Sunday, 24 April 2016

Professional Detachment?

Alison Newman (Detective Sergeant Madeley)

An abomination against the queen. No, not a re-issue of the Sex Pistols debut single, but the shepherd’s hut Eddie’s built for Lynda. Her main objection continues to be the shiny metal chimney cowl sticking out of the top and Ed suggests painting it black. He calls Lynda and does his best to sweet-talk her into having the hut delivered, and he and Eddie waste no time getting it positioned in her garden. While still not completely convinced, Lynda seems happy for it to stay, if not to pay, and Eddie promises to come back for the ‘finishing touches’.

There was a brief but potentially significant aside between Eddie and Ed with mention of George’s new watch. Too expensive to have been bought with just his birthday money, he told Ed that he’d been saving up his pocket money too. I think there’s more to be revealed on that one, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we haven’t heard the last of the tale of the church money.

As expected, Brian’s supporting Adam’s no-till farming proposal and gives him some pointers on how to win over the rest of the board. He needn’t have worried as the board agree the plan. After the meeting, Justin expresses concern about the stabbing to Brian, but only because it might be bad for business. Both he and Brian still seems to hold Rob in high esteem, with Justin remarking that the village can ill-afford to lose someone of Rob’s calibre.

Still unemployed and homeless, Jazzer’s sleeping on Fallon’s sofa – that’s when he’s not in The Bull, all sad and lonely, nursing a pint (there’s obviously no Wetherspoons in Ambridge). I don’t think there’s going to be better news anytime soon for Jazzer, as Jim seems reluctant to take his former houseguest back in once the repairs to Greenacres are complete.

And now all too briefly to Helen. Anna Tregorran tries to get her to talk about what happened the evening she stabbed Rob. Helen starts talking about the fact that she had to protect Henry and keep him safe, but she’s obviously still very distressed and confused and not fit to answer any questions. However, Anna’s detected an inner strength in Helen and is confident they can make progress. High hopes then for next week, when I hope to see her defence case start to come together.

Rob may be lucky to be alive, but the first time we hear him he’s as objectionable as ever. You’d have thought he’d have some humility knowing that he’d driven Helen to the edge of insanity, actually given her the knife she used to stab him, and then been brought back from the brink. At Rob’s request Pat and Tony take Henry to the hospital to see him and Pat gets to talk to Rob alone. She asks him if he wants to pass a message onto Helen and this causes Rob to cry - just as Ursula appears. She asks Pat to leave and says that in future she will bring ‘the child’ to see Rob. At least it sounds like Pat’s starting to look for signs that Tom and Kirsty might be right about Rob after all.

Back to Lynda’s garden, and it’s not long before she’s on the phone complaining. The bed’s collapsed and no wonder - it was little more than a pasting table. Eddie tries to say he’s busy, but as she hasn’t paid him yet he has no choice but to get round there, assisted by 94-year old Joe, to rebuild the bed using ‘original Victorian timber’. For some reason Lynda rejects Eddie’s offer to test its strength by bouncing up and down with her. He’s brought his tin of black paint round too so that he can paint the shiny cowl on top of the chimney that’s Lynda thinks is ruining the ambiance: “we’ll have that ambiance fixed in no time”.

There’s less reluctance from Lilian and Justin to bounce up and down on a bed together when choosing furniture for The Dower House. From the sound of it, it must have been quite a session as Justin sounds exhausted – and in the middle of Underwoods too! Lilian dissuades him from buying everything there and then, and leads him back home to do it all online because it would be cheaper. Justin remarks that he feels like Lilian’s slave, and a wistful sounding Lilian says “if only that were true darhling”! Watch it Justin, I think Lilian’s working on it.

Off to The Bull now, and Eddie’s drinking halves, which is always a bad sign, especially as this time Lynda’s finally paid him for the shepherd’s hut. The problem is he’s had to spend so much on time and materials to bring the hut up to Lynda’s standards that he’s hardly got any profit left.

Kenton runs into trouble when he expects Jolene to dress up as a dragon while he takes the lead as St. George. Jolene’s not having any of it and in desperation Kenton asks Jazzer if he would instead. Jazzer’s already made it clear that he thinks Kenton’s plan of celebrating St. George’s Day over the entire weekend is being greedy, so turns Kenton’s request down flat. I’m sure he wouldn’t complain if it were St. Andrew’s Day they were celebrating, and I’m even more sure that he’d accept Kenton’s offer of free drinks all night if it were his kilt he was being asked to wear instead of a dragon costume. He does cheer up though when he sees Kenton wearing the costume, with Jolene dressed as the saint.

I should point out for fear of offending our Scottish readers that I am aware that the kilt is not a fancy dress costume – in fact I am half Scottish myself and I do own a kilt – it’s just that as far as I’m aware St. Andrew didn’t slay a dragon, or any other mythical beast, and the wearing of a kilt seems to be the next obvious option.

Detective Sergeant Madeley could turn out to be a new favourite character of mine. It may be professional detachment, but when she goes to visit Rob in Hospital to take his statement, she gives the impression, to me at least, that she has little sympathy for him. She pushes him in his wheelchair to somewhere quiet and Rob wastes no time in trying to manipulate DSM by portraying his own version of the back-story, complete with a sprinkling of crocodile tears. He obviously hasn’t thought it all through yet, as when asked about whether there was a particular incident that triggered his stabbing, he doesn’t have an answer and asks for time to think about it. He doesn’t need time to think about blaming the pregnancy, Greg’s suicide, anti-depressants, anorexia, or Kirsty for Helen’s behaviour, as that is all part of his script.

Conveniently though it seems Rob can’t remember much about the actual day of the stabbing itself. I look forward to hearing how long he manages to carry that on for.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Case for the Defence?

Isobel Middleton (Anna Tregorran)

Tony and Pat are still tearing themselves apart about Henry, Helen and how could Rob be the monster that Tom and Kirsty say he is. There’s a clue in Henry’s nightmares in that he’s always the one being threatened or being chased by an ogre. Pat thinks that fairy tales are his only point of reference for the terrible events he witnessed, but I fear this is one that’s unlikely to have a happy ending.

Clarrie tries to steer Tom away from the Sunday tabloids that have (uncharacteristically I’m sure) run a misleading piece on Helen while giving Rob a glowing report. What’s worse for Clarrie, is that Eddie seems to be taking against Helen too “Rob didn’t stab himself”, let alone what Anneka Rice will say if she finds out that Ambridge isn’t the tranquil idyll she’s been led to believe.

One person coming to Helen’s aid is Jill, with the handily coincidental news that her goddaughter, Anna Tregorran, just happens to be a criminal barrister with chambers in Birmingham. What’s more, she specialises in women’s issues and domestic violence. I know – you couldn’t make it up. Jill also takes Bert a lump of Crocosmia for his garden, which he’s still working hard on despite building the MkII EggMobile. We are not told the particular cultivar, but my money’s on it being Lucifer – yet another sign of the coming of the beast (baby Titchener). She’ll be taking round the red-hot poker variety Brimstone Bloom next.

Elizabeth’s looking forward to ‘Borsetshire Business Woman of The Year’ although she doesn’t think she’s ‘high-powered’ enough to win. The more we hear about this event the more unbelievably prestigious it’s made out to be. Apparently there’s going to be a seven-course lunch. Seven courses! For lunch! Now, the authors of this humble blog have been to one or two awards ceremonies in their time, but we cannot remember ever being treated to seven courses. Even at the Baftas you only get three (I know Jill mentioned the Oscars, but let’s not go there – American menus are hard to comprehend at the best of times).

There are fisticuffs when Tom overhears Jazzer talking to Neil in less than complimentary terms about Helen. Jazzer doesn’t realise that Tom’s standing right behind him, and without saying a word, Tom punches him in the face before ordering him off the farm and out of the house. Neil tries to calm things down, but a clearly angry and emotional Tom has gone well beyond mediation, and says he never wants to see Jazzer on the farm again. Well done Jazzer, jobless and homeless in one fell swipe. He wastes no time trying to blag a room off Kirsty but she tells him more or less where to go when she finds out how he came about his sore mouth.

It was nice to hear some cows again in this story of country-folk, when we drop in to Brookfield where David’s struggling to calve his new herd. Cue another silent appearance from Alistair, this time putting his uterus-untwisting skills to good use. Pip thinks she’s found a way to earn some extra money by way of running a small experiment with some of her Dad’s Herefords. If he lends her 15 cows to graze Adam’s herbal leys, and they put on more weight than the others, she can take a cut of the profits. David suggests she ask Tony about using some of his Angus crossbreeds too, but she decides it might be best to ask Tom instead given that Tony might have one or two other things on his mind at the moment.

When she finds Tom, he is working out his anger on a pile of firewood, and boy, is he angry. No doubt imagining that his axe is rendering Jazzer’s lifeless corpse into a massive pile of haggis, Pip manages to calm him down and he pours his heart out to her; if even Jazzer can turn against Helen, what hope does she have? Later on Tom talks to Kirsty and he realises how stupid he’s been as the prosecution can now claim that violence runs in the family. Let it go, she tells him. Focus on getting Helen home.

Over at Willow Farm Neil has 3 eggs for breakfast. You may not think this is newsworthy, but they’re the Fairbrothers’ pastured eggs, and Susan explains they were free samples from Josh. Neil’s not happy because he’s in partnership with Josh and supplies the eggs for the farm shop and he doesn’t appreciate Josh getting involved with the competition. Neil tries them and thinks they taste like, well – eggs. Even though he doesn’t think they’re anything special, it doesn’t stop him going round to see Josh to ask him bluntly who he thinks he’s working for – Neil or the Fairbrothers. Josh tries to argue his case but Neil’s not having any of it and gives Josh an ultimatum – put all his efforts into their existing partnership, or that partnership is at an end. I don’t suppose Neil will be that chuffed either when he sees the feature in the echo.

Now to the big event itself - Borsetshire Business Woman of The Year. Elizabeth’s invited Dr Locke to sit on her table together with Elizabeth, Shula, and Emma. For his part Richard doesn’t mind that he seems to be making up the numbers, probably because he gets to spend the afternoon with Elizabeth and Shula. Justin seems to be all over Lilian again (still just metaphorically), and it sounds like Lilian’s still making full use of the clothing allowance that Justin granted her. There then followed the big surprise for me this week which was hearing Lilian host the event sounding perfectly sober. After all, not only is she in PR, but she’s just sat through a 7 course lunch.

There was a brief moment when we were led to believe that Elizabeth had won, but alas she lost out to the woman behind Borsetshire’s biggest catering business (no, not Fallon – her vintage tea parties haven’t caught on that much). Shula tries to convince Elizabeth that she could have won “when you first went to work for Nigel, Lower Loxley was just a run-down country house with a leaky roof”. Don’t mention the roof Shula. We leave goings-on at the after-party with Richard telling Elizabeth that he is seriously impressed with her. I think we should keep an eye on that relationship.

Now back to Helen. Apparently she’s refusing to see any visitors and Pat’s beside herself with concern. Fortunately Pat’s managed to get an appointment with Anna Tregorran in Birmingham and Kirsty’s offered to drive her. But once they get there Anna discovers who Kirsty is, and tells her to leave the building. This is because Kirsty, as the first person at the scene of the crime, is a key witness – not for Helen’s defence, but for the prosecution.

Anna wants to discuss arguments for getting Helen out on bail, but the difficulty will be there’s no evidence for Rob’s ‘coercive control’, only hearsay and Helen’s word against Rob’s. I don’t think Pat’s argument that ‘she wouldn’t hurt a fly’ would convince many judges, given the fact that she stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife. Despite this, Anna’s willing to take on the case and asks Pat to recollect all the times that Helen’s seemed not herself and acted out of character. Now I don’t know about you, but Pat seemed oblivious most of the time, and with Kirsty out of the picture, and Helen uncooperative, I think it’s going to be hard to put anything remotely persuasive together.

There is another complication when Peggy spots a limousine outside Blossom Hill Cottage and orders Lilian, who’s driving her back from an appointment at the hairdressers, to stop the car so she can find out what’s going on. It turns out the limousine was pre-arranged by Rob to take him and Helen off to the Cotswolds for a romantic break to celebrate her birthday. Oh dear – more evidence of a devoted husband for the prosecution to add to their case.

Finally we head over to Ambridge Hall where Lynda’s happy to hear that the Shepherd’s Hut is ready for delivery. However, Lynda wants to see it first so that she can plan the garden around it – and that’s where her dreams start to fall apart. The ‘functional’ chimney for the wood burner is, let’s just say, not to Lynda’s taste and she describes it as a carbuncle. Are we to assume then that the rest of it is rural Borsetshire life personified? Or has Eddie played a clever trick by using the modern stainless steel chimney topped by a cowl he found in a field as a distraction from his version of traditional Borsetshire craftmanship?


Sunday, 10 April 2016

Steady Ursula, Remember We’re British

Michael Byrne (Bruce Titchener)

Our second posting this week begins with Ursula and husband Bruce at the hospital and Rob going into intensive care. Ursula is in a bit of a state, but Bruce exhibits an upper lip so stiff that it must have been starched. Ursula begins weeping, and Bruce tells her sharply to stop. “Tears aren’t going to help Rob now, are they?” he barks. Later on, Bruce and Ursula turn up at Bridge Farm, where Tony asks how is Rob? Bruce is sarcastic: “Oh, they want to know how Rob is, as if that daughter of theirs hasn’t done enough damage. Are you proud about the daughter you’ve raised?”

Pat still has some spirit, replying that they could say the same about Rob and they are learning a lot about his cruelty. “Helen was just defending herself” she adds. Bruce lists Rob’s injuries (and they sounded pretty extensive) and sneers “Are you saying my son’s responsible for that?” He then orders Ursula to tell them what she has told the police and she says that she always knew Helen was dangerous. Bruce interrupts her, saying “Your daughter threatened to kill him” and Ursula adds that that is precisely what she told the police and Pat cannot deny that Helen said it. With that, Bruce and Ursula depart.

Pat is still upbraiding herself on falling for Rob’s act. On Wednesday, she says “I should have trusted my gut instincts - I always knew I didn’t like him.” Excuse me? She may not have liked him at the start, but towards the end, she was all over Rob like a cheap suit. She was at it again the following day, telling Kirsty that she should have trusted her gut feeling, as Rob was obviously a chauvinist, but later on he was like a knight in shining armour. Kirsty says that Rob fooled everyone. “That’s how men like him do it” she adds.

Detective Sergeant Madeley visits Pat, Tony and Tom to ask questions about Helen. They mention her bruised wrist and Tom says that Rob is a bully, who doesn’t like it when he doesn’t get his own way. Pat, no doubt meaning well, describes her daughter as ‘fragile’ and mentions her problems in the past with depression and anorexia and, when she began behaving neurotically again…”You assumed it was a relapse?” suggested DSM. “Precisely” Pat answers, not seeing that this is hardly doing Helen any favours. Tom realises this however, suggesting (after DSM has left) that any future questions about Helen’s mental state should be referred to Dominic, Helen’s solicitor. Before she goes, DSM says that she would like to speak to Henry and could they bring him to the police station tomorrow?

Journalists are besieging Bridge Farm and the shop has been shut (well, they are a member of staff light, after all) although Fallon is doing a roaring trade at the tea shop, selling the journalists beverages and then telling them she knows nothing about what’s happening. Never mind, there’s always someone who’ll say something and nine times out of ten, that someone is Susan Carter; she of the flapping gob.

PC Burns goes to the shop, where Susan breathlessly asks what’s going on? PCB evades the question, telling her that he is collecting statements and did Susan see anything? She didn’t, but that doesn’t stop her telling him all about Helen’s chequered past and how she reckons Greg’s suicide unbalanced her. Five hours later, PCB goes to A&E with repetitive strain injury on his wrist and a squad car draws up at the shop to collect the 14 notebooks he has filled up.

The next day, DSM and Detective Constable Sharples discuss the case, saying that the tales of abuse are only coming from Helen’s family, while everyone else says what a loving husband Rob is. Susan told a journalist of Rob’s heroism during the flood and the headline in the Courier reads “Flood hero stabbed” (Thank you Susan!).

Pat and Kirsty have brought Henry along and DCS asks them to leave the room while she talks to Henry. She establishes that he knows the difference between truth and lies and, after the interview, DCS says that Henry has told her lots of things and Pat, Henry and Kirsty can go now. DSM congratulates DCS on how she handled Henry and says “Poor little chap saw everything. Time to talk to his mother again.”

This is Helen’s fourth interrogation, as Dominic points out, and Helen is still answering “no comment” to all questions, although her voice is unsteady and she is on the verge of tears. DSM tells her about Ursula saying that Helen threatened to kill Rob and Helen lets slip that this was so, then she wails “I just want to see my son!” No chance, I’m afraid - as Dominic later tells Pat, Henry is an important witness and the police don’t want Helen trying to influence him. Also, as far as Children’s Services are concerned, witnessing a violent incident counts as abuse.

While all this is going on, Peggy is getting increasingly frustrated and not a little arsey, to be truthful, at not being told by anyone what is going on. She moans about the press coverage and Christine, who is getting a bit fed up, tells her that Tony promised to ring when he had any news. Furthermore, she takes the copy of The Courier and puts it in Bill the cat’s litter tray. Peggy says that it’s ridiculous to sit there doing nothing and does Chris think she ought to send flowers to the hospital? Or maybe she should send a card to Ursula? “Think of how his family must be feeling” Peggy says. Chris says that she should just let the dust settle and be patient. Ha! Peggy is soon on the phone again and is angry, as, when she rang earlier, nobody answered and now it’s engaged. “I’m sure we’ll hear something very soon.” Chris says, trying to soothe her.

The reason the phone is engaged is because Dominic is calling Pat to tell her that Helen will be appearing at the Magistrate’s Court in the morning and she will be kept in custody. Pat wants to know if she can see Helen? Afraid not. As Dominic rings off, Pat seems stunned. “This can’t be happening - it’s not real” she mutters and, when Kirsty asks what’s happening, Pat replies “They’ve charged Helen - they think she did it deliberately; they must have listened to Ursula.” Kirsty asks what is the charge? Wounding? GBH? In a shocked voice, Pat says “No - it’s attempted murder.”

The following day, Susan is in the shop, when Ursula walks in and buys industrial quantities of disinfectant. Susan tries to engage her in conversation, saying that “There’s plenty of folk round here fond of Rob. We’re all wishing him well.” She also asks exactly what’s wrong with Rob, only to get the answer “Can I have my change, please?” Ursula leaves, just as Peggy comes into the shop and Peggy’s “Hello Ursula” goes unanswered.

Susan explains that Ursula is ’preoccupied’ and is moving into Blossom Hill Cottage, now that the police have finished with it. The talk turns to Helen and the fact that no-one can see her. Susan says that they can’t stop you writing and remembers that, in her time inside, getting letters always brightened her day. “Still, you’d think that they would allow visitors - even for attempted murder” she adds, brightly. Peggy is poleaxed - she has been avoiding reading the press and had no idea of what the charge was. “I didn’t mean to be the bearer of bad news.” Susan says.

Meanwhile, at the Magistrate’s Court, it’s time for Helen’s case. Pat is upset (Helen is wearing handcuffs) and says that Helen looks pale. Tony urges her to be strong for Helen’s sake. The Prosecution outlines the case against her and asks that she is remanded in custody until she appears at the Crown Court. Dominic says that they are not applying for bail (he knew that there wasn’t a gnat’s chance of getting it) and the Magistrate tells Helen that her Crown Court date will be on May 5th, where she will be required to enter a plea and that’s it. “Take her down” he instructs the ushers.

Pat is far from happy, calling the whole proceedings ’inhuman’. “They could see the state she was in” she tells Tony and, when he suggests that they have to treat everybody the same, Pat says “But she’s a pregnant, abused woman. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?” Dominic comes over and says that Helen will have to be represented by a Barrister at Crown Court.

While this is going on, Peggy has gone to Blossom Hill Cottage, where she finds Ursula on the floor, trying to get rid of the bloodstains. Peggy tells her how sorry she is. Ursula says that the police made a token effort to clear things up, but there’s still food and broken crockery all over the place. Ursula bursts into tears (come on woman, remember Bruce’s stiff upper lip) and says that she is fed up with hotels and she can’t go home as she needs to be near Rob “just in case”. Her mobile rings and Peggy goes to her handbag to get it.

Back at Bridge Farm, Tom and Kirsty are talking, and he wonders what might have happened, had he not wimped out of their wedding - if Helen had still had Kirsty as a friend, perhaps she might not have married Rob? Kirsty says firmly “What’s done is done” and Tom mustn’t transfer his guilt about that to this situation. “The only person to blame is Rob. We need to concentrate on Helen; she’s going to need us more than ever, now.”

Pat and Tony are having what might be termed ‘a full and frank discussion’ and Tony suggests that Helen could have suffered a moment of insanity “Diminished responsibility - isn’t that a defence?” Pat is not impressed and says “So instead of locking her up in jail, they stick her in a mental institution?” She says that Rob must have pushed her to the point where she had no choice. “Yes, but how are we ever going to prove it?” Tony asks, glumly.

Tom then comes in with Peggy, who tells them that she has been to see Ursula, who’s beside herself, as Rob has developed an infection. Pat and Tony couldn’t care less and, when Peggy says that Rob is critically ill, Tony retorts “The Hell with Rob - it’s Helen you should be thinking of.” “That’s exactly what I am doing,” his mother says, “Rob might not make it, Tony. The hospital called Ursula so she could be by his bedside. And what will happen to Helen then? Don’t you see; if Rob dies, Helen will be facing a charge of murder?” You don’t say, Sherlock? I find it hard to believe that nobody had thought about that before - the clue is in the second word of the term ‘attempted murder’ surely?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Hanging By A Thread…


In what turned out to be a significant - if not momentous - week in Ambridge, we are breaking with tradition and, instead of a summary at the end of the week, we are having a two-parter, with the first part covering Sunday to Tuesday. The reasons for this are twofold; firstly, I have already made more notes in three days than I usually do for a whole week, so a single entry would be unbearably long, and secondly, as the story of Rob and Helen has been splashed all over the press and discussed at length on social media, It’s unlikely that I will be spoiling it for anyone, unless they have just returned from Mars. So, on with part one, which is entitled:

Hanging By A Thread…

We have already seen evidence that Helen is showing signs of rebellion against her controlling husband and, on Sunday, Kirsty calls round and is surprised that Helen seems to be pushing the boat out with the table laid for a special supper. Helen announces that she is going to leave Rob and she will tell him after they have discussed it over the meal. Kirsty is appalled that Helen is bothering to tell Rob, but she has to hide as Rob comes home unexpectedly - something that he’s very good at recently. Rob goes for a shower and Kirsty makes her escape.

Let’s pause here and think about this. There you are, trapped in a marriage which is slowly driving you insane, by a man who has spent two years belittling you, isolating you from your friends and family, and who has hit you and raped you. Understandably, you decide to leave the monster, so what do you do? Do you pack while he’s away and get out, taking Henry to your family who, let’s face it, are only just down the road, or do you sit down and discuss it like civilised people and try to leave him after you have washed up? I know which one I’d choose, but then I’m not Helen.

One thing I wouldn’t do is leave a half-packed suitcase on the bed for my husband to clock when he goes for a shower, but Helen does, and Rob is deeply suspicious. Helen says it’s her hospital bag (nothing like planning ahead - she’s only seven months gone) and Rob says forget the shower, let’s have supper now.

Helen is quiet over the meal and Rob praises her tuna bake - why hasn’t she cooked it before? Her reply is that he told her he didn’t like tuna - something he denies, saying that it must be her hormones all over the place again. Appropriately, the Eagles’ ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is playing in the background and Helen pours out her feelings about Rob’s controlling nature - he won’t let her phone, won’t let her drive and won’t let her wear the clothes she likes. Rob just laughs and says “Well, you did used to rather flaunt yourself, darling.” Instead of smacking him in the gob, Helen wipes the smile from his face by telling him that she has seen Jess, who told her that getting away from Rob was the best thing she ever done.

From here on, things get more fraught, as Rob throws his plate on the floor and snarls “And look what I’ve ended up with; another clingy, over-sensitive, feeble-minded harpy, desperate to be loved, desperate to be needed. Women like you and Jess just want someone to take you in hand.” Well, that’s told you, Helen. But Rob hasn’t finished yet, as he goes on: “Where would you be if we hadn’t met? A single parent disaster zone - a lonely, frigid spinster, yearning for a real man to make you complete. And I do, don’t I? I make you feel special and desired for the first time in your life.”

Helen reverts to type, by saying that she’s sorry (for what, for heaven’s sake?) but Rob, who has calmed down says no, he’s the sorry one “But you forced me to be so frank.” They are about to start on the apple pie, when Henry calls out and Rob says he will go and see to him. Helen takes the opportunity to call Kirsty on the phone that she gave her, but Rob comes back and demands to know where she got the phone. On learning that it was Kirsty, he starts to lose it, describing her as “A manipulative, man-hating dyke.” Kirsty rings Helen back and Rob demands that Helen tells her that she’s fine, which she does.

It is shortly after this that Helen decides the time is right to tell Rob that she is leaving him and, by the way, she’s taking Henry as well. Not surprisingly, Rob doesn’t agree with this scenario and he won’t let her go. Helen says that “When we walk out that door, you’ll never see any of us again - and that includes the baby.” Rob says that this won’t happen, and Helen, who has obviously taken a whole bottle of Brave Pills, rather unwisely calls him “a sad, pathetic little man.” Rob hits her and pulls a knife out of the drawer and makes her hold it, saying “I’ll show you how you can leave - do what Greg did - end it all now, I dare you! It’s the only way I am ever letting you go!” “You’re a monster!” Helen shouts, tearfully.

At this point, Henry appears and Rob tells him to go back to his room. “I’m warning you” he snarls and, when Henry says “No!” Rob starts towards him and there are sounds of a struggle and we hear the knife fall to the ground. Henry asks “What’s wrong with Daddy?” and, in a matter-of-fact voice, Helen tells him that Daddy’s sleeping and why doesn’t Henry go and watch a cartoon? Helen then rings Kirsty and the episode ends with her telling her that she has stabbed Rob and “he’s dead; I killed him.”

Kirsty rushes round and wants to see Rob. “Oh my God!” she says, and asks Helen if she’s called anyone, but Helen is incoherent, sobbing uncontrollably. Kirsty realises that Rob is, in fact, still breathing and tells Helen to get something - anything - to stop the bleeding. What an opportunity missed! Of course, this blog could never condone the taking of life - even a low-life - but would one more stab wound have been noticed? It would certainly stop us being kept in suspense, but Kirsty does the responsible thing and calls an ambulance.

They turn up, along with the police, one of whom is PC Burns. The doctor who examines Rob says that he’s lost a lot of blood and there are internal injuries, adding: “Someone wasn’t messing around - he’s lucky to be alive.” PCB has rung Pat and Tony and says they will be coming to pick up Henry. Meanwhile, Helen is being arrested and handcuffed on suspicion of wounding. When Pat, Tony and Peggy (who was awoken by the sirens) turn up, they are not allowed in and no-one will tell them what’s happening. “Rob’s been hurt, apparently” is all Tony knows. Eventually, PCB tells them that Rob has been stabbed and Helen and Kirsty (who is going voluntarily) to answer questions and led toward the waiting police car. Pat tells Henry that “Mummy’s going on a little trip - I’m sure she’ll be coming home soon.”

At the Police Station, Helen is asked if she’d like to phone anyone - a solicitor, perhaps? “I don’t need a solicitor, do I?” she asks, thus demonstrating a lamentable lack of understanding what it means to be handcuffed and whisked down the Nick. Kirsty rings who says that people from Children’s services are at Bridge Farm to check on Henry.

Kirsty is questioned by Sergeant Mills, who asks about the mobile they found. Kirsty tells her that she gave it to Helen and Sgt. Mills says “So you planned it between you?” Things aren’t going that well for Kirsty, as she has to admit that she never saw Rob hit Helen, nor did she see any bruises and, when asked if she would describe Rob as a violent man, she has to say ‘no’. “He’s not like that - it’s mind games with him; he was driving Helen mad.” She also says that Rob must have done something bad for Helen to attack him, but has no answer when Sgt Mills asks simply “What?” Kirsty is allowed to leave after giving fingerprints and a DNA sample.

Helen has been examined by a doctor and the baby is OK. He notices some red marks on her arm - made recently - but she is unable to tell him where they came from. She is also examined by a mental health expert, who decides that she is fit to answer questions. As she is led away, two of the policewomen talk about the case. “What a mess” says one, and the other replies “It beggars belief - you’re about to bring a new life into the world and you go and do something like that.”

Kirsty has gone to Bridge Farm and Pat asks if Helen is with her? Er, not quite. Pat cannot understand why, saying: “They can’t really believe that she stabbed Rob - someone must have got into the house, surely?” Kirsty says that no-one else was involved and that Rob must have left Helen with no option. Pat and Tony are mystified, and shocked when Kirsty tells them that Helen was leaving Rob and spells out what he was really like. Tom is the only one who said that he was beginning to have his suspicions. “Tony, have we been completely blind?” Pat asks. Yup, that’s about the size of it.

Kirsty airs her fear that she might have made things worse by her answers to the police’s questions and says that Helen needs a lawyer. The family get Dominic Farrell (a colleague of Usha’s) to go to her and, when she starts sobbing and saying that she wants to see Henry, he gently tells her that she’s likely to be there for some time and they need to get their story straight for the interview. Helen is cautioned at the interview and, on advice from Dominic, exercises her right to silence, due to being in shock, saying “no comment” to all the questions. The annoyed policewoman reminds Dominic that the mental health expert said Helen was deemed fit to answer questions and her final question (“Why didn’t you call the ambulance straight away?”) would appear to give an indication of how they are thinking.

So, Rob’s life is hanging by a thread and we still don’t know whether we are rid of the monster. You can imagine him visiting Helen in her dreams, mocking her by saying “See, you couldn’t even do a proper job of killing me - I told you you were a failure, darling.”

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Who’d Steal From A Church?

John Telfer (Alan Franks)

This was the question asked by Clarrie, when it was revealed by Alan that, when he went back to the vestry to pick up the £400+ that had been donated towards the curtain fund, it wasn’t there. His concept of security is somewhat na├»ve, as he had left the money in an old biscuit tin and hadn’t locked the vestry door. He didn’t actually say that he had pinned a note to the door saying ‘£400 in used notes inside, please don’t take’, but he might as well have done - I mean even vicars‘ faith in human nature can only go so far, surely?

But who could have trousered the money? No doubt lots of listeners reckon this sort of despicable crime needs a despicable perpetrator, but I’m sorry to say that there’s no evidence of Titchener involvement. Of course, it could have been some well-meaning villager who wanted to delay Lynda’s next production, assuming that no stage curtains means no play/panto/pageant, in which case they are to be applauded and it was money well spent, or well nicked.

However, sometimes the obvious explanation is the correct one and we had an example of ‘the slowest penny dropping in the world’ when Clarrie, who earlier had remarked upon how strange it was that Alf had left without saying ‘goodbye,’ put 2 + 2 together and realised that Alf was up to his old ways again. Of course, there’s no proof, but, as they say, if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck…

Clarrie is distraught and tells Eddie that his brother admitted to taking £20 from her purse and she feels she should tell Alan of her suspicions. Eddie says no, Alf is his brother, so he will go and see Alan right away. He returns and Alan has been very nice about it, saying that Alf must be in a very bad way to have done such a thing. No, Alan - he’s just a petty sneak thief, so stop trying so hard to find the good in people. Honestly, I bet Alan would think that Rob is the product of a hard upbringing and a decent bloke, really.

Eddie vows to pay back every last penny and he leaves a message on Alf’s voicemail, saying “You’re not welcome Alf; not now, not ever. As far as I’m concerned, I used to have a brother, but now I don’t. Goodbye Alf.” So much for ‘innocent until proven guilty.’

I suppose it could be a case for PCB to investigate, but as he never managed to track down Fallon’s stolen bunting from this time last year, I’m not sanguine about his chances of success - after all, you’d think 100 yards of coloured flags would be easier to find than a bundle of used notes and coins.

It’s Titchener time again, I’m afraid. On Sunday, Helen snaps at Peggy, who, in my opinion, is getting a tad curmudgeonly in her old age, telling Pat that, when she has two children to look after, Helen should “Roll up her sleeves and get on with it.”

Helen isn’t doing a good job of covering things up - she leaves her phone lying around and Rob answers a call. It is the midwife, saying that she heartily approves of Helen’s change of mind in opting for a hospital birth. Rob is perplexed, saying that, as he understood it, they had agreed on a home birth and hadn’t Ursula explained the advantages of a home birth? Showing a little flash of her old self, Helen replies that it isn’t Ursula who’s having the baby and she (Helen) has had one baby and she knows what she is comfortable with. Rob is pained that she didn’t consult him, but Helen explains this away by saying that she wanted to talk to a medical expert first. Surprisingly, Rob says that whatever she wants to do is the right thing. “Do you mean that?” asks a startled Helen. “Of course” he answers and, when Helen thanks him for being so understanding, he laughs and says “Darling, I’m not a monster.”

On Thursday, Helen meets with Kirsty, who begs her friend to talk to someone. Helen passes it off, but Kirsty gives her an old mobile, loaded with her number and that of the Helpline. Kirsty also suggests that Helen should get in touch with Jess, as Rob’s ex-wife might have some insights into the darker side of Rob’s character. Helen is not convinced and asks how could she get Jess’s number? Off Rob’s phone, says Kirsty, but Helen says that he never lets it out of his sight.

Helen returns home, to find that Mr. Nice from a couple of days earlier has turned into Mr. Nasty. First of all he berates Helen for seeing Kirsty (they were spotted by a mutual acquaintance, who mentioned it to Rob), then he tells her that Henry has been naughty - he started eating the Easter egg that Pat and Tony bought him, despite being told not to. As a result, Henry has been banished to his bedroom, wearing an orange jump suit and handcuffs. Rob even made Henry throw away the Easter egg and the ‘ridiculous’ fluffy toy that Helen bought him for Easter. Helen tearfully begs Rob to let her go to see him, but he repeatedly, and sternly, tells her to sit down. He then starts laying down the law, saying that she should have taken the anti-depressants that the psychiatrist prescribed. Furthermore, while he is upstairs (presumably to subject Henry to some waterboarding), she can look up the number of the pharmacy on his phone and arrange to have the prescription filled. Will she take this golden opportunity to take note of Jess’s number?

He answer to that is ‘yes’ as, the next day, Helen and Jess meet up. Helen tells her where she got her number and the two women have a heart to heart. Helen is embarrassed and apologetic (she did steal Jess’s husband, after all) but Jess says that she’s now over all that and, anyway, Helen did her a favour. Jess asks if Rob hit Helen and, when she admits it, while saying that it was her fault for raising her hand to him, Jess says that he hit her too.

Obviously, Alan doesn’t have a monopoly on having faith in people’s human nature, as Helen suggests that maybe Rob will change when the baby is born? Jess asks incredulously “You’re going to stay with him?” and tells Helen to get away, saying that Rob chipped away at her day after day and, if Helen hadn’t come along, there’d be nothing of Jess left. Helen mentioned the ‘strange’ remark Rob made (i.e. “I’m not a monster”). “Do you think he’s a monster?” Helen asks. “Yes I do,” is Jess’s answer, adding “Get away from him, Helen, or else he’ll crush you and there’ll be nothing left.” And five million listeners yelled ‘Listen to her, Helen, for God’s sake!’

Still, Helen is showing the faintest glimmerings of rebellion and, who knows, one day Rob might push her just too far and she finds the poker/carving knife within easy reach.

Shula had a busy Easter, with Dr Locke joining the family for Sunday lunch and, on Wednesday, Daniel’s girlfriend, Dorothy coming over. Dan is a bit worried - firstly because Dorothy hasn’t met Shula and Alistair yet and, secondly, he fears that he might be overdosing on lamb, his mother’s signature dish. No need to worry, though, as Dorothy turns out to be the nearest thing to a saint that Ambridge has ever seen.  Shula tells Dan that Alistair really likes her (as has become the custom in recent weeks, Alistair is mute - he should have given up talking for Lent; it would have been a doddle.

Dorothy says how lovely the lunch was and asks Shula for the lamb recipe (was that a groan from Daniel?). She also says that she and Dan will clear away and, a bit later on, thinks that she ought to be going, as she doesn’t like driving in the dark. Shula invites her to stay the night and is going to make up a bed for her and Dan, when he asks if Dorothy could sleep in a spare bed as he’d feel better that way. Shula admits that she is relieved he feels that way and I must say that, as she is a fully paid-up God-botherer, I’m a little surprised that she even contemplated a same-bed scenario.

The Village Hall opening went ahead, with Eddie refusing to tell Lynda the name of the celebrity he had lined up to officiate. As the opening time draws close, Lynda is in a panic and bites the bullet and phones Jean Harvey (the nearest Ambridge has to a celebrity) to do the honours, even though Lynda loathes her with a passion, after her scene-stealing antics in ’Calendar Girls’. Fortunately, just as Lynda was about to grovel to Jean, who should walk in but Anneka Rice! Lynda promptly tells Jean to do one and begins fawning all over Anneka.

Poor Anneka is subjected to Lynda’s E. M. Forster Pageant and, when Lynda explains that she had tried to reflect the power dynamics of the village in her casting, Anneka is looking for a sharp knife, or a stout length of rope. Justin is playing the part of the land-grabbing baddie and, afterwards, he asks Lilian how did he do? and confesses that he always had a dream of pursuing a life on the stage. In answer to his question, Lilian (conscious no doubt of the corporate credit card and clothing allowance) described his performance as “very nuanced”. Eddie, meanwhile, takes great delight in booing Justin, telling Clarrie that that’s what you do at pantomimes - good job Lynda didn’t hear that. Actually, Eddie rose in my estimation as a theatrical critic, when he gave his verdict on the pageant. “It’s boring” he tells Clarrie. I could have told him that weeks ago, when she first thought of the idea.