Scene of the Week – 4-8 April 2016

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A huge week for Neighbours began with one of the most emotive and tragic deaths in the show’s history when an explosion in Lassiter’s hotel lead to Josh Willis suffering fatal injuries. Harley Bonner gave a stellar performance in Josh’s grim final scenes with his family as he struggled for breath. UK viewers were given specially edited bloody scenes in an hour long special and the use of stirring pop music made these scenes unforgettable. Each goodbye Josh shared really tugged at our emotions and covered the character’s history on Neighbours well. All the Willis family performances were the best they’ve ever been. We were especially moved by Josh’s final scenes with twin Imogen and we were utterly choked when he told her to “Smash the world for both of us” but it was those last moments, video chatting to Amber and daughter Matilda that were so poignant. Josh left his daughter with heartfelt advice as he died, showing he had grown from the immature man he once was and once his eyes closed and Matilda cried, the Willis family held each other in the rubble. It’s a scene that will go down in Neighbours history.

 

 

Goodbye Josh Willis!

Have you stopped crying yet? Only just? We’ve barely recovered from the emotions of last night as we watched the tragic death of Josh Willis in the widely publicised Hotel Death Trap. We’ll talk more about the heartbreaking moment and the tearjerking performances later in the week but we wanted to write a little goodbye to Josh.

We’ve gone back and forth with Josh over the years – the full spectrum of emotions. From loathing to loving but after all that we’re very sad to see him die. Josh made some bad decisions in his time on Ramsay Street but he was a guy with a big heart. Sure there were times we might have wished death on him – when he was obsessed with swimming, when he was with Amber, when he sided with awful dad Brad, when he sleazily tried to win Amber back with catfishing etc etc… BUT he’s had his good moments and Harley Bonner brought a lot of warmth to the role. Here’s a look at a few best bits.

His sibling relationship with Imogen

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Everyone knows that off screen Harley Bonner and Ariel Kaplan are the world’s cutest couple, or certainly we can’t help but feel a little bit romantic every time we see their insta pics, but on screen Josh and Imogen’s relationship was just as enjoyable. Sure they fell out, got involved in a messy love square, but ultimately they made for a believable pair of siblings (although, twins – really?). We’ll miss their friendship and the love they had for each other and their scenes as Josh lay dying broke us. Heartbreaking. We’ll miss their relationship a lot.

Josh and Naomi’s saucy fling

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Let’s face it, everything Naomi touched was gold, but the Josh and Naomi fling was a surprising hit for us. Before then we’d been bored of Jamber and his swimming plots, but after the way Danber had treated him he deserved some fun. Step forward Naomi! Their casual affair started with a romp in a lift and then the fun continued as they began sneaking around for some secret fun. There was a natural chemistry between the pair and it was a welcome change to see a carefree and flirty Josh. One of the best bits of the plot was seeing Josh be forced to escape Sheila’s without a single item of clothing and only a gnome to hide his crown jewels. Classic.

The coward punch story

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Although at times the coward punch story bordered on an after-school special, it was a really strong plot for all the actors involved. After Josh had a bad reaction to being dumped by Naomi and learnt Danber had got engaged, he got drunk (a bad move for someone who is allergic to alcohol) and delivered a dangerous punch to Chris. Chris suffered badly and the case ended up going to court. With Josh’s life in tatters, Harley Bonner really shone in showing a sympathetic side to Josh’s plight. It was his strongest dramatic material on the show and during this storyline Josh actually showed remorse and maturity – he was actually one of our favourites for a long while!

His fatherhood struggles

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We won’t talk about Jamber. We won’t talk about Josh sleeping with Amber after she believed she was jilted. We won’t talk about Josh’s creepy attempts to reunite with Amber. We won’t even talk about the catfishing. But what we will say is that we admired Neighbours for taking a new route in a new parent plot by having Josh really struggle with fatherhood. He was tired, unfocused and he really struggled to bond with his daughter. Sadly Matilda will have to grow up without her father now, but who could fail to be moved by Josh’s final scenes as gave Amber a message for Matilda’s future. TEARS EVERYWHERE. No matter how bad Josh’s previous behaviour was, Josh still had a big heart so we’ll try and overlook the dodgy plots and remember him fondly. To be honest, we’d have left Daniel to die.

Hits and Misses – 11-15 Jan 2016

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Hits

Doggy Drama

er58_0000_Curves-1We had our tissues handy this week when everyone’s favourite canine, Bossy, suffered a bout of strange behaviour and what seems like a life threatening illness. We have all barely recovered from the time Georgia’s stupidity led to Bossy falling sick but this is even worse! It was alarming to see the ordinarily friendly Bossy lash out, not only at Kyle and Amy, but also sadly, Jimmy – an action that could have dire consequences for our beloved kelpie. It’s speaks to the talents of Chris Milligan and Bossy’s excellent training that the scenes were realistic and indeed, involved some better acting than a few past cast members we could mention! Alas, knowing Bossy is clearly ill broke our hearts and Paul sending her to the kennels made us feel even worse! We hope Bossy is soon vindicated and what’s more, nursed back to health immediately. Number 26 just isn’t the same without her!

Realising the Truth

er58_0001_Layer-2The scales fell from Amy’s eyes this week as she (once again) found out what her father is really like. It’s common knowledge that Paul Robinson is a dodgy guy but Amy had just come round to loving and trusting him (and going into business – really now?!) when Sonya dropped the bombshell that he’d tried pushing Steph into a breakdown. After that Amy was fuming and we got to see some great performances from Zoe Cramond again. One of our favourite things about Amy is her friendship with Steph and it was great to see the two of them in scenes together again, listening and being supportive.

Original Story

er58_0002_Layer-1There’s something very original and admirable of Neighbours to tackle post-natal depression from a father’s point of view. Since Matilda’s birth, Josh desperately struggled to bond with her and then went through the hell that every new parent seems to suffer – no sleep, low moods and lack of faith. Josh has got it bad, and now it’s made even worse now that Amber has left town with the baby and it takes a flight to reach her. While we hated the whole Jamber and baby plot, it’s an unusual route to take for the plot. It’s not the loudest or the most dramatic plot but Harley Bonner brings a lot of heart to the story even when we’ve spent 80% of the year hating what’s become of Josh’s character. It’s a difficult story to tell with mother and baby absent but Neighbours are giving it a good crack.

Misses

Teenage Crush

er58_0004_Layer-5First things first – Tyler is great and we also really like Mavournee Hazel who plays Piper…we just Piper pretty irritating. Honestly an on-screen version of a opinionated teenage vlogger is a hard sell to make entertaining to watch and now this new story with Tyler isn’t really helping. The teenage crush on an older guy story has been done plenty of times and we have no problem with it, and we can easily see why Piper would fancy Tyler – but there’s just something missing. Whether it’s because it’s been a bit rushed or the lack of chemistry we’re not sure. There’s also the slight issue that on Piper’s front it’s just a bit cringey and it’s bound to end in her heartbreak when Tyler inevitably goes sniffing back round Paige again.

No End in Sight

er58_0003_Layer-4The longest running story continued this week without a conclusion in sight. Yes, everyone, we’re talking about the reign of terror from everyone’s favourite villain Dimato. We’re not adverse to Neighbours villains, indeed they can really liven things up every now and again – but not like this. Dimato himself isn’t the charming, compelling love-to-hate villain he needs to be and what’s worse, the plot itself is left without a compelling protagonist. Mark and Paige’s involvement is dull, dull, dull, and the plot is convoluted lacking structure, coherence or momentum. The only saving grace was the surprisingly effective scene of Michelle being slapped by Dimato which brought some proper drama and action to proceedings.

Neighbours 2015: Top Ten Best Bits

It’s 2016 and something exciting has happened for the first time in history: Neighbours now airs the same episode in Australia and the UK on the same day! That’s called progress, people! It’s only taken 30 years but it’s finally happened.

2015 in Neighbours was a historic year too and gave us some brilliant moments in the 30th anniversary, so as we begin a brand new year of Neighbours enjoy our Top Ten Best Bits of 2015!

10 – Sonya and Erin’s troubled past

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Now if you read this blog regularly, you’ll know we enjoy when Neighbours goes dark. Not down the Dimato route you understand, but rather when the show tackles dark topics in a surprisingly gritty, head-on way. We’re all used to the show skirting around certain issues but one of our favourite things about Jason Herbison’s tenure on the show is his willingness to go to places the show would perhaps have shied away from in recent years. One of these such plots involved the arrival of Sonya’s old friend, junkie Erin. For the first time in a long while the show directly explored Sonya’s addiction – not simply to gambling, but drug abuse. Yes, they could only say substances but who cares, we got the point. Erin was unsettlingly realistic in her depiction and the actress nailed someone desperate for their next fix. Eve Morey delivers time and time again when given dramatic, meaty material and this was no exception as we saw Sonya racked with guilt at her part in the ruination of Erin’s life. We liked Sonya and Erin being labelled “junkies” for, we believe, the first time on screen, and Erin offering sex in exchange for drugs was shocking. The ending with Erin running off, unable to get clean, and once again abandoning her daughter was an unusual downer for Neighbours but perhaps an ending such a dark story needed.

9 – Amy Williams

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She’s only been in the show since the summer but already Paul’s daughter Amy has made a really positive impression on us. Once thought of as the forgotten child of Paul Robinson, Amy has already cemented herself firmly in the street, quickly forming bonds with the Cannings, Sonya and now Steph. Her friendship with Steph has been particularly enjoyable as they seem like likely friends and she has good chemistry with Kyle too. We also saw the arrival of her ex Liam (he was hot, just saying) and this gave Zoe Cramond even more chance to show us her acting chops. She’s really impressed us with her performances and she’s livened up the Robinson clan, bringing us another independent and headstrong female character. We’re looking forward to her future on the show.

8 – The Return of Steph Scully

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It’s far to say all Neighbours fans got a real shock earlier this year when it was revealed that Carla Bonner was returning to the show as Steph, not for a guest stint or closure for her character but rather, a whole new beginning as a series regular. Many wondered whether Steph had anything more to give, and many more wondered whether the show could really redeem her after her actions in her last stint. The answer to both was a resounding yes. Carla Bonner, as ever, delivers great performances and immediately brought back a warm sense of history. Her redemption arc has been wonderfully played and if anything, Steph’s tragedies, her mental illness and her desire to not only win her children back but indeed, win her neighbours back brought a real sense of freshness to a character that first appeared an amazing 16 years ago. Steph feels more exciting, interesting and perhaps relevant now than ever and we can’t help but root for her to overcome her troubles and become a positive figure of someone living with, and coping with, a mental illness. Paul’s dark plot of revenge and the fantastically dodgy-but-interesting Belinda have been highlights of the latter months of the show and we really can’t wait to see what 2016 holds for this Neighbours icon.

7 – Nasty Nick

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Ah Nasty Nick! Who doesn’t love a good villain and Neighbours certainly had that this year with evil Dr Nick Petrides. Introduced as Terese’s ambitious brother he gave us a chance to learn a bit more about Terese’s past and how Nick had helped her succeed. It didn’t take long for Nick’s bad ways to surface, after placing a bet that he could seduce Georgia he then spent weeks sending her into a mad descent trying to prove he was the villain we knew he was. It was one of Neighbours’ darkest plots in a while as Nick tried to secure funding for his specialist centre by convincing Paul he had cancer and giving him treatment – yikes! Nick was truly evil but oh so fun to watch. He was sleazy, slimy and dastardly which made his downfall a very exciting plot.

6 – Nate Kinski

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When we left 2014 we weren’t totally sure we were that keen on Nate. On paper his PTSD army struggles were great but we weren’t completely taken by him. In 2015 this completely changed. Nate has easily become one of our firm favourites and we’ve seen new sides to him. At the start of the year it was all about Chrate – Chris and Nate were a sweet couple that we really got behind as they both dealt with their own issues. They had nicknames for each other and everything. Sadly this ended with Chris moving on, but Nate working in the Waterhole with Sheila was a genius move. These two have been comedy gold, with Nate’s eyebrows doing most of the work for him! We really like his dry and serious approach which is a good foil for Sheila’s madder ideas! We also saw him forge a bit of a bromance with Tyler which was good fun too and later in the year saw him get together with Aaron. While we don’t like it as much as we enjoyed Chrate, Nate remains one of our favourites and we hope he continues to get good comedy material in 2016!

5 – Erinsborough High Fire

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Stunts in soaps are a staple but for budget reasons when Neighbours does a stunt it has to be for good reason. This year’s Erinsborough High fire did exactly what stunts should, but often fail to, do. The fire brought so many existing stories crashing together, furthering the plot of each of them and making things even more complicated – it wasn’t a fire just for the sake of it. Brad had to make a huge choice between Lauren and Terese which lead to huge repercussions for both families, Amber went into labour with her sick baby in the burning classroom, Toadie (now paralysed) was trapped by a staircase and left by a panicked Sheila and Paige and Tyler got trapped in a lift forcing them to face up to their feelings (we won’t dwell). All the heightened tension really added something to these plots and the stunt involved many characters and was even more effective than 2014’s tornado. We wonder what’s on the cards for next year.

4 – Comedy Capers

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As ever, a key ingredient of success of Neighbours (the perfect blend if you will) is the show’s ability to mix drama with comedy and this year was no exception. Not only did the comedy highlight of last year – The Book of Secrets – rumble on with Karl’s first draft exposed to the community at large but we had a number of other highlights. Sheila treated us to some dining in the dark, Andres (The Waterhole sex god) repeated his one line of English, the inaugural Erinsborouh bake-off brought he return of the fantastic Janelle Timmins (bring her back again, thanks!), Hilary Robinson’s acerbic tongue had us cackling (who could forget her casual shade of Harold in the Lassiter’s lift?), Bossy revealed her lingerie fetish and the men of Erinsborough got some unfortunate tattoos… Not only did we got some classic comedy plots but in the Neighbours tradition, a lot of the humour comes from within the characters and their witty exchanges. Karl and Susan never fail tot make us laugh and that continued this, Nate’s comedy skills were used to great effect and really softened the character, the much-missed Naomi lifted every scene she was in and of course, Sheila provides fun to each and every scene she appears in. Her popularity among the LGBTQI society being one of our particular favourites as Sheila embraced her gay icon role. We hope 2016 brings many more laughs our way.

3 – The 30th Anniversary Celebrations

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Another year another milestone for Neighbours. This season celebrated an incredible 30 years on air and as the big anniversary approached, fans wondered how it would be celebrated. The big anniversaries in Neighbours have been very notable in the show’s history. The 20th remaining the one to beat with its mass returnees via the documentary, whilst the 25th was a limp, anaemic affair with a wedding no one cared about and an attempt made on Paul’s life. The 30th repeated the wedding no one cared about (but thankfully it didn’t go ahead) but instead celebrated Neighbours’ past in a much more warm, nostalgic way. The year was full of returnees from Lucy to Hilary to Guy to Harold to continuing appearances from Lucas and Vanessa. The most prominent and perhaps most exciting of all were the wonderful (and surprisingly touching) return from Delta Goodrem as Nina, and of course, the return of the legendary Anne Charleston as Madge. Fans were wary of the idea and indeed many feared for Harold’s life but Madge’s return was handled beautifully and it was a joy to see the iconic couple reunited. Her part in ensuring Harold’s happy ending, settling with Sky and her kids (it was brilliant to see Steph McIntosh too) was a fitting end for the character and a jewel in the crown of a fitting anniversary year.

2 – The Canning Family

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Families are at the heart of Neighbours and one family that were firing on all cylinders in 2015 was The Cannings. Headed up by matriarch Sheila you can’t go wrong. Sheila is exactly the type of character Neighbours does best. She’s hilarious and full of life, not afraid to flirt or fight and we couldn’t love her more if we tried. We’ve seen the emotional side to the family at the arrival of Kyle’s dodgy dad Gary and all members of the family slip between comedy and drama effortlessly. Kyle always has faithful Bossy by his side but this year saw the breakdown of his marriage alongside finding love again with newcomer Amy. How could we discuss the Cannings without one of its biggest stars – Naomi. Everything she touched was gold once again this year. Perhaps the Paul romance wasn’t as dynamic as it might have been but we liked her lighting the touch paper of his downfall. Obviously we were absolutely devastated to see her go, we’re just glad she got a happy ending and a nice goodbye seen with her unlikely best friend Imogen. We’ve got a feeling 2016 will bring another Canning departure but here’s hoping for more arriving!

1 – Lauren, Brad and Terese

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It was a story that was over two years in the making and this year it finally exploded in epic fashion – yes, the Brad, Lauren and Terese triangle reached its dramatic climax this year. We’ve loved this slow-burn story, almost reminiscent of the fantastically plotted, slow unravelling of Izzy Hoyland’s baby lie back in the 00s. However, as with any slow-burn, the pay off has to be worth the gradual build-up and it certainly was. Once the kiss between Brad and Lauren was revealed in 2014, it seemed like Lauren and Brad seemed capable of remaining friends and parents to Paige without things becoming complicated but the tragic death of Matt early this year changed things forever. Terese’s growing insecurity and turn to alcoholism was brilliantly handled acting as a co-catalyst (and in our – and Brads eyes – justification) for Brad and Lauren to finally take things to the next level. The fall out, and in a Neighbours first, a three-hander episode, was excellent and the show was stolen by Rebekah Elmaloglou’s powerful turn as Terese. The story has cemented her role as a modern icon of the show and the sad, painful and real break-up between Brad and Terese in the final weeks of the season were very touching indeed. We can’t wait to see what the newly single Terese does next and we hope that Brad and Lauren learn the grass isn’t always greener and face their own relationship dysfunctions as they inevitably reunite.

Scene of the Week – 14-18 Dec 2015

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Our favourite scene of late may be a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t the fantastically soap closing moments where nurse Belinda revealed herself to Toadie (though it was a strong contender) and it wasn’t any other of the action-packed finale drama, instead it was a touching music montage earlier in the week. As the Cannings celebrated Christmas, and Kyle and Amy shared a festive kiss, Amber contemplated her job offer and tried to decide what was best for not only herself but her newborn daughter. The most effective scene in midst of these moments of family, togetherness and children, was lonely Steph working at the bar. As she watched a customer having dinner with her two young children, Steph had her own children on her mind and looked at her, as yet unsent, letter to Charlie. The scene was great in its simplicity as we’re once again reminded of everything Steph has lost and everything she wants to regain. It was a perfect moment that was all the more poignant during the Christmas season.

Hits and Misses – 30 Nov-11 Dec 2015

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Hits

Steph’s Struggle

er55_0003_Layer-1It’s no surprise to say that we’ve really enjoyed Steph’s return to the show. Although Steph herself has struggled to slot back into Erinsborough life, the character has fit back into the show with total ease. As great as it has been to see her put her life back together, we can’t deny we’ve loved the drama of Paul’s twisted scheme to drive her away. It’s the kind of story that is refreshingly dark for the show and we always enjoy when Neighbours pushes the boundaries of what it has done previously. Steph’s trials and tribulations of late – the self-doubt, false accusations toward Vanessa and upsetting breakdown – have been great TV and it’s impossible not to root for Steph. Now don’t get us wrong, as much as we like the story, Paul’s behaviour has been despicable and in our opinion, one of his worst acts. We’re glad Steph gained the upper hand and dealt with Paul with class rather than anger and revenge. Though we feel Paul deserves a comeuppance and it doesn’t look too far away…

Bittersweet

er55_0002_Layer-2It’a been one of our favourite plots of the year and this week we feel it may finally have come to a close: Terese and Brad’s marriage struggles. Arriving in 2013 as a happily married couple, the bit-by-bit disintegration of their relationship has been one of the most realistic and well-plotted we’ve seen on TV. We are, of course, firmly Team Terese but what we loved most this week was Terese and Brad’s self-reflections on everything that has happened. We do feel like Terese has let Brad off the hook to easily but it was really affirming to see her own her faults and the part they played in everything going sour. As ever, Brad went along with the flow and backed Terese’s decision to end things properly but that didn’t make their parting scenes any less bittersweet and sad. As an added bonus, we greatly enjoyed the interfering Lauren witnessing their ‘goodbye’ and it sending her into a tizz. We hope 2016 brings happiness for Terese, whilst Lauren and Brad continue their merry-go-round of umming and ahhing.

New Parents

er55_0004_BackgroundNormally when young parents are shown in soaps we always get the mother’s perspective but we think it’s been really refreshing to see it from Josh’s point of view as a new father. The idea of Josh and Amber being parents and having real responsibility fills us with dread but it’s still been an interesting story. We don’t often see how young dads struggle to cope – whether it’s tiredness, feeling a bit helpless and not knowing what to do, or just not having that same connection that a mother does. There have been things about the plot that we’ve enjoyed less – like Amber’s total lack of understanding and empathy – but then Josh is a bit clueless at the best of times and maybe we’d be screaming at him too if he was left to look after our hypothetical baby. With Amber thinking about moving away for a new job, and Josh wanting to do the best for his new little girl, it seems like this is only going to end badly.

Misses

Obvious and Oblivious

er55_0001_Layer-3Oh dear, it’s pretty easy to see why no crimes get solved quickly in Erinsborough when you have officer clueless on the case. Mark Brennan, sweet, hunky but all together idiot really out did himself this fortnight. His relationship with Paige is a really thorny issue on this blog. We’d loved Paige, we loved ‘Park’ and then something happened – she got irritating and childish, a love triangle was teased and then it all got a bit messy. We still quite like them together so watching them miscommunicate and grow apart is really disappointing. Paige geared up to end things with him after there was the whole Tyler thing, differences, baby scare and Amber whispering in her ear. But then Mark saw the ring Doug had given her and mistook her dumping speech as a proposal. Oh man – what kind of fool does that? Paige was clearly dumping him and it made him look more oblivious than ever. Cringe. If he keeps blundering on it’s only going to get worse and lead to a very unhappy split. No doubt Tyler will be involved because what is Neighbours without a love triangle we couldn’t care less about?

Bump to the Head

er55_0000_Layer-4Daniel’s had a taste of the dark side and now he’s living up to the Robinson ways by taking part in some very shady property dealings. Ever since Daniel got whacked over the head by the homeless man, we’ve seen a change in him and not one we like. Okay so we didn’t like earthman, hippie dippie Daniel either but just like Imogen, we don’t like this Daniel either. It just feels wrong! We understand that Daniel feels completely guilty for what’s happened to Paul – although, wake up Daniel, your Uncle P is not a good guy – but seeing Daniel so heartless, willing to screw over his friends just doesn’t seem right. More to the point Nate seemed like a very odd choice to be interested in property. He can’t be on an amazing pay rate at the waterhole and he has a pretty sweet living arrangement with the Kennedys. So this whole plot left us raising a Nate-like eyebrow. We’re sorry to see that Daniel and Imogen’s relationship is taking a bit of a knock considering how long it took them to get together. Maybe he needs another bump to the head?

Quote of the Week – 30 Nov-11 Dec 2015

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Lou: That mean, presumptuous old battle-axe!

Amber: Oh come on Gramps, she bought something from you that she never got. If it is filled with unidentified white powder, I really hope it has been lost in transit.

Lou: Or she goes to prison instead of me…only kidding, only kidding! I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. Even Sheila.