Charlotte Martin (Susan Carter)
Is there a cork big enough to adequately fill Susan Carter’s gob, I ask myself? Alternatively, how about a machine that gives her a warning electric shock whenever she opens her mouth? On Sunday, Susan is still moaning about Hazel’s plans to turn the shop into apartments and, for some inexplicable reason, Pat thinks that this is an ideal time to tell her about the Archer family’s plans to open a shop at Bridge Farm.
How does Susan take it? How do you think? The gob slips immediately into overdrive as she berates Pat for “taking advantage of the shop, the flood and our friendship. You and Hazel should be ashamed of yourselves - it’s nothing but treachery!” If I were Pat, I too would be angry - angry that Susan thinks their relationship is based on friendship, rather than that of employer/employee. Speaking of which, perhaps Susan should be careful how she speaks to her boss - dairy workers can be replaced, you know.
Not content with upsetting Pat, Susan does her bit for shopkeeper/customer relations when she turns on Peggy. Peg is in the shop and tells Susan that she has spoken to Hazel, but she won’t change her mind and the situation is out of her hands. Cue rant from Susan, who accuses Peggy of pulling the strings and “stabbing the village in the back, just so your family can benefit.” Peggy is distraught, saying “you can’t believe that” and Lynda, who is also working in the shop, is appalled and apologises to Peggy. “Don’t apologise to her - she should apologise to all the volunteers” is Susan’s reasoned response. Later on, Lynda goes to the Lodge to apologise again, but Peggy says that it’s not Lynda that should be apologising and is that really how little Susan thinks of her after all these years? Well done Susan - another lifelong customer lost.
Pip went with Toby to pitch the Fairbrothers’ geese to Reedles. The manager was frosty, but the chef was enthusiastic. “We make a great team,” Toby tells Pip and invites her for a drink that night. She actually goes - I thought she had more sense and taste - and Charlie is there. A discussion ensues - Charlie says that her new job is a great opportunity and will broaden her experience and knowledge. On the other hand, Toby says that intensive farming is not the way forward and Pip would be better off staying at Brookfield and working with him and Toby in building up their business. He also suggests that, with Pip away, Josh might make a bid to take over at Brookfield. Finally, the arrogant sod says that he can’t understand how she can leave when she’s only just getting to know him. And I thought that Tom (in his incarnation as sausage king and Ready Meals tycoon) was as big-headed as you can get.
Tuesday comes and Pip prepares to depart. The tearfulness and trembly voices is fantastic - such depth of emotion has not been seen since Captain Scott left for the South Pole - and Pip drives off into the sunset. She does point out to Mum and Dad that she’s only going to High Wycombe and she’ll be back on Friday anyway, plus there is the family meal on Monday. Sure enough, Pip returns early on Friday and tells David that the job isn’t what she thought it was (she had meetings and presentations) and that the foreign travel wouldn‘t be till next year. What was she expecting? A seat on the board? A company yacht? An apartment in Monte Carlo?
“I want my future to be at Brookfield” she says and an apprehensive David asks if this has anything to do with Toby? “No way” Pip says - I hope to God she means it. “Do I still have a job here?” Pip asks and, when David says “of course”, she says “Good, because I’ve resigned.” Well, you certainly gave that a fair crack of the whip, Pip - by my reckoning you were there for around 60 hours. Actually, what would she have done if David had said “afraid there’s no job for you Pip - we’ve got the relief milker in now” or “of course you have a job - early morning milking and here’s a toothbrush so you can clean out the slurry tank.”
Rob is keeping himself busy. On Sunday, Ambridge are playing Darrington at cricket and Rob is getting involved in some serious sledging with his opponents. Charlie counsels caution and to stay disciplined. Rob retorts that he knows what he’s doing and the only reason that Charlie is in the team is because Adam asked him “and why would that be?” he adds, nastily. Anyway, Rob gets caught, Ambridge lose the match and Rob is in a foul mood, refusing to go to the pub afterwards and telling Helen: “I out-batted everyone - I’m sick of it being down to me all the time.” Poor diddums!
On Tuesday Rob takes Helen’s place at the meeting with the interior designer for the new shop and it seems that he persuades Tom to consider a more contemporary design than the one that he and Helen originally favoured. Amazingly, Tom tells Pat that having Rob at the meeting was very helpful. In fact, Pat is rapidly turning into Rob’s greatest fan and, at the end of the week, she tells Helen that she’s sorry if she’s been hard on him in the past and “he makes a fantastic addition to the family.” Call me a suspicious old cynic if you like, but I regard this as a sure sign that something is going to go spectacularly tits up in the near future.
On Thursday, Rob asked Pat if she could have Henry for the night, as he wants to cook Helen a special meal to thank her for standing by him. Helen comes home, laden down with parcels, most of which is stuff for when Henry starts school. However, she has bought herself a dress for the opera and, by all accounts, it is stunning. Rob tells her to put it on and do her hair and proceeds to ply her with wine throughout the evening. He becomes increasingly passionate (why did she bother to put the dress on?) and drags her to the sofa. She wants to go upstairs, but Rob can’t wait, telling her that he loves her and “all we need now is a baby of our own.” “Absolutely,” Helen replies, adding; “One day”.
We are spared further details, thank heaven, but the next day, Helen is distinctly unhappy and we don’t know why. Even at the opera, and wearing her new dress, she is miserable. We can only speculate on the cause (I can’t believe her explanation, which is that she’s hungover) and I reckon it’s because she and Rob had unprotected sex and she’s worried because she’s not ready for another baby just yet. We’ll have to wait and see.
Elsewhere, it helped if you could speak Italian last week, with Jim and Lynda dropping into the language at the slightest opportunity. In fact, Charlie goes to the shop and Lynda insists on explaining the plot of Cosi Fan Tutte to him. “Can I just have my newspaper?” he asks, exasperatedly.
Jill is at Lower Loxley, choosing a room, with Carol helping. It has a fantastic view and its own sitting room, but Jill is not happy “What use am I going to be?” she asks, adding that she’s not cut out to be lady of the manor.” Don’t worry Jill - I’m sure Elizabeth can find you a place in the kitchens, or a similar job. At least Jill has lost a lot of the optimism that Kenton will attend the family feast on Bank Holiday Monday and that everything will be hunky dory afterwards.
Talking of Kenton, his descent into alcohol-fuelled depression gathers apace. Jim and Lynda are in the pub, discussing how they can rally round the shop and Kenton loses it, saying “some of us have much deeper problems, but is anyone rallying round us?” and he goes off to open a bottle of whisky, telling Jolene that Jim and Lynda want sandwiches and she can get them.
And to show that it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, Fallon receives notice to quit her flat and confides in PC Burns that, the way things are, she couldn’t bear to move back to The Bull. Quick as a flash, PCB suggests that they get a place together and she agrees. Jolene is delighted but Kenton’s response is a monotone “good for you”. He talks to PCB about the family rift and PCB reveals that he hasn’t seen his brother for years after a row and he really regrets it. Adds PCB: “Take my advice - it’s easy to lose your family, but very hard to get them back.” Think on, Kenton.