Monday, 24 September 2012

Rhys To The Rescue

Scott Arthur (Rhys Williams)

OK, it might not have been the biggest story of the week, but it gives Neil the chance to feature a new photograph. What did Rhys do? Well, Fallon's super duper comedy night didn't go exactly as planned, with the majority of the audience regarding Tug Fowler as about as funny as a traffic accident. Jolene and Kenton had just returned from their holiday in Thailand and Jolene was unimpressed, while Kenton thought he was hilarious – although it should be remembered that this is the man who bought clockwork penguins and rude-shaped ice trays for the bar in Jaxx's last Christmas.

Fallon was distraught, as she feels she has alienated a host of regular customers, but Rhys has the bright idea of giving the most disgruntled a free drink. Jolene hails him as a saviour and Fallon says "I don't know what I'd have done without him." Actually, it was Rhys's hard-sell tactics that led to all the unsuitable characters being in the audience in the first place (Mr. Pullen, 90+ and deaf, Joe Grundy 90+ and a miserable git) so really Rhys was responsible for the fiasco in the first place.

A couple who did enjoy the comedy night were Ifty and Kirsty, with Ifty asking her out and Kirsty saying "yes" at around the speed of light. I thought she had a thing for Patrick, the bird man, but perhaps he's left the village as it's getting near the panto season (and my heart is heavy as I type that) and Lynda knows that he can play the piano. Someone who won't be impressed is Tracy, who has long harboured romantic designs (and delusions) about Ifty.

Another potentially interesting story is the fact that the person for whom Darrell is hoping to do some church restoration work is Paul Walker – Matt's half brother. Matt told Paul that he wanted nothing to do with him but, back in June 2010, I wrote: "The writers have invested a lot of effort in developing the Paul storyline and I can't believe that he is just going to ride off into the sunset and never be heard of again." (Happy Families (Not)). It may have taken over two years, but it's nice to be proved right. When Darrell mentions Paul's name to Lilian, it comes as a bit of a shock as old memories are rekindled.

Darrell meanwhile is still taking up floorboards at Arthur and Joyce's, which is getting on Arthur's nerves, as well as mine. Lilian finds out and orders Matt to put Darrell on a more productive job. He eventually agrees, but will Darrell's replacement be as amenable to tracing non-existent leaks?

The Flower and Produce Show has come and gone, with Oliver winning the bread baking category, Jim's Roman-oven loaf being awarded a special prize (most interesting entry) and Jazzer being disqualified for using a bread maker. Speaking to Caroline, Jazzer bemoans the fact that he cannot find anyone to share his flat and she professes amazement, even after he tells her that, when it comes to tidying up when prospective tenants look round, he goes for 'the lived-in look'. Lived in by the pigs, most likely.

Once again we had an example of the Ambridge "I cannot tell a lie" mentality when Adam drives the pickers to the airport and Pawel keeps trying to talk to him. Eventually he does and tells Adam that "I've had the time of my life" and that Adam is lucky to have Ian. Adam is immediately wracked with guilt, but Pawel is gone. Adam returns to Home Farm and, when talking about the pickers to mother Jennifer, he tells her that he slept with Pawel and does she think he should tell Ian? Jennifer says definitely not and "why break his heart just to ease your guilt?" When Adam asks how can he handle it, she replies "just love Ian as he deserves to be loved". Pity she didn't add "and keep your grubby hands off the hired help in future."

Everyone is rallying round Mike and Vicky now they have started telling people about the Downs baby. Brenda has a heart-to-heart with Vicky, who says "I've got so much love to give a child and my little daughter is going to need all of it." Brenda is impressed and tells Tom: "I've seriously under-estimated that woman." In the same conversation, Tom tentatively mentions wedding plans, but Brenda says "the time isn't right now." Quite right – I'd wait till the 22nd century.

Meanwhile, Roy and Mike spend some father and son time together fishing and we had a great bit of radio when Mike caught, played and landed a fish. Mike is upset because he feels Eddie and Joe are avoiding him and don't know what to say about the baby. Later on, Eddie approached Mike in the pub and apologises, saying "I'm sorry I've been such a pillock, but this will be one lucky baby to have you as parents." I hope this doesn't set a precedent – if we have Eddie apologising every time he acts like a pillock, then the episodes will be a bit samey.

Eddie also says to Mike: "If you want anything – anything at all – then I'm your man." I'd start by telling him you need help on the milk round, Mike – then we'll see how sincere his offer was.

Monday, 17 September 2012

You Don't Really Think You'll Get Away, Do You Darrell?

Dan Hagley (Darrell Makepeace)

I feel sorry for Darrell, forced to work for Matt Crawford at some highly dubious and unethical tasks, and no-one could blame him for wanting to escape AmSide's clutches. And things were looking good, as he has the prospect of carrying out some church restoration work in the near future.

Actually, I would wager a large sum that that previous sentence will have to be amended to "had the prospect…" as what does the clown do? He only goes and tells Matt that he won't be working so much for Amside and then, unbelievably, he tells Matt that he (Matt) knows his future employer and gives him his name. What do you reckon the chances are of Matt giving this guy a ring and just happening to mention that Darrell has done time, or else rubbishing his work? Upwards of 99% is my guess. Ah well, back to taking up Arthur and Joyce's floorboards and looking for non-existent leaks, Darrell.

Vicky and Mike continued to hold diametrically opposing views over the new baby, with Mike saying things like "it's a life sentence" and telling Neil it's like "a dark cloud". Neil points out that Vicky really, really wants this baby and she's been so good for Mike in recent years and that he is in danger of losing her if he persists in his attitude. It seems to work, as Mike performs the biggest about turn in Tucker history and tells Vicky that he is on-side now and what can he do to help? Presumably Vicky goes away to consult her list, or the first 43 pages of it.

There is even a rapprochement between Elizabeth and David when the latter goes over to Lower Loxley to visit his injured nephew. Elizabeth is out on business but returns early to find David and Freddie talking and playing (badly, in David's case) a computer game. Instead of screaming at David and dragging him up to the roof, Lizzie invites him to stay and soon they are reminiscing about how they used to play Monopoly at home and, if Lizzie couldn't get Mayfair or Park Lane, she'd tip the board over, the spoilt little madam. David tells her how much it means for him to be there and that he's missed her. "Me too" she replies, which makes the past few months even more futile.

While the last two stories have happy endings, poor Pawel seems doomed to disappointment – he asks Adam for a private meeting and reminds Adam that he will be going back to Poland next week and is angling for one last night of fun. Adam's response is along the lines of "don't bang the door on your way out" and his mood is not improved when Pawel suggests that perhaps Ian might be up for some 'fun'. Suffice it to say that Adam doesn't turn up to the pub to meet Pawel later. I think you're on a loser here, Pawel me old mate – I just hope he doesn't tell Ian out of spite about the night that he and Adam did spend together – I couldn't bear another few weeks of drama about a broken relationship.

Mind you, that might be preferable to the on-going saga of the entries for the bread baking competition at the flower and produce show. There is mystery and speculation about what Jim is up to, with bangs and flames coming from his shed (it turns out he's trying to build an authentic Roman oven) and Oliver seems to have become obsessed with flour, yeast and water. I know he has cut down on his work, but surely he must have something better to do? Shouldn't he be out vaccinating badgers or something? Oh no, that's Ed's job - and he seems quite cheerful about getting up at the crack of sparrows – weird, when you consider he's not being paid for it.

Last week saw the return of the ready meals saga (boo!). But wait – there's a problem – there's nowhere to cook them (hooray!). No spare capacity at the Bull (hooray!) and Ian's kitchen has no room (hooray!). Then Kirsty (whom I had previously held in high regard) said that Tom can use the kitchens at Jaxx's (boo!). I don't think you've got the authority to sanction this Kirsty – why not run it past Kenton when he returns? Actually, I suppose that Tom could always have used Jim's Roman oven.

Finally, snoopy mum Kathy confronts Jamie, who hasn't been at college for the past two days. Kathy knows this because she checked with his tutor – whatever happened to trust? OK, so Jamie has a bit of previous when it comes to bunking off, but I'm surprised that Kathy hasn't got him electronically tagged, or fitted with a tracking device. "Come on Jamie, you've been in that toilet for 15 minutes – what are you doing?"

It turned out that Jamie had been on an advanced chainsaw course for two days, which he paid for himself, using money earmarked for driving lessons. Kathy is incensed that he never told her, to which he replies, with impeccable teenage logic "but you wouldn't have let me go, if I had." "You're staying at college" Kathy tells him. Come on woman, lighten up – what's two days, after all? If I were you Jamie, I'd make sure I kept in practice with the chainsaw and, looking ahead, can you get courses in butchery? It would certainly come in handy the next time your mother goes off on one. 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

New Entrant

Max Krupski (Pawel Janinski)

I have it on good authority that there will be a new entrant in this year's Flower & Produce show – Pawel is entering himself in the 'tarts' section. Not only did he spend a night of passion with Adam the other week – drunken passion in Adam's case – but on Thursday, Pawel turns up at Honeysuckle Cottage, saying that he's bored and, learning that Adam is working late, he comes on to Ian, calling him attractive, touching his thigh and kissing him. Ian, who had invited him to stay for supper, tells him he's not interested and that he had better go. Exit Pawel, still bored, but now frustrated and hungry to boot.

When Adam comes home, Ian tells him what happened, saying "I suppose I should be flattered" and he reassures Adam that he would "never want a silly kid like Pawel when I've got you." The next day, Adam takes Pawel into the office and tears him off a strip. Pawel tells Adam that Ian enjoyed the kiss and suggests (rightly, I reckon) that Adam is afraid that Pawel will tell Ian about their illicit night in a hotel. I wouldn't be surprised if Pawel's body is found in a ditch near Home Farm before long, or maybe he'll be incorporated in the newly-laid footings for the mega-dairy. Whatever happens, I submit that his chances of being invited back in next year's team of strawberry pickers are slim in the extreme.

Elsewhere, Elizabeth is in danger of running out of siblings to talk to when, while picking Freddie up at the stables, she eventually gives in to her son's constant wheedling and pleading to be allowed to ride Nigel's old horse, Topper. He tells Elizabeth about the special bond between him and the horse, which Topper promptly demonstrates by rearing up and throwing him off. Instead of pressing home his advantage and trampling Freddie while he's on the ground, Topper backs off. Shula comes out of the stables and has a major strop at Elizabeth and shows that she has got her sense of priorities right by saying that Topper could have been hurt before calling an ambulance for Freddie.

It turns out that Freddie has broken his collar bone – had he landed on his head, presumably he would have escaped unscathed – and he is confined to bed, where he immediately turns into a whining, miserable git because he's bored. Wait till Mum's not looking and get up on that roof Freddie! Elizabeth belatedly realises that it was her fault really, telling Lily (who was complaining about her brother) that, when she saw Freddie on Topper, it reminded her of Nigel. Must be something to do with them having the same mental age, I suppose. Elizabeth goes to see Shula and bursts into tears, saying that she only gave in because Freddie is so much like Nigel – my original thought was 'poor sod', but I cheered up when I realised that I don't like Freddie much anyway. Lizzie begs for forgiveness and Shula says "you're my sister; you don't have to ask." Perhaps Elizabeth will ponder those words when she next gives brother David the cold shoulder, but somehow I doubt it.

The gap between Mike and Vicky is gradually widening and things are not improved when Mike returns home early one day to find Vicky and Roy clearing out his study and his beloved, leather-bound collection of dairy magazines is stacked on the landing. For God's sake, get a life, man! Roy is having trouble moving a table and, having earlier been told that Mike knows all about the study clearance, calls on his Dad to give him a hand. Super-sensitive Roy picks up on the tension between Mike and Vicky – it must be something to do with Mike telling him bluntly to go home. Al least he didn't throw him down the stairs.

Later on, Mike has a go at Vicky for telling Lynda about the Down's syndrome, but on Friday he is helping Neil to tag a pig's ear and, when Neil regales him with allegedly-humorous stories about Susan's pregnancies, Mike tells him "We haven't been laughing much" and the whole story comes out. "It's like a big, black cloud – I can't see the way through" says Mike, who witters on about the demands they will face and that he's not getting any younger. You'd think the man was an octogenarian, when in fact he will be 63 on the 1st December. Come on Mike – 60 is the new 30!

Neil tells him that, whatever he and Vicky decide, they can count on support from himself and Susan. I am surprised that the thought of having support from Susan didn't cause Mike to throw himself under the pigs, but he resisted the urge. Whatever you do Neil, don't tell Susan, for God's sake.

In recent weeks, Jamie has been behaving less like a teenager and seemed to be growing up, while Kathy was being less of an annoying Mum. However, normal service was resumed this week when Kathy went to his room and said that dinner would be 30 minutes and he could start on his college work. Kathy was amazed (and sceptical) when he said he didn't have any. She had cooked a special goulash for him and Jamie spent ages picking every last piece of carrot from the dish. He then complained because he wasn't old enough to attend the Tug Fowler comedy gig at The Bull. "It's so unfair!" he yelled. Welcome back the real Jamie!

Monday, 3 September 2012

A Bundle Of Joy?

Terry Molloy (Mike Tucker)

The four words of the title definitely are not a reference to Mike Tucker. Insofar as you can see these things on the radio, he spent all last week mooching around with a face like a smacked arse. Mind you, the not-very-surprising news that the baby he and Vicky are expecting definitely has Down's syndrome is hardly calculated to make anyone laugh out loud.

At the meeting with the Consultant, Mike latches on to all the pessimistic bits of news – when the Consultant says that most Down's syndrome individuals learn to become independent, Mike repeats "most?" in a doom-laden voice. On learning that life expectancy for Down's syndrome sufferers is now "60 or 65", he mournfully intones "I'll be long gone by then". The Consultant reasonably points out that no parent expects to outlive their children, presumably saying this while moving sharp objects out of Mike's reach.

Vicky on the other hand is determined to act positively, saying "I'm going to love this baby and care for it, come what may" and "our baby is a gift, Mike". She is all for telling the family, but Mike says "no" just in case they decide on a termination. Looking ahead, he moans that it will be hard work "day in, day out – we've got a good life; why spoil it?" I cannot help feeling that there is a long way to go before we find any common ground here. Anyway, people are bound to learn the news soon, as Vicky told Lynda. She also added that she's desperate for Mike to want the baby – I don't want to put a damper on things, but I reckon the only way that will happen is if Vicky gives birth to a cow – and a good milker at that.

Harry popped back to Ambridge to pick up his stuff and he apologised to Mike for leaving him in the lurch. Mike's mind is elsewhere and, while he says it doesn't matter, Jazzer takes the opposite viewpoint, berating Harry for deserting him, as he cannot afford the flat on his own. Harry stretches the bounds of credibility way beyond breaking point when he tells Jazzer "I'm sure there's someone out there dying to share a flat with you." Ha! Go on Harry, name just one person – there are creatures living under stones and in dung heaps that have more pride and self-respect than to sink that low.

There was a nice cameo between David and Adam, when the latter said that Brian was in a sunny mood. ("Alien abduction, I reckon"). Adam also told David that Debbie has whittled the applicants for the Herd Manager's job down to six good people. In passing, he mentioned that the job is paying £60 k plus benefits – make that seven applicants, Adam; my CV will be with you shortly.

Over at AmSide, poor Darrell is getting a hard time all round. Lilian goes to the office on Monday to find a number of calls from Arthur Walters on the answering machine – there's a damp patch on the living room ceiling and it's getting bigger. Lilian rings to placate him and then tells Darrell to get round there sharpish. Later on she rings to find out what has happened and the Walters are pleased because Darrell got there so quickly. Not only that, but he swiftly identified the source of the leak, which isn't that amazing really when it was he that sabotaged it in the first place.

Matt returns from his golfing – sorry, networking – break and Lilian lets him know that she has her suspicions. Mind you, I would think that, if you lived with Matt, suspicion would be your default position. She tells him "Convenient – you want the Walters to move out and they have a leak." Matt is all innocence and says that they should get Darrell in to explain about the leak. Darrell arrives while Lilian is out and says "Look Matt, I did what you asked me to do." When Lilian returns, Darrell gives a plausible (just) story about how the leak might have started and Matt (presumably gazing up at heaven with a bible clutched to his breast) tells Darrell piously "we mustn't endanger the health of our tenants." When Darrell has gone, Matt says to Lilian "Happy now? I think he knows where we stand." Lilian is obviously not convinced, as she tells Matt that she has given Arthur her mobile number, adding: "But I'm sure there won't be any more out of hours emergencies, will there Matt?"

So that's Plan A gone tits up – I reckon Darrell will soon be tacking hard-to-see black threads across the stairs at the Walters' house. Later on in the week, Darrell shows a spark of rebellion when he tells Matt that blaming him in front of Lilian is not fair. Matt, for whom the phrase 'not fair' simply means 'on the darkish side', says that what's not fair is the Walters living in a house that's too big for them and suggests Darrell starts taking up floorboards to check the pipes for leaks and if he doesn't like it, he can take his tools elsewhere. "I just might" says Darrell, to which Matt, drawing on all his enlightened man-management skills, tells him "with your record, you'll be lucky." Somehow I have the feeling that glowing references wouldn't be readily forthcoming, Darrell.