Barry Farrimond & Philip Molloy (Ed & Will Grundy)
After a good few months, it was like going back in time to see the Grundy brothers at each others’ throats again, arguing and almost coming to blows. Just like old times, in fact. Normally, you can rely on Will to be the prime mover in situations such as this, but not this time, as it was Nic who slagged Emma off in The Bull in front of customers, causing Jolene to send her home.
I found this behaviour to be most un-Nic like; the girl deserves a medal for living with Will (either that or electro-convulsive therapy) and has always been the voice of reason, so why this sudden change? The repercussions are severe - in a phone call, Jolene tells Nic that her services are no longer required at the pub and, just to compound her agony, on Valentine’s Day evening, she spends the time practising ballroom dancing with Joe, round the Grange Farm kitchen table. It doesn’t really get any worse than that, does it?
Never mind; Will is his usual, supportive self and, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything - in practice, he moans because he had to cook the children’s teas as Nic was not at home. Tactful and new-mannish as ever, he says that he thought that, with Nic losing her job, she’d be spending more time at home. When I said earlier that it doesn’t get any worse, I was obviously wrong.
Emma feels sorry for Nic and holds out an olive branch, going round with husband Ed to see her and Will. Emma has already tried to persuade Jolene to take Nic back, but Jolene says that she cannot and she has already given Nic’s shifts to Toby, which is just what he needs, what with the Gin-making and the stints in the lambing shed. “What are you two doing here?” snarls Will, as he opens the door to Emma and his brother. Emma explains that Fallon will need help at the Vintage Fair and is willing to give Nic some work. “Tell her you’re not interested” says Will, ever the peacemaker. Emma says that she doesn’t want to bear a grudge and wants to put things right “No hard feelings, yeah?” Emma asks. Nic has obviously been with Will for too long, as she tells Emma that she cannot work with her again at the Tea Room. Emma says that they made a great team on election day, but Nic is adamant, saying “Sorry, Emma; things have changed.” Will chips in with a helpful “You’ve had your answer - it’s time you went.” Emma and Ed take their leave, with Emma telling Nic that she’s not going to give up. Shooting Will would be a good start, I reckon.
There were quite a few storylines involving employment, or the possible lack of it, last week. Susan moans that her leadership qualities and vast experience are not being appreciated (somebody buy her a new broom) and she is looking for alternative employment where her talents are appreciated (OK, get her a new duster too). In the face of all logic, the Kefir appears to be selling a lot better now and Helen asks Susan to explain the benefits to a potential customer. This she does, and Helen says that the customer was deeply impressed with Susan’s depth of knowledge - so much so that she bought some. Personally, I reckon the purchase was just so she could get away.
Susan experiences a dose of reality, when she realises that people aren’t falling over themselves to employ her and that Lord Sugar is not reserving a spot for her on the next series of The Apprentice. Indeed, Clarrie reminds her that the Dairy job isn’t that horrendous, and the Bridge Farm Archers aren’t too bad, as bosses go. Susan reluctantly agrees. A large part of her motivation for seeking pastures new is that husband Neil isn’t getting any younger and has been muttering about retirement, wondering if he’d survive another year with the pigs. As they are waiting to go out to the Mr & Mrs quiz (which they won, incidentally) on Valentine’s Night, he realises her motive and, after telling her that she looks perfect, says that she’s not to worry about him retiring - he’d work till he was 90, through hail and blizzard, if it means providing for her. The big softy.
Another employment-related story is the forthcoming vote at the end of the week by the BL Board to determine whether or not Brian should continue as Chairman. If I may digress here, there was a delicious moment after one of the week’s episodes when the BBC Continuity Announcer suggested the ideal solution - Susan is looking for a job and BL could soon be looking for a new Chairman - a marriage made in heaven, surely?
But back to Brian. On Sunday, Peggy lets it be known that she thinks the way he is being treated is disgraceful and she will be “very disappointed” if he resigns. “That’s me told” he mutters and Jennifer says that he’s done nothing wrong and he has five days to persuade the Board otherwise. Speaking to Jennifer later, Peggy says that, if Brian won’t go and see Justin, somebody else will have to.
Brian, meanwhile, is trying to get some of the Board members onside and goes about it with the subtlety of an elephant on a trampoline. He spends the best part of a day waiting outside Annabelle’s office and, when he eventually gets to see her, he clumsily reminds her of the problems they have overcome together in the past. Annabelle is not fooled and tells Brian that she will vote for what’s best for BL. She later phones Justin, saying that she had hoped that Brian would stand down without a fight.
Justin ends the call because he has a visitor. It’s Jennifer, who obviously took Peggy’s advice to heart, as she has come to plead Brian’s case to Justin. If the Board votes Brian off, she argues, it will be as good as saying that he’s guilty. Justin gives nothing away and tells Jennifer that he will take her views into consideration when he votes.
Whatever good Jennifer might have done is almost immediately undone when Brian runs into Justin in the village. Brian is rude from the outset and accuses Justin of wanting to be Chairman himself; something that Justin strongly denies. “Do you know what loyalty even means?” Brian asks him, prompting Justin to remark that the pressure must be getting to Brian - it’s making him paranoid. Justin also says that Brian will have to wait until the vote of Friday, but he (Justin) has made up his mind where he stands. Well done Brian - a truly spectacular own goal there; it’s not really good tactics to insult people who hold your future in their hands, is it?
Friday comes around and Brian phones Jennifer - he fears the worst. Jennifer is convinced that Justin will back him and tells her husband to have faith and man up - don’t make it easy for them. At the meeting, Brian bigs up his track record as Chairman and says how well prepared BL is to face the future. He touches on the contamination, saying that he is sure he will be absolved from blame and, in a breathtaking bit of understatement, describes the press stories as “unfortunate”. Having done all he can, Brian retires to leave his fellow Board members to discuss his future. “I’ll be just outside the door” he adds, somewhat pathetically. In the meeting, Justin gets the ball rolling by speaking first.
Whatever Justin said, it had an almost magical effect, as, when the votes are counted, only one member - the odious and oleaginous Martyn Gibson - voted to throw Brian off the Board. A bemused and bewildered Brian thanks Justin for his support and goes off to tell Jennifer the good news. As he does so, Annabelle approaches Justin and asks why he was so adamant that Brian should be spared. Justin’s reply - that Brian is a steady hand on the tiller - is dismissed as garbage by Annabelle, who asks for the real reason. Justin replies that he’s not a heartless monster, plus, it never hurts to have someone in your debt “and, after today, I’d say Brian owes me a great deal, wouldn’t you?” We should point out that, if the EA prosecutes Brian, he will be removed as Chairman. And what is Justin after? Let’s assume for the sake of argument that it was he that ran down Matt - perhaps he wants Brian to take the rap or provide him with a cast-iron alibi. Speaking of the Matt case, the police don’t seem to be very active, do they?
Pip drives Rooooth to see a new milking parlour in operation. This is an Open-sided parlour and different from the traditional herringbone type. Which is better? Neil and I are engaged in violent debate about the merits of the different systems and we’ll have to wait and see which they go for. Rooooth isn’t a fan of the O-SP, saying that it could be very breezy, but Pip says just look how quickly the herd was milked and “this is going to make our lives so much better.”
Rooooth tells her daughter that, for the foreseeable future, the majority of the farm work will devolve upon herself and David and the decision on the type of parlour is not just down to Pip. Pip says yes, things will be difficult for a couple of months after the birth, but then she’ll be back at work. Rooooth interrupts her and tells her some home truths, in that it will be a lot longer than two months and Pip will be dog tired. She can’t expect her and David to look after the baby, and neither can she rely on Jill (who is apparently knitting for Britain), who is 87, for God’s sake. Who will do the night feeds? Who will look after the baby during the day - Rooooth and David can’t? A shaken Pip protests that Toby said he’d help, which is surely an indication of how little support Pip can expect. To emphasise how bad things can get, Rooooth tells Pip that she nearly hit her once because she wouldn’t stop crying. I was amazed - after all the things that Pip has done in her 25 years, Rooooth wanted to hit her on only one occasion? Nobody’s that tolerant, surely?
I fear that Pip has been spending too much time watching animals give birth - she sees sheep having lambs and cows calves and noticing that, after a quick lick and a nuzzle, the young animals are able to stand, suckle and move around. Well Pip, I’m afraid that it doesn’t work that way with human babies and your two months is wildly optimistic.
Of course, all this could have been easily avoided. As we mentioned earlier, Toby is putting in shifts in the lambing shed and Eddie, who says that he hopes Toby won’t be at the baby’s birth, judging from his less-than-perfect performance with the lambs, is teaching him how to castrate new-born lambs. Imagine if you will that all this happened before Pip became pregnant and that it was David teaching the castration technique - I put it to you that the temptation to geld young Tobes might just have been too much for David to resist.