Detail from Harry Green print Blackpool


Hans Christian Andersen

Book Cover 'The Tinderbox' Andersen


Psyche entering Cupid's garden

Waterhouse, Psyche entering Cupid's garden


Cupid with your arrow make a love storm for me,
I promise I will love her until eternity.
I know between the two of us her heart we can steal,
Help me if you will.
  So ...
Johnny Nash, 1969 Cupid, written by Sam Cooke Cupid, Blackpool

Gustave Dore, Red Riding Hood Meets the Wolf


Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow

Episode 2B

Her work with the Samaritans has taught Natalie all the ways in which human beings offer up their hearts for the breaking.

And yet ...

Does she find her mind reverting every so often to the funny and troublesome young man who seemed to find her so worthy an object of his time and close attention?

And here he is again.

    The Questions Man, she greets him as he appears in the aisle of the small supermarket where she is buying groceries for the family dinner.  How is Natalie to know that Carlisle has followed as she left the Samaritans premises, and entered the shop in her wake?
    He makes her a very precise offer.  Perhaps the word
once will prove her undoing?
    It's not going to happen, she says, and turns away.
    He perseveres:
But if it was going to happen, where would we meet?
    And a horrified Natalie hears her voice hurriedly setting up a time and place.
    Back home in their perfect bedroom she dresses in tight top and even tighter stretch pants.
    You could take me out, she tells Ripley with a certain desperation.  I could always cancel.
    Ripley disappears into the shower without reply.

Cupid, draw back your bow,
And let your arrow go
Straight to my lover's heart for me.
Cupid, please hear my cry,
And let your arrow fly ...

That's Johnny Nash, aided and abetted by Natalie's deep husky voice.  Better she should be praying for divine intercession to prevent Cupid's arrow flying anywhere near its target, but nobody asks our opinion.

Now I don't mean to bother you
But I'm in a mess,
There's danger of me losing all of
My happiness
For I love a girl who doesn't know I exist
And this you can fix.
  So ...

Strangely enough, the fantasy scene with Carlisle singing his heart out in the police station while his fellow officers carry out their duties around him, which should be marked with the stamp of complete unreality — is perhaps the most real scene in the entire series.  Is there anyone outside a monastery who hasn't known the heightened perceptions of being in love in an oblivious world?

Ripley comes out of the shower.  It's not impossible he means to comply with Natalie's desperate request.  We've heard him taking lusty part in the Cupid song from the shower.  But he enters the bedroom to find her gone.  At the arcade, he takes a swing at irritating colleague-investor Terry Corlette, knocking him down.

Carlisle's interviewing my lad tomorrow, he says as excuse.
    Fellow investor and policeman Jim Allbright tries to make peace, but Terry is unforgiving.


Months later, when we think of Blackpool, it's the characters' eyes that we remember.

Ripley Holden, who obviously considers himself inscrutable as the day is long, shows a face to the world in which fleeting emotions pass in sequence like storm clouds across the English landscape, while daughter Shayanne, with her startling blue eyes, resembles him in uncanny fashion.

Natalie Holden has the most beautiful expressive black eyes to be seen in film.  Only the most hardhearted viewer could be unmoved by the patent hurt and adoration of Danny Holden's eyes — dark like his mother's — in his painful dealings with Ripley.

And Carlisle's gaze as he propositions Natalie in the grocery shop makes the knees of even respectably-married female viewers grow weak.

These remarks hold true not merely of the major characters:— strange to say, her eyes are what we remember of the prostitute Hailey.  Likewise Natalie's nameless friend and colleague from the Samaritans.  From a distance in time we recall the smarmy gaze of corrupt policeman Jim Allbright, and watchful accountant Adrian Marr.  Even the most minor characters, those seen once or twice only, convey to us the most conflicting and complicated emotions while their lips, and the situations in which they find themselves, say something else entirely.

On the other hand, how strange that a work containing such masterful dialogue has so many powerful scenes with no words at all.  One example will suffice:  a tender scene in Episode One between a seemingly solicitous Ripley and his daughter Shayanne.  We hear him saying one thing.  We see his gleeful triumph as he thinks another.  Can anyone fail to understand and pity the puzzled helplessness in her frown, glimpsed for only a moment as her father concludes by triumphantly hugging and comforting her?  Her eyes say she knows she's being cheated and lied to, knows Ripley is involved in the breakup with her boyfriend Steve, but — for the moment — she doesn't know what to do.  Or say.  Or feel.

One thing.  In February 2009, our always dependable TV Ontario, source of so much treasure from Britain (including The Private Life of a Masterpiece series upon which this website is built), announced the rebroadcast of Blackpool uncut, with no commercials.  We were delighted, although never have commercials been so welcome, giving us a chance to catch our breath and prepare for a further assault on our expectations.

Not only commercials were missing.  So too were frames, those black bands top and bottom that provide sufficient viewing distance to turn picture into Fairy Tale.

What we got instead of Fairy Tale was soap opera, continual close-ups that robbed eyes of their expression, words of their humour, songs of their musicality, faces and bodies of their distinctive human characteristics.  As for the extra five minutes or so per Episode, never has the saying less is more been more apt.  Everything added had been filled in by our imaginations, as in childhood we added our own detail to Fairy Tales.

It was like a bad translation of a poetic masterpiece.  But just as the original work retains its freshness and originality forever, so too does a distance of several years make it possible to remember Blackpool exactly as when we saw it first.

[February 2007]
    [Page amended February 5th, 2012]


Top of this Page
Cupid, Draw Back Your Bow, Episode 2B
MainPage — Index
Main Page – Index
HomePage-7 Blackpool
Previous Page
The Gambler, Episode 2A
Next Page
Should I Stay Episode 2C