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1997-2000: Meeting Toyah Battersby and early eco-activities
Spider turned up on his Auntie Emily's doorstep on 15th December 1997. The scruffy, ragged-trousered, Big-Issue reading, Holsten-Pils drinking, vegetarian, eco-warrior brought a wry smile to Emily's face when she asked him why he'd turned up out of the blue. He responded "My dad said you were a bit of a go-er so I thought you'd be cool with it. I won't sponge off you for long", "I've got the world to save and all that". Her nephew dropped out of his second year studying Politics at University and went to Australia. He lived in a community in Queensland where he protested against zinc mining and rainforest depletion until he was deported around June 1996.
Emily (or "Auntie Em" as Spider always referred to her, just as she always called him by his Christian name) was always tolerant of Spider's "herbal cigarettes" being smoked in her home. She knew what Spider was doing but preferred him to smoke in the house rather than elsewhere as he had history with the police and she didn't want him in any more trouble and enjoyed having him around the house, having been lonely since the departure of her former lodger Percy Sugden.
Toyah Battersby immediately developed a crush on Spider, and the pair of them were instrumental in saving Theresa the turkey from being dish of the day at the Battersby Christmas dinner. They liberated Theresa and took her to a children's farm, from where she promptly escaped. The turkey made her way back to the Street, only to meet her untimely death beneath the wheels of Les Battersby's car, a flurry of feathers coming to rest on the car bonnet.
Spider and Toyah quickly became good friends and a good team and joined forces against the council's plan to build a concert bowl on the Red Rec, along with some of the others in the Street. They lamented the destruction of the hoary ground wort on the Red Rec, and Toyah painted a sign that read "Save whorey". Spider laughed at her spelling mistake and she got a little upset about it: "It's not my fault I'm thick, it's the government's!". They both decided to handcuff themselves to the trees in the Red Rec when the revolution comes, and had a rehearsal in Emily's house, handcuffing each other to the stair banisters. When Spider asked Toyah for the key so he could unlock the cuffs, she admitted she'd left it on the sideboard so they both missed out on the protest meeting at the council and had to stay locked together until Emily arrived home, hours later.
The campaign to save the Red Rec moved to Councillor Roberts' own back garden when Spider and Roy Cropper set up camp in Audrey Roberts' flower beds. "I just don't know what they're getting up to out there Alfie, I'll never sit in that end of the garden again" she moaned. During the Red Rec campaign, a friend of Spider's sent him a didgeridoo through the post (or as Audrey referred to it, a didgeridoo-dah) and another of Spider's friends, Mole turned up to join in the campaign, digging tunnels on the site. The campaign ended after Spider hit what he thought was concrete while digging his tunnel. On further inspection and with the help of Roy's encyclopaedic knowledge, it turned out to be remains of a Roman settlement. The bulldozers had to move out now the Red Rec was deemed a site of historical significance and Spider, Toyah, Roy and Emily celebrated with a drink in the Rovers.
In February 1998, Spider saddened Emily and Toyah by announcing that he was leaving Weatherfield when his mate, Hawkeye rang him from another eco-site and said he needed help there. However, he was persuaded to stay after being offered a job at the Red Rec from Professor Barker, an archaeology professor.
Spider and Toyah then started the PLO (Prawn Liberation Organisation) to save the Norwegian prawn. The pair of them, with Emily joining in, played whale music in Firman's Freezers and strutted around with placards. Spider was chuffed with Toyah's involvement when she poured anti-freeze over the prawns in Firman's, little realising the seriousness of their actions.
When Toyah decided to take her relationship with Spider up a notch and become romantically involved, an old girlfriend of Spider's, Log Thwaite, turned up. Log had just returned from her travels in South America and it was obvious Spider still had feelings for Log and that all that he and Toyah would ever be were "comrades in arms", just friends.
In March 1998, Spider once again upset Emily and Toyah when he once again decided to leave Weatherfield, this time with Log. However, Spider found out Log's true colours after a bacon sandwich went astray in the cafe and the only likely suspect was Log. Emily set a trap for Log by laying out bacon and sausages for her Sunday lunch and when Spider returned to the house to find Log tucking into a full English breakfast, he told her he couldn't leave with someone as unprincipled as she. Before leaving, Log turned to Spider to tell him they no longer had anything in common anyway because he'd "gone all cuddly".
In June 1998, Spider stood for council on environmental issues, hoping to win Weatherfield's "green vote", threatening butcher Fred Elliott that the campaign would make Weatherfield a meat-free zone. Audrey, appalled that "Stig of the dump" (as she referred to him) was going to stand for council was enraged enough to announce that she too would stand for council, and give the "scruffy beggar a run for his money". When Spider asked Audrey what her policy would be, for instance, on air quality, she replied: "Well, you see, that's something I know a bit about, 'cos I'm a fully qualified 'airdresser." The tension mounted as both Spider and Audrey fought to gain control of Weatherfield Council. Both of them needed 10 people to sign in support of their stand for council, and while Spider had no problem getting his 10 good men (and women) true, Audrey struggled as she was apparently less popular, it seemed. Even Gail Platt signed for Spider but only after Toyah told her she needed her signature for a sponsored walk. Audrey reckoned Spider wouldn't be able to stand for council as he wouldn't be on the electoral register, but Emily surprised everyone by saying that she registered Spider when he first moved in with her. Spider told Emily that even if he was elected, he wouldn't actually take the position because it was against his anarchist principles. However, he scrubbed up ultra-clean in a white suit and sensible hair cut but realised he was making himself out to be something he wasn't - all for the sake of politics. When election day dawned in Weatherfield, Fred was worried as it seemed that Spider had a real chance of stealing Audrey's seat. He received confirmation from a little man at the council who knew about such things that anyone having spent time in prison wasn't eligible to take up office. That would have ruled out Spider as he had spent time in prison in the past, or so Fred thought - but he wasn't quite correct. As Spider had only spent fourteen days in prison (for sticking to his principles and refusing to pay a fine) he could still hold office if he won the election. Sadly though, while Spider got a whopping 842 votes (837 of which came from Toyah and Emily), Audrey won the election with 849 votes, beating Spider by a mere 7 votes.
Over at the Rovers, blonde barmaid Lorraine Brownlow started making eyes at Spider, much to the annoyance of Toyah. She suffered while watching Spider make a fool of himself with Lorraine, and bought a teen magazine "Only 16" from The Kabin, to read the article "Top 10 tips on how to nail your man." She followed Spider and Lorraine to a nightclub and bumped into them both in the supermarket, but apart from making Lorraine a bit bad tempered, it didn't really change anything. Spider still just thought of her as a mate.
In March 1999, Spider helped his mate Curly Watts get his house back from the clutches of Jackie Dobbs. Curly took legal advice to evict his squatter, to no avail, so he and Spider ended up creeping into the house to steal the TV while Tyrone was sleeping on the sofa.
In April 1999, Spider developed a crush on Nita Desai when she invited him to her flat above the Corner Shop for dinner, but she was only interested in his friendship. He didn't realise this though, and started getting all misty-eyed about meeting the right girl to settle down with and have children.
During August 1999, Spider and Toyah spent a night under canvas on the Red Rec, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Spider suddenly began to see Toyah in a new light, and the two found their passions overtaking them and made love for the first time in the tent, completely missing the event. When Emily asked them both how the evening had gone. "Er.. cosmic", said Toyah. While Toyah was happy, Spider felt like he'd taken advantage of her and spent most of the week afterwards trying to avoid her. Leanne Battersby told Spider if he didn't do the decent thing with Toyah she would threaten him with Les Battersby but Spider really did seem confused. Finally though, Toyah got her man after she stormed round to see him and demanded to know what was going on. Spider eventually decided that Toyah was the girl for him (after she forced some kisses on him) and the two began a relationship. Emily was upset when she found out about the relationship, feeling Toyah was too young for Spider and he was taking advantage, but was forced to accept the relationship despite her misgivings.
There was still a massive roadblock ahead of them in the form of Les, who had never liked Spider. When he found out who Toyah's new boyfriend was, he was less than pleased: "You mean that dozy crusty's sleeping wi' our Toyah?" he yelled before storming round to the café, ready to beat him to a pulp. Fortunately for Spider, all the shouting in the café brought Hayley Cropper downstairs and she sorted out the lot of them. Spider managed to sweet talk Emily into letting Toyah stay there for a while after the fall-out with Les. Emily agreed, on the understanding that no hanky panky went on under her roof. They both agreed, but their hormones proved to be too much and quickly ended up in bed. Emily was not best pleased when she found out what was going on and threw Toyah out. Curly let the young lovers use his spare room, while worried about incurring the wrath of Les next door. A few days turned into weeks, and eventually the two got on Curly's nerves so much that he ordered them to leave.
In October 1999, Spider and Toyah set up home in a tent on the Red Rec but the sanitary arrangements left a lot to be desired, with no toilet or fresh water. After eating yams one more time, Toyah wasn't happy, especially when Spider's mate, a tramp called Tufty, turned up on the door step, or rather, at the tent-flap, begging for food. When Audrey found out that "Mr Hippy, the armchair anarchist" had set up home in one of the parks she had control over in her role of councillor, she wasn't best pleased. Emily went off on holiday with Maud Grimes and while she was away had decided to trust Spider with watching the house. Although he didn't want to let his Auntie down, Spider found himself and Toyah desperate to stop living in a tent and they moved into her house. Toyah seduced Spider with candles in the living room, but as the two shared a romantic bath, one of the candles set fire to Emily's curtains and the living room ended up with serious smoke damage. Spider enlisted Hayley to help out redecorating Emily's front room after the fire, and while she got cracking making new curtains, Spider and Toyah found matching wallpaper to the one that was on the wall previously and the place looked normal again.
Hayley happened to mention that her old bedsit was free - at last, Spider and Toyah could have a home to call their own. Only one slight problem, they couldn't afford it, so Spider decided it was finally time he got himself a job. His first visit to the Jobcentre didn't go well, as he was offered jobs that went against his eco-nature (including slaughterhouse work, pest control, car park attendant) and the only job he was offered that he could have been interested in (dredging canals) would have forced him to work with Les. Spider did manage to get an interview, but it was with the establishment; the Benefits Agency itself. A bit nervous before the interview, he started talking to a guy who worked there, only to find it was fellow crusty, Ganga Tim, who told Spider that if he got the job he could work the system from the inside. It was a done deal, he got the job and planned to make the system work to help claimants with their benefits rather than becoming one of the establishment himself.
When Emily returned from her holiday, she realised straight away that the living room had been redecorated, and didn't believe Spider and Toyah's explanation that it had been a treat for her, since they had put up the same wallpaper as before. Spider and Toyah eventually came clean about why they had to redecorate. Emily was furious and put them out after taking Spider's house key from him, however she was pleased to hear that Spider had managed to find a job. Maud made Emily see reason and warned her about turning people away. Emily visited Spider at his workplace and invited him and Toyah round to hers that evening. When there, she forgave them and gave them a cheque for £100 to cover expenses involved in redecorating but Spider tore the cheque up as he couldn't accept it. With that, Emily finally fully accepted Spider and Toyah's relationship allowing her to rebuild bridges with her nephew.
While working at the Benefits Agency in November 1999, Spider uncovered evidence that showed Les Battersby working whilst claiming benefits at the same time. He and Toyah decided to get rid of the incriminating evidence but he was caught by his boss, Miss Finch and had some explaining to do.
Spider settled into a more responsible lifestyle, wearing a suit and tie for work each day, looking after Toyah and the pair of them entertained friends with vegetarian dinner parties in their bedsit. After several months Spider had been doing so well that he was considering a mortgage and was up for promotion, however Toyah was dismayed that the eco-warrior she had fallen for had turned into a completely different man, one that seemed more concerned his job and money than saving the world. Spider passed his initial interviews, but then found himself being forced to deny a single mother benefits. Realising he had become everything he used to hate, Spider quit his job in a huge display.
Returning home, he admitted to Toyah he had changed but was determined to change back and announced he had booked him and Toyah a trip to India to allow them to take a spiritual journey and they would be leaving the next day. Toyah was upset that Spider had done this without consulting her, but did consider going with him. She found herself unwilling to leave Weatherfield however, and Spider left alone after bidding Toyah and Emily a fond goodbye.
2001-: Returns to the Street
Over a year later, Spider returned and whilst Emily was happy to see him, Toyah felt uneasy having just started a new relationship with Sam Kingston and having also being violently raped by a man that she had met through Spider; who felt very guilty that he wasn't there for her. He hoped to renew their relationship, but Toyah wasn't willing and while Spider was upset, the two agreed to remain friends. Spider was also visiting as he was now living in London and wanted to start a juice bar, but was short of cash and hoped to borrow from Emily, who was happy to help her nephew out; but didn't have the cash herself. However, Richard Hillman persuaded her to sell her house to him for a lump sum and he would allow her to continue living there rent-free until she died, at which point the property rights to the house would belong to him. Emily agreed to Richard's offer and gave Spider a cheque for £15,000, telling him that she was giving him his inheritance early, happy that she would be able to see him enjoy it.
Spider visited the street again in 2003 when he heard that Emily had been attacked and was nearly killed whilst she was babysitting Joshua Peacock, and was angry with her lodger Norris who had been spreading rumours that Richard was responsible and told him off (even though his suspicions later turned out to be true). During his visit, Toyah found out that her then-boyfriend had cheated on her with flatmate Maria Sutherland and realised she had never gotten over her rape. Spider offered her a fresh start in London with him, and she agreed. The two then bid a final farewell to Emily and left Weatherfield together.
"When you are. 'Bye Auntie Em. Take care of yourself." (Final line).