Kim Durham (Matt Crawford)
Matt is in hospital and friction is growing between Lilian and Justin. He is more than a little miffed because she keeps going to see him in hospital and he says “Lilian, I don’t want you to visit him any more. I’ve been very patient, but this ends now.” Wrong! She shoots off to the hospital, to find that Matt is discharging himself. Where will he go? He tells her to book him a room - not his usual suite - at Grey Gables. Lilian wants Matt to go back to hospital but he asks her to get him a cheap mobile phone (too many people know the number of his usual phone, he says, enigmatically).
Lilian returns to the Dower House and Justin asks if she has been to see Matt? She admits it and he tells her that he is going to London (he has a bag already packed). All he knows is that she cannot keep away from Matt. Lilian protests that there is nothing going on, but Justin’s mind is made up and he says that he will come back “but only when - and if - you give me reason to.” As he leaves, Justin has a bit of news - the sale of the Dower House has finally gone through; he would have told Lilian earlier, but of course she wasn’t there. Nice one Lil - not only have you upset your fiancé - your millionaire fiancé - and jeopardised your forthcoming nuptials, but, assuming the Dower House is in Justin’s name, if he gets arsey, you might have nowhere to live. Get Brian and Jennifer to prepare your old room at Home Farm, just in case.
Next day, Matt is checking times of flights to Ecuador. He tells Lilian that he’ll be fine, he’s a survivor and a taxi is coming to take him to a hotel near Heathrow. When he’s settled in Ecuador, he’ll send Lilian a ticket. She refuses to help him with his cases (we still don’t know what’s in them) and he collapses in the lobby. Everyone is staring at him and, the following day, he tells Lilian to find him another hotel, as too many people are now aware of his whereabouts. They continue to bicker and he eventually tells her to help him “or go back to Justin and leave me to it.” “To what?” she asks swiftly, but gets no answer.
Matt’s desire for anonymity is upset when PC Burns knocks on his hotel room door. Matt is peeved that he managed to track him down and he is not interested in the progress of PCB’s investigations. PCB calls it a hit-and-run, but Matt insists it was an accident and asks PCB to pull the plug on his investigation. PCB replies that it’s not up to him, but to the Crown Prosecution Service whether or not to proceed. On Friday, PCB calls on Matt again and tells him that this will be his final visit. Matt is pleased, but PCB wipes the smile off his face by telling him that the case is now being treated as attempted murder and future visits will be by his colleagues in the CID.
PCB’s investigation seems to consist of asking people where they were on the evening of the accident and finding out that a fair number were absent for some time during the evening. He visits the Stables and his questioning annoys Shula, who gets quite sharp with him and repeatedly insists that, as Hunt Ball organiser, she was all over the place, fighting fires and making sure that things ran smoothly. When PCB leaves, Alistair and Shula talk and he says that he couldn’t find her for about an hour on the night of the Ball. She admits that, when she heard about Matt’s accident, she was pleased at first. Planting his foot firmly in his gob, Alistair says “perhaps you mowed him down.” Shula is far from amused. “That’s a terrible thing to say” she tells her husband. Alistair insists that he was only joking and is immediately reduced to grovelling apologies, when Shula sourly remarks “Remember Mark?”
Adam is another possible suspect and Roy eventually resolves his ethical dilemma by deciding that he ought to show the police the CCTV footage of Adam punching Matt in the Grey Gables car park. Roy goes to tell Adam and Ian of his decision and Ian is exceedingly angry that Adam lied to him, or at least didn’t tell him that he punched Matt. Roy tells the two that he feels he has to go to the police with his evidence and a heated discussion/slanging match ensues. In the middle of this, Carina (their choice for a surrogate mother) walks in - well done for leaving the front door open, Roy - and introduces herself. Roy goes and Adam, Ian and Carina sit down. Ian has made far too much food and the boys are conscious that she must have heard their argument. The conversation flows like treacle and Adam excuses himself, saying that there’s something he must do at once.
Carina goes and Adam returns. Ian asks him what the hell’s going on and Adam says that he has been to the police before Roy does and he told them that he did indeed punch Matt, but he had nothing to do with the hit-and-run. Ian is both angry with, and proud of, Adam and the couple go out for a walk to clear their heads. While they are out, the phone rings and Carina leaves a message, saying that she’s sorry and that they are great guys, but she doesn’t think the surrogacy would work, as she lives too far from Ambridge, should there be any problems. There’ll be tears and hard words.
But back to Lilian. She gets a call from her friend Mena, who says that she is trying to get in touch with Matt, as she is puzzled over their recent dealings. Mena breeds horses and Matt approached her, saying that he is looking to buy top quality horses for the consortium in Costa Rica. He videoed Anisha giving Balthazar Treasure the once over and then he decided to purchase Chinese Lantern. While Balthazar Treasure is worth around £75k, Mena says that Chinese Lantern is past his best and is worth around £10k - she cannot understand why Matt went for second best. Lilian is troubled, buy who can she get to help her investigate? The answer? Her son James, who comes to Ambridge. Lilian asks him if he told anyone he was coming, to which he replies (wrongly, in my opinion) “I’m not a complete idiot, Ma.”
The two of them peruse the impressive brochure produced by Melling Equestrian Investments - it shows their high tech HQ and attractive photos of the area housing the new racecourse. There is also an address of an office in Regent Street. Lilian voices her misgivings to James who, delving deeply into his store of clichés, says “A leopard never changes his spots - once a wrong ‘un, always a wrong ‘un Ma.” The only way to check is to visit MEI’s London offices. James does so and phones Lilian - the building is merely an accommodation address for a number of PO boxes. “Whatever Matt Crawford has got himself into, it stinks to high heaven” James tells his mother.
You might think that this would be enough to convince any rational person, but Lilian opens her heart to Jolene - could there be a simple explanation? Jolene is sceptical and the pair start to wonder if the racecourse even exists. It appears that Lilian is beginning to accept that Matt is up to something, as she tells Jolene “The old Matt’s back - slippery, duplicitous and skating on very thin ice.” Jolene suggests that they ring up other racecourses in Costa Rica and ask about the new enterprise. It turns out that there is no such scheme and the attractive photographs of the site are, in fact, of a national park and no construction would ever be allowed there. “The whole enterprise is a complete scam” says Lilian.
One assumes that Matt is well aware that the scheme is a figment of the imagination, but what is his part in it? Is he skimming off the money, asking his principals for £70k and actually handing over £10k for an inferior nag? And if there is no racecourse, why are horses being bought in the first place? The plot, as they say, thickens.
Let’s leave Matt and look elsewhere in Ambridge. Pip and Toby are enjoying a no strings relationship, which seems to involve lots of going to bed. Pip is in no hurry to return to Rickyard at Brookfield and Lily has given Toby his own key. Toby is leaving Lower Loxley one morning, when he runs into Elizabeth. He asks her if she minds him having a key and she replies no, but it would have been better if Lily had asked her first, before she handed it over. However, Liz says that Pip is an adult and can do what she wants.
An hour or so later, David and Elizabeth meet in the shop and he asks her if she knows when Pip might be returning to Brookfield and wonders whether she is trying to keep some new boyfriend below the parental radar - has Elizabeth noticed any new man around the place? Elizabeth prevaricates and then says that Pip isn’t a teenager any more and that she’s sure that Pip can be trusted to behave sensibly. Later on, Elizabeth and Pip talk and Liz tells of her conversation with David and she warns her niece that, should David ask her a direct question, she will not lie to him.
That could be interesting, as, speaking to his daughter earlier, David says that Pip looks a lot more happy recently. He also congratulates her on “getting out of a relationship that took everything and gave nothing back.” “Toby, do you mean?” Pip asks and David replies in the affirmative, adding that, whatever Pip is doing, to carry on - she’s got her spark back. Oh dear Pip, I think you’ll have to make a clean breast of it (and I use the phrase advisedly) or Mum and Dad will go berserk. You can’t keep Toby a secret for ever and the longer you wait, the worse will be the fall-out.
We must mention the forthcoming Parish Council election, with Emma Grundy and Robert Snell going toe to toe. I think this is the only election where nobody seems to know for whom they are going to vote. PCB asked Alistair, whose response was that there was much to be said for both candidates. We’re not even sure if Emma and Robert know where they will put their respective crosses, as the week before last, they wished each other luck.
About the only person who seems sure which way to vote is Lynda (and Emma tells people that “a vote for Robert means you’ll get Lynda and that woman has ruled this village for long enough.”) Lynda is looking around for someone - anyone - to take on production of this year’s panto (thankfully with little success thus far). She would do it herself, but she’s so involved with managing Robert’s campaign that she hasn’t got the time. Let’s hope that the result of the election is a tie, so that another one is necessary and that that one too ends in a tie, so that a third is needed and that one too - but I think you can perceive my drift.