Edward Kelsey (Joe Grundy) and Eric Allen (Bert Fry)
with Cecil’s Award Winning Veg
The week kicked off with the Flower & Produce Show. Jennifer had entered her Frangipane Tarts in the pudding section and a late entry in the same section was Lexi’s Banitsa; a Bulgarian dessert made from apples, amongst other things. Jennifer is her usual, condescending self, telling Lexi not to be too disappointed when she doesn’t win. Bert and Joe tell Jennifer about their plan to not enter a number of categories, so that the terminally-ill Cecil Jackson can enjoy a moment or two of glory in his final days.
The show proved a triumph for Cecil, as he swept the board, winning category after category. In fact, the only things that he didn’t win were the Junior Tomatoes (George Grundy was victorious) and the Pudding section, where Lexi’s Banitsa was voted a knockout by judge Ian. Never mind, at least Bert and Joe had done something noble to cheer up a dying man. Except that Cecil isn’t dying - he’s off on a trekking holiday in the Himalayas with his daughter and the ill-health that he spoke about in The Bull (not that we heard him - his character doesn’t have a speaking part) was due to an adverse reaction to vaccinations for the trip. CJ does a dance of triumph and Roy kisses Lexi passionately, so at least they are happy. Meanwhile, Joe blames Bert (unfairly) for getting it all wrong and wonders if he (Joe) will be around long enough to win the Freda Fry ‘Best in Show’ cup next year.
Mark the date of 30th September in your diaries, as this is Kate’s 40th birthday. Jennifer is planning a surprise, to which we are not privy, which got me thinking of what I’d like to give her. A one-way ticket to Antarctica and a very lightweight tent and summer clothing is favourite at the moment, but no doubt our inventive readers will have their own ideas. But Kate is acting oddly - even for Kate - as Brian watches her spread out a sheet on the ground, onto which she is tipping her possessions. Further investigation reveals that she is de-cluttering her life and everything that does not bring her joy is being thrown away.
Jennifer is appalled when she sees that some baby clothes that she made for Kate’s dolls are earmarked for the bin and she promptly rescues them, much to Kate’s annoyance. Brian notices that the rubbish pile includes bills and invoices from Kate’s business and he tries to explain to her how you have to keep such documents for five years in case there is a tax problem. Kate cannot get her head round this - they don’t bring her joy, so they’ve got to go. Brian, who wisely knows when to stop banging his head against a brick wall, says that he will find space for them. Let HMRC prosecute her, I say.
Kate further nonplusses her parents when she says that she doesn’t want any expensive presents; what she’d really, really like is for those close to her to tell her honestly what they think of her as a person. She’s looking for clear, objective criticism - what are her best qualities and what can she improve? Speaking personally, if I were asked for my opinion, the first part would take about three nano-seconds and I would still be listing areas for potential improvements when Kate was celebrating her 50th birthday.
But let us pass on to the plans that Adam and Ian have to start their own family. Things are moving a bit fast for Adam, as Ian keeps moving the goalposts. First of all they were going to adopt an older child, then a baby, then Ian is keen to try to find a surrogate mother so he can be the child’s biological father. Adam is left floundering, especially when Ian tells him that there is a big get-together planned, which includes women who have been surrogates as well as those who want to try or just to find out more. Oh yes - can Adam try and finish work a couple of hours early on Thursday, as that’s the day of the get-together and it involves driving to London. At the party, Adam is concerned about what might happen if the mother changes her mind - Ian would have no legal standing as father. Ian dismisses this train of thought as defeatist and he is all for going ahead. It’s going to be a long and complicated road.
‘Complicated’ is also the best word to describe the developing relationship between Roy and Lexi. Speaking to Kirsty after the Banitsa-inspired kiss at the F&P Show, Roy admits that he has fallen for Lexi in a big way, but how can he tell her? What if she just wants to be friends? Roy, has anyone ever told you that you tend to over-think these things? Kirsty advises him to tell Lexi how he feels, but again, he says what’s the point, as she’ll be going back to Bulgaria in a few weeks.
Kirsty continues to beat him over the head and he eventually says that he will tell her and he arranges for them to spend time together at a pop-up food festival in Felpersham. Both are having a wonderful time and Roy is leading up to his big moment, telling Lexi that there’s something he needs to share with her. At this moment, her phone rings and it’s Lexi’s mother with bad news. Lexi’s aunt has broken her leg and mother needs to go and look after her sister. As such, she won’t be able to look after Lexi’s children and Lexi needs to come back to Bulgaria pronto. She doesn’t want to, but her children need her. A despondent Roy shelves the speech he was going to make and agrees the children must come first. “I’ll help you book a flight”, he says, mournfully.
Indeed he does and, more than that, he drives her to the airport and offers to stay with her until she goes airside. Lexi says she’d like that and, when the time comes for her to leave, she asks Roy for one last hug. Roy almost tells her how he feels, but, as he explains to Kirsty later at The Bull, he didn’t think it fair and now he’s heartbroken. “I’ll never see her again - why does it always happen to me?” he moans. Roy, Bulgaria isn’t really the other side of the Galaxy, is it? I’ve just checked online and there is a return flight to Sofia for £19, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Still, Roy is obviously suffering and woe betide anyone who approaches him and says ‘Parting is such sweet sorrow.’ Despondently, he leaves the pub and returns to his empty house.
The Brookfield Archer children continue to bicker (well, at least Pip and Josh do - Ben seems to have vanished and is only referred to in passing). Josh has bought a new loader to do up and sell. Correction; Josh has bought an old (at least 20 years old, David reckons) loader. No, that’s still wrong - Josh has acquired a 20-year old loader but hasn’t actually paid for it, but he reckons it will still be a good deal and he can sell it on, pay the vendor and be quids in. Pip mockingly derides this as “coming straight out of the Eddie Grundy book of business management” and Josh retaliates by calling his sister “a wage slave” because she has taken on more contract milking.
It seems that Pip was more right than she realised, as next day Josh wants to know where is his loader? It appears to have been nicked (truly a Grundyesque scenario). David reminds his son that, as he hadn’t paid for the loader, it wasn’t legally his and he isn’t insured. Josh says that surely they can claim under the farm insurance? David however says that claiming for something that wasn’t legally Josh’s sounds very much like fraud to him and the answer is ‘no’. Josh then says what if he managed to find a document proving his ownership - it’s only a matter of dates after all. “Forgery as well as fraud.” David muses. Josh is beside himself - he owes nearly £3,000. “What am I going to do?” he wails. Around six months is my guess.
The situation whereby Johnny is working at Home Farm has unforeseen repercussions for a number of people. Firstly, Ed Grundy gets to hear about it and he is unhappy, as he was always first in line for extra work and, as he pointedly reminds Adam, he has never let him down. Adam says that Johnny approached him and he is Adam’s cousin, after all, but Ed storms off, believing that Johnny got the work because he is only being paid as an apprentice. That’s another friendship being put under pressure.
Bridge Farm is suffering too, as they are one man down on getting the potato harvest in. Tom approaches Susan and Clarrie and says that he’d like a staff meeting later that day as “we need to restructure our overall labour strategy.” Susan immediately assumes that this is all to do with Kefir and is convinced that someone (guess who) will be sent on a course to learn about the managerial side of being responsible for fermented foods. Susan shares her thoughts with Clarrie and is practically mentally choosing the furniture for her new office.
Tom turns up for the meeting and says that not having Johnny on the team full time has thrown up logistical problems “and we need to build in flexibility and make changes in working practices.” Susan bangs on about courses in fermented foods, and Tom is bemused, as he’s talking about something totally different. Indeed, we learn later that he is expecting the two women to put in some time in the polytunnels, cutting vegetables for the veg boxes. Susan is bitterly disappointed, saying that her work on Kefir was wasted and the new situation is such a waste of her talents. Exactly what talents these are, except for an over-active imagination and an ability to jump unerringly to the wrong conclusion, we never find out.
As the week progresses, tension rises as Sunday is the day of the big game - the grudge cricket match with Darrington. Extra spice was added this year by PCB’s fictitious e-mail, purporting to come from the Darrington captain and PCB is desperate to win (recent results have been disappointing.) So keen is PCB that there is a three-line whip on attending nets, which are being held on practically every day.
On Friday, the Darrington team and supporters take over The Bull and, in what PCB describes as “a deliberate provocation”, have offered Ambridge the chance of forfeiting the match. Not only that, but they are constantly chanting insults. The answer? Get Ambridge supporters to chant even louder - David gets to the pub and apparently they have been doing just that for over two hours - you can see why Tom left to go home and I bet the noise is really popular with any customers who couldn’t give a toss about cricket.
However, as Rex tells PCB, Tracy had a secret plan to scupper Darrington, which he had to talk her out of. Apparently, it involved ball tampering and, according to Rex “apparently Tracy is an expert on that.” I just bet she is.