I don’t really get much time to watch TV outside of CBeebies, but I do try to skim through the EastEnders episodes on the BBC iPlayer to see if Phil’s been in it. To be honest, I don’t watch the show, I see bits and pieces here and there, but I really couldn’t tell you what three quarters of the characters are called or what they’ve been up to. I’m just about up to date with Phil, but haven’t seen any of this week. Osymyso is the same, but I think between us we manage to keep on top of things. I do get told from time to time by people… “Doug, did you see EE last night, Phil was on form.” It’s good to have these informants.
WG: How many social media followers does Utter Philth have?

DP: Facebook has 57,740 followers and the videos have millions of hits. Is that good? Sounds good … but then you might find a page dedicated to a snowman that has double that, I’m really not that clued up on all this. The fans on there are great though, the best, they’ve really taken to the nutty stuff.

New Gazette (No. 95) At Printer

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The new issue features our usual pot pourri of EastEnders analysis and insight into characters including Pat Butcher and Dot Cotton, current series developments, such as the imminent return of Lord Cashman whose Colin left the show in 1989, and of course, humour. To wit, check out the brilliant mind behind “Utter Philth” devoted to all things Phil Mitchell.

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Another article is about a woman who likes Pat Butcher so much she has a tattoo of her.

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To subscribe, click here on the site or order via credit card by calling 917-291-2488 (US mobile).

Walford Gazette Presidential Endorsement

By Larry Jaffee

Being a  working-class publication, the Walford Gazette’s preferred candidate for the U.S. president during the primary season had been Senator Bermie Sanders.

However, as long as Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she will receive my vote to prevent a fraudulent lunatic from taking office.

I am not happy about it, and look on her as the lesser of two evils. But it is not the right time to place a protest vote, as I have done several times in the past.

Ironically, I thank the official from the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaking at the Republican National Convention for telling me how to vote in this absurd election.

The NRA official noted that the last time the US Supreme Court had to decide a case dealing with gun ownership, it was decided 5–4, and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the deciding swing vote favoring the NRA.

But the Second Amendment is among the many issues the High Court will decide in the next four years, and I am deeply concerned whom Donald Trump would install for the vacant seat, as well as anything else he would do or say as president, based on his continually outrageous statements about minority groups and hollow rhetoric short on facts or concrete strategy on how he would get anything done.

The second that Donald Trump on the GOP primary campaign trail made fun of a disabled person, I realized how unfit he is to hold the office. A decent human being doesn’t make fun of disabled people. Period. That Trump continues to refuse to release his tax returns is the behavior of a private citizen who has something to hide, not a public servant.

Does he think that being president is such a trivial job that he could continue to host his reality TV show The Apprentice, as he reportedly told NBC?

And for the record, if I had my druthers, Senator Sanders would lead a real third party that would teach both the Democrats and Republicans a lesson in civics and public service that puts citizens first, not special interests. We deserve better.