It’s election season in Poplar! How nice that one of the stories slots so neatly into that!
First up: Violet is running for local office, which is both pretty cool and pretty ballsy for a woman in the mid-1960s. While she’s enthusiastic and has some great ideas, Fred is VERY not on board with this whole thing. He spends most of the episode pouting and huffing like a child every time he has to do even the most basic supporting-your-spouse duties. We’ll get back to this.
Our Mum O’the Week is Mrs Aidoo, an immigrant who’s happily settled in Britain with her husband and son. The whole family’s lovely, but there are some health problems here. Mrs A, who’s expecting her second child, is very anaemic, despite taking her iron tablets as prescribed. The little boy has growing pains, and her husband seems to be struggling to keep up with the local football team.
After she gives birth, Mrs Aidoo has a lot of bleeding and has to go to hospital for a transfusion. It makes her feel a lot better, which is not surprising considering her diagnosis. Trixie remembers seeing a couple of women in Africa who had similar symptoms. They told her some families have a sickness running through them, like a curse.
Turner condescendingly tells his patient there are plenty of other jobs he could just have. That’s the most white privilege thing anyone’s ever said on this show.
Turner, of course, doesn’t believe in curses and gets to researching. He learns all about sickle cell disease, which is a truly horrifying thing. Turner delivers the news to the family and tells Mr Aidoo he’ll have to get a new, less active job (he’s a postman). Mr Aidoo quite reasonably is like, ‘What, like there are just jobs lying around on the street waiting for me to pick them up?’ At which point Turner really condescendingly tells him that there are plenty of jobs out there. That is the most white privilege thing you’ve ever done, Turner. I mean, come on. Luckily, Mr Aidoo has a really nice employer and he’s reassigned to the sorting office. So, yay for that, but the family’s in for a tough road ahead, because sickle cell is really hard to treat, even today. I can’t imagine what it would have been like back in the 60s.
So, we’re left thinking that the Aidoos will be ok, ultimately.
Our true A story this week is that of Clarice Millgrove, a very elderly lady played by Annette Crosbie. She comes onto the Nonnatus radar after missing several appointments to have a leg ulcer looked at. Lucille is dispatched to her house and finds that the woman’s a virtual shut-in, not to mention a hoarder. She’s paying a local girl to pick up groceries for her, and the kid shows Lucille how to get into the house.
Lucille takes a look at the filthy, unsafe surroundings and decides something needs to be done here. Since Clarice is pretty hostile to most young outsiders, Lucille brings Sister MJ along on a clean-up mission. The two elderly ladies hit it off splendidly, bonding over their shared love of books.
But it soon transpires that Clarice can’t remain as she is. She has a bad fall while trying to use the commode Lucille brought, so the local welfare officer is brought in. The rather brusque, ‘seen-it-all’ woman quickly realises that books and objects aren’t the only thing Clarice is hoarding. The woman has–get this–been wrapping up her poo in paper and stuffing it up the chimney.
I. Can’t. Even.
The poor woman helplessly explains that the bathroom was just too far away. Dear God. Please, please, let me not grow old.
This discovery means Clarice will be sent to a home. In a small parcel of things she wants to take with her, Lucille finds an old suffragette medal which was given to Clarice after she took part in a hunger strike back in the day. Clarice tells her how absolutely horrifying hunger strikes actually are. Seriously, it’ll make your hair curl, that monologue. No wonder this woman’s been hoarding crazy stuff.
Her words touch Lucille, who is now determined this woman shall leave her home with dignity. When the people show up to take Clarice to the home, Clarice barricades herself inside and begins hurling poo parcels at them. The police are brought in and are about to break down the door, but Lucille prevents them. She goes inside and persuades Clarice to come out.
Clarice does, and before she goes to the home she asks if she’ll be allowed to eat the food there. Oh, that’s so heartbreaking! Lucille gently reassures her that she’ll never have to worry about hunger.
After Clarice settles into the home, Lucille goes to visit her, only to discover she’s died. But before she went, Clarice took the time to update her will. Sister MJ receives a book of Robert Louis Stevenson poetry, Lucille gets the suffragette medal, and the little girl who fetched the groceries gets a giant book with £10 notes tucked in amongst the pages. Woah, that’s a hell of a haul for a kid back then! We’re talking about a time when there was literal penny candy! The child is, naturally, delighted!
And Fred, moved by the history of this woman who fought for the basic right to have her voice be heard, comes around and apologises to Violet for being such a jerk. They go to vote, along with the rest of the Nonnatuns. Lucille proudly wears her medal. Aww!
But hang on–did Violet win or not? I know she was a long shot, but come on, show, don’t leave us hanging!