Wednesday, 29 June 2016

But How Is It All Going To End? (Bonus Posting)

Dear readers, Neil and I welcome all your comments, so please keep them coming. Recently we have noticed a growing trend, with people making remarks along the lines of “thank you for the blog - it means I don’t have to listen to the programme to be kept aware of what’s going on.”

All part of the service and we’ll try to cope with the heavy responsibility! But what is the reason for people stopping listening to the radio on a daily basis? It’s no secret that the subject that is hacking off most people is the on-grinding saga of Helen, Rob, Henry and, now, Jack/Gideon. First of all we had Rob taking over Helen’s life, isolating her from friends and family and driving her to the brink of madness and despair. This part of the story dragged on for years and, when Helen finally lost control and stuck the knife in, I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who thought “good, I’m glad that’s over”. With Rob out of the way, Helen would probably get a reduced sentence, assuming she had a good lawyer, then she could come back and live with Henry.

No such luck! Not only didn’t Rob have the decency to die, but he seems to have made a remarkably swift recovery, although I’m no doctor. And now we have another, potentially mind-numbingly drawn-out story as he, Helen and the Bridge Farm Archers battle for custody of Henry and Jack. Far be it for me to risk driving away yet more listeners, but this is a storyline that has the potential to run for years, if not decades.

Consider the possibilities: first of all, Rob gets custody of both. Is Helen likely to say “oh well, fair enough - I had a good time with Henry for a few years, but the Courts have spoken”? No, I don’t think so either. Plus there is the issue that, should Rob prove victorious, this flies in the face of Archers morality, where wrongdoers are almost invariably punished. Equally, should Helen get custody, will Rob give up without a fight? I suppose that Helen could have Henry and Rob Gideon, but that doesn’t seem a likely outcome. Whatever happens, the ensuing dispute could drag on until the boys are 18 and old enough to make up their own minds.

I can’t believe that the writers would let anything as awful as this to occur, so what do we think will happen? As the title of this posting asks, how is it all going to end?

As one of the good guys, and a long-serving character to boot, surely Helen has to come off best? If so, to stop Rob making re-appearances in coming years, he’ll have to go - permanently. But how can this be achieved? I suppose it’s too much to ask that, at her trial, Helen is asked exactly what happened on the night of the stabbing and she replies “Well, if you’d just hand me that knife and bring Rob a little closer…” Unlikely, I grant you.

So, what do our readers think is going to happen - will Rob be history and, if so, how? Maybe there are one or two pointers - will Helen remember (and remember to tell Anna) that Rob’s ex-wife Jess knows what a controlling, manipulative creep he is? Alternatively, Dr Locke seemed to find Rob’s face familiar when they first met - could there be some dark secret lurking there which gets Rob banged up for a few years (or, preferably, forever)?

Of course, it could be something more prosaic, such as being hit by a car, or, bearing in mind Rob’s actions in damming the culvert before the flood, perhaps there would be poetic justice if he fell into the Am and perished. We would love to hear any theories or solutions that our readers might have - the more imaginative the better.

Whatever is going to happen, let’s hope that it does it soon, as listeners appear to be turning off in droves. Having said that, it’s nice to know that this blog is a lifeline to the Archers for some and we just hope that, when and if Rob gets what’s coming to him, these same Archers fans will continue to read the blog and send in comments.

On that subject, the last time I checked our ‘number of hits’ counter, it stood at a shade under 215,000, so thanks to each and every one of you!

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Don’t Count Your Chickens, Neil

Angus Imrie (Josh Archer)

Well, thats what Josh has his fingers crossed for, although, when you think about it, what are the chances that an experienced chicken farmer might notice that his flock is suddenly 75 birds light? I suppose he might chalk it up to a particularly voracious, yet scrupulously tidy, fox but surely its odds on that hes going to notice their absence sooner or later?


Rex mentions the extra birds to Pip, who is surprised, as Josh never said anything about it to her. At the party to celebrate Chris Carters birthday (28 on June 22nd) Pip tells Toby that shes surprised that Neil let him have his birds, as hes usually so picky. Uncharacteristically, Toby is embarrassed and nervous and doesnt answer, so Pip asks Toby, Neil does know that you and Josh took them? You did ask him first? Toby still doesnt answer and Rex pushes the point, saying: Toby? Answer the question, Toby.


The following day, Josh is happy, as its his last-ever day at college and hes looking forward to celebrating after his final exam. Unfortunately, Rex has decided that Josh will accompany him and Toby to apologise to Neil and the two brothers drag him off in the car. We dont get to hear the subsequent conversation, but Toby says afterwards that hes glad its over. Rex thinks they got off lightly and Josh says that he apologised to Neil and he appears to think that thats an end to the matter.


Wrong! While the trio were grovelling, Pip accidentally let slip to David that theres something dodgy going on. David demands more details and Pip obviously capitulated, as, when Josh is all set to go out on the lash, he takes a call from his father, who is ever so slightly incensed and tells Josh to come home right away. Josh wants to go and party, but David spells it out for him: Im not asking; Im telling you - get in your car and come back. Now!

I did wonder how accidental Pips revelation was, or whether she was getting her own back on Joshs attempts to push his eggs  on Open Farm Sunday. Whatever, Josh was in a lot of trouble.


And it will get worse for him as, on Friday, Neil visits Brookfield for a discussion with David and Rooooth about where we go from here. In the end, they agree that Josh will have to replace the missing hens with point of lay birds at his own expense. And no rubbish either - Neil wants top quality birds from his usual supplier. David and Rooooth apologise for the umpteenth time and Neil says that he hopes its all been a good lesson for the lad. Rooooths reply (Dont worry, well make quite sure of that) would indicate that Josh is in for a lengthy bout of earache, and serves him right too. One might also make the observation that the price of pasture-fed eggs (or, more accurately, eggs from pasture-fed hens) might have to increase. This might not be helpful, as we learn from David that, in the shop, Susan has been telling people how over-priced the eggs are. Well done Susan; Neil would be proud of you.


Going back to Chriss party, Pip asks Rex if hes going and he replies that he hasnt been asked. Pip says come anyway and he does, only to try and leave early as Pip seems to be hitting on fellow guest Akash - a good-looking, mathematical genius friend of Alice. Next day, Alice told Pip that she made quite an impression on Akash and there is banter between the girls about whether or not Pip is back on the dating scene. Alice wants to go with Pip to see the cows on the herbal leys and she says that she is envious of Pip being able to work in the open air, while she is stuck in an office all day. You should try it on a cold, winters morning when its tipping down, Alice - bet the office would appear more attractive then. It turns out that Alice has an ulterior motive, as a new, agri-tech firm is moving to Felpersham and Alice might fancy a change of career. So much for all those years studying aeronautical engineering.


It was party time too at Home Farm, where Kates open Facebook invitation to celebrate the summer solstice didnt result in the massive influx of weirdos that some of us had anticipated. That said, there were some instances of eccentric characters asking directions to Home Farm and, as we learn later in a telephone call from Phoebe to her father Roy, there were enough people to form a noisy procession round the house at 4am.


I am starting to think that nobody could be as thoughtless as Kate and not be regularly (and deservedly) beaten up - Phoebe returns after an exam and all Kate can do is bang on about how she is exhausted, trying to clear up the yurt field. The noise is continuing and Phoebe has had enough, going upstairs to pack. She eventually turns up at Roys, telling him that she cant stay at Home Farm any longer, what with Kate, the noise and aunt Lilian. Roy tells her that she can stay with him And if theres any more trouble with your mum, Ill sort it.


Next day, Roy takes Phoebe a cup of tea and she says how grateful she is that she can focus on her revision. Its very quiet and peaceful and there are no drunken aunties in the kitchen. Of course, it cannot last and Phoebes phone rings. Its Kate, in a panic - Brian and Jennifer are coming home tomorrow and the house is a complete mess and the dishwasher isnt working. Could Phoebe come round and lend a hand for an hour? Its too much for Phoebe and she explodes, telling her mum to shut up! She adds that she has another exam on Friday and she has to revise for it. Kate demonstrates that she has all the sensitivity of a cast-iron condom when she then asks Half an hour? Phoebe puts the phone down as Roy comes in and, seeing she is stressed, asks whats the problem? It was probably Phoebe banging her head on the wall that tipped him off that something was amiss.


The story comes out and Roy goes to see Kate to tell her that this is something of a stressful time for Phoebe - she is trying to get into Oxford, in case Kate had forgotten - and Phoebe wont be coming home any time soon. How dare Kate even ask Phoebe to clear up her mess? Kate says that its a stressful time for her as well, with her launch coming up. She admits that she could do with some professional help (I would add and psychiatric), plus she is having trouble finding caterers. Roy cuts her a deal - if she leaves Phoebe alone, he will give her an hour of his time. To be fair, Kate does say thank you, immediately followed by can you take a look at the dishwasher?


As it turns out, Roy stays there for two hours and even organises a catering deal for Kate (with a 5% discount, no less). Kate calls him just amazing - he has even got the dishwasher going (the switch on the wall should be in the down position, Kate). So grateful is Kate that she invites him to attend her launch event. Dont do it Roy! Shes probably only looking for someone to serve drinks and canapés. 


Sunday was Fathers Day and Pat and Tony had agreed that Rob could have Henry for the day, while they took the opportunity to visit the prison, where Pat could see her grandson Jack/Gideon/Robspawn for the first time. She is besotted and they agree that he looks like Dan (a real little Archer). Pat is of course upset that she cannot see Helen, but Tony is optimistic, saying that he feels Helen is becoming less shut away. Pat is loath to give baby Jack back, but says At least hes safe here with his mum, where Rob cant touch him.


And what is RobSatan doing while all this is happening? He takes Henry on a steam train ride and, never one to miss an opportunity, subtly drips poison into young Henrys ear, reminding him that mummy promised to take Henry on the train, but she never did, thus telling lies and letting Henry down. Furthermore, he adds that this is more fun than boring Bridge Farm and hes glad that Pat and Tony decided they would rather see baby Gideon than spend the day with Henry. When Henry asks why cant he see the new baby, Rob tells him that Mummy wont let us see him. Back home later, Rob tucks Henry in bed and, when he goes downstairs, he is upset because I could only see one of my sons - it should have been my first Fathers Day with Gideon. Helen knows that too - shes  doing this just to hurt me. How could she be so cruel and calculating? At a guess, Id say shes had a good teacher, Rob.

He continues: She cant do this to me - Im just not going to stand for it. Ursula urges him to have faith in the courts. Us too, Id say.


While all this is going on, how is Helen coping? She seems to have found a good friend in Kaz, who is encouraging her to be positive. Helen gets her hair cut and, according to Kaz, it looks sensational. What to wear for the video link of the Hearing? Pat has sent her a linen shirt and, with one of Kazs T-shirts under it, Helen will look really good. The initial telephone call with CAFCASS seems quite promising, when Helen describes Rob as having ways of getting what he wants and tells the lady about when Rob made Henry throw away his cuddly toy and Easter egg as a punishment and how he and Ursula planned to send Henry away to boarding school without consulting her. Unfortunately, when pressed to describe Robs behaviour further, Helen gets confused and cannot remember.


To compensate for giving up their Sunday access, Pat and Tony can have Henry overnight on Friday. It starts badly when Rob has forgotten to tell the school that Tony will be picking Henry up, so Tony is late back. Henry is in difficult mode, refusing to eat his supper and telling pat that Granny Ursula is a better cook than you. He doesnt want to go and see the cows and just wants to watch a DVD. Pat is convinced that Robs slip of memory was deliberate and, when Tony asks What have we done? she replies Its happening to us now - this is what its like to have Rob in your life - hes manipulative.Later on, she says Tony, we cant let this happen. Perhaps she could have added So wake up, you great pudding but she didnt.


To more important matters: on Sunday, the Ambridge cricket team could not muster a full team and thus forfeited the match. How different from last year, when they won the league. OK, Rob isnt playing (surely he could have a runner, the woos?) but it seems that every other eligible male in Ambridge is either unavailable or doing something else, like washing his hair. The chances of retaining their title would appear to be vanishingly small.


Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Party’s Over

Sara Coward (Caroline Sterling)

Caroline and Oliver have returned to Ambridge and are impressed by the way that the village has bounced back from the flood. The extended holiday seems to have done them good and Caroline says that shes pleased with the way Kathy and Roy are running Grey Gables - bookings are up on last year (surely it was full of flood refugees then?) - and she doesnt miss being involved in the business one little bit. They havent visited Grange Farm yet, but Caroline says brightly If the rest of the village is anything to go by, it should be looking lovely now.

Sadly, these are the Grundys that we are talking about, so Caroline should know that the potential for disaster is vast. As they drive to the farm, she remembers that the garden was “just a muddy mess” when they left to go to Italy. As the pair approach the farmhouse, it appears that the Grundys have done their level best to keep it that way and Caroline’s optimism is totally misplaced. “There are pigs everywhere” she says, but Oliver seems quite relaxed about it, although he does concede that the pigs shouldn’t really be next to the house when Caroline says “This isn’t a farm, it’s our garden.”

Further surprises are in store as Caroline spots “a load of cattle” plus “what is all the furniture doing outside?” Following the Joe-instigated flood (he apparently filled the claw-feet bath full and got into it, without realising that there was no overflow and the resultant spillage has stained the ceiling downstairs and made the rugs and furniture soaking wet) the Grundys moved the furniture and rugs outside to dry off overnight. Unfortunately it rained, which didn’t help any.

Ed appears and greets Oliver and Caroline. “You’ve acquired quite a bit of livestock” Caroline remarks, with commendable restraint. Ed agrees that the pigs will have to be moved away from the house. “And the lawn?” Caroline says; her voice becoming a little icier. Ed says that the Grundys will make it good after the pigs have gone and invites Caroline and Oliver inside to meet Eddie and Clarrie (Joe has gone back to bed in a huff, saying that the Sterlings will have to miss his room off their tour) Er, it is actually their house and farm, Joe, so don’t push it.

Inside, things continue to go downhill, as Clarrie apologises for Joe having his ferrets inside the house, while Oliver is puzzled - if it were just bathwater that came through the ceiling, why is the stain brown in colour (don’t go there Oliver) and why has it spread so far? The Grundys have no explanation, but promise to make good the damage. And the broken banister? Oh yes, that too, and the drawings on the landing (thank you, Keira), plus the stains on the carpet underneath the strategically-placed sofa (thank you, dog Holly). Caroline and Oliver are left alone as the Grundys go to make tea and bring in cakes and Caroline says that the house was pristine when the Grundys moved in. “How can one family wreak so much havoc?” Oliver replies that “most of the damage is superficial” - I neglected to mention that he has clocked the crack in the kitchen wall, which he described as ‘worrying’ - even more so when Clarrie (rather unhelpfully) described as “getting wider”, hence, presumably, the use of the word ’most’ - “a week’s work for a decorator.” “And the garden?” asks his wife, witheringly. Oliver admits that this could be a longer-term project.

Ed is a tad worried, saying “I know you’re not happy with the house” (nothing escapes this lad - Caroline says, again with magnificent understatement “I can‘t say I‘m not disappointed“) but he’s worried whether this will affect his tenancy of the land. Oliver, who is obviously a very forgiving man, says no worries - they have an agreement and Ed’s tenancy is safe. By the way, do the Grundys have anywhere to go after they are thrown out of Grange Farm? Ed says that mum, dad and Joe (if they can get him out of bed) will be going to No.1 The Green, while he, Emma and kids will be “back with the in-laws.”

If this is an attempt to attract sympathy, then it doesn’t work, as Oliver says that he and Caroline are planning to buy a house in Italy. They won’t live there permanently, but, when back in Ambridge, they will stay at Grey Gables. As such, they will be putting Grange Farm on the market in a few weeks, so would the Grundys accept this as three months’ notice? In a leaden voice, Eddie says “Three months, then it’s ‘goodbye Grange Farm’?” No, Eddie, it’s three months, then it’s ‘goodbye Grundys’. He says that Joe has allowed himself to think that he could live out his days at Grange Farm, to which Oliver says “sorry”. Why? He let the Grundys live rent-free for a number of months (worried about thieves breaking in) during which time they have trashed the garden, almost brought a ceiling down, ruined expensive rugs, soaked the furniture, stained carpets, broken the banister - but you catch my drift. As I said last week, if Joe wants to end his days at Grange Farm, there are numerous ways that this could be achieved.

The only person who appears to have any grip on what’s happening is Clarrie, who says “Joe will just have to face reality, just like the rest of us - the party’s over.”

Continuing the subject of parties, Phoebe is getting a mite miffed - Brian and Jennifer have departed on their 40th Anniversary trip on the Orient Express to Venice, but before she went, Jen begged Lilian to keep an eye on Phoebe and to stop Kate harassing her while she’s trying to revise. Jen also tells Kate (yes, I too wept when Kate returned for a speaking part) that Phoebe needs peace and quiet, to which Kate replies that she is much too busy arranging the launch of ‘Spiritual Home’; the somewhat pretentious name for her hippy commune/therapy/treatment centre.

Hardly have Brian and Jen driven off from Home Farm, when Kate comes in to find Lilian. They discuss Kate’s project and Lilian suggests that they open a bottle of wine. Should they go to the pub? Kate wonders, but Lilian says why, when they’ve got access to Brian’s wine cellar and a corkscrew? Suffice it to say that the two get more-than-slightly rat-arsed and Lilian says that Phoebe told her off for making too much noise. Kate says that her aunt has been “very boisterous” lately and “You’ve been up to something, haven’t you?” “I couldn’t possibly comment!” Lilian says, and the snorting and laughter grows louder, as Phoebe bangs angrily on the floor, while Lilian says they should open another bottle.

The following day, Alice (welcome back) finds Phoebe clearing up the detritus of the previous evening. Alice tells her to leave it, get her books and laptop and she’s coming back with her to The Nest for some peace. Later on, Phoebe is grateful and the talk turns to Kate’s project launch. Phoebe says that Kate “isn’t a businesswoman” - and it’s interesting that she refers to Kate as ’Mum’, which is an epithet that she has previously only used for Hayley - and Kate is planning the launch for the evening, to go through the night, so that she can have a communal bonfire. In addition, Phoebe says that Kate has posted her earlier solstice celebration on Facebook and she fears the worst. I don’t know how much Brian paid for the trip on the Orient Express, but, between Kate’s open invitation to the solstice and Lilian’s cavalier attitude to Brian’s wine cellar, I’m willing to bet that he comes back wishing that he had taken the cellar key away with him - it could well have worked out cheaper than the Orient Express journey.

Time to talk about the Dark Side: Rob, who has more nerve than a one-legged, blind tightrope walker in a force 8 gale, goes to see Pat and Tony with a proposition - Sunday is Father’s Day, so how about he has Henry that day (Sunday is usually Pat & Tony’s day for their grandson) and they can have Henry for an overnight during the week? Rob leaves before Pat and Tony have decided; Rob says that Henry has said that he would like to spend the day with Rob and Pat says (no doubt accurately) that Rob is “using Henry to make us comply” and “we should refuse” and someone should stand up to him. Tony, however, points out that being seen to be flexible might go down well with the Court hearing, besides, Helen has been allowed to nominate two people to take baby Jack outside the prison, so, while Pat cannot see her daughter, she could see grandson Jack. Pat eventually agrees. By the way, more good news for Helen: by the end of the week, Jack finally gets the hang of breastfeeding.

Rex accompanies Pip to an on-farm yawn fest about cows. Pip says it will bore him to tears, but he’s keen to go. Afterwards, he suggests a meal on the way home, but, as they are having a drink at the event, Pip spots Alice - what is she doing there, as she hates farming? Alice replies that Chris is working nearby and there are some synergies between farming and aeronautical engineering (I didn’t understand it either). Pip invites her to travel back with them and, when Rex mentions the proposed meal, Pip says she’d rather get home. The next day, Alice tells Pip that Rex obviously fancies the pants off her, to which Pip says that they are just good mates.

Let’s wrap up other loose ends; Josh and Toby ‘borrow’ 24 hens to supplement their pasture flock. Toby seems (uncharacteristically) to be concerned that Josh hasn’t mentioned this to Neil or Hayley - there’ll be a reckoning, mark my words. Speaking of Toby - he tries to persuade Pip to do the voice-over for his video, tempting her by promising to cook supper. She watches the video (the food is excellent) but complains that the role of Brookfield is sidelined and why didn’t Toby consult David and Rooooth? She leaves, saying “Thanks for a lovely supper - shame about the rest of the evening.”

Back to Sunday: it was open garden day for Bert and Lynda for the Queen’s birthday and picnic on the Green. Lynda was annoyed when a visitor asked if the ‘Resurgam’ stone was a headstone for a departed pet? Things got worse when Carol Tregorran fell over in Lynda’s garden and broke her wrist. As Dr. Locke ferried Jill and Carol to A&E, Lynda asked anxiously “What’s happened?” Carol replied, somewhat testily “I tripped over that wretched stone!” Talking to Jill the following day, Pip says: “Poor Lynda - it must have ruined her day.“ One might make the observation that it didn’t do much for Carol’s day either.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

There’s Always One That Lets You Down

Eric Allen (Bert Fry)

Regular readers of this blog will know that one of my most fervent wishes is that someone will stand up to Lynda Snell and refuse to be bullied and go along with her latest project or Christmas extravaganza. Imagine then how pleased I was when Eddie Grundy did just that, and how frustrated I was later when Bert Fry pulled Lynda’s chestnuts out of the fire.

It happened thus: on Friday Lynda got an e-mail from the insurance company, laying down a series of conditions if they were to offer public liability cover for her garden open day. To be fair, you can understand why Lynda isn’t very happy, as this happened on Friday and the garden is scheduled to open on Sunday. Even worse; one of the conditions was that the frontage with the river Am should be fenced off and, apparently, there is miles of it. Lynda gets on the phone to Eddie and demands that he drops whatever he’s doing and gets over to Ambridge Hall at once, if not sooner. Eddie replies that he’s laying a patio at Hollerton and can’t make it, sorry. Lynda then demands to know exactly where he is.

To Eddie’s surprise, Lynda turns up at the client’s house and berates Eddie, saying “The whole prospect of my open garden is at stake!” Eddie, bless him, says “That ain’t my problem - I’ve had quite enough responding to your whims these last few months.” This prompts a super sniff from Lynda, who tells Eddie that she’s prepared to pay 50% over Eddie’s going rate. Eddie, however, has his own idea, saying that Lynda should allow him and Joe to promote their shepherd’s hut building business to the visitors. Lynda is aghast and flatly refuses, telling Eddie that the whole shepherd’s hut episode was “one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.” ”Them’s my conditions, “ Eddie replies, “Take it or leave it.” Lynda says that she’ll leave it - “I may be desperate but I will not be held to ransom.”

‘Way to go Eddie!’ I thought, ’That’ll teach the arrogant so-and-so.’ Sadly, Eddie runs into Bert Fry at a builder’s merchant and tells him about Lynda giving him grief. Flash forward to Ambridge Hall, where a despondent Lynda comes off the phone after what is obviously one of a long series of abortive calls to fence building firms. It’s no good, she tells Robert, we will have to cancel the open day. He suggests that she takes a look outside, where Quisling Fry is erecting a pole and netting fence, aided and abetted by Toby, Rex and Josh. Lynda is overcome, telling Bert that “this is extraordinarily kind.” He says that he knows how hard she has worked on the garden and he wouldn’t want to see it go to waste. “We’ll work late into the evening if need be [I bet Toby was pleased to hear that] and, come hell or high water, your garden will open tomorrow, as planned.”

OK, I admit that my attitude is a tad curmudgeonly and I shouldn’t exhibit schadenfreude when it goes wrong for Lynda, but you have to admit that she is bloody annoying and expects everybody to jump when she says so. She was right - it was extraordinarily kind of Bert and let’s hope she doesn’t forget it; especially as she was complaining bitterly about the website that Toby’s designer friend had created, showing off Bert’s garden, calling it unfair.

It was a momentous week for the Archers, marking as it did the soap’s 18,000th episode. Lilian had her interview as Justin’s mistress and apparently passed with flying colours; especially the practical component. The couple return from a weekend away in the Peak District (“Not that we saw much of it” Lilian says to Justin - too much information!). He asks what will Lilian tell Jennifer if she asks about where she was for the weekend? Lilian replies that her and Justin’s ‘arrangement’ is private and she will only say something if Jennifer asks her direct. Not much fear of that, I’d say - Jennifer would only suspect something if they were caught bonking on one of the marble worktops in the new kitchen, and even then only if she needed the space to prepare vegetables.

Even more momentous - Justin gets an e-mail from his contact on the County Council; the CC is ready to announce its decision on the preferred route for the new road. The news spreads quickly and our tenters have seldom ever been so hooked. David especially can hardly stand the suspense and goes out for a walk - will Brookfield be cut in half by Route B? He soon rushes back, telling Rooooth that Neil has told him to check out the Council website. What’s the verdict? The Council have changed their mind and rejected Route B in favour of Route C, which is wonderful news for most of Ambridge (although Kenton and Jolene were looking forward to increased footfall). Not such good news for the poor sods at Hollerton, where Route C will go, but you can’t make omelettes etc.

Cue for a massive party, which coincides with the welcome BBQ that Adam has arranged for the fruit pickers, and everyone gets well and truly hammered at The Bull, which cheers Kenton up a bit. An emotional David tells Jill that he wish he could have let Phil know the result, to which she replies that she’s sure that he knows. Fortified by a few points of Shires, David gives a speech about how he nearly abandoned Ambridge and how the future has been uncertain for the past two years (what, has it only been two years? Seems longer. A lot longer). But now the uncertainty is over. David is exultant. “We fought and we won! Route B is dead! Long live Ambridge!” David yells to the crowd. “You rabble rouser” Rooooth tells him.

Sunday was Open Farm Sunday at Brookfield and Pip was not happy to see that Josh had sited his egg display close to the entrance, where she believes it detracts from the display concerning suckler beef. Whatever, the family agrees that it has probably been the best OFS ever and Pip’s mood lightens as she realises that Josh has had precious little success in selling his eggs, as she takes great delight in telling him.

Of course, Toby has produced a promotional video for the eggs and he has great hopes that Justin will sign him up to shoot a corporate video for Damara. Justin has delegated this to Lilian and she views the finished product with a critical eye. If Toby was hoping for an easy ride, he is soon disabused, as Lilian tells him that Justin has no interest in Toby producing a video for Damara. Not only that, but as Damara’s logo features on the egg boxes, the standard of the video (’amateurish’ and with ’a phony-sounding voiceover’) is such that, on no account is Toby to show it to the public. Ever. “You don’t pull your punches, do you?” Toby asks, in a hurt voice.

But not much dents Toby’s confidence, although Rex tries to keep his brother’s feet on the ground. Rex’s latest problem is that Toby has promised Morgan and Minster (a client) an unreasonable number of eggs a week. No problem, says Toby, buy some more point of lay hens. “With what?” Rex asks, pointing out that they need sales if they are to fund any expansion. Toby bemoans the fact that he appears to be the only one with any vision and has a go at Josh, who sided with Rex. Later on, Josh asks Toby if he has gone back to M+M yet and, when Toby says “no”, Josh says “Good. I might have an idea.” This was Wednesday and, by the end of the week, we still hadn’t heard what the idea might be. God! The suspense!

Let’s deal with Helen. Anna calls her to discuss the forthcoming hearing to decide access to and custody of Jack. Anna says that it would look more reasonable if Helen were to allow Rob some supervised access to his son. Helen sobs and says that she cannot, to which Anna replies that it would be better to have some voluntary arrangement, rather than have one imposed on her. Anna also says that Helen will have to appear at the hearing (by video, not in person) but she won’t have to talk to, or see, Rob. How does Helen take this? When Anna puts the phone down, we hear Helen sob “no, no, please no!”

Things aren’t going well for Helen, as Jack is crying and she can’t cope or get his nappy off. She is helped in this by Kaz, another inmate who has a child of similar age. The two get talking and, even though Kaz describes Helen as ‘quite posh’, they get on well and have a cup of tea. Kaz is obviously more experienced than Helen in being incarcerated, as she describes the mother and baby unit as “Quiet”, adding “You have more of a laugh in the proper Nick.” That’ll be some comfort for you, should the worst happen, Helen.

Towards the end of the week, Tom visits his sister, who admits that she is scared of the forthcoming court hearing as “Rob is always in my head” and “everything always goes Rob’s way.” Tom tells her that she is brave and she replies that “I don’t feel brave; I’m just glad that I’ve got Jack - he needs me.”

Back at Bridge Farm, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, as Kirsty has been keeping in touch with Anya, who used to work for Ambridge Organics. Anya has agreed to do some shifts, but she’s away travelling for a few weeks. Never mind - would Susan be willing to take a few shifts at the Bridge Farm shop? Susan demonstrates mega delusions of adequacy when she tells Pat “You expect me to sort out this pickle that you’ve got yourself in, drawing on my extensive retail management experience?” Come off it Susan - just because you are occasionally left alone in the village shop doesn’t make you a retail magnate. Pat can’t be choosy, however, and is relieved when Susan says “It would be wrong of me to withhold my experience, wouldn’t it?”

We end with the Grundys. Eddie and Joe are helping Ed with the haymaking and there is much reminiscing (from Joe) about how things were in the old days, when the whole village joined in. Clarrie has brought a picnic and she is worried what Oliver and Caroline will say when they return, with the piglets penned close to the house and “as for that crack in the kitchen wall…” For his part, Joe is deeply content, saying “I wish this could go on forever.” However, he does admit that he had hoped that he could end his days at Grange Farm. Don’t worry about that Joe - we might be able to help you with this one; Clarrie, just pass Eddie the carving knife, will you?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Not Your Brightest-Ever Move, Peggy

John Anthony Archer aka Gideon Robert Titchener

I sometimes think that Peggy hasnt quite grasped the situation that exists between Rob and the Bridge Farm Archers - she and Tony come back from seeing Helen and Jack and Peggy says that she will get some extra photos run off, as Rob and Ursula will want to see them. Pat is not keen, but Peggy says they are Jacks father and grandmother and they shouldnt be cut out of Jacks life. Pat replies with spirit that they are trying to cut us out of Henrys life but Peggy says that our priorities should be the children.

True to her word, Peggy takes some snaps to Rob and Ursula - she has even had one framed, bless her - and all is going swimmingly until she says that, despite the difficult birth, Jack came out healthy. Sorry, who? asks Rob and, when Peggy tells her what Helen has named the baby, Rob goes spare, saying that that is not his name. Robs mood is not improved when Peggy says that Helen has already registered the birth and, practically foaming at the mouth, he rants: Gideon is my child and if she thinks that hell have anything to do with the Archer family, she can think again! That insufferable woman! Peggy thinks she should leave, as Rob screams that Helen will be hearing from his solicitor.

Later on, a shaken Peggy tells Lilian that she thought she was doing a good thing, but Rob was absolutely furious - Ive never seen him like that; hes usually so charming. Hes not a man Id like to get on the wrong side of Lilian says. I feel terrible - Ive made a bad situation even worse Peggy states. Spot on, Peggy - you certainly have. Didnt you pick up on all the talk since the stabbing about Rob being devious and manipulative?

Meanwhile, Rob has been told that Helen was within her rights to register the birth but the solicitor is looking into whether they can get Gideons proper name registered. It will be easier when Ive got full custody he tells Ursula, adding that hes going to travel north and see his son.

The week didnt start that well for Rob. Johnny and Tom decide to go in for the single wicket competition and, when they turn up, they learn that Rob will be doing the commentary. Tom is disgusted, but organiser Kenton says how could he refuse when Rob offered? Besides, many people in Ambridge think that Rob is a hero. Rob gets Toms back up even more by reminding him that today is a Monday and the Archer family are only allowed to have contact with Henry on Sundays, so can he make sure that no-one from the family approaches Henry today please? To add insult to injury, Rob wishes Johnny luck in the competition, pointedly ignoring Tom.

However, what goes around, comes around, as Johnny narrowly defeats Tom in the final. The trophy is usually presented by Shula, but she cant make it (presumably shes down at Sandhurst again) so Rob steps in. He tells the crowd that he can take some of the credit for Johnnys performance, as he coached him last summer. When accepting the trophy, Johnny deliberately ignores Robs outstretched hand and calls Tom up to share the stage with him, saying that he could never have done it without the support of the family at Bridge Farm. Just look at Robs face! Pat says, gleefully.

Lynda celebrated her birthday on Sunday - at 69, surely she must be slowing down soon? Please? - and Robert brings her breakfast in bed. The couple spend the afternoon exploring the Jumble Trail around the village and Jennifer rather unthinkingly says that its nice to see the younger generation organising things in the village. Lynda gives a sniff worthy of a B-list celebrity at a free cocaine party and, in a dangerous voice, says Meaning? Lynda then points out that she has so much to do to organise her garden opening (an official charity event). Dont let me stop you Jennifer replies, brightly and Robert has to step in as peacemaker, saying soothingly that hes sure that theres room for lots of events and its nice to see them supported.

The Grundys are facing having to move out of Grange Farm - Oliver and Caroline are threatening to come back from Italy and, rather unreasonably, they want their house back. Mind you, what with the cattle roaming around and the pigs, not to mention the cider club being transferred to the premises and a large crack appearing in the kitchen wall, the chances are that they wont recognise the place. The crack in the wall is causing Eddie grief - he fills it, but its the wrong colour. Clarrie tells him to paint it properly. He does so, but the texture is wrong. Do it again, Eddie. This time Clarrie goes demented, as, rather than spend out on textured paint, Eddie mixes flour with cheap emulsion and the results are what you might have expected. Clarrie goes even more mental, worrying about what Oliver and Caroline will say. Tell you what Clarrie, why not nail Eddie to the wall over the crack - that will hide it.

To be honest, I find Eddies behaviour bordering on the farcical - surely nobody can be so consistently thick and still be alive? Everything he touches turns to ashes and yet, as a shining example of the triumph of hope over experience, he comes up with a string of stupid ideas, each one marginally more ridiculous than the last. The latest one concerns the elves in the Millennium Wood. Brian, who is annoyed that the visitors might be disturbing the pheasants, has commissioned Patrick from the Borsetshire Wildlife Trust to undertake a survey into the effects of visitors on the bio-diversity in the wood. At his party later in the week to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary, Brian reveals that the report will highlight the negative effect of the increasing crowds. Do you reckon that the BWT will shortly be in receipt of a substantial, but probably anonymous, donation, or am I being overly cynical?

But back to Eddie, who has learned of Brians disaffection and tells Joe that, if Brian has his way and the elves are history, then what might be bad for Mr Elf might be good for Mr Grundy. What you talking about? asks Joe, which, to be fair, must be something that Eddie hears pretty often. In answer, Eddie says (in tones that Dr Martin Luther King Jr used in his I had a dream speech) that he has a vision - in his mind he has seen a sign saying ElfWorld. They can re-home the elves in a corner of Grundys Field and charge people to park, ask people to donate towards the elves upkeep (Eddie, they arent real, mate) and sell them elvish tat. Sorry. Did I say tat? I meant souvenirs.

We know that the enterprise will almost certainly go tits up, when Joe gives it his endorsement I hates to say this Eddie, but you could be on to something. Eddies imagination is running away with him - they could have their own t-shirts, sweat shirts, bags, pens - the world is their mollusc of choice - and Joe reveals that he is ready for a home with padded walls when he says Itll be like Disneyland - a bit smaller and not so many mice. That remark is wrong on so many levels - not only will it be minuscule, rather than a bit smaller but Im willing to bet that therell be a lot more mice than at Disneyland. Eddie says that they need to get in quick before some large entrepreneur does and he reminds Joe that Dolly Parton started in a shack and now she owns Dollywood. Its a licence to print money Eddie tells his dad, which is surely the kiss of death. I think we should ask Eddie What has Dolly Parton got two of that you are one of?

Lets turn from the ridiculous to the tedious. Yes, its Helen and Rob again. Helen is talking to her Barrister, Anna, and, for once, she is talking meaningfully to her Brief. No longer is it I cant remember or Does it matter? as she tells Anna how Rob punished Henry for some insignificant incident by making him bin his cuddly toy and his Easter egg. He wouldnt let Helen go upstairs to comfort him. Anna pounces: Would he often tell you not to do things? Have we got the beginnings of a Defence case here at last?

Helen is distracted when Anna tells her that Rob has applied to see Jack (or Gideon). No! No! she replies. Anna says that he cannot see Jack without Helens permission - something that she is reluctant to grant. Anna points out that, as the childs father, Rob has rights and, if Helen refuses access, it might not look very good if Rob were to go to court (as if!).

Lets return to the Grundys. Will (welcome back) has a solution to the potential homelessness problems of his parents and grandfather - they can move into No.1 The Green. Sadly, there will be no room for Ed, Emma and children and Will doesnt want to reopen old wounds with his brother and, frankly, I wouldnt want to see that either. Lets hope that Will and Clarrie can persuade Ed that the offer is in no way a snub. When talking at the 40th Wedding Anniversary party, Lilian mentions Wills offer, saying that Ed and Emma will have to find somewhere else. Fallon remarks that Susans not going to like the sound of that. I dont suppose that Ed and Emma will exactly be doing handsprings either, Emma.

So lets end with the 40 W/A party, catered for by Fallon and Emma. There are only around 50 or 60 guests, so it should be a piece of cake. Talking of cake (did you see what I did there?) Ian has volunteered to make a Red Velvet Cake. He is exploring recipes with Adam and reveals that he is hoping to use beetroot to get the red colour and different texture (sounds revolting - cant he get hold of any blood, for heavens sake?). Actually, Adam had a difficult moment when Ian asked him if he ever heard from Pawel nowadays (the new lot of fruit pickers have just been ensconced in the caravans.) Adam passes it off, but why did Ian ask? Somebody mentioned his name the chef replied.

But back to the party. Brian pays tribute to his wife of four decades, saying that they have had their ups and downs and the downs were mostly down to him. Fortunately, the biggest down is safely at boarding school, so there is no Ruiari-shaped elephant in the room. Brian also announces that his present to Jennifer is a trip to Venice on the Orient Express. And I only bought him a case of whisky! is Jennifers answer. Justin proposes a toast to the happy couple.

Lilian has had her hair coloured and cut and manages to escape from Martyn Gibsons boring conversation about golf. Justin takes her to one side and explains that his relationship with his wife Miranda is more of a practical arrangement and Lilian is more of a kindred spirit than Miranda could ever be. Would Lilian be agreeable to an arrangement? Are you asking me to be your mistress? asks a totally-unshocked Lilian. Justin says we shouldnt get hung up on vocabulary and its not a word hed use. Too right - there are myriad synonyms - floozie, slapper, tart - just pick one that youre comfortable with, Lilian. Although admittedly she hadnt said yes when the episode ended, whats the betting she will?