There’s a homicidal maniac stalking the streets of Ambridge, with dead bodies carefully buried in the garden of The Lodge. The scene of carnage was uncovered by Robert Snell, who was delivering a squirrel-proof bird feeder and looking for the best place to put it. Having found a likely spot, he discovers a veritable necropolis, with bodies of birds, frogs and small mammals neatly interred. The perpetrator is none other than Hilda Ogden, the feline killing machine and Peggy is her Accessory After The Fact, covering up (literally) evidence of Hilda’s mass slaughter.
This is too much for Robert, who says that he couldn’t possibly condone putting a bird feeder in the garden, as this would only encourage Hilda’s nefarious activities. He is presumably worried that Hilda will come back one day with a dead lamb and he sternly tells Peggy to sort the problem out. She rings Pat to see if Tony could take her and Hilda to see Alistair to see what can be done. Tony tells Pat that he’d only do so if it were for her final journey - we assume he was talking about Hilda, rather than Peggy - and the short straw is eventually drawn by Adam. He’s no fool and takes along a pair of heavy duty industrial gloves to deal with the cat. PC Burns, who happened along, says that Hilda looks ‘quite sweet’ in her basket and Peggy demonstrates her blind spot as far as Hilda is concerned by remarking sharply that Hilda is very sweet - she’s just misunderstood. Presumably Peggy thought that Hitler wasn’t a bad bloke underneath it all.
What can Alistair do? He comes up with the idea of a collar fitted with a bell, which everyone believes is an ideal solution. The only trouble is who will fit the collar on an increasingly fractious cat? Sounds like a job for a vet and later Peggy tells Jennifer that the collar was eventually fitted, after a considerable struggle.
Jennifer had an eventful week, checking up on Lexi’s caravan-cleaning performance, which doesn’t meet Jen’s high standards. Lexi has two particularly filthy caravans to deal with and phones Roy to tell him that she can’t make their date tonight, as she’ll be working late. Roy, bless him, turns up to give Lexi a hand and she is touched. Roy is hosing down the exterior of one of the vans and manages to totally soak his jeans. As he and Lexi laugh about it, Jennifer turns up with a supply of bin bags and hears Roy saying something about getting his trousers off and she cops an eyeful. Jennifer has an attack of the vapours and runs off, leaving Lexi laughing hysterically and Roy very embarrassed and shouting after Jennifer, trying unsuccessfully to explain.
I am very much afraid that Pip and Toby might be getting back together. He is going out with Kitty, the glamorous yet high maintenance girl who appears to be cutting a swathe through the manhood of Ambridge (well, Roy and Toby). Toby asks Pip if she would come to The Bull and meet Kitty, who has expressed a desire to meet Toby’s ex - something that Pip, and indeed I, find a bit weird. In the event, Tracy forces Pip to accompany her to the pub and manages to upset Kitty by telling her that Toby bought her and Pip a drink.
Pip tells Toby that Kitty isn’t the girl for him (he has shaved his chest hair and eyebrows to please Kitty) and that there’s no point in pursuing a relationship that doesn’t work (and she should know). He tells her the next day that he has dumped Kitty and, when she asks how he did it, he says the same way that Pip dumped him - short and sharp. He also says that he is getting together a team for a pub quiz and is Pip interested in joining the team? She says yes eventually - don’t do it Pip; you’ve been happy without Toby, so keep it that way. Oh yes; and ask him for your five grand back.
The biggest story of the week is the ‘will they, won’t they?’ saga of whether Ian and Adam will adopt a child. It was only the end of the previous week that Ian let slip the news that they were thinking of adopting and, on Sunday morning, Oliver congratulates Ian. Oliver says that he has fond memories of when he and Caroline fostered teenagers - it was challenging, but very worthwhile. How did Oliver know about the adoption? Phoebe was in the shop earlier and must have mentioned it. Ian shouldn’t really be surprised by the speed and efficiency of the Ambridge rumour mill - he’s lived there long enough. Also on Sunday, Ian gets another reminder when Roy invites him to the pub “as I want to hear about the adoption.” “Who told you?” asks Ian, to which Roy replies “Phoebe, Saturday; Susan this morning: Lynda 10 minutes ago - take your pick, mate.”
On Tuesday, Adam and Ian attend ‘an adoption event’, which is very well attended and they get talking to a couple - Sian and Rachid - who are also keen to adopt. It turned out that Sian spent some time at Spiritual Home over the summer and she describes Kate as “warm, welcoming and so very grounded”, which causes Adam to choke on his coffee and the rest of us to wonder who this other Kate can be. In fact, later on in the week, Jennifer congratulates Kate on the success that she has made of Spiritual Home. “Much to Dad’s surprise” says Kate. I must admit that I’m pretty damn amazed, myself - I can only assume that Kate got a manager in to oversee the project, or that Sian is a rubbish judge of character and Jennifer ditto of what makes a business successful.
But back to Ian and Adam. The adoption event is pretty intense and goes into great detail about what is involved. Adam, who had really initially gone along with the adoption idea to make Ian happy, becomes an enthusiastic convert to the cause and is all for going ahead. On the other hand, Ian seems less sure and he dwells on the sadness and heartache that he sensed at the meeting. Adam asks his husband what is the matter and it transpires that Ian has been having second thoughts about adopting an older child. In conversation with Helen, she reminds him how he originally wanted to father a child with a surrogate mother “I just want a child - it’s as simple as that” Ian tells her, adding that he could get adoption leave from Grey Gables.
Only it isn’t - in a heart to heart with Adam, Ian says they might be jumping the gun. He talks about the sadness in the room with those without children and says “We haven’t tried for our own baby yet.” “You’re talking about surrogacy again” Adam says and Ian admits that he would like to go for it. Adam is finding this hard to take in but Ian continues, saying: “Our own baby would be the most amazing thing in the world” and he is ‘more than certain’ that this is what he wants. “If that’s what you want, then that’s what we’ll do.” Adam tells him. Obviously this story is going to run and run. Who would you pick for a surrogate mother?
The Flower & Produce Show is almost upon us. Lexi apparently bakes something amazing (in Roy’s opinion, anyway) which he says would really put Jennifer’s nose out of joint. Talking about the F&PS earlier, Jennifer explains to Lexi that it can get very competitive, especially among the older men of the village. By this, she means Joe Grundy and Bert Fry, whose rivalry is legendary. But wait! This year is different, as there is a newcomer in Ambridge - one Cecil Jackson, who apparently has a track record of stunning successes in similar shows over the years. It appears that CJ could pose a real threat to Bert and Joe and the latter suggests that the two of them join forces to confront the Jackson threat, or else CJ will win every category on Sunday.
All very well, but how to do it? One suggestion is that they only submit one entry between them in each class, but the trouble is that they are both convinced that their carrots, marrows, onions etc are the best and neither will defer to the other. It’s a problem, but things take a bizarre turn when Joe and Bert meet Tony in The Bull, where Tony has offered to buy Bert a drink. While Bert rings the date on his calendar, Joe’s ears prick up at the words ‘drink’ and ‘buy’ and he nearly chokes himself, trying to down his pint after Tony has said “I see you’re OK for a drink, Joe.”
When Tony returns, he has potentially grave news. At the bar, he was chatting to CJ, who has just come back from the doctor’s - not only that, but it was his third visit this week. CJ told Jolene that there would not be any more visits - he would be gone soon, whereupon he turned ashen and Jolene had to offer him a brandy on the house. Tony leaves and Bert and Joe discuss the possible implications of what they have just been told - this changes everything and Bert says that they should make sure that Cecil wins something if this is to be his last show. To ensure this, he and Joe should pull out of a number of categories to improve Cecil’s chances. I await with anticipation to find out how this is all going to backfire on Bert and Joe.
Johnny is enjoying his work at Home Farm and is keen to get his hands on some expensive kit in coming weeks. Bert watches him ploughing at Bridge Farm with a rather less sophisticated and expensive tractor and Ambridge’s own ploughmeister declares himself to be impressed with Johnny’s performance - not only is he a natural stockman, it seems, but he’s a bit of a wizard with a plough, not to mention a valuable member of the cricket team and a useful all-rounder. What next? Will he prove to be a genius with Kefir and other fermented products, or will he crash and burn after being totally knackered, working all the hours at the two farms and fitting in college and cricket? I’m just surprised that Johnny isn’t entering anything into the Flower & Produce Show, but there’s always next year.