I adore 'dinnerladies' and can't believe there's no fanfiction on it. Well, there is now! It all belongs to the uber genius Victoria Wood and not me, sadly. Here are some short and slightly crap pieces for each character, some set during the series and some after . Enjoy!
It was never like this at the Cafe Bon Bon - Dolly
Whenever Dolly compares her two workplaces, it appears that the only thing they've got in common is that they both served food. One was a chic little cafe on the high street (which has been shut down and has been replaced with a sex shop, of all things!) with mob caps and frilly aprons and the other is a chaotic canteen in an industrial estate factory with a uniform made up of an unflattering overall and hat. But at the Bon Bon the most exciting thing that ever happened was the day that they introduced pains au chocolat to the menu (very exotic in 1960s Manchester). At HWD Components, she's seen it all happen – Anita's baby, Stan's father dying, relationships being destroyed and started, the royal family visiting, television protests, escaped prisoners, a new milennium and Bren getting to go on a quiz show which could change her life.
Life at the factory was never like it was at the Cafe Bon Bon but if Dolly's honest with herself, she knows which one she preferred.
I'm not asking you for some bet, Bren. I wouldn't do that to you - Tony
It's a bit of a shock when Tony finds out Bren thought he was only asking her to Scotland for a bet. Granted it took him eight years to work the courage up to ask her to do anything but it would have been too cruel for words to ask her for a bet.
She's been a, well a lifeline to him. When he found out he had cancer, he was the only one he felt able to tell. And true to form, she didn't make a big deal out of it, but just covered everything that needed covered. She managed to run the place when he was off having chemotherapy, she kept everything going and she came along to the hospital and put up with him talking rubbish until half past five in the morning.
Tony is the first to admit that he's not a sentimental bloke but the darkness of the room, the flickering Christmas lights and that little note of vulnerability in her voice (which she would never let anyone but him hear) was all it took to take Bren in his arms and kiss her, which he'd wanted to do for a pretty long time. For a moment it felt like it was just the two of them in a world that nobody else could touch until they heard a loud shout on the stairs.
I remember thinking "Bren'd be great on this" and I wrote off for you - Jean
It was one hell of a brainwave, she thought. Even though Jean was doped up to the eyeballs on Prozac, she had realised that Bren would be very good on 'Totally Trivial'. As Twink would say they had "a right load of lame brains on it". Honestly, the things that they got wrong!
So as soon as the programme flashed up details of how to apply, she grabbed a sheet of paper, wrote out Bren's details and posted off the application, not expecting anything to come of it.
But, standing in the empty canteen and gathered around the TV with everyone else, watching as all their questions and practice buzzer sessions pay off and Bren manages to land "Film" as her special topic, she thinks it's going to be very difficult for things to go wrong. Bren has a really good chance of winning the £10,000 and she can't help but feel a little bit proud that she made it all happen.
I hope you get everything you want for Christmas – Anita
It's one of the worst possible times she could have gone into labour – immediately before the Christmas party. But nobody noticed, just like nobody noticed she was pregnant.
The birth was so painful she wanted to die but the sight of her newborn son drove all of that from her mind. He was so perfect and tiny and fragile, and while she'd made up her mind what to do since her conversation with Bren yesterday, a voice in her head was telling her to forget it and keep the baby. So she wrapped him up nice and warmly and left him on the fire escape where she knew Tony would eventually find him.
But on the flyover, her conscience just got to her and without much warning, she jumped out of Tom's car and started walking back to the factory. Twink jumped out after her and demanded an explanation.
Which is why she is walking slowly up the back stairs to the canteen, tears streaming down her cheeks and waiting to face whatever music awaits at the top of the stairs. Nothing else will matter until she has her baby safely back with her.
My Dad was a Desert Rat! - Stan
When his dad died, it was a bit of a shock. While he had been ill, he had been making a recovery and at least the death was peaceful. Stan hadn't known what to do, and had just wandered back to the canteen where he knew he would find his friends.
Within a year, everything changed for everyone. It started with Jean leaving her husband (which worked out very well in his favour!) and ended with the canteen closing, for a coffee bar. Inevitably everybody had to move on and the happy days they had spent together were finished, simply because of the whims of the powers that be. Jean was the only one who stayed – Dolly retired to Mobbereley, Twinkle became a lap dancer (not his sort of caper), Anita stayed at home with her baby, and Bren and Tony went to Scotland.
The atmosphere in the place is totally gone. There's no banter, bickering or back chat. The workers feel it as well – instead of proper meals they have sandwiches now and a lot of them feel it's not enough. The only thing that makes it worth staying is his wonderful wife and because of that he won't leave until she does.
They're right hard to get out of, skips – Twinkle
Twinkle has honestly no idea how she manages to fall into so many skips – most of the time, she's just too drunk to remember. The first time is the only one she can remember. Tiffany was pretending to be a tightrope walker and fell in and she tried to help, only to end up falling in as well.
But, no matter what Dolly might think, it's an art and can be a very useful skill to have. Just when it looked like Bren and Tony would have to stay in Manchester, she noticed that the bin lorry couldn't have come and there was a mad dash out to the skip.
As Stan bellows to the lorry to stop, Twink takes a flying leap off the end of the fire escape and lands on top of the rubbish. The bin liner is pretty easy to find – when Dolly said that it didn't smell very nice, she wasn't kidding.
As she triumphantly thrusts the bag onto the ladder and hauls herself out, she can't help but wonder – has Petula, for once in her life, done something to help Bren out?
Have you ever had a relationship go completely dead on you? - Philippa
When Mr Michael proposed that she fill the recently vacated position of Human Resources manager, she thought, why not? She soon discovered why. Being a southerner in the north of England is pretty problematic at the best of times, but when you are sleeping with your boss and a southerner in the north of England, things go from bad to worse.
The whispers and rumours were upsetting but at first he managed to soothe them all away. But as time went by, she found things were getting worse. The Christmas party had to be Japanese themed, they had to go on holiday in the worst places possible and she had to help him do the most stupid jigsaw puzzles known to humankind.
On the foggiest day of the year, she wakes up and realises that she simply has to get out. "Don't Go Mad, Get Mad" was rescued from the bargain bin in WH Smith but it was marvellous, telling you how to get out properly and getting the biggest one up possible on your ex.
Pondering all this, Philippa walks surreptitiously up to the canteen and bumps into Tom on the way up. She's had the biggest crush on him for the longest time and decides that as soon as she breaks up with Mr Michael, she might ask him out for a drink.
I love the factory and as for my mother, well, I love the factory – Bren
Her mother has done some pretty outrageous things in her life – dumping her in an orphanage and losing the address, being caught shoplifting – but bringing the factory to a complete standstill by having her toyboy's irate mother chain herself to the main gate took it to a whole new level. It only got worse from there – blowing up the caravan was the low point.
Everyone says she's ruined Bren's life by being so unbearably selfish but she makes out that she doesn't mind. She has the factory, and she has Tony around, and she has the factory. Sometimes it seems that just when things are looking up, her mother will come swooping in and ruin it all. She knows Bren doesn't earn a great deal but still persists in emotionally blackmailing her for money and counting on her to bail her out of whatever stupid mess she's gotten herself into.
Bren doesn't acknowledge it to anybody but sometimes she hates her mother so badly. And yet she makes herself not hate her, because she's the only family that Bren has left in the world.