Simon Williams (Justin Elliott)
There’s no doubt that keeping your staff happy can create a feeling of well-being in the workforce and spur them on to greater things. Equally, if an employee goes the extra mile for the boss, it can do wonders for employer/employee relations. Last week we saw a concrete example of this with Justin Elliott and Lilian Bellamy. On Tuesday, the pair are going through Justin’s diary and Justin is very much out of sorts, even telling Lilian “When I want your opinion, Lilian, I’ll ask for it.”
Lilian asks why does he appear to be so distant? The answer is that he is being frustrated in trying to pull off a business deal. He wants the opinion of the Environmental Health officer, but Mr Dankworth will not get back to him and doesn’t answer e-mails or take calls. Lilian says that maybe she can help, but Justin dismisses this - if his team has failed to deliver, how can she hope to succeed?
Back at Bridge Farm, Lilian mentions her problem to Jennifer. Jennifer says that one of their veg box customers is a lady called Dankworth - it’s not a common name; could it be his wife? Lilian calls her sister ‘a genius’ - this could be the breakthrough she’s looking for. Indeed, it is and Lilian arranges for Justin to accompany her on a ‘mystery tour’ on Friday. He is intrigued, as she won’t divulge any more details.
The upshot is that the lady is indeed the EH man’s wife and we learn that Justin ’charmed the pants’ off her and he now has his contact details. Justin is ecstatic and tells Lilian that he is the luckiest man in the world - she has the complete package (brains and beauty) and she is all his. He adds that Miranda will be out till 6pm and perhaps he and Lilian could go back to the Dower House and discuss a reward for a job well done? Honestly, does the man never do any work? Lilian says that Miranda has an annoying habit of being early, but that she knows somewhere else they can go.
This turns out to be Home Farm and Jennifer is out somewhere. However, she returns and hears Lilian laughing. Jen climbs the stairs and opens the bedroom door. We hear Justin say “good afternoon” and then he suggests that he can see himself out. Jennifer is distraught and angrily tells Lilian to put something on. From this we deduce that Lilian’s reward wasn’t a bouquet of flowers or a bit extra in her wage packet. Jennifer is very angry and asks Lilian if she wants the whole village to find out about her and Justin? She also says that, should Miranda find out, it will be the end of everything for Lilian. Lilian protests that Miranda won’t find out and she does not want to break up Justin’s marriage. Jen is still going on about it - what if mum should find out? “We won’t do it again - well, not here” Lilian tells her sister. Jennifer spells it out, saying: “I tell you Lilian, if you don’t behave yourself from now on, I’m not sure I want you in my house any more - and you can certainly forget about coming to my party!”
Ah yes, the party. This is the event to celebrate the purchase of the additional acreage and banning Lilian is the ultimate sanction. After much thinking, Jennifer has come up with a theme for Fallon and Emma - it’s ‘Land’. Lilian described this as ‘a bit vague’ and it is true that Fallon and Emma are struggling to come up with ideas, and when they do, Jennifer rejects them as not what she’s looking for. If I were Fallon, I’d suggest mud pies and rock cakes; either that or tell Jennifer to stuff her party.
Eddie is moaning down the pub that he hasn’t been invited. Neither has Jazzer and, on the astonishment scale, where 1 is no surprise whatsoever and 10 is a jaw-dropping bombshell, Eddie and Jazzer’s non-invite comes in at around -27. The Grundys are persisting with their B&B efforts and received a glowing review from guests. The only niggle was that they would have liked to have en-suite facilities and Eddie managed to talk Clarrie into giving up his and her bedroom, which has an en-suite, for future guests.
Clarrie is still not 100% convinced that they should be taking in guests, but Susan tells her to go for it. “Market Grange Farm properly and you could be sitting on a goldmine” she says. Joe also has reservations and he cannot believe that Oliver is letting them take in paying guests - did Eddie tell him what was going on? “More or less” Eddie replies, adding that he told Oliver that he got a cash gift from friends for letting them stay and Oliver said that they could have as many friends to stay as they like. Joe, who rarely takes the moral high ground, says that that isn’t the same as advertising a B&B - what did Caroline think? Eddie confesses that he didn’t actually speak to her and Joe wants to know what might happen if Oliver or Caroline should see their advert. “Why should they?” Eddie asks and eventually wins Joe round by telling him that he might pick up some money as tips for telling his stories. Personally, I’d demand a reduction in the price, but then I’m not a person who wants to spend a weekend on ‘a real farm’ staffed by rustic lunatics.
There is a ‘ping’ and Eddie says that it’s a couple who want to come this weekend and bring their miniature Schnauzer. Joe suggests they check with Clarrie, but Eddie says she’ll be all right. The only trouble is that the last couple who stayed wanted to know what there was to do in the area. “We need some leaflets” Eddie says. Again we have an example of an unsubtle Grundy ploy, as Eddie and Joe go to visit Lynda, ostensibly as a follow-up call to check on the guttering job that they did for her. This consists of asking “how’s the guttering?” as Joe comes out of Ambridge Hall, carrying a load of tourist leaflets. Lynda is fobbed off with some lame excuse, but she isn’t happy, as the guests she had booked for the weekend have cancelled at the last minute. She also tells Joe and Eddie that they would have been bringing their miniature Schnauzer.
Are the Grundys finally going to achieve a positive bank balance and a thriving business, or are we on the brink of a disastrous precipice with the Grundys about to slip into the abyss? Let’s just consider some of their previous forays into the worlds of commerce - no, let’s not, as it is too depressing and the words ‘catalogue of failure’ don’t do the exercise justice. ‘Encyclopaedia of failure’ comes closer, but doesn’t tell the whole story. Consider: disaster can come from so many directions - why shouldn’t Oliver and Caroline see the advert? If I were renting Grange Farm to the Grundys, I’d make damn sure that I ran checks on the Internet. Also, the Sterlings might be abroad a lot, but they do come back to the UK and it only takes a careless remark (and yes, Susan, I am talking about you) and the excrement could hit the fan. Lynda may have something to say about it too, if she continues to lose customers. I also wonder if the Grundys are complying with the legal and H+S requirements of running a B&B. Casting our minds back to the e-coli outbreak at Bridge Farm a few years ago, we also keep out fingers crossed that Clarrie is washing her hands properly.
Moving on to another doomed scheme, we have Kenton’s plan to save Freddie from exposure as - how can I put this? - a lying, duplicitous, devious, cunning little sod. Kenton exudes confidence - all Freddie has to do is to make sure that Liz is delayed at the parents’ evening, so that Kenton can nobble the maths tutor. Freddie is unconvinced, but his uncle says “There’s no way that your mother is going to find out about your exam result - I promise you.” Listeners nodded knowingly as Kenton was held up in a queue of parents - he tells Freddie to take Elizabeth upstairs to an exhibition and tell her (falsely) that he has a picture on show. The exhibition is closed and Elizabeth returns and finds Kenton. She is very unhappy and incandescent, telling Kenton and Freddie that she is angry and upset at being deceived by her son and brother. Kenton says it was crass, stupid and unforgivable. Liz obviously agrees with the latter adjective, as she forbids Kenton from giving Freddie any more driving lessons, as he’s a bad influence. Also, she doesn’t want Kenton to have any contact at all with her children. Well, we never saw that coming, did we? Not much we didn’t. Kenton’s response to his sister (“That’s a bit heavy”) is ignored.
On a more serious subject, Kirsty returns to Ambridge, having been driven mad by her parents. She visits everybody and tells people that she just wants to get back to normal - she has to be persuaded (by Roy) not to go back to work immediately, even though she has loads of plans for the Health Club. Kirsty thanks Tom for his midnight tweets (“or 3am or 4am tweets” as Tom corrects her) as they kept her going. “Don’t stop sending them” she tells him. Kirsty’s approach to grieving seems to be to party her way out of it. She goes on a shopping spree with Helen and there are eyebrows raised when she spends an evening in The Bull.
Can I make a plea here for Jill and Carol to stop discussing their favourite films? It makes less-than-riveting listening and do we really care that Jill thinks ‘Citizen Kane’ is a crap film, compared to ’Sunset Boulevard’? Especially as it is interfering with the preparation of meals at Brookfield - and this at a time when everyone (with the exception of Jill) is frantically busy
But let’s move on to the subject of cricket and its future (or lack thereof) in Ambridge. PC Burns is suffering agonies, as the AGM and dinner approaches. His plan to integrate women players into the team is suffering too, insofar that all the women he has approached (with the exception of Molly Button) have turned him down. PCB asks Eddie if he’s going to the AGM, but Eddie says that it’s boring.
At the AGM, PCB talks about the lack of players coming through - the youngsters do not appear to be interested - and PCB says the problem is getting worse. The answer, he proposes, is female players, but, in response to questioning, his reply that Molly Button is the only recruit is enough to lose the subsequent vote. No-one has an alternative strategy and, after the meeting, Rex says that they have to change people’s minds. He suggests that Anisha might be interested and he’ll talk to her. PCB urges him to do so, saying: “With no women on the team, it’ll be the death of cricket in Ambridge.” Obviously, that’s unthinkable, but no pressure, Anisha.