Though their roles are comparatively minor, the adult characters in our story play an important part of our series to try and help their children and their friends get through the many weird and wonderful antics they encounter.
Jeffery and Demelza Grey
Maddie’s affluent but well meaning parents, Jeffery and Demelza are basically my idea of a perfect father and mother, just like my own parents! There are many cliches for parents in the world of media, ones who are sports freaks, clean freaks, academic freaks, neglectful workaholics, alcoholics, chain smokers, abusive twits, riddled with anxiety, domineering or overall useless. This I wanted to avert, I just wanted parents who were married, ethical, understanding, kind, friendly, lovable and generally ones who have a connection with their children in a way real-life parents would.
The decision to make them of a Naval background goes back largely to my upbringing. Being from the southwest of England, the history of my home region is steeped in military encounters against pretty much all of our neighbours. The Spanish Armada, Napoleon, the German High Fleet (twice), I’d say 1 in 3 people who live in the counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall have had at least one relative or ancestor in the Navy at some point. Aside from the fact that it was one way in which the Greys could have garnered their wealth, it was also something that helped to make them more cultured and to give them an understanding of the world beyond the shores of grand old England. Let’s not forget, in the mid-1960’s Britain still owned most cultures, we had the Empire radio service sending messages and song requests out to loved ones overseas. Though the development of Maddie ultimately shaped the development of her parents, it’s very much a chicken-and-egg situation because obviously in terms of the story their development developed Maddie (confusing!).
Perhaps some may think that they’re far too cultured for their own good, Demelza being half-German, Jeffery being of Naval descent, etc, but you’d be surprised how you can come across people like them in the real world. I’ve known people who could tell you hours of stories, one gentleman I knew was a Submarine Commander and Naval attache to the Soviet Union who had his Moscow flat bugged by the KGB, another had to escape Tehran aboard the last British Airways VC10 during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, I’ve known Tank Commanders, Generals, Technicians, Missionaries, Business Executives, again all thanks to my place of upbringing.
Their physical design, now that was much more interesting. Jeffery, believe it or not, his design is based something of Kyle Katarn from Star Wars Jedi Outcast. God, I LOVED that game, and I loved Kyle even more. He was such a hilariously sarcastic prick, yet he knew when to be serious. I would’ve loved him even more in the sequel Jedi Academy, except he was kinda pushed to the back, and when he did help you do missions the AI was so buggy he’d end up getting stuck somewhere and you’d have to either restart the level or try and drag him out.
Demelza on the other hand was based off the looks of Marsha Fitzalan as Sarah B’stard in the classic political satire The New Statesman, which aired during the Thatcher Government in the late 1980’s. Not sure why I chose her to base the design off, she just looked undeniably 80’s, I couldn’t see why not.
Anyway, I was overall very happy with the development of Maddie’s parents, parents who understand and want to help their child through anything, but at the same time can be playful and silly, y’know, being human and actually showing human emotions rather than just coming across as some writer’s table-scraps!
Perhaps the most development for an adult character, and one I believed truly had an understanding for their child, was Renee Pattinson.
The thing I really wanted to push home about Renee is basically her relationship with her bisexual daughter Siobhan, and how even though many parents would never accept their child is gay, Renee can see past that and realise that her daughter is her daughter, and no matter what shape or form her child comes in, all she wants is to love her and be loved in return.
I wish I could understand why so many parents suddenly hate their children for being of a differing sexual orientation. I realise that there are many clear-cut reasons such as religion or because they feel it’s biologically wrong, but others seem much more opaque. Is it pride? The fact that they can’t believe their ‘oh so perfect’ child is, in their mind, not perfect and therefore must be shunned? Is it reputation? Fearing that because other people may get angry they’ll instead distance themselves from their child to save-face rather than be supportive and ignore what other people might think?
I’ve never really had a clear answer myself as to why, but my response is one that I feel that any parent who turns their child out on the street for being Gay, Bi, Trans, etc, have got to be the most ungrateful people in the world. If you’ve had a loving, caring relationship with your child, they’ve never put a foot out of line, they’ve bought you gifts at Christmas and on your birthday, adored you like any child would, is all of that kindness and affection rendered null and void the moment they find their sexuality is different to yours? If I had kids who loved me like that and I found out they were Gay, I’d be more than supportive, I’d help them understand what they’re going through as best as I could and maybe even help them get into a relationship if they were having trouble. It’s this mindset which basically creates Renee Pattinson, no matter what her child’s sexual orientation is the years of loving and caring for one another would be enough to keep a roof over her head.
It is also added to by the fact that Renee divorced her husband following his adulterous affair with a fellow co-worker. As you can imagine, the sudden departure of her husband and Siobhan’s father made the bond between mother and child much stronger as they only had each other left to love and take care of.
Overall, the basic message of Renee Pattinson was to make the best of a bad situation. Being bitter and full of resentment isn’t going to fix your problem, thinking positive, confiding in those closest to you and moving on is the only way forward. Indeed it can hurt, and I’ve known many divorced people who’ve told me this, but they have survived because they’ve put the past behind them and attempted to better themselves.