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Comment > Faster Than The Speed Of Plot by Si Hunt

Last week, as of writing, in the UK, Lucy Robinson made another welcome return to Ramsay Street. This may be ancient history for you, dear reader, as plotlines in Neighbours move so fast that by the time this article appears on-line, Georgia might have developed a taste for older men and married Lou, Kate Ramsay's twin sister could have shown up in Charlie's in a big hat and Harold's could just have been re-christened Daphne's in a retro twist. Erinsborough exists in a strange parallel universe where Christmas is wiped away overnight, there are more than the normal number of days when nobody needs to go into work and the front doors are never locked. But most of all, things change very quickly.

Take departures, for example. In real life, you get a new job or, say, a surprise placement in computer game college in California, and you start in three months. You tell everyone, and then there is a long period of packing, writing boring letters off to people informing them of your change of address, eating up all the tinned food and working through your gym subscription. But not in Ramsay Street. "I've got a new job! And I'm leaving... tomorrow!" is always the refrain. And that's the folks that aren’t in a hurry - most of the time, by the end of the same afternoon they are stood around a taxi in the Street bidding farewell to all their loved ones except a suspicious three that weren’t filming that day. It takes about as long to emigrate from Ramsay Street as it does to be forgotten - and most of the time you never pop back to visit. Even for the untimely funeral of a parent. We call that last one the "Billy and Anne" effect. Come on, what's keeping them away? Fair enough, Libby and Mal are frequent returning guests at the Kennedy House, but it's like someone has slipped Bill'n'Anne the nod that the whole of Ramsay Street is a quarantined plague zone.

In short, nothing moves faster in Ramsay Street than the plot. What's odd is that it's not like the writers don't actually know what's coming up. You'd think most actors (stepping back into the real world for a moment; don't worry, we won't be there long) would give a fair bit of notice of their intent to swap the Grundy Green Room for an optimistic stab at an American film career, yet this advance warning never seems to translate into the scripts. It's not just departures either - recently there was a fairly predictable "resident writes an erotica novel and we don't know who the author is" storyline. They did this in living memory with Philip Martin/Phillipa Martinez, as Twitter clearly recalled when this new take popped up. But what we’d like to know is when the ultimate culprit actually took the time to WRITE this work of literary genius. He has a fairly demanding job which doesn't allow time for sitting at a computer and penning the odd bit of soft porn, so it can't have been done sneakily during work hours. So he managed to write this opus at home, without his wife noticing. Now, the script could easily have seeded this by having him mysteriously skulking off to the spare room every night, or disappearing for strange sessions in the local library (no doubt with humorous suspicions of an affair resulting), but they didn't. It's almost like they make these scripts up about a week before they are screened! Surely not?

Mentioning the passage of time also opens up the whole nest of possums that is ages as well. For as we all know, no-one has difficult teenage years in Ramsay Street. By difficult, I don’t mean traumatised so much as enduring three years with unmanageable hair, bad skin and a weird voice. Neighboursworld is kinder – you stop being cute, you disappear for a year at Fat Camp and you emerge, miraculously four years older and a heart throb. This is one aspect of Neighbours storytelling I wish my life had imitated! What happens to all the “missing years”? Where do they go? Ages are one aspect of series continuity that the script writers don’t mind playing merry hell with – someone has a returning son or daughter, we need to cast a new dreamboat? Let’s stick a few years on. Who would be sad enough to notice? *cough*

That said, most of the time, if you buy into a fairly flexible brand of storytelling, you can just about justify it to yourself. People just MIGHT feel that, after the somewhat dramatic turn of events in Ramsay Street, they need to take off and sort their post out later. Perhaps Susan is working such late hours sorting out the current Year 12 in Erinsborough High (who are all either related or seeing each other. Often both at the same time) that Karl has to while away his evenings writing cheap saucy fiction for middle aged women. And at least they remembered Toadie's bullet. That said, there was one plot development recently that no amount of thinking through could make believable. Disbelief has never been less suspended. In fact, disbelief's safety harness snapped and it crashed to the floor instantly breaking two ribs. I refer, of course, to my original observation that Lucy is back.

On her second day in Ramsay Street, Lucy met Chris Pappas, Erinsborough's only gay man. "Hello," she smiled. "She'll have his baby!" piped up my other half, from the sofa. It was an unusually speedy prediction, but it didn't take much to join the dots between childless, forty something woman and amiable single homosexual. What neither of us were prepared for was the speed at which this developed. The next episode, a coffee was shared in Charlie's and by the end of the very same half hour, Lucy was making a bid for his sperm! No wonder the poor boy wanted more time to think about it - I've had longer relationships with people that have cleaned my car at traffic lights. Such a storyline needs months and months to simmer and ferment. Lucy and her new pal needed picnics by Lassiters lake, a near-miss with a speeding car and an out of control shopping trolley and at least six pizza nights in the Robinson Penthouse Suite before she could realise that she needed a child and the obvious donor was lovely old Chris, her dear buddy of AT LEAST a week. Two – if you want to play the long game.

But this is Ramsay Street. Plot moves at the speed of sound sometimes. I daren't go on holiday in case, upon my return, Lucy and Chris have been married, divorced, and are squabbling for custody of Baby Robinson-Pappas. It could happen... and in less time than you think.