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Comment > Sheila Looks At Love by Carol Ann Wood

"I havenít seen you round here before, have I, love? What can I get you, a beer? Coming right up. Itís a bit quiet in here this morning. I reckon people are all broke right now, what with Christmas. Even moneybags Paul Robinson, so Iíve heard! Oh, silly me, you wonít know who anyone is if youíre not from this neck of the woods. Well, pull up a bar stool, and if youíve got a few minutes to spare, I can fill you in on a few folk. Iím Sheila Canning, and Iím the eyes and ears of Erinsborough. Oh, not that Iím a sticky beak like that Susan Kennedy. And I donít judge anyone. But letís just say between you and me and my gnomes, itís been quite a year in our street, and thereís been more make-ups and break-ups than in a soap opera!

See that woman walking by the window, blonde hair? Well, thatís Lauren, and sheís been in a love triangle. Shocking, the whole saga. She was married to Matt. Nice man, a policeman. Set in his ways, but a good egg, and a family man, till he went a bit odd towards the end. He was rather sexy. I wouldnít have minded being arrested by him if I were a criminal. Then the poor thing was killed by an out-of-control car. And guess whose life got saved by Matt shoving him out of the way? Brad Willis! Brad and Lauren had a child together years ago, you see. Sheíd been adopted out, they went on a mission to find her, and lo and behold when they did, the pair were making eyes at one another as if the child was about to be conceived! Like I said, Iím not judging, but Lauren certain played the merry widow. Matt was hardly cold in his grave before Brad had his feet right under Laurenís table, and his wood in her shed. (Well, actually, Matt was cremated but you know what I mean.) Iím pretty sure when Matt spoke his last words to Brad that he didnít mean look after Lauren in quite that way! And poor Terese, Bradís wife. She went through hell. She can be a bit bossy, granted, but Brad is a weak man. Like a lot of men. Oh, present company excepted! Then Terese got burnt in a fire at the school Ė long story Ė and Brad decided he had got a conscience after all. A guilty one I reckon, seeing as he chose to rescue Lauren from the building before his own wife! Lauren ended things with Brad after that, so he went crawling back home to look after Terese, but sheís thrown him out again. I tell you, with all their confrontations on the street, itís like watching the shoot out at the OK Corral.

And that wasnít the only love triangle of the year either. There was another one involving a Turner and a Willis. Amber Turner, sheís a nice kid but Iím not sure sheís got a lot between the ears sometimes. She was with Josh Willis, then she left him for Daniel Robinson and was about to marry him, only he got stuck down a well with Imogen Willis. I know, you couldnít make it up, could you? Except Amber didnít know he was stuck down a well and thought heíd jilted her. So what does the silly girl do then? Only goes and spends what would have been her wedding night being comforted by Josh. Some comforting that turned out to be. She found out later that she was pregnant to him. She and Daniel had got back together by then, as Amber realised he hadnít jilted her. Are you keeping up? Anyway, of course, the baby being Joshís spelt curtains for her and Daniel. And now Danielís with Imogen. Sheís a smart cookie, and they seemed more suited. But Danielís changed, so I donít reckon theyíll last much longer. Heís gone too much like his uncle Paul if you ask me. Money mad.

Yes, thereís a lot of folk had their hearts broken around these parts. And itís been pretty hard for me to stand by and watch some of it. I thought that Kyle Ė thatís my grandson Ė had found his soulmate with pretty young Georgia. Sheís a nurse. She seemed a lovely girl. Even if she did have a pop at my taste in table lamps. So Kyle and Georgia got married, seemed happy, and then Georgiaís mother got sick and needed special cancer treatment. In Germany. So off Georgia goes to be with her mum, leaving Kyle to try and work all hours God sends on his business. Then if you please, she comes back and says she wishes they hadnít got married. I could have wrung her neck with Dr Karlís stethoscope. All the same, Kyle seems to have taken it on the chin. Heís seeing Amy Robinson now. She and her son Jimmy are living with us. Amyís ex came back on the scene a while back, but he was a good for nothing type, and when she realised the truth, she soon shipped him out again. I know sheís a Robinson but Amyís not a bit like her dad, Moneybags. And it was me who helped get Amy and Kyle together, you know. Iím a good matchmaker. All it took was shutting them in the laundry room to get them to talk and realise they were well suited. Although, I didnít expect to find them actually getting together in the laundry room if you know what I mean. That image will stay with me for life!

And my daughter Naomi, well, Iíve despaired at her choice in men for a long time. I donít know what I did wrong there, but she doesnít seem to see a good thing when itís right under her nose with a sign saying ĎUnmarried, available, trustworthyí. Mark Brennan is all those things. Perfect, I tell you. A career as a cop, good looking, buying his house, what more could she want? But Naomi always had a taste for the high life. Thatís why she fell into the arms of Paul Robinson. Moneybags. I think I mentioned him earlier. I wasnít happy about him dating my daughter, but like a good mother, I didnít interfere. Well, apart from a few tactful words of advice. Iím always tactful. Luckily she saw things my way eventually, but I do wish she hadnít got drunk and spent the night with Josh Willis. You knew that Moneybags would want revenge when he found out, and he tried to have Josh set up, got someone to plant drugs on him. Oh, I donít blame Josh for fancying Naomi. I mean, my daughter is a very attractive young woman. She takes after her mum in that way. Men canít resist her! Sheís living in the States now, new dream job and everything. I do miss her, though.

As for Mark, the one that Naomi let slip through her fingers, well heís taken up with Paige. Thatís Brad and Laurenís long-lost daughter. Iím not judging, but I really donít think sheís right for him. Sheís too young for starters. Still goes about flashing her belly. And if you ask me, sheís a bit selfish, wanting her parents reunited and not giving a hoot about anyone elseís feelings. And I canít help but see her around young Tyler, Markís brother, and wonder if sheís better suited to him. I heard Ė and Iím not gossiping Ė that they had a bit of a moment down that well. Itís a good job theyíve filled it in now, it seems like half of Ramsay street ended up down there. And I reckon something happened when Paige and Tyler were trapped in the school lift during the fire too. I donít know what, but the truth always comes out in the end. Still, Tyler seems to be having enough love interest to keep him occupied. He took a shine to my B&B guest, and heís got young Piper Willis mooching about after him too. Sheís a strange one, canít decide if sheís a bit, you know, disturbed, or just rebellious. But with a family like hers, poor kid doesnít stand a chance of being normal.

I think lasting love seems to elude most of us in Erinsborough. No-one seems to stick it out these days. No wonder the Willis and Turner kids canít get it right with their parentsí track records. I suppose we have to be glad that Toadie and Sonya are still happy, even after all theyíve been through. He had a freak accident, you see. But theyíve coped well. Sonyaís a fussy mare over little Nell, but sheís alright really. Yes, I do hope theyíll be okay. Itís a long story, but I owe them for a couple of reasons. Well, alright, Iíll just tell briefly. Naomi had a thing for Toadie once, and I was horrified. She just canít seem to leave married men alone. Thankfully Toadie wasnít having any of it, because heís loyal. Then there was the school fire and I couldnít get Toadie out because heís paralysed, so I had to run for help. I felt bad, but he says I wasnít to blame. Anyway, Sonya and Toadie Rebecchi and Karl and Susan Kennedy, theyíre about the only ones who havenít strayed this year in Ramsay Street. And Karl and Susan have had their history of infidelity, I can tell you, but I havenít got time to go into it now or weíd still be here this time next year.

Oh look, there goes Steph Scully. Did I tell you about her? She got sick, heard voices and kidnapped a baby. After she got out of the psych ward, she came back to make amends and rebuild her life. But then this strange woman turned up and, honestly, I wasnít spying or anything but I saw the two of them and they looked very close if you know what I mean. I heard through the grapevine that sheís Stephís ex. Everyone who knows Steph wouldnít have seen that one coming. Well, it takes all sorts and I guess she must swing both ways. I suppose thatís one way of making sure your toast always lands butter side up!

Oh, look at the time already. Nate should be in soon for his shift. Now, heís a bit of a prickly cactus, and we all thought he was an odd bod when he first arrived. Didnít speak more than two words at a time, waggled his eyebrows and scowled a lot. But he turned out to be alright, in his own way. He started dating Chris Pappas, but Chris wanted to be a dad and Nate didnít. In the end, Chris went off to New York to be near Lucy Robinson and their baby. They had that artificial going-on, you know. And good luck to them if thatís what they wanted. But poor Nate, losing Chris knocked him back a bit. Till Aaron Brennan came along. So now weíve got three Brennan boys in Ramsay Street. Aaron and Nate seem to be getting on well. And Aaron, heís a sweetheart really. Iíve had to give them lots of advice, of course. Like I said, Iím good at matchmaking. They call me Cranky Granny but itís just because they look up to me a lot. Iím not really grumpy, anyone here will tell you Iíve always got a smile for the customers.

So, you see, itís been quite a year. I donít want to brag, but even I had my moments. I enjoyed meeting Harold Bishop, who used to run the coffee shop over the way. What a nice man. He came back for a visit during the festival. I could tell he was keen on me, but he kept thinking heíd seen his dead wife and was talking to her. I do understand, I mean, I still miss my Frank. But, you canít help wonder what might have been. Then I met Russell, the Brennan brothersí dad. We had a bit of a romance, although he had to fend off that dried-up floozy, Angie Rebecchi, when she came by the street. Silly woman, I donít know why she ever thought he would look twice at her. Plus, she canít make cakes to save her life! A traditional man likes a woman whoís a good cook. I thought Russell was charming, till I found out that heíd knocked seven bells out of Tyler when he was a kid. I couldn't just forget about that, so I told him to go and get help. He left town, and now heís having counselling. He phones me now and then, but, well, maybe we were just meant to be mates and nothing more. I should probably just stick to being the agony aunt of the street. You see, everyone comes to me with their love problems and Iím always ready to listen and advise. Iím a wise old stick when it comes to matters of the heart.

Would you like another beer, love? Oh, where did he go? Iíve only just got started on the story. Honestly, some people, fancy walking out when we were having such a nice chat!"

This article originally appeared on Carol's blog, Levelling The Playing Field.