Sunday, 28 June 2015

Promises, Promises…

Daisy Badger (Pip Archer)

I recently read a quote from the editor of The Archers along the lines that Pip would be the mainstay of the programme for the next 22 years. That seems a very precise time - surely the plots arent worked out for the next two decades? And why 22 years - Pip is 22 now, so does some terrible fate lie in store for her when shes 44? Whatever, last week was a busy one in Pips young life, so lets start with her this week.

On Tuesday, Pip was out on the lash with her Uni friends and much strong drink was consumed. Pip returns to Brookfield in the early hours and is getting some water in the kitchen, where she comes across Jill doing the same. Jill has also been partaking of strong liquor at the Grey Gables wine tasting (led astray by Carol Tregorran) and is, as Brian described it to Carol A little exuberant. Not quite as exuberant as the newt, but definitely getting there.

Pip and her Gran talk and we learn that an exhausted David has crashed out in the armchair in the lounge. Pip tells Jill that she will do the early morning milking, adding I might not be here for much longer Gran, but while I am, I wont let him down. A noble sentiment! Such a shame then that she oversleeps the next day (despite the alarm going off) and David does the early milking. Poor Pip is distraught and keeps on about it, telling her father off for not waking her up - mind you, if the alarm clock didnt do the job, David probably thought that it would be quicker to do the milking himself than to try and rouse his daughter. He tells her to stop beating herself up and that she has worked hard and is entitled to a bit of fun. Lets hope that Jill doesnt mention Pips promise to him.

Also on Tuesday, Pip ran into Rex Fairbrother in Borchester and he is unhappy, as his and Tobys plans to rent land to set up their poultry business have met with no success. In fact, Toby is thinking of taking a job at a surf shack in Newquay. Maybe Ill join him, says a despondent Rex, adding that they need to get things rolling now if they are to be ready for the Christmas market. I must admit that a surf shack sounds more fun than looking after 100 goslings, but Pip is shocked and tells Rex You cant just give up. Maybe it just wasnt meant to be. he replies, sadly.

But what chance does Fate stand against Pip Archer? Later on in the day that she overslept, Pip tries to convince her Dad that they could let the Fairbrothers rent a parcel of Brookfield land. David is against it - with the uncertainty about the new road, they need all the land they can get and this is no time to be renting  out. Pip keeps on at him and gradually wears him down until he says It would have to be a proper business arrangement. Does that mean yes? Pip asks triumphantly and, with a sigh worthy of Jamie in his pre-forestry, moody teenager years, David says wearily I suppose so. Pip loses no time in telling the boys and they were over the moon, although I think it would have been a better story had they said No thanks, we rather fancy the surf shack.

It seems that Davids concerns about the road may be unfounded, as the week ends with Jennifer showing him the just-published Flood Risk Report - it appears that the Council has been rather slipshod and the report says that the road proposal report was inadequate. This certainly gives us a chance, David says, but a thrilled Jennifer is more upbeat, saying: More than a chance - this could mean the end of Route B! And I, for one, wont be unhappy if it is.

Over at Home Farm, Kate has come up with an idea for her life plan and cant wait to tell Auntie Lilian. Sadly, the idea doesnt involve settling down in the Hindu Kush, but instead she wants to open an alternative therapy retreat. Kate asks Lilian if she has ever tried meditation? Lilian, who probably thinks it is some new kind of cocktail, just laughs, but Kate is obviously persuasive, as later on a shocked Brian tells Jennifer and Roy (who has come over to talk about Phoebes birthday) that he is amazed - he has seen Kate and Lilian sitting on the floor with their eyes shut and not talking.

Roy asks Kate if she has arranged anything for Phoebes birthday (she is 17 on June 28th) and no-one is surprised when the answer is no. Roy proposes a big family BBQ at Home Farm and, rather tactlessly, adds that they could use the swimming pool too. Kate has words with Phoebe and reports back to Roy that Phoebe agrees, but wants it to be held at Roys house. Kate then proceeds to lecture Roy, telling him that he will have to clean the place up properly and, seemingly totally unaware of the irony, tells him to be careful, as the last thing Phoebe wants is for you to embarrass her in front of her friends. Pots and kettles, Kate; pots and kettles.

Pat and Tony return from their holiday and Tony says that, nice as it was to get away “this is where I belong.” Their joy at being back in Ambridge is tempered somewhat when Helen announces that Rob’s Decree Absolute has come through and now they can get married. Mum and Dad congratulate her through slightly-gritted teeth and, while Peggy describes Rob as ‘a wonderful young man’, Pat and Tony have reservations. However, Tony actually shows some common sense when he tells Pat “It’s not really up to us, is it?”

Jill and Carol discuss the fete and Carol says how good it was of Elizabeth to step in and ‘rescue’ it. Jill says Kenton isn’t happy about it but Carol says “he’ll get over it.” But will he? Determined to hold the event in Ambridge, Kenton calls an emergency meeting of the Fete Committee. Only Lynda and Susan turn up (Jill is suffering from her excess of exuberance) and Kenton puts his case. Not very well, it seems, as the girls are unimpressed and say that The Bull, post flood, is too small and the range of drinks is too limited. Lynda goes further, describing it as “a grubby little bar” - don’t worry about Kenton’s feelings, Lynda - and she and Susan leave, saying there’s no point in continuing the discussion.

Kenton, who is rapidly running out of friends as well as family, cannot understand why nobody agrees with him and shows that his paranoia is coming on a treat when he says “The whole village is in thrall to David and Elizabeth and, no matter how hard I try, there’s nothing I can do about it.” Yes there is Kenton - you could always leave the village. As an aside, was I the only one to pick up on a sinister note in this episode? Susan suggested taking donations at the fete in order to raise money for renovating the village hall. “We might even get it ready for the Christmas Show” she says, brightly. Not while I have my strength, you won’t - I’ll be down there with a fire hose before you know it.

And so to Adam, who celebrated his 48th birthday on June 22nd by scoring a century in a thrilling Ambridge win. He wasn’t named Man of the Match; that honour went to Rob for a swashbuckling 87 and five wickets, but is Adam having a midlife crisis? First we had his herbal ley planting and now he suggests to Brian that they abandon the early lambing (which they have been practising for about 30 years). Brian is thunderstruck - early lambs command a better price. Adam accepts this but adds that they also incur extra costs. “All I’m asking you is to look at things in a different way.” Brian’s response? “You seem to be doing a lot of that lately.”

Brian is really worried about what Adam has in mind and consults David about it. “Am I getting past it?” He asks David, adding that Adam seems determined to undo all Brian has done in a lifetime of farming and it is scaring him and really getting to him. David asks if Brian has talked it over with Debbie (he hasn’t). There’s your answer Brian - do what you always do; get Debbie on your side and then tell Adam that he’s been outvoted. After all, that’s what happened when the mega-dairy was first proposed and Adam was against it and he is still at Home Farm, isn’t he?

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The End Of An Era (Apart From Regular Visits)

The first five words are how Mike describes his moving out of Ambridge to Brenda and Roy. Vicky and Beth have already left for the new house and the removal men have packed up everything and carted it off. Mike gets a bit maudlin when he says there are some things he cannot take - the tree planted in memory of first wife Betty and her ashes. "I didn't deserve her" he tells his children and they reminisce about when they bought the house; "It was almost worth losing my eye for it," Mike says cheerfully (it was the compensation for the accident that enabled them to buy Willow Farm). If he'd lost both eyes, they could presumably have added a swimming pool.


The leave-taking is quite sad; especially when you consider that he's only moving to Birmingham and he'll be back most days - at least until he has sold the milk round. I suspect it was the farewell party (cocktails and canapés) hosted by Susan the evening before that got him into this maudlin mood. At the party, Neil gave a speech, in which he says that he cannot imagine what life will be like without Mike (they first met in 1973 and have been best friends for years). For Heaven's sake! He's going to Birmingham, not a one-way trip to Mars.


Vicky was equally sorrowful, saying that she will miss all the countryside things like cows and trees (although she admits that she never grasped which trees were which) and she starts to cry. Roy is conscious that he is the last Tucker left standing in Ambridge. On the night of the party, Brenda finds her brother alone in the kitchen and she says that he hasn't been coping very well, has he? Roy agrees, saying that he had the perfect life and he's gone and thrown it all away - Phoebe would rather be with Hayley than either Roy or Kate, her parents.


Actually, it must have been a depressing return visit for Brenda, as she ran into Tom earlier and the conversation was a bit awkward, to say the least. Questions such as "Was it really awful, coming back [from Canada]?" didn't really help much. Bren is grateful that Tom has been looking after Roy, to which Tom replies that "I know how you feel when you screw up a relationship - I've managed it more than once, haven't I?" Is everybody unhappy in Ambridge?


Surely Fallon will be happy - Friday is her birthday, after all? Wrong! It's her 30th birthday and the thought fills her with despondency. How many of the five million listeners of the Archers are under 30, I wonder? What will she be like when she reaches 40, 50 or 60? Harrison (PCB to you and I) is under strict orders not to spend money on her or plan any surprises. "I hate surprises" she warns.


Undeterred, PCB checks things out with Jolene, saying that he reckons Fallon is just saying that. Jolene says no; she really, really does not like surprises and, when PCB reveals his plan to give her a private showing of her favourite film in the Flood Bar, Jolene's terse comment is "You're mad." The birthday starts off well enough, with PCB taking Fallon a cup of tea in the morning. He wishes her 'happy birthday'and is told that that is the only reference he is allowed to make about it all day. 


Later on Fallon spots him furtively wandering around in The Bull and decides he's up to something. He denies this and leaves, saying that he only popped in to give Jolene something. However, later in the evening, Fallon notices everyone in the pub disappearing to the Flood Bar and wonders what is going on? PCB drags her along and the place is full of customers and friends, who wish her 'happy birthday'. PCB stuffs a tub of popcorn into her arms and tells Kenton to 'roll it' - it's her favourite film; Chicago. There are no yelps, such as those from a man whose bits are being ripped off, so we have to assume that PCB got away with it this time.


Things are looking up for Christine, when Peggy suggests that, if she really can't face going back to Woodbine Cottage, why not move in with her at The Lodge? After all, Peggy tells her, she gets lonely too sometimes. Shula and Elizabeth think it's a great idea; Jennifer thinks it's a great idea and Jill thinks it's a wonderful idea. I must admit that I think it's a pretty neat solution too. Christine is unconvinced - is Peggy just feeling sorry for her and what would happen if Peggy fell ill "Or died" as Peggy says? The answer is to draw up a proper agreement and, when Christine visits The Lodge to have a look round and sees her room, she is wavering. The deal is sealed when Bill the cat enters the room and curls up on Chris's lap. A handy tip there for Estate Agents.


Moving on to less happy matters, we have a textbook illustration of how committees can cock it up. Kenton is incensed when he learns that the Fete Committee (FT) has decided to cancel this year's fete. He is on the committee but couldn't attend because he had forgotten his car's MoT - the man is as organised as a plate of spaghetti. He immediately makes plans on the hoof to save the fete - it can be held in the car park of The Bull (where will the punters park their vehicles, Kenton?) and all is well, as the pub needs events like the fete to survive.


Sadly, Kenton doesn't tell the other members of the FT about the rescue plan and, the following day, Elizabeth is talking to Jill, David and Pip about the cancellation and Elizabeth suggests that it could be held at Lower Loxley. OK, yes, it's the Ambridge fete, but at least there would be one. Boffo wheeze! Everyone thinks it's great. Did I say 'everyone'? Jill enters the pub and tells Kenton that he doesn't have to save the fete, as Lizzie has stepped into the breach. Kenton goes gorilla-pooh and shouts at his Mum for not thinking of telling him - he is on the FT you know (see start of this paragraph) - and The Bull needs the fete. He thought it was just David who was trying to ruin him but now he finds his Mum and sister have joined the conspiracy against him. "If The Bull goes up the Swanee, it will be your fault" Kenton rants against his Mum. At the rate he is going, Kenton will have no family left to talk to.


Now we have to talk about Kate. At Home Farm she talks to Auntie Lilian about the house warming debacle on Friday. Brian enters the kitchen and asks why isn't she at college? She says that she has had a run-in with her tutor, to which Brian replies that we all have to deal with people we don't like, so knuckle down and get on with it. He leaves and Kate asks Lil what is she going to do - she has actually told her tutor to stuff the course and her bridges have been burned. Being Kate, she asks Lilian if she would broach the subject with Brian, but Lilian hasn't had that much gin (it is only breakfast, after all) and says that this is something that Kate has to do herself.


And so she does, knocking rather diffidently on the door of the lounge. The reactions of her parents are interesting; Jennifer says brightly "Hello darling", while Brian says "Oh, it's you again" and, when she says she needs to talk, he mutters "What have you done now?" Kate confesses (blaming the tutor, of course) and Brian lays into her (one of the most satisfying bits of radio that I've heard in years). He despairs of her, saying "You're pushing 40 - it's time you got a grip and stopped behaving like an overgrown teenager." Kate protests that it's not her fault but Brian says that she can't hold anything down and what sort of example is she setting to Phoebe? Just before he storms out, he adds: "You've tried my patience once too often." Kate cries and turns to her mother for solace, saying how unfair Brian was. Jen disagrees, saying that Brian was right and "You've got to learn to take responsibility and behave like an adult." Stunned, Kate say that "If that's how you feel, I'll get out of your hair"and retreats to her cottage. Sell the bloody place Brian - that will teach her.


Later on in the week, Kate is taken out by Lilian and the two are getting smashed on gin. Lilian says that what Kate needs is a plan - neither of them are any good at plodding down conventional paths - "Have faith in your auntie Lilian" she tells her, in a gin-fuelled haze, "I reckon that we can come up with a plan that will amaze them all." How about swimming the Pacific non-stop, or eating a pound of toadstools? To end, we return to the night that Kate made her revelation to her parents. Brian and Kate have left and Jen is alone. Lil comes in (she smelt the wine, I reckon) and a sad Jen says that all her other children are level headed, "So where did we go wrong with Kate?"Now, the following comment from a friend is very cruel, but he suggests that they went wrong "In cutting the umbilical cord instead of the throat". Ouch!

Monday, 15 June 2015

It’s Not Really Been Kate’s Week

Kellie Bright (Kate Madikane)

Lets dispense with Kate (dear God, if only) from the outset. On Sunday, she is looking everywhere for Toby, but he isnt answering his mobile. Kate goes to Brookfield, where Toby is supposed to be helping out, but only brother Rex has turned up. Rex suggests that Kate goes to Berrow Farm, as Toby might have got the two sites confused (and this is a man who was a high flier in the City - no wonder we are in the mess that we are) so Kate gets there just in time to hear Helens talk about the proposed solar array.

Kate is sarcastic about the talk, saying that its a subsidised industry and they are in it for the money. An angry Adam berates Kate, saying theres a time and a place - youve not only hurt Helen, but embarrassed me and you cant keep out of Brians way forever and then youll need all the friends you can get. The way things are going, that would be Toby and, as he was the one who jumped into the pool with the raddle powder, I wouldnt bank on him.

As an aside, what was Toby doing with raddle powder in his boxers? I am assured by Neil that raddle powder is what farmers put in pouches on their rams stomachs so that they can check which ewes have been serviced by checking if they have a coloured patch on their backs. Perhaps we should check Kates back (or front) for purple patches?

And not only Kate, as Toby didnt go home for one (or maybe two - I lost the will to live) nights and, when he does turn up. Brother Rex says that some girl called Michelle (check for purple patches) has been calling and the photos that appeared in the Echo (Toby in boxers with Kate in underwear) arent helping their chances of getting any land. Kate and Toby meet accidentally in the pub and Toby is on his mobile. Kate asks who hes calling and he says Rex, which is a bit embarrassing as Rex walks in about 10 seconds later. They have lost Pear Tree Farm and Rex says that Toby must be seen to be squeaky clean from now on. So no raddle powder then.

Brian finally catches up with Kate and tells her that the purple dye staining the swimming pool surround has got to be cleaned up. Kate whines that a) it was Tobys fault and b) she is busy studying. Phoebe - who has gone up mega-points in my estimation, due to her attitude towards her mother - generously offers to help. Kate was willing to let her do it all until Brian shamed her into helping at least a bit. Brian had told Kate that he wasnt prepared to keep her under his roof any longer unless Kate pulled her finger out. Kate retaliated by saying that she was moving out on Friday, into the cottage that was earmarked as hers and which has been done up to her specifications. An interesting demarcation here; shes moving out from under Brians roof to under the roof that Brian bought for her. A fine distinction, to say the least.

Lets fast forward to Friday (the day of Kates Cottage Cleansing to get rid of evil spirits - so goodbye Kate) and Cottage Warming party. Going round the cottage with burning brands of cedar and God alone knows what else, Kate not only gets up everyone elses noses (literally) but she sets off the fire alarms, which the contact agency switched through to Brian, who was having a bath (hes the only one, apparently, who knows how to switch the alarm off). Understandably, he is not best pleased - even more so when he asks Kate is that my Burgundy? and she admits that she borrowed some. An angry Brian says hes going home and Phoebe says she too is going home and, furthermore, she never agreed to stay at the cottage and she never will. Way to go Phoebe! Now all we need is to find somewhere far away for Kate to go to.

MIke is in a quandary: Vicky has given him an ultimatum to clear his shed of (to her); rubbish, (to him); treasures of his life. He cant bear to part with things like chain saw chains, which will be invaluable when they move to Birmingham, but he is saved when Neil and Eddie say that they will take away the stuff that he cannot take with him. The division of spoils seems a bit unfair - Eddie ends up with some electric fence posts and Neil gets a rat trap, custom-designed by Mike, but which only has one design flaw, in that it has never succeeded in catching a rat. Mind you, the way the Grundys luck normally goes, I wouldnt be surprised it the fence posts worked on 110V and blew when they were plugged in.

The scene of the division of spoils was touching and it became quite maudlin, especially after a few jugs of the Cider Clubs best, with Eddie and Neil saying how much they would miss Mike - the best one-eyed darts player in the team - which should narrow the choice down a little. Mike says that he doesnt think that he could have got through his dark days of depression without the support of his friends and, in confirmation that he has obviously had a surfeit of cider, adds that he couldnt wish for better, more generous mates and hell miss them. Im sorry? More generous? Eddie? I think youve had more than enough cider, Mike.

Just in case you forgot that The Archers is about farming folk, we had Adam proselytising his view that the entire topsoil of the county (if not the world) would be washed away unless they stopped looking at short term gain and planned for the future. He managed to convince Pip (who might soon be off to Brazil, where the cow herds are in numbers that make the Berrow Farm mega-dairy look like a petting zoo), but not Charlie who, although he might have a sneaking sympathy for Adams view and the hots for Adam himself, is aware that Justin (Mega-Dairy King) Eliot pays his wages. Brian too is concerned that Adam wants to take 15 hectares out of pasture and, while he accepts Adams concerns about the damage to posterity, his attitude could best be summed up by what has posterity ever done for us?

We move on to the saga of Christine and her reluctance to move back to Woodbine Cottage when it is refurbished after the flood. Peggy and Jill are convinced that moving into The Laurels cannot possibly be good for her. This is despite Peggy saying that they will have to support her in whatever she decides and, to make sure that she decides the right way, Peggy buys Christine a fuchsia, which Chris decided not to buy as she couldnt see herself going back to Woodbine. So Christine; theyll support you in any decision as long as its the one they think is right for you.

We will gloss over Open Farm Sunday, as far as Brookfield is concerned - beating them off with sticks, they werent - and move on to the committee meeting about the fete. Only Jill, Alice and Lynda turn up for the meeting and Jill has some bad (did I say bad? I meant heartwarming) news - the new flood defence programme means that the Green will be off limits due to roadworks throughout the summer. Could the fete be held elsewhere? Jill suggests that any second-rate, cobbled together fete would be worse than no fete at all and shouldnt they cancel it? (Yes, yes, yes!) Lynda is initially aghast at the idea, but she eventually accepts the fact that there might be no Ambridge fete this year.

Lets not get too excited here, people; its only June, but lets be a bit optimistic - the Village Hall is still recovering from the flood, so if we can organise a clandestine team of people to sneak down there and turn the hoses on it during the hours of darkness and slip the council workmen a backhander to keep the roadworks going until the New Year, we might not only have no summer fete, but no Lynda Snell Christmas extravaganza - and who could ask for more?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Caroline Must Be A Saint – Or Really Stupid

Sara Coward (Caroline Sterling)

Either Caroline is on the verge of beatification or she is so stupid that she shouldn’t really be in business. I mean, if you were running an upmarket hotel/restaurant/conference centre, would you put up with the Grundys wandering around, lowering standards and generally doing their best to lower the tone? Me neither.

We have already had the saga of the ferret and, on Sunday, Eddie tells Joe that it’s his friend Baggy’s birthday and why don’t they get a few friends round, buy in some booze and food and have a party in Joe’s room? What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, actually, as Baggy brings his Boombox along and the volume increases to the extent that another guest complains. Caroline turns up and orders all the guests out, but tells the Grundys that she’ll say no more about it. Saint or stupid?

Consider – they have brought their own food and drink into a hotel (having got past Lynda by spinning some yarn about someone trying to break into a car) seriously pissed off another guest (who, unlike them, is paying to stay there) and, as we learn later, the minibar is crammed with left-over party food, to the extent that the chambermaid complains. Not content with getting what is, in effect, a final warning from Caroline, Eddie approaches Vince – a guest who is at Grey Gables as part of an Estate Agents’ convention – with the offer to supply him and his friends with booze and food at a far lower cost than Grey Gables charges. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

Vince must have the IQ of a retarded nematode, as he believes that Eddie is an eccentric millionaire entrepreneur and retired Country singing star. Vince isn’t totally stupid though, as he realises that he has bought three rounds of drinks and isn’t it Eddie’s turn? This is when the light bulb goes off in Eddie’s head (assuming there’s room for such a thing) and he comes up with the idea of supplying the hooky food and booze. Throw him out now Caroline, before he totally trashes your reputation and your guests decide to leave and trade up to the local doss house.

It was a momentous week for the Brookfield Archers, as Pip had her second interview for the Technical Manager’s job at Agri Websters. I don’t know what it is about these girls in Ambridge, but when Alice went for her job interview in Canada, they offered her the job seemingly minutes after she left the interview room and now Pip was offered the job (by phone, no less) almost before she made it back to Brookfield. David is proud but, as he tells Jill, he will miss her – not least because he could do with someone to help with all the work.

Eddie has taken up a job renovating some pub or other, which will keep him away from Brookfield for a few weeks, Pip and Josh were busy studying and now Pip might be off to Brazil, or somewhere equally hard to get back from in order to do the milking. There’s always Rooooth, but she receives news that Heather is in hospital and she hot-foots it north to Prudhoe. If that wasn’t enough, Open Farm Sunday is coming up, with all the work that entails. Things get worse, as the week ends with Pip taking a call – Heather (who had had a mini-stroke) is back in hospital, having now suffered a major stroke.

Things look a bit iffy for OFS (especially when David learns that Adam has promised his combine to Berrow Farm) but the good news is that the Fairbrother brothers have offered to come along and help. I reckon it will be one-on-one guiding, as Berrow Farm has taken a full-page ad in The Echo and has seemingly signed up the Red Arrows, the band of the Coldstream Guards, the entire Formula 1 racing teams and has relocated Windsor Castle to Berrow Farm for the day. Brookfield, by comparison, has a couple of posters, hand-drawn by Jill as her contribution to the ever-increasing workload on David. Don’t make too many sandwiches, Jill.

Over at The Bull, Jolene has a twinge of conscience when Charlie comes over to check that all is well with the bar they will be running on OFS. Should she and Kenton tell David that they are running the bar, she wonders, rather than have him find out from someone else? Kenton is implacable, telling Jolene “As far as David’s feelings are concerned, I couldn’t give a flying” (we waited with bated breath) “fig.”

Charlie seems determined to get everyone involved in OFS and even approaches Susan to have a stall for the village shop on the day. He wants her to talk about “The producer/retailer symbiosis – I’m sure you agree that’s crucial?” “That goes without saying” Susan simpers, as she succumbs to his blandishments and promise of a party afterwards “for our friends”. It certainly goes without saying when she tries to tell Jolene about it, saying that Charlie wanted her “To talk about the producer/retailer sym…sym…shop.” Susan is quite put out when Jolene says that The Bull is running the bar for the post-OFS party and, far from the discreet, select gathering that Susan was imagining, it seems like almost the whole village will be there.

The break-in at Woodbine Cottage has hit Christine hard. PC Burns tells her that other houses have been broken into (quick – check that Clive Horrobin is still in chokey) and suggests a number of security measures. Christine replies that all she values has already been taken and, later on, she confesses to Jill that she’s dreading the thought of moving and Woodbine has never felt like home since George died. A couple of days later, Peggy is at The Laurels, having had a bit of lunch with Ted and his dementia-stricken wife, when she is surprised to see Christine.

What is she doing there? Christine confides that she was looking around, with a view to moving in. Peggy takes her back to hers for a slice of Madeira cake and a cup of tea. “This might even be serious enough for a sherry” says Peggy. Sherlock Holmes had his tobacco (“This looks like a two-pipe problem, Watson”) but for Peggy, it’s evidently alcohol. The Laurels, Peggy argues, is not the place for Christine – does she want to sit in an armchair all day, dozing? Christine suggests that at least there’d be company. But Peggy reminds her that half the inmates are away with the fairies for most of the time. The Chris that she knew, says Peggy, would never have contemplated such a move. A sad Christine wonders whether the Chris that Peggy knew still exists.

And so to the Young Farmers’ Treasure Hunt. All week, Pip has been gently flirting with Toby Fairbrother but, on the day of the Hunt, Toby is nabbed by Kate and Pip‘s partner is Rex. Pip and Rex are doing quite well, with Rex impressed by her local knowledge. Kate, on the other hand, is woeful and suggests to Toby that they duck out and go back to Home Farm, where there is a BBQ and drink and “Did I mention we had a pool?” There is much suggestive talk about how Kate’s yoga keeps her supple. “I can get my body into all sorts of positions” she says, as we reach for the sick bag.” I wouldn’t mind seeing that” (Toby). “I’m sure it could be arranged” (Kate) and we realise that one sick bag won’t be enough. I wouldn’t say that Kate was easy, but her nickname is ‘Open Goal’ and she wears a mattress strapped to her back in case she meets anyone she knows while she’s out.

As the treasure hunters return, the party gets rowdier and rowdier and Toby jumps into the pool in his boxers, chasing Kate. He has some Raddle powder and the water turns purple. Adam orders everybody out and remarks that Brian will go spare when he gets back. Rex says sorry, but Adam says it’s Toby who should be apologising. Toby tells Pip “Your cousin’s a good laugh”, to which Pip replies “She’s got a lot of baggage – I think she might be over-compensating.” A lot of baggage? I should say so – I’ve been in airports where there wasn’t that much. Sounds like Toby and Kate are made for each other – hopefully they will decide to run away together. Far, far away. The sooner the better – go now and Toby won’t have to face Brian’s wrath. Quick! Off you go!

Meanwhile, Rex is gently warning Pip off Toby, saying that he loves his brother, but he’s “the sort of man that your mother warned you about.” Pip asks why he’s telling her this and, for her part, she says how embarrassing Kate is and why can’t she act her age? She is Pip, she is – her mental age that is.